Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Importance of Darby Tully

Have you ever researched a cousin whose family lore insisted on including him within the family constellation, but for whom you could find no documentation to confirm that position? That’s the sort of situation in which you’re not quite sure where to plug that name in, on the family tree.

In the case of my husband’s Tully family, I have one too many John Tullys. Perhaps more. I know all the stories. Unfortunately, now that I’ve gathered the paper trail, I know how to refute all those stories. So the names are out there, just floating in the ether, waiting for me—or for someone—to figure out how to plug them in to that big family picture.

Take, for example, the wedding pictures of my husband’s paternal grandmother, Agnes Tully Stevens—the ones hanging in the front hallway of his aunt’s home in Chicago. On the back of the photos, handwritten notes name one of the bridesmaids in Agnes’ wedding—a cousin—and explain that she was the daughter of John Tully.

Only problem: Agnes was the daughter of John Tully. She couldn’t very well have a cousin who was also daughter of a John Tully. Not unless Agnes’ grandparents named all their sons John Tully.

Another note read that John Tully lived in Hammond, Indiana. Granted, Hammond is not far from Chicago—especially not far from the south side of the city where Agnes’ family lived. I’ve scoured census records, trying to connect this particular cousin with a father named John Tully, all within the parameters of a family living in that neighboring city in Indiana. As you likely are suspecting, I’ve had no success with that search.

To further complicate matters, I know the family lines of each of the cousins who were Agnes’ bridesmaids. Neither had a father named John.

Fast forward a few years to our trip to Ireland. I stumble upon this possibility that our John’s father Denis might have had a brother named Darby. And Darby just happened to have a son who was also named John.

Bling! That adds up to one extra John Tully in the mix. Could he have been the one who, later, moved to Hammond, Indiana? I’m sure hoping so, for I could use an extra John Tully connection. Not only that, but I have a few other Tully descendants hanging by a thread off the edges of my Tully family tree. I can’t seem to stitch them in anywhere.

One is a young man who’s only been identified by his initials: P. J. Tully. Not only is “P. J.” a popular combination among Irish-Americans during the era in which it was fashionable to use initials, but it just plain makes searching for possibilities difficult.

Another is a woman who died young—Julia Tully. All I have on her is a newspaper clipping of her funeral notice, tucked away in Agnes’ stash of papers-to-be-kept-forever.

Of course, confirming these possibilities won’t be as easy as it might seem. There’s this one extra step along the immigration way that must be taken into account: John Tully—that is, our John Tully—made his journey from County Tipperary to Chicago via another stopping point. Canada. And the John Tully that shows up in the census records there, cozily situated close to the Denis Tully household, might or might not be the right guy. It will end up being a matter of tracing the Tipperary John, son of Darby, forward as well as tracing the John, neighbor of Denis in Canada, backwards in time.

If Julia and P.J. were to belong to this mystery John Tully—and this John Tully were to conveniently be the son of Darby—it would present a tidy solution to these frustrating odds and ends I’ve accumulated from old family stories. Of course, no one remains who could set me straight. And I won’t snivel over how the 1890 U.S. census would have helped straighten out this mess. But the fact is, I’ve got names to plug into this Tully tree, but no branches to receive them.

Photograph: View from the other side of Tountinna, the mountain on which Denis and Darby Tully once lived in northern County Tipperary, Ireland. This view looks away from Ballina and toward the far end of Lough Derg, but from roughly the same height as was the location of their property on the other side of the mountain. Photograph courtesy Chris Stevens.


  1. Oh, the ongoing game of Hide and Seek. But if anyone can roust an ancestor out of hiding, it's you.

    1. Thanks for that vote of confidence, Wendy. It would be nice to get all these relatives with the same names organized into their right places.

  2. Replies
    1. I had thought I would never figure it out before, Far Side. Now, I actually think revisiting this mess might be worth it.

  3. If only their names were distinctive - like Artimose and Billinham.

    1. That would certainly help, Iggy--except for when the census enumerator couldn't figure out how to spell them!

  4. I giggled through this post. I, too have too many John Tullys. Just for fun, here's one of mine:

    John Tully was born in September 1857ish (his birthdate changes in various records), in County, Cavan, Ireland, he joined 1 other known sibling: his brother, Frank, age 7.

    He states that his emigration to the USA was in 1869 (I find no records or proof)). He married Mary Manning (born in US) probably abt 1876. They had 3 children by 1886: Charles b. 1879 (Charles is my great grandfather), Mary b. 1881 and Thomas b. 1887.

    In 1875 I first find proof of John in Fishkill, NY living with his brother Frank. He is single

    In 1880, John Tully was 26 years old and lived in Fishkill, Dutchess County, New York with his son, Charles – Mary was not counted in this residence.

    In 1892, John Tully was 39 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York with Mary Tully age 32, Charley Tully age 12, Mary Tully age 11, Thomas Tully age 7 and John Riley age 6 (unknown relationship).

    In 1900, John Tully was 42 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York and states that he is widowed, so Mary must have died between 1892 and 1900 (or they separated, etc). I lose John after the 1900 census.

    Facts about Frank Tully:
    October 11, 1866 Fras Sully b. abt 1843 (this is the way it was transcribed) left Liverpool, England, for New York, arriving on October 11, 1866, at the age of 22 as found in New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
    On June 1, 1875, Francis Tully was 29 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York with his wife, Annie and brother John Tully.

    In 1880, Francis Tully was 37 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York with his wife, Ann, and 2 daughters: Mary A. b.1876 and Eliza b. 1879.

    In 1892, Frank Tully was 49 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York. Annie dies sometime between 1880 -1890. I have an abstract of her Will but it makes no mention of the actual date she died. Leaves property (many real estate holdings) to kids and Frank.

    Frank J. Tully married Jane in 1890. They had one child during their marriage – John Tully b abt 1881.

    In 1892 Frank is living with his wife Jane and three children: Mary, Lizzie and John. They run a hotel in Fishkill

    In 1900, Frank was 49 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York with his wife, Jane, and daughter Mary. There is also a boarder living with them, Thomas Martin who arrived in the USA in 1880 from Ireland
    In 1910, Frank Tully was 67 years old and lived in Fishkill, New York with his daughter, Mary A. Nolan (her spouse is William B. Nolan b 1873 in NY).

    On June 1, 1915, Frank Tully was 72 years old and lived in Beacon (formerly Fishkill), New York. He lives with his son-in-law William Nolan. Mary Tully Nolan is not counted at this address but William lists his marriage status as married.

    I have since obtained Frank’s death certificate. He died in July 1918. His parents (and presumable John’s are: Frank Tully from Cavan and Mary Kavanagh from Tipperary.

    I'm enjoying your blog and will keep reading!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...