Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Discoveries!

Pictured here, the Harbor at Cohassett Massachusetts as it looked when my great grandfather was born there.
My Friend Linda who maintains the Effingham County GenWeb project website has provided some new information from the year 1880.
I recently discovered that my great-grandparents, Daniel E Foley and Margaret Purtill were married in the Effingham Illinois area. I asked Linda to help.
She found them quickly and have added some information previously unknown from their marriage record on file at Effingham County.
"Effingham County Marriages 1878-1882" on page 86 provided the information on file.

It reads:
Daniel Foley of Neoga, Cumberland County, foreman of section,age 24, born Cohassett Massachusetts, son of Michael Foley and Bridget O'Preiss (O'Brien) and
Margaret Purtill of Farina, Fayette County, age 17, born Alma, Illinois, daughter of Michael Purtill and Anna Mulvihill, first.
Married Edgewood, October 21, 1880, by L. Reissen, priest, witness Thomas Hosea Purtill and Margaret Kane.

The things that we didn't know before this time:
That Daniel was born in Cohassett, Massachusetts and lived in Neoga Illinois prior to his marriage.
That Margaret was born in Alma and was living in Farina prior to her marriage.
That they were married Edgewood.

I took out the Atlas to see find these small towns in Illinois. It was no surprise that they all on the railroad line that runs parallel to I 57 in central Illinois. Margaret moved from Alma north to Farina. Daniel moved south from the Chicago area. It seemed inevitable that they would cross the same paths eventually. North met south in Edgewood.

Next I looked into Cohassett to see what was going on there that may have attracted the family to that area. Here is a bried history of Cohassett
Cohasset, named "Quonahasset" or "long rocky place" by Native Americans, was settled as an agricultural community in 1670 and remained the Second Parish and Precinct of Hingham until it was incorporated in 1770.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Cohasset developed into a seafaring village, based on shipbuilding, trading and fishing. By the mid 19th century, its mackerel fleet numbered more than 50 schooners. In the latter years of the century, the town became a summer colony of prosperous Boston families who built large estates along its shores.

And 125 years later here we are, the descendants of these folks searching for their information and filling in the blanks.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"My Father's Father"

Daniel Edmund Foley often spoke of his father's father going back to Ireland from the United States. His father was Michael Foley and records show that Michael's parents were Bridget and William Foley. My father spoke of our being early arrivers to the United States when I was little. I decided to find out what I could from the US Census data.

The Davenport Iowa Public Library has a subscription to the Library Edition of and is a very good resource. I was able to check the census records from when the US Census started in 1790,looking for Foleys.

If our family lore is correct, and I must start from that assumption, then Michael Foley was the one who came back from Ireland during the potato famine. Michael's father was William and if he is "My Father's Father" referred to, then he was born in the United States and went back to Ireland. To find Foleys in the very early census years was easy as there were not very many.

I quickly found a John Foley in the 1790 census. He lived in the city of Waltham, Middlesex County Massachusetts. During that census he reported only his name as head of household as was required and he enumerated the family members by age and sex. John dutifully reported four males under the age of sixteen, two males over 16 and two females. Presumably he is one of the males over 16 and his wife was one of the females. That would leave six children, five boys and a girl.

In the 1800 census, John Foley is found again still in Waltham although his family size has changed. He lists two males under 10 and himself, one female under the age of ten and one female between the ages of 26 and 45. It is reasonable to conclude that his oldest daughter married and they had another daughter between the two census. And they also had young sons still which would indicate the older sons moving out on their own. Sadly, there is also a possibility that some of these folks died young as the life expectancy in 1800 was nothing like it is today.

In the 1810 census, the story gets more interesting. John is still there, but there is another Foley listed in Waltham for the first time as a head of household like John. His name? William. Is this William, My Father's Father? Is William John's son? There is scant information about either family sizes in this census.

Back to for more research, this time for marriage, birth or death records, this time producing some different results.
In Waltham there is a record of William Foley marrying in 1808 to Peda Child(s). This is recorded with two different cities and dates. Either they married on September 4 in Waltham or on October 29 in Framingham. I lean towards the later because the record location is listed as the vital records of Framingham. Peda Child(s) is listed with and without the s at the end of her maiden name. In reviewing the census records of Waltham, there are many Child without the S.

There is another marriage recorded about that time between a John Foley Jr and Lydia Parker on January 4, 1807 in Waltham. There is a strong indication that these are brothers and obviously John is their Dad.

The 1820 census recordings of Waltham indicate that there are no longer any Foleys living there. Did William go back to Ireland? Where did John Jr go? Did John Sr pass away? There are many questions to be answered but I feel confident that with the help of people like Linda in Arizona who is a master genealogist in my book, the libraries, county records, we will get to more answers than questions.

Stay tuned!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Great Grand Father Daniel Edmund Foley as recalled by Don Foley

Three Generations of the Foley family tree pictured above.

Our Great-grand father, Daniel Edmund Foley, born in 1857 in Massachusetts, was a typical person of the 19th century. They had a quaint way of speaking. Dating was called "Courting" a bicycle was a "wheel."

He lost a daughter, Cecilia, at age 18 died. Joan Cecilia Foley, was named after her. He had lost his wife, Margaret Ann Purtill by the time I knew him. They were active in St,Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Carbondale after they moved there from DuQuoin. His name is listed among the parishioners who contributed a good amount of money to that Parish.

He referred to his grandfather as his Father's Father. That man we know to be William Foley. Daniel was first generation American. They were called "narrow backs" by the Irish Born, or Yanks. He was a hard worker and loved the Illinois Central rail Road. He supervised a road crew and had to be able to handle the toughest rowdies.

He had a good sense of humor. He told us that all the Foleys came from County Cork. What he obviously meant was that the Foley name first appeared in County Cork. His Family history lists Waterford as the ancestral home. His verbal history typed by our Aunt Margaret (his daughter) states that two boys returned to Ireland about 1800, one to Cork and one to Waterford. William settled in Waterord. Two of Then two of William's sons returned to the States. These would be Patrick Foley who is buried at Camp Butler and featured in earlier posts, and Michael, the namesake of this blog. He spoke pretty much the way Margaret typed it.

One of his daughters married a Doctor and lived in Texas. I think the name was Purdy. Gram used to take the train, of course, down there and visit. He didn't own a car when I knew him and lived alone in an apartment not too far from our grandad Louis Foley.

He told us that people in Ireland married young until the potato famine and then began marrying later in life. Frequently into their forties. People didn't live much longer than that.