Sunday, June 18, 2017

W. B. Rogers- A Near Miss and a Visit from the President

The Dunker church on the Antietam battlefield

The regimental history I found for the 36th Massachusetts records this note about the month of September:

"On Monday, September 15th, Colonel Bowman received from a mounted orderly a note written in pencil, which purported to be an order from General McClellan, signed " R. B. Marcy, Chief of Staff," directing all troops on the road to hurry forward as rapidly as possible. Colonel Bowman doubted the genuineness of this hasty scrawl, and the more so on account of the appearance of suspicious persons about the camp the night before. Not knowing the result of the battle of the previous day and afraid that an attempt might be made to capture his regiment in its isolated position, he decided not to move his command until lie received further instructions or had better information concerning the state of affairs at the front. This delay undoubtedly prevented our participation in the battle of Antietam, which was fought September 17th."
So, only by some confusion about orders did W. B. and his comrades avoid the Battle of Antietam.
The narrative records that they camped some time at Keedysville, then broke camp and passed through Sharpsburg.
"There the Thirty-sixth was assigned to the Third Brigade of the first division of the NinthCorps. In the brigade were the Forty-fifth and One Hundredth (Roundheads) Pennsylvania regiments, to which we -soon became warmlv attached, and with which we were to be associated during nearly our whole period of service. Than these two regiments there were no better in the Ninth Corps ; and our regard for both officers and men increased as common experiences drew us nearer together. Indeed, they became to us almost as brothers, and we have reason to believe that this feeling was mutual. Colonel Welch, of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, commanded the brigade, and General O. B. Willcox, the division."
The entire group marched to an area just above Harper's Ferry, where they made camp.
"By order of General Wilcox. Sunday, September 29th, was observed by the division as a day of special religious service, to give thanks to God for our recent victories in Maryland. The whole division was brought together, and the services were conducted by Chaplain Canfield, of the Thirty-sixth, and other chaplains of New York and Pennsylvania regiments. The band first played"Old Hundred." The 46th Psalm was then read, and a hymn sung to the well-known tune of Balerma. Remarks were then made by four chaplains belonging to the division. The services were very interesting and solemn throughout. In the afternoon Chaplain Canfield preached."
Shortly after this, on October 3, Union troops were reviewed by General McClellan and President Lincoln.
President Lincoln with General McClellan at Sharpsburg reviewing the troops

Camp Forbes Mariland    Sunday Sept 28 /62 (This must be where mail went)
Dear Wife
       I write a few more lines. I almost dispair of hearing from you as I have not received one word to comfort me. I begin to think perhaps you have not received my letters. Charles Farrer has received two and Chaffin and Moore and Davis and Hubbard have received some but not one world from those that are dearer to me than life itself but I comfort myself that there are some on the way as we have been marching and have not been able to get regular mail. We have now got Big and we are in Wilcox division and Burnside corps. We have just come from devine service and it was very comforting there. There were thousands of soldiers present and the different chaplains spoke very encouraging and one made a prayer in German. We could not understand one word.
I am not quite as well as usual. I have got a little touch of bowel complaint but not bad. I have not missed one duty on account of health.
Oh Dear Wife if ever I felt the need of a hope in Christ it has been since I left your blessed influence. I know I have your prayers. Perhaps you would like to know if I wish myself at home. I wish the thing was settled so we could all go home but I would come home just now if I could but if I ever live to come home I think I shall know how to prize a humble quiet home. I have seen a little of a soldiers life. It is not a pleasant life but the cause is a worthy one but there is great sacrifice of life and property but those that stay at home and find fault don’t know the first thing about it. We are encamped between Sharpsburg and Harper’s Ferry about 7 miles from the latter place. There are acres covered with tents. I saw W W Clapp a week ago today. TE Hall came to our camp a few days ago. I did not see him but A. Chaffin saw him. I have seen Henry White twice. He took dinner with me yesterday. He has been out here fourteen months and been in nine battles and is unharmed. We are a brigaded with the 46th and 100th Pennsylvania regiments. They were in the last great battles but we have not seen any fighting yet but don’t know how soon we may. Oh Dear wife how are those Dear little ones and that Dear aged Mother. May God sustain and comfort her. She has the prayers of one undutiful son. I shall never forget her kindness. Tell Eugene to write to me and be kind to you and take care of that little Brother. Give my love to all. Write as often as you can and write about the friends of the other Holden boys as we all feel anxious when a letter comes from there. I hear that Capt. Kelton is dead and is to be brought to Holden to bury. Everyone says he was a brave soldier. I hope you will write all the particulars just as they are in regard to yours and the children’s health and circumstances. We are going to send to have a box sent to the Holden boys. I shall want my undershirts and a pair of woolen mittens with fingers for the forefingers. I will send a little money if I am sure that it will reach you safe. I shall write often and hope you will.
Direct to
Winslow B Rogers Bugler
Compt G 36 Reg’t Mass. Volt
9th Army Corps
Washington, D C

Camp Forbes    Mariland        Monday Sept 29 /62
Dear Wife
I had just sealed the with letter and we have just received a mail this afternoon and I wish you could have seen the anxiety that was manifested and the rejoicing when the name was called and a letter presented. Oh it has done me more good than anything else could have done to hear that you were so comfortable and to know that it came from your Dear hands. I received one from Warren and Herman and two from you and Joel and Eugene. Oh I thank God for them. I am pretty well today. you wrote me in regard to the papers I should like them very much. I think the mail will come more regular than it has done before as we have got Brigaded.  I have written to Warren and Joel and Mother.
Dear wife be careful of your health and not try to do too much. You spoke of my realizing that I had another son. Oh Cassandria that little image is fixed on my mind so that I never shall forget it. Give my love to all. Tell Eugene to write every time you do.
Goodbye for the present.
May Gods blessing rest upon you.
W. B. Rogers
Warren was W.B.'s brother. Joel was the husband of his sister Emeline Bliss Rogers. Hermann was Warren's son and W. B's nephew. W. B. was related either by blood or marriage to several of the Holden boys : Chaffin, Davis and Hubbard all pop up in the family tree.
If there was a letter where Winslow recorded his impressions of the visit by Lincoln and McClellan, it has been lost. The next letter takes up on the march in late October. There is an underlying sense of how things really are in these letters. He talks of a "bowel complaint". Dysentery probably. It was everywhere in the war. He asks for undershirts and mittens. He's cold at night. He's missing home and longing for letters and news of home. He's trying to be cheerful, but you can read between the lines.
So far, they haven't been tested in battle. It won't last, of course.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Blogiversary!

Tapply Family 1927
Yesterday, was the four year anniversary of this blog. Of course, it completely slipped my mind. I know there must have been something over at GeneaBloggers, but I missed that until a message arrived in my inbox. Thanks to you all.

For this blogiversary, we have the picture that piqued my curiosity as a child. This is the Tapply family reunion in 1927 at the family homestead on Pearl Hill Road. We've had a lot of debate back and forth over the years about exactly who all the people are, but you can bet they're all Tapply family somehow.

I'm working on another Civil War post. More to come soon. In the meantime, Happy Blogiversary to me!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Taking an Oral History- The Tapplys

Charles and Ellen Tapply, White Horse Beach, 1931
You may recognize this picture from a previous post. I'm posting again today because the time period is right for what I'm sharing.  Long before I began to do any actual research into the family, I realized how important all the photos, letters, objects and memories are. I had heard someone talk about sitting older relatives down and recording their memories. How I wish I'd started sooner! In 1994 my mother sat down and made two tapes where she recorded things she knew or could remember about both sides of her family. The records and dates are nice, but the memories are priceless. I haven't listened to the tapes since my mother's death- too hard. Listening now I hear things in her voice I never noticed and hear details that didn't resonate with me then. So on Mother's Day, I share this one memory with my Tapply family.
"My earliest memories as a child are tied up with the Tapplys...my mother did have to work during the depths of the Depression. She spent a lot of time going on temporary assignments (she was a secretary) in downtown Fitchburg in offices. I got passed from grandmother to grandmother, but a lot of the time was with my Grandmother Tapply. At that time, they had moved to Pearl Hill, had build a house on Pearl Hill and their youngest son, Bob lived with them. I enjoyed going to visit my Grandmother and Grandfather Tapply. My grandfather, who my mother portrayed as a very stern, patriarchal, somewhat dictatorial father, had mellowed to a bald-headed gentleman with a salt-and-pepper mustache and wire-framed glasses and a brown coat-sweater that he wore most of the time. He loved to hold me on his lap and he was very kind to me and gave me candy. I used to go shopping with my grandmother and grandfather. We drove down from Pearl Hill and parked right beside the Rollstone Church on North Street and Main. I sat in the large, old, black touring car- I think it even had Isinglass windows -that my grandfather drove.
A touring car with Isinglass windows
My grandmother marched herself up Main Street to do her shopping. This woman had borne, bear in mind, 12 children but she was very energetic. She was a small woman with her hair piled up on top of her head -she still wore it long. Sometimes she would take me with her, but most of the time, I sat with my grandfather and watched the world go by. He was a very pleasant man. He died when I was seven year old and he was buried from that same Rollstone Congregational Church."
Somewhat later..1945...but it gives you a sense of the place at that time.


Reviewing these tapes has reminded me that it's time to digitize them and put them someplace more safe. That's the project for the summer, I think.
Now a challenge to the Tapply cousins: Oh, how I wish we had done this when Charlie and Bob and Prim and Bea and Bess were all still alive! But it's not too late. I challenge Jon and Mark and all the other Tapply cousins to pick an older relative and sit them down. We still have Janet, Bette, Chuck, Buzz and Launa, Warren, Norm and many others. What could they share?
One of the latest issues of Family Tree Magazine gives some tips for how to interview older relatives who may be shy, or tongue-tied, or who need some prompting:
1. Start with the oldest family members
2. Use old photos to trigger memories
3.  Go off topic - you never know what might pop up.
4. Get it on tape or video

They suggest starting with open ended questions and allow them to ramble.
Tell me about your childhood home.
How did your family celebrate holidays when you were a child?
What is your earliest memory?
For a list of suggested questions, you can read at the magazine site and Ancestry has the full list of tips and explains them further here.
Ok Tapply cousins, I've done my bit and I will share more from those tapes here later. Now it's your turn. Please, please send me an audio file or video to share. Think how priceless these will be.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

W. B. Rogers and the American Civil War- The Story Continues

The Steamer Merrimack
By the end of August, the 36th Massachusetts was as trained as they were ever going to be. A history of the 36th tells us that on September 2nd, they boarded train cars and left for Boston. The narrative tells us this:
"On the arrival of the regiment in Boston the line was again formed, and the Thirty-sixth, receiving a brilliant ovation from the citizens, marched through "Washington street, down State street to Battery wharf, where the steamer " Merrimac," a new and large ocean steamer, was in readiness to receive us. One-half of the steamer had been assigned to the Twentieth Maine, Colonel Adelbert Ames, and his regiment was already on board, having arrived from Portland earlier in the day.
In the crowded condition of the steamer there was, necessarily, some delay in getting the companies into the places to which they were assigned, and also in transferring the horses and baggage ; and it was not until late in the evening that the embarkation was accomplished ; then the steamer dropped out into the stream."
Now if the name "Merrimac" sounds familiar, this is not THAT ship. The Merrimac of great fame was scuttled in Virginia by Union forces, raised by the Confederacy, and plated to become the famed ship in the battle of the Ironclads. There were actually a couple of ships operating under that name at the time and our Merrimack (sic) was only one of them. Thanks to the guys over at the American Civil War Forums, I was able to track down some information on our steamer and the picture above which we believe is the right ship. It served to transport troops all through the Civil War, but came to a sad end in 1887 near Halifax, Nova Scotia when it wrecked in thick fog. Here are the basic facts for this ship, as found by my friends over at the Forum.
And Fortress Monroe or actually, Alexandria, Virginia was the very destination for W.B. and his Holden friends. Conditions on the ship, however, were pretty primitive.
This came from a previous newspaper report, but as you will see, W.B. and company shared their feelings. Keep in mind that I corrected only the basics for clarity. The spelling and grammar are all his.
Aug 14/62 Steamer Merrimac
Dear Wife
We started from Boston yesterday morning and we are on the broad Atlantic and no land in sight. I have been seasick and a great many were sick yesterday. We are crowded most to death. There is a …? Regiment on board which makes about 2500 men. I never experience this before saying he had nowhere to lay his head. I have had to lay on deck as best I could. There is fearful confusion and I hear nothing but oaths and vulgarity. There is nothing for me to enjoy but assurance that there is a friend in Heaven. It is a beautiful morning with no land in sight. We don’t know where we are bound. There are a great many rumors about our destination but I shall be glad to get released from this crowded craft. I feel thankful that I am well and in the hands of a just God who doeth things well. My mind dwells on those dear ones at home. I am thankful you are so far away from such scenes as I have witnessed since I left home. Those in their quiet country homes know but little what there is in this wicked world.  The members of our company seem like Brothers to me. It seems like going home to get with them as it is all the home I can claim at the present. I want to hear from you very much but cannot tell you where to direct your letters. I will write as soon as we get landed if …? And tell you all the news. Kiss the children for me and give my love to all.
From your loving Husband
W. B. Rogers
The regiment sharing the ship, according to the history I read, was the 20th Maine.

Steamer Merimack
Saturday Sept 6 /62
Dear Wife
We are sailing up the Potomac and have been confined on board this old craft since Tuesday night. We are packed in like a lot of hogs. I shall be glad to get ashore oncemore. I can be thankful that it is as well as it is.
I feel first rate. the scenery this morning is ….(?). we are continually passing vessels of different kinds and we can see plantations and huts which makes it very pleasant as we have been out of sight of land for two days and I haven’t heard much but profanity. Oh how can men be regardless of their accountability to God. If ever I felt to rejoice in Christ and pray for his grace to sustain me it has been for the last few days. Oh we know not how to realize the comforts of home until we are deprived of them. We expect we are going to land at Alexandria some time but we know not what is before us but there is a friend that will go with me if I put my trust is him and I can pray for those Dear ones at home.
Oh pray that I may see you once more. I am not homesick because I feel that I came here to discharge my duty and hope I shall have strength and courage to do it.
Tell Eugene that I often think of him. Kiss little Ned for me. Give my love to Joel and tell him I am looking on Old Virginia soil at this moment. Give my love to all relatives and friends.
I must leave off writing. there is so much confusion and crowding I cannot half write. I will write again as soon as we get located and tell you where to direct you letters. Yours Truly
                                                                                                W. B. Rogers
So here is the route taken, by the history of the regiment I found and by W.B.'s letters. They boarded the City of Norwich and landed in Washington on around September 7, 1862.
The route of the Merrimack
At the point they reached Washington, they were assigned to the command of General Burnside in the 9th Corps. Here the history skips around a lot from my account by W.B.. There was a great deal of marching in which they just barely escaped taking part in  the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of South Mountain.

They marched from Leesburg, Virginia, to Brookeville, Maryland and on to Unity, to Damascus, to New Market and then just beyond Frederick to Middletown where they camped briefly. 

From Middletown they made camp in Keedysville, Maryland. This is where we take up the last letter for this time from W.B..
Keedysville, Maryland      Sept 16/62

Dear Wife
I have just been looking at your and Eugene’s miniatures and am wondering how you are and what you are doing. Oh if I could spend this Sabbath with you and the little ones but I feel that God is watching over you. we don’t know how to prize God’s blessings until we are deprived of them. I hope I shall be more grateful to him and better discharge my duty to him. I hope you will never cease to pray for me. I never shall for you and pray that I may be permitted to return to you unharmed. My health has been very good ever since I left home. I never shall forget that morning when last I saw you and those Dear little ones. All is very uncertain in this world. If we live as we should we shall soon be at rest. (the rest of this letter seems to be lost)
The 36th had just done a tremendous amount of marching around, yet he doesn't mention it at all. Of course, we don't know what the missing part of the last letter held.
Now I'm wondering. Was that little "fairy album" of miniatures that I had and sent on to the cousins the album W. B. took to war? Eugene would have been 9 at this time and "little Ned", my great-grandfather, was less than a month old. It sounds like he "just" got to look on Ned before he marched off to war. He's been near two very big battles, but hasn't entered the battlefield yet. He sounds homesick, but making the best of his situation. This is what soldiers do. More to come....

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fairy Forts and Leprechauns- The Cookes of Clooningan

Former home of Michael Cooke and family, Clooningan, Sligo, Ireland
     No, I haven't lost my mind. I have scored yet another find in my family history. You are looking at the house in which my grandmother, Catherine Marie Cooke was born in March 1878. It would have had different windows and a thatch roof, but this is the family home. How did I find this? Well, I joined a website called Ireland Reaching Out. I can highly recommend this site as I've had hits for both the Fitzgerald and Cooke sides of the family. The one that yielded this photo was from Ciaran, who, it turns out, is a rather close cousin still living in the area. More on all that later. He sent me a whole series of photos of the Cooke property including this one. This property was sold out of the family, but some of the surrounding land is still occupied and farmed by family.
     The photos that intrigued me were labeled as a "high circle" or "fairy fort" which still exists on the property. What is a fairy fort? Well, I had to find out. A ráth or fairy fort is the remains of a stone age or early Christian period ring fort which was built as a defensive enclosure.  A high clay bank was built up in a large ring, surrounded by a ditch and topped with a wooden stockade enclosing wood-framed dwellings. In western Ireland, where stone was more plentiful, the surround would be of stone as you see here.
Ringfort in Donegal
The ringfort on the Cooke property was most likely of the wooden variety. You often see pictures of the surviving trees or large hedges that surrounded them. Here's the view up the hill on the Cooke property where you can see the ring of trees.

And here's the view at the fairy fort itself.
You can see that a line of trees has been deliberately planted, but it's hard to tell much. I went to Google Earth to get a better look.

You can see the fairy fort at the tip of the red arrow and the Michael Cooke home just below it along the road to the right.
     The next part is where a strong dose of Irish imagination figures in. The Irish folklore holds that fairy forts were imbued with Druid magic and with the Tuatha Dé Danann and were entry points into the fairy world. (The Tuatha Dé Danann were the ancient pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland) Altering a ringfort in any way would bring terrible fortune on that person. (Even cutting the whitethorn brush around them) There are also numerous tales of supernatural experiences happening at these ringforts. Another story associated with a ringfort is that this is the place where a leprechaun hides his gold. Clearly my relatives never benefited from the help of a leprechaun!
     I'm not a big fan of the American celebration of St. Patrick's Day, but this tidbit seemed too good to pass up. Many American-born Irish know so little about true Irish culture or language or folklore.  I also realized just this morning that today would be my grandmother's birthday. She was born on March 4, 1878. So Happy Birthday Katie. I'm thinking of you.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Civil War Ancestor- Winslow Brainard Rogers

     If you've read all my blogposts, then you know I have a Civil War ancestor who was one of the seeds of my interest in genealogy.  We had a bundle his actual letters home in the house when I was a child. I read what seemed, at the time, as very sad letters home and I  wondered about this man. Here's what I've been able to discover. Winslow Brainard Rogers, grew up in Holden, Massachusetts, a small town just outside of Worcester. He worked at various jobs, but most of the census material has him working in a boot factory in Holden. One Worcester town directory from a time before his marriage listed him as a "painter" and I assumed "house painter".
     But as I researched for this post I found an intriguing clue. First I found  a paragraph in a history of Worcester County.
This is a listing for W. B.'s son Eugene, Harrington Rogers, who became a sign painter and an artist. Notice the last line of the first paragraph, "instruction from his father, also an artist".Then, I found W. B.'s  profession in his muster papers listed as "painter". Where are those paintings now?
      No photographs survive of Winslow. The best I am able to do is his physical description in those same muster papers.  He had blue eyes, brown hair and dark complected and stood 5 foot 7 inches tall. He was 37 when he signed up.  Winslow reported to Camp Wool, which was located in Worcester. Camp Wool had been formed at the Worcester Agricultural Fairground near where Elm Street Park is now.
Worcester Agricultural Fairground
The camp was just to the west of the actual park, in an area that's now residential. Here's a description of the site from one of the Civil War commemorative sites:
"Initially the camp was know as Camp Lincoln, in honor of a Massachusetts governor. The first regiment to occupy the site was the 21st Massachusetts in July of 1861. It was soon followed by the 25th. After these regiments departed in August and October respectively, the camp was not used until the July 1862 call for additional three-year regiments. Renamed Camp Wool (for General John Wool) the  site was designated as the rendezvous for three-year regiments from western Massachusetts. Units trained here were the 21st, 25th, 34th, 36th, 49th, 51st and 57th regiments of infantry."
W. B. Rogers was mustered into the 36th Massachusetts infantry, Company G in August of 1862. He was a bugler. At first I wondered about this. The war was going badly at this point. He was already 37 years old. He had a wife, a son and a baby on the way. What made him want to put himself in harm's way?  As we work our way through his letters, you'll see that this was a man of some conviction.
I have left much of the spelling, capitalization and punctuation as is, except in instances where it might be required for clarity.

"Camp Wool- Aug 22
Dear wife. I take this oportunity to write a few lines. I am well and enjoy myself as well as I expected. My thoughts are on those Dear ones at home. Oh four features are fixed on my mind and will be as long as I have my sence. I am trying my best to get a furlough but do’nt much expect to get one. Calvin Hubbard came into Camp yesterday. I have got into a very good company. There are a good many Christians and we have prayers
every night and there are a few things to enjoy. Warren and Caleb have just come to our tent. I feel very anxious about you. How does Eugene do. Kiss him for me and give my love to all.
                                                                                    W. B. Rogers"
Warren would be Jonas Warren Rogers, his uncle. Not sure which Caleb this is, but possibly Jonathan Caleb Rogers,  a cousin.

"Camp Wool- Sunday Aug 24 /62
Dear Wife
            I take one more oportunity of writing a few lines as I had flatered myself that I should see you today. but I cannot get out of camp at present. but hope I shall some day this week. It is as quiet as could be expected. We don’t drill today. we have preching this afternoon. We had a prayer meeting in our tent last night. There are a good many fine men in this Regiment. They are very indignent because they cannot get a furlough. Elmira and Caleb were in camp yesterday and brought me a basket of provisions. Oh I long to see you. Write me a line as often as you can. Tell Eugene to come in and see me. Give my love to all friends. William Nichols came into camp yesterday. I took a little cold last night but I feel quite well except that. Give my love to Mother if you see her. Tell her I feel that I am doing my duty to my Country and to you all. God Bless you.
From your loving husband.
                                                                        W. B. Rogers"
OK, this is definitely Jonathan Caleb Rogers, who was married at this time to Winslow's sister Almira. He mentions his mother, Betsy Howe Rogers as well. Winslow's father, George, died when he was only 5. I found guardianship papers appointing  Jonas Warren Rogers. (Warren of the previous letter) He was raised by both Warren and his mother Betsy. 
      This letter gives you some idea of distances at the time. Holden, today is barely beyond the town limits of Worcester by car.  Yet, the going to see W. B. in camp wasn't possible, apparently, for Cassandria and Eugene. 
     This is the beginning of a series of posts for Winslow Brainard Rogers. I'll be sharing copies of the letters along with any other information I can find over the coming months. W.B. was not Sullivan Ballou of Ken Burns fame; his letters are not profound or poetic, but they give you some idea of one man's journey at a time which defined our history.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Catharine Fitzgerald...A Small Postscript

So I heard back from Frank Thompson and he wanted to clarify a few points from the previous post. First, the Ballinoe I found was one of several in County Cork. The actual scene of my family drama was closer to the previous locations. If you look at the map in the previous post and find the Cork airport, this is the area just south and west.
You can see Ballinhassig in the far lower left, Ballygarvan in the center and Monees, which Frank tells me is more commonly called Moneygurney. So they stayed in the same general area) He tells me that the locals would most likely have gone to the chapel in Ballygarvan. He enclosed a picture:
This is also where many of Frank's relatives attended. But Frank cautioned against the idea that baptisms and big weddings were going on in these places. This was an point in history where the religion of Ireland was the Church of Ireland. Here is Frank's explanation:
"However, neither weddings nor baptisms were normally held in the ‘chapel’ (as all Catholic churches were called, no matter how big).  For somewhat complicated reasons, they were normally held on ‘private’ premises, that is, in people’s houses, meeting halls, barns, or even pubs.  This was because, officially, weddings and baptisms were supposed to be held only in Church of Ireland (Protestant) churches, the only Church recognized by the state until 1869.  Of course, this was a joke, because no one really questioned the validity of a Catholic marriage, and it would not have been practical to force parents to have their children baptized in the ‘parish church’ (Protestant).  To avoid conflict with the letter of the Protestant law, therefore, the Catholic ‘chapel’ was used only for mass, not for any event that might have official or legal significance.  The parish priest constantly rode about his parish on horseback, marrying and baptizing along the way.  For each service, he collected a fixed fee.  And, just as important, he expected to get his ‘dinner’ at the houses of at least the better-off recipients of his services. "
I went back and reexamined the marriage record for Robert and Ellen and found this for the 7th April 1825.
Frank agrees that the Mary he found seems most likely to be Mary Catherine. He commented that the name Robert wasn't terribly common among Cork Catholics and of course I always figure the odds of finding exactly Robert Fitzgerald combined with Ellen Desmond within the span of years I give.
   Frank's suggestion is to next go after the valuation books at the National Archives of Ireland. Oh boy, more jurisdictions to navigate! As someone pointed out to me, it's like one of those giant jigsaws puzzled with pieces you almost have to pull from the ether. I enjoy the challenge.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Catharine Fitzgerald

     You may remember that finding this application for a marriage license was a major breakthrough for me. It has led me to Andrew's roots in Macroom, Cork, Ireland. I didn't have as much instant success with Catharine, however. I was pretty sure she was also from Cork. I also had a sneaking suspicion that Andrew and Catharine were cousins of some sort. There are a LOT of Desmonds on the parish registers for Macroom and some other Fitzgeralds. A straight up search, however, for Robert Fitzgerald and Ellen Desmond didn't give me much to work with. This is where the Ancestry message boards come in. I posted a brief message with the tiny bit I knew.  Very soon, I got back a query from Frank Thompson. Why was my information so sparse?  Where are my dates? Well, other than the American dates and this license, I have almost nothing on Catharine Fitzgerald.

     Bless his heart,  Frank went to work. Frank prefers to use the Irish Genealogy site to Ancestry or some of the other sites. We went back and forth for a few emails because Catharine didn't show up, although Robert and Ellen did. Frank, being much more organized than I am, came up with a very involved spreadsheet. Here is the portion showing Robert and Ellen and their children:

     The first entry would be their marriage, followed by the birth of five children: Julia, Ellen, Mary, John and Margaret. The number 12 indicates the Douglas-Killingly-Ballygarven parish registers. These can also be found at the Irish National Library site. You can see on the right the various places the family lived.

     Catharine always claimed a birthdate of 1832, but as we know, if she was illiterate she may not have known her birth date. Frank sent me an interesting quote that addresses this directly:
This quote comes from Alexander Irvine, from his book The Chimney Corner Revisted.
"My mother kept a mental record of the twelve births. None of us ever knew, or cared to know, when we were born. When I heard of anybody in the more fortunate class celebrating a birthday I considered it a foolish imitation of the Queen’s birthday, which rankled in our little minds with 25th December or 12th July. In manhood there were times when I had to prove I was born somewhere, somewhen, and then it was that I discovered that I also had a birthday. The clerk of the parish informed me"
     I wonder if Mary, born in July 1831 wasn't actually Mary Catharine. Parish registers didn't include middle names, but I know my Cook relatives all had middle names. So Mary Catharine seems completely possible. Also, I suspect that Catharine's first job in America was as a house servant. One too many Irish Marys in the house would give you an instant renaming.
     I did ask Frank about the gap between Mary and the later two children. He gave me a couple of ideas that might explain it. First, either Robert may have actually been Protestant or a former Protestant. Sometimes those families christened some of the family in one faith and some in another. (and sadly many of the Protestant records were the ones that burned) Barring that, there could have been a separation: dad went to where there was work and sent money home. Or there could have been numerous miscarriages, illness and other issues. I may never know if this is actually MY Catharine, but it seems likely. I did do a broader search of Ireland using Robert and Ellen. Cork is the only place they turned up together...at least from what's available online.
     Frank did a very detailed analysis of the "sponsor" names and found numerous connections between the Bennetts, the Buttimores and the Fitzgeralds and Desmonds. Almost certainly these are relatives. He said those names show up on the Macroom parish registers as well. So there's a future project.
Finally, St. Finbar's South in Cork seems to have been the last church. It the place of registry for of one of the christenings. So I took a look and found this:
     I like this very rustic stone church. Seems right to go with what I know about the the family. With some help from a new online friend, I've possibly unlocked a little more of the mystery of my Irish family.