M.C. Moran

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.

Spelling Doesn’t Count! (in Genealogy)

Most of the complaints that I hear from others involve relatives that dispute dates and spellings of names–the latter being a BIGGIE. I still have difficultly convincing new family researchers themselves to accept the fact that their ancestors’ names were spelled many ways. It can be impossible to convince relatives, especially those who have never gone bleary-eyed reading old Irish baptismal records on microfilm, that, no, the family did NOT always spell Kavanagh with a “K” instead of a “C.” 



No family feuds (and I hope no hurt feelings) to report here, but certainly the issue of surname spellings is sometimes an issue.

And it’s not surprising, really, that so many people are wedded to a notion of the one “correct” (and historically immutable) spelling of one’s surname, given how important surname spelling is today. If the clerk at the DMV misspells your name, for example, and you end up with a driver’s license with just one vowel or consonant different from your officially registered name (as found on your birth certificate, say, or perhaps on your passport), that’s going to bother you, right? Well, it would certainly bother me, and I would spend time and money to have that error corrected. A variant surname spelling on a document related to your contributions to the Canada Pension Plan? Yeah, you’d definitely want to look into that, and correct that misspelling just to be safe.

Bridget O’Hanlon = Sister of Ann O’Hanlon Vallely?

On 15 November 1841, in the parish of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours at Montebello, Papineau Co., Québec, Thomas McTeague married Bridget O’Hanlon. The names of the couple and of their parents were written as follows (with my translation/interpretation in italics):


Thomas McTeague, fils majeur de Joseph McTeague et de Brigitte Scerloc, du Township de Grenville, d’une part; et Brigitte O’honlon domiciliée en Grenville, fille majeure de Pierre O’honlon et de Marie Thooner, domiciliés en Irlande, d’autre part…[Thomas McTeague, son of age of Joseph McTeague and of Bridget Sherlock, of the Township of Grenville, on the one part; and Bridget O'Hanlon, residing at Grenville, daughter of age of Peter O'Hanlon and of Mary (Toner?) who reside in Ireland, on the other part]*

The witnesses to this marriage were Charles Major (who signed the register), George Vallillee (who did not sign), and Owen McTeague (who signed).

The reason why the above-cited record interests me is that George Vallillee/Vallely is my 3x great-grandfather, and his first wife Anne O’Hanlon my 3x great-grandmother. Did he witness this marriage as a brother-in-law of Bridget O’Hanlon?

And where did Thomas McTeague and Bridget O’Hanlon eventually settle? A quick search of the 1851 Canadian census turns up a number of McTeagues in Grenville (Deux Montagnes County, Canada East), but no sign of Thomas and wife Bridget O’Hanlon.

*Montebello (Co. Papineau, Québec), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1840-1851, M. 5 (1841), McTeague et O’honlon, p. 23, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca/: accessed 12 Dec 2010), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.


Who was Jennie Stafford?

Found in the household of John Sullivan and Mary Ann Galligan in the 1901 census for Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario:

Stafford, Jennie, Adopted, born 1891 (no day or month given), age 9, place of birth Ontario, racial or tribal origin Irish, nationality Canadian, religion Roman Catholic, attending school 10 months in the year.*
This family had a daughter Mary Catharine Sullivan, born 1891 (so: roughly the same age as Jennie Stafford), who died of nephritis at age 9, in December 1899. Did they adopt (which is to say, informally adopt) Jennie Stafford after the death of their daughter of the same age? Certainly, this family had no shortage of children, with five known sons, four of them still living in 1901, but with only one other daughter, Ellen, born 1880, and listed as age 19 in the 1901 enumeration.
Jennie Stafford is not found in the Sullivan-Galligan household in the 1911 census.
Was she indeed born in Ontario, as listed in the 1901 census, or was she born in England and “adopted” by this family as a Home Child?
*1901 Census of Canada, Ontario, Renfrew (South/Sud), District Number 111, Arnprior (Town/Ville), Subdistrict B-1, p. 9.

Patrick Kenny: Home Child

Found in the household of John Scissons and Hannah O’Malley in the 1891 census of March township, Carleton Co., Ontario:

Patrick Kenny, age 20, born about 1871 in England, father born England, mother born England, religion Roman Catholic, occupation Farm Labour.
This is very possibly the same Patrick Kenny who emigrated from England to Canada in 1886, at the age of 15, travelling from Liverpool to Québec with Ottawa as the destination.
It may also be the same Patrick Kenny who married Mary Moylan, daughter of John Moylan and Margaret Birmingham and widow of John Walsh, at St. Mary’s (Notre Dame du bon Conseil), Ottawa on 7 January 1919. The marriage records lists him as “Patrick Kenny, born in England, laborer, son of age (47) of John Kenny and Elisabeth Murray.” The Ontario civil registration of this marriage lists Patrick Kenny’s birthplace as Wolwich, England, and Maria [Moylan] Welch’s birthplace as South March, Ontario.

Hanorah Ryan’s Death Records

RC Burial Record and Ontario Civil Registration

If you’re looking for Catholic ancestors, the parish register, if available, will be a very important, and in many cases the most important, source of genealogical information.
Because the RC records typically supply maiden names (of the mother of an infant in the case of a baptism; of both the bride’s and the groom’s mothers in the case of a marriage; and of a married or widowed decedent in the case of a burial), it’s the Catholic parish register that will enable you to most easily and reliably reconstruct your family along both paternal and maternal lines. Moreover, the names of sponsors and witnesses (godparents, marriage witnesses and burial witnesses) can often help shed light on significant (but otherwise poorly document) familial connections. And for Irish Catholic ancestors in the Ottawa Valley area, the marriage records of first- and second-generation emigrants will occasionally supply the name of a county and perhaps even a parish in Ireland (and this even when the priest recording the information was not Irish but French Canadian).

In Remembrance: James Michael McGlade (1905-1944)

James Michael McGlade was born at Perth, Co. Lanark, Ontario on 17 September 1905, the son of Patrick McGlade and Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Cahill. He died in the Second World War, at the age of 39.

One of my mother’s older sisters remembers cousin Michael (James Michael) coming over to their house to say good-bye before heading out overseas.

James Michael McGlade was a Corporal in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, R.C.I.C. (Royal Canadian Infantry Corps). He died in action in Belgium on 3 October 1944, and is buried at the Schoonselfhof Cemetery in Antwerp, Belgium. There is also a grave marker at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cemetery in Perth, Ontario, Canada. He is commemorated on page 386 of Veterans Affairs Canada’s Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Immense Forests (Upper Canada, 1838)

BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) has an excellent online collection of maps of Québec, with some other regions covered as well. 

Here, for example, is James Wyld’s A Map of the Province of Upper Canada (London: 1838). I especially like the detail which indicates the various points of portage, which warns that “This River [the Ottawa River] has a great many Rapids,” and which describes the vast tract of land that would later become Renfrew County as, simply (and no doubt accurately), “Immense Forests.” See inset below (and click on thumbnail to view larger image):

map_uppercanada_1838.jpg

Digitization of Irish RC Parish Records?

In his Irish Roots column of 25 October, John Grenham writes of the NLI’s plans to digitize its collection of RC parish records:
The National Library has recently put out a request for tender for the digitisation of all of its Roman Catholic parish register microfilms. These microfilms cover 98% of the pre-1880 baptism, marriage and burial records kept by local parishes on the entire island, and are the single most important source of family history information for the vast majority of researchers. Indeed, in most cases they are the only source of family information before the start of state registration in 1864. They cover almost 1200 parishes on 520 reels and represent one of the most enduring achievements of the National Library between the 1950s and the 1970s. Having them available on-line will revolutionise Irish research.
Honestly, I don’t think “revolutionise” is too hyperbolic a term to use here. This really would change everything about Irish genealogical research (and would no doubt have a major impact on some other kinds of Irish historical research too: e.g., parish-level social history).
I’m not sure about the status of a “request for tender,” though. Is this a sure thing? Can it really be funded, what with budgetary cutbacks and so on? I sure hope so!