Eight lives for the men and nine for the women

I’ve talked about this before, but genealogy has the misfortune of often being male-focused. Blame it on our fascination with soldiers added to the unique privilege men enjoy of never having to change their last name. Take this blog, for example: I’ve almost exclusively talked about my male veteran ancestors (and not on purpose!).

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because March is National Women’s History Month and The Accidental Genealogist has some great prompts to encourage you to write about your female ancestors. March is also Irish American Heritage Month, so I’m thinking I might try to focus on my Irish American female ancestors, if I can help it. Obviously, I’m already a bit behind (what with it being March 8), but there’s no sense in not trying! I’ll probably pick and choose prompts, anyway.

On to the post!

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

I’m going to cheat a bit and combine this prompt with the March 3 prompt (Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors?), because the person applies to both:

Ann Connell

Meet Ann Cecilia Connell, my great great grandmother. This picture was taken for Ann’s Confirmation; the dress was most likely made by herself, as Ann was an “excellent dressmaker and sewer,” according to her granddaughter, Noreen. Indeed, she’s listed on several censuses as a seamstress, so the sentiment probably isn’t far off the mark.

Ann was born May 1, 1865 to John and Maria (Scully) Connell. Her parents were both Irish immigrants, but met and wed in New York City. Ann married my great great grandfather, James Nolan, in February of 1890 at St. Mary’s Church in lower Manhattan (which still exists today). The two had nine children, though three died very young.

St. Mary's Church

I’ve passed by it a few times while I’ve been in the city, but have never gone in. I really should someday.

James is an interesting character: an Irish immigrant who was in the ice business before becoming obsessed with cars, thus altering his career path for the rest of his life. That’s a story for another day, though.

Ann died on November 22, 1937, sixty years to the day before my youngest sister would be born. I don’t know much about Ann beyond the facts, but I’d like to someday.

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

My first name comes from County Kerry, the homeland of my paternal great grandfather. It’s unique – I haven’t run across another family member who shares it.

My middle name, Ann, however, is somewhat of a family heirloom. Several of my female cousins share the middle name Ann, as does my mother and all three of her sisters, and my great grandmother, Margaret (Ann Connell’s daughter). There might be more that I’m not aware of too. I’m not really sure why we all share this name, or why our ancestors saw fit to name so many of us after the first Ann. Why has no one ever had that as their first name? As always, so many questions and few answers.

So, there it is: Kerry for my ancestral county, Ann for my great great grandmother.

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