M.C. Moran

Albert Austin Massey: Home Child

Albert Austin Massey was born in London, England about 1884,* the son of Thomas Massey and Mary Armitage (his parents’ names come from his RC parish marriage record, and also from the Ontario civil marriage record which was based on that parish register). He emigrated to Canada around 1895 (at about 10 or 11 years of age), where he ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario.

On 4 July 1900, at the Church of St Anne, Sebastopol, Renfrew Co. (record found in the parish register for Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell), Albert Massey made his Confirmation, at which point he was described as “adopted by Frank Kilby,” age 13. He is found in the household of Francis Kilby in the 1901 Canadian census (Ontario, Renfrew South/Sud, Sebastopol, household number 39, pages 5-6), where he is listed as Massey, Albert, Male, Domestic, Single, born 2 Aug 1886, age 14, country of birth England, year of immigration 1895, racial or tribal origin English (the other members of this household are Irish in origin), nationality Canadian, religion R. Cath. [Roman Catholic], occupation Servant. Next door to the Kilby household, or next field over, perhaps, or very close by, at any rate, at household number 40, was the family of William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong.
Albert Massey married the above Lucy Armstrong on 6 May 1909 (Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell).

Brennan-Connelly Query

On 12 February 1870 (Ste. Anne, Calumet Island/l’Île du Grand Calumet, Pontiac Co., Québec) Thomas Brennan, son of Patrick Brennan and Matilda Shirley, married Susanna Connelly, daughter of John Connelly and Ellen Cahill. This couple then seems to disappear from the Canadian records. Did they emigrate to Leadville, Colorado?

The 1880 US federal census for Leadville, Lake, Colorado has a T.W. Brennan (age 37, born Canada), with wife Susan (age 33, born Canada), and children Shirley [male], Delacey, Mary, D. [?] and Margaret. The names Shirley and Delacey (here given as first names) are surnames found in the family trees of Thomas Brennan and Susanna Connelly, respectively.

James Lewis: Home Child?

I came across the following record of an abjuration and baptism in the parish register for St. Isidore, South March (Carleton Co., Ontario):

On the twenty sixth day of January one thousand eight hundred and eighty three, I the undersigned curate of this mission baptized James born about the month of January (in England) Eleven years ago of the lawful marriage of Mr Lewis and a mother whose name cannot be arrived at. The godfather was James Kirwan and the godmother Mary Kirwan. J.A. Sloan, pt.1
I don’t know anything about the Kirwans, except that they were Irish Catholic farmers in South March.

St. Isidore Roman Catholic Church (South Marchl, Ontario), Register of Baptisms and Marriages, 1861-1968, James Lewis B2 [1883], database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 8 October 2010), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Catherine Honora McCarthy: Confirmation Photo

My great-grandmother Catherine Honora McCarthy, daughter of Eugene McCarthy (originally of Co. Cork) and Ann/Honora McDonald (or possibly McDonnell, originally of Co. Clare), at age 13, on the occasion of her Confirmation (at St. Philip Neri, in Toledo, Kitley township, Leeds Co., Ontario) in 1889. With older sister Ellen, and note the age-related difference in the lengths of their skirts.


She looks like my mother (or vice-versa, of course).


A few random observations, in no particular order:

Scott Naylor’s Ottawa Area Grave Markers gallery is a wonderful source of headstone photographs, covering many cemeteries (both Catholic and Protestant) on both sides of the Ottawa river (i.e., on both the  Ontario and the Québec sides of the Ottawa Valley area). And he is continually adding more cemeteries. I was surprised (and delighted) to recently discover that the site now covers Notre Dame, Ottawa: a huge, and densely populated, cemetery. I can’t even imagine the hours of unpaid work put in by dedicated volunteers: it is a gift to the public (or to that subset of the public that has an interest in genealogy), for which I am very grateful indeed. I’ve found ancestral markers there that I hadn’t realized even existed: I knew (from parish registers and/or civil death records) that the ancestors had been buried at Notre Dame, but I hadn’t known about their headstones.
The headstones in any given cemetery may represent only a portion of those buried there. Or, to put it another way: some people were buried without a headstone. For the nineteenth century (not to mention earlier than that), many people, actually. Headstones were expensive; and for humble folk, much closer to a luxury than a necessity.

Moran-Leavy house moved to Galetta

Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy built this stone house on Concession I, Lot 11 in Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario. Sandy Moran had acquired the land in January 1857, when he purchased the property from his father James Moran for the sum of 100 pounds (this money may have been intended as some sort of provision for his mother and sisters). In the 1861 census for Huntley township, Alex Moren and wife Mary (along with children John, James, Margaret, Ernestine, and Julia) are listed as the occupants of a 1 and 1/2 storey log house. So presumably the stone house was built after 1861. In 1913, son Thomas Edwin Moransold the property, perhaps to the Cleary family (who were apparently the owners of the house in the 1940s).

My father once took me to see this old house when I was a child.

From the Carp Valley Press, 26 May 2000, the story of how a couple purchased the home, which had been abandoned for twenty years, and moved it stone by stone to their riverfront property in the village of Galetta. (Click on thumbnail preview below to see larger image):

William Charles Burton: Home Child

[Note: I’m having trouble combining MT blog software with numbered footnote citations. For the moment, I’m inclined to take the easy way out: if there are more than one or two citations per blog entry, no numbered footnotes, just astericks, and references minimized, out of laziness and/or frustration. The census data, both English and Canadian, via Ancestry.ca].

William Charles Burton was born in England about 1882 and came to Canada in the 1890s (possibly 1898) as a Home Child. Several records describe him as a “Barnardo Boy.”

In the 1891 English census, there is a William C. Burton found in the village of Cheddar, Somerset, in the household of George Wall (occupation: Market Gardener) and his wife Susan (occupation: Caretaker of Children), along with another orphan, Fred W.G. Owen. Fred Owen’s age is given as 10, and William C. Burton’s age as 8; both boys are listed as Boarders and Scholars (i.e., they are said to be attending school), and both are said to be “From Dr. Barnardo’s Home, Birthplace unknown.” I’d say there’s a very good chance that this is the William Charles Burton who ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario, Canada.

Frances Lavelle: Home Child

Frances Lavelle was born in England about 1900. Lavelle was her adopted surname, I do not know her original. She is one of many Home Children I have come across in census records and church records while researching my Ottawa Valley ancestors.

In the 1911 census for Hagarty township, Renfrew South, Ontario, she is found in the household of Austin Lavelle and his wife Bridget O’Hara, where she is listed as Francis [sic] Lavelle, female, adopted, single, month of birth July, year of birth 189[8?], age 10, birthplace England, year of immigration 1907, racial or tribal origin English, nationality Canadian, religion Roman Catholic.

Back up Your Online Genealogy Data!

Or: do as I say, and not as I did. 

What I did was to fail to back up my site. My old (private and password-protected) family history website, that is. Oh, I still have the information (in gedcoms, files, notes, photocopied documents, and so on), but it’s scattered all over the place. And I lost some of the brief (and sometimes not-so-brief) narratives that I had written, and which I now have to rewrite from scratch if I want to publish them here.
Most annoyingly, I lost my account of how James Lahey killed his brother-in-law Daniel Lahey by hitting him on the head with a block of wood, leaving James’s sister and Daniel’s wife Catherine Lahey a widow with numerous young mouths to feed. It was a shocking act of violence, and a family scandal the effects of which reverberated for several generations at least. As a child, I heard a version (not entirely accurate, but accurate enough, as it turns out) almost a century and a half after the fact, and it left a powerful impression on me. So I think this one is worth rewriting.
But I should have backed up my original account, of course.

Translating French Records: Baptismal Records

If you’re looking for Roman Catholic records in the Ottawa Valley area, you’re almost certain to run into some French entries in the parish registers. But no worries, and please do not panic. Even if you don’t speak a word of French beyond “bonjour” and “merci beaucoup,” you can read and understand the relevant records.

First, realize that these records, whether written in Latin, French, English, Italian or whatever, all adhere to the same formula. The parish register was no place for authorial innovation and brilliant flashes of originality. So if you know the English-language formula (which you surely already do), then you’re already halfway there to figuring out the French. Second, learn a few key French terms and phrases which correspond to their English equivalents, and you’ve arrived at an understanding of the record (in fact, in many cases the bigger challenge will be to make out the priest’s handwriting, though you can do that too, once you understand what terms and phrases you’re looking at).

This entry deals with baptismal records, with marriage, burial and census records to follow in later entries.

Here’s the baptismal record for George William Cahill, a grandson of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson:

Le treize de mai Mil huit cent cinquante neuf par nous prêtre soussigné a été baptizé George William né le vingt sept d’avril du légitime marriage de George Cahill et de Mary Moren de cette paroisse. Le parrain a été John Connely et la marraine Anne Shirly qui n’ont pu signer.*

And here’s my translation (note: I’m not a professional translator or anything like that, so my translation is purely utilitarian and no doubt shockingly inelegant):

The thirteenth of May one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine by we the undersigned priest was baptized [or: we the undersigned priest baptized] George William born the twenty-seventh of April of the legitimate marriage of George Cahill and Mary Moren [Moran] of this parish. The godfather was John Connely [Connelly] and the godmother Anne Shirly [Shirley] who could not sign.

Note that William is the child’s middle name, not his surname. In the case of a child “born of [a] legitimate marriage,” the priest typically did not give his/her last name in the text of the record, because the surname was understood to be that of the father (the surname will be found in the margins and/or in the record’s heading, though).

And please don’t be offended if the French-Canadian priest misspelled your English (or, more probably, Irish, since we’re dealing with RC Ottawa Valley records here) ancestor’s name. I’ve seen some truly bizarre renderings of French names by English-language (which is to say, generally, Irish) priests, after all. But nobody really cared about spelling before, roughly, the early twentieth century, anyway. And these priests were doing their best to create accurate, written records for people who spoke another language but who often didn’t write in any language at all. So the spellings were phonetic renditions from another language, which created ample opportunity for spelling variations.

Here are just a few of the French terms and phrases that you might encounter in a baptismal record, with English translations (but I’m too lazy to do numbers, which are easily google-able in any case):

janvier January
février February
mars March
avril April
mai May
juin June
juillet July
août August
septembre September
octobre October
novembre November
décembre December
nous prêtre soussigné we the undersigned priest
baptême baptism
baptisé (masculine) baptized (for a boy)
baptisée (feminine) baptized (for a girl)
né (masculine) born (for a boy)
née (feminine) born (for a girl)
du légitime marriage de of the legitimate marriage of
de parents inconnus of unknown parents
le parrain godfather
la marraine godmother
cette paroisse this parish
hier yesterday
avant-hier day before yesterday
la veille de day before
signer to sign
qui n’ont pu signer who could not sign
*Ste Anne (Calumet Island/Ile du Grand Calumet, Pontiac Co., Québec), Register of Baptisms and Marriages, 1846-1859, p. 143, George William Cahill B. 29, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 26 April 2010), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.