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.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

John J. Fitzgerald 1917-2000

No download or reproduction without express permission
Here's to John J Fitzgerald. Member of the "greatest generation", WWII veteran, 30 year employee of NASA in its most formative years and my dad. He would be 99 years old today.  We miss you, dad.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Small Bonuses of Family Genealogy

Blanche Lowell of Auburn, Maine
I receive messages here on the blog from time to time, but more often there are messages over at my Ancestry account. Sometimes, it's a cousin looking for family details, sometimes it's a total stranger. I got a message last week from someone I didn't recognize, and after some cautious back-and-forth I discovered a website and a mission I'd never heard of before.

Chris Hodge of Heirloom Archaeology likes to haunt junk stores and antique shops. Often, he discovers old family photo albums or other ephemera. He's made it his mission to return these, when possible, to the family members who might treasure them. That's where his email to me came in. He had found a photo album with roots in Lewiston, Maine. There are names in the list I recognize: Lowell, Newell, and Cummings all sounded familiar. It was the Lowell connection in my tree that Chris spotted. Sadly, these folks are pretty far off in the tree, so probably not the best home for the photos. Little Blanche Lowell is my 4th cousin 3 times removed. But Chris was gracious enough to share the images with me, so we all get to enjoy Blanche and her doggie friend.
For the cousins, this is how we are related:
Four steps down the tree and I'm 3 steps removed from Cora. That's how it works. I checked out Charlie Gorham Lowell and found that they lived around Auburn, Maine until the turn of the century. He was a farmer who married Maude Flora Randall. It appears that Maude didn't survive long, but their daughter Blanche did. Here's the picture Chris sent of Maude:
I can't find any trace of Maude after about 1885 when Blanche was born. Charlie and Blanche lived on Long Island, NY for a while and then in Manhattan where, as an adult, she was a house servant. The census lists her as divorced. Other trees have Charlie remarried later and back in Maine. I haven't been able to verify that. Chris also sent three other very cute pictures of Blanche which I enjoyed seeing.
All these photos seem to have been made at the same photographer's studio in Lewiston. So, it would appear they DID return to Maine periodically.
A.E. Nye Studios, Lisbon Street, Lewiston, Maine

She was certainly a cute and well-dressed young lady. I did determine that the photos Chris has are probably from somewhere in the immediate Lowell family. He lists Grace Lowell Young, who I found was Blanche's first cousin. One of the uncles or great uncles had a bunch of daughters, so I suspect the album came from a first or second cousin right in the area. 

If any of the names I've mentioned or the photos here seem familiar, follow the link I provided and contact Chris Hodge. He'd love to restore them to a family member. And what do I plan to do with the scans? Well, they'll go into my archive and on the tree, of course. But I have another plan in mind. My friend Stephanie Rubiano makes shadow boxes with old photos- she's especially clever with photos of Victorian children and their pets. Blanche's photo may or may not find a forever home, but as a piece of original artwork she can live on my wall. She'll remind me of the small bonuses of doing family genealogy.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Charlie - A Family Hobby Begins....

Not long ago there was speculation on the family Facebook group about this photo. Mark and Launa came across the picture in her attic. The consensus was that this is Charles Earnest Tapply, who I knew as Uncle Charlie. Charlie had a history with horses, so I wasn't surprised to find a photo and article in the December 14, 1950 edition of the Fitchburg Sentinel.
The picture isn't too clear, but this is the story I remember being told. Charles Tapply was a harness race driver at the Saratoga Springs track in New York. The article also mentions that Charles had being training colts "since he was 15 years old".   By the time he appeared in the first picture, he was already an experienced horseman.
Of course by 1950, Charlie was already 63 years old. There is a theme running through the family though....Charlie was into horses, Bob's boys Warren and Norm are into horsepower of another kind -classic cars. Kevin collects old cars and a beaut of an old fire engine.  Buzz's son, Todd, raced cars in Las Vegas. The Tapply boys must have a need for speed. The apple never falls too far from the tree.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Some Recent Discoveries....The Tapply Immigration Mystery Partly Resolved

As you know, I've been teasing out the puzzle of great-grandfather Charles Tapply's immigration. Family stories had him "stowing away" to come to America. Professional genealogists tell us that story is right up there with "grandma was an indian princess".  Seldom true. But I have recently found a few more clues from records that are now available online.

Ellen Tapply appears as Mrs. Tapply along with Annie and Daisy on the manifest for the steamship Bolivia in June 1881. The Bolivia was on the Anchor line and this journey took them in steerage from London to Castle Garden Immigration Station  in New York. (Ellis Island wasn't opened yet) The two pictures above are of sister ships on that line. I'm thinking the one on the left is the closest image.
Ellen Tapply was only 26 years old and Daisy was an infant. The passenger list doesn't reveal much more about them besides age, gender and country of origin. I looked for someone of the right age to be an incognito Charles, but haven't found that yet. I will go over the list more carefully, but what I mostly see are family groups.
This is a period photo of Castle Garden. I'm thinking Charles had already arrived and was there to meet them. The evidence for this is what I found next.
The newest piece of information to go digital was immigration documents. Jon had already gotten this one, but I had been convinced that immigrants filled in a much more extensive question document. Apparently, NOT.  One thing I've learned doing indexing for Family Search (data entry for files they've photographed to make them searchable) is that they wrote down as much or as little as the immigrant volunteered. So if you gave the city, county and country or origin, they often wrote it all down. Charles is very specific here. He arrived "on or about the 10th of March 1881". So now to find a boat arriving in New York around that time. Well, so far nothing. But I will continue to look.
I've tried using just his age, just his first name, just his last name, and variations on that. I also tried using Ellen's maiden name and her mother's surname. I figure at the very least he was traveling under an alias.

This is the type of record I'm looking for. We have Charles Freed. The age is correct, his occupation is given as carpenter which isn't too much of a stretch. The problem is that the Nederland arrived in New York in August of 1881. If Charles were going to lie to immigration, I suspect he would have just been vague and given the year. So this isn't Charles.

I also found the documents for his father James Henry Tapply and his brother-in-law Stephen Hodge. Nothing so far for Thomas. In those days wives and children were grandfathered in when the man took his citizenship. That's a shame, because there's always interesting information.

At least with this latest information we know that he didn't sail back and forth. It settles the question of the timing of Daisy's birth. (when I thought he has arrived earlier, I wondered about that) I still think about that young woman traveling with a tiny infant and a 3-year-old in steerage for a long ocean voyage. The motivation for a new start must have been strong. This doesn't completely discount the story Charles told his children and there is still a bit of mystery there for me to pursue.
Good. I like a good mystery.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Remembering Brainard Winslow Rogers

Brainard, about 1983
My brother has always referred to our Uncle Brainard as "the gentle giant" and I think that describes him perfectly. As you can see, he carried on the name from our Civil War ancestor, Winslow Brainard Rogers, which was probably both a point of pride and a bit of a burden. (although I never heard him complain)

Brainard Winslow Rogers was born in 1933, almost a full decade after my mother.  He grew up in the house on Garfield Street and later the first house on the corner of Rogers Avenue and North Street.  His childhood was at the height of the Great Depression when my grandfather finally went to work for the department of streets (most probably through a WPA program) and my grandmother briefly had a little shop to bring in extra money.
Uncle Brainard and me, Christmas 1954
He enlisted in the Air Force at the end of the Korean War, but ended up fulfilling his service in various reserve units. I remember him going off to serve with the SeaBees in Biloxi and coming back appalled at the heat and humidity! Generally, though, he seemed to enjoy his reserve weekends.

Brainard was brought up on the tales of the animals in Thornton Burgess and while he did some hunting in his younger days, by the time I knew him he was a birder and conservationist. He was sensitive and a bit shy, but very warm when you got to know him. My cousin, Lynn,  shared a memory of Brainard and his famous "walks" in the woods. Everyone in the family got to do one of these sooner or later and they were memorable.
"I remember all those long walks (fondly and not-so-fondly) he liked to take in virtually any kind of weather.  When I was young, I didn't appreciate it during the winter months - but he sweetened the deal at the end, wisely, with cups of hot cocoa at a diner. Dad's form of walking was infamously closer to almost -jogging, speed walking.  When I did move back to Fitchburg for my first year of college, and he was still doing his 5-mile per day walk in the hills behind Burbank Hospital, he was a bit taken aback by how fast I had become.  Our regular walks were almost like races and I was proud that he seemed to find it a challenge to keep up with me sometimes!  When I came home from California with my husband-to-be, and Dad offered to take Mike for a 'walk', Mike returned exclaiming "That was no WALK!", and Nancy immediately chided him, knowing what he could be like to walk with!"
Lynn is right. Speed-walking was about it. I remember huffing and puffing along behind him- I was young and in fairly good shape. He was middle-aged and could run circles around me.

In his adult life, he was a plant manager for various large power stations at the Boston Navy Yard,
Pease Air Force Base, Fort Devens and Fitchburg State College. He was Stationary Steam Fireman, which means he lit and monitored the big boilers.  At the college, he had a huge plant to take care of and Lynn said she found the boilers quite intimidating. He didn't. He used the hot boiler surface to cook up apples and make home-made apple sauce for a tasty snack.

For a shy person, Brainard got around. I probably could have shaved a few years off my research if I'd had him as a resource for genealogy. He was an avid fan of railroad lore and probably knew all about our railroading ancestors. He kept far-flung contacts in the family with Roger Frost and family of the Smith branch and Holly Jones' brother Dwight Jones of the Tapply branch.  I believe he was also in contact with Wally Cambridge and Sherman Coates as well. He would mention names in passing, but genealogy was not on my radar at the time. What a shame!
Grandma Kinsey, Jim, Jill, Lynn and Brainard- 1965
Brainard was married first to Judy Kinsey and has three children: Jim, Lynn and Jill. When he married Nancy Elliott, as the children grew up, he became more active in birding and the camera club. He grew a luscious vegetable garden every summer. They took some nice trips and really got to enjoy life. Lynn and her husband had them out to California. This story is very typical:
"One of my favorite memories of all was when he and Nancy came to visit Mike and I in Southern California, and we all went to dinner at a local restaurant.  Now, my father had never in my lifetime taken a sip of alcohol.  At his second wedding to Nancy, he drank a flute of ginger ale.  So imagine my surprise when my husband talked him into ordering one of the delicious peach daquiris that the rest of us were enjoying - and he LOVED it, and looked just like a kid in a candy store, sucking that drink down rather quickly.  As I remember, he wandered off for a lengthy time shortly thereafter, and we were concerned and sent Mike looking for him.  Maybe he went to the bar and had another one, who knows?"

Brainard was taken from us far too soon, on the 9th of September in 1990. He would have been 83 on the 19th of this month. He is missed by his two girls, his wife Nancy, his grandchildren, and all of us who knew him. People always underestimated my uncle. Those of us who loved him knew better.