Tag Archive for Cahill

Squatter’s rights: the Widow Cahill petitions the Crown (Part I)

The following petition is found amongst the Upper Canada Land Petitions, though it concerns a property in Lower Canada (on Calumet Island/L’Île-du-Grand-Calumet, in Pontiac County, Quebec).

Letter of Anne Cahill, 13 September 1848

Honourable Sir,
I humbly beg leave to state that in the year 1835 I settled as Squatter on the Calumet Island, on a lot of land which I considered would contain about 200 acres, considering that, as I had a large family, no less than about 200 acres would be of any Service to me. I got lines ran which afterwards chanced to correspond exactly with the lines ran by the Government Surveyor — But at the time that I Squatted thereon I expected that when the lots would be surveyed they would each contain 200 acres as was customary. However, when the district was surveyed, it was in lots of but 100 acres each; consequently the tract of land I occupied became two lots as it contained 200 acres, which lots are Nos. 13 and 14. on the 6th Range — And compliance with the rules of Lord Durham’s proclamation, I got my name inserted as Squatter in his registry for said 200 acres — …

– Widow Anne Cahill to the Crown Lands Department, 13 Sept 18481

(Click on the thumbnail of the above letter of Anne Cahill to the Crown Lands Department to view it full-size.)

Who was the Widow Anne Cahill?

in the year 1835 I settled as Squatter on the Calumet Island

The Widow Anne Cahill was Anne Shirley (ca. 1786-1869), widow of Michael Cahill (died before 1840), and mother of nine known children, including George Cahill who married Mary Moran.

She was born about 1786 in Ireland, presumably in the Castlecomer area of Co. Kilkenny. She had at least two brothers, Paul Shirley (married Catherine McNamara) and William Shirley (married Mary Oughnahan), who were amongst the early settlers of the Bytown area. Her brother William Shirley signed the McCabe List, where he gave his place of origin as Castlecomer, parish of Mowhill, County Kilkenny, and made reference to “his brother Paul Shirley (who) with a family reside at Castlecomer in the County of Kilkenny and are known to the Revd Mr Roberts of Said place.” I believe the Shirley family were Anglican;2 however, Anne, Paul and William Shirley all married Irish Catholics, and many (if not most or all) of their children were baptized Roman Catholic. Anne Shirley Cahill (the Widow Cahill of the above petition) certainly had a Catholic burial (20 Aug 1869); she was buried at Ste. Anne, Calumet Island, Pontiac Co., Quebec.

Anne Shirley Cahill was almost certainly also related to the Thomas Shirley for whom she pleaded in one of her two letters to the Crown Lands Department, but whether as sibling, cousin, or aunt, I do not know. This Thomas Shirley was born about 1813 in Co. Kilkenny, the son of James Shirley and Catherine Butler (as per his marriage record), and he also settled at Calumet Island. In addition to the Widow Cahill’s plea on behalf of Thomas Shirley in one of her two letters to the Crown, various records in the Catholic parish registers suggest a familial relationship. For example, Thomas Shirley served as sponsor (or godfather) to Catherine Brennan, daughter of Patrick Brennan and Matilda Shirley and granddaughter of Anne Shirley’s brother William Shirley. And when Thomas Shirley married Honora McGuire (22 Jan 1855, Ste. Anne, Calumet Island), the witnesses to the marriage were two of Anne Shirley’s sons: John Cahill and George Cahill. Moreover, and what’s even more strongly suggestive of a blood relation, when George William Cahill, son of George Cahill and Mary Moran (and grandson of Michael Cahill and Anne Shirley), married Anne Shirley, daughter of Thomas Shirley and Honora McGuire, the couple had to obtain a dispensation from the impediment of a third degree of consanguinity.

I don’t know anything more about the Widow Anne (Shirley) Cahill, but her land petition is among the most interesting that I’ve yet to come across. Her opening line, “Honourable Sir, I humbly beg leave to state that in the year 1835 I settled as Squatter…” basically wins the petition-the-Crown sweepstakes, in my opinion, and then I’d have to give her bonus points for citing Lord Durham’s proclamation.

“I did not wish to trouble your honour about these matters if I could avoid it,” wrote the Widow Cahill, “but as I now find that I have no alternative, I humbly beg leave to Submit the matter to your most Serious consideration, hoping that your Honour will condescend to exercise your authority and See me (a poor widow with a large family) Justified.” Does it seem a little odd that someone would petition the Crown to assert her rightful claim as a Squatter?

Well, there’s a reason why the Widow Cahill had a recognizable claim to the land that she and her sons had been squatting upon, and that reason has to do with Lord Durham’s proclamation, which she references in her letter.

And before moving on to Lord Durham’s Proclamation (this blog entry to be continued….), here’s a fun little item (I google the Right Honourable John George Lambton, Earl of Durham, so that you don’t have to):

If you want to see Barry Morse (the actor who played Lt. Philip Gerard on “The Fugitive”) in one of his earlier roles, he played Durham’s advisor Gibbon Wakefield in the 1961 NFB film “Lord Durham.”

Lord Durham by John Howe, National Film Board of Canada

Squatter’s rights: the Widow Cahill petitions the Crown to be continued…

  1. Anne Cahill petition, 1848, Upper Canada Land Petitions, RG 1, L 3, vol. 137, C Bundle 5, petition 28: microfilm C-1736, Library and Archives Canada.
  2. Or Church of Ireland, which, as I’ve noted before, was/is basically the Church of England in Ireland

Translating French Records: Catholic Burial Records

As with baptismal and marriage records, RC burial records adhered to the same formula, whether written in English or French. If you know the English-language formula, you can easily figure out the French. (And often the hardest part, as I’ve mentioned before, is to decipher the priest’s handwriting).

The formula, more or less:

The [day of month of year], we the undersigned priest buried in the [name of cemetery] the body of [name of deceased] who died on [date of death] at the age of [age of deceased]. Were present [names of two witnesses].

Le [day of month of year], par nous prêtre soussigné a été inhumé[e] dans le [name of cemetery/cimitière] le corps de [name of deceased], décédé[e] [date of death] à l’age de [age of deceased]. Furent présents [names of two witnesses].

“My Maternal Ancestors,” by Alec Lunney

I am extremely grateful to Al Lunney for sending me a copy of Alec Lunney’s “A Collection of Family and Ottawa Area Information,” which includes his account of his maternal (and my paternal) ancestors James Moran and Margaret Jamieson.

Peter Alexander (“Alec”) Lunney (1896-1953) was the son of Hugh Andrew Lunney and Margaret Amelia Hourigan, and a descendant of (my 3x great-grandparents) James Moran and Margaret Jamieson, and also of Mary Lahey (sister of my 3x great-grandfather James Lahey). His ancestral chart can be found here. His “A Collection of Family and Ottawa Area Information” was recorded at Pakenham on 8 August 1946, and included the following account of James and Margaret:

My Maternal Ancestors, by Alec Lunney

On my mother’s side of the house were the Hourigan and Moran families of Huntley and March townships. My mother’s paternal grandparents settled in March township. Her father Thomas Hourigan was born in 1824 in Canada. He married my grandmother Julia Moran, they had in addition to my mother, three other children, James who died as a youth of 18 in the year of the Great Fire of 1870, Mary Anne, who died in 1877 at the age of 26 years and Thomas who died in 1899 at the age of forty years. All of these three were unmarried.

Thomas Hourigan, my grandfather was an ambitious man and taught himself to read and write in an age when that was by no means a small accomplishment. He died in 1857 at the early age of 33 years. My grandmother, left with four small children, then moved to Huntley so as to be near her own people. My mother’s maternal grandmother was Margaret Jamieson, who had an upbringing of advantage in Ireland. Her father was a doctor, as were five of her uncles. Her grandfather was a landed gentleman in Ireland. Her mothers name was Fraswer, so that although she lived in Ireland she was but slightly Irish stock. She married my great-grandfather James Moran against her family’s wishes and left with him for Canada. This was sometime between 1815 and 1820.

Thomas Hourigan, my grandfather was an ambitious man…

Foresaking a life of refinement and comparative ease, she chose the crude pioneer life of the Upper Canada wilds. She and her husband were natives of Kings and Queens counties. The Hourigans derived from Tipperary. James Moran and his wife, Margaret Jamieson lived for about three years in the Philomen Wright settlment of Hull, Quebec. Then with their two eldest children they trekked to the Ontario side to carve out a home of their own. They passed Richmond Landing, later Bytown and now Ottawa — if they had foreseen the future land values, we might now all be rich — and staked out two hundred acres in the First Concession of Huntley. Near here lived Dr. Christie with whose family my great grandmother formed a close and lifelong acquaintance which partly compensated her for the sacrifices she made in that pioneer environment. The first James Moran was the pioneer substitute of a doctor, in that he was much in demand as a blood letter a supposed panacea for most of humanitie’s ills in the early days. He died in the late fifties, both he and my grandmother, who lived on into the eighties, are interred at Huntley Cemetery.

James and Margaret Moran had three sons and six daughters. Thomas never married and became known as “Uncle Tom” to a legion of nieces and nephews. Since my mother’s family were so early deprived of their father, they were perhaps closest to him of all the related cousins. His old farm, draining into the miniature Carp River is now owned by a Mr. Cox of Huntley. Alexander (Sandy) married Mary Levi [Leavy] of Pakenham, and lived for a time there, but at his father’s death he came home to Huntley. He had a large family. His son Thos. Moran inherited the family farm, but sold it in 1913. It is now owned by Mrs. Cleary. The CNR (Ottawa to Depot Harbour) bisects this farm, and the old stone house commands a fine view of the valley which James and Margaret Moran chose as their New World home so long ago. The other sons and daughters of ‘Sandy’ and Mary Moran, lived and died in Ottawa, North Dakota, Washington, and Oregon. Only Mrs. Fagan (Minnie) and Mrs. Delaney (Emma) of Ottawa and (Annie) Mrs. Sullivan of Grand Forks, N.D. now remain. The descendants of this family branch are very numerous indeed. There were two sons, Thomas Edwin, who married Bridget McDermott and Alexander, who married Annie Benton. James Moran, son of the original James died as a young man and is buried at Richmond. Of the girls Marcella married John Hogan and lived on the Carp-Stittsville Highway. Their family of three sons and seven girls are now all deceased. Thos. Hogan succeeded to the family homestead, but sold it many years ago, at one time this family had branches throughout the adjacent townships and tho some of their descendants remain, the original family are all gone. Mrs. Pat Hammill (Elizabeth) of Bell’s Corners passed on quite recently, as the last of the family of John and Marcella Hogan. This branch, too, has very numerous descendants. Notable among them are two sisters, Marjorie Byrne (Sister Carmelita) and Madesta Byrne (Sister — ?). These are five generations down from Jas. and Margaret Moran.

Julia Moran, my grandmother married Thomas Hourigan and I have already enumerated their family. Margaret married Ercin [Arsène] Charlebois of Torbolton, and of three sons and one daughter, Thomas of Ottawa remains. Elizabeth married Peter Doyle of Drummond and had a son and daughter, Tom and Lily, both still living. Mary married Geo. Cahill of Calumet Island. They had a large family of whom a son, Dick, lives on the island homestead. Due to their distance away our acquaintance with them was less intimate than with others of the connection. Shortly before my mother’s death we paid them a visit on the island, my mother’s second visit after a lapse of over half a century. Henrietta Moran never married and lived with her brother Tom on the farm in Huntley. After his death she lived in Ottawa and passed away several years ago.

This concludes a quite abbreviated resume of the family of James and Margaret Moran. Their descendants are very numerous and come down to the sixth generation, five of whom were Canadian born. Comparatively few of them remain on the land. Their descendants will be found largely in the cities whether here [i.e., in Canada] or in the great republic [i.e., in the USA], but wherever they are if they could be congregated together, they would surely constitute an assembly of no mean dimensions. My great-grandmother lost contact with her people in Ireland for a time, but in later years was in touch with some of her cousins who had come to this side. A letter we have in our possession, dated New York, 1849 substantiates this. However, circumstances intervened to prevent her ever meeting any of her relations again. Though the rigors of pioneer life, its isolation and its hardships must have been in striking contrast to her early upbringing, she was compensated by a long and happy life with her own children and numerous descendants living throughout the Ottawa Valley. After her husband’s death she made her home with her unmarried son “Uncle Tom.” She had lived from 1798 into the early eighties of last century. My mother never wearied of telling of her, and it is very apparent that in the pioneer community so long ago, hers was a benign and refining influence.

Catholic Marriage Dispensations

If you come across a marriage record which notes the granting of a dispensation of consanguinity, you should definitely sit up and take note: you are looking at evidence of a common ancestor (or a pair of common ancestors) shared by both bride and groom. However, as Dan MacDonald points out in his Marriage Dispensations in Roman Catholic Marriage Records, the presence of a dispensation does not necessarily imply that a couple were related. It depends on the type of dispensation.

In addition to dispensations of consanguinity and affinity (which indicate a blood or marital relation, respectively, and which are pretty much always of interest to the genealogical researcher), the Church also granted dispensations from certain established rules and procedures surrounding the marriage ceremony.

For example, when John Killeen married Margaret Fahey on 20 December 1852, the priest (Rev. M. Molloy) noted that he had obtained a dispensation from the Bishop of Bytown to perform the marriage ceremony at “a fordidden time.” The “forbidden time” in this case was that of Advent (from the start of Advent to the Feast of the Epiphany); another “forbidden time” would be that of Lent (from Ash Wednesday to Low Sunday, or the first Sunday after Easter).

In 19th-century Ottawa Valley area RC parish registers (and no doubt in the RC registers of many other places too), the most common dispensation was that of a dispensation of one or two (and sometimes, although less frequently, of all three) of the required banns.

Three Cahill Children Buried

On the same day.
On 3 November 1866, at Ste. Anne, Calumet Island/L’Île-du-Grand-Calumet, Pontiac Co., Québec:
  • James Cahill, who died at the age of 12.
  • Anne Cahill, who died at the age of 14.
  • Celestine Cahill, who died at the of 8.
The witnesses to all three burials were the same two men: Thomas Campel [Campbell?] and Napoléon Nolin.

cahill_children_burials_calumet.jpg

Ile du Grand Calumet (Paroisse Ste. Anne, Co. Pontiac, PQ), Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1860-1871,  S. 17 (1866), James Cahill; S. 18 (1866), Anne Cahill; and S. 19 (1866), Celestine Cahill, image 104 of 216, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca/: accessed 20 July 2011), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection),  1621-967.

Based on baptismal and census records, I believe that James and Anne were the children of George Cahill and Mary Moran; and strongly suspect that Celestine was the daughter of James Cahill and Isabella Moorhead.
There is no mention in the above records of the cause(s) of death for these three Cahill children. As I’ve probably noted before, the Catholic burial records generally do not mention a cause of death unless it was something especially violent, dramatic, or unusual (e.g., death by drowning, or by fire). And in 1866, childhood death by illness was by no means an unusual occurrence. Which is not to say that people just took it in stride, without feeling the loss too deeply (which I’ve seen suggested in a few places, and which strikes me as quite wrong). These children were no doubt deeply mourned by their parents, siblings, and other relations; and 3 November 1866 must have been an awful, awful day for the Cahills of Calumet Island.

Blended Families

When I first read the Perth Courier’s obituary (January 1941) for my great-grandmother Catherine McCarthy (Mrs. Arthur McGlade), I was puzzled to read that she was survived by, amongst other people, a sister named Miss Mary Mahoney. Miss (as in, never married) Mahoney? But shouldn’t that be Miss Mary McCarthy?

Well, no, not necessarily. Not if Miss Mary Mahoney was a half-sister of Catherine McCarthy, with a father named Mahoney who had previously been married to Catherine McCarthy’s mother Anne McDonald (or possibly McDonnell). Simplest explanation in the world, and of course it should have immediately occurred to me. But I was so focused on the surnames McCarthy and McGlade, that it actually took a bit of digging to make sense of it all.
The “blended family” is nothing new, of course. Back in the day when a woman dying in childbirth was no rare or unusual occurrence, and when a man in the prime of life, and seemingly hale and hearty the last time his neighbours ever saw him alive, might be carried off by influenza within the course of week, remarriage was quite common, and households containing children from a previous marriage were therefore quite commonplace. If you were a widow or a widower with a parcel of young children to be fed and watered, your best bet was probably to find yourself a new spouse: a new husband to bring home the bread, or a new wife to bake it. And the possibility of a remarriage is something to keep in mind when you’re looking through the 19th-century census returns: don’t assume that all of the children in a household are the children of the enumerated married couple of that household.
When Eugene McCarthy married Ann McDonald (21 March 1872), he was the widower of Catherine Trainor, with whom he had five known children (with one of them, Charles, presumably dying in infancy). And when Ann McDonald married Eugene McCarthy (21 March 1872), she was the widow of David Mahoney, with whom she had three known children, all of them daughters. Here is their blended family household from the 1881 Canadian census (transcription by ancestry.ca, with original image [LAC] here):
mccarthy_eugene_household_1881census.jpg
The above household contained children from three separate marriages:
1. Eugene McCarthy and Catherine Trainor (Jeremiah, James, Mary, and John McCarthy);
2. David Mahoney and Ann McDonald (Mary J., Abigail, and Annie Mahoney);
3. Eugene MCarthy and Ann McDonald (Ellen and Catherine McCarthy)
Abigail (Catherine Abigail, nickname “Abby”) Mahoney is mentioned in Catherine McCarthy’s (Mrs. Arthur McGlade’s) obituary as “Mrs B. Dignan,”  which again, was initially a bit mystifying to me. She married Bartholomew, son of James Dignan and Catherine Cahill, whose nickname in combination with his surname (“Bartley Dignan”) is perhaps my favourite name ever to be found in my family tree, though with the duo of Mickey and Maisie Moran running a close second (when John Levi [Leavy] “Mickey” Moran married Mary Katherine “Maisie” Dunn, to become Mickey and Maisie Moran, that couple should have put on a Broadway show or something, their paired names had such a lovely alliteration).

In Remembrance: James Michael McGlade (1905-1944)

James Michael McGlade was born at Perth, Co. Lanark, Ontario on 17 September 1905, the son of Patrick McGlade and Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Cahill. He died in the Second World War, at the age of 39.

One of my mother’s older sisters remembers cousin Michael (James Michael) coming over to their house to say good-bye before heading out overseas.

James Michael McGlade was a Corporal in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, R.C.I.C. (Royal Canadian Infantry Corps). He died in action in Belgium on 3 October 1944, and is buried at the Schoonselfhof Cemetery in Antwerp, Belgium. There is also a grave marker at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cemetery in Perth, Ontario, Canada. He is commemorated on page 386 of Veterans Affairs Canada’s Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Brennan-Connelly Query

On 12 February 1870 (Ste. Anne, Calumet Island/l’Île du Grand Calumet, Pontiac Co., Québec) Thomas Brennan, son of Patrick Brennan and Matilda Shirley, married Susanna Connelly, daughter of John Connelly and Ellen Cahill. This couple then seems to disappear from the Canadian records. Did they emigrate to Leadville, Colorado?

The 1880 US federal census for Leadville, Lake, Colorado has a T.W. Brennan (age 37, born Canada), with wife Susan (age 33, born Canada), and children Shirley [male], Delacey, Mary, D. [?] and Margaret. The names Shirley and Delacey (here given as first names) are surnames found in the family trees of Thomas Brennan and Susanna Connelly, respectively.

Translating French Records: Baptismal Records

If you’re looking for Roman Catholic records in the Ottawa Valley area, you’re almost certain to run into some French entries in the parish registers. But no worries, and please do not panic. Even if you don’t speak a word of French beyond “bonjour” and “merci beaucoup,” you canread and understand the relevant records.

First, realize that these records, whether written in Latin, French, English, Italian or whatever, all adhere to the same formula. The parish register was no place for authorial innovation and brilliant flashes of originality. So if you know the English-language formula (which you surely already do), then you’re already halfway there to figuring out the French. Second, learn a few key French terms and phrases which correspond to their English equivalents, and you’ve arrived at an understanding of the record (in fact, in many cases the bigger challenge will be to make out the priest’s handwriting, though you can do that too, once you understand what terms and phrases you’re looking at).
This entry deals with baptismal records, with marriage, burial and census records to follow in later entries.

Memories of the Morans

Emmett Patrick Sloan (1920-2007) was the son of John Percival Sloan and Mary Lillian Fagan, and a descendant, through his mother’s side, of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson. He was also a family historian who spent years constructing a very detailed family tree, which involved tracing any number of Morans and Leavys across North America. A few months before he died, he sent me his memories of my great-grandparents Alexander (‘Alec,’ ‘Alex’) Michael Moran (1872-1939) and Anna Maria (‘Annie’) Benton (1871-1947). He also gave me a big, thick binder of his Moran family history research notes, for which I am extremely grateful.