Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Penrose's Paper Trail

When it comes to the unpredictable nature of genealogical research, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. While I would like to systematically trace our Penrose Hawkes back through each iteration of the United States census from the point at which we found him yesterday in the 1940 enumeration, it turns out my wish may not be granted. There are gaps in the paper trail.

It's tempting to think, when musing over missing appearances in what we can presume would be a regular occurrence, that perhaps our Penrose had not yet arrived in New York for an appearance in that previous 1930 census. Perhaps he was, indeed, still back in his native Ireland.

However, other documents save us from that mistaken assumption. Penrose Hawkes, it appears, left a sufficient paper trail in New York to allow us to trace some earlier highlights of his personal history.

For instance, remember that question I had thought of yesterday, when finding Penrose and his wife Marion in the 1940 census? There had been no mention of anyone named Marion in the 1936 photograph album we've been searching through lately. As it turns out, a marriage record located in New York City provides the answer: Penrose married Marion in Manhattan on 21 October 1937. No wonder Marion hadn't made her appearance in the summertime 1936 family photograph collection back in Ireland. She and Penrose may not even have met by that earlier date.

There were earlier documents to help us piece together Penrose's immigration story, as well. Thanks to records from one passenger list, not only do we learn that Penrose arrived in New York City on the first day of August in 1923, but we get the details on his full name, as well: John Pim Penrose Hawkes. While it is clear his family referred to him as Penrose, not John, it will be helpful to remember that detail, in case searches using the given name Penrose don't yield as much information as we might hope.

The August, 1923, arrival was apparently not his first trip to New York City, however. Earlier documents provide more of his story.

A confirming detail, found in an earlier document dated September 12, 1918, not only was filed under that very first name we previously were unaware of—John—but provided an assuring connection to the home we suspected was his. Penrose's World War I Draft Registration Card indicated, for nearest relative to contact, the response: "Father, Ovens, Cork, Ireland." Ovens, of course, was the parish where we pinpointed the correct Bride Park House residence of the Hawkes family of our photo album.

While Penrose had been found in those more recent documents living in New York City, this earlier record was completed in an entirely different part of the state: the county of Steuben in upstate New York. In fact, it included information on Penrose's position at work, and named the employer, as well. He was listed as a clerk at a business called T. G. Hawkes and Company, in Corning, New York.

With a name like that, it is easy to presume Penrose went to work in a relative's business. If you made that astute guess, congratulate yourself on your keen observational skills. But don't let that stop you there. Behind the name, T. G. Hawkes and Company, comes a lineage that connects with some fascinating business history.

Remember, if you will, the 1940 census entry indicating Penrose's occupation as representative for a glass company. Though it may sound as if this younger Penrose, at the time of his draft registration, was just a lowly clerk in an enterprise bearing the same surname as his, this was a young man serving as apprentice to a relative whose family not only owned the company, but seemingly had glass works in their very blood lines, as well.

Above: Section of World War I Draft Registration Card for John Penrose Hawkes, Corning, New York, filed on September 12, 1918, in Steuben County; image courtesy

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Starting With the Here and Now

There is one bit of advice I've found indispensable when introducing new students to the wonders of genealogical pursuits: start with yourself and move backwards from there. Gradually. That means step by carefully documented step. Never mind that you just know that your French Canadian great grandmother was descended from Charlemagne.

As the old board game once advised: do not pass go, do not collect one hundred dollars. Until, that is, you have followed the rules of proper genealogical research. And those rules do not include permission to immediately jump back centuries to books on the old blood lines of European monarchs. Or any other scintillatingly famous persons. You simply must go, step by step, from what you know through all the documented changes back through the years of history.

In the case of our current chase, however, we will have to modify that hard and fast rule. For in this situation, we are not beginning from our beginning, but from the most recent verifiable documentation of one particular gentleman known as Penrose Hawkes.

Granted, there are precious few things we know about this Mr. Hawkes from the album I found discarded at a local antique shop in northern California. We can't even say for sure that his name was really Penrose Hawkes. But we do know he was called Penrose. And we have observed, from this same book which was likely a family photograph album, that he was at a place in County Cork, Ireland, during the summer months of 1936. And that the woman who was likely owner of the home was named Mrs. P. Hawkes.

Putting this all together, I tried googling several combinations. I tried searching for Penrose plus Alice. Penrose plus Bride Park. Penrose, in fact, along with any other names or terms I could find in the album.

The results brought me several listings—not for Ireland, but for New York. This, as it turns out, is where we need to start with the here and now—Penrose's here and now. For instance, if there were search results showing a Penrose Hawkes in New York, would there be any entry for that name in the closest census record to the time of the 1936 album?

The answer is a solid yes. In an apartment on East Tenth Street in Manhattan, Penrose can be found in the 1940 census, age forty, along with a wife by the name of Marion. She, too, was forty years of age, but unlike Penrose, who was listed as born in Ireland, she was a native New Yorker—as were, apparently, both her parents.

What is interesting about this census entry is that Marion Hawkes happened to win the census lottery for 1940. Hers became one of two entries included in the supplementary questions found on the bottom of the page. There we learn that she was married more than once, that she was first married at age twenty two, and that she had no children.

The puzzling thing is that I find no mention of anyone named Marion in the family album. If, indeed, we do have the right Penrose Hawkes (and really, how many of those can there be?), the likely explanation would be that Penrose was not married at the time of the 1936 visit to Ireland. Of course, we'll have to reserve judgment on that until we find supporting documentation.

Penrose, himself, provided some additional clues in his own census entry. For one thing, it confirmed his birth in Ireland, and the report that he was now a naturalized United States citizen. It also provided his occupation as sales manager for a glass company.

Lest you assume he was a mere mid level manager for some NYC corporate concern, set that notion aside for a while. For in the next few days, we'll discover which glass company Penrose was representing. Even more important, we'll begin following that thread to learn what a long family history intertwined with that glass industry Penrose—and several others in the Hawkes family line—actually had.

Above: Excerpt of the 1940 U.S. Census for Manhattan, New York, showing Penrose and Marion Hawkes; courtesy

Monday, January 16, 2017


The one enchanting thing about the start of the new year is that it is ripe with possibilities—possibilities that eventually grow into projects. As the year gets rolling and those projects get launched, that bright hope which comes with the luxury of contemplating possibilities can undergo some tarnishing. But never mind that for now. Let's bask in the inner warmth of those possibilities, shall we?

Picking up the tale of that mysterious Christmas gift found abandoned in a local antique shop, we are ready to consider the possibilities uncovered from its pages. We've already been properly introduced to several of the players revealed in just the first few of the album's pages—at least, as properly as possible, considering the circumstances.

We've already met Harry and "Self"—the anonymous writer behind those white ink notes on each of the album's pages. We've easily surmised that they are the couple who are the proud parents of the two young girls cavorting through the album's pages, Ruby and Iris. In addition, we've been introduced to a man named O'Malley and a woman called Alice, though we aren't yet sure how they connect to the family's story.

And, of course, there's Grannie. She's the one who seems most likely to have been mentioned in newspaper reports as the West Highland White Terrier owner identified as Mrs. P. Hawkes. In fact, there's a good chance she is the one whose home is the place called Bride Park House in the parish of Ovens in County Cork, Ireland.

Finding the surname Hawkes has indeed been a great help. Who knew it would be the family's dog that would lead us to uncover the mystery of this photo album? Yet it isn't entirely helpful; we have yet to determine just which of these players can claim that surname besides Grannie. Would it be "Self"? Or Harry?

One more player in this scene may also claim rights to that surname: the reticent shadow unwillingly captured in a few of the photographs in the album's opening pages. We've already seen him here, in a fuzzy composition with the ever-present Ruby and Iris. From that introduction, we've learned that his name was Penrose. But is it Mr. Penrose, with an unknown given name? Or may we presume he was Penrose Hawkes? How, exactly, does he connect to this family gathering?

Penrose, looking very cross!

Googling the name Penrose Hawkes does bring up some promising results. However, there are more entries to be found in the United States than in Ireland.

The two lists—one, the search results about the Penrose Hawkes from Ireland and the other the results about the Penrose Hawkes in America—are likely concerning themselves with the same person, opening up a chapter into a fascinating side story concerning the Hawkes family—if, indeed, we have identified the right person.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Off on the Right Track

Welcoming the new year—at least the first two weeks of it—hasn't been bad at all. I can't say I've had as positive a feeling about a New Year in a long time.

As far as keeping track of research progress, the experiment I tried last year was encouraging. Here's the first installation on the statistical report for 2017. Keep in mind, this is not just a wearying task having to do with numbers. The impetus behind this pursuit—which actually started in late 2014 when I discovered an "exact match" adoptee sharing my matrilineal line—is to trace my mother's mother's mother's line back to whatever generation will pinpoint the nexus between my ancestry and that of my mystery cousin.

Not only that; gearing my research to include siblings of each generation of my direct line—and then extrapolating to all the descendants of any given ancestor—will hopefully help me spot how I match those many unknown third and fourth cousins popping up in my DNA test results with alarming regularity. Keeping track of the numbers helps encourage the research momentum.

For now, it looks like the most—er, make that the only—progress being made is on my maternal line and that of my husband. No problem, though. These are the two lines most likely to experience DNA matches—and also the two lines whose roots reach back to colonial America.

So let's look at the numbers for our new year's fresh start.

On my mother's line, I opened the year with 9,305 names in my freshly-synced family tree. In the past two weeks, I've added and documented 136 additional individuals, bringing the total up to 9,441.

On my mother-in-law's line, the year began with 9,523 and improved to 9,744—a jump of 221 names. I'm not sure why my mother-in-law's line always takes the prize for greatest number of additions, but it sure seems like it does. Perhaps it was all those large Catholic families.

The DNA matches seem to be settling into a pattern, as well, with Family Tree DNA bringing in nearly twice as many as Ancestry DNA in any given time period. Perhaps that is because we are still seeing the tsunami wave coming towards us from that company's unbelievable holiday sale. The down side, of course, is that, flooded with extra work, the lab is likely struggling to keep up with the input. Back in early December, my two sisters in law generously agreed to become "guinea pigs" for one of my genetic genealogy data reading experiments; I've yet to see their results show up in my husband's matches.

So, as it stands right now, the year started out with 970 matches for my husband's account at FTDNA, which bumped up to 980 over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, his Ancestry DNA account only advanced five, from 186 to 191 matches. As for mine, the 1,521 January first tally at FTDNA rose nineteen to 1540, and my Ancestry DNA matches are now up eight to 427.

Making progress on all these aspects is sometimes as simple a matter as squeezing in a few minutes daily to review shaky leaf hints on Ancestry. I must confess, I often spend my lunchtime at my desk, working through those hints as systematically as possible. It may seem like a big number when viewed in the aggregate, but doing a little at a time—and doing so regularly—can make a difference over the long haul.

Above: "Shepherd with sheep in winter landscape," oil on canvas by German artist Ernst Adolf Meissner (1837 - 1902); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Off the Shelf:
The Forgotten Irish

It isn't often that I get to buy a book during the year preceding its official release, but that's exactly what happened with the title I want to feature this month.

Granted, the idea of this monthly post is to remind me—a book lover smitten with an insidious disease causing the victim to purchase volumes which then remain shelved and, unfortunately, unread—to go back to that bookshelf, pull the books down one by one and, for crying out loud, actually, you know, read them.


True confession number two: I have a second weakness. This one, I suspect, is genetic, for it was my mother and sister before me who would conspire—even two months ahead of time, and spanning the six hundred miles that separated them—to purchase books as Christmas presents for me, and then ship said present between themselves, so they could each first read the book before gifting it to unsuspecting me. I have now followed suit, as I purchase books for my anthropologically-minded daughter.

"Oh, this one would be great for her to read," I'd think, all the while secretly plotting how I could read it first.

Such were the machinations at play, when I fortuitously stumbled upon a promotional announcement for conflict archaeologist Damian Shiels' upcoming book, The Forgotten Irish.

I'm not sure how I first learned about the book. Granted, I do a lot of research on our family's Irish heritage. Having a daughter recently spend two semesters studying abroad at University College Cork led me to follow a number of Irish archaeology types on Twitter and other social media. And naturally, I follow several blogs on Irish genealogy, archaeology and related topics. Damian Shiels had already surfaced in the mix, long before I discovered the launch of his new book.

Perhaps it was the review I spotted on Claire Santry's indispensable blog, Irish Genealogy News that drew me towards considering getting a copy for myself my daughter. In Claire's mind, The Forgotten Irish was "easily my book of the year."

Then, too, the premise of the book—using the widows and dependents pension files from the American Civil War era "to build a partial picture of the lives of individual Irish emigrant families"—piqued my interest. It was my kind of pursuit. Written by a researcher who had already demonstrated his prowess through his earlier edition, The Irish in the American Civil War, this newly-launched volume promised to delve into material which could breathe some life into the micro-histories of these forgotten people.

I'm not sure how it was, but just in time for some early Christmas shopping in 2016, I spotted a mention of a bargain price for The Forgotten Irish at the Book Depository. Yes, the book was published in the U.K. Yes, that meant shipping it across an ocean and then a sizeable continent. But yes, the company was willing to ship it worldwide for free plus sell it to me at an unbelievable price. I couldn't wait 'til Christmas!

So, technically, the book did sit on my shelf for a while—at least through the two months since its arrival before Christmas—before I got to pull it down and feature it on my monthly book post. I assuaged my guilty book-buying conscience by not reading it before actually gifting it to its intended recipient. (It is a paperback, after all.)

And now, I'm reading it.

There was one small puzzle, though. Being a Christmas gift and all, of course it will be an item whose purchase date I'll remember clearly. So I was quite surprised to see a tweet by the author yesterday, which advised the official launch of The Forgotten Irish would occur on January 26. That, as far as I can tell, means January of 2017.

How is this? I double checked for dates. Could this have been an announcement for January of 2016? If not, oh, how I wish I were headed to Dublin right now!

According to its Google entry, the book was released on October 6, 2016 by its publisher, The History Press. But if you look up The Forgotten Irish on Amazon, the blurb indicates the book will not be available until May, 2017. That's if you want to wait until American outlets make the volume available. I certainly didn't. Besides, while speeding up the process by shopping overseas, you certainly can't beat the price.

Meanwhile, I've overcome my mother's weakness for taking a sneak peak at reading the very books she's about to give to others. I now read those books after Christmas. Yeah, like when the recipient leaves the country to do some post-holiday winter-break traveling. After all, it wouldn't be like she is taking the book with her. May as well seize the moment. I've got a couple hundred pages yet to cover before she gets home.   


Friday, January 13, 2017

Finding the Right Bride Park House

With the nagging thought still lurking in the back of my mind—that the unnamed family in the photo album I found might merely have posed for their pictures at a lovely spot discovered while touring Ireland—I continued following two parallel research tracks. One was to seek any record of the Mrs. P. Hawkes whose darling West Highland White Terrier had won so many ribbons at Cork dog shows. The other, of course, was to zero in on the specific parcel of land which would definitively identify the right location for the building dubbed Bride Park House.

It was that second task which was uppermost in my mind, once I discovered another home known as Bride Park in the same county in Ireland. I simply can't abide it when my pet hypotheses don't line up with reality.

Fortunately, using the Ireland-specific version of Google helped bring a few local resources into focus. While the Landed Estates Database we discussed yesterday seemed to lead us away from our target property, it nevertheless included some interesting detours which may turn out to be helpful in the second phase of our quest to learn more about the Hawkes family.

Keep in mind the NUI Landed Estates Database is organized to be searched in three different ways. One of those is to search by family name. Right away, I headed for the A to Z listings in the family category. There was plenty to wade through under the heading for H. If our mystery album's family was indeed part of the Hawkes line of County Cork, there was plenty to learn about their forebears in the 1800s in this overview of Hawkes holdings.

Though none of the entries mentioned the name Bride Park specifically, various entries on the Hawkes family confirmed some of the other discoveries I had been finding simply by Googling that name. What I had been sensing about a family name with quite a history turned out to be so.

That was not all to be found on Bride Park, as you may already have discovered for yourself if you chose to join in the research chase. While I couldn't find anything correlating "Hawkes" with "Bride Park" in any landed estates, I could find some more recent listings for properties.

One beautiful website discovery was that of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. There, among their entries, was one looking very much like the Bride Park House we had been musing over from the photograph album's pages. Except now, much like the Dorothy who was transported from Kansas to Oz, we weren't looking out the door to view a 1936 black and white life any longer; this photograph was in vivid color.

Detailing the house history for the very building we are seeking, the Architectural Heritage entry informs us that Bride Park House was likely built in the 1820s. In the townlands of Kilumney in County Cork, the property has undergone additions, all of which are catalogued in the Architectural Heritage description of the building's construction. Clicking on the web page's hyperlink for "additional images" reveals a close-up of the very doorway where I suspect "Grannie" stood in 1936 to have her picture snapped.

The location of the house, according to the map linked to its entry in the Architectural Heritage website, appears to be right next to a river. Whether that is the River Bride, I'm not yet sure, but it seems likely. Checking the property's location on Google maps not only confirms that location, but adds the ability to view it via "street view," revealing yet another iteration of what seems to be the very property we've been seeking.

Ruby and Iris, taken in the garden at Bride Park—July 1936

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bride Park: Not Just a Kennel

Page by page, that discarded family photo album I had found now started providing more clues. The more details spotted on previous pages, the more understanding the exercise yielded. It took a process, first, of linking internal clues to each other, then, when enough of those were aggregated, taking the leap into the real world to try out our hypothesis and see if it led us to any real people.

Before jumping to any conclusions, though, it might be helpful to view just one more page in the album I rescued from our local antique shop. This one allows us to step back from that "hall door" we had already seen in the photograph of "Grannie" and take in a view of the house through which the entrance led.

Not only did this photograph provided a glimpse of just what the place looked like in 1936, but its caption revealed to us that the building, itself, was called Bride Park.

Part of Bride Park House.

What we had previously assumed was the name of the kennel claiming the bragging rights for the prize-winning "Bride Park Periwinkle" turned out to be the name of the home where the kennel was likely based.

The question now became: where, exactly, would that Bride Park home be located? If the house known as Bride Park was the residence of the "Mrs. P. Hawkes of Ovens" whose prize-winning West Highland White Terrier came from a kennel bearing that same name, it would figure that Bride Park would be located in Ovens.

Fortunately, questions like this are serving to reawaken some of my hibernating research memories from our family's trip to Ireland, two years ago. One site I had found back then, upon discovering an Irish relative's address led to the ruins of a now-deserted two story home, was a useful database set up by the National University of Ireland in Galway. Called the Landed Estates Database, it catalogs properties in Ireland by location, by family names and by estate names.

My next step, obviously, was to go straight to the NUI database and see what could be found under the heading, "Bride Park." There was indeed an entry, from which I gleaned that there is also a townland bearing the same name as the estate, itself.

The entry provided a brief historical rundown on the first owners of the Bride Park estate. The house was built in the 1770s by a Reverend Stephen Rolleston, changing hands in the early 1800s to a Reverend Spread. By the mid 1800s, the owner was a man named Thomas Power, but there had apparently been others on the title, prior to that point.

None of the surnames, however, included that of the woman whose kennel shared the name of this estate. There was no mention of anyone named Hawkes.

That was where I slowed down to take in all the details on this brief house history. While I was somewhat consoled by spotting the mention of new owners taking over in the early 1900s, that hardly mattered when I realized what the map on the page was shouting at me: this Bride Park was on the wrong side of the city of Cork. If Mrs. P. Hawkes was from Ovens, she had to live in a place to the west of Cork, not the east. And the NUI Galway site had this Bride Park situated to the northeast of the city.

Now I understand why, despite a recent renovation, that Bride Park house didn't quite look the same as our photograph. It wasn't the same house!

That left me wondering: should I be following the lead of the name of the kennel owner, Mrs. P. Hawkes? Or should I pursue further clues by examining more details about this property which appeared to be the rightful claimant to the estate name Bride Park?

Not only that, but another possibility occurred to me: what if, like many "photo shoots" of our current day, this unnamed family was just on an outing to a beautiful, photogenic locale which would serve as a pleasant backdrop for their family portraits?  

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