Thursday, December 12, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Mulry Book

I am currently working on a book entitled The Mulry Family: A History of the Descendants of the Irish Immigrants to Indianapolis, Indiana 1868-2014. I thought I'd take advantage of today's Treasure Chest Thursday to give a little preview of that book.

 Perhaps the best thing about writing this book has been the connections I've made. I love how our Mulry ancestors came to Indianapolis in 1868, almost straight from Ireland, and Indianapolis is where most of us remain. I've formed special relationships with distant cousins all over the city and country, and they have supplied me with rich details and timeless photographs from their sides of the family. This has been a labor of love, and has taken many years to come to the point where it is now. I've copied the Introduction to the book below, which is about our common ancestors and should be the one part that is of particular interest to all. The rest of the book details individual nuclear families and their members.


           There is an old Mulry family history that seems to have circulated between various families in our line. It was dictated by Lawrence Mulry, the grandson of the original Irish immigrants. It was given to me by my great-aunt Patty Mulry Higginbotham. Over the years I realized how lucky we are to have such an oral history to share, and I’ve also been surprised at just how much historical records verify it, with only minor exceptions. The majority of this introduction is taken from this history.
           According to the history, the Mulry family hails from County Galway, Ireland. Historical records verify several Mulrys or Mulreys living in Galway. The name means “devotee to the Virgin Mary.” The trade of the family was blacksmithing, and it is reported that there is an old stone water trough in Galway upon which is carved Lawrence Mulry, 1752. The connection to this Lawrence is still unknown, though he was likely an ancestor of our John.
            Our earliest known ancestor is James Mulry. He was from the townland of Toomard, in the Roman Catholic parish of Ballygar, civil parish of Killian, in County Galway, Ireland. He married Mary Dunn on April 12, 1837. The witnesses at their wedding were John Smith and Dermott Loughan.
             In the Griffiths Primary Valuation in the 1850s we find James Mulry leasing land with an office and a house from John Garrard. He also has a neighbor named Laurence Mulry leasing from Mr. Garrard as well, also with a house and offices. James’ property is 1 acre, 2 roods, and 6 perches. (There are four roods in one acre, and forty perches in one rood.) Also in Toomard, we find a Luke Dunn, who is likely a relation to our Mary.
            James and Mary had a son named John. According to the first Mulry history, John was born in 1842 in County Galway, but on his gravestone it reads that he was born in 1845. John came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1863 with his younger brother Lawrence, their cousin Thomas Mulrey (note spelling difference), and a man named John P. Crain, who remained a family friend for years.
         In Boston John met a young woman named Mary Ellen Raridan. She was born in County Limerick, Ireland. The first Mulry history says she was born in 1843, but on her gravestone it reads 1848. Her surname has also been spelled Riordan and Reardon. The history says that she “came over on an old sailboat the same year, but not the same one that brought the others (1863). She told me stories about the sea being rough and they were locked in the hold for 30 days and the trip took 65 days.”
           John and Mary Ellen were married in 1863, and in 1864 moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Their firstborn, James Joseph, was born there in 1866.
          In 1868, John, Mary, son James, brother Lawrence and presumably John Crain, removed to Indianapolis. They settled in a house in the Fountain Square neighborhood, historically a very Irish area. Their house was located on the northwest corner of Olive and Willow (now Cottage) streets.
           The house is gone now, but their later residence still stands. The history tells us they moved to a house on the southeast corner of Laurel and Terrace in 1890.This is the house at 1401 Terrace Avenue, and it was here that both John and Mary passed away, John in 1911 and Mary in 1922.
             The rest of their children were born at the Olive Street address. In the 1930 census, there are two Lawrence Mulry families living in separate addresses on Olive Street, one of which could possibly their old house.
              John and Lawrence set up a blacksmith shop in what is now downtown Indianapolis, as mentioned before, this was likely their trade in Ireland. The shop was located on South Alabama Street, across the street from the old police headquarters. The police station is still in use, but the site of the old blacksmith shop is now a parking garage. Many old Indianapolis directories list their blacksmith shop, and John is listed once as a “hostler” and Lawrence as a “horseshoer”. The address of the shop is given as 660 Washington Street.
             The history reads: “They were all Catholics and they died Catholics and were all buried Catholics.”
            John’s obituary reads that the family attended St. Patrick’s Church, which still exists, located on Prospect Street in Fountain Square neighborhood. He and Mary both are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

                                                     This is our story.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Winnie Walsh

  Well, I'm back to my direct female line. This time I want to rant a little bit about this particular brick wall. It's been one that I've pushed back a few times, but it's remained solid for the past couple years. If you're not a genealogist, you may not find this interesting. If you are and could give me some advice, I'd greatly appreciate it!

  The first few generations of my female line were easy, as is usually the case. There's usually somebody around who knows their names. For me, my great-great aunt Betts could tell me her mother's name, but then she couldn't even tell me her own grandmother's name. I had to find records of her on a trip to their hometown. This whole family is an interesting case. My aunt Betts' mother, Katherine Garrity, my great-great grandmother, had left her hometown, Connersville, Indiana, when quite young, right after her mother died in 1905. Her older siblings dispersed, and the younger siblings went to live with their aunt Mary in Indianapolis, as evidenced in her obituary and census records. It's not quite clear where Katherine went at this time, as she is not in the 1910 census. But she did get married in Indianapolis in 1917, however, and lived there for the rest of her life.

  My aunt Betts said of her mother and her siblings, "It's like they all left Connersville and wanted to forget it all." I've spoken to descendants of the other siblings and they know nothing of their past either. It's unclear what happened. Their father died in 1895 and their mother, Anna Walsh Garrity, cared for them on her own in Connersville. She is listed as a "washwoman" in the 1900 census, living with all eight children and a Thomas O'Donnell (probably related to her late husband, John, whose mother was an O'Donnell.) Anna's obituary praises her, "Despite her many trials and sorrows, she bravely cared for her little brood until the last."

  I didn't find Anna's full name until I went to Connersville and found her obituary on microfilm. And I had found her first name in a census after finding the names of the children (Betts could tell me their names). The obituary said she was born in England in 1859. On another roll of microfilm I found Anna and John's marriage record, and found out her parents' names were Edward and Winifred. I made another trip to Connersville and visited St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, where the family was members. There I found Winifred's death date. On a stroke of luck I found their immigration record on - Winifred immigrated with only Anna and Mary and a brother who soon died, presumably. Edward was already gone. The girls are listed in the 1870 census, with their mother listed as "Minnie," which, I am guessing, is a corruption of "Winnie." Winnie is listed as born in Ireland in 1837, but not even Anna's marriage record gives her maiden name, unless it was also Walsh. Beyond Winifred, I have no clue.

  If you've made it this far, you see how hard this particular brick wall is. If you have any tips or recommendations on finding more about Winifred's family, I would be ever so appreciative. And, if anybody has Ancestry World Edition, could you be so kind as to look up Edward and Winifred? My guess is they are both native Irish, but lived in England around the time their children were born. I just want to know the story behind these mystery people, but that remains ever elusive.

Katherine Garrity Fox

Friday, December 6, 2013

Love letters

Below I have copied the transcription of three letters written by my husband's ancestor, John Newton Bracken, to his wife Sarah Adams Bracken. Special thanks to William Potter. The original spelling is preserved so it is a little difficult to read, but I've kept it that way for authenticity's sake.
John N. Bracken was born in 1824 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He married Sarah Adams in Ohio and they moved to Indiana some time in the mid 1860s, near Unionville in Monroe County. They had eight children and supposedly lived in a log cabin in the woods, if the detail in his last letter is to be believed. John worked as a carpenter and was often away from home, hence the habit of writing letters. John died in 1875, and Sarah had great trouble raising all of the children on her own after his death, but she stayed faithful. She passed in 1903. They are both buried in a cemetery in Unionville, but apparently have no marker.
Letter #1 - May 16, 1856:
Salinesville, Ohio
May 16th 1856
Dear Sarah,
  it is with pleasure that i imbrace the
present oportunity of adresing you a few lines to inform you
of my whereabouts which don't apere to me to be of much
importance for it aperes impossible for me to ??? eny thing
at all these times for i have not got my money yet and don't
no when i shal get it for the prospects seams duler (?) than
when i seen you last. and i have got totaly out of patients
and don't now what in thumder to do I rely beleve tat this
is the longest week that i ever put in in my life and its
not more that half out yet I have the promis of money the
first of next week just as i have had it for the last six
weeks but am in that it will come this time but theres one
thing serten that if i don't get it in time to go next week
i shan't go atall That's so but there's no use in bruding
over past trobles and hatchen (?) up more ill try and look
at the brite side of it any how.
I would like to see you but i don't want to till i no what i
am going to do but Sarah i can't rite and may as well quit
but rest asured that you have my hole hart I will not ad but
read 10, 11, 12 verses of 1st chapter of Romans nothing more
but yours truly yours till Death.
Letter #2 - May 1863:
Address: Mrs. Sarah Bracken
Amsterdam Jefferson Co. Ohio.
Salineville O., May 25. 3 cents postage.
Salinesville May 1863
Dearest Wife Is it with the greatest pleser that pen these
few lines to you to inform yo ua that i am well hoping you
and your tender ofspring enjoys the same There's nothing
strang (?) except its very warm wether its excedingly hot to
day and ita been Sabeth its been a very long day to me ive
not put in as long a Sunday since we was married as i have
to day but ive put in the time as well as i cound between
reding and stroling round on my old walks which seems
fermilure yet its now nearly dark and i must bring this to a
(next page)
as i expect to be at home on Saterday if it ant (?)
ranen or if the soon dont shine too hot so fare well my
derest wife and children Thomas ??? Robert Newton, John
Horrace and our derest sweeet litle tot Sarah Ann give them
all a kis for me and you can imanin one for yourself
you are al constantly in my mind in fact i harly new i thot
so much of my family before nothing more so good nite my
dearest love
J N Bracken
Letter #3:
June 19th /1867
Columbus June 19th /67
Dearest wife
it is with the greatest of plesure that i embrace the
present opertunity of informing you that i am well and hope
this mey find you all in the enjoyment of good helthe i
have stood it first rate since i came here and yet a long
week(?) with my work, i have a good place to board i have to
pay pretty well for it i mite get it cheeper
but id helf(?) to go in with the ruffs such as brick laers
and tenders the borders at this place are a beter class of
men ?? ?? ?? ??
we just finished sheeting over small()?) roof to day and the
tinners are puting on the roof so i am don of the dangers
work i tell you it made me think of wife and babys some
thing when on the top of the 4 story mill
June 20th thursday even
i am very tired this evening ive been laing floor all day
but expect to be rested by morning inclosed you'll find $5
i would of sent you more, but i don't like to risk more that
that at onst i'll send you some the next time i rite
tell Sarah Ann and Mary Patience that i am going to bring
them a new book apece with pictures in when i come home and
that i have a kiss for them and Ellsworth
Now Sarah i want you to rite to me every week if it would
only be that you are all well ita would besuch a pleasure
to me to no id like to how the corn looks and oats and
wheete and how the apells and peaches are thriving I looked
for a letter frome home this week but then none com i shall
be sadly disapointed if i get none next week well i've rote
about all that will be enteresting to you i mite rite a
hold lot of town gossep but its not worth while to begin for
this small space so fare you well for thepresent and when
we mete i anticipate a very plesant time with you and our
deer little ones at home Home sweet home there is no place
like home if ti is an old log cabin in the back woods yours
truly yours for ever
J N Bracken


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Abraham Wrightsman

Today's spotlight is on an ancestor of a new friend of mine, Laurie Illig of Maryland. Laurie's family originally comes from Indiana, which is where her ancestor Abraham Wrightsman was from.

Abraham Wrightsman was born around 1827 in Indiana, where exactly is unknown. We know from a 1937 article in the Kokomo Tribune that he was an early comer to Howard County. He lived in the little town of Center, just outside of Kokomo. On March 10, 1848 Abraham married Judah Davis. To this union were born eight children. Abraham was drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War, serving in the 132 Indiana Infantry. In the draft papers he is listed as a "laborer," but he was also a marshal in Indiana. Records aren't clear as to his death date. Some say he died in 1870, but it is likely he didn't die until as late as 1889, as Judah files for his pension in that year.

Facts are always interesting in genealogy, but us researchers and descendants always get excited when we can get our hands on a real life story about our ancestors. Abraham in particular is remembered for his secret work on the Underground Railroad. A 2004 article from the Kokomo Tribune reads:

Native Hoosier and Underground Railroad engineer Abraham Wrightsman moved to the area of Center, Ind., and used his home as a railroad station. Once, Wrightsman aided a slave husband and wife flee to freedom.
During their flight, they heard the deep-throated bark of the bloodhounds. The terrified trio headed toward a nearby stream; if they made it there in time, they could wade downstream a bit and possibly throw the dogs off their trail.
Prepared for such an emergency, Wrightsman pulled out a box of ground red pepper he had on him. He scattered a small amount in their tracks; the dogs could not follow their trail and the three made their escape.
Wrightsman enlisted in the Union Forces during the Civil War, received an honorable discharge, returned home and died in 1870.

What a treasure for Laurie to have in her files! You ought to be proud of your heritage, Laurie!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Okay, you've waited long enough. Here's a very short little teaser from my sequel, Going over Jordan:

              “You’re plannin’ on bein’ my wife, then?”
          My hand was shaking holding the coffee pot and he put his own hand over mine to steady it. He slowly wrapped his fingers around the handle and set the kettle down over the fire, then gripped my hand with his rough one. He cupped my chin with his other hand and lifted it until my eyes met his.
            “You’re plannin’ on bein’ my wife, then?” he repeated softly.
            A lump caught in my throat and I stared at him, unable to move.
            “Yes?” he asked, his eyes wide.
            I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his, and then my mouth slowly formed the word: “yes.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past

After my Grandma Andrews died, I came across a few old photo albums in her house that I had never seen before, despite visiting her several times to talk about family history. Now I had no one to tell me who was who in the photos. Some I could guess at, but others' names have been lost forever. The only clue I had was the name of the photographer: Smead's Rooms in Bellefontaine, Ohio, but they are long gone, too. Maybe some day I'll make a connection and can once again give names to the nameless.

Some day I'll make it out to Bellefontaine, and I'll figure out who these people are!

There is one face in this particular photo album that has stuck with me ever since the day I learned his name years ago from my grandmother, and that is Cookston Ash. I first came across his face when my grandma pulled an old tintype of him out of a box. She said he was her great-grandfather, the father of her beloved grandmother, Lottie. She didn't know much about him, but she knew he was always sickly and died young. Here he is:

How many of you just hold an old photograph in your hands and stare at the face, begging for them to come to life and share their secrets? You wonder at how many hands that very photograph has passed through, and the thoughts of the person in the picture. How long did they have to sit still for the photo to be taken? Who was there with them? Don't ever let old pictures like the ones above pass into oblivion. The lives of your ancestors are too important to let them be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Year's Eve 1932

Tonight I want to shine the spotlight another writer in my family: my great-great aunt, Elsie Bishop Mulry. I never knew her, but I was blessed to read her narrative of the night she met her husband, my great-grandfather's brother, John Mulry. Without further ado, Elsie Mulry:

New Year's Eve, 1932 was a magical night. My future husband happened to be walking by The Club and saw me working behind the counter. I was wearing a dark red dress and when he saw me he said to himself, "There's the girl I'm going to marry!"

He came in and sat at the end of the counter. I waited on him and then went about my business, but every time I glanced at him he was looking right back at me. Something was nagging at me, and I finally realized I'd seen those eyes before, but where?

Then it struck me! In my daydreams about descending a staircase and looking into the adoring eyes of my escort, I had always pictured the eyes that were looking at me now!

It was nearing midnight and The Club was deserted except for the two of us. I walked over and refilled his coffee cup and we began talking. We talked about the weather, the basketball tournament, and of course about Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had recently been elected president and was promising to do so much to ease the pain that had gripped America.

As the horns and whistles began to blow, and the bells of St. Patrick's began to ring out the old and welcome the new year of 1933, a strange thing happened. Maybe it was because I was feeling sorry for myself for having to work while others were out whooping it up, or maybe it was the familiarity of the eyes I had seen so many times before, or maybe it was plain old Fate, whatever it was, I kissed a perfect stranger!

But John wasn't a stranger. Our kiss was as natural as if we had known each other forever. What should have been a casual kiss, wasn't. It was the start of something mighty sweet, and we both knew it. It was the start of the love and commitment to each other that would last the rest of our lives.

I'd had my share of proposals and propositions, but I'd never had a real romance, and that's what we had. There were love notes everywhere! We had a special way of holding hands, and a secret code. We had "our" song, "our" movie, "our" favorite radio program, and all of the other silly and sentimental things that memories are made of.

We were together as much as possible. We liked all the same things, the same food, the same movies, the same politics, everything! He even shared my belief in no sex before marriage, or at least he was smart enough to say he did! We were marvelously, outrageously, completely in love!

So, on May 30, 1934, the beautiful princess married the handsome prince. The rest, as they say, is history.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surname Saturday: My maternal line

For a woman, there's something extra special about discovering your female ancestors. They are the most elusive, aren't they? How many of us do a little happy dance when we find a maiden name. (Come on, you know you do.)

I've always been particularly interested in my direct maternal line. Just think how much we have been influenced by our mother, our mother's mother, our mother's mother's mother, and so on? It gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Now, I'm not saying that our mothers were perfect, but that's what makes them beautiful. They faithfully raised their children despite all their flaws. So, as a part of Geneabloggers' Surname Saturday, I am going to highlight each woman of my direct female line.

1. Eliana Grace Potter

This is my daughter. She's part of the direct female line, too! She was born in September 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

2. Kathryn Suzanne Andrews

That's me. I was born in September 1985 in Indianapolis, Indiana. I married Ben Potter in 2007 and we have two children, Eliana and Micah.

3. Laurie Jo Lutz

My mother, Laurie Jo. She was born in August 1963 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married my dad, Todd Andrews in 1982. They raised three children, myself, my sister Kristin, and my brother, Nicholas.

4. Jacqueline Ann Mulry
 My grandma, Jackie, was born in March 1945 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married my grandfather, Robert Lutz, in 1962. They raised four children. She died in a tragic car accident in 1993.

5. Mary Ann Fox

Mary Ann was born in March 1918 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She married James Mulry in 1938. They raised four children. She died in 1975.

6. Katherine Margaret Garrity

Katherine was born in October 1889 in Connersville, Indiana. She married Arthur Fox some time around 1915, and they raised three children. She died in 1966.

7. Anna Walsh
Anna was born in August 1859 in England. She immigrated to Indiana when young and married John Garrity in 1879. They raised eight children. She died in 1905 in Connersville, Indiana.

8. Winifred
Winifred (surname unknown) was born in 1837 in Ireland. She immigrated first to England, where she married Edward Walsh. He died and she immigrated to Indiana in 1868 with her two daughters. She died in 1877 in Connersville, Indiana.

I do not have any information beyond Winifred. Someday perhaps I will. But I just love that my maternal line is only in Indiana and Ireland. It makes me feel so Irish, and so Hoosier. Love it. So, to sum up, my maternal line is as follows:

Andrews, Lutz, Mulry, Fox, Garrity, Walsh.

What's yours?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jesse Vawter

Inspired by Geneabloggers' theme, Treasure Chest Thursdays, I am going to take the next few Thursdays to talk about some of my "favorite" ancestors. The theme is supposed to be about an heirloom, but I think I'll switch it up a bit to talk about treasured people instead. So this week I will highlight my 6th great-grandfather, Jesse Vawter.
Jesse Vawter was born on December 1, 1755 in Culpeper County, Virginia. As far as I know, he was the first ancestor of mine to come to Indiana Territory, in 1806, shortly after it opened up for settlement. He was married to Elizabeth Watts on March 29, 1781. They had nine children, and lived in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and eventually Indiana. He died on March 20, 1838 in Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana.

Jesse is probably best known for his preachin'. In his words, he had "a mechanical turn of mind," and was a carpenter and farmer, but in the early 1800s felt the call to become a preacher in his Baptist faith. He writes, "When my mind took a turn to preaching, it was the greatest trial I ever met with." He judged himself too poorly too preach, but eventually made peace with the fact that the Lord was calling him. The first sermon he ever preached was one of the first in Indiana: "among the cottonwoods on the [Ohio] river beach, a little above the stone mill. The text was the first verse first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. It was a funeral occasion, the death of Widow Black." Jesse baptized over 800 people in Indiana alone, performed over 200 marriage ceremonies, and planted several churches in the surrounding counties. He and his family were instrumental in the spread of the Baptist faith in early southern Indiana.

Of course, I believe most genealogists are searching for more than facts. We want proof that our ancestors were people, who felt the same things we feel - love, sadness, peace, hurt. We are living proof that they lived and moved on this earth - they are our family, they helped shape who our families are today. So the true treasure of the day is about Jesse Vawter's character, in the words of his own family:

One piece describes Jesse: Jesse Vawter was a quiet, thrifty, brown-eyed, peace-loving man. One granddaughter recalls, "I can remember Grandfather well, and I love his very name." Another granddaughter, Frances (my ancestor), says of him, "Grandfather was of a gentle nature. Everyone loved him. He used to ride down horseback from Madison to see us. We would run to meet him, and he would say, "There come my chickens!" He had lost the sight of one eye in an accident. We used to slip up on his blind side and kiss him, and he would always jump as though we had surprised him greatly. He never was impatient with us."

In our search for our ancestors, let us never forget one thing: Our ancestors are first and foremost, family.

Who is your favorite ancestor? Share in the comments below, or message me on Facebook, and I might highlight your ancestor next!