Monday, January 28, 2008
Image of the ship courtesy of the Cóbh Maritime Song Festival website.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Considering how much the Irish were tied to their homeland, it is incredible to realize the numbers of people that emigrated, most leaving the green land of Eire never to return again.
Many of them said their last goodbyes to their home country at the port city of Queenstown in County Cork (now called Cóbh, pronounced cove). Queenstown was the predominant emigration port for the Irish. According to the Cóbh Heritage Centre, “From 1848 to 1950 over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland – over 2.5 million departed from Cóbh, making it the single most important port of emigration.”
The website gives a brief summary of the causes of this enormous departure from Ireland:
“This exodus from Ireland was largely as a result of poverty, crop failures, the land system and a lack of opportunity. Irish emigration reached unprecedented proportions during the famine as people fled from hunger and disease… Escape was seen by many as the only chance of survival: between 1845 and 1851 over 1,500,000 people emigrated from Ireland. This was more than had left the country in the previous half century.”
One of the many Irish citizens who left from Queenstown became well-known for her journey, not so much because of who she was or where she came from, but because of where and when she ended her journey. Annie Moore, traveling with her two younger brothers, is now well-known as the first immigrant processed at the newly opened Ellis Island on January 1st, 1892. Her journey is memorialized in statues both at Cóbh's Heritage Centre and at New York’s Ellis Island. To many the statues represent not only the memory of this young lady's emigration from Ireland but the millions of Irish who left their home country and journeyed to America.
For more information about the two million-strong emigrant exodus that said their last goodbyes at Queenstown, see the Cóbh Heritage Centre’s website entitled Cóbh: The Queentown Story.
Image of the Cóbh waterfront thanks to J. Pollock.
Statue of Annie Moore and her brothers thanks to the Look Around Ireland website.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
One of the trips is an Irish genealogy seminar via cruise trip. No, it's not being held near the coast of Ireland, but in the Caribbean. The cruise, which will depart January 10, 2009 from Florida, will provide sessions with speakers well-known for their presentations at national genealogical conferences.
If you are interested in attending and receiving the current discounted rate, you'll need to register by February 3, 2008. For more information see Dick Eastman's article for more details or access the cruise webpage itself. Just for fun, you might want to view RootsTelevision's Genealogy Cruisin' video and get a glimpse into a previous genealogy cruise.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Please come along on the journey with us! Here are some suggestions:
If you know it, tell us about the county, city or village in Ireland where your family originated. If not, tell us about a place that figured prominently in an Irish history book that you enjoyed, or a place that you visited (or hope to visit) that is steeped in Irish history. The Irish place that you describe need not be in Ireland itself. Your entry can include a place where the Irish settled once they emigrated, or a place that has seen Irish culture grow within its boundaries.Entries are due on January 29, 2008. The carnival will be published on February 1, the feast day of St. Brigid, who is as well-known and loved by the Irish as St. Patrick. Hope you'll join us! Click this link to send in your submissions.
Interested in reading previous editions of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture? Our 1st edition Everyone Loves a Good Irish Story, came out in November 2007. The first day of the new year 2008 brought us There's a Pot of Gold at the End of Every Rainbow... (this one focused on Irish research).
I'm looking forward to receiving your story about Irish places for our 3rd edition. In the meantime, happy travels!
Image of O'Brien's Tower courtesy of Jordan McClements.
Pub photo courtesy of John Mullins Irish Pub.
Friday, January 18, 2008
- Mr. Tierney, I presume? at A Light That Shines Again
- A rose by any other name at 100 Years in America
- Bad genes - discovered! here at Small-leaved Shamrock
If you have a general interest in DNA testing and its value to family history, you may be interested in what I've written in the various posts listed above. You can also find a wealth of information on the subject of genetics and family history at Blaine Bettinger's The Genetic Genealogist.And if your name is Mr. Cowhey, you are a wanted man. If you have an interest in participating in the DNA surname project, please contact the project administrator or check out the Coffey DNA project page.
P.S. An extra bonus of doing the testing might be that you discover a link to Dr. J. Russell Coffey. Russell, the centenarian who was the last oldest remaining soldier who had served World War I, had his DNA tested and it is filed with this project. Russell was 109 when he passed away last month. If you're hoping you share his longevity gene, this might be the place to find out. (For more on his story see this video interview with Russell done by a Toledo, Ohio television station.)
Monday, January 14, 2008
Imagine my excitement when I did a search one day several years ago within what is now Genealogy.com's online user family tree pages. (Back then it was Broderbund's Family Tree Maker site and it was free to access the data.) I typed in COWHEY and, sure enough, there was a Cowhey family tree right before my eyes. Not only did I find the surname that I was looking for, but there listed alongside it were other familiar surnames. I had found a branch of my family online, thanks to a cousin who had done his own research and posted it to the web.
Over the years since that find and my resulting contact with my distant cousin Jim who posted the family tree, I have enjoyed the comfort of knowing that another descendant of my Cowhey ancestors was seeking out the stories of our family. Knowing that Jim was working on the same project and keeping in contact with him to share discoveries has been a great blessing.
Consider this a thank-you from your fellow Cowhey family historian, Jim. Since the first day I received an email back from you signed warmly "Your cousin, Jim" I've greatly appreciated having found you and now others that share our Irish Pennsylvania heritage. You all have become a long-distance "part of the family" so to speak. It is a joy to "meet" others online whom I never knew existed but who share a common bond that only family members can.
Here's hoping that together we will find more Cowhey cousins to share the amazing stories of our ancestors...
This post will be included in the 40th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy posted at Jasia's Creative Gene.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
After taking the time to dig into some family records and to get the historical perspective of the time and place that they lived in, I've put together a look back at the Cowhey family of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania one-hundred years ago in 1908.
According to the Explore PA History website, "In the 1800s railroading was intertwined with the lives of every Pennsylvanian." That would continue to be true throughout the early decades of the 20th century.
It was certainly true in 1908, and the Cowhey family was no exception. In fact, their hometown of Mount Carbon was the very end of the original Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. This portion of the railroad had opened on January 13, 1842, when Mount Carbon was a part of North Mannheim Township (it became its own town in 1864). The P&R's end at Mount Carbon had connected with the Mount Carbon Railroad which went on to Pottsville and served as the mode of transportation for several mines in the area.
The lives of the Cowhey family revolved around those railroads. Some took jobs as railroad conductors, firemen, engineers, foremen at the round house, etc. Others did iron work, were machinists, or performed other tasks to support the industry. Their lives were surrounded by and depended upon the railroads. And as much as the railroads provided new opportunities for those that lived during their heyday in the 19th and early 20th century, the railroads introduced new dangers to their everyday lives. The very railroad on which he spent his days making a living for his family would take William Cowhey's life in 1892.
The railroad in Schuylkill County was a natural extension of its development as a center for the coal mining industry. In the 19th and early 20th centuries Schuylkill County lived and breathed anthracite coal. As the industry grew and the need for coal miners and railroad workers grew along with it, the population of the county grew also. According to census figures, in 1910 the population of Schuylkill County would surge to 207,894: about 35,000 more people than it had in 1900.
Pottsville itself, the county seat, had only had 4,345 residents in 1840, which was already twenty years after Patrick's arrival in the U.S. By 1910, the population of Pottsville would be more than 20,000 people.
Two miles south of Pottsville, Mount Carbon, on the other hand, was always a one-street town with a tiny population. Living there since at least the 1860's, the Cowhey family was a predominant portion of the little town. With a land area of 0.1 miles, it continues to be small today.
In 1908 it had already been 88 years since Patrick Cowhey had arrived from Ireland - more than likely leaving behind his relatives in Cork. Patrick and his wife Anne had lived out their lives in America - first in New York and later in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Of their nine children, only one was still living in 1908: their son John Cowhey. John was a 62-year-old bachelor, working as a train engineer. Four of his siblings had passed away as children. The other four had all died in the 1890's.
One of those four was John's brother William, who I mentioned above. You may have read my earlier posts about William's role as a volunteer in the Civil War serving alongside his brother Thomas. William's wife, Margaret, age 53 in 1908, had found herself raising her many children alone after her husband's death (not to mention acting as mother to several children from his first marriage).
Here is a look back at the William Cowhey family of Mount Carbon, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 1908.
Children of William & Anne McWilliams Cowhey (or Catherine - there is some confusion as to her name) and their spouses & children are as follows:
- John F. McGinley (age 44) - Husband of Annie Cowhey McGinley (who had died in 1907). John was left to raise his children, John (age 9), William (age 7) and Catherine (age 4) without his wife. In 1920 he worked as a foreman in the railroad round house, so he may have had a similar job in 1908.
- Margaret Cowhey (age 40) - Margaret probably never married. The 1910 U.S. Census shows Margaret working as a housekeeper for a family and living with her Uncle John as a boarder. Eventually Margaret and her uncle lived with John McGinley and his three children (per the 1920 U.S. Census) and then later with John J. & Frances Owens Cowhey (per the 1930 U.S. Census).
- William Cowhey (died in 1908 at the age of 37) - His wife remained to raise their three children: Blanche, William and another son.
- John Joseph Cowhey (age 34) - Married to Frances M. Owens Cowhey (age 32). The couple had their first child, William F. Cowhey, in 1908. Six others would follow. John may have been a railroad conductor in 1908. Eventually John's sister Margaret Cowhey and brother-in-law John McGinley would come to live with John and Frances and their children (per the 1930 U.S. Census).
- Richard Cowhey (unknown) - Might be age 32 or might have passed away by 1908.
As I mentioned above, William's 2nd wife (Margaret Foley Cowhey) was 53 years old. Children of William & Margaret and their spouses & children are as follows:
- Mary Cowhey (age 30) - Married to either 1st husband Robert Warden or 2nd husband (surname Stokel).
- Elizabeth Cowhey Brown (age 27) - Married to Alec Brown (not sure what year) and probably living in Philadelphia.
- Thomas Patrick Cowhey (age 26) - Probably married to Bess Hossler (age 17). The couple may not have been married by 1908, but certainly were married shortly thereafter. They went on to have four children, beginning in 1910, before Thomas died at the young age of 34 in 1916.
- Ambrose Paul Cowhey (age 25) - A bachelor for life, Ambrose was probably a brakeman on the railroad by 1908 as he was during the 1920 U.S. Census.
- Clara Cowhey Rodgers (age 22) - Probably married already to William Rodgers.
- Charles William Cowhey (age 21) - Charles would marry Agnes Donnelly several years later. In 1908 she was 17 years old. By 1913 Charles and Agnes would marry. In that year Charles was working as a foreman. He would go on to work in various odd jobs throughout his lifetime, including machinist at the railroad round house, railroad laborer, employee of the WPA (Works Progress Administration), train runner and crane operator, among others.
- Blanche Cowhey (age 19) - Blanche married relatively late. She and her husband, John Mokelar, had two children. In her early adulthood she lived with her brother Charles and his wife Agnes. I assume that she was still living with her mother, Margaret, in 1908.
What kind of world did this family see around them in 1908? You might enjoy reading this excerpt from History of the County of Schuylkill published just a few years later in 1911, the centennial anniversary of the founding of the county.
Here is its description of Pottsville in Brief. If these glowing facts about the Schuylkill County seat 2 miles from the Cowhey family homes are to be believed, theirs must not have been too bad a life back in 1908.
Image of the Conestoga Bridge courtesy of American Premier Underwriters, Inc and Explore PA History.
Its railroad facilities are such as to carry a passenger to Philadelphia in slightly more than two hours, a distance of 94 miles.
Its churches are commodious, the pulpits being filled with learned theologians, whilst music of the highest order intersperse the services.
Its merchants are men above the average, with stores equal to those of metropolitan cities, the Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart Department Store holding the honor of being the largest and most popular store in the city. [Editor's note: This information was published by the Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart Department Store, so readers would be wise to take this statement with a grain of salt.]
Its streets are paved with chemically treated wood block for eight squares, running from Union Street on the south to Harrison Street on the north; West Norwegian and West Market for several squares being paved with brick; Railroad and all other streets for eight squares mentioned above, running east from Centre to Railroad being paved with Belgian blocks, whilst the other streets of the city are macadamized, making motoring or driving a delightful recreation.
Its hills are picturesque, and from their summits give a view of beauty rarely found within a city’s limits.
Its homes are well constructed, roomy, commodious, and of superb architectural design, the homes of workingmen being far above the average city home.
Its water, whilst not filtered, is the purest that nature can produce, clear as crystal, pure and wholesome, and in quantities much in excess of the city’s requirements.
Its homes are heated with Anthracite coal burning methods, furnaces, steam heating and hot water appliances, whilst, the central portion of the city is supplied with steam heat from a corporation.
Its streets and home are lighted by gas and electric light, from the best known methods, and in sufficient quantity to give entire satisfaction, the same being furnished by the public corporations.
Its farming products are brought to the city fresh from mother earth in large quantities almost daily from nearby rural districts.
Its fruits are largely produced near its door, and the quantity and quality is steadily improving.
Its future prospects of becoming a city of 60,000 is admittedly bright, and the project can be carried out by annexing the suburban towns and villages.
It’s a city, first and last and all the time, ready with open arms to welcome the stranger within its gates.
Image of the Philadelphia & Reading and Pottsville Railroad announcement is from Images of America: Pottsville by Leo Ward and Mark Major.Image of the train courtesy of Philadelphia Reflections.
Image of the Schuylkill County Courthouse in 1906 courtesy of Northeastern Pennsylvania Photo Collection.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Bad luck or not, it is traditional in Ireland to celebrate the full twelve days of Christmas along with the liturgical calendar of the Church. The culmination of this celebration on Epiphany, January 6, is also known in Ireland as Nollaig Bheag (Little Christmas). It is the day of the final Christmas feast and also the day to remove all Christmas decorations and begin the new season of Ordinary Time.
The day also has another significance to some in Ireland, particularly in County Cork where the Cowhey family originated. It is Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas). The tradition holds that the men take on the household duties for the day while women receive the day off, often taking time with other female relatives and friends to celebrate. January 6 also acts as a Mother's Day of sorts, with children honoring their mothers and grandmothers with gifts. You might enjoy reading Sheila Flitton's memories of Women's Christmases past and present in her native Cork in her article Little Womens' Christmas. She observes that today "wine and lunch has replaced the bottle of stout and corned beef sandwiches" from the "local public house" while each man of the house stays "home trying his hand at cooking and spending quality time with the children (or so they say)". Sounds like a tradition that should certainly be carried on.
Here's wishing you a very happy twelfth day of Christmas! I hope that you had a beautiful celebration of the Savior's birth and ushered in the New Year with joy and hope for the future. Now you can take down your Christmas decorations and go on with ordinary, everyday life. But don't forget to be especially kind to your mother on Little Christmas!
Friday, January 4, 2008
Not even New Year's Day.
But now I'm ready...
After beginning our Christmas shopping immediately after the Thanksgiving feast, it seemed like the holiday season's preparations had been going on forever.
Now, just when you thought you could rest, I have a new holiday for you to prepare for.
If you've been watching the ticker on the sidebar of Small-leaved Shamrock you know that we are less than three months away from that most Irish of all celebrations: St. Patrick's Day.
The Irish have a saying:
Ráithe ó Nollaig go Féile Phádraig
That Gaelic phrase refers to the three-month-long "season" between Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.
You know what they say:
Téann an saol thart mar a bheadh eiteoga air
(Life goes by as if it had wings)
Do you have your green ready?
Image courtesy of It's a Party-ful Life!
Thursday, January 3, 2008
It has long been a goal of mine to learn about my own ancestors' roles during the 19th century in Schuylkill County, particularly with regard to the coal mining industry. Ever since I was a child I've known that several of my ancestors were Irish coal miners there. The more questions I've asked about that side of the family, the more intrigued I have become.
You see, this side of the family didn't take kindly to questions about the past. For many generations children's questions have been hushed, certainly since my grandmother's childhood in the early 1920's. In the midst of this secrecy, the questions asked have become family legends themselves.
Could our John Donnelly have been in with the Mollie Maguires? He was of the right time period, the right age, the right occupation, and the right ethnicity. He even shared a surname with some of the prominent Mollies themselves. What was his story?
Unearthing the life story of John Donnelly, my great-great-grandfather, would be a great genealogical find, indeed. I have found he and his wife's marriage record, and what I believe to be the story of his accident in the Shenandoah Evening Herald and the Pottsville Republican. If I have the right John Donnelly, he and his brother died in an explosion at Bear Ridge Colliery in Shenandoah. Could he also have been involved with those that were fighting to improve the conditions that eventually cost him his life?
The questions remain after three generations. Will I be the one to set them to their final rest?
John Donnelly & Michael Donnelly (Miners, Bear Ridge Colliery, Mahanoy Plane), Report of the Inspector of Mines for the Sixth Anthracite District of Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County, 1893; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Mining & Reclamation, Harrisburg.
“Boilers Explode. One Man Killed at Mahanoy Plane – One Injured.,” Shenandoah Evening Herald, March 20, 1893.
“Buried To-day,” Shenandoah Evening Herald, March 21, 1893.
“Frackville Gossip: At about three o’clock Sunday morning…,” Pottsville Republican, March 20, 1893.
“Frackville Notes: Michael Donnelly…,” Pottsville Republican, March 21, 1893.
"Known ‘Mollie Maguires’ (AOH) Membership List Mentioned in Trial Transcripts," Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Brendan Division #1 (Online: Berks County, Pennsylvania AOH) [Pinkerton Detective Agency], <http://www.angelfire.com/pa4/berksaoh/pdf/mollies.pdf> , accessed 3 January 2008.
The above image of the Bear Ridge Colliery coal mine in Shenandoah is courtesy of the North Eastern Pennsylvania Photo Collection. Bear Ridge Colliery is the site where John Donnelly was believed to have died in an explosion. This photo was taken a little over a decade later in 1907.
This post was inspired by Craig Manson's question: What's your version of The Greatest Genealogical Find Ever? posted at GeneaBlogie.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Now I've discovered another new online "toy" for readers: Goodreads. It is a site that takes the idea of Library Thing one step further. Through Goodreads I have just set up a genealogy group to list and discuss books on subjects related to family history.
Interested in participating? Take a break from those good family history books you're reading and click on this link to join us. I'm looking forward to hearing about what's on your bookshelf.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
So you've got roots in Ireland? Don't know where to start? Started, but not making any progress? Follow these colorful links to find gold at the end of your Irish family history research. May the road back to Ireland rise to meet you, and may the luck of the Irish guide your way!
Apple of Apple's Tree is aware of the work she has to do on the western side of the Atlantic before her search can set foot in Ireland. With ancestors coming from Ireland as far back as 1720, and with some coming to the United States by way of Canada, she has a trail to follow before she can begin actual Irish research. In Looking for Irish Records Apple suggests a nice assortment of online sources that she plans to use to get herself started. The best of luck to ya', Apple!
Ireland is a small country but because of various different administrative divisions used over the centuries it can be a complicated place to understand. Know the area of Ireland where your family hails from but can't make sense of townlands, baronies, parishes, etc.? Take Irish Geography 101 over at A Light That Shines Again. In order to do successful family history research in Ireland you've got to know the basics of Irish place names, not only modern ones but historical ones as well. I've listed some resources that can help you find out where your family might have fit in and how the various political divisions of Ireland impacted the place where they lived.
If you know it, tell us about the county, city or village in Ireland where your family originated. If not, tell us about a place that figured prominently in an Irish history book that you enjoyed, or a place that you visited (or hope to visit) that is steeped in Irish history. The Irish place that you describe need not be in Ireland itself. Your entry can include a place where the Irish settled once they emigrated, or a place that has seen Irish culture grow within its boundaries.
Enjoyed this edition of the carnival? You might enjoy the March 17, 2008 edition: A St. Patrick's Day parade of posts!