Cause of Death: Pulmonary tuberculosis

The Family of Hugh Walsh and Mary Catherine McGlade

I’ve written about tuberculosis before. See, for example, Tuberculosis in Ontario; and also see a list of those who Died of Tuberculosis in the Ottawa Valley Irish database.

Here’s a family that was hit hard by the scourge of tuberculosis in a five-year period from 1915 to 1920: the family of Hugh Walsh and Mary Catherine McGlade. Two parents; eight grown children:1 and no fewer than four of these ten people died of pulmonary tuberculosis between March 1915 and December 1920.

Mary Catherine McGlade was the daughter of Michael McGlade and Bridget McNulty. She was born in the (civil) parish of Forkill, Co. Armagh in 1864; and she emigrated to Pennsylvania with her parents and four of her siblings in the early 1880s.2 While her parents and four living siblings would head north to Perth (Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada) by 1883 or 1884,3 Mary Catherine McGlade stayed in the United States, where she married a Hugh Walsh in Leetonia, Ohio in 1883.

Hugh Walsh was born in Ireland about 1856, the son of an unknown Walsh and of an Elizabeth Lee, and emigrated to the States about 1864. He appears to have been an iron worker for many decades, first in Leetonia, Ohio, and then in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; several records describe him as a “puddler.” For a brief account of the family’s move from Leetonia to Pittsburgh in pursuit of employment in the iron and steel industry, see this obituary for daughter Sister Mary Hugh Walsh, MM (born Elizabeth Irene Walsh), a Maryknoll Sister.

Hugh Walsh and Mary Catherine McGlade had nine known children, all born in Leetonia, Ohio between 1884 and 1889, with the youngest, Hugh, dying in 1905 at the age of six before the family moved to Pittsburgh.4 So: eight children moved with their parents from Leetonia, Ohio to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between 1905 and 1910; and of these eight, three would die of pulmonary tuberculosis within the next decade or so.

Here’s the ‘died of pulmonary tuberculosis’ death toll for this family:

  • Thomas Walsh, died of pulmonary tuberculosis 9 October 1910
  • Patrick J. Walsh, died of pulmonary tuberculosis 14 March 1915
  • Alice Walsh, died of pulmonary tuberculosis 23 June 1918 (Alice, who died at a sanatorium at the age of 22, was listed as a Telephone Operator in her death record: for some reason, I find this detail unbearably poignant)
  • Hugh Walsh, died of pulmonary tuberculosis 9 December 1920

So there we have it: 40 percent of a family wiped out by an airborne infectious disease (tuberculosis) that is now treatable, in the space of 5 short, and sorrow-ridden, years.

Folks, modern medicine is our friend: and if you don’t believe me, please take a closer look at your family’s tree: all those little Johns and little Marys who were carried off before the age of 5 by childhood diseases that are now almost entirely preventable. And please, please, please, inoculate your children against any and all preventable diseases. (End of pro-vaccination earnestness.)

Btw, I first learned of the existence Mary Catherine McGlade through her father Michael McGlade’s obituary in the Perth Courier (20 January 1905), which listed a surviving daughter as a “Mrs. Hugh Walsh, Latonia, Ohio.” Yes, the name of the town (Leetonia) was misspelled; but the information was basically sound, and verifiable. Never ignore unexpected or seemingly random details in an obituary (those details may be a bit muddled, but they’re not random!): always follow up and follow through.

  1.  The ninth, and youngest known child, Hugh Walsh (born 7 July 1899), died on 15 October 1905, at the age of 6.
  2. According to Michael McGlade’s obituary in the Perth Courier, four other siblings died and were buried in Armagh.
  3.  Michael McGlade’s brother John had been living in Perth since about 1851.
  4.  The family can be found in Pittsburgh by 1910.

“Missing Friends” advertisements

Are you looking for someone who emigrated from Ireland to North America in the nineteenth century? Welcome to the club! The booming business of Irish genealogy indicates that we are not alone.

And their early twenty-first-century descendants are not the first to have searched for some of these emigrants. In the nineteenth century, the friends and relations of Irish emigrants (in both Ireland and the New World) often lost contact with those who had emigrated to North America, and who had then gone “missing.” Sometimes these anxious relatives placed advertisements in the local and regional newspapers — as did the friends and relations of emigrants from many different places, not just from Ireland. But in addition to local and regional papers, the Irish also had The Pilot, which bills itself “America’s Oldest Catholic Newspaper.”

From October 1831 to October 1921, the Boston Pilot ran a “Missing Friends” column, where Irish connections placed advertisements for missing sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and so on. The column makes for a fascinating, and compelling, read. “She left home three years ago, and sailed for New York, and has not been heard from since,” for example. Or: “Any information concerning his whereabouts will be thankfully received by his wife.” To read the advertisements in the “Missing Friends” column is to encounter a chronicle of equal parts hope, anxiety, and despair.

Here’s one that caught my eye — an advertisement, dated 30 June 1855, placed by a John Benton, formerly of Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary, now of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, who was looking for his brother Thomas:

OF THOMAS BENTON, parish of Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary; when last heard from he was in Edgar co., Ill. Information of him will be received by his brother John, care of David Shiels, Pewaukie, Wis.1

Is this Thomas Benton, son of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, born in Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary in 1826, died in Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario in 1890?


Certainly, this is the first I’ve heard of Thomas Benton possibly being in Edgar County, Illinois in the early 1850s (railway labour?). Then again, Thomas Benton has already surprised me, with a marriage record in the register for St. John the Evangelist, Gananoque, Leeds Co., Ontario (this discovered after I had searched every available Catholic register for Carleton, Lanark, and Renfrew Counties, and had all but given up). But Gananoque is a lot closer to Pakenham, Lanark Co. (where Thomas Benton can be found in 1861) and to Arnprior, Renfrew Co. (where Thomas Benton lived from the mid-1860s to his death in 1890) than to Edgar Co., Illinois. And do I have any other evidence to suggest that Thomas Benton ever lived in the United States at all? I do not. Still, given the name and the parish (Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary), I’m not ruling out the above Boston Pilot advertisement. Especially since there was also a William Benton in Pewaukee, Wisconsin from the mid-1860s, and Thomas Benton certainly had a younger brother William, born in Cappawhite in 1832.

(The next logical step, of course, is to search for all available records pertaining to John Benton, who died at Pewaukee, Waukesha Co., Wisconsin on 6 March 1882, and who is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Pewaukee, in the hope of finding a record which names his parents. And also to search for all available records pertaining to William Benton of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, in the same hope.)

The Boston Pilot’s  “Missing Friends” advertisements are available online at two sites:

  1. Boston College has an online database, Information Wanted: A Database of Advertisements for Irish Immigrants Published in the Boston Pilot
  2. has an online database, Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in “The Boston Pilot,” 1831–1920

Those searching for Ireland-to-Canada emigrants should not overlook this collection. While the collection is often described in terms of Irish emigration to the United States, there are many advertisements which reference Canadian locations (and, of course, Canadian ports of landing).

Another Canadian connection: Thomas D’Arcy McGee was an editor of the The Pilot in 1844-45.

  1. Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in “The Boston Pilot,” 1831–1920 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Harris, Ruth-Ann M., Donald M. Jacobs, and B. Emer O’Keeffe, editors. Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in “The Boston Pilot 1831–1920”. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1989.


Canadian historical newspapers online: a great collection of links at Kenneth R. Marks’ The Ancestor Hunt.

Death of Alexander Michael Moran

The Ottawa Journal, 1 February 1939.

The Ottawa Journal, 1 February 1939.

Newspaper obituaries often supply loads of genealogically useful information, along with interesting forename and surname spellings.

Here, for example, is the obituary for my paternal great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran (1871-1939). A fairly standard obituary, which informs readers of the death of A.M. Moran, and supplies practical information about the arrangements for his funeral and burial. But from the perspective of a genealogical researcher, this obituary offers a good deal more.

In addition to listing his birthplace (Huntley, Ontario) and his place of death (231 Armstrong St., Ottawa), it also supplies information about his former employment. (He worked for the Grand Trunk Railway, and then for the Canadian Pacific. My father always told me he was a machinist for the GTR.)

And it names 12 other people:

There is also a reference to seven grandchildren, but these grandchildren are not named. My father was one of these seven.

There is one obvious typo-type error in the list of names: “Annie N. Benton” should be “Annie M. Benton” (for Anna Maria Benton). And there is also a surname spelling variation (I hesitate to call it an error, since I’m always insisting that spelling doesn’t count in genealogy, and that you mustn’t cling to the notion of a “correct” surname spelling if you want to find your ancestors’ records) which might prove misleading, if I didn’t already know the name. The obituary names the mother of my great-grandfather as “Mary Levoy, of Pakenham.” If I didn’t already know that she was the Irish-born Mary Leavy [Levi/Levy], originally of Co. Longford, Ireland, I might go looking for a French/French-Canadian Marie Levoy.

For me, it is somewhat poignant to read that “the death of Alexander Michael Moran occurred at his residence, 231 Armstrong street, suddenly on Tuesday” (31 January 1939). Poignant because it makes me think of my now-deceased father (who died 14 March 2013), who once told me about the death of his grandfather, some of the details of which he could still recall so many years after the event.

231 Armstrong Street was also the home of my father at the time of his grandfather’s death: my dad, with his parents and his older sister Rosemary, lived upstairs at 231 Armstrong St., while his grandparents, Alec and Annie (Alexander Michael Moran and Anna Maria Benton), lived downstairs and ran a small grocery store out of the front of the house. My father recollected that he used to love to go for car rides with his grandfather, to go with him to deliver groceries from the shop or to make deliveries for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He also recalled that his grandfather played the fiddle, and that he loved to drink buttermilk. “He was a quiet man,” said my father, “and very kind.”

My father (born September 1934) was four years and four months old in January 1939, and was at home when his grandfather died. Some seventy-odd years after the death, he still had a vivid memory of seeing his beloved grandfather lying dead. Apparently my great-grandfather had been outside shovelling snow, and, feeling unwell, had gone inside, where he suffered a massive, and fatal, heart attack.

How much of my father’s memory of his grandfather’s death can be attributed to a direct recollection of a dramatic and traumatic event? and how much of it had been mediated by later retellings of the story over the years? This I do not, and cannot, know. But I’m pretty sure that my dad did remember something of the awful drama surrounding his grandfather’s death, even though my father was only about four and half years old at the time. In the world of my father’s childhood (and it really was a different world, in so many respects), adults didn’t try to hide the reality of death from even very young children, the way we now do.

Anyway, to return to the main idea of this post:

Newspaper obituaries can be extremely useful genealogical sources, but are often riddled with errors and inaccuracies. Follow up on all possible clues (and a close and careful reading of an obituary will often yield important clues), but never, ever assume that because it was printed in the papers, it must therefore be officially, and incontrovertibly, true.

  1. Two other brothers had predeceased him. John Moran, born 1854, died at Rochester, Minnesota in 1921. James Moran, born about 1858, died at Nepean Township in 1899.
  2. One other sister had predeceased him. Margaret Jane Moran, born about 1856, died at Huntley in May 1873, at about sixteen years of age.

Google News Archive is back

Google News Archive was first launched about four years ago (in 2010, I think?), only to disappear at some point in 2011. Much to the disappointment of those whose idea of a good time is to google their grandparents, and perform deep and detailed searches of online, digitized copies of old newspapers from the comfort of their own homes. Yes, I was quite disappointed, and I was not alone in my sense of loss and dismay. Not that all (or most, or any?) of the content of the archive had ever completely disappeared (I am not sure about this), but certainly the nifty and easy-to-use Google News Archive search interface was gone by August 2011.

In any case, Google News Archive is back, and I think the search interface is better than ever.

Google your grandparents! And your parents, and your great-grandparents too.

Google News Archive.



Nowadays, you pretty much have to be famous (or perhaps infamous) to have a notice of your travel or holiday plans published in the newspaper.

Not so in 1913!

The Ottawa Journal, 9 August 1913.

The Ottawa Journal, 9 August 1913.

My great-grandparents Alexander Michael Moran and Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton certainly had no claims to local, much less national, celebrity: they were neither famous nor infamous. But here is a notice of their trip to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, published in The Ottawa Journal on 9 August 1913. They presumably made this trip with their two sons Allan Jerome Moran (my grandfather) and Orville Alexander Moran. And they must have gone out west to visit my great-grandmother’s sister Margaret (“Maggie”) Anne Benton (my grandfather’s maternal aunt, who was also his godmother).

Maggie Benton had married the widowed Con Hazelton (originally of Eganville, Renfrew Co., whose first wife was a Mary McCourt) in Ottawa on 16 April 1912, and had then gone out to Swift Current, Saskatchewan with her husband, where, according to my father, Con Hazelton had a lumber store (this bit of oral history can be verified through written records, by the way).

Obituary/death notice for Margaret Anne Benton, The Ottawa Journal, 9 July 1952

Obituary/death notice for Margaret Anne Benton, The Ottawa Journal, 9 July 1952

I don’t know when exactly Margaret (Benton) Hazelton returned from Swift Current, Saskatchewan to Ottawa. On this point, her obituary/death notice (The Ottawa Journal, 9 July 1952) is not much help: apparently she had lived in Saskatchewan for “several years” before returning to Ottawa. Did she return to Ottawa with her husband Con Hazelton? or did she return to Ottawa as a widow? From her obituary, this is not made clear: we only learn that, as of July 1952, Constantine Hazelton had “died some time ago” (in Ottawa? in Swift Current? this information is not supplied). But note the genealogically useful information about Maggie (Benton) Hazelton’s stepdaughters (the children of Con Hazelton and his first wife Mary McCourt): as of July 1952, Cora (Elizabeth Cora Irene) Hazleton is now a Mrs. Cora Beauchamp of Vancouver, B.C., while Nellie (Ellen Mary) Hazelton is now a Mrs. Johnston of Cannuck, Saskatchewan. One individual’s newspaper obituary can supply so many hints and leads about siblings, children, stepchildren, and other extended family.

In any case, certainly Margaret (“Maggie”) Anne (Benton) Hazelton died in Ottawa (at an Ottawa nursing home) on 8 July 1952 at the age of 83, and is buried at Notre Dame Cemtery/Cimetière Notre Dame, Ottawa.

To return to the theme of travel:

My great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran worked as a machinist for the GTR (Grand Trunk Railway). And according to my father, as an employee of the railway, my great-grandfather was entitled to free (or perhaps vastly discounted?) rail passes that would take he and his family to points all across Canada and the US. Of which perk he seldom took advantage; though apparently my grandfather, with his parents, did take a trip by rail to North Dakota to visit some Moran relations there. This would have been about 1910 to 1915, and perhaps this trip, too, was mentioned in the newspaper? I should try and look it up.

The Perth Courier (Canada’s second-oldest weekly newspaper) is great for notices of local travel. I’ve seen notices where So-and-So of Perth is visiting a sister in Almonte for a few days, or perhaps a cousin in Renfrew. And yes, this merits column space. Newsworthy.



Sued for Slander?

I’d be interested in learning more about this case (and whether it ever got anywhere as a court case). From The Ottawa Journal, 20 October 1896, a notice that Robert and Eliza Jane Hemphill of Huntley had filed an action against Thomas E. and Mary Moran, also of Huntley township.

The “Thomas E.” almost certainly refers to Thomas Edwin Moran (1860-1942), son of Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy, and the inheritor of the Moran homestead at Concession 1, Lot 11, Huntley township. But does the “Mary Moran” refer to his new wife Bridget Mary McDermott (1876-1964), daughter of John McDermott and Mary O’Neil (the couple had married on 26 September 1896), or to his mother Mary Ann [Leavy] Moran (1832-1907)? The action was for “slander and wrongfully destroying and trespassing on plaintiff’s land and dwelling house,” and the Hemphills were asking for $2,500 in damages (a huge sum of money in 1896!).

The Ottawa Journal, 20 October 1896

The Ottawa Journal, 20 October 1896

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.

Bridget McCann: Friend or Relation?

In records pertaining to my McGlade-Dunne ancestors, who emigrated from Co. Armagh, Ireland to Counties Leeds and Lanark, Ontario, the name McCann turns up at several key points. For example, two of the children of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne had a McCann godparent:

  • Michael James McGlade, born Perth, Ont. 28 Dec 1856, baptized 1 Jan 1857 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents James Ryan and Bridget McCann
  • Ann McGlade, born Perth, Ont. 17 Oct 1863, baptized 7 Nov 1863 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents Kenny Murphy and Frances Ann McCann

And at least two of the grandchildren of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne had a McCann godparent as well:

  • John Michael English, son of John English and Ann McGlade, born Perth, Ont. 23 Nov 1888, baptized 26 Nov 1888 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents John McGlade (presumably his grandfather) and Mrs. Michael Hartney (i.e., Bridget McCann)
  • Arthur Joseph McGlade, son of Arthur Joseph McGlade and Catherine Honora McCarthy, born Perth, Ont. 5 July 1903, baptized 12 July 1903 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents Lawrence Kilpatrick and Mrs. Lawrence Kirkpatrick (i.e., Mary Elizabeth Hartney, daughter of Michael Hartney and Bridget McCann)

I’m especially interested in Bridget McCann, about whom I know the following: