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Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Shaffrey Line - Part 2

In the past number of months, I have been sitting on my Shaffrey research.  It was a daunting task to review LDS Film #926176.  The handwritten ledger that makes up the church register is pretty atrocious.  I am betting that I only captured about 75% of the useful information that could be contained in this document for my own family research.  The reason why is because I could not easily, or even with some great effort, transcribe the chicken scratch. 

After a bit of burnout and crossed eyed fun, I put this information aside for a while.  I needed to rest and rediscover my motivation to complete my family tree research.  It probably also did not help that I dropped our 6 year old laptop in February making it no longer portable.  It still works but is a rather pathetic desktop computer now.  I have one of those already so the laptop sits until we get another one.  It is coming soon.  I really can't wait to sit outside with the computer again.

Before I continue with a review of my research and findings, I should clearly reference the film that I did review.  It is below:

Source: LDS Church Film #926176, Parish of Moynalty Register, County Meath, Ireland 
Source Type: Roman Catholic Church Records
Film Contents:
1 -Parochial Registers of Coole (1864-1883)
2 -Church Baptisms for the Parish of Moynalty (1829-1880)
3 –Marriages for Parish of Moynalty (1829-1883)
4 –Deaths, Moynalty – 1829 – some time in the late 1800s
5 –Some memorabilia from the 1800s

I hope that someday another Shaffrey descendant will be willing to review the film.  It will be useful if I post access to my findings and then they can have a comparison.  I plan to post most of what I have here with an offer to email the spreadsheet to a Shaffrey descendant who contacts me directly.  A second or even third set of eyes on this film would be great.  I must say that if you have a degree in handwriting transcription, we'd be set!

The other point that I should mention is that I'm not LDS.  I did use their library and assistance for free with a minimal $8 cost to order the film reserved at that location for me to view for 3 months.  They were extraordinarily helpful.

I just wish that I had more time to spend at the library.  My time on genealogy is best spent at home these days since I have young children who need me to chauffeur them around in between school, activities and homework.  The LDS library is not really kid friendly.  I may be able to tune out my children a bit while I write this blog post but most people want peace and quiet at a library.

My next post will be the breakdown of my Shaffrey research from this film.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Shaffrey Line - Part 1

Mary was my great grandmother.  That name is rather common for the time frame in which I am talking about.  I should clarify this statement.  Mary Elizabeth McLaughlin was my great grandmother and she went by the nickname of "Minnie" her whole life.  In fact, her son, my grandfather, Richard Joseph Flanagan called her "Min" instead of mom.  I wonder if that was just as an adult or if that was what he always called her.  Mary's married name was Minnie Flanagan.

I am often struck by the fact that so much of a woman's identity of the past can be lost when she gets married.  The change over to her husband's surname can sometimes make it extraordinarily difficult to trace the female family line back in time.  That's why some people leave clues.

In my experience with family histories, I have found that some family members just don't want to talk about the past and other family members.  I have also found that that does not just mean forgetting the past 30 years or so.  It can also mean forgetting the past 100 years and not carrying forward valuable information of one's origins.  Well, thank goodness that is not the case for all of my family lines.  In fact, I think if my McLaughlin/Maxwell family line knew exactly what information we would have needed to properly create and preserve a family tree, they would have certainly left it behind in a complete fashion.  Hind sight is 20/20.

Minnie's parents were Thomas Michael McLaughlin and Ellen Maxwell.  When it comes to creating a family tree surrounding them and sourcing it, I can find specific documentation every time I try.  I may be missing a census in 1870, but I can pinpoint Thomas and Ellen's locations going back to their births.

While the McLaughlin name was and is no secret in Newport, Herkimer County, New York, their origins do rather run dry when you try and complete research in County Longford, Ireland from a stateside location like my own home office in California.  I'm still not entirely sure how much there is to find about my direct line ancestor and 4th great grandfather, Michael McLaughlin, born about 1785 or so in and around Ringowny, Parish of Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland.  Someday my quest to pursue the McLaughlin line will continue but for now I am in search of my Maxwell's and maybe successfully finding my Shaffrey line as I write this.

Minnie most definitely wanted to continue her mother's surname and keep it alive in the family line.  She made sure to include the name "Maxwell" in two of her children's names.  My grandfather's oldest sister was Ellen Maxwell Flanagan.  His youngest brother was John Maxwell Flanagan.  She didn't pick her own surname of McLaughlin as their middle names and instead insisted upon Maxwell as their middle names.  In fact, John's nickname was Max as a kid.  She left a huge clue for those in the family line who have not yet been clued in.

So how easy is it to trace the Maxwell's?  Well, stateside it has proven to be easy.  In fact, there are Maxwell's, McLaughlin's, and Maxwell/McLaughlin's who can point you in the direction of each other and the Irish Settlement in Upstate New York.  That truly is a special connection that in and of itself lends proof of the family lines.

How do you make the jump back to Ireland to research the Maxwell line?  Well, it is tough and what I have found instead is my Shaffrey line.

More in part 2 when I get to writing it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Shaffrey Research Elevated

Last week, I finally decided to look over my Shaffrey research again.  I had poured through an LDS film at the family library months ago, for a couple of months.  Around February 2013, I finished looking at this film.  Yes, it took a while.  I first got access to the film in October of 2012.

After some challenges in reviewing the church registry found on this film for the Parish of Moynalty, Meath, plus almost losing the flash drive which contained all of my research, I let it set to cool off for a while.  You never know what renewed interest and findings might arise from walking away for a while.

The film confirmed source documentation (proof really) of my great great grandmother's baptism.  Ellen Maxwell is clearly indicated by her christening on March 22, 1846.  Her father is Jo Maxwell and her mother is Judy Shaffrey.  I was happy to quickly find this record.  I am assuming that she was born just before her baptismal date and, yet, we will probably never really know her exact birth date.  That is the case with most of the births from the early 1800s in Ireland for Catholics.

Below is the chart of Ellen's immediate family of whom I found in the church register.

Surname First Name Record Type Year Baptimal Date Wedding Date
Maxwell Joseph Marriage 1834 24-Sep
Shaffrey   Judy Marriage 1834 24-Sep
Maxwell Denis Baptism 1836 16-Jun
Maxwell James Baptism 1841 27-Sep
Maxwell Ellen Baptism 1846 22-Mar
Maxwell Cath Baptism 1849 7-Jul
Maxwell Judith Baptism 1851 15-Jun

So.....I could not find Mary Maxwell.  Was she not recorded?  I joke that the priest wrote in great haste as is clearly evidenced by the handwritten scrawl in the ledger.  He must have been ready to get to the celebration after each baptism or marriage.  In the case of a death, the wake was waiting. 

My other theory about Mary is that she might have been adopted from another family member after the death of her parents who may have been relatives of the Maxwell's.  Maybe the Mary baptized on March 17, 1838, indicated in the church registry had the wrong name written down.  It should have been Maxwell rather than Farrely?  I digress.  I also don't think I grabbed that record for future review.  Was Mary possibly Judy's sister's daughter.  Did Judy's sister pass on?  Or am I heading in the wrong direction with Mary Maxwell?  She could simply be missing from the record.  She did exist by the way.  Also, the Farrelly's appear to be close relatives to the Shaffrey's.

Someone just jumping in now to read my analysis might just think that I am going on about nothing.  This is something and I've just got to try and work out by writing it out.  I might just have to go back and review what I know of my Shaffrey's and Maxwell's.

Even after a review of the film, I am no closer to finding my Maxwell line.  I might be a hair closer to figuring out the Shaffrey line.  I really want to know who Judith "Judy or Julia" Shaffrey Maxwell's parents were.  I have specifically pinpointed a grouping of Shaffrey's in Shancarnan, Parish of Moynalty, County Meath, Ireland.  There really aren't a lot of them and yet, I can't figure out who belongs to whom.  The church records don't really define who the various sponsors were to the baptisms and marriages in terms of relationships, dates, or generations.  I find plenty of Shaffrey's in the registry as sponsors.  The names repeat and appear to be the same couple of families over and over again. 

I really tired of the transcription process and need to finish it at some point.  What appears clear is that after the 1850s, there were not much in the way of Shaffrey baptisms.  Did they all leave Ireland?  Not all of them that is for sure.  More review is definitely needed here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Language Lesson: Diaspora

Diaspora, you say?  What is that?  It sounds like a bit of an awkward word.  I've seen this word infrequently used when it comes to my family tree research.  However, I do think that it is important to utilize this word when talking about different aspects of migration which is a part of each person's genealogy.

"The movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established homeland"......"scattering, dispersion"....."people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location"...."the settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside of Palestine after the Babylonian exile"..... "Jewish people living outside of Israel"...."Any group migration or flight from a country or region"......"Any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as in Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade".

Above are a variety of definitions that were found online for diaspora.  I found the word used most frequently relating to Jewish people who live outside of Israel and their plight.  It is actually a Greek word.



I decided to check a very old dictionary that sits in my living room.  It's a Webster from 1937.....and....it...is... thick.  The dictionary itself was in the Treasurer's Office of Napa County.  My grandfather, Richard J. Flanagan, retired as they were getting ready to move the office from the historical courthouse building to a new Napa County building around 1979-80.  They were planning to "chuck" the dictionary so my grandfather brought it home.  I'm rather glad he did.

Anyway......The definition according to Webster's is as follows:  ".....a dispersion...to spread abroad, scatter through, and to scatter, sow.... Biblically, the dispersion spoken of in Peter and James.  The former refers to those who were dispersed in the countries of Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Asia, and Cappadocia; but this latter more indefinitely addresses the twelve tribes scattered abroad."

So, I'm left with a rather grandiose batch of words that seem to boil down to spreading out throughout the world.  Where does this leave me in relationship to genealogy?  Well, migration is a big part of it.  If you're in Ireland, you might see it called "The Irish coming home from abroad."  It is a bit of campaign to promote tourism but also to help each person specifically identify their own family origins and heritage in these countries.

The 19th-century Irish diaspora is a great example of this concept.  The famine in Ireland caused a huge number of the population to emigrate to countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  The diaspora itself is seen in the sheer number of people who claim Irish Ancestry.

There are other examples of diaspora for various ethnic groups and nationalities.  In fact, the list is quite extensive online reaching over 100 groups and spanning at least a few thousand years of recorded history.

Recent history is not without exception.  Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled their homeland.  The example expands further into modern day catastrophes including Hurricane Katrina.  A significant number of evacuees never did make it back to New Orleans.

Whether mother nature calls the shots or human intervention pushes people out, the dispersion of people has gone on since the beginning of human civilization.  Considering diaspora and utilizing this word in genealogy becomes paramount in the continued success of my own research.  I look forward to finding more of my roots and their true origins.  Hopefully, that will mean going to the "homelands" of my ancestors.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

MYOG 3rd Blogiversary

Yesterday was this blog's 3rd blogiversary.  I just about missed it because I was a bit under the weather.   Thanks to a reader who reminded me.  The following is my first first post from 3 years ago.  Wow, time flies!


Monday, June 14, 2010


It begins with where you came from.


It begins with where you came from. Right? Well sure. You came from your parents after all. Where did they come from? The simple answer might be "their parents". As we all know this builds on itself and follows a line backward in time. The line also splits off to others, creating more branches. I suppose that's why it's called a Family Tree. Genealogy is more than that. In my opinion, it is the network of family histories that builds on each other. It can allow us to discover our national origins and others who are distantly, or not so distantly, related to us.

I am seeking to discover not just my family tree but a network of family who may be scattered across the United States and beyond, or who might be living in my neighborhood. Sometimes it disappoints me how family can lose touch over time. In another instant, I start to think about my own situation and how "busy, busy, busy" I am in my daily life. I run out of time to keep in touch, I suppose. Or is it a choice? Personalities can sometimes interfere as can life's experiences some of which are not so kind. They can really split up a family despite individual's best efforts to remain close. I see that in my own family line going back and find that some days I am confronted with it in my own expanded family dynamic.

Anyway, I thought I'd start a blog of sorts about genealogy called "Mine, Yours', and the Other Guy's Genealogy". I've been working on my family tree off and on since about 1990. In the past, whenever I had an opportunity to grab onto to some information, I took it. At the age of 19, I recall sitting at my grandparents dining room table in Long Island, New York, asking them about their parents and on up the line. I wrote the information down as quickly as I could on one sheet of paper. I remember my grandmother correcting my granddad on facts of his family line. It was pretty funny to witness. They knew each other very well along with all of those family members which they really weren't in contact with any longer. For various reasons, everyone seemed to have gone their own way. Maybe some individuals or families moved away, passed away, or just got "busy, busy, busy".

My mother recently gave me the sheet that she'd held onto for the past 20 years. It had some definite "hints" on it that I'd forgotten. I only wished that I'd asked for more information and written more down. On that day in the summer of 1990, I did receive a gift though......a gift of finding out where my dad came from. At least it was a start.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ancestry DNA - Follow-up

It has been about a year since we received the results of my husband's DNA analysis on Ancestry.com.  His results have not been updated as could be possible with the "uncertain" category. 

His results are as follows:

British Isles            74%
Central European   16%
Uncertain               10%

We took a bit of a chance (for only $99) and sent his DNA sample into the Ancestry.com people.  Now, we had fairly basic expectations as I had done some reading about DNA in relationship to tracing one's family tree.  They have met our expectations given the price point and knowing that they are in the process of building their database.  This does rely on submissions which could be "hit or miss".

For now, we are at a miss in matching much of anyone up to my husband's common ancestors in the "way back machine" of his family tree.  While he has plenty of surnames, a variety of locations (but not too many per se), and some very specific information about his family tree, we have yet to find matches that are a close relative with a common surname.

My husband's "Ross" surname comes from Scotland and you'd think we would have found some matches in DNA there.  Well, not yet.   Again, the database relies on submissions.  Also, this database is not exactly fully searchable.  The system currently indicates the closest matches at 4th cousins.  Those people are pretty distant cousins and might as well be anyone including my next door neighbor for whom we are not related.

There are currently 23 people indicated as between 4th-6th cousins of my husband.  That's as close at we've gotten.  Additionally, 10 of those people have not attached a family tree on Ancestry.com which would at least indicate surnames.  That leaves the remaining 13 people who appear to be a shot in the dark if they are of any relation to my husband.

So, we wait...?  Yeah, probably not worth waiting around for this.  I am not planning to submit my DNA to Ancestry.com anytime soon.  There is, however, another possibility for DNA matching.  I might just try it and, of course, will report back!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Flat

I recently watched "The Flat" on Netflix streaming.  It is a documentary about a man in Tel Aviv whose grandmother passes away.  He finds information in her flat about his family, Germany, their Jewish past and a discovery in the apartment of letters and photos from the past.

This documentary was very interesting.  It includes the "discovery" process where the filmmaker finds family information that leads to his desire for more.  There are also individuals in this film who are resistant to discovering the truth whether is it because of the lack of interest in their family history or some sort of denial of their family's past. 

People of previous generations generally do want to make things appear rosier than they really were.  I can only imagine if someone thought my ancestor (or even a very close relative) to be a Nazi.

I'd recommend this documentary to anyone who really gets into family history whether it is their own or someone else's.