Friday, September 30, 2016
Having made no progress in ascertaining the connection between the two Fort Wayne Kellys—John and Timothy—through 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 1869—not 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-daughter—a 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 Kelly—an 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 twists—a 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 FamilySearch.org.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
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 bear—at, 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 resources—taking 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 handy—although 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 census—the 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 them—even 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 1899—a collection gleaned from a previously-assembled index which, unfortunately, didn't include source information for many of the newspaper entries—there 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 Kelly—or Kelley—they 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 Mary—whose name wasn't even entered in records of area deaths—and 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 own—or 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
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 Ellen—their oldest two daughters, for which not very much documentation can be located—there 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 Ireland—in 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 1862—not 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 as—if they were actually family—Timothy and John Kelly? Or were the two families just coincidentally drawn to favor those names—in that same order—of 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 brothers—thus both having the same mother's name to pass down to their second-born daughters—the 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 Mary—although 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 FamilySearch.org.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
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 Wayne—according to the 1900 census, along with Frank's mother Sarah and sister Allie—but 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 passing—Frank 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 find—with the sole exception of Richard and his wife Louise—Deborah 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 Ellen—their 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 census—a "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 FamilySearch.org.
Monday, September 26, 2016
In reviewing what can be found about each of the members of the Timothy Kelly family—in hopes of uncovering any clues as to their connection to my husband's Kelly family in Fort Wayne—it was easy to trace each of the unmarried children buried in the Kelly plot. Other than the one puzzle over baby William—whose 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 life—Richard's parents were long-time members of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Fort Wayne—but 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 again—to 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 born—a 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 man—relative or not—who 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
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 tree—a 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 email—many disappearing into the ether, never to be seen again—I 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 spamming—yes, believe it or not, there have been such innuendoes—but 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 tree—the one with the potential Kelly and Falvey family DNA connections—I 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 people—forty 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 connection—doing 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
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 verification—details 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 month—The Stonecutter's Aria—definitely 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 story—Oh 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 mentioned—who saw the writing of her family's history as personally therapeutic—his 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 living—and 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 volume—Godges published using CreateSpace—the 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 family—the children of a Polish immigrant and the daughter of Italian immigrants—turned 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 am—I often am possessed with that "gotta read it" spirit, but not so much with the follow-through—it 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 sessions—and multiple cups of coffee and hot chocolate—to get through all five hundred pages.
Friday, September 23, 2016
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 researched—those 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 her—though 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
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 family—all told, a total of four sons and four daughters.
Each of these Kelly children I can locate in the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery—and 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 Johanna—or 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 Kelly family plot in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was—as I discovered in searching for our ancestor Catherine Kelly Stevens—a jointly owned plot held by two different Kelly families.
The presumption is that the joint owners—John Kelly and Timothy Kelly—were 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 Library—at least, when I wasn't traveling through the area and could stop in for a brief in-person research session—so 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 part—with one notable exception—the 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 1873—just 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 Avenue—then one mile outside the city limits of the time—might have encouraged parishioners to pool their resources to purchase plots. However, the fact that—with one notable exception—each 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 born—at least according to the cemetery record—in 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.
With just those three—the third Timothy having died in 1901—you can see how the family plot was comprised of members of two families. How they related to each other—if at all—I 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 number—entered 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 birth—as well as some other details—I 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 so—and if the relationship warrants the move—I'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
It all started—and ended—with 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 infant—who also eventually succumbed—was 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, 1884—barely 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 Kelly—and another man.
That other man was named Kelly, as well—Timothy 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 related—I can only presume, at this point—they 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 place—and in examining all the burials in John and Timothy Kelly's family plot—that 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 before—that time, on the Gordon family—my 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
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" collections—Randy 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 follow—despite my current quest to figure out the nexus with a gentleman in New Zealand who just happens to match my husband's DNA—but 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 line—a Kelly man of an unknown relationship—lost 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 connection—so 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
If I couldn't find baptismal records for my Johanna Falvey Kelly's children—other than the two possibilities for Mary—perhaps 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 Johanna—although, 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 Kilcummin—it's also the name of a civil parish, happily containing the townland of Knockauncore for which I keep seeing references—so 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 child—a son they named Timothy—was 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 records—which records, in addition to their ecclesiastical role, have now taken on genealogical significance, as well.
Preserved within this collection—and now available online, thanks to the foresight of those keepers of the records at the diocese of Kerry—was 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.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
A wealth of church material has come online—at least from Ireland—in the last few years, a research bonanza for someone like me, in hot pursuit of my husband's Irish ancestors. What I may not have been able to find in property records of the era in which his second great grandparents lived, I may be able to piece together from church records.
For some reason, the first two children of John Kelly and Johanna Falvey have not been identified in any baptismal records that I can find—so far—but there are some possibilities for their second daughter. While this is disappointing for me—their eldest daughter, Catherine, being my husband's direct ancestor—I did find some possibilities for the baptism of their second daughter, Mary.
I have my doubts about these, though. Since the Irish designations often were specific to the townlands—a rather small slice of the Irish landscape inside the civil parishes inside the baronies inside the counties—it could be quite possible that we'd be talking about a John Kelly from County Kerry who turned out to be from the townland, for instance, of Lisheennacannina instead of the one from Knockauncore. With a name like Kelly, it was easy to find multiple possibilities for "our man."
Still, since it might be helpful to catalog all the possibilities, here are a couple that I found. Though both are named Mary Kelly—and both are daughters of John Kelly and Johanna Falvey—they were from different townlands. And they were born on different dates.
The first possibility for Mary Kelly was baptised September 25, 1864, in the church parish of Killeentierna. The record indicated her "domicile" was in Currow which, try as I might to find it, turned out to be a location whose category I couldn't determine. Let's just take our lead from other information and say it was a village near the civil parish of Kilcummin.
Note that this Mary's parents were confirmed to be John Kelly and Johanna Falvey. Notice, also, that the child's baptismal sponsors were James and Margaret Fleming. That Fleming surname, as it turns out, kept popping up in the various records I've found concerning John Kelly and Johanna Falvey.
There was the other Mary Kelly, of course. Her baptism occurred March 24, 1867, in the same church parish, Killeentierna. Just like the earlier Mary Kelly, this one had John Kelly and Johanna Falvey listed as her parents. The sponsors, although not the James and Margaret Fleming of the earlier baptism, were also, presumably, part of the Fleming family: John Fleming and Mary O'Brien. (James and Margaret, it turns out, were busy standing in for the baptism of another child that same day: Catherine, daughter of David Fleming and Catherine O'Connor.)
While the baptism for which James and Margaret Fleming served as godparents noted that the family was from, again, Currow, that was not the case for this second Mary Kelly. Her domicile was listed, this time, as Barnfield.
Barnfield interjects a bit of difficulty in my quest to figure out possible townlands for the Kelly family. It doesn't show in the usual websites providing identification of townlands in County Kerry. However, if one chooses to go back to the era of the Tithe Applotment books—at least according to the transcriptions supplied by the National Library of Ireland—Barnfield was a townland within the civil parish of Killeentierna.
Perhaps the parents of the second Mary of Barnfield were one and the same as the parents of the first Mary of Currow. At least they were in the vicinity of each other's home. Why might there be two Marys? One possibility is the 1864 Mary died in childhood and her name given to the next child born into the same family.
Of course, the other possibility is that there was more than one John and Johanna Kelly family—with Fleming relationships—in the same neighborhood. We are, after all, talking about the surname Kelly—the "Smith" of Ireland.
Above images of the Catholic Parish Registers courtesy National Library of Ireland via Ancestry.com (with location of each as indicated in hyperlinks above).
Friday, September 16, 2016
There are no census records still in existence for the time period in which John and Johanna Kelly, my husband's second great grandparents, married and raised their family in Ireland. The work-around for that research dilemma has been to look to the "tenement" survey known as Griffith's Valuation, a record of properties throughout Ireland, instituted by the British Government. Though the survey, an extensive undertaking, saw its first reports printed in 1853, it took a while to roll out the full extent of the information.
Fortunately for us, one little blip of a mention of Johanna Falvey Kelly's origin was alluded to in her obituary, which gave her home as being near the Lakes of Killarney. While that is certainly a more helpful designation than listing her origin as "Ireland," it still leaves the possibilities wide open for speculation. The Lakes of Killarney may be a useful landmark, but other than pointing us to a specific county—County Kerry—this clue doesn't lead us to a specific townland or civil parish.
Everything else about Johanna and her family's origin is speculation, at this point. I can search for a place where the surnames Kelly and Falvey intersect, on the hunch that the two young people couldn't have decided to marry if they didn't live in enough proximity to at least know of each other. The drawback to such a course of action, of course, is that the name John Kelly is a rather popular one in that region of the country. So is Falvey, as it turns out.
Another quandary I found myself in, once I tried hunting and pecking through the sparse Irish records, was that people in Ireland might not have seen themselves as tied to the land as the common folk of other nations might have been. I've found Kelly-Falvey connections in a number of parishes in County Kerry. Perhaps, rather than indicating that our Kelly family moved around a lot in seeking work, these records might just represent multiple families. It is hard to tell.
The completed survey for County Kerry was printed in mid-July, 1853, quite a bit before Johanna Falvey decided to exchange her vows with John Kelly. Looking on Griffith's Valuation at that date would mean finding the separate households of the parents of Johanna Falvey and John Kelly—although if some American census reports are to be believed, John may have been old enough to be listed as an independent adult at that point, himself.
That leaves me in a genealogical catch-22; I want to use the Irish documentation to lead me to the generation prior to Johanna Falvey, but in order for Griffith's Valuation to show me the household of the then-single Johanna, I'd likely need to know her father's name.
Still, let's take a look at what can be found in the Valuation. First, a useful source for information on Griffith's—and on surname distribution in general—is John Grenham's website, where the now dismantled genealogical guides once housed at the Irish Times website currently reside.
A quick look at the Grenham site shows the visual for households listed in Griffith's by specific surname. For Falvey, the concentration is predominantly in County Kerry. Johanna's obituary was likely not waxing eloquent in referring to those Lakes of Killarney as her childhood home.
Mr. Grenham further explains that the Valuation sought to delineate which John Kelly might be my John Kelly—as opposed to yours—by such references as John Kelly (Michael) or John Kelly (Weaver). Such entries would be read, "John Kelly, son of Michael," or "John Kelly, the weaver."
The website I find most useful for actually searching those Griffith's Valuation records is Ask About Ireland. There, you can search by surname and county, or drill down farther to Barony, Poor Law Union, or Civil Parish.
Because I don't know exactly where to search—in drilling down to smaller geo-political designations beyond that of county—I first tried my hand at pulling up all the Falvey families in County Kerry. This, as you can surmise by looking at the surname distribution chart provided in John Grenham's website, was a futile attempt: there are 139 households listed under the surname Falvey.
While that may seem like an unwieldy number of responses, it does provide me with another bit of information: identifying the civil parish in which each of those Falveys lived. Ostensibly, I could repeat the process, this time entering the surname Kelly, and see which entries also showed those same civil parish designations.
Though that might provide a slightly smaller list of possible parishes, it also assumes one other point: that both John and Johanna lived in exactly the same parish. It is possible that they did not.
Another approach was to put the search engine through its paces in a different way: searching by specific townlands for all residents. One of the townlands I had seen pop up in records for tentative Falveys was called Knockauncore. It turns out this townland was part of the civil parish of Kilcummin—another name I had seen pop up in records as I searched for tentative Falveys.
Searching the Griffith's Valuation, once I located the Knockauncore page, I spotted an icon labeled, "Occupants." Clicking on that pulled up the names of all residents in that townland—a much more manageable eighteen households. Included in the list was an Anne Falvey and a Mary Kelly. In addition, there were some Fleming households, a surname I had spotted as sponsors on some possible Kelly baptismal records.
Of course, what are the chances? It is not beyond the realm of reason to find any given townland in County Kerry populated with both Kellys and Flemings, as well as Falveys. Besides checking for the intersection of Falveys and Kellys in each of these townlands, it will help to add clues from possible baptismal records—if these can be found in the Catholic records for the church parishes in the area.
Above: "The Waterbabies," watercolor by Dublin-born artist Rose Maynard Barton (1856 - 1929); courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
With the email last month that announced my husband's latest DNA match in New Zealand—of all places—the chase was on to figure out how his Falvey ancestors from Ireland connected with this potential distant cousin. On our side of the equation, there was only one Falvey we knew of in his family tree: a woman named Johanna Falvey, who married a John Kelly in County Kerry and soon after emigrated across the ocean.
While this New Zealand connection purportedly traces back to one of Johanna's siblings—we already knew there was one Falvey, at least, who headed to New Zealand while Johanna headed to the United States—there are so many gaps in the records as to introduce a serious amount of doubt. Our task, at this point, is to tighten up the narrative on both sides of the family to see if a better focus will yield more specifics about this Falvey family, back in Ireland.
I had had Johanna's dates, in my database, as a birth in 1826 and death in 1903. That span is fairly reasonable for any woman living an average life span, putting her at seventy seven when she died. However, using that date of birth as a comparison point for any of life's mile markers other than death caused me to question that date of birth.
For instance, John and Johanna's first child—at least, first as far as I can discern—was born in Ireland in 1860. That would mean Johanna was not married until she was about thirty three years of age—and one year older when her firstborn son arrived. Somehow, I find that rather unlikely.
Even more so, the last of her children—a son named John, who wasn't born until 1876, well after the family settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana—would have made Johanna a mother again at the rather doubtful age of fifty. That is a possibility I question even more.
Of course, the last time I focused on researching this family, there were no resources for confirming that firstborn's date of birth. As Irish Catholics during that era, his parents would likely have had no civil registration of the event. When I last researched the family, there were no available church records online. But that was then. This is now.
Now is, of course, an excellent time to delve back into the documentation for this Johanna Falvey, her husband John Kelly, and their children. With more and more records being digitized and placed online, I can see for myself, rather than hoping transcribers from decades ago hadn't made mistakes in their work.
First, though, the task needs to be to review the documentation I've already garnered for Johanna. The first quest needs to uncover where this birth date of 1826 came from, since no documentation of the actual event has ever been offered.
Let's take a look at where that 1826 date came from. According to the Indiana State Board of Health Certificate of Death, an unidentified informant stated that Johanna "Kelley" had died in 1903 and was born in 1826. Her husband's name had been given as John, and her residence address had been provided as being on Hoagland Avenue—which, as we'll see once we take a look at census records, was indeed where John and Johanna Kelly had lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
No name had been provided for the informant, although it presumably would have been a family member, perhaps her youngest son John, who was still living at home. Johanna's father's surname had been listed as Falvey—my only indication of Johanna's maiden name—but her mother's name had been listed as the frustrating "unknown."
Despite no source for the year of birth provided in that certificate, that became the official report. But something strange happened by the time of her burial—at least, concerning the report given by the volunteers at Find A Grave. Instantly, Johanna's date of birth had advanced by two years to 1828. And with that, Johanna had been transformed from a fifty year old mother of her youngest son, to one aged only forty eight. That, I can certainly buy; I have a friend whose mother was exactly that age when she was born. It is possible.
On the assumption that some day, I'll be able to access baptismal records in County Kerry, it would help to know which of those two dates to believe. Was Johanna born in 1826? Or 1828?
Of course, that dilemma also interjects the doubt that either of those two dates will be correct, so let's look around to see whether other records support what we've already found.
Taking a walk through the decades in the U.S. census records seems to support the general time frame for Johanna's birth—though it certainly doesn't clinch it for one date or the other. Just before her death in 1903, the 1900 census indicated that Johanna was born in November of 1829. This pushes her arrival a tad bit more into the direction of credibility. And still, I've seen census reports that were wildly different than the actual birth documentation, once I was able to locate it. Even so, it needs to be added to that list of possible dates.
The 1880 census, enumerated on the street where the Kellys lived on June 10, gave Johanna's age as fifty. Again, we see Johanna's date of birth slip a little further, now possibly as late as 1830. Things were basically the same, ten years prior, with Johanna's age exactly ten years younger. The only change with this earlier census was that, instead of being sixteen years her senior as he had been in the 1880 census, with the 1870 census, John and Johanna were now listed as being the same age: forty.
The 1870 census was the first one in which our immigrant Irish family appeared in the United States. Because this one was closest of all the enumerations to her date of birth—although still a solid forty years removed—it is possible this one might be the most believable. A 1830 date of birth would have made Johanna a newlywed at age twenty nine, and a new mother at thirty—a slightly more believable scenario.
If ever we are to find Johanna in baptismal records in County Kerry, though, we'll have to search the entire range of possible dates—from 1826 to 1830. It's likely that even these are not an accurate representation of Johanna's arrival in the Falvey household.
At this point, though, it looks like I'll have to browse the available scans of records on my own, if I hope to find her. And that, itself, will be a hopeless process unless I can narrow down that County Kerry location to a specific parish—a hunt-and-peck proposal, even if I isolate the possibilities by use of property records or other ways to confirm the presence of Falvey families in the area during that time frame.