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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

James MULLIGAN Mystery

When I started with my family history, I was blessed to have a compile genealogy on my dad's side. Unfortunately, it was not sourced, and therefore, I am in search of actual sources to prove/disprove the information compiled. After I entered all of the information into my database, I started to search for other information, using primarily Family Search and Ancestry. I added the additional information that I came across, and moved onto other things.

I have been working on James MULLIGAN, my third great-grandfather. Since James is part of my direct line to my American Revolutionary War soldier, I need to obtain more solid sources. Following is the information that was obtained from my family's compile genealogy and Family Search's International Genealogical Index.

James MULLIGAN was born in Dublin, Ireland [1] on 7 December 1812 [2]. He settled in Flint, Genesee, Michigan, where he died on 8 September 1879 [3]. James married Sarah Norton WEBSTER Coffinger on 5 November 1865 [4] in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan [5]. James and Sarah had three children: Edward (b. 8 April 1867), Sarah Jane (b. 16 April 1870), and Margaret Eliz. (b. 25 August 1873). [6] So from these combined sources, here's what I had:

James MULLIGAN

  • b. 7 December 1812 in Dublin, Ireland
  • m. 5 November 1865 in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan (Sarah Norton WEBSTER Coffinger)
  • d. 8 September 1879 in Flint, Genesee, Michigan

I then began to search for censuses. Here's what I found:

1850 Census - Detroit, Wayne, Michigan

  • James MULLIGAN / age 36 / Laborer / Ireland
  • Margaret Mulligan / age 30 / -- / Ireland
  • Maria MULLIGAN / age 11 / -- / Ireland
  • Patrick MULLIGAN / age 8 / -- / Ireland
  • Michael MULLIGAN / age 5 / -- / Ireland
  • Bridget MULLIGAN / age 2 / -- / Ireland
  • Joseph MULLIGAN / age 25 / -- / Ireland

This is likely my James MULLIGAN, based only on the age (putting yob est 1814) and place of origin.

1860 Census - Detroit, Wayne, Michigan

  • Jas MULLIGAN / age 45 / Baggage ____ / Ireland
  • Sophia Mulligan / 37 / -- / New York
  • Michael MULLIGAN / 13 / -- / Ireland
  • Bridget MULLIGAN / 12 / -- / Ireland
  • Joseph MULLIGAN / 9 / -- / Michigan
  • James P MULLIGAN / 4 / -- / Michigan
  • Julia MULLIGAN / 2 / -- / Michigan

So it looks like Margaret was his first wife, whom he married in Ireland, and had children (at least 4) with in Ireland. They either separated or she died, and he later married Sophia between the time to two censuses were taken.

1870 Census - Flint, Genesee, Michigan

  • James MULLIGAN / 58 / Ditcher / Ireland
  • Sarah Mulligan / 42 / keeping house / Michigan
  • James MULLIGAN / 14 / works in saw mill / Michigan
  • Edward MULLIGAN / 3 / -- / Michigan
  • Sarah MULLIGAN / 2-12 / -- / Michigan
  • Emma COFFINGER / 11 / at school / Iowa
  • Mary COFFINGER / 9 / at school / Iowa

Here in lies my third great-grandmother Sarah, apparently James' third wife. The son James, ties this family to the family in the 1860 Census. The children Michael and Bridget ties the family in the 1860 Census to the family in the 1850 Census. So I'm pretty certain that the James in all three censuses is mine.

Then I began to look for other records that would help confirm the information found in the censuses. I didn't come up with much. But I did come across two sources: one, which would typically be considered a primary source, conflicts every other source. Here's what I found:

I ordered the death certificate for James MULLIGAN from the State of Michigan. When I got the certificate, the date did not match what I had (it was off by one month), and there was no other information to prove/disprove this was the death certificate for my James MULLIGAN. I ordered this in March 2008, and had dismissed it, until now. Here's the information that were on the certificate:

  • Name: James MULLIGAN
  • DOD: 8 October 1879
  • LOD: Genesee, First Ward Flint, MI
  • Age: 66 years, 9 months, 1 day
  • Birthplace: Ireland
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Occupation: Laborer
  • Mother's Name: Not recorded
  • Father's Name: Unknown Not recorded
  • COD: Consumption
  • Date of Record: 28 May 1880

A few days ago, I came across a listing for James MULLIGAN in the 1880 Mortality schedule of the U.S. Federal Census. All the sources I had found to this point did show a year of death as 1879. Here's the information that was recorded:

  • Name: James MULLIGAN
  • DOD: September 1879
  • Census Location: Genesee, First Ward Flint, MI
  • Age: 66 years
  • Birthplace: Ireland
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Occupation: Day Laborer
  • COD: Dropsy of heart
  • Date of Record: 28 May 1880
  • How long residence of county: 29

This seems to be the same person, with the exception that the month of death and cause of death differ. Here's the kicker: the death certificate indicates the age as 66 years, 9 months, 1 day, and if you calculate that with the date of birth (mind you obtained by Family Search, somewhat confirmed with the censuses in terms of yob) that makes the month September, not October. In terms of the cause of death, I can't find anything indicating a tie between TB and dropsy, so I'm at a loss here.

Hmmm. Knowing that someone could calculate that birth date indicated in the record on Family Search using the full age and the date of death, I was a little skeptical of the birth date. However, that Family Search record only shows a year of death--no month or day, so it seem unlikely that the birth date was calculated using this method. Additionally, if someone calculated the birth date using the death certificate's full age and death date, they would come up with a birth date of January 7, 1813.

The other thing, is that the 1880 Mortality census notes that he lived in the county for 29 years. Looking back at the censuses, it's likely that he lived in the county for at least 19 years. I have not been able to find anything to indicate that he moved to Genesee Co. between 1860 and 1870, so it's hard to say whether 29 years is accurate, although, it is possible.

So do I have the answers to my questions?

1. Are all of these censuses pointing to the same James MULLIGAN, and more importantly, my James MULLIGAN?

I know that the 1870 Census is a valid reference, as I have the family bible of my third great-grandmother, Sarah, which documents her being married to James, and having the three children (all named, with birth dates). The ties with the children from census to census seem to indicate that those are valid references as well.

2. Is the death certificate for my James MULLIGAN?

Although usually considered a primary source, I have other sources that seem to indicate that yes, it is my James MULLIGAN, but that the month is incorrect.

3. Is the birth date obtained from Family Search correct?

I'm going to say, yes. Since all references (except the death certificate) indicate that he died on 8 September 1879, using the full age indicated on the death certificate yields that same date.

I guess I do have the answers, at least I'm fairly certain, for now. ;)




Citations

  1. Cahill Family Tree document, not published, privately held by Julie M Cahill Tarr.
  2. International Genealogical Index - North America, provided by Family Search, James MULLIGAN; http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=/eng/search/ancestorsearchresults.asp.
  3. Cahill Family Tree document, not published, privately held by Julie M Cahill Tarr.
  4. ibid.
  5. International Genealogical Index - North America, provided by Family Search, James MULLIGAN; http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=/eng/search/ancestorsearchresults.asp.
  6. Cahill Family Tree document, not published, privately held by Julie M Cahill Tarr.
Sources
  1. Holy Bible (unknown: unknown, ca. 1850), privately held by Julie Marie Cahill Tarr, Normal, Illinois, 2001.
  2. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, p. 217, dwelling 1270, family 1531; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com ); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll M432_365.
  3. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Pontiac, Okland, Michigan, p. 41, dwelling 283, family 284; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com ); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll M653_556.
  4. 1870 U.S. census, population schedule, Flint Ward 1, Genesee, Michigan, p. 25, dwelling 197, family 196; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com ); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll M593_671.
  5. 1880 U.S. census, Genesee County, Michigan, mortality schedule, p. 1, James Mulligan; NARA microfilm publication T1163 (in the custody of the State Library of Michigan).

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1 comment:

Miriam said...

Julie, chances are very high your death "certificate" is inaccurate. It is a 4th-generation copy, at least.

True death certificates were not issued in the state of Michigan until 1897. From 1867, when vital records began to be kept by the state, through 1897 the state collected death records. These were done in census format: the town supervisor or city assessor would once a year canvass their area of government, going door to door to ask if anyone within that household had been born or died within the last 12 months. Naturally, all the problems and errors found in census records (incorrect info, getting info from neighbors, people moving away or dying before the record could be taken) applied to this kind of record-gathering. This was the first generation record (original).

The town supervisor or city assessor then turned the information over to the county clerk, who recorded it in the county libers (2nd generation copy).

The county clerk then copied and sent the information to the secretary of state who wrote it in libers for the state records (3rd generation copy).

If you request a death certificate for a Michigan death from 1867 up to 1897 from Lansing, you are actually just getting a certified copy of the state (3rd generation copy) death record copied and printed on fancy certificate paper (4th generation copy). If you order a death certificate from 1867 up to 1897 from the county clerk, you are getting a certified copy of the county death record (3rd generation copy).

The state death records (4th generation copy) are what appear on FamilySearch Record Search.

Of course, we all know how errors can multiply with every generation of copy!

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