Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day and the Spanish American War


For my Memorial Day post this year, I'm looking at one of my relatives who fought in the Spanish-American war.  My great grandmother's younger brother William Frederick Smith served in old Sixth Massachusetts infantry, Company D.  This company's campaign was in Puerto Rico, as you can see from the map I found.
The red line shows the area marched as my great uncle mentions in a letter home. I went back to my old standby, The Fitchburg Sentinel, and sure enough they published a portion of his letter home to my great grandfather George. I feel so lucky to have this resource!
His complaints don't sound too different from many soldiers: poor food, hard marching, mud, bad weather and disease...oh, and equipment that doesn't work properly. Puerto Rico in August must have been a shock to a New England boy. I love the line "It rains about every five minutes."
     In one of the online archives, I found a whole book just on the Sixth Massachusetts. There in the roll for Company D was my great uncle. He served well, returned home safely and lived out his life in Fitchburg and Leominster working for a shipping company. So this Memorial Day I salute Frederick Smith, 1876-1931. Thank you for your service.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Momento Mori- Lee Ellen

Lee Ellen Fitzgerald...about 1985
 This post is in remembrance of Lee Ellen Fitzgerald who would have been 60 years old today.
You are not forgotten, my sister.  I hope somewhere you are smiling.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

No download or reproduction without express permission
In honor of Mother's Day, I give you my mom. This is Primrose Rogers (Fitzgerald) in about
1928.  What a sweet picture!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Another Memory Monday

Courtesy Boston Public Library Photo Archives-Charlestown Boys Club- library
Today is a salute to the Boys Clubs of America. My dad spoke often and fondly of his experience at the Charlestown Boys Club. This photo is of  the "library" or reading room. My dad spent a lot of time at the pool. No doubt this place was an anchor in his life.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Common and Uncommon Surnames

                          TAPPLY                                                                                                      TAPLEY
As I've mentioned before, I get a lot of inspiration for my searching from listening to podcasts about genealogy. Two of the best are from Lisa Louise Cooke. Her Genealogy Gems podcast has lots of good ideas. She also has a podcast through Family Tree magazine. In the February podcast she talked with several experts about how having an unusual surname can be an asset in genealogical research. I wouldn't strictly call the Tapply surname unusual, but the spelling with two P's seems to have been a variant that developed in a particular area of Kent. In early census and birth records, all my Tapply relatives were actually Tapley. So if you are a two-P Tapply we are most certainly related somehow. What's even more exciting is that there are all sorts of resources online to explore the popularity of your surname. The map on the left is the incidence of the Tapply surname in modern England. The right is the Tapley surname. You can see that southeastern England and Kent are hotbeds for Tapply and Tapleys. My cousin Sue tells me that her brother (living in Kent) runs into other Tapplys and Tapleys all the time wanting to know his village of origin or which family line he belongs to.

Why would this matter? Well, let's say you're having trouble pinning down where your relatives with the unusual surname emigrated from or immigrated to; this map might give you a start deciding where to look. It also tells you whether the name has remained "active" or is dying out.
This map tells me where in the world I am most likely to find Tapply with my particular spelling. You can see that the highest incidences are in the United States, England, Australia and Canada. Change the spelling to Tapley and you can add in New Zealand.
Going one step further you can see that most of the Tapplys in the United States are people I know are directly related to me. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Colorado would be where they are. Since Charles Tapply Senior had only 3 sons and mostly daughters this map reflects the children and grandchildren of Bob and Charlie Tapply. The only outliers are Tennessee and New Jersey. That might be interesting to explore. (There are some Tapplys in the U. S. descended from Charles's brother Thomas J. Tapply. ) Since the highest incidence of the Tapply surname on the first map was in the United States and on the second map it appears to be direct relatives, I think we can say that the name is declining. 
You can see where this would be useful in tracking down relatives and determining where they fit in the tree. Be sure to click on the two links I've included and see if you can track down an unusual name in your family tree.  I think this is lots of fun.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Fitzgeralds

     You may remember in a previous post about my great-grandfather Andrew Fitzgerald, I puzzled over this chart. I made this to puzzle out why the ages seemed so diverse and inconsistent. My cousin Jon pointed out, and rightly so, that Andrew may not have been literate and may well not have know his age. The real outlier was the immigration passenger list. I decided that if I threw THAT out, I might make some real progress. So I have added a column on the right based on some new information I just found. (I still think he was deliberately shaving his age in some cases) And remembering that birthdays were NOT a big to-do over a hundred years ago, I think I may have been able to add some family in Ireland to the tree.
    I was looking at the marriage application document from the last post.
The names of HIS parents and hers are real leads in the Irish records. I looked at the Charlestown marriage record and the same two names appear again: Andrew Fitzgerald and Margaret Callahan. So based on that I was off and running. Ancestry posted a link to some updated records they just added from the Irish National Library. This is baptims and marriages in Roman Catholic parishes. And plugging in the three names..........
Here it is in Latin at the very bottom of the page "Andreas Fitzgerald filius Andrea et Margarit
Callahan sp. Eugenia McCarthy et Margrite  ?." (not sure of that last name) So could this be true? 1820?
     I decided to go to the records and start combing. How common was the name in Cork? How common would a combination of both names be? I went page by page and found siblings. And every time the parent names were consistent. And 1820 would not be so very far off from 1814. Before long I had a tree that looked like this:

      What I see in the records seems to fit what I know. I can't be absolutely certain, but I think this is it!  Where I had a spindly little chopped off tree, I now have some ancestors.
        I was curious about the locale. The front of the register said Diocese of Cloyne, parish of Macroom. There again, I ran into all the Irish geopolitical divisions. So I went directly to the Library of Ireland page and there was a handy dandy map next to the image from the records I had been using.
      I checked out the information on the parish and it turns out that the church name also matches the name I found in the front of the birth register: St. Colman's. Macroom, according to Wikipedia, is a market town fourteen miles west of Cork. It was a bustling town until the great potato famine when, according to this source, it was "decimated by death and emigration". Now by the time Andrew decided to emigrate in 1850, the famine was past, but perhaps he saw no future for himself in this place. Or perhaps he was still young enough to dream of adventure.  I still wonder if Catharine, his wife,  was some cousin, however distant. She emigrated at about the same time. I think I'll have to give the passenger lists another close look. Those birth records were full of Fitzgeralds. Only one other Andrew. Too far off in date to be mine and different parent names. But I also saw some Desmonds. And that was Catharine's mother's name.   The next task was to go into my favorite Google street view and see what this place looks like. This is the site of the various baptisms: St. Colman's Roman Catholic church. It has quite an extensive bit of land. Perhaps a school or convent as well as the church.          

     And, of course, I had to get a good look at the town. I plunked the little man in Streetview in various spots. It seems to be a quiet little Irish town. 
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, I've made some real progress on the Fitzgerald side of my tree!
Hope you have the luck of the Irish in your search for ancestors.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love and Marriage

St. Vedast Church- London
     On this day of romance, a post about how marriage records have come to my rescue in my research or have helped me understand more about my family. This is St. Vedast Church in London. The image on the left is a rendering of the church in the early 19th century, a little before the marriage of my great, great grandparents. The right picture is a more modern one. This church made it through a major fire and the Blitz. Part were damaged, but it stands to this day.
James Henry Tapply and Elizabeth Payne
     So here is the entry in the marriage register. What could I learn from this? The ages and status of the  young couple tell us they were young and this is their first marriage. His occupation, bricklayer, and his residence, Cheapside, tell us he was living in London at the time and learning a trade. Most importantly we have the names of both fathers and their occupations. John Tapply, the shoemaker, is father of the groom. Why is this important? There were two John Tapplys at the time living in Wittersham. They were born in almost the same year and both married women named Sarah. This helps me untangle that knot. Lastly we have the witnesses. I can look back at census and other records to find out who these people are to the young couple.
Michael Cooke and Mary Feehily(Feely)
       Next was the discovery that excited me recently. Irish records were added that made it possible to see the actual marriage register for my great-grandparents on my father's side.  On the left we have the exact date, 12 May, and location, Cloonigan. Then we have the original Irish spellings of the names of the young couple. This will help in further searches: Michael Cooke with an e and Mary Feehily or Feely. Last we have the Patron or witnesses: Michael Feehily and Mary Ann Cooke. Obviously family members attended the wedding. A little further research may tell me who these folks were.
Andrew Fitzgerald and Catharine Fitzgerald
     Next we see a record I had never seen before. This is a little different than the register entry I also found for this couple. It looks like it could be a receipt for an application for a marriage license. This really excited me because it gives ages for the couple. You may remember that Andrew's birthdate is still a question mark in my research. If he was 50 on June 4, 1864, his birthdate would be around 1814 and he lived to be 84 years old. Not impossible, but I still wonder about this since so many other records give different ages.  Catharine's birth would be in 1834. The most exciting part of this record are the names of both great, great grandparents. This takes me "across the pond" and into Ireland! Andrew Fitzgerald and Margaret Callahan are on his side. Robert Fitzgerald and Ellen Desmond on hers. Of course this also takes me into Cork and the surrounding counties where Fitzgeralds were thick on the ground and records are patchy at best. My work is cut out for me.

Eliazer Rogers and Martha Young
      The last record is remarkably simple for its age and survival. This is my sixth great grandfather Eliazer Rogers who married Martha Young in Harwich, Massachusetts in 1712. Spellings varied in these old registers, so we see an alternative spelling for his name. Simply confirming this far away and pre-Revolutionary event is rewarding. This record was found in the unindexed portion of Family Search. Yes, you have to troll page-by-page, but the rewards are pure gold.
     Maybe a closer look at some marriage records will clear up some mysteries in your family tree.
Happy Valentines Day!