Thursday, April 25, 2013

13. Dennis Buggy’s Marriage Record—Found, Twice

The goal of finding Dennis Buggy’s marriage record was to learn if it mentions his place of birth in Ireland.  The Phelan family book asserts that Dennis was married to Catherine Phelan on 17 January 1856 in Naugatuck, Connecticut.[1]  Research in Naugatuck town records led to a wider search in the Naugatuck River Valley area (map below) that yielded two marriage records for Dennis Buggy.  Neither marriage took place on 17 January 1856, neither in Naugatuck, and neither record offers any information on Dennis’ birthplace in Ireland.

What they do offer is 1) a correction of the Phelan family book’s date and place for the Buggy-Phelan marriage; 2) a date and place for Dennis Buggy’s first marriage and a name for his bride; and 3) new information on Dennis Buggy’s whereabouts in Connecticut before the Civil War.

The Buggy-Phelan Marriage Record Correction comes from the Archdiocese of Hartford Archives.  Dennis Buggy and Catherine Phelin [sic] were married 20 January 1857 1856 in Derby, New Haven County, Connecticut.[2]  [See a discussion of the correct year in a later post, Judy Kellar Fox, “18.  Loose Ends: Land and Pension Files,” Pinpointing Dennis Buggy's Irish Origins (, posted 19 May 2013.] 

Derby lies some twelve miles south of Naugatuck on a route along the Naugatuck River to its confluence with the Housatonic River.  See map below.

1857 [penciled in on photocopy, 2013]
                        On this 20 day of January I married Dennis
Buggy to Catherine Phelin [sic] Witness James Hanly
& Bridget Rily                                    Jas Lynch

This terse record gives no hint of the origins of the bride and groom.  It does offer, however, the names of the witnesses, James Hanly and Bridget Rily.  Future research efforts could focus on these two, in case they are friends from home in Ireland.

The Buggy-Fagan Marriage Record turned up in a search of Derby town records for the Buggy-Phelan marriage record.  While there is no information about the Buggy-Phelan marriage, the Town Clerk found an earlier Buggy entry in an old index.  The marriage record no longer exists, only the index.  It is so faint she did not recommend copying it, but was willing to dictate the information:[3]

Date: 23 September 1854
Groom: Dennis Buggy, age 26
Occupation: laborer
Birthplace: Ireland
Residence prior to marriage: Oxford [Connecticut]
Residence when married: Oxford
Bride: Alice Fagan, age 23
[No further information on the bride]
Person who married the couple: James Lynch

The person who married the couple, James Lynch, is the man who would later marry Dennis Buggy and Catherine Phelan at St. Mary Church, Derby (above).

Dennis Buggy’s Whereabouts in Connecticut  The marriage records show that rather than residing continuously in Naugatuck, he lived for a time in Oxford (immediately southwest of Naugatuck) and married twice in Derby before moving to Naugatuck.  This moving around is not unusual for a young immigrant attempting to establish himself in a new country.  It is also consistent with his employment as a railroad laborer.[4]
Map courtesy of the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley

Sources of Information

Connecticut.  Department of Public Health.  Vital Records Office, Hartford (860-509-7952).  Dave Antolini telephone interview by Judy Kellar Fox 5 April 2013.  Hartford Vital Records begin in 1857 [so would not have an 1856 marriage record].  Suggested calling Connecticut State Public Library.
Connecticut, Derby.  Town Clerk’s Office (203-736-1462).  Sharon [last name not given] telephone interview by Judy Kellar Fox, 8 April 2013.  Sharon dictated the Buggy-Fagan marriage index entry.
Connecticut, Naugatuck. Town Clerk’s Office (203-720-7055).  Telephone voice message from unidentified person to Judy Kellar Fox 1 April 2013.  The Town Clerk’s Office has no record of a Buggy marriage.
Connecticut, Naugatuck.  Town Clerk, Records of births, marriages, and deaths, v. A-D, 1844-1862.  Town Clerk’s Office, Naugatuck.  FHL microfilm 1,412,958.  Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.  This microfilm of original records shows no Buggy marriages at all from 1849-1859, confirming information from the Town Clerk’s Office.
Connecticut, Oxford.  Town Clerk’s Office (203-888-2543).  Rosemary Harner telephone interview by Judy Kellar Fox 9 April 2013.  Oxford was part of Derby up to a certain point, so Derby should have the marriage record.  Recording with the town clerk was not always consistent. Oxford has no record of a Dennis Buggy marriage.  They have records from only about a dozen churches.  It was typical at the time that folks did not record their marriage with the town clerk.
Connecticut, Waterbury.  Office of the Town Clerk.  Vital Statistics (203-574-6800).  Elisse [last name unknown] telephone interview by Judy Kellar Fox 5 April 2013.  Waterbury marriage records begin in 1886.
Connecticut State Library, Hartford.  History and Genealogy Information (860-757-6580).  Mel Smith telephone interview by Judy Kellar Fox 5 April 2013.  There is no statewide index for marriages at that time.  He consulted the Library’s newspaper marriage index to 1865 and found no Dennis Buggy entry.  There are many Phelans, but not Catherine or Katherine.  Marriage registration was required at the town level at that time period.
St. Mary Church (Derby, Connecticut).  Marriage records.  Ten unnumbered photocopied pages.  Supplied April 2013 by Maria Medina Paxi, Archivist, Archives of the Diocese of Hartford, Connecticut.

 Next Time: Are Dennis Buggy’s U. S. Siblings the Same as the Buggy-Brannagan Children of Freshford?

© 2013 Judy Kellar Fox, CG,

[1] “The Phelan Descendants: The Buggy Family, The Delaney Family, The Dollard Family,” privately held, 2013, 8.
[2] St. Mary Church (Derby, Connecticut), marriage book, arranged chronologically, Dennis Buggy and Catherine Phelin (1856); Archdiocese of Hartford Archives, Hartford.  The photocopy, provided by Archivist Maria Medina Paxi, bears no identification of the book and no page number.  The page was annotated by hand in 2013 with the name of the church, the town, and the year [1857, an error].
[3] Sharon [last name not given], Town/City Clerk’s office (Derby, Connecticut; 203-736-1462), telephone interview by Judy Kellar Fox, 8 April 2013.
[4] Occupation as given in an unnamed son’s birth record.  See Naugatuck, Connecticut, Births, Marriages, Deaths, 1852-1856, Vol. C, p. 48, “Record of Births in Naugatuck during the Month of October 1856,” unnamed male Buggy, Dennis Buggy, father; Town Hall, Naugatuck; Family History Library microfilm 1,412,958. 


  1. Wondering what your thoughts are on these two marriages. Family history has Dennis married to Catherine Phalen, is it possible that the other marriage is a different Dennis Buggy? Something to ponder...

    1. Glad to meet you, Tara! The two marriages seem consistent for one man, as they are successive (one in 1854 and one in 1856), in the same place and by the same priest. It seems reasonable that Alice Fagan died in the meantime, leaving Dennis a widower and free to remarry Catherine Phelan. Research on Alice Fagan might turn up a plausible explanation. I did not ask about this marriage at St. Mary's Church (Archivist Maria Medina Paxi, a delightful lady), so that's an avenue to pursue. Perhaps the parish has a burial for Alice Fagan Buggy. Maria's the gal to contact. See the church website for contact information.