Monday, September 19, 2016

Pass The Nodoz


     Well, I've done it again.  Upon reading that Find My Past was offering a free look at their new Irish records until midnight yesterday I hastened to the site.  The long, long, long awaited Valuation Office Books were included!  In my rush I failed to notice that the books were to be free forever.  I had missed the email notifying me of this momentous event, having been preoccupied with family events, and only viewed it late last night.  Midnight?  Damn!  So even though exhausted by the aforementioned family matters, I settled in for a long session.  We're talking Valuation Books after all!

     I found some really good information and some disappointments.  I located the entry for great-great-great-grandfather Daniel McGarr by finally just searching his townland of Ballyraggan.  McGarr seems like such a simple name to spell, but it never works out that way.  This time it was indexed as Magan--that's a new one.  This was a house book and had some wonderful information.  I knew from the Irish census taken years after his demise, that there were several out buildings on Daniel's farm, which was occupied at the time of the census by his late daughter Sarah's husband Thomas Hughes; but I had no idea if the buildings were there during Daniel's lifetime.

     As seen above, the question is settled.  Along with the house, there was what appears to be a Cow House, (that one made me giggle), a barn and stable, and another I can't quite make out--it looks like Cas House or Car House, still puzzling that one out.  I wrote to the Valuation Office years ago and they sent me wonderful copies from the cancelled books of Daniel's holding, detailing decade by decade the current occupiers so I almost didn't waste my "limited" time looking for him.  But this information from the house book was not included in the packet sent to me by the VO, so I was glad to have found it.

     I also located another 3rd great grandfather, Connor Ryan, in Goldengarden, Tipperary and got a peek at his life there on the estate of Lord Hawarden.  He had only a house and barn which really didn't surprise me.  While Grandpa Daniel on the Fitzgerald estate had a generous (for the era) lease, Hawarden was very stingy about giving them out.  Grandpa Connor was probably hesitant to make major improvements to his holding with no real assurance he'd be there long.

     The disappointing parts?  Still nothing on my Hore/O'Hore/Hoare family, another seemingly simple name that gets mangled.  Just nothing, not in these records nor the tithe applotments.  I know their address from their children's baptisms, but they are nowhere in sight.  The other disappointment is that I was under the impression the cancelled books were to be included, but they aren't there.  The bright side is, I can again write to the Valuation Office and request copies of Connor Ryan's cancelled book entries now that I know for sure he's there in the records.  It's a great time to be an Irish researcher!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Of Blogs And Cousins And Long Distance Genealogy


     It began with an innocent enough email from a far distant cousin, (in both distance and genetics), inviting me to join in her search for details of our Vincent family from Halfmoon, Saratoga, New York.  We initially connected through this blog, and have shared bits and pieces over time, but that one email has elevated our collaboration to something approaching obsession.  Like so many of these family journeys, this one has twisted and turned and taken us far afield of the original quest.  (Which in truth I'm not sure I even remember, and since I'm the undisputed queen of lost emails, will probably have to ask my cousin to remind me of.)

     Together we have uncovered a staggering amount of information and on the way proved beyond any doubt that the genealogy, published in book form, of the line of Revolutionary War soldier Captain Jeremiah Vincent, his son John and John's son Thomas,(my fourth great-grandfather), is incorrect and incomplete.  How did we do it?  By egging each other on from opposite ends of the continent for one thing, but once again the amazing internet played a huge roll.  From census records and a genealogical society application on Ancestry, to wills and land deeds at Family Search; from a guardianship noted in the previously mentioned book to burials on the Find a Grave site, along with obituaries and other sources, a picture slowly emerged from the shadows of centuries.

     The book claimed Thomas, son of John Vincent and Mary Clements, died and was buried in French Cemetery in Victory, Cayuga Co. NY in 1842, which we found to be true.  It also claimed his wife Matilda Taylor died in 1847 and was buried in Saratoga County, which is not.  In fact, Matilda married a man named Rockwell Rood after Thomas' death and lived until 1890.  I found her with Rockwell and several of her Vincent daughters in the 1850 census and other sources.  There is in fact a Matilda Vincent buried in Saratoga, her stone even reads "wife of Thomas" however-- there is also a Thomas Vincent buried there with her.  The author of the genealogy book apparently overlooked that and so didn't consider this could be a different couple, which it was.  Clearly Thomas can't be buried in both Cayuga AND Saratoga.

     The guardianship was major in the search.  The book and every single tree and site I've viewed claim that John Vincent and Mary Clements had only one child, the above mentioned Thomas.  Yet guardianship papers filed in 1817 named Mary Vincent and John Clements (who turned out to be Mary's brother) guardians of the minor children Matilda, Thomas, Maria and Janet Vincent.  Now our search began in earnest to find these children, (except of course Thomas whom we had already documented).  And we did find them with the exception of Maria.  Pretty good detective work if I do say so, since they were married females using their husband's surnames.

     There's lots more-- for instance, as it happened Mary Clements Vincent also remarried, but to detail all our findings and sources here would take me six or seven pages and I like to keep these posts concise and readable.  Any Vincent's out there who would like to know more can email me, but a few points apply to all researchers:
  1.  Just because a genealogy has been published in book form or any other form doesn't mean it's infallible.  
  2. Those trees on Ancestry whose only source is another unsourced tree?  Great for clues but not much more. No matter how many trees say the same thing, if they just copied it from each other it's the same as one tree.
  3. What seems like a sure bet, like in the burial of, "Matilda wife of Thomas Vincent", is sometimes just a coincidence.
  4. Genealogy is ever so much fun with a co-conspirator.
  5. Lastly--verify, verify, verify. I always spend a little time trying to disprove my current theory.  It may not be fast, but when I'm done I'm reasonably sure the finished genealogy is accurate.





Saturday, September 10, 2016

Irish Registrations Come Online!


     I've spent the past few days grabbing every spare moment to pour over the newly released birth, marriage and death registers at Irish, and resenting the need to tear myself away for things like sleeping, eating and working. (Have you ever noticed how people will look at you strangely when you lament you'd rather be searching for dead people than writing production lists?)

     These are images of the actual full records, the kind you formerly had to send away to the GRO to obtain!  The death records cover the years 1891 to 1965, marriages from 1882-1940 and births from 1864-1915.  That's sort of late for those of us whose ancestors were famine immigrants, but still a way to help trace family members who stayed behind in Ireland and conceivably aid in finding some living relatives there.  I've been able to view records for many individuals I located in the indexes that have been available online for some time, and confirm they were in fact the ancestors I believed them to be--and in one case proven wrong.

     Unfortunately the death records don't give parent's names so it's not always easy to be sure exactly whose death you're looking at unless the informant's name is a familiar one, particularly if the deceased is a woman now bearing her husband's surname.  The marriage records do give the father's full name along with his occupation and the birth records give both parent's names.  All also give a townland.

     So far I've confirmed several theories and found the occupation of James Quigley of Baltinglass, husband of my 3rd great-aunt Anne McGarr.  One record states he was a "dealer" and another that he was a shopkeeper.  I'm not sure what sort of shopkeeper signs his name with an X, but there you are.  I also discovered a sad story about a distant cousin being orphaned at age 15 when both his parents died within a few years of each other of TB.  Somehow their son escaped that dreadful killer to be the informant on his grandmother's death record ten years later, but in four more years he too would succumb.  

     The records aren't yet complete but more are being added over time. You may will be annoyed by the repeated requests to prove you aren't a robot, but it's well worth that small aggravation, and be sure not to add the apostrophe if you're searching for a name like O'Connor, the search engine doesn't recognize it and will return a negative result.  I hope you find some interesting family facts in these new records, and there are rumors that by month's end the long awaited cancelled books will arrive online.  Keeping my fingers crossed...

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Adjusting My Sails (And Dates?)

     I was very excited to find the immigrant ship of my great-great-grandfather James O'Hora, (aka James Hore), the other day.  In the early days the family used the "Hore" spelling, something I knew from other documents and news articles.

     In the New York Passenger Lists, on, I found--"Jas Hore arrived May 23, 1849 from Liverpool aboard the Ambassadress".  The name, the age and the debarkation port of Liverpool all exactly matched what I already knew about James !  He first appeared in US census records in 1850, so an immigration date of 1849 fit nicely too.  I'd finally discovered when James arrived, it all fit... only it didn't.  I've poured over newspaper lists of ship arrivals in New York Harbor for that year and the closest I can find is a ship that looks like it reads Ambassadress arriving May 1st, not the 23rd.

     It certainly resembles "Ship Amb..."with a "dre" near the end followed by the name of the ship's master, and contains the correct number of letters.

    Now take a look at the ship's manifest above, it clearly says  Michael Foody, Master, swore to the correctness of his passenger list on May 3rd, and he did so on a Port Of New York form.  I suppose it's possible the ship arrived very late on the 1st and Michael didn't get around to submitting his passenger list until the 3rd; after all in 1849 there was no immigrant processing going on in New York.  Passengers at that time simply strolled off their ships and onto the South Street wharves, hence no great rush to submit the passenger list.  It wasn't until 1855 that Castle Garden opened as a processing center.  That is why I always try to confirm the ship's arrival date in news articles, just to be precise.

     Still, why would the Ancestry index say it arrived on the 23rd?  Nothing in this document suggests May 23rd, I've read every single page of it.  And I'm not buying for a second that the ship sailed on May 3rd and made it from Liverpool to New York in under three weeks.

     I've seen the 23rd arrival date on other sites too, though perhaps it was copied from Ancestry.  I noticed in a British newspaper article, which I couldn't read in it's entirety due to the lack of a subscription, mention of a date of March 23 in connection with the Ambassadress. Perhaps that date, Mar 23, was mistaken for May 23, but again-- nothing on the form suggests that.  I'd go ahead and get a subscription to the newspaper site but for the fact I would use it only rarely; my Irish ancestors were never mentioned therein.

     Another one of those little contradictions that make genealogy so frustrating interesting.