I ran into one of those moments this weekend, when discovering a new piece of information only added to my list of questions. I am in the process of filling in details on a three Bannon sisters in New Haven, Connecticut. Until recently I hadn’t known they existed because they married shortly after arriving in New Haven and so were never listed as a Bannon in any Census or City Directories. I recently had downloaded an ebook copy of old New Haven births, marriages and deaths and decided to look for my family. I found the marriages for these three Bannon sisters and realized that the Preston and Shields families that I had seen mentioned in connection with my Bannon family were in fact related!
One sister, Margaret, married a Thomas Preston in 1843 in New Haven. This new bit of information did help to solve a lot of questions, the biggest being “where were our Bannons from in Ireland”. With a new surname to search, I found the headstone for Thomas and Margaret Bannon Preston in St. Bernard’s in New Haven and it stated that they were both from “Fermanagh”! This is the exact location that my Aunt Lillian had said that our Bannons were from. So I was excited. I felt like I was really making progress. Right off the bat though I ran in to one puzzle that I’m still confused about. Thomas’ headstone inscription looks as if it says that he died in 1897, when he was still living at time of 1900 Census as well as the 1902 publication of a biography of him. I’m hoping to find his death record this week, but in the meantime, I’m guessing that the headstone was erected years after his and Margaret’s death and whom ever erected it did not know when he died.
Another exciting discovery was another ebook copy of an old 1902 publication that included biographies of prominent New Haven County residents and found that Thomas Preston was included. Not only did I get a lot of valuable info from the biography, but it also had a photo of Thomas! That was a major find!
I went on to fill in info on Margaret and Thomas’ children. I had a lot of info to work on including Census, and various newspaper announcements. One of their children, Thomas J, went on to be a prominent Catholic Priest. One daughter, Margaret, married John Waddock, who was President of the Alderman of New Haven and died fairly young at age 34. Another daughter, Mary Catherine, married someone named “Loughery” and this lead to more than a few questions, the first of which being “What was Mr. Loughery’s first name?”. First I’ll give you some of what I DID know.. In 1900 Mary Catherine lived with her widowed father and was listed with her maiden name. In 1902 biography she is listed as being “Mrs. Mary Catherine Loughery”. In 1910 she is living with her widowed sister, Margaret Waddock, and listed with her married name. These facts led me to believe that she was married shortly after 1900 Census and that her husband had died prior to 1910. I had looked for a wedding announcement earlier, but after looking for a possible husband in the New Haven City Directories, I realized that there were a couple of possible spellings for Loughery/Loughrey in New Haven, so I did a new search for newspaper articles with the new spellings and had success! I found the marriage announcement for Catherine Preston (She usually went by Katherine/Catherine/Katie) and Michael Loughrey.. but the date was 8 Sept 1891!! It’s definitely the correct Catherine Preston, even though for some reason they list her father’s name as Joseph! Ahh, you gotta love genealogy research!. So the date of the wedding leads to a whole new set of questions.. Why was Katie living with her father in 1900? Did Michael die prior to that? Were they divorced ro separated? When did Michael die? I still do not have the answer to those questions. Michael’s death record is another thing that I hope to find in the New Haven Vital Records. In the mean time, I’m going with the assumption that the couple separated sometime before 1900. I think that Michael may have left town. I’m basing the “separation” theory on the fact that in that time frame, the only females listed in the City Directories were widows. While Katie’s sister, Mrs. Margaret Waddock, was listed, Katie is not listed in City Directories either as a widow, or under her maiden name.
This whole research project can teach a couple of lessons for those of you working on your own genealogy research. The first being that you should always make sure to check multiple spellings of a surname, even if you are sure you know how the family spelled it themselves ( See my earlier post about my Ratcliffe/ Radcliffe family). Secondly, you cannot be too quick to base assumptions on one piece of information, no matter how legit it seems to be. I often go back and see if I can DISPROVE an assumption after it looks to be promising. In this case I wasn’t necessarily looking to DISPROVE it, but that is what happened when I found the wedding announcement. The third is to keep looking for new possible research sources. I’ll often google a family name that I’ve already searched for and find new things online that were not there the first time around. In this case, finding the newly uploaded ebook of New Haven families was a really great find!
So this week I’m off to scour the New Haven Vital records.. AGAIN.. in hopes of finding more concrete information on my elusive Bannon sisters. Of course the third Bannon sister, Ann, married a James Smith, so that should be loads of fun searching for a John Smith born in Ireland!! Not!!