Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chasing Daniel Murphy, Part 3: Back to the Island

So far, in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we've found a Daniel Murphy in Newburyport, Mass., born in Prince Edward Island ostensibly around 1843 to Michael Murphy and Martha Morrison, marrying Anastasia Welch (his second marriage). He may or may not be the same Daniel Murphy supposedly born about 1851, brother to Elizabeth (Murphy) Mason of Newburyport and likely father to Pius Peter Murphy of Newburyport and Annie (Murphy) Shennett of Amesbury. Pius's purported mother Johanna Collins is the most specific lead we have. (He and Annie also reported mother's name as Mary and Margaret, but without a maiden name.) Since both were born in P.E.I., that seemed like the next destination to tackle.

Although the records are incomplete, especially in the first half of the 19th century, the baptismal index on the P.E.I. Archives website lets you search by child's name and/or both parents. Images of the index cards are available on FamilySearch. (They're indexed there now, too, but they used to be browse-only, and in some ways the P.E.I. website search is superior, e.g., allowing a wildcard with only a single letter.) So this seemed to be a good place to start.

To begin with, I found no baptisms recorded in the right time frame (in the ballpark of late 1860s/early 1870s) for children born to a Daniel Murphy and either a Mary or a Margaret.1 This in itself isn't definitive, but, crucially, I did find the 1865 baptism in Charlottetown of Pius Murphy, son of Daniel Murphy and Johanna Collins2 – the exact names reported by Pius at his second marriage. The year is quite a bit off from the 1869-70 derived from that marriage record and the 1910 census – though certainly no more of a discrepancy than I've found for my Murphys in general – but is a good match for the 1864 implied in his first marriage record. Given that Johanna isn't nearly as common a name as Mary or Margaret (or Collins as compared to, say, Murphy), it seems extremely likely that this the right Daniel, Johanna, and Pius. (For that matter, out of seven Pius Murphys, only one had a father named Daniel.)

Baptism of Pius Murphy, 1865, St. Dunstan's Basilica, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Looking for other Murphy children under possible combinations and variants of Daniel Murphy and Johanna Collins led to the following results:3

James D1863Daniel MurphyJudith Collins
Pius1865Daniel MurphyJohanna Collins
Ann1867Daniel MurphyJohanna Connors [sic]
John1869Daniel MurphyJudy Collins
Margaret Helen1871Donald MurphyJoanna Collings [sic]

Given the clockwork two-year spacing of the births, the fact that all but one of the baptisms took place at St. Dunstan's in Charlottetown, and, again, the relative uncommonality of Johanna or Judith, I was pretty certain these were all the same couple, even the one for Donald Murphy. Note that this accounts for not only Pius, but also "Annie" Shennett, who must be Ann, born in 1867. (Annie/Margaret Shennett was, according to the 1910-1920 censuses, born in 1872 or 73, but remember what I said in Part 1 about taking Murphy ages with a barrel of salt.)

Marriage registrations in P.E.I. seem to be even sketchier than baptisms, but I nevertheless tried that next. I couldn't find anything for Daniel Murphy and Johanna (or Judith) Collins, but, interestingly, I did turn one up for a Daniel Murphy and Johanna Malone.4

Marriage of Daniel Murphy and Johanna Malone, 1862
Now, although Johanna is listed here as a "Spinster", the baptismal records of Daniel and Johanna's children indisputably point to a maiden name of Collins, and there are no children in the baptismal index for a Johanna (or Judith) Malone with a Daniel (or Donald) Murphy. This marriage in 1862 also fits very well with the birth of the first child in 1863.

Add in the name of one of the witnesses to Daniel and Johanna's marriage – Martin Collins – and it seems likely that Johanna/Judith was originally a Collins, and previously married to a Malone. And, in fact, another search in the marriage registers turned up an 1854 marriage between a Michael Malone and a Judith Collins;5 baptismal records for their three children (the last born in 1859) give her name as Julia Collins, Judith Collins, and Judith Collings.6 So it seems almost certain that the "spinster" Johanna Malone who married Daniel was actually the widow of Michael Malone.

Unfortunately there are no extant 1871 census records for P.E.I., so the first time I could possibly pick them up was the 1881 census – assuming they hadn't left the Island by then. I was in luck: I found Daniel in Lot 30... without Johanna (he's marked as a widower in the column to the right of his occupation), but clearly identifiable as the right Daniel by the first four children: James, Pius, Ann, and John, at just the expected ages.7 It would appear that Margaret Helen, who should be 10, must have died young. In addition, there are two more children for whom I can find no baptismal records, a 6-year-old boy with a very odd name that appears to be "Melahannon,"8 and 3-year-old Peter Leo.

1881 Canada census, Prince Edward Island, Queens County, Lot 30, dwelling 204, family 204, Daniel Murphy household
Evidently, Johanna died sometime between 1878 and 1881, perhaps at Peter Leo's birth. Death records can be even harder to find on P.E.I. than the other "vitals," so I haven't yet tried very hard to look for one for her.

So, we still have the question of whether this Daniel Murphy, birth reported in later years as 1844 or 1851, is the same one who was supposedly born in 1843, married Anastasia Welch in 1885, and gave his parents as Michael Murphy and Martha Morrison. There are no earlier fully nominal censuses, so there's nothing to be found there, but I believe there is a clue in this 1881 census: Daniel gives his age as 45, indicating that he was born in 1835-36, not 1843-44. How does this help?

Well, there are only three baptimal records in the index for children of Michael Murphy and Magdelen/Matilda Morison, all baptised at St. George's Parish, St. George's: James, born 1842; Patrick, born 1838; and Donald, born 1836.9

Baptism of Donald Murphy, 1836, St. George's Parish, Prince Edward Island
I don't think the name presents too much of a discrepancy; Donald or Donal isn't far from Daniel, and the McDonald/McDonnell surname has been known to morph into McDaniel. And the fact that the father of Margaret Helen is given as Donald (while her siblngs' records all say Daniel) lends credence to the hypothesis.

The rest of the timeline fits, too; a widower in 1881, he could have migrated with at least Pius and Ann by 1885, when he married again. (James is tentatively traced to Nova Scotia; John may be one of the multitude of John Murphys found in Newburyport/Amesbury at that time; and as for "Melahannon" and Peter Leo, I haven't a clue. They may have been left with James or another relative. A "Leo Peter" Murphy in Newburyport is not this Peter Leo.) Pius married for the first time in 1887, Ann in 1890.

The bottom line is that I no longer believe Daniel is a younger child whose baptism is not recorded; I believe he is actually the known Donald Murphy, born to Michael Murphy and Magdelen/Matilda/Martha Morison in 1836, about who no further information has been found under that name. This would make him my second great-granduncle.

  1. "PARO Collections," database, Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island ( : accessed 25 Oct 2015), searches for baptisms, father Daniel Murphy and mother Mary, and father Daniel Murphy and mother Margaret.
  2. "Prince Edward Island Baptism Card Index, 1721-1885," database and digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Apr 2014); Murphy-McDonald > image 200 of 5450, baptism of Pius Murphy, 23 Mar 1865; citing record book no. 3, p. 144, St. Dunstan's Basilica, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
  3. "PARO Collections," database (accessed 22 Sep 2016), searches for baptisms, father Daniel Murphy, no mother's name; mother J* Coll*, no father's name; and both father's and mother's names.
  4. "Prince Edward Island Marriage Registers, 1832-1888," database and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 Oct 2015); Marriages 1861-1863 > image 18 of 83, marriage of Daniel Murphy and Johanna Malone, 1862.
  5. Ibid. (accessed 30 Apr 2014); Marriages 1852-1857 > image 223 of 346, p. 430, marriage of Michael Malone and Judith Collins, 1854,
  6. "PARO Collections," database (accessed 23 Sep 2016), searches for baptisms, father Michael Malone, mother J* Coll*.
  7. 1881 census of Canada, Prince Edward Island, district 2, sub-district H, Queens County, Township 30, p. 51, dwelling 204 (202 crossed out), family 204 (203 crossed out), Daniel Murphy household; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 24 Apr 2014).  I excised from the image a long section of columns that just declared they were all born on P.E.I., Catholic, and of Irish extraction.
  8. I'm almost certain that "Melahannon" must be a census enumerator-garbled rendering of something else entirely. If this child were a little older, I'd almost think the enumerator somehow conjured it from "Margaret Helen" and assumed it was a boy. But the other ages are so close I find it hard to believe Daniel could have been so far off on this child's age. 
  9. "Prince Edward Island Baptism Card Index, 1721-1885," database and digital images (accessed 29 Feb 2012); Maby-Murphy > image 5096 of 5454, baptism of Donald Murphy, 30 Apr 1836; citing record book no. 1, p. 4, St. Georges Parish, St. Geo[unreadable], Prince Edward Island.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chasing Daniel Murphy, Part 2: Peter and Pius and Annie

In Part 1, we got as far as linking a Daniel Murphy in Newburyport to his sister, Elizabeth Mason, and Elizabeth's daughter, Mary Jane, to a cousin, Peter Murphy. The logical next step was to find out more about Peter.

Fortunately, Newburyport, Mass., has a complete series of city directories available on, which are crucial to filling in that frustrating 20-year gap between the 1880 and 1900 censuses which is precisely where my Murphys were most active in Newburyport. I've gone so far as to extract all entries over nearly a century for Murphys, and any known allied lines, into a spreadsheet, where sorting variously by name or by address can reveal previously-unrecognized connections.

There seemed to be only two entries for Peter Murphy: in 1902, a painter living at 1 Centre Street, and in 1910, a Peter P Murphy, "countercutter", at 27 Oakland Street – exactly where Mary Jane Mason was residing with Peter and Celia Murphy in the 1910 census. Things got even more interesting when I sorted by address. First, I discovered that the 1910 directory also listed at 27 Oakland a Pius P Murphy, also a countercutter. Furthermore, Pius P was also at 27 Oakland in 1908 (as a carriage painter) and 1912 (countercutter) – and so was Daniel Murphy (no occupation given).1 Listings for a Pius Murphy (no middle initial) also appeared 1889 and 1891 (painter, 151 Merrimac St.) and 1904 and 1906 (shoemaker, 32 Ocean St.).2 Was there just one man, Pius Peter Murphy, who used his first and middle names interchangeably? Further investigation of Pius/Peter was in order.

It didn't take much digging to find a 1902 marriage in Newburyport between "Pyus" Murphy, 33, painter, and Celia McKinnon, 35, both born P.E. Island.3 His implied birth year of 1869 matches up with "Peter" Murphy's 1870 in the 1910 census (hers is off by a few years) and the census marriage data (his 2nd, her 1st, married 7 years) also matches, making it virtually certain that Pius = Peter.

Marriage of "Pyus" Murphy and Celia McKinnon, 1902, Newburyport, Mass.
Even more important, Pius's parents are given as Daniel Murphy and Johanna Collins. (With the caveat here that at his first marriage, to Mary Ann Hughes, he gave his mother's name as Mary, with no maiden name.4)

At this point I need to backtrack just a bit. In addition to the record of Daniel's marriage to Anastasia, the 1900 census record, and a couple of identifiable city directory entries, I had found one other Daniel Murphy record in the Newburyport area – a death record in Amesbury5 – but whether it was for "my" Daniel seemed questionable.

Death certificate for Daniel Murphy, 1915, Amesbury, Mass.
To begin with, I hadn't found anything else connecting Daniel to Amesbury. Next, the birth year of 1844 correlates with his age at marriage to Anastasia, but not to his given birth year on the 1900 census (though it should be noted we haved yet actually proved those two Daniels are the same); but in any case the date of birth is highly suspect, as it appears he expired on his birthday, conveniently requiring no intricate date calculations to produce an age of exactly 71 years, 0 months, and 0 days. Not impossible, of course, but I'll take this one with a long ton of salt. Third, it says he was born in Ireland and his father was also named Daniel (mother unknown). And yet...

Look at that informant. Pius Murphy. And the only Pius Murphy in the whole Newburyport area was, as far as I could tell, the one who bids fair to be "my" Daniel's son.

Granted, you would think he would have known more about his father's age, birthplace, and parents, but we already know the Murphys play fast and loose with birth dates, and Pius wouldn't be the first informant, upon being asked for "name of father," to give his own father's name instead of his father's father's name. In fact, it's entirely possible he never knew his grandparents – they may have died before Pius was born, or shortly after. As for the birth in "Ireland," a statement that "he came from the Island" (a common way for P.E. Islanders to refer to their home) could easily have been misinterpeted as Ireland.

Assuming that the other discrepancies can be plausibly explained, there's still the question of what the heck he was doing in Amesbury. While Pius apparently had lived in Amesbury for a while before 1900 (he married and had several children there with his first wife), he appeared to be solidly located in Newburyport after the turn of the century up to 1912, and a Haverhill directory entry gives me reason to believe he was living there by 1915. So just who was living at 105 Congress Street in Amesbury? Was Daniel just a boarder there, or was there a closer relationship?

This is an easy task if a city's directories have a "reverse lookup" section (listing occupants by street address). The Newburyport-Amesbury directories, alas, do not, but you can find a surprising amount of information using a keyword search in Ancestry's city directories database. Leaving the names blank, I entered Lived In = Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, Any Event Date = 1915 +/– 5 years, and Keyword = "105 Congress" (with the quotation marks). At the top of the results were entries for Henry J Shennett for 1912, 1914, and 1916, and a little further down for 1910 and 1919.6 (The results are nominally for Newburyport, but they prove to be in the Amesbury section of the joint directory.) This was a name I had not encountered previously. 

Next I looked for census records for Henry Shennett, finding him at 105 Congress in both 19107 and 19208, with a wife named Annie M in 1910 and Margaret N in 1920. But the real find was an 1890 marriage record for Henry Shennett and Annie Murphy.9 Annie was born in Prince Edward Island, and her father's name was Daniel. So I don't think it's a coincidence that Daniel Murphy was living with Henry and Annie when he died, and this strongly implies that she was Pius's sister. She gave her mother's name as Margaret (no surname), not Johanna Collins, but remember even Pius said his mother was Mary (no surname) at his first marriage. This could be a another case of someone using both a first and middle name interchangeably. (The M in Annie M could be for Margaret, accounting for Henry's wife's name in 1920. Or it could be for Murphy.) But each gave Daniel Murphy as their father's name, and a brother-sister relationship would certainly explain why Pius was the informant for Daniel's death at this particular Amesbury address, when Pius was probably living in Haverhill.

Marriage of Henry Shennett and Annie Murphy, 1890, Portsmouth, N.H.

At this point, it seems time for a (virtual) trip to P.E.I. Stay tuned.

  1. The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory [varying subtitles], for 1910, p. 178, entries for Peter P and Pius P Murphy; 1908, p. 164, 1912, pp. 170-171, entries for Pius P and Daniel Murphy; also similar entries for Peter and Pius Murphy in 1889, 1891, 1902, 1904, and 1906; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Feb 2014). The only Daniel listed in Newburyport in 1910 is a Daniel J Murphy, who also appears for a number of years before and after that, and is definitely not "my" Daniel.
  2. It may be only a coincidence that Mrs. Anastasia Murphy boarded at 32 Ocean St. in 1912.Then again, it may not.
  3. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," database and digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 25 Oct 2015); Newburyport, vol. 524, p. 551, marriage of "Pyus" Murphy and Celia McKinnon, 1902. 
  4. Ibid., Amesbury, vol. 379, p. 210, marriage of Pius Murphy and Mary Ann Hughes, 1887.
  5. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915," database and digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 11 Sep 2016); Amesbury, vol. 1915/2 Death, p. 16, death of Daniel Murphy, 1915. To the best of my knowledge, the "Daniel D. Murphy, M.D." who signed the death certificate is no relation to my Murphy clan. He was a physician in Amesbury for a good many years.
  6. The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory [varying subtitles], for 1914, p. 373, 1916, p. 392, entries for Henry J Shennett, 105 Congress, Amesbury; and similar entries in 1910, 1912, and 1919; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 23 Sep 2016).
  7. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Amesbury, enumeration district (ED) 260, sheet 17-B, p. 2235 (penned), dwelling 184, family 213, Henry J. "Schenett" household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2016).
  8. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Amesbury, enumeration district (ED) 4, sheet 9-B, dwelling 199, family 235, Henry J. Shennett household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2016).
  9. "New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947," database and images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Sep 2016); marriage of Henry Shennett and Annie Murphy, 1890, Portsmouth, N.H.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chasing Daniel Murphy, Part 1

A couple of years ago, for the 52 Ancestors challenge, I wrote about my third-great-grandpa Michael Murphy of Prince Edward Island, and noted the existence of four tentative offspring – three women and one man, natives of Prince Edward Island, who dwelled in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and who seemed to be connected to each other and to Michael and Magdelen (Morison) Murphy. I later posted the three-part tale (starting here) of one of them, the thrice-married "Mysterious Mary" who was either my third great aunt ... or a total stranger.

Lately I've been looking at the other three "possibles" in an attempt to firm up the connections among them, in particular, Daniel Murphy. I figured at least with him, I didn't have to worry about his surname changing if he married! But his records are so spotty – and there are so many other Daniel Murphys in Newburyport – that it's hard to track him.

So, why did I think this particular Daniel Murphy in Newburyport might be one of "my" Murphys in the first place? It began with a marriage registration. In 1885, Daniel Murphy, 42, married Anastasia Welch, 40; his second marriage, her first. Both were born in Prince Edward Island, and Daniel said his parents were Michael Murphy and "Martha" Morrison.1 (As I explained in part 3 of "Mysterious Mary," the Murphy children variously name their mother as Magdelen, Martha, Matilda, or Margaret, but the last name is always Morrison.) The given age of 42 would mean he was born in 1843, which is plausible for a child of Michael and Magdelen (the youngest known child was born in 1842), though there's no telling how reliable this is.2

Marriage of Daniel Murphy and Anastasia Welch, 1885, Newburyport, Mass.
The catch here is that there seem to be no further records of this couple, as a couple. Given Anastasia's age, it's not surprising that there are no children found in the Newburyport birth registers, and of course it would be 15 years before there was a chance of finding them in the census... but they weren't in the 1900 census, either. At least, I can't find any sign of Anastasia; however, I did find this census record for a Daniel Murphy, in the household of his sister, Elizabeth Mason, at 6 Elbow Lane.3

1900 U.S. census, Essex County, Mass., Newburyport, Elizabeth Mason household
Now there are some possible problems with this being the same Daniel who married Anastasia Welch. First, his birth date is given as Aug 1851, a full eight years later than implied in the marriage record. (However, see footnote 2.) Second, he's purportedly a widower. But... while Anastasia can't be found in either this census or in 1910, a "Mrs. Anastasia Murphy" is listed in every Newburyport city directory from 1904 to 1914, no occupation but also not listed as a widow.4 Furthermore, a 1915 death certificate for Anastasia (Welch) Murphy seems to match up pretty nicely with the Anastasia who married Daniel – born in P.E.I., birth year off by only three years (in Murphy terms, that's virtually identical), residence Newburyport, married.5, 6

Death certificate, Anastasia (Welch) Murphy, 1915, Danvers, Mass.
So it appears that Daniel and Anastasia may have been separated, but not divorced. Of course, Daniel did say it was his second marriage, which presumably meant his first wife had died (these folks were all Roman Catholics and unlikely to be divorced), so technically he was a widower, albeit a remarried one.

If Mary was "mysterious," Daniel might best be described as "elusive." I couldn't find any candidate for "my" Daniel in the 1910 census. Elizabeth Mason died in 1906, so clearly he wasn't with her; so I tried checking her daughter Mary Jane (seen as "Jane" in 1900) and her son John T., who was already married with his own household by 1900. No Daniel with either one – but Mary Jane Mason did provide another potential lead: in 1910, she was living at 27 Oakland Street in the household of Peter Murphy, listed as his cousin.7 And Peter, like Mary Jane, was born in English Canada, which includes Prince Edward Island. If Peter Murphy was her cousin, there's a good chance his father was her mother's brother – and thus either Daniel's brother, or Daniel himself.

1910 U.S. census, Essex County, Mass., Newburyport, Peter Murphy householdSo
So next time, it's onward to check out this Peter Murphy.

  1. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," database and digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 25 Oct 2015); Newburyport, vol. 361, p. 323, marriage of Daniel Murphy and Anastasia Welch, 1885.
  2. You have to take any stated ages/birthdates for this entire family – beyond their actual birth or baptismal records – with a whole barrel of salt. I'm convinced that the Newburyport Murphys either didn't know, or didn't care, just when they were born, and when asked for an age for an official document just pulled any semi-plausible number out of their hat. Accepting this cavalier approach to ages is key to sorting out the Murphys: you just have to rely on other bits of evidence to identify them.
  3. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Newburyport, enumeration district (ED) 419, sheet 2-A, p. 87 [stamped], dwelling 16, family 21, Elizabeth Mason household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Feb 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623.
  4. The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory [varying subtitles], for 1904-05, p. 155, 1906-07, p. 163, 1908-09, p. 163, 1910-11, p. 177, 1912-13, p. 170, 1914-15, p. 167, entries for Mrs. Anastasia Murphy; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 22 Feb 2014). 
  5. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915," database and digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 21 Sep 2016); Danvers, vol. 1915/17 Death, p. 226, death of Anastasia (Welch) Murphy, 1915.
  6. True, the parents' names listed are completely different from those in her marriage record, but I haven't found either set of parents in P.E.I. records, so I suspect they were both pulled out of the same hat where the Murphys got their ages.
  7. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Newburyport, enumeration district (ED) 438, sheet 3-A, p. 2145 (penned), dwelling 47, family 52, Peter Murphy household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 Sep 2016).