Monday, August 28, 2023

When Boy Meets Girl


Were you one of those children who clamored to hear just how your dad met your mom? It seems so many people have a soft spot for boy meets girl stories. I'll admit I was always curious about such details concerning my own parents—but right now, I'm more interested in how some of my ancestors met. Top that list with the ancestors who seemed to make such details a well-kept secret.

Since I've been researching my father-in-law's roots this month, one couple on my need-to-know list is the newly-discovered line of Dennis Tully who, after his arrival in Canada, married another Irish immigrant named Margaret Hurley. This Dennis is, as far as I can tell, a newly-discovered son of my father-in-law's ancestor who was also named Denis Tully.

My thinking was that if I could find this Dennis' marriage record—and if I were extremely fortunate—perhaps it would reveal the parents' names for both bride and groom. Unfortunately, I have no idea how or where Dennis met Margaret, let alone when. My best guess, based on the birth dates of their children, would be about 1856.

It occurred to me that I've been down this path before with the extended Tully family. It was a few years ago when, thanks to some DNA test matches, I discovered that there was another son of our Denis Tully and Margaret Flannery. This son, Michael, was not in his parents' first census record after the Tully family moved to Canada, but did show up on the subsequent census in 1861—not in the same household, but at least on the same page as his father.

I never had discovered how Michael met his wife—here's a groaner: she was also named Margaret—so I decided to revisit that family line to see if I could figure out a way to locate such details. I looked first for Michael Tully prior to his marriage to Margaret, and found a likely candidate in the 1851 census. This Michael Tully was a sixteen year old laborer listed in the household of an Irish Catholic couple named John and Bridget Moore. Along with Michael was another boarder named Ann Welsh—a surname which, back at the Tully household of Michael's parents was the same as that of a family living nearby.

This Michael, in 1851, was residing in a town called Brantford, which at the time was part of the same county as the home of Michael's parents—the village of Paris in Brant County. A distance today of twelve kilometers from town center to town center would prove an easy trip, even back in that era.

If that were the right Michael Tully, then could Brantford be the place where Michael met his future wife Margaret? Her maiden name was Dowd, which could present some spelling challenges. I looked to see what could be found in the census just following their likely 1856 marriage.

Though I did find a family named "Doud" in the 1861 census, living in nearby South Dumfries township—which in the 1850s did include a portion of Paris—it didn't appear by their ages that this Margaret would have fit in, though the proximity to Brantford looked promising. Another Dowd family in Hamilton also caught my eye, but didn't seem likely, either. Of all the Dowds which were listed in the 1861 census for Canada West, none seemed likely. 

Though my test run with the question about Michael Tully didn't produce any helpful clues, I did try the same exercise for Dennis and his bride Margaret, looking in the 1861 census for her likely family. Granted, in researching this family line, I've stumbled upon results peppered with spelling permutations like Horely and Earley. Notwithstanding that caution, I could find no detail which could help me figure out how Dennis could have met Margaret.

Sometimes, those boy meets girl stories may only survive through the years when the storytellers in the family pass down the tale from generation to generation.

I'm still looking for that Tully family storyteller.

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