Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hugh Mathew Ryan and Mary Ellen McInerney

Hugh Mathew Ryan was the first member of our clan to settle in the United States.  I was able to locate two references to his immigration to the United States.

According to this record, Hugh arrived in the port of New York by way of Liverpool on May 2, 1849 -- just after the height of the Potato Famine.  He sailed on the ship Constitution.  I am not sure if he was the first member of his family to arrive here, but he is listed in the 1850 Census in Pigeon Twsp,, Vanderburgh Co., Indiana.  This township is part of present-day Evansville, IN.  The Census also includes a reference to 14 year-old Mary Ryan living in the same residence.  I've always assumed that Mary was his younger sister.  The Census, completed in August, states that Hugh is 24 years old and that he is employed as a "brickmaker".

Today I found an 1850 Census document for Mary Ellen and her family.  It had alluded me before because of how McInerney was spelled. As so often happens in genealogy,I discovered that some of the assumptions I had about when she came to the United States were wrong.  The first three children of Matthew and Margaret were born in England.  The next three were born in Pennsylvania.  The remaining children were born in Indiana.  Later census documents showed that they had two additional children for a total of 11. Since Mary (Ellen) was born in England abt.1830 and the next child was born in Pennsylvania in 1833, we can conclude the family emigrated in the early 1830s.

Matthew Mcinnery
Age: 52
Estimated birth year: abt 1798
Birth Place: Ireland
Gender: Male
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Pigeon Ward 6, Vanderburgh, Indiana
Family Number: 154
Household Members:
Name Age
Matthew Mcinnery 52
Margarette Mcinnery 45
Lawrence Mcinnery 25
Michel Mcinnery 23
Mary Mcinnery 18
Matthew Mcinnery 17
Bertholomew Mcinnery 13
Johanna Mcinnery 10
John Mcinnery 7
James Mcinnery 5
Thomas R Mcinnery 3
Ellen Mcguire 80
Martin Muhler 32
Laurence Link 26
Anthony Porthouse 19
John Murphy 20
Henry Garvin 22

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Pigeon Ward 6, Vanderburgh, Indiana; Roll  M432_176; Page: 375B; Image: 283.

A couple of other interesting facts emerged.  Every one of the men in this household over the age of 17, with the exception of the father, was employed as a brickmaker.  That was the occupation also listed for Hugh Ryan and is probably partially responsible for how the young couple met.  I cannot decipher the occupation of the father, but he had assets of $4000 -- a good amount of assets for that time period.  I think it is possible that Ellen McGuire is Mary Ellen's grandmother.  Seventeen people comprised this one household.

I am not sure what attraction Evansville, IN had for these new immigrants, but I know that there was an Irish Catholic community in Evansville and that the 1850 Census listed eight Ryans.

One of the joys of my search for Ryan roots was locating a copy of the Marriage License for Hugh and Mary Ellen.   Since they got married on May 4, 1852, I was able to determine that my Irish ancestry in this country begins with them.  The Church record of the marriage lists Patrick and Mary Ryan as witnesses.  I know Mary was Hugh's younger sister, at least they shared a residence, but who was Patrick?

I was able to contact the Diocese of Evansville in an effort to identify marriage and baptismal records for Hugh, Mary Ellen and several of their children.  They were very helpful.  I asked them to identify what church in the Evansville area served the Irish Catholic population.  I was told that it was most likely Assumption Church and a check of their records bore that out.  Here is a picture of the church, which at one time served as a cathedral.  Unfortunately, it was torn down to make room for the Evansville Civic Center.

So who were these people?  What do we know?  How did they support themselves? Did America live up to its reputation as "The Promised Land"?  Let's explore together.


We know "our" Ryans came from Pallasgrean.  If you want to "google" it, you will find that it has several spellings.  The most common variations are Pallasgreen, Pallas Grean (with a space between the two parts of the name) and Pailís Ghréine in Gaelic.  Wikipedia describes the town this way:
Pallasgreen or Pallas Grean (Irish: Pailís Ghréine) is a village in East County Limerick, situated on the LimerickTipperary N24 road. The name means "the Stockade of Grian," referring to an ancient Irish Goddess of Love, who is associated with the a nearby hill of Nicker.
The town currently has a population of less than 400 people.  It shares a border with County Tipperary.  I think it is safe to say that the population of this community in the 1850s suffered greatly from the effects of the Potato Famine.  I was able to acquire a copy of a local history called Pallasgrean in the 1920s by Michael O'Dwyer -- the town historian who died in 2002. Even in 1920  Pallasgrean was grim.  There seemed to be more than a little bit of drinking in Pallasgrean.  He included a picture of the Village Pub.

Of course, today Pallasgrean looks like a quaint, modern town with up-to-date amenities. You can get a feel for the village by checking out the town's website: http://www.pallasgreen.com

If Bill and I actually get there in the fall, we will add some current pictures to this post.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Setting the Scene

When my mind's eye visualizes Ireland, a place I hope to visit in the next year, I think of lots of green, rocky shorelines, and pastoral farmlands -- often with sheep dotting the landscape. Everyone I know who has been there cannot stop talking about the beauty of the place. My daughter told me when she traveled there that she had this immediate sense that she was "home".  She said that she felt like she looked like the people, and they like her.  What could possibly have prompted our ancestors to leave such an idyllic place?  We all know the answer -- starvation is a great motivator.

Recently PBS aired a series called Faces of America moderated Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  He was profiling the Irish family history of Stephen Colbert.  Stephen Colbert's family came from County Limerick (as did ours). Click on this segment to find out about the Potato Famine:        A Very Sad Period in Irish History

The program went on to say that there was actually intentional starvation of the "paupers" of Co. Limerick.  Families were offered free passage to the United States, but only if the entire family agreed to be relocated.  The policy was a sort of Final Solution for the underclass. The book Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt depicts the depths of poverty experienced by many in our homeland.

We are fortunate in our family to have a family history.  The original was written by Hugh Mathew Ryan "for his wife, Mary Ellen Ryan (nee McInerny)".  I have found McInerney spelled with many variations in different sources. The copy I inherited from my mother has a handwritten note that says the history was copied by Hugh's daughter, Margaret, on November 30, 1884.

Some things are ambiguous.  For instance, the first line refers to "Hugh Mathew Ryan" and says that he died of old age on September 8th, 1855, in County Limerick, Ireland.  (Throughout these posts, I am going to take the liberty of correcting some of the obvious misspellings from the document I have).  Right underneath this statement, it discusses Mary Ellen Ryan, wife of Hugh M. Ryan, and says that she died on July 2nd, 1902.  It was actually July 3rd, 1903 in Cincinnati.  What I wouldn't have given if Hugh had included the name of his mother.

The next GREAT clue came from a notebook I inherited from Grandma Ryan. Her notebook has the best clue of all -- it says that Mr. Mathew Ryan died of old age Saturday, September 8, 1855 Seat of Parish of Green, Lemirick (sic) Co., Ireland.  Her spelling matches the spelling used in the original.  One of the interesting observations here is that the father is referred to as "Mathew" and not "Hugh Matthew".  Having the name of the small town is fantastic!

Her notebook goes on to discuss a Jeremiath (sic) Ryan, son of Mathew Ryan, who enlisted in 1855.  This seems to imply that Jeremiah is the brother of "our"  Hugh Matthew.

Luckily for genealogists, you can still get service records.  Here is the copy of the record for Jeremiah that totally supports Grandma's notes.

I thought I had it made.  I knew Hugh Mathew's name,  I thought his father's name was Mathew, I had the name of a probable brother, and I knew they came from Pallasgrean (multiple spellings) in Co. Limerick. My excitement was premature.  In the next post, I will tell you what I learned about Pallasgrean.

The All-American "Stew" or Hungarian Goulash

When I first started putting together this family history last spring, I had to make a decision about which of my mixed family lines I should address first.  It only made sense that since I was a Jones, I should start with  my paternal lines.  Besides -- they were an interesting group and I had a lot of information.  They were mainly English, with some Irish thrown in beginning with Norine and a little "Pennsylvania Dutch" compliments of Elizabeth Kinley (Alexander Jones' wife).  

From time to time one of my cousins on the "Ryan" side of the family would ask me when I was going to write something about the Irish.  My mother's sister, Evelyn, married a McCafferty.  Her brother, Jim, married a Cunningham.  I guess that definitely makes those two families more Irish than anything else -- but I love to needle Uncle Jim about his own mother's German roots.  Can you say "Vonderheide"?

I am fascinated by my all-American, Cincinnati mixed ancestry.  I actually believe it is a good thing to mix up the genes a little bit.  So I present to you Exhibit A -- my beautiful grandson -- Imre "Ian" Varga.  He is wearing his "Kiss Me I'm Irish" shirt.  I asked my daughter, Liz, if the people at his daycare have difficulty thinking of him as Irish.  (Ian's father, Imre "Roland", grew up in Venezuela and is of Hungarian descent). She told me that, in fact, the teachers refer to Ian as their "little Irish boy" because of his reddish-colored hair, bright blue eyes, and his clear preference for all things green (or "geen" as he pronounces it).

His name should be a dead give away that there is more to this story.  In fact, Ian's heritage is a mix of German, English, Irish, Swiss, Hungarian and Romanian -- and that's the ancestry we know about. Imre is a common Hungarian name and the name given to the first-born son of the first-born son for several generations in his father's family.   How about that for the "family of man"!

So my blog postings are going to go in a new direction.  I am going to begin discussing my maternal lines, beginning with the Irish.  It's an interesting story -- and one I am still working to unravel. Come along with me and share the trip.                                                                                                              

Don Kramer and Rosemary Breving - Through the Eyes of a Six Year Old

Once upon a fairy tale time, I got to play the role of princess.  My cousin, Rosemary, was dreaming of her wedding.  I remember being at her house on Kinmont and being shown a 8 1/2 x 11 picture of her "prince".  She told me that they were going to get married as soon as he got back from Korea.

As a kindergartner at the time, this is what I took away from that experience: (1) this was the first time I realized anything about war and that it took loved ones away from us, (2) this was the first time I had seen what "young love" looked and felt like -- especially the anticipation, and (3) I was going to get to be in the wedding.

I remember my dress. I remember a bridal shower we had at our home. During the shower, the "ladies" asked me to show them how I was going to walk down the aisle. That was probably the first time I realized how totally uncoordinated I was but I sure enjoyed being the center of attention. I remember a ride in a limousine with the rest of the bridal party to the reception in the Golf Manor Municipal Building.

It was a fairy tale -- and one of my earliest childhood memories that will stick with me forever. Don and Rose got married on April 23, 1955.  They will soon be celebrating their 55th Wedding Anniversary!  I'd say that's quite a milestone in anyone's book.  Note to Rose and Don -- you still have four more years before you can claim the 59 years of marriage that Pop and Norine enjoyed.  I'm looking forward to your 60th!

Don and Rose went on to become the parents of four children. Pictured are Donna, Mary Beth, Julie and John.  They are grandparents of eight -- five girls and three boys. What a great family -- and Happy Birthday, Rose!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Margaret Ann Jones and Anthony Scardina

Margaret Ann, the youngest of five children, was born on January 22, 1928.  She had to be a very welcome surprise.  Norine was 43 years old when she Margaret Ann arrived on the scene.  There was a gap of eight years between my Dad and his younger sister.  It is no wonder that she was treated like a princess.

When the cousins got together, Rose told us that until she came along, Margaret Ann was always dressed in either blue or white because she was "dedicated to the Blessed Virgin".  After Rosemary was born five years later, Margaret Ann was suddenly allowed to wear red.  The picture on the right is Margaret Ann as a flower girl in her big sister, Edith's, wedding.  I love her curly hair!

Margaret Ann was the apple of her father's eye.  Apparently, Margaret Ann was so used to being treated as a princess that as the flood waters were coming up and the rest of the family was trying to move items to the second floor, Margaret Ann had to be asked if she thought she could help.  I recently "extracted" this fuzzy picture from a video shot in 1957 -- the sentiment is clear even if the picture is not.

Margaret Ann was the beauty of the East End -- no doubt about it.  I'll have to find out from her children what the occasion was for this picture.

She caught the eye of the East End "hunk", Tony. (Note to Scardinas:  I know you've got some great pics of your Dad.  Send them to me so I can replace this one).

Several years ago my brother, Tim, was working with a company that was taking down homes that had suffered severely from yet another Ohio River flood.  The people of the East End are not exactly welcoming to "outsiders".  One of the neighbors was giving Tim a hard time until he found out that Tim's father grew up on Eastern Ave.  As they continued the conversation, Tim was surprised to find out that the house they were taking down was the boyhood home of Tony Scardina.
I recognize the three Brevings in this wedding picture, but I will wait for the Scardinas to help me identify all members of the wedding party.  What a handsome couple they made!

Tony worked as a delivery man for Ruebel's delivering bread to local stores and delis. Sue reminded me that he was also an avid golfer getting four hole-in-ones.  But most importantly, Tony was the father of five beautiful children.

Starting with Jeanne on the left and moving in a clockwise direction, Patty, Susan, Tony and Nan are pictured.

Patty loves to tell the story that whenever they visited "my branch" of the family, her mother would make us out to be the "perfect" family with everyone washing and drying the dishes, etc. without complaint.  We were always held up to them as the "model".  

As a member of that branch, however, I can tell you for sure that there is nothing like the Scardinas.  When Margaret Ann was on her own, blind, and needing assistance from her children, I was impressed to find out that all five kids took responsibility for her daily care by way of a schedule they would FAX to each other.  You can't be around the Scardinas without laughing.  They are a joyous bunch, filled with stories and a unique view of catering to their mother as they grew up (thinking that was the norm).  I'm so happy that social networks like facebook are now available making it possible for all of us to "reconnect".
I hope that this post is the beginning of the conversation about the Scardina branch of the Jones family.  For now, let me leave you with a picture of Margaret Ann in 1957 holding her newest pride and joy -- Nan.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Norine's Birthday

Norine Dailey Cronin Jones (my grandmother) was born on this day in 1884.  It was hard for me to even type 1884 as I realize that those 126 years include parts of the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries.  If Norine were alive, one thing we would know for sure -- she would not be drawing attention to her birthday and would be unwilling to reveal her age.

In anticipation of Norine's birthday, I was considering which picture to post on facebook in recognition of the event.  When I logged on this morning, there was a message from Rose Kramer:
Did you know that when we lived on Drakewood Dr in Oakley, Pop drove GAN to stay with me for the day and we would sew? At exactly 4pm he picked her up again. Her goal during lent was to make a garment a week which she accomplished easily. By then we had 3 Scardina girls and Mary Beth to sew for!!!!   Love you, Rosemary
That made choosing a picture simple.  Recently, Rosemary sent me a few additional pictures from her family collection.  I love this one which pictures Rose and Norine visiting Spring Mill State Park in Indiana in 1948.

I know the following picture is fuzzy.  I "extracted" it from a video taken in 1957 when the family came together to celebrate my First Communion.  Norine is toasting the occasion with a glass of wine.

Although the picture may not be clear, her happiness is.  So here is a toast to you, Norine, on your 126th!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Johnny Jones and Virginia Ryan

It's been a real adventure blogging about my Dad's siblings: Edith, Charlie (Bud), and Bob. Now I have the privilege of writing about my Dad and Mom -- Johnny and Ginnie.

Dad was the 4th child born to Fred and Norine. He was born on September 30, 1920 (at least that's what we always thought). His birth certificate says that he was born on September 20th, but his mother insists that it was a typo and she ought to know -- she was there. The family count was now one girl, and three boys.

Johnny was ten years younger than his older sister, Edith. I know how this can be as I am 10 years older than my brother, Dan.  The picture is cropped from the picture of "The Perfect Family" picture posted in an earlier posting.

 Dad attended school at Highland Elementary, right across the street from his home at 2424 Eastern Ave. (now Riverside Dr.).  My cousin, Fred Breving, told me that he remembers seeing water founts in the back of the school that were designated for "Colored" and "White".

I have no doubt that Dad loved growing up on the river.  We have that wonderful picture of him in his canoe that he would take out into the river and ride the wake of steamboats that passed by. He had to sell the canoe when he married our mother so that she could buy a sewing machine.

As a young man of his generation, Dad had to go to war.  He spent the war in England loading bombs onto planes.  He never really discussed much about the war, but England was constantly being bombed by the Germans during the war and the Allies returned the favor.  There must have been some lighter moments as one of the pictures that survived the war was one of Dad with two local dogs.
(I think we all inherited that gene).

In this picture, Dad is the one in the upper right hand corner.

Mom and Dad met after the war.  The Newman Club, a Catholic social club for college students, sponsored a boat ride on the Island Queen to Coney Island.  One of Dad's best friends, Bob Kroner, was the President of the organization and invited Dad to come.  Thus my non-Catholic father met my Catholic mother.

Mom and Dad dated and got married on January 24, 1948 at St. James Church in Wyoming.  It was cold and snowy that day in stark contrast to January 23, 1947 when Bob and Mary got married.  Mom and her sisters got married between January and June of 1948.  Her sister, Evelyn, actually got engaged first, but she felt that Mom, being the oldest sister, should be the first to get married.  It was a busy time for Virginia Ryan because she sewed all of the bridal and bridesmaids gowns for all three weddings.

Of this marriage were born seven children: Kath, Tom, Tim, Karen, Ted, Dan and Don.  Dad, whose primarily worked as an electrician at the Environmental Protection Agency, worked additional part-time jobs to support his family of nine.

We lost our father at the age of 57 to cancer.  Our mother married two more times -- first to Dick Godar who also died of cancer, and then to Frank Klug.  Cancer also took Mom shortly before her 72nd birthday.

We often reflect that our parents would be so proud of us.  They both believed in us and believed in education.  I could write an entire blog on my immediate family -- and perhaps eventually I will.  Just know that all of us were blessed and continue to be blessed by being born into this family.

To view of photoshow with pictures of our parents, go to: Johnny and Ginnie Photoshow