Friday, November 28, 2014

New Troy Irish Genealogy Society Database II

Last week, Irish Genealogy News reported that the Troy Irish Genealogy Society (TIGS) released another fantastic database of records. St. John’s Cemetery, Albany, NY Interment Records, 1841- 1887 contains over 12,700 transcriptions, of which almost 4,000 of these are for people from Ireland. What makes this record set even better is that the county of origin is provided for almost 3,400 of those Irish-born people.

The importance of having local knowledge and of preservation efforts are both seen in the description of how these records came to light. The TIGS website outlines that the interment book was in the possession of a former employee of another Catholic cemetery in the area and was in a gradual state of  decay. Who know what would have happened to these records if they had not been discovered by those who knew the genealogical importance of the information contained in that book.

You can read all about the records and access the database in the TIGS website by clicking here.

Troy Irish Genealogy Society is listed in the GSI database on this website. Click here to read a Townland of Origin article from January 2014 about other databases that the group launched on their website.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Radio Show Interview

**UPDATE Wed, Nov 26th: Tomorrow's episode of the Genealogy Radio Show has been postponed. I will post the date/time of the rescheduled broadcast when it is announced.**

On Thursday, I will be interviewed by Irish genealogist Lorna Maloney on The Genealogy Radio Show. The show is broadcast live and my interview will take place at 4pm Irish time/11am Eastern.

The show has only been broadcast for a few months and has already had a stellar line-up of Irish genealogy experts, such as Brian Donovan, Fiona Fitzsimons, and Dr. Paul MacCotter.

Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving in the United States, So if you are looking for an excuse to get out of the kitchen for half an hour, why not tune in! You can listen, via the "Listen Live" button, on the right hand side of station's webpage.

The Genealogy Radio Show is broadcast every Thursday on the county Clare based community radio station, Radió Corca Baiscinn. Podcasts of previous episodes are available to listen to.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Biographical History Of The American Irish In Chicago

Biographical History of the American Irish in Chicago[1] is an 1897 publication that falls into the category of books that highlight the origins, life, and achievements of notable Irish-born immigrants and first generation Irish Americans in the United States. In total, the book contains information for about 300 such people who lived in the Chicago area in the 19th century.

For almost every entry, the place of origin in Ireland is given for those who were immigrants. The place of origin of their parents is noted for many of those who were first generation Irish American. Other useful genealogical information is included for many entries such as year of immigration, early movements in the US for immigrants, employment history, who they married, how many children they had, and date and place of death and burial. Pictures and signatures are also included for some of those written about.

This example gives a flavor of what is contained in the publication:[2]

As with almost all of these 19th century biographical publications, there are no citations from primary sources. Use the information as a guide in your research and, as much as is possible, verify any information with primary documents.

You can read the book in full on the always excellent Hathi Trust website.

[1] Ffrench, Charles. Biographical History of the American Irish in Chicago. Chicago, IL: American Biographical Publishing Co. 1897.
[2] Ibid. pp. 10-11.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

National Genealogical Society Conference 2015

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2015 conference will be held in St. Louis, Missouri on 13-16 May. NGS was founded in 1903 and aims to serve and grow the genealogical community by providing education and training, fostering increased quality and standards, and promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records.[1] The yearly NGS conference is probably the one to attend for industry professionals and keen genealogy enthusiasts.

Among many other events and exhibitions, the conference features a large number of lecture 'tracks', with each track having talks that focus on different aspects of the same thematic area. Last week, NGS released the topics and speakers for 2015. There will be five lectures/workshops specifically related to Irish genealogy:

Immigration, Thursday, 4pm
A Methodology for Irish Emigration to North America, David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA. Lacking a location in Ireland to begin research may necessitate learning to use the sources and methodologies for solving the problem with Irish resources. **Live streaming, see link at the end of article for more details**

Immigration & Migration, Friday, 8am
Navigating the Best Online Sources for Irish Research, Donna Moughty. Think you can’t do Irish research because all of the records burned? Although the 1922 fire was devastating, many surviving records are now available online.

Immigration & Migration, Friday, 9:30am
Unpuzzling Ireland’s Church Records, Donna Moughty. No records or burned records? Navigate through the various religious sources to guide you to the origins of your Irish ancestor.

Immigration & Migration, Friday, 11am
Scots-Irish Research, Robert McLaren. Learn who the Scots-Irish are and are not, how to get started, and good sources for research, both online and elsewhere.

Workshop, Saturday, 8-11am
Workshop on Irish Law Libraries, David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA S409. This workshop will outline the records available in a law library for conducting Irish research; cover the proper source citation methodologies for citing Irish legal records; outline the available web resources and discuss the major libraries in the US and Ireland, including the Smurfit Collection at St. Louis University Library in St. Louis. Two-hour workshop with additional fee of $25.00.

Some of the lectures will be live streamed, see the conference websites for more details. For a full list of lectures, click here to read the conference brochure.

[1] National Genealogical Society. About NGS. Year Unknown. accessed 13 November 2014.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Moughty's Research Trips To Ireland

Florida based genealogist Donna Moughty has organized research trips to Ireland for the last number of years. On the trips, she leads and mentors groups of people who want to do research in the main repositories on the island. These trips usually occur in October and she provides an excellent blog commentary about her research exploits. Her posts showcase the fast paced nature of these trips, mixed with the will it takes to fit in as much research as possible in two weeks; one week is in Belfast and the other in Dublin.

The 2014 trip visited all the major repositories: Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Registry of Deeds, National Library of Ireland, National Archives of Ireland, Valuation Office, Registry of Deeds, and the Back To Our Past genealogy conference. She has just recently returned and you can read all the posts, starting here.

You can also read about the 2013 and 2012 trips. Are you thinking of taking a research trip to Ireland? You could do worse than inquire about here 2015 trip!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Library Of Congress - Virtual Primer

The Library of Congress (LoC) in Washington, D.C. is the de facto national library of the United States and, depending on the metric used, vies with the British Library for the title of the largest library in the world. As a result, you can find a pretty decent Irish genealogy book collection.

The LoC website has a useful introduction to this collection of books. By their own admission, it is not comprehensive and it does seem to be a little dated (Grenham's 1st edition of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors is listed) and general (books from the 1930s-1960s about broad migration patterns are also included). However, if you live in the DC metro area, it is probably a good place to visit if you are looking to do broad research on the topic of Irish genealogy and local history.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Archdiocese of New York Parish Mergers

Over the last number of months the Archdiocese of New York[1] has deliberated about which of its parishes will be closed or merged. Their decisions were made public on 2 November. Two different lists were published. One list shows parishes that will merge, with one parish church being the designate. Masses and sacraments will still be celebrated in the second church.[2] The second list also shows parishes that will merge, but where one parish will be the designate and the church in the other parish will only be used for some special occasions. Masses and sacraments will no longer be celebrated in the second parish.[3]

So what does all this mean for genealogists who want to apply for copies of the information that was recorded in the registers when the sacraments were performed (e.g. baptisms and marriages)? From what I can gather, there has been no guidelines put forward for this set of mergers but we do have precedent to work with.

The Archdiocese previously carried out a round of parish mergers and closures in 2007. In most cases, the registers from parishes that were merged and no longer used were given to the neighboring parish that they merged with.

You can access a useful graphic showing the Archdiocese and the affected parishes in this New York Times article.

You can read the full official press release, by clicking here.

To learn more about every Catholic parish that has ever existed in all five boroughs of New York City, you can consult Chapters 7 & 8 in my book, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City.

[1] Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island are in the Archdiocese of New York. Queens and Brooklyn are in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
[2] Archdiocese of New York. Parish List 1 - Masses and Sacraments celebrated at both churches. 2014. accessed 4 November 2014.
[3] Archdiocese of New York. Parish List 2 - Masses and Sacraments to be celebrated at the designated parish church; the other church may be used on special occasions accessed 4 November 2014.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Guest Post: From Roscommon to Canada II

In June, I highlighted the research being carried out in the archives of the Mahon Strokestown Park estate, Co. Roscommon by historians at NUI (National University of Ireland) Maynooth. Lead by Dr. Ciarán Reilly, they aim to learn more about the lives of the estates' tenants during the Famine and the passage to Canada of many of them, both assisted and unassisted.

Dr. Reilly has kindly provided an article to Townland of Origin to highlight this work. He would like to hear from descendants who have knowledge of these Famine-era emigrants. You can contact him on Twitter at @ciaranjreilly, or via the Centre for the Study of Historic Houses and Estates.

Dr. Reilly's new book 'Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine' will be published this month by Four Courts Press in Ireland. He also runs the Great Irish Famine blog.

The unveiling of a memorial wall by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD[1] at the Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown in May 2014, to mark the National Famine Commemoration, highlighted the ongoing efforts to locate Irish Famine emigrants from county Roscommon.  The research is led by Dr Ciarán Reilly of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates, NUI Maynooth. Much of the information on emigrants is gleaned from the voluminous Strokestown archive, a collection of more than 50,000 documents, the vast majority of which pertain to the Great Irish Famine. In total, Dr Reilly estimates that almost 5,000 people emigrated from around the Mahon estate at Strokestown during the Famine, with 1,490 part of an ill-fated assisted emigration scheme in 1847.

Upon the death of Rev. Maurice Mahon, third baron Hartland, in November 1845, Major Denis Mahon inherited the 11,000 acre Strokestown estate in county Roscommon. Years of neglect and mismanagement meant that the estate was now almost £30,000 in debt. In an effort to radically overhaul the problems of gross overcrowding, subdivision of the land and mounting arrears, John Ross Mahon, the land agent, devised a scheme of assisted emigration. For the estate administration this made economic sense; to keep the people in Roscommon workhouse would cost over £11,000 annually whereas a once off emigration scheme would cost £5,800. In May 1847 1,490 tenants left from the Strokestown estate for Quebec in British North America (Canada). They were accompanied on their walk to Dublin, via the Royal Canal footway, by the bailiff, John Robinson who was instructed to stay with them all the way to Liverpool and ensure that they boarded the ships.

Leaving Liverpool on four ships the Virginius, Naomi, John Munn and the Erin’s Queen, the Mahon tenants were amongst the first to be characterised as sailing on coffin ships during the Famine. With Cholera and typhus rampant the emigrants were exposed to the ravages of  disease. The Toronto Globe newspaper was amongst the first to highlight the problems encountered by the passengers on board the Virginius and thus reported its arrival at Grosse Île:
The Virginius from Liverpool, with 496 passengers, had lost 158 by death, nearly one third of the whole, and she had 180 sick; above one half the whole will never see their home in the new world.

Those who managed to emerge from the ship were described as ‘ghastly, yellow-looking spectres, unshaven and hollow cheeked.’ Dr. George Douglas who treated and spoke with the Mahon tenants at Grosse Île noted that some had even died at the River Mersey in Liverpool.  It was also claimed that on arrival at Grosse Île, the ship’s master had to bribe his crew at the rate of a sovereign per corpse, to remove the dead from the hold. On the ship Erin's Queen, the situation was no better, 78 passengers had died and a further 104 were sick. Again, according to the Globe ‘the filth and dirt in these vessels hold creates such an effluvium as to make it difficult to breathe.’ While in harbour the ship was abandoned by the crew and captain who feared for their lives. On the ship John Munn more than 100 were sick and 59 were dead, while on the Naomi 78 were dead.

Some of the names featured on the memorial wall at Strokestown also feature in an exhibition Emigrant Faces from county Roscommon which Dr Reilly designed for the National Famine Commemoration Week. They include the Tighes and the Quinns, orphaned by the voyage. A number of other emigrants also feature including Michael Dufficy, Edwin O'Beirne, Elijah Impey, Pat Hanly and Pat Kelly. Most of the 1,490 cohort who arrived in Quebec in 1847 made their way over the ensuing months and years into American cities and towns. Relatively, few actually stayed in Canada. The search for the 1,490 assisted emigrants and other Strokestown natives who emigrated during the Famine continues.  Thankfully, it is proving fruitful and the destination and subsequent details of as many as 300 of these has been ascertained. These details will soon been collated by Dr Reilly and made available in a number of formats. Visitors to the Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown can now see the list of 275 families who were part of the scheme, their townland of origin and the number of family members who travelled.

The following snippets might be of interest:

* In 1876 Mary Tarpey had the unique distinction of being the oldest person in Long Island, New York. Having left Strokestown in 1853, incredibly when she was then 84 years old, Tarpey attributed her longevity to a daily glass of whiskey!

* A number of women and children who remained on the Strokestown estate in the aftermath of the Famine had been abandoned. They included Catherine Connor whose mother left for England; Maria Hanly abandoned by her father Peter who went to England and Margaret Kearns whose father went to Scotland.

* Michael Hayden (1842-1917) of Strokestown emigrated to America in the wake of the Famine, settling in Washington D.C. in 1854. During the American Civil War he was a member of the home guard for the defence of Washington D.C. Later he worked in Gauster's French Restaurant in the city where he claims John Wilkes Booth and his companions hatched their plan to murder President Abraham Lincoln.

* Daniel Tighe, one of the 1847 emigrants to Canada, appears on various Canadian census returns as  Tay, Tyre, Thy and Tye. It is little wonder then that the search for Irish Famine emigrants often proves difficult.

[1] Teachta Dála, much the same as member of Congress, but specifically referring to the lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil.