Thursday, October 29, 2020

Quest for Collateral


When stuck on the line of a direct ancestor, a suggested work-around is to examine what can be found on that individual's collateral lines—the lines of siblings or other relatives. Our quest seeking the roots of our many Falvey-surnamed DNA matches has led us from Ireland to New Zealand to, in this instance, the in-laws of Mary Falvey O'Leary.

Apparently, some people's obituaries are more equal than that of others. For all the accolades we could find for Mary Falvey's spouse Humphrey O'Leary in New Zealand newspapers, there are comparatively few for the father-in-law of his daughter, an immigrant by the name of Garrett Barry. So much for my idea of tracing that Barry connection back to Ireland, where a possible baptismal record for Humphrey also included a mention of that second surname, Barry.

Still, for the record—and since I went through the steps to find this—here's what we can learn about the direct line of a DNA match whose Falvey ancestor was connected by marriage to relatives with that Barry surname.

The nexus is Mary and Humphrey O'Leary's daughter Ellen. The third of the O'Leary daughters, Ellen was generally known by the nickname Nellie. In 1914, Nellie said "I do" to a young man by the name of Patrick James Barry—that Barry surname echoing the name of a sponsoring relative named in a possible baptismal record of the bride's own father, back in County Kerry. Could Nellie have married a cousin? Could that connection help us confirm whether we had identified the right record? 

From her untimely death in 1937, we can glean from Ellen O'Leary Barry's several obituaries the details of her life. For one, we can verify that we are indeed talking about the right Nellie Barry, for her siblings are mentioned in reports of her death. Other details of her history come out in, for instance, this 23 August, 1937, insertion in the Wairarapa Daily Times, which mentioned that the late forty seven year old woman was once a "noted Wairarapa hockey player" active in many tournaments with her champion team.

For our genealogical purposes, though, we are keenly interested in any listing of her children, and find them in an obituary dated that same day in the Manawatu Herald: surviving were daughters Joan, Molly, and Helen, plus sons Frank and Pat. But for our pursuit of the origin of that Barry connection, we need to push still further.

A Foxton cemetery transcription shows us not only the inscription for Nellie's headstone, but indicates that a contiguous plaque provides the date of death for her husband, Patrick James Barry, in 1950. That later date, of course, makes it difficult to obtain any records or even newspaper reports, but there were still some details I could glean on the Barry family tree. 

Let's see what can be found for the new son-in-law of Humphrey O'Leary. Turning to New Zealand birth records, which fortunately are available for the beginning of his life's story, we discover that Nellie's husband, Patrick James Barry, was born to Hannah and Garrett Barry in 1883. That documentation of a New Zealand birth, of course, requires us to push back another generation before we can find the Barry family's origin in Ireland. 

Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any passenger record for a reasonable date range for the elder Barry, but lack of such record was nearly compensated by the discovery of a mention in a newspaper of Garrett Barry's arrival in New Zealand. Though not as much could be found of newspapers mentioning the senior Barry man, the Marlborough Express on May 10, 1894, reported, following his sudden death, that Garrett Barry had lived in Blenheim in the South Island for the past thirty years, and that he first arrived in Nelson in 1859. His origin in Ireland? No other detail but County Kerry.

Interestingly, the newspaper article also mentioned his brief business partnership with a "Mr. Humphrey O'Leary of Redwoodtown," likely the other Humphrey O'Leary I had found in passenger records. Whether that was strictly business, or a hint of a family connection, I can't tell.

From this point, it was to searches of records in County Kerry in which I tried, in vain, to locate a reasonable document indicating Garrett Barry's own origin. Based on his 1894 death record and mostly brief newspaper reports, he had died at age fifty, pinning his birth date around 1844. Once again, however, tracing a collateral line has failed us in leading to the vicinity of the extended Falvey, O'Leary, and Barry families' origin.

That said, though it may still be possible that Nellie O'Leary chose as her spouse a cousin—if the Barry line were indeed connected to her father's line, back in County Kerry—we have no way to document such a possibility.

With all that exploration, we now need to step back, dust ourselves off, and reassess the research situation. It's possible that, for now, we may need to set aside this pursuit of New Zealand Falvey connections and await further availability of documentation.



  1. Jacqi Garrett is not a saints name and wouldn't appear as such in a baptismal record. I would look for Gerard

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Kat. Actually, a few trees on Ancestry represent this Garrett as having a first name Gerald. Though I could find no documentation for that, perhaps that is the reason why the other name was added to trees.


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