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   Welcome to the Frampton Irish Blog. I will try to provide a blog edition each month. Each edition will have a theme. I will try to include such items as updated information on my research activities, new things I am learning, interesting tidbits on Frampton Irish persons and families, and occasionally some research tips. If I present questions and issues to you, and you have answers or comments, I invite your feedback either on the guest book or if you prefer by email to me at

Fr. John O'Grady Feb 13, 2010

The theme of this blog is Catholic priest, the Reverend John O’Grady. I was inspired to learn more about Fr. John O’Grady because recently in my notary research in the register of Edward George Cannon, I came across his last will and testament and the inventory of his estate. You can learn a lot about a person when you see a detailed examination of the property in their possession at the time of death. Finding this document made me curious for more. A cursory on-line search revealed that a written biography for him did not seem to exist. Further, Fr. John O’Grady was very significant to the Frampton Irish community and several Irish communities in Quebec. In fact, he performed the marriage ceremony for my great great grandparents James McLean and Anastasia O’Connor in 1837. He performed many Frampton marriages in the 1830s in which he meticulously listed some of the Ireland place names that the early settlers came from. Although he was the second Irish priest to actually live in Frampton, he was the first to live there long term and he came from County Wexford and was a son of the Rebellion of 1798 like many of his parishioner. So here is my attempt at his biography.

He was born on December 27, 1803 at St. Martin in County Wexford, Ireland. St. Martin was in the town of Ballycullan in the civil parish of Tintern. His brother would later be identified as a resident of the Townland on Curraghmore, also in the parish of Tintern. His parents were Patrick O’Grady and Margaret Caulfield. His name has occasionally been found as Fr. John Caulfield O’Grady, perhaps due to his mother’s maiden name. He has at least three siblings. James O’Grady, Thomas O’Grady and Sarah O’Grady. While the parish of Tintern was located at a distance from the homeland of many of the Frampton Irish near Oulart, it was no less affected by the events of the Rebellion of 1798 and its aftermath. The O’Gradys could quite possibly have relatives among the families that lived near Oulart.

Fr. John O’Grady was ordained a priest in Quebec on June 17, 1832 after study at Ste. Anne de la Pocatiere. Fr. Gagnon’s "History of Frampton" stated that he had received a French education so it is reasonable to assume that he was in Quebec as early as 1828. This year would be consistent with when the majority of the Wexford Irish came to Quebec.

Four months after his ordination he was assigned to the recently created mission parish of St. Edouard de Frampton, so this was most likely his first assignment. He was appointed cure and missionary of St. Edouard de Frampton on October 26, 1832 and he arrived in Frampton on October 30. When Fr. O’Grady arrived in Frampton, life there was very primitive and difficult. After he had been there for 10 months, he wrote to the Bishop describing some of the conditions he was confrnted with. He told the bishop that he was responsible for the townships of Frrampton, Cranbourne, Standon and part of Buckland. Hr also served the Irish families in Ste. Marguerite. He stated that most of the houses are very remote and in the middle of the thick woods. He remarked on how difficult it was to travel throughout his mission due to the bad state of the roads. He stated: "An entire trip in part takes around six hours and it takes about ten hours when it is sufficiently difficult to make 18 or 20 miles." He described a situation in which the parishioners must pay an annual subscription of 5, 10 or 15 shillings per family so that Fr. O’Grady might have a salary of about 112 livres (pounds). He told the Bishop that the parishioner were poor and in most cases unable to pay. However, he had received flour, meat, butter, potatoes and some money valued at about 25 livres. He stated that he had to go in debt just to get a bed, table and kitchen articles. In terms of his quarters, he described the presbytery as an "old shed" and that there were cracks and holes in the wall where daylight can be seen and the roof was so bad that rain and snow gathered in the loft. He also had to share this building with the Frampton school. So his first assignment was somewhat a life of poverty.

Two months later, in an attempt to assist Fr. O’Grady in his financial needs, Captain of the Militia, Andrew Murphy wrote a note to Antoine Charles Taschereau in Ste. Marie. The note stated: "I would thank you if you would let the bearer know when will be a Court at St. Marie or whether I will be able to try small causes as our people don’t pay, the Cure Mr. Grady his salary, as I am bound to the Lord Bishop to see the Priest paid his yearly salary."

Fr. O’Grady’s first entry in the Frampton parish register was a on November 13, 1832. It was the baptism of Martin Horan, son of Edward Horan and Bridget Deegan. He would baptize, bury, and marry many of the early settlers of Frampton. On May 13, 1839, his brother James O’Grady was married to Ann Lawlor. The marriage was performed by Fr. Grenier, cure of Ste. Claire and witnessed by Andrew Murphy, Captain of the Militia and several others. James O’Grady’s farm was known to be in lot 22 of range 1 of Frampton Township. Fr. John O’Grady must have earlier filed a petition for a grant of that land because on December 1, 1857 he received a grant from the Crown for 327 acres in that lot. He apparently allowed his brother James O’Grady to establish there and cultivate the land.

Fr. O’Grady served the people of Frampton for about eight years until September 1840. He was then reassigned to be the cure for the parish of Perce from 1840 to 1842. He then moved to serve Drummondville from 1842 to 1846 and then to Ste. Catherine from 1846 to 1851. While at Ste. Catherine’s he became aware of the blight of the Irish emigrants who were isolated at Grosse Ile. Around 1847, Irish born priest Rev. Bernard McGauran lead a team of chaplains to Grosse Ile. Among the priest that served at Grosse Ile were John Caulfield O’Grady, James McDivitt, Hugh McGuirk, James McDonnell, Michael O’Reilly, Michael Kerrigan, James Nelligan, Edward Horan, William Dunn, Hubert Robson, Michael Power and Taschereau. Fr. Taschereau would later become Canada’s first Cardinal. Two of these priests (Robson & Dunn) also served as cures at Frampton. The priests ministered to the sick and dying Irish at Grosse Ile. They also assisted in placing many orphaned children with some of the parishioners they had contact with in their parishes. A few of these children were placed with Frampton families,

Fr. John O’Grady became the cure at St. Sylvestre in 1851. St. Sylvester was an "Irish" parish and Fr. O’Grady replaced fellow Irishman Fr. James Nelligan. There was some degree of unrest in St. Sylvester. The French Canadians resented the control that the Irish seemed to have in running the parish. There was also some conflicts between the Catholic and Protestant communities. D. Aidan McQuillan in his Beaurivage: The Development of an Irish Ethnic Identity in Rural Quebec: 1820-1860 states: "Fr. O’Grady, did not have his predecessor’s diplomatic skills and his leadership in the parish was ineffective." The "Corrigan affair" erupted during Fr. O’Grady’s tenure there. Protestant Hugh Corrigan was rather outspoken in his anti-Catholic rhetoric. He was a judge at a local agricultural fair and gave low grades to the livestock owned by a Catholic farmer. A physical altercation took place in which Corrigan’s skull was cracked. He accused some Catholics as his attackers. The accused went into hiding. The local Orangemen assisted the local officers of the law in conducting raids on many of the Catholic homes. The accused finally gave themselves up, but changes in testimony resulted in a mistrial and they were acquitted. Then in 1858, an election was held in which the Irish Catholic community may have been involved in "poll rigging" to support their preferred candidate for a legislative seat. Fr. O’Grady may have been implicit in this fraud and he was "secretly" removed and reassigned.

Fr. O’Grady was then appointed as the cure for the neighboring parish of St. Gilles which also had some Irish parishioners. He would serve there for one year before being reassigned to Ste. Catherine de Fossambault where he would serve until his death. Fr. John O’Grady is found in the 1861 Canada census in Portneuf (near Quebec City), and his household included his cousin Bridget Welsh. He purchased an "emplacement" of land with buildings situated in the Parish of Ste. Foye from Joseph Berthiaume on October 18, 1870 before Notaire H. Bolduc. It is assumed that this was his place of residence. In the 1871 Canada census, he is found in the Portneuf and his household included Bridget (Welsh) Dunphy and a Margaret Driscoll (age 16).

Fr. John O’Grady made a last will and testament on January 18, 1872 before Notaire Edward George Cannon. However, on January 20, 1872 he made a new will and testament before the same notaire. In that document testament he appointed the Rev. Bernard McGauran as his executor and his housekeeper and cousin Bridget Welsh as his universal legatee. In his will he bequeathed to his brother Thomas O’Grady of the Parish of Tintern (Townland of Curraghmore), County Wexford, Ireland £ 800. He bequeathed to his sister Sarah O’Grady, widow of John Harrison, boot maker, of Philadelphia £ 200. He bequeathed to the children of his late brother James O’Grady and Ann Lawlor £ 100 each to Eliza O’Grady, John O’Grady, Margaret O’Grady, Bridget O’Grady, Andrew O’Grady, Ann O’Grady, James O’Grady and Mary O’Grady, all of Frampton. He bequeathed to his cousin and housekeeper Bridget Welsh, wife of Edward Dunphy, £ 500. He also made bequeaths to the following institutions in various amounts: St. Bridget Asylum, Propagation of the Faith, English speaking Catholics of Quebec City, Convent of the Good Shepherd, Fabrique of St. Catherine de Fossambault, Parish of St. Sylvester. College of St. Ann, the poor of St. Edouard de Frampton and the Seminary of Quebec.

John O’Grady died at Ste. Foy on February 8, 1872. A notice appeared in the Quebec Mercury that stated: "The funeral of the Rev. Father O’Grady will leave his late residence, near St. Foye Church, on Sunday at 10 a.m., and thence the corpse will be conveyed to St. Catherines when the funeral serviceand burial will take place. He was buried at Ste. Catherine de Jacques Cartier (also known as Fossambault and Portneuf) on February 12, 1872. Many of the cures of the surrounding parishes were present at the funeral.

An inventory of Fr. John O’Grady’s property was taken on February 27, 1872 before Notaire Edward George Cannon. His inventory indicated that he owned an "emplacement" with buildings in the Parish of Ste. Foye. His household goods were valued at $272.67; he had bank accounts worth $5,467.79; He had $2,000,00 in debentures; he had $157.62 in cash; He had $3,600.00 in bank stock; he had $3,000.00 in outstanding obligation debts; he had $230.00 in promissory note debts; he had $183.97 owed him by certain parishioners in St. Sylvester; he owed $946.25 in cents; and his estate was worth about $12,865.80. There were a great many Irish names among those listed that owed him money. He apparently was quite generous in making loans and didn’t pay much attention towards collecting the debts.

Among his possessions was a large collection of books. There were several bibles, catechism, and theology texts. But he also had sets of Encyclopedia and a seven volume set of the "History of Ireland." He had come a long ways since living in the "old shed" in Frampton in 1832.

I must acknowledge the following sources in compiling this biography: e-mail from Barry O’Grady; Fichier Origine, Federation quebecoise des societes de genealogie; Irish Priests in the Diocese of Quebec in the Nineteenth Century, Marianna O’Gallagher; Beaurivage: The Development of an Irish Ethnic Identity in Rural Quebec: 1820-1860, D. Aidan McQuillan; and the Register of Notaire Edward George Cannon.


Hay Bales Dec 16, 2009

The theme of this blog is "hay bales." I thought of this theme because of a recent episode of the "Amazing Race" that I saw. In that episode, the contestants were challenged by a large field filled with those "rolled-up" hay bales. There were hundreds of hay bales, but only a few that contained clues that would allow the contestants to continue on the race. Because I have recently been doing a great deal of research in the Quebec notaire records, I looked at all those hay bales and they seemed like hundreds of rolls of microfilms to me. The contestants began to unroll each hay bale looking for the clue. Some were lucky enough to find the clue with only having to unroll a few bales. But others spent hours unrolling one bale after another and not finding the clue. All they could do is pick the bales they wished to unroll by random. So it is with doing genealogy research in notaire and other records in Quebec. While many sources have come on-line with search functions. Others exist only as images on line with maybe some handwritten indices. Many others still only exist on hundreds of rolls of microfilm. So I am in the business of unrolling the hay bales of the history and genealogy of the Frampton Irish. Many times I unroll the bale without finding the clue. But other times I might find one or several clues. With each clue found, a little more of the mysteries of the Frampton Irish reveal themselves.

One of the objectives of my research is to tell the story of the "little people" of Frampton and vicinity. Many of the local histories tend to devote most of their written word to the seigneurs, proprietors and other significant people. So I have cast my net widely looking for all possible hay bales. When I started these blogs I had written about "Frampton’s most wanted." One of the things I was looking for was a copy of Patrick Ryan’s journal. In "Histoire de la Paroisse de Saint-Malachie" by Fr. Jules-Adrien Kirouac, there is the story of how the Edmond Ryan family left County Tipperary in April 1826. Kirouac goes on to say that Edmond’s eldest son Patrick Ryan kept a journal of all the details of their trip from Tipperary through Limerick to Quebec. One of my readers saw this request and actually found a library catalog entry for a manuscript by Patrick Ryan deposited in the National Library of Ireland. I began corresponding with the library and found out that they do not participate in inter-library loan outside of Ireland. So I decided to purchase a copy of the manuscript. After a few months of trying to obtain a set price for the copy and postage and then obtaining an international money order and waiting for the copy, it finally arrived last month. I had high hopes for this source because of Kirouac’s description. But once again I found out that Kirouac seemed to have provided some "over exaggeration" of what it contained. Kirouac had said that Patrick Ryan was an intelligent and well informed man. He also mentioned that he was fluent in the Irish language. The manuscript that I obtained did indeed appear to be written by the Patrick Ryan that Kirouac described. But it provided little details about the journey to Quebec. Most of it was written in Gaelic using unique Gaelic characters, so it was beyond my abilities to read. Most of the journal was a history of Ireland and the rest was instructions in the grammar of the Irish language. But it did mention that the Ryan family was from Drumclieve in the Parish of Templenoe in the Barony of Clanwilliam in the County of Tipperary. In Ryan’s manuscript, there is a letter to his "dear brothers" dated April 10, 1826 (the month and year of his departure from Ireland) in which he references "when we arrive in Quebec" and he states, ". . . for a person by himself in a strange country always attended with the greatest perplexity of mind." A margin note later in the manuscript mentions that he was in Quebec, Canada on August 15, 1827. So I unrolled this hay bale but it did not quite contain the clues I was hoping for.

The hay bales of Quebec church records has certainly become much easier with the on-line Drouin Collection on The search engine is fairly effective in helping to determine what hay bale to unroll. But sometimes the search engine does not work effectively because of a few different factors. Those factors are whether the "indexer" got the surname spelling correct, whether the priest who made the entry spelled the surnames correctly or entered the correct first names, and finally the fact that the Drouin Collection were actually the "duplicate" copy of the church records that were submitted by the church to the courts. This is why a researcher may be unrolling the Drouin Collection hay bale and not finding the clue. I found one recent example where a Quebec marriage record that I found in another index, failed to come up on a search in the Drouin Collection on I then went to the actually images for that parish in the year of the marriage and found the names of the parties in the handwritten index. When I went to find the page number given in the index, I discovered that the actual page was missing from the Drouin Collection. Then I went to the collection of on-line images and found the images for that church and went to the page number and found the marriage record. This is because the microfilms obtained by the Family History Library are the actual church registers, not the copies sent to the courts. This is just one example of several I have come across that point to the fact that the Drouin Collection is not a "complete" set of records. So just because you can’t find it in the Drouin Collection, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a record. You just have to unroll some more hay bales.

I have reported in previous blogs that the Archives of Quebec have now placed numerous notaire record images on-line. But this is definitely a field full of hay bales. I have been plugging along in my notaire research by "sampling" and following clues I find in previously screened notaire registers. Early in this project, these were fairly productive methods. But the general rule of Quebec notaire research has always been: "there is no rhyme nor reason to where your ancestors may have had their notaire documents recorded." Further, there is no centralized index or search engines. So recently, I though I would try to organize my project by making a list and determine which registers had alphabetical or chronological indices, which indices were on-line, which had actual documents on-line and which are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

The Archives of Quebec has listed 87 notaires on their website for the Court districts of Quebec City (71 notaires listed) and Beauce (16 notaires listed). It should be understood that this is not a complete list of all the notaires that practiced in those districts. The 2006 Archives de Quebec catalog indicates that they have records for 261 notaires with 220 of those in the Quebec City District and 41 of those in the Beauce District. So this is indeed a large field full of hay bales. The archives website listing represents only about 33% of their entire holdings for these two districts. I did not evaluate those notaires listed for the Montmagny district, but I have found a few Frampton Irish notaire records in registers in that district as well. But, having at least 33% of the notaires listed with some handwritten indices is so much better than a few years ago when you either had to get microfilm from the Family History Library or go to Quebec City to examine and screen the registers.

The archives list of notaires in the two districts has mostly images of the handwritten indices of these notaires. 70 of the listed notaires have both a chronological order index and a name index. 111 of the listed notaires have only a chronological order index. Some of the name indices have both surname and given name, some have only initials for given names and some list only the surname. Most of the chronological indices include the register number, the date of the act, the type of act, and the names of both parties. But this varies as well. 48 of the listed notaires have images of the actual notaire documents. With these I can find a possible Frampton Irish record in the index and then immediately consult the actual document to confirm it. With so many Irish names being the same, consulting the actual document for further details is about the only way to confirm it is the right record. But not all the listed notaires that have actual documents also have indices. In this situation the first page of each document must be viewed to see if it is a Frampton Irish record. For those listed notaires that have indices but no actual documents, the only way to confirm a Frampton Irish record is to consult the available microfilm. However, only 34 of the listed notaires have microfilms available at the Family History Library. For all the others, the microfilm collection at the Archives of Quebec would have to be consulted and they don’t participate in inter-library loan outside of Canada. (A great reason to take a trip to Quebec)

I have done all this analysis and listing in order to organize my work of screening these notaire registers. It is a lot of hay bales and I have unrolled many that have none or maybe only one or two Frampton Irish records in them. My hope in organizing the task is so I will have a guide to my research and I might select those hay bales most likely to contain clues. I wish that I had a math genius friend like the professor on the T.V. show "Numbers" who is always coming up with an algorithm to predict where the FBI can find the criminal. If I had such a friend, he could input my data into the algorithm and predict which of the numerous notaires is most likely to contain Frampton Irish records.

I have already indexed two volumes of Frampton Irish records and I am working on volume three. So I have uncovered a great deal of the history of the common Frampton Irish person. For some of the Irish in Frampton I have found a lot of records, but for others I have found very few. Yet, every Irish settler has at least a land entry document somewhere in the notaire registers. Many others would have had other land sales, wills, inventories, and mortgages. Yet I find that I still have a lot of missing pieces, so I know there are notaire registers with lots of Frampton Irish records that I have yet to discover.

Genealogy research is a lot like being in the show "Amazing Race." You sort of travel to different countries (at least in the records), examine different cultures, and you have to complete certain tasks to move on. The most difficult task is always the field full of hay bales. There is so much information to be had that some find it intimidating and just quite the search. For me, it is like I can’t get enough! I am always thinking that the very next hay bale will contain the clue I am looking for. So I will continue to plug away with the clues I find and key in on the notaires that lived and worked near the Frampton vicinity and the Irish neighborhoods of Quebec City. The story of the Frampton Irish will continue to "unroll."

A bit of good news! I recently paid for two more years for the domain name of, so I guess I am committed to keeping this website running into the immediate future.

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