Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ellen McSorley

In honor of Women’s History Month, I am posting a mini-biography about my 2nd-great-grandmother, Ellen McSorley.

Ellen was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, in about 1815. Nothing is known of her childhood years. She immigrated to the United States, and settled in Newark, New Jersey. Ellen was 18 years old at the time of her marriage to Timothy Bestick, an Irish immigrant from County Longford. They married at St. John’s Catholic Church in Newark on 7 January 1833.

The names of Ellen’s parents are unknown, but it is certain that Ellen did not leave all her family behind in Ireland. Several McSorleys are found in Newark records associated with Ellen. In particular, Susan McSorley was enumerated immediately after Timothy Bestick in the 1840 census. Susan was the head of a household of 6 persons. Other McSorleys are found in the records of St. John’s Church, including Rosanna McSorley who was the baptismal sponsor to Ellen’s son James.

In the 1850s and 1860s, Ellen cared for her three children and the boarders who lived with the Bestick family. She was also a business woman. Ellen is listed in several Newark city directories as a milliner. It appears that her career as a milliner enabled her to purchase real estate. On 14 June 1864, Ellen purchased property on Academy Street in Newark from Thomas Paulin and his wife for $2,100.00. The deed mentions that Ellen is the wife of Timothy Bestick, but he was not a party to the agreement.

Ellen was 59 years old at the time of her death due to old age on 4 September 1872. Her funeral was held at St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral, Newark. Ellen was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, East Orange, in a plot owned by James Cox, who is believed to be her nephew. It is noteworthy that Ellen was buried in the same cemetery, but not in the same plot as her husband and children. The reason for this remains a mystery.

In keeping with the month of March being National Women's History Month, the topic for the 68th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will once again be: A Tribute to Women. To find tributes to other women, look for this carnival on Jasia's Creative Gene blog.

Patrick Whelan Cemetery Record

Patrick Whelan, the brother of my ancestor Timothy, was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, IL, along with several members of his family. In fact, I count 26 names listed as buried in this 3 grave plot. Many of them were children and infants. I have seen other plot cards from Calvary with 10 or more people in a 3 grave plot. But I guess 26 was the limit. The staff typed "NO ROOM FOR FUTURE INTERMENTS" on the card in 2 places.

This plot was used by the family for over 100 years. The first burial was Mary Whelan on 11/30/1861. The last burial was Mary Whalen on 11/21/1964.

Other points of interest:
1. The surname Whelan is spelled 3 ways on this card: Whalan, Whalen, and Whelan.

2. Other surnames on the card are Martin, Landy, Reardon, and Maloney. The first 3 surnames include known in-laws of Patrick Whelan.

3. There are 6 Mary Whelans buried in this plot.

I'm looking forward to finding obituaries and/or death certificates for some of those buried here.