Friday, September 16, 2011

My first introduction to my great-great-grandfather, Hugh Quinn

"Did I ever tell you about Molly and the kittens?" Pop asked over dinner one day. We'd never heard about Molly and the kittens, so my grandfather continued, "Molly - my mother - was the second oldest. There was Agnes, Molly, Marty, and Helen.* Now, when Molly was maybe 7 or 8 years old, they had a cat, and the cat had kittens. And one day she came home from school, and the kittens were gone. When she asked her father where they were, he told her that he'd drowned them. He was trying to make it sound better so he told her that you always had to drown the first litter - you know, for health reasons. And what does Molly say but, 'Then why didn't you drown Agnes?!'"

I know that drowning kittens was common in "the old days," and I do what I can to avoid presentism. But Hugh Quinn is really one of my more mysterious ancestors. All I know about him is that he was born in Ireland, died in Brooklyn in 1914, and he drowned kittens. Sometimes I wish my very limited knowledge was of something a little more sympathetic!

*Helen was older than Marty, and he left out Terrence, the youngest.

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