All posts by Katrina Fahy

About Katrina Fahy

Katrina, a native of Dedham, Massachusetts, earned a B.A. in History and Art History from St. Anselm College. Previously, she interned at the New Hampshire Historical Society, constructing biographies of New Hampshire quilt makers as well as transcribing a mid-nineteenth century New Hampshire diary and creating an educational program based on its contents. Katrina's research interests include New England and South East regions, as well as the American Revolution.

Keeping it in the family

Susannah Brown will1
Susannah (Dexter) Brown’s will

Recently, I had a client who wanted to know more about a silver teapot designed by the Hurd silversmiths of Boston that had been passed down through his family. The teapot had the name “Sally Brown” engraved on it, but to his knowledge, he did not have any Brown relatives, which made the teapot a bit of a mystery.

With some research, we found a connection to the Brown family through ancestor Amey Martin (1784–1852), the wife of Samuel Nightingale Richmond; her parents were Silvanus Martin (1748–1819) and Amey Brown (1749–1833) of Providence, Rhode Island. Though I located a connection to a Brown family, my client’s direct ancestry did not contain anyone named Sarah or Sally Brown. Continue reading Keeping it in the family

Consider the siblings

Annie Hughes deathFor the last several months, I have been trying to determine the origins of each of my mother’s Irish ancestors. In a previous post, I mentioned my success in locating the origins of my Kenefick ancestors; however, I have been having trouble with some ancestors with much more common surnames.

The earliest record I have for my maternal great-great-grandparents Patrick Cassidy and Mary Hughes is their marriage record, dated in Boston 28 November 1888. Continue reading Consider the siblings

Why did they go back?

Fahy 1
The Keneficks in the 1870 Federal Census.

My great-great-grandmother, Margaret Kenefick, was born in Boston on 11 February 1857, the daughter of Irish immigrants Thomas and Mary Kenefick. When I began searching for the family in Boston, I turned to the 1860 Census, but was surprised when I could not locate the Keneficks in Massachusetts. Continue reading Why did they go back?

Surname maps for genealogical research

Hampe surname distribution
German surname images courtesy of Click on the images to expand them.

My nineteenth century immigrant ancestors have caused me a lot of headaches. With the exception of my Muir ancestor, Robert, who listed his specific birthplace, my immigrant ancestors were very vague in listing their birthplaces on records in the U.S.

Though most of my ancestry is Irish, I have a German line that has always interested me. My great-great-grandfather, John Henry Hampe, came to the New York in 1872, and eventually moved to Boston. Though he claimed to have been naturalized in later census records, I was never able to locate a naturalization record for him, which I hoped would list his birthplace. Continue reading Surname maps for genealogical research

Finding the Fahys in Ireland

Grandmother's house
Grandmother Fahy’s house, County Galway.

I recently went to Ireland to visit my dad’s family. Having investigated my grandmother’s ancestry on a previous trip, I wanted to focus this time on learning more about the Fahys.

Thomas Fahy, my paternal grandfather, died in 1983, when my dad was 23. Beyond that, I was able to glean a bit more from my dad, grandmother, and uncles: Continue reading Finding the Fahys in Ireland

Church records in early New England research

Baptismal record of Caleb Church, First Congregational Church, Hanover, Mass. From Congregational Library and Archives.
Baptismal record of Caleb Church, First Congregational Church, Hanover, Mass. From Congregational Library and Archives.

Church records can be a valuable resource when vital records fall short. NEHGS has a large collection of published church records for New England and throughout the United States. For learning more about the Church family of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Congregational Church records, held by the Congregational Library and Archives on Beacon Street in Boston, have also proved especially helpful.

A Caleb Church of Hanover purchased land in Rochester, Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1770, went on to marry a woman named Hannah Pool in 1772, and died in 1827. However, the ancestry of Caleb Church was a mystery. Though he was listed in the 1770 land record as being originally “of Hanover,” there was no birth record for Caleb Church in the Hanover Vital Records.[1] Continue reading Church records in early New England research

To catch a thief

Norfolk Democrat 1835
From The Norfolk Democrat, 1835

Like many New England towns, my hometown of Dedham, Massachusetts, has a rich history. Though Dedham boasts the Fairbanks House and claims the oldest tax-supported school system in the country, I find one of the town’s most venerable societies to be particularly interesting: The Society in Dedham for Apprehending Horse Thieves.

This Society was founded on 4 June 1810 after a string of horse thefts in the town. Before the establishment of a police force, thirty-five men created their own group in hopes of curbing horse theft in the area. The Society would appoint a select group of men to serve as riders for one year, and were called upon when a horse was stolen. Continue reading To catch a thief

The meaning of ‘Mrs.’

Winter Goodhue marriage transcriptA few months ago, I was searching for a marriage record in our microfilmed collection of New Hampshire Vital Records to 1900. I was able to find the marriage record between Jonathan W. Winter and Almira Goodhue, dated 5 August 1832 at Campton, Grafton County, New Hampshire. However, the marriage record had some information that I was not expecting: that Almira’s marriage to Jonathan Winter was her second.

The fact that Almira had been married previously contradicted other information that I had already found. In a land record filed between J.W. Winter, Elmyra B. Winter, and Daniel Goodhue [Jr.] dated 27 March 1848, J.W. Winter and Almira forfeited their share in the estate of a Daniel Goodhue, described as “our late father” in the deed. This indicates that Daniel Goodhue [Sr.] was Almira’s father, and that Goodhue would be her maiden name, not a married one. Continue reading The meaning of ‘Mrs.’

Dead Men (and Women) Tell a Tale

Burgess Family PlotWhen I was in elementary school, my class went on a field trip to the Old Village Cemetery in Dedham, Massachusetts, my hometown. I remember running around trying to complete tasks, such as finding the earliest death date and the oldest age listed on a headstone, as well as doing several grave rubbings. Though I’m sure there was a history lesson embedded somewhere in the chaos of twenty nine-year-olds running amok in a cemetery, I have long since forgotten it. What has stayed with me, however, is a love for older cemeteries. Continue reading Dead Men (and Women) Tell a Tale

An unexpected helping hand

Robert Muir and Margaret Lavery
Marriage record for Robert Muir and Margaret Lavery. (Click on the images to expand them.)

Tracing one’s family back to their country of origin can be daunting; often the birthplaces found on census records are just countries, with no indication given of province or county. Therefore, when I found my great-great-grandfather on the 1920 United States Federal Census, I groaned inwardly when I read the birthplaces of his parents: Scotland and Ireland.

William Muir’s parents were a Robert and Margaret Muir. As I noted yesterday, I found them in the 1860 United States Federal Census living in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Continue reading An unexpected helping hand