The benefit of DNA testing for genealogical purposes is to use genetic matches to infer details lacking due to missing documentation for our ancestors. I already know I am stuck researching my husband's Falvey line. All I know from his second great-grandmother Johanna Falvey Kelly's paper trail is when she was born in County Kerry and when she died in her adopted American home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Any details which could help me push the family history narrative back another generation cannot be found in her native Ireland through the traditional research routes.
There are, however, several DNA matches whose connections to my husband bear two weak links: each of those people shares the slightest significant viable stretch of genetic sequences with my husband and they each claim a Falvey ancestor in their direct line.
The dismaying aspect is that none of those Falvey connections leads to a common ancestor. I have no idea how those Falveys connect, other than that they all were born in County Kerry. One by one, I push back through each match's line until I reach that distant Falvey ancestor, then try to figure out any connection. So far, I've found no "smoking gun" in the form of a specific document, be it baptismal, marriage, or records from the closing years of those Falvey ancestors' lives. It doesn't matter whether I've traced that line in Michigan or New Zealand.
There are, however, two DNA matches who descend from Falvey ancestors who settled in the town of Chicopee, Massachusetts. We'll start today with one, and then continue later with the second of these two matches.
With that, I'd like to introduce Mark Falvey. Fortunately for us, Mark's choice of American town in which to settle, once he arrived from Ireland, was a beneficial one—at least for research purposes. Chicopee was established as a town in 1848, long before Mark Falvey arrived on the scene. Even if he had arrived earlier, neighboring Springfield had been keeping records for the prior two centuries. Those records have since been digitized and are easily accessible online, so Mark can be found in some of the key record sets genealogists seek.
One of the first records I could find for Mark Falvey involved his 1860 marriage to Bridget Gibbons, daughter of Miles. In that marriage register, we learn that Mark claimed he was twenty four years of age and that his intended was two years younger than he was. They were married, predictably by a Catholic priest, on January 15.
While I haven't been able to find Mark and Bridget in the national census records for 1870 or 1880—and not even for the year in which they were married, despite the claim that both bride and groom lived in Chicopee—the family did show up in the Massachusetts state census in 1865. By then, two year old son Jeremiah and infant daughter Mary have joined the Falvey household, along with two other residents by the names of Morris—more likely the Irish spelling as Maurice—and Mary Creon.
The most exciting find, among documents mentioning this Mark Falvey of Chicopee, was his naturalization record, in which he was declared an American citizen on May 29, 1874.
A document from the Hampden County probate court in 1912, appointing Mark Falvey's son in law, Joseph M. Grisé, as executor of his estate clued us in to the next document to seek in this review of Mark's life. Interestingly, there were three different newspaper announcements detailing Mark Falvey's passing on September 12, 1912—all containing useful information, though none providing the type of details on his place of origin or parentage that I had hoped to find.
From a death notice published in the Springfield Republican the day after his passing, we learn that Mark "came to Chicopee when he was a boy, having lived there over forty years." Not one word, however, on just where in Ireland he might have come from.
Yes, the notice provided the names of his children—well, sort of. We learn that his son was named Jeremiah, and that he worked for the town's fire department. And we at least learn who each of his two unnamed daughters married, from the listing of Mrs. John Moss and Mrs. Joseph Grisé. And while his widow was listed simply—and predictably—as "his widow," we do gain the benefit of the partial identity of a sister: Mrs. Patrick Riley, who also lived in Chicopee.
Published on the same day, the Springfield Union repeated that notice almost verbatim, although amending the subject's age upon arrival in Chicopee to be as "a young man." Though the wording change is ever so slight, it restrains me from what might have been an unproductive search for a young Mark in the Chicopee household of his parents.
The funeral notice appeared in the Springfield Union a few days later, and from that paragraph the unnamed writer attempted to describe the service itself. As it turns out, the listing of the names of the six pall bearers, all nephews of the deceased, was helpful in tracing the next generation, and naming the two musicians who sang may also become pertinent in assembling a "FAN Club" listing for the Falvey family.
However, the announcement that Mark Falvey was to be buried at the Catholic cemetery in Chicopee, Calvary Cemetery, did not lead to any further information—at least not at Find A Grave.
Perhaps it was no surprise to learn from his death certificate that this Irish immigrant was a son of a man named Jeremiah Falvey, for that is the very name Mark gave to his firstborn—and apparently only—son.
While I was glad to see the thoroughly-completed document didn't throw us any surprises like "unknown" for a parent's name, there was one detail that had me somewhat dismayed: we are in for another tangle with a surname which, among Irish immigrants of the Falvey kind, seems ubiquitous: Sullivan.
Above: The signature of Mark Falvey, drawn from his petition to become a citizen of the United States of America in 1874.