Pondering over the origin of John Stevens, Irish immigrant to Lafayette, Indiana, is not made any easier by examining the roots of his wife. As we’ve already discovered, research has been complicated by the fact that both John the father and John the son married women by the name of Catherine Kelly. Yet this earlier of the two Catherines has absolutely no paper trail to assist us in determining the place of her birth.
Family oral history had it that this Catherine came from Dublin, Ireland. I can’t support this in any way—and I get concerned about word of mouth when the one bearing the tale got confused, himself, over exactly which Catherine is which.
It would have perhaps made things easier for me, in this quest to research each of the Irish forbears, if John and Catherine had married before embarking on their trans-Atlantic odyssey. It appears, though, that they actually were married in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.
Even that introduces an element of doubt. The only record remotely matching the details of these two ancestors is a marriage entry in an index for a Catharine Kelly and John Stevenson. The date of the wedding was December 27, 1853—which fits, considering their oldest son, James, was born in 1854. While Stevens is not the same as Stevenson, admittedly, I can vouch for that same mistake being made in our family’s case even in current times, so I know it is possible. With spelling being what it was in those years, perhaps someone got carried away and added that last little flourish.
Or maybe I just have the wrong couple.