Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Two Brothers to America


Sounding very much like the quintessential genealogy legend, there were two brothers from County Kerry, Ireland, who set out to sail to America. Both of them—well, at least for a little while—made it to Boston, but that's where the path in our story diverges. One of the brothers encountered difficulties and met with an unexpectedly early end; the other went on to become the immigrant ancestor of one of my husband's DNA matches on his Falvey family line.

Neither of these brothers claimed the surname Falvey for themselves, which makes tracing this line somewhat challenging. However, it is not the last name which introduces any doubt, but the first name of their mother. Was it the paper trail which seemed to show a certain fickleness, or were these two not, indeed, actual brothers?

We'll begin with what we know about the brother with the shorter paper trail: Timothy. For starters, the surname he and his brother claimed seemed destined to be recorded incorrectly. I did manage to trace his family back to County Kerry, where more often than not, that surname was written as Callinan. When Timothy and his brother made it to Boston—at least, if I am trailing the right Timothy—they were more likely to show up in records as Cullinane. We'll trace the American spelling right now, as that provides the most recent sightings of our unfortunate subject.

According to The Boston Daily Globe, the most recent detail we have for Timothy was a notice of his funeral. That brief entry appeared under the heading, "Deaths," for Friday, November 17, 1893.

CULLINANE—In this city, Nov 15, Timothy Cullinane, 32 yrs. Funeral from his late residence, 7 Stillman pl, Friday afternoon, at 2 o'clock. Relatives and friends invited to attend.


Not much to go by in that brief entry. Fortunately, there was a bit more to be found in his death record, extracted from the register of the City of Boston, which confirmed his November 15, 1893, passing. Added to that was the cause of death, "Pul. Phthisis," a hundred-plus year old diagnosis which sends the diligent genealogist scrambling to locate a translation. (As you might suspect, the "Pul." was abbreviation for pulmonary, and phthisis an old-fashioned term for tuberculosis.)

As every family historian knows, the end is merely the beginning of our search, and that same record can provide clues for our next step. We learn from that same record that Timothy worked as a teamster, and that he was born in Ireland. Although that latter detail is unhelpfully vague, the record also—thankfully—provided the names of his parents. 

This is where we obtain confirmation that we are indeed on the right track, for not only do we learn that Timothy's father's name was Daniel, but that the record provided not only his mother's first name, but her maiden name, as well—something we hadn't seen much of with some other records we had been exploring in Massachusetts.

As you may have guessed, Timothy was son of a Falvey mother—else we likely wouldn't have been interested in his tragically brief life. Her name, as given in her son's death record, was Abbie Falvey. Predictably, she and Daniel Cullinane were both listed as having been born in Ireland, as well.

There was more to be found about Timothy. Moving backward in time, we learn that Timothy, at the time of his passing, had been married and also had a son, whom he had named after himself. Finding the record of his 1883 marriage to Margaret McCarthy in the nearby city of Chelsea, we realize it is a good thing that the marriage record was also preserved by the Catholic Church, for the city documented only that Timothy's parents were "Daniel" and "Deborah," rather than including, as did the church record, that mother's maiden name of Falvey.

Still, we can already see a problem: Timothy's death record stated his mother was Abbie, while the marriage record showed Deborah. There is, of course, an explanation we've already noticed for that discrepancy, but before we belabor that point any further, tomorrow, let's compare Timothy's records with that of his supposed brother—and progenitor of our Falvey DNA match—Patrick.


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