M.C. Moran

Burial of Four Irish Orphans

From the register of Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, the burial of four Irish orphans on 2 August 1847.1 Apparently all girls, their names unknown, and with only a guess as to their ages:

Burial of four Irish orphans, 2 August 1847

Burial of four Irish orphans, 2 August 1847

The record reads (in translation):

The second of August eighteen hundred and forty-seven I the undersigned priest have buried four Irish (female) orphans who died the day before yesterday and yesterday at the Bon Pasteur Monastery of this city, one of them aged about ten years, two of them aged about eight years, and the other aged about six years. Witnesses Benjamin Desroches and Isidore Godin who have declared that they cannot sign. Nercam, priest.

These orphans (and their parents) were no doubt victims of the typhus epidemic of 1847, which killed thousands at Grosse Île, and which also spread to other Canadian cities, including Montreal, Ottawa (Bytown), Kingston, and Toronto.

  1. Basilique Notre-Dame (Montréal, Québec), Register of Births, Marriages and Burials, 1847, image 184 of 309,  S.S.S.S. Orphelines Irlandaises (Burial of four Irish orphans): database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 13 March 2015), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.

Patrick Ryan (1842-1920)

I found this photograph attached to a family tree at ancestry.ca, and contacted the owner for permission to post at my site. The owner, who must be a distant cousin of mine, kindly granted my request.

This is Patrick Ryan, with perhaps one of his daughters, Bridget (“Jette”), Catherine (“Cate”), or Honora (“Annie”). The photograph was probably taken at their home, outside Killaloe Station, Renfrew Co., Ontario.

Patrick Ryan (1842-1920)

Patrick Ryan (1842-1920)

Patrick Ryan was born in 1842 at Curraghafoil, Doon,1 Co. Limerick, Ireland, the son of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey, and the brother of my 2x-great-grandmother Honora (“Annie”) Ryan, who married Thomas Benton. I am not sure when Patrick Ryan emigrated to Canada. His parents and sisters were in Canada by 1856; and his youngest sibling Hannah, born about 1854, may have been born in the United States (perhaps Ogdensburg, New York?), which would suggest an early 1850s Ireland-to-North-America emigration for Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey and their daughters. But Patrick and his brother John Ryan may have come later (late-1860s?).2 In any case, Patrick Ryan was in Canada by 1871, as was his brother John.

On 17 August 1874, Patrick Ryan married Bridget Devine, daughter of Michael Devine and of Catherine (maiden name unknown to me). The couple had nine known children, six sons and three daughters. Bridget Devine died on 24 April 1891, and the cause of her death, as recorded in her Ontario civil death registration, indicates a ghastly death from childbirth complications: she apparently died, at the age of 38, of “Haemorrhage of the womb. 2 days’ duration.”3

On 13 November 1893, the widower Patrick Ryan married Ellen Harrington, daughter of John Harrington and Julia Sullivan (of Co. Cork, Ireland? I have not looked into the records here, but my first guess would be Co. Cork). The couple had four known children, all sons. Their third son, the Rev. Stephen Joseph Ryan, was a Catholic priest who died in New York City in 1930.

Patrick Ryan died on 14 August 1920, and is buried at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Killaloe, Renfrew Co., Ontario. His headstone identifies him as a “Native of Co. Limerick Ireland.”

  1. Doon is the civil parish. The Roman Catholic parish is that of Kilcommon, a North Tipperary RC parish which extended into Co. Limerick.
  2. The 1901 and 1911 Canadian census returns, along with their Ontario civil death registrations, suggest that Patrick Ryan and John Ryan did not come to Canada until the mid- to late-1860s. While their parents and sisters were certainly in Canada by the 1861 census enumeration, I have not found Patrick or John in the 1861 Canadian census returns.
  3. Two days!? O, the horror. Nineteenth-century death records are the main reason why I’m pro-modern medicine, and also the reason why I’m a bit of a proselytizer on the necessity of childhood vaccination. Whenever I encounter a proponent of the anti-vaccination position, I want to take that person on a tour of the nearest graveyard, to show him or her the headstones for all the little Johns and little Marys who did not make it to age 5, who were carried off at a tender age by childhood diseases against which we now have the solution: and that solution is vaccination.

SMASH! (that sound you just heard …

… was me smashing through a brick wall).

Last May, I asked whether my brick-wall ancestor Thomas Benton might have been the son of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer of Cappawhite, Tipperary.

And the answer is Yes.

If you have Irish Catholic ancestors, I cannot overemphasize the tremendous importance of the Catholic parish registers. In come cases, the Canadian Catholic marriage records will actually give you the names of counties and parishes of origin back in Ireland. For example, the marriage of Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan:1

Marriage of Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan, 14 April 1856

Marriage of Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan, 14 April 1856

This record identifies Thomas Benton as the son of age of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer “from the parish of Cappa White, Tipperary Ireland.” And it also identifies “Honor” (Honora) Ryan as the daughter of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey of the “parish of Kilcommon Co. Limerick Ireland.” And not only does this remove Thomas Benton from my list of brick-wall ancestors, but it also removes Honora Ryan as well.

Just two days ago, I finally found a set of Ryan baptismal records from Curraghafoil, Co. Doon (Catholic parish: Kilcommon), Co. Limerick. They looked like my Ryans, and I was almost, but not quite, certain. The above record confirms it.

After six years of searching for the origins of my Benton and Ryan ancestors, I just hit the Irish genealogical jackpot with this one record.

  1.  St. John the Evangelist (Gananoque, Leeds), Marriages 1846-1863, Thomas Benton-Honor Ryan marriage, image 18 of 41: database, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 9 March 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923

Un Canadien errant (a Wandering Canadian)

One of my sisters found this notebook page inserted in a book, Ireland’s Best Loved Songs and Ballads for Easy Piano, that our mother had given her:

lyrics un canadien errant

Well, that’s pretty much the Ottawa Valley for you: a French-Canadian ballad inserted into the pages of an Irish songbook. The Gallic-Gaelic connection, if you will.

This song is all about the rebellions of 1837 and 1838 (as my mother noted in her beautifully clear script, which my father always called “the nun’s handwriting”).

Un Canadien Errant, as sung by Alan Mills. That “O mon cher Canada!” always chokes me up. I’m sentimental that way.

Wikipedia has a rough translation of the original French lyrics into English.

“A unique musical culture:” the Ottawa Valley

I’m a jolly good fellow,

Patt Gregg is my name,

I came from the Chapeau,

that village of fame.

For singing and dancing

and all kinds of fun,

the boys from the Chapeau

cannot be outdone.

Chapeau Boys

From the logging shanties and the dance halls of the Ottawa Valley: “a unique musical culture.”

Death of George Vallely

When and where did George Vallely die?

Sometimes the records just don’t add up. Oh, I don’t mean numerically or arithmetically: genealogical research is not double-entry bookkeeping, after all. What I mean is that sometimes the information found in one record will directly contradict the information that is found in another record.

A case in point:

From Ireland to New Jersey (and Back Again): Free Talk

I doubt I have many (if any?) readers in New Jersey. The majority of the readers of this weblog appear to be located in (in this order): Canada; United States (but more Michigan and Minnesota than New Jersey, I’m pretty sure); United Kingdom; and Ireland.

But if you’re in northeast New Jersey on 15 March, and you want to hear a free presentation on Irish genealogical research, I’ll be at the Israel Crane House and Historic YWCA in Montclair, NJ, giving a talk entitled “From Ireland to New Jersey, and Back Again: Tracing Your Irish Roots.”

One Household: 2 Adults, 10 Children …

… and those 10 children the offspring of 3 separate (but related!) marital pairs.

I’ve written about this before (see, for example, “Blended Families”): the blended family is nothing new. When a widower married a widow, and one or both parties to the marriage had children from a previous marriage, the resulting new household might contain a complex combination of children from two or three marital pairs. That complexity was not necessarily registered in the census returns.

In some (many?) cases, the widow’s children from her previous marriage will be listed in the census under the surname of her new husband (the children’s stepfather), even though legally, and often practically as well, those children carried the surname of their biological father.

Moreover, since a widower’s children from a first marriage carried the same surname as his children from a subsequent marriage, the census listing will generally not (as in, almost never) distinguish between the children produced by a first marriage and the children produced by a subsequent conjugal relationship.

Here, for example (and I am taking my census geekitude to a new level with a colour-coded representation), is the household of George Vallely and his second wife Mary Moyle in the 1861 Census of Canada:

vallely_george 1861 census

Geo Vallillee [George Vallely] household, 1861 Census of Canada East (Quebec), Pontiac County, Bristol, p. 56, lines 10-21.

The first four children (the “greens”) are the children of George Vallely and his first wife wife Anne O’Hanlon. The next four children (the “blues”) are the children of George Vallely’s second wife Mary Moyle and her first husband John Bean. But note that they are listed here with the surname Vallillee (Vallely), even though their surname was Bean. And to further complicate matters (well, whoever said genealogy was supposed to be easy peasy and trouble-free?), the surname Bean was sometimes later rendered as McBane  The final two children in this census listing (the “yellows”) are the offspring of the widower George Vallely and the widow Mary Moyle.

So the “greens” were the half-siblings of the “yellows” (they had the same father: George Vallely). And the “blues” were the half-siblings of the “yellows” (they had the same mother: Mary Moyle). But the “greens” and the “blues” were not blood relations at all: they were related only by marriage.

Well, “only by marriage.” The above-listed children of the the three marriages (George Valley to Anne O’Hanlon; John Bean to Mary Moyle; Mary Moyle to George Vallely) were all Roman Catholics, and according to Catholic canon law, they were all related by affinity. It was forbidden for Edward Vallely (son of George Vallely and Anne O’Hanlon), say, to marry Jane Bean (daughter of John Bean and Mary Moyle), say, even though they had no blood relation at all, because one of Edward Vallely’s parents (his father, George Vallely) had married one of Jane Bean’s parents (her mother, Mary Moyle).

In sum: I think it’s fair to assume that the Canadian census returns will not adequately capture the nuances of Roman Catholic canon law. Also: don’t assume that every child given the same surname in a census return is the offspring of the same marriage.

1842 Census of Canada East (Quebec)

The 1842 Census of Canada East (Quebec) is available at ancestry.ca (subscription-only), but also at FamilySearch (free of charge). At FamilySearch, the database is titled Canada, Lower Canada Census, 1842. At both sites (and it appears that FamilySearch is the source of ancestry’s census database), the census is searchable by name, and the search engine seems fairly powerful — capable of handling variant surname spellings, that is.