May 30, 2015

2x great-grandparents Thomas FITZGERALD and Rose CONNELLY

Recently I wrote about discovering the birth record for my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald Ryan (1879-1954). Through it, I was able to find quite a bit of information on her parents, Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose Connelly.

Here's what I found this past week:

Great-grandmother Mary's father Thomas Fitzgerald was born in July of 1853 in Ireland to Patrick and Mary Fitzgerald. He immigrated in 1860, and on 18 August 1878, he married Rose Connelly in Newton, Massachusetts. She was born about 1847, also in Ireland, to Thomas and Bridget Connelly.

I found records for four children born to Thomas and Rose. My great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth was the eldest, born on 22 May 1879. She was followed by Thomas, born 9 January 1881; then Eddie, born 2 April 1882; lastly, Walter was born on 7 March 1885. All were born in Needham, Massachusetts except for Walter, whose birthplace was given as Wellesley.

Rose died just over one month after Walter's birth, on 10 April 1885, of typhoid pneumonia. Whether the birth contributed to her contracting the illness, I don't know. She was only about 37 years old.

I figured that Thomas, who was only about 32 at this time and had several small children, would probably remarry. Lo and behold, he did: he married Louisa Priest, a widow whose maiden name was either Deacon or Deaking, on 5 August 1891. She was born in England. It surprised me that he waited so long to remarry when he had small children who needed taking care of, and that when he did, it was to an Englishwoman.

In the 1900 census, Thomas and Louisa were living in Boston with William P. Fitzgerald, aged 22, whose relationship to Thomas (the head of the household) is listed as "son." Since Thomas and Rose had no recorded son by this name, and since he was too old to have been a son of Thomas and Louisa, he was almost certainly Louisa's son by her previous marriage-- i.e., Thomas's stepson.

Where were his children? They weren't living with him, none had died (at least not that I can find, and I know for sure that Mary was alive), but I can't find any census entries that fit any of them. Walter, the youngest, would have only been about 15 years old. Could they have been in Ireland with relatives?

Louisa died on 15 October 1908, and Thomas followed on 19 December 1916.

Thomas is buried at New Calvary in Mattapan. I reached out to the cemetery and found out his plot number (278 or 279 of section 8). I've requested a photo of Thomas's resting place on Find A Grave.

The plot's owner is listed as my great-grandmother Mary E. (Fitzgerald) Ryan. Strangely, neither Rose nor Louisa is buried there. Louisa's death certificate gives her burial place as Cedar Grove Cemetery; Rose's death record, listed in a register, does not give her burial place.

As is so often the case with genealogical discoveries, more questions arise...

Ancestry line:

Thomas FITZGERALD (1853-1916) m. Rose CONNELLY
Mary Elizabeth FITZGERALD m. David Thomas RYAN
Clare Regina RYAN (1911-2001) m. Boruch/Bernard KRANTZBERG
My father m. S. HOWES

May 24, 2015

"Our boys fought like heroes"

Originally posted on 25 May 2013:

For Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to do a post on a relative who gave his life in service to his country. Of the many ancestors and relatives I have who fought in various wars over the past four centuries, there is only one that I know of who actually died in service: Thomas B. MACE, my 3rd great-uncle.

Thomas was born about 1843 in Plaistow, New Hampshire, the first surviving child of John and Sophronia (nee BLY) MACE. His middle initial likely stands for his mother Sophronia's maiden name. He was followed by a brother, Daniel Webster (b. 1845), and sisters Elizabeth (b. 1847) and Sarah Ellen (b. 1849). Elizabeth was my 2nd great-grandmother.

Thomas's father John, whose parentage I am still trying to discover, disappeared in 1848, and a pregnant Sophronia was left to provide for herself and her children on her own. Things must have been very difficult, because in 1857, at the ripe old age of 14, Thomas left home to join the Navy. He was listed as having brown hair, a light complexion, and hazel eyes; his height was just 4 feet, 8 1/2 inches.

In the 1860 census, Thomas was listed in the household of a neighbor as a hired farm hand ; his mother Sophronia had just gotten remarried to Joseph FELLOWS a year earlier, so either they couldn't provide for him or they didn't want to.

On 22 August 1861, just a few months after the outbreak of the Civil War, Thomas enlisted with Company K of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry Regiment.

On 5 May 1862, the soldiers of the 2nd New Hampshire met the Confederates at Williamsburg, Virginia, and a fierce battle ensued. By the day's end, 16 members of the regiment were dead, and 19-year-old Thomas B. Mace was among these fallen. Many more men were wounded or missing.

In spite of Thomas's fate, his younger brother Daniel would enlist in 1864 in the 50th and 59th Massachusetts Infantry. Daniel would be captured at Petersburg, Virginia on 19 July 1864, and held at notorious Andersonville prison camp. He was exchanged in November, and survived. It is a descendant of his, in fact, who recently contacted me and who is helping me try to break through the brick wall of his father's line.

In August of 1869, a recently-widowed Sophronia (husband Joseph FELLOWS had passed that April) filed for her late son Thomas's pension. I can only figure that she must have really needed the money.

Thomas, at an age where today he would have been starting college, gave his life in the line of duty. May he and others who died in service to the United States never be forgotten.

May 9, 2015

Great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald's birth record

For years, the birth record of my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald Ryan had eluded me.

According to her death record, she had been born about 23 May 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose Kiley. But no matter where I looked online-- NEGHS, FamilySearch, Ancestry-- I could not find any Mary or Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald who was born in Massachusetts on or around that date to a Thomas and Rose.

Of course, since Mary was born in 1879, the next thing was to check the 1880 census record. In it, I located a Thomas, aged 26, and Rose Fitzgerald, aged 30, with a 1-year-old daughter named Mary living in Needham, Massachusetts.

I had also found a marriage record of a Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose Connelly on 18 August 1878 in Newton, Massachusetts. Thomas's age was given as 25, and Rose's was given as 30. Here, too, Rose had the unusual distinction of being about 4-5 years older than her husband, so I knew that this was the same couple.

So this past week, I asked for help locating my great-grandmother Mary's birth record in a Facebook genealogy group-- and someone found it and posted it within hours. The record showed that she was born in Needham on 22 May 1879 to Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose "Colnoly." This lady had found it on American Ancestors, the NEHGS website.

But why hadn't I been able to find it?

When I looked at the record, the reason became apparent: her last name on this document was misspelled as "Fitchgerald." It had not occurred to me that a name as basic and as common as Fitzgerald could be spelled incorrectly, but it was. And "Fitchgerald" was apparently divergent enough that FamilySearch (which normally picks up alternative spellings) didn't register it in a search. Upon looking it up on FamilySearch with "Fitchgerald", Mary's birth record came right up.

The fact that her mother Rose's maiden name was given as "Colnoly" (Connelly) confirmed for sure that the census record and the marriage record I found were for my 2nd great-grandparents.

This was a good reminder to get creative when searching for records-- I had not figured that my ancestor's very common surname would be so badly misspelled, but it was, and if I had just thought to broaden my search using Soundex, or thought of alternative ways that Fitzgerald might be spelled, this could have been found long ago.

I'll write more about Thomas and Rose, and the issue of Rose's maiden name, next.

May 2, 2015

FITTS of Salisbury and Ipswich, Massachusetts

The name is also spelled FITZ.

Generation 1: My original FITTS immigrant ancestor was Robert Fitts, 9th great-grandfather.

Robert and his brother Richard were probably from Devon, and arrived in New England by 1640. They first settled in Salisbury, Massachusetts. Robert was a planter, and in 1657 sold his house to a Philip Griffin and removed to Ipswich. He died there on 9 May 1665.

Generation 2: Abraham Fitts was born probably in the early 1630's. He married Rebecca Davis, daughter of Isaac and Beverly Davis and widow of Tyler (Giles?) Birdley, on 9 January 1668 in Ipswich. Abraham died on 27 March 1692.

Generation 3: Isaac Fitts was born in Ipswich on 3 July 1675. On 29 January 1697, he married Bethia Hacker, daughter of George Hacker and Bethia Meacham, in Ipswich. Isaac died on 6 April 1747.

Generation 4: Jeremiah Fitts was born on 9 January 1708 in Ipswich. In Ipswich, on 22 February 1733, he married Elizabeth Haskell, daughter of Mark Haskell and Martha Tuttle. He died on 3 February 1801.

Generation 5: Jeremiah Fitts II was baptized in Ipswich on 29 October 1749. He married Ruth Souther, daughter of Nathaniel Souther and Rebecca Hopkins, on 22 December 1773 in Ipswich, and he died in Bradford on 4 October 1804.

Generation 6: William Fitts was born in Haverhill on 10 January 1797. He married Priscilla Davis, daughter of John Davis and Priscilla Bartlett, in West Newbury on 15 November 1821. William died of consumption on 28 April 1843, and according to his death record (below), he was a sailmaker.

Generation 7: Sophia Haskell Fitts was born in West Newbury on 15 February 1823. She married Isaiah F. Purinton, son of John Purinton and Dorothy Colby, on 10 June 1846 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Sophia died in March of 1880 of cancer.

Ancestry line:

Robert FITTS (d. 1665) m. Grace LORD
Abraham FITTS (d. 1692) m. Rebecca DAVIS
Isaac FITTS (1675-1747) m. Bethia HACKER
Jeremiah FITTS I (1708-1801) m. Elizabeth HASKELL
Jeremiah FITTS II (1749-1804) m. Ruth SOUTHER
William FITTS (1797-1843) m. Priscilla DAVIS
Sophia Haskel FITTS (1823-1880) m. Isaiah F. PURINTON
Mary Olivia PURINTON (1852-1898) m. George Bailey PALMER
Frank Bailey PALMER (1888-1958) m. Bessie Maud WINSLOW
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father


The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury , David W. Hoyt
Genealogy of the Fitts or Fitz Family in America, James Hill Fitts