M.C. Moran

Sophia Scissons, “Irish”

In addition to birthplace and religion, one of the most genealogically useful bits of information that the Canadian census might povide is that of the ethnic origin (“Origin” in 1871 and 1881; “Racial or tribal origin” in 1901 and 1911) of an ancestor.* As with all census categories, however, the data recorded on the census form is only as accurate as the information that was given to, and understood by, the enumerator.

I’ve noticed a tendency in some circles to emphasize that “the records can lie,” and that people “sometimes [or often] lied.” And in some cases, well, sure. But for most instances of inaccurate information, I really think that “lie” is rather too strong a term to use. Most errors were due to faulty assumptions and genuine misunderstandings rather than to outright falsehoods, I’m pretty sure.
Let’s say that an enumerator was visiting an orphanage that was associated with an Irish Catholic parish (St. Patrick’s Church, now Basilica, on Kent St. in Ottawa), that was founded in 1865 as “a House of Refuge for the Irish poor,” that was staffed by nuns (of the Grey Sisters of the Cross) of mostly Irish origin, and that was overwhelmingly Irish Catholic in terms of the ethno-religious background of its “inmates”… and if that enumerator listed an elderly Englishwoman as Irish in origin and assigned to her the birthplace of Ireland rather than England, well, I guess I’m more than willing to believe that this was an honest mistake on his part.

Blended Families

When I first read the Perth Courier’s obituary (January 1941) for my great-grandmother Catherine McCarthy (Mrs. Arthur McGlade), I was puzzled to read that she was survived by, amongst other people, a sister named Miss Mary Mahoney. Miss (as in, never married) Mahoney? But shouldn’t that be Miss Mary McCarthy?

Well, no, not necessarily. Not if Miss Mary Mahoney was a half-sister of Catherine McCarthy, with a father named Mahoney who had previously been married to Catherine McCarthy’s mother Anne McDonald (or possibly McDonnell). Simplest explanation in the world, and of course it should have immediately occurred to me. But I was so focused on the surnames McCarthy and McGlade, that it actually took a bit of digging to make sense of it all.
The “blended family” is nothing new, of course. Back in the day when a woman dying in childbirth was no rare or unusual occurrence, and when a man in the prime of life, and seemingly hale and hearty the last time his neighbours ever saw him alive, might be carried off by influenza within the course of week, remarriage was quite common, and households containing children from a previous marriage were therefore quite commonplace. If you were a widow or a widower with a parcel of young children to be fed and watered, your best bet was probably to find yourself a new spouse: a new husband to bring home the bread, or a new wife to bake it. And the possibility of a remarriage is something to keep in mind when you’re looking through the 19th-century census returns: don’t assume that all of the children in a household are the children of the enumerated married couple of that household.
When Eugene McCarthy married Ann McDonald (21 March 1872), he was the widower of Catherine Trainor, with whom he had five known children (with one of them, Charles, presumably dying in infancy). And when Ann McDonald married Eugene McCarthy (21 March 1872), she was the widow of David Mahoney, with whom she had three known children, all of them daughters. Here is their blended family household from the 1881 Canadian census (transcription by ancestry.ca, with original image [LAC] here):
mccarthy_eugene_household_1881census.jpg
The above household contained children from three separate marriages:
1. Eugene McCarthy and Catherine Trainor (Jeremiah, James, Mary, and John McCarthy);
2. David Mahoney and Ann McDonald (Mary J., Abigail, and Annie Mahoney);
3. Eugene MCarthy and Ann McDonald (Ellen and Catherine McCarthy)
Abigail (Catherine Abigail, nickname “Abby”) Mahoney is mentioned in Catherine McCarthy’s (Mrs. Arthur McGlade’s) obituary as “Mrs B. Dignan,”  which again, was initially a bit mystifying to me. She married Bartholomew, son of James Dignan and Catherine Cahill, whose nickname in combination with his surname (“Bartley Dignan”) is perhaps my favourite name ever to be found in my family tree, though with the duo of Mickey and Maisie Moran running a close second (when John Levi [Leavy] “Mickey” Moran married Mary Katherine “Maisie” Dunn, to become Mickey and Maisie Moran, that couple should have put on a Broadway show or something, their paired names had such a lovely alliteration).

Diphtheria Deaths in Huntley: 21-27 April 1883

Browsing through 19th-century death records reminds me of why I support universal childhood immunization. From one page of the Ontario civil registration of deaths for Huntley township, Carleton Co.:

6 deaths, all of them children; one from scarlet fever, five from diphtheria:

  • David Henry Harmer, Laborer, died 7 April 1883, at age 3 years. Cause of death: Scarlet fever, duration of illness 2 weeks.
  • Eliza Teevans, Blacksmith’s daughter, died 21 April 1883, at age 3 years and 6 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 3 days.
  • Mary Ann Teevans, Blacksmith’s daughter, died 23 April 1883, at age 4 years and 2 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 4 days.
  • Albert Alonson Barrows, Farmer, died 26 April 1883, at age 3 years and 11 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 8 days.
  • Daniel Teevans, Blacksmith’s son, died 26 April 1883, at age 6 years. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 2 days.
  • Sarah Rebecca Barrows, Farmer’s daughter, died 27 April 1883, at age 5 years and 7 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 7 days.
(Click thumbnail to view larger image [database, Ancestry.ca, http://www.ancestry.ca, accessed 6 Feb 2011, Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1936 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947]):
diptheriadeathshuntley1883.jpg
The three blacksmiths’ children listed above were very probably the son and daughters of Patrick Teevens and Mary Lowman. This couple lost another child a couple of weeks later, when Francis John Teevans, Blacksmith’s son, died 8 May 1883, at the age of 2 years. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 6 days.

Michael James McGlade (1856-1897)

Headstone for Michael James McGlade, son of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne. He died in a horrible head-on collision railway accident near Topeka, Kansas, and was buried at St. John the Baptist RC Cemetery in Perth, Lanark Co., Ontario:

mcglade_michael_james1897.jpg
From the Perth Courier (10 September 1897), a notice of his death:
mcglade_michael_perthcourier_10sept1897.jpg
And from the Perth Courier (17 September 1897), a notice of his burial:
mcglade_michael_perthcourier_17sept1897.jpg
Note the mention of the American lawyer (“a lawyer named Dolpin”) who accompanied his remains. This would have been big news in the town of Perth, and no doubt expectations ran high for some sort of legal settlement against the railway.
Apparently these expectations were dashed. There’s a story here about a failed lawsuit against the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. I don’t yet have all the details, but the case (Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. Ryan) made it into several compilations of late-19th and early 20th-century railroad cases, including, for example, American and English Railroad Cases, ed. Thomas Mitchie, Vol XXI (1901), which I discovered through Google Books.

The Iceman Cometh

My great-grandfather John James Lahey, teamster for the Kingsbury Ice Company. 

Son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen; and husband of Bridget Loreto Killeen (daughter of Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan). With four of his five daughters. From left to right: my grandmother Mary Catherine Lahey, and her sisters Margaret Hilda, Mary Laura, and Evelyn Agnes. Photograph taken in the early 1920s, on St. Francis Street in Ottawa.
lahey_johnjames_anddaughters.jpg

Canadian Census: (A Few) Religious Designations/Abbreviations

One of the most useful bits of information that the Canadian census can supply is that of the religious affiliation of your ancestor(s). This is worth knowing not only as an interesting and sociologically significant detail about the life of your ancestor, but also as a guide to further sources (church records, cemetery records, and so on).
However, you may come across an entry in the Religion column of the Canadian census that doesn’t immediately make sense to you, perhaps because the enumerator used an abbreviation that is no longer in common use, or perhaps because he used his own version of a shorthand designation.
For example, you may come across an ancestor, let’s say born in Upper Canada of Scottish origin, whose religion is listed as FC. What does that FC mean? The FC stands for Free Church, or Presbyterian. Or it may be FK, for Free Kirk (Scottish for Church, also Presbyterian). Or perhaps you’ll find an ancestor, born in Ireland and therefore of Irish origin, with religion listed as English. That English refers to the Church of England, which means that your ancestor was enumerated as an Anglican. Or maybe your ancestor was born in Ontario of Irish origin, with religion listed as C. Rome. C. Rome stands for Church of Rome, or Roman Catholic. 
Library and Archives Canada has a very brief list of religious abbreviations here. The Ontario GenWeb Census Project has a more extensive list of religion codes here.
Here are a few of the abbreviations/designations that I’ve come across for Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian:
Roman Catholic:
Catholic
R. Cath.
Catholique
RC
Church of Rome
CR [for Church of Rome]
Papist (actually, I don’t think I’ve seen this in the census, but I’ve certainly seen it in a couple of Ontario civil records).
Anglican:
Church of England
C of E
CE
English
England
Anglais
Presbyterian:
Church of Scotland
Free Church
FC
Free Kirk
FK
Scotland
Scottish

Details, Details (Cause of Death Uncovered, or at least Strongly Inferred)

Like most people who get hooked on genealogy, I’m attracted to the detective work aspect of the enterprise. A clue here; a detail there; another hint here, which, combined with a few previously discovered clues and details, finally provides a solid lead; and then: bingo! a nice little nugget of documented and verifiable information, which may then serve as a clue for some other discovery; and on (and on!) it goes.

It’s very easy to overlook a relevant detail, though.

Alias = Otherwise

If you come across a female ancestor described as “[Surname] alias [Surname]” in the parish register, you should certainly not assume that your great-grandmother led a double life, or had some sort of involvement with the cloak-and-dagger world of international espionage. While we now tend to think of an “alias” as a false name assumed for dubious, if not criminal, purposes, within the context of the parish register, it meant nothing so exciting or intriguing as that. It just meant “otherwise,” or “otherwise called/otherwise known as,” and was a way of recording a woman’s name with reference to both her family/maiden and her married surnames.
From the parish register for St. Michael’s, Corkery (Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario), the burial record for Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran, listed here as Margarette Jameson alias Moran. She died 12 July 1882 (her Ontario civil death record lists the cause of death as “Weakness”), and was buried at St. Michael’s RC Cemetery at Corkery, Huntley township on 14 July 1882, with her sons Thomas and Alexander Moran serving as burial witnesses:

jameson_margaret_burial_stmichaelscorkery_1882.jpg

The inverse of “[Family or Maiden Name] alias [Married Name]” is of course “[Married Name] née [Family or Maiden Name]” (which in the above case would be Moran née [born as] Jameson), which is the formulation that you will probably most often see.

Catholics in Arnprior: Which Registers to Search?

Searching the early Roman Catholic parish registers for your Ottawa Valley ancestors can be a bit confusing, at least until you get a sense of the lay of the land. Basically, if you want to find all relevant baptismal and marriage records for your family, you’re almost certainly going to have to search more than one register, and probably at least a few.
Before the formation of regular, local parishes, many Catholics in the Ottawa Valley were served by travelling missionary priests, who made periodic visits to a given village or township to perform baptisms, marriages, and less frequently, burials, and who then recorded the performance of these sacraments in any number of possible parish registers, sometimes many miles away from an ancestor’s address.