Sometimes, genealogical research just goes on its plodding way, tiresomely slowly, one step at a time. Sometimes, those steps don’t seem to lead anywhere. Sometimes, they seem like they are actually going backwards.
And then, sometimes, it’s like something breaks through and streams of light flow in. Everything falls into place. Angel choirs sing.
Well, it isn’t quite as good as that. But I think I did find something.
Remember Cornelius? The elusive Cornelius, the guy with the unusual name that was a sure fire clue to help me push back another generation in this Flannery family from County Tipperary in Ireland?
I might have found him.
I’m not going to rush into this too quickly. No sense getting my hopes up—although if he managed to die a good twenty years after his brother Patrick, it would certainly help my cause.
So, I’ll take my time laying out the little bits of evidence I’ve garnered so far. This could take a few days. I’m still piecing things together. And, of course, I could be wrong. But at least I’ve got to try—to test this hypothesis out.
It all happened while I was fully intending to grind my way through the census records for Patrick Flannery’s family in Paris, Ontario. After all, I already know where most, if not all, of his family were buried. Conveniently, we can supplement those findings with digitized records online for the births of his children—and, in some cases, their death records, too.
Patrick, though born in Ireland, seemed to have established himself in the village his parents claimed for their adopted home once they arrived in Canada West. Except for that anomaly of the newspaper report of his death being published so far from his home, I had only found him in records for Paris.
Now, having begun the process of tracing his descendants, I had used the 1881 census for Paris to identify his first two children—Mary and Margaret. I zoomed ahead to the1901 census to get a sneak peak at the end of the story, while the children were all young enough to still be at home, and his death precluded the arrival of any more babies.
Following my post on Patrick’s first two daughters, I had thought to write about the next surviving daughter, Ellen, and began pulling up whatever records I could find for her. One of my first stops in the online search was to locate a copy of the 1891 census, to double check such fuzzy reports as date of birth.
That’s when I hit a little glitch: there was no Patrick Flannery in Paris in 1891. At least, none that I could find.
I started wondering about Iggy’s suggestion that Patrick actually was living in Essex, after all—the location of the newspaper that ran the report of Patrick’s death. The problem with that idea, though, was the Essex County man had declared himself to be single. And, with as many children as our Patrick and Margaret had by that time, he certainly didn’t qualify to call himself single.
So here I am, looking for any records on daughter Ellen in the 1891 census, and I see a listing for a Patrick and Margaret Flannery family—not in Paris, but in a place called Brantford.
Now, I happen to know that the city of Brantford is actually the county seat of Brant, the county in which the Flannerys had settled when they chose Paris as their new home. As often happens, perhaps Patrick had moved his family to a larger town—Brantford's population at the time was twelve thousand, much larger than the village of Paris—to find better opportunities for employment.
On the other hand, there are so many Patricks out there—even Patricks married to Margarets—so I wanted to go carefully in this leap of research faith.
It sure steadied my nerves to find another entry in that same subdistrict in Brantford for a Flannery family. Maybe this was the reason for Patrick’s move: to be closer to family. This record was for a man by the name of Francis C. Flannery, aged forty eight, who was born in Ireland. Granted, that would put him as having been born around 1843, a bit young to have been Patrick’s brother. Seeing how loose people played with those birth dates back then, though, it made me wonder about the possibility. After all, what did the “C” in Francis C. Flannery stand for?
Though he wasn’t born in 1835, could he have been our Cornelius?
Besides that question, there was another hint I found in that same census record that made me wonder if I had found some of the missing Flannery siblings—but this discovery will require a long explanation, so I’ll save it for tomorrow.