Saturday, 12 March 2011

Fabulous Friday Finds -- Patrick Moynihan

OK, I'm a little late on the Friday find.  I might as well have stayed up last night to write this because I tossed and turned all night thinking about it.  I couldn't resist any longer and am now blogging about family history.  My first post is about a series of little finds last night about my great-uncle Patrick Moynihan

All I knew yesterday about Patrick was that he had left the family farm at Shantullig North (often spelled Shountullig) to go to America and had later returned to Ireland.  Apparently when Patrick returned, great-grandad wanted Pat to get the family farm, rather than my grandad who was the only child to stay in Ireland, but great-grandmother said, "NO WAY."  Seems that cause quite a rift between Pat and my grandad, as you can imagine.  I knew Patrick had married and had two girls, but didn't know if that was in the States or in Ireland.

So, last evening I started surfing while watching the hockey game (it's what I do).  I tried to figure out when Patrick left Ireland.  The 1901 Irish Census told me that by March 1901 Patrick had left the family home.  I searched for other Patricks of the same age and didn't find any likely matches for my uncle.  That made me pretty sure that he'd left for Ireland before 1901.  [Notice that "pretty sure," I'll come back to that later.]

Next stop, American immigration records on Ancestry.  I found what looked to be my Pat (a man from the right area, with the right name for his father), but this ship's manifest was from 1907 and it said this Pat was an American citizen.  He was going to Andover, MA and I know a lot of the our Moynihans went to Andover.  But I was expecting to find him in New York, where I knew his brothers went.  Was this my Patrick?

Next I found a naturalization record for a Patrick Moynihan of Andover and the birth date matched what we have from my dad's search of the parish records.  That made me pretty sure that the Pat who travelled in 1907 was my Pat.  Then I got my next clue.  I found another ship's manifest from 1898 with a Patrick of the right age, from the right area heading to Andover to his uncle William Harrington.  By the way, the manifest shows Pat had but $2 in his pocket when he arrived.

OK, so now who is William Harrington?  If I can't connect him, maybe I have the wrong Pat.  So I looked at Pat's paternal aunts to see which married a Harrington.  Turns out we didn't know anything about two of Pat's Moynihan aunts and the third stayed in Ireland and married a Hurley not a Harrington.  I looked and looked for a William Harrington in Andover with an Irish born wife of the right name, but nothing.  Hmm, maybe it was his mother's brother Pat went to in Andover?  But I didn't know anything about his mother's siblings.  Did one of her sister's marry a Harrington?  And if so, why didn't he say he was going to his Aunt? Then the light bulb went on!

TIP:   Never assume the name's been spelled right.

Pat's mother's maiden name was Harnedy, not a common name -- anywhere.  On a hunch, I searched for a William Harnedy (rather than Harrington) living in Andover, MA in the 1900 U.S. Census.  Bingo!  There was Patrick Moynihan "nephew" living with William Harnedy, born in Ireland.  Then I knew it was my Patrick.

TIP:  Always ask "how do you KNOW that?"

Copying info from someone else's tree can waste your time if you don't check the facts.  Ask people for their sources.  Ancestry makes it easy to ask.  Look at the source records.  Do they give you enough facts to be you sure you've got the right person?  I'll admit, genealogy programs like Family Tree Maker, which I use, don't seem to give you much flexibility to mark possible relatives.  Find a way to keep the possibles to one side before you copy their info in holus-bolus.  Save yourself the hours it took me to delete my Uncle Floyd's "relatives" after I realized the pedigree I'd copied had children older than their parents!

I don't hold myself to the high standards of proof of a professional genealogist.  I'm not a professional, I'm just passionate.  But try to find more than just the name and age to connect people.  Look for those uncommon names, full birth dates, specific location.  Then, you'll know.

Hope you liked this first post on the Jim's Girl Family History Blog.  See you again soon.

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