Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thinking About Tackling Those Flanagans

There is a small clipping of a news article stowed in Agnes Tully Stevens’ papers that has had my curiosity piqued. It is a report regarding a specific priest’s will.

Keeping in mind that Agnes, following in the footsteps of her own mother, had spent a lifetime keeping in touch with various priests of her acquaintance—and possibly family relationship—it may not seem unusual to find such a report stashed within her papers.

Then again, considering that the name in question happened to be Flanagan—or at least a close spelling variant—it makes me want to delve into the possibility of any connections.

And so, chomping at the bit, I can’t wait any longer. I’m going to attempt to trace this report backwards.

But first: the reason I’m curious about the Flanagan name. That is the maiden name of Agnes’ own grandmother. Remember the woman who, receiving an enigmatic love letter from her husband upon his unexpected passage to Boston in 1849, ended up moving from Ireland to Chicago with her young daughter? I’ve always wondered why her destination was Chicago. I’ve wondered the same thing when I found her brother, William Flanagan, surfacing there, too, after a detour via Australia.

William Flanagan—or Flanigan, or any of a number of oft-used spelling variants—was Agnes’ grand-uncle, living near her childhood home until the summer after her fifth birthday, when the elder relative passed away. As far as I can tell, William was unmarried and, of course, childless at the time of his death. And yet, he left a hefty memorial to mark his grave. And a funeral card tucked amidst those papers that Agnes kept.

Perhaps it was not the five year old who was remembering Uncle William. After all, he would have been no more than a faint memory to such a youngster. Seeing that Agnes served as keeper of her mother’s repository, it is more likely that Catherine Malloy Tully was the one who passed down the black gilt remembrance from G. S. Utter and Company Memorial Cards.

Marked carefully on the reverse, “115 Franklin St., Chicago”—and in finer print, “Removed from 155 Randolph St.”—the G. S. Utter Company was evidently more careful in attending to the details of their own former address than to those specifics of the party the card served to commemorate.

Then, again, which spelling is actually the right one? Flanagan? Flanigan?

I have a photocopy of William’s obituary showing “Flanigan.” Perhaps the memorial card merely chose to follow suit. However, I think I will go with the version preserved in stone. It provides the verdict as “Flanagan.” The death certificate, I might add, concurs.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm.. a leaf on the branch of the family tree as you (or someone) so eloquently put it. If nothing else comes of it - perhaps you will uncover something of this man's life story. It has to be an interesting one - if he came to Chicago "the long way around".

    Was he "transported" to Australia as a convict? or did he go willingly? Are there other Flan(x)gan family members in Chicago? I'll being staying tuned to this Blog channel!


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