Friday, 20 October 2017

A bit of a brickwall smash: Frank Gillanders Matheson 1833-1909

As genealogists do from time to time, I was reviewing some old research for my great grandfather and some of his children last week. This is how breakthroughs or other discoveries are often made through the endless task of connecting the dots.

While looking at the 1946 death registration of his son Alex, I noticed that Frank is listed as Frank Gillanders Matheson, as reported by Frank's daughter, Catherine Matheson Graham. I've looked at that document many times, but until last week there had been no ah ha! moment for me. I was then reminded that Frank is recorded in the 1860 Scotland census as Frank G. Mathieson (yes, of course the name Matheson has several spelling variations).

Keeping in mind Scots naming patterns, it seems likely that Gillanders was the maiden name of one of Frank's grandmothers. A check of my 200+ AncestryDNA matches shows that I have three with the name Gillanders as direct ancestors. My brother has more. That doesn't make my task any less than finding a needle in a haystack though.

Still, Gillanders is a new clue. On top of others.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Not for the faint of heart: Looking for ancestors in cemeteries and city directories

On Canada's Labour Day (it's the same date as the US one, but spelled, as we would say, properly), I visited St. Michael's Cemetery here in Toronto, after finding records saying that my 1st cousin 3x removed John Doherty (1807-1872) is buried there. That was almost a month ago, but this tale has taken time for me to sort out.

I'd carefully noted the plot's location from an old index when I was at the Archdiocese of Toronto Archives this summer: plot 122, N. Elizabeth Street, in the eastern third of the cemetery, between paths 12 and 13, south of St. Michael's Road. Yes, the Church had named the rows of the cemetery after saints.

Unfortunately, no signage with row names exist within the cemetery. I knew this from many years ago when I lived nearby and would walk through it when it was still open to the public. Of course, I found no surviving markers, as John was a tinsmith whose family could ill afford a more sturdy marker. But I had hoped I'd find something more than indented grass where markers have sunk.

There's an administrative error though in the Cemetery's burial records. Or else another mystery, but I think it's simply an error. I'll follow up with the Archdiocese, but I'm sure their Archives staff will find this as muddled as I have. The occupants of plot 122 N Elizabeth Street are listed as John Doherty, his wife Margaret Esmonde, and their daughter Fanny, who died in New York on 15 Nov 1886 aged 43. But the details for the John Doherty listed as buried in the plot are for another John Doherty.  I found records saying that this John Doherty was born in Co Tyrone, Ireland and was 68 years old when he died at 65 George Street. While my cousin ancestor is listed as dying on Stanley St and is buried in plot 82 N Elizabeth Street. My cousin ancestor lived on George Street when he died.

I still went looking for this other John Doherty, and looked through censuses and city directories. Starting in 1856, when he first arrived in Toronto he lived most his years at different addresses on Stanley Street, which has disappeared, but ran from Victoria Street east to Nelson Street, another street that is gone, except for his final five or six years, when he lived at 15 Mutual Street. Stanley and Mutual streets are both east of Yonge Street. He had a family of at least seven children.  Interestingly, cemetery records use Stanley Street as his residence when he died in 1879, when the city directory has him at Mutual Street.

According to city directories, after arriving from Ireland, my cousin ancestor John lived at several addresses in his 30+ years. But he was at two addresses longer than others, first at 117 King St E at Church Street, and later at 65 George St, just south of King St East. Both these addresses are also east of Yonge.

But wait. Although my 1st cousin 3x removed John Doherty died in 1872, his name continued to appear in city directories at 65 George Street until 1879. I think his adult sons, whom I've yet to find, continued to live at the address until 1879.

What I know for certain is that these are absolutely two different John Dohertys, who appeared for successive years in the same city directories living at their respective addresses. Why though would cemetery records for two men with the same name who died seven years apart be mixed up?

Now standing at 115 King St E is the Toronto Sculpture Garden. It's directly opposite the Cathedral Church of St. James. I'm fairly certain that this land also includes the municipal lot known as 117 King St E.

115 King St E

65 George St present day
John lived his later years with his family at 65 George Street, south of King Street E.

What stands on this property now is an art dealer, but a Heritage Toronto plaque notes that on that site stood the Little York Hotel, stables and coach house, built in 1880, eight years after John died. A development application for the property is now under City of Toronto review to erect--wait for it--more condos, but the facade, I think, will be protected.

Read more about my cousin ancestor John Doherty and his family here.

Heritage plaque at 65 George St

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Another brick wall gone: Isabella McKenzie Matheson

I wrote about my great grandfather Frank Matheson's three-volume bible here and the children, including my grandfather, that he had with my great grandmother Annie Ross, who were recorded in that bible here.

Frank was quite meticulous in recording all of the life events of his family members before he died in 1909. But information about the death of one child, my great aunt Isabella McKenzie Matheson (b 1882) wasn't recorded in the bible. I've always wondered why. All I knew from my mother and aunt was that Isabella "died young", that all purpose but very unhelpful category. That said, she does appear in the 1901 census, but because of her common name, and even more, the misspellings of Matheson (Mathieson, Mathewson, etc) and McKenzie (Mackenzie), finding out what happened to Isabella using the usual sources, including Scotland's People, had been an enduring brick wall for me.

As was then common in Scotland, Isabella was the second daughter that Frank named in memory of his first wife, Isabella McKenzie (1840-1871), who died from rheumatic fever in 1871, four days after giving birth to her wee namesake, Isabella McKenzie Matheson, who lived only five brief weeks. My grandfather, (Isabella's brother), for example, was the second son Frank named John, the first having died at only four months old in 1879.

But thanks to The Moray Council's Local Heritage Centre's record set being added to Ancestry, a new hint appeared by Isabella's name not long ago. It was one of those serendipitous genealogical ah ha! moments.

It turns out that Isabella died in Forres on 20 Dec 1903, aged 21. Her death was reported in two local newspapers, the Forres Gazette and the Courant, and that information was noted in the Centre's database.

Forres Gazette, 30 Dec 1903
Isabella's parents lived in Aviemore, about 40 miles from Forres, which is the birthplace of my great grandmother Annie Ross Matheson (1849-1922). Why was Isabella in Forres? Was she visiting family or friends? Did she die in service?

The life events of all of my great aunts and uncles Matheson are now fully accounted for, with Isabella's death details found.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Sunday, 20 August 2017

More Cincinnati mysteries: An unknown marriage and spouses buried in separate cemetery plots

I've just found my 2nd great uncle Thomas Dougherty's death registered in Cincinnati, and it contains new information: he was 56 years old when he died on 15 Dec 1886, and he was born in Vermont. I had surmised, based on other information after I discovered him last year, that he was my 2nd great grandparents' first born, in about 1820 (it's worth repeating how bad cursive handwriting could be in the 19th century) and that as such, that he'd been born in Ireland. This rejigs the order of birth as outlined in my post here.

The information also noted that he was married and died of kidney disease. Below is the extract from the burial register -- it's enlarged as much as possible. The information stretches across the page.

Now, through decades of city directory listings that I've found, if Thomas wasn't living first with his brother James (1826-1860), he was usually listed as living with his other siblings. Rarely, he lives separate from family, and when he does, there isn't a woman living at the same address. Thomas and his brother James lived in Cincinnati as early as 1849, I discovered last year. Who was Thomas' wife and what happened to her?

Continuing the theme of unsolved mysteries, Cincinnati cemetery records reveal that Thomas, his brother Joseph (1835-1886) and his sisters Catharine (abt 1824-1896) and Isabella Dougherty McHugh (abt 1832-1890), along with a niece, Mary McHugh, are buried in the same plot. But, also buried in the same plot is a woman named Diana Mylott, who died 4 Jun 1884.

Who could she be? More record checking indicates that in the 1880 census, Diana Mylott was a widow, a seamstress, with two young adult daughters. Oh, and they lived that year with my 2nd great aunts and uncles and Isabella's children at 138 Baum in Cincinnati.

1880 census, 138 Baum, Cincinnati
The Mylotts also lived at that address with my relatives in at least 1879 and 1881. City directories and censuses back to 1860 show Diana (living without a husband) with her daughters, both of whom died within a couple of years of their mother. Did her husband (whose name apparently was Edward, based on death records) die in the American Civil War? I've never found an Edward Mylott. It's not lost on me that the name Mylott may be an anglicized form of Mailhot or Maillot, French family names. Diana's daughters, Josie and Katie, are buried in the same plot as Isabella's husband James H. McHugh (1827-1905) and their son, Marcus Ambrose McHugh (abt 1856-1912). Then I saw that Katie Mylott (1860-1887), had a will, in which she left half of that burial plot to my 2nd great aunt, Isabella McHugh.

Did Katie sell part of her burial plot because my 2nd great aunts and uncles needed more space? Perhaps it was in lieu of room and board given to her, her mother and sister. We'll never know. Soon after Diana died in 1884, Katie and Josie left 138 Baum, because they then appear at another address in subsequent city directories until their deaths from consumption in 1887 and 1886 respectively.

I'd already decided that Isabella and James McHugh must have had an if not stormy, an unhappy marriage. More often than not, Cincinnati city directories have her living at the same address as her brothers and sisters, with some of her children, while James lives at another address, sometimes with one or two of their sons. It seems that Isabella definitely wanted to make sure that she and James didn't lay at rest together for eternity. But I can't help but wonder about Diana. By 1864, that year's city directory identifies her as a widow. Was she a friend to Isabella or another of my 2nd great aunts or uncles? Or was there a familial relationship between Diana and the Cincinnati Doughertys?

The never ending family story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The mystery of Mary Ann Dougherty, born about 1854

A few years ago, when I found my great grandfather John James Dougherty (1833-1893) in the 1871 Canada Census, his household included a mystery. At the time, he was married to his first wife, Mary Ann Gannon (1838-1871)  and living in Granby, where he gave his occupation as a farmer and butcher. Yes, Mary Ann died soon after the census was conducted.

But also listed was a child, Mary Ann Dougherty, whose age given was 13 and who was reported to have been born in the United States. Who was she? I decided at that time to attribute her to an earlier marriage of Mary Ann Gannon's or of my great grandfather (although I could find no record of an earlier marriage), but was unable to find any further information about Mary Ann.

1871 Canada census, Granby, Shefford, Quebec 

1877 Cincinnati city directory 
Then, last year, I found Mary Ann in the 1877 Cincinnati city directory living at the same address as my 2nd great uncle Joseph M. Dougherty (1835-1886), along with a Marcus Dougherty, who I concluded was yet another 2nd great uncle (he couldn't have been my 2nd great grandfather, also a Marcus Dougherty, as he died in 1864). At that time, Mary Ann would have been about 23 years old.

But while that that Marcus Dougherty appears in the 1878 Cincinnati directory, Mary Ann did not, and I couldn't find her anywhere.

 Then a few weeks ago, I happened upon a 7 year old "Mary Ann Docherty" in the 1861 census of Elgin Township in Huntingdon, Lower Canada, living with an elderly couple in a log house, who was also recorded as having been born in the United States. This was just far too coincidental.

1861 census, Elgin Township, Huntingdon, Lower Canada
Aside from the consistency in birthplace and age, another of my 2nd great aunt, Mary Louisa (1838-1913)  had been baptized in Ormstown, also in Huntingdon, in 1839. It's not too much of a stretch to think that there was a friendship between the Doughertys and McMenamins that endured for several years.

I've got a theory that Mary Ann was a child of the 2nd great uncle Marcus as I'll call him, and a daughter of the elderly couple, whose family name, after some research and consultation, I've settled on as McMenamin. Note that the census taker helpfully lists Edward McMenamin, but identifies his wife as Mrs Edward McMenamin.

Did Mary Ann's mother die in childbirth? Given that Edward McMenamin was 77 and his wife was 60 in 1861, they likely died before 1871, when Mary Ann is living with my great grandfather. But she's not living with him in the 1881 census, when she would have been 27 years old.

What a sad, nomadic life Mary Ann must have had, being shunted from one set of relatives to another as a child.

What happened to Mary Ann Dougherty after 1877? I suspect that one day, I'll find another piece of the puzzle that is Mary Ann and learn more about her life.

But don't get me started about that other Marcus, who could well be Mary Ann's father. I can find no mention of him before 1877 or after 1878.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The treasure troves that are death notices

My summer has been filled with much genealogy research on multiple fronts with some discoveries.

The Derry Journal's 13 Feb 1914 detailed report on the life, death and funeral of my 1st cousin 3x removed, Paul Doherty (1826-1914), is filled with information, and some of it has new clues for me. It's such a lengthy obit that I had to save it in four segments.

Paul's death notice has many family's details that I already know, but it also notes that he, too, went to America, and then returned to Dungiven. I wonder if he lived in Kingston, New York where several of his siblings settled?

It notes that Paul returned home when he learned that "his maternal home was going to be sold". That was the home in Camnish. I've found that his eldest son was born and baptized in Dungiven in 1856, so he was back by then. His wife was Margaret Ann McKinney, a familiar Derry name. Did he marry her before going to "the land of the stranger", as the obit describes America, or did he marry her when he returned to Dungiven?

The obit mentions Paul's brother Marcus (1815-1903), who became a lawyer and a judge, but it also says that Marcus was a doctor. Allowing for the absence of fact checking in the early 1900s, I'm going to take a leap and decide this meant a Doctor of Laws, but perhaps there was another brother as yet unknown. There was also a brother "conspicuous in the mercantile world".

It also notes that two of his brothers were contractors who had a business and who helped to build the "York and Eyrie Railway", which is the New York Erie Railroad. Read about that here. These brothers could be Michael (abt 1810-1853) and Thomas abt 1823-1854). Or could one of them have been his brother John (1807-1872), who I only recently discovered? Or was there yet another brother who I've not yet found?

Paul's obit is helpful in noting that his sisters all married in America. I had wondered about that, with respect the the Kingston, New York cousin ancestors. This information will help to narrow my further research. There is no mention of his sister Sarah Doherty McCorkell (abt 1826-1861), but I put that down to the fact that she was a woman who married a farmer who settled in Canada and who died at a young age in 1861.

There is still so much to discover about all of my Dougherty/Doherty cousin ancestors. A new to-do list is in development.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Monday, 31 July 2017

Next generation family DNA ethnicity discoveries

I was able to persuade my four adult nieces and nephews (there are no more, so I'm not sure why I stress that they're adults...) to agree to DNA testing. Okay, I paid for their testing when AncestryDNA had their amazing Ontario Genealogical Society conference-only price of $69 CAN all inclusive in June. All of their results are now in. So, what do we have? By order of oldest to youngest, here we go, with their DNA ethnicity estimates.....


2nd Oldest

3rd Oldest

As always, DNA test results are intriguing, and as I say, never lie. Two have no Scandinavian (or Viking, as I like to call it) DNA. Two (who are siblings) have Iberian Peninsula DNA--which could be ancient Celt. Two siblings have French Canadian and beyond ancestry. And because French Catholic priests kept incredible records, they both are breaking my research workload in terms of 4th cousins or closer, with 1,200 and 1,500 of those--and counting--respectively.

And now, to drill down to find out how, if any, of them match to new found DNA cousins.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Brick wall: Longford and Cavan roots

In addition to my Donegal origins, I also have undiscovered roots in County Longford and County Cavan.

At some point before 2 Jun 1834, my paternal second great grandparents Hugh Edward Caroline (abt 1798-1879) and Mary Donovan (abt 1807-1892) arrived in Montreal, for it was on this date that they were married there, in Notre Dame Basilica. I first wrote about Hugh and Mary here.

Did they meet on board the ship that brought them from Ireland or did they know each other before they left Ireland? The record of their marriage gives me the names of their parents:
  • Edward Caroline
  • Rose Sheridan
  • Hugh Donovan
  • Bridget Connor 
pg 69, parish register, Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, from Drouin Collection
The entry also gives us a few other pieces of information. Hugh was living in the small village of St-Césaire at the time of the marriage. St- Césaire today is about a half hour drive from Granby, where he and his brother Mick eventually farmed. Mary was living within the Notre Dame parish boundaries in Montreal. My 3rd great grandfather, Edward Caroline, was deceased by June 1834, but otherwise, the parents of Hugh and Mary were living in Ireland. The record tells us that Hugh was from County Cavan, while Mary was from County Longford, areas that border on each other in a small part. County Cavan is today in Ulster while County Longford is in Leinster.

Their marriage was witnessed by three men: John McCartan, John Cassidy and Patrick Murray. These names aren't at all familiar to me. Were the men friends of Hugh and Mary, or were they enlisted to act as witnesses?

The structure in which Hugh and Mary were married wasn't the first Notre Dame on the site. The majority of the construction of the new church it had only been completed four years before they were married.

I know that Hugh arrived in Quebec with at least his brother Mick, but who were Mary's travelling companions? Other Donovans or Connors? Did they come to Quebec directly, or had they arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick, as many ships from Ireland did in the first half of the 19th century? Or perhaps they had sailed to New York, and made their way up to Quebec. What drew them there? So many questions. Always.

AncestryDNA testing has recently connected two of my family members to people who have Sheridans in their own ancestry. I hope that this begins a new journey of discovery. This is a first. We've had no Caroline, Donovan or Connor DNA matches. So far.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved