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:
- John Murphy
- Thomas Murphy
- Annie Murphy Dowd, who was married to Jack Dowd, a NYPD detective chief
- Another sister, who married a man named Keene and had a daughter Margaret who became an Urusline nun.
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.