Monday, February 1, 2016

William J. McCleery

 Family History Challenge -January

William J. McCleery 

My fourth great grandfather, William J. McCleery fits the bill for infamous ancestor, at least in our family. In fact, when my grandmother told me there were a few things in particular she wanted to figure out in her family tree, one of them was to learn the whole story of what happened to William McCleery. All she knew about him was that he had been MURDERED!

William McCleery was born in Broughshane, County Antrim, Ireland in 1826. I went to Broughshane with my Mom, Grandma, Aunt, and two cousins a few years ago. It is a very small little village. But the neat part was that there was a thatched roof inn that had been there since the 1773, and since William was born in 1826, it stands to reason that he had been there before. I spent about ten minutes just walking around and putting my hands on the stone walls!

At 22, he left from Liverpool England and came to New York on a ship called the Chancellor. They landed on July 6, 1848.  Ship records list his occupation as laborer and show that he traveled with a relative named Henry. He moved to Bluffton and worked as a Shoemaker.  He married Julia Claspil in 1853 and had three children, William Jr., Mary Josephine (our grandmother) and Melissa.

On November 15, 1861 he enlisted in the Army to serve in the Civil War. He served in Company D in the Indiana 47th Infantry Regiment. This regiment traveled South from Indianapolis to New Orleans, Louisiana fighting in at least 11 Battles along the way. His regiment lost a total of 336 men during the war. William survived. He mustered out of the army on October 23 1865 and from Louisiana the Company headed home. They arrived in Indianapolis and were discharged to return to their homes on November 2, 1865.

We are lucky enough to have a letter that William McCleery sent home from the frontlines of the Civil War.  Below is the letter and the full transcript. William's military records give us a lot of information about him, for example his description: a fair complexion, grey eyes, sandy hair and 5 feet 9 inches tall.  For some reason it lists that he is born in Antrim, Md. instead of Antrim, Ireland. We don't know if this was intentional or just a miscommunication.




Transcript of the Letter: 
Algears, Louisiana,  January 5, 1864

Dear Wife, 
I sit down to inform you that I am in good health at present, hoping these few lines may find you all well. I have not received any letters from you for some time. Since we have been here, the weather has been very wet and disagreeable and sometimes very cold. It is full muddy here. We have got new tents, they are wedge tents, five in each tent. The 34 regiment has gone to Texas sometime ago and six companies of the 46 Indiana went on the same boat. The 29 is getting on a boat today going to Texas, those regiments belong to our division. I expect we will go before long there is nothing new here to write.  

Our regiment is enlisting in the vetron service, if they get three/fourths of the regiment to join they will be mustered out and in again in a few days and they will get a furla to your home for thirty days. I do not know whether they can get enough to enlist or not. I expect you have heard about the bounty we get. We get four hundred and two dollars bounty.  I have not sined my name yet, if I thought you would be willing I would enlist again for three years more. I don’t think this war can last more than one year longer.  

January 8th- I commenced this letter three days ago and did not finish it till today. I can give you a little more news now our regiment has went into the vetron service and I have went in to. We was sworn in today we will be home some time between this and spring we will get to stay 30 days in the state. Now I don’t want you to think hard of me for enlisting again, I have done it for the best for both you and me I think the war can not last much longer than a year so I think I will not have much longer to stay than the first enlistment and will make four hundred dollars in the operation. I think every thing will be fixed up in a few days I think we will get payed all the back pay and the old bounty and seventy five of the new bounty when we are mustered in and that will be soon. I wrote to you some time ago about some money that is coming to you in Wabash. All the soldiers wifs gets money from the bounty. I expect you have got the letter before this time all the men that do not enlist in the vetron service will be transfared to some other regiment. I will close for this time. Write Soon. I still remain yours to death

William J. McCleery

According to the military records William was missing without leave in July/August of 1863, but on the Sep/Oct muster roll card he has returned and is returned with full pay and allowances. He is not punished at all and is still promoted to Corporal. This leads me to believe that he had good cause. In early July, his regiment took part in the Siege of Jackson Mississippi. In the aftermath of the battle 800 union soldiers were wounded and 100 were missing. I believe he may have been one of those men and that led to his delay in meeting up with his regiment. 

No more is known of William McCleery's life until he was tragically murdered in the Empire Saloon on July 25, 1870 by a neighbor named James Gillen. 

The court records from the case no longer exist, but many news articles were written on the case. We aren't totally sure what started the disagreement, but we know that William verbally insulted James Gillen and his wife. James fumed about these insults and decided to do something about them. He asked a friend to borrow his gun and the friend refused, he later went to another friend and told this friend that he wanted to go hunting, he was given the gun.  He and William met later at the Empire Saloon, William asked the bar man for a drink of water and James Gillen confronted him, words were exchanged and then James fatally shot William in the chest.

Below is the news story of his death:

I have struggled to find news coverage of the trial. I did find a lengthy piece in the Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, it does lay out the cases, but it doesn't quite tell me everything I want to know. One portion in particular strikes me as interesting though, and makes me keep searching for coverage in other newspapers. 

From: November 26th 1870 FW Daily Gazette
Continuation of the McCleery-Gillen Trial

"The great murder trial now in progress at this place continues, and the interest does not abate in the least, although it has now occupied the interest of the court, (Judge Tously on the bench), ever since last Tuesday week. During the evening session from 7 until 9 the courtroom is crowded to repletion. Among the audience we notice most of the leading ladies of the town. The council for the defense fight every step taken and the prosecution is wary and watchful."

James Gillen was sentenced to only 12 years for the murder of my 4x Great Grandpa. The article says ten, but other documents including his pardon application said it was 12. While I was profoundly relieved that he hadn't been executed, I was shocked by the short sentence. I found an interesting op-ed by someone who was frustrated by the defense's strategy of using "impulsive insanity" as a reasonable cause for the crime.

I have been so lucky to find this much information. but still I want to know more, and I keep looking for more details. I also plan to apply to have his tombstone restored, here is what is left of it. I hope I can have it restored and rededicated very soon. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Francis Bailey

Francis Bailey

I don't know too much more about Francis Bailey other than that he served in the Civil War in the 152nd Indiana Infantry Co. H.  This company was organized toward the end of the war mustering in March 1865 and mustering out August 1865. I don't know anything of particular note about his service thus far in my research. 

The next piece of information I have is the article that told of Francis Bailey's very horrible death. 

** Viewer Discretion Advised**

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, July 29, 1869, pg 4

For me, when I found this article, it was one of those moments when I have had an unexpected, visceral, and emotional reaction to a family history discovery. The details of Francis' death were so horrific and must have been so devastating to his family that this article stayed with me for days afterwards. I couldn't stop thinking about what a horrible realization this would have been for Josephine.  

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, July 30, 1869, pg. 4

In an incredible twist of fate, his son, my 3rd great grandfather, August Bailey was also killed by a train, although the circumstances of that tragedy were very different and that is a story for another day. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hanorah O'Donnell Garrity

Hanorah O'Donnell Garrity

I have noticed that I have developed a certain fondness for the family members that gave me the most trouble (in terms of finding them and their stories), this is the case with my 4th great grandmother Hanorah O'Donnell Garrity*.

When I saw that the theme was your favorite Irish ancestor I knew I had to be Hanorah (obviously week 11 was supposed to cover St. Patrick's Day, so I'm still behind).

Tracking down Hanorah and her family was a challenge. Her daughter Lizzie and August's (my 3rd great grandparents') sacramental marriage record listed her parents as John and Anna Gariety and death record listed them as Patrick Gerrity and Katherine O'Donnell.  This was very confusing. I had know idea which was right. It turns out that neither were completely accurate. The best clue that I had was a list of siblings in Lizzie's obituary: Mary Engle, Sarah Wright, Jennie Davitt, Catherine Hennessy, and Joseph Fitzpatrick. The presence of a brother whose last name wasn't Garrity let me know that at some point her mother must have gotten remarried and some of these siblings were half siblings. I began looking for marriage, census and death records that include these siblings. This is how I was able to confirm the family members and timeline for Lizzie's family. Normally I have not collected death records for all siblings in a family, just for my direct ancestors, however, because Lizzie's mother was listed as Honor, Hannah, Anna, Nora, and Hanorah, it was necessary to collect all documents to make sure I was finding the right person. 

I found the above from Roots Ireland. Other than the name spellings, 
all other details are as they should be to match up with 
what I know about Hanorah and Patrick Garrity.

According to the South Mayo Family Research Center, Patrick and Hanorah's wedding would have taken place at the parish church, a picture of the church that was there at the time of their marriage is above. The picture is from circa 1900. The church is no longer there, a new church was built on the site. 


The census record above on the left is Patrick and Hannah Garrity with their children, including Lizzie in 1860. The one on the right is Patrick and Hannah Fitzpatrick in 1870 with Hannah's children from Patrick Garrity and their children together. Hanorah and Patrick Fitzpatrick were married in May of 1862, so Patrick Garrity likely died sometime in 1860 or 1861.  

There is still a lot more I'd like to learn about Hanorah and Patrick Garrity. I have no idea how Patrick died, leaving Hanorah with 5 children and I don't know much about her life with second husband Patrick Fitzpatrick except that they had 3 more children together. 

Hanorah passed away on April 17, 1918 from Lobar Pneumonia. She was living with her daughter Sarah (Sadie) Wright in Indianapolis. She was buried in Muncie, Indiana at Beech Grove Cemetery.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Octave Archambeault

Octave Archambeault

The theme for this week was stormy weather and it reminded me of an interesting little article I found in several regional papers regarding a storm weathered by my third great grandfather, Octave Archambeault.

I don't know much about the ins and outs of Octave's life, I haven't "gotten around" to him yet, at least not a deep dive. I have the basic information, I feel like sometimes I get out as far as I can on a line and then dig in deep further back in the past working my way back to my generation, but that means I haven't really dug into the 2nd and 3rd great grandparents as much.

Anyway, I know that he was the son of French-Canadian immigrants (he being also descended from Jacques Archambault), and that he married a women named Ida McWilliams and settled in a little town called Argos, Indiana. He and his wife had 8 children that I am aware of, my 2nd great grandma Lillian among them.

Octave and Ida, presumably with Lillian and Violet

Left to Right, Margaret, Clarence, Ida, Jack, Lillian, Melvin, Virginia, Octave, and Violet

While searching for Octave in newspapers, I came across this little article that I found interesting. I spend so much time looking for records of the basic life events, but when I find anything out of the ordinary it really sticks with me, even if its something small or mundane or even if its a little unfortunate I still feel lucky to have gotten a little bit of insight into their lives and what happened to them beyond birth, marriage, kids, death. That's how I feel about this little article about Octave Archambeault's farm and a storm...

The Kokomo Tribune, May 29 1947, Pg 13

Octave lived a good long life dying in 1970 at the age of 93. He left behind a large family...76 great grandchildren.... I would love to figure out how many great great great grandchildren he has....
This was emailed to me and I'm not sure what the source is. I imagine it is from the Plymouth paper. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mary "Mamie" Bailey

Mary "Mamie" Bailey

The theme for Week 9 was "close to home." I knew immediately that I was going to pick Mary "Mamie" Bailey. my 2nd great grand aunt, for this week's story. The explanation said: "Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits “close to home”?

I have to preface this by saying that nothing like Aunt Mamie's story has ever happened to me. But when I came upon (and as I got to the bottom of) Aunt Mamie's story... my heart was broken for her. As a mother, I couldn't imagine this event playing out in my own life.

Without further delay... here is her story.

My 2nd great grandfather William Bailey had three siblings, one was an older sister named Mary, who went by Mamie for most of her life. Mamie often threw parties for her friends and both William and Harry (the youngest) are also listed in attendance. In some parties, Melissa Noll (William's future wife and therefore my 2nd great grandmother) and her sister Gertrude are listed as guests too. 

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, 30 December 1905, page 6

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, 31 January 1906, page 7

I came across these articles while looking for articles that had either William  Bailey or Melissa Noll (my aforementioned 2x great grandparents). I first became aware that there had been a relationship between Aunt Mamie and Lawrence Hirchfelder, the honoree of the birthday party above when I found the following articles. 

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, 2 July 1906, page 8

The Ft. Wayne Daily News, 30 June 1906, page 2

The Ft. Wayne Sentinel, 30 June 1906, page 2

I was able to find the court records regarding this suit filed by Aunt Mamie against Lawrence Hirschfelder. Aunt Mamie did become pregnant with a child from her relationship with Lawrence Hirschfelder. She brought suit against Lawrence for the maintenance of the child. Tragically the baby passed away and Mamie changed her suit to one asking for help with the expenses that she had born for the child's delivery, care, funeral and burial. 

While she asked for $1000, she was awarded $300 by the courts. Their child, named Harry Leonard was born on October 1, 1906. I have not been able to determine what was wrong with little Harry Leonard, although I suspect that he may have been somewhat premature. In any case, court documents describe him as a delicate child in ill health and he passes away on November 19, 1906. His funeral took place a St. Mary's Catholic Church in Ft. Wayne, according to their records he is buried at Catholic Cemetery. Despite the fact that we are not direct descendants of Mamie, I feel compelled to tell her and little Harry Leonard's story. I had some pause at airing Aunt Mamie's dirty laundry on the blog, but I have so much respect for her, I think she was really brave and that her family must have been very supportive.  To speak out in 1906 and demand help to care for your child ... when good Catholic girls weren't supposed to get in that kind of trouble and when they did they were supposed to go to a girls home and give their baby away. She said I'm keeping my baby and I'm making the father help with expenses. I think she is remarkable. 

And little Harry has been in my thoughts often since I learned of him. He could so easily have slipped from history without being remarked upon or remembered.  He would have been my great Grandma Bea's first cousin and would have only been about 5 months older than she was, I probably would have known him. My grandmother, who knew Aunt Mamie had never heard the story. 

Aunt Mamie married a man named Charles Beekner, his name is also often listed among the guests at the parties she hosted. Mamie passed away in May in 1954, Her obituary makes no mention of Harry Leonard. 

J. George Noll

J. George Noll

The theme for Week 8 is generous ancestors or good land records story. I have been neglectful of investigating land records for my ancestors. I know that they can be a wealth of information and that I need to start exploring them more, I just haven't gotten around to them yet. I would like to think that I have generous ancestors, but I don't know any stories to illustrate this. 

I have decided to talk about my 4th great grandfather, J. George Noll because it appears that he was a well-respected member of his community. 

George Noll was born in Marborne, Germany in 1803.  I know that he came to America in 1834 thanks to this article published in the paper on the anniversary of 50 years in America published in the Fort Wayne Sentinel, 6 August 1884. 

I don't know much about George Noll. He and his wife Catherine were the parents of  four sons Martin, Alphonse, John (my 3rd great grandfather), and Frank. 

I choose George for this week's post because of the beautiful sentiments stated about him in his obituary. George Noll passed away on February 22, 1888 at the age of 85. I love that he was respected enough in his community for these things to be said about him. I know many obits are written by family but I am pretty sure this one was written by the paper itself. 

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, 22 February 1888, Page 4

Mr. Noll was a remarkable man...He enjoyed excellent health and not for a day was his vitality impaired...He was highly respected and was widely known among the old settlers of Fort Wayne and the county. His honorable life and stainless name won for him the esteem and good will of all his friends and acquaintances...The Sentinel feels sure the sympathy of the community will go out to them in their sore affliction. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

August Bailey: Love is Complicated...

August Bailey: Love is Complicated...

My 3rd great grandfather August Bailey has a LOT of stories to be told, I might have to select him again to tell some of his other stories. But for now , going off week 7's theme of LOVE, I'm going to talk a little about his complicated relationship with his wife Lizzie Garrity. 

August and Lizzie "Garrity" Bailey were married in November, 1880. In June of that year, in the 1880 Census. Lizzie "Garrity" is listed as a servant in the home of John Bryant. John Bryant was the widower of August Bailey's sister, Mary Jennie (Jane) Bailey. At the same time that Lizzie is living in the Bryant home as a servant, another of August's sisters, Josephine is also listed as living in the home and is identified as John Bryant's sister in law. John and Jane had small children, and it is logical that one of the Bailey sisters would have gone to help him take care of the children. It is impossible to know whether or not Lizzie got the job in the Bryant household because she and August were already courting, or if she had been working in the household, and met August through Josephine and John. It is neat to see this connection between them before they were married though, so often a marriage license is the first connection you can find. 

1880 Census

Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, Tue, Jan 27, 1880, Page 4

August and Lizzie's Wedding License

August and Lizzie had 4 children together: Mary, William, Harry and Edward. Our ancestor was William, whose little brother Harry was 14 pounds at the time of his birth. Did you catch that.... FOURTEEN POUNDS... in 1887!!!!!  The happy occasion of Harry's birth was noted in the paper (below).  

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Tue, Nov 1, 1887, Page 1.

August and Lizzie's marriage was not without its struggles.The 1890 census is unavailable so we can't check in on what the family was up to in 1890, however, in the 1900 census Lizzie and the children are living on their own and Lizzie is listed as the head of the household. At the same time, August is listed in another household as a boarder. This was very strange to me until I found a few news articles that indicated that August and Lizzie were separated.

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 5 Feb 1893,  Page 8.

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 18 Feb 1893,  Page 8.

A divorce never followed the separation and the suit for spousal support, at some point between the 1900 Census and an article published in 1906, August and Elizabeth got back together, although the article mistakenly calls August "William".  They are also together in the 1910 Census, which shows the length of there marriage as 30 years. 

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, 5 Nov 1906, Page 6

1910 Census

A few years later August dies tragically in a train crash.... that is a story for another time. However, after August and Elizabeth's complicated relationship. I found a line in this article regarding August's death particularly moving. 

His wife is prostrated over his death....

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jacques Archambault

Jacques Archambault

The week 6 theme for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is farthest away.  I decided to interpret that as farthest back in time. For me, at least at this moment, that is my 11th great grandfather Jacques Archambault (1604-1688). Lucky for me there is a LOT of information out there about this ancestor; in fact there is an entire genealogical society devoted to him, his legacy, and connecting his descendants: Les Archambault d'Amerique, to which I have just mailed my membership form and fee. If you are interested I recommend you check them out.

Jacques Archambault was born in France in 1604, in a small village called L'Ardilliere, his baptism took place at what is now called Dompierre-sur-Mer.
Presumably the house of Jacques Archambault's birth
Photo by Gerard Archambault 

In France, it appears that Jacques was a wine grower, based on a contract found that shows him selling three barrels of white wine to a local wine merchant. 1  I have not found strong evidence as to why Jacques Archambault left France with his entire family, I thought it was unusual for whole families to make the move to New France. In most accounts of the family history it is suggested that he was recruited by Pierre le Gardeur de Repentigny, a man that was from Jacques' region of France, and while there were many ways to be recruited at the time I think the following passage lines up exactly with the circumstances of the Archambault family and the man that recruited them:

Those who wished to settle people on a seigneurie, had to recruit on a larger scale. However, although they didn’t dismiss the large ports, the first seigneurs of Acadia and Canada often took a more local approach. Their own regions of origin supplied a considerable number of recruits. Because they needed to develop their land, they tried to enroll whole families and country folk from their home regions. For this reason, the seigneurs, including religious communities, were responsible for recruiting a large proportion of the founding immigrants.2

It seems likely that this scenario applied to the Archambaults and Repentigny as they held a lease for settling some of his land. Some accounts also suggested that perhaps religious tensions in the area made the idea of starting anew in the colonies more appealing.

So much has been written about Jacques Archambault and his family that it feels like I'd be reinventing the wheel to try to recreate it all. I'm going to jot down a few highlights and include links to resources I found help for or interesting for those who are interested in more info.

Jacques and his wife, Francoise, had seven children, Denys, Anne, Jacquette, Marie, Louise, Laurent, and Marie-Anne, Louise died in France, but the rest of the family made the journey. I am descended from Laurent Archambault. He and his wife Catherine had 12 children.

About 1654 Jacques moves from Quebec to Montreal, it is here that he makes a name for himself by digging the first well in Montreal. There are contracts of other wells he built in the community after this first one.
Near Here, on La Place D'Armes, Jacques Archambault, only Ancestor of the
 Archambault's of America, dug in 1658 the first well on the Island of 
Montreal at the request of the Governor, Monsieur de Maisonneuve. 

Here are some articles that give more detail about his life: 

There are even more resources than this. These are the ones that I find the most interesting.  In February of 1688 Jacques Archambault passed away. He had spent 22 years of his life helping to build the colony of New France; he was 84 years old and had 52 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren at the time of his death.

Common Drawing said to be the likeness of Jacques Archambault. 
Source:Laforest, Thomas J. Our French Canadian Ancestors.

1. Laforest, Thomas J. Our French Canadian Ancestors.
2. Choquette, Leslie Ph.D., Assumption College (MA)