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.

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