Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Tale of Two Brothers

One of my favorite things about genealogy is encountering the unexpected. I was researching a family member interred at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when I discovered not one, but three FitzHenrys buried there. Who were the other two FitzHenrys honored at this sacred place? With respect for their service to our country, I began to piece together the tale of two brothers, Donald W. and Kenneth James FitzHenry. These sons of William and Agnes FitzHenry, were born in Hennepin County, Minnesota in 1925 and 1928 respectively. Their older sister, Irene, was born about 1924 and died in childbirth in 1942.

Donald and Kenneth earned their place at Ft. Snelling for their service in WWII. Both men served in the Air Corps and eventually earned the rank of sergeant. They enlisted on the same day, January 12, 1946. I can only imagine their mother’s worry. Both men survived the war and went on to marry and have children in the 1950s. Their children joined the 79 million babies that were born in the baby boom years in the United States between 1946-1964. I have more information about their living descendents, but will refrain from publishing details for privacy reasons.

Donald was laid to rest at Ft. Snelling in 1998 and his younger brother, Kenneth, in 1989. Information about their interments can be found here and here.

The FitzHenry Connection

Once I had the first few pieces of Donald and Kenneth’s family group, I wanted to answer the question: Were they descendants of Enoch?

Patrick J. and Mary Gillan FitzHenry, Donald and Kenneth’s grandparents, were waiting to be discovered. Patrick and Mary were both born in Canada in 1858 and 1871, respectively. According to census records, they immigrated to Minnesota in the 1870s. Their parents were born in Ireland. No connection appears to exist with Enoch since he was born almost 100 years before. Following is the information I have gathered thus far:

Patrick J. FitzHenry was born 1858 in Canada. He died in Minnesota 1916 and is buried at St. Michael’s cemetery in Montgomery, Minnesota.

Mary Gillan FitzHenry, the daughter of Michael and Mary Gillan, was born about 1871 in Canada. She died December 3, 1938, in Minnesota and is buried at St. Michael’s cemetery in Montgomery, Minnesota.

Patrick and Mary had at least five children. Census records indicate there may have been six, but one was not living. All of their children were born in Minnesota.

William FitzHenry, was born July 8, 1896, he died October 1974. William and his wife, Agnes, had three children: Irene, Donald and Kenneth.

George FitzHenry was born March 6, 1899, and died September 16, 1962. George and his wife, Beatrice, had three children.

John Joseph FitzHenry was born October 19, 1900 and died June 21, 1979. Marital status unknown.

Margaret FitzHenry is buried at St. Michael’s cemetery in Montgomery, Minnesota. Her birth and death dates up for debate. According to the Minnesota Cemetery Inscription Index, Margaret was born in 1866 and died in 1884. Using those dates, her mother would not have been born at the time of her birth. However, the inscription indicates that Patrick and Mary Gillan FitzHenry were her parents. Something is definitely amiss!

James FitzHenry was born June 25, 1905 and died April 9, 1970. Marital status unknown.

Exact dates for this family have been difficult to verify. I have seen several conflicting records. If any of our Canadian friends have more information, please stand up and be counted.

Thank you to Donald and Kenneth for their honorable service to our country and for the unexpected opportunity to research their family. Rest in peace.

*Photo credit: Contributor: G.B.O.

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