Friday, November 27, 2009

Lots of blind alleys

I have had many conversations with Aunt Peg and it is no surprise that she and her siblings were about as confused as I am about family relationships. The names keep repeating generation after generation. She said the only person who *knew* who everybody was was Granddad.

(Sigh) GRO sent back my Ellen McCarthy request with no matches. Apparently my request for an Ellen McCarthy with a mother named Mary was interpreted as Mary COLLINS, which they could not find. So I'm not sure where to go from here...

GRO did send me the Ellen McCarthy-Patrick Maher 1903 marriage record as well as Ellen Maher's death record. It shows Ellen living in Tooreen at the time of the marriage. The Mahers were not "indigenous" to the area and came from further up north. Patrick Maher, like his father, was a steward, whatever that meant. The marriage record lists Ellen's father Cornelius also as a steward, which has me confused. On the Margaret McCarthy-Humphrey Collins marriage record from 1890, Cornelius McCarthy is a farmer. So... did he change careers? Or are we talking about two different Cornelius McCarthys? Were Ellen and Margaret really sisters? Or were they perhaps cousins? Or was Ellen a niece of Margaret's?

I banged around the 1911 census records again and thought about widow Mary McCarthy in Lissane Upper. I found what I suspect is the corresponding record in 1901, only she was married to a Daniel McCarthy, not Michael. So this is not Greatgranddad Denis's oldest sister Mary, as far as I can tell.

I kept looking around the Bredagh D.E.D. area of the 1911, and stumbled across a Michael and Norah McCarthy in Derryduff. They were married 2 years, had no children. Norah is listed as 34 years old. That would make her birth year about 1877.

Derryduff sounded familiar. So did Nora McCarthy. Sure enough, on Grandmom's and Granddad's marriage record, there is a Nora McCarthy who witnessed the marriage. And the place of residence for both Grandmom and Granddad at the time of the marriage is Derryduv (Derryduff). It has to be the same Nora.

Only there is a new problem. The family folklore states that Grandmom was raised by paternal aunts. I don't know of any aunt named Nora. At least Skibbereen Heritage Centre did not provide me one! So either Greatgranddad Denis had a sibling named Nora I just don't know about, or perhaps she is the daughter of his older brother Jeremiah (AKA "William") or maybe one of Greatgranddad's sisters married a Collins and had Nora.

After hitting the LDS records again, I did find a Nora Collins born in 1878, in Ballintotis, which is just beyond the city of Cork. And her father is ... William Collins.

William did not stay on the farm in Colomane East, which is a mystery as traditionally that's what the oldest sons did. Why did William leave Colomane? Perhaps he came back to the area, as he is a witness in the 1904 marriage of brother Denis to Ellen Hurley. I am driving myself crazy with more questions.

I sent away for the marriage record of Nora Collins and Michael McCarthy. It will say what her father's name was and where she was from.

Along those lines, I sent away for the death record of a Humphrey Collins in 1873. I am wondering if he is Granddad's paternal greatgrandfather.

I've also sent away for Greatgranddad Denis's death certificate. Aunt Peg told me she distinctly remembered traveling by cart to go see him around the time he was dying. She was a little girl, and Mom was an infant or toddler, babysat by Mary Maher. That would put Greatgranddad's date of death around 1929 or 1930. We were under the impression he died much earlier.

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