Monday, April 29, 2013

New Research Doesn’t Answer Old Questions

After three weeks of research in Massachusetts and attendance at the wonderful New England Regional Genealogical Conference, I didn’t come much closer to the answers I was seeking to find. In fact, I guess I could say my mind is now more muddled with information and even more questions.

The goal of this trip was to spend time researching in the courthouses of Pittsfield regarding the arrest of Bridget HEARST McHugh on charges of “illegal keeping of intoxicating beverages”. I was able to find the court case and after pleading “not guilty”, Bridget was let off. On the other hand, David Tierney who was also arrested at the same time, for the same crime, by the same officer was not so lucky. It was found there was probable cause and he was set for trial. I did not pursue his case which I now wish I had, but I had so much more to research, time was an issue. However, I am left with more questions. There were witnesses presumably against Bridget because they were reimbursed by the court. David Tierney had no witnesses to be paid, so why was Bridget found “not guilty” and David was not? What was the probable cause that made him more guilty than Bridget?

I was also there to research the dower rights of Bridget consequent to the death of her husband, Francis. I found none! There was property including a house in Frank McHUGH’s estate. I wanted to know who owned the house and what became of it after the deaths of Francis and Bridget. More questions than answers again: the house was owned by Bridget right from the start; then was sold by Annie F. McHUGH to her cousin, Ellen MULLANEY all the while Hannora MCHUGH Forgea and her family were living in the house! Huh? Why didn’t the FORGEA family buy the house? Why were they allowed to live in it only until the death of Nora?

After her death, her two youngest were consigned to Brightside Orphanage. Six months later, Annie F. MCHUGH petitioned for temporary guardianship of the three daughters of Nora; Catherine and Anna were in the orphanage. Where was Adase? Why the need for guardianship papers when Adase was 20 and the two younger girls were in the orphanage?

And some answers only led to more confusion. Aunt Anna was consigned to Brightside Orphanage until shortly after her 12th birthday, then she was released from Brightside to Beaven Kelly. I thought Beaven Kelly was a person. Instead, it turns out it was a retirement home for elderly gentlemen. What was a 12-year-old doing in a retirement home for elderly gentlemen? Hopefully answers will come as I sift through all the documents I was able to copy. Thank goodness for smart phones.

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