Tag Archive for Ahearn

Register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa: Part 1

If you’re looking for Catholic ancestors in the Bytown/Ottawa area and beyond (see below), you will probably (and by “probably” I mean “almost certainly”) want to check the parish register for Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa.

The register is available online at two different sites:

  1. At FamilySearch.org, as part of their collection titled Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923. To access the parish register for Notre Dame, Ottawa/Notre Dame d’Ottawa: Go to Carleton; then go to Ottawa; then go to Notre Dame d’Ottawa.This database is available online free of charge, which is truly a gift from the LDS to the ancestor-seeking public. But: it has not been indexed, and is therefore not searchable by name. The only way to find records (and therefore people) here is to search the old-fashioned way, albeit in a new-fashioned mode: by browsing, sometimes page by page, through the online images.

  2. At Ancestry.ca, as part of their collection titled Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967. This set of Ontario Roman Catholic records is a subset of their larger (much larger! they claim to have over 25 million English and French Drouin records, and I believe them) Drouin collection, which includes Catholic records from Québec, Ontario, Acadia (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), and even some parts of the United States (from U.S. states which had French Catholic parishes). Note that on Ancestry’s main page for The Drouin Church and Vital Records, the Ontario Catholic records are listed as Ontario French Catholic Church Records. But some of the parishes in this “Ontario French Catholic” collection were predominantly Irish, and many of the records are in English (other parishes, including Notre Dame, Ottawa, were a mix of French and Irish parishioners, and the records are in both French and English). To access the parish register for Notre Dame, Ottawa: Go to Location Letter O; then choose Ottawa; then choose Basilique Notre Dame. This collection is available by subscription only. It has been indexed, and is therefore searchable by name.

notre dame ottawa titlepage

This Register is Huge

This is not the easiest Ontario Roman Catholic parish register to search, and there are at least a couple of reasons for its unwieldiness.

First, this was a very large parish, serving thousands of Irish and French-Canadian Catholics in the Bytown/Ottawa region. Now, I’m not saying that Notre Dame was a megachurch: it was far too Catholic, and far too old-school (but old-school in a new, frontier environment), to meet the definition of a megachurch. But its numbers were a bit megachurchy.1

Moreover, in addition to recording baptisms, marriages, and (much less frequently) burials for Catholics residing in Bytown/Ottawa, the early register of Notre Dame also served as a kind of repository for baptismal, marriage, and (much less frequently) burial records from surrounding missions in neighbouring townships. Did your Catholic ancestors live in March township in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s? Check the Notre Dame, Ottawa register. Did your Catholic ancestors end up in Pontiac Co., Québec by the 1850s? Check the Notre Dame, Ottawa register. Have you discovered your Catholic ancestors in Renfrew Co., Ontario in the 1861 census? Again, check the Notre Dame, Ottawa register. Indeed, if your Catholic ancestors can be found anywhere in the Ottawa Valley in the nineteenth century, you should not overlook the Notre Dame, Ottawa register.

Second, the priests at Notre Dame were mostly French Canadian and Irish (though there were also at least a couple of Scottish priests), and the two languages used in the register reflect this typically Ottawa Valley mix. The marriage of your French-Canadian ancestors might have been recorded in English by an Irish (or perhaps a Scottish) priest; the marriage of your Irish ancestors might have been recorded in French by a French-Canadian priest. Not surprisingly, the French priests sometimes had some difficulties with the Irish surnames, while the Irish priests sometimes had some difficulties with the French surnames. For this register especially, and especially for the early records, surname spelling variations which evade the algorithm of the Soundex are extremely common.

For example, in records pertaining to the Killeens of South March, the French-Canadian Oblate Father Damase Dandurand seems to have consistently used the spelling “Killahan” — which makes me wonder if my Killeen ancestors pronounced their name as something closer to Killean or Killian, which Father Dandurand heard as Killahan. Here, for instance, is the record of the marriage of Patrick Cavanaugh, son of Christopher Cavanaugh and Jane Malone, to Bridget Killeen, daughter of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, 2 May 1854.2

Marriage of Patrick Cavanaugh and Bridget Killahan [Killeen]

Marriage of Patrick Cavanaugh and Bridget Killahan [Killeen]

Note that Father Dandurand used the spelling Killahan even when two parties — the bride Bridget, and her younger sister Margaret, a witness — signed the register with the surname Killeen. Notice also that the record was written in English. Damase Dandurand, who was surely one of the most interesting and impressive parish priests that Bytown had ever known, 3 was fluently bilingual, and moved easily between French and English. For his French-Canadian parishioners, he wrote the records in French. For his Irish parishioners, he typically used English, though sometimes with some rather quirky phonetic spellings.

So: given its enormous size (there are thousands of pages in this register), and its sometimes quirky surname spelling variations which evade the logic of the Soundex, what’s the best way to search this register?

To be continued…

  1. In his Upper Ottawa Valley to 1855 (McGill-Queens Press, 1990, cxxiii), Richard Reid records that in the 1820s and 1830s, “John Cullen, the pastor for Bytown and Richmond, was responsible for 3,750 Catholics” in Bytown and its surrounding townships. By 1887, l’Annuaire de l’Église catholique au canada (Montréal: B.M. Advertising Inc., 1887) recorded the presence of 9,200 parishioners for the parish of the Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa.
  2.  Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1852-1855, image 122 of 244, M. 39, Patrick Cavanaugh-Bridget Killahan marriage, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 25 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.
  3.  He was not only a priest, but also an architect; and though he contracted typhus at Bytown in the summer of 1847, he survived the disease to live on to the age of 102.

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 (1828-1906)

John Killeen (1828-1906)

John Killeen was born about 1828 in March Township, Carleton Co., Ontario.

On 20 December 1852, he married Margaret Fahey, daughter of John Fahey and Margaret Lahey. I believe he was the first in his family to marry a Lahey, but he certainly wasn’t the last. On 12 January 1858, John Killeen’s youngest sister Margaret Jane Killeen married John Lahey, son of James Lahey and Ann Armstrong, and first cousin of Margaret Fahey. And in the next generation, John James Lahey, son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen, married his cousin Bridget Loretto Killeen, daughter of Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan. Said Patrick was also a son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, and therefore a brother of John Killeen and of Margaret Jane Killeen. Confusing? Yes. You really need visual aids to figure out the Killeen-Lahey connections.

And then there are the Galligan connections. As mentioned above, Patrick Killeen, son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, married Bridget Galligan (1835-1861), daughter of Patrick Galligan and Mary Cullen. Meanwhile Denis B. Killeen, son of John Killeen and Margaret Fahey, married Bridget Galligan (1858-1938), daughter of John Galligan and Ellen McGee, and a cousin of Patrick Killeen’s wife Bridget Galligan.

John Killeen and Margaret Fahey lived first in March Township and then in Torbolton Township, Carleton Co., Ontario, where they raised a family of ten known children, at least four of whom emigrated to Minnesota. Margaret Fahey died on 5 November 1899; and John Killeen died on 6 November 1906. They are buried at St. Isidore Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kanata (formerly March Township).

Irish Counties in Fitzroy Harbour Mission Marriage Records, 1852-1856

From 1852, there was a Catholic Mission at Fitzroy Harbour (Carleton Co., Ontario). A stone church (St. Michael’s) was built in 1861;1 but the mission did not become the independent parish of St. Michael until 1917.2 The Fitzroy Harbour Mission served Catholics in the Fitzroy Harbour area, of course, but also, in its early years, Catholics from across the river in the Quyon, Onslow area of Québec.

Marriage of Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan.

St. Michael (Fitzroy Harbour, Carleton), Register of Baptisms and Marriages, 1852-1863, 28 February 1859, image 49 of 80, M. 9, Patrick Killeen-Bridget Gallagan marriage, database: FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

From 1852 to 1865, the Fitzroy Harbour Mission was served by the Rev. Bernard McFeely. His handwriting was the opposite of neat; his spelling was idiosyncratic at best; and his practice of recording the Irish counties of origin of the parties to a marriage was a gift to future genealogists. It is thanks to Father McFeely that many of the descendants of these Irish Catholic emigrants can begin their family history research with a specific Irish county, rather than just “Ireland,” as the starting point.

To the right is the marriage record for my 2x-great-grandparents Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan. Patrick is given as “son of age of Denis Killeen and Mary Hearn formerly of the County Galway Ireland;” and Bridget as “daughter of age of Patrick Gallagan and Mary Quilean [Cullen] formerly of the County Cavin [Cavan] Ireland.” Patrick Killeen was almost certainly born in Upper Canada, whereas Bridget Galligan was certainly born in Ireland (parish of Kilmore, County Cavan). But this distinction is not made clear in the marriage record (I have this information from other records). Father McFeely’s “formerly of the County [Irish county] Ireland” refers to at least the parents of the bride or groom, but in some (probably quite a few) cases, will also refer to the bride or groom as well.

Below is a list of some marriages recorded in the parish register of Fitzroy Harbour Mission, from 1852 to 1856. I have only included marriages where one or both parties are identified with an Irish county (the vast majority of marriages recorded in the early register for Fitzroy Harbour). These Irish counties include: Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, and Tyrone.  

Please note that the Rev. Bernard McFeely continued his practice of recording Irish counties well into the 1860s; I only stopped at the end of November 1856 because my tabular data was getting a bit unwieldy for a blog-based table. I may do 1857 to 1861 or so in a future entry. 

As usual, I have resisted the urge to “correct” the spellings. In more than a few cases, I could not “correct” the spelling even if I tried: at least a few of the surnames transcribed below do not really make sense to me even as variant spellings of a surname. I have attempted to transcribe what I read, but in a few cases, Fr. McFeely’s text is all but unreadable.

  1. This stone church replaced a wooden church that had burned to the ground in 1854. The suspected cause of the fire was anti-Catholic vandalism. See Marion G. Rogers, “St. Michael’s Church Fitzroy Harbour,” The Ottawa Journal, 29 July 1972.
  2. “St. Michael’s Fitzroy Celebrates 150 Years,” Catholic Ottawa Newsletter, Spring and Summer 2010, p. 11.

William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong

William Henry Killeen (1857-1904) was a son of Denis Benjamin Killeen and Ellen O’Brien, and a grandson of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. In November 1885, he married Lucy Armstrong (1863-1956), a daughter of James Armstrong and Bridget Kelly, and a granddaughter of Joseph Armstrong and Catherine Smith.

Lucy Armstrong was the first cousin of my 2x-great-grandfather John Lahey (1837-1899). And Lucy Armstrong’s first husband William Henry Killeen was the nephew of John Lahey’s wife, my 2x-great-grandmother Margaret Jane Killeen (1835-1913). From the “Relationship Calculator” function at the family history database (Ottawa Valley Irish: A Genealogy Database), the relationships can be depicted like so:

 

Relationship between Lucy Armstrong and John Lahey

Relationship between Lucy Armstrong and John Lahey

Relationship between William Henry Killeen and Margaret Jane Killeen

Relationship between William Henry Killeen and Margaret Jane Killeen

Courtesy of one of their descendants, here is a wonderful photograph of William Henry Killeen and Lucy Armstrong, with the first six of their nine known children:

William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong and family, ca. 1896

William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong and family, ca. 1896

I believe this photograph was taken in 1896 or 1897. And I have to love the stylized backdrops of 19th-century studio portraits. This family lived and farmed at Sebastopol, in Renfrew Co., Ontario, Canada. But from the background of the above photograph, you might think they dwelled amidst the ruins of ancient Tuscany! or something like that.

William Henry Killeen died in August 1904, leaving his wife Lucy Armstrong a widow with nine children. About five years later (in May 1909), Lucy Armstrong Killeen married Albert Austin Massey, a British Home Child who was about twenty years her junior. The family moved out west, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Albert Austin Massey fought with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I, as did at least one of his stepsons, Francis Joseph Killeen.

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.

Patrick Cavanaugh and Bridget Killeen

Another Killeen couple with surprisingly few marriages amongst their offspring:

Bridget Killeen was one of the daughters (possibly the fourth daughter, and fifth child) of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, and a sister of Hanora (married Michael Donahue), and also of Ellen (married Mathew Daley), of Patrick (married Bridget Galligan), of Margaret Jane (married John Lahey), of John (married Margaret Fahey), and of five other known siblings. She was born at March township about 1827, and died at Maniwaki, Gatineau Co., Québec in 1910.
On 2 May 1854 (Notre Dame, Bytown), Bridget Killeen married Patrick Cavanaugh, son of Christopher Cavanaugh and Jane Malone, and an emigrant from Co. Kildare, Ireland. The couple lived in March township, Carleton Co., Ontario for the next six to eight years, where they had five known children (Mary Jane; Margaret; John Christopher; William; and Anna Esther), before moving to Maniwaki, where they had another three known children (James Patrick; Denis Joseph; and Albert). Patrick Cavanaugh was a blacksmith, as were his sons John, William, and James, according to the 1881 census (Quebec, Ottawa, Egan and Maniwaki, household of Patrick Kavanagh, family no. 15; LAC; click thumbnail to see larger image):
cavanaugh_patrick_killeen_bridget_1881census.jpg

Where was Patrick Killeen born?

Different Sources, Different Birthplaces

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, and the second was Benning Monk.”1 Perhaps Ross was relying on Mrs. M.H. Ahearn’s earlier “The Settlers of March Township,” which was first read before the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa on 10 March 1899, and later published by the Ontario Historical Society. According to Mrs. Ahearn:
The first settler to locate [in March township] was Captain John Benning Monk, of H.M. 97th Regiment, who arrived in June, 1819, having been paddled and portaged in boats from Montreal, where he had the misfortune to lose his baby daughter. Leaving his wife in Hull, Captain Monk proceeded by river to March, where, with his soldier servants, he constructed a rude shanty, to which he brought Mrs. Monk, and which was aptly named ‘Mosquito Cove’ by the much-tormented occupants…
…Captain Monk had ten children, and among his numerous descendants are several prominent citizens of Ottawa. One son is G.W. Monk, ex-M.P.P. for Carleton County, and Mrs. Chas. McNab, a well-known member of our society, to whom the writer is indebted for many details of this sketch, is a daughter. The eldest son, the late Benning Monk, was the second child born in March; Patrick Killean, whose parents were servants of Captain Monk, and who afterwards took up land in South March, being the first.2
It’s not clear where Mrs. Ahearn got her information about Patrick Killean/Killeen’s birth, although it may have been part of the detail supplied to her by Mrs. Chas. McNab (Frances Amelia Monk, daughter of Captain John Benning Monk and Elizabeth Fitzgerald).

Conditional Baptism

While going through RC parish registers in search of your Catholic ancestors, you may come across the phrase “baptized conditionally” or “baptized sub conditione,” or, in French, “baptisé(e) sous condition.” What did the padre mean, you may wonder, by this seemingly cryptic communication?

What the priest meant, basically, was that he had performed the baptism with words to the effect of, “If you are not already baptized, I baptize you.”

What Happened to William Killeen?

William Killeen was born at March township, Carleton Co., Ontario in 1832, the son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. He was baptized 7 Mar 1833 (Notre Dame, Ottawa), with John Lahey and Mary Kennedy serving as godparents.

In the 1851 census of March (Canada West [Ontario], Carleton County, March, p. 4), William is found in the household of his older brother Patrick, along with his widowed mother Mary and seven other unmarried siblings. Here his age is given as 19.
He is not found in the 1861 census of March, however, and he seems to disappear from the Canadian records. Two possibilities immediately suggest themselves (there are, of course, other possibilities, but these two strike me as most likely): 1. between 1851 and 1861 he died  at March township, and was buried without a headstone; or 2. between 1851 and 1861 he emigrated to the US.
In the 1871 US federal census of Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada, there is a J.W. Killeen, born in Canada about 1835, occupation “Keeps Saloon,” who is married to an Alice who was born in Ireland about 1840 (occupation “Keeps House”). Could this Nevada saloon keeper be the son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn?