Of the many "ism's" handed down through my Dad's family was a favorite of his Great Uncle Robert Edward Little uttered in response to a reference to the families Irish roots: Just because you are born in barn doesn't mean you're a horse.
Well! In addition to giving one the impression that Uncle Robert was opinionated it is a reminder to family historians that sometimes there are nuggets of truth hidden in family lore and legend.
My Irish roots are found within my father's family line, descending from his mother's father's line.
Information taken from their death certificates shows the progenitor of my Little family line was Andrew Little born about 1800 in Ireland and his wife Mary Ann Gallagher, born about 1812, also in Ireland. Listed as the parents of Andrew Little are Andrew and Alice. Mary Ann Gallagher Little's parents are not listed.
According to a Civil War Pension Application filed by Mary Ann on the service of son John Little, Andrew and Mary Ann were married 4 Mar 1832 in New York City, shortly after they immigrated. The couple soon after settled in Pickering, Ontario, Canada. Like many Irish immigrants in this community, they traveled to New York on a regular basis, where many of their eleven children were born. The family then removed to Port Huron, St Clair County, MI. It was here that Andrew and Mary Ann died and are buried.
Andrew and Mary Ann's youngest son and my Great Grandfather, Cyrus Austin Little, married Frances Dazie Facer in 1892 in Port Huron. Frances Dazie's mother, Elisabeth Hornby, was born in Ontario, Canada; the eldest daughter of English and possible Irish immigrants, William Hornby and Frances Howard. Frances Dazie's father, W[illiam]. D. Facer, was born in 1827 in Port Huron, MI. His parents were pioneer settlers who immigrated from Zanesville, Ohio.
W.D. married three times; all of his wives fell victim to plagues and epidemics as well as 7 of his 10 children. Cyrus's sister Elizabeth Little married George Goldrick in Port Huron; when the couple decided to relocate to the village of Aniwa, Shawano county in northeastern Wisconsin, they were accompanied by Cyrus and Frances, Frances's brother Burton Wellington Facer, their father W.D. (now a widower), and three of Cyrus's siblings: Robert Edward (1841-1927), Arthur (1851-1939) and Mary Ann (aka Crazy Aunt Mary...) 1852-1926. It is possible the Archibald Little found living in the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Waupaca County, WI, is also a sibling.
It has been interesting, not to mention, challenging, untangling family legend and lore from facts. In particular Elizabeth Little Goldrick remains a personal favorite and while she and George never had children they were close to my grandmother and her sister, Florence Elizabeth, where the girls were often overnight guests. Elizabeth deserves more than just a few lines and so I will save her story for a future post.
Expanding my research to include local histories and migration patterns has led me to the theory that my Irish roots may have originated from Scotland. Could this be a clue? Just because you are born in Ireland does not necessarily make you "Irish"?
The Family of Cyrus Austin Little and Frances Dazie Facer
Cyrus Austin Little (1865-1933) and Frances Dazie Facer (1875-1948)
Mildred Eileen Little (1899-1968) Florence Elizabeth Little (1907-1998)