Thursday, June 29, 2023

About Johanna


A daughter of Ireland who found herself in Chicago: that may be the very one who connects me with the missing links in my father-in-law's Flanagan—and, eventually, Tully—family line, and yet, she herself was not part of his direct line.

Johanna, a Flanagan back in Ireland, married someone with an agonizingly common name—John Lee—and raised her family in Chicago. If it weren't for mentions of her married name—Johanna Lee—in obituaries of her relatives, I wouldn't even have known of her connection to my father-in-law's family. However, when no other clues on that Flanagan family emerged, despite diligent searching, any relative could become the one to help find answers.

Somehow, Johanna was cousin to my father-in-law's maternal grandmother, Catherine Malloy. This relationship was likely through Johanna's father—an as-yet unnamed Flanagan—and Catherine's mother, Anna Flanagan. Where Johanna came from in Ireland I can't yet determine, but I do know that Anna received a letter from Catherine's father in 1848, on the date of his departure for the New World, an ill-fated trip to Boston. The address on the envelope revealed that, at that time, Anna and her infant daughter Catherine lived in Parish Ballyagran in County Limerick.

With Catherine having been born about 1848, Johanna would then be the younger of the two cousins—but not by much. Johanna, at least according to census records in her adopted second home in Chicago, was said to have been born in March of the next year. By the time Johanna's name began appearing in American documentation, she and her husband John were parents of several children. Depending on which source I found for the listing of names, there were up to eight children born to the Lees: William, George, John, Lillian, Edward, David, Deborah, and Mary Elizabeth. David had died as an infant—not uncommon in that time period—and William, mentioned in his mother's obituary as having predeceased her, apparently died in the same year as her passing, 1909.

While I can find small details on this particular collateral line of my father-in-law—such as the Lee family's address in Chicago at 3414 Parnell—the weightier, and thus more helpful, details evade my notice. Johanna's father's name, for instance, would help build a clearer picture of that generation of siblings of Anna Flanagan, Catherine's mother.

However, I don't want to merely focus on that Flanagan connection. For July's rendition of my Twelve Most Wanted for this year, I'd like to learn as much as possible on the descendants of Johanna, herself. Who knows? With all the recent emphasis at about connecting with fellow researchers, perhaps I will find someone willing to share records and remembrances—or even maybe spring for a DNA test from the Flanagan side of the equation.

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