Hegarty update: details, details, details

1. You may recall that in March someone complained about Hegarty inaccuracies, specifically that Hanora Hegarty (b. 1878, Cork City) had not married but had instead perished in the Titanic disaster. However, that unfortunate Nora is a different person who was born in 1894 and lived in Whitechurch, not Cork City. So that’s one question settled.

2. A new question arises about Ellen Cronin (b. 1852) who married Michael Hegarty. I have very solid evidence for her place in my tree: family narratives, her marriage registration, and baptism records for her children. However, someone on Ancestry.com has contacted me to inquire because they have the same woman married to an Ahearn in the same parish, complete with marriage record and baptism records for the subsequent Ahearn kids. It’s not a second marriage because my Ellen Cronin is still having little Hegartys after the Ahearn/Cronin marriage date. So, it seems that there were two Ellen Cronins with fathers named Cornelius living in the same parish at the same time. Right now I don’t have enough information to resolve the question so I am just placing a big question mark here for now.

question mark3. Also in the Hegarty tree is Julia Foster (1898-1977) who married William Libby. They are listed in the 1930 census in Dedham, Massachusetts, but I didn’t know anything more about William Libby. Well, the “hints” function on Ancestry.com pointed me at the 1920 census too, where they are listed as the family of William Lebowitz. William shows up with his Hungarian parents in the 1900 census in Utica, NY as Wolf Leborvitch. So that’s why there weren’t any Libbys showing up; “melting pot” name changes.

New page: James Deasy’s ledger (10¢ Church, 40¢ beer)

I added a new page to hold the transcription of my great-grand-uncle’s ledger, which contains a Deasy family history and 3 months worth of a combined budget and diary kept in Cambridge in 1892. I can’t vouch for how reliable he is or isn’t, but it’s an interesting snapshot of an immigrant laborer’s days. Mostly work!

A few notes:

theatre poster for The Ivy Leaf

Why I am stuck where I am stuck with the Hegartys

If you look at my Hegarty Ancestors page, you see it starts off with John Hegarty. This blog entry is just to record the reasons why I am stuck there. It might help me if not anyone else.

My grandfather was Michael Hegarty (1898-1970) of Cambridge/Somerville, Massachusetts. I knew him personally and have great certainty about his information. His father was John J. Hegarty (1867-1947) of Cork, Ireland who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1888. He was personally known to my father and I have general certainty about his information. I am still seeking details about his military service, but overall, his profile is in good shape.

When I started dabbing in genealogy over a decade ago, my father remembered that his cousin had done a family history years before. He phoned her and she sent me an envelope with various family papers. Included in that package were copies of Irish birth certificates for John J. Hegarty and his wife. Additionally, there were photocopied pages of a notebook in which John J. Hegarty’s daughter Helen had written a profile of each of her parents, listing their parents and siblings. These papers say that John J. Hegarty was the son of Michael and Ellen (Cronin) Hegarty of Cork.

As I went about clumsily researching this, another Hegarty researcher kindly sent me a photocopy of a microfilmed Cork City marriage registration for Michael Hegarty and Ellen Cronin. On that 1866 marriage registration, Michael Hegarty gives his father’s name as John Hegarty. It also says Michael lived on Penrose Lane in Cork.

Over the past few months, I’ve been searching the Cork parish registries that have recently been put online. And so my confusion begins: Michael Hegarty and Ellen Cronin are there in the online parish records, having babies at regular intervals. Now, my great-aunt Helen’s notebook had claimed that Michael and Ellen had 15 children, of whom only about 6 survived into adulthood. However, there are not fifteen baptisms in the parish records. I cannot just dismiss the ones that were said in the notebook to have “died young,” because some of their baptisms were recorded. Also, Helen would have been writing about her own aunts and uncles, even if she had never met them. She would have been getting information from her father, I presume. But others of the “died young” siblings are just absent. But surely if the child survived long enough to be named, he or she would have been baptized? As near as I can tell, they were baptizing babies within a week of having them. But then where did Helen get the extra names?

I searched in the online parish records for Michael Hegarty’s baptism, hoping to find his parents listed and his mother named. And I did find a Michael Hegarty, born in 1842, to a John Hegarty, the only Michael Hegarty born to John Hegarty of all the Hegartys in there. But this John Hegarty (and his wife Elizabeth Kelliher) were not in Cork City proper: they were in Tiraveen, a whole different parish (Kilmurry, I think).

OK,  it was the Great Famine; people were displaced. Maybe they moved into the city seeking food. But here is a thing that’s bothering me: Griffith’s Valuation lists a Michael Hegarty as a tenant in Penrose Lane in 1852. But that can’t possibly be my Michael Hegarty because a ten year old boy would not have been able to rent property, would he? Could that have been another relative with whom he was staying?

Also, the Tiraveen parish records show that Michael had a brother or uncle (I forget at the moment, but it was clear in the records) named Jeremiah Hegarty who emigrated to Cambridge much earlier. I looked up Massachusetts Vital Records and found this Jeremiah in Cambridge. His death record included his parents’ names and everything. But if this is true, why did my family not know they had ancestors in Cambridge fifty years before my great-grandfather arrived? Or is that in fact why my great-grandfather chose Cambridge, Mass. over all other places he could have settled when he finished his soldiering?

Finally, there is the online version of the Irish census for 1901 and 1911. I can’t find any members of my great-grandfather’s family in that 1901 Irish census. I suppose it’s possible that both of his parents died between when he emigrated in 1885 and when the census was taken in 1901. Several of his brothers and sisters also emigrated. But I can’t find anyone left there. No married sisters, no single brothers lodging with someone. No one. Nor can I find the missing people in the US records, so they didn’t just follow him over. Could they really all have just died?

Well, there was one family in the Irish census that looked like it might be his parents and siblings: Michael and Ellen Hegarty and their grown-up younger children. I was all excited because all the children’s names were the same and everything was age appropriate EXCEPT. Except that one of the children was Julia Hegarty, and she was about 24 and working as a tailor in 1901. But my great-grandfather’s sister Julia was in the 1900 US Federal Census where she was 30, divorced with two young children and working as a laundress. And the date of the divorce and the names of the children match up with my great-aunt Helen’s notebook. And a laundress raising two children alone doesn’t have money to go home to Ireland for a visit, right? Nor can she become younger. So that Irish census family can’t be mine?

I want the census family to be mine, because Michael Hegarty was a harness-maker. And the Cork City directory for 1875 lists only one Michael Hegarty, who was a saddler. And if he’s the only one listed, he has to be mine, right? I want to say that people didn’t really know their right ages. I want to make it work but I feel like I am jamming pieces in where they don’t quite fit.

I feel like I am reaching the point where I need to talk to a professional genealogist. From my poking around the internet, it seems like the uploading of County Cork parish registers is not yet finished, so perhaps I should wait for that process to complete and search again to see if I can find any more clues. I wish that I had more evidence for the Tiraveen location than one record in an online database (albeit an official Irish government database). I need an expert to tell me if this puzzle is even solvable.

So that’s why I’m stuck on my Hegarty research at the moment.

Coombs page updated

I updated the Coombs page.

I’ve been cross-referencing between my Reunion database and my Ancestry.com account. (After that I will go back through my old papers and scan old photos. Such is the joy of a new computer!)  Anyway, I found a birth date for my great-uncle Henry Francis Coombs — it was right there in the Social Security Death Index. He was born in 1898.

For years I had believed, and had been told, that my grandmother was the eldest child in her family, and that there was a ten year gap between her birth and that of her nearest sibling. There was a lot of speculation about this. One aunt told me that my great-grandfather had run away to England where he had a whole second family. (But not so, as he turns up in a directory of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland residents.) There was other speculation about how my grandmother had been so much older that she was really a second mother to her siblings and helped to raise them, and perhaps that’s why she was eager to emigrate on her own as a young woman. But finding Frank’s birth date ruins all that speculation, because he was born just three years after his sister, and there is no long gap of a missing husband and a decade-older sister.

The other story about the Coombs family is that it is somehow closely related to England. I can’t find anyone in it who was born in England. The family probably originated in England, but they emigrated to Newfoundland in the 18th century. I wonder now if the emphasis on being English wasn’t really just local politics about distinguishing themselves from the Irish, whether the Irish of Newfoundland or the Irish immigrants of Boston? My grandmother wasn’t always embracing of other immigrant groups. She used to tell me the story of how when she was a young immigrant she worked in a shoe factory in Lynn, Massachusetts, commuting on the train every day from her home in East Boston. She said she hated the commute because the trains were full of Italian immigrant men who groped her and stank of garlic — it made her hate garlic, she said. (I don’t know where the Italian men were headed, maybe to work in the quarries of Essex County?) On a more positive note, my grandmother told me how she learned everything from the woman who worked beside her on the sewing assembly line: the woman told her how to do the job, and where to shop, and how to make cake. She said she brought all her questions to her coworker and was so grateful for her help. But then that raises the question of why she didn’t just ask her aunt with whom she was boarding? Or brainstorm with the best friend with whom she’d emigrated? I think sometimes there was a happy spin put on memories of what were really pretty tough times.

I found some photos of the shoe factories in Lynn, although they may be a bit earlier than when my grandmother was there in the 1920s. The photos are by early woman photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston and are now in the Library of Congress.

Woman distributing work in a shoe factory, Lynn, MA by Frances Benjamin Johnston

2 women at work in a shoe factory, Lynn, MA by Frances Benjamin Johnston