Higgins? No, O’Leary: Part One

I’ve been working on my brother-in-law’s Murphy-Higgins line for a few years.  While I was able to find many generations of research done on both his Boisvert and La Grange lines, the Murphy-Higgins line moved at a snail’s crawl.

The trouble starts with his Great Great Grandmother. She was a widower before 1900.  Documentation wise she fell off the face of the earth after 1900.  The only information we had to go by was a photograph ca 1900 with her name – Margaret Higgins Murphy and South Carolina.

As the story went, Margaret left Glens Falls, NY to spend time with family in South Carolina.  She stayed there a couple of years, dying in the state around 1913.  Her body was sent back to Glens Falls for burial next to her husband.

I searched high and low for years trying to find a link between the Higgins family and South Carolina.  I struck out in New York and South Carolina.  It was almost impossible to find her since I had no clue where in South Carolina she moved to, when she went, or who her relatives were.  The only thing I had to go by was the maiden name Higgins and the death date of 1913.  Neither of them panned out.

While browsing familysearch.org a couple of weeks ago, I saw that they had death certificates for South Carolina.  I decided to try my hand at them.  It certainly couldn’t work.

Searching for Margaret Murphy proved a cumbersome task.  But after a couple of hours and different research attempts, I was rewarded.  I found what appeared to be the Margaret Murphy I was looking for.  This woman was born about the right time in Ireland and she was buried in Glens Falls.  She had been living in Charleston, SC with a sister.  So, I had the connection to Glens Falls and a familial connection in Charleston.

The death date was off by a few years.  This Margaret Murphy died in 1919.  To top it off, Higgins was nowhere in sight.  Her Father’s surname was O’Leary!

I searched for other death certificates but came up with nothing with a Glens Falls connection.  The more I looked over the death certificate, the more I felt in my bones that she was the right one.  If she was the right one, what was up with O’Leary?

I did some more research on the web and found an index listing for St. Mary’s Cemetery in Glens Falls.  There I found the Murphy family.  There was Patrick Murphy with his wife, Margaret.  But, nothing in genealogy comes easy especially with brick walls.  The index had no death date for Margaret, only a birth year.

Although I felt I had the right person, I was not satisfied.  With Patrick Murphy’s name on the death certificate or a specific death date in the index, I still had a measure of doubt.  I was going to have to find other records that might prove a connection between the two Margarets.  I don’t think it will be easy.


These Death Certificates Complicate Things

I thought it would be a nice addition to my brother-in-law’s Christmas present if I found his Higgins line.  So many databases have been added to the web since I last tackled this line two years.  I might get lucky.

What I know:

1.  His great grandmother was Margaret Higgins

2.  She was born in Ireland about 1840.

3.  She married Dennis Patrick Murphy around 1860, most likely in New York.

4.  In 1870 and 1890, the family lived in Queensbury, Warren County, NY

5.  Margaret is a widow before 1880.

6.  Margaret is living with daughter, Mary in 1900.

7.  A photograph dated 1906 says “Margaret Higgins Murphy, South Carolina”.  This coincides with a family tradition that Margaret went to South Carolina to live with family.

8.  Margaret died in South Carolina in 1913.  Her body was shipped back to Glens Falls, Washington (Warren) County, NY to be buried with Dennis.

I had already tracked Margaret through the 1900 US Census.  I could not find her in NY or SC in 1910.

I decided to see what familysearch.org had on South Carolina.  Aha!  They have the South Carolina death certificates.  I searched for Margaret Murphy and found a certificate which I believe is hers.  There are problems though (aren’t there always?).

First the similarities.

It says that Margaret was living in Charleston for 2 years.

She was 82 years old and was born in Ireland.

She was buried in Glens Falls.

She was a widow when she died.


The problems…

Margaret’s death date is 10 May 1917–not 1913.  I can live with this.  Families often get dates mixed up.

Her parents were Enneas O’Leary and Mary O’Connor.  O’Leary? O’Connor?  What happened to Higgins?

It’s possible the family got confused on her maiden name.  Maybe she was married between 1900 and 1917 to someone named Higgins.

I would need corroborating evidence to figure this one out.  The informant on the death certificate was Mrs. Wm. Leach on 25 Mill Street.  If I was lucky, this would be Margaret’s sister.

I found Mary’s death certificate but it only makes things cloudier.  Mary’s daughter is the informant.  She gives Mary’s parents as Jerry O’Leary and ??? O’Connor.  Hmmm…Jerry might come from Gerald or Jeremiah, but Enneas?

I did do some research in 1850 and 1860 to see if I could find the O’Leary’s in the census.  I wasn’t successful.  It’s possible that Mary and Margaret came over as adults, so I’m not even sure their parents were in the US.

I do believe these are my people.  Now I have to figure out how to link them together and how to figure out the true name of their father.

I think my best bet is to find Margaret’s obituary.  I’m not sure how to find an obituary for Charleston or Glens Falls, so I’m going to have to research that.  The obituary may reveal other siblings who may clear things up or confuse them further.

Next, I need to see if marriage certificates exist for Queensbury to see if either Margaret or Mary married there.

I also should search the census for all of Margaret’s children to see if finding their records might lead to an answer to Margaret’s parents and her association to the Higgins surname.

It can be great finding new documents.  However, sometimes they add more questions than answers.  I think I have my work cut out for me if I plan to put anything together by Christmas!


That Darn Smith Family!

I’m reassessing the Smith La Grange connection.  I’ve got a hypothesis…not really a theory since I can’t prove any of it.

Yesterday, it dawned on me that John La Grange’s wife, Miss Unknown Smith, could not possibly Henry J. (or Henry I.) Smith’s daughter.  They would be almost the same age!

So, I am working on another angle.  I believe they are siblings.

Henry’s family is as follows (taken from the 1850-1910 Census Records)

Henry I. (or Henry J.) Smith

wife Catherine

1.  Zacharia

m. Cornelia ???

…..1.  Bede

…..2.  Annah

2.  Mary C.

3.  Sables aka Barney

4.  Emma

5.  Nicholas

7.  Eli

8. Amelia

In 1850, a farmer William V. Smith lives with them.  I do not know if there is a connection.

Noted right under Henry in the 1850 Census is this Smith family:


m.  Helen ???

(John and Helen are 78, so a good 20 years older than Henry.  Could they be his parents?)

1.  Nicholas

m. Jane ???

…..1.  John

…..2.  Marcus

…..m. ??? ??? (died before 1900 census)

……….1.  Arthur

……….2.  Norman

……….3.  Carie

2.  Margaret

Zacharia’s wife, Cornelia, is connected to an Abbe family.  She is listed in 1920 as the Aunt of  Clarence Abbe.  Clarence’s mother, Martha, is also listed.

If John Smith is the father of Henry and Miss Unknown, could Nicholas and Margaret be their other siblings?

One of the reasons I believe Henry is the brother of my Smith La Grange is the use of certain names.  John’s son was John S. La Grange.  John S. named his first son, John Henry La Grange.

I am willing to overlook John Henry as a coincidence.  But, the next son was named Barney Sables La Grange.  Henry had a son known as Sable and Barney.  How coincidental could that be?  Barney maybe…but Sables…and the combination of both?

So, off I take my circumstantial “evidence”.  And, I use that term loosely!  The key may be finding the La Grange children after their parent’s died.  That would be sometime between 1840 and 1850.  If they were with the Smith’s, then I’d have my connection.

So far, that’s not going so good.  Any ideas on this one?  Anyone researching this Smith family?