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The Penders Brothers of Rutland County, Vermont: Was Patrick part of the Family?

Title: The Penders Brothers of Rutland County, Vermont: Was Patrick part of the Family?
Type of Material: Family History
Places: Co Clare; Vermont; New York
Dates: 1827 - 1918
Family Names: Penders; Pendergast; Healey; Hehir
Transcriber/Donator: Lisa E. Dougherty

In this paper, Lisa Dougherty examines the evidence she had collected about her great great grandfather, Patrick Penders in an attempt to determine if he was a native of County Clare. She outlines how she approached this specific genealogical problem, presenting evidence, findings and sources (given below in brackets) to support her theory.

Patrick Penders (1844-1898) was part of a family of 6 brothers who emigrated from County Clare, Ireland, to the United States in 1850s and 1860s.

Description of Research Problem
Researching ancestors from Ireland can be a challenging endeavor in the best of circumstances. Events in Ireland’s history make the presence of many basic records erratic at best, thousands emigrated to the United States before the advent of detailed passenger lists and naturalization records, and few relatives remain who might have a personal recollection of details of the ancestral home. In these cases, researchers must use more unconventional methods to trace ancestors, and the gathering of circumstantial evidence is often the result.
Patrick Penders (1844-1898) is one of the individuals for which the above scenario is true. After a search of basic sources yielded little in the way of concrete information about the place of Patrick’s origin, a thorough study of individuals in the same geographic area with the same (or a similar) surname was conducted.

Explanation of Hypothesis
The evidence collected as a result of the one-name study will show that Patrick Penders was a member of a family of 6 brothers, all bearing the surname, all with connections to Rutland County, Vermont. This data will further offer strong evidence showing Patrick’s place of birth in Ireland.

Discussion of Resources
A search of basic genealogic sources was undertaken in an effort to obtain facts about Patrick Penders life. The research indicated that Patrick was born in Ireland about 1844. (1870 census) He married Margaret Hehir in St. Bridget’s Church in West Rutland, Vermont on 11 February 1867 (church record, civil record). He lived with his wife and growing family in New Haven, Addison County Vermont in 1870, Mineville, Essex County, New York in 1875, 1880, and 1892 (census records). His wife Margaret died in the town of Moriah, New York in 1889 (death record). His occupations varied from laborer to marble quarry employee to mine worker (census records, family story). Patrick moved to Glens Falls, New York in the 1890s (obit) and lived there until his death on 18 February, 1898 (death record). He was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Moriah, New York (cemetery visit). His death certificate revealed his parents names were John Penders and Mary (no maiden name recorded) (death record). No naturalization record has ever been found that can be linked definitively to Patrick, although the 1870 census indicates he was a registered voter (1870 census).
Further research revealed there were 4 other men using the surname Penders who resided in the Rutland, Vermont area during the mid-nineteenth century who are connected either directly or indirectly to each other, and indirectly to Patrick. A fifth brother resided in Steubenville, Ohio and used the “Pender” spelling. The following tables provide information on their connections, with detailed explanation below.

Name Birth Marriage Death 1850 1860 1870 1880 1900 Naturalization Passenger List Occupation Children in birth order Baptism sponsor Misc.
Michael 1827 County Clare, source is naturalization record and census records Before June 1850, source is based on 1850 census data 26 Mar. 1900, Castleton, VT- source death record and obits, bur. St. Mary's Cem., Fair Haven, VT Brandon, Rutland, VT Rutland, Rutland, VT Castleton, Rutland, VT Cohoes, Albany, NY N/A (widow lived in Cohoes, Albany, NY) 13 Sep 1856, Rutland County Court, born 1827 County Clare, Ireland, resided in Brandon, VT Not found Quarryhand John, Bridget, Michael, Henry, Thomas, Margaret, Johanna, James 1876- Thomas' daughter Out of town guests mentioned in funeral notice- Thomas' sons from Cohoes, NY, Henry's family from Proctor, Vt, John's son from Bangor, PA
Henry 1832 County Clare, source is naturalization record and census records 20 April 1863, church marriage record, St. Peter's, Rutland, VT 29 Sep 1899, Proctor, VT- source death record, obit and cemetery record, bur. St. Dominic's Cem., Proctor, VT Not found Rutland, Rutland, VT (with Michael) Castleton, Rutland, VT Rutland, Rutland, VT N/A 25 Sep 1860, Rutland County Court, born 1832 County Clare, Ireland, resided in Brandon, VT, witness Michael Pendergrass Not found Quarryhand John, Thomas, Mary Ann, Honora, Henry, Katherine, Margaret, Bridget, Sarah, James 1874-Thomas's daughter Married Maggie Healey, sister of Thomas' wife Bridget. Widow Margaret's 1926 funeral was attended by children of Patrick, John and Thomas. Henry had been dead 27 years, Patrick 28 years.
John 1833, source is baptism records, Kildysert Parish, County Clare 5 Feb. 1866, church marriage record, St. Peter's, Rutland, VT 13 Oct. 1918, West Rutland, VT- source obit and cemetery record, bur. St. Bridget's Cem., West Rutland, VT. Not found Not found Middlebury, Addison, VT Rutland, Rutland, VT West Rutland, Rutland, VT Not found Not found Quarryman Martin, John, Patrick, Thomas, James, Henry, Michael, Ellen, Mary, Maggie, Bridget   Out of town guests mentioned in funeral notice- Patrick's daughter from Rutland, VT, Henry's children from Proctor, VT
Thomas 1837, source is baptism records, Kildysert Parish, County Clare 6 Jan. 1860, church marriage record, St. Bridget's, West Rutland, VT 19 Aug. 1915, Cohoes, NY- source death record, obit and cemetery record, bur. St. Agnes Cem., Cohoes, NY Not found Rutland, Rutland, VT Castleton, Rutland, VT Cohoes, Albany, NY Cohoes, Albany, NY 26 Sep 1860, Rutland County Court, born 1839 County Clare, Ireland, resided in Rutland, VT Not found Slate Quarry employee, factory worker, night watchman John, Maggie, Ann, Thomas, Bridget, Mary, Kate, Henry, James, Hannah, Hanora, Johanna, Michael, Dora, Mary 1871- Henry's son 1859- Michael's daughter Married Bridget Healey, sister of Henry's wife Maggie. Mentioned as survivors in obit- brothers John of Rutland, VT and James of Steubenville, OH (who had been dead for 10 years!)
James 1844, source is baptism record, Kildysert Parish, County Clare 1878/79, source is based on 1880 census data 24 Apt 1908, Steubenville, OH- source obit and cemetery record, bur. Mt. Calvary Cem., Steubenville, OH Still in Ireland Still in Ireland Not found Bradford, McKean, PA Steubenville, Jefferson, OH 22 Oct 1891, Jefferson County, OH Probate Court, gives date of emigration Sidon, arriving in NY 29 Jun 1864, accompanied by Pat Pender and Margaret Pender Tailor Kate, Owen, Francis, Mary, John, Annie, Robert   entioned in obit 2 surviving brothers, not named, "in the east.
Patrick 1845, source is census records 11 Feb. 1867, church marriage record, St. Bridget's, West Rutland, VT 18 Feb. 1898, Glens Falls, NY- source death record, obit and cemetery visit, bur. St. Patrick Cem., Moriah, NY Still in Ireland Still in Ireland New Haven, Addison, VT Moriah, Essex, NY N/A (wife pre-deceased him) Not found Sidon, arriving in NY 29 Jun 1864, accompanied by Pat Pender and Margaret Pender Marble quarry employee Mary, Maggie, John, Patrick, Ann, Jane, William, Catherine, Sarah, Lillian 1865- Michael's son Daughter Lillian's 1913 wedding in Rutland was attended by John's daughter and Henry's children.

Presentation of Findings

Ties to the same geographical area
Patrick was living in Rutland County, Vermont by 1865, when he sponsored a child of Michael’s baptism (baptism record). He married in West Rutland in 1867 (marriage record). By the mid-1860s, Michael, Henry, John and Thomas were already living within 15 miles of Rutland (census records). A story passed down from Patrick’s granddaughter indicates that Patrick came from Ireland to the Rutland area to visit cousins, on his way to a promised job at Witherbee Mines in nearby Essex County, New York (Dean and Gail email). By 1870, Patrick had moved his growing family north to New Haven in Addison County, Vermont, where John Penders was living nearby with his family in Middlebury (1870 census) , the only time he seems to have ventured out of Rutland County during his life. The 1875 New York State census finds Patrick in Essex County, NY, where he remained until sometime after 1892 (1875, 1880, 1892 census records). Also residing in the Essex County town of Moriah during that time were two of Michael’s eldest sons (1880 census), who later moved to Berkshire County, Massachusetts and married before moving on to areas further afield (Massachusetts vital records). Patrick moved with his younger children to Glens Falls, Warren County, New York, shortly before his death in 1898 (city directories). Many of his children retained ties to Vermont through their lives- an elder daughter lived in Rutland, playing host to several of her younger siblings before they married and moved on (1900 census). His eldest son John lived and married in Burlington, before abandoning his family and moving on to the wilds of northern New York (Vermont vital records).
Michael and Thomas both moved their families to Cohoes, New York in the 1870s (1875 NYS census). Michael’s descendants scattered throughout Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, while many of Thomas’ descendants remain in the area of Cohoes today.

Served as witnesses and sponsors for baptisms, marriages, naturalizations
As mentioned above, Patrick sponsored a baptism for a child of Michael’s in 1865 (baptism record), but the other brothers served as baptism sponsors and naturalization witnesses for each other over the years. They attended the same churches in Rutland County- St. Bridget, St. Peter, Our Lady of Seven Dolors. A naturalization record has never been found for Patrick, although the 1870 census does state that he was eligible to vote. Michael served as a witness for Henry’s naturalization in Rutland County court in 1860 (nat. record), and James’ 1892 naturalization from Jefferson County, Ohio provides information about his journey to New York aboard the Sidon that shows he was traveling with Patrick (nat. record).
Michael, Henry and Thomas’ naturalization records from Rutland County, Vermont, all indicate their place of origin as County Clare, Ireland, and give a year of birth consistent with census records. (nat. record).

Family members mentioned in newspaper articles
Although none of the newspaper articles found to date mention Patrick directly, several involving life events of either Penders brothers or their children refer to Patrick’s children. Indeed, the children of all the brothers regularly attended events like the weddings and funerals of family members over the years.

Michael’s 1900 funeral in Fair Haven, Vermont was attended by Thomas’ sons from Cohoes, Henry’s sons from Proctor, and John’s son from Bangor, Pennsylvania (Mike’s obit).
James’ 1908 obituary from Steubenville, Ohio, mentions two surviving brothers “back east”(James’ obit).

Lillian’s (Patrick’s youngest daughter) 1913 wedding in Rutland was attended by John’s daughter and Henry’s children (Lillian wedding notice).
Thomas’ 1915 obituary mentions his surviving brothers John in West Rutland and James in Steubenville, Ohio, who by this time had been dead for 7 years! Apparently news traveled slowly in those days! (Thomas’ obit)
John’s funeral in 1918 in West Rutland was attended by Henry’s children and Patrick’s daughter (John’s obit).

One of the most compelling pieces of circumstantial evidence to support Patrick’s inclusion in the family is the newspaper notice of the funeral of Henry Penders’ widow Margaret, appearing in the Rutland Herald on 5 October 1926. By this time, Henry had been dead for 27 years, and Patrick for 28. Among the attendees of the funeral mentioned were Patrick’s daughters Mary Woodward from Glens Falls, and Margaret Davis of Rutland. Also among the attendees were Thomas’ daughter and granddaughter of Cohoes, New York, and John’s daughter of Brattleboro, Vermont. This indicates a close relationship between the deceased men. I personally find it hard to believe that Patrick’s children would have traveled to Rutland to attend the funeral of a cousin’s wife, especially if that cousin had been dead for 27 years! The attendance at the funeral only makes sense if the deceased was a close relative- such as an aunt (Margaret’s obit).

Evidence of parents’ names
Evidence for the parents’ names of any of the brothers is sparse. No parent name information exists on any of the brothers’ marriage records, either church or civil. This information just simply was not recorded on registers this early, except in rare cases. Their death records also offer very little. The civil death records issued by the state of Vermont for Michael, Henry and John give no parents’ names (Vermont death records). Thomas’ New York State issued death record from 1915 gives his parents’ names as John and Margaret (Thomas’ DR- Cohoes, NY). Patrick’s 1898 New York State issued death record gives his parents’ names as John and Mary (Patrick’s DR- Glens Falls, NY). No death record has been found for James.

Common children’s names
The Irish are known to adhere to a well- known pattern when it comes to giving names to their children. The tradition of naming children according to a particular prescription was known to exist in some form with the majority of Irish families, and the Penders brothers are no exception. The pattern was basically that the first son was named for the paternal grandfather, second son for the maternal grandfather, third son for the father. Females followed the same general pattern, named after female relatives in the same order.
Among the Penders brothers, all had sons named John, with four families having an eldest son bearing the name. All six families had either a Mary or a Maggie, most having both. The family that lived further from the others- the family of James, had the most unusual names, and fewer in common with the other families.

Of course it can be argued that the Irish used such incredibly common names in general, that these similarities can be attributed to nothing more than cultural traditions, and may have nothing to do with family relationships.

Research done in Ireland
Two separate research projects were commissioned independently in Ireland by descendants to study the family; both had the same results. The first project was undertaken simply to document the family and was conducted by the Clare Heritage Center in 2002 (Clare Heritage Center report). The second was commissioned specifically to document, if possible, Patrick’s connection to the family and was undertaken by a private researcher, an expert in Clare genealogy, based at the National Library in Dublin, also in 2002. Both uncovered baptism records for Thady (1829), John (1833), Tom (1837), James (1844)- children of John Pendergast and Margaret Pendergast, who lived in Kildysart Parish, County Clare. Records did not commence for that particular parish until 1829, likely eliminating a record for Michael’s birth, or a marriage record for John and Margaret. Gaps and omissions in Clare records are estimated to be in the range of 30%, especially those around the era of the great famine, which goes a long way toward explaining the absence of baptism records for Michael, Henry, and Patrick. It was the conclusion of the genealogist hired to research Patrick that he was likely the son of John and Margaret Pendergast, and a member of this family (Senan Ensko research report).

Passenger list
The naturalization record for James Pender in Jefferson County, Ohio gives his date of emigration which is surprisingly accurate for having been recalled nearly 30 years after the fact (James’ nat. record). A search of the passenger lists reveals the Sidon, arriving in New York on 29 Jun 1864, and gives passengers James Pender, age 22, Pat Pender, age 20, and Margaret Pender, age 50 (passenger list entry). This suggests a family group emigrating together consisting of two brothers and their mother. James Pender does not again surface until the 1880 census , (1880 census) but Patrick, as has been shown, was living in Rutland County, Vermont in 1865 (baptism record). There is also evidence to suggest the older woman of the group, Margaret Pender, also lived in Rutland County. An elderly Margaret Penders died in Castleton, Vermont in 1876, the death record giving little identifying information (Vermont death record).

Miscellaneous information
Henry Penders married Margaret Healey, and Thomas Penders married Bridget Healey, who were sisters (marriage records). This fact is supported by information given in Bridget’s obituary, which names Margaret Penders of Proctor as a surviving sister (Bridget’s obit). There is also a strong family resemblance which is apparent in photographs of the two women. Therefore, a Penders/Penders connection in cases of Henry and Thomas’ relationship might actually be a Healey/Healey connection.
The occupations of many of the Penders brothers were associated with quarries and mining. The area around Western Vermont and specifically Rutland County was known for its slate and marble quarries. Conversely, areas of County Clare in Ireland are known as well for their quarries. Many stonecutters left the area in the mid-nineteenth century and were attracted to the similar industry in Vermont (‘Finnigans, Slaters and Stonepeggers: A History of the Irish in Vermont’ by Vincent Feeney, 2009).

Rebuttal of Contradictory Evidence
Although no evidence has been found that directly contradicts the above, there were found several individuals whose identity could not logically be explained within the context of the above family. Individuals with the same or similar surnames (Pender, Penders, Pendergast, Pendergrast, Pinder, etc) living in Vermont were examined for possible connections. Many could be ruled out because they had a place of origin other than County Clare, Ireland. However, three families had slim connections to the Penders brothers as follows:

Family of John Pender and Catherine Lacey- residents of Chittenden and Washington Counties, Vermont. This John was born in Ireland about 1843, but no more specific evidence has been found of his place of birth. Names of the children in the family loosely mirror those of the Penders brothers, including an eldest son named John (census records). A newspaper item from the St. Albans Messenger dated 10 August 1903 indicates that Thomas’ daughter Hannah Penders, of Cohoes, New York visited John’s daughter Mae Penders when she resided in Underhill, Vermont. Thomas’s son James Penders was also a priest at the fairly nearby Our Lady of Angels parish in Randolph, Vermont from 1903-1911 (Our Lady of Angels Parish Website).

Family of Patrick Pender and Mary Killian- residents of Washington County, Vermont. This Patrick was born in County Clare, Ireland, per his death record, around 1817 (Vermont death record). He had arrived in Vermont by the mid-1840s, and all his children were born in Vermont (census records). Children’s names are similar to those of the Penders brothers’ families, but there is no John.

Family of John Penders and Rose Comiskey- residents of Moriah, Essex County, New York. Rose Comiskey had extended family in the area of Essex County, and was likely born there (census records). John was born around 1847 in either Ireland or New York- 1875 New York State census and 1880 United States census give different birthplaces (1875 and 1880 census records). Information about him is extremely limited and confined nearly entirely to census records. John and his family resided in Essex County at the same time that Patrick and his family did. Their children were baptized in the same church, but they did not sponsor each other’s baptisms (baptism records). John was a blacksmith by trade. Names of children are loosely similar to those of Penders brothers’ families, including eldest son named John. John Penders abandoned his family in the late 1880s and no further information has been found about him. Rose and some of her children moved to Cohoes, New York shortly after, where she died in 1895 (Rose’s obit). Rose had a sister living in Cohoes, so a connection to the Penders family residing there cannot be inferred (probate notice).

The intertwining of both direct and circumstantial evidence regarding the Penders brothers suggests the possibility is strong that they were brothers who were born in County Clare, Ireland in the years immediately preceding and during the Great Famine. They were attracted by the economic opportunities available to them in Western Vermont, and eventually they emigrated, settling in close proximity to each other and becoming United States citizens. As more information becomes accessible and available, additional research will be done on the brothers to further strengthen the argument for their connections.

Lisa E. Dougherty, January 2012

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