Open the DNA Floodgates

The floodgates have opened for me in the last two days and all because of DNA.

Yesterday it was all about my Norton family from Great Yarmouth, England. A person emailed me, yes you read that right, they contacted me! Our trees didn’t jive though because I had an error in mine. I had the wrong marriage for Jeremiah Norton, I had wrongly attributed an Elizabeth Jillings as his wife. They had found the correct marriage, Elizabeth Sharpe was the wife’s name. Yes, I made one of the worst genealogy mistakes…grab and go. <sheepishly hanging head> How do I know their tree is the right one? Because I wasn’t certain of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Jillings and to be honest I hadn’t done my due diligence on that marriage record. I meant to go back and research this couple but instead, I added it to my tree and I didn’t go back.

My new DNA cousin was a descendant of Elizabeth Sharp and her first husband Charles Wright. Elizabeth married a second time to Jeremiah Norton. We have five Norton descendants who show up as a match to three people who descend from the Sharpe – Wright marriage. So a lesson well learned all because of DNA. Today was going to be all about gathering data and correct records on the Norton family until an email arrived and I think I may be in genealogy heaven.

This person contacted me because we were DNA matches and they could see the surname Loftus on my online tree. The second match is with — get this — Mary Loftus who I blogged about yesterday!

Mary is an elusive ancestor I have been researching with a cousin Dani Lee McGowan and we have been stuck. This DNA cousin is matching with about seven people who we have identified as descendants of Mary Loftus’ two marriages. Our new DNA cousin has her Loftus family back to 1824 in Mayo, Ireland and has a tree that Mary would fit very well into.

At the moment I am working with both matches to see what more can be learned!

I know people who have been working on their trees for a number of years can relate to what this feels like – is euphoria the right word? A discovery like this happens maybe once a year for me if I am lucky, but to have two in two days is THE best kind of overwhelming!

With all the new matches that are bound to be on the horizon keep the floodgates open and try to keep up!

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Did Your Ancestor Leave You A Clue at the Cemetery?

Did your ancestor leave you a clue at the cemetery? Mine did.

Sites like Find-A-Grave and Canadian Headstones are great tools to use in helping us research our family but a trip to your ancestors grave could lead to more discoveries. What you don’t see in the pictures posted on those sites is the headstones surrounding an ancestor. I found the clues my ancestor left on a visit to a cemetery which I wouldn’t have found without being there.

The trip took place in 1998 when my mother and I drove to Saskatchewan to discover more about her grandparents whom she had never met. They were all deceased so the trip would be to the cemeteries to pay our respects.

Up until that point, I had done most of my research on my mother’s family by making phone calls, sending emails, applying for b/m/d certificates and visiting my local library & LDS Centre looking at census records. I was on a limited budget and working with next to no information (my mother knew very little about her family history).

My husband agreed to watch our kids and my mother and I set off, loaded with maps and hope in our hearts. On our list was Indian Head, Saskatchewan (where her mother was from) and Yorkton, Saskatchewan for her paternal side. We hit up numerous antique shops along the way and enjoyed our mother-daughter time.

In Yorkton, we visited King Cemetery armed with the knowledge that this was the final resting place of David Stewart & his wife Bridget McMahon, her grandparents. After locating her grandparent’s headstone and getting a photo, I noticed that beside was a matching headstone but the names were unfamiliar. It read –

In Memory of Margaret McGowan
Beloved wife of John McGowan
Born Nov. 27, 1848 Died Dec. 27. 1916.
RIP
Also the above named
John McGowan
Born April 1842 Died March 28, 1920

This was puzzling, further investigation around the stones showed that there was a cement border enveloping the stones and a third stone that was David & Bridget Stewart’s daughter Violet. But who were these McGowans?

Finding The Connection

Once we returned from our trip, I checked the Rootsweb mailing list for a surname mailing list for the McGowan name. These mailing lists were a great way for genealogists to be in touch before the advent of Facebook and more modern communications. So I joined the list and sent a query asking if anyone knew why the McGowan stone was close to the Stewart’s and if anyone knew of the connection. About an hour later I zipped back down to the basement to check and see if I had received a response, after waiting for the dial-up of our internet I saw that there was a reply from Dani Lee McGowan. Dani Lee had been to the same cemetery two years previous and took nearly identical photographs.

David Stewart stone King Cemetery

The Stewart stone, photo by Patricia Greber

McGowan stone, King Cemetery

McGowan stone, photo by Dani Lee

Stewart, Violet stone, King Cemetery

My mother Mary (Stewart) Dever is holding back the bush so we can read the inscription on Violet Stewart’s stone. This is the third stone enclosed in the cement border which you can see on the right.

Dani Lee knew the families were connected, but she also questioned how. This began the start of a friendship and collaboration that continues to this day. I started researching the McGowan family and eventually found that we share a common relative, Mary Loftus.

Mary Loftus McGowan Stewart

Mary was born about 1822 in Sligo, Ireland (not proven) and married Felix McGowan, either in Ireland or in New York. In 1839 their first child Bridget was born, and two sons John (1842) and Thomas (1844) arrived after the family moved to West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario. In about 1845 Felix passed away, the following year Mary who was a devout Catholic marries a Scotch Presbyterian in 1846. Enter my ancestor William Stewart who becomes a father to Mary’s children and together they have six more, James, Margaret, Alexander, David, William all born in West Flamboro. Mary Ann, their last child, was born in 1857 after the family moved to Ayton, Normanby Twp., Grey Co., Ontario.

The flurry of emails between Dani Lee and I during this research period and discovery was almost daily. Every new discovery was celebrated, we were thrilled to have found our connection.

Evidently, our great-grandfathers David Stewart and John McGowan were close. They traveled from Normanby, Ontario settling in Manannah, Meeker Co., Minnesota for about 30 years, and later they both moved back to Canada and finally chose to rest side by side in death.

The Trip was Worth It

Would I have ever discovered this without a visit to the cemetery? I may have, but I think it would have taken me a lot longer to figure out the connection and I would have missed out on years of collaboration with my cousin!

Seeing the stones side by side was a big clue that these families were connected. The cement border indicating the shared plot drove home that I needed to spend time researching this family.

My advice to you, take the time to visit your ancestors final resting spot and keep your eyes open for any clues the left you.

Meet Up?

Dani Lee and I have never met face-to-face but she has plans to travel to Canada this summer and I hope that we will be able to have a reunion that is 20 years in the making!

Still to Discover 

We still have yet to find when our common ancestress Mary Loftus died. We know she was in Minnesota in 1888 according to “Illustrated Album of Biography of Meeker and McLeod Counties Minnesota” where she is mentioned in the write up for John McIntee, her son-in-law.

Her next and last appearance is in the 1891 Canadian census where she is living with her oldest son James Stewart in Ayton, Ontario. That is the last record we have been able to find for her, someday we hope to find where she is buried so we can journey to her resting place and pay our respects.

 

Not Coming Home – Leslie George Jordan WWII

Day 7 of the 11-day Military Challenge

Leslie George Jordan was born in England to Rose Davis and Canadian John Brown Jordan. His Father John had served in WWI and it is likely during this time that he met Rose, who was a WWI widow of John Peters. Before marrying Rose, John would first have to divorce his Canadian wife, no record of the divorce has been found.

After WWI John worked in England for the Imperial War Graves Association, in 1921 his son Leslie was born. Leslie grew up in England and it is possible that did not meet his Canadian 1/2 brother and sister, Syd & Bea.

At the outbreak of WWII it is not surprising that Leslie signed up, he became a Flight Sergeant Observer with 108 Squadron.

In 1942 Leslie was in Egypt where he and others had the task of bringing Liberator AL577 plane to England. The plane left on March 15th with nineteen men onboard, the flight was going well until they encountered a storm. Liberator A577 crashed near Dundalk, Ireland killing fourteen people, Leslie was amoung the dead.

Most of the information about Liberator AL577 was found on the site WWIINI Archives and Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland – WWII.

Leslie is Remembered with Honour on the Brighton (Downs) Crematorium.

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I found a tribute video on Youtube for the people killed on AL577, but I was sad to see they, like me, did not have a photograph of Leslie.

Leslie’s parents returned to Canada where his father John passed away in 1958 and was buried at Cataraquai Cemetery in Kingston, Ontario, his mother Rose Emma Mathews Davis died in England in 1979.

 

Jordan, John B &amp; Rose

Leslie’s parents John Brown Jordan and Rose visiting family in Montreal

 

My next step is to try and track down the people mentioned in Rose’s will in the hopes of finding a photograph of Leslie.

#mymilitaryancestor

*Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons of 36th Bombardment Squadron B-24 Liberator in Adak Alaska.

Londonderry to Quebec on the Dr. Kane in 1862

My Diver / Dever family had a harrowing journey on the Doctor Kane from Londonderry, Ireland to Quebec in 1862. The ship they were sailing on set out in April of 1862 and struck ice leaving them stuck for an hour. This event was long before the Titanic but I am sure the passengers would have had horror stories of boat tragedies involving ice. It must have been a very long hour!

Thankfully they were able to get free and reach their destination of Quebec.

Their thanks to the Captain was sent into the Quebec Daily News as well as a listing of the some of the people onboard. Here is the list:

Baird, J. Snr.

Baird, J. Mrs.

Baird, John

Baird, Hamilton

Baird, J. junr.

Thompson, Mrs. (Widow)

Thompson, Robert

Maguire, Andrew

Maguire, Margaret

Young, John

Young, Mrs.

Young, Robert

Young, Susannah

Young, Elizabeth

Young, Mary

Adair, James M.

Mackey, Sarah

Latme (?), Mrs. (Widow) 

Latme, Margaret

Wilson, John

Wilson, Mrs.

Portion, Mrs. Robert

Smyth, Elizabeth

Smyth, Jane

Robertson, Andrew

McK_nan, Henry

Adams, David

Lyons, John

Lyons, Mrs.

Dever, James

Dever, Mrs.

Lyons, James

Taylor, James

Charlton, Wm.

O’Donnell, Hugh

McNally, James

Murphy, Thomas

Irvine, James

Irvine, Henry

McDermott, Wm.

Coulter, Andrew

Coulter, Mrs.

Coulter, Eliza

Coulter, Margaret

Wilson, James

Wilson, Mrs.

Wilson, Joseph

Spence, William

Spence, Mrs.

Here is a transcription of their collective statement about the voyage aboard the Dr. Kane taken from the newspaper:

Quebec May 13, 1862, To Captain Samuel Millikan, of the Barque “Doctor Kane,” Londonderry

Sir:

We the undersigned passengers of the Bark Dr. Kane, beg to present to you out sincere thanks, for your kin attention to us in administering to our wants and diffusing comforts to the utmost limits of thy power. Also, the deep interest you took of the sick, in prescribing “Medicine,” most suitable to their several distinct illnesses, thereby promoting health onboard. We unanimously have a deep gratification in being able to pronounce that thy kindess has far exceeded our expectations. And, also we cannot pass over the great deliverance we had on Saturday, 3rd May at three o’clock, AM, when our Bark struck fast into the field of ice. Through God’s most providential protection, we now retain and owe our lives, and thy surpassaple skill in able Commandership, in extracating us out of our perilous situation, in the short period of one hour, likewise, thy personal skill has been most obvious in taking every advantage of the wind, disregarding fatigue and inclemency of the weather. We all feel general satisfaction in our short voyage of thirty days, uniting again in thanks to God, and your exertions in being about to disembark at our desired haven, Quebec.

A reply was penned but it was cut off from the clipping. I have added acquiring this to my to-do list.

My Diver / Dever consisting of James, his wife Sarah (Cheatley) and their two children Eliza (age 4) and Samuel (2 mos.), did not remain in Quebec but settled in Picton, Prince Edward Co., Ontario.

 

Dever, James ship Dr. K165

Quebec Daily News, May 13, 1862

 

 

 

Airport Fun

I am sitting in the Edmonton airport waiting for the start of what in my mind is my ‘trip of a lifetime’. Although not purely a research trip, more of an exploratory journey, I will be doing some genealogy research. I plan to stay close or in the communities that I know my family has resided,  and I look forward to talking locals, exploring churches, cemeteries and breathing the Irish air. To pass the time I made a list of my Irish immigrant ancestors and where they were from. 

Out of 12 people I have a known location in Ireland for 5, I only know the Counties for 2, which leaves me with 5 that have the empty designation of unknown.

Ancestors name | Date of Immigration | Immigrated From | Location in Canada | Connection to me

1. Mary Potter – [ca.1820] unknown location -> Goulbourn, Carleton Co., Ontario – 3x great grandmother

2. Cornelius McMahon – 1850 Co. Clare -> Sherbrooke, Quebec -. Normanby Twp, Grey Co., Ontario – 2x great grandfather

3. Sarah McCue – unknown date, unknown place -> Normanby Twp, Grey CO., Ontario – 2 x great grandmother
4. Margaret Pendergast with parents Thomas Pendergast & Margaret Walsh – ca. 1830s – Mooncoin, Kilkenny -> Quebec City – 3x great grandmother

5. Thomas Hodgins – [ca.1812] – Dromineer, Tipperary -> Huntley, Carleton CO., Ontario – 4x great grandfather

6. Thomas Reddy – [ca.1840] – unknown place (possibly Kilkenny) -> Quebec City – 3x great grandfather 

7. Samuel Jordan – [before 1852] unknown place -> Quebec City – 3x great grandfather

8. Mary Quigley – wife of Samuel Jordan [before 1852 ] -> Quebec City – 3x great grandmother

9. Mary Loftus – [unknown date] – unknown place –  arrived with husband Felix McGowan to New York -> West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario – 2x great grandmother

10. Bridget Melody – 1879 – New Inn, Galway -> Montreal, Quebec

11. James Diver with wife Sarah Cheatley – 1862 – Milford, Donegal -> Picton, Prince Edward Co., Ontario – 2x great grandparents

12. Sarah Cheatley – 1862 – Milford, Donegal -> same as her husband James Diver (Sarah was from Dromore, Donegal)

Summary

List of Irish Counties – Clare, Galway, Sligo, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Donegal, 6 unknown

Earliest arrival was Thomas Hodgins ca. 1812

Latest arrival was Bridget Melody in 1879

Possible Famine immigration – McMahon, McCue, Reddy, Jordan, Quigley

The Other Brother

I remember listening to a genealogy speaker who said there are always three brothers…I have found three such brothers – Cornelius, Edward and Michael McMahon. But I found an unknown fourth brother and I have discovered why none of us knew about #4.

Researching my McMahon family has been amazing, I have connected with family members who have shared pictures, family stories, and information. The McMahon’s knew there were three brothers that immigrated to Canada until I came along and found out more. 

Brother number four, John McMahon,  appears in the 1861 census living with his oldest Cornelius, his wife and children. This census does not include family relationships which meant it took a little more research to figure out the family connections. John next shows up living with brother Edward’s family in the three subsequent census’s for Normanby, Grey Co., Ontario. And if you scroll all the way over on the 1871 census for Canada you will find a heading, Deaf & Dumb, and a tick mark on the box for John. And no, that is not the reason the family forgot about John. What we have learned is that John was born in 1846 in Ireland and the McMahon family left a few years later. John’s mother died on the journey over, or once the family arrived in Canada according to accounts passed down through the family.

Life must not have been easy to be a deaf mute in that time. John was considered quite intelligent and used sign to communicate. It was probably a big help to his brother Edward having another grown man and an extra set of hands to help out on the farm. 

Records from the Archives of Ontario have uncovered more about John’s story. A search on their website for “John McMahon” did not bring in any answers but when I did a search for “McMahon, John” I was led to a page that had a record for a John McMahon being charged with wounding with intent in Grey Co.

In 1894 things turned ugly in the McMahon house. A later account tells of how things had been escalating the last few years. John had started attacking his brother Edward and some of Edward’s children for no apparent reason. It all came to a head when John grabbed a block of wood from the wood pile and hit his brother Edward over the head when his back was turned. Edward’s wife Bridget intervened when she heard Edward call out. Edward survived the attack but had had enough with the erratic behavior and was concerned for the well-being for his family and called the local police. John was placed under arrest and was assessed by a doctor. He was declared not insane. I know John was sent to jail but I was unsure what happened to him.

More information on John was discovered through Michael Stephenson’s Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy and History site. Michael has created numerous indexes to not-so-common Ontario resources. If you find a name in the index, Michael will look up the record and mail it to you for a fee.

When I searched through the  Hamilton Asylum index, a John McMahon appeared. I emailed Michael a request for the full record and I sent off the cheque to cover his look up fee, yesterday the record arrived in the mail. 

The record included a history of John’s behavior, a Doctors assessment, a second Doctors assessment, an entry from his date of admission, and entries explaining his behavior for the years 1895-1902, 1904 & 1907. Honestly, this is more information than I have on other family members during this time. The history explained the change in John’s behavior, it started in 1889 when he was struck on the head by a limb falling from a tree. This injury prompted a shift in his behavior, he started to become violent and easily agitated. He made threats and even attacked members of the family.

He is found on the 1901, 1911 and 1921 censuses as a patient in this institution. He spent 31 years living out his life at the Asylum, where the fairly detailed records indicate he helped out in the bakery. It is also noted that he was tidy, healthy, quiet, cheerful, and a good worker. 

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entry in John McMahon’s records made by Dr. Manley, unknown date

I found a photograph of the Asylum on the McMaster’s University website along with a wonderful explanation about the facility.

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Hamilton Psychiatric Asylum via the McMaster’s University web page

John was involved in one incident that was noted in the records, in 1899 he wandered off (escaped?) but this was the month of December and he made it as far as Clappison’s Corner where he was found by a farmer and returned to the Asylum. He suffered severe frostbite and had to have his toe amputated and had facial paralysis for a time due to exposure.

John died in the Asylum in 1925 at the age of 80, and likely none of the McMahon family knew of his passing. He is buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Flamborough, Wentworth Co., Ontario.

So this time there were four brothers.

If you think you have a relative that may have stayed at one of the institutions in Ontario the Ontario Archives gives a good description of the records they have on their website.

How Irish Am I? A St. Patrick’s Day Question

I feel like I am pretty Irish. Researching back through my tree I have spent a lot of it stuck in Ireland.
My great grandparents countries or origin are:
Caroline Norton – b. Canada
Peter Jordan – b. Canada
Rachel Hodgins – b. Canada
William Harrop – b. Canada
David Stewart b. Canada
Bridget McMahon b. Canada
Bridget Melody b. Ireland
Samuel Dever b. Ireland

If we go back one generation I have
8 ggrandparents who were born in Ireland
3 in Canada
3 in England
1 in Scotland
1 in U.S.A

I would go back one more generation but most of my 3x great grandparents birth locations are unknown.

My brother did the DNA test at Ancestry and although our breakdown would not be identical it does show him to be predominantly Irish.

I guess it is not a stretch that I can identify with St. Patrick’s Day!

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