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Saturday, April 28, 2012

O'Brien's in Ireland to Australia, and onto California - Part 5

In my review of information that I have at hand, I have gathered that life for Edmond and Ann O'Brien in Australia was a struggle financially.  The specific reason why they fled Ireland eludes me.  While the potato famine in Ireland hit the West Coast including County Clare and the surrounding area much harder than the East Coast of Ireland, the food supply issues were all but over by 1850.  However, there were uprisings and many West Coasters chose to leave Ireland for better lands.

Sometimes I wonder if the O'Brien's did leave Ireland for the "Gold Rush Down Under".  I know that is why two Flanagan brothers went there in 1857.  I find O'Brien to be a fairly common surname for immigration during the 1850s to Australia.  I have also found that it took about 102 days to traverse the sea from the United Kingdom to Melbourne, Australia.   Now that is a long trip.

Kate O'Brien was eleven years old by the time she arrived in 1854 Australia.  She spent the next 16 years living in the land "Down Under".   She met her husband, Patrick Flanagan, in Australia at some point between 1865 and 1868 as my best guess for now.  I have had a difficult time pinpointing Patrick's travel around Australia and New Zealand to different mining camps during this time frame but it would appear that Kate stayed put with her parents waiting for him.  I will need to try and piece together where Patrick was during this time based on location names.  That will come in another post. 

Not much is really known for sure....yet.....there are those letters...............

One of Patrick's letters to his brother on 6 Dec 1867 from Grahamstown, New Zealand, mentions Kate and also indicates his desire to go to California.  He indicates the high fare to to get to California and he has not "accertained when any vessels will leave for S. Francisco".  He indicates that he has been writing to Kate during this time also.

By at least 1870, the letters indicated that Pat and Kate are in California.  They were, in fact, married in San Francisco, California on August 15, 1870.

So, is that it for Kate?   I might be able to glean a bit more from the letters at hand................

My review of those letters,  has produced additional insight into Kate.  One letter in particular was written by her niece to the Flanagan's in Ireland.  The letter is dated 19 September 1908.  It says, "Her brother arrived from Australia on a visit to her a little while after I came away.  Just think, it is nearly forty years since she saw him before!"

I am not sure which of Kate's brothers visited from Australia.  There aren't any additional details of his trip.

I also might be able to do a little more digging.  My research seems to have a giant hole when it comes to where the O'Brien's were in Australia.  Others indicating they are Kate's relatives, seem to know more.  I hope to be able to make a true connection with them soon and will review their notes again.

To be continued...................................

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

O'Brien's in Ireland to Australia, and onto California - Part 4

I did come across another child of Edmund O'Brien and Anne Gleeson.  Elizabeth O'Brien was born after the family immigrated to Australia and passed away in infancy.


Australia Death Index, 1787-1985

Name: Elizabeth Obrien
Death Place: Victoria
Age: 10 Months
Father's Name: Edmund
Mother's name: Ann Glesson
Registration Year: 1856
Registration Place: Victoria
Registration number: 3416
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1855

Saturday, April 21, 2012

O'Brien's in Ireland to Australia, and onto California - Part 3

The discovery process always brings elation to me.  It is extra special when I go back to a document and find something new or find a new way to look at it.   That's what I did here.  I went and looked through everyone who arrived in Melbourne on the Parsee from Plymouth on 9 Jun 1854.  I kick myself for not looking for a misspelling of the O'Brien name as O'Brian but it also had not occurred to me to look for older, adult children.  Well, they were adults for the time in their late teens.

Old enough to speak for themselves?  That's what it looks like.  Maybe it's all a transcription error.  I wish that I could access the real ship's register to see their recorded names.  The following arrived on 9 Jun 1854 on the same ship as the other O'Brien's:

The years are about when they were born:

Catherin O'Brian - 1832
Mary O'Brian - 1835
Mary O'Brian - 1835
Bridget O'Brian - 1837
Thady O'Brian - 1837
John O'Brian - 1839
Bridget O'Brian - 1840
Cornelins O'Brian - 1843

Bingo!  I'm still not sure who belonged with which parents.  I think that I am definitely onto something here.  Someone recently contacted me from Australia about Edmond, Ann, and Cornelius O'Brien.  I hope that they reconnect with me as I have no way to reach them at this point except for this blog.

One final comment about this particular passenger list.  There are no other O'Brien's/O'Brian's listed except the 20 people that I found who are very much likely all related to one another.

More to come.....................

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

O'Brien's in Ireland to Australia, and onto California - Part 2

Kate Flanagan (Catherine Mary O'Brien) died in Napa, California on March 11, 1928.  She is buried in an unmarked grave at Tulocay Cemetery with her husband, Patrick Flanagan, and four of their children - Agnes, Ignatius, Leo, and Edward, probably.  The cemetery was able to confirm that Kate, Ignatius, Leo, and Edward are all there but older records would need to be retrieved to specifically say that Patrick and Agnes are also buried in the same place.  They both died in the 1890s.  I do have the exact spot indicated in a previous post of this blog.

Why the unmarked graves?  Lord only knows!  Probably money related.  The other four children are buried in marked graves at Tulocay.  Mary, Louis, and Richard are buried under a tree just paces from Kate and Pat.  While John "Jack" Francis Flanagan is buried in a different spot with his wife, children, and some grandchildren.  Again, I have that exact location and there are low profile headstones to mark each grave.

So, is that it?  Of course not, there is so much information between Ireland and when Kate passed away.  Where do I begin?

What clued me in on locating the O'Brien's on a passenger list into Australia was Ellen Flanagan's notes.  "Went to Melbourne with family in 1854."  Now, I really am not a fan of reviewing passenger lists.  They kind of drive me crazy.  The arduous job of sifting through to find your ancestors can be daunting.  The best way that I know how to complete this search is to identify the time-frame, departure and arrival points, and then go find who else arrived with them on that same date and location.  I have had some luck with this but am still left wondering if I found the correct people.

I found an Edmond, a Run (probable transcription error and should read Ann), and a Catherine arriving on 9 Jun 1854 in Melbourne, Australia.  I then went back and pulled only 9 Jun 1854 into Melbourne, Australia on the Parsee and found the following: 

Michael Obrien Estimated birth year: abt 1811 Age: 43
Edmund Obrien Birth: abt 1812 
Bridget Obrien Birth: abt 1816
Run (Ann) Obrien Birth: abt 1816
Margaret Obrien Birth: abt 1841 
Ella Obrien Birth: abt 1842 
Catherine Obrien Birth: abt 1843 
Eliza Obrien Birth: abt 1844
John Obrien Birth: abt 1845 
Michael Obrien Birth: abt 1845
Susannah Obrien Birth: abt 1847 
Michael Obrien Estimated birth year: abt 1849

Now, if you ask me, it looks like I found them.  I am assuming that Michael and Edmund are brothers and Bridget and Run (Ann) are their wives.  Your guess is as good as mine as to which couple each child belongs to.   I see Kate though and her parents were Edmund and Ann.  The name Susannah stands out for me as a uncommon first name and would be my choice to use in tracing this family.

At this point, I must ask myself if there are older children.  The younger ones would have been with their parents upon arrival.  I guess I should go back and review the passenger list for more O'Brien's.

To be continued........................ 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

O'Brien's in Ireland to Australia, and onto California - Part 1

A few messages and blips on the screen have presented themselves about my O'Brien's in Australia but that's about it.  How do I know that I'm looking in the right place?  Well, evidence can be found in information provided by my great great Grandmother, Kate Flanagan, along with those letters.  I have written about Kate in my blog before.

In my mind, she is one of the most interesting characters in my family tree.  Let's just say not everyone liked her, and yet, she is so crucial in my Flanagan Family's story in Australia and California.  She adds a whole other dimension to my family tree.  When working on a family tree, you can feel shut out of what people were really like.  With Kate, I get to have a bit of the inside track of who she was and what she was like.  Inasmuch as you can know anyone who died just over 40 years before you were even born, Kate left a bit of a paper trail and reputation.

My own grandfather, Richard "Dick" Joseph Flanagan of Napa, California, mentioned in passing here and there about his grandma, Kate.  He even indicated that his own mother, Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth McLaughlin Flanagan, had a hard time with Kate.  Let's just say Kate could be difficult.  Her sister-in-law, Mary Ann Lynch Flanagan, took issue with her for a while but apparently made up later.  Ode to the two Mary Flanagan's who had Kate to contend with.

So, who was Kate Flanagan and what were her origins?

On a typed page in my "box" of treasures, there is information about Kate.  While it is not very in-depth, it is quite telling.  At my best "guesstimate", the information was gathered by Ellen Maxwell Flanagan.  She was notorious for typing information.  I believe that she obtained the information straight from her grandmother, Kate.

Kate Flanagan was born Catherine Mary O'Brien on May 19, 1843, to Edmond O'Brien and Anne Gleeson.  She was living in County Clare, Ireland but seems to have been baptized in Castleconnell which is currently in County Limerick directly along the Clare border. The more research that I do in Ireland about Castleconnell, the more I realize that is definitely a place to find the O'Brien name.  Heck, there is a bridge in town named O'Brien's Bridge.  I can also find Gleeson's living in the area.  How common do you think those surnames are in that part of Ireland?   Well, let's just say O'Brien is extremely common.

I have had three different sources/people in Ireland who could confirm Kate's birth, existence, and her parents.  One source is my Flanagan Family history and records found in County Louth, Ireland.  The second source is a professor at Trinity College in Dublin who researched Kate and her family but apparently didn't use the O'Brien's in his final work about immigrants from Ireland to Australia.

Another source was a random person in Ireland answering my message board post.  He indicated that he could only find Catherine Mary O'Brien in the records (and no other family members) with her date of birth as May 19, 1843.  Knowing that he found her in the correct location means that there could be more.  If he was looking in County Limerick records and not in County Clare records, or visa-verse, that would explain gaps in information.

I am hopeful to find out more about Kate's Irish origins someday with sourcing.  Oh, but wait, I have more.  Someone sent and/or posted information on that indicated Anne Gleeson's parents were Cornel Gleeson and Margaret O'Driscoll.  I definitely accepted those names onto my tree but there is a caveat.  I have no proof!

What else do I know about Kate and her family?  Other information has surfaced and I also have some information to re-review.

To be continued..................

Thursday, April 12, 2012

O'Brien's - A Paper Trail

In a few days time, I will embark on a several part post about Kate Flanagan and my search to find her family in Australia.  The key to unlocking her past and family origins is knowing that her birth name was Catherine Mary O'Brien.   She did, in fact, go by Kate.  While her first name was spelled with a "C", her nickname was with a "K".  That information is definitive.

Join me starting on April 14th as I trace one of my more colorful great great grandmother's, Catherine "Kate" Mary O'Brien Flanagan.  I will share information that I have directly from her if possible and where appropriate as it lends itself to tracing my O'Brien family in Australia.  The posts will generate over a few weeks with 3-4 days in between each.

As I seek my specific O'Brien's, I hope anyone related to them find my posts and respond to me at

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Laurel Street, Napa, CA

Recently, my mom said that her aunts drove her by the house in Napa where her mother (my grandma) was born.  It's a house on Laurel Street.  She could not recall the exact address.  Also, the Vienop's lived in several different homes on Laurel Street over many years.  In fact, the house that my grandma (Dorothy Marie Borchers) was born in was Ernest's house.  My mom was thinking that it was Uncle Ernest's house (he was my great grandma's brother).  I told her that I actually think that the house was Uncle Ernst Vienop's home.  I know that sounds confusing but Uncle Ernst was much older and the brother of John Henry Vienop, Sr.  Uncle Ernst was born in 1848 in Germany.

My mom further indicated that the house was where the prune orchard was located.  My grandma and her siblings even had the great pleasure of picking prunes in this location.  My aunt indicated that her sister, Dorothy, did not like to do this and would rather have slept in on a Saturday morning.  I do love those stories and understand further why I am not a morning person.  It does not really run in my family to get up at the crack of dawn.

As I dig through the "other box of treasures" that mom has lent to me, I look for the address of the house on Laurel Street.  My mom can't remember it off the top of her head.  I looked over my grandma's birth certificate.  All it says is that she was born in a residence near Napa, Calif in the Rural Registration District of Browns Valley, no. R. 2, Box 21.

I do know that the the section of Laurel Street where the house is located falls on the west side of Highway 29.  It is also before Driggs Lane and the bend in the road where Laurel then starts to head north.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Irish Geography

My own personal Irish geography lesson may or may not be the most exciting post in my blog.  The details are very important to my research.  How else can I track down my origins in Ireland?  It helps to pull out a map and understand the counties, the parishes, the towns (or just villages), and the general lay of the land.  Ireland is really not a very large land mass but yet so many people have origins there.

I have attempted to create a address directory of sorts for my family surnames in Ireland.  Now, my attempts range from specific property titles in exact locations to general origins for a surname.  I must write these addresses down somewhere and apologize if I am giving anyone's current address away.  I just don't want the information to get lost in a drawer somewhere as a lot of genealogy does in families.   Then, we forget our roots and future generations just don't know where to find where we came from.

O'Brien, Gleeson
-Castleconnell, County Limerick, Ireland (near County Clare Border) 

Hickey, Minogue
-Loughatorick, County Clare, Ireland (near County Galway Border)
-Derrycon, County Clare, Ireland
-Woodford, County Galway, Ireland

Coughlin, McMahon, McNamara
-Revail, Ballyvannan, County Clare, Ireland
-Reveal, Ballyvannan, County Clare, Ireland
-Caherhurly, Ballyvannan, County Clare, Ireland
-Parish of Tuamgraney, Ballyvannan, County Clare, Ireland
-Tuamgraney Rock, Caherhurly, Ballyvannan, Clare, Ireland
-Revail, Caherhurly, Ballyvannan, County Clare, Ireland

-County Fermanagh, Ireland

Maxwell, Shaffrey
-Parish of Moynalty, County Meath, Ireland
-Dunshaughlin, County Meath, Ireland
-Shancarnan, County Meath, Ireland

-Parish of Edgeworthstown, Ringowny, County Longford, Ireland

Gartlan, Fox
-Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland
-Clontibret, County Monaghan, Ireland

Flanagan, Maguire, Kirwan, Bellew
-Galroostown, Termonfechin, County Louth, Ireland
-Ganderpark, Termonfechin, County Louth, Ireland
-Tubbertoby, Termonfechin, County Louth, Ireland
-Strand Road, Termonfechin, County Louth, Ireland
-Baltray, Termonfechin, County Louth, Ireland
-Termonfeckin, County Louth, Ireland
-Duffsfarm, Termonfeckin, Louth, Ireland
-Tobertoby, Termonfeckin, Louth, Ireland

Clearly, I have a varying degree of information for my Irish origins.  In the U.S., we'd be looking for street addresses with zip codes and definitive street names.  Well, outside of the large cities of Ireland, it just does not work that way.  Buried in the information above, are a few real to life mailing addresses used even today.  How would a researcher seeking their family roots in Ireland know this?  It was explained to me by my Irish relatives.

Maybe this post will help others understand how finding a location of your ancestors in Ireland works.  I have learned to not brush off a property title or seemingly strange proper noun/word written on scratch paper.  It may be the key to unlocking your origins.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How Not To "Tree" on and McLaughlin Update

Since I started working on my family tree lines on back in the Spring of 2010, I've learned so much.  Yes, I made a few mistakes along the way using's technology.  I accepted "hints" that I should not have and later had to back those off along with deleting people who were not my McLaughlin's.  Most of the time, I just had to delete duplicate people.  Nicknames can drive you crazy, mix you up, when they are used on a Census.

Anyway, my first lesson was not to take the "hints" that pushes to you via their technology at face value.  You've really got to look those hints over as much of the time, they are not correct.  How many James McLaughlin's, Patrick Flanagan's, or Frank McGuire's do you think there are in the world?  Let's just say those names are not all unique to my family as much as each of the individual's in my family were who held those names.

My other lesson early on was not to grab information about those "matching names" based in Irish locations without first mapping where they were from.  My Patrick Flanagan was not from County Clare.  Let's just say, that is not even close to where he was from when you are talking about Ireland.  Yet, I could have grabbed several source documents that indicate this.  I'd have been wrong and way off the mark.  A lesson in geography is important.

The latest geography lesson, for one of my family lines, is in a church document that indicates a Thomas McLaughlin and Mary Stafford from Cavan, Ireland.  They had some children.  They lived about 15 miles from County Longford.   Someone added a Michael McLaughlin to their children's names and "Ta Da", the person starting borrowing all of my/our McLaughlin research for Michael in Newport, New York.

Well, Michael was born in or near Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland.  I do not see anyone from Cavan.   Also, those Cavan McLaughlin's were Protestant based on the document that was scanned into and now at least 5 people have grabbed it.  I grabbed it to read it and have since removed it from my tree.  Those Protestant McLaughlin's were actually Presbyterian.  That is fine and dandy, for them.  As near as all of my McLaughlin researchers have been able to pull together, our family was Roman Catholic.

To sum up the McLaughlin "Member Connects" on, the Cavan McLaughlin's were from the Coroneary Parish, County Cavan, and were Presbyterian.  They also had children by various names but I don't actually see a match to Michael and his brother Patrick of Longford and Newport, New York.  Oh, and let's not forget that Michael and Patrick were Catholic.  Without source documentation, I can't really disprove the supposition that these McLaughlin's are relatives but I can't prove it either.

At this juncture, here's the information that I am rather stuck at for my McLaughlin's of Edgeworthstown:

1.  Thomas McLaughlin of County Longford near Edgeworthstown circa 1750 is a "guesstimate".  A very well versed McLaughlin researcher investigated our line years ago and his best guess is that our ancestor is "Thomas".  He's pretty sure that's his first name.  I'd bet money on his educated guesses if I were a betting person.

2.  Michael, his brother Patrick and their sister, Bridget were all from a location near Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland.  Some strong rumor is that Bridget was actually the sister-in-law of Michael and Patrick.  Another McLaughlin brother was her husband but he died.  Bridget married Michael Mahady (Mahardy).  They all immigrated to the U.S. via Quebec, Canada sometime between 1822 and 1824.

3.  My Irish relatives who live north of Dublin drove over to find out about the McLaughlin's of Edgeworthstown in 2010 and found only the following:
------Bridget McLaughlin and Michael Mahardy were married in that location.
------The Edgeworthstown Historical Society has been disbanded.

4.  The following is the specific research about Bridget McLaughlin and Michael Mahardy of Newport, New York:
-------BRIDGET McLAUGHLIN, b. abt. 1802, Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, IRE; d. 30 Jul 1890, Norway, Herkimer Co. NY. Her surname is listed on son Michael‟s Death Certificate dated 1907, Herkimer Co. NY. She m. by 1823, probably in Co. Longford, IRE to MICHAEL MAHARDY / MAHADA. They appear on a New York City Passenger List Index, dated 30 Sep 1822, having departed from Liverpool, ENG on 19 Jul 1822. No children were listed. MICHAEL, b. c. 1799, prob. in Co. Longford, IRE; d. 17 Apr 1851 in Newport. His Will is dated 15 Apr 1851, probated 16 Jun 1851 in Herkimer, NY. They are both buried in Old St. Patrick‟s Ceme. located at the Irish Settlement, Town of Newport, NY.
--------I have the names of all of their children, the first of whom with specifics appear to have been born in Newport, New York, in 1825.  One child was born before 1825.

5.  I can pretty much spot every male of my relations on the 1830 U.S. Census for Newport, New York.  Most of them are found on the same page including the above McLaughlin's and Mahardy's.

6.  As I move forward in time, I have much more specific and sourced information including details of my direct line ancestor, James M. McLaughlin, son of Michael McLaughlin.  James was born in or near Edgeworthstown or Ringowny, County Longford, Ireland on 25 Dec 1814 and died in Newport, New York on 15 Apr 1905.  His immigration through Quebec is indicated as about 1823.

I suppose that I should go find James M. McLaughlin's origins and source records in Ireland along with any of his siblings before I get to into finding Michael's parents.  Just because you can't get to the information in Edgeworthstown does not mean the information has not been taken down somewhere else.

My McLaughlin line beckons!