Monday, November 18, 2013

A Growing Family

While we’ve already met the oldest of Patrick and Emma Kelly’s children, it may be easier, in meeting the rest of the large Kelly family, to allow the census records to serve as a group introduction, before meeting each one of them individually.

Unlike the era in which Patrick’s family emigrated from their homeland, poverty-stricken Ireland, the generation in America, where Patrick raised his own family, was obviously blessed. There were still the risks of epidemics and being caught unawares by other rampant diseases, but life in a family in which jobs provided a steady income with which to purchase needed food and supplies had its impact on how many of the family’s offspring survived childhood.

All told, there were eight children in the Patrick Kelly family. As Patrick, himself, was the first in his own family to be born in the New World, he likely received part of the blessing of the new land to pass along to his descendants. By the time of his marriage to the widow Emma Carle Brown, he already had a steady job and the means to provide for a sizeable family.

Following the arrival of Emma and her son Frederick, the couple announced the birth of their daughter Kathryn in September of 1900. In predictable fashion, about a year and a half later, they welcomed their son John Clifford Kelly. Moving along at about the same clip, another son—Emmet Patrick Kelly—arrived in the fall of 1903. After an uncharacteristic gap of three and a half years—causing me to suspect the death of an infant, a miscarriage, or other such loss—another son, Stephen, arrived in 1907. And just to provide some variety, nearly two years later, a daughter arrived in 1909: Helen Margaret.

The snapshot of that tally is handily provided in the form of the 1910 census for Fort Wayne, which shows Patrick employed as an engineer with the city’s Water Works division. His wife, Emma, declared herself to be mother of six children, all of whom were living at the time of the census, dismissing my speculation about the gap between sons Emmet and Stephen.

The family tally, however, was not yet completed. The best place to observe the entire family unit intact was in the next census record, for 1920. There, completing the family circle, were daughters Anna Marie, arriving in March, 1911, and Mildred Agnes, born in March, 1917.

Each of them had their own story—with details as varied as the individuals in a large family can produce. Most of them remained in Fort Wayne their entire life, although a few moved out of state as they pursued their own careers.

In following each of these Kelly children’s own lines, I could see the fingerprints of the unfolding timeline of the twentieth century imprint itself on their destinies. In some ways, they were each children of their times, as much as they were children of Patrick and Emma. And those times allowed them each to see great changes in what was still accepted—and what was, ultimately, discarded as “old fashioned.”


  1. Replies
    1. Glad to have you along. Always welcome your input, too!

  2. I wouldn't discount a misscarriage inbetween the children, three years is a long gap for those times of No Birth Control:(


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