Friday, June 02, 2006

In Search of William

Our family history is very clear that one of our ancestors was brought here very early in the 1600s on a pirate ship. One of my goals has been to prove that we were here before the Great Migration when my great great grandfather, Michael Foley,returned to this country. His father, William, had been born here, according to legend, and went back to Ireland about 1800.

I may have found a record of William.

Heritage Quest online has the early census records. I searched the 1790, 1800 and 1810 census files for William Foley. There is no record of a William Foley anywhere in the federal census for 1790 or 1800. There is a record of four William Foleys in the 1810 census. One each in the states of Kentucky and Massachusetts and two in Virginia. In the 1820 census, there are four again but none in Massachusetts. One is in Kentucky and two in Virginia. One is now found in Illinois. It is possible that the William Foley from Massachusetts moved to Illinois but it is also possible that the William from Massachusetts is my great great great grandfather and that he returned to Ireland. Massachusetts is where my great great grandfather went to when he came here in the 1840s. It is very reasonable that he went there because his father still had relations there.

Let me tell you more about this William first. He was born October 8, 1786 in Waltham Massachusetts to parents John and Anna Foley. He had an older brother, John Jr. Three more brothers and one or two sisters. John Sr., his Dad, died in 1820.

On October 29, 1808, William married Peda Child. They had one son, James, in 1809.
In 1809, there was a published intention of marriage between John Jr and Lydia Parker, however, I have not been able to find a record of the actual marriage.

We know that "our" William was back in Ireland in 1817 when he married Alice Fitzgerald. Obviously, for this William to be "our" William, we have to discover what happened to his wife Peda.

At this point, I have had an epiphany about a possibility. I have wondered for some time as to why William returned to Ireland. As I considered this William, a thought hit me. Many times, early immigrants returned to their homeland for a bride. There were a lot of men here. It took men to build this country. If Peda died, this may have been the reason for William to return to the Old Sod.

Back to searching for more information about the whereabouts of William and Peda after the 1810 census. I will have to visit the Davenport Public Library to view which will have all of the additional census records I will need to review.


At 10:18 PM, Blogger Caroline Chavez said...

I don't know if I'll be adding to the puzzle in a clarifying or confusing way, but here is some info I've come across and you may consider. I'm approaching this from the Childs family line and in looking for Pida (Peda) Childs, I have discovered a 1875 New York census that lists Peda R Foley (89) as the widowed mother of Thomas W Foley (50). He is a commercial merchant living in Brooklyn and born in Rhode Island as is his wife Mary (or Marcy). But his mother's birth place is Massachusetts. This info corresponds with the info I have for Peda, but this would mean that there is another son besides the James you found. Additionally the military pension record for William lists Peda as his widow with their marriage date as Oct 29, 1808 in Framingham, so that matches my research as well.

However, his death is listed as Oct 9, 1818 in Providence, Rhode Island. If that's the case, how would there be another son born in 1825? I'm trying to fit these puzzle pieces together, and I'm curious whether you and I are tracking the same Peda and William. Any feedback or insight would be welcome.


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