Interesting Connelly death…

I recently ran across an interesting entry in the Rhode Island death index at ancestry.com, (in my never-ending quest to find a death record for Martin Cain). The entry stated:

Name: Michael Canealy
Kin 1: Martin Cane
Kin 2: – Bagnall
Death Date: 9 Mar 1855
Age: 64 Yrs

So it looks like Martin and Winifred still had Connelly family living in Rhode Island other than one or two of Winifred’s siblings.

I believe that this gentleman is possibly Winifred’s uncle. It would be nice to see Irish church records to confirm this, maybe I can find a church record in Rhode Island. There are two facts that support the theory: first he is two years older than his possible brother Dennis (so the age fits nicely for them to be brothers), second the close seeming relationship of Michael and Martin, (after all Martin is providing the information for the death registration and his wife was a Connelly).

Of course this news isn’t mind blowing, but it adds a little more interest to the family tree. I would love to find out more about this possible brother. Dennis and Winifred did name one of their children Michael.

I’ve done some research into the Irish records that I have access to and so far no luck on being able to hone down any details on Michael. Rhode Island records are pretty sparse also, he doesn’t appear to show up in the 1850 census. Which means he could have arrived after 1850 and died shortly after making his way to America. This record also appears to indicate that he was single at the time of his death, otherwise I believe one of his children or his wife would be providing the information for his death registration, but that is mere speculation at this point.

I did notice that he is another Irish relative who died a little on the young side.

 

Source:
1 Ancestry.com. Rhode Island, Deaths, 1630-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
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Pencils, protractors and rulers, oh my…

When you are researching land records in this country there are generally two kinds of property descriptions you will run into ‘metes and bounds’ and ‘rectangular survey’

The latter type is pretty easy to understand, everything is divided into squares or rectangles with specific acreages in wholes, halves, quarters. But metes and bounds is a whole other animal. 
Below is an example of each of property type. The first was owned by GEORGEs (Virginia/West Virginia) and the second was owned by CONNELLYs (Wisconsin):

BEGINNING at a beech and sugar tree on the south bank of McClery’s fork, and running thence
S45 degrees E55 poles to a hickory on a ridge
E344 poles to a white oak on the side of a hill
N100 poles to a black oak on the side of a point
N53 degrees, W180 poles to a stone on a hill near some white oaks
S82 degrees W184 poles to a white oak in a narrows, and thence
S20 degrees, W160 poles to the BEGINNING

and

sw1/4 sw1/4  s23  t18  r19 (translated this means – the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 23, township 18, range 19.)

I made the metes and bounds property description easier to read by separating each description, normally you would see it as one long paragraph. You can also see the difference between the two methods in the description of each. The rectangular survey method is much easier to read and figure out.

So while I have understood for many years how to figure out what sections look like on a map. I had never tackled metes and bounds, until a few weeks ago, at which time I decided it was time to learn something new by practicing with my GEORGE family deeds. These deeds are all located in Tyler County, West Virginia.

Here is my first attempt:

This one came out pretty close, the poor quality of my tools affected the outcome.

The second one:

The trick is pretty simple, you need a protractor or something with degrees on it, a pencil, and a ruler. Put a dot on your paper center the dot on your protractor mark the first degree in the proper direction, then measure out the poles or rods. Next. Well, I won’t go into any more detail, after all it is actually something you have to do to understand better and once you learn the procedure, it is pretty easy and fun.

Once you start drawing out these property descriptions you also start finding out where the errors are in the surveyors measurements or the register of deeds copying talents, because over time errors do appear, as can be seen in this property I drew out:

Something is definitely wrong with the deed in the above drawing, now I just have to figure out where the mistake is. The squiggly line on the bottom is in fact a ‘meander’, this line actually follows a creek.

Here is another example of a bad deed. The numbers were very hard to read on this one and I believe the clerk writing it out made a couple of mistakes. I have drawn four versions of what the property looks like in this one drawing, none of them line up properly. I was going by what the numbers could be in the deed.

Guess I have some more work to do in Salt Lake City.

Something about Martin…

Years ago, after coming into contact with a Connelly cousin, I heard mention of Winifred (Nolan) Connelly, the matriarch of the family, having to travel out to Rhode Island a couple of times, after they had settled in Chilton, Wisconsin, to take care of one of her daughters, who’s husband was causing problems.

There was never any mention of who’s husband that might be, but I always had my suspicions.

In the 1860 US Federal census for Chilton, Calumet County, Wisconsin there is an entry for Winifred and Dennis Connelly:

1860 census entry from Ancestry.com image

 Living with them are 4 of their grandchildren: John, Sarah, Winifred and Julia Cane. Winifred and Julia had been born in Wisconsin. Dennis and Anne were still in Rhode Island with their parents. So the question is why were their grandchildren living with them? I can understand why two of them were born in Wisconsin, their daughter Winifred probably travelled out to Wisconsin to have her children with the help of her mother.

Here is the entry from the 1870 US Federal census for the same:

1870 census entry from Ancestry.com image

Now two Cain children, Dennis and Anne, are living with their grandparents and attending school. John the eldest is 17 and already living in Oconto working at one of the lumber companies. We do not know what happened to Sarah, Winifred, or Julia.

Winifred Cain had died by 1863. Martin Cain had married his second wife in 1864, Bridget Nolan, and is still living in Rhode Island working in the mills there (it does not appear that they ever actually lived in Wisconsin). But somewhere along the line Martin had picked up a few bad habits, none of which would bode well for a happy household:

Providence Evening Press; Date: 06-14-1865; Volume: XIII; Issue: 78; Page: [2]; Location: Providence, Rhode Island

There is never mention of abuse from rumor or in the papers, but Martin most likely was a typical Irishman who loved his drink a bit too much. He married young and had no other family around, that we are aware of, so probably took his cue on husbandly duties from those around him. And they were very poor examples.

I haven’t found any other evidence in the papers of Martin’s shameful lack of support for his family, but I do not know how thorough the digitized paper collections are online.

Major Denis Mahon’s murder

Major Denis Mahon portrait, owner of
the Mahon Estate, where Strokestown
is and where our Connellys came from.

There was a theory put out by a Connelly researcher that the reason Dennis Connelly had to leave Ireland when he did was because he was somehow involved in the murder of Major Denis Mahon.

I wanted to see if it was possibly true, so I found a book that had been written about the subject, the killing of Major Denis Mahon, by Peter Duffy. I highly recommend it as a read.

In the 1700s an English writer by the name of Arthur Young was touring Ireland. When he came to Strokestown and the Mahon Estate his description of the land was “flat and featureless, due to the sheep grazing,  having a general atmosphere of being dreary and cheerless. The people were not industrious or better housed. They lived on potatoes, milk and butter. There were few cows, pigs are not allowed, poultry was tolerated. To earn a bit of coin the men dug turf, planted potatoes and work for their landlord, while the women spun.” But on the whole he said the land was deemed tolerable. Land was divided up the old fashioned way on the Mahon estate, 2-300 acres would hold anywhere from 10-15 families. Leased and sub-leased. There were many very small plots of land for a family to survive on. In actual fact the situation was not good, and in time only worsened.

It was in the early 1800s that the Mahon estate was poised on the brink of disaster. Another English writer, Edward Wakefield, visiting the estate in 1809, described the area “I…found everywhere, cabins of the most wretched aspect, infamous stone roads, very minute divisions of land, and  a superabundant but miserable population.” Unlike the author Young he did not see any beauty in the land and in his eyes no estate in his travels represented such a “scene of desolation,” as that of the Mahon estate.

There is much that has already been written about the politics, and consequences of the famine. Too much to go into here, but it was the winter of 1846-47 during the famine that changed Strokestown’s course forever. Major Mahon was preparing to go to England for the hard winter, leaving his land agent John Ross Mahon (unrelated) to handle the estate. He was a hard-hearted, penny-pinching, no nonsense advocate for his clients. In Strokestown he is remembered as a ‘very cruel man’.  He set up an office in Strokestown to oversee the handling of the estate and in looking over the property, he later testified that “…of course they were absolutely starving…It saw the impossibility, not only of rent being paid, but of the people living.”

His plan was to remove two thirds of the tenants and let the remaining third expand their holdings and grow profitable crops. Subsidized emigration was his answer to the removal of the two thirds. The Major was against a major eviction of the tenants, and the Mahon family was not in any kind of financial condition to pay for the tenants transport out of the country.

But by early spring of 1847 he capitulated on the removal issue. We know that our ancestor Dennis Connelly arrived at the port of New York in May of 1847, because his declaration of intent tells us so. This means that sometime in April is when, at least he, packed up to go to America. It is unclear to us if the whole family left at the same time, because we can find no passenger lists with the Connelly’s on them. This does mean that at least Dennis was not one of the 1000 who were sent to Canada on the ‘coffin ships‘.

It is possible the Connellys left because they received eviction notices, although records indicate that Major Mahon didn’t sign any until April, to be delivered in early May, and it appears that the Connellys had already left by then. Maybe they had heard the rumors. Shortly after Mahon’s removal of the first 1000 families on the ‘coffin ships’ he had his land agent either pay off the families with a few pounds, or use the sheriff, to evict another two thousand more off the estate.

His actions were now going to have consequences. It was in the evening of November 2, 1847 that Major Mahon was murdered while driving home in a horse drawn carriage. According to witnesses at the event two men were involved. Before his murder he was making plans to evict another 6000 families off the estate. Some believe that it was his land agent John Ross Mahon who was actually the target as they had switched places on the carriage before the drive and the Major was holding the reigns. We will never know. The murder was never solved.

So to answer the question – No Dennis Connelly didn’t run away from Ireland because he was involved in the murder of Denis Mahon. He was already in America working to make a better life for his family.

So this Thanksgiving I will be sure to thank my Irish ancestors who survived a devastating famine, and a horrendous sea voyage to make a new life in America, making my Thanksgiving dinner possible.