Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Other Catherine Kelly

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.


  1. Replies
    1. Nothing is ever easy, you know, but there are some promising leads...

  2. How many Catherine Kelly's are you dealing with? :)

    1. Thankfully, not as many as there are Margaret Tullys!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...