Finding Irish Ancestors in An Unexpected Place

If I were going to make a trip to a research center specifically to look for Irish Ancestors, and could not afford a trip to their homeland, I would not think first of Arizona.

  • I might think of Boston first because more Irish migrated there than to any other city. (The New England Historic Genealogical Society, gold standard of historic information stands in Boston.)
  • Perhaps you could go to New York, home to so many Irish immigrants where the New York Public Library could provide much info and you could visit Ellis Island if your ancestors immigrated during that relative brief period that Ellis island operated. (1892-1954)
  • Before you leave for Washington D.C. to visit the Library of Congress, try their Sources for Research in Irish Genealogy page.  And double up on your time in D.C. by visiting the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution.

But these are all general resources, not libraries that specialize in Irish Genealogy.  For that, I only had to travel up the freeway from Tucson to Phoenix. I felt a bit like a prospector searching for gems of information as I arrived at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library.

Irish Cultural Center

The McClelland Library, Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

A Tour of the Irish Cultural Center

It was a cool and cloudy day when a friend and I visited the McClelland library at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix The weather added to the illusion that we were on a trip to Ireland. However, that illusion did not last long once we gazed out the windows of the castle, and peered between the stone “teeth” of the Castle Keep.  Instead of green fields and grazing sheep, we saw roofs of buildings and high-rise construction. The Irish Cultural Center’s buildings are located at the center of Phoenix in the Margaret Hance Park.

The stones used to build the buildings are authentically old and actually were imported from Ireland. And the “castle” and the “cottage” and “great hall” were built based on plans of a real Norman castle in the old country, but the structures date only to the 21st century.

You pay no admission charge, but we opted for the $5 tour led by a volunteer roughly ever hour on the half hour while the museum is open.  First we viewed An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger Memorial). After hearing the history of the potato famine, we moved on to the cottage.  Irish farmers built a similar four-room stone cottage in the 19th century to house both family and animals.

Trivia: Did you know that the very first immigrant to enter through Ellis island was Annie Moore, an Irish Woman whose descendants wound up in Arizona? The link leads to an interesting debunking of the initial story about an Annie Moore that proved to be the wrong one.  (Sounds like some of our detours in genealogy research, doesn’t it?)  The tour guide tells the true story, illustrated on a display at the Phoenix Irish Cultural Center in the Cottage.

Annie Moore, Irish Immigrant

Display at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix about Annie Moore, the First immigrant into Ellis Island.

How Your Irish Ancestors Lived

After the cottage (which also contains the welcome center where you pay for tours and can pick up literature), we proceeded to the castle.  The well-stocked library (more than 8000 publications, including the genealogy collection) contains Irish literature of all ages and all types.  It includes Irish and Irish-American newspapers and other periodicals. Non members can utilize the library on a day basis, but members of the Cultural Center can check out books.  (The books belong to the Phoenix Library System and can be located in that on line catalogue.)

Another room on the main floor serves an exhibit hall, currently being prepared to show “Irish in Latin America.”

Finding Your Irish Ancestors

Next, we took an elevator to the 2nd level. There a small room houses a permanent exhibit of a gorgeous replica edition of The Book of Kells . Placards show information about the history of that illustrated 8th/9th century manuscript. The original resides in Trinity College in Dublin.

The main attraction on that floor includes banks of computers and books of family histories. We saw publications to look up Irish names and books like “How to find your Scots-Irish ancestors.”  Yep, you’ve guessed it, we were in the large, well-stocked genealogy library.  There is a small charge to use the library. One day a week that charge includes a genealogist to work with you.  I will doubtless head back up to Phoenix on a Thursday to delve into the most elusive corners of my Irish ancestors’ lives.  McCabes and Cochrans and Hendersons–I’m looking at you.

We didn’t visit the Great Hall where there are Friday evening Ceilidhs (Irish song and dance night), and various other activities.  The Cultural Center offers a wide array of opportunities  to learn about your Irish Ancestors. Choices range from an upcoming day-long Genealogy workshop to a six-week genealogy research class and instruction in the Gaelic language. [The one-day genealogy class scheduled for Nov. 17 sold out quickly, so classes must be very popular.]

The opportunities to learn about the history of Ireland and other subjects that help bring your ancestors to life make the Irish Cultural Center a real gem for researchers.

What remote gems have you found for research?

Learn more about visiting the Irish Cultural Center here.

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The Irish Connection: John Henderson

John Henderson (1747-1814)

John Henderson Tombstone

John Henderson tombstone in Taggerts Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Lafferty, Ohio

Note: I frequently warn that genealogical research is a work in progress.  Here is an example. No sooner did I hit publish on this post than I found more information that threw things into doubt. Most particularly, I am now not at all certain that John Henderson was born in Ireland. Like all these Scots Irish ancestors, it is really hard to determine how many generations moved from Scotland to Ireland.  It looks like it may be a long slog to find out just which John Henderson we are dealing with in order to pinpoint his father and siblings. 

The tombstone provides death and through age at death, birth year information. It also claims he is a Revolutionary War veteran.  However, it is obvious that this stone is not from the actual time of his death, so who put it up? Did they have the correct information?

I am confident that I have the right John Henderson that connects to the will–but even there, I can add to what I wrote. I found more information–which I will share as soon as I get a readable image or a good transcription.  Turns out that Ancestry was holding out on me, publishing only the will.  The probate file also includes a list of money’s owed and collectible and the home and farm inventory.  Because this was supposed to be a quick post, I did not search Family Search.org, which I will now do.  If they don’t have a digital copy, the information is copied on another Ancestry.com users page.

I should say, John Henderson provides one of the Irish Connections, since on my maternal grandmother’s side, once I start digging into her ancestors, the Irish roots show up consistently.  I always knew that on my maternal grandfathers side, the Andersons, we have plenty of Scots Irish.  So far, it looks like those on the Anderson line came from Scotland rather than Ireland, but the McCabes and Fifes and perhaps Thompsons are proving rather elusive.

Until recently, I had overlooked the fact that my maternal grandmother’s line also yielded Irish blood. The Irish roots show up in the Cochrans, for instance. When my grandmother’s grandfather married Emmeline Cochran, however, it led me back to not only Cochrans but also Hendersons and even an Adams that seem to all come from Ireland.

Irish Cultural Center

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

So why this sudden fascination with Irish ancestors?  I recently learned about a very special Irish Cultural Center and library in Phoenix, Arizona–just a two-hour drive from where I live.  Next week I’m going to visit there, and if I decided to track my Irish or Scots Irish ancestors, I can return to their library on a day when they have helpers available.  I’m excited about the trip, and so I started looking at the Cochrans and stumbled upon the fact that John Henderson, my fifth great-grandfather is from County Down in Ireland.

I have not had time to get an enormous amount of information about John and his wife Martha and their enormous family of ten children–but I did find his will, and figured I might as well share it.  Just to show that wills can be marvelous starting points for research.

John lived in Pennsylvania for a time and his oldest son, William was born there, but he moved to Belmont County, Ohio.

{plain]Note that Belmont County sits next door to Guernsey County where my Stout ancestors lived.  I have written about my great-grandfather Stout’s family quite frequently, starting with his father Isaiah.  I also wrote about Emmeline Cochran Stout, who leads me to HER great-grandfather, John Henderson.[/plain]

THE WILL of JOHN HENDERSON, May 1814

John Henderson Will

John Henderson Will 1814

[I have separated parts of the will into paragraphs and added some punctuation to aid clarity. I also put the family names, in one mention, in bold, for clarity. It appears that the will was written by a clerk, including the signatures, so I am not showing the signature for Henderson.]

Whereas I, John Henderson of Belmont County, State of Ohio, being weak in body but of sound mind and memory, do make this my last will and testament in the manner and form following, viz. First, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Martha Henderson the third part of the rents and profits at the middle third piece of land I now live on with the privilege of living in one-half of my dwelling house during her widowhood, viz. also sixty dollars to be paid out of the money due to my estates and her choice of one Cow out of my stock, her bedstead bed and bedding, a spinning wheel, bureau, a walnut table, corner cupboard and all the furniture usually kept in the same and her saddle.

I do also give and bequeath to my sons William, Thomas and John, one dollar each. 

I give and bequeath to my son Robert his heirs and assigns the south third of my land where he has improved and he is to pay one hundred and ninety dollars in two years after my decease for the use of my daughters.

I also will and bequeath to my son David his heirs and assigns the north third part of my land where he has made an improvement. He is also to pay one hundred & thirty dollars two years after my decease for the use of my daughters.

I likewise will and bequeath to my son Andrew, the middle third part of my land and his heirs and assigns forever. The lines of each of the above mentioned places to stay as they are now run except two acres that is to (sic) much in my son David part which is to be taken from that part and given my son Andrew to be taken below the sugar crop across the bottom and I wish my son Andrew to work the 3rd part now given to him. For to enable him to do it he shall have the two horses and two pairs of gears and all other articles necessary for plowing.  One ax and one grubing (sic) hoe, two hilling hoes and he is to have the young bay mare, two years old this spring. And give up the other two when he comes of age which is to be sold and divided as the other moveable property and if he works the place he shall have the two thirds of the profit, the other two thirds to be equally divided between my beloved wife and my daughter Martha while Martha remain single. If she marries it shall be given to her mother and the said Andrew is to pay one hundred and ninety dollars three years after he comes of age for the use of my daughters.

I do also will and bequeath to my daughters Agnes, Sarah, Martha, and Margaret all the money due and owing to my estate that is not herein otherwise disposed of together with the five hundred and ten dollars to be paid by my three sons.  My daughters all to be made equal counting what they have got that is charged to them in the papers enclosed with what may be charged to them before my decease.

I do further devise that my moveable property not herein otherwise disposed to be sold by my executors and the third part thereof I give and bequeath to my beloved wife and the other two-thirds to be equally divided among y four daughters.

And lastly I do hereby appoint my beloved wife, my son Robert and David Wallace to be my sole Executors of this, my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills and testaments any time heretofore made or executed hereby declaring ratifying and confirming this to be my last will and testament to intents and purposes.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-seventh day of May Eighteen hundred and fourteen.

Signed, John Henderson

[witnesses]

William C. Theakes

John Campbell

INFORMATION GAINED

With this will, we learn the approximate date of his death, his location–county and state– the first names of his wife, six sons and four daughters. We learn that Andrew is the youngest son.  Since he mentions that Martha will get XXX until she marries, I might assume that his other daughters are married, but that is not made certain as it is in some wills where the women’s married names are used.  He does not mention any grand children, which could mean he doesn’t have any, but likely means that none of his children died before him, leaving “issue.”

Find a Grave and an application for the Sons of the American Revolution indicate he was born in 1747, so he is about 67 years old when he writes his will.  His wife Martha is 55.  I can speculate that he was married when Martha was 18 to 20, so they have been married 38-40 years and his oldest son, William (usually the children are listed in order of age) is about 40 years old in 1814. In fact, other sources say William was born in 1774 and Andrew in .

The will is only a starting point, and much more evidence is needed, but it gives plenty of clues for the search.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie (Kaser) Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette (Anderson) Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera (Stout) Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran Stout, who is the son of
  • Emmeline (Cochran) Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Martha (Henderson) Cochran, who is the daughter of
  • William T. Henderson who is the son of
  • John Henderson from Ireland

A Note on Sources

Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998, Accessed at Ancestry.com. From Will Records, 1804-1919 ; General Index to Estates, 1801-1935; Author: Ohio. Probate Court (Belmont County); Probate Place: Belmont, Ohio Will Records, Vol A, 1804-1816

Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70178975 There is quite a bit of information on John Henderson and his wife, without documentation. I have written to the poster to ask for more detail.

U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 accessed at Ancestry.com  While some applications for Sons of the American Revolution can be valuable, this one appears to have skipped a generation after John Henderson’s son. With an obvious error in another generation, the information on John and Martha cannot be taken as proof.

The following records indicate a John Henderson, and are consistent as well as located in Belmont County, Ohio, however I need more data to be sure they apply to the correct John Henderson.

Ohio Tax List 1809, John Henderson, Belmont County, Oxford Township. From Ohio, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890 at Ancestry.com

Ohio Tax List 1806, John Henderson, Belmont County, no township listed. From Ohio, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890 at Ancestry.com

U.S., Indexed Early Land Ownership and Township Plats, 1785-1898, Plat map with John Henderson’s name in two places, accessed at Ancestry.com. From National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Township Plats of Selected States; Series #: T1234; Roll: 51

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Blackberry Pie

When one of my DNA matches and I got to talking about family, she happened to mention that her grandma, Catherine Blubaugh (my 2nd cousin)   made such great blackberry pie that she won her husband, William Goode, that way.  I asked the DNA buddy if she could find a recipe, and she is trying to find it.  But when I saw big luscious blackberries in the market, I knew I couldn’t wait.

Blackberry pie close up

Blackberry pie, close up.

There’s still a chance she’ll come up with the recipe and we can compare it to this one.  I do know that great grandma used lard in the pie crust, and I didn’t–but she also made a chocolate cake, so maybe we’ll get that recipe.

Of course, it was more fun in grandma’s day because you would have that expedition into the countryside where you filled a bucket with blueberries, getting scratched in the process, eating berries as you went, and getting berry stains all over you.  However, there are many other benefits to eating blackberries.

Catherine Blubaugh

Catherine Blubaugh (Goode)

Seeing Catherine Blubaugh’s picture, I suspect it was more than just a pie that won her husband!

Like all my pies, this one starts with the Perfect Pie Crust.  If you haven’t tried this fool-proof recipe that calls for a bit of vinegar, maybe it is time.  As for me, I thought it was about time that I bake a pie with a lattice crust. So I did.  It certainly is not picture perfect, but it has the advantage of looking home made.  You’d certainly never mistake this for a bakery pie, now would you?

Lattice top on pie

Before baking. Blackberry pie with lattice top

The Perfect Pie Crust dough is very forgiving, which makes it easy to handle for a lattice crust.  I cut the strips with a pizza cutter and after building up a higher than usual edge, started weaving the strips on the pie.

One other thing I want to show you is a recent acquisition.  You know how the edges of the pie tend to get too brown, because they stick up higher than the rest?  For decades, I have folded two strips of aluminum foil and awkwardly tucked them around the edges of the pie to protect it. Of course, when I pulled the rack out to check the pie, the hot aluminum foil fell off and it was a pain to try to get it back.

Recently I broke down and bought ONE MORE THING for my baking cupboard–a silicone edge protector.  How I wish I had one of these years and years ago. It is adjustable to fit all sizes of pie pans, and being silicone, will take the high heat you sometimes use to bake a pie shell.

Edge protector

Pie baked with edge protector.

Next time you see nice blackberries in the store, consider this pie. Even if you don’t need to win a husband. Not in the mood for pie? How about blackberry liqueur?

Let’s call it Blubaugh Blackberry Pie.

Blackberry Pie

Serves 6-8
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert

Ingredients

  • pastry for 2-crust pie
  • 4 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Minute tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter (cut in small dice)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Roll out half of pie crust and line pie pan, forming a generous rim. Put in refrigerator
3. Mix sugar and tapioca, pour over berries along with lemon juice and mix gently. Let sit 15 minutes.
4. Put filling into pie shell and dot with butter.
5. Roll out 2nd half of pie crust into circle the size of the top of pie pan plus one inch.
6. Cut the circle of pie crust into 3/4 inch strips. Fasten one end of the strip along one half of the bottom crust. Fold back every other strip. Lay one strip perpendicular to the first strips, folding down the strips that are folded back. Fold back the strips that are now under the first perpendicular strip. Continue in this fashion to weave the top. Pinch the edges securely.
7. Brush top with egg yolk or milk and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Protect edges with aluminum foil or a silicone edge protector. Place pan on a cookie sheet to protect oven from drips. Bake at 400 degrees10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and bake until crust nicely browned and berries are bubbling.

Note

This recipe will work with any berries. You may have to adjust the sugar, depending on the sweetness, and be sure you have a generous amount of berries if you use a large pie pan I made this in a 9" pan.

 

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