Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Flannery Wrap


We started the month of August with a research goal of discovering more about the family constellation of Margaret Flannery Tully, my father-in-law's great-grandmother from County Tipperary, Ireland. While my hope was to complete the family portrait with the names of her siblings as well as those of her husband, Denis Tully, from their children's baptismal records, we are far from the Flannery finish line.

There are, however, a few observations we can make as we wrap up the month's work. This, of course, requires us to revisit the one couple, John Tully and Kitty Flannery, who at the start seemed most promising as siblings to both members of the great-grandparent couple.

If we rely on the Irish naming tradition—still prevalent in the western portions of Ireland before the famine years—a proud papa would name his firstborn son in honor of his own father, the child's paternal grandparent. Of course, baptismal records from the time period we are researching can be spotty—and, even if still available, sometimes difficult to read owing to poor scans, torn records, or abysmal handwriting from the source.

Thus, if we assume that the first son recorded—that we can find—for John Tully was a boy baptised as "Patt" Tully, then we can guess that John's father was named Patrick Tully. Comparing that first-born son to that of our Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery—the boy was named Michael—requires us to assume that Denis and John could not be Tully brothers. Tully cousins, perhaps, but not brothers—unless some baptismal records were missing.

Thus, the connection shown, in the case of Denis or John standing in as sponsor for the other's children, would be that of in-law. That's the best we can tell at this point, given the material available to consult. In the case of Margaret Flannery Tully's son William, for whom John Tully served as sponsor, he was standing in as brother-in-law. In the case of Margaret's daughter Johanna, however, godmother Kitty Flannery was more likely to be Margaret's sister.

What is interesting about tracing Kitty Flannery and her husband John Tully forward in time is to notice that, for their daughter Judy, baptised in 1844, one of the sponsors named was Darby Tully. Darby is a name which I've seen pop up in Irish records in Ballina before, so this time I pursued it further.

While Darby may seem an unusual name in current times—thus, giving us hope that it would be an easier name to research without the looming demon of name twins—it was apparently more popular back in the time of our Tully and Flannery ancestors in County Tipperary. Looking at the baptismal records in Ballina, I could find two different men named Darby Tully—one with a wife named Mary "Hagan" (or possibly Hogan), the other with a wife named Biddy Ryan.

Moving forward in time, I wondered whether I could find any Tully family with either couple's given names, immigrating with their extended family members to Canada. It was worth a look, as so many others from Ballina had evidently made the same immigration choice, along with Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully.

As it turned out, there was one household headed by a man named Darby Tully, settled by the time of the 1851 Canadian census in a township called Blenheim, then in Oxford County, Ontario. This, I discovered by examining border histories of the evolving colonial governance, was not the same location as the community of Blenheim in the current-day municipality of Chatham-Kent, but the township now known as Blandford-Blenheim. In today's terms, a mere twenty minute drive from the village of Paris in which our Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully settled, there was real possibility that this Darby Tully could have been our man.

But which Darby would he have been? Looking at the 1851 census record, it appears that Darby had lost his wife before that enumeration, so there was no way to determine if this was Darby, husband of Mary, or Darby, husband of Biddy.

The next name appearing in the 1851 census record was that of a daughter, Margaret, aged fifteen. Yet again, that itself wasn't enough of a clue, for each Darby Tully family in Ballina had a baptismal record for a daughter named Margaret: one baptised in 1837, the other in 1841.

Even that was too close of a match, given the Irish propensity—at least in the New World—to represent their ages in a more general estimate. But the next line in the 1851 enumeration may have clinched the answer for us, with a son named Patrick. The Darby plus Mary household in Ireland, while sporting many additional children's names in the baptismal records, lacked one: Patrick. Darby and Biddy, however, provided us only two children's names: Margaret and Patrick.

Still, the baptismal record for "Patt" Tully in Ballina was dated May 9, 1839, while the 1851 census record listed a son by that name, aged thirteen. Still, I'd call that close enough to remain a serious contender. All that's left—and I say "all" with a wry sense of the word—is to follow that Tully family through history and see what other documents might show up to confirm or deny the connection.

Indeed, that is "all" that is left to do for that original question which began this month's search: find further records for each of these possible immigrants to Canada. Following records for William Flannery and his son John, Edmund Flannery and his son John, the two other John Tullys, and the several other names listed in the baptismal records associated with these families, back in Ballina, is really "all" it takes.

That work, however, will be my task to complete in the background. For tomorrow, we begin a new month, and launch into yet another goal for my "Twelve Most Wanted" for 2021: attempting to find my father-in-law's most mysterious great-grandparent, Stephen Malloy.       

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Disappearing Neighbor


Though based largely on conjecture, it has been fascinating to see how many baptismal names from back in County Tipperary correspond to families clustered in various settlements in Ontario, Canada, following the exodus from the Great Famine in Ireland. On Friday, we discussed following one William Flannery in the Canadian census records and discovering he lived next door to two different Tully relations. 

Since William Flannery was a name mentioned as godparent in baptismal records, back in County Tipperary, for a son of Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery, it stands to reason to conclude that William was brother to Margaret. After all, before the famine, the Catholic tradition on the west side of the island was to name as godparent siblings of either parent—or at least in-laws. For Margaret Flannery's son Michael, William Flannery had been named as godfather, at least according to the church record dated June 5, 1834.

In the 1871 census, we had found William Flannery next door to Michael Tully's older sister Johanna and her husband Edward Ryan. At that point, William was a widower with two adult children in his household, so I wanted to trace him back another ten years by locating him in the 1861 census.

In 1861, William was not living in McKillop Township in Huron County, but showing in the town of Saint Marys in Perth County. To my surprise, he was neighbor to yet another possible relative on the Tully side. The family I spotted belonged to John and Biddy Tully, and included a familiar litany of children's names: Mike, Mary, Maggie, Bridget.

Who was this John Tully? Could his wife Biddy have been a Flannery? After all, along with William Flannery's name as godfather for Michael Tully, someone named Bridget Flannery was named as godmother. Could Bridget Flannery have become Biddy Tully?

Of course, the next step was to trace the John Tully family through time to see what else could be discovered about their identity. That, however, was the theory; the reality is proving more difficult. 

The 1861 census record indicated that the youngest of John and Biddy's children—daughter Bridget, born about 1857—was born in Ireland, as were all the other children and their parents. That means an arrival in Canada after that point, a relatively late emigration from Irish shores.

The problem emerged when I could not produce the couple in subsequent census records. Nor could I find a reasonable identity for any of the children, whether single and retaining their birth name or, for the daughters, marrying in Canada. Perhaps, like William Flannery's later related neighbors, Johanna Tully and Edward Ryan, they moved far from their home in Ontario (the Ryans departed, first, for Dakota Territory in the United States). But, alas, so far no sign of any member of that family.

Further concerning was that, working backwards in time, neither was I able to find a baptismal record in the home parish in County Tipperary for any of John and Biddy's children. There were other Tully families, of course, but no baptisms for children of John and Biddy.

The pursuit is ongoing, of course—a task to be done behind the scenes, while we wrap up our Flannery experiment tomorrow. While I'm disappointed that I haven't yet achieved my goal of determining the siblings of my father-in-law's great-grandmother, Margaret Flannery Tully, it is only a goal to be set aside for now. With more records—perhaps even more access through travel or sub-contracting the chase—the answer will someday materialize. But for now, we have other goals to tackle, come September.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Off the Shelf:
The Talent Code


Some books are designed to get a reader thinking. This book couldn't help but grab my mind to think of possibilities and applications.

Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code is a book I've meant to read for the longest time. Ever since stumbling upon his other work, The Culture Code, I couldn't help but notice how many other authors mentioned this specific title from among the books he's written.

The Talent Code delves into what—at least to me—is a fascinating world: of how the brain works, of memory, of learning, of aptitude, of talent. One thing this book is not: it is definitely not about genius as a native state, only a skill developed by deep learning. I find the ideas and discoveries about that knack of learning which fascinate me.

It all comes down to what neurologists call myelin, and a concept Coyle repeats, like a mantra, throughout the 267 pages of the updated version of his 2009 book: "Skill is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals." It's those signals I want to learn more about, learn how to apply to my own projects and, to some extent, the rest of my life.

The cellular insulation Coyle speaks of is myelin, the essence which wraps itself in protection around nerve messaging pathways as we learn and develop skills. It's not just for Einsteins or child prodigies, or even soccer players or violin virtuousos—though he does examine such examples from what he calls "hotbeds" of talent around the world.

The book leads the reader through a tour of scientific discoveries in layman terms, outlaying the factors that help us learn—and remember—any number of skills. The tour touches on—and, in some cases, debunks—a wide variety of concepts, from "nature versus nurture" to the "ten thousand hours" of practice, to why poverty-stricken inner city centers in Brazil or Russia, for example, turn out world-class athletes.

My aspirations, of course, are not so lofty. No matter how much myelin I might manage to lay down on the right neural pathways, I will never be a tennis champ. But I can perfect my investigative skills and hone in on more effective research approaches—my prime motivation for reading this book. Since I'm already fascinated with the fields of psychology and education, I can't help but see what discoveries mentioned in the book can cross-apply to my own business projects. There is certainly much to be considered in the worlds Daniel Coyle explores for readers of The Talent Code.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Birthday Unawares


It was October 15, 1956, and Marilyn Sowle Bean wanted to hold a birthday party for her two year old daughter, Judith Louise. The only problem was, she would have to throw that party by herself. By October of 1956, Marilyn had been a single parent for almost a year, following the loss of her husband Earle the previous December.

As if that weren't devastating enough for the young mother, her husband's death had followed only eleven days after that of his older brother Sam. The original pain was primed, however, with the death of her own beloved father only seven months before that.

Apparently, though, there were friends—friends I hadn't known about, even though I did realize that time period was so difficult for Marilyn. The only way I've found out now is thanks to the discovery of her photograph collection, which had—unbeknownst to me—been sold to a local antique store, and subsequently spotted by a young genealogy enthusiast who (thankfully!) alerted me through the message boards at Ancestry.com.

The photo which told the story was thoroughly noted in Marilyn's hand on the reverse. Labeled at the top was the legend which I could easily have surmised, based on the picture, itself—but which someone else might not have known. Labels on photographs help us pass family stories along from previous generations.

The heading:

Judith Louise
Oct. 15, 1956
2 years old

Underneath the header, Marilyn inserted further explanation.

Second birthday party
with Gregory, Susan
+ Michael Hicks + their
parents, Dick and Phyllis Hicks.

So who were Dick and Phyllis Hicks? Names I've never heard Marilyn mention—that I recall—they and their children Michael and Susan might have been friends because of Judy's older brother, Greg. Maybe they were friends from the old neighborhood in San Lorenzo in northern California, where Marilyn and Earle had settled to raise their family. Or perhaps these were new-found friends from Marilyn's move, as a widow, to be close to her own mom's new home farther north in Santa Rosa.

Whoever they were, now that I can look back at the timeline of Marilyn's life, I can see those friends likely were a godsend for her in a very dark time, when she was desperately trying to raise her family with as much encouragement and cheer as a now-fatherless and widowed only child could do at this rocky start to her adulthood.

I'd love it, of course, if I could send this photo home with someone from the Hicks family, but given the time frame, it is difficult to locate a possible family member. Trusting in the search engines to lead someone to this post may be the only option for now. 

Photo above, dated October 15, 1956, taken by Marilyn Sowle Bean. Two year old Judy is seated at the head of the table, facing a birthday cake with two candles inserted, preparing with a spoon already in her mouth. Her brother Gregory is standing behind her. Michael Hicks is standing next to his father Dick, and Susan Hicks in front of her mother Phyllis. Picture currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant—with my thanks for helping a family share some brighter moments in an otherwise tragic season in their lives.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Two More Neighbors


Among the godparents listed for the children of Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully was a sibling named William Flannery. That was in Ballina in the northern portion of County Tipperary, Ireland. When Denis and Margaret moved their family to colonial Canada West, it seemed some of their relations moved with them.

Among the suspected relatives was a man named William Flannery. We've already found him, courtesy of his son John who bore the same name and birth year as another John Flannery—that one, son of Edmund, but who was a native-born Canadian.

After stumbling upon the son John in William's household in the 1871 census, I kept pushing back to find any earlier documentation. Once again, just as I had been surprised to notice neighbors with familiar names, the 1861 census led me to the household of a William Flannery with family possibilities.

In the case of this William Flannery, it was the handwriting of the enumerator that had me stumped at first. Was his wife's name, for instance, a sloppily rendered Nancy? Or something different?


Deciding that "Movey" was not a reasonable guess for a first name—although can you blame me?—it occurred to me that the actual name might be something more fortuitous. What if William's wife's name was the same as what was listed in the Irish baptismal records for William's children? One of the two possible Williams I had found, back in Ballina, was married to a woman named Hanora McNamara. While I've noticed such a given name sometimes was shortened to Nora, could it be possible that it also could be transformed into a nickname like Norey?

Comparing this 1861 census entry with what we know about our William, back in Ballina, it was easy to spot the three names we'd found in the baptismal records: Judy, John, and Margaret. For two of them—Judy and Margaret—the dates were off by a mere year. John, according to the baptismal record, was born in 1845 while the census showed someone born closer to 1848. It will take following this family further to uncover any details to confirm or reject the connection between William Flannery in Ballina and the one in Canada West.

Another entry that stumped me in this census record was that for the couple's oldest son. The handwriting left me in doubt over my guess—could the nineteen year old boy be named Willie? 

I let my eyes wander over the page, looking for similar letters to help me decipher what the enumerator was trying to convey. That's when I spotted the neighbors next door, whose first son listed had the very same name. Only this time, the writing was a bit clearer, and I realized, first, that the name was actually Mike—and, second, that the neighboring family's surname was Tully.

In this case, it was yet another John Tully—seemingly a popular name in our Tully family. This John Tully claimed for his wife a woman named Biddy, nickname for the popular Irish name Bridget. Was it just coincidence that brought this Tully family right next door to the godfather of some of our Tully relatives? Or was there a connection that we can confirm? Time to search for more records—and add them to an expanding floating tree.


Above excerpt from the 1861 Canadian census for Saint Marys, Perth County, Ontario, courtesy Ancestry.com.  

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Floating Toward an Answer


With the assurance of research specialists in Irish genealogy, we've realized that the names offered as godparents for an Irish baby's baptism are specifically selected relatives, which can reveal something about that parental couple's family constellation. The sponsors—or godparents—are either sibling to one of the proud parents, or in-laws of the same. But given the prevalence of certain surnames in a tiny community, how do we tell which one is which?

Take, for instance, the baptismal record for one son of my father-in-law's great-grandparents, Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery. William, baptised on May 8, 1839, in the Catholic parish of Ballina in County Tipperary, had for his godfather, John Tully. Being that the child's father was also a Tully, we could presume that John Tully was brother to Denis Tully.

However, we also know that John Tully—at least one of the men by that name in Ballina—was married to a woman named Kitty Flannery. Another possible scenario would be that Kitty was sister to Margaret Flannery, and her husband John was merely the in-law, not a sibling. Granted, he could also be a cousin, but for purposes of the formula demonstrated in naming baptismal sponsors, a cousin would not fit the equation, while an in-law would.

The point is that, right now, we can't be sure of the relationship—for this child's sponsor, or for any of the others I've researched for these two surnames in Ballina. But since we've gathered so much information, now, we need to have a reliable place to store the information for future reference.

That's where a floating tree comes in handy. Of course, that is not the only solution. I could wait until I am perfectly sure, with documentation in hand, before I add the correct information to the tree—but for the Catholics in 1840s Ireland, that may never be a possibility. Another solution could be to enter the names into my father-in-law's tree with a huge warning sign, alerting anyone else that the individual's appearance in the tree is currently based solely on hypothesis.

A less messy way is to use the device known as a "floating" tree—a limited tree embedded within, but detached from, the pedigree chart of the rest of the family. Until I know—if ever—the exact relationship between these various Flannerys and Tullys from Ballina, that is exactly what I'll do. In the meantime, I'll work on examining what may be evidence of their also having emigrated from famine-ravaged Ireland to Ontario, Canada, as did my father-in-law's direct line of descent from Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully.

The steps to set up a floating element in a family tree—at least, if you are using Ancestry.com—are fairly straightforward. The best explanation I've found comes in video instruction from Connie Knox at GenealogyTV. Margaret O'Brien of Data Mining DNA takes it one step forward by including instruction on how to do so, using either Family Tree Maker or Roots Magic, as well.

For now, I'll be adding a floating element for the couple John Tully and Kitty Flannery, to preserve the documentation found on their whereabouts, once they arrived in Canada. Likewise, as I explore the one William Flannery found in Ontario, I'll store links to records about his family. Tracing these lines forward will hopefully yield the type of documentation we are accustomed to—the records which yield parents' names, or location of origin, or at least siblings to tie these lines together. Or confirm they are absolutely not related. It's a long process, tracing all these possible lines of relationship, but if it yields answers otherwise not found in records back in their homeland, it will be a productive exercise.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A Ryan Interlude


There is a reason why, when I discovered William Flannery's family nestled next door to the household of Edward and Johanna Ryan, it pulled me up short. Perhaps it is because when we research our family's surnames, it is as if we obsess on one goal with tunnel vision. As if dumpster diving into separate surname silos, we lose sight of the connectedness of our families' neighborhoods—of their lifelong associations.

Now, I'm researching my father-in-law's Flannery line. Then—years ago—I was in search of Ryan relations. I really hadn't expected them to become next door neighbors. Apparently they did.

As a little background, here are some details on the Ryan family—at least, what I've been able to find, so far. Keep in mind, I have yet to plug that line into the home turf, back in County Tipperary—though I have oral tradition (and DNA matches) urging me to leave that possibility open.

The Ryan family who showed up next to the 1871 census entry for the widowed William Flannery included a Tully sibling whose descendants, for decades afterwards, kept in touch with my father-in-law's family. Because that connection was still alive in the memory of my in-laws, I've been keen to trace it for the longest time. In fact, I wrote about it shortly after launching this blog in 2011. And kept working at extending the line of these Ryan descendants, from their 1871 home in the former McKillop Township in Huron County, Ontario, all the way to their homesteading attempt in Dakota Territory, and beyond that, returning to Canada and settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Since I set aside that research project years ago, there is, of course, much work still to be done on that Ryan line. Yet here they were, popping up right in the path I was tracing to locate the William Flannery who, presumably as brother to Margaret Flannery, had years ago stood in as godfather to her son, Michael Tully.

It was unmistakably the right Ryan family. Despite the rather common surname, there was not much problem tracing their family. Johanna Tully had married Edward Ryan somewhere in Ontario—though I have yet to locate the verification for that detail—before the birth of their eldest son, James, in 1852. From that point followed three more children in stairstep fashion: Dennis, Margaret, and Mary.

If one were to say this family ascribed to the naming pattern of their parents' homeland, this set of four children would have provided me the Rosetta Stone leading to the names of their grandparents. On Johanna's behalf—as we've become more than aware in this past month—those two parents would have been Denis and Margaret. The Irish naming tradition would have designated the second Ryan son to be named after the mother's father—Johanna's father, Denis Tully—and the first daughter to be named after the mother's mother. This, indeed, was what appeared in the census listings.

Could that mean, then, that Edward Ryan's father's name was James? And his mother, Mary? There was, after all, a widowed Mary Ryan in the 1851 census—including an unmarried son by the name of Edward—in Huron County. But proximity to similarly named people, while a possible start, is not the specific goal of our pursuit this month.

Piecing together all the possible family connections for Margaret Flannery is, however. Although the discovery of a possible Flannery sibling right next to our Tully-Ryan relatives was startling, we need to retain that detail in a safe place, and get back to the chase at hand.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Circling the F.A.N. Club Drain


With so many Irish surnames swirling around in my head, the chase to ascertain the close relatives of my father-in-law's Irish ancestors has become dizzying—and that's mildly put. In theory, tracing the baptismal records of direct line ancestors' godparents should have led to connections with the immediate family...until you factor in the chance that there were multiple people given the same name, even in a town as tiny as Ballina in County Tipperary.

Realizing that names eerily familiar from the Irish baptismal records were showing up in census records in the town our immigrants Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery chose as their second home, I wondered whether connecting those Canadian records with those back home in County Tipperary might produce some workable material. That, of course, required invoking the genealogically-pervasive "F.A.N. Club" moniker—Friends, Associates, and Neighbors of our target ancestral couple.

It seemed like a good research idea at the time. Actually, it might eventually bear some productive results. Right now, the verdict is still out. However, let's examine one rabbit trail I stumbled upon while trying to uncover any further information on the baptismal record we discussed yesterday, for Canadian-born John, son of Edmund and Margaret Flannery.

Thankfully, in the comments to yesterday's post, a reader—Canadian blogger Jackie Corrigan—provided a link to John Flannery's actual baptismal record at FamilySearch.org. Sure enough, John's mother's surname was rendered with a "Q" rather than the Keough I had spotted in the Ballina church records for another Flannery son baptised a few years earlier. The mother's name in the Ontario record was indeed Margaret, not Mary. Wondering whether this was an entirely different family—rather than simply a second wife for our Edmund Flannery—I tried the deep dive approach for further information on John Flannery in Ontario.

Almost right away, I spotted a death record for a John Flannery born in the same year. That's where the trouble began. This John Flannery, unlike our Canadian-born child of Irish immigrants, was born in Ireland, itself.

So, who was this? Once again, a paper chase to uncover further details. Sure enough, according to this John Flannery's death certificate, he was born in Ireland, not Canada. A widowed farmer living in Seaforth in Huron County, Ontario, he had been in the region for about sixty five of his approximate eighty four years of life. That, at least, was according to the informant, listed on the certificate as Mrs. Jas. Nash—or, perhaps, Head, if the name could be deciphered at all.

Sure enough, looking at the headstone revealed a small slice of the bigger picture: listed under the heading "Nash" was the name of John Flannery plus his years of birth and death, engraved above a similar entry for another man of the same generation, named Tobias Nash. One could presume Tobias' son was the James who married John Flannery's daughter.

It was another detail in the Flannery death report that caught my eye, though: John Flannery's father—at least, if we can believe the reporting party's answer—was named William Flannery.

Now, that was a name to follow up on. Here we had been stymied over the two William Flannerys, back in County Tipperary, one of whom had been named as godparent for children of our family's ancestors. Could we trace back this John Flannery from Seaforth to the William Flannery family back in Ballina?

More research on the Canadian side of the equation revealed a much younger John Flannery, along with his wife Hannah and three young children, in the 1881 census. Ten years before that point, John—if we still have the right one—was a single man in the household of William Flannery in the former McKillop Township, a part of Huron County near Seaforth.

That, as it turned out, was the document that stopped me in my tracks. For one thing, the process of linking the same individual to a series of documents through time, as we are attempting with this series of census records, is one we must enter into with eyes wide open, lest we mistake the wrong individual for a name twin. In addition to that, though, I always take a good look around, once I land on a specific document; I want to get a feel for who else is in the neighborhood.

If that begins to sound familiar, yes, you are right: I'm looking for the F.A.N. Club of this John Flannery and his father William. In many cases, I see almost nothing. In John's case, though, I saw plenty.

First was the observation that, just like the one William Flannery's family back in Ballina, there was a daughter named Margaret in this household. Looking beyond the confines of that one household, though, I was amazed at what I saw: nearly an entire page filled with households sporting the surname Ryan—yet another name I've been trying to trace, back in Ballina.

It was one specific Ryan household, though, which had me transfixed. Right next door to widower William Flannery and his two adult children John and Margaret was the household of Edward Ryan. It was this Ryan family which I've researched years ago, primarily because Edward's wife, Johanna, was the oldest sister of my father-in-law's maternal grandfather, John Tully. Both John and Johanna claimed Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery as their parents—and now, here was Johanna's family living next door to the godfather of her brother Michael Tully. I had to check this connection further.

Was this the F.A.N. Club in action? Or just another chance to stray down a tantalizing rabbit trail?    

Monday, August 23, 2021

Comparing Records
for Repeating Details


It all started with an ink blot. The page in the 1851 Canadian census for my father-in-law's great-grandparents, Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery included some other family surnames. I noticed them and wondered whether there were any connections. After all, these families had all left their native County Tipperary in Ireland to escape the Great Famine by moving far away to what was then called Canada West.

One of the census entries, however, was partially obscured by a pesky ink blot, likely thanks to the enumerator's own pen. What I could see was the surname, Flannery, but the given name started with E-d and then the stray mark made it difficult to determine whether the next letter might have been a "w" or an "m."

Adding to the problem was the enumerator's quaint way of refraining from entering such personal information as the given name of the married women. Despite that, a routine glance could reconstruct the rest of the Flannery household—all presumed sons: Patrick, Cornelius, Michael, and John.

That was on the Canadian side, a discovery I made years ago. Now that I've been working on the Irish side of the research equation—trying to determine who might be siblings to my father-in-law's great-grandmother, Margaret Flannery—I've run into a possible match for the ink-blotted Ed Flannery from Brant County, Ontario, in the form of a baptismal record in the Catholic parish of Ballina in County Tipperary.

Granted, it was a challenge to read the handwriting in the digitized microfilm of an almost two hundred year old record, but what I found piqued my interest. Here, dated in April of 1845, was the baptismal record for a baby named "Edmd" who was son of a Flannery man, also named "Edmd." His wife was partially identified as what looked like Mary—although it could possibly have been an abbreviation for Margaret—but her maiden name suffered ill fate similar to our Canadian Ed-blot: the edge of the register folded over in just the right spot to cover all but the first few letters of her surname. It began K-e-o...possibly...and might have been Keough, as the indexer suggested, but there was no way to know for sure. The names of the two baptismal sponsors—both Mullins—shed no clue as to what that surname might have been.

If that infant baptised in 1845 belonged to the family which ended up in Canada for the 1851 census, his name certainly wasn't one that appeared in the later document. Before we assume that the baby was yet another casualty of the brutal Great Hunger in Ireland—or toss the possibility out of hand entirely—let's see what other records can be found on either side of the Atlantic to add to the examination.

Quite a while back, when I last was examining the identity of this Canadian Flannery family, I had traced as many of the children as possible, given records available at the time. The son with the most unusual story was that of Patrick, whose accidental drowning death had prompted several questions.

Looking at a possible marriage record for Patrick Flannery in the village of Paris in Brant County—the same location where we had found the census entry for 1851—leads us first to some disappointments. For one thing, when asked for the location of his birth, this Patrick reported County Roscommon, not the County Tipperary we had expected. Then, he stated his age, for this 1877 wedding, as thirty seven, hardly the number we'd expect for a man whose 1851 census entry had indicated a birth in about 1832.

Let's not be in a hurry, though, until we review the rest of the document. Patrick's intended, in this 1877 ceremony, was a woman by the name of Margaret, daughter of James Gorman and Maria Huttson. But most importantly, the document indicated that Patrick's parents were Edmond Flannery and Mary Keogh—names we've seen before.

A little more exploration provides some assurance that we might be on the right track. Although Patrick's death record doesn't confirm the name of his wife, it does correct the previous information on the location of his birth—now listed as County Tipperary in Ireland. Burial information at Interment.net indicates that this Patrick was indeed husband of Margaret Gorman.

Additional records on the extended family provide other glimmers of hope that we might have located the same family as had been found in the County Tipperary record back in Ireland—and yet contained frustrating discrepancies. Remember John Flannery, the youngest son of Ed-blot and his wife, Mrs. Flannery? Just like the other immigrant families I've found from Ballina, the youngest Flannery child was actually born in Canada, not Ireland. A transcription of John's baptismal record from July 4, 1847, sported sponsors' names connected to our family—John Gorman and Margaret Tully—but provided the parents' names as Edmund Flannery and Margaret Quogh. While we can excuse spelling variations for a name like Edmond—and even Quogh for Keough—his wife, as far as we've seen from other records, was Mary, not Margaret.

Where does that leave us, for now? It may be safe to link the Edmund Flannery from the baptismal record in Ballina, County Tipperary, with the Edmund Flannery in Paris of Brant County, Ontario. The proximity of this Flannery family to that of Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery, both in Ballina and in Paris, is tempting, but we don't yet have enough evidence to clinch the connection.

This discovery, however, opens up another question: what are the chances that other members of the Catholic parish of Ballina in County Tipperary followed the same immigration route as Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery? Can others from those Irish Catholic baptismal records be matched with Canadian records in subsequent decades? We'll take a look at some other possibilities, tomorrow. 


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Collateral Line Research
Demonstrates its Worth


Those whose genealogical research goal is to see how "far back" their tree can reach may not be able to relate to projects like the one I've been working on for the past few years. This summer, though, I'm seeing the long haul of regularly-applied hard work pay off with DNA matches.

It isn't exactly a quick task to add all the descendants of, say, all one's third great-grandparents to the family tree. Add in the tendency of faithful Catholic ancestors to have large families—who in the next generation repeated the process—and there is a lot of record chasing to be done to properly enter each of those descendants.

In my in-laws' case, that means nurturing a tree with enough sturdy branches to support 23,144 individual profiles, complete with documentation. Or my own family's tree, filled with 26,162 names. It's no surprise, then, to realize those tallies came about, not because of how far back in time that pedigree reaches, but solely owing to the rate of increase, week over week and year after year, in the collateral lines—the descendants of our ancestors' siblings.

In the past two weeks since my last check, for instance, my in-laws' tree grew by 266 names—no surprise there, considering my current research goal has me working on my father-in-law's Irish roots. Even in my own family's tree, though, I realized that, come October, I'll move from the research realm of my in-laws to work on my own father's roots, so I did a bit of advanced work to add twenty four names to my father's side of the equation.

The payoff, of course, is that when I get notification of a new DNA match, it becomes easier and easier to identify exactly where that individual might belong in either of these two trees.

For some, that might seem like too much work for not enough value. I don't know...but considering I have 2,100 matches at the level of fourth cousin or closer at Ancestry DNA—not to mention more than five thousand at Family Tree DNA and over eleven thousand at MyHeritage—laying out sufficient groundwork in the form of a thick layer of collateral branches smooths out the procedure of correctly adding matches to the tree.

The hidden bonus is that it seems the more matches I correctly identify, the easier it is for other matches to fall into the right place, too.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Read Book, Take Action


When you finish reading a book, does it convince you to take action?

I'm reading a book right now—I'll get to posting on that title later this month—which, beside the fascinating stories it shares, has inspired some thought. The book is one discussing education of a particular kind, and the inescapable conclusion is that learning is not really learning if, having gone through the experience, we can't subsequently take action.

That realization inspired me to review all the books I've read in the past few years. How many have prompted me to take action, if even in a small way? How many books can I say changed my life, even imperceptibly?

If a book takes about six to ten hours to read fairly, cover to cover, that is an investment in time. What do we show for that investment?

The thought struck me the other day, as I was approaching an intersection while driving to a neighboring city. I know the intersection well, but ever since reading one particular book—The Invisible Gorilla—I've made it my habit when approaching corners to look both ways. Twice. The book convinced me that, especially as drivers, we sometimes see what we want to see, rather than the dump truck barreling towards us, or the pedestrian stepping into our path. The authors achieved their intention in one tiny way: they made me look—twice.

That question about taking action after learning—whether learning by reading or otherwise—has gotten me thinking about several other examples. Take, for instance, the sessions I conduct locally on using DNA for genealogy. I realize that is a challenging topic for some, but it is particularly troubling to me when I get the sinking feeling I'm being listened to more as a voice delivering fascinating stories than a source of step-by-step instructions. Perhaps the book I'm reading this month will provide advice on best training practices to apply to these sessions, to help others learn to convert instruction into action.

I'm convinced we can learn to take action from just about any book, whether it was written for the purpose of instruction, or simply for the purpose of entertainment. A book is an invitation to step inside the author's world, and once inside that universe, there are observations we can glean and conclusions we can reach. For some books, that is more obvious than in others; I certainly would hope anyone reading Diahan Southard's book, Your DNA Guide, would put its "step by step plans" to good use. But even fiction writers worth reading have a theme and write to convey a message or inspire us to have a change of heart. What do these authors hope their work will do in us?

With all the books published lately on genealogical topics, we don't lack for resources to help us with our research progress. But no matter how well written, or how thoroughly the topic is covered, unless we develop the habit of putting the instruction into action and make those actions our own research habit, it is hardly worth the money to obtain the book in the first place.  


Friday, August 20, 2021

Connecting the Dots
From Shore to Shore


Have you ever worked with a set of documents for so long and so hard that eventually, they seem to spontaneously sprout lines of connection? In the case of the Flannery families in the County Tipperary Catholic parish of Ballina, staring at the baptismal records is causing me to see things. Names seem to become vaguely familiar, as if I've seen them before—and I have! In a place far, far away from Ireland, I've spotted such names in some tiny villages in what was, in the mid-1800s, called Canada West.

Is it possible to connect the dots between the Flannery families in Ballina and those in Canada?

We've already followed the tracks of Denis Tully and his wife, Margaret Flannery, from Ballina to the village of Paris in Brant County, Ontario, through the 1851 census. It was in that same census that we also noticed, on the same page of that enumeration, the entry for the family of John Tully and his wife, Kitty Flannery (alias "Mrs."). Who else from that Ballina parish might have followed them down that same immigration path?

Also in that same census, we've noticed the addition of one other familiar surname: Flannery. That household included the line entry inconveniently sporting an ink blot which made determining the husband's first name difficult. Add to that the enumerator's irritating habit of noting all wives only as "Mrs." 

What if that "Ed---" Flannery was a brother to our Margaret Flannery or to Kitty Flannery, wife of John Tully? I've puzzled over that possibility in the past. But now, I have further resources to aid in that speculation: the addition, a few years ago, of the Irish Catholic baptismal records on several websites—from the National Library of Ireland to Ancestry.com. I am wondering whether we can juxtapose some of these record details for comparisons.

Now that I've aggregated all the baptismal records for the Flannery family in Ballina, what should I notice but an entry for an Edmund Flannery, born in April of 1845, with parents named Edmund Flannery and Mary K[eough]. Could the elder Edmund be the same as the Ed Flannery of the ink-blotted name in Paris, Brant County, Ontario?

The possibility that I could link some of these Tipperary families from the Catholic baptismal records in the parish of Ballina with same-named family groupings living near our Tully families in Canada is quite real. Though many of those families suffered much loss during the famine years—including death of some of their children—their family constellations may have held up enough to enable us to clearly identify them on both sides of the Atlantic.

Such a project would allow me to trace these Tully and Flannery relations further in time, hopefully to locate those subsequent telling death records in Canada with parents' names or other confirmations of their past. The downside to such a project is that I have yet to determine exactly how these other families relate to my father-in-law's direct line. Still, a hunch—especially one involving a clear F.A.N. Club connection—is worth the investigation.

To keep track of all these findings, the best way is to utilize what is called a floating tree. We'll examine how we can begin this process and delve into the possibilities, beginning next week.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Knowing Their Place


A bit of advice I hear the most often, when researching our family's Irish ancestors, is to determine the townland. Designating one of the smallest of geographic divisions, the history of townlands stretches back before the Norman invasion of Ireland. But don't think that advice is easily accomplished; there are literally tens of thousands of townlands in Ireland.

Knowing that my father-in-law's maternal line originated in County Tipperary doesn't even help. Fortunately, I learned that, though the county isn't the largest of Irish counties by land mass, its governmental jurisdiction was further divided into a northern and southern domain—hence the lesson learned to search for "North Riding" when checking for Tully and Flannery ancestors in Griffith's Valuation, for instance (a division no longer kept, since 2012).

As for learning the original townland of residence, though, that was a challenge. After all, County Tipperary alone boasted over three thousand of them. The further requisite is to juxtapose the right townlands within the Catholic parish we are researching—Ballina—as opposed to the civil parish, yet another geopolitical designation.

That brings us to this week's current research quandary: determining which William Flannery might have been the right William for our family tree. Remember, William's name popped up as godparent for two Tully baptisms: one for Patrick, son of John Tully and Kitty Flannery, and the other for Michael, son of Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery. Since we already know that godparents—or "sponsors"—were by necessity either sibling or in-law of the child's parents, we realize that William Flannery, whichever one he was, had to be either brother to one (or both) of the Flannery women, or in-law to either of the parents (i.e. through marriage to a parent's sibling).

There were, however, two Williams in the church records. One was married to Hanora McNamara. The other called Kitty Keough his wife. Which one was the right one? Even looking at the children for each of the Williams didn't provide a solid clue.

There was another way that might help solve the problem: look at the places where each of these families were noted to reside. If we go back to the baptismal records for children of Denis and Margaret—or John and Kitty, for that matter—the place noted for those Tully families was the townland called Tountinna. Yet for the children of William and Kitty, the residence was recorded as "Ballycoragin." For William and Hanora, it was entered variously—oh, the woes with handwriting!—as something like "Curramore."

Of all the couples, only John Tully and Kitty Flannery show up in the marriage records for the Catholic parish of Ballina, and it is informative to note that John was characterized as having been "of Tountinna"—a valuable confirmation of his identity. For Kitty, the note was made that she was "of Curroghmore."

There we have it again...almost. In one record, the detail was "Curroghmore" while in the other, "Curramore." Could a combination of miserable handwriting and attempts at phonetic spelling have been the case here? Let's look up the list of townlands and see whether there were any possibilities coinciding in the region of the Catholic parish of Ballina.

Fortunately, there is a townland, currently spelled Curraghmore, somewhat to the south of Tountinna, all within the vicinity of the Ballina Catholic church parish. Cross checking that with the Griffith's Valuation, you can find a William Flannery in the North Riding jurisdiction of County Tipperary, under the civil parish of Kilmastulla—but only one. Encouragingly, surnames like the Ryan and Gleeson family connections we've already mentioned abound on the same pages for his townland of Curraghmore—even, disturbingly, the surname Keough of the wife of the other William Flannery. But only one William is included in the listing, not two. And no other Flannerys. Nor William's wife's family, the McNamaras.

While the pursuit of the exact townland is a recommended course for those researching their Irish ancestors, in puzzling over these Flannery relations, it didn't provide the strong confirmation hoped for. I did, however, stumble across another interesting detail. Admittedly a bright shiny object, it is still worth a pause to consider. We'll visit the records of yet another Flannery tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

In Theory . . .


In theory, knowing that the godparents named for an Irish Catholic child's baptism would be an aunt and an uncle from either side of the family, we could reconstruct the list of siblings of each parent by looking at the baptismal records of several of the couple's children. Of course, that always sounds swell in theory. Enter the possibility of cousins by the same names having children of their own, and we begin to lose a firm sense of familial direction.

Two of the Tully children—Patrick, son of John, and Michael, son of Denis—had sponsors named William Flannery, according to Ballina parish records in County Tipperary. And yet, searching through that parish's records for any sign of a William Flannery yielded not one but two men of that same name. Now what?

Because both Denis and John married women born with the surname Flannery, we can presume that their wives, Margaret and Kitty, were siblings. But that is not necessarily so—and due to limitations of record availability, there are no records from those earlier dates to confirm their relationship. Margaret and Kitty could have been sisters—but they could have been cousins, as well.

With that in mind, the two baptismal sponsors named William Flannery could have each been brother to the child's mother—one William calling Kitty his sister, the other claiming Margaret.

The difficulty is that the same church's baptismal records also show children for William, himself. However, some of those records designated William's wife as Hanora McNamara, while others stated the wife was Kitty Keough. For Hanora, the children baptised were Judy in 1843, John in 1845, and Margaret in 1848. For the children of Kitty Keough, the only entries were for Martin in 1839, and Ellen in 1842.

Looking at the sponsors for each of those Flannery children didn't help, either. On the one side—albeit difficult to read on account of the priest's abysmal handwriting—were surnames such as Gleeson, linking to some of our own family's DNA connections, and an almost indecipherable Tully...maybe. For the other Flannery couple, their children's godparents included the surnames Ryan and Brien, names we've seen repeated elsewhere in the family.

There was one additional clue buried in the scrawl of all these baptismal records: the place where the families called home. For William and Kitty, the residence was noted to be "Ballycoragin" while for William and Hanora, the location was "Curamore."

Although both of these locations were supposedly included within the Catholic parish called Ballina, it would be worth our while to take some time to examine just where they were located. Perhaps understanding the lay of the land may help us piece together these family constellations a bit more confidently. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Short List


Piecing together the family constellation of Irish ancestors living in one specific community can sometimes involve the sticky business of isolating one cousin of the same name from another. As we wrap up our search of the Catholic baptismal records of the extended Tully family in Ballina, County Tipperary, our main interest is checking to see whether any Flannery surnames are repeated as in-laws serving as sponsors for those Tully baptisms. 

We've already gone through this process for our key couple of interest, Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery. The goal is to determine who might have been the siblings of Margaret Flannery. As we go through this process, we've had some success in determining who the other Flannery family members were who became entered in the record as godparents for Tully children.

There is one more step, though, to make sure we've gleaned everything we can: to examine the baptismal references of the other Tully family members mentioned as sponsors. This serves as a cross-check to ensure we are still talking about the same family relationship of siblings or in-laws only to serve as godparents for baptisms. The reason this is necessary: the likelihood that there are cousins in town with the very same name as the target people we are researching.

Case in point: one sponsor's name—Darby Tully—showed up in other baptismal records with two different wives' names. I realize there is a possibility that Darby could have been widowed and remarried, but in this case, checking the births listed for Darby and each wife, it is apparent that there likely wasn't enough time to accomplish such a feat. Verdict: the Catholic parish in Ballina likely had two men by the same name.

We may well see that repeated in the case of John Tully, as well—not to mention another Tully we haven't yet examined, also by the name of Denis. It makes sense that there would be cousins of an age, bearing the same name, given the Irish naming patterns of that era. If every son names their firstborn boy after their father, the community will have quite a few in the next generation with that same namesake among them.

Notwithstanding all that, I still took a close look at each of the Tully men named Darby. One was married to Biddy Ryan, giving me pause on account of family tradition as well as distant DNA matches indicating a connection with the Ryan surname. The other Darby married Mary Hagan or Hogan (the handwriting in the records was difficult to decipher), but because of familiar Tully names showing up among the sponsors named for their children, I had to pay attention to those records as well.

It's a good thing, because it was this second Darby Tully couple who also named a Flannery among the godparents they chose for their child's baptism. For the April 7, 1839, baptism of their daughter Mary, Darby and Mary named Eliza "Flanary" as one of the godparents.

With that, we'll add Eliza to our Flannery list. We've completed our review of Tully baptisms and are now off to examine any further signs—both baptismal and marriage—of the Flannery siblings we've gleaned from the Tully records.

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Flannery Connections


Like solving some great genealogical algebra problem, we've spent this month so far, exploring the in-laws of Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery, my father-in-law's great-grandparents, seeking to fill in the blanks and solve for "x"—the siblings of this couple. Admittedly, most of August has been consumed with a focus on the Tully side of the equation, but we need to remember that my actual research goal for this month was to uncover more information on the Flannery side of this Irish couple. While I will continue to play with the puzzle pieces on the Tully side, let's see what adds up, so far, on the Flannery side.

Taking the baptismal records for the Catholic parish in Ballina, County Tipperary, that Denis and Margaret called their church home, we've already found the handwritten entries for their children Johanna, Michael, Patrick, William, John, Margaret, and Honora. From these seven baptismal records, we've gleaned the names of each child's godparents.

Keep in mind that Catholic baptismal records among the poorer parishes in western Ireland held some constants that will aid our exploration. The first was that, due to high rates of infant mortality, it was customary for baptisms to occur as soon as possible after the birth of the child, which usually meant on the day of birth, if possible. The baptismal record included the parents' names, with the bonus of the mother represented by her maiden surname.

While those details are key to our current search, there is one more point we are putting to good use: the sponsors named at the baptism were either a sibling of one of the child's parents, or an in-law.

It is that specific detail which has prompted my search of all the Tully-related children I could find in the baptismal records for the Catholic parish of Ballina. This week, we'll focus specifically on what connections we can find to the Flannery side of our equation.

First, in reviewing the children of Denis and Margaret, we find three Flannery godparents named. One is Kitty Flannery, the woman we've subsequently discovered married a local man by the name of John Tully. Whether John was brother to Denis, we've yet to determine—I have my doubts here—but Kitty's connection to Margaret is likely the sibling relationship the baptismal format requires.

In addition to Kitty Flannery, there were two other Flannery siblings mentioned. Both served as sponsors for Denis and Margaret's eldest son (at least as far as I can determine at this point), Michael. Baptised June 5, 1834, Michael's two godparents were named as William "Flanery" and Bridget "Flanery." At this point, we can tentatively assume that each was a sibling of Margaret Flannery Tully. If we can find baptismal records for either of their own families—assuming William and Bridget each went on to have families of their own—we may be able to propose a tentative naming pattern to help us deduce the names of the Flannery parents.

Kitty Flannery's own son Patrick provided yet another Flannery name to add to the list of potential Flannery siblings. Kitty, married to John Tully, was mother to three children that I could find in the Ballina records. The first, a year after John and Kitty were married, was Mary, born in 1842. Following that eldest daughter was a second they named Judy. The third child was a son named Patrick, baptised as "Patt" on July 20, 1846. It is this Patrick for whom the couple named William Flannary as godparent, likely the same William as had been named sponsor for Margaret's son Michael.

With those details from the two Flannery siblings, we can now propose a family constellation including the following names: Margaret (wife of Denis Tully), Kitty (wife of John Tully), William, and Bridget. From this point, we'll move on to see if any of the other sponsors named in Tully baptisms had Flannery surnames. Once we've rounded up the entire list of possible Flannery-Tully connections, we can move on to identify the spouses of the Flannery siblings we've found, as they, too, could be possible in-laws named as sponsors.  

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Read a Book — Any Book


Last week, I had the opportunity to get away for a couple days, and I gladly took up the offer. It wasn't so much on account of pandemic cabin fever. It was just a chance to carve out some time from the schedule to sit outside in a beautiful shady spot and do (almost) nothing.

With that almost-nothing time block, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: read a book. It had been so long...

Traveling to my getaway, I couldn't help but notice how many people engaged in nearly the opposite. They were reading, of course, but it was in the futile chase of the Bright Shiny Object, flipping from post to post on social media, or website to website in search of mere snatches of information.

Books, by contrast, offer the mind a place to grab hold and track a thought through the twists and turns of unfolding circumstances—never letting go until the turning of the last page and the closing of the cover.

My brain needed that workout. It's been spending hours juggling lists of godparents for multiple Irish-born babies, desperately sifting through data in the hopes of recognizing a pattern—any pattern. The persistence required for such follow-through may, for some researchers, be a native ability, but somehow my brain has lost such resilience. Having gotten flabby, it brightens after a decent workout. And books afford me that benefit.

Web surfing, on the other hand, gifts me with no such benefit, no matter how worthy the search or how doggedly I stick with the project. Shifting from one piecemeal thought to another may be helpful for some circumstances, but not for long-range thinking. I've got to constantly keep those mind muscles trim, or they eventually fail me.

I've found it doesn't matter, either, which book I am reading. Finding a useful genealogy guide is always a plus, but any book that engages the thought processes will yield that payoff. Having a wide range of interests seems to vary the exercise routine, as well. It's not necessarily the reading, per se—I've lately been reading a wide assortment of works including historical accounts, psychology studies, educational applications, health and nutrition reports—but the conceptual variety encourages mental flexibility, and sometimes sparks ideas which apply across disciplinary lines.

If you find yourself getting stuck in a genealogical rut with your latest brick wall, take a break and go read a book—any book. Give your mind a breather from the intractable research problem while letting it stretch. Put that mind through its paces while enjoying a fascinating book. Your research problem will undoubtedly still be there when you return to your work—but may shrink to more resolvable dimensions after your detour.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

When the Same Surnames Keep Showing up


Until the puzzle pieces keep repeating themselves, we sometimes don't even realize we've just received a research clue.

When I found the wedding photo of Lynn Ottum and Robert Wulf among the collection of pictures I retrieved from a local antique store, I presumed the former owner, Marilyn Sowle Bean, had kept the memento because they were her relatives. Last week, I researched both names and, surprised that I couldn't find any connection to my mother-in-law's family, decided to post the photograph here anyhow, in hopes that someone in their own family might find the post and request to receive the picture.

With that, I dismissed from my mind the possibility of discovering a new family line for Marilyn...until I ran across a second photo bearing the same surname. When surnames like that—especially a name I had never heard before—keep popping up, I wonder whether I've missed a connection.

To tell the truth, when I didn't succeed in determining a family connection last week, I actually thought maybe I had been overzealous in my purchases at the antique store. Maybe this was someone else's family photo. However, the photo I found this week—still from Marilyn's collection retrieved from the antique shop—definitely had a connection to Marilyn's family.

There is no doubt that this photo is tied to Marilyn Bean. Even if she hadn't affixed her meticulous labels on the reverse, I could tell the young boy in the photo was her own son. Granted, it was hard to determine his age but remembering how he always looked so much older than he actually was, because of his height, I would have guessed he was about five years of age. I wondered, however, why the little girl sitting with him wasn't instead paired with Marilyn's daughter—until I realized she would have been a toddler at that point, if her brother was just five.

For privacy reasons, I'll just say that the young girl, whose name was listed on the reverse, also had the same surname as that of the bride in last Saturday's photograph. My first guess was that the bride from last week's photo must have had a brother, and that this little girl would have been his daughter. 

However, having now encountered two people with the same surname helps focus the research effort more accurately. That research effect thus revealed the bride's approximate date of birth, leading me to discover her place in the 1940 census—back in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Apparently, just as had Marilyn's parents, after the 1930 census, bride Lynn Ottum's parents, Marjorie Schulze and Alvin Lawrence Ottum, moved their family from Wisconsin to southern California after the 1940 census. Though there was only one child listed for that census, Alvin's obituary, printed in the newspaper back home following his 1986 death in southern California, indicated that among the surviving family members were two daughters, as well as one son. Although his children were unnamed in the article, this leaves us with the possibility that the younger daughter might actually be the one named in the photograph.

Regardless of the actual identity of the young girl in the photograph, the picture is now one which I want to return to a family member. Not only that: whether Friends, Associates, or Neighbors, this F.A.N. Club clue reminds me that seeing the same surname twice—or more—in the same collection of the family's "stuff" is my prompt to keep searching for the connection.

This is no longer the case of a memorable wedding ceremony—or even of a cute little girl posing in a photo with one's son. Marilyn kept these photos her entire lifetime for a reason. It's now my task to discover what that reason might have been.  

Friday, August 13, 2021

About John and Kitty


If one approach to circumventing a research brick wall fails us, we always have other routes to explore. That may be my positive attitude showing, but what do we have to lose for trying?

While exploring the connection between my father-in-law's great-grandparents Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery and a different Tully couple by the name of Dennis and Margaret, the scant material we could find in the immigrants' adopted home in Ontario, Canada, was too inconclusive to provide us a next research step. Granted, there still is that DNA connection with descendants of that other Dennis and Margaret, but it will take more digging and further documentary resources to reach any conclusion.

In the meantime, there was yet another loose end begging us to explore its connection with the extended Tully family from the Ballina Catholic church parish in northern County Tipperary: John Tully and Kitty Flannery. We had explored the possibility that they had emigrated at about the same time, and to the same place, as my father-in-law's great-grandparents—although we were hampered by the quirk of the enumerator of the 1851 Canadian census in Brant County of what was once known as "Canada West." His impeccable manners refused to allow him to inquire as to the given name of the married women on his route, thus rendering John Tully's wife's identity as simply "Mrs."

Though we ran into some difficulties in confirming whether the same named family was the one showing up across the border in Detroit, Michigan, for the U. S. 1870 census, I've since located a few documents which should help confirm the identities. First, though, let's arrange these new discoveries in a timeline to gain an ordered perspective.

Back in the County Tipperary Catholic parish, Ballina, where we first found the letters confirming my father-in-law's relatives, I have since found a marriage record for John Tully and Kitty Flannery, dated February 23, 1841. At the very least, it can bestow us a reasonable estimate as to John's latest possible date of birth, assuming he was at least twenty at the time of his marriage.

As we've already mentioned, their child was baptised a year later, showing us now that daughter Mary was their firstborn. Her baptism on March 10, 1842, was followed by that of daughter Judy on April 15, 1844, and son "Patt." on July 20, 1846.

What we can now add to the mix is a birth record on March 20, 1856, for a daughter entered into the baptismal record in Ingersoll, Oxford County, Ontario—on that same route leading from where Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully had settled in Paris, through where the other Dennis and Margaret lived, and on to the U.S. border at Michigan.

This daughter, baptised "Brigid Tulley," was the key to finding John Tully's family in the 1861 Canadian census. This time, the family—if, indeed, it was the correct one—could be found listed among the residents of the tiny village of Saint Marys in Perth County, Ontario.

Once again, the unfortunate Bridget had her name's spelling mangled—she was entered as "Bridgeit"—but the other individuals in the household sported ages which almost all aligned with the John Tully family we had found back in Paris in Brant County's 1851 census. The only outlier was Kitty, who this time not only was transformed from the "Mrs." of Paris and the "Kitty" of County Tipperary, but as "Cathrin" emerged as slightly younger than the forty six years we'd have expected, given her entry in 1851.

That said, the census score card now yielded us these approximate years of birth:

John in 1814
Kitty in 1819 or 1821
Margaret in 1849 or 1851
Michael in 1853
Bridget in 1856

Earlier this week, we had moved our research focus to Detroit, suspecting that the family had once again migrated across borders. This was not an unusual move for the extended Tully family, for my father-in-law's family had several personal papers from relatives who had followed the same path from Ireland to Canada to the midwest United States—some even beyond Detroit to Chicago or the Dakota territory.

As for that 1870 census entry we had found, though, I wasn't entirely sure. That is where we took that left turn to follow a Margaret Tully Baxter's line backward through Ontario once again—leading to the other Dennis and Margaret, of our DNA matches, which we had explored.

One detail, though, tells me there was more than one Margaret Tully living in Detroit, if only by association to her sister Bridget. Here's why. Included with some of the U.S. census enumerations was something called a mortality schedule. This list provided the names and dates of death for those in the vicinity who had died in the year leading up to the census. 

For the 1870 mortality schedule, there was an entry for a fourteen year old Canadian-born girl named Bridget Tully. The schedule indicates that the time frame of the report included the year ending June first of 1870, showing us that Bridget's month of death was March of that same year. Furthermore, this specific schedule was for the eighth ward of Detroit. Looking back to the 1870 census where we found our possible John and Kitty Tully, we see they also were listed as living in the eighth ward, making it likely that the deceased teen was their own Bridget Tully.

With that discovery, we can be more confident that the John and "Mrs." Tully in the 1851 census, back in Brant County, Ontario, were indeed our John and Kitty. We also are redirected, in the matter of their daughter Margaret, away from the woman of the same name we had traced back to the other Dennis and Margaret Tully, and will need to discover what became of this Margaret, daughter of John and Kitty. Finally, it would be helpful to complete the search for John and Kitty themselves, as what became of them following their appearance in the American 1870 census is unclear. We need to look for them not only in future census records, but in any indication of their final resting place.

In steering clear of mistaking one Tully relative for another of a similar date—I won't even get into the issue of the other Dennis and Margaret's daughter, also named Bridget—we now can safely say we know that one additional couple from those old Ballina church records also made the voyage from County Tipperary during those horrible famine years, making their new home, at least temporarily, in "Canada West" before moving onward once again.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Going Back to the Beginning


In the case of possible mistaken identities—duplicate names and similar dates for brick wall ancestors—it can be helpful to retrace our steps back to the place where the families all originated, to see whether there are any encouraging signs.

For our twin Tully couples—both named Dennis and Margaret—we certainly have one clue working in our favor: their ages are not quite the same. What are the possibilities that the younger Dennis and Margaret were also baptised in the same parish back in County Tipperary, Ireland, where our Dennis Tully and Margaret Flannery once lived?

From the Canadian census records in the farm community where Dennis Tully and Margaret Hurley settled, that Dennis' year of birth had been provided as any date from 1829 to 1831. Margaret's age, according to census records, varied much more greatly, putting her year of birth in Ireland as anything from 1830 to 1837.

We've already determined, from the 1901 Canadian census, that Dennis and Margaret arrived in their new homeland in different years. This could indicate that they arrived as single travelers and married subsequent to their immigration—but that is not necessarily so; this could be a case of a serial migration. We should keep our eyes open for marriage records back in Ireland, as well.

Seeking baptismal records for a Dennis Tully in the same Catholic parish in County Tipperary as our own Dennis Tully's former church, Ballina, did not bring up quite the dates the Canadian census led us to assume. There was one Denis Tully baptism noted in the Ballina parish records on September 14, 1834, with parents listed as Thomas Tully and Margaret Wilkinson. The sponsors listed for this event seemed to be familiar names: John Tully and Margaret Flannery, a promising sign.

That, however was the only Dennis Tully I could find in the parish records during that time period for any son by that name. Admittedly, I have little confidence in that entry, for two reasons. The first is the year of the baptism, lagging the dates we've already gleaned for Dennis in the Canadian census records—not to mention, the (unfortunately unsourced) date of birth included on his Find A Grave memorial

The second issue, however, is a softer detail: the traditional naming pattern adhered to by so many Irish Catholics of that time period. If, indeed, the first son of an Irish father was to be named after that father's father, the first son I could find for Dennis he named Patrick. True, that detail was extrapolated years later, when the Tully household had grown to include seven children, according to the 1871 census. Perhaps by then, immigrants Dennis and Margaret had shed their old ways from the old country.

As for Margaret Hurley's origin, it is a sheer guess to assume that she came from the same hometown as her husband—but I was curious to see whether there were any Hurleys in the Ballina parish, nonetheless. As it turned out, there were indeed two options, although they stretched the margin on the ages we had gleaned from the Canadian enumerations. One was from July 29, 1835, in which James Hurley and Catherine Ryan baptised a daughter named Margaret. The second occurred a year later, on August 8, 1836, with parents Michael Hurly and Biddy Loge. Once again, neither father's name was echoed in the choices of names for Margaret's sons, although Biddy might have been a possible mother's name with Margaret's eldest daughter being named Bridget.

To complicate matters, at the end of Margaret's life, no notation was included in her death record regarding her parents' names. As for her husband Dennis, however, there was an entry. Provided by the informant John Tully—presumably his youngest son—while the mother's entry was left blank, the father's name was noted to have been Dennis.  

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