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Common ancestors

20 April 2011 Leave a comment

io9 has an article about how there are only so many common ancestors that we can all have that’s very interesting and a fun thing to think about. Also interesting is the discussion on most recent common ancestor for the world.

From the article “Why humans are all much more related than you think“:

When we get right down to it, we must face the truth that we’re all hopelessly inbred. It’s a question of basic mathematics – there simply aren’t enough ancestors to go around. To understand what I mean, let’s say you were born in 1975, your parents were both born in 1950, your four grandparents were born in 1925, your eight great-grandparents in 1900, and so on. In other words, your number of ancestors doubles every 25 years the further back in time you go.

If you take this back just 1,000 years, you’ll find that you have well over 500 billion ancestors in a single generation. Considering there’s fewer than seven billion people on this planet – and even that is far, far more than any other point in human history – there’s something seriously wrong here. The solution, of course, is that you don’t have 500 billion distinct ancestors, but rather a much, much smaller number of ancestors reappear over and over and over again in your family tree.

Things like this always bring to mind my own experiences with this sort of thing. One of my friends when I was a child was a Backus whose family was from upstate New York–just like my Backus family (though I haven’t established a link, since we have fallen out of contact). My two best friends (who are sisters) are also my 10th cousins via John Dodge (b 1636, d 1711). My boyfriend is my 10th cousin once removed via John Howland (which my boyfriend doesn’t like to think about). And, with all the fervor over the royal wedding right now, via Thomas Ford (b abt 1591, d 1676) I am the 12th cousin once removed of Prince William, with whom I also attended university (which is also where I met my 10th cousin best friend, and which is a few miles from Dundee, where some of my Irish ancestors lived before emigrating to the US).

It is fascinating the ways in which we are all related, but what I also find interesting is the where–how locations allow for the meeting of these now disparate groups to come together.

Rose (Cassidy) McPeak

19 April 2011 Leave a comment

Researching my Irish roots is frustrating. Irish records are so much more difficult to come by, and with the mass migration, there are just huge numbers of people coming over at the same time, many with the same names.

Neil McPeak married a woman named Rose around 1884. Up until the other day, I had no idea what her maiden name was. On Thursday, I received an e-mail from my mom’s cousin that contained Rose’s maiden name: Cassidy. She also supposedly came from Dundee, Scotland, as Neil McPeak did. While I haven’t verified this (I assume that this comes from a marriage record), I went to work, looking for possible matches. I do have doubts about the reliability of this data–for instance, Neil’s name was indicated as Cornelius, but I have found no evidence of this being his full name.

Rose McPeak is listed in the 1900 Census as Rosa, but as Rose in 1910 and 1920. In all, she is listed as having been born in Scotland in 1861 or 1862. In the 1900 Census, she is listed as having been born in April of 1861. In the 1900 and 1910 Censuses, she’s listed as having arrived in the USA in 1869, and as having arrived in 1880 in the 1920 Census. In 1910, she is listed as having had 12 children, with 9 living.

In Dundee, we find two Rose Cassidys having been born within 10 months of each other.

Samuel Cassidy was born in Ireland about 1835 to Charles and Rosey Cassidy. In 1851, he was living with his parents, sisters Matilda and Ann, and brother Charles in Henderson’s Wynd, Dundee. In 1855, he married Betsy Grimes in Dundee. Betsy was also born in Ireland, and I did not see her in the 1851 census in Dundee. On April 5, 1860 at 4 AM, Rose Ann Cassidy was born to Samuel and Betsy Cassidy in Lyons Close, Blackness Road, Dundee. The parents and daughter lived with Samuel’s parents, brother, and sister Ann at 13 Wallaces in Dundee.

After this, I could not find these Cassidys. There were no death recrods, no census records, or anything else. They disappeared. Cassidy is a pretty common last name. I tried searching for Matilda Cassidy, since that was the least common of the family’s names–but no luck. The family were mainly weavers.

The other Rose Cassidy was born February 16, 1861 at 3 PM to Patrick and Alice (Donaghy) Cassidy at 15 Bernard Street, Hawkhill, Dundee. Patrick Cassidy was a carpet/jute weaver. Patrick and Alice had been married on November 6, 1846 in Dundee. According to the 1861 Census, they had the following children in Dundee: John, Catherine, Mary, Patrick, David, Michael, and Rose. Another daughter, Alice, was born in April 1864 and died in August 1864, after having been ill for 3 months. The mother Alice died April 14, 1864 of a hemorrhage, presumably related to the birth of her daughter Alice. At the time of her death, both of Alice (senior)’s parents were deceased: father James Donaghy, a laborer, and Alice (Haskett?).

By the 1871 Census, this Cassidy family was diminished. While there aren’t death records for Rose, she is not with her father. Patrick Cassidy was living at 9 Bernard Street with his sons Patrick and Michael. With no death record, it’s plausible that she went to live with someone else.

Looking at census records of Philadelphia, there is a Rose Cassidy living with a John and Mary Donaghy in 1870 and 1880 in the area near what is now where the Art Museum is located. In the 1880 Census, Rose Cassidy is listed as being John Donaghy’s niece. Presumably, this is the Rose Cassidy who was the daughter of Patrick and Alice (Donaghy) Cassidy.

Although this probably puts Rose Cassidy, the daughter of carpet weavers who were located a few blocks away from the carpet weaving McPeaks in Dundee, in Philadelphia, it doesn’t put her too close to where Neil McPeak and Rose settled in Philadelphia.

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