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 The Line of Elizabeths: Lynch, Holden, Godsill & Pruett

This is what I've discovered thus far:

The first known Elizabeth of our family was our 3G grandmother, Elizabeth Lynch (referred to as EL from here on). Lynch was her married surname, taken before or after she arrived in the US; I have yet to discover her actual maiden name (McAnany is a strong possibility, or even McNally), or whether she married in Ireland and came to the US with a Lynch husband, or if they met and married in the US, where their children were born. But census records (both Federal and NY state) do tell us that she is our ancestor. This is what we know: 

She was born somewhere in Ireland about 1825 and emigrated to the US around 1850-55.  She bore 3 children, of whom 2 were still alive in 1900. Of those children, one, Elizabeth J Lynch, tracks through to our present day, and is known to be true family.  

What we are unable to ascertain is the true maiden name of EL, and the correct male Lynch to whom she is married, which would allow us to search further back to the correct County and Parish in Ireland!  

There were two possible Lynch families in NY that meet the above details. If we can discover the correct one, we can find our home in Ireland. Can you help find Elizabeth Lynch and her husband, John or ??  

These are the possible links: 

Possibility #1

According to census records between 1875-85, EL's husband is gone (presumed deceased, as it's doubtful that, as a Catholic, he would have just abandonned here. Some records indicate that, during the late 70's and 80's, she's living with her sons, named John and Edward, in Staten Island, NY 

If this is the correct EL, she could have had one more child before John disappeared: it would have to have been a daughter, our 2G grandmother, Elizabeth (J?) Lynch, who was born about 1855. While there is no record found of Elizabeth J Lynch's birth in connection to this EL with these 2 sons, the timing of this EL's life includes the possibility. 

Following the trail of these sons leads to several children being born with related given names, including James, Joseph, Frank and Elizabeth, possible nieces and nephews to EJL, and all living within relatively close proximity, within New York countyand Westchester county of the state of New York, US.

Possibility #2

According to 1855 NY censun, EL was living with an Irish-born John Lynch, and their 3 month old daughter, Aurella (or Orilla) Lynch. Later records include 2 other girls: Emma and Elizabeth, but John is gone. Aurella also disappears before 1880. Also in this 1855 census there are other household members listed as "in-laws" of her husband -- and it is here that we find a possible maiden name for EL, as the husband is considered the "head" of the household, so the "in-laws" would likely be EL's relatives (although it *is* possible they were in-laws to one of John's relatives, too). The in-laws are named Jane McAnany, age 22 and James McAnany, age 19.

  • married? siblings? Jane is older by about 4 years, so it's assumed these two are both siblings of EL.  Also in the household is another infant, listed as a niece to the "head"  of the household, with the same surname: Lynch. This 2 month old infant is named Jane --presumably named after Jane McAnany? but why, unless she *is* Jane's daughter...Could it be an error on the part of the census taker? Errors in spelling names is seen often, as are transcribing errors (ie, inverting an age of 28 as 82!). Or, could it be Jane's child, o,ut of wedlock, and taken in by EL and John Lynch? Later records indicate that "baby Jane Lynch" has gone to live with another family, presumably the birth mother's family, as the last name is different, but with a Lynch father listed.
  • possible supporting document:  New York bank records also note that a Catherine McAnany, b 1800 in Ireland, but living in New Brunswick, NJ (not far, really, from NYC) was saving money for "her son, Jas. McAnany" in 1860; she arrived in 1855, from the Co Monoghan, Ireland.  however, she left behind a husband named Owen Lynch back in Ireland; her maiden name is listed as Callan. If she is the correct parent to EL, Jane and James Lynch, it could be that James was in a poorhouse, or, as records later indicate (1860 census) living as a boarder in a house full of single persons, and other young couples. If she's the correct mother of our EL, then she arrived with her children in 1855, without her husband (reason unknown!).

  Later, Elizabeth J Lynch (referred to as EJL from here on) is born to John and EL, as is Emma Lynch, but shortly after John disappears from records (presumed dead). 

Either way, the family of EL proceeds thus: 

EJL met an Irish-born man, Patrick Holden (born abt 1847-55) who arrived in NY btwn 1872-75, and in 1875 they married and settled in White Plains, New York. 

EJL  bore a total of 10 children, but was to suffer the unbearable heartache of losing 5 of them by 1910. Considering the year of their marriage, and the known birth of the first child on records, she may have suffered her first loss of a child between 1875 and 1877; for now, the first known child on record, in an 1880 NY Census, was a son born about 1877-'78, named Edward. He was listed as being 3 years old in 1880, with a younger sister who was about 8 months old. Thereafter, he disappears from the records, and we can assume he died before his 5th birthday. The daughter, however, lived. 

She was our Great Grandmother, Elizabeth T Holden (or "Lizzie" as she is noted in a few subsequent records, but referred to as ETH from here on), born in 1880. After her, in order, came James E Holden (E-Edward?), born in January 1882; Joseph C (Cyril) Holden, born in January 1884 and; Frances, or Frank, Holden (no middle initial on record), born November 1886.

Four years pass, in which we can assume there was at least one, but possibly 2 more, births and losses. But then another Edward Holden is born in November 1890, followed by Loretta E Holden (the E is for an unknown middle name, but could be for Elizabeth or, as I suspect, Ellen) in February 1893. Whether one of the previous child losses occured between Joseph and Frances, or after Loretta, is unknown, but by now 4 children have died. Then, between the 1905 and 1910 NY censuses, Frank disappears from record and we can assume that he also died, before reaching 20 years of age.

Sometime between 1905 and 1908, our Great Grandmother, EH, meets and marries our Great Grandfather, James P Godsill. They have two daughters together, our GrAunt Eileen Patricia Godsill in 1909, and our Grandmother, Geraldine Elizabeth Godsill, born in 1912.

(With Geraldine, we see the last of the name Elizabeth given to any girls born in our family (although it is used as a confirmation name). It is possible that EL's sons, if they married, may have name a daughter Elizabeth, but this path has not been fully explored.) .....

According to the 1915 NY census, however, James Godsill is no longer found in any records and is presumed deceased, leaving behind two very young children and a young wife. Further, it is here that we also lose the record trail of Patrick Holden; so he, too is presumed to be deceased.

By 1915, Geradine and Eileen, their mother Elizabeth Holden Godsill are now living with their Uncle Joseph and grandmother Elizabeth Holden. Two doors down, their Uncle Edward is living with his wife, Marguerite E Garrett, and their cousin, Rita Lillian. On a side note, the brothers, Edward and Joseph, are working for the railroad; Joseph as signal maintenace and Edward as a station agent. Eileen grows up and marries ________Armstrong. Geraldine grows up and meets Clyde W Pruett. He is still married at the time, and a child born of that marriage is also named (coincidentally?) Geraldine. However, that marriage ends and the two marry and have 5 children together: Clyde James, Carol Lee, William, Patricia Eileen (after GrAunt Eilen) and Roger A. Little is known about Clyde other than that he had a brother, Ross Pruett. Ross had a wooden leg, due to either being caught as a bootlegger, or perhaps a military injury. Ross was married to a woman named Florence__________ and they lived and died in Barnstable, MA. Or, he married someone named Rose. 

Clyde W died around 1954. (But the Pruett family trail is for another time.) Family photos tell us a number of things, too. 

Sometime betwen 1910 and 1920, EL, or "Naunie" as described by Grandma Geraldine, was living at the home of a son (depending on above possible scenarios) or grandson (one of EJH's), at the ripe old age of 95 years old!

EJL lived for a while with her son Joseph, and helped her daughter ETH with the care of Geraldine and Eileen; she remarried later to George Stanley (dates?) and she lived long enough to attend the Catholic Confirmations of two of her grandsons, Billy and Roger (so, 1955-ish).

Here is what is lost in time, unless anyone can step in to assist in the searches!

  • Elizabeth Lynch's possible son's (EJH's brothers), John and Edward Lynch --where did they go, who did they marry, who were their offspring?
  • Did ETH's son Edward Holden have any other children (possible links found)?
  • Did James and Joseph Holden marry (no confirmed links), and if so, to whom, and did they have children?
  • What happened to Loretta?  She goes missing after 1915, when she's about 25 yrs old.  If she married, we have no record of it, and no married surname to follow. The nickname "Etta" was common for those named Loretta, but records containing that name lead nowhere (or, I should say, many lead to the midwest).
  • Our family knows that our grandmother, Geraldine, had a cousin, or step-sibling, named Anna (we knew her as Great Aunt Anna). Who were her parents? Was she a 1st cousin to Geraldine, or could she have come from one of the Lynch brothers' lines? Could she have been related to Clyde W Pruett?
  • But most importantly: Can anyone help discover the certain original Elizabeth's maiden name, so that she can be traced back to her actual arrival in the US, and her true origins in Ireland?      


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Saturday 30th Apr 2016, 04:40AM

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