Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Other Dennis and Margaret


It may seem preposterous to spend time chasing after another family's brick wall ancestors when I can't even straighten out my own family history connections. However, given that a different Dennis and Margaret Tully keep showing up in my search for my father-in-law's great-grandparents by the same names, it would be worth my while to determine just how it is that other researchers think our ancestral couple is related to theirs.

True, there is one DNA match on my father-in-law's Tully side whose roots trace back through Canada to a Dennis Tully and Margaret Hurley—not our Flannery—from Ireland. That alone is enough reason to consider the possible connection. Add to that another discovery since then, showing a second solid DNA match whose tree includes the same couple, through a different line of descent. Margaret Hurley may not have married the Denis Tully in my father-in-law's direct line, but the man she called her husband is likely someone whose direct line leads back to a key person shared in our Denis' lineage. I smell a whiff of a triangulation in the air.

Before becoming elated over such possibilities, though, let's take a look at what can be verified about this Dennis Tully who married Margaret Hurley. Following the cues from what we learned yesterday of their (possible) daughter, Margaret Tully Baxter, I checked first in Watford, Ontario, where the younger Margaret was reported to have been born. Sure enough, there was a memorial on Find A Grave for the elder Margaret, who died in 1904. The same monument, which identified her as "wife of D. Tully," included an inscription noting Dennis' passing in 1909.

Since that at least provided us the indication that there was a couple by that name living in that area, the next step was to check census records for more information on this Dennis and Margaret. The most recent census record I could find was for 1901, still in the Warwick township of Lambton County in which Watford was located. There, the record provided an actual date of birth for Dennis—March 2, 1830—but left the entry blank for his wife, other than the year of birth as 1833. 

Another helpful bit of information from that census was the year of immigration. Dennis declared his arrival was in 1849, much in line with our Denis' timeline. Margaret followed in 1850, suggesting a search for a Canadian marriage record for the couple, rather than having to search through the near-illegible, densely packed church records in their native Ireland.

Before their last appearance in the Canadian census, I could find this Dennis and Margaret living in the same location for the 1891 census, as well as the 1871 and 1861 enumerations. Reconstructing the family constellation from those documents, Dennis and Margaret were parents to Brigid, Margaret, Mary, Johanna, Patrick, John, and Sarah Anne.

In none of those records did an enumerator provide an errant mention of just where in Ireland the couple originated, or any other clue which might bring us closer to our goal of figuring out just how this Dennis and Margaret connected with our Dennis and Margaret. While we can spend time building out their family tree in hopes that their children's future records might reveal further details on the parents' origins, it might help—to reassure us, if nothing else—to explore whether there are any Hurley records back in the County Tipperary homeland where our Denis and Margaret originated, or whether there were any other baptisms for a child named Dennis in that Ballina parish where we found our other Tully families.   

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