Saturday, January 21, 2017

Getting Psyched for Some
Genealogical Spring Cleaning

What?! Spring already?

Don't panic; not yet. While around here, the temperatures have emerged from their typical thirty-something degree lows only long enough to bring lots of weedy growth in the wake of our recent storms, the cold will return shortly.

In the meantime, I've been doing some preparatory work for an upcoming project. While taking a look around at what still needs to be done, I realized just how much clean-up work needs to be tackled in the resultant weeds in my genealogical files, too.

Sometimes, we get so taken up with the content we are adding to our research files that we lose sight of the mess we've left behind in the process of chasing those elusive ancestors. There are trees on free sites, paid sites, desktop-resident sites—all needing some sprucing up. There are emailed queries that could use some follow-up; others that are still waiting to be sent. There is a veritable avalanche of DNA test results on, now, three companies' websites that could use some attention, as well.

Yesterday, I took the time to bite the bullet and try to resolve one longstanding problem with my various family trees. A long time ago—back before anyone dreamed we could use DNA test results to solve our genealogical puzzles—I had made the decision to set up my desktop-resident genealogy database management program with not one, but four separate trees: one for each of our daughter's four grandparents.

What a mess I hadn't foreseen with that decision! Now, everyone wants a link to a full tree for a test-taker's line, not two half-trees. And the dilemma extends to having to make the choice over which of two trees to convert to GEDCOMs and attach to DNA test sites.

I had toyed with various approaches to rectify that sticky detail for far too long, and yesterday tried my best at resolving the issue. After several false starts with various approaches, I finally caved and added the shorter paternal tree to each maternal tree by inserting only the direct line ancestors. This, by the way, may be my only recourse for adding GEDCOMs to sites such as GEDmatch, which limits the size of an uploaded file to under ten thousand individuals. If you remember from my last count, each of the two maternal lines I'm tracing is already pushing that limit—and that's just with one half of the tree entered.

In the process of one task, of course all sorts of other needs come shooting up to the surface. Clean up this! Clean up that! I'm beginning to have a long list of genealogical cleaning projects—and it isn't even spring yet!

The trouble with keeping to a schedule of research output measurements is that we sometimes forget to factor in the time for cleaning up after those heavy lifting sessions. It's encouraging to see the counts go up on our tree stats; there's no perks to cleaning up the aftermath of our research prowess. But keeping our research life organized is the only way to make things workable for future projects, so that simply will have to be yet another goal added to the list of tasks to accomplish.

Above: 1895 landscape by Ukrainian-born Russian artist Konstantin Kryzhitsky; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Not Your Typical Irish Immigrant

To get a fuller picture of why, exactly, young Penrose Hawkes left Ireland to find his way to Corning, New York, we need to step back another generation in the Hawkes family history. There, we'll begin to examine the immigrant story of yet another young Irishman, leaving his home for the uncertainties of a new land.

It was not the photograph album I found in a local antique shop that opened up this chapter in Penrose's family history, but let's just say the album served as a handy springboard. From there, we gleaned enough clues to determine that the seemingly-annoyed subject of the 1936 album's pages was actually a thirty six year old man named John Pim Penrose Hawkes.

That full name led us to discover a copy of his passport application—not in his native Ireland, the setting of the photos in the album, but in Corning, New York, Penrose's more recent home. The passport application kindly explained to us that, by 1916, the young Mr. Hawkes had been employed by T. G. Hawkes and Company, a manufacturer of what is called cut glass.

As it turns out, the company's proprietor, T. G. Hawkes, had himself been an Irish immigrant, though being much older than Penrose, he had arrived on our shores in 1863. Much as had the young Penrose, T. G. Hawkes had left his home at the young age of seventeen.

The elder Hawkes did not quite fulfill the Irish immigrant stereotype we've become accustomed to reading about from that time period. By the time he left home at seventeen, he had already spent two years at the then-Queen's College in Cork (now known as University College Cork), studying civil engineering.

His, too, had been the rather comfortable position of son of a member of the landed gentry in Ireland—child of a family whose heritage included a "settler" founder who had emigrated from England to Ireland in the 1700s. Being the second son, however, meant it was unlikely that he would ever inherit the family's holdings. Perhaps on this account, as well as the more oft-cited desire for adventure and to see the world, Thomas Gibbons Hawkes decided it would be in his best interest to seek his fortune elsewhere.

His, as it turned out, was a good fortune. Landing in New York City, though at first struggling to find a job, he happened to make the acquaintance of John Hoare, senior partner in a glass cutting firm in the city. Hawkes' subsequent affiliation at Hoare & Dailey eventually led him to the city of Corning in upstate New York, as well as equipping him with training in the art of what later came to be called American Brilliant Cut Glass.

Eventually, T. G. Hawkes established his own shop in Corning. Starting small, he patented designs and produced cut glass creations which soon found their way into the hands of some of the most recognized American names of that time period. Astors and Vanderbilts vied with presidents—American, Cuban and Mexican—and European royalty for purchase of cut glass creations by T. G. Hawkes and Company.

It was at T. G. Hawkes' sudden death in 1913 that his only son took the reins of the company. Shortly after that point, the thirty-something Samuel Hawkes reached out across the ocean to family still living in Ireland for assistance in running his inherited business concern.

One of those relatives turned out to be Samuel's young cousin from County Cork, Penrose Hawkes, who in 1916 picked up his uncle's immigrant story of over fifty years prior to also pursue a career in the world of cut glass in America.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just Off the Boat

Discovering the real first name of Penrose Hawkes—the man whose photographs were included in a forsaken family photo album I found in an antique shop in northern California—helped lead to other discoveries. Penrose, after all, was a middle name; proper searches for documents to serve as evidence are generally conducted using first names. Thus, finding the true full name led to more discoveries about this John Pim Penrose Hawkes.

A great find was a copy of Penrose's application for a U.S. passport. This, as it turned out, filled in many of the blanks that had us wondering how this Irish-born young man had ended up, alone, in the relatively rural setting of upstate New York by the time he turned sixteen.

When Penrose applied for his U.S. passport, he had been in the country for almost seven years. He had already managed to become a naturalized citizen at the age of twenty three, barely two weeks before making this application.

Apparently, the reason for his passport request was to return home to visit family during the summer of 1923. While it must have been a long-anticipated return for both adventuring son and his parents, it certainly also provided a welcome record for those of us wanting to know more about him nearly ninety five years later.

If all the declarations made for this document were correct, they provide much for us to learn about Penrose's early days—details genealogists thrive on discovering.

From this document, we learn that Penrose was born March 22, 1900, in the town of Bandon in County Cork, Ireland. That location had been established in Ireland by English settlers in the early 1600s and subsequently mired by a longstanding history once granting residence solely to fellow Protestants. As we'll soon see, ancestors of the Hawkes family had been among those early British settlers in Ireland.

Penrose's passport application revealed that his was the exact same name as his father's—John Pim Penrose Hawkes—and that his father, too, had been born in County Cork.

Since the passport application indicated that the younger Penrose had emigrated in June, 1916, perhaps his father, with full apprehension of then-current events, had considered the risk of what was yet to come in Ireland and wanted to send his only son safely beyond any threat to his welfare. After all, it barely had been two months since the ominous occurrence of the Easter Rising. By June of that same year, son Penrose was safely in Liverpool, England, preparing to sail for America.

Soon after, the sixteen year old Penrose had arrived in New York harbor and made his way northward to the city of Corning—a small town, then, of almost fifteen thousand residents, whose population is much the same today as it was in 1900 when Penrose was born. What drew Penrose to that location was a key member of the extended Hawkes family, a relative who had lived there—and thrived, apparently—for the past fifty years or more.

While statements may be found indicating that the specific reason Penrose went to Corning was at the bidding of his aging relative, taking in the broader picture of the history of Ireland at the time of his departure—especially considering his young age at the time—leads me to wonder whether there was an alternate impetus from across the ocean urging his departure from his homeland. Corning, then, became Penrose's safe haven during the storms about to overtake Ireland.

Above: Main Street in Bandon, County Cork, much as it appeared when Penrose Hawkes was born there in 1900; photograph courtesy The Lawrence Photograph Collection at the National Library of Ireland via Wikipedia; in the public domain. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Penrose's Paper Trail

When it comes to the unpredictable nature of genealogical research, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. While I would like to systematically trace our Penrose Hawkes back through each iteration of the United States census from the point at which we found him yesterday in the 1940 enumeration, it turns out my wish may not be granted. There are gaps in the paper trail.

It's tempting to think, when musing over missing appearances in what we can presume would be a regular occurrence, that perhaps our Penrose had not yet arrived in New York for an appearance in that previous 1930 census. Perhaps he was, indeed, still back in his native Ireland.

However, other documents save us from that mistaken assumption. Penrose Hawkes, it appears, left a sufficient paper trail in New York to allow us to trace some earlier highlights of his personal history.

For instance, remember that question I had thought of yesterday, when finding Penrose and his wife Marion in the 1940 census? There had been no mention of anyone named Marion in the 1936 photograph album we've been searching through lately. As it turns out, a marriage record located in New York City provides the answer: Penrose married Marion in Manhattan on 21 October 1937. No wonder Marion hadn't made her appearance in the summertime 1936 family photograph collection back in Ireland. She and Penrose may not even have met by that earlier date.

There were earlier documents to help us piece together Penrose's immigration story, as well. Thanks to records from one passenger list, not only do we learn that Penrose arrived in New York City on the first day of August in 1923, but we get the details on his full name, as well: John Pim Penrose Hawkes. While it is clear his family referred to him as Penrose, not John, it will be helpful to remember that detail, in case searches using the given name Penrose don't yield as much information as we might hope.

The August, 1923, arrival was apparently not his first trip to New York City, however. Earlier documents provide more of his story.

A confirming detail, found in an earlier document dated September 12, 1918, not only was filed under that very first name we previously were unaware of—John—but provided an assuring connection to the home we suspected was his. Penrose's World War I Draft Registration Card indicated, for nearest relative to contact, the response: "Father, Ovens, Cork, Ireland." Ovens, of course, was the parish where we pinpointed the correct Bride Park House residence of the Hawkes family of our photo album.

While Penrose had been found in those more recent documents living in New York City, this earlier record was completed in an entirely different part of the state: the county of Steuben in upstate New York. In fact, it included information on Penrose's position at work, and named the employer, as well. He was listed as a clerk at a business called T. G. Hawkes and Company, in Corning, New York.

With a name like that, it is easy to presume Penrose went to work in a relative's business. If you made that astute guess, congratulate yourself on your keen observational skills. But don't let that stop you there. Behind the name, T. G. Hawkes and Company, comes a lineage that connects with some fascinating business history.

Remember, if you will, the 1940 census entry indicating Penrose's occupation as representative for a glass company. Though it may sound as if this younger Penrose, at the time of his draft registration, was just a lowly clerk in an enterprise bearing the same surname as his, this was a young man serving as apprentice to a relative whose family not only owned the company, but seemingly had glass works in their very blood lines, as well.

Above: Section of World War I Draft Registration Card for John Penrose Hawkes, Corning, New York, filed on September 12, 1918, in Steuben County; image courtesy

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Starting With the Here and Now

There is one bit of advice I've found indispensable when introducing new students to the wonders of genealogical pursuits: start with yourself and move backwards from there. Gradually. That means step by carefully documented step. Never mind that you just know that your French Canadian great grandmother was descended from Charlemagne.

As the old board game once advised: do not pass go, do not collect one hundred dollars. Until, that is, you have followed the rules of proper genealogical research. And those rules do not include permission to immediately jump back centuries to books on the old blood lines of European monarchs. Or any other scintillatingly famous persons. You simply must go, step by step, from what you know through all the documented changes back through the years of history.

In the case of our current chase, however, we will have to modify that hard and fast rule. For in this situation, we are not beginning from our beginning, but from the most recent verifiable documentation of one particular gentleman known as Penrose Hawkes.

Granted, there are precious few things we know about this Mr. Hawkes from the album I found discarded at a local antique shop in northern California. We can't even say for sure that his name was really Penrose Hawkes. But we do know he was called Penrose. And we have observed, from this same book which was likely a family photograph album, that he was at a place in County Cork, Ireland, during the summer months of 1936. And that the woman who was likely owner of the home was named Mrs. P. Hawkes.

Putting this all together, I tried googling several combinations. I tried searching for Penrose plus Alice. Penrose plus Bride Park. Penrose, in fact, along with any other names or terms I could find in the album.

The results brought me several listings—not for Ireland, but for New York. This, as it turns out, is where we need to start with the here and now—Penrose's here and now. For instance, if there were search results showing a Penrose Hawkes in New York, would there be any entry for that name in the closest census record to the time of the 1936 album?

The answer is a solid yes. In an apartment on East Tenth Street in Manhattan, Penrose can be found in the 1940 census, age forty, along with a wife by the name of Marion. She, too, was forty years of age, but unlike Penrose, who was listed as born in Ireland, she was a native New Yorker—as were, apparently, both her parents.

What is interesting about this census entry is that Marion Hawkes happened to win the census lottery for 1940. Hers became one of two entries included in the supplementary questions found on the bottom of the page. There we learn that she was married more than once, that she was first married at age twenty two, and that she had no children.

The puzzling thing is that I find no mention of anyone named Marion in the family album. If, indeed, we do have the right Penrose Hawkes (and really, how many of those can there be?), the likely explanation would be that Penrose was not married at the time of the 1936 visit to Ireland. Of course, we'll have to reserve judgment on that until we find supporting documentation.

Penrose, himself, provided some additional clues in his own census entry. For one thing, it confirmed his birth in Ireland, and the report that he was now a naturalized United States citizen. It also provided his occupation as sales manager for a glass company.

Lest you assume he was a mere mid level manager for some NYC corporate concern, set that notion aside for a while. For in the next few days, we'll discover which glass company Penrose was representing. Even more important, we'll begin following that thread to learn what a long family history intertwined with that glass industry Penrose—and several others in the Hawkes family line—actually had.

Above: Excerpt of the 1940 U.S. Census for Manhattan, New York, showing Penrose and Marion Hawkes; courtesy

Monday, January 16, 2017


The one enchanting thing about the start of the new year is that it is ripe with possibilities—possibilities that eventually grow into projects. As the year gets rolling and those projects get launched, that bright hope which comes with the luxury of contemplating possibilities can undergo some tarnishing. But never mind that for now. Let's bask in the inner warmth of those possibilities, shall we?

Picking up the tale of that mysterious Christmas gift found abandoned in a local antique shop, we are ready to consider the possibilities uncovered from its pages. We've already been properly introduced to several of the players revealed in just the first few of the album's pages—at least, as properly as possible, considering the circumstances.

We've already met Harry and "Self"—the anonymous writer behind those white ink notes on each of the album's pages. We've easily surmised that they are the couple who are the proud parents of the two young girls cavorting through the album's pages, Ruby and Iris. In addition, we've been introduced to a man named O'Malley and a woman called Alice, though we aren't yet sure how they connect to the family's story.

And, of course, there's Grannie. She's the one who seems most likely to have been mentioned in newspaper reports as the West Highland White Terrier owner identified as Mrs. P. Hawkes. In fact, there's a good chance she is the one whose home is the place called Bride Park House in the parish of Ovens in County Cork, Ireland.

Finding the surname Hawkes has indeed been a great help. Who knew it would be the family's dog that would lead us to uncover the mystery of this photo album? Yet it isn't entirely helpful; we have yet to determine just which of these players can claim that surname besides Grannie. Would it be "Self"? Or Harry?

One more player in this scene may also claim rights to that surname: the reticent shadow unwillingly captured in a few of the photographs in the album's opening pages. We've already seen him here, in a fuzzy composition with the ever-present Ruby and Iris. From that introduction, we've learned that his name was Penrose. But is it Mr. Penrose, with an unknown given name? Or may we presume he was Penrose Hawkes? How, exactly, does he connect to this family gathering?

Penrose, looking very cross!

Googling the name Penrose Hawkes does bring up some promising results. However, there are more entries to be found in the United States than in Ireland.

The two lists—one, the search results about the Penrose Hawkes from Ireland and the other the results about the Penrose Hawkes in America—are likely concerning themselves with the same person, opening up a chapter into a fascinating side story concerning the Hawkes family—if, indeed, we have identified the right person.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Off on the Right Track

Welcoming the new year—at least the first two weeks of it—hasn't been bad at all. I can't say I've had as positive a feeling about a New Year in a long time.

As far as keeping track of research progress, the experiment I tried last year was encouraging. Here's the first installation on the statistical report for 2017. Keep in mind, this is not just a wearying task having to do with numbers. The impetus behind this pursuit—which actually started in late 2014 when I discovered an "exact match" adoptee sharing my matrilineal line—is to trace my mother's mother's mother's line back to whatever generation will pinpoint the nexus between my ancestry and that of my mystery cousin.

Not only that; gearing my research to include siblings of each generation of my direct line—and then extrapolating to all the descendants of any given ancestor—will hopefully help me spot how I match those many unknown third and fourth cousins popping up in my DNA test results with alarming regularity. Keeping track of the numbers helps encourage the research momentum.

For now, it looks like the most—er, make that the only—progress being made is on my maternal line and that of my husband. No problem, though. These are the two lines most likely to experience DNA matches—and also the two lines whose roots reach back to colonial America.

So let's look at the numbers for our new year's fresh start.

On my mother's line, I opened the year with 9,305 names in my freshly-synced family tree. In the past two weeks, I've added and documented 136 additional individuals, bringing the total up to 9,441.

On my mother-in-law's line, the year began with 9,523 and improved to 9,744—a jump of 221 names. I'm not sure why my mother-in-law's line always takes the prize for greatest number of additions, but it sure seems like it does. Perhaps it was all those large Catholic families.

The DNA matches seem to be settling into a pattern, as well, with Family Tree DNA bringing in nearly twice as many as Ancestry DNA in any given time period. Perhaps that is because we are still seeing the tsunami wave coming towards us from that company's unbelievable holiday sale. The down side, of course, is that, flooded with extra work, the lab is likely struggling to keep up with the input. Back in early December, my two sisters in law generously agreed to become "guinea pigs" for one of my genetic genealogy data reading experiments; I've yet to see their results show up in my husband's matches.

So, as it stands right now, the year started out with 970 matches for my husband's account at FTDNA, which bumped up to 980 over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, his Ancestry DNA account only advanced five, from 186 to 191 matches. As for mine, the 1,521 January first tally at FTDNA rose nineteen to 1540, and my Ancestry DNA matches are now up eight to 427.

Making progress on all these aspects is sometimes as simple a matter as squeezing in a few minutes daily to review shaky leaf hints on Ancestry. I must confess, I often spend my lunchtime at my desk, working through those hints as systematically as possible. It may seem like a big number when viewed in the aggregate, but doing a little at a time—and doing so regularly—can make a difference over the long haul.

Above: "Shepherd with sheep in winter landscape," oil on canvas by German artist Ernst Adolf Meissner (1837 - 1902); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...