Saturday, 22 April 2017

On Holidays…

In case you wondered at my recent absence from the blogosphere, for the past couple of weeks, instead of hunting dead people and telling their stories, I’ve been away on holidays. And not in a part of the world where my ancestors likely visited much either, but in Jordan, a spectacular Arab kingdom in Western Asia. 

That’s not to say none of my progenitors ever visited the region. Chances are some did. Remember Isha, my ‘clan mother’ – well, 21,000 years ago, give or take, research suggests she probably lived in the Near East. So, perhaps I did walk in the footsteps of my (distant) forefathers. 

Here’s a taste of where I’ve been:

Discovering the lost city of Petra (Jordan)

Horse-riding through the Wadi Rum desert, for six days

Sight-seeing in Amman and floating in the Dead Sea

What an amazing trip! 

And, next week, hopefully, I’ll be back on the trail of my ancestors…

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A new approach to our DNA results

This is the beginning of a new approach to my genetic genealogy research.  The aim is to trace forward the lives of known ancestral relatives, who emigrated to America and Australia during the nineteenth century. Presumably, it’s their descendants who account for most of our ‘third cousin’ DNA matches at Family Tree DNA. So, if I can figure out the names of their children and grandchildren, I may be better able to recognise them among the list of matches, or so the theory goes. 

DNA Diary, Black Raven Genelaogy

Starting with my paternal lineage and the children of my third great-grandparents, Andrew Byrne and Anne Clynch - their youngest son Andrew was born in Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, in March 1855. He grew up to become a carpenter and married Anne Cunningham in Kingstown, Co. Dublin, on 21 July 1884. Their daughter Anne Mary Byrne was born in Townsend Street, in Dublin city, on 26 September 1886, before the whole family promptly vanished from the Irish record.[1]

It wasn’t long before I picked up their trail in Chicago, Illinois. A global search on the FamilySearch web-site revealed their son, John Patrick Burns, was born in that city, just a few years later, on 8 March 1889. The name change didn’t concern me much, as several of my proven Byrne relatives, on both sides of the family tree, morphed into ‘Burns’ following a brief spell in the U.S. But, my Irish relatives typically moved to New York, and it’s not clear yet what brought Andrew to Chicago. 
Death of John Patrick Burns, 1943, Chicago
Death of John Patrick Burns, 1943, Chicago

Still, at the time of the U.S. Federal Census in 1900, the family were found all living together at 3402 Irving Avenue, Chicago. There was Andrew Burns, a house carpenter by trade, along with his wife Annie, their daughter Annie, born in Ireland in September 1886, and their son John, born in Illinois in March 1889. It certainly looks like my great-great-granduncle’s family.

Andrew Burns family, 1900 Census, Chicago
Burns family, 1900 Census, Chicago

Sadly, however, Andrew Byrnes died shortly after the census was taken. He was said to have been forty-three years old when he passed away on 19 December 1900. He was really forty-five, though the cause of his untimely death is not apparent.

Death of Andrew Byrnes, 1900, Chicago
Death of Andrew Byrnes, 1900, Chicago

It's easy to conclude this death relates to the same Andrew Burns found in the census. On 22 December 1900, the Chicago Tribune published details of burial permits issued the previous day, and they included one for Andrew Byrnes of 3400 Irving Avenue, who died on 19 December, aged forty-three years.[2] And, on 21 January 1901, Annie Byrnes was appointed the administrator of his estate, which was valued at not more than $1,950.[3]

Annie survived her husband by more than twenty years. She died on 25 September 1922. She was buried in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Chicago, same as her husband.[4] I searched for Andrew's and Annie's obituaries in the Chicago Tribune, to see if they would shed a light on what brought them to Chicago, but there was nothing doing.

My resolve to trace forward Andrew’s children fell short at the first hurdle too - I found no further mention of his daughter Annie, after the census record in 1900. She may have died, unmarried, or her descendants may continue to form part of our numerous unknown cousin matches.

The search for her brother, John Patrick Burns, was more successful.  He married twice. His first wife was Katie Bauer, who he married in 1913, and after Katie died, he married Sigrid Wisten. John died on 10 October 1943, and according to a notice of his death, he left three surviving daughters. One may still be living, so suffice to say two of his daughters married – their husbands' surnames being Lee and Naughton.[5]
Death of John P Burns, Chicago, 10 Oct. 1943.
Death of John P Burns, Chicago Daily Tribune, 11 Oct. 1943, p. 22

None of these names are jumping out at me from our list of DNA matches!

© Black Raven Genealogy  

[1] Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI.
[2] Chicago Tribune Archives.
[3] Andrew Byrnes in the Illinois, wills and probate records, 1772-1999 on
[4] Anna Burns in the Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994, database, on FamilySearch.
[5] Various records at FamilySearch

Sunday, 26 March 2017

What happened to the Leahys?

This week, I continued the search for my third-great-grandparents, Michael and Bridget Leahy, the known parents of Alicia (Leahy) Byrne and her sister Mary. I discovered a likely couple living in Dublin city, and am now attempting to trace them forward via a son Michael, born in January 1835.

As mentioned last week, Michael married Ellen Hyland in 1854. He worked as a servant, just like his father. There is no indication my third great-grandfather was a servant, but it cannot be ruled out. He was once said to have been a clerk, except two other records indicate he had ‘no trade’. So, there’s confusion surrounding his occupation, and in most other respects this Leahy family closely matches mine.

The trouble is, the very last record discovered relating to Michael and Ellen was the baptism of their son Michael, in 1865. And, even though BMD (birth, marriage, death) registration commenced in Ireland in 1864, no further mention of them was found anywhere, not in Ireland, not abroad. They seem to have just vanished, without leaving any trace!

I may have found another record of Michael Leahy, the father - my would-be third great-grandfather. But, the news is not good. He was admitted and discharged from the South Dublin Union Workhouse – twice - once in 1867 and again in 1868. Then, he too vanished without a trace.

Map of Dublin City 1863, Thom's Directory

Here’s the information gleaned from the Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers[1]:

Pauper number:
Pauper’s name and surname:
Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy
60 [born c. 1807]
60 [born c. 1807]
Religious denomination:
Electoral division / townland:
Union/123 Francis St.
Union/25 Meath St.
Date admitted:
9 Nov 1867
1 Jan 1868
Date discharged:
16 Dec 1867
19 May 1868

So, if this was my ancestor, his wife Bridget, my third great-grandmother, was already dead by November 1867.

Michael’s stay in the workhouse came not long after his son’s apparent ‘disappearance’. And came just after my relatives married their husbands - Alicia Leahy married John Byrne in January 1867 and moved to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) in south Co. Dublin. Their son Michael Byrne was born there on 2 December 1867. Mary Leahy married Christopher Radcliffe in May 1866 and moved to Malahide in north Co. Dublin. Was Michael Leahy left alone in the city, leading to his spell in the workhouse?

And what happened to him after he was released the second time? Did he move to Co. Meath, where another source dated 1873 indicates he lived (or once lived)?  No likely death record has yet been found.

This search may be better left until the General Register Office release the rest of the copy BMD registers, for free, online. Those with an inside source suggest they’ll be available ‘in a couple of months’, but I’m not holding my breath.

See previous posts: Homing in on Alicia and More Leahy Family Research.

[1] Accessed on Findmypast.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 18 March 2017

More Leahy family research

This month I was hoping to prove our family connection to the Michael and Bridget Leahy living in Dublin city in the 1830s and 1840s. They christened a daughter Alicia Lehey in the Pro-Cathedral in January 1833, before moving to St Andrew’s parish, where Michael Lahey was christened in January 1835, followed by Timothy Lahy in January 1840 and Mary Leahy in March 1842.

Alicia Leahy was my great-great-granny’s name and she had a known sister, Mary. Their parents were Michael and Bridget Leahy. Mary claimed she was born in Dublin city about 1842.[1] So, on the surface at least, this family looks like a shoo-in.

And, on the plus side, there was only one marriage of an Alicia Leahy found in the online church records for Dublin city, and that was my great-great-grandmother’s marriage to John Byrne in 1867. And, when paired with parents Michael and Bridget, the only marriage of a Mary Leahy found was that of my great-great-grandaunt to Christopher Radcliffe in 1866. Sometimes, what you don’t find is as informative as what you do, and I didn’t find another potential Leahy family in the city.

There was no sign of a subsequent marriage for Timothy christened in 1840, but a one-year-old infant with the same name, and an address in Leeson Lane in St Andrew’s parish, was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in 1841.[2] Which leaves only Michael to trace forward…

And, a Michael Leahy of 26 Cuffe Street, Dublin, married Ellen Hyland on 6 December 1854, in St Peter’s Church of Ireland. His father was also Michael Leahy. They both worked as servants.  

However, Michael claimed he was ‘of full age’ when he married Ellen, i.e. over twenty-one years old, and the Michael christened in 1835 would have been barely twenty. Still, he could have overstated his age. Minors required parental consent to marry and it might not have been forthcoming. Perhaps his parents were already dead, or maybe they objected to him marrying a Protestant.

It wasn’t uncommon in mixed marriages then for some of the children to be baptised Protestant and others Catholic, and this was the case here. I’m not sure yet quite what to make of the delayed baptism dates.

Birth date
Home Address
23 Mar 1857
27 Mar 1857
27 Cuffe St
St Nicholas, RC
27 Aug 1860
26 Sep 1862
19 Albert Pl
St Andrew, RC
Mary Bridget
1 Feb 1863
16 Feb 1863
35 Erne St
St Andrew, RC
Mary Anne
15 Mar 1862
6 Dec 1863
35 Upper Erne St
St Mark, COI
24 Nov 1865
6 Dec 1865
35 Upper Erne St
St Mark, COI

Nonetheless, their Godparents’ names suggest Michael belonged to my target Leahy family - Maria Leahy sponsored Elisha’s baptism, while Alice Leahy sponsored Mary Bridget’s. If these children were baptised later, after my Alicia and Mary had taken their husband’s surnames, they’d have been easier to claim as my family – or not.

More tellingly, perhaps, my great-great-grandmother was generally called Alicia, pronounced a-LEE-sha – not usually Alice - and not just in church records known to favour a Latinised form. Perhaps Michael and Ellen chose this name for their eldest daughter too, and the priest wrote it as Elisha. Both names sound similar. Plus, it’s doubtful the priest meant it as a Latinised form of Elizabeth, given the next child in that register was named Elizabetha. Maybe this is indicative of a familial relationship.  

Fathers’ occupations are normally recorded in civil marriage registers. But, when Mary married Christopher the information was omitted entirely. He was expressly described as having ‘no trade’ when Alicia married John. And on Mary’s marriage to Michael Power, in Co. Dublin in 1873, he was listed as a clerk. He was never described as a servant, like in Michael’s marriage. Yet, you must admit, my third great-grandfather’s occupation is uncertain. And, my Leahy family worked in domestic service – Alicia’s husband was a butler, and before her marriage, Mary was a servant.[3]

Finally, for now, Michael’s address in Cuffe Street at the time of his marriage creates another ‘coincidence’. The address given for my third-great-grandparents in 1867 was also Cuffe Street, though by 1873, they were supposedly in ‘Co. Meath’.

There are still too many question marks hanging over my Leahy family to offer a conclusion, but I do know, it’s the absence of these ‘little coincidences’ that usually signals the death-knell for my genealogy theories. So, I’ll keep on trucking…

Main source: Church records on IrishGenealogy.ieIreland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages', Findmypast.
[1] 1911 Census of Ireland, National Archives.
[2] Genealogy index, Glasnevin Trust.
[3] Copy marriage registers, General Register Office.

See previous post: Homing in on Alicia

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Leahy family research ~ Homing in on Alicia

My great-great-granny on Dad’s side was Alicia Leahy. I discovered her name only last year, when the genealogy brick wall around Michael Byrne finally crumbled. Alicia married Michael's father, John Byrne, in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin city, on 27 January 1867.  And although I’ve barely started to research the Leahy family, I know quite a bit about them already.

Alicia had a sister, Mary. Mary, coincidentally, is already well-documented in my family tree. You remember, Ma Power, the lady who not only raised Dad’s mother, but was also once married Mam’s great-great-granduncle? It turned out Ma Power, aka Mary (Leahy, Radcliffe) Power, was a blood-relation too – She was Alicia’s sister, my great-grandfather’s aunt

In addition, Alicia’s parents were consistently named as Michael and Bridget Leahy, not only at the time of her marriage to John Byrne, but also in the record of Mary’s marriage to Christopher Radcliffe in 1866, and again when Mary married Michael Power in 1873.  Plus, one record - Mary’s 1866 church marriage register - revealed Bridget’s maiden name was Lynch.

So far, I’ve only found a single estimate of when Alicia was born and that was in the register of her death. She died on 9 January 1869, supposedly aged twenty-nine years, suggesting her birth occurred in or around 1839. Elizabeth Cullen was the informant, but it is not known how well Elizabeth knew Alicia or how accurately she could estimate her age - they may have been merely sharing a house while Alicia’s husband, a servant, resided with his employer.

Mary Power, on the other hand, survived the two extant Irish census returns. In 1901, she claimed she was fifty-four years old and born in Co. Dublin (in about 1847) and in 1911, she said she was sixty-nine years old and narrowed her birthplace down to Dublin city (in about 1842).

So, that’s four people in my Leahy family we can be sure of – my third-great-grandparents, Michael and Bridget Leahy, and their two daughters, Alicia and Mary. Couple that with the indication Alicia and Mary were born in the 1830s and 1840s, perhaps in Dublin city – it makes for a good start.

Especially as there was a Leahy family living in Dublin city around that time who look particularly promising…
  1. Alicia Lehey, the daughter of Michael and Bridget Lehey, was baptised in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on 9 January 1833, sponsored by Patrick Hatigan and Honor McAllister.
  2. Michael Lahey, the son of Michael and Bridget Lahey, was baptised in St Andrew’s on 12 January 1835, sponsored by Margaret Reddy.
  3. Timothy Lahy, the son of Michael and Bridget Lahy, was baptised in St Andrew’s on 13 January 1840, sponsored by Patrick Askens and Anne Hyland.
  4. Mary Leahy, the daughter of Michael and Bridget Leahy, was baptised in St Andrew’s on 28 March 1842, sponsored by Anne Levy.
Alicia Lehey, Baptism register, Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, 9 January 1833

Was this the baptism record of my great-great-grandmother Alicia, in 1833? – It would make her six years older than estimated when she died, and eight years older than her husband. She would have been nearly thirty-five when her son Michael was born and thirty-six when baby Thomas came along.  It’s not an unreasonable proposition.

Given Bridget’s maiden name was not provided in the baptism registers, there is a chance these records relate to two (or maybe more) separate families, especially as the Pro-Cathedral and St Andrew's are on opposite sides of the River Liffey.

Still, let’s see what else I can find out.

Continued at More Leahy family research

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Mary Frances (Wynne) Stowell

This week, I’d like to introduce you to another of Granda’s first cousins - Mary Frances Wynne. A while ago, I ‘met’ a lovely lady called Gabriella online and she shared some photographs and much of Frances’ story with me.

Mary Frances was born in Dundalk, Co. Louth on 19 June 1881, the second daughter and third child of John Wynne and Margaret Ward/Armstrong.[1] She worked as a tailoress before her marriage.[2] Then, on 16 January 1908, she married Robert Stowell, a sea captain, six years her senior.[3] Robert’s family believed he could do much better for himself, than marrying a cork-cutter’s daughter, but the marriage went ahead anyway, against their wishes.

Captain Robert Stowell and family, Dundalk, 1916
Robert and Frances Stowell
with Rita and Bernadette, 1916

Robert and Frances had two children, both girls. Margaretta Mary, known as Rita, was born in 1911 and Bernadette Frances followed in 1916. Bernadette was severely mentally disabled. Frances cared for her at home.[4]

Robert’s ‘Identity and Service Certificate’ shows he captained two steamships, the SS Carlingford and the SS Margaret Lockington.  Both were cargo ships owned by the Dundalk coal importers, Samuel Lockington Ltd. In 1921, Robert became the first captain of the SS Margaret Lockington, which at the time was said to have been the fastest collier crossing the Irish Sea.
Captain Robert Stowell, Dundalk
‘RS2 Identity and Service Certificate’, Robert Stowell, c. 1919

And, although Robert served on a minesweeper during World War I, a far more dangerous command, you might think, it was on board the SS Margaret Lockington that he met his unfortunate demise. Tragically, Captain Robert Stowell was found dead in his bunk on 24 December 1922 – Christmas Eve morning – when his ship was docked at Ayr in Scotland. An inquest was held shortly thereafter. The jury concluded his death was accidental, caused by injuries sustained in a fall on deck the previous evening.[5]
Death of Robert Stowell, The Weekly Freeman, 6 Jan. 1923, p. 4

Yet, his grieving widow never accepted the inquest’s verdict. Frances believed Robert had been assaulted. He had recently dismissed a seaman for bad behaviour and Frances suspected he received the head injuries in retaliation. She maintained this belief until her dying day.

Frances remained in Dundalk after Robert’s death, taking care of her young family. She passed away on 18 January 1965, aged 83 years, and was buried in St Patricks Cemetery in Dundalk.[6]

Death of Frances Stowell, Irish Independent, 20 Jan. 1965, p. 21

[1] Copy birth register, Dundalk, 1881, Mary Wynne, General Register Office.
[2] Census of Ireland, Dundalk, 1901, National Archives.
[3] Copy marriage register, Dundalk, 1908, Stowell-Wynne, General Register Office.
[4] Copy birth registers, Dundalk, Margaretta Stowell in 1911, Bernadette Stowell in 1916, General Register Office.
[5] Copy of an extract from the Register of Deaths for Ayr, Robert Francis Stowell, dated 5 October 1923.
[6] Copy death register, Dundalk, 1923, Mary Frances Stowell, General Register Office.

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 11 February 2017

John Augustine Wynne

The search in Dundalk, Co. Louth has so far failed to unearth our Wynne family’s roots. Instead, I have found out more about my granddad’s first cousins, the children of his Uncle John Wynne. John and his wife Margaret had ten children, many of whom have previously featured on this blog. 

You might remember Philip Camillus, their youngest son, who died so tragically during World War I. Or, Mary Clarissa, their youngest daughter, who travelled to Sydney, Australia before settling in New York with her brothers James and Gerald. Well, this week I learned about their eldest son, John Augustine Wynne, born in Dundalk in June 1877.

Poor John Augustine. He too died young. He caught that dreaded nineteenth-century killer - tuberculosis. His parents nursed him for a year before he finally succumbed to the disease. He was only sixteen years old. But, what’s unusual about John Augustine – well, unusual for our family that is – was his obituary was published in the local newspaper. John Augustine was well-known in Dundalk, and that, coupled with his youth, meant people were interested in his passing. 

You see, John Augustine could sing.

Death of Master John Augustine Wynne 
'The hundreds in Dundalk who frequently listened with rapture to the charming vocalism of Master Wynne will learn with grief and sorrow that the sweet voice which was the source of so much enjoyment to them is forever stilled in death. Master Wynne died on Tuesday, to the inexpressible grief of his father and mother, to whom the sympathy of the people goes spontaneously out. 
The funeral took place on Thursday, the coffin containing the remains being carried to the grave by the schoolfellows of the deceased who attended in hundreds and marched with the funeral in processional order. Rev. Brother J A Yorke and all the members of the Community of Christian Brothers in Dundalk attended. Mr T V Parks was also present as well as great numbers of the townspeople generally. Rev. P Murtagh, C C, officiated at the grave. R.I.P.' 
Death Notice of John Augustine Wynne in the Dundalk Examiner and Louth Advertiser, 1 July 1893, p.2.

Sadly, for a genealogist, it was not a typical obituary. It provides zero information on John Augustine’s family, or their origins, or their ties to the community in Dundalk, concentrating instead on naming the local 'celebrities' who attended. Still, isn’t it nice to learn a little about our young cousin’s life! 

And news of his death travelled far and wide. In the following weeks, the newspaper printed a letter addressed to John Augustine’s mother, from P C Clarke in Gibraltar. The Reverend Brother P C Clarke was the Superior of the Christian Brothers School in Gibraltar, but formerly of their school in Dundalk, where John Augustine had no doubt attended. 
Gibraltar, July 8th, 1893
Dear Mrs Wynne – A few moments ago, I received the Dundalk Examiner and was startled and deeply grieved to read the account of poor dear John Augustine’s death. I wondered at not receiving a letter from him, but now I know the reason. Need I say how profoundly I sympathise with you in your deep sorrow, knowing what a terrible blow this must be to so loving a mother for such an endearing, affectionate child. He was a favourite with everyone who came across him – to know him was to love him. 
Yet, ‘God’s holy will be done.’ Our dear Lord, who does everything for the best has called him ‘Home’. That sweet voice of his, which was so lovingly devoted to the praises of God here below, now resounds midst angel choirs in chanting joyous hallelujahs before His heavenly throne. He would not now exchange his happy lot for this cold, cold world again. 
I am sending on the account to Mr Duggan, who I know will be deeply touched to hear–I scarcely know which to call it–the sad, or the happy news; it is such a special privilege and mark of God’s love to be called, whilst this young and innocent, from this deceitful world. 
With kindest regards and heartfelt condolence with dear self, Mr. Wynne and the little ones, I remain, very sincerely yours,
P C Burke
Letter to the mother of the late John Augustine Wynne, published in the Dundalk Examiner and Louth Advertiser, 22 July 1893, p. 3. 

It seems John Augustine was not the only one of my grandfather’s first cousins who could carry a tune. His sisters Maggie and Nora were similarly talented, as was his brother Joseph. And, people actually paid to hear them perform. 

It was after their mother’s death in December 1900 before their names were found in the newspaper. They specialised in Irish songs and ballads, singing at ‘Irish’ concerts, all part of the Gaelic Revival taking place across the country at that time. 

Maggie Wynne was seemingly the most popular.  She regularly performed alongside Mr T. V. Parks, who it transpires was a particularly popular local musician and professor of music. I wonder did Maggie think of her brother when she sang.

© Black Raven Genealogy