Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Can Be Easily Distracted

Seeking confirmation for the possibility that our Denis Tully was accompanied to the New World by his relative, Darby Tully, has had one unfortunate result: too many rabbit trails. Just little ones. But they are still tempting.

And you know me and bunny trails.

Take this unhelpful discovery that there was, indeed, a Dennis Tully resident in the same township in Oxford County, Ontario, as my target Darby Tully. The Dennis in Blenheim township in the 1852 Canada West census, however, is a single laborer aged twenty one, not the fifty year old married guy I was expecting. Could he be a nephew? That would contribute yet another mystery Tully to the count, adding to the mess rather than shrinking it.

Poking around, trying to find anything on this new Dennis Tully I had just discovered, I ran into another puzzle: a Bridget Tully, daughter of Dennis and Margaret, who despite living in Warwick, said she was born in Paris. Like Paris, Ontario, the Brant County village where our Denis and Margaret settled.

Where did she come from?

And does that mean there is yet another Dennis Tully to pursue?

This Bridget, I discovered, was set to marry a man by the name of John Kane, according to her marriage license. But wait! Does that document say her mother’s name was Margaret? Or Mary? It’s too hard to read whether that last letter signifies an abbreviation for Margaret or not. You know I’ll have to go check that one out, too.

Conveniently, that blurry marriage document named her witness as Margaret Tully of Warwick—if we’re fortunate, that would be her sister, giving us at least one other hint to help construct their family constellation.

But who am I kidding here? The name Margaret seems to be a regular installation on census readouts for Tully families in this neck of the woods. I trawled through all the other marriage listings for Ontario on to rule out any other such Bridget Tullys. And then headed to the census records.

Since Bridget’s 1881 marriage license stated she was then twenty four years of age, I checked the 1861 census to see if I could find any baby Bridgets at home with dad Dennis and mom Margaret—or, granting a concession to the possibility, a mom Mary. Fortunately, there were only four Bridget Tullys that could be gleaned from the 1861 census in Canada West—and of those, only two were within the range of possible birthdates extrapolated from the marriage license. One—though temptingly next door neighbor to one William Flannery from Ireland—turned out to have parents named John and Biddy Tully. The other was actually a “Bridgeit Tuley,” daughter of John and Catherine. And both families, oddly enough, were in Perth—not Blenheim township, not Paris, not even Warwick.

Perhaps our Bridget was a little over-zealous about stating her age for her marriage license. I took another look, just to make sure. This time, an 1861 record that had been mis-transcribed on as “Dennis Sully”—and thankfully corrected by an astute subscriber—showed up. Along with Dennis and his wife Margaret, there was five year old Bridget and—undoubtedly the one serving as bridesmaid twenty years later— her younger sister Margaret. And they lived in the township of Warwick, part of Lambton County, Ontario.

This Dennis, by the way, was thirty one years of age, putting his year of birth around 1830—making me wonder if he, too, immigrated from County Tipperary along with some other Tully cousins. Or happened to put an earlier stop in at the township of Blenheim on his way to Warwick.

Still, I wasn’t finding anything further on my target Darby Tully in Blenheim township. How was I supposed to figure out whether he had any relationship to my Denis Tully? I tried searching for other resources to help me find answers, like Joe Beine’s listings on Ontario websites, and the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid. I discovered two online sites providing information on Oxford County cemeteries—even the tourism agency there is friendly to genealogists!—but no Tully results that I could find.

Nor were there any leads back in our Denis’ new home, Paris in Brant County. The online records for the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Paris showed no Tully burials whatsoever—though, granted, the listing is incomplete.

In the meantime, don’t presume that I nobly stayed on task throughout this whole exercise. I did make some interesting detours. Small ones, admittedly: they do have to do with Tullys. But I’ll have to save them for tomorrow. Wouldn’t want to make today’s post too long.


  1. But these are GOOD bunny trails. Sometimes I just have to fuss at my ancestors. "You've GOT to be related!" as if getting loud will make it so.

    1. Hmmm...not a bad idea. Perhaps, if I speak louder...

  2. You need some "bigger" trails... like those made by an Army tank! :)

    Lots of nicknames for Bridget - Bridie, and so on - just as bad as Margaret! If they had only named their children something different - they probably wouldn't had needed all the nicknames!

    1. Good point, Iggy. I do get frustrated with all the same names. It's getting to the point that it seems to be a jolt when a different name shows up in the usual litany--shocks me into wondering if I suddenly was researching the wrong family.


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