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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Two Roads: Do McEntee and MacEntee Converge or Fork? Part 1

I have not had many substantial posts here for the past week or so due to some intensive research that I've been pursuing. And most genea-bloggers know what I mean: you don't sleep much, you postpone meals, even perhaps forgo that daily shower! It has been that kind of week.

This side trip on the journey I call Destination: Austin Family began about two weeks ago when a poster on the McEntee forum at Genealogy.com contacted me via e-mail. His last name is MacEntee as well and he has been trying to trace his family history to connect the MacEntees found in Ulster County, New York to the McEntees of the same location.

Why is this so important? For several reasons, the first being frequent confusion as to whether the name MacEntee is of Scots, Scots-Irish or Irish origin. Second, to either confirm or dispel long-held notions and oft-told family stories that the "a" was added to McEntee because one brother became Protestant while the other remained Catholic. Third, to do the same for another story that the "a" was added because an ancestor immigrated from Canada and in order to find a job in New York, wanted the name to appear as Scots and not Irish. And finally, to connect the MacEntees to the famed McEntee family of Kingston, New York and the surrounding Ulster County. This "two roads" journey will comprise several posts over the next few days.

Packing for the Journey

To me, much of the fun involved with travel is the "anticipation" not so much the preparedness. And just like flying these days (which I do roughly 25 times a year), you have to be prepared - if you've ever been through the TSA line at an airport, you know what I mean. I follow all the rules, even with liquids less than 3 ounces, in a 1 quart bag etc. less my essentials get confiscated. (Isn't it funny that TSA workers seem to have the best skin, nicest hair, and smell great? coincidence?)

But I knew that no matter how much I prepared for this trip down two separate roads, there would always be some detours, mishaps, and things for which I just couldn't possibly be prepared.

What's In A Name? LOTS!

One main item for my trip: the realization that almost no one will spell the last name the same way. I know this from growing up as do most MacEntees or McEntees. We often hear McEntire, McEntyre, McEntry, McIntee, McAntee, McGinty, McGinnity, etc. However, during my recent research I came up with spellings and just plain stupid transcriptions of names that didn't make sense: McEnt and McEnton! Much of the blame lies with the process used by Ancestry to index the census names. Over the past few days I have made way too many corrections or suggested alternate names. I know that this work is outsourced, and probably to India, but some days I not only laugh at the errors but I get downright frustrated as well. I'm all for globalization when it works especially if it helps lift impoverished countries out of poverty. But in the case of transcribing census data, I think you should use workers who are more in tune with the cultural background behind the names. I think I can better decipher the handwriting of Irish or English names than I could Dutch, or Polish or even Indian. Basically Ancestry is using their paying subscribers as "bug fixers" much the way Microsoft does for many of its so-called security updates. OK, I'll descend from the soap box.

I am also willing to put some of the blame on the actual census takers. I've seen many inconsistencies from census to census with the same person: born in New York and then ten years later born in Ireland; child is 11, then is 25; name is Elmira, then Almira. My favorite was "Gloanna McEntee" with the mistake even being duplicated in a written and published family history. I still haven't determined if the correct name is Gloriana, Georgana, Geoanna, Juliana, etc.

In fact, the reason for the "a" being added to McEntee, could have started with a census taker or some government official. But wouldn't the subject of such an addition, take umbrage and get the error corrected? Or is there some other reason for changing the last name?

My Theory - And I Hope I Can Prove It

So even if I am well-prepared, and think I have mapped out my route or routes, I need a purpose for this trip. Here it is:

The MacEntee branch with Edward McEntee (January 14, 1795 - February 14, 1875) is directly related to the McEntee branch with James S. McEntee (March 21, 1800 - June 30, 1887) with Edward and James S. being brothers. They share a common father Charles McEntee (no dates) and mother Mary ______ McEntee (Abt 1770 to Aft. 1860). There was also at least one other sibling Charles McEntee, Jr. (b. abt 1810).

Along the journey I also hope to prove the following:

- these McEntee/MacEntee branches are only related to the Philadelphia MacEntees and the Boston McEntees if one goes back to Ireland;

- the McEntees of Ulster County, New York are related to the McEntees of Perry, Wyoming County, New York; and

- the "a" in MacEntee was somehow added by Elmer A. MacEntee (November 27, 1881 - November 8, 1948) either by accident but more likely by choice.

Coming up: Part Two - The Famed McEntees of Kingston, Ulster County, New York

5 comments:

Laura said...

I'm really looking forward to learning more about your research...I agree totally about the Ancestry transcriptions, they can be terrible.

I have had a fair bit of trouble with my Dutchess County McCords, so really am interested in your approach and what you deduced etc.

It's wonderful to have a week of research fervor as you describe, isn't it? Only the rest of the household doesn't quite understand!

Randy Seaver said...

Good luck with your preparations and your trip - I think that you will enjoy the search and hopefully the results.

An observation about Mc and Mac names in the census - I have found that Ancestry often indexes them without the Mc or Mac - like Entee rather than MacEntee. Also sometimes they are indexed as M'Entee when the c in Mc has been raised above the line.

Of course, you could really prove the common Mc/MacEntee ancestry by doing a Y-DNA test on yourself and a male from the Mc line. But that might take the fun out of it, I guess.

Enjoy -- Randy

Elizabeth said...

I was going to say the exact, same thing as Randy: sounds like it's time for you to get that Y-DNA test!

My husband and father were both tested through FTDNA earlier this year. We're still sorting through the results, but it's certainly been interesting. I've even become a project coordinator for my surname since it's fairly rare and doesn't seem to fit with any of the established projects (figures).

You still need that good, old-fashioned paper trail, but I can say that these results have definitely opened my eyes to some possibilities we hadn't really considered.

Enjoy the ride!

Colleen said...

Randy!!!!!!!!!!! WHY didn't I think to check for HUGH for my McHUGH line? I know the history behind the Mc and Mac prefixes; one would thinkg it would have come to me long before now!

Thanks LOL.

And Thomas, your entry was very interesting. Good luck and keep posting; we'll be reading!

ConnorsGenealogy said...

Well, I wonder if any connection to the McEntees in Troy NY (Rensselaer Co). I find them first in 1850 in West Troy (Albany Co) and then over in Troy in subsequent years. Patrick and Bridget are the parents and in one of the state censuses is says she had 16 children but so far I have only found three, possible four: Mary Ann (my ggrandmother), Edward, Michael and maybe Rose.

Michael is the youngest born in Ireland ca 1848. My baby book says they come from 'Connaught' which is a providence on the West Coast of Ireland. The only McEntees I have found there are in Co. Mayo, however, the RC records are missing for the years I need.

I have not found any passenger records, and given the many bad spellings for this surname, it isn't much of a surprise.