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.

1 comment:

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco said...

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