Thursday, April 24, 2014

Was He? Or Wasn’t He?

Having worked our way through two of the Irish immigrant Flannery descendants living in Paris, Ontario in Canada—successfully, I might add—I’m surely fired up to see if Patrick Flannery and Ellen Flannery O’Neil’s new neighbor Francis C. Flannery might hold any answers for us.

I am particularly interested in one small detail: the middle initial “C” in Francis Flannery’s name. Could that “C” stand for Cornelius? Was this our elusive Cornelius Flannery, the one son of Ed and Margaret Flannery whom I once had destined to yield my easiest find?

Stumbling upon Francis while locating the new home for Patrick Flannery’s family after they had moved from Paris, I had wondered if this were the reason Patrick—and, at the same time, his widowed sister Ellen O’Neil—had moved to Brantford, the seat of the Ontario county of Brant. Right or wrong, there he was in the 1891 census, along with his wife Annie and children Elizabeth, Minney, Agnes, Nora and James P.

Since the census provided me enough data to flesh out further searches, I went to work seeking any corroborating documentation. Handily, the children were all born in Ontario, as was Francis’ wife, leaving open the possibility that I could find something to help me test out my hypothesis.

Sure enough, there was a transcription of a birth record for an unnamed Flannery girl, born October 23, 1869. Comparing this year of birth to the information provided in the 1891 census, I’m guessing this is the birth report for daughter Elizabeth, who at the time of the census was listed as twenty three years of age. With ages and dates so fluid in records back then, that’s close enough for me.

One other clue on this transcript was that the birth was recorded in Elora, not Brantford. Elora was a town further up north from Paris and Brantford on the Grand River, in the county of Wellington—which shows us the Flannerys had not always lived in the same place.

A later record, this one revealing what the initial “P” stood for in son James’ name—as we can guess for one of Irish descendant, it stood for Patrick—was dated July 5, 1883. This report, too, showed the Flannery family had moved once again, for James was born in York County, in the city of Toronto.

That record, sadly, also revealed to us that James’ father was not to be our suspected Francis Cornelius, but Francis Charles Flannery.

Nevertheless, this provides valuable information, helping us to steer clear of mismatched descendants. While I’m still totally at a loss to explain what happened to our Cornelius Flannery, I now know the concurrent residence of the three Flannerys in Brantford was coincidental in Francis’ case.

The birth record for James provided handy additional clues for anyone else researching this other Flannery line: Francis C. Flannery’s wife’s maiden name was apparently Hefferman. And though the family moved from Toronto to Brantford in time for the 1891 census, they apparently removed once again to Toronto, as evidenced by their daughter Elizabeth’s marriage in 1897 to Horace Ebbage. That Toronto hint provides a little security when locating the death record for Francis—again, in York County, in 1928—though it offers a year of birth conflicting with earlier records.

And if that final record was indeed this Francis C. Flannery’s report of passing, it gives us one final confirmation that his “C” was not to be ours: his parents were listed as Nora Connerton and Francis Flannery.

Not at all our Ed-blot and Margaret.


  1. Even if he's not yours, at least it feels CONCLUSIVELY not yours rather than PROBABLY NOT yours.

    1. Good point, Wendy. I always appreciate finding a sure thing!

  2. I suspect he is "yours" but not "Corny" his self. From what I've sensed from quick looks at the census, the Paris Ontario environs (what was it called, West Canada?) was a immigration locus for a lot of Flannery's - and most seem to have come from the same general location in Ireland (Tipperary and nearby). I suspect some cousins in the mix here.

    1. Ah, for cousins in that era, I'll have to step it up at least one more generation: to Ireland it will be!

  3. I am researching some Flannery surname that came through New Orleans LA up into WHite Hall, greene county Illinois and married into some Irish surnames that were from Pakenham, Lanark co, ONtario. and finally settling in little town of Wilson (which used to be called Springfield) in St Croix county,Wisconsin. Does any of this sound familiar? Kathy Slyngstad Aho, email


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