Friday, January 4, 2013

Ancestor Stories

We have some colorful ancestors.  In County Cork they like to tell how the family estate was settled.  In 1601 the Cahalanes were among the cavalry who had come down from the one of the northern Counties with the army of O’Neill and O’Donnell to throw the English out.
The Irish and their Spanish allies attacked the English at Kinsale but were defeated.  The Cahalanes escaped to the west towards Skibbereen.  They were followed and harassed by some English cavalry.  Finally, after many hours, they grew annoyed with by this constant English nuisance.  They turned back towards the English at the brow of a hill about 40 miles from Kinsale and “with one stroke of his mighty sword” the Chief of the Cahalane Clan slew three, four, five (the number varies depending on who is telling the story) of the English and the rest fled.
The brow of the hill where this occurred was a place called Maulatrahane.  The Cahalane clan thought their victory was a good omen and they have lived there since.

Another unusually colorful ancestor is Henry Branch, my Great-great-grandfather.  Harry, as he was known, was the son of Irish immigrants.  They initially came to Canada but moved down to Horseheads, New York where, a few years later, in 1853, Harry was born.
Shortly after the Civil War Harry decided to run away from home to join the circus. And he did.  He worked as a trapeze acrobat for a few years until he fell and seriously injured himself in Greenville, Ohio. He was nursed back to health by the family of Joseph Townsand and then, to repay his debt, he worked for them as a servant.
He planned to eventually rejoin the circus when they returned to the area.  But he met a young Greenville girl named Synthia Walker.  They married and moved to Bradford, Ohio where they raised a family.  Harry worked as a baker in the Ogden House. He eventually started his own bakery.

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