Saturday, March 29, 2014

Forty Years Later - Patty Hearst: Victim or Criminal?

It seems lost in the mists of time now, but forty years ago the bizarre saga of Patty Hearst made headline news.  Had there been 24-hour cable news networks then, they would have had an absolute field day.  Not only was a newspaper heiress brazenly kidnapped but she later joined her kidnappers and openly participated in criminal activities with them.  It was shocking for Americans to see this daughter of wealth and privilege helping a group of radicals as they robbed banks and planted bombs.  It was also a diversion from the Watergate scandal that was gripping the nation and threatening to bring down a president.

Four decades later, so many questions remain unanswered about the Patty Hearst affair.  Was she truly brainwashed by her captors?  Did she fear for her life?  Did her kidnappers dose her with LSD?  Did she suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which hostages empathize and bond with their abductors?  This condition was named after a 1973 robbery at a bank in Stockholm, Sweden in which several bank employees were held hostage in a vault.  The hostages became emotionally attached to their captors and developed sympathy for them.  It is interesting to note that the Hearst case occurred less than a year after the Swedish case.

Did Patty, as her prosecutors insisted, act willingly and knowingly in the commission of crimes?  If completely innocent, why did she repeatedly invoke the Fifth Amendment at her 1976 robbery trial?  Why did she refuse to answer government questions about her actions during the year before her capture? According to a February 21, 1976 Associated Press report during the trial, Patty's attorneys "faced another legal skirmish today in their battle to keep what they claim is potentially incriminating evidence from the jury."

Let's examine the background of the case in our attempt to find some answers.  Patricia Campbell Hearst, now known as Patricia Campbell Hearst Shaw, was born on February 20, 1954 in San Francisco, California.  She is the third of the five daughters of Randolph Apperson Hearst and Catherine Wood Campbell - the others being Catherine, Virginia, Anne and Victoria

Patty's father, Randolph Apperson Hearst, born December 2, 1915, was the fourth and last surviving son of famed newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (Orson Welles' 1941 classic film, Citizen Kane, is loosely based on the life of the press tycoon who was Patty's grandfather)  In 1938, Randolph married Catherine Wood Campbell, a Southern belle from Atlanta, Georgia in the city's splashiest wedding of the year. Catherine, a staunch Roman Catholic, was the  only daughter of Morton Campbell, a well-to-do telephone company executive.  She became a prominent San Francisco socialite, a philanthropist and a defender of conservative causes.

From 1973 until 1996, Randolph Hearst served as chairman of the board of Hearst Corporation.  At the time of Patty's kidnapping, he was president and managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner.  Patty and her sisters were raised in the upscale San Francisco suburb of Hillsborough.  In her 1982 autobiography, Every Secret Thing, Patty wrote that she grew up in an "affluent and sheltered environment sublimely self-confident."  A rebellious teenager, she attended the Crystal Springs School for Girls in Hillsborough and then the Santa Catalina School, a private Catholic school in Monterey, California.

It was at the Crystal Springs School that she first met Steven Weed, a math teacher who tutored her.  Weed became her boyfriend and when he received a teaching fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, Patty enrolled there for her sophomore year, majoring in art history.  The couple moved into a Berkeley apartment a few blocks south of the campus and in November of 1973, they announced their engagement in the San Francisco Chronicle.  They planned to marry in the summer of 1974 - until their lives were forever changed!

On the evening of February 4, 1974, there was a knock on the door of the Benvenue Ave. residence of the 19-year-old college student and her fiancé.  On that fateful evening, three armed radicals stormed into their apartment and assaulted Weed, 26.  They then tossed Patty, clad in a bathrobe, into the trunk of a white car and drove away. Bullets were fired as the vehicle sped into the night.

Patty Hearst with Steven Weed

Patty Hearst's abductors were members of an obscure left-wing urban guerrilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).  The leader of the SLA was a militant named Donald DeFreeze, also known by his nom de guerre, "General Field Marshall Cinque Mtume."  DeFreeze, who had escaped from a California prison in March of 1973, organized a band of Berkeley activists that hoped to spur a left-wing revolution. The SLA's stated goal was to shut down prisons and to destroy "all other institutions that have made and sustained capitalism."  Kidnapping the daughter of a well-known multi-millionaire was a means of publicizing the group's radical agenda of inciting guerrilla war against the government of the United States.

Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze

In short, the SLA was a small band of domestic terrorists.  It adopted the seven-headed cobra as its symbol and demanded as a core belief, the use of of certain instances of violence - kidnappings, assassinations, bank robberies - that would attract media attention to its Marxist agenda.  The organization advocated revolution as a means of achieving racial harmony and eliminating poverty.  The name "Symbionese Liberation Army was derived from the biological term "symbiosis," meaning a close and interdependent relationship between two different species," thus interpreted as the bonding of classes and races.

Soon after Patty's abduction, the SLA began releasing audiotapes to KPFA radio Berkely demanding millions of dollars of food donations to the poor in exchange for her return.  In response, Randolph Hearst pledged $2 million to People in Need program, a food distribution program for the needy. Yet, that did not secure the release of his daughter.  The SLA was not satisfied and insisted on a larger contribution.

On April 3, 1974, however, the SLA released an audiotape in which Patty announced that she was now a member of the revolutionary organization.  On the tape, she declared that "I have been given the choice of being released . . . or joining the forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army and fighting for my freedom and the freedom of all oppressed people.  I have chosen to stay and fight."  She also stated that she had taken a new new name. From now on, she was to be called "Tania" after Tania Burke, an Argentine revolutionary whom Patty described as "a comrade who fought alongside Che (Guevara) in Bolivia."

What happened next was completely unexpected and absolutely incredible!  On April 15, 1974, Patty participated in the SLA's robbing of a branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco.  The Hibernia holdup landed the group over $10,000 but the biggest spectacle was the image of Patricia Hearst or "Tania" wielding an assault rifle and shouting orders at bystanders.  It was a chilling image and it was captured by video surveillance cameras.  In a stunning turn of events, the newspaper heiress would became a member of  the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

Hearst with rife in hand, robbing San Francisco bank with Donald DeFreeze

On April 25, 1974, in a sixth audio tape, Patty offered evidence that she participated willfully in the bank robbery and she referred to her family as the "pig Hearsts."  She also denounced her fiancé Steven Weed as "an ageist, sexist pig" and claimed that the idea of her being brainwashed was ridiculous.

On May 16, 1974, two SLA members, William and Emily Harris, were caught shoplifting at Mel's Sportng Goods in Inglewood, California.  Patty, who had been sitting alone in a Volkswagen van, saw them arguing with the shopkeeper.  She fired a barrage of machine gun bullets in  front of the store and helped them escape arrest.  The following day, SWAT teams surrounded a house in the South Central District of the city where six SLA members were hiding out. All six of the fugitives, including Donald DeFreeze, were killed in a televised shootout with the L.A. police.  Patricia Hearst, however, was not there and she remained at large for over 16 months longer.

William and Emily Harris

Patty's strange odyssey ended on September 18, 1975 when she was captured by the  FBI in a San Francisco apartment along with SLA member Wendy Yoshimura.  She was charged with robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. After her capture, her picture appeared on the September 29, 1975 cover of Time magazine with a banner reading "APPREHENDED."

At her sensational trial, beginning on February 4, 1976,  Patricia Hearst was defended by famed attorney F. Lee Bailey.  Bailey portrayed the heiress as a victim of brainwashing.  In his closing argument, he stated that Patty committed robbery in order to survive.  Here are some excerpts from Bailey's closing argument at the trial.

This is not a case about a bank robbery. The crime could have been any one of a number.  It is a case about dying or surviving --that is all Patricia Campbell Hearst thought about. And the question is, what is the right to live? How far can you go to survive? We all know that it is a human impulse, a generic, irresistible human impulse to survive. People eat each other in the Andes to sur­vive. The big question is, and we don't have it in this case, thank God, can you kill to survive? We do it in wartime, but that is a different set of rules. 

A young girl, who absolutely had no poli­tical motivations or history of activity of any kind, was rudely snatched from her home, clouted on the side of the face with a gun butt, and taken as a political prisoner. 

The prosecu­tor offered only the statement of Patricia Hearst, admitting that she had robbed the bank - and she did rob the bank. You are not here to answer that question, we could answer that without you. The question you are here to answer is why? And would you have done the same thing to survive? Or was it her duty to die, to avoid committing a felony? 

Despite F. Lee Bailey's defence, the jury found Hearst guilty and she was convicted on March 20, 1976. Although she was sentenced to seven years of incarceration, her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter.  Patricia Hearst was released from prison on February 1, 1979 after being confined for 22 months.

After her release, Patty renounced her kidnappers. She also wed her former body guard, Bernard Shaw, an ex-San Francisco police officer.  The two had met in 1976 at Top of the Mark restaurant in San Francisco, the day after she was freed on $1.5 million bail for bank robbery.  After Hearst's conviction, Bernard. a divorced father of two, drove regularly from his home near San Francisco to the Federal Correctional Institution in Pleasanton, California where Patty was imprisoned.

Patty and Bernard were betrothed on Valentine's Day, 1978.  On April 1, 1979, they married in a classic double-ring ceremony at the redwood-walled navy chapel on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.  The couple settled in Garrison, New York and had two daughters, Gillian and Lydia Hearst-Shaw (born September 19, 1984). Bernard Shaw, who became vice president of corporate security for the Hearst Corporation, died of cancer on December 18, 2013.  He was 68 years old at the time of his passing.

The marriage of Patricia Hearst and Bernard Shaw lasted 34 years and by all indications, it was a happy union.  In 1996, Patty revealed to talk show host Conan O'Brien that her family had not been optimistic about the chances of her marriage remaining intact.. “My parents gave us a Sears vacuum cleaner as a wedding present,”  she told O'Brien.  “They thought it wouldn’t last.”

Patricia Hearst has long maintained that she was held in close confinement and brainwashed by her SLA kidnappers.  When interviewed on CNN's Larry King Live. (Air Date: January 22, 2002), King asked her if the Stockholm Syndrome was "part of the thinking or not?"

She made the following reply.

I'm sure it was. Of course it was. I mean, they call it Stockholm Syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder. And, you know, I had no free will. I had virtually no free will until I was separated from them (her kidnappers) for about two weeks. And then it suddenly, you know, slowly began to dawn that they just weren't there any more. I could actually think my own thoughts. It was considered wrong for me to think about my family. And when Cinque was around, he didn't want me thinking about rescue because he thought that brain waves could be read or that, you know, they'd get a psychic in to find me. And I was even afraid of that.  

On February 20, 2014, Patricia Hearst Shaw celebrated her 60th birthday.  Since her release from prison, she has lived a relatively normal life.  Any traces of her "Tania" persona seem to have vanished.  She appears to be very devoted to her two daughters and is now a grandmother.  Patty has taken guest roles on television series such as Veronica Mars (2006) and Boston Common (1996).  She has also appeared in four films directed by John Waters: Cry-Baby (1990), Serial Mom (1994), Pecker (1998) and Cecil B. Demented (2000).

The Hearst kidnapping would have been the biggest American news story of 1974 except  for one other event.  In a televised address on August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon, besieged by the Watergate scandal and facing impeachment, announced his intention to resign as President of the United States.


* President Bill Clinton granted Patricia Hearst a full pardon in January of 2001, shortly before he left office.

* Patty's parents divorced in 1982.  Her father, Randolph Apperson Hearst, died of a stroke in a New York hospital on December 18, 2000.  He was 85 years old at the time of his passing.  His second marriage, to Maria Scruggs (originally Maria Pachi of Rome, Italy) also ended in divorce. He was survived by his  third wife, Veronica de Uribe, whom he wed in 1987.

* Patty's mother, Catherine Wood Campbell, moved to Beverly Hills after her divorce from Randolph Herast.  She passed away at the UCLA Medical Center on December 30, 1998 after suffering a stroke. She was 81,

* At last report, Steven A. Weed, born 1948, was a real estate agent in Menlo Park, California.  An unconfirmed web source stated that he married and is the father of two sons.  In 1976, Weed published a tell-all book, written with Scott Swanton, titled My Search for Patty Hearst.  In his book, Weed described his relationship with Patty as "pleasantly routinized with our studies, movies on weekends, laundromat and grocery runs . . . We were just two people.  We were in love and planning to be married."  It was not to be, however.  Patty's kidnapping ordeal changed their lives irrevocably.

* In 2007. Patty's daughter, Gillian, married lawyer Christian Simonds.  Last year, Gillian gave birth to a daughter named Harper - Patty's first grandchild.  According to a March 5, 2014 report in the New York Post, Gillian is expecting her second child, due this summer.

* Patty's youngest daughter, Lydia Hearst-Shaw is now 29 years old.  Known professionally as Lydia Hearst, she is an actress, fashion model and socialite.

Lydia Hearst-Shaw
                  PHOTO ATTRIBUTION: Porter Hovey at 

- Joanne

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine: Was their "feud" real or exaggerated by the media?

While promoting her autobiography, No Bed of Roses, in 1978, famed actress Joan Fontaine commented on her relationship with her sister, Olivia de Havilland, in an interview with People magazine.  "You can divorce your sister as well as your husbands,"  she said.  "I don't see her at all and I don't intend to."  She also complained to People that "Olivia has always said I was first at everything - I got married first, got an Academy Award first, had a child first.  If I die, she'll be furious because again I'll have got there first."

As it turned out, Fontaine did get there first.  Joan, 96, passed away at her home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California on December 15, 2013.  A day later, Olivia issued a rare statement of her own from her longtime residence in Paris.  The  97-year-old de Havilland declared that "I was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of my sister, Joan Fontaine, and my niece, Deborah (Joan's daughter), and I appreciate the many kind expressions of sympathy that we have received."

The sisters were both born in Tokyo, Japan to British parents.  Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916 and Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland followed on October 22, 1917.  Their father, Walter Augustus de Havilland, was employed as an English professor at the University of Tokyo.  He ended up changing careers and practising patent law in Japan.  Their mother, Lilian Augusta (née Ruse), was a stage actress who put her own career on hold to accompany her husband to East Asia.  In the 1940s, after her daughters had become Hollywood stars, she returned to the stage under the name Lilian Fontaine.  She died on February 20, 1975 at the age of 88.

When Joan was two years old, Walter left Lilian for the family's Japanese maid.  In 1919, the sisters moved to California with their mother.  Joan was a sickly child and it was thought that the climate in California would be more conducive to her her health.

In his 1984 book Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine, biographer Charles Higham wrote that the sisters had a troubled relationship from their childhood days.  According to Higham, Olivia would rip up Joan's hand-me-down clothes and Joan would have to sew them back together. He claimed that a major source of the conflict between the sisters was Fontaine's alleged conviction that de Havilland was their mother's favourite child.

In Bed of Roses, Joan wrote of how their mother's death caused great discord between the sisters. Joan was out of town when Lilian passed away in 1975 and Olivia took charge of all the funeral arrangements.  In her autobiography, Fontaine claimed that she only learned about the memorial service by chance.  She stated that she was not invited and that it was only after threatening "to call the press and give them the whole story" that the service was delayed in order to allow Joan to attend.

As Joan mentioned in her People magazine interview, she was the first of the sisters to marry. On August 20, 1939, she  married Anglo-American actor Brian Aherne in Del Monte, California. Aherne, born in Worchester, England in 1902, once dated Joan's sister, Olivia.  He was a popular character actor in motion pictures during the 1930s and 1940s and into the 1950s.  His marriage to Joan Fontaine ended in divorce in 1945.  Brian Aherne died of heart failure in Venice, Florida on February 10, the age of 83.

Brian Aherne

Joan married three more times after her divorce from Aherne.  In May of 1946, she married her second husband, actor/producer William Dozier, in Mexico City.  The couple had a daughter, Deborah Leslie, in 1948 and separated in 1949.  Fontaine filed for divorce in 1950, accusing Dozier of desertion. Their divorce became final in January of 1951.  In 1953, Dozier wed actress Ann Rutherford, best known for her role as Scarlett O'Hara's sister, Carreen, in Gone with the Wind.  William Dozier passed away on April 23, 1991.

Joan married her third husband, producer and writer Collier Young, on November 12, 1952.  They separated in 1960 and their divorce was finalized on January 3, 1961.  Young, the creator of the TV series Ironside, died in a road accident in Los Angeles on Christmas Day 1980.  He was 72 years old.

On January 23, 1964, Fontaine married her fourth and last husband, Sports Illustrated golf editor, Alfred Wright, Jr., in Elkton, Maryland.  They divorced in 1969.

Joan Fontaine and Alfred Wright, Jr.

In the early 1950s, Joan Fontaine informally adopted a young Peruvian girl named Martita. Martita's parents permitted Fontaine to become Martita's legal guardian in order to provide the child with a better life. Fontaine promised Marita's parents that she would send the girl back to Peru for a visit when when she turned 16 years old. When Marita reached that age, however, she refused to return to South America - even though she was given a round-trip ticket - and chose to run away instead.  Joan was not pleased and she and her teenage ward became estranged.

Olivia de Havilland, has been married twice.  She married first husband, Marcus Goodrich, on January 24, 1946, about seven and a half years after Joan had married Brian Aherne.  Goodrich was veteran of the Navy and an author and screenwriter.

On December 1, 1949, Olivia gave birth to a son, Benjamin Goodrich.  Sadly, Benjamin died of cancer in October of 1991 at the age of 41.  Olivia and Marcus divorced n 1952 and Marcus passed away in 1991, three weeks after the death of his son, Benjamin.

Olivia's first husband was one source of friction between Olivia and Joan.  Olivia, who has always been more tight-lipped than her sister about her relationship with Joan, told The Associated Press in 1957 that "Joan is very bright and sharp and has a wit that can be cutting. She said some things about Marcus that hurt me deeply. Consequently, she was aware there was an estrangement between us."

Olivia'a second husband was French journalist Pierre Galante, editor of Paris Match.  Olivia and Pierre met at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953, not long after her divorce from Marcus Goodrich. They wed on April 2, 1955 and had one child, a son named Gisèle Galante (born July 18, 1956). Although they separated in 1962, their divorce did not become final until 1979.  It was this marriage to Galante, however, that first brought Olivia to Paris.  She resides in an apartment near the Arc de Triumphe and is greatly respected in France.  In 2010, she received the Legion of Honour from then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 1941, Joan Fontaine was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock; but he Oscar was awarded to Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle that year.  The following year, however, Joan was again nominated for  Best Actress,in a Leading Role, this for her performance in Suspicion, another Hitchcock film.  The problem was that Olivia was also nominated for her performance in Hold Back the Dawn.  It marked the first time that two siblings had ever competed in the same category at the Academy Awards.  (It happened again, 25 later, when Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave were both nominated for best actress.  Lynn was nominated for Georgy Girl and Vanessa for Morgan!.  Neither sister won and Elizabeth Taylor received the Oscar for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.)

Back in 1942, the Academy Awards ceremony took place over dinner.  Joan and Olivia were seated at the same table, making the situation even more awkward.  Joan, who thought her performance in Rebecca was superior to her performance in Suspicion, didn't think that her chances of winning were very high.  Yet, much to her surprise, she heard her name called.  In her autobiography No Bed of Roses, Joan recalled the moment..  She wrote,  "I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting directly opposite me.  'Get up there, get up there,' Olivia whispered commandingly.  Now what had I done?  All the animus we'd felt toward each other as children, the hair-pullings, the savage wrestling watches, the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery.  My paralysis was total. I felt Olivia would spring across the table  and grab me by the hair."

On winning the Oscar for Suspicion, Joan "half-jokingly" told Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter that she was "terrified because of Olivia." and that she was "still afraid of her."  She added, "When I did get it, everybody said: 'Oh boy, you should have got that for the other one (Rebecca).

Below is photo of Joan and Gary Cooper holding their Oscar statuettes in 1942.

Olivia eventually won a Best Actress Oscar of her own in 1947 for her role in the film To Each His Own. After she had finished her acceptance speech, Joan approached her backstage and attempted to congratulate her.  Olivia, however, turned away from Joan and rebuffed her.  The moment was captured in a photograph by Hymie Fink of Photoplay magazine.

Yet, the Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg wrote that in a 2003 phone conversation with Joan Fontaine, she told him that "This 'Olivia feud' has always irritated me because it has no basis." When he asked Joan if she and her sister were communicating with each other, her response was "Absolutely."  Feinberg was stunned to hear her declare, "Let me say, Olivia and I have never had a quarrel.  We have never had any dissatisfaction.  We have never had hard words.  And all this is press."  She said she had seen Olivia in Paris and that Olivia had visited her at her apartment in New York often.

Feinberg wrote that he would like to accept Joan's words as the truth instead of years of media reports about the sisters' and their rocky relationship.  He concluded that "unless Olivia, Deborah or Joan's assistant during her later years, Susan Pfeiffer, wish to share their own perspectives, I suppose we'll never know for sure."

Perhaps, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between.  Joan and Olivia obviously had an intense rivalry and there were hard feelings between the two during various phases of their lives.  They undoubtedly hurt each other deeply.  Yet, despite all of that, it seems that the two sisters really loved each other and that Olivia genuinely mourned Joan's death.

- Joanne

Monday, March 10, 2014

TTC really needs fixing: An open letter to Maria Augimeri


Dear Maria Augimeri:

Since you have recently become the  interim chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, I would like to express some serious concerns to you.  As a strong supporter of public transit and a long-time TTC commuter, I have to tell you that I have never been so frustrated with the system in my life.  I travel on the TTC frequently and I use the monthly Metropass.  If someone like me is so exasperated, how can the TTC expect to persuade car drivers to leave their vehicles at home and travel by public transit?

The delays and disruptions on the system are so numerous that I no longer find it reliable.  When I have an important appointment, I can no longer be reasonably confident that I can arrive at my destination on time.  I realize that some delays can not be avoided and that emergencies do happen.  Unfortunately, TTC delays and shutdowns have been occurring far too frequently.  It seems that most days, as I enter a subway station, I can hear a voice on the public address system informing riders of a disruption  in service and apologizing for the inconvenience.

This winter, due to TTC delays, I was late for an important dentist appointment, a session with a student that I tutored and a hockey game for which I had tickets.  I'm certain that many TTC patrons have had similar experiences.  Why are there so many signal and mechanical problems? It has gotten to the point that I have to leave much earlier than necessary for an appointment in order to allow for a TTC delay.

Taking a shuttle bus during a delay can be a nightmare, especially when it's as cold as it has been this winter. I've found very little direction to the shuttle buses.  People are confused as to where to board the shuttle buses and they often find themselves pushed and shoved in a crowded atmosphere.  This kind of chaos is not acceptable.

Here are some other problems I would like to address:

As you are well aware, there is too much traffic at the Yonge/Bloor and St. George transfer stations. Something must be done to relieve the congestion at those two stations.

I am also very concerned about the amount of debris left by passengers on subways, buses and streetcars. Why is there so many food containers and so many newspapers left on TTC vehicles? I have not seen that amount of garbage when travelling by public transit in other cities. I slipped and almost fell while getting off a TTC bus once because there was a wet newspaper on the steps of the bus.

TTC fares are far to high, especially for low income people who depend on public transportation. In other jurisdictions in North America, provincial and state governments shoulder considerably more of the costs. Why is so much of the onus placed on passengers to support public transportation in Toronto?  At $133.75 per month, the adult Metropass is not affordable to many in this city.

In your capacity as TTC chair, I hope you will actively address these problems.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  I am very concerned about the state of public transportation in my city.


Joanne Madden


Ms, Augimeri, if you reply to this letter, I promise that I will publish your response.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ancestry search: Looking for information on Matthew Madden - Trying to locate Joan Starr


A branch of the Madden family is keen to trace its family history back to Ireland.  The children of Joseph Edward Madden (1918-1994) would like to obtain information about their great-great grandfather, Matthew Madden (born in Ireland in 1835, died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1912). Matthew is buried in Toronto at St. Michael's Cemetery at Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave.  His descendants would especially like to locate his birthplace in Ireland (the county and town he was from).  They would also like to know his mother's maiden name.

Matthew came to Canada as a child with his parents during the time of the Great Potato Famine. After being quarantined at Grosse-Île, Quebec, he arrived at Toronto in 1848.  His parents most likely perished aboard ship or died of disease at Grosse-Île.  Matthew married Mary Cain (1835-1894) and they had 13 children. Matthew was a familiar figure at the old City Hall as he was a court constable there for 23 years.

Matthew Madden's headstone at St. Michael's Cemetery

The family of the late Joseph Madden is specifically trying to locate Joan Starr, Matthew's great-granddaughter.  She was a bank employee until her retirement.  Her sister, Patricia Star, is deceased. Their mother was Mary Nora Madden Starr  The Maddens believe that Joan is living in Toronto and that she can provide them with the information they are seeking about their ancestor, Matthew Madden.  Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.  Please email

- Joanne

EDITOR'S UPDATE: (January 24, 2016):  So for, neither Joan Starr, nor anyone else, has contacted me with any information.

EDITOR'S UPDATE;  (April 18, 2016):  Success at last!  Although Joan Starr has not contacted me, two Madden family members, Monica Madden and Alison Madden, were able to find information about Matthew's Irish roots.  Monica sent this letter to the family on March 17, 2016.  What a great St. Patrick's Day gift!

To my siblings and cousins:

About three weeks ago, our second cousin Alison Madden contacted me with some big news: she had found our ancestor Matthew’s baptismal record: it tells us where in Ireland he is from! Matthew is our great-great-grandfather. He emigrated from Ireland as a boy during the Great Hunger (potato famine) in or around 1848.  Since 2009 when I started doing this research with Maureen, and now with Alison, we have never been able to say with any certainty where exactly in Ireland our family is from. Until now.

Here’s what Alison and I have found:

Our ancestor Matthew Madden was born on January 6 1834 and baptised on November 23 of the same year. The parish is named Killimor and Tiranascragh, as there were two churches, one in each of the two small towns. The parish is part of the diocese of Clonfert, in the barony of Longford, East Galway. This is the easternmost part of Galway, bordered by the Shannon River. The counties on the opposite bank of the Shannon are King’s County to the east, Tipperary and Clare to the south. Tiranascragh is just west of the Shannon, and Killimor is slightly northwest, just up the road.

This area is in the heart of the original Madden stronghold, where the Madden chieftains ruled before their lands were seized by Cromwell in the 17th century. In fact, the medieval Madden castle, called Longford Castle, is in Tiranascragh. Perhaps Matthew was born in the shadow of its ruins.

Our great-great-great-grandparents are John Madden and Mary Mcloud. They were married in the parish of Killimor and Tiranascragh on December 11 1833. As the Irish records only go back to 1831, it will be difficult to find out much more about them. Moreover, Alison has painstakingly gone through all the parish records for Killimor and Tiranascragh and has not found any other babies baptised in that family. It seems like Matthew was an only child.

What did Matthew’s father John do for a living? According to maps Alison has consulted, there doesn’t seem to be much aerable land around Killimor and Tiranascragh: it’s quite boggy. So perhaps he was not a farmer, but rather a carpenter; that would be one explanation for Matthew becoming a carpenter in Canada. I found another interesting possibility when scrutinizing a 1901 map of Galway that Maureen and my brother John bought at an Irish genealogy conference a few years ago: this map tells us where all the roads and important buildings were in the little towns, and in Tiranascragh, there’s a church, and a police station! Perhaps there’s a connection with why Matthew became a constable for York County. Maybe his father was a policeman in Ireland? (Matthew was the officer who looked after the jury in the Sessions Court at Toronto’s City Hall from 1889 to 1911).

We have found no trace of John and Mary in Canada- not in Toronto or anywhere in Ontario or Quebec, not even on Grosse-Île, which is the quarantine island in the St. Lawrence just north of Quebec City, where all the boats arrived. Although Matthew’s Toronto obituary relates that he emigrated from Ireland with his parents, we assume they must have perished during the two-month voyage in the hold of a lumber ship. Like countless others who died of typhoid fever, their bodies would have been tossed overboard. Small wonder they were called “coffin ships”.

Where do we go from here?

One day, I hope to get over there and put my feet on “our land”. In the meantime, perhaps more records will turn up; perhaps there are records over in Ireland, not yet online, which could tell us:
- the lot number where there habitation was;
- who Matthew was named after;
- what his father John’s lineage is (his connection to the Madden chieftains).
Also, Alison and I plan to make a couple of trips soon: to the Toronto archives, the Ontario archives, and to the Toronto Police archives: there’s got to be a photo somewhere of the Court Constable who worked at City Hall for 23 years!

Wishing you all a very happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Monica Madden
March 17 2016