Resolving the birth name of my great-great-grandmother Mary (1836-1892), wife of Martin Haigney, has played out like a tennis match in my brain for several years. Here’s the recap, in order of evidence uncovered:
First point: A death certificate for Mary’s second child, William (1867-1930), listed his parents’ names as Martin Haigney and Mary CARROLL. [NYC #1923, 27 January 1930].
Second point: The death certificate for Mary’s first child, my great-grandfather Joseph F. Haigney (1859-1938), listed his parents as Martin Haigney and Mary MAHON [NYC #19507, 10 October 1938].
The refs say: Oh, great. We can theorize away here. (Since William and Joseph were born eight years apart, was their father married twice, each time to a Mary?) But eventually it’s time to stop horsing around and look at the only actual evidence in hand: the death certificates. And both these Brooklyn death certificates, sad to say, are not examples of thoroughness.
The “informant” for Joseph’s is “Hospital Records.” There is no date of birth and his age is given only in years, with the “months” and “days” spaces left blank. (Way to go, guys.) Same situation on William’s age, although at least the informant was an actual person — his widow, Sarah.
But let’s assume that Joseph’s widow, Catherine, was the informant for the hospital records/death certificate. Which widow would likely know more about Joseph’s and William’s birth family in Watervliet, N.Y.? Sarah Haigney (nee Dowd) was born and bred in Brooklyn, according to census records. Catherine Haigney (nee Connors) was born in Watervliet, according to her elder son’s World War I draft registration card.
OK, advantage MAHON. (Assuming Catherine really was the ultimate informant. Sigh.)
Third point: Mary Haigney’s April 1892 obituary. Naturally, this does not provide a maiden name. (You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?) The point here is its inclusion in a database of death notices compiled by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society (TIGS) from files maintained by employees of the Burden Iron Company — a major employer for Troy and Watervliet. Did a family member work for Burden? There are no Haigneys listed in payroll records available in another TIGS database (including searches under many alternate spellings). No Mahons, either. But there are lots of Carrolls. Hmmm. On the third hand, there are quite a few McMahons.
The refs say: Advantage still MAHON. Where the heck did William’s widow get the idea that Mary was a Carroll?
Fourth point: Sometime after all of this, I acquired a copy of The List, a Haigney family fact sheet compiled by my father’s oldest sister, Catherine. Here, Martin Haigney’s wife is named Mary MAHON.
The refs say: This Catherine is Mary’s great-granddaughter, born in 1914, 22 years after Mary’s death. But she was a young adult when her grandfather Joseph was still alive. And the last of Mary’s children lived until 1964. Catherine’s informant surely was one of Mary’s own children. We can hope that at least one of them knew what her maiden name was. Advantage MAHON.
Color commentary: Shouldn’t I have put this issue to bed by this point? I guess I could have. But I hated that loose end embodied in William’s death certificate. If only I could get a piece of contemporary evidence, something from somebody in Mary’s own generation. Like her husband? Wouldn’t that be nice?
Fifth and final point: Contemporary evidence arrived on my doorstep just the other day in the form of Martin Haigney’s Civil War pension file. In affidavits submitted to the federal Bureau of Pensions in 1898, Martin asserted that his wife’s maiden name was Mary McMAHON. Ten years later, he submitted a similar affidavit saying Mary’s maiden name was MAHON.
The winner: MAHON. Hurray! Let’s tailgate. Do they tailgate at tennis matches?
Today’s NewsClip is the obituary of my paternal grandfather, Raymond F. Haigney. Raymond’s sudden and early death from a heart attack removed him from the family picture well before I was born, and until just a few years ago I had not even seen a photo of him.
Coronary disease, sad to say, is a big factor in recent family history — my paternal grandmother also died of a heart attack, as did my father, Peter, at age 59. It being hard to ignore a pretty striking family medical pattern, I thought genealogy research might provide some insights. So I guess you could say that Raymond F. got me into genealogy.
I’m offering this for Amanuensis Monday, and selfishly including it in my NewsClips file too. It was the most fantastic find from my unexpected bonanza of Troy, N.Y. newspaper clippings.
My great-great-aunt Maggie Haigney Roche and her sibs certainly had their share of publicity over various birthdays, but nothing topped the ink Maggie got in 1958, when a features reporter for the Troy (N.Y.) Times-Record sat down for a talk with her as she turned 88. The result? A personality profile that not only yields the date of Maggie’s parents’ marriage, but also gives an irreplaceable sense of Maggie’s lively personality. I so want to find out who Maggie’s PR rep was.
(Amanuensis Monday is the ongoing initiative by John Newmark at TransylvanianDutch in which participants transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.)
For Maggie’s moment in the spotlight, read on:
Today’s NewsClips transcript is a great example of how the right newspaper article can save you lots of poking around. Here’s the scoop on the 90th birthday party given for my great-great-aunt Margaret Haigney Roche — and what it tells me, besides the fact that the party sounds like fun.
The Times Record, Troy, N.Y., Saturday Evening, January 16, 1960 • “Woman, 90, Honored At Verdoy”
Mrs. John Finch of Kelly Road, Verdoy, was hostess to friends and neighbors at her home Monday to honor Mrs. Margaret Roche of 2509 Second Ave. Watervliet on her 90th birthday.
Mrs. Roche, daughter of the late Sgt. Martin Haigney and Mrs. Haigney, was born in Watervliet on Jan. 11, 1870. Her father was stationed for 42 years at the Watervliet Arsenal.
Mrs. Roche is the widow of James Roche who died more than forty years ago. At this time Mrs. Roche moved to Island Park, L.I., and made her home with the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert Walker. After many years she and her sister, Mrs. Walker, came to Verdoy and made their home with their brother, Martin Haigney in Best apartment, Kelly road, and Kennette apartment. [sic] After death [sic] of Mrs. Walker in 1957, Mrs. Roche and her brother moved to Watervliet. The brother is a Spanish-American War veteran. His 90-year-old sister keeps house for him.
At Monday’s party the hostess presented the guest an orchid and the table setting was a beautiful birthday cake sent by the Pittard Baking Co. of Latham.
Following an afternoon of picture taking and gift openings, a lunch was served when Mrs. Roche cut her cake and blew out the candles. She has all her faculties and does all the business for herself and her brother.
Now, what helpful information does this article contain? Besides the part about the orchid? Just off the top of my head:
• Margaret’s address in 1960.
• Margaret’s exact birth date.
• Her father’s military rank and service (although from other records, it appears that “Sgt.” may have been an exaggeration).
• Margaret’s husband’s name and a time frame for his death date (“more than forty years ago” in 1960).
• Her sister’s death year.
• A rundown of Margaret’s other residences (contrary to what I’d thought, she moved outside the Troy-Watervliet area for a time).
• Information on her brother’s military service (“a Spanish-American War veteran”).
Not bad for a throwaway social item, right?
P.S. No Google result for “Pittard Baking Co.” in Latham, but there is still a listing for a “Pittard’s Cookie Jar Catering Co.” Just FYI.
Today’s NewsClips are in honor of the August babies of the family. That would include my sister Mary, my brother John and my daughter, Nora, who turns 13 today. (And who will give me a hard time for mentioning her in the blog. But Happy Birthday anyway, sweetie!)
These NewsClips feature another August baby in the Haigney family, my great-great aunt Mary “Mamie” (Haigney) Walker (1872-1956), who celebrated her birthday Aug. 16. As I’ve noted, I’m grouping these little local news snippets by year.
NewsClips is a recurring feature in which I share transcriptions of newspaper stories about my ancestors.
I owe today’s NewsClips to a mostly vanished newspaper institution, the social-happenings column in which all news, however minor, was fit to print. Reading it makes you feel as if you’re channeling Gladys Kravitz, the eternally nosy neighbor from Bewitched. In the Times Record of Troy, N.Y., the local news page carried many column inches of these snippets, headlined only by the name of the town or neighborhood whose business was being chronicled. I have found a couple of dozen of them pertaining to my relatives, and will group items by year.