Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2018 - My Top 5 Family History Discoveries

Photo taken at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Toronto, final resting place of Timothy Moynahan (1861-1941)

I have been researching my family history since the early 1980s and I have been sharing my genealogical discoveries online since 2013 (thanks in large part to Amy Crow's 52 Ancestors).

We may never know who the author of the above "Chosen" quote is but I can tell you that it has always resonated with me. Since the 1980s, I have felt "called" to find the ancestors and tell their stories in the hope that they would approve.

My retirement combined with the increasing availability of genealogical records online have contributed to some incredible discoveries for me particularly in 2018. Here are My Top 5 Family Tree Discoveries in 2018:
  1. Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Coughlin cousins
  2. Detroit, Michigan Moynahan-Pheney cousins
  3. Jemima Bell Hind and the British Home Child Community
  4. Ontario Land Records Online
  5. Ireland Trip 2019 - From My Brother
1.) Breaking Through My Coughlin Brickwall

In February 2018,  after over thirty years of searching Poughkeepsie records for information about my great-grandfather William Henry Coughlin's (1872-1952) family, I accidentally located a record at Family Search that set in motion many more wonderful discoveries!

Our Poughkeepsie Coughlin family found at last!

The "accidental discovery" was due to my frustration with surname search engines (which had never produced ANY "Coughlin" results) and so I decided to "browse" the FREE records at Family Search for Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York.

And there they were! Th Coughlins in 1875 in Poughkeepsie (Ward 1) living with the Mulligan family (James Mulligan was a saloon keeper in Poughkeepsie)!!

Source: Poughkeepsie; Ward 01; The Cochlin family
Well, as they say, the rest was history. The series of events went as follows:
  • At newspapers.com I found obituaries and news stories that took me deeper into the Coughlin story in Poughkeepsie. Two of the Coughlin boys died tragically too young.
  • When newspapers.com led me from Poughkeepsie to Connecticut, I eventually reached out (by email) to someone who I suspected could be my second cousin (1x) and the hunch paid off! I had found our Coughlin family at long last!!
  • There has been so much sharing of photographs and information (see my links below) with my Connecticut cousins since then. I feel so grateful.
  • Finally, on February 27, 2018, I mailed away for my great-grandfather Michael Coughlin's (1840-1921) death certificate and I received it (one year later) in the first week of January 2019. I now the names of Michael's parents (Patrick and Margaret (McGrath) Coughlin) for the very first time!
Source: New York State Department of Health Bureau of Vital Records; Death certificate: Michael Coughlin 1921
 My 2018 Coughlin blog posts:

2.) Connecting With My Pheney Cousins

In all the years that I have been researching my Moynahan ancestors in Essex/Windsor, Ontario, I have also been curious about the MANY, many Moynahans in Detroit across the river.

In the case of our Moynahan-Pheney connection, it all started with a unique zinc tombstone in the Mt. Elliott cemetery in Detroit:
Located just inside the gates of historic Mt. Elliott cemetery,
this stone sits among grand mausoleums, Smithsonian art, and several other zinc monuments.
Later I came across a Mary Moynahan in Corktown Detroit and I corresponded with a Detroit Corktown researcher Paul Szewczyk (aka Paul Sewick) who was writing about Corktown's tradition of female home ownership in the 19th century.
  • Mary Moynahan is the daughter of my 4th great-uncle Timothy Moynahan (1813-1902) of Maidstone, Ontario
  • After M.J. Moynahan's wife Hannah died in 1870, he married Mary (1847-1905) in 1877. 
  • M.J. and Mary Moynahan's daughter Margaret M. Moynahan married Sylvester J. Pheney.
The name "Pheney" came up again when I received the medical file for my first cousin (4x) Timothy Moynahan (1861-1941) who, at seventeen years-of-age, was sent to the London asylum. (In 2014 It became my obsession to locate Timothy Moynahan's  final resting place (which I did in 2017))
  • Cerebro-spinal meningitis did not kill Timothy in 1873 (as it did to his younger brother James) and Timothy's poor father reluctantly committed Timothy Jr. in 1878 to an asylum.
  • Timothy spent his entire life in asylums (1878-1941) a total of 63 years. He died in the notorious Toronto asylum (known to locals as "999 Queen").
  • When Timothy Jr. was failing in his final years, the asylum attempted to locate his next-of-kin but all were dead except for one - Mrs. Margaret M. (Moynahan) Pheney in Detroit.
  • After my great aunt Nellie Moynahan informed authorities of her whereabouts, the Toronto Asylum sent telegrams to Mrs. Sylvester Pheney. 
  • Mrs. Sylvester Pheney is the daughter of Timothy's half-sister Mary (Moynahan) Moynahan who had lived in Corktown (and who died in Detroit, Michigan in 1905)  
  • There is no record of Mrs. Sylvester Pheney answering the telegrams in Timothy's file. This I believe is due to the fact that her husband Sylvester Pheney (1875-1940) (who was a well-known attorney) had JUST died in May 1940 after an extended illness (the telegrams from the Toronto Asylum were sent shortly after his death in October 1940).
Much of the documentary evidence connecting the Detroit-Windsor Moynahans is sorely lacking, however, there is a DNA match connecting my father directly to this Pheney family.

The most delightful part of this story is that on September 12, 2018 my father contacted his DNA match and we have been sharing information about our family history ever since! Here are more links to this Moynahan-Pheney branch of the family tree:

3.) Finding Jemima Gray Hind 
and Connecting To 
The British Home Child Community

In October 2018, when I was commemorating my great-grandfather John Moreland (1882-1940), I was curious about why we NEVER knew anything about one of his sisters (Jemima), even though we knew a lot about his other two sisters (Mary and Catherine)? Their mother Agnes Bell Hind Moreland died on the 3rd of January 1888 at 36 years of age leaving behind four small children.
  1. 11-year-John and his sister 7-year-old Mary are found at the Smithston/Ravenscraig/Lochilhead workhouse for children .
    • John became a career soldier, fought in WWI, married his Dover, England bride and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He died a Quarter Master Sergeant of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Kingston, Ontario.
    • Mary became an attendant at the Lochilhead Poorhouse/Asylum (and later a nurse) and she was married at Lochilhead in 1904 to Lochilhead Poorhouse/Asylum attendant William Stenhouse who is the son of a Police Contable. Mary remained in Scotland all her life.
  2. 14-year-old Catherine is found in 1891 at 53 Drumfrochar Rd, in the town of Greenock, Scotland working as a domestic for the Smith family (Head of household Margaret Smith is noted as a "Mariner's wife" and the "mariner" is not listed on the census)
    • Catherine married Alexander Freeman (d. 1919) and they had a daughter Agnes. Catherine's second marriage was to widower John Gentles. Catherine remained in Scotland all her life.
  3. 15-year-old Jemima is found in in 1891 living as a domestic for the Campbell family in Montreal Quebec; moving to Brockville, Ontario in 1901 and then lost in paper records after that.To my surprise, I discovered that Jemima Agnes Hind was a Quarrier Child!
I sent  £25  to the Quarriers Bridge of Weir Renfrewshire, for Jemima Hind's records and received her file in December 2018.

The package that I received from the Quarriers in the UK concerning my 2nd great aunt Jemima Gray Hind (1876-?)
What I did NOT find out that I had hoped for:
  • Some files of British Home Children contain their photos. Jemima's file did not have her photo
  • I hoped to find out where and when she died. The records that followed after Jemima left for Canada (30 May 1889) were called "Reports From Canada" (R 14/15; 36/51; 65/62; 24/71; 52/89 and 45/2) and they were all destroyed when the Canadian end of the organization closed down many years ago. This breaks my heart.
What I DID learn:
  • There is a comprehensive "Narrative of Facts" that describes Jemima's trip to Canada (30 May 1889)
  • Jemima was admitted to care on 17th of  February 1888 at the City Orphan Home, James Morrison St., Glasgow
  • She was transferred to the Quarriers village on the 18th of  February, 1888 and allocated to Cottage 18.
  • Jemima's mother Agnes Bell Hind was a domestic servant when she died at 10 Downs St. Springburn of heart disease on January 3rd, 1888
  • Jemima's grand-aunt, Mrs Weir reportedly raised Jemima's mother but cannot keep her child. Mrs Weir who "seems a decent Christian woman is getting up in years and is anxious some permanent place be got for Jemima". Mrs Weir signed Jemima's papers at her house and was unable to deliver Jemima to the Quarriers personally so she sent Jemima with Alex Miller (her son-in-law).
  • "Jemima promises to do well. She is on the 3rd Standard."
  • In 1897 - it is noted that Mrs Weir had died "some years past".
  • In Nov. 1914, the UK file says that "her (Jemima's) mother subsequently married a Moreland by whom she had three children. Mrs Miller, 42 Harcourt Avenue, Toronto, who is the daughter of Mrs Weir gave information concerning the Morelands...one of the Moreland children was a boy and is now said to be in Canada"
I have NOT found Jemima Gray Hind in Canadian records after the 1901 census - Brockville, Ontario where she is living in the home of Alexander Burges (b 1852) and Ann M. Burgess (b 1845). ( Alexander Burges was the Superintendant of the Quarrier receiving home in Brockville known as Fairknowe House )

Jemima Gray Hind's story is far from complete. I won't rest until I find her final place of rest.

It would be wonderful to learn that her half-brother (my great-grandfather) John Moreland or her cousin Mrs. Mary (Bain Weir) Miller (my 1c 4x) searched for her in Canada and found her. It would be a happy ending to a very sad story.

On a more positive note, the British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association community is one of the most welcoming and helpful I have found. It is based in Barrie Ontario and their CEO: Ms. Lori Oschefski has assisted me personally with my questions about British Home Children records and I am grateful for all that the association does.

4.) Learning That The  Ontario Land Records 
Went Online 

On December 18, 2017, the Ontario Land Registry built a web portal (https://www.onland.ca/ui/) to deliver key statutory services relating to land and property ownership in Ontario to land registry professionals and the public.

This is a gold mine of information for genealogists with ancestors in Ontario!

In January 2018, I created five blog posts on "How To Navigate" this online resource and it turned into my most visited blog posts of all time (thanks to Family Search; the Ontario Genealogical Society and many folks on social media who shared my work)

For example, here is a walk-through demonstrating how I found the land records for my 4th great-grandfather Matthew Moynahan (1770-1860) who lived in Maidstone (known originally as Sandwich), Ontario. (Link here: https://moynahangenealogy.blogspot.com/2018/01/part-iv-onland-records-historical-books.html)

Matthew Moynahan; 296 NTR, Sandwich, Ontario; Source: Archives of Ontario; Ontario Government Record: Map Crown Lands; Sandwich South Township; RG 1-100-0-0-2458

My OnLand blog posts:

5.) My Brother Calls To Say 
"We're Going To Ireland!"

On January 18, 2018, my brother "Paddy" (that's how my grandmother Rhea (Coughlin) Moynahan wrote his name) called his sisters to say "We're Going To Ireland!" and one year after the phone call, the tickets are booked and all of the details are being planned.

Exploring our Roots in Ireland

The counties of our ancestors above are known, but not the exact townlands. I have upgraded my ancestry membership to assist me in searching through the Irish records to locate the precise parishes/townlands but Irish records are incredibly challenging to locate and decipher.

I am dedicating blog posts to each of the ancestors (noted above) starting with Finding Our Brennan Ancestors In Kerry, Ireland where I outline ALL of the known facts and clues from oral histories.

I will be devoting all of my attention to this project for the next six months and I plan to blog about it for the cousins and followers of this blog.

Thank You "Paddy"

So incredibly grateful  The sisters with brother "Paddy"

My brother has made my lifelong dream come true with this incredible offer to visit Ireland in the footsteps of our ancestors. I am so incredibly grateful and I am looking forward to 2019.