23 August 2015

Sentimental Sunday - Cemeteries Around the World

Way back at the end of February 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to my husband's country of birth: the Philippines. For those who don't know it, the Philippines is a group of about 7,000 islands that falls between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean with Taiwan to its north and Malaysia to its south. The 7,000 islands comprise about 116,000 square miles (300,000 square kms) and hold nearly 100 million people. (In comparison, the U.S. has 325 million people in 3.9 million square miles). In many ways, the Philippines are as widely varied as the U.S.; the southern islands have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, while the north holds verdant mountains that seem to come right out of the sea. One of my very favorite pictures from our trip was taken as we dipped our toes in the South China Sea after a day of sightseeing in the city of Vigan:


Jade, Manang Cel, David, Cas and Auntie Delia, South China Sea. From private collection of L C Lorenzana
Of course, while we were there, I was trying to capture my husband's family stories and get as much documentation as possible. I had NO idea what a herculean effort it would be. My husband's maternal side is from the northern, and largest, island: Luzon. It has rugged mountains, but also some of the most fertile farmland. Crops are rotated: rice, onions, corn. That's right; I couldn't get over seeing the dichotomy of fields of corn with palm trees! (yeah, yeah, I know, get to the cemeteries...). Cas's home town of Tagudin is in the province of Ilocos Sur. The house Cas grew up in (he emigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old) is in the barangay of Cabulanglang, which is more or less near the center of the town. 

After hitting brick wall after brick wall in trying to get information from Cas's relatives ("So, when's your father's birthday?"..."I don't know."..."You don't know when your parents were born? [incredulously]" ..."No."[As if, 'why the heck would I need to know THAT?!']) I asked Cas's Auntie Delia to take me to the local cemetery. I'd been hearing about it for several days and wanted to get the chance to take pictures so I'd have SOMETHING to go by as I tried to build the maternal side of Cas's family tree. 

As with lots of things in the Philippines, the cemetery is quite lovely as you approach: 



But then the front looks like this:





Well, I'm not sure how to explain my experience. From the moment I walked into the cemetery, I felt a little disoriented and...pulled in every which direction. Here's why:




Yep, this is what much of the cemetery looks like. As I found out from Auntie Delia, the plots are purchased and it's up to the family to 'manage' them. There's no space in between the plots, and as we found out, if you don't know exactly where someone is buried (i.e., you go there all the time to be able to memorize the maze of crypts, crosses, stones, etc.) well, you're pretty much out of luck. That's right, Auntie Delia had no clue where the family plot was located, so I just started snapping pictures:




More than once I got a warning from both Cas and Auntie Delia not to wander too far; I kept reminding myself I was in a place halfway around the World and that kidnappings are not unheard of (honestly, there wasn't a time that I didn't feel completely safe). But how else was I going to be able to document my trip? We got to the center of the cemetery and found it more...accessible:



Anyway, I was able to locate a number of the names in Cas's family, and then realized that there were relatively few that weren't the names I'd heard. Uh oh... 

As it turns out, most of people we were looking for were right on the exterior of the cemetery, along the wall:





















Cas's beloved grand aunt Melchora "Charing" Bunoan; she's the one we really wanted to see and pay our respects to (and were so happy to find her in a neat and tidy crypt). As I was to learn, her father, Graciano, was quite the lady's man. Graciano had his first child at the age of 20 and his last at the age of 70. He's a story all his own. 

As for the cemetery, I have a catalog of pictures of empty crypts, broken stones, etc. I also have quite a few well tended spots. Auntie Delia told us that on November 1st, everyone comes out and there's a big, annual clean up. There's a picnic and many people pitch in to help make the cemetery look nice. This was a unique opportunity, and I certainly hope to get the chance to go back and spend a bit more time locating our loved ones.

Where's the most interesting cemetery you've been in?

15 August 2015

Surname Saturday - What the Hallinan??!


Hallinan. Maybe Hallinane. The first time I saw this name was when I was researching my paternal great grandfather, James Cosgrove, who  I knew (at the time) was born in “Ireland.” Incredibly helpful, that. But I was so excited when I found out that the Burnley Cemetery (Lancashire, England) had its records online. And, even more excited when I found this:



I was working on unraveling the mystery of James Cosgrove and Catherine Durkin Cosgrove’s young daughter, Mary Ann, who had died at 17 (you can read that post here). Naturally, while locating the truth about Mary Ann, I found two new mystery names: Holihan and Feeley.

I was able to determine who Agnes Feeley was fairly quickly; she and her husband Luke were the godparents, before they were married,  of James and Catherine’s first son, Francis:




And, ten years later as a married couple they were godparents to James and Catherine’s daughter, Catherine:



So, I decided to take a long shot and I ordered the marriage certificate of James Cosgrove and Catherine Durkin directly from Burnley:



Ah, the beauty of records outside the U.S. is that they often provide a plethora of information. In this case, I now had the first name of Catherine Durkin Cosgrove’s father:  Patrick. Armed with that information, I went hunting for them in the English Census. To my surprise, I found them right away in 1861!



Of course, the first thing that caught my eye was that name: Hallinane. There he is, listed as the 66 year old father-in-law of Patrick Durkin, Patrick Hallinane. Ah, but let no answer come without more mysteries; his place of birth is recorded as “British Colonies”, as is his daughter, Patrick’s wife Anne. I confirmed this was the right family, because the spelling was off a bit, by pulling the 1871 and 1881 Censuses as well and both the Catholic parish name and addresses match with other records.

It would appear that my 3rd great grandfather may have been born on one of the islands in the Carribean that, at the turn of the 19th Century, were under colonial rule. (I'd ruled out any number of other potential "British" places) Obviously, finding records of someone born around 1795 in any one of a long list of places like that can’t possibly bear fruit. But, then again, I said I’d ‘never’ find the origins of my Irish Cosgroves either. *munches on words*

So, I’ve added the name Hallinan(e) to my list of confirmed surnames. The full list, as of today, looks like this:

MATERNAL:  Wersel, Wicart, Geerling, Wagner, Hensgen, Gerlach, Augustin, Richards, Penn, Greene, Barton, Russell, Tucker, Wallace, Chambers, Claypoole, Burrows, Waters, Meeker, Crocheron, Tunis, Camp, Johnson, Jeffrey, Nichol/Nicol, Powelson, Metselser, Messler, and Garrett

PATERNAL: Cosgrove, Quinn, Durkin, Hallinan/Hallinane, Leatherman, Alstaetter/Alst├Ątter, Goebel, Schneider, Beightler/Beaghtler/Bieghler/Beighler/Bigler, Lukenbill, Ammarine/Amerine/Amrine, Picony, Wolford, Worley, Barnes and Rogers.


Whew! Now, to plan that research trip to the islands…

Thanks for reading!!

14 August 2015

Friday Funny - Holy Smokes I'm Four!

“I started my blog FOUR years ago!” I said. 
Cas’s reply, “And then what happened?” Heh.

What DID happen? Well, I unwittingly met my goal and then realized that it might not be for me. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I realized my motivation for becoming a Professional Genealogist had completely changed, and so it was no longer my goal.

The most important things that I learned in the last four years about genealogy:

Elizabeth Shown Mills. Dr. Thomas Jones. These are just two of the names that I didn’t know when I started my blog. Can you imagine? I’d been doing family history research since 1996, and I’d never heard these names. *hangs head*

ProGen Study Group. I was a member of ProGen 15; a class that is based on ESM’s (that name) book, Professional Genealogy. It’s where I learned my fear of writing under a deadline is alive, well, and detrimental to any potential career I might have that involves…writing.

The Genealogical Proof Standard. Yep, I’d never heard of this before either. At the point I was writing my proof for my ProGen class, I uncovered the fact that I’d misidentified my American Patriot’s daughter-in-law on my DAR application in 2003. No one caught it. Because they weren’t following the GPS. *sigh*

Conferences. Go. Just go. No, don’t say you can’t afford it, because I couldn’t afford it and yet I scraped together enough to drive to Cincinnati for my first NGS. I shared a room with a complete stranger in order to cut my cost, and made a wonderful friend in the process. There’s not enough space here for me to say all the wonderful things there are about the educational and social aspects of going to conferences big and small. So. Much. Fun. Oh, and some of my most important genealogical discoveries came while I was attending conferences. So, there’s that.

I started over. In 2012, after learning the points above, I realized that there was a lot of what I’d done all those years before that probably wasn’t absolutely correct, or at the very least wasn’t documented. And, in trying to figure out how to most efficiently get things together, I scrapped it all and started over with a brand new database and filing system, both physical and digital.  No, I didn’t throw anything away (at least not in the beginning). I just started with myself and very methodically began to work back. Oh, the things I found!

DNA. Just do it. Even if you have your lines traced back to Charlemagne, DNA testing can help others to locate their roots by identifying you as a connection.

I won’t bore you with the Life Lessons I’ve had in this same four years. Some were pretty darn harsh. But, I’ve also had some truly joyous times too. And, the reality is that there’s more about the Genealogical community that I’ve come to know and love than I could have possibly imagined. A community that comes together for those in need by digging into their not-so-deep pockets and giving a *little* bit to help someone. And, my word, the sheer volume of generous thoughts and prayers, in times of need, are astounding.


Over the last four years, I’ve met second and third cousins, who I treasure immensely. I’ve traveled to places to stand on the ground my ancestors owned more than 200 years ago. I’ve documented back to all of my 2nd great grandparents, a feat I would have steadfastly said was impossible. Yes, I became a Professional Genealogist, but my work as an Archivist has expanded and I’m focusing on that.  For now. Because the one thing I definitely learned in the last four years is this: things change. People change. And, when you embrace it, change can be fun.

Thanks to everyone who still reads my blog. Thank you.