Today I set off for the Minnesota Genealogical Society in South Saint Paul. I hadn’t been there before (whaaat?), so it was kind of exciting for me. It was also their “Irish Day”, where they have volunteers that specialize in Irish research – exactly what I needed: some professional, expert help. A sweet old woman with an Irish surname sat down with me to help me figure out my Anthony mystery. I explained to her everything I know about him, and told her everything that I would like to know. One of the things that really makes him difficult is that I cannot connect him to any siblings or parents that also came to America. As far as I know, he came to America on his own, at age 17 in 1857 (sounds like something I would have done).
We first looked at a book she had (can’t remember the title, and I didn’t write it down – shucks), to see how common Maguire/McGuire is as a surname. In 1890, there were 74 Maguires and 300-something McGuires in Ireland: a small number compared to the thousands of Sullivans, Murphys, Kellys, etc., but quite a lot compared to my other Irish surname, Cafferty, where there were only 6 in all of Ireland. Good news, I guess? A less common name might make it easier? The book also told us where these surnames were more prominent. The Maguire spelling was much more common in Fermanagh and other parts of Northern Ireland (I kind of already knew this after researching the Maguire surname on my own, but it was nice to have the confirmation).
She also had some thoughts on the spelling: Maguire versus McGuire. She thought because it is written on his gravestone as Maguire, she would think that that is the way he preferred to spell it, because his family, the ones who took care of giving him the stone, would’ve known how he liked it spelled. I don’t know if I completely trust it though, because that family was really his wife’s family, the O’Mearas. Maybe they didn’t know him that well? But maybe they did? Also – Anthony could not read or write; would he have even had a preference?
The sweet woman also had me check some books that indexed “The Search for Missing Friends”, advertisements that were placed in the Boston Pilot by Irish immigrants that were looking for their family and friends that had also come over, but who they had lost touch with. I only found one entry that could maybe, with a 1-in-a-million chance be somewhat useful, someday:
The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements placed in the boston pilot.
Book: Volumne v1 1866-1870
15 October 1870 Missing Friends
OF THOMAS MAGUIRE, native of the townland of Monion, county Fermanagh, Ireland; when last heard from, about fifteen months ago, he was in Cohoes, New York. Information of him will be received by his brother Patrick Maguire, Schenectady Locomotive Works, N.Y.; or his sister, May Ann Maguire, 1500 Pine Street, Philadelphia.
-New York Herald and Albany Knickerbocker please copy
The only reason I gave this one a glance is because Anthony had children named Patrick and Mary Ann, and it was (is?) very common to name your children after your parents, siblings, etc. In fact, it was pretty standard for the first son to be named after the father, and since Anthony’s father’s name was Patrick, I’d like to think that maybe Anthony had an older brother named Patrick. Anyway, maybe someday, when I prove that Anthony had any siblings, I’ll come back to this.
Today I also learned that before Ellis Island was opened, people came in through Castle Garden, but a search there didn’t really give me anything good.
And I was given a long list of websites for Irish research. Maybe once I’ve had a chance to check them out, I’ll post them here.
But ultimately, it was decided that I needed track down obituaries, and try to find mention of any siblings that Anthony might have had, and a town or county in Ireland where he came from. So I thanked the lady for her help, left, and went straight to MNHS to search some newspapers. This is not my favorite genealogical activity. Old obituaries are hidden deep within the other content of the newspapers; they rarely had headings or anything to set them apart, and were often scattered around, so they’re difficult to find, and it’s very time consuming. I searched for Anthony in the nearby Belle Plaine Herald, as my friend at MNGS suggested (MNHS unfortunately does not have a Green Isle paper for 1882). No luck. I also checked for Martin McGuire’s obituary from 1937 in the the Minneapolis Journal, Tribune, and Star – a more recent death – perhaps I’d have better luck. Nope. I think I also checked for Margaret (McGuire) Davidson’s obituary: also no luck.
So that was my genealogy day. Until next time.