Thursday, April 02, 2009

The wonders of technology, genealogy division!

Genealogy geek alert!

Background: I've got a fairly complete picture of Francis McGee and Helen Cassidy after their marriage at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Edinburgh, 1848. He's born in Ireland (Donegal or Fermanagh, depending on which record I believe) while she's the daughter of Michael Cassidy and Mary Goodman, baptized at the same church in 1832. I've got them in various later censuses and details on several of their children, including my great-grandfather Peter who was adopted out, after his mother died and his older sister married and moved to Dundee. Despite having been poor Catholic costermongers (Francis was probably a famine immigrant who was likely too poor to pay for passage to the US so he went only as far as Scotland) in the tenements of Edinburgh, they did manage to leave trails in various record books.

(Side note: I'm very fortunate.... Scotland [Dad's family] and New England [especially MA; Mum's family] are some of the places with the best records for genealogists - both in terms of what's extant and in terms of what has been digitized and put on-line.)

(Second side note: on women’s names….. genealogists tend to list women by their birth name. This especially makes sense in Scotland, where women were much more likely to be listed by their birth name in records even after they married, especially before about 1865-ish. So it isn’t at all unusual to see records from say 1820 that say Robert Jamieson and Margaret Guthrie his lawful wife had a son Robert born and baptized.)

1851 census 685-1 Ed 3 p 6 (Lady Yester's)
231 Cowgate, Hasties Close.
Francis McGEE, head, 28, hawker costermonger, b Fermanagh, Ireland
Helen McGEE, wife, 20, hawker's wife, b Edinburgh, MLN
Margaret McGEE, daur, 1, ---------------b Edinburgh, MLN
1861 census 685-3 Ed 28 p 2 (Canongate)
341 Cowgate, Scotts Land.
Francis McKEE, head, 37, fishmonger, b Ireland
Ellen McKEE, wife, 27, fishmonger, b Edinburgh, Edin.
Ellen McKEE, daur, 11, --------------b Edinburgh, Edin.
Margaret McKEE, daur, 6, ---------b Edinburgh, Edin.
Edward McKEE, son, 3, -----------b Edinburgh, Edin.
(Daughters ages reversed on this return……)

Helen died in 1862, when Peter was not quite a year old. Francis didn't die until 1888, when his daughter Margaret (living in Dundee at the time; she was b. 1849 - I have the bp. record from St. Mary's) was the informant on the death cert.

I've found a couple possibilities for Francis on 1871 and 1881 but no one who is definitely him. For example, in 1881, there's a lodger listed at 65 Grassmarket as Frank with no last name, occ. fish hawker, 57 b. IRE, that I'm guessing is highly likely to be him.

Francis and Helen's son Peter (my great-grandfather) was born in Dec. 1861 in White Horse Close. He was adopted by James Jamieson and Margaret m.s. Guthrie of Leith when he was 6 or 7, so I'm guessing that happened when his older sister Margaret married in Feb 1868 and would have no longer been around to care for Peter.

In 1871, Peter is listed as a boarder with the family of James Jamieson and Margaret Guthrie.
Linden Cottage 3, Lasswade, Edinburgh, Midlothian
James Jamieson 50 boot/shoemaker Leith
Margaret Jamieson 51 Earlston
Robert G Jamieson 27 boot/shoemaker
Margaret Jamieson 18 paper mill wkr
Peter McGhee 9 boarder, scholar
Sarah S Richard 4 gradndaughter
Thomas Moffat 1 nursing

In 1881, he's with the same family as an adopted son.
Guthrie's Land, Old Sugarhouse Close, Leith
James Jamieson 60 Leith boot/shoemake
Margaret Jamieson 61 Earlston BER
Peter M Jamieson 20 Edinburgh adopted son sailmaker
Georgina D Jamieson 3 Loanhead adopted daughter
Robert Shepherd 40 boarder Greenock plater ship building yard
Janet Shepherd 37 boarder Leith
Hellen Newel 27 visitor Leith
Hellen Newel 1 visitor Glasgow

When Peter marries, he lists Francis McGee and Helen Norrie as his parents. (I'll come back to that bit about his mother's name.....) For Helen Cassidy, I had her parents' {Michael Cassidy and Mary Goodman} marriage in 1830 at St. Mary's RC church in Edinburgh, followed by the baptisms of Helen in 1832 and sister Jane in 1834. And then nothing until Helen marries Francis McGee in 1848.....

But I've had a couple (at least mini) breakthroughs in the least couple weeks! YIPPEE!

There are no further baptisms for the Cassidy family at St. Mary's, and I didn't see any the one chance I had to skim the Dundee RC records. I'm guessing that one of a couple possibilities happened:
a. they moved outside Scotland - maybe back to Ireland? And then back to Scotland with the famine in time for her to marry Francis in 1848.
b. one or both parents died, leaving 9 yo Helen to get skipped in the 1841 census. I've looked through many of the Helens (Ellens/Eleanors) born in the right time frame to see if Cassidy got completely mangled, or if there's a Helen with a last name that turns up in the various witnesses to family events.

So all speculation but fresh eyes do sometimes see something new. So I reposted the query about where Helen might have been in 1841 for the census at the TalkingScot forum, where there are lots of sharp-eyed researchers, one of whom (Sarah) posted this:

How about this one... (similar structure to the last name, even if the actual letters are different, and certainly initial C could look like G). Since I'm just looking at the Ancestry transcription, I can't tell if Gettany is for real.

Giles Street, South Leith, Midlothian
Beatrice Thomson, 50, born Midlothian, Washerwoman
Agnes Thomson, 20, born Midlothian, Dressmaker
James Hermanson, 20, born Midlothian, Glazier I
Peter Saunders, 22, born Midlothian, Labourer
Ellen Gettany, 8, born Midlothian

Do you know anything else about this family, e.g. what happened to Michael and Mary and if wee Jane survived?

I note that on the free surname search on SP there is exactly ONE occurrence of the surname Gettany. Guess where? 1841 census, of course. So perhaps that's how they actually wrote it. It does suggest, however, that this was not the standard spelling of
whatever her name was!

I think there's a good chance it's her. Who knows who answered the questions for the enumeration. The people in the household probably knew her mostly by her first name. Speaking from a phonetic point of view, every consonant is in the correct place in the mouth, just pronounced in a slightly different way. (e.g. you put your tongue in exactly the same place for "d" and "n" but just let some air out through your nose for the latter). Well, I won't bore you with the details but I found it quite convincing!

To which I replied:

Believe me, the details wouldn't bore me one little (glances at MA in linguistics hanging on wall..... ) and I think it is highly likely it is her....but figured some thinking out loud was a good idea, in case I'm overlooking something or my eagerness has me making leaps that I shouldn't - in which case, I'd hope someone would pull me back to reality.....tracing the wrong person/line is so annoying.

I looked at the actual return at SP; it does look pretty much like Gettany (surprise, surprise) but I'm still wondering if it might be her..... location not that far off, age is right, she appears at first glance to be an 'extra'* in the household, and I can see someone misreading Cassidy as Gettany when recopying handwritten returns (especially at the end of a long day....). I thought I'd looked at all the girls with something approximating the right name -- and esp. all those whose family names started with C, K, and G -- but I seem to have missed this one somehow..... eyes do cross after a while, I guess.

So, now the inquisitiveness kicks in.... random placement with an unrelated family? Or some relatives I don't know about? So many questions, so little time, Edinburgh (and its archives) so far away...... Thanks for looking - the new/fresh eyes are much appreciated!

* A scenario I was kinda sorta expecting, as I've found no trace of later baptisms after her sister Jane in 1834, which leads me to believe that one or both of her parents died in the mid/late 1830s if the family otherwise stayed in Scotland,
which seems likely, since Helen/Ellen/Eleanor/Norrie married there at the age of
16.... (and marriage quite that early also seems to suggest she didn't have much

On Helen's name: she is also listed variously in assorted records as Eleanor and Ellen; her son called her Helen Norrie on his marriage record, so I wouldn't be surprised if she went by Norrie or Nora, either. But I'm also thinking that Peter was a bit fuzzy on names and relationships.....

On Peter's adoptive father's death record, he lists James's parents as Thomas Jamieson and (-----) Hislop. I've found no trace of a Thomas Jamieson who married a Hislop in the right time frame. But I did find a Robert Jamieson who married a Janet Hislop in Leith in 1819..... and had a son James in 1820. James and his wife Margaret Guthrie named their biological sons Robert and James, while their daughters were Helen Mercer, Janet, and Margaret. Margaret's parents were Robert Guthrie and Helen Mercer. So far, so good on the naming pattern. Second daughter should be for James's mother - so the Janet checks out. Third daughter is most likely named for her mother - so third daughter Margaret fits the typical Scots naming pattern as well. If James's father was Robert, then the first son should be named Robert, which he is. But Margaret’s father was also Robert, which muddies matters a bit and bumps naming a son after his father from the third son to their second son.

So I'm guessing that Peter messed up his adopted father's father's name just the way that he mixed up his mother's name ;-) What makes it all the more likely: it looks like Robert died well before Peter was in the picture, as Janet Hislop was described as a 'relict (widow) of Robt. Jamieson' when she married Gavin Chapman in 1844 in Leith. Janet Hislop Jamieson and Gavin Chapman are listed on the 1851 census at 11 St. Andrews St, Leith. She's 55, he's 45, b. Houston Renfrew, and a fireman.

Then the next breakthrough: the Old Parochial Register deaths/burials have now been digitized and they've gone live at Scotlandspeople. The OPRs are the records from before 1855, when Scotland started doing civil registrations of births, marriages, and deaths. The OPRs are basically the records of the established Church of Scotland (a.k.a. Presbyterian) and so one mostly actually gets baptisms, banns, and burials, rather than births, marriages, and deaths. Since it is the established church, many people (Catholics and Free Church adherents being the prime ‘culprits’) didn’t bother to register various events. The baptisms and marriages have been indexed and available for years, but indexing the burials was proving to be a bit harder, as many as listed as ‘a child of Mr. Cameron’ or ‘old widow McDonald.’

So I took a peek. Since I wasn’t at home, I was working from memory, and I know the details of the Cassidy/McGee line pretty well, having gone over it lots. But they were Catholic, based on the records I'd found at St. Mary's. Was it worth trying?

Yup, it was. Occasionally one gets lucky!

There she was: Mary Goodman, age 29, wife of Michael Cassidy, buried 6 Sept 1835. So the theory that at least one of Helen's parents had died as the reason that I'd only found the two children's baptisms looks like it's true.

A remaining mystery: In January 1855, Francis and Helen have a daughter named Helen, and Francis toddles off from Hastie's Close, where they are living, to comply with the new registration law.

What caught my eye: the next line, child born same day as Helen and registered the same day, with the same witness to their father's marks. It's a James Callaghan, son of Thomas Callaghan and Mary McGhie, also resident in Hastie's Close. Aha, I think..... Any chance Mary is related to Francis? If not, it is quite the coincidence.

James's entry says his parents were married in 1844 in Dundee. Thomas, age 30 in 1855, was born in Co. Cavan, Ireland, while Mary was 38 and born in Donegal. James is her 4th child, with the previous three all deceased.

When I was in Scotland a couple years ago, I found their marriage record at the Catholic church in Dundee: 9 July 1844, witnessed by James Trainor and Mary Farrell.

Ancestry's 1851 census lists a Thomas 26 and Maria Kallican 25 at 89 Murraygate, Beattie Close, on the 1851 census, with a son Thomas aged 1 that might well be them. Hurrah for census searches that don't require a last name!

But I can't find them in the death records or later census returns. I've tried lots of combinations of spellings/Soundex/wildcards with no luck. Looked through the US census and immigration records, just in case, on the off chance that they immigrated and I'd manage to find them amongst all the possible spellings.

And in my wilder moments , I wonder if James and Helen were actually twins, with Francis and Helen not able to handle them and letting his sister and her husband adopt one. And in the really wild moments, I figure maybe someday I'll track down a direct male descendant of James to compare his DNA to the test my dad had done as a present for me.

Yes, the twin thing is waaaaaay, waaaaaay out there. But I'm sure you can see why I occurred to me, despite the am/pm difference - one family with 3 babies who've died, the other with (possible) twins and little to no income.

I think it is likely that there is some connection, even if my wild twin theory is wrong, as there seems to be some movement between Dundee and Edinburgh for both these families - plus there's a surname that turns up in baptismal and marriage witnesses for both that is a bit less common - McPhilips.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Too early and very much missed!

I'm not big on memorials (pretty much a family trait*.....and I certainly wouldn't pay to put one in the nwspaper, as that would have totally appalled her!).....but......

b. 20 March 1939
d. 8 December 2004

Grief is a funny thing; you think you have a handle on it, then something jumps up and bites you.....

[I am very thankful that Dad has a camera club convention this weekend.....can't think of a better distraction for him grin]

Mum enjoying herself in ME

Mum with the cat that got the canary expression

Mum and Priscilla reading

Mum formal portrait toddler

Mum as flower girl

Mum and Dad at Phoenix Zoo 2004

Mum in AZ knitting

Mum and Dad on ferry to Morocco 1996

Mum and Dad wearing lobster sweaters

Mum Dad and Harvey helping BJ and Seth in Zanesville

Picture 107

* Dad and I discovered a few years asgo that his mother doesn't have a gravestone (his father does); it evidently got overlooked at the time of her death/burial and no one had gone back in the intervening 25 years to notice......

(Edited for typos and the like.....I should not be allowed to do anything before 9:15 a.m. or so.......)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tremendous thanks!

Sneaking a post in at lunch.... 'cuz I'm really trying to get caught up (and I didn't have the energy to go out, so I might as well use my time well).....

One of the drawbacks of extended not feeling well when one is already overcommitted is that the hole one ends up in gets very big very quickly......and one of the ickiest parts of that big hole is that I'm behind on thanking the wonderful people who have sent me fiber-y goodness...very bad on my part, I must say (Mum would be appalled.....)

So, flipping a coin about who goes first....

From a Ravelry group swap... theknitaholic sent me some wonderful squishy soft purple yarn..... and some adorable stitch markers. The picture doesn't do the rich deep color is sooooooo yummy......

From SP13, a box of goodies from Penny..... some chocolate (looks yummy.....), some lotion, a knitting calendar, some fiber for spinning (haven't touched the wheel in ages.... maybe this gorgeous stuff will change that...).......

and an incredibly beautiful challah cover....... I always look forward to Shabbat - but this makes me want Shabbat NOW! NOW! right NOW!

I'm assuming that all that fibery goodness has distracted all of you - and that those of you still reading are shortly off to do something more worthwhile...but let me just say I'm really glad today for my Outlook calendar, as I misremembered the time of today's dr. appt. Fortunately, my oh-so-necessary external memory kicked in with a nice little reminder ;-) So, evidently, the last round of drugs did 2/3 of their jobs.... the throat and the ear infections are gone, as best he can tell. But the sinuses.... still an issue. Ugh. But at least that explains the continuing headaches that frequently feel like someone is sticking a stiletto from my right frontal bone through to the occipital, leading to only short spurts at the computer (as that seems to make it worse....). So a stronger anti-biotic and a different prescription decongestant are in my immediate future. Let's hope this decongestant doesn't make me as loopy as the last that would be pretty scary ;-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drive-by posting...

Out tonight and the next two or three (plus the whole Shabbat thing) [well, assuming I have the energy... seriously considering skipping some stuff - missed last week's Hebrew class so I really need to go tonight....but I'd rather go to bed.....] .... but wanted to say that I got a secret pal package today and WOW --- just about even better than the Loopy Ewe gift certificate (which I haven't used yet....still way down on ability to concentrate.....). More when I find the camera ;-)

[Ugh... was tired and headachy enough that I'd forgotten no class last stayed home and went to bed early.....but I did find the camera, so will post pictures from the wonderful yarn swap packages I've gotten very soon -- maybe this evening, if I decide that I don't have the energy for knit night after today's dr. appt......]

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Finally..... I'm actually beginning to feel better. Lots of antibiotics and various such drugs have -- after what seems like forever -- kicked in. For the first time in weeks, other than one day earlier this week (when I went to a megilla reading and Purim party but left early enough that I was home and in bed by 9 or so.....), I'm actually home from work at the regular time and haven't fallen asleep ;-) This whole flu and sinus/throat/ear infection has had me about the sickest I've ever been - as bad as when I had pneumonia a few years ago. Icky!

But I do think that I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel at last. No temperature today, throat no longer hurts to talk, headache-y but it's not pounding (yes, that's a decided improvement!!!!).

The bad news: I've run through way too much of this year's sick time at work already. I have pretty much not touched knitting needles in a month..... nor have I really finished a book.... I've read bits and pieces but I either fall asleep or can't concentrate and lose my place. Ugh. Missed several books on hold as I didn't get to the library to pick them up in the week they give you.

The good news: Seth didn't catch any of it, so he's been healthy. And, thanks to his assistance, I don't have any overdue library books nor is there too big a stack of laundry ;-)

Jez's view of the world: me getting well is not an improvement, as she has liked having a (100+deg) body curled up either on the den sofa or the bed to warm her old paws on ;-) Maybe I'll need to bribe her.....catnip and cheeseburgers both work.....

jez and the nip

Jez with burger 3

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The what was I thinking of edition……

I’m already overcommitted…. So why get myself involved in yet another long-term project? Don’t know….but I do manage to ;-)

All my current knitting projects are of the super-secret [future present) variety, so...... surprise... I’m going to share about my other (possibly even greater......but less visual and harder to describe briefly) obsession.

At the same time as I was a little girl intrigued by Mum’s yarn, I was also fascinated by how families were put the time I was 4 or 5, I was trying to figure out how two people related to me were related to each other. The few times I heard the Biblical lists of begats (I grew up attending a UU church, so it didn’t happen that often...), I tried to follow closely. In grade 8, I was about the only one in my social studies class who didn’t fuss about the several-week-long family tree assignment. Not surprisingly, as an adult, my genealogy obsession has rivaled my fiber obsession for time, money, and storage space (genealogy can get very paper intense......).

When I started seriously searching, I was fortunate that my paternal grandmother had written down what she knew (or thought she knew; figuring that out may well turn out to be a post, if all of you dear readers aren't completely bored by this .... and maybe even if you are) about the Scottish side of the family and that a couple people on Mum’s side had done some preliminary research; my great grandfather was definitely more enthusiastic than rigorous in his research, but it did provide a starting point for me.

My mother’s family was in New England pretty much by 1650, except for one Dutch cluster who settled in NY in the 1650s and a very few stragglers to Massachusetts and Connecticut in the mid to late 1700s (we’ll get back to that momentarily......). My grandmother insisted I wouldn’t find any Mayflower ancestry; when I did, she dismissed it, as the first dozen or so Mayflower lines I found went through Gram’s great-grandmother, who had left her husband and two young children for another man in the late 1850s. Given Gram’s marriage history, that meant that Harriet Waterman Poor Abbott didn’t count... until Gram was at her little old ladies’ luncheon (her phrase, not mine......) and another little old lady was bragging about 2 Mayflower ancestors; needless to say, Gram was suddenly interested in her 11 grin.

Dad’s family – Free Kirk shepherds and Irish Catholic costermongers (potato famine refugees who were too poor to make it to the US.....) in Scotland –- has been more interesting to trace than Mum’s -- and overall much more of a challenge! As an example, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins likely have more than 2 million descendants living today; the chance that I’ll find something no one else has is quite small. A good chunk of the work on Mum’s family is taking one line from that article and another line from this book, putting them together, and rechecking older research from when standards of proof were less rigorous. So digging around original records for the scarce mentions of Dad's ancestors has been quite a challenge - although the traipsing around the Scottish countryside in search of the places that they lived was great fun (although one was remote enough, with no road, only a couple mile sheep track, that I didn't hike it as I was alone that day).

So, anyway, the main topic of what I’m working on: one line on Mum’s side of the family that has caught my attention has been her father’s straight paternal line. Latecomers to North America (at least by the standards of my New England Yankee family), the Learoyds arrived in 1802 (shipping news citation in the Morning Chronicle 9 Dec. 1802, on the Mars from Liverpool) and settled in Danvers, MA, where they married into local families, including the Putnams of 1692 witch trial fame (infamy?). Interestingly, Addison Putnam Learoyd (grandson of the immigrant John Andrew and father of the Albert I'm getting to) had no Putnam ancestors that I have found -- but his wife is the Helen who is circled on this chart (and his son Albert married the Jessie Sears on the chart):

All those Putnams

A view of the Putnam-Learoyd cemetery (#11 at linked map), just off Route 1 and Rte 62 in Danvers, right next to the state police barracks:


Side note: in the above picture, the gravestone at the front left is for Elizabeth (Merriam) Putnam, who lived to be 103, and who was the mother of the Helen Putnam mentioned above.

Like most people whose names (Holroyd, Ackroyd, Oakroyd/Eckroyd, Boothroyd, Murgatroyd) end in –royd, the Learoyds were originally from Yorkshire (Bradford in the case of the Learoyds). Even in 1891, the majority of Learoyds were in the north of England.

One of the first ‘sources’ I had in my research was an old set of typed pages about the Learoyds, listing who had which children and which colleges the children has gone to (many of the U.S. Learoyds in the mid to late 1800s seem to have gone to college – even the women, attending Smith, Mt. Holyoke, and the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia). No sources, a decided lack of places and exact dates....typical of the time it was likely written (around 1900, judging from the information given.....).

learoyd papers p1

Since my grandparents divorced when my mother was a toddler (and my grandfather died when Mum was a teenager), I’ve only met relatives on that side of the family a few times, and I only knew a few snippets about them.

One example: before my grandfather was born, his parents (father pictured below) were involved in some interesting circumstances in 1896/7.....

Albert F. Learoyd

Their hired hand William Kennedy thought my great grandfather Albert F. Learoyd wasn’t treating my great-grandmother Jessie (Sears) Learoyd as well as he (AFL) should, so he (WK) put some Rough on Rats in his (AFL’s) tea. Arrest and trial of William Kennedy followed, with interesting coverage in the Boston papers, as some of the papers tried to implicate my great grandmother to various extents. I'm not sure what the actual story was - I do know that Albert and Jessie stayed married, which is good, as my grandfather wasn't born until about 6 years after the trial.

Learoyd articles on trial

So, to bring this back to the topic of me being overcommitted and not being able to say no to taking on things even with being overcommitted.....

I’ve recently (like several weeks ago......) joined the Guild of One Name Studies and I’ve registered an official one name study on the Learoyd family. In addition to my research on my direct family lines, I’ll be recording every occurrence of the name in all the standard genealogical sources I can get my hands on: census returns, vital records, military records, immigration records, ship passenger lists, and so on. I will skip the references in Kipling grin. This project is new enough that I’ve not finished the mini-web page I’ll be doing - soon, once I've dug out from the flu/sinus-throat-ear infection-induced backlog.

Learoyd is, in many ways, an ideal name for this sort of study: enough of them around to be interesting, but not so many as to be completely overwhelming. There’s a pretty good chance that all the Learoyds are eventually related to each other, so if you have the name in your family tree – hi, cousin!