Monday, 11 July 2016

Unwrapping a Puzzle 3: Why Cincinnati?

Getting places in the mid 19th century was not an easy or straightforward task. Horse and buggy or coach, steamboat, or maybe--if you were lucky--trains were how people got from point A to point B.

What took so many of my great grandfather's siblings from Granby in Quebec's Eastern Townships to Cincinnati? How long would such a journey had lasted? If work was the reason, there were places much closer to Granby for them, aside from Montreal, which today is about an hour's drive from Granby. After years of research, I now know that my great grandfather and his large family had many close relatives: in Granby, nearby in Sherbrooke, in Vermont (less than an hour away from Granby today), and in Ulster (!) County about an hour north of New York City. They also likely had other Dougherty cousins in Quebec, but that's a mystery I'm still nowhere near to unravelling.

My great aunt Isabella Dougherty married James H. McHugh in Cincinnati on November 17, 1853. But what family was there with her? She may then have been as young as 18. It's hard to imagine a young woman being allowed to make her way alone on a journey that was then such a great distance. Her father Marcus remained in Granby and so too at that point, Isabella's siblings. As far as I know. But, here again is where those lovely city directories may shed some light. The 1853 Cincinnati city directory lists the following:

"Dougherty & Brother (Thomas and James)
Wines, liquors & c 7 Water
residence: 67 Richmond"

Were these my great uncles Thomas and James? I think so. My cousins will be bemused or possibly amused to see that the Dougherty entrepreneurial spirit may go way back. Did Isabella travel with them to Cincinnati? Their other siblings followed permanently after 1861, based on census and city directory records. But James did return to Granby by 1859, and died there in 1860 from consumption. How do I know this? This fact is recorded in the 1861 census. 

And check out that 1861 census for the Township of Granby. Amazing. It shows that Isabella and her husband James McHugh went to Granby from Cincinnati. I've found the baptismal records for two of their children, who were born there and not in Ireland. And they lived right next to her father and siblings. More to come about the McHugh family, who did return to Cincinnati by the late 1860s. Also, note the several spellings of Dougherty in one nuclear family. Census takers in the 19th century weren't hired based on their spelling ability or their attention to detail. I think they surmised. Lots. Just saying.

And the never ending story continues ....

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