Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Good & The Bad

The Good:  
The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2013 Conference is currently underway in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fort Wayne is a reasonable distance from home and would be a great mid-west conference to attend. I would have loved to attend the society meetings and the many genealogy lectures offered.

The Bad: 
I am a procrastinator and failed to register for the conference. I considered squeezing in a couple days, but last minute commitments made a quick trip impossible.

The Good:  
As program chair for my local genealogy society, I see many of the speakers that lecture to my local society are presenting at FGS. The Chicago area speaker pool is brimming with many talented genealogists, such as: Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, Ginger Frere, Daniel Hubbard, Teresa, Steinkamp McMillin and Debra Mieszala.

The Bad: 
I really wish I were attending FGS.

The Good:  
When one door is closed other doors always open. I helped my daughter.
I arranged to volunteer in the genealogy room of my local library. The money I saved by not attending the FGS will be spent on son’s car repair bill.

There is good and bad in everything including missing out on a great local conference!

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Closer Look At Patrick Egan

Patrick Egan’s death certificate provides interesting information. To begin: Patrick Egan was the informant of his own death certificate. This means that information he provided prior to his passing was used to create his death certificate.

Name:                Patrick Egan
Residences:        2103 Hastings St., Chicago, Illinois
Patient:              Oak Forest Infirmary
Birth Date:         March 17, 1843
Birth Place:        County Altone, Ireland
Death Date:        July 31, 1920
Age at Death:     77 years, 4 months, 14 days
Cause of Death:  Chronic Myocarditis, Diarrhea, Arteriosclerosis, and Senility
Place of Burial:   Calvary Cemetery
Date of Burial:    August 3, 1920
Undertaker:        J.E. Moher, Oak Forest (Could not locate funeral home)
Occupation:        Laborer
Patrick was a white male and a widower.
His wife was named Margaret.
Parents’ names & birthplaces were unknown

I continue to chuckle at Patrick Egan’s birth date. Was Patrick really born on St. Patrick’s Day? Or was the date his “adopted” birth date?

Patrick passed away in the Oak Forest Infirmary. The Oak Forest Infirmary was built in 1907 as a poor farm due to overcrowding at the Dunning Poor Farm on the northwest side of Chicago. By 1910 the facility held 2,000 people who were destitute due to poverty, mental illness, alcoholism and other reasons.

Patrick Egan’s death certificate reports health issue including senility. The Oak Forest Infirmary may have been the “best” or only option for his family. Patrick had been a widower for twenty-one years. His eldest child, Mary Dooley nee Egan, passed away in 1909. Daughter Elizabeth Scanlon nee Egan passed in 1913. His daughter Celia Morrissey nee Egan may have had to make the decision to go into the infirmary for her father.

The Chicago History Museum’s online resources hold several photographs of the Oak Forest Infirmary/ Poor Farm. The photographs are from the Chicago Daily News. Here is a link should you wish to see the facility. Clink on the link and scroll down to Oak Forest Hospital, Oak Forest Infirmary and Oak Forest Poor Farm.

This Irishman appears to have had a very challenging life.

God Bless

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Searching for Patrick Egan

There is nothing like a trip to Ireland to stir my genealogy pot. The Dooley family’s Irish immigrants are:  William Dooley, Ellen Hart, Patrick Egan and Margaret Harrington. Today I delved into Patrick Egan for his death certificate may hold a clue to his origin.

Patrick Egan is my husband’s great, great grandfather. His death certificate reports that Patrick died on 31 July 1920 in the Oak Forest Infirmary of Bremen Township, Cook County, Illinois.  His burial took place on 3 August 1920 in the Calvary Cemetery located in Evanston, Illinois.

Interestingly, his death certificate reports Patrick Egan’s birth as 17 March 1843 in the County Altane. This birth information really caught my eye as Patrick claims his birth date to be on St. Patrick’s Day! I chuckle at the coincidence!

County Altane also caught my eye as well for there is no such county in Ireland. Patrick was an elderly, sick man. Perhaps some miscommunication took place during the admitting process. A search of Irish towns beginning with A and sounding like Altane/Altone yielded results. The town of Athlone, County Wesmeath has possibilities.

The Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1837 report three Egan families living in the town of Athlone, County Westmeath in 1824. Peter Egan and two Egan families resided in St. Mary Parish.

If Patrick Egan’s birth date of 17 March 1843 is to be believed, the Egans of Athlone may be kin. St. Mary’s Parish may offer clues to the Egan clan of Athlone. Now to locate St. Mary’s church records!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not So Wordless Wednesday

The National Famine Monument located in Murisk, County Mayo was designed by the artist John Behan. “The Coffin Ship” commemorates the Famine of the 1840s. Skeletons symbolize the many emigrants who died in coffin ships upon leaving Ireland. Croagh Patrick sits in the background. Annual summits commemorate The Famine.

The next closest land mass is Newfoundland. This is where my cousin, Elaine Dollen Clark’s, maternal Irish ancestors arrived, survived and thrived. Please visit her blog, Flynn’s Hill, at

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


My blog has lain in a state of dormancy these past few summer months. Pressing needs to be outside in the beauty of Chicago’s short-lived summer weather demanded fulfillment. The truth is that I felt the need to take full advantage of our nice days and evenings.

Summer offered up the opportunity for travel to Ireland with a group of twenty women, mostly unknown.  Together we headed off to the Connemara Mountains of western Ireland.

This was a special group of ladies who were united in the love of meditation, yoga and the author, John O’Donoghue. They introduced me to the Celtic spirituality of Ireland. I must say that the spirit and hospitality of the Irish people goes beyond description.

The Delphi Lodge became our “Home Away From Home” for the week. Built in 1830 The Delphi was originally home to a landed English family and has a shaded past as the English owners turned back starving people during the potato famine. Aware of the travesty, the current owners work to acknowledge the past and honor the poor people of Ireland.

We walked the roads that the poor and hungry trudged and visited the National Famine Memorial. It was there I learned of the Choctaw Indian kindness. The Choctaw Tribe had it’s own history of displacement and suffering. Their 1831 journey was called “The Trail of Tears.”

Through understanding the suffering of the Irish people, the Choctaw acted by sending $170 to the Irish people. So great was that gift, that the Irish continue to remember and honor the Choctaw Tribe to this very day.

One can read about history, but never really comprehend what occurred nor feel the impact on humanity unless one has suffered the same. This story resonated with me in several ways.

I first think about my husband’s Irish immigrant ancestors: William Dooley, Ellen Hart, Patrick Egan and Margaret Harrington. These are strong Irish people who knew this kind of suffering. These four ancestors made the Irish potato famine real for me. While I have yet to locate their Irish origins and their personal stories, I have learned that the Irish all share the same story.

My second consideration is this. How can I, one small person, solve our world’s problems? I can’t. But I can follow the lead of the Choctaw. My small contribution just might make a world of difference to someone in a difficult situation, as did the Choctaw gift.