I am not sure exactly what compelled me over the years to research all of the incredibly sad details of Timothy's life and I choose to believe that it was him, Timothy, who wanted this story to be told.
|Photo of the final resting place of Timothy Moynahan (1861-1941)|
Quote above by Della M. Cummings Wright
|TimothyMoynahan's "Family Tree" and a 1910 photo of the|
"Asylum For The Insane, Queen West, Toronto"; Special Collections of the Toronto Public Library
I first became curious about Timothy when I was searching old newspapers for "Moynahan" and the following article came up in the Essex Record:
|Source: Essex Record; 14 Feb 1878; page 1 of 4|
Over many years, as Timothy's story unfolded and at each step of the way, I was both happy to discover new information about him and ultimately saddened to read the precise details.
Young Timothy entered the London Asylum at seventeen years of age, remaining there for twenty-eight years until he was transferred to the Toronto asylum where he died in 1941. A "lifelong inmate" (sixty-three years in an asylum) as Geoffrey Reaume put it, "whose file revealed he lived a degraded existence behind the bleak walls of 999 Queen Street West...".
|"Remembrance of Patients Past: Life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane"|
In June 2016, I visited the Archives of Ontario to access the London Asylum Patient Records for Timothy Moynahan Reg. No 1300. Timothy was admitted into the London Asylum on the 11th of February 1878. From the Patient Files, a note written for the 17th of October, 1878 stated that Timothy was a,
"Labourer, Roman Catholic, Single, Canadian: About five years ago he had an attack of xxxx-spinal meningitis amid which time he has exhibited symptoms of loss of reason - dangerous and violent -not hereditary - xxxx and temperate habits - inclined to be filthy in his habits - admitted by warrant - February xxxx 1878."
This meant that Timothy contracted meningitis at twelve years of age in 1873 and he survived it!(Source: Archives of Ontario: London Psychiatric Hospital patient registers 1870-1957)
Timothy's younger brother James J. Moynahan (1865-1899) at thirty-three years of age would be much less fortunate when he contracted meningitis in 1899 and died "after an illness of only seventy-two hours duration"
|Obituary James J. Moynahan (1865-1899) (Timothy's brother) |
Source: Essex County Branch OGS; Obituary Index: M)
Across the river in Michigan, a paper was submitted to Congress regarding the Cerebro-spinal meningitis "epidemic": https://archive.org/details/cerebrospinalmen00bake
"This disease has prevailed in different parts of the civilized world since 1805....the characters described were: Sudden attack in the night, vomiting of green matter, atrocious cephalagia, spinal rigidity, difficulty of deglutition, convulsions, nocturnal exacerbations, petechiae, death occurring after from twelve hours to five days of illness "
But what of Timothy's boyhood? What was his life like before the cerebro-spinal meningitis changed his life's course?
Timothy Jr. was born in Maidstone, Ontario on the 29th of April, 1861 and was baptized at St. Mary's Roman Catholic church on May 5, 1861. Jeremiah and Ellen Moynahan were his godparents/sponsors.
|Baptismal Record for Timothy Moynahan (1861)|
Source: Ontario, Canada, Catholic Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967
On the 1861 census, Timothy Jr.'s mother Archange (Parent) Moynahan would have been pregnant with him when the enumerator knocked on the door of their one story log home that was built almost twenty years earlier by Timothy's grandfather Matthew Moynahan (1770-1860) in 1842. (296 North Talbot Rd., Maidstone, Ontario)
Their 296 North Talbot Rd. farm was on 120 acres of which there was 20 acres of crops and two acres of orchards. Thirteen acres were being used as pasture. (Line 19: 1861 Census; All Places (Agricultural), Essex, Canada West; C-1021; Page 7)
Timothy Jr. would be the first-born child of the union between Timothy Sr. and Archange (Parent) Moynahan's who's marriage was on July 7th, 1859 (following the death of Timothy's first wife Margaret Cronin (1811-1859)).
Also on the 1861 census:
- Line 19: Timothy Moynahan: farmer (41 years old born in Ireland)
- Line 20: Archange Moynahan 36 (years old born in Upper Canada)
- Line 21: Matthew Moynahan (19 years old) Timothy Jr.'s half-brother
- Line 22: Dennis Moynahan (14 years old attending school) Timothy Jr.'s half-brother
- Line 23: Ann Moynahan (87 year old widow born in Ireland) Timothy Jr.'s grandmother
On the 1871 census, ten-year-old Timothy was attending school with his six-year-old brother James. He was living on the farm with his parents (Timothy and Archange (Parent) Moynahan and his half-brother twenty-two-year-old Dennis who was a farmer.
|Timothy's Toronto Asylum Patient File with the Schedule No. 2|
One of the highlights of receiving Timothy Moynahan's complete Toronto Asylum file from the Archives of Ontario was locating the document dated February 8, 1878 "Schedule No. 2" which was the affidavit taken by Sheriff McEwan in 1878.
In this affidavit, a number of key questions on Timothy's life between 1873 (when Timothy had meningitis at twelve years of age) to 1878 were answered.
Timothy Jr. (referred to as the "prisoner") had been insane since the spring of 1877 but had suddenly attacked his family the Sunday before (1878). Timothy Jr. had suffered a violent fever five years previously (1873) and afterward was deaf for several years. This deafness resulted in Timothy withdrawing from school. His father reported that he was dangerous and violent at present.
Sheriff McEwan forwarded this affidavit to the Gaoler Mr. Leech who took Timothy into custody until he could be transported to the London Asylum
The Justice of the Peace D.Downing added some notes to the "Schedule No. 2" writing that Timothy Sr. had reported that Dr. Casgrain attended to Timothy Jr. last spring (1877) and said then that he would have Timothy Jr. taken to the London Asylum but Timothy Sr. hoped that his son would get better and "neglected the opportunity then offered".
(For more about Dr Casgrain, see Page 14 of "Medical Men of Essex County by James Wilbert Brien)
|Archives of Ontario: London Psychiatric Hospital patient registers 1870-1957|
After he was taken out of the "canvas" and put back into regular clothes, Timothy's records report that he quarreled with other patients, was suicidal, "quiet & stupid" and had started working "with xxxx pickers & with wagon party".
Timothy's patient file that I reviewed at the Archives of Ontario stopped suddenly on Feb 23, 1889 and the next entry in it was in 1906 that Timothy had been discharged from the London Asylum and was being transferred to the Toronto Asylum.
|Archives of Ontario: London Psychiatric Hospital patient registers 1870-1957|
- His father: Timothy Moynahan died 19 Oct 1902
- His mother: Archange (Parent) Moynahan died 28 Jun 1903
- His brother James Moynahan died 24 Feb 1899 (he was married and had a child)
- His brother Enos Moynahan died 8 Aug 1903 (he was married and had a child)
- His half-sister Mary Moynahan died 8 Apr 1905 (more on this below in "Locating Timothy's Kin - 1940")
|A photo of Timothy Jr.'s father Timothy Moynahan (1813-1902) taken in 1900.|
|1910 postcard of the"Asylum For The Insane, Queen West, Toronto"; Special Collections of the Toronto Public Library|
Timothy's file was provided to me for my personal use and research purposes only and I am prohibited from publishing the material here without the permission of the Archives of Ontario.
My intention here is to tell Timothy's story in a way that I think he would approve so I am summarizing some of the key findings from his patient file below:
- A Photograph of Timothy Jr.: There was a photograph taken of Timothy on October 1935. In his patient file, to describe his appearance, it was written that he was "an old red-faced Irishman" and, after seeing his photograph, I saw a resemblance to his father Timothy Sr. (pictured above)
- Lack of information in Timothy's file from the London Asylum: This was surprising to me as I read Timothy's Toronto Asylum file. The Toronto Asylum write to Dr McCallum of the London asylum in 1906 stating that they "received no papers" for Timothy, and again that "there was no history or certificate papers received for this patient" Timothy's Case Book at the Toronto Asylum does not start until June 6, 1909 and in 1934 the official diagnosis on his file was "schizophrenia".
- Timothy's final days: Timothy was visited by a priest on November 6 when he was sent to 2B and where he was attended to hourly. He made a recovery though because on November 12 he was returned to the Verandah of 6a where he spent his final nine days .
- Timothy's Date of death: On November 21, 1941, Timothy (80 years-of-age) was found dead on morning rounds at 6 am. The Chief Coroner was notified after Dr. K.J. Walters attended him and priest arrived at 7:05 am.
- Timothy's Burial location: Timothy was buried on November 24, 1941 at 9:30 am by Father O'Connell of St. Michaels College. The undertakers were Myers-Elliott. Internment was at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Toronto
- Locating Timothy's Next-of-kin: There was a serious effort undertaken in 1940 by the staff at the Toronto Asylum to locate next of kin for Timothy when his health was deteriorating. Due to lack of information in his file, the only clue that they had to go on was that he was from Maidstone. From 1939 to 1941, Timothy's weight went from 156 to 114 pounds. He had many teeth extracted and was fed on a diet of soup and eggnog mostly.
Due to lack of information in Timothy's file, the Toronto Asylum contacted the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) with the only clue that they had to go on which was that Timothy was originally from Maidstone, Ontario.
As I stated above, when Timothy Jr. was transferred to Toronto in 1906, he was the last of his kin.
The OPP persisted and attempted to locate anyone who would know about Timothy Jr. and, based on a report dated October 16, 1940, they spoke to the following people:
- Mrs. Mary (Moynahan) Allen (1881-1944). Mary was the daughter of my second great grand uncle John Moynahan (1844-1906) and her brother was the well-known Essex auctioneer William Moynahan whom I have written about before (see "Maidstone Auctioneer William Moynahan (1878-1950)")
- Mr. Ignatious Halford. Ignatious was the postmaster in Maidstone, Ontario.
- Miss NellieMoynahan. Nellie is my 2nd great aunt and she was a school teacher throughout Essex county and I have written about her before (see "Nellie" Moynahan: Teacher ")
- Mrs. Sylvester Pheney: this name that appeared in the OPP file was new to me and sent me on a new search that brought me back to some familiar Detroit Moynahans that I had researched before!
Mr Ignatious Halford believed that Timothy had died 65 years ago in a London Hospital and his father died in Detroit
Both Mrs. Mary Allen and Mr Ignatious Halford directed the OPP to contact Nellie Moynahan who was a school teacher and "could give some information regarding this Moynahan family"
|Miss Nellie Moynahan (1865-1940) provided information to the OPP regarding Timothy Jr.|
On Tuesday Oct. 15, 1940, the OPP interviewed Nellie at her home. Nellie died one month later on November 20, 1940.
Here is some of what Nellie said to the OPP:
- Nellie's father Jeremiah (1837-1922) had a brother named Timothy (1847-1929) who was older than her father and who she believed had been dead for forty years. (Could Nellie have confused him with Jeremiah's older brother Matthew (1835-1910)?)
- Timothy Moynahan had been married three times and had three sons by the last marriage as follows - Timothy, James and Enos. This is it exactly! Nellie knew the family!
- Timothy Moynahan Sr. is believed to have spent his last remaining years at the St. Joseph's Sisters Home in London, Ontario. (This would explain how Timothy died in London, Ontario. I had initially believed that he was in London to visit his son at the asylum.)
- Timothy Moynahan Jr. is reported to have developed yellow fever when about twelve years of age, he was placed at a Mental Hospital, London, Ontario
- Miss Nellie Moynahan stated that she had never heard of this man's death and should the man be living he would be 79 or 80 years old
- Miss Nellie then said that Mrs. Sylvester Pheney of West Grand Blvd., Detroit is reported to be the niece of Timothy Moynahan.
|Relationship chart for Timothy Jr. (1861-1941) and Mrs Sylvester Pheney (1879-11948)|
Her husband Sylvester Pheney (1875-1940) was a well-known attorney who died in May 1940 after an extended illness perhaps explaining why Margaret (Moynahan) Pheney did not answer the letters and/or telegrams from the Toronto Asylum in October 1940?
|Source: Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · Thu, May 30, 1940 · Page 16|
I am grateful to Geoffrey Reaume and the good folks at he Mt. Hope Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario for helping me to locate the final resting place of Timothy Moynahan Jr. who I was blessed to visit on the 2nd of November 2017.
Timothy is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Toronto in a common grave in a pine box with three other individuals and there are no markers. Thanks to staff at Mt. Hope Cemetery I was able to locate Lot 119 and leave some white carnations for him from his Moynahan family.
On the day that I visited Timothy Jr.'s burial location, the colours of the surrounding trees were magnificent - reds, yellows and oranges; the rain stopped briefly and I could hear the sound of a nearby stream in the ravine next to Timothy's grave.
The Mt. Hope Cemetery informed me that every year in August, there's an annual mass for the faithful departed where chairs are set up in the location of Timothy's grave. In 2018, it will be on August 15th: "The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Annual Mass For The Faithful Departed" and I plan to be there.
I want to thank everyone who assisted me in this quest to tell Timothy's story:
- Archives Ontario staff for assisting every step of the way
- Professor Geoffrey Reaume (author of "Remembrance of Patients Past: Life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane") for supportive emails and for writing a book that honours all of the patients of the Toronto Asylum
- Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto for giving such great guidance, directions and suggestions that allowed me to pay my respects to my first cousin (four times removed) Timothy Moynahan (1861-1941)
- Saturday, May 31, 2014; 52 Ancestors #22: Timothy Moynahan https://moynahangenealogy.blogspot.ca/2014/05/52-ancestors-22-timothy-moynahan.html
- Wednesday, October 11, 2017; Young Timothy: Found At Last? https://moynahangenealogy.blogspot.ca/2017/10/long-since-forgotten-by-family-members.html
- Timothy Moynahan: When Windsor Was A Wilderness
- Timothy Moynahan: The Voyage from the Old Sod
- Timothy Moynahan: 1829 - Days of the Old Horse Boats
- Timothy Moynahan: The Shillelaugh Guards
- Timothy Moynahan: Timothy Moynahan's kin?
- Enos and James Moynahan
- Tombstone Tuesday - The St Alphonsus' Moynahans
- Mary (Moynahan) Moynahan of Corktown, Detroit
- Detroit Postal Clerk M.J. Moynahan ~ Mt. Elliott Zinc Marker
- City of Windsor Directories (1888-1964): http://scholar.uwindsor.ca/windsor-directories/
- South Western Ontario Digital Archives: Windsor and Region Publications: http://scholar.uwindsor.ca/swoda-windsor-region/