M.C. Moran

“she & her infant family are left totally destitute”: the Widow Hourigan petitions the Crown (part I)

LAC’s Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) database is an index to the petitions, with the actual (that is to say, the digitized microforms of the actual) petitions found elsewhere at the LAC site. Somewhat annoyingly, there is no direct link from the index to the digitized microforms of the actual petitions.

In order to locate a petition, you will need to first consult the index. From the index listing, you will want to note the microform number, the bundle number, and the petition number.

Here is how I found the petition of Mary Lahey, widow of Timothy Hourigan.

Who was the Widow Hourigan?

Mary Lahey was born about 1790 in Ballymacegan, parish of Lorrha, Tipperary, and was one of seven known Lahey siblings who emigrated from Ireland to Upper Canada in the 1820s and early 1830s. She married (in Ireland) Timothy Hourigan about 1815, and the couple came to Canada (to March township) in the summer of 1824, with their children Michael, Mary, and Patrick (a fourth child, Thomas, was born in Canada about six months after the death of his father).1

On or about 26 August 1825 (26 August 1825 is the date given in her petition), Mary Lahey’s husband Timothy Hourigan was “killed by the falling of a tree whilst working for the support of his large family,” which family “have been left,” her petition adds, “destitute by his death.” Elsewhere in the paperwork that made up her petition: “her husband having been killed by the falling of a tree, she & her infant family are left totally destitute.”

Well, perhaps not totally destitute. As her brother Patrick Lahey explained in a letter to Peter Robinson (see “The Queen vs. Kelly [Part I]“), when “me brother in law [Timothy Hourigan] was killed by the fall of a tree,” the “widow and three children fell in charge to us.” She was not without some family support, in other words. But her case was dire enough: she and her brothers had only recently arrived in Upper Canada; and her brothers had not yet acquired lots of land, and were still trying to get established. If her brothers would not see their sister and her children starve, they were scarcely in a position to offer generous assistance to a widow with three young children (and with a fourth child on the way). Hence her need to acquire a lot of land “for the support of herself and fatherless Children.”

Finding the Widow Hourigan’s Petition

Searching the Index: Given the many spelling variations for Hourigan (Horahan, Horgan, Horhan, Houroghan, to name just a few), I decided to begin with a search for Name: Ho* in Place: March:

finding_uppercanland_hourigan_6

 

I figured Ho plus the wildcard character (*) would call up most, if not all, possible surname variations (Hourigan, Horgan, Horhan, Houroghan, and so on).

This brought up a listing for HORHAN, Mary in March [township] in 1827. Bingo! Clicking on the listing brought up this Item Display:

finding_uppercanland_hourigan3

I now had the information I needed — Microform no. (C-2050), Bundle no. (H 15) and petition no. (15) — to find the actual petition (the digitized copy of the actual petition, that is).

Finding the Petition: To find the petition, I went to ARCHIVED – Microform Digitization, and found Upper Canada Land Petitions as Title no. 21. Again, the petitions are at:

Clicking on that title brought me to the hyperlinked display of all 327 available digitized microforms (from c-1609 to c-2985). I knew that I was looking for c-2050 (see the Item Display for HORHAN, Mary, above).

This is a hefty file, containing 1075 pages (or images). I  knew (again, from the Item Display above) that I was looking for Bundle H 15, and then for petition no. 15 of that bundle. Scrolling through the file (not page by page! with a thousand-page file, I search by 100s — page 100, page 200, page 300, and so on — to narrow things down), I found it at pages/images 789-795:

finding_uppercanland_hourigan4

finding_uppercanland_hourigan5

It probably took me less than 15 minutes to find the Widow Hourigan’s petition (online, digitized sources: they are amazing!).

To be continued…

  1.  Thomas Hourigan married Julia Moran, daughter of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson.

The Barley Grain For Me (O.J. Abbott and Pete Seeger)

seeger-abbott_newport

O.J. [Oliver John] Abbott, Home Child, singing “The Barley Grain For Me” with Pete Seeger, at the Newport Folk Festival, 1959-60:

How/why did this English orphan from Paddington, London know so many of the old Irish tunes? Because when he was sent to Canada, as an 8- or 9-year old boy, he was placed with some of the Irish farmers of South March (and apparently learned some of his songs from the Laheys of March).

(More on O.J. Abbott in a future entry…he is one of Canada’s most notable folk singers).

First Man Born in the Township [of March]? (Patrick Killeen/Killean)

As noted in an earlier entry (“Where Was Patrick Killeen Born?”), different sources give a different birthplace for Patrick Killeen (1820-1890), son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. While his Ontario civil death registration lists his birthplace as Ireland, several other sources (including the Canadian census returns of 1851 and 18611) give his place of birth as Canada. Most interestingly, in a history of Ottawa published in 1927, A.H.D. Ross wrote that “the first white child born in the Township of March was Patrick Killean, whose father, Denis Killean, was in Captain Monk’s employ.”2

The Ottawa Journal, Friday, 22 July 1887, p. 4.

The Ottawa Journal, Friday, 22 July 1887, p. 4.

Here is another source which claims that Patrick Killeen/Killean was “the first man born in the township [of March].”

It is an item published in The Ottawa Journal (Friday, 22 July 1887), with little tidbits of news (note the emphasis on agricultural news) from South March:

Mr. Patrick Killean, who is now sixty-eight years of age, and the first man born in the township, has forked over forty tons of hay this season for Mr. Boucher, and Paddy is just as fresh as ever.

So does this mean that I can conclude with absolute certainty that my great-great-grandfather was born in Canada, in the township of March? No, not really. Not without a baptismal record (a civil birth record will not exist, since civil registration, both in Ireland and in Ontario, Canada, did not begin until decades after his birth). But it certainly offers convincing evidence that Patrick Killeen himself understood himself to have been born in March township (and I’m pretty sure, though not absolutely certain, that he was right about this).

  1. I have not yet found Patrick Killeen in the 1871 and 1881 Canadian census returns.
  2.  A.H.D. Ross, Ottawa: Past and Present (Ottawa: Thorborn & Abbott, 1927), p. 39. Ross may have been relying on Mrs. M.H. Ahearn, “The Settlers of March Township,” Ontario Historical Society, Papers and Records, vol. 3 (Toronto: 1901; reprint, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1975), pp. 98-99.

Aside

Ancestry.ca is currently reporting “11 days til’ 1921!” I take it this means 11 days until the 1921 Census is indexed and searchable by name.

Catherine Frances McGlade, age 2

Or probably not quite 2 years old. My mother was born 10 October 1939, and I’m guessing this photo was taken in the summer of 1941. So she would have been about 21 or 22 months old here.

This photograph was taken at Mississippi Lake, Carleton Place, Lanark County, Ontario, where my mother’s family had a summer cottage.

My mother Catherine Frances [McGlade] Moran (10 October 1939 – 22 December 2012), with my maternal grandmother Delia Lucie [Derouin] McGlade (18 July 1902 – 13 January 1999):

Delia Lucie Derouin (1902-1999)  with Catherine Frances McGlade (1939-2012)

Delia Lucie Derouin (1902-1999) with Catherine Frances McGlade (1939-2012)

My mother was the youngest of six children, all born between April 1932 and October 1939. So my grandmother, pictured above in 1941, gave birth to 6 children in the space of 7.5 years! No twins; no multiple births. She was a force of nature, was Nana Dee. And she lived to be 96.5 years. Sadly, my mother did not enjoy the kind of longevity that her own mother had achieved. She died at the age of 73, of a particularly virulent form of (invasive lobular) breast cancer.

John Alexander Moran, age 15

John Alexander Moran, 6 September 1934 — 14 March 2013

My father at age 15.

I believe this photo was taken in the Gatineaus. My grandfather worked for the Gatineau Power Company; and for at least a couple of years, when my dad was a teenager, the family lived in company housing in the Gatineau region. “But how did you get to school?” I once asked my father (I knew he had gone to school in Ottawa, at St. Patrick’s College [which was a high school, btw]).  “Oh, I got there,” he replied. “But how?” I persisted. My dad claimed he used to hitchhike.

John Alexander Moran, age 15

John Alexander Moran, age 15

The romance of my father’s childhood: the strictness of the adults (parents, priests, and various other guardians and caretakers), combined with the freedom they accorded him (‘you hitchhiked to school?!’). As a child, I was fascinated by this apparently paradoxical mixture of repression and liberty (which was typical of a working-class Irish Catholic upbringing in the 1930s and 1940s, I’m pretty sure): the strictness sounded like something from another era, but so too did the freedom. And my father’s memories of his childhood, as recounted by him to me and my sisters, are now a part of the memories of my own childhood.

When it comes to family history research, I’m all about evidence-based standards of genealogy (exhaustive searches; careful assessment of sources; accurate citation; and so on and so forth). But it’s the romance of the family stories that led me to the research in the first place.