Monday, January 16, 2017

Possibilities


The one enchanting thing about the start of the new year is that it is ripe with possibilities—possibilities that eventually grow into projects. As the year gets rolling and those projects get launched, that bright hope which comes with the luxury of contemplating possibilities can undergo some tarnishing. But never mind that for now. Let's bask in the inner warmth of those possibilities, shall we?

Picking up the tale of that mysterious Christmas gift found abandoned in a local antique shop, we are ready to consider the possibilities uncovered from its pages. We've already been properly introduced to several of the players revealed in just the first few of the album's pages—at least, as properly as possible, considering the circumstances.

We've already met Harry and "Self"—the anonymous writer behind those white ink notes on each of the album's pages. We've easily surmised that they are the couple who are the proud parents of the two young girls cavorting through the album's pages, Ruby and Iris. In addition, we've been introduced to a man named O'Malley and a woman called Alice, though we aren't yet sure how they connect to the family's story.

And, of course, there's Grannie. She's the one who seems most likely to have been mentioned in newspaper reports as the West Highland White Terrier owner identified as Mrs. P. Hawkes. In fact, there's a good chance she is the one whose home is the place called Bride Park House in the parish of Ovens in County Cork, Ireland.

Finding the surname Hawkes has indeed been a great help. Who knew it would be the family's dog that would lead us to uncover the mystery of this photo album? Yet it isn't entirely helpful; we have yet to determine just which of these players can claim that surname besides Grannie. Would it be "Self"? Or Harry?

One more player in this scene may also claim rights to that surname: the reticent shadow unwillingly captured in a few of the photographs in the album's opening pages. We've already seen him here, in a fuzzy composition with the ever-present Ruby and Iris. From that introduction, we've learned that his name was Penrose. But is it Mr. Penrose, with an unknown given name? Or may we presume he was Penrose Hawkes? How, exactly, does he connect to this family gathering?

Penrose, looking very cross!


Googling the name Penrose Hawkes does bring up some promising results. However, there are more entries to be found in the United States than in Ireland.

The two lists—one, the search results about the Penrose Hawkes from Ireland and the other the results about the Penrose Hawkes in America—are likely concerning themselves with the same person, opening up a chapter into a fascinating side story concerning the Hawkes family—if, indeed, we have identified the right person.

 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Off on the Right Track


Welcoming the new year—at least the first two weeks of it—hasn't been bad at all. I can't say I've had as positive a feeling about a New Year in a long time.

As far as keeping track of research progress, the experiment I tried last year was encouraging. Here's the first installation on the statistical report for 2017. Keep in mind, this is not just a wearying task having to do with numbers. The impetus behind this pursuit—which actually started in late 2014 when I discovered an "exact match" adoptee sharing my matrilineal line—is to trace my mother's mother's mother's line back to whatever generation will pinpoint the nexus between my ancestry and that of my mystery cousin.

Not only that; gearing my research to include siblings of each generation of my direct line—and then extrapolating to all the descendants of any given ancestor—will hopefully help me spot how I match those many unknown third and fourth cousins popping up in my DNA test results with alarming regularity. Keeping track of the numbers helps encourage the research momentum.

For now, it looks like the most—er, make that the only—progress being made is on my maternal line and that of my husband. No problem, though. These are the two lines most likely to experience DNA matches—and also the two lines whose roots reach back to colonial America.

So let's look at the numbers for our new year's fresh start.

On my mother's line, I opened the year with 9,305 names in my freshly-synced family tree. In the past two weeks, I've added and documented 136 additional individuals, bringing the total up to 9,441.

On my mother-in-law's line, the year began with 9,523 and improved to 9,744—a jump of 221 names. I'm not sure why my mother-in-law's line always takes the prize for greatest number of additions, but it sure seems like it does. Perhaps it was all those large Catholic families.

The DNA matches seem to be settling into a pattern, as well, with Family Tree DNA bringing in nearly twice as many as Ancestry DNA in any given time period. Perhaps that is because we are still seeing the tsunami wave coming towards us from that company's unbelievable holiday sale. The down side, of course, is that, flooded with extra work, the lab is likely struggling to keep up with the input. Back in early December, my two sisters in law generously agreed to become "guinea pigs" for one of my genetic genealogy data reading experiments; I've yet to see their results show up in my husband's matches.

So, as it stands right now, the year started out with 970 matches for my husband's account at FTDNA, which bumped up to 980 over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, his Ancestry DNA account only advanced five, from 186 to 191 matches. As for mine, the 1,521 January first tally at FTDNA rose nineteen to 1540, and my Ancestry DNA matches are now up eight to 427.

Making progress on all these aspects is sometimes as simple a matter as squeezing in a few minutes daily to review shaky leaf hints on Ancestry. I must confess, I often spend my lunchtime at my desk, working through those hints as systematically as possible. It may seem like a big number when viewed in the aggregate, but doing a little at a time—and doing so regularly—can make a difference over the long haul.



Above: "Shepherd with sheep in winter landscape," oil on canvas by German artist Ernst Adolf Meissner (1837 - 1902); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Off the Shelf:
The Forgotten Irish


It isn't often that I get to buy a book during the year preceding its official release, but that's exactly what happened with the title I want to feature this month.

Granted, the idea of this monthly post is to remind me—a book lover smitten with an insidious disease causing the victim to purchase volumes which then remain shelved and, unfortunately, unread—to go back to that bookshelf, pull the books down one by one and, for crying out loud, actually, you know, read them.

Ahem.

True confession number two: I have a second weakness. This one, I suspect, is genetic, for it was my mother and sister before me who would conspire—even two months ahead of time, and spanning the six hundred miles that separated them—to purchase books as Christmas presents for me, and then ship said present between themselves, so they could each first read the book before gifting it to unsuspecting me. I have now followed suit, as I purchase books for my anthropologically-minded daughter.

"Oh, this one would be great for her to read," I'd think, all the while secretly plotting how I could read it first.

Such were the machinations at play, when I fortuitously stumbled upon a promotional announcement for conflict archaeologist Damian Shiels' upcoming book, The Forgotten Irish.

I'm not sure how I first learned about the book. Granted, I do a lot of research on our family's Irish heritage. Having a daughter recently spend two semesters studying abroad at University College Cork led me to follow a number of Irish archaeology types on Twitter and other social media. And naturally, I follow several blogs on Irish genealogy, archaeology and related topics. Damian Shiels had already surfaced in the mix, long before I discovered the launch of his new book.

Perhaps it was the review I spotted on Claire Santry's indispensable blog, Irish Genealogy News that drew me towards considering getting a copy for myself my daughter. In Claire's mind, The Forgotten Irish was "easily my book of the year."

Then, too, the premise of the book—using the widows and dependents pension files from the American Civil War era "to build a partial picture of the lives of individual Irish emigrant families"—piqued my interest. It was my kind of pursuit. Written by a researcher who had already demonstrated his prowess through his earlier edition, The Irish in the American Civil War, this newly-launched volume promised to delve into material which could breathe some life into the micro-histories of these forgotten people.

I'm not sure how it was, but just in time for some early Christmas shopping in 2016, I spotted a mention of a bargain price for The Forgotten Irish at the Book Depository. Yes, the book was published in the U.K. Yes, that meant shipping it across an ocean and then a sizeable continent. But yes, the company was willing to ship it worldwide for free plus sell it to me at an unbelievable price. I couldn't wait 'til Christmas!

So, technically, the book did sit on my shelf for a while—at least through the two months since its arrival before Christmas—before I got to pull it down and feature it on my monthly book post. I assuaged my guilty book-buying conscience by not reading it before actually gifting it to its intended recipient. (It is a paperback, after all.)

And now, I'm reading it.

There was one small puzzle, though. Being a Christmas gift and all, of course it will be an item whose purchase date I'll remember clearly. So I was quite surprised to see a tweet by the author yesterday, which advised the official launch of The Forgotten Irish would occur on January 26. That, as far as I can tell, means January of 2017.



How is this? I double checked for dates. Could this have been an announcement for January of 2016? If not, oh, how I wish I were headed to Dublin right now!

According to its Google entry, the book was released on October 6, 2016 by its publisher, The History Press. But if you look up The Forgotten Irish on Amazon, the blurb indicates the book will not be available until May, 2017. That's if you want to wait until American outlets make the volume available. I certainly didn't. Besides, while speeding up the process by shopping overseas, you certainly can't beat the price.

Meanwhile, I've overcome my mother's weakness for taking a sneak peak at reading the very books she's about to give to others. I now read those books after Christmas. Yeah, like when the recipient leaves the country to do some post-holiday winter-break traveling. After all, it wouldn't be like she is taking the book with her. May as well seize the moment. I've got a couple hundred pages yet to cover before she gets home.   

 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Finding the Right Bride Park House


With the nagging thought still lurking in the back of my mind—that the unnamed family in the photo album I found might merely have posed for their pictures at a lovely spot discovered while touring Ireland—I continued following two parallel research tracks. One was to seek any record of the Mrs. P. Hawkes whose darling West Highland White Terrier had won so many ribbons at Cork dog shows. The other, of course, was to zero in on the specific parcel of land which would definitively identify the right location for the building dubbed Bride Park House.

It was that second task which was uppermost in my mind, once I discovered another home known as Bride Park in the same county in Ireland. I simply can't abide it when my pet hypotheses don't line up with reality.

Fortunately, using the Ireland-specific version of Google helped bring a few local resources into focus. While the Landed Estates Database we discussed yesterday seemed to lead us away from our target property, it nevertheless included some interesting detours which may turn out to be helpful in the second phase of our quest to learn more about the Hawkes family.

Keep in mind the NUI Landed Estates Database is organized to be searched in three different ways. One of those is to search by family name. Right away, I headed for the A to Z listings in the family category. There was plenty to wade through under the heading for H. If our mystery album's family was indeed part of the Hawkes line of County Cork, there was plenty to learn about their forebears in the 1800s in this overview of Hawkes holdings.

Though none of the entries mentioned the name Bride Park specifically, various entries on the Hawkes family confirmed some of the other discoveries I had been finding simply by Googling that name. What I had been sensing about a family name with quite a history turned out to be so.

That was not all to be found on Bride Park, as you may already have discovered for yourself if you chose to join in the research chase. While I couldn't find anything correlating "Hawkes" with "Bride Park" in any landed estates, I could find some more recent listings for properties.

One beautiful website discovery was that of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. There, among their entries, was one looking very much like the Bride Park House we had been musing over from the photograph album's pages. Except now, much like the Dorothy who was transported from Kansas to Oz, we weren't looking out the door to view a 1936 black and white life any longer; this photograph was in vivid color.

Detailing the house history for the very building we are seeking, the Architectural Heritage entry informs us that Bride Park House was likely built in the 1820s. In the townlands of Kilumney in County Cork, the property has undergone additions, all of which are catalogued in the Architectural Heritage description of the building's construction. Clicking on the web page's hyperlink for "additional images" reveals a close-up of the very doorway where I suspect "Grannie" stood in 1936 to have her picture snapped.

The location of the house, according to the map linked to its entry in the Architectural Heritage website, appears to be right next to a river. Whether that is the River Bride, I'm not yet sure, but it seems likely. Checking the property's location on Google maps not only confirms that location, but adds the ability to view it via "street view," revealing yet another iteration of what seems to be the very property we've been seeking.

Ruby and Iris, taken in the garden at Bride Park—July 1936





Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bride Park: Not Just a Kennel


Page by page, that discarded family photo album I had found now started providing more clues. The more details spotted on previous pages, the more understanding the exercise yielded. It took a process, first, of linking internal clues to each other, then, when enough of those were aggregated, taking the leap into the real world to try out our hypothesis and see if it led us to any real people.

Before jumping to any conclusions, though, it might be helpful to view just one more page in the album I rescued from our local antique shop. This one allows us to step back from that "hall door" we had already seen in the photograph of "Grannie" and take in a view of the house through which the entrance led.

Not only did this photograph provided a glimpse of just what the place looked like in 1936, but its caption revealed to us that the building, itself, was called Bride Park.

Part of Bride Park House.

What we had previously assumed was the name of the kennel claiming the bragging rights for the prize-winning "Bride Park Periwinkle" turned out to be the name of the home where the kennel was likely based.

The question now became: where, exactly, would that Bride Park home be located? If the house known as Bride Park was the residence of the "Mrs. P. Hawkes of Ovens" whose prize-winning West Highland White Terrier came from a kennel bearing that same name, it would figure that Bride Park would be located in Ovens.

Fortunately, questions like this are serving to reawaken some of my hibernating research memories from our family's trip to Ireland, two years ago. One site I had found back then, upon discovering an Irish relative's address led to the ruins of a now-deserted two story home, was a useful database set up by the National University of Ireland in Galway. Called the Landed Estates Database, it catalogs properties in Ireland by location, by family names and by estate names.

My next step, obviously, was to go straight to the NUI database and see what could be found under the heading, "Bride Park." There was indeed an entry, from which I gleaned that there is also a townland bearing the same name as the estate, itself.

The entry provided a brief historical rundown on the first owners of the Bride Park estate. The house was built in the 1770s by a Reverend Stephen Rolleston, changing hands in the early 1800s to a Reverend Spread. By the mid 1800s, the owner was a man named Thomas Power, but there had apparently been others on the title, prior to that point.

None of the surnames, however, included that of the woman whose kennel shared the name of this estate. There was no mention of anyone named Hawkes.

That was where I slowed down to take in all the details on this brief house history. While I was somewhat consoled by spotting the mention of new owners taking over in the early 1900s, that hardly mattered when I realized what the map on the page was shouting at me: this Bride Park was on the wrong side of the city of Cork. If Mrs. P. Hawkes was from Ovens, she had to live in a place to the west of Cork, not the east. And the NUI Galway site had this Bride Park situated to the northeast of the city.

Now I understand why, despite a recent renovation, that Bride Park house didn't quite look the same as our photograph. It wasn't the same house!

That left me wondering: should I be following the lead of the name of the kennel owner, Mrs. P. Hawkes? Or should I pursue further clues by examining more details about this property which appeared to be the rightful claimant to the estate name Bride Park?

Not only that, but another possibility occurred to me: what if, like many "photo shoots" of our current day, this unnamed family was just on an outing to a beautiful, photogenic locale which would serve as a pleasant backdrop for their family portraits?  



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Genealogy:
Going to the Dogs


I'll never forget, after my return home from a genealogical research trip to Ireland a couple years ago, my amazed reaction to a post by a fellow blogger on the research difficulties she faced in locating any records in Ireland on her dad's paternal grandfather.

I already understood, of course, the particular challenges faced by those trying to document their family history in nineteenth-century Ireland; there simply aren't any records available for many of the items we've come to see, in America, as go-to sources for genealogical evidence. But I couldn't fathom the desperation—and, admittedly, the ingenuity—of seeking any sign of one's ancestors in dog license registers!

Now, in trying to trace any path toward resources to provide the identities of the people in this mystery photo album I found, discovering that the family owned a prize-winning—and surely registered—purebred dog made me wish that, like my Irish blogging friend Dara, I could pull up the register for the dog known as Bride Park Periwinkle.

Despite no longer being anywhere near the Emerald Isle, I did try my hand at some online searching. Rather than heading to my usual go-to search resource, I zeroed in on Google.ie. After all, if this kennel was located in Ireland, I needed to use the Irish version of that ubiquitous search engine.

I now saw why searching for any clues from the American Kennel Club wouldn't work. I needed to turn my attention to any leads at the Irish Kennel Club. That, I presumed—based on other place names found in the photo album I was researching—would be the likely organization at whose shows Bride Park Periwinkle had managed to obtain so many accolades.

Pending any search through the IKC archives, I spotted another couple interesting details that might help resolve my research dilemma. One, it turned out, was contained in the very photograph we had taken a look at yesterday. Admittedly, the digitized copy makes it difficult to see this, but the woman standing with the little white dog in those photographs is wearing an outfit that looks just like one we've already observed.

Is it possible that the striped blouse she is wearing in this photo



is the same as the one worn by the woman here?    



If so, the owner of Bride Park Periwinkle was likely the mother of either Harry or "self"—the woman whose name I believe to be Alice.

The second detail I found came courtesy of that Ireland-specific Google.ie search engine. The results led me to a newspaper archiving website called Irish Newspapers. Since it is a subscription site—and, alas, I am not a subscriber to this site I'd never heard of—all I could glean was a small icon of the newspaper edition of interest and a near-impossible-to-read version of their OCR readout. (Though I am not a subscriber, if you are, you may view the article via this link; apparently, the site is no longer providing subscriptions and content is, or will soon be, managed by another site, Irish Newspaper Archives.)

The article that interested me contained a small insertion in the May 18, 1937, edition of the Dublin Irish Independent. Under the headline, "Winners at the Cork Show," there were long lists of categories and names. For the breed West Highland White Terriers, there were two mentions that might pay off some handsome research dividends as we try to convert dog genealogy into the human kind.

"Mrs. Hawkes' Periwinkle of the Bride" followed another mention of a "Mrs. P. Hawkes" from Ovens. Ovens—for those of us unfamiliar with the geography of County Cork—is on the main road leading from the city of Cork through Macroom to Killarney. It is not far from some of the other place names we've seen mentioned in this photo album—places like Ballinora and Grange Cottages.

Thus, my first guess that might lead us to some real people and their actual identities is that Mrs. P. Hawkes is the older woman in the photo album whom we first met, labeled as "Grannie."

Now, we'll have to test out that hypothesis...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Periwinkle: A Favorite


You can learn quite a bit about a person by watching him interact with animals. Perhaps that also goes for discerning the fine details regarding those peopling one's family history.

We certainly gleaned some clues as to the personality of the woman who likely added the white-inked notes to the photograph album I found, relinquished to its fate in a nearby antique store. If nothing else, she was fond of a horse she may well have ridden in her own childhood, long before the pictures snapped for that 1936 album.

She—or someone else in her family—also cherished other pets. At least one other four-footed creature found a central location in the collection sent by Harry and Alice to an unknown recipient that Christmas so long ago.

"Bride Park Periwinkle"—winner of 6 first prizes, before he was 12 months old.


When I saw this picture and explanation in the album, I thought maybe it could serve as a way to glean some clues about the album's family. After all, my own family has had a penchant for purebreds. Before my husband and I were married, he owned two Lhasa Apsos from a local breeder here in California. I, for my part, was already smitten with a plucky Sealyham Terrier I had purchased from a kennel in Cleveland, Ohio.

Both of us knew that, for every handsome canine called "Spot" or "Fido," there was actually an incredibly long and unwieldy real name registered in an AKC pedigree. "Spot" was just a handy working name. Most names had a set structure to them, the first part actually representing the name of the kennel where the dog had been bred.

In the case of this 1936 photograph, then, "Periwinkle" would likely be the dog's name, and "Bride Park" would be the name of the kennel.

Easy, I thought. All I need to do is contact the AKC to look up the name of the kennel or search for a pedigree containing that dog's name.

Even though the photograph was not very clear—the subject wasn't really framed to the best advantage—it gave enough clues for me to determine the dog was a "Westie." A canine cousin to my favorite breed, the sealyham terrier, the West Highland White Terrier has long been a popular breed in the United States.

Try as I might, though, searching online for any history of Westie breeders to get an idea of who was behind the Bride Park kennel turned out to be useless. The hint was leading me...nowhere.

Of course, that was before I started sharing this album with readers here at A Family Tapestry. And it certainly was before I slowed down enough to write about the details I was noticing. It helps to put the brakes on, sometimes, and linger over all these enigmatic clues.

A few of the details that emerged, once we all started taking a close look at what we were finding here, included the idea that this might not be a household located in the United States. Thus, searching for any leads through the American Kennel Club might not yield the type of information we'd be seeking. Place names we've already noticed in this album include Crosshaven and Ballinora, both places definitely traced to one location: Ireland.

Could this be a kennel in Ireland? If so, could locating the details on "Bride Park" kennel help us figure out the name of the family who originated this album?

There was one more hint that didn't even occur to me until just the other day. You may not be able to see it in the copy here, due to the quality of the photographs in today's post, but look closely at the figure standing with the dog in both of these pictures. The person attending the dog and putting Periwinkle through those show dog paces is wearing an outfit we've seen in another one of the photographs in this album.




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