Thursday, July 22, 2010

Crossing the Atlantic

Before I can talk about John's wife Kate, I have to share another Great Moment. A few years ago, somewhere I got the brilliant idea to write to a local newspaper in Ireland to see if I could stir up any cousins, as my Aunt Kate had always insisted that Peter Beggins still lived on the old family homestead in Co. Monaghan. Within a few months, I had several letters, all of whom were relatives! One of them offered to share pictures, and since I had a few pictures of the older folks, I said I would send her a few as well. What I received from her was almost the identical photograph I sent her! Based on the timing, the pictures must have crossed each other over the Atlantic. I have since met one of these cousins, John Kelly, and we are facebook friends today. So, it still doesn't hurt to write a letter!

The colored picture traveled West while the black and white one traveled East.
The colored picture is Rose and her nephew Benny, while the other is Rose with her brother Bernard. The occasion was her 9oth birthday, which would have been 1959. The tradition in the family was to buy her a bouquet with a rose for the number of birthdays she was celebrating.

The Other Side of the Smith

This is Kate with her two youngest daughters, Helen and Agnes.

Of all my ancestors, the one whom I would most like to meet is my great-grandmother Kate Beggins Smith. At 16, she emigrated from Ireland to Boston in 1889, just as I moved from Massachusetts to Miami at age 17. According to the passenger list, she traveled with 2 pieces of baggage but no relatives. I was learning these things about her when I was the same age as she had been. How I wish she had kept a journal! What she excited about the trip? Did she enjoy the voyage? And like my grandmother meeting me at the airport in Miami, she was greeted in Boston by an older brother and sister.

Of course, John Smith didn't have those 10 children by himself. He married Kate in 1893 and the children followed in quick succession like the proverbial Irish twins. Kate was born in 1874 in Clones, Co. Monaghan, Ireland, right in the middle of six siblings. I can vividly remember her daughter, my Aunt Kate telling me that she had a brother Michael and a brother Peter (so do I) and a set of twin sisters and one of them had a handicap of some kind.
Irish research is notoriously difficult, especially since the war and subsequent fire in 1922 that destroyed nearly all of Ireland's vital records. I hadn't made much progress until I wrote that letter to the local newspaper. Since that time, all of Aunt Kate's stories have been verified by cousins in Ireland - there were a set of twins (Margaret and Mary) and Margaret was a bit deaf.
Kate had a hard life, like old Mother Hubbard, she had too many children, and probably never enough food to go around. She died in 1931 at age 57 of gall bladder cancer. Her youngest daughter, Aunt Agnes was only 16 at the time.
Kate and her brother Bernard, who was already in the U.S. when she arrived.

There were several Beggins family members as well as Smiths in this photograph:
11 is John Donovan, who married 15, Margaret Beggins Donovan. She was the daughter of 16, Bernard and Ellen (Donaghue) Beggins. Her mother died the day she was born and she was raised by 14, Rose Beggins Ordway. Rose's granddaughter, Mary Rose "Rhodie" Ordway Shaughnessy is 13 and her husband "Jimmy" Shaughnessy is 12.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lost & Found

I'm going to diverge a bit from the original intent of this blog and branch out to talk about someone else's genealogy; it's just too great a story to share!
Through a series of seemingly insignificant events, I recently came into possession of the old photo album pictured above. My little detective antennae started twitching, and I poked around online, but didn't find any definite connections that I felt good about offering this album to. So it got stuffed into a cabinet with some office supplies and forgotten in the everyday lunacy of life - until the day last week when I ran out of paper and opened that cabinet. In an effort to remind me of its existence, the album fell out on my foot! Well, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon, so what better time for such a project?At some point in time, someone had the sense to pencil in the names of most of the people in the photographs, which I judged to have been taken between 1880 and 1900. The majority of them were taken in Lowell, Massachusetts, and the most common surname was Colby, so I started there. Instead of searching in Rootsweb's WorldConnect, I took a different tack and searched in This website is designed to help members of the LDS Church to link their ancestors as families, with the goal in mind of helping researchers find one another and to prevent duplication of ordinance work in temples.The first two Colbys were William and Annie. Each search returned a couple of hits, but nothing specific enough with so little information. When I searched for little Ruth Colby, I got my first real hit. Ida Ruth Colby was born in Lowell in 1891 and her parents were William and Annie. However, Ida Ruth found her way into by the extraction process, which is completely anonymous. I continued on, this time searching for Edgar Colby. Bingo! There was Edgar and several siblings, both children of William and Annie Colby. Now I had a submitter's name - and an email address!
I emailed Alice, described the book and offered to send it to her if she was interested, and went about my business. About 2 hours later, I got a response - headed by 1/2 inch tall purple exclamation points! She is a familysearch missionary in California, just finishing her shift and checking her email. Yes, she is a descendant of William and Annie Colby. Yes, she certainly would love to have the book. The frosting on the cake is that she is the head of the Colby Family Association and their reunion is going to be in August.

You can only imagine how happy I was to have found someone to whom this book had meaning! Of course, she wanted to know how I came to be in possession, and I had little to offer other than New England barn sales and closet cleaning.

Thanks, Kathie, for providing this opportunity for such a wonderful experience!