Saturday, March 10, 2012

Peter Francis Daley Sr. 1920 - 2004

Peter Francis Daley with the Duggan/Daley family
Peter is top row, second in from the left.
Directly below him, his daughter Elizabeth Duggan
I really should have called this blog Daley Family Mysteries or The Mysterious Daley Clan because the further I dig into this family’s story, the more I find that the Daleys were sometimes a family of secrets and puzzles.  However, I am hoping that through this resource, I might be able to clear up some of these enigmas that plague my genealogical research.

I really began researching my family history in the summer of 2004 when my grandfather, Peter Francis Daley, passed away at the age of 84. I realized after his death that I hardly knew the man at all. To say that my grandfather was a quiet guy is an enormous understatement.

While he was alive he did talk to my brother, cousins, and I about his time in the Coast guard during World War II, but he never really spoke about his childhood or early life. I realized I did not even know the names of his parents.

 After consulting my father for some information, I began researching (like many do) by using Family Tree Maker. I knew that my grandfather was born somewhere in Massachusetts June 11, 1920. I also knew that he had grown up in Dorchester, Ma. My father thought that his grandparents were named John J. Daley and perhaps Mary Ellen Tully, though he he had never really known either of them. I was also told that my grandfather was the youngest of a large family. His next oldest sibling was about 10 years older than he was.

Of course, I also had my grandmother’s name, Elizabeth Duggan, but I was more interested in my grandfather’s life prior to meeting my grandmother. Since the 1930 Federal Census was the latest census to be made public at the time, I figured I would easily find my grandfather, at the age of ten, living in Boston. Wow, was I wrong. This was the first mystery that I would encounter, one that continues to stand in the way of a larger understanding of the origins of the Daley Clan.

 I must have looked through the 1930 census hundreds of times, each time passing over my grandfather’s family because it did not match the information I knew. After looking once more with more of an open mind, I stopped on a small family in 1930 Dorchester, Ma. The parents, John and Ellen, seemed correct. Even the siblings, Frank and Helen, were names I had heard. However, the name, listed as Peter Statuto, was not one I had ever heard. Nor was his status, listed as Ward of the State, one that fit into what I had known about Peter Daley Sr. However, the birth year was more or less correct. This was my grandfather and this was his family.
1930 Census, showing my grandfather at the age of 9 or ten.
Was my grandfather adopted? Were we even Daleys? Was I . . .Italian? Having grown up in what we considered an Irish Catholic family, this information was somewhat shocking. Having called my father, he confirmed my suspicion that my grandfather may have been adopted. However, he did not have much more information.

My grandmother, who was alive at the time, would not confirm any of the information I had found, nor answer the questions I now had. Though later, she would confirm more details about my grandfather’s life, her refusal to answer my questions showed me how much more shame previous generations would have felt about a birth like my grandfather’s. As it would turn out, he was born an “illegitimate” child. We would later hear that one of his older brothers was potentially his biological father, though this has not been proved.

Although we tried to obtain my grandfather’s birth certificate, we found that due to his birth status his records could not be released until 2020, a hundred years after his birth. I still do not know his mother’s name or how he came to live with John J. Daley and Ellen Tully by 1930. However, with the help of family, I was able to clear up some of the mystery behind my grandfather’s life. Still, this was only the first of the mysteries I would need to solve regarding the origin of the Daley’s. In my opinion, its one that I will need to wait at least 8 more years to resolve. 

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