The hazards of early settler life

As I’ve mentioned before, 19th-century Roman Catholic burial records did not generally record a cause of death for the deceased, but there were exceptions to this general rule. In cases where a death was considered unusually tragic, dramatic, or violent, the priest might note the cause of death in the parish register. Here’s an interesting example of some exceptions to the rule, which speak to the very real hazards of early settler life in Upper Canada (more specifically, in the Bytown [Ottawa] area). These two pages of burials for the years 1831 and 1832 are from the index of baptisms, marriages and burials for the parish register of Notre Dame…

Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa

Coming up: some search tips for the parish register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa. An unwieldy parish register (full of perils and pitfalls, and hence the need for tips and tricks), but also a very important parish register for anyone searching for Catholic ancestors in the Bytown/Ottawa area and beyond. Below: my high school graduation…

From Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary to March Township, Carleton, Ontario

My Lahey ancestors came from Killycross Upper, Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary, Ireland;1 and emigrated to March Township, Carleton Co., Ontario, Canada from the mid-1820s to the early 1830s. And the reason why we have their townland of origin is that John Lahey, sometimes known as John Lahy the Elder, signed the McCabe List, where he…

John Killeen (about 1828-1906)

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 kindly granted my request. This is John Killeen, son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. John Killeen was born about 1828 in March Township, Carleton Co., Ontario. On 20 December 1852,…

Hourigan twins baptized

Thomas Hourigan and John Hourigan were born in March township on 14 September 1849, the sons of Patrick Hourigan and Ann Teevens. I have no idea whether they were identical, or fraternal, twins, but in any case, the priest who baptized the infants — Fr. J. Ryan — made an interesting distinction between the two:1…

Married twice (to the same spouse)

Except that, in the eyes of the Catholic Church (and, perhaps just as importantly, in the eyes of the bridegrooms’ Catholic parents), the first marriage ceremonies did not count, because the brides had not been baptized. Yes, that’s brides and bridegrooms in the plural, because: Two Gaffney brothers, the sons of Bernard Gaffney and Catherine…

“Some of the lands being misnamed, others not named”

One of the challenges of Irish genealogy is that of identifying and locating townlands, the names and spellings of which can vary across time, and, even within the same time period, from one source to another. For a discussion of some of the difficulties, see Dr. Jane Lyons, The Townland: How to Use In Genealogy.…