Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Fitzgerald Kids

In my last post I promised to share the information I found in the Ontario Roman Catholic Church Records, posted on FamilySearch, for the children of my maternal second great grandparents, Lewis and Ellen (nee Daley) Fitzgerald.

Canadian census records had provided me with the names of their nine children as they entered the family unit and eventually left the family, to strike out on their own or perhaps, through an early death. I have found no evidence of the deaths of these children with the exception of my great grandmother, Mary Jane Foley (nee Fitzgerald).

As previously posted, Lewis Fitzgerald married Ellen Daley at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Basilica in Toronto on 11 September 1856. Their marriage was recorded in the church's register by Father J. FitzHenry. Searching the subsequent Canadian decennial census records, starting in 1861, produces a list of nine children however with the exception of the 1901 census, the records for 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891 only provide an age and place of birth, not an exact date of birth.

In 1861, the Lewis and Ellen Fitzgerald household included three children. In 1871, the household included six children however the eldest child, Mary Rebecca, listed in 1861 was no longer present. The census records for 1881 provide the most complete family picture as eight children are present in the household with again the eldest, Rebecca as she was known, the only child missing. By 1891, the there were only five children living at home in the household and by 1901, only Alice, the youngest of the Fitzgerald children was part of the household.

This is where the church records came an important role, especially as civil registration had not yet been instituted. These records helped provide exact birth dates and verification that there were no other children who may have been born after a census was taken and died before the following census.

The baptismal records of St. Paul's Basilica provide the following names and dates for the Fitzgerald 'kids':

1. Mary Rebecca Fitzgerald, born 14 November 1857
2. Margaret Fitzgerald, born 25 April 1859
3. Anne Fitzgerald. born 23 December 1860
4. Ellen Fitzgerald, born 20 May 1862
5. Mary Jane Fitzgerald, born 22 May 1864
6. Elizabeth Fitzgerald, born 11 February 1866
7. Catherine Fitzgerald, born 28 September 1868
8. Lewis Albert Fitzgerald, born 16 August 1872
9. Alice Caroline Fitzgerald, born 29 December 1874

At least five of the Fitzgerald daughters married. In addition to Mary Rebecca whom I suspect died at an early age, I have found no record that suggests Margaret or Elizabeth married. Similarly, I have found no record indicating that Lewis Albert married.

Mary Jane Fitzgerald married John Foley on 25 April 1894 in St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, the marriage event entered into the church register by Father William Bergen. Although I don't yet have many of the details, I have been contacted by a local Toronto historian who has informed me that Lewis Fitzgerald was one of the founding members and contributors to St. Joseph's Church which is located in what is now the east end of the city of Toronto, in an area known as Leslieville.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Digging in Church Records

I have had a difficult time tracing my maternal Irish ancestry back more than about 150 years and feeling confident that I was closely approaching having all of the information that would help propel me further. Census records provided snapshots of the family unit at points in time but my information was too vague for my liking.

My great great grandfather, Lewis Fitzgerald and his family are a good case in point. The following AHNENTAFEL list shows my ancestral connection to Lewis and his wife Ellen Daley.

1. Ian Gerald Hadden

2. Lewis John Hadden
3. Anne Margaret O'Neill

6. John Graham O'Neill
7. Gertrude Ellen Foley

14. John Foley
15. Mary Jane Fitzgerald

30. Lewis Fitzgerald
31. Ellen Daley

I was aware that Lewis and Ellen Fitzgerald had nine children, including my great grandmother Mary Jane Fitzgerald, but most of the children were born "about" a given year in my database. This is where the "Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records" on have been of great assistance.

These records are not indexed but are available in image form. Fortunately, the record group is divided by city or town in Ontario and then by church name. Beyond that help, I needed to examine each page of each church register looking for the members of the Fitzgerald family. It was tedious and, it was time-consuming but it was worth the effort. Register pages containing records involving my Fitzgerald ancestors were saved easily as JPEG files on my computer with a simple single mouse click using the helpful 'Save' feature.

Above is the register entry for the marriage of Lewis (spelled Luis in the registry) Fitzgerald and Ellen Daley (spelled Daly in the registry). The marriage took place on September 11, 1856 at St. Paul's Basilica which is located on Power Street in Toronto, Ontario. The priest who officiated at the marriage and signed the register was Father J. FitzHenry and the witnesses to the marriage were William McDonald and Briget (spelling is as it appears in the registry) Sexton. I don't know who these witnesses were but assuming that they were close friends of my great grandparents, I now have a clue for further research. Most interesting to me was the appearance in any record about Ellen Daley that I have found of a location in Ireland for further research. Typically, census records would list her birthplace as Ireland but this church record states that she was from County Clare. Wishful thinking has me wanting to believe that there was only one Daley family in County Clare but how likely is that to be true?

In my next post, the Fitzgerald 'kids.'

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