Monday, August 3, 2009

The Casey connection: Talking with Grandma, Part Tres

While my cousin Cliff was trying to paint a broad but detailed picture of my grandmother's life three-quarters of a century ago, I had one specific question for her - what did she know about her grandfather, Peter Casey?

The reason I asked was because I had connected with someone on Ancestry.com who had a family tree posted that seemed to match up. I had an approximate birth date for Peter based on census records (1858-1863), I had a possible origin (Longford, Ireland) based on hearsay from my grandmother, I had the names of his parents (Thomas Casey and Margaret McCarthy) based on his death certificate, and I had the names of two, possibly three brothers (Edward, John, possibly Thomas) from other people's research. I found a guy on Ancestry from County Longford, now residing in Boston, who was researching his Casey ancestors and inadvertantly researched the wrong Casey family - wrong for him, but quite possibly right for me. Because he had grown up in the town where these Caseys lived 150 years ago, he had access to cemeteries and baptismal records that would take me much time and much money to find on my own. Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways... Anyway, in this family he had researched that was not his but was quite possibly mine, there was a Thomas Casey married to Margaret McCarthy, and of their several children listed, there was an Edward, a John, a Thomas, and a Peter, born about 1856. Several other siblings included a Kate, a Francis, and an Elizabeth.

So that July afternoon in my grandmother's kitchen, I asked her to tell me everything she knew about Peter Casey. She only had one personal story to tell, one that included her brother almost getting a beating from him because Peter's wife, Mary Enright, dared Dan to pour water on his grandfather's head. She knew other things, like he was uneducated - he couldn't read or write and he couldn't count - so he depended on his wife and children to help him with his carting business. He apparently also was quite impatient, cutting the legs off a piano he was supposed to be moving because it was taking too long to get it where it needed to go. But she didn't know when he was born or the name of the town where he came from, and she only knew about his parents because I had passed along that information to her. But she did know about some of her mother's Casey aunts and uncles, like Uncle Edward. And an Aunt Lizzie. And her mother's godfather, Uncle Frank, whose birth name was Francis.

Like Nancy Drew, I don't believe in coincidences. And when it comes to genealogy, I get a Spidey-sense that tingles down my spine when I don't have 100 percent verifiable proof that one and one equals two, but when I'm pretty sure that everything adds up. And usually down the line when I do get proof, everything does, in fact, add up. I get that feeling with my Caseys and the Caseys researched by Sean of Boston, formerly of County Longford. Unfortunately, his research also goes no further back that Thomas Casey and Margaret McCarthy, but siblings and dates and the name of the town may be helpful in tracing the Casey line to other descendents, descendents doing their own Casey research with documents and records and stories I don't have, which they'll be willing to share with me once I find them.

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