Friday 24 April 2015

Genealogy Arbor Day ~ A typical Irish family tree

On Arbor Day, from the Latin Arbor, meaning tree, trees (as in the green leafy ones) are celebrated all over the world. In the U.S., Arbor Day falls on the last Friday in April, and this year, Colleen of the genealogy blog Leaves & Branches suggested we celebrate our Genealogy Tree on Arbor Day

The Tree Council of Ireland organises National Tree Week in March each year and Tree Day is celebrated each October, but, we do not have Arbor Day, as such. Nevertheless, I thought I would participate in Colleen’s meme today and share some general information about our genealogy family tree.
Our Family Tree Size
Currently, there are 920 individuals in my genealogy tree – a fairly modest number by most international standards.  Serious genealogists, especially those with deep roots in the U.S., often count their ancestors in the tens of thousands, but 920 is probably a fairly average size for a native Irish tree. The renowned genealogist, John Grenham, recently admitted he had a ‘piddling 600’ people in his tree, and he has being researching far longer than I have.[1]

Included in the tree, are my direct line ancestors (maternal and paternal), their siblings, and their siblings’ spouses and children. Researching the whole family like this helps to build a more colourful picture of our ancestors’ lives. Plus, it is often essential to piece together all the snippets of information available for each sibling, before the names of their parents finally become apparent.

Our Family Tree Score
In order to determine the dimensions of my genealogy tree, I counted the total number of direct ancestors in each generation, starting with myself, i.e. two parents, four grandparents, etc. Next, I counted how many of them, in each generation, I had identified.  Then, I charted the results, below, adding the percentage number of direct ancestors identified, to give a ‘tree score’. There was a bit of maths involved, but I am an accountant after all.

The tree score for eight generations is 23 per cent, meaning I know the names of less than a quarter of my ancestors, up to and including my fifth great-grandparents. This includes some 'grandmothers', where only their given names are known and their maiden names are still awaiting to be discovered. So, there is still quite a bit of work to do! 

When Crista Cowan of the Ancestry blog similarly calculated her ancestral number, in 2012, she based it on ten generations, not eight as I have done.[2] Each generation you go back doubles the number of ancestors, (everyone has two parents), so in ten generations, you have 1022 direct ancestors. But, I know the names of nobody in the two additional generations, so our tree score reduced to just 6 per cent. As only two of the 128 fifth-great-grandparents have been identified and as it’s unlikely the names of many others will ever come to light, eight generations is probably far more reasonable, for a native Irish tree. Why depress myself for not meeting someone else’s potential?

Our Deepest Roots
Our deepest roots currently belong to the Radcliffe family from north County Dublin. Peter Radcliffe was my fourth great-grandfather from Malahide. He was likely baptised ‘Peter Ratty’ in the parish of Baldoyle, on 25 November 1798, the son of Thomas Ratty and Mary Cullen, and as such, Thomas and Mary are the two fifth great-grandparents in the chart above.

[1] ‘Irish Roots: The Other Clare Roots’, The Irish Times, 13 April 2015.
[2]  'Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?', Ancestry blog, 16 August 2012.

Images: Some old beech trees in the back paddock, Co. Kildare.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 18 April 2015

Catharine Byrne, a ‘fallen’ woman?

My third great-grandparents, Francis and Jane (Daly) Byrne had five children that I know of. Their son, Francis, my great-great-grandfather, lived and died in Lower Jane Place, Dublin and their daughter, Hannah (Byrne) Comiskey, emigrated, spending her last forty years in New York. But, prior to the 1901 Census in Dublin, I lost track of the other three. They were named Charles, Jane and Catharine Byrne.

Buoyed by the recent success at finding a record of my third great-grandmother's death in Brooklyn, I hoped to now pick up the trail of her missing children in New York City. I knew from Jane's obituary, in 1901, she was survived by two daughters and one son.  It was this genealogical quest that has yielded my latest, perhaps somewhat polemic, discovery.

I came across the marriage of Katherine Byrnes and Charles Carroll, on 27 February 1920, in Manhattan. Ignoring spelling variations in favour of phonetic pronunciation, Katherine seems a likely contender for one of my missing great-great-grandaunts, Catharine Byrne.  This lady was also born in Dublin and her parents were named as Frank Byrnes and Jane Daly. Charles Carroll was a widower, the son of Charles Carroll and Sarah McDonald.

Everything fit, apart from Katherine’s stated year of birth –1875. She was said to have been born fourteen years after our Catharine Byrne, who was baptised in O’Toole's parish in Dublin in January 1861. But, that didn't put me off, much; this family were notoriously inaccurate when reporting their ages, especially as their years progressed. Plus, back then, it might have been very difficult to admit to being fifty-nine years old at your first marriage – better to have only been only forty-five. You may think fifty-nine sounds just plain ‘too old’ for a first marriage back then, but bear with me.

The 1920 US Federal Census, showed Charles E. and Catherine Carroll, living together as a married couple, at 405 82nd Street, Manhattan. There were also three adult children, John aged twenty-one, Charles aged twenty, and Francis aged eighteen years. Catherine was said to have been fifty-one years old, or born about 1868, here only seven years from the 1861 birth date of my great-great-grandaunt. Charles senior worked as a plasterer.  Initially, I thought he might have had the children with a former wife, who had since died. But, all was not as it first seemed.

First, this census was enumerated on 17 January 1920, nearly six weeks before the marriage. Secondly, the birth registers for John, Charles and Francis, all born in Manhattan, confirm their mother was indeed Kat(i)e Byrnes, and not some former wife of Charles.

Using the census records to trace the family backwards in time, they were all together in Manhattan, in 1910, but with an elder daughter, thirteen year old, Catherine, who was not with them in 1920. Catherine senior gave her birthdate as about 1866, getting ever closer to the actual birthdate of my great-great-grandaunt.

In the 1900 census, the household included Charles and Katie Carroll, and their infant children Katie, John and Charles. Francis was not born until 1901. Katie senior’s birth date was given as January 1865, the same month as my great-great-grandaunt and now within only four years of her birth.  They said they were six years married, although no record of their marriage has been found in the New York City records. A birth record for young Katie, which, according to the census, occurred in New York in November 1896, has likewise not been located.

Working forward from 1920, Catherine Carroll, the wife of Charles E. Carroll, and the daughter of Frank Byrnes and Sarah Daly, died on New Year’s Day in 1930.

As you've probably guessed and while I've found no absolute proof, I'm thinking all these records relate to the same Charles and Catherine/Katie (Byrnes) Carroll. There may have been some impediment to their marriage, at least until 1920, but they lived together nonetheless. I'm also thinking that this might have been my great-great-grandaunt, although her mother was Jane Daly, not the Sarah Daly listed in the death register. I have an explanation for this ‘slip-up’ though; one of her children may have registered her death and confused the names of their grandmothers – remember, their paternal grandmother was called Sarah.

Maybe Catherine and Charles merely lived together as husband and wife and did not legally marry, until 1920. It was presumably easy to pull this off in New York City, with its ever expanding population of new immigrants arriving from all over the world. If Catharine was deemed to have been a ‘fallen’ woman, it would certainly provide one explanation as to why her mother, a devout Irish Catholic, seemingly disowned her in 1900 and told the census enumerator she only had one child, her daughter Hannah, with whom she was then living.

Of course, I may well have picked up the wrong end of the stick!

‘U.S. Patent D11023’ by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi -
licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.  

Main Sources

  • Catharine Byrne, 1861, St. Lawrence, Church baptism records,
  • Katherine Byrnes and Charles Carroll, 1920, ‘New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1866-1938’, index, FamilySearch
  • Carroll Family, New York, ‘United States Census, 1900, 1910 and 1920', index and imagesFamilySearch /
  • Katherine Carroll, 1930, ‘New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,' index, FamilySearch.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 11 April 2015

Not a single shred of evidence…but, a great find!

The truth is, having spent the last two weeks searching for a connection between my third great-grandmother, Jane (Daly) Byrne, and Richard Daly, her neighbour in Upper Jane Place in Dublin; I have found nothing to link them.  Likewise, apart from opportunity and proximity, there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest Jane's parents, William and Hannah Daly, were in fact the same people as Richard's parents, William and Hannah (Dillon) Daly, from Spring Gardens, in Dublin.  That is not to say it's not still a perfectly valid theory, just one that might not be provable.

Part of the problem is, after Jane married Francis Byrne in Dublin city in 1846, they received only sporadic coverage in available records. The baptism of just one child, Catherine, in January 1861, was found in the registers of St Laurence O'Toole's parish. Then in December 1869, their daughter Hannah married John Comiskey in O'Toole's parish, and Francis and Jane's address was given as Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), in south county Dublin. They were still there in September 1871, when my second great-grandfather, Francis Byrne, married Margaret McGrane. But, by 1878, the year their children, Jane and Charles, married their respective spouses, Francis senior was confirmed dead and Jane had moved back to O'Toole's parish, where she lived with her daughter Hannah, in Upper Jane Place. 

Francis Byrne senior was a fireman, but not in today's sense of the word. He was a stoker, a man who tended the fire and shovelled coal into the boilers of steam engines, be they steam trains, steamships, or maybe even in factories. I don't know where Francis worked exactly, but given their Kingstown address, he may have worked on a naval steamship; Kingstown Harbour was then the main port for shipping between Ireland and Great Britain. Richard Daly, on the other hand, was a carman, living in Oriel Street, in O'Toole's parish, at least from 1851, before moving to the newly built cottages, around the corner, at Upper Jane Place.

Steam train from Kingstown Harbour, ‘D&KR view 1840’ Wikipedia

Like, Francis and Jane, Richard's life with his first wife very nearly went completely undocumented, and similarly provided little scope for uncovering a relationship with our Jane. No marriage record was found and they do not appear to have had any children. But, thanks to a burial register recently shared by a fellow McGrane researcher, I now know, in 1875, Richard organised the interment of a Jane Daly, the wife of a carman from Upper Jane Place. Undoubtedly this was his wife. She was buried in the family plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, where Richard was later buried in 1888. Hannah Daly, Richard's mother and my prospective fourth-great-grandmother, was the first occupant of this grave, when she died, aged forty-eight, in 1840.

Strangely enough, when Richard's father, William Daly, died, aged ninety-four years, at Richard's home in Upper Jane Place, he was not buried in the family plot with his wife and daughter-in-law. In 1876, Richard organised his interment in a separate section of Glasnevin Cemetery. The other occupants of his grave were seemingly not even family members, and had no apparent connection to Jane (Daly) Byrne. 

Yet the week has not been entirely devoid of excitement… 

Having written about finding Jane listed in the newly released New York City death records, Jacqi from the blog A Family Tapestry, kindly directed me to a local Brooklyn newspaper, where I might expect to find Jane's obituary.  I have to admit, I didn't really hold out much hope that her death would have warranted a mention in the newspaper.  My ancestors were respectable, hardworking people, but they'd all lived under the radar of the national newspapers serving their native Dublin city and I suspect Jane might not even have been able to read.  Yet, this was New York, so, of course, I had to take a look.

And, lo and behold, amongst the hustle and bustle of New York's Long Island, there she was.

The obituary confirmed Jane was the widow of Francis Byrne, not that there were any lingering doubts the subject was my third great-grandmother. It provided her cause of death as pleuro-pneumonia and advised she was a devout member of St Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church at Woodhaven, in Queens.

But best of all, the real little gem of information shared, was the fact, like so many generations of her Byrne descendants left behind in Dublin, Jane was a shop-keeper. Although, there was no hint of her occupation in either the New York State Census of 1892, or the 1900 US Federal Census, Jane had kept a store at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Enfield Street in New York, for nearly twelve years before her death. Now isn't that something!

Jane (Daly) Byrne (c.1830-1901), wife of Francis.
Jane (Daly) Byrne, Obituary, Long Island, New York, 1901

Main Sources:

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 4 April 2015

Keeping it in the Family

Last week, when the names of my fourth-great grandparents, William and Hannah Daly, were discovered, I immediately went looking for a baptism record for their daughter, Jane Daly, born in or around the 1820s, possibly in Dublin.  Jane had married Francis Byrne in the Pro-Cathedral, in Dublin, in 1846. I didn't find Jane's baptism, sadly, or with it, Hannah's maiden name.

But, I did find a William and Hannah Daly, listed as the parents of Richard Daly, baptised in the Pro-Cathedral in 1818. They were also the parents of Michael Daly, baptised there in 1821 and Ann Daly in 1828. Richard was already known to me, having married into our family, and, as such, his parents, William and Hannah, are already included in my family-tree. Richard married Sarah Jane McGrane, the younger sister of Margaret McGrane. Margaret McGrane married Jane Daly's son, Francis Byrne. 

Could Richard Daly have been Jane Daly's brother, making his parents my fourth great-grandparents? They were seemingly in the right place, in the right parish, around the right time. 

And, keeping it in the family ran in this family… Francis Byrne's brother-in-law, Michael McGrane, married Kate Devine, the sister of Francis's daughter-in-law. Check out Uncle Michael married Aunt Kate for that story. His daughter, Mary Anne Byrne, married William Vickers who was the younger brother of James Vickers, married to Francis’s sister-in-law, Alice McGrane. Then, his daughter Margaret Byrne married  James Fay, the widower of his other daughter, Jane Byrne. It really was a tangled web.

On this basis, why should Francis’s other sister-in-law, Sarah Jane McGrane, not have married his 'would-be' uncle, Richard Daly?  

I can, perhaps, give you one reason why Richard should not have married Sarah Jane McGrane. Richard Daly was a widower, over forty years older than Sarah Jane, when they married on 30 July 1879, and Sarah Jane was still shy of her eighteenth birthday - an unlikely match, even in those times. But, marry they did, nonetheless, and on their marriage register, Richard’s parents were named as William Daly and Hannah Dillon. 

So, if Jane and Richard were siblings, this marriage record would confirm the maiden name of my fourth-great-grandmother, Hannah Dillon - making it a theory very much worth proving.

To help those of you confused with this myriad of names, but familiar with the family, after Richard Daly died, Sarah married Christopher Teeling, and became the mother of the well-remembered, Frank Teeling. And, for those, who remain hopelessly lost, suffice to say, I'm thinking, the descendants of my newly found fourth great-grandparents, may have already been known to me, as the Daly family, from Jane Place.

The question is, were there two separate couples named William and Hannah Daly on this one branch of my family-tree?  I don’t know the answer yet, maybe there were, but, as we've just seen, ‘keeping it in the family ran in this family’. So maybe - just maybe - Richard Daly was my third great-granduncle, as well as being the first husband of my second-great-grandaunt.

Before she emigrated to New York, Jane (Daly) Byrne lived at 8 Upper Jane Place. She was recorded at this address when her son Charles married Mary McCarthy, in 1878.  At this time, her hypothetical brother, Richard Daly, lived just ten doors down, at number 18, on this same little street, containing just twenty-six cottages. Well, you know how often, in genealogical research, neighbours turn out to have been family!

So, I now have a potential new granny – Hannah Dillon – how about we try that on for size… and figure out if it fits.

It's a Family Neighbourhood!

Main source: Church records on 
Image: Pixabay.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy