A family tree mystery solved (kind of)

Those of you following along with my family tree research know that I’ve come across several mysteries just begging to be solved. One of the chief has been a mystery invoving my great, great, great grandmother Catherine Toohey Larkin and young man named Martin Daly.

In 1870, Catherine Toohey (or Tuhey) and her husband Michael Larkin were living with their children in Pittsfield, MA. Living with them were Catherine’s brother Martin, sister Ann, a man named Henry Hurst (whom Ann would marry a few years later), Catherine’s mother Bridget (Eagen) Tuhey, and a 14-year-old man named Martin Daly.

Martin Daly was a mystery to me – who he was, how he was related, why he was living with the Tuhey/Larkins. Tracing census records it turns out that Martin was born in Galway, Ireland to parents Patrick Daly and Catherine Toohey.

It was way too much of a coincidence, right? His mother is Catherine Toohey and he’s living with Catherine Toohey Larkin. He’s born a year before Catherine and Michael’s first child Mary Ann is born in Ireland.

One idea is that Martin is Catherine’s son from a previous marriage. Definitely possibe but the timing between Martin’s birth and Mary Anne’s birth are very, very close. Perhaps there is another Catherine Toohey somehow related to my Catherine Toohey who had a son named Martin who, when he emigrated to America, came to live with distant relatives.

Well, after much research – and a major clue from the folks at the Pittsfield Library Local History Department – I can confidently say that my Catherine Tuhey/Toohey is not Martin Daly’s mother.

The folks at the library shared information from Martin Daly’s obituary, including the note that at his death he was survived by two brothers and a sister living in New Zealand. I’ve also found another brother named Charles living in Pittsfield.

In the 192o census, my Catherine (Toohey) Larkin tells the census taker that she’s had 8 children, 6 of whom who are living. I can account for all of her 8 children: Mary Ann, Michael, Margaret (Jennie), William, Ellen, James, Katherine, and Annie.

That means the numbers simply don’t add up.

Another clue: at no time after the 1870 census do I find Martin living with or next door to the Larkins. Given that my family literally lived within shouting distance from each other (including inlaws and their families) – and when I say shouting distance I mean from the kitchen to the front porch – it’s a little suspicious to not have him living on the same street. Not impossible – eventually Michael Larkin Jr will die in an old age home, despite the fact that he has siblings and family living in Pittsfield. (Another mystery: in the family that literally lives together from birth to death, how did one member end up in the home for the aged? Was he ill? Cuckoo? I don’t have any record of him living with any of the siblings once his mother Catherine dies; in fact, in 1920 he’s living in a boarding house.)

It’s likely that my Catherine’s father Patrick Toohey had a brother who had a daughter named Catherine, who would of course been Catherine Toohey. That’s very, very possible. Or maybe Martin’s mother Catherine Toohey is even more distantly related – a cousin of a cousin. He may have even been related somehow to Henry Hurst, who was staying with the family. People tended to immigrate together, either with or to stay with family, neighbors, etc. they knew in Ireland.

So while the mystery isn’t solved, I can eliminate a rabbit trail of research – although I would someday like to find out why Martin Daly was in the Berkshire prison and how he came to stay with the Larkins when he came to America.

Unfortunately, I had also hoped that this would place my Catherine Tuhey (Toohey) in Galway, Ireland so I could begin to look for records there. Now I’m not so sure that’s the right place to look. I’m not back to square one, but I’m close.



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