Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Third Most Recent Unknown Ancestor

In this week's fun over at Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver asks us to determine our 3rd most-recent unknown ancestor in our Ahnentafel list, review our research for something we might have missed, and think about what additional sources might help us.  

I suspected which branch I'd land in before starting this challenge, and if I knew my Ahnentafels even just a little bit better, probably could have figured the answer out in my head.  

The most recent unknown ancestor I wrote about back in May was (and still is) number 40, the father of my great-great-grandfather, Thomas McCormick.  The next one after that is number 41, Thomas McCormick's mother.  So moving over to Thomas' wife, my great-great grandmother Margaret Gilligan McCormick, is where I find the 3rd most recent unknown ancestor.  From Margaret's death certificate, I know that her father's name was John Gilligan (no. 42) , and that her mother's name was Katherine (no. 43).  And it's Katherine I'll be writing about tonight.

I feel like I've written about Margaret a lot lately, having hit her on Randy's roulette wheel last Saturday and considered her right to vote earlier this week.  And while given Randy's instructions, I could climb higher in the Ahnentafel list to find someone else, (which would be no. 46 - unknown father of my great-great grandmother Anna Ambrose Gillespie), I'm going to stick with Katherine and Margaret.  

My lack of a last name for Katherine is hands-down one of the most frustrating things I've researched to date.  Because I actually do (or should) have her last name.  As mentioned above, I have a death certificate for Margaret McCormick dated 4 Jan 1927.  My great-grandfather, Dr. John S. McCormick, was the informant, so I have hopes that the information noted about Margaret's parents is somewhat accurate.

Extraction from death record of Margaret McCormick.

My chief problem is that I can't read the handwriting noting Katherine's last name.  I've shown this to a couple of other people who haven't been able to decipher it either.  

But what I do know from this is that Margaret and her parents, John and Katherine, were all (probably) born in Ireland.  Given immigration related questions in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, I know that Margaret Gilligan likely immigrated to the United States sometime between 1855 and 1860, which would make her between 4 and 9 years old at the time.  So given her age, I hypothesize that Margaret probably would have come with her mother. Whether her father arrived at the same time or earlier is unknown.  Also, contact with a distant cousin tells me according to family stories Margaret and her family may have come to Canada before entering the United States.  Any other children of John and Katherine Gilligan are unknown.

While on a trip to the Family History Library about a year ago, I spent some time pouring through vital records and city directories from the 1880s-1890s for the towns of Norwich and Sprague in the county of New London, Connecticut - the farthest back I've traced the McCormick family.  

In the death records for Sprague, New London, Connecticut in 1882, I found a death entry for 49-year-old widow Catherine Gilligin, born in Ireland, who died 21 Dec 1882 in Sprague.  This would make her birth date around 1833.  Is this Margaret's mother?  I don't know, but it seems plausible - the age is not out of the question.  Unfortunately the death record lacks details like street address or parent's names, and lists her north location only as Ireland.  I have yet to find a woman, married or widowed, matching this name and age, in this geographic area, in the 1880 census. 

Extraction of death entry for Catherine Gilligin.  Sprague, Connecticut.  Registrar of Vital Statistics.  Records of Deaths, 1879-1905.  FHL Microfilm no. 1311443.  Accessed 3 Nov 2011.

Where does this leave me?  The same place I've been for a while - I need to finishing analyzing the data I collected at the FHL last year and need to track down church and/or cemetery records for Norwich and/or Sprague in the early 1880's.  I also want to lay the information I have on-hand out again and go over it with a fine tooth comb as there may be other pieces of information I haven't picked up on.  

If you have any thoughts on what Katherine's maiden name is in the death record above, please hit the comments!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ancestors' Right to Vote - Part the second

Oi. Somehow I got distracted before finishing a proper analysis for my ancestors' voting rights for my last post, Ancestors' Right to Vote.

I think I was so caught up in thinking about Mary Young Worrall and Margaret Gilligan McCormick that I forgot to finish analyzing all of my great-great grandparents.  I added 4 more folks to the table, above (which should scroll down if you're in the little window).

And I found one more ancestor in this generation who never received the right to vote.  Christine Williams Biddle Cadwalader was born 14 Feb 1847 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and died 27 Mar 1900 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania - well before women received the right to vote in 1920.

Christine's younger sister, Emily Williams Biddle (1855-1931), who I've written about in other posts, did live long enough to have the right to vote.

Ancestors' Right to Vote

Thanks to an idea from Michael John Neill over at RootDig, I spent election night (in addition to watching the television coverage) examining my ancestors and their rights to exercise the right to vote.

Michael embedded a nifty little Google Doc into his blog, which I confess caught my eye more than anything else, so I decided to take a look at my own ancestral heritage when it comes to voting rights.  My parents, grandparents, and I all had the right to vote when we came of age - 21 or 18.  I was more interested in how far back I had to go, both generationally and specifically, to find an ancestor who was not able to vote.

Here's my chart (modeled after Michael John Neill's):

My great-grandparents were all able to vote.  In particular, the women received that right with the 19th amendment in 1920, and they all lived long enough to vote if they so chose.  The next generation back, that of my great-great-grandparents is where I find the one ancestor I'm certain was never able to vote.

Mary Catherine Young Worrall was born in Pennsylvania in 1845, and died in Connecticut in 1913.  Her death notice appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Aug 1913.

"Worrall," Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Aug 1913, p. 13, col. 6; digital image, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 6 Nov 2012).

The ancestor I'm not certain of is my great-great-grandmother Margaret (Gilligan) McCormick.  Margaret was born in Ireland in 1851, and died in Albany, NY in 1927.  If she was a naturalized citizen, I presume she would have been able to vote when the 19th amendment was passed in 1920.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, her husband, Thomas McCormick is enumerated as a naturalized citizen who immigrated in 1865.  Margaret's immigration date in this census in noted as 1860.

Thomas died in 1905, so I looked next at the 1910 and 1920 censuses to see what additional information I could glean about Margaret.

birthplace - Ireland
year of immigration to the U.S. - 1855
whether naturalized or alien - blank

birthplace - Ireland
year of immigration to the U.S. - blank
naturalized or alien - blank
year of naturalization - blank

I assume, though, that because her husband was a naturalized citizen, she was also.  I don't know when Thomas naturalized, nor do I know when they married.  My best guess for a marriage date is around 1870 (give or take a few years), but I think Margaret would have received citizenship whether she married a naturalized citizen or he naturalized after they married.  Margaret probably did have the right to vote, but I'm not confident saying so with absolute certainty.

Note: I goofed this up a bit by forgetting a few folks on the chart.  See also, Ancestors' Right to Vote - Part the second.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Ancestor Name Roulette

Tonight's fun from Randy Seaver is Ancestor Name Roulette!  We take the year one of our great-grandmother's was born and divide by 90.  The resulting number is used to match the person with that ahnentafel number in our family tree. 

For this challenge, I used my great-grandmother Irene Gillespie McCormick, born in Albany, NY in 1891.  Dividing 1891 by 90 gives me 21.011, rounded down to 21.  Person number 21 is Irene's mother-in-law, Margaret Gilligan McCormick.

This branch of my family is the one I know the least about, though I do have at least 3 facts on Margaret.

Records I have turned up thus far tell me that Margaret Gilligan was born 18 Jan 1851 in Ireland.  I have yet to find where in Ireland Margaret was born.  

The 1900 federal census indicates Margaret's year of immigration to the United States was 1860, which would make her about 9 years old if the date is correct.  But so far it's all I have about her entry to the U.S.  A distant cousin I connected with recently has reason to believe Margaret and her family may have come to the United States via Canada, which is a theory I'm currently exploring as a possibility.  

Margaret's last residence was 540 Mercer St., Albany, where she died 3 Jan 1927.  She in buried in St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY.