Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kattie and Mary

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 Ellentheir oldest two daughters, for which not very much documentation can be locatedthere 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 Irelandin 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 1862not 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 asif they were actually familyTimothy and John Kelly? Or were the two families just coincidentally drawn to favor those namesin that same orderof 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 brothersthus both having the same mother's name to pass down to their second-born daughtersthe 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 Maryalthough 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


  1. Replies
    1. Evidently. That is the same sentiment held, apparently, by multitudes of Irish parents.

  2. Something tells me this is not a case of "just two dudes" hanging out together. As to their relationship - I'd be guessing cousins myself. (without any proof at all!) :)

    1. That's my guess, too, Iggy--if not actually brothers. But you know I'm going to want to locate some documentation of their relationship before I call it quits at that.


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