Thursday, January 29, 2009

Growing the family tree: In both directions

Many take up the hobby of genealogy when their children grow up and leave home or when they retire. Me, on the other hand, I couldn't wait so long. My interest in history has always been such a part of me, I can't imagine not digging into the story of my family. This has led to a type of balancing act for me - growing the family tree backwards at the same time as I'm "growing" the next generation of the tree: my children.

Photograph privately held by Lisa, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. 2009.

Lots of benefits have come from this type of arrangement, of course. Starting earlier has allowed me to know what types of questions to ask my older relatives before they've passed away. (Although you can never start early enough on this one - there are so many relatives I wish I'd sat down and talked with when I'd had the chance.)

Another benefit of tracing the family tree with young children around is the fact that you are never at a lack for good stories to share with them. How much more meaningful a story is when you can tell your child that it was true and happened to their own ancestor!

I'm hoping that my children's proximity to me as I work to uncover our family's stories will give each of them a desire to become genealogists themselves and carry on the work that I've begun, or at least appreciate and be good caretakers of what I've uncovered myself. After all, if they grow up with a mother who fits genealogy into their lives from day one it wouldn't be right not to include it in their own children's lives one day.

Being the genealogist-Mommy has had its challenges. Finding time to fit genealogy into my family's life has often been a struggle. I find that the wee hours of the night or morning are often my best time to make progress on family history projects. Days are often hectic and it is hard to find time to complete most projects, no matter how small. On the evenings when I've discovered something new about our ancestors, it has been fun to greet them in the morning with a, "Guess what I found out about our family tree last night?"

Spending time on the phone is never easy, but I've sometimes made an effort to make a genealogical-phone-call-a-day when I've been working on a particular project that requires direct contact with archives or libraries. Many a call has found me closely covering one ear with the phone and one ear with my other hand while I tuned out a distracting child in the background who had suddenly forgotten that I had asked for the house to be "as quiet as possible for a few minutes while Mommy is on the phone".

Not every genealogical library or archive happily welcomes children. I had to ask for special permission to take my eleven-year-old daughter into the National Archives with me, but what a memorable experience it was for both of us. She received her own personal photo ID and was able to enter the reading room with me to view her great-great-great-great-uncle's Civil War pension file.

I have often squeaked in research when I had the chance. One evening at the local library my older children were in a nearby room at an activity while my toddler was asleep on my lap. I decided to take the opportunity to sit at the computer and spend time on the library's Ancestry subscription. Moments later I discovered a real find: the ship passenger list for the immigrant ancestor of the Cowhey family. It was a moment of triumph - after having heard the family story of Patrick Cowhey's arrival about 1820 as a young teenager, I had found proof that he made his way to New York in 1823. I was so happy I could have shouted aloud or done a happy Irish jig, but that was not quite possible in this particular setting and with the little angel dozing on my lap. I had to settle for beaming widely and sharing my excitement with my family later.

I'm sure that my children have sometimes wondered why I enjoy the genealogical pursuit so much.

Did they understand the tears in my eyes when I read the story of my great-great-grandfather's demise on the railroad in a train explosion and realized how his wife and children must have suffered?

Do they fully understand my stories of the struggles that our ancestors endured, such as their great-great-grandmothers' trans-Atlantic crossings: one with several children and a baby and one with an ill child who was detained at the Ellis Island hospital on arrival?

Did my children wonder why I left them all at the dinner table suddenly one evening after the delivery truck had left a thick package from the National Archives that I had eagerly been waiting for?

Photograph privately held by Lisa, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. 2009.

Even if they haven't completely understood, they have certainly seemed to enjoy our genealogy work together, and at the very least they will have some unique stories to share about their mother when inevitably the next generation will ask them about the family tree.

Postscript: After reading this article, one of my children was concerned that what I wrote here might be misconstrued. She wanted me to assure readers that she and her siblings very much enjoy learning about their family history. She, in fact, has contributed much to our family history blogs, including sharing pictures she has taken and assisting me with writing quite a few articles. You can be assured that our family’s history will be in very good hands for coming generations!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Small-leaved Shamrock makes "Best" list

Special thanks to Best University for highlighting Small-leaved Shamrock as one of their Top 100 Fascinating Celtic Culture, Language and Lit Blogs. They've listed blogs in many areas including sports, music, theater, literature, digital culture, genealogy/heritage, art, spirituality, travel, crafts, politics, culture, and local interest. There are many good starting points on their list for all topics Celtic. Small-leaved Shamrock is one of four genealogy and heritage blogs that they've recommended. Visit their list for lots of good reading material!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The key to Ireland: Genealogists seek out their Irish roots

Welcome to the 11th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. This edition will take us on a tour through Ireland and, perhaps even more importantly, through the research processes of a number of genealogists who are working to trace their roots back to specific counties and villages in Ireland. My hope is that through reading the stories of the discoveries of others, we would all be inspired to continue our efforts toward discovering the specific details of our Irish heritage.

A special feature of this edition is the interactive map created by Thomas MacEntee of Destination Austin Family. He has embedded links to each of our contributors' ancestral counties and/or villages within a Google Maps map of Ireland. Use the map below right now to find an area of Ireland that interests you, or come back to the map after you've read through the carnival's submissions for a visual summary of this edition.

My Key to Ireland Map
11th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture


View Larger Map

If you have trouble viewing this interactive map here for some reason, you can use this direct link to the carnival's My Key to Ireland map on the Google Maps website.

Special thanks to Thomas for creating this map. If you want to know how he did it, visit Thomas' article at the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers blog entitled Google Maps and Carnival Posts. Two of this edition's contributors, Donna and Julie, have also written about similar ways to use Google Maps.


Now, for the stories of our carnival's contributors... Enjoy your tour of Ireland!

***
Brian of Ancestors at Rest has written us a chronicle detailing the story of the discovery of his roots in Ireland. It is quite a page-turner of a blog story. In The Search for My Irish Roots, Part 1 (The Beginning) Brian tells the story of how he is surprised to learn that his family was Irish. Part 2 (We're Irish???) explains how thirty years of "flailing around" searching for the Irish origins of his Massey family finally begin to pay off. Part 3 (Then I got lucky) is about his discovery of his immigrant ancestor's origins in County Wicklow and the story of a very generous fellow researcher he meets online. In Part 4 (Sometimes you don't find the next clue, it finds you) Brian finds more clues pointing him to the village of his immigrant ancestor, but has no definitive evidence yet. In Brian's final installment of this series, Part 5 (The kindness of strangers), he explains what finally answered his questions. One of my favorite parts of his story is his explanation of his joy as a genealogist at finally learning the info that he had been seeking for so long: "I was so happy. For about 10 minutes. Then like a true genealogist I started to think about what I still did not know, and I realized my search will never be over..." You'll surely relate to this wonderful progression of stories as Brian shares his search for Irish roots. You might also enjoy visiting his genealogy website on which he includes an Ireland page with many helpful links.

Professional genealogist Donna Moughty can be found at Donna's Genealogy Blog. Her article My First Trip to Ireland details the story of she and her daughter's visit to Ireland and search for Moughty family records. In humorous fashion, she tells of her struggles with getting acquainted with Ireland, driving roundabouts, and spending two hours to get a "reader card" only to learn that she would not be able to find the records she was looking for at the National Library of Ireland but would have to go elsewhere. Her story is a reminder to all of us that we must "do our homework" before we can have success in Irish genealogy. It is also a reminder that details are important: the village she thought her family hailed from was only six miles away from the correct village (Aughnaboy in County Westmeath), but was actually in a different civil parish, registration district, and barony. Visit Donna's blog for encouragement in your search and for some Irish genealogy links to assist you in your efforts.

Geniaus shared the story of how a priest and a post office clerk in the tiny Irish villages of Ballyfoyle and Muckalee in County Kilkenny were able to give her access to family records and also directions to her ancestral home. Read My Key to Ireland to learn her story and view a photo of the home that is still in the family after over two-hundred years, complete with a table made by her great-great-grandfather.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog is one of the online homes of Lorine McGinnis Schulze. In her article Carnival of Irish Heritage: My Key to Ireland, Lorine describes her quest for her McGinnis family and how she narrowed down her ancestral village to Katesbridge in County Down thanks to her brother's DNA test and the handwriting on the back of a family photograph. For more details on Lorine's Irish family tree, you might also enjoy reading Tracking the Elusive Fanny Downey McGinnis.

Not new to genealogy, but new to the search for the Irish roots in her family, Cindy of Everything's Relative found the 1911 British Census records (newly placed online) were a help in tracing her ancestors back to their Irish birthplaces in counties Fermanagh and Mayo, and the town of Drogheda in County Louth. Visit Where in the world is Drogheda? for a glimpse at Cindy's discoveries about her 3rd-great-grandparents using the census and the Family Search website.

Kathy Brady-Blake of Kathy's Genealogy Blog has many branches of her family with Irish roots. In My Keys to Ireland she details how she discovered her Bestick, McSorley, Whelan, Markey and Brady family origins in Counties Kilkenny, Longford, Meath, Tyrone and possibly Mayo, and the steps she has taken to confirm these findings with evidence. I especially liked the description one of Kathy's cousins gave to her regarding the ancestral village of her Whelan branch: "County Meath near the River Boyne, five miles from the sea." Wouldn't it be fun to go hunt down that little village?

The Educated Genealogist Sheri Fenley tells us the story of her 3rd-great-grandfather and her search for he and his wife's origins in Ireland at Daniel Derondo Delaney and My Key to Ireland. She discovered that they hailed from County Kerry and County Cork. Interestingly enough, after searching elsewhere for the information, Sheri finally found that Daniel's birth and marriage data were already residing in her files, and were written in Daniel's own handwriting! Read Sheri's article for the story of how she found her family's ancestral village of Buttevant, County Cork. You'll also enjoy the saga of Daniel's shortlived career as a Union soldier.

Since Colleen Degnan Johnson's heritage is almost purely Irish, she has much to talk about when it comes to Irish roots. In My Keys to Ireland at CMJ Office Blog she writes about her Degnan, Galvin, Finnegan/Finegan, Clune and Donahue ancestors from Counties Longford, Cork, Clare, Monaghan and Mayo. Close to her heart is the childhood home of her grandmother, which Colleen was able to visit, just down the road from the cliffs of Moher and Lahinch in Clouna, Russa and Cullenagh. A tip from Colleen for discovering clues to your family's ancestral homes in Ireland: she highly recommends ship and naturalization records. They have played a large role in her research.

Kathryn Kahumoku resides online at the blog entitled For My Ancestors. Kathryn's father was born and raised in County Leitrim and only emigrated after his daughter was born, so Kathryn had much verbal family history to get her started on her quest for her ancestors. In her article My Key to Ireland, she details the counties and parishes where she has found records for her ancestors, including the parishes of Aughavas and Cloone-Clonmaicne in County Leitrim (her Kiernan family), and the parishes of Abbeyleix, Aghaboe, Durrow and Mountmellick in County Laois (Nolan, Muldowney, Horan and Connor families). You'll enjoy viewing the maps that Kathryn has created highlighting the location of each of her families' parishes. Kathryn reminds us not to forget reading local histories. She made a fascinating discovery about her grandfather and his brother (and their time as prisoners in 1921) by reading one such book. Kathryn thinks that she has exhausted all the records available to her (without making a trip to Dublin, that is) and is hoping for more records to be made available online or through her local Family History Library. While you're visiting For My Ancestors, check out Kathryn's list of online Irish resources on her links page.

As is appropriate for a Graveyard Rabbit, M. Diane Rogers has told the story of her ancestors using photos and information about a gravemarker on her blog The Graveyard Rabbit of British Columbia, Canada. Diane began her search for Irish roots after a trip to Ireland where she and her mother made "an obligatory wave to the family roots" without much knowledge about them. Once back home she began her research into her Irwin and Moffat families and eventually found roots in County Cavan, instead of County Armagh, which she had originally thought in error. Visit Irwin and Moffat: County Cavan for Diane's story about her search for Irish roots and her discovery of the grave of James and Mary Jane Moffatt Irwin in Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. Diane's tip for Irish researchers: "Always look for collateral relatives, especially brothers and sisters of your direct ancestors."

Sharing wonderful portraits of her great-great-grandparents that many of us will envy, Paula Ausmus Moore tells about the Irish roots in her family tree at her blog A Passage in Time. With family hailing from Counties Cork (her Kirwin line) and Roscommon (her Noonan family - or is it Noon?), Paula plans to continue her search for the origins of her Irish ancestors who immigrated to Chicago, Illinois in the mid-19th-century. Read more at Paula's My Key to Ireland.

Julie Cahill Tarr has found two of her family ancestral counties in Ireland (Kilkenny and Tipperary), but still has more work to do to find specific locations. Read Finding My Irish Roots at GenBlog for details about how Julie found those counties and her plans for further Irish research.

In My Key to Ireland: Unlocking Family Mysteries Thomas MacEntee of Destination Austin Family introduces us to the area in Ireland where cousins tell him that his family hails from: County Monaghan. Like many of us, he has more research to do in order to get further details about his family. Read Thomas' blog for an introduction to the McEntee/MacEntee surname and his family's Irish roots.

Bill West of West in New England writes out his detailed plans to search for information about his two great-grandfathers with probable Irish heritage. Using city employment records, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority records, and Boston Archdiocese Archives records he hopes to find the keys to "open the door" to his Irish roots. Visit Bill's article: My Keys to Ireland.

Jessica Oswalt of Jessica's Genejournal describes her discovery of a Scottish birth certificate that gave information about the previous generations' birthplaces in Ballymena, County Antrim. On her blog she explains her plans to seek out information about her Scotch-Irish great-grandfather's family at My Scotch-Irish Ancestors: My Key To Ireland?.

I've shared my personal discovery of my great-great-grandfather's birth in County Tipperary on my blog A light that shines again. After celebrating my Irish heritage for as long as I can remember, it was a happy moment to finally be able to pinpoint Tipperary as the place of my ancestral roots. At In search of Irish roots: A long and winding road I explain what finally led me to Patrick Tierney's birthplace and list the other branches of the family that need my attention before I can make that long-awaited trip to Ireland.

***
I hope you've enjoyed this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture and that it has inspired you to dig further into your own Irish roots. Ireland is not a large country, but it can seem daunting to the son or daughter of an immigrant (particularly several generations down) who desperately wants to find their ancestral village but whose research is at a standstill in Canadian, American or Australian records.

For help with getting started finding your own Irish roots, you might enjoy Getting to the roots of your Irish family tree, Part 1 here at Small-leaved Shamrock. This first installment focuses on finding the county of your ancestors in Ireland. The second part, Getting to the roots of your Irish family tree, Part 2, focuses on searching for more specific information: villages, parishes and townlands in Ireland. You might also benefit from a refresher course in Irish geography. Visit Irish Geography 101 over at A light that shines again for a little review (or an introduction if you're new to research within the Emerald Isle).

Join us for the parade!

No matter how your Irish research is going (or even if you have no Irish roots to speak of), please plan to join us for the upcoming 12th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. This will be our 2nd annual St. Patrick's Day parade edition and if last year's is any indication, it will be loads of fun. Come one, come all - Irish roots or not! All you need is an appreciation of Ireland and its culture. Read details at the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog: Join us for a St. Patrick's Day online parade!

Image thanks to kaboodle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Five days left: Tell us your "key to Ireland"

You have five days left to submit your article for the next edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. This edition will focus on the theme: My key to Ireland and will be dedicated to the stories of genealogists tracing their Irish family trees.

If you have found your ancestral county or village in Ireland, just how did you find your way there? What resources led you to learn the original county or townland or your ancestors? Tell us how you did it and what your feelings were when you made the exciting discovery.

If you have not yet found the area where your ancestors made their homes in Ireland, tell us about the resources that you hope to use to find out. What records and documents do you hope will lead you to that information? How do you plan to go about the search?

If you have always known the place or places where your family hailed from, tell us about them. What draws you there and what else have you learned throughout your search for family history?

Share with us your Irish genealogy success story or your plans to "get back to Ireland" within the upcoming 11th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture.

Deadline for submissions to the My key to Ireland edition is Sunday, January 18, 2009. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. See you there!

Never participated in a blog carnival before? For a step-by-step tutorial, see Miriam Robbins Midkiff's How to Submit a Post to a Carnival on the Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers blog.


Image thanks to kaboodle.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Cowhey clan circa 1940s: Who's who?

The Cowhey family of Mount Carbon, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania was a very big family. William Cowhey, one of the sons of immigrant ancestor Patrick, had at least fifteen children - five with his first wife (whose name I have still not been able to confirm) and ten with his second wife, Margaret (Foley) Cowhey.

I have never done the math on William's descendants, but by the time these family photos were taken in the 1940s, the Cowheys made up much of the one street town that was Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania. Being related to your neighbor was more common than not. It must have been like one big happy family in that little corner of Schuylkill County.

Cowhey family members at the side of the home of John & Frances (Owens) Cowhey at 75 Main Street, Mount Carbon, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Various family members. Sepia photographic print. Circa 1940s. Privately held by Lisa, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. 2009.

Cowhey family members on the back steps of the home of John & Frances (Owens) Cowhey at 75 Main Street, Mount Carbon, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Various family members. Sepia photographic print. Circa 1940s. Privately held by Lisa, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. 2009.

I treasure these photographs that I have of one of the Cowhey family gatherings. I know for sure that there are many, many family members missing from these photographs, so it is not a complete family photo of the Cowheys. However, there are many familiar faces here whose photographs I am so happy to have including: John & Frances (Owens) Cowhey, Charles & Agnes Cowhey, their daughter Molly, Kit McGinley and her family, Helen (Cowhey) Miller's two children Eileen & Joan, Bill Rogers, Blanche Cowhey, Nan Cowhey, Grace Cowhey, Pat Cowhey, Mary Cowhey, Jim Cowhey, Fran (Cowhey) Chapman and Ann Marie Mokelar.

I began working to identify everyone in these pictures a good ten years ago, but have gotten side-tracked many times. The problem is that no-one seems to be able to identify everyone in the photograph. I have gotten tips from family members about the identity of many people in the photo, but am still missing some.

If you can identify anyone in this photograph, please email me and let me know who they are.

One of the reasons that I started Small-leaved Shamrock was to reconnect this big happy Cowhey family once again. During the early 20th-century, younger generations of the family began branching out and moving to different areas of Pennsylvania, New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Now they are spread further across the nation, and the family closeness that was such a part of this extended family has been lost. My hope is that through this blog, we might reconnect once again and enjoy reminiscing about our shared heritage.

Thanks to all of you "cousins" who have contacted me about our family history. Here's hoping that we'll have our own reunion one of these days and take a brand new family photo! (Which we'll be sure to label properly, of course...)

Note: For some reason, clicking on these photographs does not appear to enlarge them. For a closer view of the second photograph, visit One big happy family and click on that image.

For more mystery photographs, visit the 9th Edition of footnoteMaven's Smile For The Camera Carnival: "Who Are You - I Really Want To Know?"

Monday, January 5, 2009

Are you a fan of Small-leaved Shamrock?

If so, please take a minute to nominate this humble online home for Irish genealogy (and host blog for the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture) to the 2009 Irish Blog Awards. Nominations will be accepted until 6 p.m. January 14 (Irish time, of course). Voting will take place in February with winners announced online Wednesday, February 18. That's during “Irish Blog Week”. Thanks to Irish Blog Awards and its sponsors for seeking out and recognizing the best Irish blogs. Make sure you check out the winners on February 18 for some good reading.

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