Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To Make Matters Worse—Or Better

With the mystery letter that was the only shred of evidence left to Agnes Tully Stevens of her grandfather’s plans, it is not so easy to construct any logical scenarios of what might have become of him in 1849. True, she didn’t even know whether Stephen Malloy survived the trans-Atlantic journey to Boston. It wasn’t until I found the passenger list for the Anglo-Americano on Ancestry.com last summer that I could confirm that he had arrived in Boston—but then what?

Perhaps, to solve that mystery—though for Agnes, herself, it is too late to make that discovery—the better question is: can we trace the steps backwards of Stephen Malloy’s wife’s pursuit of her husband to this New World?

A question like that allows us more room for progress. We know, first of all (or, I suppose, last of all, depending on your perspective), that Stephen Malloy’s wife ended up in Chicago. I am not sure why Chicago, rather than Boston, merited her attention—although I have my guesses revolving around a local parish priest by the same surname as her maiden name: Flanagan. While I haven’t managed to connect any relational dots there, I do have some other Chicago-based Flanagan links to help me in this quest.

I did uncover the actual copy of Anna Flanagan Malloy’s death certificate—once again, spelling variants make discoveries such as this a challenge. The FamilySearch.org transcription left somewhat to be desired on her place of birth—listed there as “Suninek” County, Ireland. Taking a closer look at the copy itself, I’m guessing that the place of birth listed was actually meant to indicate County Limerick.

Unfortunately, trying to confirm this location through the later, more detailed death certificate of her daughter—also an Irish immigrant in Chicago—yielded even less information: the sanitized version with only the name of the country of origin indicated.

While the introduction of the more specific designation of County Limerick helps zero in on the Irish roots of this part of the family, it does bring with it a puzzle: why does the mystery letter from Stephen Malloy to his wife in Ireland indicate a location in County Cork rather than County Limerick? And, if it is County Limerick, where in the county? Where would I go next to follow up on records of Stephen and Anna’s marriage? Or Catherine Malloy Tully’s birth?

This is where a hint from another Flanagan comes in. Anna evidently had a brother who also lived in Chicago. In the brief obituary for this brother, William, it identified him as the uncle of Mrs. John Tully, who we already know is Catherine Malloy Tully, daughter of Anna.

The obituary also identified his burial place as Mount Olivet. One summer, during a brief visit to Chicago, our family took the drive to Mount Olivet to see if we could find William Flanagan’s grave. Expecting little, as he died a single man with no children and precious few to remember him other than his niece and her family, we were amazed to see the monument erected in his memory. And, in one of those serendipitous moments that always seem to happen only to the other guy, we were pleased to discover that his grave marker actually contained the place of his birth.

The headstone was marked:
Native of
Parish Ballygran
Co. Limerick Ireland
Aug. 14 1893

That discovery provided me with two gifts. First, it confirmed the veracity of the location in County Limerick. And second, it narrowed my search to a specific parish: Ballygran.

Now, I could begin searching in earnest for these Flanagan and Malloy ancestors.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, to find a clue on a gravestone was sheer serendipty!

    And I agree, Suninek is a bad scrawl for Limerick!

    Ballygran? Hmm... looks like another typo. Ballyagran maybe?

    http://www.limerickdioceseheritage.org/BallyagranColmanswell.htm goes over the County Limerick and Cork thing :)


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