Saturday, September 24, 2016

Off the Shelf: Oh, Beautiful

Stories incorporating the author's family history are captivating me, lately. I love to see how writers weave that history into their narrative.

For those of us who have spent years honing the genealogical research skills of the process, we tend to focus on the precision of the verificationdetails of documentation, ad nauseam. While those skills may be admirable in genealogical circles, they're not quite so compelling to the general public. If we want our family's stories to have a reception less icy than the dreaded "my eyes glaze over" response, we need to branch out and see how those with more writing skills than genealogical research skills handle the project.

The book I read last monthThe Stonecutter's Ariadefinitely was presented with a writer's flair. Artfully crafted, the story presented the case for one Italian immigrant family with a tender touch. The handling of the tale, though, verged on fictionalization, somehow riling my internal genealogist enough to interrupt my passive acceptance of the narrative.

This month, I want to see how another writer dealt with sharing his family's storyOh Beautiful, published in 2010 by journalist John Paul Godges. While this author may see himself as being in the same vein of memoir writing as the last author I mentionedwho saw the writing of her family's history as personally therapeutichis claim of "group therapy" for his family aside, his was a masterful effort to blend the story of his immigrant parents with the disparate legacies bestowed by them on each of his siblings.

Perhaps seeking my cues from similar works of professional writers may seem intimidating. After all, this book was written by a man who does this sort of work for a livingand yet, he says it took him ten years, from start to finish, to produce the book.

Being a professional does have its up side. After the launching of this indie volumeGodges published using CreateSpacethe book received enough acclaim to make any writer envious. He made the rounds on several writers' blogs, discussing the-writing-of and related topics. He even made a (predictable) cameo appearance on the family history focused blogger Lynn Palermo's The Armchair Genealogist.

Using his family's dynamics as illustration, he used his manuscript to demonstrate his theme:
To be an American in the fullest sense of the word means to discover oneself as an individual within a community—and to sustain that tension, to the detriment of neither the individual nor the community. 

This idea grew from his reflections on how different each of the siblings in his familythe children of a Polish immigrant and the daughter of Italian immigrantsturned out to be. That became not only the metaphor for supporting his theme, but the concept upon which he hung the subtext of various spans of American history. Even the titles of his chapters leaned upon that concept, taking their cues from such eras as the Great War, the Depression, and various episodes within the social turmoil of the twentieth century.

Oh, Beautiful is not for the faint of heart. Godges tightly weaves that theme throughout all 485 pages of the text, then augments it with endnotes, bibliography and lots of family photographs. However, as he, himself, pointed out, "there is an awful lot of pain in this book." Though he does admit having author John Steinbeck as his role model, his choice to present that pain as starkly and unembellished as he does comes from that realization about life. As he mentioned in his interview with Lynn Palermo,
The most important parts of our lives also happen to be the most painful parts of our lives. When we keep those stories of pain to ourselves, either intentionally or unintentionally, we deny ourselves a great deal of wisdom that we can also pass down to our children.

For the not-so-stouthearted among readers, Amazon offers a "look inside" for a reading test drive. Google Books offers three sample chapters below their listing of reviews.

I'm not even sure how I first heard about Oh Beautiful, but I knew right away I needed to read it. As far behind in my reading as I amI often am possessed with that "gotta read it" spirit, but not so much with the follow-throughit is probably a good thing that the weather here has finally turned to that curl-up-with-a-book kind of season. It will probably take several of those sessionsand multiple cups of coffee and hot chocolateto get through all five hundred pages.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Don't Know Much About These Kellys

The family plot in the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery co-owned by two Kelly families presents me with some names which I know and already have researchedthose of my husband's ancestor, John Kelly. The others belong to a family which might be related to ours, or may not. The task now is to determine the connection. That assignment, however, may take on the aspect of a very exhaustive search.

Though John Kelly and his family have been familiar names to me for years, the family of Timothy Kelly has presented research problems. Seeking out each member's date of death, though, is not so complicated; here they all are, assembled for anyone to view, in the same family plot. So that will be our starting point for today's review.

The Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery was established at its current location in 1873. The first burial in the Kelly family plot was actually of a one year old infant named William Kelly, who died July 29, 1874. Whether he was the child of John and Johanna Kelly or the plot's co-owner, Timothy Kelly, I can't tell at this point, but his was likely the family's impetus for securing a family burial location.

The few details I can determine regarding the co-owner of the Kelly family plot, Timothy Kelly, are provided on the Allen County Public Library's genealogical databases. As we've already seen, Timothy Kelly was born in Ireland around 1828. (I say "around," because as you've already read, there have been several dates offered for his year of birth.) The cemetery burial records give his passing as September 22, 1901.

Timothy Kelly's wife was Ellen Hannan Kelly, who happened to be the first of his family whom I can confirm was buried in the newly-established Catholic Cemetery. According to cemetery records, her date of death was September 27, 1875. She died young. Her obituary alluded to that fact in mentioning the many who mourned herthough not happening to actually, you know, mention the names of any of those in her family who would have been the most grieved at her passing. The cemetery record made note of her age as thirty seven years, three months.

She was not alone for long, laid to rest in that lonely spot outside the city limits of their adopted home in America. The eldest son of the other Kelly family joined her at the start of the new year in 1876.

As for the children of Timothy and Ellen, not all were buried in this family plot. Of those who were, the eldest was Andrew, a divorced man who died December 2, 1940, at the age of seventy three years.

The next youngest child of Timothy and Ellen was a son named after his father. The younger Timothy was one of the three Timothys I mentioned the other day. He died in 1909, much like the namesake son of the plot's co-owner, John: young, single, living and dying in the same home in which he was born.

With these burials related to Timothy Kelly plus those already mentioned for co-owner John Kelly, that totals nine family members. There were others in the family of Timothy and Ellen Kelly, but since they were married, they were buried in their own family plots.

Still, to help in scouring the details for any clues allowing us to determine just how this plot's co-owners might have been related (if at all), it would be useful to review the two married children of Timothy and Ellen, and then puzzle over what might have become of two additional daughters who seemed to have dropped from view about the time they reached their twenties.

Above: "On the Quays," 1888 charcoal on canvas by Irish landscape artist, Frank O'Meara; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Kellys I Know

When John and Johanna Falvey Kelly arrived in the United States sometime before July of 1869, they brought with them their three surviving children who had been born in County Kerry, Ireland. This included their eldest son, Timothy, and two daughters, Catherine and Mary.

The reason I know the family made it to Fort Wayne before July, 1869, is that this was the date when their next son arrived. Patrick Timothy Kelly was born on July 18, 1869, conveniently placing an incontrovertible marker on the Kelly family immigration timeline. Thus, the family had to have crossed the Atlantic sometime after their youngest daughter, Mary, was born in County Kerry in 1867, and before Patrick's arrival in 1869.

Once the Kelly family settled into their new home in Fort Wayne, they welcomed one last child into their household: son John, arriving in 1876.

The oldest and the youngest were the only Kelly children to have never married. John's son Timothy, because he died of an accidental gunshot wound at the age of sixteen, never had the opportunity. John's youngest son, named after him, never carried on the family name either, living in his parents' home as a single man until his death in 1925 at the age of forty nine.

The other Kelly siblings all married. The eldest daughter, Catherine, married widower John Kelly Stevens and became the mother of my husband's paternal grandfather before her untimely death. Her younger sister, Mary, married local railroad man Patrick Phillips and became the mother of four daughters. Their next youngest brother, also named Patrick, married a young widow named Emma Carle Brown from Logansport, Indiana. He adopted her then-sixteen-month-old son, Frederick Brown, and together they welcomed seven additional children into their familyall told, a total of four sons and four daughters.

Each of these Kelly children I can locate in the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemeteryand quite a few of the grandchildren, as well.

When it comes to questions about the Kelly family plot, though, what I need to see is who, among the burials in lot number 232 of Section C, belong to the family of John and Johanna Kelly. Of course, there is John, himself, who died in 1892. His wife Johanna joined him in 1903. Their son John, who died in 1925, was also buried in the family plot. And the tragic youth, their young son Timothy, was the first of their immediate family to be buried there in 1876.

Another burial in the plot remains a mystery: the one year old child named William may have been the son of John and Johannaor he may have been the son of Timothy and Ellen. I haven't located any documentation to determine the relationship, yet.

With one exception, the remainders of the burials appear to belong to the family of Timothy and Ellen. Since we are trying to find any further clues about this other family sharing the same burial plot, we'll begin discussing what can be found on Timothy Kelly's family from these burial records tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Three Timothys in #232

The Kelly family plot in Fort Wayne, Indiana, wasas I discovered in searching for our ancestor Catherine Kelly Stevensa jointly owned plot held by two different Kelly families.

The presumption is that the joint ownersJohn Kelly and Timothy Kellywere relatives, but I still haven't been able to determine just how they were. To document this relationship might involve a more exhaustive search into the roots of the other Kelly family than I would otherwise have done. After all, this might turn out to have been just another friendly face remembered from that far away homeland in County Kerry, Ireland. Or these two Kellys might turn out to be cousins. Or brothers.

I spent a lot of time using the online databases of the Allen County Public Libraryat least, when I wasn't traveling through the area and could stop in for a brief in-person research sessionso I'm grateful for that long-distance access. Because of those resources, I was able to determine more about the Kelly family plot at the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery than could otherwise be gleaned using Find A Grave.

For the most partwith one notable exceptionthe family plot was labeled Lot Number 232 in Section C of the Catholic Cemetery. According to the map on the cemetery's website now, Section C is also called the Garden of Angels. An information page provided on the cemetery by Find A Grave indicates that, at its current location, the Catholic Cemetery was open for interments in 1873just two years before the first of the Kellys' burials in their family plot.

It could have been possible that the church, in a push to gather enough support to purchase the new cemetery property on Lake Avenuethen one mile outside the city limits of the timemight have encouraged parishioners to pool their resources to purchase plots. However, the fact thatwith one notable exceptioneach of the burials in the family plot were surnamed Kelly leads me to think that all those buried in the Kelly plot were likely related to each other.

The question is how.

For instance, there are three different Timothy Kellys buried in this plot. One, obviously, became the final resting place of the co-owner of the plot, the Timothy Kelly bornat least according to the cemetery recordin 1829. Because I already have verification on it, I can identify the Timothy Kelly who died in 1876 as the son of John Kelly, while the third Timothy Kelly was the son of the co-owner, Timothy Kelly.

Confusing, right?

With just those threethe third Timothy having died in 1901you can see how the family plot was comprised of members of two families. How they related to each otherif at allI have yet to discover.

By searching the Allen County library's database of Catholic Cemetery burials, I can simply enter the surname Kelly and bring up details on the seventy Kellys who were buried there from the cemetery's establishment in 1873 through 1993. Then, using my "find" function and searching the exact designation of lot numberentered in the database as "ln. 232"I can spot every one of the people buried in that Kelly family plot.

Since the database records provide me with the name, date of death and sometimes the year of birthas well as some other detailsI can begin to separate those Kellys belonging to the family of John Kelly from those belonging to Timothy Kelly. Since I don't yet know how Timothy Kelly fits into my husband's Kelly family line, I started a separate tree in my database management program for the details I find on his family members. Once I've located enough convincing documentation to do soand if the relationship warrants the moveI'll migrate the information into my husband's family tree.

Hopefully, at that point, it will help me match up the relationship between my husband and these two recent matches that have popped up on his DNA test results.

Before we can untangle any of that, though, we need to start at the beginning, and review what is already known about each of the players in this two-family tango of Kellys.

Above: "Cobbler's Shop in Lancelot Place, Knightsbridge," watercolor by Dublin-born artist, Rose Maynard Barton; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Puzzling Over Two Kellys

It all started—and endedwith an untimely death. Catherine Kelly, daughter of John and Johanna Falvey Kelly, had recently married a widower in Fort Wayne by the name of John Kelly Stevens. The recently bereaved man, left with a one year old daughter and a two week old infantwho also eventually succumbedwas likely keen on finding a new wife as quickly as possible. Life in the 1880s afforded no such niceties as Family and Medical Leave Acts.

Factoring in a respectable amount of time for mourning his loss, John Kelly Stevens returned to work at the Bass Foundry and Machine Works, where he was a molder. He found someone to temporarily care for his toddler daughter while he took care of the inescapable duties of providing the finances to meet their needs.

Life seemed to return to some normalcy once John found a suitable bride and new "mother" for his daughter. John K. "Stevans" and Kate Kelly were married on October 16, 1883.

The new "norm" didn't last long, however. What might otherwise have been joyful news that Catherine had delivered a son turned to yet another tragedy. Soon after giving birth, Catherine Kelly Stevens died on November 23, 1884barely a year and a month after her marriage.

Left, this time, with two young children to care for, the man must have been doubly devastated. After his first loss, even though his first wife had died in Fort Wayne, he had had to turn to his father and step-mother, back in Lafayette, Indiana, to assist with caring for his surviving daughter as well as burying his wife and infant. Like many young couples, this was a young man who had no financial margin.

When John's second wife, Catherine, died in 1884, it was difficult to determine exactly where she was buried. There was no family plot in Fort Wayne for a couple as young as this, and John's family was not only all the way across the state, but likely in no condition to step up and bear the burden of this additional cost of burial.

It was thus understandably difficult, all these years later, to find the location of Catherine Kelly Stevens' grave. In retrospect, the emphasis of her maiden name over her married name on the headstone and records may have been part of my research dilemma. But the rest of the difficulty lies with the fact that it was not her husband who stepped up to pay her burial expenses, but her father, John Kellyand another man.

That other man was named Kelly, as wellTimothy Kelly. This Timothy, however, was not Catherine's older brother Timothy, who had died years before in a tragic accident. Besides, this Timothy Kelly was too old to be John Kelly's son. And yet, he seemed to be too young to have been John's brother. With the inconsistent manner in which Irish-Americans handled reports of their date of birth, John had reported, at various times, that he been born anywhere from 1808 to 1830. Timothy's date of birth had been given as anywhere between 1827 and 1839.

No matter how they were relatedI can only presume, at this pointthey were enough of acquaintances of each other to decided to go into the financial arrangement of jointly purchasing a family plot at the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery.

The impetus for this financial partnership was likely not the death of John's daughter Catherine, as I eventually discovered. But it was in seeking the location of her resting placeand in examining all the burials in John and Timothy Kelly's family plotthat I found the record of Catherine Kelly Stevens' burial.

That discovery, years ago, was the start of the collaboration with the Kelly researcher I mentioned yesterday. It was in a partnership of our own, through multitudes of emails and snail mail packages, that we tried to piece together the relationship of those two Kelly men back in 1880s Fort Wayne.

We never could.

Again, as had happened with another research partnership I've discussed here beforethat time, on the Gordon familymy fellow researcher eventually died, not knowing the answer to the questions we had about our mutual Kelly families. Since then, online research has evolved so much that I begin to entertain hopes that maybe, just maybe, this time, I can find something more to lead me further down the trail to an answer on this two-Kellys puzzle.


Above: "An Old Woman and Children in a Cottage Interior," 1887 painting by Irish artist William Gerard Barry; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Serendipity of Sundays

It sometimes takes the amorphous ambience of a weekend to let the riveting focus of the business week drain out of our lives and allow the ebb and flow of the breath of life to rejuvenate us. Somehow, researching that family tree on Sundays also benefits from the laid-back gift of weekends.

I was mulling over my dilemma with the New Zealand connection to my Falvey family from County Kerry. Mainly, I was wondering what my next move could be. There was nothing definitive out there, as far as records went in Ireland during the 1840s through 1860s, that seemed to finger our Johanna Falvey. Certainly not her husband, the unfortunately-named John Kelly.

So, here I was, lazily poking around the Internet yesterday, letting my mind wander while I caught up on some blog reading. As usual, I made the rounds of my favorite bloggers who make a habit of publishing those "Best of" collectionsRandy Seaver at Genea-Musings, Linda Stufflebean's "Recommended Reads" on Empty Branches on the Family Tree, and for my Canadian roots and branches, Gail Dever of Genealogy à la carte. I ran across a mention of a post by Amy Johnson Crow regarding that well-known advice by Elizabeth Shown Mills about following the leads in your ancestors' "FAN Club"Friends, Associates and Neighbors.

There is hardly a genealogical researcher alive who hasn't been exposed to that concept, but just in case you haven't heard, the idea is that people do not live their lives in total isolation. They move in circles. The people in those circles have a habit of showing up with enough regularity in our mystery ancestors' lives to merit some attention in their own right.

You are probably guessing, by my emphasis on this casual encounter with yet another helpful Amy Johnson Crow article, that I am going to take up the rallying cry and go pursue some Falvey FAN Club members.

If so, you are almost right. It is not exactly a Falvey connection I'm going to followdespite my current quest to figure out the nexus with a gentleman in New Zealand who just happens to match my husband's DNAbut a Kelly connection.

What happened was this: as I do every two weeks, I had just checked the most recent additions to our DNA matches, isolating those who rank at the relationship of second to fourth cousin or closer. A new match turned out to have our New Zealand Falvey connection in common with us. Looking at this new match, pulling up the tree and list of surnames, I noticed one: Deheny.

Deheny is not in my husband's tree. But it has come up in my research, over and over again. The reason is that someone in our Kelly linea Kelly man of an unknown relationshiplost his wife at a young age and remarried. His second wife's name was Deheny.

Because I could never figure out just how this Kelly man was related to Johanna Falvey's husband, John Kelly, I did what made the most sense to me: not plug it into our own family tree. Even though I had extensive correspondence, over the years, with a Kelly researcher from this branch of the family, we never could figure out the connectionso I filed all those emails and notes away in a box. To work on later.

Looks like it is now time to retrieve that box and go through its contents, once again. Maybe this time, not only will I figure out how to connect this Deheny marriage and Kelly relative to Johanna's family, but find a way to explain just how these two DNA matches connect with a person living in New Zealand.

Above: "Parks Place, Knightsbridge, London," 1916 watercolor by Dublin-born artist, Rose Maynard Barton; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.   

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wondering About Wedding Bells

If I couldn't find baptismal records for my Johanna Falvey Kelly's childrenother than the two possibilities for Maryperhaps it would be easier to locate marriage records. Only, of course, if they could be located in church records. Due to legal restrictions in Ireland, when John Kelly had wed his bride, Johanna, there would have been no possibility of civil registration for them; they were Catholic.

Thankfully, it wasn't difficult to locate a possibility for our John and Johannaalthough, even here, it might be for an entirely unrelated couple. I keep having to remind myself how common the surname Kelly is, and how fond of the name John the Irish people seem to be.

What I found was in the records of the church parish of Kilcummin. Now, I realize there is also a civil designation of Kilcumminit's also the name of a civil parish, happily containing the townland of Knockauncore for which I keep seeing referencesso I keep having to remind myself which side of the document divide I am currently accessing. Though church and civil designations may utilize the same names, they may not exactly correspond to the same geographic area.

Considering John and Johanna's first childa son they named Timothywas born in 1860, it would be reasonable to discover the couple had married the previous year. That was indeed the year I discovered this particular marriage record: 1859.

The church parish of Kilcummin is in the diocese of Kerry. Apparently, the diocese has an extensive history. Once a researcher gets the chance to actually travel to Ireland and get an eyeful of the multitude of crumbling remnants of antiquity across the land, it then becomes no surprise to see, as this website from the current-day diocese explains it, a heritage stretching back to the twelfth century. It is also encouraging to learn of the part the diocese has played in the digitization of their recordswhich records, in addition to their ecclesiastical role, have now taken on genealogical significance, as well.

Preserved within this collectionand now available online, thanks to the foresight of those keepers of the records at the diocese of Kerrywas a marriage entry in the Kilcummin church parish on 2 March, 1859, for Johannis Kelly and Johanna Falvey of Knockauncore. Once again, that surname Fleming showed up, this time as one of the witnesses to the wedding vows.

Again, I'm tempted to claim this one as ours, though I resist getting up that hope. There are so many likely others with the same combination of names, even within County Kerry. I keep hoping for some additional ways to conclusively verify.

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