A Genealogist Shaming … and more info on the McCabes!

I think I’ve come to the realization that people just sold or gave away their bounty land warrants to just any old person.  There was no need for a relationship between the two people other than money changing hands.  It is a very disappointing thing, as I was really hoping to discover some new relative or significant person in the family.  I suppose it is not to be.  Apparently, Richard Pinkham had another 160 acres of bounty land that he sold or gave to someone named Joseph Vila, Junior, for some land in Harrison County, Iowa.

So I have given up that line of inquiry for now.

Instead, I have been busy trying to puzzle out the family relationships between the McCabes and the Sloweys.  Census records, BMD records, land records, and any other records I could get my eyeballs on was fair game.  Remember all the craziness I went through trying to figure out who Anton Heerdink was?  This was pretty much the same thing … except with more common names (hooray).

2014-09-06 20.37.00The first thing I did was make sure I had accounted for the entire Patrick Slowey/Catherine McCabe family unit on all applicable census records.  Using this handy-dandy form, I was able to visualize the flow of all the children into and out of the household.

Here’s the part where I hang my head in shame …

In the process of reviewing all the information I had for this family, I discovered that I already had a death certificate for Bernard Slowey that named his mother as Katherine McCabe AND I already had a death certificate for John Charles Slowey that named his mother as Catherine McCabe.  I simply had not added them to my database yet.  So … lesson learned.  Probably best not to dwell.

genealogist shaming

I actually learned a few (other) things from this exercise:

1. A second look never hurts.
2. I will probably not be using census records to determine Patrick’s birth date.  He just doesn’t age normally.
3. I’m growing increasingly more confident that the Ellen Slowey found in the 1880 census with Mary and John McCabe is the daughter of Patrick and Catherine.

This means that John, Mary Jr., and Ellen McCabe are likely Catherine’s siblings and Mary Sr. is likely her mother.  Now I just have to piece together their family.  I’ll start with the census records and see what happens.

This family apparently spent very little time living in the same house at the same time.  I found Catherine in 1850 enumerated with her brother John and apparently two other brothers, Hugh and Barney, in the household of Hugh and Ellen Lavis in New Diggings, Wisconsin.  The brothers all had an occupation of “smelter.”  So I did a little ‘digging’ of my own (ha … see what I did there?) and discovered that New Diggings was an old lead mining town.  So their occupation makes sense.  However, their ages make no sense.  Hugh is 27, John is 21, and Catherine and Barney are both 20.  Maybe it was common for men to puff up their age in order to find work during the 1850s?  If so, that would make sense.  Catherine’s parents – Charles and Mary – were living in Benton, Wisconsin in 1850 with another brother Terrence (also age 20) and sister Mary (age 13).

The 1860 census shows Mary (probably a widow by this time as I never see Charles in a census again after 1850), with John (age 25) and Bernard Slowey (age 7) li2014-09-06 23.17.57ving in Benton, Wiscsonsin.  No idea WHY Bernard is living with his uncle and grandmother, when the rest of his family is living together in Kendall, Wisconsin.  Daughter Ellen (age 18) is enumerated in Benton, but as a domestic in a hotel.  I cannot locate daughter Mary in 1860.  By this time, son Hugh has married a woman named Jane and has three children; and daughter Catherine has married Patrick Slowey.  There are many Terrences and Barneys in the 1860 census, and I haven’t narrowed those down yet.

In 1870, we find Mary, John, daughter Mary, and daughter Ellen living in Seymore, Wisconsin.  They are all still living together in 1880, but in Yankton, Dakota Territory, and granddaughter Ellen is enumerated with them.  I’m having a hard time locating any of them in 1900 census – I’m pretty sure Mary Sr. is deceased by then; and Mary and Ellen are either married or have moved away from Wisconsin and could be pretty much anywhere.  John is likely still in South Dakota, but there are a lot of John McCabes – and (so far) none with a Mary and an Ellen living with him.

I will probably need to see if any probate records exist for Mary Sr., and/or for Charles and work from there to determine where everyone ended up.

Another task for another day …


Amanuensis Monday: Thomas Patrick Slowey Birth Certificate

I totally stole this idea from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, who credits Geneablogger John Newmark (TransylvanianDutch blog) with starting this blog theme years ago.  John offers this definition for “amanuensis:”

“A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.”

(And, let’s be honest, this is probably the only way I’m going to remember to transcribe all my documents, right?)

*Moving the text into the blog caused some of the formatting to be lost – but you get the general idea.Thomas Patrick Slowey delayed birth certificate



State File No. 666071

Co. Reg. No. 16996

Full Name at Birth Thomas Patrick Slowey    Date of Birth Dec. 29, 1896    Sex  Male

Birthplace  Mayfield Twp.   Yankton     South Dakota          Color  White

Father: Full Name  John Slowey     Birthplace  Wisconsin

Mother: Maiden Name  Theresa Burns     Birthplace  Missouri

Affidavit:  I hereby declare upon oath that the above statements are true.

Signature Theresa Slowey     Address  Irene, South Dakota

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 2nd day of November, 1944

SEAL                                                      Marie Steinbach  Notary Public

Deputy Clerk of Courts, Yankton Co.





I hereby certify that the abstract of evidence above recorded is to my knowledge true and correct.

Signature [blank]                                     Date signed [blank]

Registrar  Nathan Steinbach

Date Filed  Nov. 2 – 1944

The source citation for this document is: Thomas Patrick Slowey, birth certificate [Delayed] no. 16996 (county); no. 666071 (state) (29 December 1896), South Dakota Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Pierre, South Dakota.

I wrote about Thomas Patrick Slowey here.  It’s interesting to me because his mother signed it only months before she passed away (assuming that is her signature).  I understand why his birth certificate was delayed, since South Dakota didn’t mandate civil registration until 1905.  What I can’t figure out is why it was done in 1944.  Thomas applied for his Social Security number in January 1941, so he obviously didn’t need it for that.  The only reason I can think of is that – as far as I can tell – up until 1944, he was a farmer.  In 1945, he began working in an alcohol plant in Yankton.  Perhaps he needed his birth certificate because he was employed by someone else.  If anyone can see this from another angle, I would appreciate any insight you might have.


Ancestor Spotlight: Patrick Slowey (~1815-1902)

Patrick E. Slowey was born in Ireland, likely County Monaghan (but I’ve heard County Cavan also) between 1815 and 1825.  He immigrated to the United States around 1840 and by 1855 he was settled in Wisconsin with his wife Catherine [maiden name believed to be McCabe]. I can only assume they were married by 1852, as that was when their first child was born.  They had a farm in Lafayette County

Patrick Slowey Naturalization CertificateThe couple had 9 natural children – Barney, Kate, Mary, Thomas, John, Lizzie, Patrick, Ellen, and Peter – and one adopted son, George Meter.  All of their natural children were born between 1852 and 1870 in Wisconsin, and in 1872 he moved them all to Yankton, South Dakota.  Patrick became a naturalized citizen in Yankton on October 14, 1875.  The couple adopted George in October 1876.  There is a story that the Meters were close friends of the family and some tragedy led to George being adopted by Patrick and Catherine, but I am still searching for documents to corroborate that.

I have found a Declaration of Intent filed in November 1848 in the Lafayette County Circuit Court (Wisconsin), but I am still trying to confirm this is the same Patrick Slowey (there were several, apparently).  It is possible that he arrived in New Orleans in June 1845 via Liverpool, England.

Patrick and Catherine Slowey - Walshtown Cath CemeteryIn June 1881, Patrick purchased 160 acres of land comprised of the southwest quarter of Section 28 in Mayfield Township in Yankton County, South Dakota, under the Homestead Act of 1862.  When I was plotting all the land owners on the original plat maps for this township and the neighboring township, I recognized a couple of names: Gemmill and Noonan.  James Noonan and William Gemmill provided sworn testimony as to Patrick’s residency and character.  Later, one of his granddaughters would marry one of William Gemmill’s grandsons.

Patrick’s first home in South Dakota was a log house with a sod roof.  He broke his land using oxen and horses, and had a good farm.  He and Catherine were devout Catholics and attended Walshtown Catholic Church.  Unfortunately, he would only spend a few years on the farm together with Catherine.  She died in August 1884.  Patrick continued to live and work on that farm until he died on February 12, 1902, due to “extreme old age hastened by a severe cold,” which he had for a few days.  They are buried together in St. Columba Cemetery (formerly Walshtown Cemetery).


This Stuff Never Happens to Me

I used to giggle when I saw men wandering around the beaches with their metal detectors.  Not anymore.

It all started last Saturday with an email.  Brian, a gentleman who lives in Yepoon, Queensland, Australia, contacted me and said that his friend was using his metal detector on the beach in Keppel Sands and found a ring.  He believed from the markings that it must have belonged to someone from the South Dakota National Guard 147th Field Artillery Regiment.  This ring has probably been under sea and sand for at least 60 years!  He searched the internet and found these previous blog posts about my grandfather during World War II.

He asked me if I could identify the emblems on the ring as belonging to the 147th Field Artillery:

IMG_0307 IMG_0308 IMG_0309

Unfortunately, the emblems assigned to the 147th have changed over the years – mainly because the Battalion was deactivated after World War II, and reactivated during the Korean War.  It has been reorganized a time or two since then, and new emblems were assigned back in 1971.  I’ve had a hard time finding any images of the emblems associated with the 147th during World War II.

I found a brief history of the Battalion written by Robert G. Webb using the journals kept by Captain William H. Daly.  The 147th left San Francisco in November 1941, and stopped in Pearl Harbor on 30 November.  By the time the Japanese attacked on December 7, the convoy of ships with the 147th was about 1500 miles southwest of Hawaii.  They were diverted to the Fiji Islands until mid December, then spent Christmas in Brisbane, Australia.  On December 28, they traveled north inside the Great Barrier Reef until they arrived at Darwin on January 6.  Their camp was about 15 miles inland.  They were the first Americans to raise a U.S. flag on Australian soil.

The 147th became part of the ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) Command, but after the ABDA disbanded, the 147th remained attached to Australia’s Northern Territory Forces.  They stayed in Darwin for 6 months, throughout the multiple air raids on Darwin by the Japanese.  I think one or two Captains from the 147th are still buried up there, having been killed in one of the raids.  On June 29, the 147th started by truck over the Great North Road to Alice Springs.  They finally reached their destination of Ballarat by train on July 8, and remained there for three months.

In October 1942, the 147th was assigned to Camp Cable, just outside of Brisbane.  In February 1943, they followed the First Corps of the U.S. Sixth Army from Camp Cable to Rockhampton.  The First Battalion of the 147th stayed there until June 1943, when the 147th was assigned to the islands of Woodlark and Kiriwina off the coast of New Guinea.  The Second Battalion left in July and joined the First at Milne Bay in New Guinea.

This is the historic marker found at Bicentennial Park in Darwin, NT, Australia:

Given that the 147th was in or near Keppel Sands twice during the time they were in Australia, it is entirely possible that the ring belongs to one of the men from that unit.  Plus, the emblem on the marker is similar to the emblem on one side of the ring.

I have contacted the Curator at the South Dakota National Guard Museum in Pierre to see if he can identify the emblems on the ring and confirm that it belonged to a member of the 147th.  I can’t wait to hear back!


Handling Negative Evidence in Evidentia

As I was working through entering my sources into Evidentia, I came across something that I thought might be interesting to those folks using Evidentia – and maybe even folks that aren’t.

Negative evidence.

First – what is “negative evidence”?  Well, in Evidence Explained (2nd ed.) Elizabeth Shown Mills defines it as

negative evidence

For example, if Joe Smith was supposedly born in 1908, but he is not found with his family on the 1910 census, this would be considered “negative evidence.”

Negative evidence is just as important as all the other information you’ve gathered when it comes time to analyze your evidence.  In the example above, Joe Smith SHOULD be with his family on the 1910 census, but he isn’t.  Does this mean he died before 1910?  Do we have the wrong birth date?  Is he living with other family members?  Are we looking at the wrong family?  Negative evidence leaves many questions to be answered.  This is why we can’t just ignore it and move on.

So when it comes to putting your information into Evidentia, how do you handle this negative evidence?  Fortunately, it’s relatively easy.  You handle it just like any other piece of information.

Let’s consider the 1910 U.S. census record for my great grandfather, Thomas P. Slowey:

1910 census

Here, we see Thomas’ father John Slowey with his wife and 8 children.  We can also see that Theresa has 12 children, 9 of whom are still living.  With that information, we can infer that (1) at least one of her children is still alive, but not listed with the family; and (2) three of her children are no longer living.

When I enter this information into Evidentia, I have to change the direction of my thinking.  Instead of approaching it from a standpoint of “What question does this information answer?” I approach it as “What question does the absence of this information create?”

Because I was already aware of the names of John and Theresa’s 12 children (all born before 1907), I entered the claim “Theresa Slowey is the mother of 12 children, 9 of whom are still living as of 15 Apr 1910.”  Then all I had to do was add subjects and claim types:

add subjects

The first subject I entered was Theresa (Burns) Slowey and assigned claim type “child.”  Now, when I print a proof report to show the children of Theresa, this information will be included in the analysis.

Next, I added birth, death, residence, and parent claim types for each of the children who died.   I did not include the living child as a subject for this particular claim, because I know she is listed with her husband on another page.  However, I did add a separate entry stating that “Catherine Slowey is not enumerated with her family on the 1910 census” … with a census claim type and a residence claim type.  Now if I need a proof report on Catherine’s residence, this evidence will serve to strengthen my analysis of her enumeration with John Nooney 2 pages before her parents.

I added a separate entry for each of the three deceased children stating that they were not enumerated with the family and added death and residence claim types, as well as a child claim type for John Slowey.

When we look at the Analyze Evidence screen in Evidentia, we will see that we have a few options under “Evidence Quality”: Direct, Indirect, and Negative.

analyze evidence

I’ve used the residence of Anna Slowey as an example.  Here, we see the claims I entered from the 1910 census.  The first entry, about Theresa’s 12 children, does not directly answer the question “Where did Anna Slowey reside in 1910?”  Therefore, this is indirect evidence.  If we look at the second entry showing that Anna wasn’t enumerated with her family, this would be considered negative evidence.  It answers the question negatively.  Simplistically, “Anna did NOT live here in 1910.”

I’m  not going to do any actual analysis of this evidence here today, because I don’t have everything entered yet.

Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised how much negative evidence you can find in the documents you already have.  You never know, it may just help you break down a brick wall!

If you still haven’t tried Evidentia, check it out here (affiliate link).