Saturday, 18 April 2015

Catharine Byrne, a ‘fallen’ woman?

My third great-grandparents, Francis and Jane (Daly) Byrne had five children that I know of. Their son, Francis, my great-great-grandfather, lived and died in Lower Jane Place, Dublin and their daughter, Hannah (Byrne) Comiskey, emigrated, spending her last forty years in New York. But, prior to the 1901 Census in Dublin, I lost track of the other three. They were named Charles, Jane and Catharine Byrne.

Buoyed by the recent success at finding a record of my third great-grandmother's death in Brooklyn, I hoped to now pick up the trail of her missing children in New York City. I knew from Jane's obituary, in 1901, she was survived by two daughters and one son.  It was this genealogical quest that has yielded my latest, perhaps somewhat polemic, discovery.

I came across the marriage of Katherine Byrnes and Charles Carroll, on 27 February 1920, in Manhattan. Ignoring spelling variations in favour of phonetic pronunciation, Katherine seems a likely contender for one of my missing great-great-grandaunts, Catharine Byrne.  This lady was also born in Dublin and her parents were named as Frank Byrnes and Jane Daly. Charles Carroll was a widower, the son of Charles Carroll and Sarah McDonald.

Everything fit, apart from Katherine’s stated year of birth –1875. She was said to have been born fourteen years after our Catharine Byrne, who was baptised in O’Toole's parish in Dublin in January 1861. But, that didn't put me off, much; this family were notoriously inaccurate when reporting their ages, especially as their years progressed. Plus, back then, it might have been very difficult to admit to being fifty-nine years old at your first marriage – better to have only been only forty-five. You may think fifty-nine sounds just plain ‘too old’ for a first marriage back then, but bear with me.

The 1920 US Federal Census, showed Charles E. and Catherine Carroll, living together as a married couple, at 405 82nd Street, Manhattan. There were also three adult children, John aged twenty-one, Charles aged twenty, and Francis aged eighteen years. Catherine was said to have been fifty-one years old, or born about 1868, here only seven years from the 1861 birth date of my great-great-grandaunt. Charles senior worked as a plasterer.  Initially, I thought he might have had the children with a former wife, who had since died. But, all was not as it first seemed.

First, this census was enumerated on 17 January 1920, nearly six weeks before the marriage. Secondly, the birth registers for John, Charles and Francis, all born in Manhattan, confirm their mother was indeed Kat(i)e Byrnes, and not some former wife of Charles.

Using the census records to trace the family backwards in time, they were all together in Manhattan, in 1910, but with an elder daughter, thirteen year old, Catherine, who was not with them in 1920. Catherine senior gave her birthdate as about 1866, getting ever closer to the actual birthdate of my great-great-grandaunt.

In the 1900 census, the household included Charles and Katie Carroll, and their infant children Katie, John and Charles. Francis was not born until 1901. Katie senior’s birth date was given as January 1865, the same month as my great-great-grandaunt and now within only four years of her birth.  They said they were six years married, although no record of their marriage has been found in the New York City records. A birth record for young Katie, which, according to the census, occurred in New York in November 1896, has likewise not been located.

Working forward from 1920, Catherine Carroll, the wife of Charles E. Carroll, and the daughter of Frank Byrnes and Sarah Daly, died on New Year’s Day in 1930.

As you've probably guessed and while I've found no absolute proof, I'm thinking all these records relate to the same Charles and Catherine/Katie (Byrnes) Carroll. There may have been some impediment to their marriage, at least until 1920, but they lived together nonetheless. I'm also thinking that this might have been my great-great-grandaunt, although her mother was Jane Daly, not the Sarah Daly listed in the death register. I have an explanation for this ‘slip-up’ though; one of her children may have registered her death and confused the names of their grandmothers – remember, their paternal grandmother was called Sarah.

Maybe Catherine and Charles merely lived together as husband and wife and did not legally marry, until 1920. It was presumably easy to pull this off in New York City, with its ever expanding population of new immigrants arriving from all over the world. If Catharine was deemed to have been a ‘fallen’ woman, it would certainly provide one explanation as to why her mother, a devoted Irish Catholic, seemingly disowned her in 1900 and told the census enumerator she only had one child, her daughter Hannah, with whom she was then living.

Of course, I may well have picked up the wrong end of the stick!

‘U.S. Patent D11023’ by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi -
licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.  

Main Sources

  • Catharine Byrne, 1861, St. Lawrence, Church baptism records,
  • Katherine Byrnes and Charles Carroll, 1920, ‘New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1866-1938’, index, FamilySearch
  • Carroll Family, New York, ‘United States Census, 1900, 1910 and 1920', index and imagesFamilySearch /
  • Katherine Carroll, 1930, ‘New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,' index, FamilySearch.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Not a single shred of evidence…but, a great find!

The truth is, having spent the last two weeks searching for a connection between my third great-grandmother, Jane (Daly) Byrne, and Richard Daly, her neighbour in Upper Jane Place in Dublin; I have found nothing to link them.  Likewise, apart from opportunity and proximity, there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest Jane's parents, William and Hannah Daly, were in fact the same people as Richard's parents, William and Hannah (Dillon) Daly, from Spring Gardens, in Dublin.  That is not to say it's not still a perfectly valid theory, just one that might not be provable.

Part of the problem is, after Jane married Francis Byrne in Dublin city in 1846, they received only sporadic coverage in available records. The baptism of just one child, Catherine, in January 1861, was found in the registers of St Laurence O'Toole's parish. Then in December 1869, their daughter Hannah married John Comiskey in O'Toole's parish, and Francis and Jane's address was given as Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), in south county Dublin. They were still there in September 1871, when my second great-grandfather, Francis Byrne, married Margaret McGrane. But, by 1878, the year their children, Jane and Charles, married their respective spouses, Francis senior was confirmed dead and Jane had moved back to O'Toole's parish, where she lived with her daughter Hannah, in Upper Jane Place. 

Francis Byrne senior was a fireman, but not in today's sense of the word. He was a stoker, a man who tended the fire and shovelled coal into the boilers of steam engines, be they steam trains, steamships, or maybe even in factories. I don't know where Francis worked exactly, but given their Kingstown address, he may have worked on a naval steamship; Kingstown Harbour was then the main port for shipping between Ireland and Great Britain. Richard Daly, on the other hand, was a carman, living in Oriel Street, in O'Toole's parish, at least from 1851, before moving to the newly built cottages, around the corner, at Upper Jane Place.

Steam train from Kingstown Harbour, ‘D&KR view 1840’ Wikipedia

Like, Francis and Jane, Richard's life with his first wife very nearly went completely undocumented, and similarly provided little scope for uncovering a relationship with our Jane. No marriage record was found and they do not appear to have had any children. But, thanks to a burial register recently shared by a fellow McGrane researcher, I now know, in 1875, Richard organised the interment of a Jane Daly, the wife of a carman from Upper Jane Place. Undoubtedly this was his wife. She was buried in the family plot at Glasnevin Cemetery, where Richard was later buried in 1888. Hannah Daly, Richard's mother and my prospective fourth-great-grandmother, was the first occupant of this grave, when she died, aged forty-eight, in 1840.

Strangely enough, when Richard's father, William Daly, died, aged ninety-four years, at Richard's home in Upper Jane Place, he was not buried in the family plot with his wife and daughter-in-law. In 1876, Richard organised his interment in a separate section of Glasnevin Cemetery. The other occupants of his grave were seemingly not even family members, and had no apparent connection to Jane (Daly) Byrne. 

Yet the week has not been entirely devoid of excitement… 

Having written about finding Jane listed in the newly released New York City death records, Jacqi from the blog A Family Tapestry, kindly directed me to a local Brooklyn newspaper, where I might expect to find Jane's obituary.  I have to admit, I didn't really hold out much hope that her death would have warranted a mention in the newspaper.  My ancestors were respectable, hardworking people, but they'd all lived under the radar of the national newspapers serving their native Dublin city and I suspect Jane might not even have been able to read.  Yet, this was New York, so, of course, I had to take a look.

And, lo and behold, amongst the hustle and bustle of New York's Long Island, there she was.

The obituary confirmed Jane was the widow of Francis Byrne, not that there were any lingering doubts the subject was my third great-grandmother, It provided her cause of death as pleuro-pneumonia and advised she was a devout member of St Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church at Woodhaven, in Queens.

But best of all, the real little gem of information shared, was the fact, like so many generations of her Byrne descendants left behind in Dublin, Jane was a shop-keeper. Although, there was no hint of her occupation in either the New York State Census of 1892, or the 1900 US Federal Census, Jane had kept a store at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Enfield Street in New York, for nearly twelve years before her death. Now isn't that something!

Jane (Daly) Byrne (c.1830-1901), wife of Francis.
Jane (Daly) Byrne, Obituary, Long Island, New York, 1901

Main Sources:

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Keeping it in the Family

Last week, when the names of my fourth-great grandparents, William and Hannah Daly, were discovered, I immediately went looking for a baptism record for their daughter, Jane Daly, born in or around the 1820s, possibly in Dublin.  Jane had married Francis Byrne in the Pro-Cathedral, in Dublin, in 1846. I didn't find Jane's baptism, sadly, or with it, Hannah's maiden name.

But, I did find a William and Hannah Daly, listed as the parents of Richard Daly, baptised in the Pro-Cathedral in 1818. They were also the parents of Michael Daly, baptised there in 1821 and Ann Daly in 1828. Richard was already known to me, having married into our family, and, as such, his parents, William and Hannah, are already included in my family-tree. Richard married Sarah Jane McGrane, the younger sister of Margaret McGrane. Margaret McGrane married Jane Daly's son, Francis Byrne. 

Could Richard Daly have been Jane Daly's brother, making his parents my fourth great-grandparents? They were seemingly in the right place, in the right parish, around the right time. 

And, keeping it in the family ran in this family… Francis Byrne's brother-in-law, Michael McGrane, married Kate Devine, the sister of Francis's daughter-in-law. Check out Uncle Michael married Aunt Kate for that story. His daughter, Mary Anne Byrne, married William Vickers who was the younger brother of James Vickers, married to Francis’s sister-in-law, Alice McGrane. Then, his daughter Margaret Byrne married  James Fay, the widower of his other daughter, Jane Byrne. It really was a tangled web.

On this basis, why should Francis’s other sister-in-law, Sarah Jane McGrane, not have married his 'would-be' uncle, Richard Daly?  

I can, perhaps, give you one reason why Richard should not have married Sarah Jane McGrane. Richard Daly was a widower, over forty years older than Sarah Jane, and when they married on 30 July 1879, and Sarah Jane was still shy of her eighteenth birthday - an unlikely match, even in those times. But, marry they did, nonetheless, and on their marriage register, Richard’s parents were named as William Daly and Hannah Dillon. 

So, if Jane and Richard were siblings, this marriage record would confirm the maiden name of my fourth-great-grandmother, Hannah Dillon - making it a theory very much worth proving.

To help those of you confused with this myriad of names, but familiar with the family, after Richard Daly died, Sarah married Christopher Teeling, and became the mother of the well-remembered, Frank Teeling. And, for those, who remain hopelessly lost, suffice to say, I'm thinking, the descendants of my newly found fourth great-grandparents, may have already been known to me, as the Daly family, from Jane Place.

The question is, were there two separate couples named William and Hannah Daly on this one branch of my family-tree?  I don’t know the answer yet, maybe there were, but, as we've just seen, ‘keeping it in the family ran in this family’. So maybe - just maybe - Richard Daly was my third great-granduncle, as well as being the first husband of my second-great-grandaunt.

Before she emigrated to New York, Jane (Daly) Byrne lived at 8 Upper Jane Place. She was recorded at this address when her son Charles married Mary McCarthy, in 1878.  At this time, her hypothetical brother, Richard Daly, lived just ten doors down, at number 18, on this same little street, containing just twenty-six cottages. Well, you know how often, in genealogical research, neighbours turn out to have been family!

So, I now have a potential new granny – Hannah Dillon – how about we try that on for size… and figure out if it fits.

It's a Family Neighbourhood!

Main source: Church records on 
Image: Pixabay.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Friday, 27 March 2015

A trip across the pond

Yahoo! - Celebrations - Yahoo!

I discovered the names of two of my maternal fourth great-grandparents this week – William and Hannah Daly - something that does not happen often.  Actually, to put it in perspective, prior to Tuesday, after all these years of research, I knew the names of only six of my sixty-four, fourth great-grandparents. So, this is huge!

Previously, I had located their daughter, Jane Byrne, né Daly, in the New York State Census, dated February 1892. She was going by the name of ‘Jane Burns’, having emigrated to live with her daughter, Hannah (Byrne) Comiskey. This was one of the few occasions I'd found a direct ancestor outside of Dublin, Ireland, so it was unfamiliar territory, genealogically speaking.

First, here's how my maternal grandmother connected to Jane, and William and Hannah:

Our lineage to William and Hannah Daly

In this 1892 census, Jane Burns was described as ‘an alien’, (a thought I've had about many of my elusive ancestors). She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, John and Hannah Comiskey, and their family. They were located in Brooklyn city, Kings County, New York. Jane's son-in-law, John had already obtained citizenship and the younger Comiskey children were born in the United States, including nine year old John J. So, the Comiskey family must have arrived in the U.S. no later than about 1883. 

Comiskey family, 1892 New York State Census (FamilySearch)

Jane's year of birth was recorded as about 1831, though she was likely born earlier than this; she had married Francis Byrne, in St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Dublin on 11 October 1846.

In June 1900, when the next U.S. Federal Census was enumerated, the Comiskey family, including the widow Jane, were still living in Brooklyn, New York. Jane's surname was transcribed as Bums, in error (with an ‘m’- hehe). Here, she was said to have been born in May 1835 - apparently having only aged four years over the nine birthdays since 1892 - again calling into question her true birth-year.

Jane was recorded as only ever having had one child, with only one child still living in 1900.  This contradicts other evidence showing she had at least five children, including my great-great-grandfather, Francis Byrne, who was still very much alive and living in Dublin, in 1900. I wonder, did she lose touch with home?

Comiskey Family, 1900 U.S. Federal Census, New York, (FamilySearch)

The 1900 census shows that Jane immigrated to New York in 1886, six years after the Comiskeys.

Interestingly, they were living in some kind of institution in 1900, near Jamaica Ave. / Nichols Ave., although I do not know what this was.

So why do I believe this was our Jane?

My great-great-grandaunt, Hannah Byrne, daughter of Francis Byrne and Jane Daly, married John Comiskey, on 5 December 1869, in St Lawrence O'Toole's parish, Dublin. The baptisms of five of their children were also recorded in O'Toole's registers: Rosanna in 1870; Jane in 1871; Hannah in 1874; Michael in 1877 and Francis Thomas in 1879. 

Their ages are a little off (what's new), but three of these children, Rose, Jane and Michael, listed in the correct order of baptism, were living with John and Hannah Comiskey, in New York, in 1892, as well as Hannah's mother Jane Burns [Byrne]. Our Jane, widowed at the time, had also shared an address with the Comiskeys, in Jane Place, Dublin, in 1878, when her son Charles got married.  So, is it just a coincidence to find a family with these same names in New York?  I don't think so.

Hannah and John Comiskey and their family were later found in the 1910 Census, living in Hempstead, Nassau County, New York. Jane was not with them, so it is likely she died and was buried somewhere in New York between 1900 and 1910, either in Kings County or Nassau County. But, searching for her death or burial, in the completely unfamiliar New York records, proved too much for me. Until this week, that is.

Last Tuesday, Randy Seaver's tip, about FamilySearch adding more New York City records to their collection, caught my eye. The first thing I did was search for Jane Byrne's death, between 1900 and 1910, and there she was, at last, her address still showing as Jamaica Ave., and her maiden name confirmed as Daly. It's just an index entry, with no image attached, but still, now there is very little doubt in my mind, but this was our family in New York.  (Thank you again, Randy)

And, to cap it all off, her parents were named as William and Hannah Daly - my fourth great-grandparents!

Death of Jane (Daly) Byrne, Brooklyn, New York, 1901 (FamilySearch)

Now, to see if I can find William and Hannah back in Dublin...

Yahoo! - Celebrations - Yahoo!

  • Church baptism and marriage records,
  • Jane Burns, 'New York, State Census, 1892', index and images, FamilySearch.
  • Jane BumsNew York, 'United States Census, 1900', index and imagesFamilySearch.
  • Jane Byrne, 1901, 'New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,' index, FamilySearch.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past ~ Uncle Artie and Aunt Winnie

My granduncle, Arthur O'Neill, died on 7 January 1965, in London, having moved there soon after the war. Dad was just a boy when he left, yet, he still has fond memories of his 'Uncle Artie.' Although my father knew very little about his maternal ancestry, his recollections of Uncle Artie have enabled me to piece together the highlights and the lowlights of Artie's life.

Artie was born into a family of nine children, in Dublin city, the fourth and youngest son of Charles O'Neill and Mary Agnes Donovan. Around his tenth birthday, his father died suddenly, catapulting the family into crisis. Although his mother remarried in 1896, within a year of his father’s death, she was unable to take her dependent children with her to her new home with Thomas Augustus Ellis and they ended up in care.

Arthur O'Neill, (c.1885 - 1965)
Arthur O'Neill, 1901 Census, Industrial School, Limerick
Click on image to enlarge

At the time of the 1901 census, when my grandmother and her sister Johanna were found in foster care, the only potential sighting of young Artie, was in a boys’ industrial school, run by the Christian Brothers, in Limerick city. Many miles from home and without the company of his elder brothers (who were, by then, working and living with their mother and Mr. Ellis in Dublin), life in the industrial school was most likely not fun. It was certainly not fun, if the unspeakable abuse allegations, which have since come to light, are anything to go on. But, Artie survived this ordeal, and by 1911, he was back in Dublin, working as a hairdresser, and living with his mother.

In April 1917, Artie married Winifred (Winnie) O'Connor, né Earley, in the church at Sandymount, Dublin. Winnie was the widow of Bartholomew O'Connor, who died in January 1913, leaving her with three children, Brendan, aged five, Ellen, aged four and Winifred, barely two years old. When Bartholomew died, Winnie was pregnant with their fourth child, Bart, born eight months later.  

Winnie's situation obviously reminded Artie of his own experience, following his father's untimely death and undoubtedly his heart went out to the children. He was perhaps determined to keep them all together, and that, he did. Artie and Winnie went on to have four more children, Mary (May), Charlie, Art and Tom and when they were still young, the O'Neills and the O'Connors, all moved to Kiltimagh, in county Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, where Artie worked as a barber.

Arthur O'Neill & Winifred (Earley, O'Connor) O'Neill (Dublin & Kiltimagh)
Arthur and Winifred O'Neill, c. 1919

This photo, probably taken about 1919, is believed to be of the young Arthur O'Neill, with his wife Winifred and one of their children. 

Some thirty years into their marriage, Winnie became very ill. Knowing she was going to die, the couple came back to Dublin, and stayed with my grandparents, in Malahide. As they had come of age, many of Winnie's children had migrated to England, in search of work, and settled there. 'Black Raven', the name of our house in Malahide, is situated conveniently close to Dublin Airport. So, not only was my grandmother able to care for Winnie in her final days, but the move back to the east coast also made it easier for her children to visit. It was during this time that Dad came to better know and like his Uncle Artie. Winnie died at ‘Black Raven’ on 8 October 1948 and was laid to rest at Glasnevin Cemetery, next to her first husband, Bartholomew O'Connor.

Arthur O'Neill & Winifred (Earley. O'Connor) O'Neill (Dublin & Kiltimagh)
“1947, Art O’Neill & Winnie”

This photograph was taken in 1947, not long before Winnie’s death. Do you see a resemblance between them here and the young couple in the earlier photograph above? I believe I do.

Shortly after Winnie died, Artie went to England to live with his daughter, May. He was listed in the London Electoral Registers in 1949, at 44 Victoria House, on the South Lambeth Road, living with his children May and Tom O'Neill. After May and Tom had both moved on and gone their separate ways, Artie continued to live in the same flat in Victoria House, with his step-son, Bart O'Connor. Bart was the child born after his own father's passing. He married Teresa Byrne in 1953, and Artie remained with the newly-weds in Victoria House, until they all moved together, to Chatsworth Way, in South East London, in 1960. This was still their home when Artie died, in 1965, at the age of seventy-nine years. 

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy