Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mysterious Andrew Fitzgerald

I know very little about my father's side of the family. I know even less about his father's side of the family. When I began I knew that someone on that side was possibly named Andrew and he married Catherine. She was a Fitzgerald as well. The census records bore this out. I found Andrew, Catherine, my grandfather John J. and his siblings. I kept working back and back through the records trying to piece that side of the family together. I found what I was sure was an early census, a marriage record and then....a passenger list. But the curious thing was that on every document I found a different birth date for Andrew Senior....different ages. It was all very curious.

My father never knew much about the family. Almost nothing about his father's family. His cousin Catherine knew a little bit, but she was never close to my father. And he said the family was always "secretive" and closed-mouthed. My dad was an only child and his closest cousins were on his mother's side. A dead end.

I decided to try something that was suggested on Ancestry and make a table with all the pertinent information. Maybe my error would reveal itself.

From this I would guess that the passenger I found was the wrong Andrew. I remember seeing an immigration certificate in the family papers that gave 1850 as the year he arrived. But this can't be him.
I suspect that the 1870 census was possibly a mistake by the census-taker or a lie. But why? And the birthdates are all over the place. I looked carefully at each record. In each I found Andrew Fitzgerald and his wife Catherine, an address in Charlestown (in later years Charles River Avenue) and his profession stated as laborer or teamster. My guess is that he worked on the docks as a driver.

If Andrew was born in 1814 or 1815, he would have been 82 when he died. If he were born in 1834 he would be in his 60's. Certainly whoever certified his death would have known the difference. I can understand why an immigrant would make himself older...but almost 20 years older?

So I'm no closer to an answer, but at least I have a timeline for his life. I'm hoping someone out there may have an suggestion. It's all very mysterious....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

my dad-possibly somewhere in England
Today, in honor of Veterans Day, I want to spend a moment on just a few of the veterans in my tree.
As I began my research I knew about my dad and my Civil War ancestor. I found many, many more.
So here's a salute to just a few:
John J Fitzgerald -World War II
Brainard Winslow Rogers- Korean War
William Frederick Smith- Spanish American War
Winslow Brainard Rogers- American Civil War
Isaac E Johnson- American Civil War
Aaron Rogers-Revolutionary War
A nation's gratitude to them all....and mine as well.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Edward Winslow Rogers-The Story of the Railroad Men

On the left you have Eugene Harrington Rogers. At the time this story begins, he had lived in Fitchburg, Massachusetts for some years, was working as a sign and artistic painter and living on Chestnut Street. On the right is my great grandfather Edward Winslow Rogers. I made a surprising discovery, which has lead to what I think is a romantic tale and the merging of two old families.

 I have relished a great resource on Ancestry in the local and city directories. Some of these go back a long way, some list occupation and some will list a death date. That was how I tracked down a date for my grandfather Fitzgerald. But I was looking at the Fitchburg Directory for 1891. Most unexpectedly I found this
So this is the first listing of Edward in Fitchburg, where he had moved from Holden to be near his brother. I knew OCRR meant railroad....but which one? That lead me to the story of the Old Colony railroad. The Old Colony Railroad served lower Massachusetts, the Cape and parts of Rhode Island. They ran large steam trains and I found a good example.
Old Colony did very well for a time, carrying people to the shore at a time when few people might have had an automobile. As the line prospered, they added a northern spur which ran to Fitchburg.
Courtesy of the OCRR museum
Edward became a railroad fireman, boarded on Day Street which was walking distance to the wonderful old Union Depot in downtown Fitchburg.
Sadly that station was torn down in the sixties. Several rail lines ran out of the station including the Fitchburg Railroad. I knew that my great grandfather Smith had worked for the Fitchburg Railroad, but I never knew that "Ned" had been a railroad man as well. So I went back to the directories to be sure.
And there was George F Smith, a railroad engineer for the Fitchburg Railroad, living on Goodrich Street with his grown daughter boarding in his home. My imagination began to work. George had contact with the other engineers and firemen who came through the station. Here is this newcomer to town, Ned Rogers, a lonely boarder and George invites him home to Sunday dinner. At the dinner table are his three lovely daughters, including his eldest, Cora. Now maybe it didn't happen quite that way, but I'd like to think that I've discovered the story of the meeting of Cora Elizabeth Smith  and Edward Winslow Rogers, my great grandparents. They were married in 1893.