Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Brick Wall -- the Diamonds

I have a brick wall with my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Ann Diamond (abt 1802-1842). I know absolutely nothing about her parentage.

The records at the Dungiven church where she and my 2nd great grandfather Marcus Dougherty (1794-1864) likely married only go back to 1825.

Scrolling through Find My Past's excellent Irish collection, I see that the Diamond name was very common across what is now Derry and Antrim in the north, in places like Magherafelt, Ballymoney and Coleraine. But I have no leads at all. Are there clues to Mary Ann's family in the names of her children? Was her eldest daughter Catharine named after Mary Ann's mother? Was her third born son John James named after her father? Her other children's names, Thomas, Isabella, James and Mary Louisa are names used in my Dougherty lines. Her last born son was Joseph. Could that be a name on the Diamond side?

Maybe I'll check church records in Magherafelt, Ballymoney and Coleraine for a marriage record of my 2nd great grandparents.

Another mystery is if the origins of the Diamonds in Ireland were Jewish. Did my line eventually assimilate or convert? The history of Jews in Ireland is an interesting read. A really interesting read. They were always a small community, even more so in the 21st century.

My grandfather included the name Diamond in his fourth son's name. He in turn passed it on to his own son.

Sometimes just when you think a mystery will never be solved, a crack appears in a brick wall. I'm waiting for that in my Diamond line.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Immigrant Ancestor and Brick Wall -- Thomas Butler (1781-aft 1819?)

Sometimes are more challenging than others when writing about my immigrant ancestors. This is one of those times. In fact it's a brick wall.

I don't have a record of the death of my 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Butler, but he probably died in Nova Scotia after moving there with my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Southwick (1788-1865) some time after their 1806 Massachusetts marriage. Their son Samuel my 2nd great grandfather, was born in Halifax on 16 Mar 1816. That date is relied on by many researchers, but I'm still looking for more confirmation of that. Perhaps it comes from a long ago family bible.

Back to Thomas. He was born, like so many of my ancestors, on Cape Cod, in Falmouth. His parents were Captain (he was a sea captain) John Butler (1751-1794) and Parnel (also spelled as Parnal) Hatch (1759-1842). He was their eldest son. John, according to one story, was lost at sea, serving with the British Navy. Thomas was the only one of his siblings to go to Nova Scotia, so far as I know. A few years ago, I found a listing of the births of John and Parnel's children, with Thomas as the eldest listed first.

Falmouth, Massachusetts vital records, 1750-1831, v2
I've never found Nova Scotia arrival records for Thomas Butler and Mary Southwick, and I've never found a record of Thomas' death. Several researchers say that in addition to my 2nd great grandfather, Samuel, that Thomas and Mary possibly had three other sons. No surviving source information on any of them seems to exist (and I've looked), aside from their names and possible birth dates: Thomas b 1810, James b 1812 and Sames (?) b 1819. I've often thought that James and Sames are the same person. But apparently Sames does exist as a given name. James was the name of his grandfather, James Southwick, and following the generally accepted naming patterns of the time, it seems likely that this is fairly solid. But whatever happened to James Butler?

Mary Southwick Butler died in 1865, in Stewiacke, Colchester, Nova Scotia, likely in her son Samuel's home, which has always made me think that perhaps if Samuel did have brothers, they all died young.

I don't know Thomas' occupation -- was he a seaman like his father or a blacksmith like his son, or a farmer? I don't know where he died or where he's buried.

Some of my indirect Butler ancestors were United Empire Loyalists, a third cousin tells me. But not my direct Butler ancestors.

Despite all of these negatives, to end on a positive note, by fathering his son Samuel, Thomas was responsible for one of my several lines putting down Nova Scotia roots, so I do appreciate him for that. And Samuel? Well, he fathered 17 children (!) by two different wives. But that's another story for another time.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Another DNA chapter revealed

The other day, a second sibling's DNA results came through. DNA is always interesting. We each inherit 50 per cent of each parent's DNA, but obviously not the same 50 per cent. That's what makes DNA testing for genealogy so intriguing.

Here are the high level snapshots of our respective ethnicity estimates. I've mentioned how pleased I am with my own DNA ethnicity estimates here before. Proud Celtic Viking here!

But it turns out that my sister has even more Irish DNA than I have. Both of us are low in terms of British ethnicity, with me at six per cent and my sister at five per cent. Our brother shames us both though, having a whopping 27 per cent British ethnicity. I can hear our mother, who was very proud of her UK passport, in another dimension cheering and saying. "That's what I'm talking about!"

As to that Scandinavian (Viking!) ethnicity? I win that, having 24 per cent, with my brother having 14% and my sister having just 11% Scandinavian ancestry.

So far, AncestryDNA has found for me 116 4th cousins or closer (in the 18 months since my sample was processed); 100 4th cousins or closer for my sister (in seven months), and 172 4th cousins or closer for my brother (in two days).

Of those cousins, I share 43 shared ancestry hints with my sister, and 58 shared ancestry hints with my brother. We're all different, after all.

My brother's DNA results don't help crack into new Dougherty DNA leads, unfortunately. I was really hoping for some new finds on that line. But he does win, hands down, in terms of being the most British of us.

I have a third sibling, but sadly, he's not interested in any DNA testing.

At the same time as my brother's DNA results came, his wife's also arrived. Now in her case, my sister in law starts out with 768 4th cousins or closer. Yikes. I'll be plowing through those for quite awhile.

This marks my 100th post to this blog. To mark the occasion, I've given the blog a bit of a makeover. Thank you all for reading. I hope you continue to enjoy my family history stories and meanderings.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Gillies sisters of Nethy Bridge come to Canada

Forgive me for seemingly being on a DNA binge, but I have had yet another cousin relationship confirmed by DNA.

A few years ago, a woman messaged me on Ancestry to say she had seen similarities in both our family trees. This connection opened so many doors for me in my research, as often happens. Until this cousin contacted me, I hadn't known that my great grandmother Annie Ross (1850-1922 had siblings and eight nieces (!! but just one nephew), the children of her sister, Margaret Grace Darling Ross, known as Maggie (1847-1932).

My latest confirmed DNA cousin is a great great granddaughter of Maggie, who lived with her husband James Gillies (1847-1906) and their family in Nethy Bridge, the same Cairngorms village in Inverness-shire where my paternal great grandparents lived with their family. In 1906 and 1908, four of Maggie's daughters, Mary, Jessie, Robina and her namesake Maggie; emigrated from the Scottish Highlands to make their home in Toronto. I wonder why they chose Toronto? Likely they already knew someone there. Their cousin, my grandfather John Matheson (1884-1964) followed them to Canada in 1907, but he chose Montreal for his home.

The sisters all took jobs as servants in Toronto, and between 1908 and 1914, each married. Three sisters stayed in Toronto, but the youngest, Robina Gillies (1888-1969) moved to Los Angeles with her husband Ben Kelly (1884-1939) in 1919, after their only child, Jackie, tragically died aged only seven in January of that year from bronchial pneumonia.

Maggie Gillies Wood
Maggie Gillies (1874-aft 1931) and her husband John Thomas Wood (abt 1857-1931) had no children. Nor did her sister Jessie Darling Mary Gillies (1880-1931) and her husband Thomas Devereux (1881-?)

Mary Gillies Bennett
My 3rd cousin once removed is the great granddaughter of Mary Gillies (1878-1929), who died after being struck by a streetcar in Toronto, leaving her husband Peter Bennett (1870-?) and their children Peter and Annabelle. The January 10, 1929 edition of the Toronto Star carried this very brief death notice for Mary:
"Bennett - On Wednesday, January 9th 1929, at Toronto. Mary Bennett, 7 Grove Avenue, in her 50th year. Funeral private from Bert Humphrey's Funeral Parlors, 466 Church Street Friday afternoon. Interment Prospect Cemetery."
Did the Gillies sisters stay in touch with my grandfather John Matheson in Montreal by letter and phone calls? I suspect so. Since he was a locomotive engineer with CN, he probably went through Toronto from time to time. Letter writing was the great social pastime of that era. I do have a memory of my mother mentioning that her father had a cousin in California -- that would have been Robina.

My cousin is lucky to have photos of her great grandmother and great aunt, and has kindly let me use these here. Not for the first time do I wonder what happened to my families' photos. I have a couple of shoeboxes worth of photos from the late 19th and early 20th century with absolutely nothing to identify the people pictured. This is a great frustration.

My cousin and I live just a couple of hours' drive apart. We're so pleased to be in touch, but we still haven't met face to face. We need to make that happen.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Monday, 20 February 2017

Still more adventures in DNA discoveries

A couple of years ago, I researched a friend's ancestry. We had decided that we must be related, as our Scots ancestors lived in many of the same places. Researching his line didn't shed any light on any possible relationship.

In December, my friend sent off his DNA sample to AncestryDNA. The results came a couple of weeks ago, but still no relationship confirmed by that test.

This morning, I compared our DNA data on another utility. Turns out we're distant cousins. The estimated number of generations to our most recent common ancestor is 7.4. We share 7.9 Centimorgans of DNA in chromosome 10 -- the chart below summarizes our relationship.  But hey! I've had people with whom I share less DNA reach out to me. What's a centimorgan you ask? Here is an explanation.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ancestral Homes -- Groby Old Hall

Last week, I set my PVR (or DVR) to record an old episode of BBC's great Time Team series focusing on Groby Old Hall in Leicestershire. Why? Well, I remembered that I have ancestors who lived there -- Sir John Grey of Groby (abt 1432-1461), Lancastrian knight, and Elizabeth Woodville (abt 1437-1492). Their links to me are still works in progress -- for now, we're cousins.

The Dictionary of National Biography has one of their extensive entries (almost all entries in this resource are extensive) on John Grey, whose formal title was 8th Baron Ferrers of Groby. Here's the beginning of that entry (bottom right in the image on the left).

Sir John was killed fighting for Henry VI's Lancastrian forces in the second Battle of St Albans during the Wars of the Roses, leaving Elizabeth a young widow with two young sons. Elizabeth went on to re-marry. You'll recognize her name as the bride of Edward of York of that Plantagenet family of mine, who went on to become King Edward IV. Theirs was a love match, so say several historians and biographers.

Lady Jane Grey (1536/7-1554), who was queen for nine days in 1553 and then executed at the age of 17 is a member of this Grey family and my 5th cousin 14x removed. Hers is a sad story. She never wanted to be queen, but found herself a pawn in scheming and plotting orchestrated by her mother, Lady Frances Brandon, who was a granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and others.

But back to Old Groby Hall. It was inherited by the Grey family in 1445 and in their hands until 1554. You can read more about the Greys of Groby here. There is so much history--including my own history--at Groby. To find a documentary about a place where my ancestors lived is a bit of a thrill, I admit it.

The archaeological results of the Time Team's work at Old Groby Hall are here.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Loyalist Flag Raising at Ontario Genealogical Society 2017 Conference

As I mentioned here, I'm looking forward to the Ontario Genealogical Society's annual conference in Ottawa in June. Anyone reading my blog who has an interest in United Empire Loyalists will want to know that there will be a Loyalist Flag Raising at Ottawa City Hall on Friday, June 16 at 11 a.m. as part of the Conference program. Here are more details.

The best deal on accommodation for the conference is the student residence at the conference  venue, Algonquin College. But the residence is now sold out. Early bird rates to register for this not-to-be-missed conference end on Mar 31. Check the conference website now to book your attendance.

Me? I'm not a Loyalist descendant, as my earliest immigrants to Canada from the United States were New England Planters, arriving before the Revolutionary War, or arrived long after that time.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Eyemouth Fishing Disaster 2 -- the book and song

Recently I wrote about the Eyemouth Fishing Disaster. I had first started reading about this a few months ago, and it was on my list (don't we all have one of those?) to research further. As I wrote, I learned more about the disaster from a newly discovered (thanks to AncestryDNA) 5th cousin once removed, and also learned that at least two of my ancestors died on that October 1881 day.

Back cover, Black Friday
Well, that lovely cousin mailed me -- all the way from Wales -- a copy of Peter Aitchison's book about the disaster, published originally as Children of the Sea, but in its second edition, renamed Black Friday.

The book arrived yesterday. There are photographs and maps included. Here is its back cover, which gives more of a description about the back story, the disaster and its aftermath.

I started this book last night and can't wait to read all of it.

At the same time, a Facebook friend posted a link to this haunting recording by Chorda, an Edinburgh folk group, of the Eyemouth Tragedy, a folk song written apparently in about 1964 by John Watt of Fife, Scotland. Here are the lyrics that I found online in a couple of places:
Eyemouth Tragedy (lyrics)John Watt By the dire rocks o' Urquhart, though deadly were the signsOut sailed the Eyemouth 'fyvies' with a thousand baited lines.Though a glasslike sea and a cloudless sky made the elders bid them stayBut these are the times the brave men die, but the 'halflins" held the sway. Three leagues from the shore the lines were cast while the wind it held its breathAnd the sails hung limp from every mast and the sea was still as deathFor death was the bride that came that day, cut the ribbons from the creels'Twas a raging wave hit Eyemouth town and took her bonny chiels. There's many a bride has lost her groom as the death-toll quickly grew,Craigs and Collins met their doom, aye, Bargain and Fairbairn tooMaltman, Scott all Eyemouth bred, they died in the wind and rainOh, the flooer o' Eyemouth town lay dead, but her sons would rise again. The grinding turn o' the hearse wheel in October '81Made every man and woman kneel in prayer for Eyemouth's sons,For this was the price they had to pay, the livin' and the deadAnd the price that Eyemouth paid that day tae earn her daily bread.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved