Wednesday, July 26, 2023

When we Last Saw Margaret


Finding a mother in Ireland can be no problem at all—if we can find any mention of that mother in her child's baptismal record. In the case of Margaret Flannery Tully's known children born in Ireland, that is easily done. Thankfully, her name is preserved—in all its spelling permutations—in the records of the Catholic archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, where the Tully family's local parish in Ballina was located.

The question I have this month, though, is whether Margaret Flannery ever made the trip to Canada West with her family before 1850. Are there any records which can assure us of the last place where we can find Margaret?

If we were dealing with a later time period, the first thought might be to look for a mention of her name on the death certificates of her children. After all, there was one last Tully child born after the family arrived in Canada: William, born in 1850. Since death records now include the decedent's parents' names, that would be an easy way to determine whether Margaret had made the trip across the Atlantic with her family—or died during the famine years, back in Ireland.

Unfortunately, William died long before such documents began including those parents' names. All we have is a transcription of his information in an 1896 record when he died in the American city of Chicago. There is no record linking him to his parents—only family photographs and papers connecting him to the rest of his siblings.

Indeed, not a single one of Margaret's children died after the date when jurisdictions began including parents' names on death records. An earlier son, also named William, died before the family ever left Ireland, as did, likely, a daughter they named Honora. Daughter Johanna married another immigrant from County Tipperary, Edward Ryan, and moved westward from the Tully family's first home in Brant County in Ontario toward Winnipeg, and then across the international border to Dakota Territory before dying about 1901. Son Michael moved with most of the rest of the Tully family to Chicago, where he died in 1885. Son Patrick, outliving the rest of his siblings, died in Chicago in 1909—the same year as our Johanna Flanagan Lee from July's research project, whose death record was sad proof that Chicago didn't yet include names of parents. And John, my father-in-law's maternal grandfather, died in 1907, leaving us with that same question about Margaret. 

Though the second son named William was born in Canada, I have yet to find his baptismal record in Brant County, the place where the Tully family originally settled when arriving in Canada. And the daughter they named Margaret, after her mother, certainly arrived in Canada, as can be seen by her appearance in both the 1851 and 1861 census records, but after that point, she entirely disappeared. Perhaps a widespread search for the younger Margaret, whether married or dying young, may reveal something about her mother that the other siblings failed to uncover.

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