Finding Father Boland

Father Frank Boland. Legend or myth?

Growing up, my mother frequently implored me to follow the wisdom of Frank Boland and his tips on effective academic study habits. I, of course, did my part and nodded unconvincingly and ignored the said study habits.

But I always wondered about this Frank Boland person whose wisdom was being force fed to me. Somehow he was connected to my family, specifically my mother’s O’Neill-Foley relations. To my recollection, his connection was not explained to me and the few older relatives that I have spoken to about him were unable to provide details on my relationship to him.

It took some sleuthing but finally I have come to know my first cousin, twice removed Father Francis John ‘Frank’ Boland, CSB, Ph.D.

boland-frank-john-st-mikes-grad-photo-1938

Fr. Frank Boland – 1938 University of Toronto (St. Michael’s College) graduation photo

Francis John Boland was born 30 June 1916, the second son of John Boland and Alice Caroline Fitzgerald. The couple’s first son, whom they named John Lewis Boland, had been stillborn four years earlier. No doubt, the birth a healthy baby was a delight for John and Alice. They had married when both were in their mid-30s and finally with both of them in their early-40s, they were a family.

John Boland, a printer, had been born in Ireland and immigrated with his parents when he was in his early teens. Alice however had been born into an Irish Catholic family in Toronto, the youngest of nine children born to Lewis Fitzgerald and his wife Ellen Daley. One of Alice’s older sisters was Mary Jane Fitzgerald who had married John Foley and was the mother of my maternal grandmother Gertrude Ellen Foley. Finally, the family connection was making some sense. Even though my maternal grandmother was about eighteen years older than him, Frank Boland was her first cousin.

But why I wondered was Frank Boland presented to me as some sort of ‘study guru’?

While my mother knew that I seemed to have an easy aptitude for math and sciences, I really loved history. Although she never said so, she called on the name of Father Boland, our cousin, because he was an historian.

Frank Boland graduated from St. Michael’s College School (a Toronto high school under the direction of the Basilian order) and then in 1938 from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. Following university graduation, Frank entered St. Basil’s Seminary for theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood on 15 August 1942 as a Basilian.

In 1941, Frank received a specialist’s certificate in history from the Ontario College of Education. He was subsequently assigned to teach high school history in Houston, Texas, Calgary, Alberta and at his high school alma mater St. Mike’s in Toronto. In 1948, Frank received his Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Detroit before heading back home to St. Mike’s high school where the 1949 yearbook records that he was Head of the History department.

Eventually, Frank Boland presented a dissertation on the ‘Early Basilian Fathers in America 1850-1860’ and was granted a doctorate in history from the University of Ottawa. Frank then joined the faculty of Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario where he founded the renowned Seminar on Canadian American Relations in 1959. Father Frank Boland held the rank of professor from 1967, just around the time my mother began urging that I follow his study tips.

In 1969, Father Boland was on sabbatical, working on his next project, a monograph of former Governor-General for Canada, Lord Stanley, and conducting research in The Netherlands. On 6 April 1969, Father Frank Boland suffered a stroke and died in Utrecht, The Netherlands at the young age of 52. His body was returned to Windsor, Ontario where a funeral mass was held on the 12th of April at Assumption Roman Catholic Church followed by internment in Assumption Cemetery.

Following his death, the December 1969 edition of the Canadian Historical Review published an obituary about Father Boland that stated “Though his contributions were many and on several levels, he always remained what he fundamentally was, an excellent teacher” who “… had a talent for making history live.”

I can only hope that I got some of those family genes.

My Foley Cousin – A War Hero! (Part 1)

As I grew up, my mother would regale me with stories about her Irish roots, family members and ancestors. There were of course the O’Neill’s and Foley’s, the Fitzgerald’s and Boland’s. But never was there a mention that I can recall of the name Shaughnessy.

You can imagine my surprise then when, as a result of researching the siblings of my great grandfather John Foley, that I discovered John Foley’s younger sister Catherine Foley had married a man named William Shaughnessy and that William and Catherine had a son whom they named William D’Arcy Shaughnessy, my first cousin twice removed.

I was even more surprised when I learned through my research that William D’Arcy Shaughnessy had married Margaret Beatrice O’Leary and that both of them were buried in an out-of-place little cemetery only about a mile and half from my home.

St. Francis de Sales Cemetery is located on Notion Road in Pickering, Ontario, at the intersection of two streets that terminate at the cemetery. It is in what is now a primarily industrial, almost forgotten part of the city. The cemetery appears to have been established as part of St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church (now a municipal community centre) which is located across Duffins Creek, just a few hundred yards away.

I don’t know if William D’Arcy Shaughnessy was aware that his grandfather William Foley had been a founding member of St. Francis Church when the Foley family farmed in the area of what is now Ajax, Ontario. So I also don’t know why they chose to be interred at St. Francis; maybe William did know the connection or maybe it was because Margaret was born in Pickering, Ontario and the little cemetery represented for her the only Catholic cemetery in her hometown.

Several days ago, I paid a visit to the cemetery and found their grave marked by a very nice monument.

SHAUGHNESSY William DArcy Catherine and son gravestone St Francis Cemetery Ajax

Gravestone of William D’Arcy Shaughnessy, Senior and his wife Margaret Beatrice (O’Leary) Shaughnessy, St. Francis de Sales Cemetery, Pickering, Ontario (Photo by Ian Hadden, 2016)

Immediately on seeing the gravestone, I noted the name of their son “Tpr. [Trooper] D’Arcy” listed on the stone as being killed in Holland on 13 April 1945. That suggested only one thing to me, Trooper D’Arcy Shaughnessy, my second cousin once removed, died a war hero in World War 2. I was a bit incredulous as I had certainly never heard any stories about any family members having fought and given their lives in either of the 20th century World Wars.

The records uncovered to date however tell the heartbreaking story of this Shaughnessy family.

William D’Arcy Shaughnessy was born on 21 Dec 1883 in Barrie, Ontario, the son of William Shaughnessy and Catherine ‘Kate’ Foley. As you can see, the current Royal Family is not the first to lay claim to having a William and Kate and my family’s William and Kate added a bit to talk about given that they had been married only a month before the birth of their son.

Margaret Beatrice O’Leary on the other hand was born a little over four months prior to her future husband on 15 Aug 1883 in Pickering, Ontario, the daughter of Louis O’Leary and Catherine Cassidy.

The Shaughnessy family moved to Toronto by 1887 and William began working as a teamster, likely with or at least in association with his brother-in-law John Foley. While it is not yet known how William and Margaret met, it is known that William enlisted for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force going to battle in World War I. At the time of his enlistment in 1915, William listed his occupation as bookkeeper. William and Margaret were married in Toronto, Ontario on 12 Oct 1921.

Two and one half years later, on 13 May 1924, William and Margaret welcomed their first child, a son, into their family. This son was named William D’Arcy Shaughnessy, Junior after his father.

In the 1940s, the Shaughnessy family could be found living at 9 Bales Avenue in Lansing, Ontario, a small community in the vicinity of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue for those familiar with the city of Toronto (Lansing was eventually assumed by Willowdale, then North York, and finally as it is currently, the city of Toronto).

It was from this address that 19-year old D’Arcy headed out and enlisted in the Canadian Army. He had completed high school and had plans to go to university but those plans would have to wait until after he had served King and country. D’Arcy’s military service file records that he was five feet, seven inches tall and was a Roman Catholic office clerk who, as fate would have it, held two life insurance policies for a total amount of $3,000.

Given Names (or A Mini-Case Study Of Where I Got My ‘Ian Gerald’)

Given names, or if you prefer, first names. We all have them.

You know, the names that our parents ‘gave’ to us either at birth or some time shortly afterwards. These ‘given’ names appear on our birth records and are attached to us for life.

If you are like me, we want to know just how our parents chose our names. Were our names chosen by means of a heritage-based naming convention or as the result of a family tradition? Were we named after a celebrity or, as it might be today, were we named after compass directions?

My ‘given’ names are Ian Gerald.

My mother provided me many years ago with the explanation of how she and my father chose my names.

Ian was an easy choice. My father, a first generation Canadian, is incredibly proud of his Scottish ancestry so a Scottish name was preferred. Second, my father wanted a name that could not, in his estimation, be shortened or altered in the way for example James becomes Jim or Donald becomes Don. The name ‘Ian’ met his criteria. That is, until he noticed that my friends had shortened my name and began to call me “E.” Eventually, my father conceded to the shortened first name and joined my friends and other family members in calling me ‘E.’

My ‘middle’ or second name of Gerald was easily explained, but as you will see difficult to verify.

The easy part is that I was given the name Gerald in honour of my mother’s favourite uncle Gerald Foley, a brother of my mother’s mother Gertrude Ellen Foley. My mother thought the world of her Uncle Gerald and so naming her first child after him was an obvious decision. Just as easy as asking a favourite cousin, one of Uncle Gerald’s daughters, Mary Foley to be my godmother.

In the early days of researching my genealogy, locating the birth registrations of my maternal grandmother and her siblings, including Uncle Gerald, was one of my first goals.

Gertrude Ellen Foley was born on 16 April 1898 in Toronto, York County, Ontario, Canada according to her birth and baptismal records. Less than a year after her birth, on 9 April, 1899, her mother Mary Jane Fitzgerald died in Toronto leaving my great grandfather John Foley with an infant daughter and two young sons, known to me through often repeated family stories as Uncle Gerald and Uncle Clarence.

A search for the birth registrations of Gerald and Clarence provided a nil result. There was no Gerald Foley and no Clarence Foley born in Ontario in the 1890’s, nor the 1880’s for that matter.

I decided to search for all children born to Mary Jane Fitzgerald in Ontario in the 1890’s. As it turns out, there were in fact two sons born to Mary Jane Fitzgerald and her husband John Foley. Their birth registrations record that Lewis Fitzgerald Foley was born 17 February 1895; and, William Dorsey Foley was born 28 September 1896. A very puzzled expression on my face was the best I could muster.

FOLEY Gerald birth 1895

Birth registration for Lewis Fitzgerald ‘Gerald’ Foley, 1895

FOLEY William Dorsey  birth registration 1896

Birth registration for William Dorsey ‘Clarence’ Foley, 1896

The family story that I had heard was that my great grandfather John Foley was a brilliant, successful businessman. And the multitude of records about his life that I have found verify this to be true. However, John Foley was also illiterate, at least according to family story. He was a man who had been taught how to sign his name for business reasons but who was unable to read the documents he signed. Perhaps the baptismal records for these two boys would clear up the name dilemma. After all, their baptisms were events at which John’s wife, and the boy’s mother, Mary Jane Fitzgerald was present at and, there is no indication that Mary was unable to read and write.

Both of the boys were baptized at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Toronto. The records show that Lewis (spelled as Louis in the church register) Fitzgerald Foley was baptized on 3 March 1895. William Clarence Foley was baptized on 4 Oct 1896.

FOLEY Louis Fitzgerald baptismal record 1895

Lewis Fitzgerald ‘Gerald’ Foley, baptismal registration, St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, 1895

It was becoming clear that the family commonly referred to the boys by their ‘middle’ names. Lewis was called or referred to as Gerald and William was referred to as Clarence.

In the 1901 Census of Canada, Gerald was recorded as “Jerald,” the 5-year old son of a widowed John Foley. Clarence was recorded as “William C.” The 1911 Census of Canada records them as Gerald and Clarence. The 1921 Census of Canada makes things a bit interesting again by recording, in an apparent error, Gerald as Clarence in the John Foley household. Clarence by the time of the 1921 census was married and was living with his wife Elizabeth (Blunt) Foley and 3-year old daughter Margaret in another house on the same street.

When Uncle Gerald enlisted for service in World War I, he did so as Gerald Foley, giving his date of birth as 16 February 1895. He was described as a five foot, five-inch tall teamster with dark brown hair and blue eyes.

On 12 November 1917, Gerald Foley of 96 Pickering Street in Toronto served as best man to his brother Clarence when the latter married Elizabeth Blunt.

When he passed away on 6 February 1968, his obituary in the Toronto Star newspaper listed his name as Gerald Lewis Foley. Similarly, the burial record card from Mount Hope Cemetery in Toronto, the final resting place for most members of the Foley family, recorded his name as Gerald Lewis.

So, in the end, I am named after a man who was known as Gerald but whom, ironically, had the same first name as my father, Lewis. Uncle Gerald as it turns out was named after his maternal grandfather Lewis Fitzgerald.

I could have been named Ian Lewis Hadden or perhaps Ian Fitzgerald Hadden. But no, I proudly can say I was named after Uncle Gerald, and the records provide me with a slightly twisted tale to tell about the name.

The Last Christmas Card From J. Graham O’Neill

We all have memories and stories to share about our family members and ancestors.

Some of these, over time, get embellished and grow to mythical proportion.

For me, however, I didn’t really need embellishment nor mythology to view my grandfather John Graham O’Neill as legend.

My grandfather was known throughout his life as Graham. As a child, I knew the initial of his first name was ‘J.’ It was ever present as he signed things off ‘J. Graham O’Neill.’

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John Graham O’Neill a.k.a. J. Graham O’Neill

I wondered how awful a name that ‘J’ must have stood for that he would consider ‘Graham’ the better choice to be known by.

I called him ‘Granddad.’ He was my mother’s father and in my earliest years, he and my grandmother, his wife Gertrude Ellen Foley, lived just two doors away from my family home.

Granddad was born June 26, 1895 in Toronto, Ontario. He married my grandmother ‘Nanna’ in 1926. Together, they would have five children, four boys and one girl. The eldest and youngest sons, John William and Michael did not survive infancy, dying from hydrocephalus, the same condition that took the lives of my brothers a generation later. The only girl in the family was my mother.

I did a lot with Granddad. He and I shared a love of sports. So we frequently attended Toronto Maple Leaf baseball games (a ‘AAA’ International League team that operated prior to a major league franchised starting play in Toronto). I watched Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night in Granddad’s living room because my parents were not hockey fans so not interested in having the game on the television at our house. He would shout the scores of day games in progress as I played road hockey in front of his house with my friends.

Most of the time, I just listened to Granddad and the stories he told. He was a master storyteller, though sometimes he was dismissed as having too active an imagination. My subsequent research has provided evidence that everything he told me was true.

On December 3, 1979, my late wife Karen and I found out that we were going to be parents for the first time. Our excitement at the prospect of having a baby was palpable. When should we tell our families? How should we tell them? And, what names for the baby should we be considering?

I wanted to call Granddad and let him know that he was going to be a great grandfather. I had heard the names of my great grandfathers but they had all died many years before I was born. But my child was going to know his great grandfather.

Then, on December 10th, 1979, just a week later and 36 years ago today, I got a call from my mother. Granddad had died that morning. He died suddenly. The people my grandfather lived with heard his alarm clock come on, they heard the alarm clock being turned off, and then … silence.

I’m not ashamed to recount that I shed many tears that cold December day.

In the days that followed, we gathered for Granddad’s funeral; we laughed at how somehow appropriate it was that the hearse bearing his body got lost and left the funeral procession enroute from the church to the cemetery. Another great story he would love to tell.

HADDEN Ian last Christmas card from grandfath J Graham O'Neill

When I returned home from the funeral and checked the mail, there was his last message to me. “Best wishes for a Joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.”

Granddad’s Christmas card had arrived (a card I have kept safely stored ever since it’s arrival).

The following summer, Karen and I welcomed our son into our family, the great grandson that Granddad would never meet. His great grandson John Graham Hadden.

 

The Foley Brothers in WWI

Gerald and Clarence Foley, two brothers and my mother’s only uncles. They were the only sons of John Foley and Mary Jane Fitzgerald. My mother’s mother was their only sister.

Gerald, born in 1895, was the oldest by one and a half years. Gerald was also my mother’s favourite uncle and I am one of his namesakes (more on the names of the brothers in a future post).

My mother always loved to tell the story of her wedding day when she and my father stood, following the wedding, on the sidewalk in front of the church and were greeted by their many guests. My parents received congratulations and best wishes and then my mother spotted her two uncles sobbing, with tears running down their cheeks. The two brothers grabbed and hugged my father, blurting out “You poor bastard!”

In my journey to learn more about Gerald and Clarence, and frankly about my namesake Uncle Gerald, years ago I was able to obtain both of their World War I attestation, or enlistment, papers. Now, at long last, Library and Archives Canada has digitized and posted their full service files from that war.

Gerald was the first of the brothers to enlist for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Although he was living in Toronto, Ontario, Gerald chose to enlist in Niagara Falls, Ontario on August 8, 1915. He made the required oaths and passed his medical examination. He was noted as standing five feet, five inches in height, had blue eyes and dark brown hair. He became Private Gerald Foley in the 74th Battalion, ‘A’ Company.

FOLEY Gerald WWI oath with signature 1915

Gerald’s service file records that his conduct and character were “good” during his time in the army but on December 21st, 1915, after 134 days of service and training, Private Gerald Foley, regimental number 451984, was paid what was owing and honourably discharged in Toronto, Ontario from the army with the assessment that he was “not likely to become an efficient soldier.” No other details are offered in his 14-page service file. Gerald returned to the family home and working as a teamster with his father’s company.

Clarence on the hand had different circumstances. in 1917, at the age of 21-years, Clarence had married a young lady from his neighborhood named Elizabeth Blunt. Clarence and Elizabeth Foley then set up house one street away from both their respective parents. Like his older brother, Clarence also worked as a teamster in the family business.

After one year of marriage, Clarence was drafted into the army and reported for his enlistment in Toronto, Ontario on October 29, 1918.  Clarence went through the standard medical examination which found that he was five feet, six and one-quarter inches in height, weighed 127 pounds but was temporarily unfit for duty as he was suffering from, well, er, um, a venereal disease.

FOLEY Clarence WWI oath 1918

Timing being what it was, Private Clarence Foley, regimental number 619550 became a short lived soldier in the 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment. On December 22, 1918, Clarence was honourably discharged from the army because the war was over and the army was demobilizing. Clarence was home with his wife Elizabeth for Christmas.

I didn’t know Uncle Clarence as he passed away in October 1954, just months before I was born. I have some memories of Uncle Gerald, my namesake, but unfortunately the most vivid of those memories was attending his funeral with my mother in February 1968. At least, their WWI service files help fill in the broader picture of these important men in my family.

 

Sentimental Saturday – Happy Birthday, Mom!

I am sharing photos from my collection along with a brief explanation about when and where the photos were taken, if known.

Tomorrow, October 4th would have been my mother’s 85th birthday had not cancer interfered and cut her life off at the much younger age of 63.

Anna (Anne) Margaret (O’Neill) Hadden was on October 4, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan, United States. My mother’s parents, J. Graham O’Neill and Gertrude Ellen Foley with their first child Ed, had moved to Detroit from Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1929 as there was work available and waiting for my grandfather. My mother and her younger brother Bill as a result were both born in Detroit. The family moved back to Toronto in 1937 when my grandfather’s mother Margaret (Graham) O’Neill passed away.

My mother never did completely lose her ‘Michigan accent.’

Anne (O'Neill) Hadden with her granddaughter Lisa Hadden and her husband Lewis Hadden in 1991

Anne (O’Neill) Hadden with her granddaughter Lisa Hadden and her husband Lewis Hadden in 1991

The photo above was taken by Yours Truly following my daughter’s first communion. The photo was taken inside Holy Redeemer Church in Pickering, Ontario.

My mother never missed a milestone event in the lives of her grandchildren for whom, she once explained to me, she had the “God given right to spoil.”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sentimental Saturday (A Day Late) – Gertrude Ellen (Foley) O’Neill

I’m posting photos from my collection of family photographs on Saturdays with a brief explanation of what I know about each picture. Today’s ‘edition’ is a day late because yesterday I was travelling back home from Ireland.

Gertrude Ellen (Foley) O’Neill was my maternal grandmother and I admit that as her first grandchild, who also lived just two houses away from her, she worked hard to try to spoil me rotten! In this photo, likely taken around June 1955 by my father, ‘Nana” as I called her is holding a very young ‘yours truly.’  The photo was taken in front of my maternal O’Neill grandparents’ home at 185 Pickering Street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My grandmother was 57 years old at the time and seemed happy to be a grandmother!

Gertrude Ellen Foley O'Neill with Ian June 1955