Saturday, November 1, 2008

Answering some questions, and raising some more

Given that William Mulvaney is missing from the 1910 census at Van Brunt St., I went looking for him. I found a William Mulvaney, about our William's age, living with Thomas Renehan, his wife Elizabeth, and his step-children (Elizabeth's children?) John and Catherine Loughlin. This William Mulvaney is 10 years old, he was born in NY, and so were his parents, his language is listed as "none," his job as "none," he cannot read or write, has not attended school within the last year, and in the last column, "whether deaf or dumb" there's something written - I think it says "dumb," but I'm not sure. There's no proof that this is our William Mulvaney, but I went to and discovered that William is living with the Renehan family just around the corner, on Conover St., from the Mulvaneys at 270 Van Brunt St. Given that William's inability to read and write at 18 in the 1920 census indicates that something isn't quite right, you have to ask - how many (mentally or physically) disabled William Mulvaneys could possibly live in a given 4 block area?

I asked Betty and John about the possibility, and they said "No one ever spoke about William, or Willie, as they called him, so he may very well have been 'slow.'" Further, it seems that the Loughlin family may have been Julia's sister's family.

Apparently Julia had at least two sisters, and possibly more:
  • Louise Toner Deegan, whose husband made buttons and who had no living children
  • Another sister who possibly married a Loughlin (According to this census, if we're talking about the same family, her name was Elizabeth.)
  • Another sister, who married a man named Murphy. They had 4 children:
  1. John Murphy
  2. Thomas Murphy
  3. Annie Murphy Dowd, who was married to Jack Dowd, a NYPD detective chief
  4. Another sister, who married a man named Keene and had a daughter Margaret who became an Urusline nun.
If this is accurate information, it seems to back up the idea that the family of Richard Toner, who we found in Brooklyn on the 1960 and 1970 censuses was, in fact, the family of our Julia Toner Mulvaney. Their daughters were Julia, Mary A., Elizabeth, Louisa, and Judith. Those, it would seem, were our Julia Toner Mulvaney, Elizabeth Toner Loughlin Renehan, and Louise Toner Deegan. Does anyone know what happened to Mary or Judith? The family also had two boys, Samuel and William. Elizabeth Loughlin Renehan was 55 in 1910, meaning she was born in 1855 - her age matches exactly with that of the Elizabeth Toner on the 1860 and 1870 censuses.
What then, of Julia? If she is the same Julia Toner listed in 1860, she was a full 19 years older than the ages she fairly consistently gave on later censuses, and that Thomas Mulvaney had recorded on her death certificate. She would have been in her late 50s when Nana was born, and in her 80s in the pictures posted below. And while it's possible for women to give birth late in life, the thought that a woman who didn't start having kids until she was over 40 could give birth to at least 9 kids (John, James, Auntie Mae, Grace, Thomas, Willie, Harold, Raymond, Nana) in about 15 years stretches the imagination. There were no fertility drugs at the turn of the century! Also unlikely, though, are most of the machinations that could explain how that Toner family ended up with a second daughter named Julia, 20 years younger than the first.
In other words, right now I'm hoping Julia's mother kept a detailed diary throughout her entire life, and that someone stumbles upon it in an attic, and soon!
However, we do see that by 1910, Julia appears to have sent one of her kids to live with one of her sisters, while having two of her other sister's kids living with her. I think it's important to do genealogy horizontally as well as vertically. While it'll be amazing to someday know Julia Mulvaney's great-great-grandmother's name, imagine the significance of her sisters - and brothers, of course, but I don't know anything about brothers - to her daily life, as they lived around the corner from each other, helped raise each others children, went to church together, sent their kids to school together, probably did their shopping and chores and had dinners together.

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