Category Archives: Genealogy

Gone to beg through the country

Gone to beg through the country.

Catherine Basquil 17 Nov 1845 Resided. A poor Small Landholder, does not reside. Gone to beg through the Country.

I can’t find the entry for the original loan to Catherine, in the Irish Poverty Relief Loan registers. It had to have predated this entry, though, so sometime in the early 1840s.

To put this in context, 1845 was the start of the great famine. But that came after several years of economic distress and poverty in the west of the country, and Mayo was hit quite hard. Catherine would have likely been in dire straights before the famine even began. When the potato crop failed in the autumn of 1845, Catherine, like millions of other Irish folks, would have lost their last hope of a reprieve. Things had to have been terrible if taking to the countryside to beg was your Plan B.

There were numerous reports in contemporary newspapers of people dropping dead of starvation in or alongside the roads. Many of them, like Catherine, were subsisting through begging, their benefactors generally not much better off than beggars themselves.

The Famine
The United Irishman (Dublin, Ireland), 19 Feb 1848, page 7

The Famine.

CLIFDEN, Co. GALWAY.–The Rev. Peter Fitzmaurice, P.P., writes to the Freeman, under date 11th February, giving some horrible details of the misery and destitution in his parish. He says–“I am sure my readers, though shocked, will not deem it exaggerated, when I certify to the fact of some persons in these parishes living on horse flesh for days, nay, on that of dogs, until death put an end to their sufferings.”

SLIGO.–The misery which the people are now enduring “beggars all description.” From all quarters we hear the most lamentable accounts. Persons who were last year enjoying comparative health–who had, at least, the means of keeping the wolf from the door, are now reduced to the lowest ebb of want and destitution. The shopkeepers and men in business are doing literally nothing, while pauperism is fearfully on the increase.

In Kilturra the great majority of the inhabitants are at this instant living solely upon turnips, and the supply of this watery, unsubstantial food, will soon be exhausted. What will then become of the poor? Already–within the last week–three human creatures have died, or rather perished, for want of food, in Kilturra.–Sligo Champion.

SUICIDE FROM DESTITUTION.–A man, whose name we could not ascertain, committed suicide by hanging himself in the neighborhood of Ardnaglass, on Friday. A recommendation for out-door relief to the relieving office was found on his person.–Ibid.

GALWAY.–We have been informed of a heartless case of extermination of six families off the property of Mrs. Lynch, of Windfield, at Lisgeavy. While these poor people were induced to go to the relieving officer of the district for relief, their miserable cabins were pulled down, and the work of destruction would have been greater, but for a member of this lady’s family who happened to come up, and warned them to desist. We trust so cruel a proceeding was carried on without the knowledge of Mrs. Lynch, and that some reparation will be made to these unfortunate people.–Tuam Herald.

DEATHS BY STARVATION.–A correspondent of the Limerick Chronicle, writing from Tulla, in the county of Clare, states that an inqust had just been held on the bodies of one man and two women, named Boland, who had died of starvation. Five or six weeks before their death, everything they possessed had been seized for rates, since which time they had never lain on a bed. The Bolands held over twenty acres of ground corn from Colonel Windham.

MORE DEATHS FROM STARVATION.–Thomas Denehy, Esq., coroner, has been busily employed during the past week holding inquests on the sad remains of victims to the now indeed prevailing famine. On Wednesday he held an inquest at Ballysaggartmore, on Patk. Murphy, an unfortunate man who had to be turned out of the union workhouse for insubordination, $c., and was found dead on the mountain. Verdict–Patrick Murphy died on the 1st February at Ballysaggartmore, from the effects of hunger and want. On Monday, Mr. Dennehy held another inquest at Templemichael, near Youghal, on a poor woman, when a similar verdict was returned; and on the 3d instant, another at Lismore, on a woman who had obtained lodging from a farmer near that town, and who was found dead the next morning. Verdict–Died of want and hunger on the 2d February, 1848. This is the fifth death from starvation in that lonely and picturesque locality within the last few days.–Waterford Mail.

APPALLING STATEMENT.–Bryan Sloan, Mary Sloan, and Ellen Stanton, died of starvation in Ballintubber this week. Their bodies are still unburied for want of coffins! There are three others in the same village whose deaths are hourly expected from hunger. The creatures were on the relief list, but being unable to attend the calling of the roll, as they lived som miles from the work, they were struck off, and were thus left a whole week without a morsel of food. Whole villages are already depopulated in Ballintubber. In one large townland every head of a family has been cut away by famine and fever but two men; and unless some step be taken to relieve the poor there, the entire parish will become an awful grave-yard. The overseers are Thomas Sheridan and Pat Dea, of Ballintubber and Ballyheane.

While writing, three dead bodies, in one company, have passed our house for interment.

STATE OF THE POOR–STARVATION.–We have been informed that within the last week upwards of twenty deaths have taken place from starvation.

Mr. Bourke, coroner, held an inquest on Saturday last on the body of Patrick Stanton, of Drimulra (between this town and Newoport), who was found on the roadside, in an exhausted state from hunger. On the examination of several witnesses, who deposed that the deceased had been receiving the rations, but so inadequate was it for the support of himself and his family, that he had to beg from door to door; and on this particular day his family having consumed the last morsel, he made another effort to seek from his neighbours a bit of bread, but unfortunately his sufferings overcame him, and he sank, the victim of horrible hunger, by the roadside. A verdict of death from starvation was accordingly returned.–Mayo Constitution.

THE SHROUDLESS AND COFFINLESS DEAD.–Withing the last week the remains of no less than five persons have been carried through this town, by their surviving friends, to the burying-ground, without shroud or coffin.–Ibid.

PROGRESS OF DESTITUTION.–It is our painful duty to announce the wholesale murder of one hundred deaths this week in our poorhouse, gaols, and hospitals. In Connemara, in the neighborhood of Roundstone, FOUR, FIVE and SIX dead bodies have been for days over-ground, no persons being found to perform the sad rights of burial for them, and not until the dogs had destroyed the body of an old man, the flesh off the back was entirely taken away. Four persons have been committed to our county prison from that locality charged with stealing a filly which the poor creatures were found eating. We give this as food for the English press.–Galway Vindicator.

INCREASE OF DESTITUTION.–It is now perfectly manifest that the poor-rates of this union will fall lamentably short, and be totally incapable of supporting its pauperism, which is daily augmenting. In our town destitution is wide-spread. It is overrun with strolling beggars. On Saturday evening a man named Corcoran came to the gate of the grave-yard of this town. He carried in his arms the body of a child, which was coffinless and shroudless, which had been dead for five days, and which, having gained admittance, he interred in the grave-yard without a coffin. He endeavoured to collect the price of a coffin–but all he was able to produce was eightpence, some of those from whom he begged being beggars, and others not believing his sad story to be true, in consequence of the many impostors who practice on the credulity and benevolence of the people; therefore, the unhappy man had to bury the remains of the child, who died from want, without a coffin.–Nenagh Guardian.

An inquest was held near Dungarvan, on Thomas Terry, of Castle Quarter, and a verdict, died of starvation, returned. The unfortunate man took a turnip from a field, but got so weak that it fell from his hands, and rolled from his reach. A witness named Gleeson, a publican of Abbeyside, described his moans as awful, yet did not assist him.–Waterford Mail.

A HORSE EATEN BY HUMAN BEINGS.–A very revolting case of distress occurred last week at the village of Sneem. Mrs. Moran, a pedlar from Killarney, had a horse of hers in same way while on her way from Iveragh, and on arriving at Sneem had it shot by one of the police, to put it out of pain. In a few hours after, the horse was skinned, the carcass cut into pieces by several of the poor people, taken away as food, and actually eaten. Of this fact there is no doubt, as I made it my duty to make inquiries about it. The persons who took the horse for food were persons holding small lots of ground, which they are unwilling to part with, being under the impression that, if they retain them, and make an exertion to set potatoes, the government will support them while doing so. The out-door relief is carried out a=in that district to a very great extent, and every exertion used by the landlord, James F. Bland, so far as his own property extends, assisted, I cannot deny, by the relieving officer, to afford relief to the most necessitous in that distressed district.–Tralee Chronicle.

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1939 Register at Ancestry


I noticed today that Ancestry has added the 1939 Register to it’s collections. It was previously available only through Findmypast, and then only if you had a yearly subscription. Month-to-month subscriptions couldn’t access it.

This is kind of a big deal, if you are doing any sort of research in England and Wales during the WWII period. The most recent census available is 1911, so this may fill in some gaps for you. It’s also unique as a census, because it was later updated to include surname changes when women married.

Caveat: People who are still living have been redacted, for privacy reasons, so if you can’t find someone it may be that they’re still living or only died recently.

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Chain Migration

Chain Migration
from the introduction to Covered Wagon Women, volume 5

If you think chain migration is a new thing, or that it’s a bad thing, you’re mistaken. It’s how people have moved the world over, forever and ever.

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Adventures in Genealogy

A few years ago, I photographed a cemetery in rural Owen County, Indiana (a bunch of them, actually).  I uploaded the photos to Flickr and to Findagrave, and for the headstones that didn’t already have Findagrave memorials, I created them.

Easy peasy, if a bit time consuming.

So I occasionally get messages from people to correct information (mistakes happen!), add information, or to link spouses or children and parents, or even to transfer memorial ownership to them if they’re descendants. It can be a little time consuming, but it’s time well spent. And most people are really nice, which helps.

Every once in a while, you’re contacted by someone who is rude as hell, which can be disheartening. Or you get a request that seems reasonable on the face of it, but when you think for two seconds, you realize it’s totally bonkers.

Today was a totally bonkers day. I checked my mail to find the following request:

The picture connected to this is NOT Catherine McNaught. That is a picture of Martha (Wooden) McNaught (1765-1835), wife of George McNaught (1761-1789). I have the original picture with both of them in the picture. George and Martha came to America from Ireland.

Seems legit, right? Only no, not so much. My response:

You messaged me about an incorrect photo on the Catharine McNaught memorial I created (memorial number 50363862). I did not add that photo, and I cannot delete it. You will need to contact the person who added the photo, to ask them to remove it.

That said, if the person you say the photo is actually of died in 1835, there is no way this is a photograph of her, as the first photograph depicting a human wasn’t made until 1838. The first known portrait photo was in 1839.

I don’t know who the photo is of, and I don’t care. I didn’t add it, so it’s not my circus and not my monkeys. As it stands, it seems to me that it’s more likely that the person who added it knows what they’re doing than the person who contacted me to remove it.

The memorial in question is here.

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A Little Credit, Please?


I took this photo of my great great aunt Margaret’s grave marker in 2010. I uploaded it to Flickr, like ya’ do, with a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. I also have given blanket permission for people to use my cemetery photos for their own family trees, family histories, and to even upload them to their family trees on commercial sites like Ancestry. But that CC license requires crediting the creator.

So then this happened.

Margaret DeSales Basquille

I don’t know the person who added the photo. I know they are not a descendant of Margaret, though, because Margaret did not have any children. So why this person is editing Margaret’s info is a mystery to me. It’s possible she’s related to Margaret’s husband, since she also added a photo of his grave marker to his FamilySearch tree entry (again, taken by someone else and uncredited).

Don’t do that. Even if you have permission to use someone else’s photo, you still need to credit them.

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Disappearing Collections

Genealogy tip: ALWAYS download document images you find online. ALWAYS. You never know when a collection will disappear. It can happen for a variety of reasons, and you will be given no notice.

Example: The Catholic Parish Registers for Ireland. They were (and still are) available via the National Library of Ireland’s website, but those images are unindexed. Likewise FamilySearch filmed the registers years ago, and unindexed images are available via their website (access unindexed films through the FamilySearch card catalog).

A few years ago, Ancestry and Findmypast entered a joint agreement to index the images and make them available for free via their websites. The searchable index and images are still live at Findmypast (and presumably free, though that part of the agreement may have an expiration date). They have disappeared from Ancestry’s website. I noticed that searches that should return hits for that collection didn’t, so I looked at their card catalog, and the title is entirely missing.

In this case, no real harm is done, because those images are available elsewhere. But what if they weren’t?

A similar issue occurred a few years back, with the Drouin Collection (Catholic Parish records from Canada). They had been available, largely unindexed, on Ancestry’s website. Then one day they disappeared. Turns out, the licensing agreement required Ancestry to index the images, which they hadn’t done, so the collection’s owners told Ancestry to pull the images until they were indexed. It took a couple of years to finish the project, but one day the Drouin Collection magically appeared again on Ancestry. Thankfully I’d downloaded the images I’d managed to find, so I wasn’t affected. And since Drouin Collection 2.0 is mostly indexed, I have found even more images.


Also, you can see from this screen shot that FamilySearch (top) imaged the registers independently of NLI (bottom). It pays to check both sets of images, because in some cases NLI’s images are better, and in others, FamilySearch has better images. The images available at Findmypast (and formerly at Ancestry) are NLI’s images. And in fact, Findmypast includes the direct link to the image at NLI’s website, in the index page. And note at the bottom of the index page below, from Findmypast? The copyright statement for the transcript credits Ancestry.

Index Page from Findmypast

I mention all of this because it pays to find out this information–how collections get digitized and who owns what. It can help you track down information when it goes AWOL, and it can help you cut through multiple layers of crud that gets attached with every iteration. And ultimately, you may find that a lot of the collections at pay sites are licensed and repackaged from sites that provide the info for free.

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A Gruesome Death

This is yet another Bridget Agnes. This one was the sister in law of Bridget Agnes Groark. She was the daughter of John Basquil and Mary Haran, born 25 May 1871 in Kilbride, County Mayo, Ireland. She emigrated to the US in 1893 and settled in Troy, New York, where she married twice. First to Thomas Hanrahan in 1910, then to Richard Allen in 1914 (no idea what happened to poor Thomas. Presumably he died young).

I had the year of Bridget’s death, because a photo of her headstone has been uploaded to Findagrave. I didn’t have the exact date, though, or the cause of her death. I tried searching at, but struck out. The Fulton History website had what I was looking for, though. And now that I have more information, I was able to find a similar article in a different paper, at However, the scan there is terrible and the article almost illegible, so I’m using the Fulton History image.

Woman Burned to Death in Fire at 808 Fifth Avenue

Mrs. Richard Allen’s Clothing Ignited From Gas Stove Flame

Mrs. Richard Allen, 70, of 808 Fifth Avenue, died at 10:20 p.m. yesterday in the Leonard Hospital of burns suffered yesterday afternoon when her clothing apparently caught fire while she was cooking on the gas stove in the kitchen of her home.

Mrs. Allen was alone in the house when the accident occurred. Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler, who resides across the street, went to visit Mrs. Allen and found her lying on the floor, police said. She was conscious and practically all her clothing had been burned from her body.

A call to police quickly brought the police ambulance with Driver John McGraw, Central Station, to the Allen residence. Mrs. Allen was wrapped in blankets and taken to the hospital by Officer McGraw and Hoseman Patrick J. Byrne, Central Fire Station.

She was attended at the hospital by Drs. John J. Curley and Albert Diamante. Hospital attendants reported she suffered third degree burns to the chest, arms, hands, abdomen and back, second degree burns to the face and first degree burns to both legs below the knees.

The woman’s husband was at work at the Watervliet Arsenal when the accident occurred. Upon his arrival home he was told of the accident by Patrolman Arthur Quinlan and John Kelly, of the Fourth Precinct radio patrol, and taken by them to the hospital.

Coroner Charles J. Cote was notified of Mrs. Allen’s death by hospital authorities.

Mrs. Allen, formerly Agnes B. Basquall, was born in Ireland and came to this country at an early age. She first settled in Waterford and while a resident there attended St. Mary’s Church. About forty years ago she moved from Lansingburg where she attended St. Augustine’s Church and was a member of the Sacred Heart Sodality. She also was a member of Court St. Rita, C.D. of A.

Besides her husband, survivors include a sister, Mrs. Mary Horan of Troy and a brother, Michael Basquall of Chicago, Ill.
The funeral will be from the residence Monday at 9 a.m. and from St. Augustine’s Church at 9:30 a.m. where a requiem high mass will be celebrated. Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery.

(Source: “Woman Burned to Death in Fire at 808 Fifth Avenue,” The Times Record (Troy, New York), 2 Dec 1944, [n.p.], col. 4; digital images, Old Fulton New York Post Cards ( : accessed 14 Nov 2017). Rec. Date: 14 Nov 2017.)

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William Basquill

1911 England Census
Source: 1911 census of England, 5 Nicholas Street, Stockport, Cheshire, England, William Basquill; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry ( : accessed 5 Nov 2017); citing RG 78 PN 1271, RG 14 PN 21367, registration district (RD) 443, sub district (SD) 4, enumeration district (ED) 19, schedule number (SN) 263. Rec. Date: 23 Sep 2017.

William Basquill

I’ve written about William before. He was the son of John Basquill and Ellen Gillen, born in Ashton Under Lyne, England in 1872. The family moved to Stockport, England, and at the age of 14 William was signed up as an apprentice on the training ship Indefatigable, in Liverpool. He left after a couple of years and was indentured to the Peter Iredale company, to serve as a deck hand on the HMS City of Carlisle. While crossing the Atlantic, William was struck in the head with a clew iron and seriously injured. When the ship made port in Portland, Oregon, he sued the shipping company and the ship’s captain in U.S. District Court. He was ultimately awarded $1530 (about a tenth of what he’d sued for).

All that is background information. He returned to England, where he joined the British Army in 1891. He was a life-long soldier. In 1904 he married Catherine Cohen, and they had two children, William and Mary. I found the family in the 1911 census, where William and Katherine are listed as the aunt and uncle of the head of household, George Bowen.

Now, it may seem like that would be a simple relationship to sort out, but it was not! I spent the better part of a weekend tracing the various families of those present in 1911. I thought maybe the link was on William’s family’s side, which would make it worth pursuing, as I’m doing a one name study of the Basquill name. But no, it turns out that William was an uncle by marriage. The relationship was on his wife’s side. Catherine was the aunt of George Bowen’s wife, Bridget Melia. So I spent a weekend pinning down information that isn’t of much use to my own research, but too often that’s how it goes.

Also this is a good reminder that sometimes you just have to get out the graph paper and pencil, because trying to mentally visualize the connections isn’t very helpful. And? I should mention that even though I had the relationships all sorted the weekend before last, I didn’t realize I’d actually made the connection until I put it on paper last Saturday morning.

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Great Disorder

The pages are in great disorder.

You can’t say they didn’t warn you.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
Castlebar | Microfilm 04214 / 02 / page 1
Image from NLI

This is how these two facing pages appear on the National Library of Ireland website. That’s where I originally viewed them, and that’s where I originally downloaded them from.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
Castlebar | Microfilm 04214 / 02 / page 79
Image from NLI

And this is how they appear in the FHL films at FamilySearch. First, the left-hand leaf, which corresponds to the left-hand leaf below.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
FHL film 007732604 image 1695

And now the right-hand leaf, which corresponds to the right-hand leaf below.

Baptisms Aglish (Castlebar) Parish 1845
Diocese of Tuam, Parish of Castlebar, Baptisms Jan. 2, 1838-April 17, 1855
FHL film 007732604 image 1731

I believe this is what kids these days call a hot mess. According to WorldCat, FHL created their films in 1984. NLI didn’t digitize their microfilms until 2010, but I can’t find any indication on their website of when they filmed the registers. Was it before or after FHL? And who touched the volumes in between? This volume and a couple of others are in such a mess that it’s sometimes impossible to tell what year an event happened in.

I really want to smack whoever is responsible for the “great disorder.”

Let this be yet another reminder that it’s important to cite where you viewed the image, because all images of a given document are not necessarily identical to one another. Different institutions may have filmed an item independently, and clearly those differences are sometimes more than just cosmetic.

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Reality Check

John Basquinn in 1920 United States Census
1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Manhattan Assembly District 16, New York, New York, enumeration district (ED) 1127, sheet 11A, p. 243 (hand written), dwelling 16, family 290, John Basquinn; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 Sep 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1214. Rec. Date: 8 Oct 2016

Here’s another tip: Before disregarding a record because it has the wrong name on it, consider if that name makes any sense. Basquin/Basquinn is not a name you’d find in Ireland. It simply doesn’t exist. If you search the Irish census records, you won’t find the name, period. If you search Ancestry globally for basquin* born Ireland, you will find a handful of records, all of which are either transcribed incorrectly or you can see that an enumeration mistake was made and the country of origin was France.

For example: In the 1860 US census there’s a Kate with no last name given, born Ireland, working in New Orleans as a servant in the home of a French family named Basquin. I’d bet money her name was not Basquin, but whoever the informant was had no idea what her surname was and likely didn’t care. She was just a servant, right? Then when the record was transcribed, the blank was interpreted to mean that her name was Basquin, too.

So. Here we have John Basquinn, born Ireland about 1873, living in New York City, and working as a construction laborer. I guarantee you this is Walter Basquill and Mary McHugh’s son, John. How his name was recorded as Basquinn will remain an eternal mystery.

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