Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Catherine Jones Purcell, The Orphan from a Big Family

The curse of genealogy research is a common name.  No question about it.  The more common the name the more difficult it is to research your family.

Smith, Jones, Johnson.  Nightmare.

My wife's great grandmother, Catherine Jones, was my big challenge.  She married John F Purcell in Utica, NY June 23, 1887.  Her parents were unknown to my wife and her mother.  In finding Catherine's obituary (3/9/1940), I learned that her parents were named: William Jones and Mary Griffith Jones.  Catherine was born in Marcy, NY and I knew her family was originally from Wales.

Knowing that her parents were from Wales actually sounded like a great clue.  I was unfamiliar with that area of Oneida County, NY and assumed that being Welsh was fairly rare.  To my surprised, I learned that Marcy might as well be called little Cardiff (the capital of Wales).  There appeared to be dozens of Jones and Griffith families in Marcy and the surrounding area.

Family lore indicated that Catherine Jones Purcell has been orphaned at a young age and lived in an orphanage.  Which would mean it would be nearly impossible to determine which of the many Jones families belonged to her.

Fortunately, family lore was at least partially incorrect.  My first lead came from seeing newspaper notices of some of Catherine's children visiting
a William Jones in Whitesboro and another of her children had a wedding shower thrown by a cousin Maude Bullard.  I started looking for other Jones family members.

If you have relatives who lived in New York, Fulton is an invaluable website.  It is a collection of scanned newspapers from all over NY State.  Searching the website can get tricky, but with an infinite amount of patience you can find almost anything that exists in the newspapers they have archived.  I started conducting some searches on "Catherine Purcell" and "Jones".  Which lead to me uncovering Catherine's 4 siblings:  John M Jones, William J Jones, Eleanor "Nellie" Jones and Grace Frances Jones.

John M Jones - John was born in Wales (where we haven't uncovered, yet) on 2/26/1847 and died on 1/19/1915.   He married Charlotte "Lottie" Cavanaugh on 3/8/1874

John and Lottie had at least 8 children:

  • Ada Jones 
  • Charlotte "Lottie" Jones 
  • William A. Jones 
  • John Jay Jones 
  • Eleanor Jones
  • Mayme Jones
  • Harriett Jones
  • Frank Jones

William J Jones - William was born in Marcy in 1854.  I haven't uncovered much about him except that he did live in Syracuse and possibly Whitesboro for a time.

Eleanor "Nellie" Jones - Nellie was born in Marcy, May 1858.  She married John Richard Thomas on Nov 25, 1874.

Nellie and John had at least 3 children:

  • William Hudson Thomas
  • Mable Jane Thomas
  • Kathyrn H Thomas  

Graces Frances Jones - Grace was born in Marcy in Jan 1862.  She died in Deaborn, MI Sept 3, 1937. She married Frank M Bullard in 1885.

Grace and Frank had at least 4 children:

  • Frank E Bullard
  • Harold M Bullard
  • Lila M Bullard
  • Maude Bullard
Catherine had 4 siblings and over a dozen cousins, so how did she end up in an orphanage?  Or did she?  I haven't found any evidence that Catherine lived in an orphanage, but all family stories have some basis in fact.  Today, we tend to think of an orphanage as a place where young children go when their parents have passed away and are wards of a religious or government institution.  What I have learned in my research is that orphanages sometimes had another purpose.  When parents we unable to financial provide for children, children would be sent to the orphanage.  Sometimes for years.  The fact that she spent time at an orphanage has survived in family lore tends to indicate that it left a negative mark on her.

But what lead to the situation where she would have had to go to the orphanage?  That is the subject of my next post:  Finding William and Mary Griffith Jones of Marcy, NY

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