How many ways can you spell McAuliffe?

I’ve had a heck of a time trying to find my McAuliffes, both in Ireland and in the US. One reason is that there must be a zillion ways to spell the name!

Let’s see: you can spell the name with an “e” at the end or without the “e.” Then there can be either one of two “f”s.  And one or two “l”s. Then it’s either “au” or just “a” or just “u” or perhaps “o” instead of either “a” or “u.”  Then it’s either a capital “A” or small “a” or how about a capital “C”. Then it’s either “Mc” or “Mac” or maybe “M’.” So we have McAuliffe, McAuliff, McAulife, McAulif, McAulliffe, McAulliff, McAullife, McAullif, McColliffe, McCulliff, etc. And this is just how they spell the name in Cork. In the northern counties of Ireland they have a surname that sounds the same but is spelled with variations of “ough” as in” McCullough.” Arrgh!

After years of searching I finally found my great great grandparents Patrick and Hanora McAuliffe in the 1860 US Census. They were living on a farm near Lewis, Essex County, New York. And their name was transcribed as “Malliff.” Sometime later I discovered their oldest son Cornelius working in an iron mill in Peru, New York. His name was listed as “Cornelius McColliff.”

Sometimes it’s not only the spellings of the names but also the use of dates that make me tear my hair out.  There are many McAuliffs and McAuliffes buried in the Immaculate Conception Church cemetery in Keeseville, New York and I think one of the tombstones is for my great great grandfather. But the tombstone says Patrick McAuliffe, Kilbrin, 1853. And Patrick was still alive in 1860. Could he really have died in 1863 and the stonecutter made a mistake?  Kilbrin is the next parish north of Castlemagner where Patrick and Hanora Sullivan were married in 1834. So he very well may have come from there.

I have also had a hard time pinning down exactly where my McAuliffes lived during the 15 years between their migration from Couny Cork during the heart of the Famine to their arrival in California in 1865.  The Ausable River marks the border between Clinton and Essex County. Some of my McAuliffes preferred the north side of the river. Some lived south. Some crossed  back and forth.  I found Patrick and Hanora’s eldest daughter Kate living with her husband Patrick Hughes in 1860 in the town of Black Brook, Clinton County.  My great grandmother Margaret McAuliffe Dwyer told her children that she lived in “Ausable Falls” when she was a child. But there is no town with that name. Maybe she meant Ausable Forks which is up the river from Keeseville and borders Black Brook. Or maybe she meant the town of Ausable which is on the Clinton County side of the river opposite Keeseville. She also could have lived a couple of miles down the river from  Keeseville in an area called Ausable Chasm. There are a couple of waterfalls there: One of them is named Alice Falls and the other Rainbow Falls. I haven’t been able to find Margaret or her sisters Anne and Bridget or their brother Richard on the 1860 Census. Patrick and Hanora were living on Patrick’s brothers’ farm in Lewis. But their four younger children must have been living with other relatives. Someday I’ll find them.

I believe both Patrick and Hanora died sometime between 1860 and 1865. Kate also lost both her husband and her baby during those years and then she also lost her mind. Margaret and her siblings decided that there was no good reason for staying in New York. Her sister Anne’s boyfriend had recently moved to San Francisco and Anne wanted to join him there. So Margaret and Ann and Cornelius hoped that a change in scenery would help their sister Kate and they said goodbye to the Adirondacks in April, 1865 and sailed to Panama, walked across the isthmus to another ship and sailed again to San Francisco.

By the time they arrived in California they had all decided to spell their name McAuliffe. Thank God!

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About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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