In Search of our Missing Uncle Patrick
Did you ever have a relative tell you about someone that you just couldn't prove was real? or maybe your family believes are related to someone famous! I do! He is my Grandmother's fabled Uncle Patrick.
When I first asked my Grandparents about their parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, I was 11 years old and had just started secondary school (For those of you not familiar with Secondary schools it is a school for children aged 11 to 16/18, kind of like combining Middle school and High School). In the first month we were issued homework by three separate teachers to produce family trees. At the time I knew my Parents and Grandparents generations but nothing further back. My parents gave me the information they remembered but my Grandparents were the goldmine.
My Grandmother recalled that her father had a brother called Patrick and a sister, Lil. She also remembered her mother writing to an Aunt Rose who was from her father's family. At the time I did not know how to go about researching my tree properly and relied solely on the information provided by my family.
|Recreation of my Grandmother's branch of my original tree that was submitted to the teachers.|
I went to the search box and selected the record type Birth/Baptism then entered; Name: John GRAHAM, Birth: 1899 +/- 0 Fermanagh. My Grandmother remembered that her father had always said his birthday on 1 May 1899 so this is where I would begin. The search returned two results: John GRAHAM and John Robert GRAHAM. Since the person I was looking for had signed himself as Jack William I felt it was unlikely that he would have been given the middle name of Robert as a child. I then added the father's name into the search and found that both results remained. I bit the bullet, requested to see the record and paid the fee; when the image appeared on my screen I felt as if I had just struck gold! I saw John GRAHAM born 1 May 1899 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland just where my Grandmother would expect him to be with parents John GRAHAM, Private 1st Batt RIF and Eleanor Jane McCARDLE. Heading back to the search box I typed in just the parents names along with birth 1899 +/- 20 in Fermanagh - sadly no results. Next I tried just the parents surnames with the same time and place in hopes that something would be available. Now I had three results; John, Francis and Anne. Ordering the 2 new record reveals that Francis and Anne were born in Derrylin, a town not far from Enniskillen, their father John was a labourer and their mother was Ellen. I realised that in the 8 years between the first 2 births John must have left the army and that Ellen could be a diminutive of Eleanor.
As time passed I located the 1911 Ireland Census online and soon found an entry for John and Ellen GRAHAM and their four children: John, Delia, Lillie and Anne. John was listed as a soldier pensioner. The census also showed that Ellen had had five children but one had sadly died. As their was no Francis on the census I concluded that he must have been the child to have died but also Patrick must have been born after 1911. My search had been carried out for births between 1879 and 1919, surely Patrick wouldn't have been born after 1919 ans why had Delia and Lillie not shown up? Opening the image for the census answered one question - Delia and Lillie had been born in Scotland and therefore their births would have been recorded there and not in Ireland. This just left Patrick.
|Revised branch post 1911 census and birth entries being located|
Over the years I have looked as various sources for Irish records and have seen no sign of Patrick Graham. I had stated to believe that the Uncle Patrick that my Grandmother knew of was not her Uncle but her Granduncle.When the General Records Office of Northern Ireland launched a service to search their Civil Registration Records earlier this year I once again tried to search for the children of John and Ellen. I was still only getting the same three results. I soon found that life has a way of hiding things from you until you least expect to find them.
Having given up looking for Patrick I turned my attention to looking for the marriages and deaths of Delia, Liilie and Anne. I came across a death entry for a Delia GRAHAM who would have been the right age for my Great Grandaunt. Having purchased the image I not only found that this was my Delia but that the informant was her brother Patrick. Delia died in 1923, this narrowed my search for Patrick to 1911-1923, but why had all my earlier searched failed to find him? I concluded that one of the names must have been misspelt, most likely Ellen's. This was now my starting point. I tried the variants of McCardle that I had seen then the wildcard McA* all to no avail. in the end I used the nothing ventured nothing gained logic and tried McC* as a wildcard for the mothers name. This gave me one hit. The birth record was for Patrick GRAHAM born December 1911 in Derrylin, Fermanagh, Ireland to John Graham a Labourer and Ellen McCarrol. I compared Patrick's birth entry to those of Francis and Anne, I am now sure that he is their brother despite the discrepancy on the mother's maiden name.
In conclusion, my Grandmother was right that her father had a brother Patrick. He was born in December 1911, two years after Anne and two years before his father's death.