May 26 1877- Grandmother Mary Casey Sheehan is born

Ballaghavorraga (Ballymarket), County Waterford. Photo from Google Street View

One hundred and thirty six years ago today, on May 26 1877, Mary Casey was born in a little village called Ballaghavorraga (or Ballymarket) in County Waterford. Mary was the sixth child born to Michael and Anastasia (Morrissey) Casey. In 1891, at the age of just 14 years, Mary emigrated to the US, settling in the railroad village of Mechanicville NY, where she worked as a domestic servant in the home of a prominent factory owner.

Several members of the Casey, Powers and Sheehan families moved to Mechanicville in the following years, including, in 1901, Nicholas Sheehan. Mary and Nicholas were married in Mechanicville on May 21 1902. Their first child, Francis Patrick Sheehan, aka “Uncle Frank” was born in Mechanicville the following year. Shortly after that, the family moved to Worcester, where Nicholas’s brother Edward (“Uncle Ned”), and sister Bridget had settled.

Nicholas and Mary lived in Worcester until 1951 when they retired to Florida, along with their daughters May, Helen, and Kathleen. Mary died in Coral Gables Florida in 1962.

On this day, April 3, 1957

It was on this day in 1957 that Kathryn Jane (Farrar) Dunn, better known to me at least, as Nana Dunn, passed away. Nana was born in 1889 in East Providence, the daughter of Daniel and Catherine (Creegan) Farrar. Daniel was an iron moulder who had emigrated to Rhode Island from Leeds in Yorkshire, England, while Catherine was the daughter of Irish immigrants.

Nana worked as a piano tuner for toy pianos made in a Pawtucket factory until the company moved its operations to Winchendon. Nana moved there to work at the new company, Parker & Mason. It was while working in Winchendon that she met, and later married my Grandfather, Earl Dunn, the son of a Rindge NH blacksmith.

Nana’s obituary from the Worcester Telegram is in the Gallery section.

On this day November 29, part 2

The Family History Center in Worcester called this morning to let me know that some microfilms I’d ordered from Salt Lake City had arrived, so I stopped by on my lunch hour to see what I might find. One film contained death records, the other marriage records, both from East Providence. I located the death record for Catherine Creegan on one film, noted the information, and then looked at the marriage records on the other film. I was disappointed to discover that the records were in no particular order. I didn’t have time to go through them individually, so I decided to take a few minutes to just zip through the whole film, stopping at random to see if I’d get lucky.

I did.

On about the sixth or seventh try, the image on the screen was the marriage certificate of Daniel Farrar and Catherine (Creegan) Regan. As I’d deduced from going through the indexes on my last visit to the FHC, this was the second marriage for each of them. Daniel was 51, Catherine 31. (Daniel had three grown children by his first wife, Jane McKee, who died in 1866. Another son, Thomas, had died at the age of 23 just a few months before Daniel and Catherine’s marriage. Catherine and her first husband, Jeremiah Regan, had no children together. Jeremiah died in 1876).

The marriage record was a great help in fleshing out Daniel Farrar’s past. It reveals that he was born in Leeds, in Yorkshire, England, and that his parents were James and Harriet (Armitage) Farrar. That information led me pretty quickly to English census records detailing Daniel’s family. I also learned that Catherine’s mother’s maiden name was Hyland (maybe we’re related to the micro-brewers/apple growers in Sturbridge?!).
But the neat thing about the marriage record was the date: Daniel and Catherine were married on this day, November 29! And better yet, according to a perpetual calendar I checked online, November 29, 1883 was a Thursday- Thanksgiving Day!

On this day November 29

Today is the 338th anniversary of the death of John Cogswell, my ninth great-grandfather, in Ipswich. Cogswell was born in Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire, England. In 1635 he and his family emigrated to America aboard the Angel Gabriel, which wrecked on the shore at Pemaquid Point, Maine.

The Cogswells eventually made it to Ipswich, where the family prospered.

The Descendants of John Cogswell” has this account of his passing:

For several years Mr. Cogswell and family lived in the log-house with its thatched roof, while many of their goods remained stored in boxes, awaiting some better accommodations. It is said there were pieces of carved furniture, embroidered curtains, damask table linen, much silver plate; and that there was a Turkey carpet is well attested. As soon as practicable Mr. Cogswell put up a framed house. This stood a little back from the highway, and was approached by walks through grounds of shrubbery and flowers. There is an English shrub still, 1884, enjoying a thrifty life, which stands not far from the site of the old Cogswell manor. This shrub, tradition says, John Cogswell brought with him from England.

For some years after the completion of their new dwelling-house Mr. and Mrs. Cogswell lived to enjoy their pleasant home, surrounded by their children, well settled, some of them on farms near by, made of lands deeded to them by their now aged parents. The time came at length, after a life of change, adventure, and hardship, and Mr. Cogswell died at the age of seventy-seven years. The funeral service for John Cogswell was conducted by the Rev. William Hubbard, pastor in Ipswich and since known as ‘the Historian of New England’. The funeral procession traversed a distance of five miles to the place of burial, the Old North graveyard of the First Church. They moved under an escort of armed men, as a protection against the possible attack of Indians.

Mrs. Cogswell survived her husband but a few years. She was a woman of sterling qualities and dearly loved by all who knew her. Side by side in the old churchyard in Ipswich have slept for more than two hundred (now more than 300) years the mortal remains of this godly pair, whose childhood was passed near the banks of the river Avon; who, leaving behind the tender associations of the Old World, came with their children to aid in rearing on these shores a pure Christian state. They did greater work than they knew, died in the faith of the Gospel, and while their graves are unmarked by monument of stone, their souls are safe in heaven, their memory blessed, and their names honored by a posterity in numbers hardly second to that of Abraham.

On this day, November 25

Today is the 132d anniversary of the marriage of John W. Shields and Bridget Creegan in Providence. Bridget was the sister of Catherine Creegan, Mom and Uncle Bud’s maternal grandmother.

John Shields was born in Northern Ireland in about 1846. His family emigrated sometime around 1850, living in Woodstock, Connecticut before settling in North Providence by 1860. Bridget’s parents Philip and Catherine emigrated from Ireland, possibly between 1845 and 1850. A Philip and Catherine Cregan appear in the 1850 census, living in Providence, but I haven’t been able to find a record of the Cre(e)gans in the 1860 or 1870 censuses.

John and Bridget lived in East Providence after their wedding, where John worked as a carpenter, and where they raised six children. John was just 50 when he died in 1896, and Bridget just 58 when she passed away in 1913. Their daughter Isabelle was Mom’s “Aunt Belle”, who continued to live in the family’s home on Warren Ave. until her death in 1966.

On this Thanksgiving Day, November 22

Gale and I got married on Thanksgiving Day, so it’s sort of appropriate that today is the 258th anniversary of the marriage of Ebenezer Cogswell and Mary Burnham (my 5th great grandparents) in 1749, most probably in Ipswich. Mary was from Scarborough, Maine, and was descended from Thomas Burnham, one of the passengers on the Angel Gabriel, the ship that also brought the Cogswells to America in 1635. Ebenezer and Mary eventually moved to Paxton.

Through the wonders of Google, I inadvertently discovered exactly where in Paxton that was. Title examiner Harvey Schmidt operates a service that researches the history of old houses in Worcester County, including genealogical data on previous owners. His sample report just happens to be about 10 Black Hill Road, Paxton, and he identifies the first owner as “Ebenezer Cogswell: born 13 June 1720 in “Chebacco”—now Essex (before 1819 part of Ipswich), son of William & Mary Cogswell, died 17 November 1801 in Paxton”. (I note that he has a different date for the marriage, but the source isn’t specified, so I’ll stick with my date, which comes from “Cogswells in America”, the official history of the family).

Ebenezer was the first child of William and Mary (Cogswell) Cogswell. (Yes, they had the same surname, and yes, they were first cousins. The American taboo against cousins marrying didn’t come along until much later.) It was a big family, probably the most prolific family group in the tree so far: William and Mary had eight more children before Mary’s death in 1734. William then married Elizabeth Wainwright, and they had seven more children. Sadly, five died in infancy.

On this day, November 10

On November 10, 1879, Daniel Dunn married Mary McLaughlin Foley in Cambridge. It was the second marriage for both. Daniel had just finished serving three years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 1875 death of his first wife, Mary Ledwick Dunn, in Lowell. The second Mary Dunn also appears to have met a tragic end, dying in the 1914 Cambridge Almshouse fire.