Carnival of Genealogy 65th Edition: "The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy. Almost everyone has experienced it. Tell us about the first time, or the last time, or the best time. What event, what document, what special find has caused you to stand up and cheer, to go crazy with joy? If you haven't ever done the Happy Dance, tell us what you think it would take for you to do so."
I've always loved history. I minored in it during my college years and yet I never really explored my own genealogy. Why? Simply explained, I knew my ancestry. Did I know my family tree? No, not really but I knew where they originated.
When I met my husband, he really had no clue regarding his origins. I then began my long adventure into the world of genealogy. As glorious as my searches and discoveries were regarding my husband's family, I did not have any happy dances. I had a few shouts of glee. There are still 2 brick walls at the moment and I'm sure I will dance if I ever break those walls down. One is Joseph Johnson born October 1852 Illinois. Could I get a more difficult name to locate? LOL The other is Robert Gragg/Gregg born 31 July 1830 Ohio.
I soon decided to look deeper at my own family line. My mother's side was fairly easy. Both grandparents were from Ireland. It was just a matter of jotting names and dates down on paper. I did do a little jig when I discovered the Finegan line was from Co. Monaghan, Ireland on a naturalization record. His ship record gave me his town. Do I hear a, "Hooray"? Oh yeah!
My father's side is a different story. I am beginning to wonder if someone in the family was wanted for something. So very secretive this family of mine. I searched and searched all records for Alfred Bench in America, my paternal great grandfather. I knew he came from Birmingham, England but that was all. I finally searched for a naturalization record. It was located and the happy dance began.
He went by his middle name, Richard. All that time wasted on searching for Alfred!!!! Little unknown facts can stop you dead. My father was named after his grandfather and never knew it until I ran over that fact. Marvelous things began to appear. I found his ship record, birth record, census records, and his 2nd marriage record (always searching in MA and it was in IL). I still don't know why he left IL for MA. The family never even knew about IL. I then was able to pull the family line further backwards in England. I was elated and doing a major happy dance. Of course, Alfred's 2nd wife, Margaret Donahue Maher Bench, is still giving me heartburn. She's my paternal great grandmother. Now, if I find her, you will all hear me! Trust me.
Onto my Degnan family and I knew even less. Several misspellings on census and military records tossed me for a few loops but I prevailed. I must say that when I finally found the naturalization record for Patrick Degnan from County Longford, I had myself a good long happy dance. His marriage record does list his parents as Patrick Degnan and Mary Riley. My parents are visiting Ireland in May and I'm hoping that they can uncover something. Here's to dreaming.
If I discover those still missing, I will be throwing a happy party with one major scream for Margaret thrown in there. Keep listening for it.
My dad is the driver (Richard Degnan) with my grandmother sitting in the middle (Julia Bench Degnan) and my uncle (Kevin Degnan) sitting beside her. This picture was taken (I'm guessing) in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, during the 1960s.
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It's time for a grammar lesson taken from my blue book of grammar and punctuation.
affect vs. effect
Rule 1. Use effect when you mean bring about or brought about, cause or caused. Example: He effected a commotion in the crowd. Meaning: He caused a commotion in the crowd.
Rule 2. Use effect when you mean result. Example: What effect did that speech have?
Rule 3. Also use effect whenever any of these words precede it: a, an, any, the, take, into, no. These words may be separated from effect by an adjective. Examples: That book had a long-lasting effect on my thinking. Has the medicine produced any noticeable effects?
Rule 4. Use the verb affect when you mean to influence rather than to cause. Example: How do the budget cuts affect your staffing?
Rule 5. Affect is used as a noun to mean emotional expression. Example: She showed little affect when told she had won the lottery.
I grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island during the 1970's and 1980's. As promised, I thought that I would share some of my treasured memories.
I'm starting with the eventful memory from the Blizzard of 1978. I cannot even imagine going through this as an adult but it was great as a kid. We were out of school for 2 weeks. We lost electricity for quite awhile. Snow fell from Feb. 5-8 with the total accumulation being 55 inches. WOW!!! No wonder I could build a snow fort and tunnels.
I remember watching my dad get picked up for work in a snow mobile and seeing him disappear out of site. My mom stood in that window for a long time just looking out. My dad was an electrician for Narragansett Electric, the main power company in RI. He was gone for a long time.
There were cars under there? Holy cow, I still can see in my mind's eye the bulldozers removing snow from our road and seeing trapped cars appear. They were under all that snow lined up down the road. These were not parked cars people. These had been cars driving down the road that became trapped by the rapid fall of snow and had to be abandoned.
My mom took my sister and me in our sled down the road to my grandmother's. What an adventure it was. We were walking down the main road and getting rides in the sled. My grandma lived only 1 mile away. We warmed up at grandma's in front of the fireplace then we walked another mile down the road to the local grocery store. The groceries were placed in our sled and we started back. My younger sister whined about walking. She was 6 and I'm sure with all the winter gear that 4 miles was a stretch. I remember being tired by the end but it was exciting.
I've never really seen a snow like that since. I came close when I lived up in ND but never all at once. Even when I lived in NH, we got 3 blizzards within 2 weeks but we had fair warning and time to clean up in between each. In fact, I nearly lost my second child at the age of 1 in the NH snow. He was walking along and then he was gone. The snow just collapsed under him - all 3 feet. Screams galore and snow boots stuck behind as I pulled him out. I'm horrible, I was laughing. I had never seen anything so funny. He just disappeared but I knew he was fine.
I'm not 100% positive that this picture is Peter Degnan. However, I'm around 90% sure.
His facial features seem to match up with my grandfather's, his son, along with certain other noted characteristics within the grandsons.
My uncle came across this picture in his attic a while back without any identification on it. I'm thankful he passed it along to me. As noted previously, my grandfather, Leo F. Degnan, was great at taking pictures but failed to write on them.
This man took me on a mystery ride regarding his death. Rumor had it that he drowned in RI while doing plumbing work at Quonset AFB in RI around the WWII. I finally got a hold of his death certificate which confirmed this family rumor. He was still residing up in Roxbury, MA, at the time.
I am about to embark on a new mystery swirling around Peter. One that I have just unearthed by mistake. The NEHGS had a marriage record for dear old great grandpa. However, it wasn't to my great grandmother. He was 17 and was listed as marrying Catharine Driscoll on October 4, 1900. I searched for death records to no avail. Then I searched for birth records. I found a birth record for Katherine Frances Degnan born January 6, 1901, Boston, MA, to Peter Degnan, plumber. That's my guy. But, who is Katherine???? And, where is Katherine????
This is my father's aunt and my grandfather's step-sister and we have never heard of this person. I rang my father this morning and I do believe I heard his jaw drop over the phone. Census records have Katherine/Catheline/Kathaleen (yes, all those different spellings apply) living with her mom Catherine in 1910 and 1920. I still haven't located her in 1930. I'm assuming that she must have married.
I would love to get to the bottom of this mystery and find great aunt Katherine Degnan. It's a brand new mystery discovered only last night. Amazing!
I just tasked my uncle with a photo search. Poor guy.
My family tree looks pretty good right now and I started placing pictures where they belonged. I just love adding faces to names. My husband's family wins the award for pictures though.
Unfortunately for my family, grandpa Degnan didn't write any names on the back of his numerous photos. Numerous is a huge understatement. The man missed his calling as a photographer. You never saw him anywhere without a camera in hand. Polaroid should have hired him.
My uncle sent several family pictures that he got out of the attic to me several months ago. All but one were identifiable. After examining the one unidentifiable picture, I do believe it must be my great grandfather, Peter Frederick Degnan. There are similar facial features that I've picked up on while viewing it.
This leaves only one great grandparent faceless. It's my paternal great grandmother, Margaret Donahue Maher Bench. I'm not sure if there is a picture floating around of this woman but I'm hoping. I don't know how long my grandfather courted my grandmother but they were wed the same year as Margaret's death. Margaret died in May 1935 MA and my grandparents were wed in August 1935 MA.
I'd love to put a face to her. I have to be patient and wait a couple of weeks. My uncle has a bad knee at the moment and asked for some healing time before venturing up to the attic. Of course, I'm just tickled that he's going to try and find this picture for me.
Usually a song will trigger one for me. If I hear a certain song, it will take me to an event, party or certain time in my life.
This evening I was watching a show with my family. Not so unusual but then the host went into the audience. He started speaking to this older lady. It took me a minute to figure out who she looked like and then memories started surfacing quickly.
She looked like Beatrice, the widow that lived behind my grandparent's house. I started remembering her chatting over the hedge with all of us. My grandmother and her would always be laughing and talking while they were hanging laundry outside.
What memory came next? Oh, the smell of clean laundry hanging on the line, running in and out of the sheets, handing clothes pins to grandma, playing in her backyard and much more.
All these memories flooded my mind just from seeing someone that resembled this old neighbor.
The Plough Hotel, Cheltenham, England from S.Y. Griffith's 1826 'New Historical Description of Cheltenham'. The hotel was demolished to make way for the Regent Arcade about 1982. It's location was on High Street.
George Howard Bench (1808-1873) worked there as an ostler. He was my paternal great-great-great grandfather. My great-great grandfather, George H. Bench (1846-1899) was born and lived there until his twenties. Most interesting is that John B. Churchill ran the hotel and his aunt was Mary Marriott in the 1851 English Census. Those names just strike me funny for two reasons. For one, it's a Churchill. For two, it's a hotel and the aunt is named Marriott. It just makes me giggle.
I'm originally from Rhode Island. I thought it would be fun to post some memories from my childhood growing up in the smallest state in the union. I'm thinking of writing about a few of these in more detail for later posts. Here are my upcoming subjects:
Del's Lemonade (only the very best) Coffee flavored anything (Autocrat coffee syrup - milk, shakes, ice cream, etc.) 1976 Parade of Tall Ships up Narragansett Bay Newport Mansions (even Jackie and John Kennedy got married over in Newport) Rocky Point Park (closed now - what a crime) Roger Williams Park (I remember when the fireworks went off there) Gaspee Days and the Gaspee Parade The Outlet Company in Downtown Providence (I remember watching it burn down-sad) Crescent Park and the Carousel Rocky Point Clam Cakes (the best) Thayer Street and Brown University The Blizzard of 1978 (from a kids perspective-it was awesome) Hurricane Gloria
My mom remembers skating on the ponds at Roger Williams Park. I don't remember ever seeing them freeze over thick enough for such activity. After starting to write this, I made a phone call to my parents. It lasted longer than I had thought it would and now have plenty of material to also write about their childhood memories growing up in Rhode Island. I'm soooo excited.
My grandmother danced on the front lawn of her east side residence during the Hurricane of 1938. It flooded Providence. They had no idea of the severity of it. She just said that she had never seen the wind blow that hard before. I bet she hadn't coming from Ireland.
This post is for the 11th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Topic: "My Key To Ireland" Questions: How did I find my ancestral county/village? What were the resources used? How did I feel when I made the discovery? If I haven't found the area, tell everyone my plan to uncover it. If I've always known my ancestral location, tell everyone about it.
I have multiple keys to Ireland as most of my ancestors hail from there. To make this a little easier to follow, I'm going to break my information down by family names. I will start by stating that my most valuable research records thus far have been ship and naturalization records.
Degnan is my maiden name. My family didn't know anything about this side of the family until I researched it. I soon discovered my family living in Boston, MA. I did know that my grandfather had been born there. Once I uncovered his father's name, I was able to retrieve his birth certificate from the NEHGS archives. From his birth certificate, I located the names of his parents and went in search of their marriage certificate. As luck would have it, I obtained the marriage certificate which also listed the parents names for the bride and groom. Unfortunately, place of birth only states Ireland. Patrick Degnan's naturalization record also gave no clue to a location in Ireland but it did give me a date to search for ship records. The ship record was my glory. My great-great grandfather's ship record actually listed County Longford as being his place of birth and his last residence. Through the Tithe records, I can now safely assume that the Degnan's came from northern County Longford. I was extremely excited to finally know where my family originated. I also discovered that Patrick Degnan married Margaret Galvin who was from County Cork. A fact also retrieved from her ship record.
My mother's family is Finnegan and Clune. I've always known the Clune family and their farmland in County Clare. My grandmother was the only child of five that was sent to America. Everyone else remained in Ireland and still does. The Clune's are located just down the road from the Cliffs of Moher and Lahinch in Clouna, Russa and Cullenagh. I absolutely love it there. It is truly beautiful. My mother is finally going to see it this May and I cannot wait to hear all about her vacation once she returns.
The Finnegan side has been a little tricky for me. I finally had a breakthrough last year. Again, the glory goes to the ship record. I knew that my great grandfather came here around the turn of the century and that his name was Patrick Finnegan. Once I obtained the marriage record from RI, I thought RI had made a transcription error. The marriage certificate showed the spelling of his name as "Finegan" with only one N and not two. So, I continued to search for naturalization and ship records with the spelling of Finnegan. I finally stumbled upon a ship record that matched everything minus the spelling. It was for a Patrick Finegan arriving in Boston from Ireland in 1905 who was going to his sister, Mary, in Rhode Island. His last place of residence is listed as Castleblayney, County Monaghan. I then searched for the naturalization record with the spelling of Finegan instead of Finnegan. Bingo! The naturalization record confirmed the ship date, spelling and county origination. I have no idea why Patrick decided to change the spelling of his name once my grandfather was born but I now know Finnegan should be spelled Finegan and that the family comes from County Monaghan.
I do have one mystery Irish key. My paternal great grandmother was from Ireland. I have her marriage certificate from Illinois which states her name as Margaret Maher. Now, my grandmother's birth certificate states that her mother's maiden name was Donahue. My great grandfather's naturalization record does give his late wife's place of birth as County Mayo, Ireland and that she came through New York in 1910. They were married in 1913. Her death certificate only lists her father's name as John Donahue. So, I am looking for a Margaret Donahue Maher Bench (in that order) born around 1874 to John Donahue in County Mayo, Ireland, that came by way of New York in 1910 to Illinois and then onto Cambridge, MA where she died in 1935 of heart disease. I don't have a plan of action for locating the family's exact village. I was just happy to see that she was from County Mayo. Perhaps some day I can figure out her mystery.
So, my keys include: County Longford, County Monaghan, County Clare, County Mayo and County Cork.
My favorite picture has to be a picture of my paternal great grandfather, Alfred Richard Bench. It was taken in 1941 for his naturalization paperwork in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He immigrated from England to the USA in December 1909.
This happens to be my favorite picture because it was my first major genealogy discovery regarding my father's family. My father didn't know either of his immigrant grandparents nor had he seen any pictures of them. I was merely trying to find out as much information as I could about this individual. I never expected to get his picture and autograph.
It was a memorable find for me and that's why it's my favorite picture.
This may seem a little morbid. It is a question that I'm asked often by my parents.
What were the ages of our ancestors at death?
So, I thought it would make for a good blog post.
I'll do my paternal side first starting with my grandparents and working back through history.
Leo Degnan was 79 Julia Bench Degnan was 67 Peter Degnan was 56 (cause was an accidental drowning not natural death) Lillian Brown Degnan was 85 Alfred Bench was 73 Margaret Donahue Maher Bench was 62 Patrick Degnan was 55 Margaret Galvin Degnan was 70 William Brown was 50 Janetta Taylor Brown was at least 73 (do not have death cert. yet) George Bench was 53 Julia Sherwood Bench was at least 66 (do not have death cert. yet) John Donahue (unknown - Ireland) Unknown wife (unknown - Ireland) Philip Taylor was 82 Mary Armstrong Taylor was 71 Elizabeth Martin Sherwood was 71 George Bench was 65 Caroline Baker Bench was 58
I do have names for the next generation minus the Donahue's but only from death/naturalization/and marriage certificates. Their birth and death dates, for the most part, are unknown. If I do uncover any new information on those that are unknown or last known alive dates, I will update.
I will post my maternal side in a separate blog post.
Warning: I'm venting about a day of genealogy frustration!
I thought that I was going to post a celebration breakthrough. Nope. After I checked my facts, it was a huge disappointment for me. The work was for nothing. UGH!!!
Genealogy can be such a downer at times. LOL
I truly thought that I had found my husband's maternal great-great grandfather in the 1850 U.S. Census. I haven't looked at him for quite some time and decided that I'd dedicate an afternoon and evening to just him. After all this time, I am still at a dead end. I need to find a magic lamp to rub.
Robert Gregg born 7-31-1830 OH and died 4-15-1905 Melvern, KS. He married Nancy Emmeline Reaves in Madison Co., IL. When he moved to KS from IL, he flipped the name to Gragg instead of Gregg. While he lived in IL, he was a Gregg. I have him tracked in every census down to the missing 1850 one. It would be nice to find him there as I'd like to get his parents names.
You know that will just add more frustration too! It's too funny what genealogists do to themselves but it is such a high when you break through a wall. I truly do think that these ancestors are looking at me and having one heck of a laugh at times. I can hear them snickering, "Oh come look, she's at it again."
Thanks to Becky over at Grace and Glory for posting this meme. I've seen it floating around but finally got some initiative after reading Becky's post.
Things you’ve already done: bold Things you want to do: italicize Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font
1. Started your own blog. 2. Slept under the stars. 3. Played in a band. 4. Visited Hawaii. 5. Watched a meteor shower. 6. Given more than you can afford to charity. 7. Been to Disneyland/world. 8. Climbed a mountain. 9. Held a praying mantis. 10. Sang a solo. 11. Bungee jumped. 12. Visited Paris. 13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. 14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. 15. Adopted a child. 16. Had food poisoning. (while pregnant - horrible) 17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. 18. Grown your own vegetables. 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. 20. Slept on an overnight train. 21. Had a pillow fight. 22. Hitch hiked. 23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. 24. Built a snow fort. (Blizzard of '78 - awesome) 25. Held a lamb. 26. Gone skinny dipping. 27. Run a marathon. 28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. 29. Seen a total eclipse. 30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. 31. Hit a home run. 32. Been on a cruise. 33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (in summer and winter) 34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. 35. Seen an Amish community. 36. Taught yourself a new language. 37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. 39. Gone rock climbing. 40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person. 41. Sung Karaoke. 42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. 43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. 44. Visited Africa. 45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. 46. Been transported in an ambulance. 47. Had your portrait painted. 48. Gone deep sea fishing. 49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. 52. Kissed in the rain. 53. Played in the mud. 54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. 55. Been in a movie. 56. Visited the Great Wall of China. 57. Started a business. 58. Taken a martial arts class 59. Visited Russia. 60. Served at a soup kitchen. 61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. 62. Gone whale watching. (I still get green thinking about it.) 63. Gotten flowers for no reason. 64. Donated blood. 65. Gone sky diving. 66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. 67. Bounced a cheque. 68. Flown in a helicopter. 69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. 70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. 71. Eaten Caviar. 72. Pieced a quilt. 73. Stood in Times Square. 74. Toured the Everglades. 75. Been fired from a job. 77. Broken a bone. 78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. 80. Published a book. 81. Visited the Vatican. 82. Bought a brand new car. 83. Walked in Jerusalem. 84. Had your picture in the newspaper. 85. Read the entire Bible. 86. Visited the White House. 87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. 88. Had chickenpox. 89. Saved someone’s life. 90. Sat on a jury. 91. Met someone famous. 92. Joined a book club. 93. Lost a loved one. 94. Had a baby. 95. Seen the Alamo in person. 96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. 97. Been involved in a law suit. 98. Owned a cell phone. 99. Been stung by a bee.
I am so excited. My parents received a trip to Ireland for a gift from one of my sisters. WOW!
Why does this excite me?
I have two reasons.
1. My mom has never been to Ireland. She's a 100% Irish and an Irish citizen through birth. Her mom was born and raised there and her father was raised there. So, I am truly excited for her to see and experience the beauty of Ireland.
2. Genealogy!!!! Oh boy, do I have places that I want mom and dad to get to, take pictures of, and hopefully get some more info for the family tree.
My wish is half fulfilled already. My mom asked where the family cemetery is in County Clare. Yippee! Can anyone believe that I've never been to it? In fact, I opted out when my grandmother took me to Ireland. I stayed in the field to help with the hay while she walked up to the cemetery. Why? Well, at the time I was young and cemeteries creeped me out. Now I have a shot of some great photos.
The other part of this wish is for my parents to get up into County Longford to discover any links to our Degnan ancestors. I have the ship record and naturalization papers for Patrick Degnan from County Longford. I don't have any other information about him. His parents were Patrick Degnan and Mary Riley. The Tithe records show that there were Degnan's in the northern part of County Longford. I'm really wishing upon a star that my parents can do some quick investigative work while they are there.
Either way, I'm very happy that they are going. My dad was only there once in 1981 and that was waaaaaay before I had all his family information. He's going back knowing his ancestors names and where to find them. My mom is getting to see the land where her mom was from and both parents grew up in. She's already met some of her cousins when they came to America in 1996, 1999 and in April 2001. Now she will get to meet them all and see the house where her mom was born.
Of course there is only one problem, my mom will have to survive the plane!!!! LOL
She hates flying and that's a long flight for mom. Maybe she can shop on the plane. It may just save her if she can shop.
Colleen at CMJ Office
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