Genealogy researchers seeking the foreign origin of their ancestors can relate to the initial joy that was mine when I stumbled upon an accidental entry in a government document the other day. Accidental, I say, because like so many bureaucratic forms, the line for place of birth is generally reserved for details only if the said ancestor was actually born within that country’s domestic borders. Let the weary pilgrim have been born elsewhere, and only the name of the country would be the permitted birth entry.
In the case of our current Flannery pursuit, let the ancestor be born in a town ever so humble—say, the size of tiny Paris, Ontario—and every last detail was sure to be preserved in perpetuity. Cross those international border to get there? Sorry, no details allowed.
Sometimes, though—and very infrequently, believe me—a bureaucrat slips up and an errant entry saves the researcher untold amounts of time. And, sometimes, consternation.
Several years ago, I was the fortunate recipient of such an error, when I uncovered the Polish origin of my paternal grandparents—all thanks to the slip of a pen by a United States census enumerator upon his appointed rounds in Brooklyn, New York.
Whenever something like that happens to me—and believe me, it’s a rare occurrence—it’s cause for rejoicing. So when I stumbled upon the digitized version of Patrick Flannery’s marriage record at Ancestry.com, it was shoutin’ time again!
There, for place of birth of the groom, the clerk had habitually entered the nation of birth. You could see it in the previous entries—all labeled merely “Canada.” Somehow, when it got to the entry for Patrick Flannery and his intended, Margaret Gorman, her entry designated “Ireland” for place of birth, but Patrick’s entry included just a bit more.
My joy in seeing the county of Ireland in which Patrick’s birth occurred was short lived, though. The government document assured me it was reported as County Roscommon, but somehow, I had my doubts.
Wouldn’t government verification be sufficient? Actually, no. Something in the back of my mind prompted me to check some other documents I had already uncovered. I went back to look at the very first record I had found for Patrick: his death record following that gruesome drowning at the end of March in 1895.
Admittedly, the death record was not a display of the certificate, itself. It was only a transcription. But there on the record was the place of birth again, naming not only a nation, but a county as well.
It wasn’t Roscommon.
According to the transcription, Patrick’s place of birth in Ireland was in County Tipperary.
What gives here? The two counties weren’t even contiguous—although I do have to say, they share a common connection via the Shannon River. I have no idea why someone who was born in one county would give an emphatic response claiming a different county for an official government record.
So, which report is to be believed? Normally, I would tend to believe the earlier record, simply because it was closer to the time of the event. Also, death records completed based on bereaved family members’ reports are open to all sorts of understandable errors.
Before reaching a conclusion of which report to rely on, let’s revisit the whole reason I’m toying with the roots of this particular Flannery family: I’m hypothesizing that Patrick Flannery’s immigrant family, living so close to immigrant Margaret Flannery Tully in such a tiny village so far from their homeland, is somehow related to our Tully line.
And I do know one thing about that Tully line: at least two of the children of Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully were baptized in a little town called Ballina in Ireland. And this particular Ballina happened to be located in County Tipperary.
And, now for the “ifs” that may lead us to a conclusion on this hypothesis:
· IF Patrick was really born in County Tipperary
· IF Patrick’s family was really related to Margaret Flannery Tully
· IF records on Patrick’s Flannery family can be located in County Tipperary
…THEN perhaps I may safely say that we have a connection between the two Flannery groups found in that 1852 census in the little town of Paris in the region known at that time as Ontario West.