Amy Johnson Crow introduced the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge on her No Story Too Small blog in 2014. This year she continued the challenge, but also added a weekly theme. This week’s theme is:
Week 33 (August 13-19) – Defective, Dependent, & Delinquent: In 1880, there was a special census schedule for “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes” — the blind, deaf, paupers, homeless children, prisoners, insane, and idiotic. Do you have someone in your family tree who would have been classified as such? (To learn more about the special 1880 schedule, see my post, “Do You Have a Defective Ancestor?“)
None of my ancestors lived in the United States, and of the relatives that were living in the United States, none of them were in these classes. I needed to see if I could find anyone in my family tree that would fall under any of these classes.
I use Legacy Family Tree, which includes a “Find” feature. This is a very comprehensive tool, which allows you to search for almost anything within your database. Although there is the option to search for up to 3 criteria at a time, I chose to search for one at a time, to limit the number of results. I started with prisoner, then blind, and then deaf.
This came up with a sibling of one of my husband’s ancestors, Thomas Marshall.
The first information I have about Thomas came from a family history that was sent to me in 1991 from my husband’s distant cousin (a shorter version of this family history that was given to me by my brother-in-law was actually what sparked my interest in family history in the first place).
This family history provided the following information:
Thomas was born a deaf-mute. Born 8 May 1837, in OldLeighlin, Carlow, Ireland. Died 9 Nov 1915, in Ireland. Occupation: house painter.
In 1999, when I first gained access to the internet, I found a family tree at Rootsweb World Connect which provided more information on the Marshall family (this family tree is still available – the details for Thomas can be found at http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:a23238&id=I000050).
This family tree provided the following information about Thomas:
Born 8 May 1837 in OldLeighlin, Carlow, Ireland
Died 9 Nov 1915 in Australia
When Thomas was seven years old, scarlet fever robbed him of his hearing and speech. He worked as a gardener and house painter in Australia, and died unmarried at the home of his neice Sarah Anne Perrin Thomas, with whom he lived. Some reports note is date of birth as 16 Apr 1835
So, I had conflicting information. I had two different birth dates, as well as a conflict in where he had died, and on when he became a deaf-mute.
Then, a few years ago I was sent an email from a descendant of one of Thomas’ brothers, which included the transcription of a letter dated 25 January 1911. Although the letter didn’t identify who the sender was, it did show that it had been sent from Kamarooka. Other information within the letter leads me to believe that it had been sent by Catherine Hansen, nee Marshall, a niece of Thomas Marshall. This letter said the following about Thomas:
“I have been away from my home for about a fortnight, – “just got back,” – at a town called Kyneton, I went there to see our poor old deaf and dumb Uncle Tom, whom we had all lost every trace of for many long weary years, and only a while ago we found out that he was in a Benevolent Asylum in the town of Bendigo, but as soon as we found he was there, he was taken out of it and is at present at Geo. Willis’ place at Kyneton, a cousin of yours, one of Aunt Ann’s sons, When found in asylum he was quite penniless, he will be 74 in May and very feeble now. He is at present about 70 or 80 miles from my place. Of course he had not been long in the asylum when found there, he had been living in another part altogether, but was sent to Bendigo Asylum.”
This letter verified that Tom was a deaf-mute, and that he was in Australia in 1911, so he probably died in Australia. Also, the statement “he will be 74 in May” matches up with the date of birth in May 1837.
With this information, I went searching the death indexes for Victoria for a Thomas Marshall, born about 1837, and found a Thomas Marshall, died 1915 in Kerang. The index listed his parents as “Unknown”. The year of death matches the death date we have for Thomas, and I also knew that George Willis had been living at both Kyneton and Kerang around this period of time.
Today, I decided to apply for Thomas’ death certificate to verify that this death entry was for our Thomas. The certificate would appear to confirm this. Thomas was listed as a retired painter. The informant was “George William Willis, nephew, Mystic Park”. The death date on the certificate also matches the death date on the family histories – 9 November 1915, so this certificate would appear to be for our Thomas.
I haven’t yet been able to verify Thomas’ birth date – I have been able to find some of the parish registers for the family on the Irish Genealogy site, but none for the baptisms of the children of Andrew and Catherine. Although the Catholic Parish registers are available at the National Library of Ireland website, when I searched for Old Leighlin (or OldLeighlin) there were no results. The records I have found for the family were in St Laserian’s Cathedral in OldLeighlin. As St Laserian’s is Church of Ireland, it seems unlikely the family would appear in the Catholic Parish registers. I did browse through the parish registers for Leighlinbridge, but didn’t come across the Marshall surname.