2 October 2014

52 Ancestors: #5 Tony McGuire (Son of Anthony Maguire?)

Remember that “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” thing that I was trying to do? Well, I guess I’ve turned it into more of a “52 Ancestors in However Long it Takes me to Write About 52 Ancestors (…which is definitely much longer than 52 weeks)” thing.  It’s week #40, and I’m on ancestor #5. Fail.  But at least I haven’t stopped completely…

Late last week, I received a message from an amateur genealogist in northern Minnesota wondering if the Tony McGuire they had found working as a log driver for Crookston Lumber Company near the Red Lake Indian Reservation was the same Tony (or Anthony) Maguire that I had in my tree. The Tony which they referred to in my tree, was not the Anthony Maguire, my brick wall, the one that’s consumed a large percentage of my genealogy research and presented me with the most mystery.  It was his son they inquired about, also named Anthony. Throughout my research, I’ve been trying hard to track down what has happened to all of my 2x great grandfather Anthony’s children, because much can be learned from them, especially through their death certificates and obituaries. But this is one that I haven’t yet tracked down. Tony the lumberjack’s age seems to match up quite well with my Anthony, and his parents were both born in Ireland according to the 1910 census, also true of my Anthony, so – yeah – maybe this is the same dude?

I don’t know much about my Anthony Maguire.  I knew that he lived with his parents (Anthony & Bridget) until at least 1880, when he was about 15 years old. By the next Minnesota state census in 1885, he was gone.  Not dead-gone, I was never able to find a death record or burial record for him.  But, outta here-gone. He left his family. And why shouldn’t he? He was old enough to go off and work on a farm to earn money – which was quite common for that time. I haven’t found him in census records after 1880, but I’ve found one or two possible census records that could be him. I just haven’t been successful in proving that any of them are actually him.

It killed me that I wasn’t able to get to the history center in St. Paul right away to pull the death certificate for lumberjack Tony (which would hopefully tell me his parents’ names and birthplaces), so I tried to find what I could online in the meantime. After checking ancestry.com, and familysearch.org, I like to check Chronicling America, a great online source for digitized newspapers from 1836 through 1922. It was there that I found some crazy things. Things that made me think, “If this is my ancestor, then….holy. crap.”

The first article that I found, on the front page of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer from 27 August, 1910, told the story of my possible ancestor being attacked by a “maniac” with an ax who was trying to kill the mayor of Bemidji, John Parker, after accusing his fellow lumberyard workers of building a gallows from which they were preparing to hang him, and then running off into the woods with his ax, likely to starve to death.

The next article I found, dated two days later, stated that the crazy person had not been found, that the victim was still in serious condition, and that the names of the two men involved had been mixed up in the previous article. So, if this Tony McGuire was my great grand uncle, then, well…I have yet another alcoholic in my family tree, and now add to that: an ax murderer wannabe.

The third article told of McGuire being found dead in the woods by a 12 year old boy who was out hunting, his body decomposed and his throat cut from a razor blade.  And then finally, a fourth article telling of the recovery of his victim, William Durkee.

Some crazy stuff, but I still didn’t know if this was actually my great grand uncle. This Tuesday, I was finally able to make it to MNHS after work to grab a copy of his death certificate. I had this strange feeling that I wasn’t going to learn much. My thoughts were that if this were my ancestor, he was far from home, in the woods, with no family around, a melancholy inebriate who probably didn’t have a lot of people in his life. Who up in that logging camp would know or care much about him? It felt unlikely that his fellow coworkers would have known his parents names and where they were born, or even where he was born. So what could his death certificate possibly tell me?  Nothing that I couldn’t glean from newspaper articles, it turns out.

Tony McGuire Death Certificate from MNHS 2014-09-30

Unknown, unknown, unknown, etc…

So now I think that my only chance might be scouring old newspaper articles in smaller papers that aren’t yet digitized on Chronicling America. The tiniest things were “news” back in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s.  If someone’s sister came to town to visit, or if someone’s uncle became ill, it made the local paper. Perhaps there might be an old fashioned status update about Anthony leaving his family in Sibley County to go work as a log driver in the northwoods. I’ve got more work to do.

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12 February 2014

52 Ancestors: #4 Anna Clara Mochinski

Anna Clara Mochinski

Anna Maguire, 10 Nov. 1932, at her sister Stella’s wedding

This was my grandmother – Anna Clara Mochinski (Polish much?). She died at the age of 78 in a nursing home when I was 17. I don’t remember a single thing about her, and that makes me sad. The only things that I “remember” are the few stories that I’ve heard about her – and they’re not good stories. My grandfather and her were divorced when she was 60. I remember hearing that she left – went to Vegas and gambled away a bunch of money – then came back. That’s all I’ve got! I have no idea if that’s true, and sad thing is that there are plenty of living, breathing people that might be able to confirm or deny this, but I’ve just been too lazy and shy to go out and seek the answers.  I don’t remember visiting her as a child, or as a teen. Did I even? I must have. But why can’t I remember?

I like this photo, though. And I’ve never really looked at it as closely as I am looking at it now, as I’m writing this. It makes me want to know her more and seek out those answers. There’s got to be some good stories about her out there, too, right? And she’s kind of pretty, too, eh?

Also, I’m pretty sure I have her to thank for 42% of my AncestryDNA test results – the Eastern European bits.

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30 January 2014

52 Ancestors #3: Bridget Cafferty

Bridget was married to the guy I mentioned earlier (Anthony Maguire), and she has been just as much of a pain in the ass to figure out. (Why are most of my people so mysterious?) I have some theories about where she came from and who her family is, but I haven’t been able to prove any of it. The earliest record I have of her is her marriage record to Anthony in September or 1860 in St. Paul. In the state marriage record, it says that both Anthony and Bridget came from Pennsylvania. In the 1865 Minnesota state census, Anthony and Bridget were living in Winsted, Minnesota, RIGHT NEXT TO some other Cafferty’s (Patrick, Ann, and family) that also had ties to Pennsylvania. I think this is not just a coincidence. When the Irish migrated to America, they stuck together as much as they could, and they would go to where family was, if they knew where they were.

Other than census records, I’ve only found the death record for Bridget – she died just 2 weeks after giving birth to their eighth child, Kate. The cause of death listed in the death register was “Insanity”, but I’m guessing that what they meant by “insanity” is not what we would think of these days.  That’s my hope, anyway. Last summer, I made a trip to Winsted to go tromping through the catholic cemetery looking for her grave. I found lots of my other relatives there – including some Poles (more on them later), but not this Biddy. Later, after a little more research, I found that this particular cemetery was started the year she died (1872), and that there was another, older cemetery in use before that time. I drove to Winsted again in search of it, only to find that it was practically in someone’s back yard, and I didn’t particularly feel like trespassing that day. Another time, perhaps.

Years ago, my genealogically-talented aunt got in touch with some other Winsted Cafferty researchers for me. They all thought that yeah, we might possibly be related through Bridget, but none of us could prove it. And if we’re connected, then Bridget is likely from County Mayo in Ireland! I’m looking through my emails with them as I’m writing this post, and I see that one of them lives (or lived?) in the town where I currently reside, and I’m getting a little inspired to contact them and start digging into this line again. Another thing that I really need to do is spend some time in the old newspapers and find some obituaries for the people that I think she’s related to. With luck, one of them will mention their “sister Bridget”.

In two days I’m heading out to Salt Lake City for the RootsTech conference, and maybe some research at the Family History Library there. I’m not hopeful that I’ll actually find anything, but I do hope that I’ll pick up some tips on things I could try next.

No post next week, probably.  But maybe I’ll blog a little about my conference experience!

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14 January 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 Louise Mathiesen (1890-1950)

Louise Mathiesen

Louise (Mathiesen) Maguire, 1935

This is my great grandmother, Louise (pronounced more like “Louisa”). I didn’t know her, and my dad and his brothers didn’t know her (as far as I know). The oldest of his siblings was 6 when she passed away. When I was a kid, I didn’t really think to ask my grandfather about her; for one, I didn’t see him that often, and for two, I was more into riding my bike and building forts in the woods than learning anything about people who I didn’t know that were dead and gone. I would still like to ask my uncles if they remember their father talking about her at all, but I just haven’t gotten around to it, and we’re just not close, sadly.  I haven’t seen any of them in years. Poor excuses, I know.

Louise was my first international discovery. The first ancestor that made this whole genealogy thing really exciting for me. I was in high school – maybe a sophomore or junior – when I decided to order the death certificate of my grandfather, George, from the McLeod county courthouse. You know, like most high schoolers do. The document listed his mother: Louisa Mathison, born in Denmark.  HOLY CRAP I’M DANISH is what I said when I read that, I’m pretty sure. So this must be where our family tradition of eating pickled herring at Christmas time originated.  And where I got my ability to hide my emotions so well. Everything was starting to make sense.

Over the next couple/few years, on and off, I tried to find out more about her, but I didn’t really know what I was doing, and didn’t find much. At some point, I gave it another good go, and ended up finding another living relative of Louise’s – who didn’t even know of Louise’s existence – and who had done tons and tons of research on her ancestors! Thanks to him, I know exactly where I need to visit when I finally make it over to Denmark!

Louise was born on the 7th of September, 1880 to a shoemaker, Jacob Mathiesen Handevidt and Caroline Christensen Smith in Lindeballe, Denmark.

Louise's Record of Birth

Louise’s Record of Birth

I really don’t know that much about her life in Denmark, except that her family seemed to relocate relatively frequently.  She came to America with her parents and one sister, Caroline on 26 July 1890 on a ship called the Rugia, dropping Handevidt and using Mathiesen as their surname. Louise had 10 siblings including Caroline – some who also came to the U.S. at different times, and some who did not.

S. S. Rugia

S. S. Rugia

On 28 March, 1909, she married my great grandfather, John Maguire. Together they had 6 children – including my grandfather – while living on their farm in Collins Township, McLeod County, Minnesota. She passed away at the age of 69 on 04 January, 1950, and was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Brownton, Minnesota. I wish I had more to say about her – but I’m afraid that’s it for now.Some things I would still like to find on Louise:

  • I would like to find out what she was like – the things she liked to do, what people thought of her, etc.
  • I would like to find a photograph of her when she was younger – I do have some hope that one does exist!

Until the next ancestor…

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14 January 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Anthony Maguire (1840-1882)

Tonight I decided to take on the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, though I am already behind and have some catching up to do! I’m starting with the ancestor that has consumed the most time in all of my research, and the one you’ll likely hear me talk the most about if you ask me about my family history. The mysterious, great, great grandfather: Anthony Maguire.

Anthony was born around September of 1840 in Ireland to Patrick and Mary Maguire. I’ve spent an absurd amount of time trying to track down exactly where in Ireland he is from, and I am not going to quit until I find the answer. Every piece of information I’ve found on the man has helped contribute to this picture that I’ve painted in my mind of who he was. But really, I have no idea. He could have been a jerk.

He came to the United States in August of 1857 when things were less than awesome in Ireland. He came alone.  He was seventeen years old. SEVENTEEN.  I don’t know the circumstances. What of his family? Had they died and he had to survive, so he left?  Had his family pooled all of what little money they had to send him, the most able of the Maguire children, to America so that he could work, and send money for the rest of his family to follow? These scenarios were quite common, and I like to think that he left for some noble reason such as these, but I’m also prepared to learn that this wasn’t the case.  Did I mention he was seventeen? He had to have been one brave, independent, and grown-up seventeen year old.

He spent a small amount of time in Pennsylvania before making his way to Winsted, Minnesota in 1860, where he promptly married an Irishwoman named Bridget Cafferty, and began the naturalization and homesteading process while at the same time, starting a family. On his land and naturalization papers, he signed his name with an ‘x’ – so I presume he had no education, and could not read or write. Despite that, he seemed to be doing okay. I found a description of the work he had put into his homestead project:

anthony maguire homestead description

Sounds like a decent enough guy, eh? By the time he had completed the homesteading process, he could sign his own name.  And for that small achievement, I am proud of him.

In 1872, shortly after the birth of his 8th child, his wife Bridget passed away at the age of 37. Soon after, he picked up and moved to the tiny but quickly growing Irish settlement of Green Isle, Minnesota. In this town, he found a new wife, Mary Jane O’Meara, with whom he had 7 more children. He was doing pretty well in this town, and in January of 1882, he bought himself a  Saloon, which also happened to be the first building in the Green Isle townsite. Just shy of a  year later on November 27th, 1882, he returned from a funeral and went out to chop some wood at his home.  Not three sticks in, he fell dead from a heart attack at the age of 42.  His was the first death in the town of Green Isle. His in-laws, the O’Mearas, a very prominent, businessy and political family in the new town must have thought (at least a little) well of him, because they buried him in their family plot. Really very nice of you, O’Mearas, but I do kind of which you would’ve provided a little more info…

20120503_081814

 

With every little bit that I pick up in my research, I feel like I’m getting to know him a little better. And I’m thankful that he survived the dangerous voyage to get here, and worked hard to have a decent, but short-lived, life in rural Minnesota. Nothing glamorous or shocking about his story (so far), but I’m okay with that. And like it, even.

Thanks, McG.

McG Stone

 

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11 November 2012

Marriage & Naturalization Records

Marriage Records

Saturday, I headed to St. Paul for some research; first to MNGS (it was Irish Day, where they have people on staff to help with Irish research), and then to MNHS.  At MNGS, my goal was to find the church records for Anthony & Bridget’s marriage on 12 Sep 1860.  These church records are housed by the chancery of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, but they have provided MNGS with some of them. The woman helping me says that the Archdiocese has recently put some sort of freeze on all of these records – meaning you cannot order them, or request them? I haven’t really been able to confirm this, but I am happy to report that they had what I was looking for.

The neat thing, is that this record is in Latin! FamilySearch has a handy Latin Genealogy word list that helped me translate a few of the words. Here’s what I could transcribe:

60
Antonius Maguire
Brigitta Caverty

A.D. 1860 [??] September 13 [??]  [??]  proclamation juncti in matrimonium Antonius Maguire [??] Birgitta Caverty. Testes Edwardus Essing [??] Kenna.

And then a few of the translations:

Juncti in Matromonium = joined  in marriage
testes = witnesses

I’m happy that I found this, but I wish it would have given me more information, and less confusion.  The confusion is regarding the marriage date.  The other marriage record that I have – the state record – says that they were married on 12 Sep 1860, but it was signed on 13 Sep 1860.  This new record says they were married on 13 Sep 1860, I think?

After a few paper jams while trying to print this record on an old microfiche reader/printer, they moved me over to a newer, fancier, digital-er microfiche reader/printer.  I didn’t even have to print it if I didn’t want to, because it scanned the images and made them digital. In all of my genealogy research, all of the microfiche machines I had used were totally old school and crappy. I think they didn’t put me on the new machine in the first place because they didn’t really know how to use it – I had to kind of figure it out on my own.  Helper woman told me that they used to sell flash drives for people to save their images, but they didn’t have them any anymore, and weren’t getting more.  Their computers let me access Google, so I thought I’d just scan and upload them to my drive – so convenient!  I didn’t have to print the marriage record, but I did anyway, to have for reference while I was there researching. Good thing I did, too; when I got home and downloaded all of my scanned images (.tif files), none of them would open.  GD. I had grabbed a few other records while I was there, but didn’t print them.  So I’ll have to remember to scan them again when I’m there next (and check them!)

Land Records

It seems that every time (lately) that I take a day to do research, I end up picking up a new hint or tip for something to try next.  That happened this time, too.  The woman helping me told me that if Anthony homesteaded, I could contact the Bureau of Land Management, and ask them to send me anything they might have on him.  Back in the day, when a person was homesteading, the government would “check up” on the person and their land, make an assessment of their property, and record the progress they were making on the land.  Adding to my to do list!

Naturalization Records

Next, I headed over to MNHS to try again at finding the rest of Anthony’s naturalization records.  I asked a nice volunteer about the record that I already had, and he confirmed that it was what I suspected – Anthony’s Declaration of Intent. I still had to find his “Final Papers”, the thing that would confirm whether or not he actually did become naturalized. And since you had to be naturalized to own land, and Anthony owned land, I was pretty sure that these records should exist.  It took a bit of effort, but we finally found it! On SAM 56-I Roll 1, McLeod County. District Court. Naturalization Records Index., I found Anthony, and by chance, two of my other ancestors (my Danish 2nd Great Grandfather Jacob Mathiasen, and my Polish 2nd Great Grandfather Lawrence Mochinske). The index gave me this, for Anthony:

Next I had to figure out which roll had “Vol. A-1. P.2” so I could find the actual record. Volunteer man helped me determine (from this list) that I would find it on SAM 56, Roll 3. And he was right.  The top portion of the image below reads,

State of Minnesota
September 15, 1868

Dist. Court 4th Judicial Dist.  McLeod County

September 1868

The following persons came into open court and produced the proof required by statutes and were admitted to [free?] citizenship.

Once again, I was kind of hoping for more information, but this is still cool. And the story is coming together! He came to the US in 1857. By law he had to live in the US for 5 years before he could apply for citizenship.  Shortly after his 5 years are up, he starts the process on 06 Mar 1863 and signs (marks with an ‘x’) his Declaration of Intent, renouncing his allegiance to the Queen of Great Britain & Ireland. Another 5 years have to go by before he can get his Final Papers and become a citizen, which he did on 15 Sep 1868.

I ran out of time, and wasn’t able to get the final papers for my Dane & Pole — next time.  (And now I know how to do it!)

Etc.

I stopped by the MNHS gift shop on my way out, and I purchased a couple of really neat, small maps of old Minnesota – one from 1855, before we were a state, and one from 1860, shortly after we became a state. They are very cool, but now I don’t know what I’m going to do with them.  Maybe I’ll be able to use them in my research?

I’m also wondering if I should become a member of the history center. Every time I spend money there (copies, food, …maps, etc.), they ask me if I’m a member, and I say “no”, and I don’t get the member discount. I certainly go there often enough, and I give them money almost every time — maybe I should become a member?  I think I would feel good about helping them keep doing what they’re doing. I also wonder about volunteering at the library.  The thought is kind of appealing, and I’m sure I would learn a lot more about what they offer if I were to volunteer there. I always appreciate the volunteers that take the time to help me, like this weekend, especially when they’re busy running around helping other people as well. I don’t know that I have the time now, but I think that’s something I’d like to do, someday.

What’s next?

  1. Contact Bureau of Land Management
  2. Find church marriage record for Anthony’s second marriage to Mary O’Meara
4 November 2012

Family History Fair

Saturday morning, Kate and I went to a Family History Fair at the Hennepin County library downtown. For a free event, I think it was pretty awesome.  One of my coworkers has said that he likes to attend web-dev conferences so he can hear about/observe the latest tools and resources that others are using.  I found this conference pretty helpful for the exact same reason. Not only did we get to listen to professionals speak about mostly interesting topics, but we were tipped off to other genealogy websites that they use often in their research.

We stopped by the FamilySearch.org booth to talk to the volunteers there. They were able to give Kate some good info, but the moment I uttered the word “Irish” when asked about my research, they pretty much just laughed and said “good luck”.  And, “hopefully his mother’s name wasn’t Mary”.  “It was”, I sadly replied. They did have me talk to their one person with some knowledge in Irish research.  Apparently there is a new database on FamilySearch.org that is not yet public – it’s in some sort of beta stage – that could be very valuable for Irish researchers.  I’m not sure what it’s called, or even what it was exactly, but it was almost like a “family search” (ha) for very old Irish families; each result contained a person and their parents, but it wasn’t just a collection of personal family trees like you’d find on some search sites.  None of the first few results were obviously my Anthony, and there were a lot of records that I’d like to sift through someday when they’re made available.

The other tip the familysearch.org people gave us was that their website contains tons and tons of images that aren’t indexed.  But you can browse them! I think that I had only really used their search before, and didn’t realize I could browse images that weren’t indexed.  I’ve done this on Ancestry, when I know that my people should be in a census for a given year and place, but they didn’t show up in the indexed search results.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to use familysearch.org this way as well. After browsing for a while this weekend, I discovered that all of those birth records that I found while spending time at the courthouse in Sibley county are available in their browsable images!  These are the ones that I spent time transcribing while I was there, because they wouldn’t let me copy them.  So, hooray for that.

One of speakers I saw turned on a light bulb for me.  She made me realize that I might not have Anthony’s complete Naturalization records. I think I only have Anthony’s Declaration of Intent (which pretty much gives you nothing, except that the person has denounced the  king/president/leader/whatever of their homeland).  I might be able to find Anthony’s Final Papers, which could possibly tell me more? When I was searching for these papers long, long ago at MNHS, I don’t remember the circumstances, or results (other than the Declaration of Intent).  Maybe I did look for his final papers, and couldn’t find them? I guess that’s why I now have this blog, so I can remember what I did and when!

In between two of the sessions, I spoke to Ann from IGS about my Anthony mystery.  She agreed that I have quite a challenge.  But she said that I should check the Catholic church records in St. Paul for Anthony’s marriage record to Bridget, as I only have the state/county record.  She also said that engagements were typically 6 months, and the bride (or groom? I can’t remember) had to live in St. Paul for that time if they were getting married in St. Paul.  If that’s true, and they were married on 12 Sept 1860, and the 1860 census was taken in April of that year, shouldn’t I be able to find one of them in the 1860 census?  Why can’t I?

So tonight I’ve started reanalyzing the state/county marriage record I have for Anthony & Bridget in Saint Paul.  It is signed by the Catholic priest that wed them, and lists two witnesses.  (Wondering why I hadn’t dug into this before?).  The priest’s name listed is L. Caillet.  A little bit of Googling, and I found that his full name was Louis Eugene Caillet.  He was born in France, and recruited to come to America to serve the Diocese of Saint Paul.  The book, Some letters of Monsignor Louis E. Caillet and August N. Chemidlin, 1868-1899 , says that on August 21, 1857, he became an ordained priest assigned to the Cathedral of St. Paul after the death of Bishop Cretin (first Roman Catholic Bishop of Saint Paul).

I’m not Catholic, and call me ignorant, but I didn’t know what the difference between a Bishop and a Priest was.  Wikipedia to the rescue?  Catholic Church hierarchy.

So, I know that this is the priest that married them, but now I want to find out where they got married. I’ll need to know this so that I can find the church records. You know that big beautiful Cathedral in Saint Paul?  It didn’t exist at the time of Anthony & Bridget’s marriage.  But they have a nice little history page on their website that tells me this:

This, the fourth Cathedral of Saint Paul, was the dream of Archbishop John Ireland, who secured the site in 1904. The Archdiocese was growing and Ireland saw the need for a “great Cathedral” to replace the third Cathedral, which was 46 years old at the time and too small for the growing congregation.

I think that this “third cathedral”, built in 1858, might be where they were married.  More Googling, and I found that the third cathedral has since been demolished to make room for the Hamm Building. Shucks!  But I did find a tiny picture of it on the current cathedral’s website:

Third Cathedral of Saint Paul, Minnesota

Third Cathedral of Saint Paul, Minnesota

I am also now wondering about a “second cathedral” and “first cathedral”.  It appears that these existed, too.  But when? (TODO)

Now, if this is where they got married, where do I find the church records? It looks like they might have them at MNGS. So my plan: next Saturday is Irish Day at the MNGS, and I think I will try going to that again. In addition to the church records (which might tell me Bridget’s parent’s names, and maybe Anthony’s mother’s maiden name), if I can talk to the same woman I talked to briefly on Saturday, she might be able to give me more advice on where to go or what to do next.

Oh, another TODO: dig into the witnesses that were listed on their marriage record: Edward Essing and Mrs. Kenna.

A lesson in Palaeography that I learned this weekend at the Family History Fair: in old writings such as this, when there were double s’s in a word or name, the first ‘s’ would look like an ‘f’, just like you see above in Edward Essing’s name!  Weird, eh?  Had I not gone to this fair, I might instead be wasting my time searching for “Edward Efsing”…

More after Saturday…

20 October 2012

Probate Records: Patrick O’Meara & Martin McGuire

On Thursday, I got a call from MNHS saying that the microfiche rolls I ordered had come in.  So, today I spent the day at MNHS.  The first one I dove into was roll 39 for Patrick O’Meara.  The case file contained 60-something pages! Lots of legal documents, his will, copies of the checks that were used to disperse his estate, an account of what he left behind – money, furniture, land, etc.  And I made copies of it all. I’m not really happy about that, but I wanted to be able scour them later, and spend my time at the library searching for other things.  I haven’t really dug through all of those copies yet, but there was one page that stood out  to me a bit. It listed all of Patrick O’Meara’s living heirs, including some of my guys.

Rosa O’Meara aged 23 years Green Isle, Minn.
Margaret O’Meara aged 90 years Green Isle, Minn.
John O’Meara aged 50 years Green Isle, Minn.
William O’Meara aged 49 years Swan River, Man., Canada
James O’Meara aged 57 years St. Paul, Minn.
Martin O’Meara aged 46 years Green Isle, Minn.
Michael Young aged 33 years Minneapolis Minn.
Charles McGuire aged 30 years Green Isle, Minn.
Martin McGuire aged 27 years Green Isle, Minn.
Margaret McGuire aged 24 years St. Paul, Minn.
Henry McGuire aged 22/23? years Residence Unknown
Mary (Clancy) Wilson aged 21 years Glencoe, Minn.
Teresa Clancy aged 21 years Glencoe, Minn.
James Clancy aged 23 years Residence Unknown


The next roll I checked I thought would be more interesting: SAM 432 Roll 21.  And it was interesting, just not in the way I expected. I expected to find something similar to what I found for Patrick O’Meara, but instead for my great grand uncle, Martin McGuire.  Recently, I learned that Minnesota Probate courts handled cases other than estate/wills/whatever.  Insanity cases and guardianship cases were also handled by the probate courts.  And, apparently Inebriety cases were handled by them, too.  In Martin’s case file (01836) is first, a petition by Harry W. Davitt (the Mayor?) on the 18th of July, 1914 to get care for Martin, who,

[..] is a habitual drunkard and has been for the past three or four years.  He at times shows symptoms of delirium tremens and neglects to provide for himself.

After the petition, a warrant was issued on 23 July 1914 to Sheriff Charles Wegge to “deliver” Martin to the State Inebriate Hospital in Willmar, Minnesota for treatment.  Sheriff Wegge must have been successful, because next is a 3 page medical questionnaire about Martin’s health, as well as the health of his family members (sweet!). Here are some of ’em:

1b. Age? 34
5. Is the patient educated? If so, to what extent? common school education, country school
7a. Did either of the grandparents of the patient suffer from insanity, rheumatism, consumption, headache, neuralgia, cancer, nervousness or inebriety in any form, and if so, from which?  no
8a. Did any of the aunts or uncles of the patient suffer from any of the diseases mentioned in No. 7, and if so; from which? three uncles suffered from inebriety.
8b. Are any of the paternal aunts or uncles of the patient dead, and of what disease and at what age did they die? unknown.
10b. Which parent does the patient resemble physically?  mother.
11b. What was the patient’s natural disposition? quiet disposition.
11f. Did the patient always finish any task undertaken?  no.
11h. What degree of self-control has the patient?  no self-control.
14a. Does the patient use morphine, opium, chloral, alcohol, cocaine, or other narcotic drugs? State what drugs are used and in what form: alcohol, whiskey.
14b. At what age did the patient begin to use them? 17 years old.
14d. To what extent does the patient use them now? (be specific): Drinks whiskey […] about a quart a day when he can get it, drunk for last 5 years most of the time.
14e. Has their use been steadily increasing, variable, or decreasing of late?  increasing.

Very sad questions and answers, yes, but I am given a little bit of genealogy-research-hope from questions 8a and 8b.   I know that Martin’s mother, Mary O’Meara had 5 brothers. And I should confirm this, but I think most of them were pretty successful and beloved businessmen in Green Isle. Would they have been drunkards? I wouldn’t think so.  I guess I don’t know that much about Charles and James, so maybe they were.  But those questions makes me wonder if one or more of the three uncles he’s referring to are brothers of Anthony’s?  I have absolutely no paper record of Anthony having any siblings (but I have a feeling that he did–does that count?).  Regarding 8b, and the death(s) of his paternal aunts/uncles: wouldn’t they have written nothing or something other than “unknown” if he didn’t have any aunts/uncles on his father’s side?

Following the questionnaire were monthly check-ins from Martin about his condition, weight loss/gain, eating and sleeping habits, work, and alcohol use. Each month the reports were “good”; he hadn’t used alcohol, had steady work (first farm work, then janitorial work at a school). It’s unclear to me if he was living at the hospital during this time, or back in Green Isle, and I’m not sure how to find that out.  I guess I would think that he was at the hospital, I don’t think it would be so easy to just sober up so quickly if he were still living in Green Isle.  He made parole on 18 January 1915, about 6 months after being taken to the hospital.

After copying Martin’s case file, I went on to check a couple more: Mary O’Meara’s probate case file, and Margaret O’Meara’s file as well. Mary’s case file was not the Mary I was expecting – and, duh – she would’ve had a different last name if it were who I was expecting.  This Mary was the wife of Martin O’meara, and there was nothing really of interest to me in that file.  Margaret’s file was a guardianship probate case file for Martin & Mary’s daughters, Margaret & Sarah.  Nothing really for me there, either.  Except, now I know what a guardianship probate file looks like.

20 October 2012

This is Insane.

In my last post I mentioned a probate index I found at MNHS, with Anthony McGuire listed as “insanity of”, instead of “estate of”.  Around the time I found this record, a new genealogy question and answer site on a familiar/beloved/reputable network was being born.  Since this record confused the heck out of me, I posed my question the day the site when into beta.  I learned that Minnesota Probate courts handled some cases other than estate cases.  They sometimes handled insanity cases, guardianship cases, and more. Somehow, I need to see if I can get a hold of the “Insanity Books” for McLeod county, if they even still exist.  MNHS does not have them, so I’ve sent an email query off to the McLeod county probate courts.  We’ll see what I hear back from them.

I’ve gotta say though, if this really is my McG, I’m a bit surprised that he might be an “insane” person. Would they let an insane person own and operate a saloon? It sounds like it would have been a petition to have him declared insane, so maybe the attempt to commit him did not go through? Or maybe this isn’t my McG – maybe it’s his son of the same name? I don’t know what happened to him, and he doesn’t show up on censuses that I can find, so…maybe? Either way, it’s got to be one of the two; there weren’t many (any?) other McGuires in McLeod county at this time.  Oh how I want to get my hands on these court files.

9 September 2012

Probate Records @ MNHS

I went to MNHS today to see what they had for probate records.  I had to get some help, because I had never looked up probates at MNHS before.  I’d like to record the steps I had to take to find what I needed, in case I need to remember how to do this again, because I just know I will forget.

A knowledgeable volunteer and I started by searching the Library Catalog for “Sibley County Probate”, and in the results found that there was an index on one of the rolls (SAM 432 Roll 77). So I loaded it up and…saw no index.  Instead, I saw case files of probate records in numerical order.   “Haaaallp” I whined (not really), and the nice volunteer helped me figure out that the index was actually at the end of the roll.  Here are some of the names in the index which I thought might be helpful to me:

Surname First Name File # Roll #
McGuire John 947 25
McGuire Martin 1836 55
O’Meara Margaret et al Guardianship (minors) 805 21
O’Meara Mary 809 21
O’Meara Patrick 1371 39

I thought for sure that the John McGuire one would be my great grandfather, but it wasn’t.  It was a John McGuire, Jr. that passed away “prior to 1865”, and though I’m not completely sure how to read these probate records, it mentioned a John McGuire Sr. several times, I think, as the person who was claiming, or taking responsibility for what Jr. left behind.  After the Johns, I went searching for the other rolls, and found none of them.  They had to be ordered from the Mormons in Salt Lake City, so I will probably see them in about a month.  I’m very curious to see the Patrick O’Meara and Mary O’Meara probate records, since some of the Maguire children lived with the O’Mearas. Maybe they will be mentioned in these records? And maybe Mary’s will say something about the saloon/house that she inherited from Anthony after his death? I can hope.

Next, I wanted to check McLeod County probate records (P-Recs?). I’m not sure why these were different, but I had to go to another room and submit a request to have a box of old records brought out to me.  Maybe they haven’t gotten around to archiving these yet? So I submitted the request, sat at table #8, and waited for my box. When it arrived, I pulled out the thing I recognized:  an old ledger book, the index. The rest of the box was filled with file folders of other really old, miscellaneous files (jail records, school records, etc.).  I opened up the book to the “Mc” tab, and guess who was there? And guess who is being really difficult again?

Anthony McGuire in the McLeod County Probate Index

“No Record”. Of course. I guess that means I won’t find a probate record for him?

The other curious thing is the “Insanity of” bit. Why that, instead of “Estate of”?  I’m trying to find the answer to this, but so far, no luck.

I also checked this index for my other McLeod county names: Cafferty, Mathiasen, Mochinske.  And nothing.

The rest of my time was spent reading the Sibley County Independent for 1881.  More on that later. Must sleep.