Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Royal Charter and my Family

Picture shared in family history by Josh Buch

As I wrote in my first blog post (and first post on this series), my 3rd great grandfather, Manus Maurice Boyle, died in the Royal Charter shipwreck.  Now a good question is, how did I ever find it out to begin with?
When I was a genealogical newbie and was posting on message boards, I was lucky enough to link up with a distant cousin, William Turnbach, Jr.  While I’ve been truly fortunate to correspond with many distant cousins since, Bill was the first to introduce me to “The Letter.”
What is “The Letter”?  Well, it clarifies what exactly happened to Manus.  It explains why I’m not searching Pennsylvania mining records and obituaries trying to find out why he disappeared.  It explains why I’m not cursing his name while making the assumption that he abandoned his wife and children.
In 1917 Alice Boyle McGinnis nee Monaghan wrote a letter about a house that Manus built for them to live in.  That letter gives so much wonderful genealogical information, to include that Manus was a passenger on the Royal Charter and drowned.
I encountered family history gold within my first year of genealogy research.  Bill shared so much with me, and I shared my little branch of our family tree with him (he was much more advanced in his research than I was at that point).  

Photocopy of picture shared by Josh Buch - The house that Manus built
Since that time I have come in contact with numerous cousins that shared the same letter with me.  I’ve often wished that I had a copy of the original.  I’ve wished that I knew why Alice wrote the statement to begin with.  Always wishing, but the original seemed elusive.
So during my series of Royal Charter blog posts I’ve gone back to look over some information that I had collected over the years and see what I’ve over-looked (I do that...more often than I’d like to admit).  I have a wonderful 1+ inch thick genealogy that was sent to me by Josh Buch back in 2006-2007.  Josh is the husband of a distant cousin and the genealogist of their family.  We met online, exchanged emails, and even spoke on the phone and then he graciously mailed me a hardcopy of the entire genealogy he did for his wife.  Complete with photocopied pictures of the house that Manus built.  I revisited those and as I began paging through the genealogy I saw the letter.  The transcription that everyone always passes around...and the handwritten letter that it was transcribed from.  Yes, this was one of those moments that I felt like a complete dork.  I had been looking for something that had been in my possession for 5 years.  It’s so time to get better organized!
So I’m delighted to be able to add on to the Royal Charter family story by including a digital copy with the transcription.  I was also excited to see in the family history that Josh wrote, that Manus did find some gold during his years in Australia and had sent some money home (great job, grandpa!).  I’m sure he had gotten this information during his many interviews with family members that had known/remembered Alice.  

Photo of the house that Manus built from Josh Buch
I can’t really explain why, but knowing that Manus had found gold made me feel better.  It’s not a greed thing and it doesn’t change the fact that he died, but it did mean that he didn’t fail in his mission.  He and his family sacrificed so he could go and try for a better life for them.  So many people that went to Australia failed.  He didn’t.  He had succeeded in his goal and then fate dealt him a bad hand.
Grandma Alice went on to marry again (John McGinnis), but had no additional children to my knowledge.  John died early as well (a coal mining accident) and Alice never again married.  Perhaps after having had two husbands cruelly taken from her she decided enough was enough.  
I’m delighted to be able to share this genealogical gold nugget (and it truly is...just look at all the information in there!) and hope that it will be useful to any other descendents of Manus that may be out there that haven’t found the rest of us yet.  Thank goodness for those distant cousins and their incredible generosity and helpfulness!

Page 1
"Statement of Mrs. Alice McGinnis regarding dwelling house built by Manus Boyle in the autumn season of 1854, at which time the above mentioned Manus Boyle was the husband of the above mentioned Mrs Alice McGinnis.

My maiden name was Alice Monaghan.  I came from Ireland to America with my mother Mrs. Ann Monaghan, my brothers John and Eugene, and sister Elizabeth.  We arrived in Jeanesville, January 1, 1853.  I was married to Manus Boyle, a coal miner, in November 1853, and lived with my husband Manus Boyle in Leviston, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.  My husband worked for Rockliffe and Johnson who owned the coal mines at Leviston, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, at that time.  The superintendent was Jenkin Reynolds.  My husband [obtained permission from Rockliffe and Johnson to build a]

Page 2
...dwelling house and was told he could build a dwelling house on their land at any location he wished.  At the time it was customary to get permission from the land owners and build dwelling houses as the houses were very few.  My husband bought the lumber and in the autumn season of 1854 built a dwelling house in Leviston, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.  It consisted [sic] of three rooms on the first floor and one large room on the [sic] second floor which was called 'up stairs'.  The place was covered with trees and bushes and my husband cleared off trees and bushes to build the foundation and also the garden adjoining the dwelling house.  When the dwelling house was built we then moved into it.

On March 4, 1855 my daughter Mary Boyle, who is now Mrs Mary Fay, was born in this dwelling house, and [on December 24, 1856, my daughter...]

Page 3
...Annie Boyle, who is now Mrs Martin Blanchfield, was born in this dwelling house.

My husband Manus Boyle went to Australia in September 1856 and in the autumn season of 1859 when my husband was returning from Australia in the sailing vessel Royal Charter, the vessel was wrecked near the coast of Wales and my husband, Manus Boyle was drowned.

When my husband Manus Boyle went to Australia in 1856 my brother-in-law Richard Dougherty with his wife Rose and daughter Cathryne moved into this dwelling house and lived with me for company after my husband Manus Boyle was drowned, I lived here until the spring of the following year 1860 and then I went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and lived there, working for various families.  When I went away my brother John Monaghan took care of my youngest daughter Annie [and my brother-in-law took...]

Page 4
....care of my daughter Mary.

In the year of 1866 I married John McGinnis in Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  We lived in Jeanesville, PA, New York City, NY, and then in Leviston, PA.  In 1889 my husband John McGinnis and I returned to this dwelling house in Leviston, Carbon County, Pennsylvania which was built by my first husband Manus Boyle in the year 1854.  During the time I was away from this dwelling house 1860 to 1889 my brother-in-law Richard Dougherty and family occupied it and in the meantime built an addition to it.  Richard Dougherty died about the year 1882 and his family continued to live in this dwelling house until 1889 when they vacated the rooms of the house which my first husband Manus Boyle built and moved into the addition which they had previously built [adjoining the rooms of my house.]

Page 5
.......The statement given on the four pages attached is correct to the best of my knowledge and also to the best of my brothers knowledge, John Monaghan, and we have this date signed our names as shown below.

John Monaghan
Mrs Alice Mcginnis
Leviston P.O., 
Carbon County, Pennsylvania
Thursday, July 12, 1917

Page 6
I have this date heard the statement of Mrs Alice McGinnis regarding the dwelling house in Leviston, Caron County, Pennsylvania, built by Manus Boyle in 1854 and have witnessed the signatures of John Monaghan and Mrs Alice McGinnis as to correctness of the statement.

Mrs Mary Fay
Loretta Fay
George Fay
Leviston, Caron County, Pennsylvania Thursday, July 12, 1917"

NOTE:  Unfortunately the bottom of each page didn't copy, so I put the transcription from a copy of "The Letter" that was also in the family history (and had been passed around for years!) of the pieces that were missing in parentheses.