Tag Archive for Moran

The second home of the Scots

Because Canada really is the second home of the Scots, every Canadian province has its own official tartan, of course.

When I was not yet two years old, my father went to Halifax (Canada), and brought me home a kilt in the Nova Scotia plaid, with matching socks:

mc_novascotiatartan

I still have that Teddy bear, by the way.

Obituary for Thomas and Alexander Moran

While it may seem a glaringly obvious point, it’s a point worth keeping in mind when you discover an ancestor’s obituary.

That obituary or death notice1 that you discovered for your ancestor didn’t just write itself. Somebody had to write it; and was that somebody a staff writer for the newspaper, or a family member who paid for the announcement? And even if written by a staff writer, somebody (probably not a staff writer, unless your ancestor was famous or infamous, or at least, in the case of more local or regional papers, unless your ancestor was a highly prominent citizen of the locality) had to supply the relevant details.The thing didn’t just write itself, in other words: it had to be written by someone, based on information supplied by somebody.

A Double Obituary

Irish World, 13 February 1892, p. 5. Death and burial of Thomas and Alexander Moran.

Irish World, 13 February 1892, p. 5 (www.genealogybank.com). Death and burial of Thomas and Alexander Moran.

From the Irish World and American Industrial Liberator, 13 February 1892, here is an obituary (see image, right) for the Messrs. Thomas and Alexander Moran: a double obituary notice with details of a “double bereavement.”

And I certainly wasn’t expecting to find an obituary notice for my 2x-great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran — of Huntley Township, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada — in an Irish-American newspaper that was published in New York City. Nor was I expecting to find one for his eldest brother Thomas. But that’s the wonderful thing about online, digital newspaper repositories such as GenealogyBank and Newspapers.com: they can help you turn up little gems that you never would have discovered otherwise.

Two brothers, Thomas Moran and Alexander Michael Moran, both of Huntley Township, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada died five days apart in late January 1892, of la grippe (influenza) with pneumonia. Thomas, a lifelong bachelor farmer known as “Uncle Tom” to “a legion of nephews and nieces,”  was the eldest son of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson. His younger brother Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael was the husband of Mary Ann Leavy,2 with whom he raised a family of twelve children, one of whom, Margaret Jane, died young; six of whom married and remained in the Ottawa area; and five of whom emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

Though you won’t find any specific details of parental or spousal relations in this obituary notice from the Irish World: no, not even the names of the brothers’ parents, never mind the name of Alexander Moran’s wife, nor of his eleven surviving children. No mention, either, of Thomas and Alexander’s four surviving sisters, all of whom were alive and well and living in, or next-door-to, Carleton County at the time.3

Instead, the obituary focuses on the brothers’ standing in “the farming community of Carleton County”; on the respect paid to the men at their funerals, when the church was “appropriately draped in mourning;” and, in the case of the elder brother, on Thomas Moran’s status as an “exemplary Catholic.”

Who Wrote this Obituary?

So: who wrote this obituary?

Well, of course I do not, and cannot, know who authored this obituary. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d place my money on the Rev. Patrick Corkery, who is mentioned in the obituary as the “Father Corkery” who “performed the burial ceremony” for Thomas Moran.4

And here are the three reasons why I would guess Father Corkery (but I emphasize that this is only a guess, and perhaps a wrong one):

TO BE CONTINUED…

  1.  There’s no bright line, no hard and fast rule for distinguishing, between a death (or mortuary) notice and an obituary. In general, a death notice was very brief, perhaps only one or two lines of vital information, whereas an obituary offered at least a bit (or perhaps more than a bit) of narrative: a life story, or a biographical sketch, with some key names, dates, and details.
  2.  Daughter of John Leavy and Jane Byrne, originally of Co. Longford, Ireland.
  3.  Elizabeth Moran, wife of Peter Doyle, was in Montague township, Lanark County, Ontario; the other three sisters — Marcella Moran, wife of John Hogan; Margaret Moran, wife of Arsène Charlebois; and Henrietta Moran, a lifelong spinster — were in Carleton County. It was after the death of her brothers that Henrietta, moved to Ottawa.
  4. Thomas Moran’s funeral and burial took place on 23 January 1892, with the Rev. P. Corkery officiating. Five days later, on 28 January 1892, the Rev. P. Corkery performed the funeral rites for Alexander Michael Moran.

The Children of John Vallely and Anna Lillian Moran

John J. Vallely (1861-1935), son of Michael Vallely and Mary Ryan, was born 21 January 1861, in Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada. He emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota about 1882.

Anna Lillian (“Lila”) Moran (1861-1915), daughter of Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy, was born 17 May 1861, at Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario, Canada. She emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota about 1888 (and here she joined several Moran siblings who already emigrated to Grand Forks).

On 28 November 1889, at Grand Forks, North Dakota, John Vallely married Lila Moran.

The couple had four known children:

  • Mary Lillilan Vallely (1896-1982)
  • Margaret Irene Vallely (1898-1970)
  • Alonzo Joseph (“Jack”) Vallely (1900-1983)
  • Michael Alexander Vallely (1903-1947)

And here, with permission from the owner of the photograph, are the four Vallely-Moran children. This photograph is not a casual snapshot: it is a highly stylized studio portrait. It was probably taken about 1905:

Children of John J. Vallely and Anna Lillian ("Lila") Moran

Children of John J. Vallely and Anna Lillian (“Lila”) Moran

17 Years of Cheers, and No Green Beers

Paddy's Day brew pub sign

Paddy’s Day brew pub sign

Meant to post this on the 6 September (my Dad’s birthday), but got busy and distracted….

My dad spent the last few months of his life at an assisted living facility above a brew pub.

Yes, only Johnny Moran would agree to not go gentle into that good night above a damn brew pub. It was a pretty good pub, though: tasty chips, and the beer not half bad.

My father died on 14 March 2013.

On 17 March 2013, on a day when we were waking our Dad, a cousin and a sister of mine “borrowed” (some might say “stole,” but why quibble?) this sign, which I now have in my possession.

Here’s to you, Da; and, as always, no green beers.

 

Carleton Tavern history

Rosemary and John Moran in front of the Carleton Tavern

Rosemary and John Moran in front of the Carleton Tavern

I was very interested to read Dave Allston’s 80 years of history at the Carleton Tavern (Kitchissippi Times). The Moran family that he references is none other than my own:

The Morans immediately converted the house back into a grocery store. Thomas Moran and his family resided upstairs, while a series of shopkeepers operated the grocery store on the main floor. In 1922, the family constructed a house next door at 229 Armstrong (now the site of Holland’s Cake and Shake), into which–in 1927– the Moran’s moved their grocery store. 223 then became the location of other types of businesses, including fruit dealers and butchers. In 1930, Thomas Moran decided to open a confectionery of his own on the main floor of 223. However it was his next move which would prove to be most significant.

In 1935, after five years of operating the confectionery, 75-year-old Thomas Moran extensively renovated the house at 223 Armstrong, and opened that fall as the Carleton Hotel…

…On February 26 1941, Moran sold the Carleton Hotel to Harold Starr and Harry Viau, for the sale price of $10,500.

Thomas Moran was the brother of my great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran. It was Thomas and his wife Bridget Mary McDermott who first opened and operated the tavern (then called the Carleton Hotel). Family lore has it that they sold the tavern and its license because they didn’t think there was a future in liquor sales!

My father spent his early childhood living next door to the Carleton Tavern, at 231 Armstrong Street. He and his family lived upstairs, while his grandparents, Alexander Michael Moran and Anna (Annie) Maria Benton, ran a small grocery store downstairs. That’s my dad (just his leg) and his sister Rosemary in the above photo. My dad always told me that the man in the background was Harold Starr, who purchased the tavern in 1941.

My dad was a true Ottawa native born and bred. And he was also the product of an earlier Catholic parish-neighbourhood system, around which RC familial and communal life was once organized. He knew the city like the back of his hand; and he seemed to know, or know of, or know something about, almost every Irish Catholic family in the region, and quite a few French-Canadian Catholic families too. We (my sisters and I) had only to mention a classmate (we attended the “separate,” Roman Catholic schools), and our father would have a memory or an anecdote about his or her father or grandmother or second cousin or something. I now sincerely regret that I didn’t conduct formal oral history interviews with my father when I had the chance, he was such a rich source of Ottawa local history and folklore. But you know how it is: you keep meaning to do it, and then it’s too late. (Note to family history researchers: Do those oral interviews that you keep meaning to do. Do them NOW).

Anyway, my father used to love to take us on Sunday afternoon drives around Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley. We didn’t always know where we were headed, and neither, I’m sure, did he. “Where are we going, Dad?” we’d ask. “It’s a mystery,” he’d reply. We’d end up in Carp, or Arnprior, or maybe, for a more urban experience, in Sandy Hill. Always there were great stories, along with a treat (ice cream, perhaps, or maybe some fries from a chip wagon). I learned a lot on those Sunday drives, though of course I didn’t realize it at the time. We called them “Johnny’s Mystery Tours.”

My dad especially loved to take us to Armstrong Street and the Parkdale Market. He would point out the house where he had lived as a child, and then relay a tale of boyhood mischief that made his past seem like such a realm of unbelievable childhood danger and freedom! How I thrilled, in my safe and boring suburban middle-class enclave, to the notion of living upstairs from a grocery and next door to a tavern. This was an Ottawa that is rarely, if ever, captured by most Canadians’ idea of Ottawa as a city of dull-but-efficient bureaucrats, a starched-underwear town, the city that fun forgot.

This was an Ottawa of decidedly rougher edges, and of a good deal more local colour. A city of working-class pride, of pick-up hockey games, of Friday night fish fries, of ethnic rivalries between the Irish and the French (the Anglo Protestants apparently didn’t even enter the lists), of mothers gossiping over laundry lines, of my father learning how to curse from the dairymen down the street and then having his mouth washed out with soap. At 231 Armstrong Street.

Scrapbook page HERE.

Thomas Dooley (abt. 1810 – 1891)

A reader is looking for information on Thomas Dooley.

Thomas Dooley was born in Ireland about 1810, possibly in Co. Kilkenny. He emigrated to Canada in the early 1830s (the 1842 census of Upper Canada records that he and his first wife had been in Canada for 10 years), where he settled on a farm at Lot 15, Concession 6 in Nepean township, Carleton Co., Ontario.

Thomas Dooley was first married (about 1835? or perhaps a few years earlier?) to Catherine Quinn (born about 1816; died before 1860); and the couple had six known children, all daughters, all born in Canada.

Catherine Quinn died in the late 1850s; and the widowed Thomas Dooley then married (about 1859) Mary Coughlan/Coughlin (born about 1831; died 1885). The couple had four known children, all daughters. Their second daughter Sarah Jane Dooley married James Moran, son of Alexander Michael Moran and Mary Leavy.

Both Catherine Quinn and Mary Coughlan were born in Ireland, of counties unknown. Thomas Dooley and his second wife Mary Coughlan were certainly married in Canada. He and his first wife Catherine Quinn were probably married in Canada, although it’s possible they married in Ireland before emigrating.

The reader is trying to find the names of Thomas Dooley’s parents in Ireland (possibly Co. Kilkenny). Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Married twice (to the same spouse)

Except that, in the eyes of the Catholic Church (and, perhaps just as importantly, in the eyes of the bridegrooms’ Catholic parents), the first marriage ceremonies did not count, because the brides had not been baptized.

Yes, that’s brides and bridegrooms in the plural, because:

Two Gaffney brothers, the sons of Bernard Gaffney and Catherine Killeen, did the same thing: married a non-Catholic American woman in the United States; and then married the same woman again in Canada, in a Catholic ceremony held at Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa. In both cases, the brides were baptized as Catholics on the same day as their second marriage ceremonies. And in both cases, the godparents to these newly-converted daughters-in-law were the bridegrooms’ parents, Bernard Gaffney and Catherine Killeen.

(Another example of a mother-in-law serving as godmother to an adult convert to Catholicism: when Elizabeth Malcomson, wife of John Moran, converted to Catholicism in 1892, her mother-in-law Mary Leavy served as sponsor).

Gaffney-Palmer Marriage

Edward Arthur Gaffney married Johanna Gertrude Palmer, daughter of John Palmer and Esther Toles, about 1887, in the United States, presumably in Michigan. And on 2 August 1891, he married her again in Ottawa. But only after Johanna Gertrude Palmer had been baptized into the Catholic Church:1

gaffney palmer baptism marriage notre dame ottawa 1891

The above record does not give an exact date or place for the initial marriage: the priest records that the couple “declared that they have already contracted marriage about four years ago in the United States.”

Gaffney-Randall Marriage

James Gaffney married Mary Florence Randall, daughter of John Randall and Salome Hoyt and widow of George W. Dickson/Dixson, on 10 September 1891, in Saginaw, Michigan. And on 26 August 1892, he married her again in Ottawa. But only after Mary Florence Randall had been baptized into the Catholic Church:2

gaffney randall baptism marriage notre dame ottawa 1892

The above record does give an exact date (and place) for the initial marriage: the priest notes that the couple “declared to have contracted marriage in Saginaw Michigan on the 9th September 1891” (but the Michigian marriage records have 10th September 1891 as the date).

Note that in both cases, the couple made a declaration that they had been previously married in the United States. But in both cases, the American (and non-Catholic) marriage was “found null” because the bride had not been baptized. That is, “found null” by one or more Roman Catholic officials in Ottawa, not by any civil authority in the state of Michigan: the marriage of James Gaffney and Mary Florence Randall on 10 September 1891 in Saginaw, Michigan was perfectly legal and valid, but it was not a Catholic sacrament.

Needless to say, we’re not talking “consciously recoupling” here, or holding a recommitment ceremony (“I still do!”), or anything hip and contemporary like that. This was Ottawa in the early 1890s; and the Gaffneys were Roman Catholics. And when it came to marriage as a Catholic sacrament, there was a canon law to be obeyed. There were impediments to be overcome. There were immortal souls at stake.

And there was a pair of Irish Catholic parents — Bernard Gaffney and Catherine Killeen — who served as godparents to their Catholic convert daughters-in-law, and who also served as witnesses to the second (but first one to really count), Catholic marriages of their two sons. I can only imagine the family pressures that were brought to bear upon the two couples; and especially, I would guess, upon Edward Gaffney and Johanna Gertrude Palmer, since this couple had a son, Edward B. [Bernard?] Gaffney, born December 1890 in Michigan — born after his parents’ first marriage ceremony of 1887, but born outside the boundaries of a Catholic marriage, nevertheless. I bet Catherine Killeen couldn’t wait to sign that register, to bear witness to things having been set right, not only for her sons but also for her grandchildren.

Neither couple lived in Ottawa at the time of their second (but first to really count) marriages, by the way: both couples lived in Roscommon Co., Michigan, and were presumably just visiting the Gaffney parents in Ottawa when they found themselves at the altar for a second time.

And if I find evidence of a third Gaffney brother having done this, I think I’m going to call it a trend!

  1. Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1891-1893, image 39 of 158, B. 198, Johanna Gertrude Palmer baptism, and M. 45, Edward A. Gaffney-Johanna G. Palmer  marriage, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 9 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

  2. Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1891-1893, image 103 of 158, B. 212, Mary Florence Randall baptism, and M. 36, James Gaffney-Mary Florence Randall marriage, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 9 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Marriage of Edmund Conroy and Margo Jemmison

book cover areyoumymotherIf, as promised in December 2014, the National Library of Ireland launches a website with digitized images of its Roman Catholic parish register microfilms, this will be a game changer for Irish genealogy and family history research.1 As John Grenham puts it:

These records are – by a long way – the single most important source of historical Irish family information, one of the greatest legacies of the Catholic Church to Ireland.

The idea that someone in Ottawa or Boston (or anywhere in the world, really) will now have free, online access to a set of records (the single most important set of records for Irish genealogy, given the loss of the 19th-century census records) that, until recently, had seemed to lie hidden inside an Irish family history mysterium … well, this is a great idea, is it not?

To be sure, there will be challenges. Some of the records are in Latin, with seemingly bizarre latinized renderings of Irish forenames (Diarmuid [anglicized as Dermot] becomes Jeremiah; Sheila becomes Cecilia; and so on). Pages torn or ripped out just at the point where you think your great-great-grandmother’s marriage record might be. Cramped, spidery writing, with ink splotches all over the page. These records will not present themselves to Irish family history researchers as something warm and friendly, easy-going and easy to use.

They will not be “user-friendly,” I suspect (they will not be indexed by name, for example).

And yet. And yet. Make no mistake: this is a game changer. For anyone who cares to slog through page after page of sometimes poorly-photographed images of sometimes indecipherable handwriting, this is it: this is the key that unlocks the door to the Irish family history mysterium.

And the records will no doubt be crowd-sourced: before too long after their release (not overnight, but sooner than you might expect), we will see local genealogy societies coming out with indexes; we will see random people on the Internet offering their own transcriptions of the records for this parish or that. (And caveat emptor, needless to say.)

Transcriptions are Good, but …

… they’re not as good as the originals.

The thing is, I just don’t entirely trust somebody else’s transcription of an original record. I want to see the original (or a photograph of the original) for myself, and make my own interpretation, and draw my own conclusions. And just as importantly, I want to view the record in context, which means I want see the surrounding records. I want access to la vraie chose, in other words.

Do I sound too demanding (I want this, and I’d also like that)? I guess online access to the digitized Drouin records (Catholic parish registers for the province of Québec and for parts of the province of Ontario) has spoiled me, has raised my expectations for online access to (photographs of) the original records. By the way, the Drouin records are available at FamilySearch, and also at Ancestry.ca.

I used to complain about RootsIreland.ie (Irish Family History Foundation) because their former pay-per-view system was simply too expensive. In fact, there was a period a few years ago when I actually banned myself from visiting their site, because the temptation to spend more money on more views was too overwhelming. I mean, it was a bit ridiculous: how much money are you willing to spend in pursuit of a Patrick Ryan, a man with one of the ten most common surnames in Ireland, and with one of the most common male forenames too? Well, too much money, in my case, whenever I visited that site. And so I banned myself.

I no longer complain about RootsIreland, now that they have 1). replaced the pay-per-view system with a subscription service; and 2). added RC parish records from the Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly (and hello, Patrick Ryan: no, not those other Patrick Ryans, but the Patrick Ryan that I was actually looking for). I now find RootsIreland to be an incredibly useful site.

So this isn’t a complaint, exactly. It’s just that what you get at Rootsireland are somebody else’s transcriptions, and transcriptions are not as good as the originals.

Are You my 3x-Great-Grandmother?

conroy edmond jameson marg 1may1815 mountmellick queensAs I’ve mentioned before, the family lore surrounding my 3x-great-grandparents James Moran and Margaret Jamieson strikes me as so romantic, so improbable, that I often refer to the story of their elopement to Canada as “the Ballad of James and Margaret.”

And it’s a great story: a young lady of quality (of “the Quality,” as they called it at the time) falls in love with the coachman, a handsome young rogue of a fellow, who is working for her family. And because her family would never agree to the match, the two star-crossed young lovers determine to elope to Upper Canada.

Well, of course I am sceptical. As I have also already mentioned before, if you grew up as the descendant of Irish emigrants, you will no doubt have grown up hearing all sorts of stories about how we were once the Kings and Queens of Ireland. And then you look into the records, and discover that we were once the agrarian underclass of County Tipperary!

But for all my scepticism, I have never been inclined to dismiss outright the oral family history claim that, before she married James Moran, the young Margaret Jamieson had married a man by the name of Conroy, in the Queen’s County (Co. Laois).

Which is why the record above (a transcription of an actual record) is of interest to me. The county fits; the date fits; and the names (more or less) also fit (“Margo”? I’d like to know how many “Margos” were running about Queen’s County ca. 1815: I suspect not too many, though there must have been a lot of “Margarets”).

Is this Margo Jemisson my Margaret Jamieson? Well, she might be, but then again, she might not be, I just don’t know. The only way to possibly crack this nut is to dig deep into the parish registers, and to view all relevant surrounding records in context.

Which is why I am so looking forward to the NLI’s release of the digitized images of its Roman Catholic parish registers. I want the key that unlocks the door to the Irish family history mysterium.

  1.  And I shouldn’t say if, I should say when (the NLI’s Parish Registers Digitisation Project is currently scheduled to launch “by summer 2015”): it’s just that this project is so monumentally awesome that I still can’t quite believe they will pull it off.

“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 Falvey of the parish of Kilcastle [Kilcaskan?], 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.

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).