Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Thomas and Judah Farrell DNA Project: ask me, I'm excited!

Do you ever get so wrapped up in a family group on your tree that it's almost as though they're haunting you? No peace day or night because there they are in your mind taking up all available space. Well it's been like that for Mom at times and now it's like that for me. (Mom, as you might remember is 95 and still working on genealogy. It keeps her young but it's about to wear on my brother's last nerve because Mom wants her computer moved so she can work more. You go Mom!)

Let me tell you a bit about the Farrells and then I'll fill you in on this DNA project. It might take a couple of posts to cover all the ground but it should be worth it in the end. I have a partner in this work and that's a first for me... well, besides Mom. And neither of us are experts in DNA stuff so we're learning as we go. And we're not doing a big surname DNA study either because of the problem of not having all the Y-DNA. We are using chromosome matching and find it fascinating as a way to proceed. OK, so that's where we're going, and now let's go!

First about the Farrels.
Thomas was born in 1797 in Ireland and he married Judah (or in the common version of that name at the time, Judy) who was born in 1815 also in Ireland. Honestly we haven't even scratched the surface of finding this happy couple in Ireland yet, but you can read about what Mom remembers that her mother told her about them here.

The sons, it seems, reverted to the traditional version of the surname and used O'Farrell. I've been told that dropping or keeping the O' was a choice that came and went on the tides of fashion and political sentiment, and that keeping the O' was a nod to Irish tradition.

Thomas and Judah married in Ireland and had two girls there, my second great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Farrell in 1835, and then her sister Catherine in 1837. I often wonder if they followed the naming traditions of naming the oldest girls after the father's and the mother's mothers. That might be a clue in locating them in Ireland... or not.

All four, Thomas, Judah, Mary Elizabeth, and Catherine came to the USA from Ireland about 1840 or 1841. Thomas applied for naturalization in Cumberland, Allegany, Maryland in 1841. Now, exactly why he came her is a mystery to us because they came before the Great Famine years. We imagine that times were getting hard. Were they forced off the land and into a poorhouse as so many others of their generation? Perhaps. But they were part of a great exodus west then, out of Ireland and on to America.

Once on US soil they lived over in West Virginia in Morgan County in a little town that's not there anymore called Magnolia. He farmed. (You can read about Magnolia here.)

Once settled in Magnolia, Thomas leased a piece of land called the Widmeyer Tract, and you can see part of that indenture between Thomas and Mr. Aaron Harlan, dated 22 February, 1845, below. I'm transcribing it now because we are searching for any and all details  about this family, no matter how small.

Once in Magnolia, they had these children: James born 1842, Thomas born 1843, and then the four youngest girls, Ann born 1845, Ellen born 1846, Bridget born 1849, and little Sarah born 1851. Am wondering if the boys were named after Thomas and Judah's fathers?

So there the family is, happily working the land and making a go of it, filling out the family with strong sons and beautiful girls, one hopes;) Then somehow, it all turns sad. Thomas the father died in 1851. Judah died in 1857.

We know what happened to the four oldest children but not the 4 youngest girls. Last we see these little ones is in the 1860 census and they all are working as servants, as follows:
* Sarah is but 9 years old and serving in her sister Catherine Farrell Boxwell's house in the Magnolia area. We guess she married someone close by and find a Sally (common for Sarah) Farrell marrying in 1880 in Berkeley County, West Virginia to a man named John W. Wageley, working as a railroader, whose parents were William and Susan Wageley. In the 1880 census there is a son in the family but that's got to be her husband's boy from a first marriage.
* Ellen is 12 and serving in the household of John Coulhan (?), a merchant, and living in Cumberland, Allegany, Maryland. He too was born in Ireland. Then we lose her.
* Bridget is 13 and serving in the household of Patrick Connor in Clarysville, Allegany, Maryland. He was born in Ireland and is working in the coal mines near there. And then we lose her.
* Ann is 16 and serving in the household of a Mr. Cosgrove in Morgan County, West Virginia, who is a railroad watchman and was born in Ireland. Then we lose her.

It strikes me that this is a good Catholic family and they placed the girls in Irish households to be with other Irish Catholic families. Maybe the girls all married in the locations where they worked. So where can we look for the girls marriage records? Ellen in Cumberland which is St Patrick's Parish. But Bridget in Clarysville? What parish is that? Can it be our own St. Michael's in Frostburg where Mom was born and still lives?

Well that should set it up for you. Mom and I are all excited about this project, as is Cousin Rich, and I didn't even start telling you how he comes into this. Let's save that for tomorrow because it's all about DNA and then collaboration.

My second great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Farrell) House (1835-1917)
Born in Ireland, died in Western Maryland.
Had 16 children.

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