Brick Wall Review, part II

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Moving back to my father’s maternal line, there pops up another brick wall. This time it is with my Irish branch. My grandmother’s maternal grandfather was a Burgess. The Burgess line goes back to predating the Pilgrim’s landing. The problem with that line lies with my first my great-great grandfather’s wife’s family and also with his mother.

Benjamin Franklin Burgess’ father was Benjamin Strong Burgess. Benjamin Strong Burgess’ wife’s name was Laura. From census records I can determine that she was born in New Hampshire or Massachusetts and moved then lived in Chemung county New York with her family by 1860. The Burgess line had previously been in Massachusetts, with movement into Connecticut and Auburn, New York in the mid 1860s.

Benjamin Franklin’s wife was Mary Donigan. Mary was born in New York state and died in Olean, New York. Mary’s parents were James Donigan and Mary McCarty and both were born in Ireland. James and Mary were married in Roxburg, Massachusetts and their first two children were also born there. They, like the Burgess family,  moved into New York State in mid 1850. By 1860 Mary McCarty Donigan O’Keefe was showing up in the Olean, New York census and would remain there until her death in the early 1880s.

James immigrated to the United States, traveling in steerage, around September 13, 1847, first living in Massachusetts and then Olean, New York. James was a blacksmith by trade. James Donigan, also spelled Donegan and Donnigan, enlisted in the Civil War in August of 1862. He died in Richmond, Virginia November 11, 1863 after being held at the Bell Island POW camp. He was taken to St. John’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia and died there. From written accounts, Bell Island was an awful place to have been a prisoner of war. Overcrowding, disease, the lack of medical attention and food killed many Union soldiers. The prison was opened and closed several times during the war.

Mary McCarty also immigrated to the United States. I have been unable to find her passenger record, but I know that she lived in Massachusetts with James and that they were married June 10, 1847 from James’ Civil War documentation. This documentaion also gave me Mary’s maiden name. After James’ death Mary would marry Patrick O’Keefe and they would have two sons, Patrick and David. The record of Mary’s life stops around 1880 with her entry in the Census records. Her second husband, Patrick, died October 11, 1882 in Olean, New York. His death notice does not list her as surviving him.


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