Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ireland Research Proves Fruitless

I went in search of more information about my third great grandparents, William Foley and Alice Fitzgerald. I was hoping to discover new data and perhaps, locate their final resting place. We started at the National Library in Dublin where they have a genealogy staff to assist with research. The lady was very nice and when I showed her the research I had already done, informed us that we were already at the edge of the frontier of Irish genealogy records. I had been able to get back as far as 1817 when the marriage of William Foley and Alice Fitzgerald took place. Their records from the churches of marriages and baptisms do not go back much further than this.
This turned out to be the theme of each of our stops to talk with experts and we saw plenty of folks who should know. We visited the Waterford County Museum and talked with the curator. He gave us insights into how to read gravestones that are severely worn by weather. But he also was skeptical that we would find anything. We visited Saint Bartholemew's Church and grave yard in Pilltown. Lots of Foleys were buried there but none that we could identify as our relatives. I think it is most likely that they are buried there. We also visited the librarian in Dungarvan who my cousin Donny had visited long ago. We went to the Waterford Heritage Center. This was the outfit that did the research for me four or five years ago. We even met the researcher who looked up the records back then, John O'Conner. We gave all of these folks everything that we knew and each was impressed with what we had found and thought it unlikely that we would find much more.
The long and the short of it is that we have evidently gotten all of the information that was relatively easy to gather and now we will have to pursue other avenues. My thinking is that I need to go to Boston and try to find the records of the Foleys here before they went back to Ireland around 1800. So thats a topic for consideration when planning next year's vacation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

637 And Counting

Wow is all I can say.
I started with Family Tree Maker Software in October, 2008. I wanted to buy a software that would help me organize my family records. It was a simple endeavour. My existing tree was about 130 people.

Before long at all, I had added another 100 to my Foley family tree. I thought it was time to add my mother's Fleming family information and do a tree for my sister Margie. This added another 200 since I found through Ancestry.com a descendant of my great great grandfather who had already done some of the work.

I called my sister to tell her the good news and she starting reading me Finnegan death certificates. Finnegan was my mother;s mother's maiden name. So here add another 100 of them.

Then my sister's husband's name tripped a "hint" at Ancestry.com and I found myself adding more than a few Koellers, a mini-tree.

As of today I am waiting to get information from two cousins who have 15 children between them, 31 grandchildren and 14 great grand children. This plus spouses will likely add another 100. Then I am also waiting to hear from 6 nephews and two nieces with additional descendants.

These trees, with only my sisters and I as a common link, already have 637 individuals. I am sure they will grow to over 800. And I still have many dead ends to follow up on.

It seemed like a good idea to buy the software. Now I know what I was missing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The White Pocahontas

When I was a boy, my Dad asked me if I was familiar with the "White Pocahontas" legend. Of course, I was not. Well, I was very young but basically remember the story that the Indian princess Pocahontas, daughter of a Powhatan Indian Chief, was captured, and while being held prisoner, fell in love with a Pilgrim, John Rolfe. She was a daughter of a Powhatan Indian chief but lived her life among the English community, much of her time was spent in London.
My Dad's story was that there was another person, with whom we were related, who had lived among the Indians. I believe I have found a plausible explanation of this. Pocahontas had a cousin, Keziah Arroyo who married Richard Bryant. They had a daughter Martha Bryant, who married Thomas Foley. Now, the information is sketchy but does go back to the 1600s and I can find few other mentions of the name Foley back this far. Fortunately, this family tree is pretty well defined so I should be able to reach some conclusions.

New "Stuff"

Having bought Family Tree Maker software some time ago, I have been studiously entering information into one spot. The tree was growing nicely.
One disappointment had been that this purchase included a one month subscription to Ancestry.com. I had not been able to get my account established and was still going to the Davenport Public Library to search. Well, I finally figured it out and voila, new information has deluged me ever since.
New discoveries:
1. Michael Foley, his soon-to-be wife Bridget O'Brien, his brother Patrick and Patrick's wife Mary, all came to America together on the ship Lesmahagow, arrivng in Massachusetts on May 3, 1852. Lesmahagow is the name of a city in Scotland. The ship came from Tralee to Liverpool. I am still looking for the exact destination in Massachusetts, probably near Cohasset.
2. Michael's brother Edmund and his sister Ellen both settled in Abington, Massachusetts and we may still have relatives there. They were both entered into the census next to each other , may have been next door neighbors. Edmund was born in 1835, Ellen in 1832. Ellen was married to Patrick O'Donnell.
3. Ellen and Patrick O'Donnell had twin sons Nicholas and William, son Thomas and daughters Mary and Alice.
4. Edmund and Margaret Foley had daughters Alice, Ellen, Mary, Margaret and Annie along with a son, William. Annie was the baby and Edmund would die before her 8th birthday.
5. Michael and Bridget Foley's daughter Alice buried two husbands before the age of 45, both due to accidental deaths. Her first husband Patrick Dunbar died in a train accident. Her second husband, Charles Whitcomb "Red" Donohue, died in an electrical explosion at his laundry in Champaign-Urbana.
6. Michael and Bridget Foley's daughters Delia and Ellen both never married and lived together in Chicago. They were housekeepers and kitchen help and may have worked for religious.
I need to especially thank my new-found cousin, Karen Malone who filled in many of the gaps, in particular about Alice Foley Dunbar Donohue. Alice was the oldest daughter and had an interest in family genealogy which she passed down through the generations to Karen.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Berbaums of Champaign, Illinois

Finding genealogy fascinating these days, I decided to do some sleuthing. Went to the library for information on Alice Marie Foley and her descendants. Alice buried two husbands before she was turned 45 years old in 1899. I knew about how many children she had and who her husbands were, but I did not know which husband was the father of which children, except for two. Alice's first husband was Patrick Dunbar. I knew he was the father of Wilhemina. I also knew her second husband was Charles Donohue, father of Charles Jr. I also knew there were two other daughters and one other son, but did not know their first names or their dads. The library came through, as usual and before long on Ancestry Library, I was sleuthing the old census records.

It turns out Patrick Dunbar was born in New York to parents who had been born in Scotland. He married Alice in Massachusetts. They had several children together. In addition to Wilhemina, he had daughters Beatrice and Agnes. Charles Donohue was the father to Charles and Tina. I also discovered that Wilhemina was married to August J. Berbaum. This being an unusual name, I decided to look further and was surprised with what I found. It turns out that the Berbaum name is alive and well in Champaign Illinois. When I googled the name I found 32 Berbaums residing there. It took only two calls to talk to a Berbaum who had the family records.

My initial contact was David Berbaum and he quickly told me that I needed to talk to Clarence, so I did. After a short and pleasant phone call, Clarence promised to send me what he could. We did determine that Clarence was not related to the Foleys but he had cousins who were. And he knew those cousins very well.

Today's mail brought the details. Wilhemina was known as Minnie, She and August had four children: Eloise, Kenneth, Edwin and Lawrence. Clarence had known Lawrence well, and his older brother Charles was friendly with Kenneth.and Edwin. Clarence has a wealth of information about the children, their jobs, their families and so on. Current relatives most likely would be descendants of Eloise and would be named Malone. Time to google again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Family Tree Maker Software

I have finally done it. I broke down and bought genealogy software. I needed to organize the information on this blog into one spot. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Well, I now have over 200 people in our family tree with many more to go. My inspiration to do this is the fact that I am having to rely on so much of this information from cousins. In looking down the road, there is nothing in place to maintain this information in an orderly way. So, I am off on a quest to complete a family tree, at least as far as can be verified. What I plan to do is to get the information together and publish it, then share it at a Foley family reunion, in Saint Louis next year. Asking cousins for old pictures etc.
Now when I say "publish", take that with a grin of salt. I could have just said "photocopy" but the software uses the word publish. See I'm learning already.
And, of course, I have generated a lot more genealogy dead ends. Such as, Mike and Naomi had a daughter named Ruth. What happened to her? Bertha was born in Germany and married to Thomas, what was her maiden name? William also worked for the railroad, but in Indiana, where is he buried? So, the software has one useful aspect to it that I did not anticipate. It makes you address your dead ends.
Of the 220 or so folks in our tree, only about 60 are named Foley. My inspiration to draw a tree came from a trip we made this past summer to the Mennonite Museum in Kalona, Iowa. There, on the wall, was a family tree of a Mennonite family, containing over 800 names.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Patrick and Edmund, Sons of Ireland

I have previously blogged about Patrick Foley, Civil War veteran who died just after the end of the Civil War. He is buried at the National Cemetery at Camp Butler, Illinois. He joined the Union Army, went on duty, and got sick within six months. He was in two military hospitals and died at the end of 1865.
Patrick is an enigma from a genealogy perspective. He is in our written history, so he is definitely one of ours. The problem is that he was born before the marriage of my great great great grandparents by several years. Now that, in itself would not be terribly unusual but, given the recorded history, other explanations are more likely.
I have decided that he may have been born in 1810 or 1815, depending on which record one believes. My best explanation would be that he was not a natural child of my ggg grandparents but rather a child from a previous marriage of my ggg grandmother, whose husband died young. She was older than her husband by 7 years so the age gap would be better explained. Patrick would be between 2-7 when my gggs got married. So he would identify himself with the new family unit, and perhaps take their name, too.
The other thing that makes me think this is possible is that there was a brother Edmund, about whom very little is known. I did find an old family tree that someone had written. And it had William joining the tree between the children with Patrick and Edmund on one side, and the children about whom we know much, on the other.
Also, the Catholic Church records do not include the baptismal records of either one of them as children of William Foley and Alice Fitzgerald. Now, if you haven't done the math, yet. Here is a possibility. Perhaps Alice was a Fitzgerald by her first marriage, her husband being the father of Patrick and Edmund before he died. Thats right, Patrick and, ahem, Edmund Fitzgerald, wouldn't that be something?
I am on the job again at the Davenport Public Library and scouring census records for Patrick. So far, what we know is that the fellow buried in Illinois who died in the Civil War, was born in Ireland and recorded in our family story. I checked the Illinois census for 1860 for Patrick Foleys and found several, but only one who would be the right age. It is possible that he was not yet in Illinois in 1860 but unlikely. The one who was the correct age was aged 50 in 1860, putting him into the world when Alice was 18, very possible.
This Patrick was in Cook County Chicago's Ward 2. His wife was Ellen who was age 40. Their children were James, 20, John, 16, Mary, 14, Patrick, 11, Alice, 8, Johannah, 5, and Bridget 2. Our Patrick had parents William and Alice, brother John, and sister, Bridget. It would be logical to assume that they named four of their seven children after his family. If William was not his father, James may have been his fathers name.
But here is an interesting part of the census story. The 1860 US Census reports that all of the family, save the two youngest, were born in Ireland. Therefore we can fix the date of their migration pretty close to between 1853 and 1855. Coincidently, my gg grandfather was married in Massachusetts in 1853. Part of our family story is that two bots fought in the Mexican American War in 1846-7. If they did not come over here until 1853, that part of the story is in question.
It is time to go back to the Library and take a look for these folks in 1870, after Patrick had died.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A True Family Reunion


Pictured here from left to right are the blogger, wife Nancy, Reid Martin, Bob Gonzenbach, Amy Gonzenbach, Nancy Gonzenbach, Mimi Vaughn and Tom Vaughn.
All are related through the Foley family. For those of you who don't know the relations, let me define those for you. Reid Martin married my sister Joanie. Nancy Gonzenbach is their daughter. Mimi Vaughn's Dad was Dr. Dan Foley, my uncle and namesake.
Our dinner together took place at the end of our vacation to the Ozarks. We swung through Saint Louis and spent one night there, then on to Carbondale. We visited, with Nancy and Bob, the cemeteries where our family rests. I will blog about that in another posting. Our trip was our first face to face meeting with Reid and Nancy. We shared "Foley" stories and pictures. We met Amy's fiance, Jason. We reunited two parts of the family separated by divorce in the 1930s. There were Foley descendants, like the Vaughns, who maintained contact over all those years.
Visiting Reid's home, Nancy showed me a picture of Joanie. I knew that I recognized it and had seen it before but I was not sure of where I had seen it. After we returned home, I found the picture. It was in my Dad's wallet at the time that he was hospitalized in November 1968. He died a month later. In his wallet were only two pictures, my high school senior picture and this picture of Joanie. Even though he had been divorced from her Mom nearly 30 years before his death, he had this picture with him. I was glad to be able to relate that to Nancy.