I found a new resource, one I never would have thought of, so I want to share my experience. This all started with the (ongoing) conversation with an O’Shaughnessy researcher I mentioned in my last post. I wrote most of the details about Lucy Barry Dalton O’Shaughnessy last time, but didn’t have this new information at the time.
To begin at the beginning: I have a short (3 page) memoir written by Charles Louis Coffin (Cousin Louis) who was Mary O’Shaughnessy Coffin’s son. In that memoir he noted that Lucy Barry Dalton O’Shaughnessy, Mary’s mother, was a remarkable woman and he detailed a few of her characteristics. One of the pieces of information I had not had before was that her first husband, Josiah, was a Quaker. Now Josiahhas been a bit of a mystery in my researching. He died young and didn’t leave many footprints for me to follow. So, the possibility that he had been a Quaker opened new avenues for me to explore in looking for where he might have been buried. Perhaps I should have had a clue about Josiah, based on this, the only existing image of him that I know of (he died before photography had been perfected).
Opening my trusty browser and firing up Google I started to look for the history of Quakers in the Cincinnati area. I found a website for the Cincinnati Friends Meeting, which has a historical archive section (including scanned historical documents) and a contact us page that allows you to email them. So I emailed asking about Josiah Dalton and whether there was any information on him in their records. I got back a very nice reply that said there was no mention of Josiah in their records, and then a 2nd email with an 1850 census that the correspondent had found and sent along in case it was my Josiah. So I had no confirmation that Cousin Louis had been accurate in his statement about Lucy Barry converting to Josiah’s religion, at least in Cincinnati where they ended up. And no more information about where he might have been buried.
My next step was to search for information about Quakers in Ireland. I found several websites and began to learn a little about the Society of Friends and its history in Ireland. The most useful site, for my purposes, was the www.quakers-in-ireland.ie site. There I discovered the Dublin Friends Historical Library. Along the way in my reading I discovered that each Meeting is required to keep information about its members and the happenings in the community, and to report that information to the Monthly Meeting of which a local group is a member. In the case of the Dublin Monthly Meeting, much of their early information has been digitized and put into a database, including Removals (when a member went from one Meeting to another either in Ireland or abroad), and Disownments and Resignations (members who “incurred the displeasure of the Society”) as well as marriages, births, and deaths.
Having had a success with the Cincinnati Friends website and contacting them with a question, I tried it again with the Dublin Friends Historical Library. I wrote asking about Josiah and noting the family history that his wife Lucy might have converted and that the family left Dublin so there might be a note of that. What I received in reply a day later was a spreadsheet containing all of the Dalton events noted in the Dublin Meeting. There are 26 events listed, with first and last names and dates (at least years and usually a full date), and then additional information depending on the event. So most deaths recorded also have burial date information (although not place interestingly – perhaps the burials were all in the same cemetery). In addition, parents’ names were often noted.
Based on this gem, I now have parents and grandparents for Josiah Dalton along with some siblings and at least one aunt, and perhaps information where the family lived. More importantly, I have evidence that Lucy Barry did not convert, but rather that Josiah was disowned from the Meeting for marrying a person of a different religious persuasion. It was also noted that Josiah had a birthright amongst the Society of Friends. I assume this meant that his parents were/had been members, and perhaps that he would have the right to be re-admitted under the right circumstances. This may also be the explanation for the inclusion the births of his and Lucy’s two sons, even though he was not a member in good standing at the times of their births.
Once I started looking around, and learning about the Society of Friends, I learned that Quaker genealogical research is an area people specialize in. I should have known this, but I didn’t. Certainly my experiences so far have been very positive with respect to responses and information from the historians of various Meetings. Records not only have been preserved but are shared when you ask. In fact, people have gone out of their way to be helpful and to provide information. What a pleasure!