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…

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