Thursday, September 5, 2013

…But First, the Facts

Before pursuing the unexpected discoveries I stumbled upon in researching the death of young Timothy Kelly of Fort Wayne, Indiana, let’s regroup and check out the documentation that is now available online to verify where we stand with Timothy’s records.

Keep in mind, of course, that when I first researched his case, I was doing it through a pretty primitive edition of, available at my public library, oh, a kazillion years ago. And I was saving up all my additional research time for the next visit back east, in which I got a spare couple days to cram in an interminable set of questions.

Now you understand why, yesterday, I attributed the cemetery clerk with a heavenly dose of grace. You’d need it, too, if you saw me come in your office door an hour before closing, with a huge laundry list of burial records I was seeking.

Just to lay it all out in this post, I want to first review the links where these details may now be found online, before moving on to examine who might be the owners and occupants of the Kelly family plot. Of course, never-ending thanks go to the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center and the many databases they now share, for free, online. What took me seeming ages to locate back then may be had for a simple click of a mouse, now—thanks to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.

So, here’s the whirlwind tour of simple clicks through the documentation available:

My first verification of the date of Timothy Kelly’s death was through the Allen County Indiana Death Index. (That index information, by the way, is now also provided by, too.) As you can see by clicking the hyperlinks, that record showed Timothy’s date of death to be January 20, 1876. Despite how you may feel about relying on indexes rather than source documents themselves for vital statistics, it was at least a partial reassurance to me to see his age given as sixteen, rather than the newspaper’s report of nineteen years of age.

While the Genealogy Center has provided a synopsis of older obituary records online for many years, as I’ve mentioned before, I still haven’t been able to locate the January 20 entry they provided in any other historic newspaper collections. However, the cogent points they provided—“died at 16 years…son of John, 81 Hoagland”—corroborate the other records I’ve found.

Now, the ACPL Genealogy Center also includes databases for church burial records and even my hard-won Catholic Cemetery records. Yet, I couldn’t locate this Timothy Kelly in their Church Burial Records database—until I remembered the arbitrary nature of spelling during that time period.

Sure enough, after checking “Kelley” rather than “Kelly,” I found my man: young Timothy was entered under the alternate spelling, confirming the same date of death, same age—and adding the information that he was born in Ireland and flagging the source of the record as Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

The next database I discovered in this website provided me, in one quick sitting, everything I had so tediously gleaned from that visit to Fort Wayne so many years ago. See for yourself, under the heading for “Kelly,” the record for Timothy Kelly’s burial location. Using his date of death to help differentiate his record from the other two Timothy Kellys listed—plus an additional “Tim Kelly”—we see his burial information confirms the vital statistics we’ve already uncovered, and find the grave location to be Section C, lot number 232.

Lot 232, by the way, was a family plot, not an individual plot.

If you think like me, you probably took a look around that Catholic Cemetery page to see who else might have been buried in that same lot.

If you don’t think like me, but prefer to wait ’til I tell you, rest assured, there were several others buried in that plot.

Including the two other Timothys.


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