Monday, October 24, 2016
Genealogical researchers have become used to the routine of adding female names to the family group sheet—and eventually seeing such entries disappear on the timeline of the family's history. Whatever becomes of such siblings to our direct line, we sometimes never know. Do they marry and become untraceable, thanks to an unknown married name? Do they end up with the fate of an early—but undocumented—death?
Such was the situation with my husband's Kelly family, which had settled in Lafayette, Indiana. At first, all I had been able to discover was the name of the parents of our direct line—James and Mary Kelly, parents of Catherine Kelly Stevens, the unfortunate young woman who met her fate after the birth of her third son.
It wasn't until years later, when Internet resources gifted us with digitized versions of each decennial census record, that I uncovered more information. That was when I discovered the widow Mary with all the rest of her children. I now knew the identities of the deceased Catherine's siblings.
There was oldest brother Mathew, the Irish-born bachelor who died in Lafayette in 1895 and his spinster sister Rose who died seven years before him. There were the two Kelly siblings whom I knew were married in Lafayette: Bridget to Michael Creahan, and Thomas to Bridget Dolan.
And then there was Ann.
Ann Kelly was the baby of the family—at least as far as I could tell. Born in Ireland about 1839, I could find her with the rest of the family in the 1860 census, when they lived in nearby Warren County, Indiana. At the time, Ann was listed as a woman of twenty one years of age.
The problem with Ann begins with the next census—the one for 1870. Not a trace can I find for anyone in this Kelly family, with the exception of Thomas, who was by then married and in a household of his own in Tippecanoe County. Where did the rest of those Kellys go? More importantly, what happened to Ann?
What I didn't know—at least, if the rest of the story, according to the administrator for two DNA matches, turns out to be true—is that Ann married a man by the name of Bernard Doyle. Now that I learned this by virtue of corresponding with that administrator, one of those transcribed collections at Ancestry indicated that such a marriage did indeed occur on January 7, 1872, in Tippecanoe County.
Unfortunately, that 1872 date was likely to be too soon to glean any more information from the actual marriage records than the names of bride and groom—and maybe the mention of the officiant's name and church affiliation.
Still, since we had the chance to take a look at the actual records in Tippecanoe County, thanks to the archives at the Frank Arganbright Genealogy Center there, we couldn't visit the Chicago area without driving down to Lafayette to take a look for ourselves.
As it turned out, my guess was right on. There wasn't much to discover on the actual document containing the marriage record for Ann Kelly and Frank Doyle. But at least there was a crumb. And no matter how small the hint, you know I'll follow those leads anywhere...
Sunday, October 23, 2016
There are some places with average collections—or sometimes, next to nothing—to offer the itinerant genealogical researcher, while other cities provide collections which manage to delightfully exceed expectations. In this latter category, locations like Salt Lake City and Fort Wayne come to mind. But not necessarily Lafayette, Indiana—unless you already knew about the Alameda McCollough Research Library housed at the Frank Arganbright Genealogy Center.
For a city of only seventy thousand, Lafayette is a place where you might not expect much, as far as research collections go. But for those pursuing documentation for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, we are fortunate to be recipients of the largess of an unassuming newspaperman who, upon his passing in 2008, left a gift sufficient to house the county's archival collection of books, vertical files, court records, and other genealogical treasures.
After serving his country during World War II, Frank Arganbright became a journalism alumnus of Indiana University at Bloomington. He first worked as a newspaper reporter at the Lafayette Journal and Courier, then attained the role of assistant city editor and, eventually, city editor. He remained at the Journal and Courier until 1972, when he assumed the role of senior editor for the Office of Public Information at Purdue University.
Somewhere along the way, this unassuming man—compared to "The Millionaire Next Door"—amassed enough of a fortune to bestow one million dollars toward a scholarship in his name at his alma mater, Indiana University at Bloomington, in addition to his legacy which established the genealogy center in his adopted home town, Lafayette.
For those of us blissfully unaware of who Frank Arganbright was—but who are keen to research our Lafayette roots—there is a lot to appreciate in this largess. While the center houses the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, a solid partnership with Tippecanoe County Area Genealogical Society members provides the volunteer staff hours to guide visitors through the collections of court documents archived at the Arganbright center.
Perhaps now that you know the research resources I knew I'd find at Lafayette, you can understand why I was so keen on making a stop here, the next time I got the chance to fly to the Chicago area. On a good day without (much) traffic, within a matter of less than a two hour drive, a researcher could be happily entrenched in the indices and card catalogs which are the key to Tippecanoe County family history answers. Better yet, managing to score a visit during the longest day in that very limited schedule in which the collection is open to the public—yes, I made it for the long Thursday schedule—is a bonus.
It wasn't lost on me how much the volunteers contributed to the collection's existence. While I searched for answers, behind me were volunteers, preserving and preparing additional local historic documents to be added to the collection. It is an arduous process, but one which the Society has been steadily working on for years. Some of those volunteers have devoted themselves to this process, shepherding Society members through such projects, while also using their knowledge and expertise to assist visiting researchers capably and effectively.
Thankfully, I once again was able to benefit from this assistance during last Thursday's visit, in my quest to determine whether Ann Kelly Doyle was indeed part of my husband's Kelly roots—and whether that DNA match was pointing me to the Kellys or someone else.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
It seems odd to have to reorient myself, every time I search the Kellys in Indiana. I have to stop and think which Catherine Kelly's family I'm currently seeking. The Catherine in Fort Wayne is the one whose burial in the Kelly/Kelly family plot introduced me to the possibility of Timothy Kelly's relationship to our Kelly family—which in turn started me off on that whole wild chase to find the source for the Danehy family's Irish roots.
This time, though, I'm seeking more information on a sibling in the other Catherine Kelly's family. This Catherine Kelly—if you've been around here at A Family Tapestry long enough to recall—would have been the mother in law of the Fort Wayne Catherine Kelly, except that she, as had the younger one, died young, likely after childbirth.
When I discovered the siblings of this elder Catherine Kelly, I had pursued the lines of descent of each one of them. Oh, there were a few who never married—like the resolute bachelor Mathew Kelly and his sister Rose—simplifying that research task. But there was also a curve thrown in for good measure in this Kelly line.
That unexpected pitch came from the youngest sister, Ann, whom I had assumed had followed in her older unmarried siblings' footsteps. Ann had simply disappeared from sight. There could only be one of two fates: premature death—or marriage.
It was an unexpected DNA match that hinted at the latter. Quite a while back, I received notice that my husband—since this is, actually, his family line we are talking about—gained two matches which aligned with that Kelly surname. The two matches were, in fact, half siblings to each other, so the parent in question was handily highlighted for the researcher administering their test results.
As seems to be the case with most matches I've experienced, I and the other admin took a long, hard look at both trees, examined each one of the multitudes of surnames listed, and decided we didn't see anything in common.
Well, at least it felt that way. As it turned out, there was one surname: Kelly.
(You knew it would turn out that way.)
The surprising thing was that this specific Kelly turned out to be the one I assumed had died young: Ann. It took a DNA match with the other side of the line to learn the rest of the story. Apparently, Ann had married, after all—to a local man who lived in Lafayette, Indiana.
Her husband's name was Barnard Doyle. Not long after they were married—sometime between 1875, when second son James arrived, and 1879, when third son Frank was born—the family ended up in Parsons, Kansas. At least, that's where I found them for the 1880 census.
It's a good thing I found the Doyle family then, for Barnard died two years later, in Kansas. Following soon after was Barnard's father, Joseph, an Irish immigrant from King's County (County Offaly) in the heart of Ireland, who had been living with Barnard's family. By 1885, Ann and her three sons were on their own.
This scenario is one of those times when a researcher feels deeply how painfully long twenty years can be, for the silence in the census records in that gap between 1880 and 1900 can hold mysteries still waiting to be resolved. The Doyle family may be one of those puzzles.
By the time of the 1900 census, oldest Doyle son, Joseph, was in another Kansas town—married, with children of his own. Second son James was nowhere to be found. "Anna" was apparently still in Parsons, living with her youngest son, Frank. By 1910, Ann may be the mother in law listed in the home of another Anna Doyle—if this younger woman was the wife of the missing James. It's hard to tell; the elder Ann's age was omitted from the record, and none of the others in the household were familiar names from previous records.
After that, Ann slips from view. No death record. No inclusion in the family burials with husband Barnard or his father Joseph—at least, as far as Find A Grave shows. As far as I know, this might—or might not—be the right Ann.
And that's where I was stuck, from the point at which I learned about these Doyle-Kelly DNA matches. Of course, I can just pretend genetic genealogy is based in science—that never-failing sure thing of modernity—and presume that, of course, that is our Kelly connection.
But this is genealogy—you know, that mushy realm of suppositions and family lore upon which academics delight in casting aspersions—and I would feel more comfortable if I had a paper trail to bolster those suppositions.
While online genealogy has boosted research progress exponentially in the past decade, there are some pockets where digitized material is not yet available at the click of a mouse. Lafayette, Indiana, is one of those places.
What Lafayette does have, however, more than makes up for that lack. If, that is, one can get to Indiana to see for ourselves.
Friday, October 21, 2016
It was heartening to locate the marriage record for Johanna, Mary Danehy's older sister, and her husband Cornelius Sweeney. Double cause for rejoicing to realize that marriage was registered at the same location as that for the birth of their son Philip only three years later.
I begin now to wonder whether that three year gap might indeed have been taken by the arrival of an older son, someone named after his father's father. There certainly was enough time for such an event to have occurred. Discovery of such a detail might possibly provide us a hint as to who Cornelius Sweeney's father was, and whether the family was still living at Millstreet in the prior generation.
When one genealogical detail leads seamlessly into the next discovery, it's hard to call it quits and recall just how far afield we are wandering from our original research goal. That's when I have to rein in this galloping runaway research juggernaut and refocus on original goals. Remember Mary Danehy? The second wife of widower Timothy Kelly? Who somehow was related to my husband's Kelly ancestors in Fort Wayne?
Yeah, those Kellys. I was trying to figure out if, by connecting the people, I could simultaneously connect them to their homeland. While Millstreet is a solid answer for place of origin, it still brings us to County Cork, not the expected County Kerry of our family's own Kellys, whose patriarch, incidentally, married a woman named Falvey, who was decidedly from County Kerry, not Cork.
Oh, dear, we've gone quite far afield.
Admittedly, while the exercise did nothing to lead me closer to the Kellys' home, it did lay out a wonderful path back to the homeland for the Danehy family. And if you are a Danehy descendant, you are welcome.
In the meantime, it feels like it is time to regroup and reassess our research direction. You win some, you lose some. You can't move forward without exploring all avenues, even if some of them turn out to be false leads.
I'm not too discouraged about this lack of progress. There still is that double DNA match which points to this type of connection, one between the Kellys, Falveys and Danehys. The whole lot of them could turn out to be cousins, just one generation prior to my stopping point. And it may, after all, pay to take the journey back just one more step.
Meanwhile, another DNA match has beckoned, and I'm off on that chase, as well. As they used to say in the news media: news flash! Because...I'm not writing you from California any more. Now, I'm in Indiana. And I'm looking for another set of Kellys. On the opposite side of the state from Fort Wayne, in a place called Lafayette.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Having found a promising entry in County Cork civil registers for the 1868 birth of Philip Sweeney, son of Cornelius and Johanna, the next step was to see if there were any marriage records for his parents at the same location.
Once again, a transcription of an old "collection" at Ancestry.com provided the trailblazer to hint at the right place to search. Now that the Irish civil registers are provided online, I returned to see what could be found for Philip's parents.
The Ancestry report indicated that I need to be creative with spelling. They had located a record for Swiny—rather than Sweeney—and Cornelius' given name abbreviated as Cor's. However, the rest of the entry was promising: a bride named Johanna Denehy, the same location as Philip's birth in Millstreet, and a date for the marriage set at a discreet distance from his December 1, 1868, arrival. According to this Ancestry transcription, the date of the marriage was 26 February, 1865.
From this point, I went to the Irish Genealogy website to see what I could find to replicate that Ancestry report.
While the civil registrations for birth records that we viewed yesterday included digitized images of the original records, that was not so—at least as far as I could tell—for the marriage records I was seeking today, even for those only a few years prior to Philip's birth.
Still, the search engine brought up a result for a Cornelius "Swiny"—just as the Ancestry collection had indicated—but it only showed the transcription for Cornelius, alone. No mention of the wife or any further details than the year of the marriage.
Undeterred, I did a second search—this time for Johanna, spelling her surname just as the Ancestry record had indicated: Denehy. Sure enough, the returns quarter, volume number and page number matched the entry for Cornelius exactly.
I'd say we have a match.
Above: "On the Saco" undated oil painting by German-American landscape artist, Albert Bierstadt; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Can a hint served up by Ancestry—the kind that says only that it comes from "Select Births and Baptisms" with no other source given—really be reliable? After all, I'm finding some tempting notes about the Irish-born son of Cornelius and Johanna Danehy Sweeney; I'd like to know whether they are reliable.
All these "collections" of previously assembled transcriptions may have been helpful trailblazers in the past, but now that Irish records are being digitized and coming online at a dizzying pace—Irish genealogist John Grenham characterized the resultant euphoria over this development as becoming "Punch Drunk"—it may be possible to go straight to the source to verify those older reports.
So when I saw several shaky leaf hints insisting that my guy—in this case, Phillip Sweeney, born in Ireland in 1868—was listed in this or that "collection," I took the high road to find out just where I could lay eyes on the original document.
Grenham does provide several links for those archived records coming online at such a dizzying pace. One recent addition I already knew, thanks to the international buzz over its arrival, was that of the Irish Civil Registrations. Despite his family's being Catholic, because of Philip Sweeney's arrival in 1868, I knew his registration was sure to be included in the records—somewhere in Cork, where all indicators seemed to be pointing for his family's origin.
True, one of the "collections" I had found had already mentioned a location in County Cork: a place called Millstreet. The record transcription provided by Ancestry, however, was so sparse as to be nearly useless. It confirmed the name of the child and his year of birth, which matched what I had gleaned from elsewhere. But knowing the Irish, this search was sure to be filled with the treachery of spelling variations and incorrectly-recalled dates. Besides, the record didn't even confirm the names of the parents. Clearly, I needed something more than this.
Because now we can, I headed to the Irish website which now contains those images, clicked on "Civil Records," and entered my search query. Sure enough, a result came up for a Philip "Sweeny" born in County Cork in 1868. Clicking below the transcription on the hyperlinked term, "image," in no time, I was staring at the very entry made in the register for the son of Cornelius Sweeney and Johanna "Denahy."
It was indeed for a birth registered in the District of Millstreet. I learned that Philip was born on December 1, 1868, in a place called Rathcool, Dromtariffe. I could see, further, that Cornelius—the reporting party—left his mark, for he couldn't sign his own name, and that he did so in the district office on the sixth of that same month.
If this was the right Philip—and my, oh my, how many chances there are to get an identity wrong in such a case—then I was just gifted with the location of the Sweeney residence almost twelve years before they left for America. If the family stayed in one place for long, it might also mean this was the place where Cornelius and Johanna were married, too. Perhaps this location would also show me the records for some others in this extended family—at least on the Danehy side, where so many documents had already woven this family together and identified them as former residents of County Cork.
Could that mean they were all residents of this same area, Millstreet?
Above: Excerpt from the Irish Civil Registration for the district of Millstreet in County Cork, showing the December 1, 1868, birth of Philip, son of Cornelius Sweeney and his wife, Johanna Danehy.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Realizing that Johanna Danehy had married her husband, Cornelius Sweeney, not in Fort Wayne where the family lived, but somewhere back in Ireland was helpful. At least it provided the bait to tempt me to look further, back in the family's homeland. But before I could check out any documents, back in Ireland, I needed to have a clearer picture of just who comprised that family constellation before the Sweeneys left County Cork, Ireland, for Allen County, Indiana.
Fortunately, both Johanna, born in 1847, and her husband Cornelius Sweeney, born in 1846, lived long enough to be included in the 1900 census in Fort Wayne. There, they reported that Johanna had been the mother of five children—three still living—and that the couple had arrived on American shores in 1880. They had only been in this country for twenty years at the point of that census. Cornelius claimed he had been naturalized.
But who were those three remaining children? Only one still lived with his parents: eighteen year old John Joseph Sweeney, born in Fort Wayne barely two years after his parents arrived in the country.
It was back to searching for death certificates at Ancestry.com, where the recently placed Indiana Death Certificates collection was seemingly well-timed to arrive just before I needed it. There, searching for an unknown Sweeney child with parents named Cornelius and Johanna, brought up just one more result: that of John's older brother, Phillip—the one I had already found, thanks to the Catholic Cemetery burial records at the Genealogy Center.
While I had already found the cemetery's record for the third remaining child—a daughter, Julia, who had married a local man named James Doyle—I couldn't locate any death record confirming her family information.
Still, by all reports, the older two children were born in Ireland—Julia's Irish origin we surmise, according to her headstone, in 1867, and Phillip the following year. Phillip's death certificate flatly stated he was born in Ireland—just "Ireland," precluding any hope of clerical error including more information than was required.
Yet to be completed is a search for newspaper accounts of their passing—or any other mention that can be found of any of the family members. All in good time, though, for this search needs to be conducted in a systematic manner.
Or does it? Those bright, shiny objects presenting themselves as shaky leaf hints at Ancestry.com are sometimes irresistible. What is an innocent researcher to do when presented with two tantalizing possibilities for birth records for one of the children of this very couple? Perhaps these will be the documents that lead us back to the Danehy family's origin. If they can corroborate with any marriage records for Cornelius and Johanna, I'd consider that case closed.
Above: The Fort Wayne, Indiana, household of Cornelius Sweeney from the 1900 U.S. Census; image courtesy FamilySearch.org.