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!


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