Tag Archive for Vallely

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

Death of George Vallely

When and where did George Vallely die?

Sometimes the records just don’t add up. Oh, I don’t mean numerically or arithmetically: genealogical research is not double-entry bookkeeping, after all. What I mean is that sometimes the information found in one record will directly contradict the information that is found in another record.

A case in point:

One Household: 2 Adults, 10 Children …

… and those 10 children the offspring of 3 separate (but related!) marital pairs.

I’ve written about this before (see, for example, “Blended Families”): the blended family is nothing new. When a widower married a widow, and one or both parties to the marriage had children from a previous marriage, the resulting new household might contain a complex combination of children from two or three marital pairs. That complexity was not necessarily registered in the census returns.

In some (many?) cases, the widow’s children from her previous marriage will be listed in the census under the surname of her new husband (the children’s stepfather), even though legally, and often practically as well, those children carried the surname of their biological father.

Moreover, since a widower’s children from a first marriage carried the same surname as his children from a subsequent marriage, the census listing will generally not (as in, almost never) distinguish between the children produced by a first marriage and the children produced by a subsequent conjugal relationship.

Here, for example (and I am taking my census geekitude to a new level with a colour-coded representation), is the household of George Vallely and his second wife Mary Moyle in the 1861 Census of Canada:

vallely_george 1861 census

Geo Vallillee [George Vallely] household, 1861 Census of Canada East (Quebec), Pontiac County, Bristol, p. 56, lines 10-21.

The first four children (the “greens”) are the children of George Vallely and his first wife wife Anne O’Hanlon. The next four children (the “blues”) are the children of George Vallely’s second wife Mary Moyle and her first husband John Bean. But note that they are listed here with the surname Vallillee (Vallely), even though their surname was Bean. And to further complicate matters (well, whoever said genealogy was supposed to be easy peasy and trouble-free?), the surname Bean was sometimes later rendered as McBane  The final two children in this census listing (the “yellows”) are the offspring of the widower George Vallely and the widow Mary Moyle.

So the “greens” were the half-siblings of the “yellows” (they had the same father: George Vallely). And the “blues” were the half-siblings of the “yellows” (they had the same mother: Mary Moyle). But the “greens” and the “blues” were not blood relations at all: they were related only by marriage.

Well, “only by marriage.” The above-listed children of the the three marriages (George Valley to Anne O’Hanlon; John Bean to Mary Moyle; Mary Moyle to George Vallely) were all Roman Catholics, and according to Catholic canon law, they were all related by affinity. It was forbidden for Edward Vallely (son of George Vallely and Anne O’Hanlon), say, to marry Jane Bean (daughter of John Bean and Mary Moyle), say, even though they had no blood relation at all, because one of Edward Vallely’s parents (his father, George Vallely) had married one of Jane Bean’s parents (her mother, Mary Moyle).

In sum: I think it’s fair to assume that the Canadian census returns will not adequately capture the nuances of Roman Catholic canon law. Also: don’t assume that every child given the same surname in a census return is the offspring of the same marriage.

1842 Census of Canada East (Quebec)

The 1842 Census of Canada East (Quebec) is available at ancestry.ca (subscription-only), but also at FamilySearch (free of charge). At FamilySearch, the database is titled Canada, Lower Canada Census, 1842. At both sites (and it appears that FamilySearch is the source of ancestry’s census database), the census is searchable by name, and the search engine seems fairly powerful — capable of handling variant surname spellings, that is.

John Vallely (1861-1935)

John Vallely was a son of Michael Vallely and Mary Ryan. He was born in Lanark Co., Ontario in 1861, and emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota about 1882. In 1889 he married another Canadian emigrant to North Dakota: Anna Lillian (“Lila”) Moran (1861-1915), daughter of Alexander Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy.

This photograph comes from Clement A. Lounsberry’s North Dakota History and People: Outlines of American History, vol. 3 (Chicago: The S.J. Clark Pub. Co., 1917), which I discovered through a google search.

John Vallely (1861-1935)

John Vallely (1861-1935)

Local, regional, and state histories will often provide useful biographical information about prominent (male) citizens, and will occasionally even supply a photograph. The biographical coverage of such histories is typically skewed toward businessmen, politicians, and other local worthies, and is therefore extremely unrepresentative of the area’s population as a whole (no labourers; no humble farmers; and almost no women).

Surname Confusion: Lavallee, Lavelle, Vallely

Returning to the French-Irish theme (see Strange Surname Spellings: Hohanlan for O’Hanlon) with respect to surname spellings, here are three surnames which sound somewhat similar, and which are often misspelled in the 19th-century records in ways that make them look even more alike:

  • LAVALLEE is a French, and French-Canadian, surname. And just to complicate matters, it is sometimes (but not always!) a “dit” name: Paquet dit Lavallee, for example.1
  • LAVELLE is an Irish surname. According to Irish Ancestors, in mid-19th century Ireland, it was most numerous in Co. Mayo, but was also found in Co. Sligo, as well as in such Ulster counties as Armagh and Fermanagh.
  • VALLELY is an Irish surname. More specifically, it is an Ulster surname, predominantly found in Co. Armagh, but also found in the nearby counties of Tyrone, Monaghan, Antrim, Down, and Fermanagh.

In nineteenth-century Canadian records, Lavallee (French) and Lavelle (Irish) are of course easily confused, and I have seen many instances of such confusion.

For Vallely, I have seen numerous spellings, including Vallilee, Valaly, Valely,  Vallile, and Valley. At a certain point, the spelling for Vallely starts to bleed into something that approximates Lavelle (Irish), or perhaps Lavallee (French).

And then, not only is the Irish Vallely sometimes written out in the records as Valley, but the French Lavallee is sometimes rendered in the English records as Valley, too. Which makes sense, actually, given that la vallée means the valley.

If you have a “Valley” ancestor, and you’re not sure whether he or she was French or Irish, your best first step is probably to consult the 1851 census, and look for Birthplace. Born in Ireland? You can eliminate Lavallee from consideration, but be aware that both Lavelle and Vallely are still in the running. Born in Lower Canada (or LC), later Quebec? Lavallee is now the strongest possible contender, though of course it’s still possible you’re looking at a Canadian-born ancestor of Irish (Lavelle or Vallely) origin.

  1. On French “dit” names, see French “dit” names and Understanding Dit names.

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.

Lizzie Dickens (Dickinson?): Home Child

Found in the household of James Quinn and his wife Mary Ann Vallely in the 1891 census of Lanark (Lanark North, Ontario, p. 33, family no. 140):

Dickens, Lizzie, female, age 14, Orphan, Country of Birth Eng [England]

James Quinn household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark North, Lanark, p. 33, lines 1-9.

Note the proximity of household 140 (above) of Lanark (Lanark North, Ontario) to household 144 (household of Michael Vallely) of Lanark (Lanark North, Ontario); and also note the family connection: Mary A. [Ann] Quinn of 140 was the daughter of Michael Vallely of 144. And in 1891, both households had an “Orphan” born in England (a Home Child, in other words), each with a very similar surname: William Dickison in the household of Michael Vallely, and Lizzie Dickens in the household of James Quinn and Mary Ann Vallely.

There was an Elizabeth Dickinson, listed as age 11 in 1887, who travelled under the auspices of the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society, arriving at Quebec on 5 September 1887, with Hotel Dieu, Kingston, Ontario as the final destination for a party of 96 children under the charge of Mrs. Margaret Lacy. Was Elizabeth Dickinson a younger sibling of the William Dickinson who came to Canada on the same voyage, and as a member of the same party?

And was the Elizabeth Dickinson who travelled with the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society in August 1887 the same “Lizzie Dickens” who is found in household 140 (household of James Quinn and Mary Ann Vallely) of the 1891 Lanark (Lanark Co., Ontario) census?


William Dickison (Dickinson?): Home Child

Found in the household of the widowed Michael Vallely in the 1891 census of Lanark (Ontario, Lanark North, p. 34, family no. 144):

Dickison, Wm [William], male, age 16, Orphan, Country of Birth Eng [England]

Michael Valley [Vallely] household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark North, Lanark, p. 34, lines 4-7.

William Dickison’s religion is listed here as R.C. (Roman Catholic) — a potentially significant clue as to his parentage and origins, or, perhaps, a mistaken assumption on the part of the census enumerator. As I’ve noted before, the recorded religious affiliation of a Home Child must be interpreted with caution:  sometimes the census enumerator assigned the religion of the household head to an “orphaned” or “adopted” child who had been baptized/raised in another denomination.

That said, there was a William Dickinson, listed as age 12 in 1887, who travelled under the auspices of the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society, arriving at Quebec on 5 September 1887, with Hotel Dieu, Kingston, Ontario as the final destination for a party of 96 children under the charge of Mrs. Margaret Lacy.

In the 1901 census of Drummond township (Ontario, Lanark South, p. 8.) William Dickinson is the head and sole member of household no. 77.  His date of birth is recorded as 7 April 1875, with country of birth listed as England and year of immigration as 1887. His “Racial or Tribal Origin” is English, and his religion is R. Cath (Roman Catholic). Occupation: Laborer.

Quebec land grants information online

In addition to Library and Archives Canada’s Lower Canada Land Petitions (1764-1841), archive.org has the List of lands granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec, from 1763 to 31st December 1890 [Liste des terrains concédés par la Couronne dans la province de Québec, de 1763 au 31 décembre 1890] (Quebec: Charles-François Langlois, Printer to the Queen, 1891) available online in several formats (including Full Text,  PDF, and DjVu).

This online, digitized version of a microfilm is admittedly a bit cumbersome to read (there are 1927 [one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven] pages, after all!, and some of the text is quite faint/faded), but definitely worth the effort if you’re looking for ancestors who settled in Lower Canada/Quebec.