Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Gilfedder Re-connection

Having been raised as an only child is quite likely the reason that I am fascinated with tracing my ancestral history. My father had one sibling and knew he had some aunts and uncles, but didn't know much about most of them. My mother, on the other hand, had 4 siblings and 17 aunts and uncles. It is the siblings of her mother that have provided the most interesting challenge.

Unlike most Irish immigrants, my Gilfedder family's emigration to North America began in the late 1890s. This was the period in Irish history during which "Home Rule" was enacted - a period of internal conflict among the Irish people. Most of the Emerald Isle wanted the right of self-determination, while those in Ulster wanted to retain ties with England. Whether or not this had any impact upon the decision to emigrate, eight of the Gilfedder siblings decided to leave their homeland for the calm across the sea.

The first to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to the Americas was Katherine in 1889. She was followed in successive years by seven of her siblings: Mary (1899), Rose (1911), Thaddeus (1911), John Joseph (1912), Patrick (1915), Theresa (1915) and, lastly, Felix (1921.)

Thaddeus, the 11th child of Patrick and Jane (Maguire) Gilfedder, did not emigrate to the United States, like most of his siblings, but chose Canada as his destination. In 1867, Canada had become an independent nation - the "Dominion of Canada." By the time of Thaddeus' immigration, the country had expanded westward and seen the addition of Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta (and
Prince Edward Island) as provinces. The internal conflicts of the Red River Rebellion and the North-West Rebellion had been quelled and the Klondike Gold Rush had virtually ended. Unlike the atmosphere in his homeland, Canada was a peaceful place to live.

After landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the S.S. Hesperian in 1911, Thaddeus decided to settle in Montreal, Canada. There, he established a trucking company (Killfeather's Cartage), married and raised a family. Recently, I've reconnected with this Canadian branch of my Gilfedder family. I had been searching for source documentation on Ancestry and came across a reference to one of my grandmother's brothers (Thaddeus) in someone's family tree. Through Ancestry's site, I was able to email the owner of the family tree to see how we might be related. To my delight, I received a reply message!

The correspondence is still in the early stages, but has already provided valuable information about the family of Thaddeus Gilfedder and reconnected me to a family I have been seeking for many years.

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