Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Possible Canadian Cousins


Those of us who research our Irish ancestry in the United States may not have given much thought to just where those Irish immigrants actually landed, once they reached the New World. We might assume New York City, the predominant destination for so many immigrants to America. Or perhaps, knowing of the reputation of one other city with a large Irish-American contingent, we assume the port might have been Boston. However, there are a good number of Irish descendants who have possible Canadian cousins.

My father-in-law and his siblings in Chicago were among those who knew they had Canadian cousins. There were stories of letters from Manitoba, and visits from Canadian friends from Winnipeg. Unbeknownst to any of them, there later was even a children's book written about one such connection. Those family stories, kept alive, are sometimes the only clues to keep us family historians searching for the information we know must be out there for the finding.

With this recent discovery of a possible additional branch of my father-in-law's Tully relatives in Ontario, I am wishing I could find someone else in the extended family to recall any such family stories—anything to validate what I now have found only through the results of multiple DNA tests. And, as I reach out to these DNA matches, perhaps something may jog someone's memory to head to the attic to pull out that old trunk or stash of family papers.

In the meantime, we'll take some time to research the family of this Dennis Tully, the man born about 1830 in Ireland who crossed the ocean to live a fresh life of promise in "Canada West"—the province of Ontario.

I can't be sure exactly when Dennis Tully arrived on Canadian shores, as passenger records for that time period were not required, being simply a trip from one part of Great Britain to another. He possibly could be this single laborer showing in the 1851 census in Blenheim, as only one of a few born in Ireland and of the Roman Catholic faith. Giving his age then as twenty one, he lived with another Irish immigrant by the name of James Welsh. There were no other individuals claiming either surname on the enumeration page in which they appeared.

The next ten years brought many changes to Dennis' life—if I have found the right person. By the time of the 1861 census, Dennis had moved nearly a straight shot north from Blenheim, on the shores of Lake Erie, to Lambton County, almost reaching Lake Huron. He was by then married to Margaret, and had three children, ages five and under: Bridget, Margaret, and Mary. Within the next ten years, at least according to the 1871 census, the Tully family had grown to include seven children, adding Johanna, Patrick, John, and Sarah. By then, too, Dennis' occupational listing had changed from "laborer" to "farmer," signifying a possible acquisition of property.

From that point—and we'll explore this next generation in detail tomorrow—the Tully children married and started their own families, while Dennis and Margaret remained in their own household in Warwick until Margaret's death in 1904 and, finally, Dennis' passing in 1909.

Since I haven't been able to locate any baptismal record for Dennis' own birth in Ireland, assumedly occurring in 1830, my next search is to look for any marriage document for him in Ontario, in the hopes that a church document might divulge as much information as this tell-all dream record I found for an "O'Donnell and Houloghan" marriage—sadly unrelated—in the province during that same time period. I keep hoping to find a genealogical smoking gun to link Dennis to his parents back in record-poor Ireland.

In the meantime, while this previously unknown Dennis Tully seems to have taken the same immigration route as my father-in-law's own Tully ancestors, our side of the family eventually left Canada for jobs in the American cities of Detroit and Chicago. If the younger Dennis turns out to be related to our line—and we can see the likelihood, based on DNA test results—we'll next take a look at the children of Dennis and Margaret who may have yielded my father-in-law some previously unknown additional Canadian cousins.

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