There is a song or poem, titled The Nantucket Girl’s Song that was written in the 19th century by one or another woman traveling in the south Pacific on a ship.  The poem appears in the back of a journal kept by Eliza Brock as she experienced life on the Lexington on a whaling voyage from May 1853 to June 1856.  She accompanied her husband Peter Brock who was master of the Lexington, out of Nantucket.  It isn’t certain who wrote the poem but it is transcribed into the journal with the name Martha Ford appended to it.  Martha Ford was the wife of a physician in New Zealand.  I first saw a part of the poem in an exhibit at the Nantucket Historical Society’s museum and it spoke to me.  A friend with wonderful creative skills made me a watercolor map of Nantucket with the portion of the poem inscribed over the island.

The portion reads:

“Then I’ll haste to wed a sailor, and send him off to sea,
For a life of independence is the pleasant life for me,
But every now and then I shall like to see his face,
For it always seemes to me to beam with manly grace,
With his brow so nobly open, and his dark and kindly eye,
Oh my heart beats fondly towards him whenever he is nigh,
But when he says Goodbye my love, I’m off across the sea
First I cry for his departure, then laugh because I’m free”

The independent spirit of women on the small spit of land that is Nantucket Island tells me about the some of the women who were my ancestors.  Three or maybe four of the women born on Nantucket migrated to the southwestern Ohio area just after Ohio became a state – two of my g-g-g grandmothers and two of my g-g-g-g grandmothers.  Two came with husbands and families (or maybe only one: the second one died in 1815 and either on Nantucket or in Ohio), one came as a young girl and the other came as a widow with several children, including her youngest son who was about 8 years old.  Although all had been members of the Society of Friends on Nantucket only some transferred that religion to Ohio.

My g-g-g-g grandmother, Sarah (Sally) Folger Coffin (1761-1822) was the wife of Isaiah Coffin (1757-1813).  She left Nantucket about a year after her husband’s death and migrated west to Cincinnati where 2 or 3 of her oldest sons and a number of other friends and relatives from Nantucket had already settled.  She was issued a certificate from the Nantucket Monthy Meeting of the Society of Friends in April 1814 and received into the Miami Monthly Meeting in August 1814.  Sarah and 3 children (Reuben, Eliza, and Christopher Folger) were received.  The records show that on the same date, and based on a certificate with the same April date, her son Benjamin along with his wife and 3 children were also received in the Miami Meeting.  The records become a little confusing though, since there is also another line showing Sarah Coffin and daughter Elizabeth, and Sarah Barnard Coffin also being received on a certificate with that April 1814 date.  Is this my Sarah and a daughter whose name doesn’t match any of the children I know about, or a different one?  And who is Sarah Barnard Coffin?  These questions are my latest Bright Shiny Object to chase – probably not related to me but intriguing nonetheless.  To be continued.

I’ve been having great fun the last couple of weeks corresponding with someone who is interested in tracking the O’Shaughnessy family. It turns out that he is descended from another brother than the man I have been interested in (who I didn’t know about) so I think we’ve both learned some things.

In describing his grandmother, C. Louis Coffin wrote: “… a remarkable woman, Lucy Barry, who had previously married a Quaker and adopted that faith. Her father had been a British Civil Servant in Dublin. Left a widow in 1834, she attended the famous 1837 lectures between Alexander Campbell and Bishop Purcell and announced her opinion that, ‘There is not halting ground between Catholicism and infidelity’. She married Thomas O’Shaughnessy in 1837 after the lectures.” This is a very brief description of the woman I am interested in, but an intriguing one in terms of the amount of information packed into it.

Lucy Barry, was born about 1808 or 1809 in Dublin I think. Certainly by the time she married Josiah S. Dalton on 1 October 1827 in Dublin, she was reported to be a member of the St. Nicholas Without parish and he was not. Their first son, Stephen was born 26 December 1828 and his baptism was reported to have taken place on 4 February 1829. Thomas George Dalton was born to them on 16 January 1831 and he was duly baptized on 23 March 1831. During this period the family lived on Coombe Street in Dublin. While the marriage and then baptisms suggest to me that Lucy had not converted to the Society of Friends, it is possible that her husband Josiah had been a member and maybe continued to be.

The family must have left Dublin almost immediately after Thomas’s birth and baptism, since they appear on the passenger list of the Britannia from Liverpool to New York, arriving 6 July 1831. Josiah was listed on that list as a grocer. Two letters of reference for Josiah have survived, both from gentlemen in Dublin attesting to his good character and dated May 1831.

I don’t know why the young Dalton family moved to Cincinnati or exactly when, however that was where they settled, before 1832-33. Although there was a Meeting of the Society of Friends already established in Cincinnati, Josiah apparently did not become a member. In 1832 or 33, their son Richard was born. The 1834 city directory for Cincinnati listed Josiah Dalton at Johnston and Dalton, an auction and Commission store, although in April of 1834 Josiah Dalton died. So he must have been established in this partnership prior to 1834. His death left Lucy a young widow (about 26 years old) with two or possibly three young boys. Whether it was two or three is not certain. The oldest son, Stephen, did not appear to be with the family in the 1840 census when he would have been about 12 years old, although the two younger Dalton boys were there. However, there are no records found yet that show a death for Stephen.

As Louis Coffin wrote, Lucy met and married Thomas O’Shaughnessy in 1837. This date has also not yet been confirmed by any official records, but their first daughter was born in September 1838. Her youngest Dalton son was just about 5 years old. Lucy and Thomas went on, as shown in the timeline above, to have 5 children together all of whom survived to adulthood.

The two Dalton sons lived with the O’Shaughnessy family well into adulthood. Richard married my great grandaunt, Jessie Malvina Coffin in 1859 when he was 26. Tom was still living with the family at age 29 in 1860, but left sometime between then and 1870 as he is not with the family for the 1870 census. Thomas O’Shaughnessy died in 1862, and Lucy still had all 5 O’Shaughnessy children at home with her as of the 1870 census.

The O’Shaughnessy home began to be broken up when Lucy died, apparently unexpectedly, in January 1875. She had “congestion of the lungs” it was reported. The unmarried O’Shaughnessy descendents continued mostly to live together in Cincinnati, although Francis was no longer in the same residence as of 1880 and soon after the others moved on to their own establishments. Lucy continued to be missed by her children, as Tom Dalton wrote to his married sister Mary O’Sh Coffin in Argentina in 1875: