Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meeneghans in Mayo

Finding my first Irish census record for my mother's family has brought my attention back to that branch of my family. We are fortunate that my great-grandparents' Irish homeland was known by family lore.  "Granny" came from Mullaghroe on the Mullet peninsula  in western Mayo (God help us), as she always modified it. In telling what I have learned about my grandmother, Sarah Meeneghan, and her older sister, Mary, in early posts I pulled together much of what I know about the family. The digitized 1911 Irish census has added Irish names to my data base.

My great-grandfather, Dominick Meeneghan, emigrated from Ireland and married in Wheeling. WV in January of 1887. The marriage record lists his parents: William Meeneghan and Mary Riley. There is some evidence that he had followed his bride, Ellen Broderick, who may have come to work as a domestic.  A woman I believe to be her sister was working in a household across the river in Ohio. The couple moved north to Springfield, NY where Mary was born in October of that year.

"Cousins" William and Hannah Meeneghan were already established in Springfield. What was their relationship? They must have paved the way for Dominick and enticed him to settle in rural New York.  The Meeneghan name is uncommon enough in the US that I can identify all but one or two of those currently in on-line phone directories.

I had no other information beyond the parents' names until I found an April 1906 obituary that lists Mary Meeneghan as Dominick's sister.  It also mentions a "sister in the west." The 1900 census lists her as a servant in the household of William Festus Morgan in Cooperstown.

Another researcher had passed along an Irish birth record from LDS microfilm that lists a daughter, Sarah, to William and Mary in Manraghory.  That gives Dominick two sisters, both of whom have namesakes in his family.

This census record for Binghamstown, on the Mullet peninsula, fills out the family and adds several more siblings.

Combining these individuals we can construct what we know of the family unit.

William, b 1829
Mary b. 1835
William b. 1844 (not possible to be the child of William and Mary)
Dominick b. 1857 (Mary was 22)
Mary b. 1860
Sarah b. 1861 (was she the sister 'in the west?')
Catherine b. 1865
Margaret b. 1871
James b. 1874
Anne b. 1881 (Mary was 46)

Certainly, there could be additional children who had left home by 1911.  Gaps of more than 2 years could also indicate  early deaths. Could there be another William who was the eldest?  Naming convention would be to name sons after the grandparents before taking the father's name.

The Irish are not known for being imaginative with family names, and the names of Dominick's children mirror his birth family:  Mary, Sarah, Ellen, William,  twins Katherine and Anne, Margaret, and John were his children.

The next census schedule indicates that they own their home, which was called one room, with two windows on the front.  It was solidly built of stone, brick or concrete, with a roof of wood or thatch.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dear MYRTLE's Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 CITE!

To illustrate the way a variety of documents, correctly cited, will support our research, we are challenged by describe an event in two paragraphs with three sources.  As my research has recently focused on one of the early families of Erving, MA, I choose to evaluate Oliver Moore's residence as a land holder.  Was he a speculator, or did he establish a home in Erving?

The Moores were a prominent family of Southington, Connecticut mentioned in many published histories, which take the family back to the 1600s and to England before that.  Written genealogies are tempting to absorb into our research in their entirety.  They have been published, after all.  We're not talking about the internet here. No shaking leaves. None of the reports that I have uncovered, including the published History of Erving from 1983, acknowledges Oliver Moore as an early settler.  "Early" is a relative term in this town that was not incorporated until 1838.

                          Under 5 - 1 0- 15 - 20 - 30 - 40 - 50 - 60 - 70 - 80 - 90    5-10 -15-20-30-40

The first source for Oliver's residence is the 1840 Federal Census of Erving 1.  As only the Head of Household is listed on the schedule, the ages of the remaining family members are analyzed based on the age categories given.  They match what has been published about his family in Connecticut fairly well:  Oliver, born in 1796 would have been 44; son James born in 1820 would have been 20; another male is listed aged 20-30 who could have been a brother or a hired man; Oliver's wife Abigail would have been 41; and their two daughters born in 1834 and 1838 would have been under 10, although both are listed in the 5 -10 category.  Secondly, the 1838 deed from Lucius Clarke for land on the north side of the Millers River in Erving listed Oliver as "of Erving's Grant." 2 He had purchased land in Wendell in 1838, but had relatively few other transactions.  They included known family members.  Only one Oliver Moore was in the deed indices until hs grandson came along. And thirdly, a transcription of obituaries in CT states that Oliver's daughter Nancy died in Erving in 1838. 3  

When their daughter Caroline died in 1842, the family had returned to Connecticut, based on her death record. More work will narrow the window that he lived in Massachusetts, but that is not for this challenge. Oliver's son James remained in Erving and prospered. That is another story. There is something very satisfying about primary research! 


 1   Year: 1840; Census Place: Erving, Franklin, Massachusetts; Roll: 183; Page: 39; Image: 86; Family History Library Film: 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

2   Franklin County Registry of Deeds, Greenfield, MA, Book 106, Page 213

3 Connecticut, Hale Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: The Charles R. Hale CollectionHale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut State Library.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ladies in the WPA

How do I love reading Annual Town Reports?  Let me count the ways.

We may be familiar with heavy construction projects which were the fruit of the WPA during the 1930s.  The 1937 Report for the Town of Greenfield, MA lists 20 projects, including "Sewing for the Needy."

It states that this project furnished employment for up to 64 women over 50,000 hours and $23,000 in wages during the year.  Statistics were tallied and resulted in 17,751 distinct articles being made from 49,000 yards of material. 

They made:
Boys' pajamas           609
Boys' pants                257
Boys shirts             2,333
Boys shorts               254
Children's sleepers   516
Girls' bloomers           72
Girl's dresses            647
Girls' pajamas          535
Girls' slips                 156
Infants' diapers      1,159
Infants' dresses          48
Infants' nightgowns  48
Infants' slips               96
Ladies' bloomers     240
Ladies' dresses         956
Ladies' nightgowns 382
Ladies' pajamas      340
Ladies' slips               39
Men's pajamas        375
Men's shirts         4,960
Men's shorts           528
Towels                   1,774
Pillow Cases           894
Sheets                      515

The Town Accountant's Report lists $216 expended in materials.  All of these items were given to needy families in Franklin County, mainly Greenfield residents.  Quite an achievement!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Midnight Mass

My father wasn't a church-goer.  He would drop us off at St. Mary's church on Sunday mornings, and we would often walk down to Holland Farms for a doughnut afterwards, and meet him there.  I moved on to riding my bike to church, some weeks, and later we enjoyed attending Mass at Hamilton College, where the atmosphere was casual.

When I was in high school, my mother worked two nights a week at the Lutheran Home, a residential care facility.  She didn't drive, and one of us had to drop her off, but that is another story.  She would volunteer to work the 11-7 shift on Christmas Eve to allow the other nurses with younger children to be at home.  Around that time we started to enjoy Midnight Mass at Christmas and Dad participated.  Was it because I didn't have my license yet?   

You might think that with students on the holiday break there would not be a Mass at the college.  For some reason, Christmas remained on the schedule and there always seemed to be a good crowd. There would be candles, and someone played the organ.  I remember one year that we got a significant snowfall during the time we were inside.  It was magical to come out to the sparkling darkness with carols in our ears.

After the first year, I am pretty sure that it was the promise of breakfast with the Burns family in Franklin Springs that kept him coming, but it was a special time of togetherness for me.

(I'd like to credit the photo, but clicking it took me to an unsavory web site, so I'll just leave it at a google image search)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The First Ornament

My Christmas tree is covered with memories.  Some of the ornaments came from my childhood, some from my first Christmas in my own apartment, some gifts, and now some given to my children for their own trees someday. 

There is a singular golden ball that comes with a story of its own. My mother says that someone (who?) came to visit her grandparents' home when her father was young.  It was Christmastime and they had no tree.  The guest insisted on giving them a gift of the ball.  Were there more?  How did their celebrations change after this gift?  When I visited my grandmother in the same house as a child, Christmas happened in the front parlor, with a wall sized mirror, the piano and a well decorated tree.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Memorial in Cooperstown

My grandfather, Bill Coleman, served in France during the first World War.  His sister, my great aunt Bess, wrote to him often during the war and later served on the committee to establish a memorial to the war dead. The list includes their cousin, Joe Coleman. She saved the program, which I have transcribed here.

Program of the Unveiling and Dedication of the Cooperstown World War Memorial
Armstice Day, November 11, 1931

The Memorial

Thirteen years have passed since that memorable Armistice Day of November 11, 1918. Since that time there have been several attempts to secure a World War Memorial all of which have proven unsuccessful.  Finally the ladies of the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit No. 579, pledged themselves to the task of properly commemorating to posterity the deeds of those who served and the names of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War and to that end asked the Cooperstown Exchange Club and the Cooperstown Rotary Club to name a joint Committee to select a site and a suitable form of Memorial.

Under the able leadership of Hon. Walter Watson Stokes, who became the Chairman of this joint committee, the site was secured, the form of Memorial agreed upon by the committee, adopted by the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit No. 579, and the campaign for the necessary funds instituted, all of which culminated in the splendid Memorial we are now here to dedicate.

The Committee here wishes to extend its appreciation to those whose services made this Memorial an actuality.

The designer and sculptor of the bronze figure is John Horrigan, Sr., of Boston, Mass.  The Studio in which the statue and markers were modeled and cast is T. F. McGann & Sons Co., Boston, Mass.  The beautiful granite boulder upon which the bronze figure stands is the gift of Mr. William Lighthall of Starkville, New York.  The moving and transporting of the huge boulder from its location near Starkville, Herkimer County, N.Y. , to Cooperstown presented a very difficult engineering  problem which was successfully completed by Hans H. Frey, as principal contractor and the sub-contractors Bart J. Ruddy, Inc., and Utica Trucking and Cartage Co., All of Utica, N.Y. The markers were placed by Everett A. Potter and Peter Jones of Cooperstown.  Miss Elizabeth Patterson of Cooperstown, suggested the inscription on the tablet on the front of the Memorial.  Alfred R. Cobbett and Ernest F. Tyler of Cooperstown, supervised the architectural details regarding the general design and the placing of the Memorial.

And last but not least the Committee is deeply grateful to those loyal and patriotic citizens of Cooperstown and vicinity whose suggestions, advice, and generous contributions have made the Memorial possible.

In Memoriam
Gold Star Mothers
Harry J. Andrews
Mrs. Viania O’Dell (deceased)
F. Clifford Bliss
Mrs. Frank Bliss
Robert G. Cobbett
Mrs. William Cobbett (deceased)
Joseph A. Coleman
Mrs Charles Coleman
James Fenimore Cooper, Jr.
Mrs.  James Fenimore Cooper
Vinton A. Dearing
Mrs. Mary H. Dearing
Foster Eggleston
Mrs. George Eggleston (deceased)
James Franklin Hayne
Mrs. James Hayne
Charles E. Hecox
Mrs. Kendrick Hecox
Walter Herrick
Mrs. James J. Shartz
Charles N. Hopkins
Mrs. Charles L. Hopkins
Leo A. Leach
Mrs. L. Leach (deceased)
Stephen J. Johnson
Mrs. Stephen Johnson
Charles Mc Graw
Mrs. Cora McGraw
Lewis N Mallory
Mrs. William Mallory
H. Lynn Marble
Mrs. James L. Marble (deceased)
Albert S. Peet
Mrs. Fenimore C. Peet (deceased)
George T. Record
Mrs. Chauncey A. Record
Henry Reed
Mrs. Hiram Reed (deceased)
Ralph R. Rexford
Mrs. L. Rexford (deceased)
Lewis W. Ross
Mrs. Fred Armstrong
Albert L. Seeber
Mrs.  George Seeber (deceased)
Walter A. Seeger
Mrs. Lester C. Seeger (deceased)
Clark F. Simmons
Mrs. Frank Simmons
John W. Stiles
Mrs. James Stiles
Fred L. Stilson
Mrs. M.D. Stilson
Harry A. Winn
Mrs. Abram Winn

                        Walter Watson Stokes, Chairman                
Berton G. Johnson, Vice Chairman                             
Alfred Rcobbett, Treasurer                              
Mrs. Fletcher A Blanchard, Secretary             
Mrs. Floyd J. Atwell                                    Miss ElizabethG. Patterson
Fletcher A. Blanchard                                  Mrs. Alfred J. Peevers
Harold D. Carpenter                                     Adrian A. Pierson
Mrs. Alfred R. Cobbett                                 Dr. Leroy Pitcher
Miss Elizabeth Coleman                               Benjamin Reisman
Newton E.D. Gilmore                                   Mrs. Frank Simmons
Berton G. Johnson                 `                       William C. Smalley
Mrs. Berton G. Johnson                                 Mrs. James Stiles
Joseph P. Leary                                               Clermonte G. Tennant
Moses E. Lippitt                                             Orange L. Van Horne
Mrs. A. John Wedderspoon


Invocation                                           The Rev. Gordon L. Kidd
Huggick-Purcell-Shepherd Post, American Legion, Richfield Springs Singing “America”
Presentation of Monument               Rowan D. Spraker, 
                                                              President of the Village   
Acceptance of Monument                Alfred R. Cobbett
                                                              Clark F. Simmons Post No. 579, 
                                                              American Legion, Cooperstown
Unveiling under direction of A. Leo Stevens, formerly chief instructor in Aeronautics, U.S. Army.
Dedication                                             The Hon. Clermonte G. Tennant, Cooperstown
Singing National Anthem 
Salute to the Dead
Program by courtesy of the Freeman’s Journal Co.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

If Walls Could Talk

The village of Farley grew along the Millers River in the Town of Erving, MA when the Farley brothers established their paper mill  across the river in Wendell, about 1888 (MHC Reconnaissance Report - Wendell, 1982).

I moved into my new/old house in Farley last December.  I was taken by the high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, dental moldings, dual fireplaces (not operational) around the massive central chimney, and by a feeling of history in the walls.  Since then, I've been wondering what those walls have seen.

My predecessors lived here for 53 years.  It must have been a great spot for a family, with the river in the back yard and remains of the mill buildings nearby. The lady of the house was quite a gardener, and the catalogs continue to arrive by mail.  The husband was a carpenter, and identical custom cabinets in the kitchen, pantry, and two bathrooms show his handiwork.  A neighbor said the arched opening in the entry was his making as well.  Do the knots emerging from under the paint of the crown molding show them to be newer than they look? There is evidence of hinges on the remaining doorways, where doors would have kept the heat contained in the living areas. What other renovations happened during their tenure?  The gold sparkles on the kitchen counter say early 1960s to me.

Evidence of history can be found in the stone-walled basement. The floor is partially dirt, and begs for more exploration. There are no partitions, no coal room that is found in many old cellars. It has adequate headroom for its use as a workshop for the past owner.  A bulkhead door in the back was  blocked when a deck was added. Part of the kitchen has no basement under it, although the bowed front window does.  Was a side porch enclosed to expand the kitchen? 

The gambrel roof makes room for a full attic on the third floor.  Partition walls clad with bead-board establish four distinct rooms, two with closets.  Servant's quarters? The kitchen rehab eliminated the back staircase, which would have allowed the kitchen help to get up to their attic quarters without disturbing the family in the main part of the house.  The remaining doorway molding at the landing was the first clue, as well as the bottom step visible in the basement. I would like to make measurements of the current walls to understand their relationships. I'm having a hard time imagining the original kitchen layout.

Reading the deeds and the 1900 census reveals that this was not the home of one of the Farleys, but their company accountant, George Monroe.  Sophia Bergstrom was the family's 25 year old servant from Sweden.  The records of the Town of Erving include three Monroe children born to George and his wife Minnie Blodget: Alice in 1892, Harris in 1895, and Barbara in 1902. That places them here at least during those years.  In 1910, they were in Orange, where the family continued to live until at least 1940.

More questions come to mind in the four bedrooms upstairs. The second floor bathroom is an obvious add-on, and the full length window in the northern bedroom might have been a door to the small porch.  The only means of access now is through one of the window. The smallest bedroom is connected through the sunny southern bedroom.  Was it a dressing room or nursery?

I may never answer these questions definitively, but the fun is in the puzzling.