Showing posts with label Fitzgerald. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fitzgerald. Show all posts

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.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Great Grand Challenge: Crunching the Data

 A little while back, Randy Seaver of Genea Musings posted the great-grand challenge. You can find out more about it here.  He also posted some brief directions for the challenge:
1) We each have 16 great-great grandparents. How did their birth and death years vary? How long were their lifespans?
2) For this week, please list your 16 great-great grandparents, their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan in years. You can do it in plain text, in a table or spreadsheet, or in a graph of some sort.
3) Share your information about your 16 great-great grandparents with us in a blog post of your own.

I thought this sounded like a fine idea, but as you can see, I have a bit of a problem. The paternal ancestors are still a bit lacking. Food for future research. However, I decided that I would see what I could do with the maternal side for great-great grandparents and both sides for great-grandparents. So, here is what I found presented in a fan chart.

For the known ancestors (great-great-grands) on my maternal side the average birth year is 1828. The birth years run 47 years from 1806 (Benn) to 1853 (Johnson). The average life span was 63 years. (Men had an average of 60 years and women an average of 65) A little noodling on the internet told me that life expectancy for men born between 1800 and 1830 was 38 years at birth and by age 5 had increased to 55 years. This would be due to the large number of infant deaths, as I have discovered working on my own tree. Women could be expected to live 39 years at birth and it jumped to 59 if they survived to age 5. Overall, my maternal great-grands beat the average by almost 5 years.

When I looked at the great-grandparents on both sides things improved. Of course we can imagine that between 1850 and 1900 more women survived childbirth and more babies survived to age 5. The great-grandparents fell into the years where medical care was more available and all of the great-grands on my tree worked in occupations other than farming.  The Industrial Revolution made a real difference in their lives. That had to have improved their chances.

The average birth year for the great-grandparents was 1850. This spanned 52 years between 1820 (Fitzgerald) to 1872 (Smith). The average life span for my paternal great-grandparents was 73. (70 for the men and 76 for the women) On the maternal side the average life span was 79 (80 for the men and 78 for the women). Looking again at those general statistical averages, my great-grandparents did significantly better- about 20 years.

Finally, I looked at my grandparents. The average birth year here was 1887. There was a span of 20 years in births-much closer than the previous generations. Both sides show the differences in a modern life with modern health problems; both grandfathers only lived to their 50's. This was actually just about average for men in their birth years. My grandmothers lived to be 95 and 93. These women exceeded the statistical average by almost 30 years.

So what does all of this tell me? It's interesting data, but what does it mean? When I look at my family tree now, especially at this fan chart, I see something more than numbers. I think back to my study of history in school where I was struck by the lives of our ancestors: the war, the disease, the lack of medical care, the dangers of daily life. I was amazed at our survival. Now some might say this is Darwinism in play. I see the great-great grandfather who just happened to father a child just before marching off to the Civil War- only to die. I see the great-great grandfather who lost sisters older and younger to vicious Maine winters and croup. Why the four infant sisters, but not him? And of course I think of all the women who survived 6 and 8 and 10 childbirths under the most basic conditions when other women did not. I can't help but think there is something more at play here. It first occurred to me several years ago as I began this work on the tree, although I can remember thinking about this long before. I heard someone on Finding Your Roots express just the right sentiment in almost the exact words I have said to myself for years: for of all of the war, disease, accident and happenstance, we in the current generation are the result...the very lucky result. If you're thinking this implies the need for a measure of gratitude, a bit of awe and some responsibility, I would agree.

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.

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.

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!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Family Friday

No download or reproduction without express permission
Today's post is in honor of my mom. This is Primrose Rogers Fitzgerald at age 16. She would have been 91 today.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Belated Blogaversary

The two-year blogaversary managed to come and go on Tuesday without my notice. It's been an interesting experience maintaining the momentum and finding new and interesting things to post.
Hopefully, the adventure can continue. At any rate Happy Blogaversary to me!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Finding Uncle Andrew

Long Island Light-Courtesy Boston Public Library Archives
Growing up, I peppered my father with questions about the Fitzgeralds and the Cooks. He could tell me very little. One thing he did remember was going to visit "Uncle Andrew" at a hospital somewhere in Boston. My mother later confided that this was my grandfather's brother who supposedly was dying at the time of cirrhosis. I can guess why THAT story didn't make it into family lore.

I discovered that there WAS, in fact, an Uncle Andrew. Andrew Fitzgerald grew up in the house on Charles River Avenue and became a teamster like his father. There's no evidence he married and very little about him in the census in his adult years. In the1930 census I came across this:

So the April 1930 Census puts 62-year-old Andrew in the Long Island Almshouse, also known as the Long Island Prison Hospital. This is where 13-year-old John and his dad would have visited Uncle Andrew. Yet again, some facts that fit a family story. I would imagine Andrew died on the island. I'll have to make inquiries with the City of Boston. I haven't found a death record yet, but his grave is either in the small cemetery on the island or unmarked in the family plot at Holy Cross.


Long Island is one of the harbor islands inside Boston Harbor now in the control of the National Parks Service. You can take a ferry ride to several of the islands, but Long Island is still closed to the public. It has an interesting history as I found laid out in a report to Mayor Menino in 2002. It is the largest of all the harbor islands and was inhabited early on by Native Americans. Later it was used as a sort of holding facility for native tribes. The report goes on to talk about its role in the American Revolution:
"Its height and strategic location also allowed it to command both entrances to Boston's inner harbor (Broad Sound and the Narrows). In 1775, 500 Continental soldiers landed on Long Island, stole livestock, and took seventeen British sailors prisoner. The following year, a force of Continental soldiers and militia men occupied the island and built defensive batteries which were used to bombard British vessels entering Boston Harbor during the Revolutionary War."

During the Civil War it was used as a place to drill and train soldiers and was fortified with gun emplacements. Later, in a complete change of use, people began to use it as a recreational spot.
A hotel was built which remained in operation until 1885.
Courtesy of Boston Public Library Archives



In 1887, the city of Boston acquired almost the entire island to house city charities. An almshouse for the poor, a treatment hospital for chronic illness, a nursing school a prison facility and other charity facilities took over the buildings. The hospital treated chronic alcoholism at a time when this was considered more of a "defect of character" than an illness. People whose chronic drunkenness caused a public nuisance would be likely to end up at Long Island. (By 1940 they were calling it an alcohol treatment facility rather than a prison) This, I suspect, is how Andrew ended up there in 1930.


Men's hospital on Long Island-Courtesy BPL archives
Men's ward-Long Island hospital- Courtesy of BPL archives


The island again became a military facility during WWII and later NIKE missiles were housed there. Many buildings have been demolished, but many still remain on the island and are used to house shelters and substance abuse treatment programs.  I would imagine it is a pleasant place to be in the summer, but miserably cold and windy in Boston winters.

I came across one last tidbit of lore concerning the island- a ghost story.
Woman in Scarlet
Boston Harbor’s Long Island is home to one of the most tragic Boston Ghost Stories. At the close of the American Revolution, the British still had several ships lagging in Boston Harbor. On board one of these ships were William and Mary Burton. The newly weds, like so many others, were fleeing the chaos of this besieged city and looking forward to spending their lives together across the Atlantic. 

As their ship attempted to sail out of Boston Harbor, a cannon ball from the Long Island Battery hit Mary in back of the head. Unbelievably, she was not killed instantly, but lingered on for several days in excruciating pain before succumbing to her massive head trauma. As she lay dying, Mary pleaded with her husband not to bury her at sea. She was never fond of the sea and could not bear to have her earthly remains consigned to a watery grave. Eventually mary died of her injuries and William was permitted to venture to Long Island to bury his love. Once ashore, he sewed her body into a soft red blanket that Mary had brought aboard with her to keep warm on the long journey home and laid her to rest in the sandy dunes. He fashioned a headstone out of a piece of driftwood and as he carved her name into it he swore that he would return to Boston and give her a proper marker. He never returned.

But Mary, it seems, refuses to be forgotten. To this day, visitors to the island report seeing a woman with “muddy-gray skin” and wearing a scarlet cloak stumbling over the sandy dunes. Blood is usually seen streaming down her cloak from a gaping hole in the back of her head—the exact spot where the cannon fire had smashed her skull. 

This story sounds like a yarn to me, but I'm sure for some it was effective at keeping people away from the island.  There is a movement afoot to catalog the graveyard, where stones are few and most are undocumented on Find-a-Grave. Perhaps this will turn up one last trace of Uncle Andrew.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Blogiversary

I noticed about midweek that there were a few more hits on the blog. Then it "hit" me: Monday was my  blogiversary. It was a year ago on June 2, 2013 when I began. Thanks to Geneabloggers for the reminder. And Happy Blogiversary to ME!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's All in the Genes


Tapplys about 1900
No download or reproduction without express permission
As I look at family photos, I'm often struck by little characteristics that are passed from generation to generation.  The Tapplys were in two camps. You can see the dark hair and deep-set eyes on the three
oldest sisters in the back: Annie, Daisy and Nell. Mabel, on the far left, Ethel (next to her) and my grandmother (the baby on Ellen's lap were more fair and had rounder features. But I was taken aback to see two somewhat distant cousins who were more than a bit alike.
Mark Tapply                                                      William G Tapply
A few years ago I began reading the mysteries of the late William G Tapply because I knew as a "double p" Tapply we were somehow related and frankly I was curious. I turned over one book in the series to find this picture.  For the curious cousins reading this, I made a simple tree from my further research.

This makes Mark and William G third cousins. When you compare the jacket photo to my cousin Mark I wouldn't say the resemblance is close, but you can definitely tell they are family.

Sometimes some very distinctive features skip a generation. My brother Mark is most certainly a Fitzgerald, but the resemblance between his son Patrick and his grandfather (both at 16 years) is quite remarkable.
Patrick Fitzgerald                                            John J Fitzgerald
No download or reproduction without express permission
The chin, the ears, the brow...the set of their eyes...Wow! 

I've been told I look a lot like my father as well and my mother and my grandmother Katie (dad's mom) and my two times great grandmother Cassandria. And I do look a bit like all of them. But then I looked more closely at a picture taken in 1927 of my great grandmother Ellen.
The photo is pretty grainy, but look at the chin and the jawline, the smile lines of the nose, the lips......and my mother always said my very thick blonde hair came from Ellen. Maybe I'm more Tapply than I thought.

Family photos are just one more way to reach into the past and make that gene-alogical connection.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Irish Eyes

John J Fitzgerald Jr.
No download or reproduction without express permission
The caption on the back of this picture reads "John J Fitzgerald Jr., Age 7 1/2, June 10, 1925".
Even when I was a girl there was a photographer set up at the edge of the Boston Common taking pictures of children seated on his pony. Judging by the very serious face I would guess that the pony portrait in short pants was wrangled out of my father under duress. But it's a sweet portrait of the most Irish face I know....my dad.

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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

(My)Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Left: Primrose Fitzgerald and Christine  Right: Barbara Walsh and Duncan
On New Year's Eve 1952 a future genealogist was born. Duncan was about two weeks older and never let me forget it. The picture was taken about a month later, but  I think this was about as close to a "newborn" picture as you might have gotten back then. Oddly I just noticed the picture on the wall. It's a repro of a Wanda Gag lithograph chock-a-block full of cats.  The print hangs in my house to this day. My future as an ailurophile was portended.

Thankfully my mother was a packrat. I found this tidbit as well:

The day I was born just happened to be the birthday of my grandfather Harry W. Rogers, who had passed away the previous February. Another interesting coincidence I think. A New Year's Eve birthday...well any holiday birthday...is not ideal in the mind of a young child. Today I look at it as a fresh start in every way for the new year. Happy New Years!

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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

First Cousin Friday

This picture from my collection was dated 1964. I think this must have been a combined birthday party; my brother and my cousin Jim were July/August birthdays. It was taken in Grandma's back yard. You can see her in the background. My father was an only child. No immediate cousins there. Mom had one brother. So these are my closest relatives. From the left Lynn Rogers(Kamrath), Jim Rogers, Lee Ellen Fitzgerald, Jill Rogers (Pratzon) and Mark Fitzgerald. I'm missing for some reason. Cuties for sure.