Tag Archive for Moran

Strange Surname Spellings: Hohanlan for O’Hanlon

As I’ve mentioned before (e.g., in Spelling Doesn’t Count! [in Genealogy]), it’s extremely unlikely that an ancestor had a strong attachment to a certain spelling of his surname, if that ancestor never had occasion to personally spell his own name.

If my ancestor James Moran, for example, was not literate (and I’m pretty sure he was not), then he didn’t  always spell his name Moran (rather than Moren, Morin,  Murran, Murrin, or some other variation that I’ve yet to come across), because, well, he didn’t spell his name at all.  His name was written and recorded by the parish priest; by the county clerk; by the census enumerator … and he would have been in no position to correct the spelling of the recorder, of course, if he could neither read nor write. That’s what it meant to be illiterate.

So surname spelling variations are par for the course in genealogy (for a number of reasons, and not just because of the illiteracy of those named in various records), and the sooner we let go of the notion of a “proper” spelling (which can be surprisingly difficult to do, admittedly), the sooner we arrive at a properly historical understanding of the production of the records on which we rely.1

But while surname spelling variations are only to be expected, are, indeed, the historical norm for pre-20th-century populations, the particular, not to say the peculiar, French-Irish character of the Catholic records of the Ottawa Valley could produce some especially noteworthy oddities in surname spelling.

  1. Most of the records upon which we rely for genealogical information were not produced with future genealogists in mind. A family tree or a series of family events recorded in a family bible can certainly be said to have been written with future family historians in mind. An inscription on a headstone is also oriented toward future generations of the deceased’s family. But a census record? a civil marriage record? a sacramental record (e.g., a church record of a baptism, a Confirmation, a marriage, or a burial)? a register of a deed? a ship’s passenger list? Most “genealogical records” were not originally produced to serve as genealogical records at all. It is we, the genealogists, who now use the records as such, retroactively, and after the fact, so to speak. To approach these records historically means asking a series of “W” questions: Who wrote or produced this record? When was it written? Where was it written? Why was it written (to what purpose, or for what end)? Who was its originally intended audience? What assumptions and presuppositions are embedded in the document? and so on and so forth.

Red are brick, blue are stone: Goad’s Insurance Plan of Ottawa

Goad’s Insurance Plan of Ottawa, Sheet No. 421

My paternal grandmother Mary Catherine Lahey was probably born at 308 Gloucester Street in Ottawa. Or, if she was not actually born at 308 Gloucester, certainly she lived at this address from her infancy into the second decade of her life.

Inset from Sheet 42, Goad’s Insurance Plan of Ottawa

And as Goad’s Insurance Plan of the City of Ottawa makes clear (click thumbnail preview, left, to see larger image), she grew up almost in the backyard of St. Patrick’s (then a church, now a basilica), at the corner of Kent and Nepean Streets.

Now, in this particular instance, I didn’t need a map to tell me that my grandmother had lived near St. Pat’s: having grown up in Ottawa, and having attended Mass at St. Patrick’s many times as a kid,2 I already knew that Gloucester between Kent and Lyon was very close to the corner of Kent and Nepean. But the fire insurance map provides a striking visual representation of the proximity of her wooden frame house at 308 Gloucester to the stone church at 281 Nepean.

  1. Insurance plan of the city of Ottawa, Canada, and adjoining suburbs and lumber districts, January 1888, revised January 1901 (Chas. E. Goad: Toronto; Montreal: 1901).
  2. St. Patrick’s was not our parish, but my father liked to take us there from time to time when we were kids.

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

The Glenayr Kitten Mill (A Reminiscence)

(The year before I was married, which was thirteen years ago, I lived in Scotland.)

One day, about fourteen years ago now, while perusing the wares at a knitwear outlet in Edinburgh, I felt a curious and unexpected wave of nostalgia. This place in Edinburgh, Scotland was so strikingly similar to a place my mother used to take us to in Ontario, Canada (now, what was the name of that place that Mum used to take us to? … it was in Lanark, and there was something Scottish about it … and something to do with a kitten … ), so uncannily reminiscent of the Glenayr Kitten Mill of my childhood. The piles of jumpers (but we called them ‘sweaters,’ of course) all laid out on wooden tables; the firm but friendly salesladies; the general air of solid but unpretentious quality … all of a sudden, I was back in Lanark (Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada, that is).

I have to admit, I bought a cardigan that day, just on the strength of that memory.

The Glenayr Kitten Mill outlet in Lanark (Lanark Co., Ontario, that is) was the kind of place that we (my sisters and I, that is, though certainly not our mother) loved to hate. So fusty and old-fashioned, and please, mum, don’t make us wear those sweaters! that’s not what the popular girls are wearing, and the mothers of the popular girls only shop at the Bay. But our pleas fell on deaf ears: our mother has always known a bargain when and where she finds it, and bargains are what she found at the Glenayr Kitten Mill.

As I now recall it, the Kitten Mill had an impressively no-nonsense integrity: no frills; no fuss; just good, sturdy value at a fair price. But it wasn’t until years later, while looking at jumpers at a knitwear outlet in Edinburgh, that I began to appreciate the Kitten Mill for what it had been: a little piece of the Scotland-to-Canada knitwear tradition that had already, alas, all but died out when our mother took us to the Glenayr for new sweaters.

(And it wasn’t until I lived in Scotland for a year that I began to truly appreciate the fundamentally Scottish character of so much of “English” Canada, or of “English” Ontario, at any rate. I recall going to the Waterstone’s on Princes St. in Edinburgh to look for an Alice Munro book [which I found, btw] because there was this story that I just had to reread: I had heard something earlier that day that had so uncannily reminded me of this Munro story, and something had finally just clicked about Scotland and Canada…).

A couple of photos of the Glenayr Kitten Mill, now sadly abandoned, at John’s Ghost Town.

French, Irish, French, French, Irish … “Racial or Tribal Origin” in the 1901 Canadian Census

Here is the household of Francis (“Frank”) Charlebois in the 1901 Canadian census for Torbolton Township (Carleton Co., Ontario):

Francis Charlebois household, 1901 Census of Canada, Ontario, Carleton County, Torbolton, p. 13, lines 30-34.

The members of the above household, with their “Racial or Tribal Origin” (as recorded under column 14), are as follows:

3. Name4. Sex5. Colour6. Relationship to Head of Family or Household7. Single, Married, Widowed or Divorced 8. Month and Date of Birth9. Year of Birth10. Age at Last Birthday11. Country or Place of Birth14. Racial or Tribal Origin
Charlebois, FrancisM [Male]W [White]HeadM [Married]Mar 9186239Ont r [Ontario rural]French
Charlebois, Mary Af [Female]WWifeMAug 15187526Ont rIrish
Charlebois, Erson AMWSonS [Single]Feb 1718974Ont rFrench
Charlebois, John BMWSonSNov 2019004/12 [4 months]Ont rFrench
Charlebois, MargretfWMotherW [Widowed]May 7183368Ont rIrish

Btw, all of the above are listed as Canadian in Nationality (Column 15) and as R. Cath (Roman Catholic) in Religion (Column 16).

Note that while the three males here are all listed as French, and the two females as Irish, the difference is not a simple function of gender (though it is gender-based: more on this below). If Francis Charlebois and his wife Mary Ann Kennedy had had a daughter in 1901 (and they later had at least three daughters: Mary Rita; Mary Elizabeth Josephine; and Sarah Monica), that daughter would have been listed in the 1901 census not as Irish but as French.

Upper Canada Land Petitions Online

I can’t believe these documents are now online (and have been online for a couple of months, apparently — John Reid posted about this on 14 January 2012). Not just the index to the petitions (which index was put online around September 2010, I believe), but now the digitized images of the petitions themselves. 327 microfilms (over 82,000 entries, and thousands upon thousands of pages of text), now readily available to anyone with an internet connection.

Two of my direct ancestors (both 3x-great-grandfathers) can be found on the same page, three lines from the top and five lines from the top, respectively (click image below to see larger version):

  1. Denis Killeen, Irish Emt [Emigrant], Township of March, Concession 3rd, S.E. [Southeast] 1/2 of Lot 11, 100 acres.
  2. James Morin [Moran], Irish Emt [Emigrant], Township of Huntley, Concession 1st, N.W. [Northwest] 1/2 of Lot 11, 100 acres.

Upper Canada Land Petitions, Perth Military Settlement (RG 1, L 3, Vol. 421), Microfilm C-2739, Petition 70, p. 70h.

Actually, perhaps my above “readily available” was a tad hyperbolic.

Irish (also English and Scottish) Origins, Canadian Sources: William Pigott’s enumeration of Fitzroy township (1851)

Here are my Moran ancestors in the 1851 census of Huntley township, Carleton County, Ontario (Canada West):

James Morin household, 1851 census of Canada West (Ontario), Carleton County, Huntley, p. 85, lines 44-50.

James Moran (here Morin), Farmer, born Ireland, religion R. [Roman] Catholic, age 54 at next birthday; with wife Margaret [Jamieson], also born Ireland; and children Thos [Thomas], James,1 Mary, Margaret and Alexander (my 2x great-grandfather, who married Mary Ann Leavy), all born Upper Canada.

Place of birth “Ireland” (no Irish county specified) for Irish emigrants to Canada is pretty much the standard for the 1851 (and 1861, 1871, and so on) Canadian census enumeration.

  1. James Moran, son of James and Margaret Jamieson, had recently died, at the age of 27. His death is listed under column 30 (Deaths during year 1851), with cause of death recorded as “collara” (cholera).

John and Rosemary, in old Ottawa

My dad with his sister Rosemary (right) and a Lahey cousin (left), in some part of old Ottawa (Sandy Hill? the Glebe? Ottawa South?).

Early-to-mid 1950s here, and my dad and his sister in their late teens to early twenties. The three people in this photo probably now look a bit older than they actually were, owing to the tailoring of their (not formal, not dress-up) clothing. No sweatsuits, no leisure suits, no blue jeans or dungarees here, but these folks weren’t on their way to the ballroom, either: I believe this is what was once meant by “sports clothes” (no, not yet polyester slacks for men who hit the golf courses in Tampa, Florida) or “sporty casual.” Great shoes, in any case.