Friday, September 30, 2016

A Step-Daughter in the Mix

Having made no progress in ascertaining the connection between the two Fort Wayne KellysJohn and Timothythrough a closer look at the latter's children, we'll soon move on to see what can be discovered about the younger Kelly's unnamed widow. But before we do, we need to stop for a moment and consider one additional "daughter" listed in his household for the 1900 census.

This "daughter" was named Margaret. According to the census, she was thirty one years of age in 1900. In fact, the record showed her to be born in January of 1869not quite nine months before the Kellys' son Timothy arrived in September of that same year.

If you thought that birth sequence was what brought the poor first wife of Timothy Kelly to her premature death, don't worry yourself over such an injustice. Ellen Hannan Kelly died in 1875, not 1869. And, as we didn't discover until finally reading Timothy's own obituary, that same Margaret was listed as his step-daughtera good reminder to never base all your genealogical assumptions upon one record, even if it is a government-issued document.

Noting that Margaret was nowhere to be seen in the Kelly household for the 1880 census, it's safe to assume she arrived in this family upon her mother's marriage to the widower Timothy, which occurred shortly after the census was enumerated for that year.

While the thirty one year old Margaret was listed in the 1900 census under the surname Kellyan unfortunate ink blot where the otherwise meticulous enumerator had begun to spell the name as Kelley rendering the indexing of that record now as "Kellog"that was unlikely to be her own surname. Within the year, according to Timothy Kelly's 1901 obituary, she was by then known as Mrs. Margaret Sweeney.

If you think the logical next step in determining anything about this Kelly family's origin is to trace any information on Margaret Sweeney or her Irish immigrant mother Mary, you are thinking about the same way I did when I last tackled this problem. Fortunately, there is now such improved access to multiple additional records than my last research attempt.

Our next step, then, will be to trace what can be found on this Margaret Sweeney, supposedly born in Indiana in 1869 to a mother who declared she had not arrived on our fair shores until 1875. A grand trick, if one can pull it off.

Still, vastly improved resources aside, I can already tell you this research trail has some frustrating twistsa reminder to never lose sight of which government documents are based not in fact, but in what is reported to be fact. The two, as it turns out, are not always the same.

Above: The Timothy Kelly household in the 1900 U.S. Census for Fort Wayne, Indiana; courtesy

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Seeking Whatever Became of
Those Two Kelly Daughters

Finding young women of past centuries through genealogical pursuits can sometimes be tricky. The assumption is often that they "disappeared" from records because they were married, but their new surname is lost to subsequent generations because it was never noted in a family history. A second supposition is that the child died at a young age in an era in which published obituaries might be more of a financial burden than some immigrant families were able to bearat, coincidentally, a time prior to the thorough gathering of civil records related to the jurisdiction's deaths.

While I can locate ample information on the other children of Timothy and Ellen Kelly of Fort Wayne, Indiana, wouldn't you know it would be the two adolescent daughters, Catherine and Mary, who evaded my research grasp. Thus, I was left with those two possible fates: marriage or death.

Fortunately for those attempting to trace their family in Fort Wayne, there are ample online resources to help resolve my quandary, thanks to the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. My first move, then, was to seek any records for these two Kelly daughters in the library's resourcestaking care to not confuse this Catherine and Mary with the two daughters of that other possible Kelly relative, John, who also bore the very same names.

The Genealogy Center has several resources that came in handyalthough all, as it turned out, for nothing more than to confirm there was no entry for the two women I was seeking. Remembering that the Kelly surname was just as likely to be entered with the spelling K-e-l-l-e-y as the one I was accustomed to, I had to be careful to search each resource twice, once for each spelling variation.

Before I got started seeking those two Kelly daughters, I checked my parameters. Catherine and Mary Kelly were last seen in the 1880 census record, and absent from the 1900 census. Because Catherine was born about 1861 and Mary in 1863, that would have meant seeking daughters aged thirty nine and thirty seven, respectively, by the time of that 1900 censusthe point at which, had they still been alive, they certainly would have been married, if out of their father's household.

Checking the library resources, I turned first to the listings of the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery. If the two Kelly daughters had died soon after the 1880 census, it would make sense that they would be buried in the Kelly family plot, where their own mother had been buried in 1875. However, there was nothing there for a Catherine or a Mary of a young age, dying in 1880 or beyond, using either spelling variation: Kelly or Kelley.

No problem. There were still other resources. Fortunately, thanks to the Indiana Works Progress Administration, an index was compiled of old death records for Allen County, with dates ranging from the 1870s through the 1920s, which the library had compiled into a searchable database. Checking there for both surname spellings, though, yielded nothing for an age-appropriate entry for either Catherine or Mary. Strike two.

There were other databases available online at the library's Genealogy Center, thankfully, so the game was not up with this defeat. I tried my hand, poking through a number of themeven tried the Coroner Records Database, in case our two damsels in distress found themselves in dire straits.

One possibility emerged in the database listed as "church burial records." Why that database didn't correspond to the information in the Catholic Cemetery database, I don't know; perhaps these included burials in unmarked graves. However, there was a listing for a Kate Kelley, buried on April 18, 1882, whose only other information provided was that she was twenty years of age and had been born in Fort Wayne. Her funeral, according to the database, was held at the Cathedral.

Knowing there were likely dozens of Kate Kelleys in the area who could have been this unfortunate young woman, I noted that as a possibility, and kept looking.

Fortunately, her family wasn't so destitute that they couldn't afford an insertion in the local paper. According to the "Area Newspaper Index" for obituaries dated from 1837 through 1899a collection gleaned from a previously-assembled index which, unfortunately, didn't include source information for many of the newspaper entriesthere was a funeral announcement published on April 18, 1882, for a Katie Kelly. Included in the abstract was the note that this Katie was a daughter of Timothy of 20 Brandriff.

Game over—at least for our Catherine Kelly. This was the address for Timothy Kelly's household.

While that conclusively wraps up the search for Catherine, what about her sister Mary? While there were several entries referring to young people named Mary Kellyor Kelleythey all were either for children of a much younger age, or for adults whose date of birth would be much later than our Mary's.

I'd like to hope that this daughter of Timothy and Ellen Kelly made it to an enjoyable and rewarding adulthood, but somehow, I don't think that had happened. My one clue is that of her own father's obituary, published in the Fort Wayne Sentinel on September 21, 1901, which included mention of only one daughter: Mrs. Frank Pence, the baby of the family called Dabora in the 1880 census.
     Timothy Kelly, a pioneer railroad employe and for many years a resident of Fort Wayne, died at 9:30 o'clock this morning at his home, 20 Brandriff street. Mr. Kelly was 62 years of age, and death was due to Bright's disease. He had been in failing health for some time, but it was only within the past week that his condition came to be regarded as critical.
     Mr. Kelly was born in county Kerry, Ireland, but came to America when a mere boy. He helped to build the Pittsburg road, located in Fort Wayne in 1857 and was for many years foreman of the Pennsylvania car shops in this city. Failing health compelled him to retire from active work several years ago.
     He was a faithful member of St. Patrick's Catholic church, and the surviving relatives include the widow and four children: Andrew J., Timothy, jr., and Richard Kelly, and Mrs. Frank Pence. There is also a step-daughter, Mrs. Margaret Sweeney. Margaret Kelly is a sister of the deceased. 

Whatever became of Timothy Kelly's daughters Marywhose name wasn't even entered in records of area deathsand Catherine, whose burial location I've yet to find, will have to remain a puzzle for the next iteration of searches on behalf of this family. For now, suffice it to know neither of these Kelly daughters remained to marry and have children of their ownor descendants who might, one day, hope to find our family through a chance inspiration to spring for a DNA test.

Above: "Street Scene," watercolor by Irish landscape artist Rose Maynard Barton (1856 - 1929); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kattie and Mary

We've spent more than a week, now, trying to find any hints as to just how Timothy Kelly of Fort Wayne might have been related to my husband's second great grandfather, John Kelly. My only clue, at the start, was the fact that the two men had together bought a family plot at the Catholic Cemetery. That, I discovered when working through the puzzle of where John's married daughter, Catherine Kelly Stevens, had been buried after her untimely death in 1884.

In reviewing all that could be discovered about Timothy's first wife and children Andrew, Richard, Timothy and Deborah didn't provide any promising leads. Yet, in turning to the two remaining children of Timothy and Ellentheir oldest two daughters, for which not very much documentation can be locatedthere lies the same tantalizing naming pattern that we had encountered with John Kelly's own two daughters. The eldest was named Catherine, followed by the next born named Mary—"Kattie" and Mary, as they appeared in the Kelly household for the 1880 census.

There were differences between those two sets of daughters, of course. Since Timothy had arrived in the United States at a young age, and had married Ellen in Fort Wayne, of course their two oldest daughters would have been born in this country. The two daughters of John and Johanna were born back in Irelandin County Kerry, as we have discovered.

Timothy's two girls were born in 1861 and 1863, followed by three brothers. John's Catherine was born approximately 1862not much younger than Timothy's Catherine. As for the Mary born to John and Johanna, well, let's just say it appears (with thanks to reader Kat for finding this documentation) that Mary was a special name to that family, for there may have been one born in 1864 followed, after her possible death, by another Mary born in 1867.

Could there have been anything to those Irish naming patterns, even for two families as far removed from each other asif they were actually familyTimothy and John Kelly? Or were the two families just coincidentally drawn to favor those namesin that same orderof Catherine and Mary?

For immigrant Irish in the 1860s, it is quite possible that they could have been following tradition. In a recent article posted on the FindMyPast blog, Fiona Fitzsimons of Eneclann explained the "very strong naming pattern" evident in choices of names bestowed by Irish parents upon their eldest children. Though the author concedes that the naming patterns did not appear to be adhered to as strongly for daughters as for sons, there is the possibility of an order, as outlined in more detail in this list found at Rootsweb.

In the case of Timothy Kelly's daughters, it may have been possible that the eldest, Catherine, gained her namesake position from her maternal grandmother, and likewise second-born Mary from her paternal grandmother. However, we also have to remember, in comparing these two sets of Kelly daughters, that even if Timothy and John were brothersthus both having the same mother's name to pass down to their second-born daughtersthe name of each of the eldest daughters would have come from a different woman's mother. Thus, Catherine would have had to be the name of both Ellen's mother and Johanna's mother, if both families were following the pattern.

But I don't yet know whether Timothy and John were Kelly brothers, Kelly cousins, or just two guys living in Fort Wayne who happened to have the same, common, Irish surname. All I know is that they didn't mind pooling their money in the same pot, when it came to making arrangements to bury their dead.

More important than that, I have yet to fully determine what became of Timothy's Catherine and Maryalthough I have some guesses, which we'll look into tomorrow.

 Above: The household of widower Timothy Kelly, as shown in the 1880 U.S. Census for Fort Wayne, Allen County, in Indiana; courtesy of

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Baby of the Family

Of all the children of Timothy and Ellen Hannan Kelly, only Richard and Deborah were not buried in the family's plot at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne. Best I can determine, this was mainly because each of them had married and was buried with a spouse. We saw that yesterday, in the case of Richard and his wife Louise. Today, we'll take a brief look at the life of the youngest member of the Kelly family, Deborah.

Timothy and Ellen's youngest daughter arrived in the Kelly's home in Fort Wayne on September 29, 1873. The 1880 census saw fit to round that to an arrival date of 1874. Close enough, not only for age, but also for spelling; the enumerator listed her as "Dabora"and perhaps, that was how the Irish preferred to pronounce it.

By the time this youngest member of the Kelly household was seen again in census records, she had already been married. The honors went to a young man from Logan County, Ohio, named Frank Pence, whom she wed on the first of June, 1898.

The couple spent most of their married years living in Fort Wayneaccording to the 1900 census, along with Frank's mother Sarah and sister Alliebut moved back to Ohio before 1920. Apparently, their move to Toledo was for a business opportunity, for the 1920 census indicated he was the merchant operating a retail shop for cigars. Fine cigars, I'd presume.

Whether lack of business success or other reasons convinced them to forsake Toledo, the Pences returned to Fort Wayne before the 1930 census, and remained there until their passingFrank in 1944 and Deborah following soon after in 1945.

Unlike the rest of the Kelly family, Deborah and her husband were not buried in the Catholic Cemetery at all. I found their burial, thanks to the databases at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, at the Lindenwood Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Allen County, Indiana.

Like each of the other Kelly siblings I could findwith the sole exception of Richard and his wife LouiseDeborah had no children.

Now, beside the descendants of Richard and Louise, I know of no others. That, however, doesn't mean the search is complete. There are yet two other daughters to be accounted for, plus one other female listed in the Kelly household, for which I've had great difficulty finding convincing documentation.

Our next task, then, will be to see what can be found for the two remaining daughters of Timothy and Ellentheir eldest two children, Catherine and Mary. Once we've satisfied ourselves with that search, we'll move on to figure out what can be determined for the other young woman showing up in the Kelly household in the 1900 censusa "daughter" named Margaret.

And, to learn anything more about the Kelly family, we'll also have to include a look at Timothy's second wife, Mary, whom he married in 1880. She, it turns out, may be the one to lead us back to her origins in Ireland—and not only that, but help with our current puzzle untangling a couple DNA matches which surely lead back to this family's roots.

Above: Portion of the Allen County, Indiana, marriage record of Frank C. Pence and Deborah Kelly, courtesy  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Possibly Family;
Certainly Co-Worker

In reviewing what can be found about each of the members of the Timothy Kelly familyin hopes of uncovering any clues as to their connection to my husband's Kelly family in Fort Wayneit was easy to trace each of the unmarried children buried in the Kelly plot. Other than the one puzzle over baby Williamwhose child was he?the burial details for Timothy and his wife Ellen, as well as for sons Timothy and Andrew, were straightforward. The records for each of the burials in section C, family plot number 232, were easily accessible through the database for the Catholic Cemetery at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Still, there were two more children who were not buried in the family plot co-owned by Timothy Kelly and my husband's second great grandparents, John and Johanna Falvey Kelly. These were the married children of Timothy and Ellen: their son Richard and their daughter Deborah. We'll discuss Richard today, and continue with Deborah tomorrow.

Of the children I've been able to locate for Timothy and Ellen Hannan Kelly, Richard was the fifth-born of the sixth, with Deborah being the only one younger than he. Arriving in Fort Wayne on October 4, 1871, he likely squirmed his way into the humble family home on Brandriff Street as best he could.

Growing up, Richard and his siblings likely had the typical experience of poor Irish-Americans, as children of railroad workers. The church was a fixture in family lifeRichard's parents were long-time members of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Fort Waynebut more ever-present than even that was the need to work for survival.

Before Richard had reached the age of four, his mother had passed away. It wasn't until he was nearly nine that his father married againto another Irish immigrant who hadn't even arrived in America until the very year in which Richard's own mother had died.

By the time Richard was in his twenties, he had followed in his father's footsteps and was working as a brakeman for the railroads. In 1896, he married Louise Miller, daughter of German immigrants, and also took her sister Rosa into his household. It wasn't until 1905 that their only child was borna daughter they named Helen.

The 1910 census provided the clue that Richard had sprung for the opportunity to change careers. At some time before that point, he had been hired by the Fort Wayne Police Department as a patrolman, beginning not only the career that spanned his lifetime, but one which intertwined with that of a specific other Kelly descendant of interest: John Kelly Stevens, the great grandfather of my husband.

In scouring the newspapers of Fort Wayne for clues about John Kelly Stevens' day-to-day experiences on the job, I'd often run into mentions of Richard Kelly. I often wondered why John Kelly Stevens emphasized the Kelly part of his name so much; and wonder if it was to point to the relationship with this other Kelly manrelative or notwho worked in the same office. (Often, John Kelly Stevens would simply be referred to, in these news reports, as "Kelly Stevens," omitting the "John" entirely.)

Through this foray into the day-to-day reporting about cops' beats and downtown news, I learned not only about John Kelly Stevens' work, but also that of Richard Kelly. Though the census record seldom gave Richard's occupational title as anything more than patrolman or "police clerk," he was sometimes addressed by news reporters as Captain Kelly.

Perhaps because, unlike his siblings buried in the Kelly family plot, Richard was married, he was buried in a different plot at the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery. He died on February 22, 1945, in Fort Wayne, and was buried alongside his wife, who predeceased him, in section A, lot number 438.

Among his siblings, Richard apparently had one other distinction in the Kelly family: he was the only one to have any of the grandchildren of Timothy and Ellen Kelly. Though both Timothy and Ellen were, by then, both passed on themselves, their only grandchild, Helen, married an Indiana man named George Horton, herself having a daughter she named Margaret Joan. While Helen passed away in 1987, and Margaret in 1993, the sole remaining legacy of descendants of Timothy and Ellen is represented by Margaret's five children.

Above: Undated (before 1914) watercolor of a hellebore by Irish botanical artist Lydia Shackleton; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Difference One Email Can Make

Sometimes, interruptions to the daily routine can be welcome.

Twice each month, I try to keep tabs on my research progress by counting such items as total number of individuals added to each family treea tree each for my paternal and maternal side, as well as the same for my husband's family. I also track how many autosomal matches are currently in each of our accounts at both Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA. And, in that ever-hopeful anticipation that it will someday occur, I also keep a column to list those matches which have actually been confirmed by a documented paper trail (a sorry number, incidentally, as I've only been able to confirm five apiece, of which two people were already known relatives solicited by me to take the test).

The past two weeks, however, have been taken up with the joyful possibility that I might just be able to confirm at least one more distant cousin, if not two.

After sending out introductory email after emailmany disappearing into the ether, never to be seen againI actually got an encouraging response from one match on my husband's side. The beauty of this connection was twofold. First, this respondent was just as keen as I am to figure out the connection. Second, checking the "in common with" function at FTDNA, this particular match also brings up the New Zealand connection I mentioned earlier this month.

I sometimes hesitate to suggest working as a group on these DNA projects, else someone may think I'm spammingyes, believe it or not, there have been such innuendoesbut I gave it a try and was delighted to see that the other two parties were game to work on this together.

This isn't an easy project, incidentally. Apparently, this newer match doesn't clearly have any surnames which fit my husband's profile, as far as his ancestors from County Kerry go. But there is that unusual match with the other Kelly family I've been talking about lately. The reason I'm pursuing that connection is because of this work, behind the scenes, comparing genealogical notes with this new DNA match.

The fallout from this development is that I've had some promising progress on some lines, but not so much on the others. There is, after all, only so many research hours in any given week.

So let's look at the numbers, and see where progress has been made, so far in this second half of September.

For my husband's paternal treethe one with the potential Kelly and Falvey family DNA connectionsI managed to add only eleven new names to the tree, giving a current total of 1,062. However, that is a misleading report. Because I wasn't entirely sure that the other Kelly family I'm researching would actually turn out to be relatives of our John and Johanna Falvey Kelly, I actually constructed a separate tree for them. So, if you add the total number in that new tree to my father in law's tree, you'd have an additional thirty three peopleforty four in total added in the last two weeks, resulting in 1,095 on his paternal side.

There. That sounds better.

That wasn't all, though. I do try to keep up on research on all sides of our families, so I added 83 more names to my mother in law's tree, to reach a total there of 8,557. On my own trees, I added 115 to my maternal side, to total 8,723. Now that I've switched from working on my paternal Polish roots, however, there was zero progress on that tree, which still stands at 345.

Meanwhile, those DNA matches keep rolling in. My husband is up to 861 matches at FTDNA and 159 at Ancestry. Guess that sale at FTDNA is working, because it means an additional twenty five matches to work on there since I checked two weeks ago.

On my own side, I now have 1,362 matches at FTDNA, up 29 from the last check, and 372 at Ancestry. I limit my correspondence with new matches to those at the range of second to fourth cousins or closer, so I only contacted two additional people in this last sequence, same as I did for my husband's results.

Still, just that one respondent has kept me busy with reviewing family trees and various theoretical scenarios proposed in our correspondence. I'm having a grand time considering the possibilities. Of course, the bottom line is that we all hope we can figure out the connectiondoing so will likely shine a light on a branch of the family tree we hadn't known about before. But even if it comes to naught, I'm certainly enjoying myself having such an invigorating discussion about a pursuit over which we all seem to be equally passionate.  

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.

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