Thursday, March 13, 2014

Michael Joyce: The Man Who Can’t be Pinned Down

MichaelCatherineJoyce Michael and Catherine Joyce When you’re researching a man named Michael Joyce from Ireland, you have to expect that things aren’t going to be easy.  Probably much like researching a man named John Smith from New York City, I’m assuming.  I have been able to prove Michael and his wife, Catherine Finnerty, back to 1850, but no further.  With a date of birth, emigration from Ireland, death date, etc., I was hoping for a way to differentiate him from all of the other Michael Joyces out there, and find his immigration information as well as maybe trace him back to to Ireland.

Ah… we can always hope…

So, when and where was Michael born?  His obituary states that he was born in 1829 in Fraemstown, County Gall, Ireland.  However -

     -1855 Massachusetts State Census indicates 1830
     -1870 Federal Census indicates 1830
     -1880 Federal Census indicates 1831
     -1900 Federal Census says Sept. 1830
     -1910 Federal Census indicates 1830
     -his obituary says Sept. 29, 1830
     -his death certificate says Oct. 2, 1829
     -his original headstone says Sept. 29, 1829.

And regarding his place of birth – there is no county in Ireland by the name of Gall, and “Fraemstown” appears to be nonexistent.  The general vicinity for the Joyce family in County Galway has been established, but an 1781 map of the area doesn’t show “Fraemstown” or anything similar, which is a bit troubling.  His wife was still living at the time of his death, and came from the same area of County Galway, so if it were she who supplied the information, one would have to give it some sort of credibility.

Michael supposedly emigrated from Ireland aboard the “Victoria” but I have not been able to find a ship by that name operating in the appropriate time and place.  And when did he emigrate?

     -1848, per his obituary
     -1846, per the 1900 census
     -1849 per the 1910 census

He married Catherine Finnerty in 1851, according to his obituary.  Their first child was born in May of 1852, so this seems to fit – for a change.

They supposedly relocated from Massachusetts to Wisconsin in 1851, but birth places of their children make 1855-1857 more feasible, and a Michael and Catherine Joyce with two children by the appropriate names appear in the 1855 Massachusetts State Census, making the 1855-1857 time range more likely.

And his death? At least it’s either October 5 (death certificate and probate papers) or October 6 (original headstone).  Ironically, his obituary never exactly states when he died.

My conclusion is that Michael Joyce just dropped out of the sky and landed in the United States, and from thence we all sprang.  Seriously, the only solid information (I’m making a big assumption here) are the names of his parents from his death certificate.  Unfortunately, his father has a common name as well (Patrick) and his mother is Rose “Maden” – or perhaps Madden.  There are plenty of Maddens in the same area of Ireland as the Joyces, but no Madens that I have been able to find.  Hopefully, I'll be able to find a solid piece of information that will set him apart from the others, and help me to work back back a generation or two.

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