Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So Many Ancestors

So many ancestors, so little time!

This month’s “Carnival of Genealogy” topic is to pick four ancestors with whom to have dinner.

If you could have dinner with four of your ancestors who would they be and why?Would you have dinner in the present day or in one of their eras? Would you dine out or opt for a home cooked meal? What would you discuss at the dinner table? What would you most like to share with them about your life?

Hmmmm. I think I would have dinner in the eras of my ancestors to give me a taste of yesterday. Dessert, however, would be in current times so I could give them a taste of today. I would have a home-cooked meal; preferably one the ancestor cooks! Not because I don’t want to bother (sometimes I almost like to cook), but because even as a very finicky eater I think it would be fascinating to eat what they ate. Besides, I’m really not a fan of eating out. Some of what we discuss would be about questions I have about them and/or their family. Some would be about their lifestyles, their hobbies, their work.

One ancestor I would like to eat with is Margaret (DOYLE) CONROY (1867-1948). She is the one that has been elusive in the 1880 U.S. Census. She would have been 13 in 1880. She is not listed with her family, William and Mary DOYLE, and children John (my great-grandfather), Peter, James, Mary Ann, and William. I couldn’t find her among neighbors, either. I would ask her where she was in 1880 first thing. With my luck, the answer would be as simple as “at home. I guess someone forgot to list me”. During dessert, in modern times, I would also ask her if she ever found out how her young sons died around 1904. The story goes that one son, Albert, of Margaret (DOYLE) and Thomas CONROY died. They took him back to PA to bury him. When they returned to NYC they found their other son, William, dead. Was it Smallpox? I would hold this question until dessert during modern times because I figure that by now, 104 years after her children’s deaths and 60 years after being reunited with them, she’d be okay to talk about it. In the picture below, Margaret is at the left, in the darker dress. She's standing next to her sisters, Mary Ann, Alice and Johanna. Another ancestor I’d share a meal with is my great-grandfather on my mother’s paternal line, James O’ROURKE (1876-1944). As I’ve shared in several posts, my first question for him would be “Who the hell are your parents?”. Honestly I don’t know of any other specific questions I’d have for him. I guess I’d just converse about the times. Oh wait! I’d also ask where his forbearers lived in Ireland.
I think the next ancestor I’d choose would be Mary (GRIFFIN) McHUGH, my father’s paternal grandmother (1867 – 195?). I’d ask about her birthplace, her parents’ identities and location in Ireland, and through what port they entered. My dad had a story in his head that her family emigrated to Canada, and dad’s paternal grandfather, Dennnis McHUGH, followed them there to take Mary away to the U.S. to marry. Alas, Census records show that Mary likely immigrated to the U.S. at about age 8 and Dennis around age 15. Of course, another Census year states age 19 for Mary (immigration year 1886) and around age 29 for Dennis(1896 immigration year). This information is almost certainly incorrect, however, given that their first born son Patrick was born in PA in 1887.
Finally, the last ancestor I’d dine with is my father’s maternal grandmother Justina (NAHODIL sp?) HODICK (1875-1950). First thing I’d ask her is the correct spelling of her maiden name. It was always thought to be NAUCHADILE; however, during my research it is more likely a version of NAHODIL / NAHADIL. It may have been both; perhaps they changed it when they immigrated. I’d ask her where she was born. A family Bible somewhere stated Fuenfkirchen, Austria, which *may* now be Pecs, Hungary (or it may not). Every census record I’ve found her in states Czechoslavakia. Below is Justina with her husband, my gr-grandfather, Edward(1867-1951).
With a little luck, each of the above ancestors would be able to answer questions about their spouses’ ancestors, too. I’d like to confirm the 1885 ship Pennland as the one on which Justina’s husband, my dad’s maternal grandfather, sailed with his family when they immigrated to the U.S. It likely is, as the ship’s manifest to the U.S. via St.Kitt’s matches what my dad recalled about the family having stopped in that part of the world before arriving in the States. Also, this ship’s manifest identified Austria as the HODICK family’s country of origin.

I’d like to confirm my maternal great-grandmother’s maiden name’s spelling as McCUE as opposed to McHUGH. I’d also like to know her birth name. Her marriage record states Jennie; family knew her as Jane. Perhaps it was Genevieve? Perhaps Margaret DOYLE would have known.

I know that someday, when I finally get around to ordering vital recores, many of these questions will be answered. But it sure was fun imagining I could get the answers directly from their mouths!

I said this before, and I’ll say it again:

So many ancestors, so little time.


Janice said...


I really enjoyed your list of dinner guests, but even more so the great photographs of each one.


Colleen said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures, and thank you for saying so. As I started reading some of the COGgers' posts, I was feeling more than a bit jealous, as I realized that I know precious little about my ancestors as "people". I don't have many stories that were passed down, and I think that's sad. But I do admit, I have some great pictures in my collection.

Lidian said...

What terrific photographs you put in tis post - which I loved reading too. You made me want to know more about your ancestors too.

Jewelgirl said...

I like the photos also. I also
like the red you've used on the
sidebar and the whole color scheme!