(TMW? Too Many Words)
I have made a mistake. If you don't care about my family history, stop reading now. Otherwise, feel free to let your eyeballs glaze over while I describe in too much, bordering on Geschwind's or Asperger's Syndrome level, detail how I made this mistake.
To quote Donald Rumsfeld: The Known Knowns:
1a) I am the great-granddaughter of Edward R. Blake. His father is Edward D. Blake. Edward D's father is Edward Blake. Ironically, this is not where my confusion/mistake stems from.
1b) Edward D's death record lists his hometown as Kansas City. I remember oral tradition regarding this as well, that the Blakes were from KC before they moved to St. Louis, for whatever reason. Teamsters? Cops? No one was quite sure anymore. Turns out there is an Edward D Blake, in 1870 Kansas City, living with Ellen and Pat Cronin, a Richard Blake who is a couple years older than he is, and an old woman named Mary Dwyre.
1c) Mary Dwyre's occupation is "lives with her daughter" which makes me assume, probably correctly, that Ellen Cronin is her daughter. Further investigation leads to a Kansas City 1860 census with a Mary Dwyer living with Richard Blake, ages match the 1870s, but Richard's parents are Edward and Bridget Blake.
1d) Then I found a marriage record where ages and dates match, in KC, for an Edward Blake and a Bridget Kidney. Yes, Kidney. What? There was some talk that the Irish name Duane was sometimes anglicized to Kidney, and then I looked and Dwyre and wondered about it. But I assumed that Bridget Kidney was sister to Ellen, and either Ellen was a Kidney or a Dwyer or Bridget was married to a man named Kidney before moving to the US (she was fleeing the Potato Famine, so a husband back home may have died or left her or who knows what).
2a) Since Edward is not a Dwyer/Dwyre, but rather a Blake, I assumed that Bridget and Ellen must be sisters.
2b) I find no record of Bridget and Edward in 1870, but in 1880 they appear in East St. Louis running a saloon. Regular readers will remember how this story ends: they adopt a niece named Mollie Toohey/Tuohy, whom I always assumed to be the daughter of Edward's sister, or another of Bridget's sisters. Then Edward, in 1886, kills a man in his bar. The more I learn about East St. Louis the more doomed everything seems (1886 was during a major period of upheaval, wait, like EVERY period in East Saint). A week after the murder, Edward commits suicide by ingesting rat poison. Gah. Mollie takes the name Blake and in the 1900 census (there is no 1890 census, for pretty much 90% of the US population due to a fire) Mollie is married to William Rigden and Bridget is living there with them as mother-in-law.
So all this seems knit up pretty tight. I'd made the further assumption that due to the Irish Diaspora combined with the Penal Laws, that was the end of that. Edward was probably from Galway and Bridget was harder to trace: there are Dwyers here and there, Kidneys elsewhere. Whatever. There are few Irish records around and I wasn't prepared to go visit there and start digging.
I moved onto Mike's family and that's been going well. I found an ancestor with the last name of Hearley/Hurley/Herlihy and was researching that. In a google search, I found an online site with all of the Belleville Illinois diocesan records, well, a lot of them, up to the 1950s, some dating back to the mid 19th century. I found some good information on the Hearleys, proved that Mary Hearley's father was indeed David Fitzgerald, as I assumed, when it STRUCK ME.
East St. Louis is in the Belleville Diocese.
I clicked over to my Bridgett Dwyer Kidney Blake Stew (yummy) and picked up some dates. They were mostly buried in St. Louis cemeteries, so I cross-referenced and decided to start hunting. The records aren't searchable, they are simply microfilmed and stacked by parish and date. Whee. But I found stuff. Good stuff. Or bad, considering now I'm totally caught in an assumption. That is wrong.
So Mollie's wedding was first. She's there, getting married to the right guy on the right date, and her parents are listed. Edward Blake, which didn't surprise me because I'm pretty sure she was adopted as much as they did that back then, but the Bridget that is her mother isn't Bridget Blake, or Kidney, or any permutation of Dwyer, but TOOHEY. Mollie's birth parents, Mr. and Mrs. Toohey, are related to Bridget. And not Bridget's sister, but Bridget's brother. And it's not like Bridget was dead and this was a misremembering on Mollie's part. Bridget Kidney Blake is somehow a Toohey.
Now, there are Tooheys buried in the same plot as Edward Blake, before and after his death. There are other Tooheys buried with other Blakes elsewhere in Calvary. It made sense that they were on his side. But I was wrong.
And then I found Bridget's death record. It was 1904 and luckily the parish had given up on some sort of churchy pig latin and just wrote the facts out in English. She died of la grippe (the flu), which I knew, and the dates matched and all that. Her parents? Michael Toohey and Eleanora Houlihan.
More searching led to the cholera epidemic of 1873 where the parish priest, his hand obviously tired from so much blessing and recording of deaths, wrote less information down about those who died than the usual records. 1873 in Calvary Cemetery saw more than its fair share of Tooheys, and there's a ****** Toohey buried in 1873 near Edward Blake, and a Catherine Toohey, who also died in 1873. The no-first-namer is 85. I glance through the 1873 East St. Louis church records and in the cholera epidemic find Catherine in one month and "Mrs. Blake's Mother" in another.
And then there's an 1860 census record with a Mathew and Catherine Toohey, living with a young man named Hogan (also buried in the Blake/Toohey areas of Calvary) and an Elenor Toohey. Who matches the no-name Toohey in age. No Mollie yet--she was born in 1866.
So. No matter what, Mary Dwyer is Ellen Cronin's mother and is connected to Edward D. Blake, who is 100% known to be my ancestor. His parents are 99% certain to be Edward Blake and Bridget Kidney.
And then? One or a few of the following is true:
1. Bridget Kidney/Edward Blake of KC are not the same people as Bridget Toohey/Edward Blake of East St. Louis, even though the first two disappear after 1860 with no trace and the second set don't show up anywhere at all until 1880. I find this to be unlikely.
2. Bridget Kidney is not Mary Dwyer's daughter. If she is the same person throughout this tale, which I am pretty sure is true, she is NOT Mary Dwyer's daughter. She is Eleanor Houlihan and Michael Toohey's daughter. My first assumption was based on extrapolations from census records. The corrected situation is from self-reporting on Church records.
3. As the Toohey in the family, she is the connection to Mollie Toohey, and her brother is Mathew Toohey, married to Catherine, both dead by 1880 along with Eleanor Toohey. Thus taking Mollie in and raising her. Don't ask me why they never went back for Edward and Richard after moving to East St. Louis. Go back to #1. Maybe they're not the same folks after all.
4. Then why is Mary Dwyer living with Bridget and Edward and Richard in 1860? Could Mary Dwyer be an elderly aunt? Could she be Edward's mother, remarried after Edward's father, Something Blake, died? If so, then is Ellen actually Ellen Blake (since it seems clear that Mary is Ellen's mother)?
5. More important than that, WHAT IS KIDNEY? Could it be that Bridget was Bridget Toohey, married someone named Kidney, as was my first guess with Dwyer/Kidney, and then survived him to marry Edward Blake? These people's lives make me sad and tired. I have the handwriting of the priest in the Missouri state record and I know it says Kidney. Definitely Kidney. And he made no notes about widows or named her as "Mrs. Bridget Kidney" or anything useful like that. Just Bridget Kidney.
So I'm at a crossroads. I obviously need to change a few things, but it's hard to figure what exactly to change.
So step one? I'm writing to the Kansas City Diocese. Edward and Bridget (the ones I'm definitely related to, if they are different couples) were married by Bernard Donnelly, who was essentially the founding priest of the KC diocese--his first "parish" extended throughout KC and up to Independence. He is known as a visionary and historian, so it is likely that his church records contain something more than their names and date of marriage--which is what he reported to the State of Missouri. I'm including as much information as I have in the hopes that the marriage record, or the baptismal record for Richard or Edward D. contains her maiden name.
If it's Toohey, then the Kidney thing is solved. She married someone in between and there ya go. It also means that Mary Dwyer is unconnected to her--since Eleanor Toohey is the listing for her mother in East St. Louis. Mary Dwyer...connected to Edward her husband? An aunt or other elderly relative who happened to live with them?
And if it's Kidney, especially if it continues to be Kidney in the baptismal records, then I have a dilemma. They are related to me. But I have a feeling that Bridget wouldn't have said "Kidney" to the priest in KC and "Toohey" to the priest in East St. Louis. If it's Kidney, then the whole sad story of Edward and Bridget Blake and the saloon and the murder and all of that, well, it isn't mine.
I don't know which one I'm hoping for more.