A lovely cousin, Anne, sent me a document few days ago, and little did I know when I opened it that I won’t be getting much sleep that night and will be re-reading and researching the unexpected contents of it till all hours!
She had found the last will of Richard McManus in 1907 – in Brooklyn! This is a great example why one should check all locations and not get stuck in assumptions. Richard had lived in Boston, and the family story was he followed his wife (c.1884) back to USA from Derry and died shortly after – so I searched Boston back and forth, death records, cemeteries – nothing! In hindsight – Richard’s sister Margaret (McManus) McDade lived in New York, so I should have checked there too… but I didn’t until I got the will!
Richard died in January 1907 in Brooklyn, age 63, and was buried in the Holly Cross cemetery in Brooklyn.
His probate documents (29 Apr 1907, full document available on ancestry) tell the unexpected story of the last 25 years of his life…
His probate lists the names and addresses of all people entitled to any portion of his estate – his wife Catherine and a child “Charles”, name being fictitious, as well as his three children John, Richard and Catherine living at 14 Fulton Street, Londonderry.
It also goes on explaining:
“… That your petitioner is unable to ascertain whether or not the said deceased left him surviving widow, although your petitioner has made diligent effort to do so.
That your petitioner is informed by Margaret McDade, a sister of deceased, and by Joseph B. Markey, one of the subscribing witnesses to said Will and Codicil and a close friend of deceased before his death,
that Catherine McManus, the wife of deceased, left him about twenty-five years ago while the said deceased was residing in Ireland, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, taking with her a son of said deceased;
that his said wife came to the United States of America, but the deceased had never learned of her whereabouts or those of said son, and has not seen her nor his said son since their separation from him as aforesaid.”
Richard didn’t know the whereabouts of his wife Catherine for 25 years, and the infant son she took with her must have been Patrick Aloyious McManus, born and baptised in Derry on 7th April 1883
(I’m wondering how would he be baptised and his father not know his name? Was it done in secret, or did Richard think Catherine may have changed his name? And why “Charles” – it is not a name that I’ve seen in the family lines before? And finally – the ship manifest for Catherine and her two children Jane and Patrick from Dec 1884 is probably the wrong one, Patrick indicated on his naturalization papers he arrived on 4th May 1883 – which seems more plausable now, he would have been a month old! I’m yet to find that ship manifest)
I will continue looking into this, and feel I may have to go back and re-write some of the previous stories… I still haven’t fully gotten my head around this new twist.