Ellen is my Maternal Grandmother's Paternal Grandmother (my 2nd Great Grandmother and number 29 on my Ahnentefel chart). Born in May 1876 in Knockninny, Fermanagh, Ireland to Andrew McCardle and Anne Sweeny. I have been able to identify that Ellen had 5 sisters and one brother from the birth and baptism records, although there may have been others that are still waiting to be found.
In May 1899, Ellen gave birth to her first child, John. If you were to look at John's birth certificate you would be forgiven for thinking that Ellen was married to John's father (also called John). However, the marriage did not occur until September 1899. The marriage certificate records that Ellen was a spinster and a servant while her husband John GRAHAM was a Soldier and a bachelor. Within a month Ellen would have to wave her husband farewell and send him off to ward in South Africa. I cannot imagine the fear she must have felt watching her husband go to war so far away with a five month old baby in her arms, not knowing if or when she would see him again. Her fear and dread would have increased when reports arrived by Christmas that the Battle of Colenso had claimed many lives, injured others and that John was among the missing. Fortunately he was located and returned home to recover from injuries in February 1900 then discharged at Christmas.
Ellen and her infant son were not recorded on the 1901 census, however her husband was recorded at home. I can only resume that she was travelling on census night and was missed. Before long the whole family was on the move and Ellen went from Army wife to Labourer's Wife. Between 1903 and 1905 - give or take about a year either way) Ellen and her family were living in Maryhill, an area of Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland; where the next two children were born. In Scotland, birth certificates record the marriage date of the parents although this is very useful, sadly the date is was recorded incorrectly of the birth certificates of Ellen's daughters.
The 1911 census records Ellen, her husband and 4 children in the townland of Corratrasna in Fermanagh, Ireland, and that their was a fifth child that had died. A year later, tragedy struck when John (the husband) fell from a bridge and drowned in the river below. Ellen would eventually remarry in 1920 to Patrick Fitzpatrick.
The Oral History
The oral history and memories that my Grandmother, Ellen's Granddaughter, has recounted to me are:
- The existence of an Uncle Patrick
My Grandmother has always been adamant that the Uncle Patrick that her mother use to write to in Ireland was her father's brother, making him Ellen's son. Until recently I was convinced that Patrick was her father's uncle (as Ellen's brother was Patrick) as I had been unable to locate a birth or baptism for a Patrick Graham with the mother's maiden name is McCardle or a variant of McCardle. Now I must admit that my Grandmother was correct and as I eat my slice of humble pie, I hear you ask how I found this. This is a story of another time but in a nut shell includes finding a death record that listed Patrick as a sibling to Ellen's children and a hut for a birth certificate that had a spelling error.
- Ellen died twice.
Yes, you did read that correctly. My Grandmother recalls being told that Ellen died twice. The story is that Ellen died and was laid out in her coffin on the dining table. Then on the day of the funeral, the family heard knocking and set about to investigate what was causing it. Imagine their shock and horror when they realised that the knocking was coming from inside the coffin. They quickly opened the coffin to find that Ellen was alive and well, although probably scared and shocked to wake up in a coffin. My Grandmother does not know when Ellen 'died' or even in this event occurred before or after her second marriage.
As I write this entry, I have to date failed to find a death certificate or either this false death or her later real death nor a newspaper report of the miracle of a dead woman being resurrected.