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!

1 comment:

  1. What a shame that the record is not more readable. The answer is right there.

    I think that Katherine's last name begins with M. Look at the M in McCormack - there's an upsweep to start the letter. I think it's something like Mienan or Mirnan or Merman.

    Did Margaret have any siblings that a similar record (a death record) might indicate a mother's maiden name? Were there any possible siblings living with any of these folks in the census records, or as neighbors in the census records or city directories?

    What about a death record for Catherine other than the index? You can probably obtain it through the Town in CT.

    Good luck -- Randy

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