CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyCorriganIrish

What’s in a Name?


My entry for the 13th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Here is what this carnival is about. Share with us the surnames in your Irish family tree, but don’t just stop there. Do a little research and tell us the origin of one or more of those surnames, the stories of how they might have changed over the years, or tales of how they’ve been mixed up and mispelled, etc.

The big Irish surname in my tree is CORRIGAN. The name starts at my paternal grandmother, who is always the family’s biggest Irish supporter. I can trace the surname back to Michael John CORRIGAN who immigrated from Killeeshil Parish, County Tyrone, Ireland to Ontario, Canada in the 1820s. The family lived there for many years before my great-great-grandfather, Thomas CORRIGAN, moved to Wisconsin with his family. The history of the CORRIGAN surname according to Wikipedia is:

The Corrigan (O’Corrigan, Carrigan, Corocan, Courigan, Currigan) surname is of Irish descent. Translated Corrigan means “Spear”. The name is believed to have originated from Coirdhecan of the Cineal Eoghain. It is also believed to be connected to the Maguire clan. The Corrigan surname was popular in the 17th century in County Fermanagh in Ireland. Today, the name is spread out across most counties in Ireland and some of the United States and Canada.

Via my genealogy research, I have met and talked to a lot of CORRIGAN researchers, a lot of whom descended from the same Michael John CORRIGAN family. I have yet to trace back into Ireland, besides County Tyrone as listed above.

There are also few famous individuals with the CORRIGAN surname such as the actor Ray “Crash” Corrigan and Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, who I posted about in the past.

I actually haven’t run into many misspellings of the name, other than the few listed in the Wikipedia entry above. Soundex usually handles most of the common spelling changes. The few other Irish surnames I have in my tree are MCCANN, THOMPSON, NUGENT, BOYLE and CRONIN, but none of these go as far or are researched as deep as CORRIGAN.

CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyFamily TreeFun

Carnival of Genealogy: Happy Dance


This Carnival of Genealogy has to do with “The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy. Almost everyone has experienced it. Tell us about the first time, or the last time, or the best time. What event, what document, what special find has caused you to stand up and cheer, to go crazy with joy? If you haven’t ever done the Happy Dance, tell us what you think it would take for you to do so.”

Let’s see. I had a few and, if my thought process works, you probably get more of them as you first start your genealogy research. But, they get much more exciting as your research goes on. I have only been researching for slightly under ten years now (so I’m a bit young in the process) but I’ve had a few of these pop up.

  • Funny thing, the most recent one happened just this weekend. I posted about it. To summarize, I pinpointed the exact division and battalion my great-grandfather was with in World War I. Previously, no one could find any information on his military record because they burned in a fire in 1973.
  • A few years ago when I found an alternate spelling to my great-grandmother’s maiden name. I also posted a bit about this at the time. I had always been stuck on her last name of “Van Price.” Turns out the last name can also be spelled “Van Parijs” in back in their native country of the Netherlands. This find opened me up to tons of new family members and vital records for the area.
  • I had a bit of neat find a few weeks ago (I know, two in one month. How do I handle it?) This one was more of a cool find. It also deals with my wife’s family line and not mine. It also relies on a bit of research to cement the sources and connections, but neat nonetheless. I connected her maternal line back to the Royal Family in England, which also connects to thousands of other famous individuals.

I know I’ve had more joyous moments and I hope I will have many more. This is one of the things that keeps me plugging away at some of these not-so-exciting documents day after day. All it takes is that one little piece of information to blow open a cavern of new information to dig through. And, boy, is that good feeling.

CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyFamily TreeThielke

Been Around Awhile

I assume my great-great grandmother (whom also wins the award for the longest name in my family tree) Augusta Johanna Wilhelmina LUEDTKE has seen many things in her life. She was born in Prussia in July 1863, right smack in the middle of the American Civil War. A war which would shape the country she would someday grow old in. She was also born just weeks before automobile maker Henry Ford.

She married my great-great grandfather Charles Carl LAST in 1883 in Wisconsin and had a total of 16 children. Sixteen! (as far as I know) I know it gets cold here in the winter, but they must’ve had some really cold ones in the late 1800s.

She lost her husband in 1926, yet she lived on for another 40 years and sadly passed away just shy of two weeks after her 100th birthday on July 14th.

Cedarburg (Wisconsin) News — Wed 26 June 1963

Mrs. LAST, 100 Years Young

There will be an “open house” for immediate friends and relatives of the family at Columbia Hall, on Thursday afternoon, July 4 from 2 to 5 for Mrs. Augusta LAST who will 100 years young on the 3rd of July. Given by her children, they will later meet from 7 to 9 in the evening at the home of Mr & Mrs Arthur THIELKE, 1320 – 13th ave., Grafton, where she is now making her home.

So far, she is the only centenarian in my family tree. I have yet to interview my grandmother and even my mother about her. I imagine, due to everything that she lived through, that she was probably a tough, old woman. I can respect that. One-hundred years is a very long time. Rest in Peace, Augusta.

CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyTips & Tricks

COG: Technology I Rely On

Technology is important to me. Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved technology. When I got into the genealogy game, computers and the Internet were already cemented in our lives, but genealogy was just starting to use it. I was lucky to start my genealogy research when the Internet was around. I am in awe of all of you who needed to do most of your research using things such as the Family History Libraries and postal mail. Like most things on the Internet, people sometimes jump to conclusions and believe everything they read, which can cause some research to be done incorrectly. I’ve always had technology in my research, and in my life, so this Carnival of Genealogy post was right up my alley. We were told to just pick one of each of the items below and to try not to talk about other things. So here mine goes.

The piece of hardware I rely on the most, besides my computer, is my digital camera. I use it mainly to take photos of headstones and other cemetery-related items. Sometimes I will also take photos of historic locations related to my research. Since it’s a digital camera, I don’t need to worry about how many photos I take (except I need to make sure not to fill my memory card.) Currently, I have a Sony and it’s all I really need for what I use it for. Seven megapixels is way more quality than I need. Though, I gotta say it’s nice for when you need to have a lot more detail, which works especially well on those hard-to-read, old headstones.

The software that I rely on most now is RootsMagic. I began using it about a year ago when I read some reviews and it looked worthwhile to try. I was previously using Family Tree Maker, but it seemed like it was getting bloated and more expensive. I don’t need a lot of fluff, just the basics done well. FTM had a lot of online add-ons and other things that usually just got in my way. RootsMagic, while different at first, became easier for me to use due to its basic design and functionality.

The website I rely on the most, in genealogy and everything else, is Google. From Google Search to Google Maps to Google Docs, it’s all extremely helpful. And now with Google’s Street View on their maps, I can even see the house that my ancestors possibly lived in. Milwaukee was recently completed and today sometimes checking out this houses in person in some of these neighborhoods isn’t the smartest idea. While the results aren’t all genealogy-related, sometimes I run across something I wasn’t expecting. This happened to me while searching for my Muhm ancestors a few months ago. I’m not sure what I’d do without it sometimes.

CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyCorriganFun

Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan

My grandmother, who’s maiden name is Corrigan, always used to tell us about some distant cousin that they called “Wrong Way” Corrigan. She talked about how he flew a plane from New York to Ireland. When I was young, I thought this was some made-up, grandma-style folk tale the old people liked to tell their grandchildren. It turns out that he is real and that he really did that. Now, is he related to us and our Corrigan surname? That is another question.

Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan was born in 1907 in Galveston, Texas as Clyde Groce Corrigan, after his father. He legally changed his name to Douglas as an adult.

In 1938, after a transcontinental flight from Long Beach, California, to New York, he flew from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, to Ireland, even though he was supposed to be returning to Long Beach. He claimed that his unauthorized flight was due to a navigational error, caused by heavy cloud cover that obscured landmarks and low-light conditions, causing him to misread his compass. Corrigan, however, was a skilled aircraft mechanic (he was one of the builders of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis) and a habitual risk-taking maverick; he had made several modifications to his own plane, preparing it for transatlantic flight. Between 1935 and 1937, he applied several times, unsuccessfully, for permission to make a nonstop flight from New York to Ireland, and it is likely that his “navigational error” was a protest against government “red tape”; however, he never publicly acknowledged having flown to Ireland intentionally. – Wikipedia

Wrong Way CorriganI decided to do what I could to find out if there is a connection somewhere down the Corrigan line, at least as far back as I could go. I started by finding Clyde G Corrigan in his first census report, the 1910 US Census. Fortunately, my first search brought up a Clyde G Carrigan (or Corrigan) living in San Patricio, Texas at three years old. His father’s name is also Clyde S Corrigan. We’re two for two. He also lives with his mother, Evelyn, and his younger brother, Harry. Clyde and Harry are also listed in the Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997.

Well, as I jump through the Corrigan line, fortunately made easier by less popular names like Clyde and not Michael, I find evidence that will not help my cause. I find Douglas’ grandfather, John Corrigan, living in California in 1900 with his son Clyde S. It says that John’s parents were both born in Ireland and that he was born in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, my Corrigan line came to North America in about 1820 and entered into the southern area of Ontario, Canada and stayed there a long time before dropping into Wisconsin. I don’t have much beyond that, so I won’t be able to connect his family with mine too quickly.

I did pinpoint two John Corrigans in Pennsylvania in the 1850 census and only one had parents that were born in Ireland. Hugh and Jane Corrigan living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I can find one Hugh Corrigan of that age that immigrated to New York from Ireland in 1841, but no other information to confirm this is him. It also doesn’t tell me which county in Ireland that Hugh came from. This would help me connect our families, since my Corrigan family came from County Tyrone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Hugh Corrigans listed in my tree that were born around 1805 in Ireland. I can only imagine that somewhere back in Ireland, Wrong Way’s family connects to mine. How far back? We’ll never really know, I guess.

This was a fun little escape from the normal genealogy grind. It’s amazing what you can find about almost anyone that was alive before 1930 with all the data available today on the Internet. You escaped me this time, “Wrong Way” Corrigan! One day. I will find you! (Please…for my grandmother.)