Saturday, September 7, 2013

Who’s Buried in Kelly’s Plot?

What can be done with the treasure trove of information dug from the cemetery records regarding an ancestor’s family plot?

Now that the entire listing of the cemetery of my focus is open for all to view online, you can look over my shoulder as I peruse the names and dates and see if we can discover anything. It takes a little work, but by looking at the page from the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center that lists all the Kelly burials at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, we can glean a short list of everyone buried in Lot 232.

As I mentioned yesterday, there were nine burials in the Kelly family plot. Following the Genealogy Center’s alphabetic listing, let’s just lay out that listing, including any other information attached.

Here were the nine Kellys:

  • Andrew J., died December 2, 1940; aged 73 years, 1 month, 1 day; born Fort Wayne, divorced
  • Ellen, died September 27, 1875; aged 37 years, 3 months; born 1838 in Ireland
  • Johanna, died May 1, 1903; born 1828
  • John J., died March 14, 1925; born 1876
  • John T., died 1892; born 1808
  • Timothy, died January 20, 1876; born Ireland
  • Timothy, died September 22, 1901; born 1829
  • Timothy, died January 4, 1909; born 1869
  • William, died July 29, 1874; aged one year

Now that we’ve aggregated that data, I want to try one more thing. Remember I mentioned that this time, I wanted to see a timeline of when burials occurred in this cemetery plot? I wanted to check out the order in which the family members died and how close these occurrences might have been to each other.

So let’s rearrange the above list to see the order and timing:
  • William—1874
  • Ellen—1875
  • Timothy—1876
  • John T.—1892
  • Timothy—1901
  • Johanna—1903
  • Timothy—1909
  • John J.—1925
  • Andrew J.—1940

What emerges from this is a timeline showing a couple clusters—and then some outliers. The earliest deaths—perhaps reflective of a time ridden with tragedies taken as a more “everyday” occurrence—clustered around 1875. A baby, a young wife, and an injured teen make up that era’s scenarios. The next cluster circles around the turn of the century, seeming to have as its hallmark the passing of an older generation, rather than the demise of the unfortunate young. Those deaths following later seem to trickle in, over the years, as the unattached sons of the next generation grapple with what might be seen as tragic mid-life crises or unexpected later-life disappointments.

Each of these names represents a story, of course, which will take form for us as we begin to assemble the puzzle of a shadow family tree—a tree whose roots may or may not intertwine with that of the Kelly family from which our family descends.


  1. Hmmm what a puzzle. Could it be a clerical error? Both families paying for a plot but ending up all together? Curious for sure:)

    1. It's my guess the two families paid for the plot jointly--and that it was their intention to do so. That's what makes me wonder whether they were related. I know times can be hard and all that, but generally, I wouldn't expect people who didn't have close relationships to do so.

  2. Perhaps adding birth date to the listing (and age at time of death) will help "clarify" the data.

    I would assume from this listing, the mother of young William (and/or her family) paid for the plot? I've seen family plots shared amongst "extended family" but usually limited to nephews and nieces - and perhaps close cousins. If I had to "bet" - I would think "your Timothy" was a nephew of the plot owner.

    1. At this point, Iggy, I'm clueless whether William's parents were Timothy and Ellen or John and Johanna. Since Johanna was older, my guess at this point is that William was son of the other couple. I may have to revisit the microfilm reading room at my local library or family history center and check out that old Fort Wayne Cathedral microfilm.

      About Timothy's relationship to John (our Timothy's father), I had originally thought they were brothers. The only problem with this is the great disparity in their ages. Of course, that is complicated by the fact that I've seen several different dates for Timothy's birth--the later options making the possibility of brothers seem rather doubtful.


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