Monday, October 22, 2018

Cain history page 6 - a new start and new love

We get some interesting developments in Dennis's life from page 6 of the Cain history.

Dennis is now all on his own, but as he grew up on a farm, he has no marketable skills, and takes work at a saw mill. The history says he worked on the farm for six years, implying he came to live with the Darrahs as soon as possible after his parents died.

The history then talks about how the church was the center of social life, and that there was a revival of sorts in presenting Irish plays. Acting in these plays is apparently how Dennis met his wife, Catherine Mulhearn. It says he had a minor role in one of the plays, while Catherine had a leading role. Catherine was apparently very popular, and had a nice soprano voice and sang in the choir (guessing that it was a Catholic church choir). This little detail interested me greatly. If I could find some kind of searchable database of New Brunswick newspapers, I would search for corroboration of these play productions to see if there is any mention of Catherine, or perhaps even Dennis.

There is an interesting parallel between Dennis and Catherine's story, and that of his reported parents, John O'Kane and Mary O'Neill. John and Mary met while John was working or campaigning for some kind of civil rights group, and ended up marrying a schoolteacher who was held in high esteem. Dennis, a poor orphaned farm boy, fell for a popular, talented soprano. Both marriages seem to have been cases where the man married above his social standing. Makes me wonder how often that sort of thing actually happened.

It's also interesting that Dennis supposedly turned down a farm, and by extension a secure livelihood and family, and instead left his relatives to be a common laborer in the local saw mills. An event like that won't make it into the papers, so there's no real way to verify it. But I did have a somewhat similar experience earlier this year. While I was still working my way towards a full-time genealogy career, there was a point where it got pretty tough. One of the supervisors at the office where I worked suggested I could always go back to working full-time at the office. I realized then that I had a choice to make - I could pursue my dreams, and continue stepping out into the unknown, or I could fall back on my nice, cushy office job where I had steady work, good work with great people, but not where my heart wanted to be. I chose to keep stepping out into the dark, trusting that it would work out eventually. And it did! So if Dennis did step out on his own like that, not knowing how or if things would work out in the end, I'm glad he did. For one thing, he found a wife, which led to descendants like me getting a chance at life. But it also gives me a sense of pride in knowing that I followed in my ancestor's (hypothetical) footsteps.

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