Showing posts with label Charlestown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charlestown. Show all posts

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.

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.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Traces of the Past

Charles River Avenue...possibly about the time my great grandparents lived there
Courtesy Boston Public Library
I have mentioned before that I have very little of the story of my father's family, the Irish immigrants who settled in Boston and Charlestown. One day, noodling through an archive of old Boston photos, I found this (identified as Charles River Avenue). I see a blurry trace of a horse entering the picture on the left, so I know this is pre-1900.  I also see, in the glass above the doorway, a numeral beginning with a "one". This got me very excited because my great grandparents, Andrew and Catherine Fitzgerald lived in this very block for over ten years. I had to dig into old directories and old maps to figure this one out. First I went to the directories
This is the entry for the 1869 Boston City Directory. There is Andrew who at this time would be living with his wife and oldest son at 10 Charles River Avenue. Next came the 1880 Federal Census, just to make sure I had the right Andrew Fitzgerald.
In the left margin you can see where the census taker wrote Charles River Avenue. And there are Andrew, Catherine, Andrew Jr., Robert, Nora and John (my grandfather). Next I looked at the
1886 Directory.
This time it even identifies him as a teamster. The family has moved to 16 Charles River Avenue. I began to be curious about the buildings in the photo, but no amount of PhotoShop made the numbers readable. So I went back to antique maps. And finally I found this with the house numbers along the street.
Numbers 10 and 16 are the two sides of the very large center clapboard building with all the shutters.
The docks and several mill buildings were immediately to the right and out of the picture. They lived right on the waterfront. So even if I don't know much about them personally, I have some small trace of their lives in the geography of Charlestown that has long since disappeared. It is a block that doesn't exist anymore. Once a thriving row of shops and apartments, there is a park and the ramp to a large bridge into Boston and a large hotel complex sitting there now where Route 1 meets Route 93.

Later, Andrew and Catherine moved to Stetson Court, another place long made invisible with parks and freeways and modern backyards replacing the crowded tenements.
All the smaller streets on this old map are long gone from the area around Winthrop Square, but it's still just blocks from St. Mary's Church and a stone's throw from Monument Square where my father grew up. Small discoveries like this can be very satisfying when so little remains of the past.