Tag Archive for Benton

“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?

Possibly.

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. Ancestry.com 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.  Ancestry.com. Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in “The Boston Pilot,” 1831–1920 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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.

Irish Origins in Canadian Roman Catholic Marriage Records: St. John the Evangelist, Gananoque, Leeds Co., Ontario, Part 2

18 February 1855 -- 18 November 1856

For marriages from 4 January 1850 to 6 February 1855, please see Part One.

Part 3 to follow.

DateGroomSon of [Parents], of [Place]BrideDaughter of [Parents], of [Place]Witnesses
DateGroomSon of [Parents], of [Place]BrideDaughter of [Parents], of [Place]Witnesses
18 Feb 1855Patrick CummingsThomas Cummings and Mary Stanton, of the parish of Tintern Co. WexfordMaryanne CushenMartin Cushen and Mary Gorman of this mission (from the Co. Wexford)Robert Anderson and Mary Ravey
18 May 1855Peter TetreauWilliam Tetreau and Marie Scott (formerly from Laprairie, C.E.)Sarah MarlowOwen Marlow and Mary Mullen (from the Co. Tyrone Ireland)Peter William and Mary Jane Moyner
22 Aug 1855John WoodsJohn Woods and Bridget Casey (from Manchester England)Margaret O'NeilNicholas O'Neil and Mary McCormick from Co. Wexford IrelandThos. Ferguson and Margaret Blake
4 Oct 1855Thos. Clark of Brockville missionBernard Clark and Catherine Kelly from Co. Cavan IrelandBridget O'ShayPatrick O'Shay and Catherine ________ from the Co. Limerick IrelandMichael Clark and Eleanor Fenton
4 Nov 1855Michael DwyerJohn Dwyer and Catherine Ryan, Cappagh White, Tipperary, IrelandAnn BrazilMichael Brazil and Catherine Gleeson, Co. Tipperary, IrelandPatrick Shanly and Eleanor Rossiter
18 Nov 1855Thos. GriffinJohn Griffin and Margaret Bolan, Co. Limerick, IrelandMargaret ManeyOwen Maney and Margaret Rowlan from the Co. Clare, IrelandCon Regan and Margaret Hannon
8 Jan 1856William KennedyPatk. Kennedy and Mary Hunt from the Co. Clare IrelandBridget McMahonPeter McMahon and Ellen Connors, also from the Co. Clare, IrelandMartin Hogan and Mary McMahon
27 Jan 1856Patrick MaddenJames Madden and Eleanor Fitzgerald from the parish of Robertstown, Co. LimerickMary CoxStephen Cox and Susan Armstrong from the Co. Cavan, IrelandJames Shortell and Christianna Madden
28 Jan 1856Laurence BoyleJohn Boyle and Mary Dunn from the Co. Kildare, IrelandCatherine O'BrienTerence O'Brien and Mary McGovern from the Co. Fermanagh IrelandJohn Gavin and Julia Shortell
31 Jan 1856Patrick EnglishJohn English and ________ Lawlor from the parish of Tintern, Co. Wexford, IrelandMargaret FoxPeter Fox and Ann Cameron from the Co. Carlow IrelandJames Turbin and Eleanor Littleton
4 Feb 1856Dominique LeBoufPierre Lebouf and Josette Tessier from St. Ann B.C.Nancy DriscollMichael Driscoll and Margaret Hayes parish of Skibereen, Co. Cork, IrelandPeter Cassedy and Ann Kelly
23 Mar 1856Patrick Boylejohn Boyle and Mary Dunn from the Co. Kildare, IrelandJudith ShortellThomas Shortell and Bridget Swift from the Co. Kilkenny, IrelandDenis Brophy and Mary O'Brien
14 Apr 1856Isidore Isreal GreffeFrancois Grreffe and Rosalie Turcotte of St. John Chrysostom in C.E., now of this missionLatitia FinmoreThos. Finmore and Julia McCann from the Co. Westmeath, IrelandHugh Gusta and Maryanne Stanfield
4 Apr 1856John Beamish (widower of Mary Hurly)Thos. Beamish and Mary Ford, parish of Kinsale, Co. Cork, IrelandJohannah ShayMaurice Shay and Margaret Noonan from the parish of Bantry, Co. Cork, IrelandJeremiah Mahony and Catherine Mahony
14 Apr 1856Thos. BentonThos. Benton and Catherine Dwyer, from the parish of Cappagh White, Tipperary, IrelandHonor RyanMichael Ryan and Bridget Lahey, parish of Kilcommon, Co. Limerick, IrelandPatrick Dwyer and Bridget Conway
14 Apr 1856John RedmondPatrick Redmond and Elizabeth Grammen from New Town Barry, Co. Wexford, IrelandAnn O'BrienCharles O'Brien and Mary Devereux, from the parish of Clonegal, Co. Wexford, Ireland Thos. McGeoghegan and Catherine O'Brien
5 May 1856Denis SantryJohn Santry and Honora Driscoll from the Co. Cork IrelandMary Clifford (widow of dec. John Clifford)Danl. Hogan and Catherine Holohan, from the City of Limerick IrelandJohn Hunt and Mary McGrath
4 Jun 1856Michael QuinnFrancis Quinn and Nancy Macken from the Co. Armagh, IrelandAllice NugentMichl. Nugent and Mary Dunn from the Co. Dublin, IrelandJohn Kennedy and Eleanor McCormick
14 Jul 1856John Spellane, widower of dec. Mary BrophyJohn Spellane and Catherine Daughten from the Queen's Co., IrelandHonor TobinNicholas Tobin and Mary Vardy from the parish of Balingarry, Co. Wexford James Guttery and Bridget Copeland
17 Jul 1856*Daniel W. Daniels (protestant) John Daniels and Elizabeth Smith, from Canton St. Laurence Co. N.Y. U.S.Bridget Daley (catholic), from BeauharnoisPatrick Daley and Mary Morrison from the parish of Fermoy, Co. Cork, IrelandMichael Dunn and Mary Daley
5 Aug 1856Jeremiah O'NeilJeremiah O'Neil and Julia Sullivan, from the Parish of Bantry, Co. Cork IrelandRose McGarveyThos. McGarvey and Rose McNeirny from the parish of Authy, Co. Tyrone IrelandPatrick Ward and Ann Ward
26 Aug 1856Edward HennessyPatrick Hennessy and Eleanor Bulger from the parish of Bagglinstown Co. Carlow, IrelandEleanor BradshawJohn Bradshaw and Bridget Dwyer from the Co. TipperaryJames McDonicle and Rose O'Neil
20 Oct 1856Matthew MurphyLaurence Murphy and Ann Redmond, Co. WexfordEleanor ClarkMichael Clark and Mary Burns from the parish of Baltinglass, Co. WicklowNicholas Roach and Margaret Clark
20 Oct 1856John O'BrienCharles O'Brien and Mary Devereux from the parish of Clonegal, Co. WexfordBridget KarmuddyMichael Karmuddy and Bridget Mack from the Co. Clare, IrelandJames McNamara and Margaret Connors
24 Oct 1856John Joyce, widower of decd. Mary Boyne John Joyce and Mary Hanlon from the parish of Ballykillen, Co. Carlow, IrelandJohannah KehoeJohn Kehoe and Johannah Quinlan parish of Adamstown, Co. Wexford IrelandJohn Dunden and Bridget O'Brien
4 Nov 1856Cornelius Harrington of the Rail Road in this missionTimothy Harrington and Julia Fahey of the parish of Kilcastle, Co. Cork IrelandMargaret RyanMichael Ryan and Bridget Lahey from the parish of Kilcommon, Co. LimerickJames Moran and Ann Dunden
10 Nov 1856Thomas Elligot of the Gr. T. R. Road in this missionJohn Elligot and Margaret Collins of the parish of Grane, Co. LimerickBridget ConwayThomas Conway and Margaret Kennedy from the parish of Kilcommon, Co. Tipperary IrelandJohn Elligot and Allice Kennedy
18 Nov 1856Denis Doyle of the Gr. T. R. Road in this missionDenis Doyle and Eleanor Ryan from the parish of Cappa White Co. Tipperary IrelandBridget McGrathThos. McGrath and Margaret Wilkinson, from the parish of Castletown, Co. Tipperary IrelandThos. Conway and Margaret Karmuddy

*This marriage, which required a dispensation from the impediment of a mixed marriage, was later crossed out in the register.

Marriage of Michael Dwyer and Honora Benton

Honora Benton was born in Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary in 1818 (baptized 13 December 1818), the daughter of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer. A couple of years earlier, her father Thomas Benton had served as sponsor/godfather to Mary Dwyer, baptized 17 April 1816, the daughter of Timothy Dwyer and Honora Benton.

So here we have a couple of Benton-Dwyer couples in Cappawhite in the early nineteenth century: Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer (married 11 March 1809); and Timothy Dwyer and Honora Benton (married before April 1816). Were Thomas Benton and Honora Benton (wife of Timothy Dwyer) siblings or cousins or otherwise related? Were Catherine Dwyer (wife of Thomas Benton) and Timothy Dwyer (husband of Honora Benton) siblings or cousins or otherwise related?

If You’re the Daughter of a Benton and a Dwyer …

… why not marry a Dwyer?

Don’t let your emigration to Canada stop you! You can surely find a Dwyer in Montreal.

And that is exactly what Honora Benton, daughter of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, did:1

Marriage of Michael Dwyer and Honora Benton, 9 October 1843

Marriage of Michael Dwyer and Honora Benton, 9 October 1843

The above record, from the register for Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, identifies the marriage partners as Michael Dwyer, “domicilié en cette Paroisse fils majeur de John Dwyer fermier et d’Ellen McGrath du Comté de Limerick en Irlande” (domiciled in this parish son of age of John Dwyer, farmer, and of Ellen McGrath of the County Limerick, Ireland); and Hanora Benton “domicilié en cette Paroisse fille majeure de Thomas Benton fermier et de Catherine Dwyer du Comté de Tipperary en Irlande” (domiciled in this parish daughter of age of Thomas Benton, farmer, and of Catherine Dwyer of the County Tipperary, Ireland). Apparently neither Michael Dwyer nor Honora Benton could sign the register. The witnesses, however, did sign as Timothy Bourke and Edmond Reardon.

Michael Dwyer and Honora Benton had two daughters baptized at Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal: Ellen, born 2 July 1844; and Mary, born 23 March 1846. What happened to this family after March 1846? I have not yet found them in the (Canadian or American) census records.

  1. Basilique Notre-Dame (Montréal, Québec), Register of Births, Marriages and Burials, 1843, M. 143, Michael Dwyer-Hanora Benton marriage: database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 23 March 2015), Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.

“Of the Rail Road in this mission”

Thomas Benton (1826-1890) was born in Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, the son of Thomas Benton and Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer. Of these facts I am now reasonably certain (which is to say, as certain as one can ever be when it comes to 19th-century Irish genealogy).

But for the longest time, I had only “Thomas Benton, born about 1830 in Ireland, of parents unknown” in my database. I suspected that he had been born in the parish of Doon (Limerick or Tipperary?); and from about last May, I had reason to suspect that he was born in Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary, the son of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer. But until very recently, I had no documented evidence to confirm or refute my suspicions.

It’s Always in the Last Place You Look

And the main reason why I had no evidence is that I could not find a record of Thomas Benton’s marriage to Honora Ryan, daughter of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey.

Given that all nine of their known children were born in Canada, I suspected (rightly, as it turns out) that Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan had married in Canada, not in Ireland. And I knew that Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan could be found in Pakenham, Lanark Co., Ontario in 1861, and that they shortly afterwards moved to Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario, where Honora Ryan died in 1879, and where Thomas Benton died in 1890. But I searched the Catholic parish registers of Lanark and Renfrew Counties, and searched in vain, for a marriage record for Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan. And because the baptismal record for their daughter Bridget Benton is found in the register for the Catholic mission at Fitzroy Harbour (Carleton Co.), I also searched surrounding parishes in Carleton County. I also briefly considered, and searched for, a Protestant marriage record, though without really expecting to find one, given the overwhelming evidence of staunch Roman Catholicism for this family.1

I finally found their marriage record in the register for St. John the Evangelist, Gananoque, Leeds Co. — a place I had not thought to look, because I was so focused on Lanark and Renfrew Counties.

‘Of the Grand Trunk Rail Road in this mission’

And what were they doing in the Gananoque area in the 1850s?

It looks like the men were working for the Grand Trunk Railway, perhaps on the construction of the line which ran from Montreal to Brockville, which opened in 1859.

When Honora Ryan’s sister Margaret married Cornelius Harrington on 4 November 1856,2 the priest, the Rev. James R. Rossiter, identified Cornelius Harrington as a railroad worker:

Marriage of Cornelius Harrington and Margaret Ryan, 4 November 1856

Marriage of Cornelius Harrington and Margaret Ryan, 4 November 1856

The above record lists “Cornelius Harrington of the Rail Road in this mission, son of age of Timothy Harrington and Julia Fahey of the parish of Kilcastle, Co. Cork Ireland,” along with “Margaret Ryan, also of this mission, daughter minor of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey from the parish of Kilcommon, Co. Limerick.”

And in the marriage record which immediately follows, that of Thomas Elligot and Bridget Conway (10 November 1856),3 we have Thomas Elligot identified with the Grand Trunk Railway in particular:

Marriage of Thomas Elligot and Bridget Conway, 10 November 1856

Marriage of Thomas Elligot and Bridget Conway, 10 November 1856

The above records lists “Thomas Elligot of the Gr. T. R. Road in this mission, son of age of John Elligot and Margaret Collins of the parish of [Grane?] Co. Limerick Ireland,” along with “Bridget Conway, daughter minor of Thomas Conway and Margaret Kennedy from the parish of Kilcommon Co. Tipperary Ireland.”

gananoque mission marriagesIndeed, for the mid- to  late-1850s, a number of men in this register are identified as railroad workers in their marriage records. Which is to say, in other words, that the Rev. James R. Rossiter took the time to add that extra detail about the men’s occupation (and in one record, he also identifies a woman as being “of the Rail Road”). Given the difficulties of locating Irish emigrants who worked on the construction of canals and railroads, the register for St. John the Evangelist, Leeds Co., Ontario therefore strikes me as an unusually valuable source (I consider any Catholic parish register to be a valuable source, but for at least a few families [probably more than “a few,” I haven’t yet counted] this one has that little something extra). Moreover, the priest’s tendency to record counties, and sometimes parishes, of origin in Ireland also makes this register extremely valuable.

By the way, I would expect that many of the people found in this register did not remain in the Gananoque region for very long. Like my own Benton and Ryan ancestors, they had probably moved on by the 1860s — to other parts of Canada, and also to the United States.

Thomas Benton is not identified as a railroad worker in the record of his marriage to Honora Ryan. But given the occupational listing for other men (including his brother-in-law Cornelius Harrington) in the same mission, for now I am filing him under “Possibly Working for the Grand Trunk Railway” in the late 1850s. Thomas Benton’s future son-in-law, Alexander Michael Moran (husband of Anna [“Annie”] Maria Benton), did certainly work, as a machinist, for the Grand Trunk Railway. And Thomas Benton’s grandson, my paternal grandfather Allan Jerome Moran, also worked for the GTR, and later for the CN (Canadian National Railway).

I am currently compiling a table of marriages from the register for St. John the Evangelist, which identify Irish parishes and counties (similar to my Irish Counties in Fitzroy Harbour Mission Marriage Records). To be posted within the next few days.

  1. In the early Ottawa Valley, where conditions were harsh and clerics were scarce, members of various Protestant denominations sometimes crossed denominational lines to baptize an infant or to marry: in the absence of a Presbyterian minister, a pair of Presbyterian parents might have their infant baptized by an Anglican minister, for example. For the most part, however, Roman Catholics resisted this pioneer-era ecumenicalism: to be baptized or married by a non-Catholic, as Catholics understood it, was scarcely to be baptized or married at all.
  2. St. John the Evangelist (Gananoque, Leeds), Marriages 1846-1863, Cornelius Harrington-Margaret Ryan marriage, image 22 of 41: database, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 9 March 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Recors, 1760-1923.

  3.  St. John the Evangelist (Gananoque, Leeds), Marriages 1846-1863, Thomas Elligot-Bridget Conway marriage, image 22 of 41: database, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 9 March 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

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

A No-Name in the Nominal Census

1921 Census of Canada

In my previous entry, I noted that you are generally not going to find married women’s maiden names in the Canadian census returns. And even well into the twentieth century, you will occasionally find a census listing where a married woman was enumerated but not named at all.

Here’s an example, from the 1921 Census of Canada, where a married woman was enumerated but not named:

Alexander Moran household, 1921 census of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa St Georges Ward, p. 3, lines 33-36.

Alexander Moran household, 1921 census of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa St Georges Ward, p. 3, lines 33-36.

The above shows the household of Alexander Michael Moran and Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton, with their two sons Allan Jerome Moran and Orville Alexander Moran. And for some reason (I guess the enumerator forgot to record her name?), there is a blank where the name of Wife Anna (“Annie”) should be, though the birth places of her parents (Ireland), and her religion (R.C., for Roman Catholic), have been duly recorded.

And by the way, there is an error in the recorded birthplaces of Alexander Michael Moran’s parents, both of whom were given the birthplace of Ireland in the 1921 census. While his mother was certainly born in Ireland (County Longford), his father was just as certainly born in Canada (Huntley township, Carleton County).

The census is one of the most important sources of genealogical information for any family history researcher. It is absolutely indispensable. But always remember that the census return is only as accurate as the accuracy of the information that was supplied, and that was recorded. In the enumeration and recording of information for any given census return, there were numerous opportunities for mistakes, misunderstandings, faulty assumptions, and sometimes just plain laziness. Always check the information found in a census return against the information found in other sources (civil records, church records, city and county directories, headstones, obituaries, and so on).

Occupation: Married Woman (Canada Voters Lists, 1935-1980)

During the 1930s Alex and Annie operated a small grocery shop in their home on Armstrong St. In the depths of the depression my father, who was a railroader, got very little work and we were often short of cash. At those times our credit was good and we could always get the essentials at the Morans. There were lots of card games and visits to and fro. Uncle Alex was also a fiddle player and he and Aunt Em Delaney played for dancing and entertainment.

— Emmett Patrick Sloan, Memories of the Morans (2007)

Ancestry.ca has an extremely useful database of voters lists: “Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980.” These lists can be used as a census substitute of sorts, although of course they only include adult citizens (age 21 and over until 1970, at which point the voting age was lowered to 18). They can help to discover and/or verify addresses, and they may also provide some useful information on occupations.

But as with the Canadian census (and the US federal census, for that matter, and the UK census too), these voters lists tend to erase evidence of occupation for married women. Well, perhaps “erase” is too strong a term? it suggests an act of commission, when what we are dealing with, arguably, is an act of omission.

My great-grandparents Alex (Alexander Michael) and Annie (Anna Maria Benton) Moran had a grocery store, a small “mom-and-pop” operation at the front of their  house on Armstrong St. Here they are in the 1935 List of Electors (Victoria Ward, City of Ottawa), with my grandparents Allan Jerome Moran and Mary Catherine Lahey (here listed as Mrs Allan [W] [= Wife], married woman) listed just below:

Alexander Moran, Carleton, Ontario, 1935. Ancestry.ca: database online. Original: Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980; Reel: M-4739.

Notice how Alex and Annie’s “mom-and-pop” operation has become a “pop” operation in this document: Moran, Alexander is listed as a “grocery store proprietor,” while his wife Annie (Mrs Alexander, [W] [= Wife]) is given the occupational designation of “married woman.”

Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, Cappawhite, Tipperary

One of my brick wall ancestors is my great-great-grandfather Thomas Benton, who was born in Ireland about 1830, emigrated to Canada in the 1850s, and died at Arnrprior (Renfrew County, Ontario) in 1890.

He married Hanora (“Annie”) Ryan about 1856, but I’ve yet to find a marriage record for this couple, and I don’t know whether they were married in Ireland or in Canada. Thomas Benton and Hanora Ryan had nine known children, apparently all born in Canada, with eight surviving to adulthood. I have baptismal records for seven of these nine children, but not for the two eldest, Catherine Benton (born about 1857) and Thomas Benton Jr (born about 1859). The first real proof of Thomas and Annie [Ryan] Benton’s presence in Canada is the baptismal record for their third child, Bridget Benton (born in February 1861; baptized 1 March 1861). The family can be found in the 1861 Census of Canada (Pakenham, Lanark Co., Ontario), where the birthplace for Thomas Benton and his wife Anne is given as Ireland, and the birthplace for their children Catherine and Thomas given as Upper Canada.

Thomas Benton died 7 March 1890, of head injuries sustained in a horrible accident at a lumber mill. While I have his church burial record (St. John Chrysostom, Arnprior), I have not found an Ontario civil death registration. An obituary in the Arnprior Chronicle does not name his parents. So: with no marriage record, and with no mention of his parents in either his RC burial record or his obituary, the trail goes cold.

But there’s a family in Cappawhite, Tipperary that interests me (especially as Thomas Benton married a Ryan whose family came from Tipperary):

A Thomas Benton married a Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer in Cappawhite, Tipperary on 11 March 1809. The couple had at least five known children, all born Cappawhite, Tipperary:

  1. Hanora Benton, baptized 19 December 1818
  2. Kitty Benton, baptized 15 October 1821
  3. Winny [Winnifred] Benton, baptized 8 February 1824
  4. Thomas Benton, baptized 8 June 1826 (could this be my 2x-great-grandfather?)
  5. William Benton, baptized 9 May 1832

So I’m looking for information on the descendants of Thomas Benton and Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer, of Cappawhite, Tipperary. Any information would be much appreciated.

UPDATE (10 March 2015):

Yes, this Thomas Benton, son of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, was my 2x-great-grandfather. More details here.

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.

Newsworthy

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.