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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

The Californians Aug 20, 2009

I have had a busy last few months with a planned trip to California and then an unplanned trip to North Dakota. The purpose of our California trip was to attend our 40th high school reunion and a cruise with some of our high school friends. The trip to North Dakota was to attend the funeral of my uncle. On our way home from our high school reunion, we made a side trip to the San Jose, California area and went on a "geo-hunt" to find several of the landmarks that are significant in the history of the Frampton Irish. So the theme of this blog is the "Californians."

Settlement in Frampton Township started in 1816 and the Irish kept steadily arriving through the 1830s. There was some out migration by a few families that only stayed long enough to develop their farm and perhaps get out with a few dollars/pounds in their pockets. However, there would not be a significant out migration until around 1840, and that movement would influence many others to follow to California. But the first journey to California would be a somewhat "leap-frog" movement involving two other locations first.

The first out migration to be made from Frampton was to Upper Canada (Ontario) to an area around today’s Toronto. James Gugins and Jane Ann Kell had lived in Ste. Marie de Beauce from their marriage in 1819 to around 1830. Jane Ann Kell was the daughter of Frampton residents Thomas Kell and Ann Colpitts. Around 1830 they moved to a place called Tossoronto in Simcoe County in Upper Canada (Ontario). So as of that time, friends and relatives of Frampton settlers were now living in Ontario. This couple may have ultimately been the first in a chain migration to the area around Toronto.

The next significant out migration was in 1840. Margaret Murphy (daughter of Martin Murphy) was married to Thomas Kell, Jr. in 1828. One source says that Thomas Kell, Jr. and his family went to a place near Toronto and were there for two years. One of their children (Martin Kell) was reportedly born in Ontario in 1840. So it makes sense that the first place in Ontario that they went to was probably where his sister Jane Ann Kell lived with her husband James Gugins. Thomas Kell, Jr.’s youngest brother George Kell also made this journey and would ultimately make his home in Scott Township, Ontario. Another Frampton Irish family, Kieran Horan and Winnifred Daly also went to Ontario in about 1840 and settled in Albion Township of Peel County.

In 1841, Martin Murphy and his family left Frampton for an area in Ontario. It seems that their first stop must have been the area around Toronto where his daughter was residing. Traveling with the Martin Murphy group also were James Enright, Thomas Enright, Mary Enright, William Martin, Dennis Martin, Patrick Martin, James Miller, John Sullivan, Robert Sullivan, Mary Sullivan, and Michael Sullivan.

In 1836, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to make the "Platte Purchase." The "Platte Purchase" was land bought from the Sac and Fox Indians. The price paid was $2,500 in cash, an interpreter, a blacksmith and a grindstone. The lands purchased were in Missouri and bounded on the west by the Missouri River and on the north by the boundary with what would become Iowa. This added to Missouri an area the size of the State of Delaware and the land was known to be extraordinarily fertile. The Congress intended to open these lands to white settlers after the Indians had been removed. Apparently word spread to many parts of North America about the possibility of taking up such fertile lands at a reasonable cost. It was a "land rush" that predated the famous Oklahoma land rush by sixty years. Platte soon became the second most populous county in Missouri (second only to St. Louis). The area of the "Platte Purchase" includes the following counties: Atchinson, Nodaway, Holt, Andrew, Buchanan, and Platte. The major city of the area would become St. Joseph, Missouri.

Apparently word of the rich lands of the "Platte Purchase" reached all the way to Canada. Soon the Martin Murphy group would leave Ontario (probably in late 1841) and travel to Atchinson County, Missouri and found a community called "Irish Grove" near the town of Tarkio. There is some indication that the Martin Murphy, Jr. family and the Thomas Kell, Jr. family would not follow to Holt County until 1842. There is also indication that the Patrick Neville and Catherine Kelly family were also present as three of there children, Martin, Anna, and Michael were born in Tarkio, Missouri in 1841, 1842 and 1847, respectively. However, this family would return to Frampton.

By the time the Martin Murphy group arrived in "Platte" much of the land was already taken up and it sounds as if conditions were somewhat crowded. But the "Platte" area (especially St. Joseph) was becoming the gateway to the west with the start of the Oregon Trail. There was a great deal of information available about what might lie beyond the great plains. Martin Murphy and his group joined a wagon train in 1844 to ultimately go to California. His group would be the first to successfully take wagons over the Sierra Nevada mountains into California. Perhaps all of "Irish Grove" left in this wagon train except the Thomas Kell family and the Enrights.

To make a long story short, the Martin Murphy party arrived in California December 13, 1844. They somehow got word (maybe by pony express) to the Kells and Enrights about California. The Thomas Kell party with the Enrights in tow, left Missouri by a wagon train that was sixty wagons strong on May 11, 1846 and arrived at Martin Murphy, Jr’s. home on the Consumnes River (near Sacramento) on October 11, 1846.

The great California "gold rush" occurred in 1849 and California became a state in 1850. New routes to California would be developed for shipping around Cape Horn and a short cut across the Isthmus of Panama and then by ship up the Pacific coast to San Francisco. The Murphys would do well with the grants of land they received from the Mexican government that were later honored by the U.S. when California became a state. The produce and livestock from their "ranchos" would feed many miners in the gold fields. There "ranchos" were in the Santa Clara (San Jose) area of California. Dennis Martin would acquire a rather large land grant that included forests of redwood trees. He built a sawmill and would become prosperous providing lumber for building the houses in the growing city of San Francisco.

In 1849, Martin Murphy’s daughter Johannah Murphy Fitzgerald’s husband Patrick Fitzgerald died in Frampton. In 1851, Martin Murphy sent his son Bernard Murphy back to Frampton to bring his daughter Johannah and her child back to California. Bernard traveled by ship via the Isthmus of Panama. One can only imagine the glorious stories Bernard must have told the people of Frampton about their great adventure across a continent and all about the verdant and rich lands of California. He probably added that it never snows in San Jose. He may have mentioned that Dennis Martin had plenty of jobs for everyone too. Before departing for California, Bernard Murphy married Catherine O’Toole. So the "Fitzgerald party" left Frampton in 1851. The party included Johannah Murphy Fitzgerald and her eight children, Bernard Murphy and his new bride Catherine O’Toole, Catherine’ brothers Willam O’Toole and Lawrence O’Toole, John Franklin, James and John Fitzgerald (sons of Walter Fitzgerald and Bridget Whelan), and John Sinnott and Elizabeth Bulger and their children. But this time they did not travel by covered wagon. Rather they went by ship to the Isthmus of Panama and boarded the ship Oregon and they sailed up the Pacific coast, arriving in San Francisco on June 19, 1851. The Fitzgeralds and the O’Tooles settled on farms in Gilroy, California. The Sinnotts lived closer to their Murphy relatives in the San Jose area. John Franklin moved to the settlement that would become known as Searsville. He probably first worked for Dennis Martin at his saw mill.

Apparently a group left for California later that year. As Patrick Sullivan and Bridget Madigan and their family reportedly arrived in San Francisco on January 2, 1852. Also in this party were probably Bridget’s parents Daniel Madigan and his wife Ann Henley and their daughter Mary Madigan and their daughter Catherine Madigan and her husband Andrew Redmond and their family, Thomas Nash, Michael Walsh and Elizabeth Martin and their family, Patrick Duff, Mary Doyle Hennessy, Walter Fitzgerald and Bridget Whelan and their family, and Robert Kell and Rosanna Burton and their family. The Sullivans settled in San Jose Township. The Madigans settled in the Santa Clara area. Thomas Nash went to San Ramon, California. The Walshs went to the Searsville/Woodside area where they were near Elizabeth’s father William Martin and brother Dennis Martin. Patrick Duff and Mary Doyle Hennessy were married at St. Denis church (founded by Dennis Martin) in Searsville and they resided in that area. The Fitzgeralds joined their family members in Gilroy. Likewise, the Kells did the same in San Jose.

The out migration to California was not yet finished. James O’Connor (brother of my great great grandmother) and Mary Kell and their family left Frampton for California in 1853 and they went to Gilroy. Clement Murphy and Mary O’Toole and their family went to Gilroy in 1855. John, Eliza, Henry, and John O’Toole would all be in Gilroy by the 1860 U.S. Census. In 1856, John Mills went to Searsville, California where he and John Franklin bought some land from Dennis Martin. John R. Doyle also went to Searsville in 1856 and appeared in the 1860 U.S. census in the household of fellow Frampton Irish Maurice Doyle in San Mateo County. John Doyle returned to Frampton in 1862 where he would operate the store for many years, perhaps telling the tales of his adventures in California. Patrick Lawlor was in Searsville in the 1860 U.S. Census. Patrick Jordan was in the Santa Clara area by 1869 and was later joined by his brothers Moses and John Jordan. Nicholas Devereux was in the Santa Clara area by 1870. Michael Duff was in the San Mateo area by 1871 where he was partners with Murtha Doyle in a general merchandise store in Menlo Park.

So the Frampton Irish contributed greatly to the Irish population of the San Francisco bay area. There may have been other Frampton Irish in the area I have yet to identify. They would certainly make a mark on the history of the area. The Murphy family would be millionaires by the 1880s owning ranchos that stretched from the San Francisco bay south to San Luis Obispo. They were the benefactors of Santa Clara University. Several Murphy men served in elected offices at the local and state level. Unfortunately, Dennis Martin’s fortunes in California were not sustained. There were problems with the title to some of his lands that originated as Mexican grants. Around 1859, the court ruled that the 1,500 acres of land that held his mills, orchards, barns, and the St. Denis church were not his and the Supreme Court of California issued a writ of ejectment. Dennis Martin’s lands and the lands where the town of Searsville were situated where Stanford University stands today. In 1876, Leland Stanford began acquiring and blocking up about 8,000 acres and a reservoir would be constructed in 1891 that would inundate the town of Searsville.

So the San Mateo and Santa Clara County areas of California are rich in the history of the Frampton Irish. In our "geo-hunt" we found several monuments that commemorate this history. California State Historic Monument #338 is the Mission Santa Clara. It sits on the campus of Santa Clara University and was undoubtedly the site of many baptisms, weddings and burials of the Frampton Irish. The monument narrative is as follows:

Santa Clara, the first mission to honor a woman, Clare of Assisi, as its patron saint, was founded nearby on the Guadalupe River on January 12, 1777. It once had the largest Indian population of any California mission. Floods and earthquake led to successive relocations. Its fifth church was dedicated on this site in 1825. In 1851 Santa Clara College was established in the old mission buildings.

Finding the monument for St. Denis church and cemetery was not so easy. It was found along Sand Hill Rd. near a country club parking lot just north of the boundary of Stanford University. I might not have found it if not for a man parked along the parking lot who was looking up into the bushes. I looked at what he was looking at and there was the monument. The narrative is as follows:

One half mile south of this site stood the first church in San Mateo County dedicated in 1853 by Catholic Archbishop Joseph S. Alemany. He named it after St. Denis to honor the founder, Denis Martin, pioneer lumberman and farmer, who also established a cemetery nearby. Worshippers knelt here until the 1870s, when a church was erected in Menlo Park. This plaque was erected by Stanford University in cooperation with the San Mateo Historical Association and the Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park.

Not far from the St. Denis monument on the way to Woodside was California State Historic Monument #474, site of the former village of Searsville. The narrative is as follows:

Here stood the lumberman’s village of Searsville whose first settler, John Sears, came in 1854. Across the road westerly from this monument stood a hotel, the school, store, blacksmith shop and dwellings more to the southeast, some on the site of the present lake and others overlooking it. Buildings were removed in 1891, as water rose behind the new dam.

Unfortunately, there is no mention that much of Searsville’s early population were Irish people who came from Frampton, Quebec. In fact, Dennis Martin was residing in the area of Searsville as early as 1846, eight years before John Sears.

There are at least three California State Monuments that commemorate the Murphy family. A monument (#680, Murphy’s Ranch) is located near the site of Martin Murphy, Jr’s. first home along the Consumnes River near Stockton, California. Another monument (#275 Murphys) commemorates a small town that grew up around a store in the gold country that was owned by the Murphy brothers. The third monument (#644, Martin Murphy home and estate) is found in Sunnyvale, California (near San Jose). It is located in the Martin Murphy, Jr. Historic Park and the narrative is as follows:

Martin Murphy, Jr. arrived in California with his family in 1844 in the first wagon train to cross the Sierra Nevada. The founder of Sunnyvale, he constructed here his prefabricated lumber house, brought around the Horn in 1849. Members of the Murphy family lived here continuously until 1953, when the property was acquired by the City of Sunnyvale. The house was destroyed by fire in 1961. In Martin Murphy, Jr. historic park.

But perhaps the best monument to the legacy of the Murphys and the Frampton Irish that moved to California is the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum. The museum building’s facade is designed to replicate the look of the home that Martin Murphy, Jr. had built in 1849. It contains exhibits and artifacts of the Murphy family. It also tells the story of the history of Sunnyvale. We enjoyed a wonderful tour conducted for us by the association president. If you are interested in more information about this museum, see their website at Also I found out that a DVD production entitled Forgotten Journey, The Stephens, Townsend, Murphy Saga is available at That website has some informative inofrmation about the Murphy journey and the DVD is available through the site.

Notaire Records Jun 29, 2009

The theme of this blog is Quebec notaire records. Notaire records are my favorite source to use for research into the lives and times of the Frampton Irish. If you have ever sampled some of the local histories written in Quebec, you soon learn that they are all about the rich landlords, seigneurs, and significant citizens. The notaire records is where you can learn about the lives and times of the common people. When I am scanning through notaire records, I sometimes feel like I am in a "time machine" as I peruse the contracts, mortgages, receipts, testaments, and inventories. You can learn a lot about your ancestor’s lives by obtaining copies of their notaire records. In notaire records I have screened in the past, I discovered that my ancestor Andrew Murphy was the first settler in Frampton Township and this is a fact that is never mentioned in the local history books. I also found out that my ancestor James McLean’s neighbor Hugh McDonough was his cousin. Then, although the many church records I checked indicated that my ancestor James McLean could not write his name, I found a notaire record in which he did sign his name "James P. McLean." This meant that some successive ancestor of mine changed the spelling of the name to "McLane." I have even been able to use signatures found on notaire documents to compare them to persons of the same name in other locations to confirm that it was the same person.

I mentioned in my last blog that I was able to visit the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City in March. When I am "sampling" various notaire registers, I refer to it as a "fishing expedition." Finding notaire records of the Frampton Irish is much like going fishing for the skittish trout that live in the rivers and streams of Idaho. You have to cast your line in a few likely spots until you discover a place where the fish are biting. This is the methodology I have developed for notaire records research. I find a mention of the name of a certain notaire referenced in the register of another notaire, I record these names and when I visit the FHL, I sample one or two microfilms of that notaire’s register. If I find one or two Frampton Irish records there, I then know that there might be more. Then when I get home I start ordering all the microfilms for that register so that I can screen and index all the Frampton Irish entries that I find. After sampling two different notaire registers in March, I ordered the microfilms for them at my local Family History Center. Because I know there are some Frampton Irish documents in those, I am not as concerned about spending a lot of money ($5.75 per film) on microfilms that might not have anything on them. I made a goal for myself to at least index three notaire registers by the end of June. Unfortunately, I have so far only succeeded in doing two. But what is remarkable is that I was able to learn several significant things. I found the register in which Patrick Daly, of Quebec City, tavern keeper, landlord, and husband of Andrew Murphy’s sister Ellen rented and leased buildings and rooms to the newly arrived Irish and that the buildings he owned were on Pres de Ville Street in Quebec City. I found out that Thomas Murphy, husband of Andrew Murphy’s other sister Mary, was a tavern keeper in 1834 and had Irvine’s Wharf and several other buildings in Lower Town of Quebec City under lease. In an inventory document, I was able to link the David Barry family of Cranbourne to the other Barry families that lived in Frampton. I confirmed that Nicolas Murphy of Ste. Marguerite had a father named Thomas Murphy who was living in West Gillimbury Township, Ontario in 1840. I found several documents in which the farmers of Frampton and Cranbourne sold timber from their lands to a timber merchant named G.B. Hall of Quebec City. One document was G.B. Hall making a protest against the Armstrongs of Cranbourne for building a dam and a saw mill on a river and they were blocking Mr. Hall’s ability to have logs driven down the river to his mills. In another document, I confirmed that Alexander Craig was Frampton’s second mill operator, but he later filed a protest of his dissatisfaction with the mill agreement with the Desbarat family landowners. His departure from the mill property made way for the arrival of miller Dudley Colclough. Some other documents identified the arrival years of James Madden and John O’Toole. Another document provided all the names of the Kell children. I also discovered a significant pocket of Cranbourne records. There is just so much history to be had in the notaire records, that it often surprises me how few family history researchers are interested in obtaining copies of these documents. I have made finding many of these records fairly easy through my indexing project and publishing the indices. Then I am able to search the publication for a given surname and find all the documents for a given individual. I have published volumes I and II and I am working on a draft of volume III.

But finding and indexing wasn’t always that easy. Having a general understanding of the French notaire system and how it functioned in Quebec is required in order to find the records. All the research guidance indicates that you should start with the notaires that worked in the vicinity of where your ancestors lived. In the case of the Frampton vicinity this would be those that worked under the judicial district of Beauce. When I started in notaire research, I consulted the FHL catalog under "Dorchester County" where "all" the Beauce district notaires were listed. But there were a lot of them and hundreds of rolls of microfilm. So I thought that maybe the Irish would use a notaire with an Irish name, so the first register I ever indexed was that of John Walsh of Ste. Marie de Beauce. What I slowly began to learn is there appears to be "no rhyme nor reason" as to what register your ancestor’s records might be in. It seems that a person was able to choose whatever notaire they wanted without regard to what judicial district they worked and lived in. Further, even though one notaire may have been recorded as operating in a particular judicial district, it didn’t mean that they had only documents that pertained to that area. I soon discovered that there are existing indices for many of the notaire records. But these are not found on the same roll of microfilm as the register documents nor are they found in the FHL catalog under the judicial district location, they are rather found under the "Province of Quebec." The Archives of Quebec had placed all the actual registers on microfilm, but the indices are on microfiche. The indices are referred to as instruments de recherche. The microfiche are sorted alphabetically under the notaire’s name which means you already have to know the name of the notaire to perform a search. Further, very few notaires kept an alphabetical index of the names of their clients. Rather, they kept a chronological index of the document numbers with the names of the document parties listed on each line, meaning you must scan line by line looking for the names of your ancestors. I have found that using the indices "long distance" was cumbersome and caused unnecessary expense. Rather than paying first to borrow the microfiche index and then scanning through the pages, it was easier just to order the microfilms of the main register and scan page by page through them. Some of the notaires had made it somewhat easy by writing the document date and the names of the parties on the top or side margins. On registers where this wasn’t done, the date and the names could usually be found in the text on the first page. But the cautionary note is that most registers where kept for the most part, in French, and the handwriting can be difficult to interpret. This had remained my primary method of searching the notaire records for quite sometime. But then I began to encounter the names of certain notaires in the registers and I would check the FHL catalog under author’s name and couldn’t find those registers. I had become most interested in a notaire named Joseph Valentin Gagnon, as I learned that he was perhaps the only notaire to have ever lived in Frampton.

I learned in my last visit to Quebec that the register of Joseph Valentin Gagnon did indeed exist and it was at the Archives de Quebec in Quebec City. But unfortunately that archives does not participate in the inter-library loan system outside of Canada. So I decided that I would purchase the Gagnon register as it existed on only one roll of microfilm. I now have that microfilm and have throughly indexed it into my draft "volume III." The microfilms at the Archives de Quebec are available for purchase from the "Federation des familles-souches du Quebec." Along with the roll of microfilm I purchased the organization’s Catalogue 2006, microfilms et microfiches produits par les Archives nationales du Quebec. This publication has been invaluable to me in notaire research. I soon learned that there were many notaire registers that are not available through the FHL in Salt Lake City. It seems that the FHL purchased only a portion of the total collection. So now when I come across a notaire name that I wasn’t familiar with I can quickly look it up and determine which judicial district they worked under. I still use the FHL films as much as possible because at least I can rent those films at my local Family History Center which is right down the street from my home. But I thought I could save the names of the notaires that the FHL didn’t have for my next trip to Quebec, whenever that happens!

In the last six months, I have discovered something wonderful in the area of notaire record research. The Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec (Library and Archives of Quebec) had begun placing notaire indices and in some cases the actual register documents on their website at However, don’t expect a "magic" search engine where you can put in your ancestors names and view all the hits. The indices are merely images of the notaires actual handwritten index, so you still have to go page by page and line by line for the "chronological"(repertoire chronologique) indices. However, those that have "alphabetical" (index des noms) indices, you can look up a name and then find a document number and then go to the actual register to find the document. But, so far there are very few for which the images of the actual registers have been made available. But if you find something in an index, then if the microfilm of that register is available through the FHL it can be ordered at a local Family History Center and the document can be found. So now I am doing some of my "fishing expeditions" at my own computer. This website also has a wealth of other resources as well. One of the recent additions had been actual images of the Quebec Mercury newspaper found at This was one of the newspapers that served the Quebec City area during the 19th century that was published in the English language. If you are really interested in the everyday history of the Quebec City region, this newspaper makes interesting reading.

I am soon expecting a few more microfilms for the registers I sampled in Salt Lake City, so I plan to do a little more "fishing" for the history of the Frampton Irish. I am confident that there are many more notaire records of the Frampton Irish to be found. For example, I have found many original land documents in Frampton and St. Malachie, but there are still many more missing. Also, I have yet to find all the early Cranbourne records, so there are notaire registers out there waiting to be discovered. But the month of July will be a busy one for me. We are planning on a camping and a real fishing trip to the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho with our children and grandchildren and make chase for those skittish trout. We are also going to California to attend our 40th high school reunion. But I do have a side trip planned to the Martin Murphy Museum (Heritage Center) in Sunnyvale, California. The Martin Murphy family left Frampton in 1841 and went to California. It seems they have built a replica of the Murphy ranch house there and I am anxious to see it. I am now planning that my next blog (probably on our return in August) will be about the Frampton Irish families that went to California.

By the way, another development you might be interested in is the Irish Family History Foundation website at This organization is now working towards having one database that can be searched that accesses all the data that has been transcribed and indexed by the County Genealogy Centres in Ireland. However, not all the counties are on-line yet (for example County Wexford is not yet on-line). Also, it is a fee site (5 "euros" per record) and you must register to get past the "Free Index Access." You can also find out exactly what sources are available on-line and see a map of the Counties that shows which ones are on-line. I look forward to hearing from any of you that have tried it or do try it to find out where your Frampton Irish ancestors may have come from. I am going to wait until County Wexford comes on-line and then run a search on the families I paid for a search on with the County Wexford Genealogy Centre to test the consistency of the database.

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