Family Records: Anna, Ann, Anne, or Annie?

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I always tend to think about the ancestors who left Ireland and came over here. In my family’s case, we are not Potato Famine immigrants. We are early 20th century immigrants. I’ve watched episodes of Henry Louis Gates’s Faces of America on PBS. com and am now an avid watcher of Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC–both historical, genealogical shows.

I’m a history geek, so that kind of thing is fascinating to me. I tried a quick, free subscription on today–it’s rainy, so it’s perfect to look up Irish relatives, don’t ya think?–to see what I could find. Here are some facts that I already knew about my family :

  • The Athys are from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The McManuses (my paternal grandmother’s family) are from the West, like County Mayo.
  • Both sides settled in the Bronx. Hence, we are Yankee fans.
  • My first ancestors to set foot in the U.S. were Edward and Ann Talbot, the parents of Annie Talbot McManus, my great-grandmother.
  • Annie Talbot was the first of my ancestors born in the U.S. She was sent back to Ireland as a child, then came back in 1912 (almost getting on the Titanic in the process).
  • I was nearly named Winifred, after my other paternal great-grandmother, on the Athy side.

I am, all told, a fourth generation Irish-American. Knew that already. But here’s the thing: tricky, tricky female ancestors. Grandma was born Anna Mary McManus. Then she became Annie Mary. Then she became Ann Theresa (her Confirmation name). Her mother was pretty much the same way. Do you feel like an Ann, Anne, Annie or Anna today? Granted, this is also the woman who made bathtub gin in her Bronx bathroom during Prohibition, so…flexible, to say the least.

I found the great-grandmother who made bathtub gin (Annie Talbot) in a 1900 Census, listed as age 6, living in Newark with her father and an older brother. I knew her parents died and that was why she was sent back to Ireland. Her father, Edward, is already listed as a widower in 1900. So when did her mother, Ann(e) Cassidy Talbot, die? I don’t know. Couldn’t find a viable record on her. I’m not even sure when she and Edward married, though the 1900 census says that he came to America in 1890.

I found a ship manifest listing Annie Talbot coming into New York in 1912–on the Oceanic, a ship owned by the White Star Line.

I found a few conflicting records on Winifred Skelly Athy. The 1920 Census says she was 29, single (my grandpa was born in 1921), living in Manhattan, working as a servant, and that she came to this country in 1904. Another record lists Minnie Skelly coming into Boston, 1912, from a town in County Roscommon, where I believe Winifred may have been from. So, really, I don’t know which is which.

I don’t expect to find royalty or even a minor lord in my family tree. We’re farmers, laborers, alcoholics. But I want to know what my family was doing during the Famine. Why didn’t we leave? I guess being near an Irish holiday makes me think of the possible stories that I don’t know about.

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