Saturday, 25 June 2011

Surname Saturday: To(t)al Confusion!

The Elusive Toals - definitely found in significant numbers in Northern Ireland, possibly having emigrated from Scotland.  Quite a few in Liverpool, a small number in London and now found in Philadelphia and New Jersey.

My Toals (James Toal Snr b. 1855ish in Ireland, probably County Down; his wife Mary Ellen Fitzgerald b. 1871 in Liverpool; my grandfather James F Toal, his brother Bernard and sister Elsie) were last spotted in a surprise emigration to the USA in 1894.  This week I have found some more leads.

Firstly, little Elsie Toal, who we didn't even know about.  I have found a death record in the City of Philadelphia for an Elsie Toal, daughter of James Toal and Ellen Toal.  This Elsie's place of birth is given as England; she died on 2 June 1895 of pneumonia.  The only problem is her age - it is given as 3 years; "my" Elsie would have been 15 months old.  

Secondly, a 1900 Census return from Philadelphia.  At the home of Francis Toole is James Toole, his brother.  This James is a widowed Captain of a merchant vessel (my ggrandfather was a master mariner) born in 1855 in Ireland; his date of immigration is 1894.  So, all would seem to fit, apart from the name - but I think it is possible that the enumerator, Mr Schmidt, could have mistaken "Toal" said with an N. Irish burr for "Tool/e".  (I have been practising myself and am quite convinced on this one!)

Finally, a death record for Ella Tool, born in England 1870 and dying in Camden, New Jersey in 1899.  Could this be Ellen Toal.  I am not so convinced by this one.  In addition, I have an infant female Toal, born to James Toal and Ella F Toal, born in Camden, dying at birth in March 1900. Could this be the family?  Only point against this one is that the record says that James Toal born England, Ella F in Ireland, which is the wrong way around.  Also, can't find a record for Ellen dying after this.  And still no record for James Toal Snr dying.

So, still confusion surrounding the Toals - let me know if you can help clear the fog!
Friday, 24 June 2011

Follow Friday: Putting your ancestors in their place

If you have followed my latest couple of posts you will see that my hunt for the elusive Toals has picked up momentum.  In the last 24 hours it has quite taken off - I shall post about it tomorrow or on Monday.  I am stupidly excited about it!

But, back to earth.  I don't know about you, but I love maps.  I also love old photos.  I love them for themselves (an old map is a thing of beauty, in my eyes) but also for the life and detail they can add to my family history.  I always Google Map any new address I turn up in a census and use street view to walk around it.  But of course some streets no longer exist (particularly if your family were slum-dwelling Scousers like several of mine are!), or buildings are cleared or lose their character.  So, here are some lovely Twitterers and Bloggers who I follow who may help you put your ancestors back in their place.

At  you can add your own photos of people and places to the History Pin map or you can search locations to find photographs of them.  There are also some "then and now" photos - which are absolutely my favourites!

Brizzle Born and Bred has a plethora of old photos of Bristol on his Flickr stream here.  His "old and new" collection is here.

Time Traveller Maps can be found on Facebook and Twitter - here is the blog link on Facebook.  

If you have an interest in Dublin, check out Through Streets Broad and Narrow, a fairly new blog which looks at the history of Dublin through its streets.

OK, I am off to Google Maps - some addresses in Philadelphia that I need to look at - those slum-dwelling Scousers get everywhere!
Monday, 20 June 2011

Mystery Monday: Another American near-miss (and an unexpected Miss)

I could so very easily be an American.  My parents have moved to the USA twice, once when I was four years old and once when I was sixteen.  On the first occasion we came back to the UK to sell up, only for the aerospace industry to slump, so my father didn't have a job to go back to.  More recently, I quite simply didn't like living there so I came back on my own after two years - my parents stayed put.  Hence, two opportunities to become an American citizen missed.  This weekend I found that I am not the only almost-American in the family.

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my great-grandfather James Toal.  My mother had told me that her father, (also James) could remember travelling to the USA on a ship when very young, we assumed because his father was a seaman and he had got a passage for the experience.  However, this weekend I learnt otherwise.

Firstly, the unexpected Miss.  My grandfather, as far as we all knew, had a younger brother - Bernard.  A search of the Liverpool RC parish records on Friday showed that he had a younger sister - Ellen Elsie, born March 1894.  Hello, Miss Toal!

Secondly, I found that the three little Toals and their mother arrived at Ellis Island in October 1894.  (No sign of James Toal Snr - no surprise, the man's middle name is surely "Elusive").  Six years later James Jnr and Bernard travelled back to England on their own.  They were living with their grandparents back in Liverpool for the 1901 Census.  So, did Ma and Pa Toal and little Elsie die in the USA?  Perhaps it was just Mary Ellen and Elsie who died, and James Snr, being away at sea so often, couldn't care for them.

Stay tuned - all will, eventually, be revealed!

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