Pierse & Mary Flahavan, Quintessential 19th Century Irish Peasants — Part II

As mentioned in Part I, Pierse and Mary Flahavan were the parents of five children:

Philip J (my client’s great-grandfather), born Jan 1858, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1880 (who will be the subject of a future blog post);

Catherine, born 1863, emigrated to Massachusetts between 1880 and 1885;

Michael J, born 1864, emigrated to Massachusetts about 1885;

Margaret M, born 1866, emigrated to Massachusetts about 1886;

And probably a daughter named Mary, birth year unknown but before 1864, stayed behind in Ireland.

The four known siblings all emigrated to Massachusetts in the 1880s, beginning with Philip in 1880, who settled in Concord, Massachusetts, while the three other siblings who emigrated settled in Greenfield, Massachusetts. (Perhaps the litany of court cases sheds light on the children’s emigration.)

City of Chester Ship

S.S. City of Chester, the ship that brought Philip J Flahavan to America

After much research, the mystery of what happened to Pierse’s wife (my client’s great-great-grandmother) Mary (Murray) Flahavan has finally been solved. The case is a good example of some of the complexities of genealogical research. Exhaustive research of Irish death records revealed only one death record for the two Mary Flahavans of an appropriate age who lived in that part of County Waterford. That death record was for a Mary Flahavan who died in a lunatic asylum in 1889 at the age of 50, with an indication that the woman may have been from Kilmacthomas, which was a more appropriate match to the other Mary Flahavan.

So, one must finally turn to “outside the box” thinking to determine where my client’s great-great-grandmother Mary died. While her husband Pierse was still in Ireland, four of their children were in Massachusetts (Catherine, Michael and Margaret in Greenfield, and Philip in Concord). Was she there? There was a Mary Flavin living in Greenfield in 1900. Was it her? That Mary is listed as 64 years old (which could be right for the Mary in question) and married (not divorced or widowed). But she doesn’t live with a husband, but rather a 14-year-old grandson named Edward Power. Pierse and Mary’s daughter Catherine married a man named Edward Power, so this boy must be Catherine’s son. These facts (the right age, married but not living with a husband, and the grandson has the right name), taken together prove that it is my client’s great-great-grandmother!

Murray, Mary 1900 Census

1900 Census Record for Mary Flavin, Greenfield, MA

This is a somewhat shocking revelation, since it was uncommon  for  a  woman to live apart from her husband,  especially internationally,  in that era. (They did not divorce, which would have been very uncommon, but lived on separate continents for their final 15 years.)

With this record, along with Catherine’s death record, the story is revealed: Mary was living near her children in Greenfield. Her daughter Catherine had first married a man named Edward Power, and they had a son named Edward, Jr. The father Edward subsequently died, and Catherine re-married Edward Campbell. Catherine then died, tragically, on 15 April 1900 of “consumption” (tuberculosis) and “Bright’s Disease” (chronic inflammation of the kidneys). When the census was taken on 11 June 1900, less than two months after Catherine’s death, Catherine’s mother Mary was clearly assisting with the care of her 14-year-old grandson, who had by then lost both of his parents, and perhaps did not wish to, or was not welcome to, live with his remaining step-father Edward Campbell.

Flavin, Catherine Death Record

Catherine Flavin (Flahavan) Death Record

 

Murray, Mary 1900 Census

1900 Census, Greenfield, MA: Flavin, Mary, Head of household, white, female, birth: unknown month, 1836, age 4, married for 45 years, mother of 5 children, 4 still living, born in Ireland, father born in Ireland, mother born in Ireland, immigrated to U.S. in 1885, resident for 15 years, unable to read, unable to write, speaks English. Power, Edward, Grandson, white, male, birth: unknown month, 1886, age 14, single, born in Mass., father born in Ireland, mother born in Ireland, laborer, machine shop, employed for 10 months of the previous year, able to read, able to write, able to speak English.

A detailed look at the 1900 Census reveals more facts about Mary and her grandson Edward. Mary was born in 1836 and married to Pierse in 1855. She was, at the time of the census, the mother of five children (the four who emigrated, and a child remaining in Ireland, probably a daughter named Mary), four of whom were still living, accounting for the recent death of Catherine. She emigrated in 1885, undoubtedly along with at least one of her children. She was illiterate. Her grandson Edward, age 14, did not attend school and was already working as a laborer in a machine shop. While this was certainly not uncommon during this era, it is worth noting that Edward’s cousin Philip Thomas Flavin (John’s grandfather), son of Catherine’s brother Philip J. Flahavan, was also age 14 in 1900. He was, however, living in Concord with two living parents, attending school, and would go on to become a dentist. Such were the vagaries and varied outcomes that resulted from the “luck of the draw” in an era where parents routinely died while their children were still young.

As for Mary, Pierse’s wife, she died in Greenfield on 10 Dec 1900 at the age of 64 from chronic bronchitis. Her husband is listed as Pierse on her death record, so again, this confirms that the Greenfield Mary Flavin is John’s great-great-grandmother.

Murray, Mary Death Record

Mary Flavin Death Record

Her parents are listed as Michael Morrissey and Margaret Murray. We know from a wealth of other records that her maiden name was Murray, and such information on a death record is only considered indirect evidence, and it would be understandable that whoever reported the death (probably one of her children or grandchildren) confused the last names of her parents. So, one could infer from this record that Mary’s mother’s maiden name was probably Morrissey, but one would want to confirm this with other records. As for the assertion that her father’s name was Michael, that is also suspect. It is known that a Pierce Murray lived in Munmahogue, and that Mary and her husband Pierse lived in Munmahogue after their marriage in 1885. One would assume that Pierce Murray would be Mary’s father, but he could also be a grandfather, an uncle, or another family member old enough to have leased land at the time of Griffith’s Valuation in 1853.

As for Pierse, back in Tramore, he is listed in the 1901 Census of Ireland living alone on Convent Hill in Tramore at the age of 74. He is Roman Catholic, a laborer, married (he was actually widowed by this time, but perhaps he was not yet aware of his wife’s death in Massachusetts in December — they were clearly not close as they had been apart since 1885), born in County Waterford, unable to read or write, but able to speak both Irish and English.

Flavan, Pierce 1901 Census

Pierse Flavin Census Record, 1901

Pierse then died on November 29, 1906 at the age of 80 in Tramore of senectus (old age). Mary Foley, who was almost certainly the daughter who stayed behind while her siblings all emigrated was listed as present as his death.

Flahavan, Pierse Death Record

Pierse Flahavan Death Record, Tramore, County Waterford

Sources:

Mary Flavin, 1900 Census: Year: 1900; Census Place: Greenfield, Franklin, Massachusetts; Roll: 648; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0480; FHL microfilm: 1240648, 1900 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004, Provo, UT.
Philip Flahavan, Catherine Flahavan, Margaret Flahavan Marriage Records:
Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013, Provo, UT.
Michael Flahavan Birth Record:
“Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881,”
database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F52L-NJR : accessed 10 October 2015), Pierse Flahavan in entry for Michael Flahavan, 24 Sep 1864; citing 0876, Tramore, Waterford, Ireland.
Philip J Flahavan Ship Passenger Record: Year: 1880; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 426; Line: 18; List Number: 591, New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Provo, UT. Michael Flavin Census:
Year: 1910; Census Place: Greenfield, Franklin, Massachusetts; Roll: T624_588; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0501; FHL microfilm: 1374601, 1910 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006, Provo, UT.
Margaret Finn Census:
Year: 1910; Census Place: Greenfield, Franklin, Massachusetts; Roll: T624_588; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0501; FHL microfilm: 1374601, 1910 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006, Provo, UT.

Pierce Flavan, 1901 Census: National Archives of Ireland, http://www.findmypast.com.
Catherine Flavin Campell and Mary Murray Flahavan Death Records:
Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013, Provo, UT.
Mary Flavin, 1900 Census: Year: 1900; Census Place: Greenfield, Franklin, Massachusetts; Roll: 648; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0480; FHL microfilm: 1240648, 1900 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2004, Provo, UT, USA.
Philip Flahavan 1900 Census:
Year: 1900; Census Place: Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll: 658; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0736; FHL microfilm: 1240658, 1900 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004, Provo, UT.

 

 

One thought on “Pierse & Mary Flahavan, Quintessential 19th Century Irish Peasants — Part II

  1. Great post, so interesting to hear how you untangled all the relationships. Definitely some out of the box thinking involved! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s