Tag Archive for Fagan

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.

Where did my great-grandparents meet?

Here is my great-grandmother Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton in the Ottawa city directory of 1895-6:1

Annie Benton

Miss Annie Benton, dressmaker, lodger at 103 Cambridge St.

  1. The Ottawa city Directory, 1895-6: embracing an alphabetical list of all business firms and private citizens, a classified business directory and a miscellaneous directory, containing a large amount of valuable information : also a complete street guide, to which is added an alphabetical and street directory of Hull, Que., . (Might Directory Co. of Toronto: 1895), online at archive.org

‘Ottawa Flier Missing’ (Donald Michael Sloan)

Ottawa Citizen, 26 January 1945

Last Remembrance Day I posted a brief remembrance of Emmett Patrick Sloan and Donald Michael Sloan. I’ve since come across a couple of brief but interesting newspaper notices relating to the two brothers. These I discovered through a search of the Google news archive (which is no longer easy to use and now seems like a bit of a hit-and-miss affair: see The Death of Google News Archivefor more information).

As per the article “Ottawa Flier Missing” (26 January 1945), his parents (John Percival Sloan and Mary Lillian Fagan) were informed by the RCAF casualty office (in late January 1945? or perhaps a bit earlier?) that Donald Michael Sloan was missing in action. No doubt they initially feared he was dead. In fact, he had been taken prisoner by the Germans. After spending time in a POW camp, he ended up in a military hospital in England, where his brother Emmett Patrick Sloan found him shortly after the war.

At findmypast.co.uk, there is this brief but tantalizing transcription:

Donald Michael Sloan survived the war, and returned to Ottawa with his brother. In 1947 he married Constance Ethel Renton, with whom he raised a family of five children.

Emmett and Donny: A Remembrance

Emmett and his brother Donny served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Donny’s plane was shot down; and he spent time as a POW in a camp in Germany.

[When my dad was a kid, he heard tales of cousin Donny having been forced to eat “black bread,” presumably pumpernickel or something like that, which my grandparents, in all innocence, took as the highest refinement of military torture.]

When the war was over, Emmett went from hospital to hospital in the UK, looking for his brother. He finally found Donny in a military hospital on the outskirts of London, and stayed with him until he was ready to travel (but from some of his war injuries, including a broken bone that did not heal properly, he never quite recovered).

When Donny was deemed fit to return home, the two brothers took the train up to Edinburgh for the weekend to celebrate, and then shipped out to Canada.

(As told to me by Emmett Patrick Sloan, Ottawa, January 2007).

 

“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.

Children of Sandy Moran and Mary Leavy

Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran (1830-1892) and Mary Leavy (1832-1907) had the following children:

  • John (1854-1921)
  • Margaret Jane (1856-1873)
  • James (1858-1899)
  • Mary Ernestine (“Tina”) (1859-1943)
  • Thomas Edwin (1860-1942)
  • Julia Amanda (1864-1941)
  • Ellen Elizabeth (“Nellie”) (1866-1947)
  • Mary Eugenie Gertrude (“Minnie”) (1868-1953)
  • Anne [or Anastasia?] (“Annie”) (1871-?)
  • Alexander Michael (“Alec”) (1872-1939)
  • Mary Emelia [sometimes Emma] (“Em”) (1874-1963)
I wish I had a better copy of this photo, it’s a scan of a photocopy. I don’t know when exactly it was taken, but at some point in the 1890s (and before the death of James in 1899).


Back row: Annie [Moran] Sullivan; Thomas Edwin Moran; Sarah Jane Dooley?; Mary Eugenie Gertrude (“Minnie”) [Moran] Fagan. Centre Row: Unidentified; James Moran; Unidentified. Front Row: Alexander (“Alec”) Michael Moran; Mary Emelia (“Em”) [Moran] Delaney.