Costigan census conundrum

I started organizing my materials on the Costigans with an eye towards improving the Costigan page. I opened my grandfather’s page on and realized I didn’t have a 1920 census listing for him, so I did a search.

I found Bernard Costigan, Patrick Costigan, and John Costigan all boarding on Princeton Street in East Boston and working as fishermen.

1920 census, Boston Ward 1, Suffolk County, Massachusetts (Princeton Street)

Unfortunately, this census says they are from Nova Scotia, and has switched Patrick’s and John’s ages, but I am willing to chalk that up to enumerator error. My grandfather lived in and around Princeton Street for decades; these are his stomping grounds, those are his brothers’ names. has indexed the household as the Cannons, but I think the handwriting is bad and it actually says Gorman, a prominent name in Harbour Main. So they are probably boarding with friends of friends from home.

Except that surely friends of friends from home would have known that they were from Newfoundland and not Nova Scotia. But who knows. I still felt good about it until I started attaching the census to my Ancestry tree pages for Patrick and John.

That’s when I saw that I already have a 1920 census for John Costigan, only he’s living in Seattle.

1920 census for Seattle, King County, Washington State

No one really knows what happened to John. There were vague rumors that he had died at sea, but I could never find anything concrete. I was really excited when I found this census, because it lists Simon Costigan as his brother, and my great-uncle Simon definitely lived out in Seattle. So this must be my great-uncle John, right?

So then why did people think he was dead instead of just in Seattle? Unless he died in Seattle?

And who was the John staying on Princeton Street in East Boston?

Is it possible there is another group of Costigan brothers with the same names and ages from Nova Scotia?

I will try to figure it out tomorrow.

Circling around Irish parish records online

The latest newsletter featured a great article by Juliana Smith on their new collection of Irish Catholic parish registers, which are said to be digitized versions of holdings at the National Library of Ireland. I am pleased to have these records as an integrated database and have already located a great-grandfather in them, but the fact is that I had already found the identical record at the Irish government’s free Irish Genealogy site.

I would love to see a clarification of the relationship between these two sets of records, both apparently emerging in digital format under the aegis of a government initiative. Are they the same collection? Or do they just overlap? I thought the Irish Genealogy site was stalled in its digitization project due to the economic problems in Ireland. The site says it anticipates adding more records on October 4th, which is almost as exciting to me as the new iPhone release :)

In a related point of interest, the Irish Times reports that the National Library of Ireland is making legal inquiries into the release of these Irish records on the UK branch of, with concerns that there are copyright violations. The report says that a private company digitized the records on behalf of the library. Is this private company by any chance the company Irish Genealogy Ltd. that is mentioned on the government’s Irish Genealogy site? Because that would imply that these are the same set of digitized records, wouldn’t it?

I don’t know if these are good questions or stupid questions, because I feel like I am just beginning to learn how to research Irish ancestors. Smith’s article links to the Irish Ancestors site sponsored by the Irish Times newspaper. She was linking specifically because the site reflects John Grenham’s work on civil parishes versus Catholic parishes. But the site also features a surname search, with links to surname histories, bibliographies, and link lists.

Naturally I typed my surnames Hegarty and Costigan into the little search box. Imagine my surprise when I found the Irish Times site linking to me! And not even to this site but to my now defunct Earthlink site. I was so disheartened; it is like when tells you there are new hints but the hints are only people who have linked back to you. I don’t know whether to email the Irish Times and give them my new URL or not. I don’t feel I am an expert, but apparently no one else is researching these names — or if they are, they’re not doing it online. (N.B.: There is another Costigan researcher listed — she is my 3rd cousin with whom I traveled to Newfoundland. The other Hegarty researcher is working on the Donegal branch, not only not mine, but a whole different region.)

An unrelated linkage note: Now that Google+ is open to everyone, I am there. There are a lot of genealogists networking on Google+, though I also use it for academic stuff. Feel free to follow me!

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 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 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.