Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Historical data, takedowns and fears of identity theft

Last Friday, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner  requested removal of historical data published on, an initiative of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the part of the Irish government that "oversees the conservation, preservation, protection and presentation of Ireland's heritage and cultural assets". The database was part of the Civil Records search, which began as way to make information available from the 1901 and 1911 censuses. According to articles in the Irish Times and the Guardian, the Data Commissioner intervened over concerns that the Civil Records search contained information on living persons.

There is no proven data showing a link between the availability of historical and genealogy information on government websites and identity theft. The comments of Data Commissioner Hawkes calling the data a "treasure trove for people of evil intent" and a "very shocking" example of a public service failure are alarmist and misleading.

On the AHG website, it characterized the census digitization project as "an extremely valuable part of Irish heritage, and a resource for genealogists, local historians and scholars." Given the large population of persons of Irish ancestry around the world, the data and other sets like it held by the National Archives of Ireland are also of interest to persons not living in Ireland. Genealogy data and research often leads to historical tourism, so there is a connection to the Irish economy from the availability of this information. 

Irish citizens should ask that their government representatives have a reasonable dialogue on the issues and separate rhetoric from the facts. There are practical controls that can be put into place, on the persons who are able to access the information, to the ranges of available data in the Civil Records search.

In May 2014, the Federation of Genealogical Societies Records Preservation and Access Committee launched a Genealogists Declaration of Rights. The issues raised in Ireland touch on similar concerns for a balancing of access to information and privacy. While the Declaration of Rights is aimed at the US, the statements could easily apply to other locations.

Disclaimer - these views are my own. I have Irish ancestors on at least two branches of my family tree, one left Ireland around 1805 and the other arrived in the US by at least 1860. I have not made use of the information and resources of, and until this story appeared in my newsfeed on Monday, I was not familiar with them. But I might want to make use of their services in the future, especially if AHG makes earlier historical data available. I am also not a specialist in Irish data protection law.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Irish Soldier

In May 1863, a young Irishman joined the 37th Infantry, Union Army in Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky. On his muster roll card he's listed as 26 years old, the same age he was listed as in the 1860 US Census in Barren County. Patrick Cain mustered into service on 17 September 1863 in Company A of the 37th Infantry.
Source:, 1860 US Census, Barren County, Kentucky
Cain was absent from service in November and December 1863, but was listed as present in January and February 1864. He remained in service until he was discharged on 29 December 1864.
A card from the Civil War and Later Veterans Index shows that Cain filed a pension application in June 1880, and that he died on 15 November 1913.

I put the death date into Findagrave and found a photo for his headstone, along with the name of his wife, Julia Cain, in Marion County, Kentucky. It looks like I will have to make another visit to the National Archives in DC to see Cain's pension file. This may be a stretch, but I wonder if this Cain is connected to my second-great-grandmother Mary Alice Cain Read and her brother Harl P. Cain.

Back to the 1860 US Census, Cain (age 26) is living in the household of Edmond and Honora Halloran, both of Ireland, and their children Ann and ten-month old Patrick. My guess is that Honora is the sister of Patrick, but I don't know if this is correct.

From looking in the Kentucky Marriage records, 1851-1900, Patrick Cain married Julia Lynch in Washington County, Kentucky on 16 June 1891. She had previously married Augustus Lynch in Marion County, Kentucky on 14 June 1874, her maiden name was Downey. Patrick and Julia appear in the 1900 and 1910 US Census in Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky.

The couple are buried in Saint Augustine Church Cemetery in Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky.
Source: Findagrave
I do not yet have other information on Patrick Cain and his potential connection to my Cain ancestors. I am hoping this possible lead helps break through the brick wall for Mary Alice and Harl.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Chico Hot Springs

At the end of our Montana vacation, we stopped for a swim at the historic Chico Hot Springs Resort. The hotel and original pool opened in 1900, although spring-fed pools in Chico date back to the 1890s. We bought day passes and it was well worth it to kick back in the hot pools for a few hours before continuing back to Bozeman for our next flight to Seattle.
Photo by A.R. Jones. Chico Hot Springs, Montana. 1 July 2014.
The often cited first reference to the hot springs is from the diary of miner John S. Hackney, who wrote on 16 January 1865 that he "went out to the hot springs and washed my dirty duds."The Chico Warm Springs Hotel operated from 1900 and became known as a health spa due to the theraputic mineral waters from the geothermal activity in the area.
The main pool is kept at about 96 degrees, while the smaller hot pool runs closer to 104. There is also a restaurant next to the pool featuring local brews, burgers and ice cream.