Monday, October 31, 2016

One Way Ticket for One

In trying to determine which, exactly, was our Thomas Kelly in Lafayette, Indiana, it helped to find those two Declarations of Intention. It seemed the second of the two documents we located on our trip last week was the more likely to be the right Kelly. That Thomas' age seemed to align with our Kellys' family constellation most accurately—if, of course, the man's recollection of such mundane details served him well. I've seen many a case where that wasn't so, among our Irish immigrant ancestors.

Since the Declaration included Thomas' report of exactly when and where he arrived in the United States, the next logical step was to locate his passenger record. Of course, arriving in New York in 1853 meant his ship came in long before the existence of Ellis Island documentation. Checking the history for the preceding checkpoint, Castle Garden, revealed its immigration station status began in 1855—problem number one for my Kelly search.

Going to the Castle Garden website itself, however, relieved my concerns, for the foundation provides transcriptions of passenger lists dating back to 1820—far before our Thomas Kelly's arrival in 1853.

My thinking, in resorting to the passenger lists at Castle Garden, was first to find whether there was a Thomas Kelly on a ship from Liverpool arriving in New York on the date he gave in his Declaration—June 10, 1853. More than that, though, was to see whether any of the other members of our Kelly family traveled with him at that time.

Sure enough, there was a Thomas Kelly on a ship arriving in New York City on that precise date. His namesake wasn't exactly the sixteen year old our Thomas' declared date of birth would lead us to believe. But the age was close: fourteen.

The next step would be to check the passenger list for the ship he was traveling on—the S. S. Kossuth—and see if there were any other Kellys traveling with him.

This is where my amazement that the actual date was verified began to unravel at the edges. While, yes, there was a Thomas Kelly aboard the ship arriving on the very date he remembered years later in his Declaration of Intention, none of the rest of his family was traveling with him. Not James or Mary, his parents. Not his older siblings Mathew, Rose, Catherine or Bridget. Not even his younger sister, Ann, the one I've been puzzling over, thanks to a DNA match with one of her possible descendants.

Instead, the only results for a Kelly family traveling on that ship included an older spinster, Margaret, a twenty four year old man named Edward, two Ellens, a ten year old girl named Mary, and an eight year old whose name, transcribed, was rendered as "Anty." Hardly the Kellys I was looking for.

Trying the oft-used alternate spelling, Kelley, yielded no better results. Unless this Thomas was traveling solo at that age—a possibility at the far end of the national ravages of a severe famine—I tend to doubt our Thomas' sterling memory served him as well as we hoped, back at the point when he completed the first of his naturalization papers.

Above: Section from search results at the Castle Garden website for Thomas Kelly, date June 10, 1853, from Liverpool to New York City.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bargain Hunting for Genealogists

Admit it: genealogical research can become an expensive pursuit. What we used to spend in purchasing documents via snail mail before the age of digitization of records, is now amply made up by fees to various online companies. We save steps, but the pennies bucks add up.

While I'm thankful for such creative genealogy fanatics as Thomas MacEntee—you do know about him, don't you? Known for his hand in gathering the genealogical blogging community under one well-known banner, Genea-Bloggers, he has melded his computer expertise and passion for all things genealogical into his business, Hack Genealogy, and his shopping savvy into an ongoing listing of genealogy bargains via his websites and newsletter subscription—still, I like to keep my own eyes open for angles that shave away those genealogy costs.

It hasn't been lost on me, while researching in locales like Tippecanoe County (in my quest to find more of our Kelly ancestors in Indiana) and Perry County (where we have a multitude of ancestors to track down in Ohio), that I really should consider gaining more local research perks by joining their genealogical societies.

The only problem is that most societies establish a fixed calendar year for their annual membership fees, running from January through December, and I don't get around to thinking about joining until, oh, November 30. And I'm too cheap to do it I put it on my list of things to get around to, after the new year.

Of course, guess what never happens, once that new year rolls around?

Reading the fine print, I've since discovered that several local societies have a policy of granting a few free months of membership to new applicants during the last quarter of the year, to prompt people like me to send in their application now rather than forgetting for yet another year, ad nauseam.

I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me to look for such loopholes. After all, our own local genealogical society does the same—grant new applicants membership for the upcoming year for any form submitted September first or later. It's a small grace period that is greatly appreciated by those who have just discovered us late in the year. From our viewpoint as board members trying to grow our organization, it is a blend of bird-in-hand and sowing good will.

So when I stumbled upon that same token, while examining the locales in which our family's ancestors once lived, it occurred to me just how this benefit could help shave costs—if only in small doses.

Besides this, some of the organizations I'm interested in joining combine such hospitable tokens with gestures of largesse such as significant discounts on partnering genealogical services—for instance, the fifty percent discount on FindMyPast's annual World Subscription through such organizations as the Ontario (Canada) Genealogical Society.

As my trip to Lafayette, Indiana, pointed out last week, there are still many pockets of genealogical data tucked away in local repositories that are not yet available via international online outlets. Behind "members only" firewalls, those who join such local societies as the Tippecanoe County or Perry County branches can access material that would otherwise still require that tedious trip—or at least a snail-mailed request for research help on site.

But what I've learned, in the meantime, is that we don't have to wait until January to spend our hard-earned money on membership fees. Some societies grant us that year-end bonus to join, so we don't end up forgetting our good intentions again for yet another year.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tap Dancing as Fast as I Can

Do you ever get the feeling your life has become that scene in a motion picture where the movie music speeds up so that, no matter how hard you try, you can't step fast enough to keep up?

The concept western civilization dubs a vacation is truly a misnomer. You take a week "off" to travel, but before you go, you must insure that all your work for the next week is already finished; upon your return, you must attend to all the stuff that's piled up in your absence. Of course, that vacation you took was never designed for mere relaxation—you packed it full of activity. You know, all the stuff you never would have gotten to do, if you were still back at work.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all that, those stats I always like to keep here, to remind myself of my research progress...well, it's been three weeks since I last talked about progress. As far as progress goes, it's simple: there hasn't been much of it.

So, the short report. I managed to pump another sixty two names into my mother's family tree, and fifty two into my mother-in-law's. Since part of our trip back east included researching my husband's Stevens line, I did manage to add another eleven names to my father-in-law's line, too. Zip for my own dad. This time, Chicago trumps New York.

There's a new focus popping up for these numbers, though: the upcoming DNA Conference I'll be attending in early November. I'm looking forward to going, mainly because there is so much yet to learn. The event promises to focus on the latest developments in the genetic genealogy testing arena, something I like to keep informed about.

More than that, though, is the way the host company—Family Tree DNA—has updated their user interface on their website. Now that I'm home, I see where I can update my tree posted on their site and align it with my confirmed matches. This is yet another process to add to that fast-growing to-do list which is outpacing my efforts to keep up.

On top of that, whether on vacation or not—well, actually, even if I'm sleeping or doing absolutely nothing—those DNA match numbers keep steadily rising. I'm up to 395 matches at AncestryDNA, and at Family Tree DNA, the number is up to 1,444. That's gains of twelve at Ancestry and forty four at FTDNA. For my husband's matches, he's up six to 171 at Ancestry and thirty five for a grand total of 914 at FTDNA. We'll soon be adding a tally from 23andMe, as well.

DNA figured nicely in our family visits this past week. One of my husband's cousins has already tested at 23andMe—thus the incentive to try our hand at results there, too—and this cousin is willing to give it a go at Family Tree DNA as well. A calculated arrangement, to be sure, but nice to have a match that we have already confirmed.

In the visit to Chicago last week, two cousins who have tried their hand at family tree building have become accomplices with me by virtue of being added as "guests" on my tree for their family. That way, I have a couple sets of eyes looking over my shoulder, comparing notes, making suggestions. That's the kind of synergy that makes for progress. It's nice to think of this family history thing as teamwork.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Will the Real Thomas Kelly
Please Stand Up

Wearied with the prospect, in the midst of my research journey to Lafayette in Indiana, of trying to discern which one of several was the right John Kelly, I decided to switch tracks and pursue a different Kelly chase. After all, Ann Kelly (the target of this pursuit) had two other brothers I knew of: Mathew and Thomas.

The Tippecanoe County Historical Association's archives included several types of governmental records, so I tried my hand at checking for both brothers' names in a number of collections. The one collection that made sense to me—seeing that this Irish immigrant family was unlikely to own property or hold any possessions requiring a will in preparation for their inevitable departure—was the file documenting completion of "first papers," the Declaration of Intention signed at the start of the path towards naturalization.

While Mathew was not among the names of those in the immigration files for Tippecanoe County, Thomas was. In fact, there were two Thomas Kellys. And each one's paperwork contained details that might qualify him as member of the right Kelly family.

You knew this wasn't going to be easy.

The earlier of the two documents was filled out in 1852. This one, composed in a precise hand, showed this Thomas Kelly to be twenty five years of age, presumably at the point at which he affixed his mark at the bottom of the page. A little math work gives us an immigrant with a date of birth in 1827.

The serendipitous bonus to this particular form was that it included the detail of where this Thomas Kelly had been born. Not just stating that he came from Great Britain, this version included space for the applicant to go into further detail. Thomas obliged, stating he was born in the "County of Tyrone in Ireland."

This Thomas, as we found out from his declaration, sailed from Liverpool in 1846, landing in New York City in November. The Irish being reliable with their recall of dates as they are, it is no surprise to learn there wasn't any passenger record to be found for those precise parameters. However, according to the Castle Garden website, there was a twenty year old Thomas Kelly arriving in the United States from Liverpool in November, 1848. Perhaps that was close enough.

Of course, there was a second Thomas Kelly in Lafayette. Nothing is ever easy. This one completed his Declaration in 1868, giving as his age thirty one—if this less-legible hand can be deciphered correctly. This later version of the form unfortunately happened to omit the space for precise place of birth—given, this time, simple as "Kingdom of Great Britain"—but if this Irishman could be trusted to get his dates correct, he would have been born in 1837.

Looking at our known Kelly family's dates of birth—admittedly, correct only if we can rely on their statements to various census enumerators over the decades—the 1827 birth of the first Thomas would be a date fitting in nicely after James and Mary's son Mathew, and coinciding about the same time as the birth of their daughter Rose. But using the second Thomas Kelly's dates, the ones adding up to a birth in 1837, it would bring us farther down the family constellation to the point of—hey, wait a minute! That's when our Thomas was supposed to be born.

So, great: the flowery handwriting which was thoughtful enough to divulge the detail about being born in County Tyrone brings us a Thomas Kelly who is, likely, not our man. The chicken scratch, on the other hand, leads us straight to a young Thomas Kelly who, though not exactly the age he stated he was, arrived on the very day he indicated in his report at the Tippecanoe Circuit Court, back in 1868. His parents may not have thought to keep a record of the day of his birth, but someone had enough foresight to preserve the exact date when he arrived in New York harbor, so many years ago.

Now to determine whether this fourteen year old was traveling by himself, or whether he was with a group. Hopefully, that group will turn out to match the names of the rest of our Thomas' family.   

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reviewing What We Found

Research journeys can be fun. The family historian heads into the adventure, anticipating great finds—and then sinks into a momentary despair when realizing that time is closing in and the visit is coming to an end sooner than the hoped-for discoveries are occurring. That resultant last minute of flurried activity, thanks to the research after-burners kicking in, yields the hapless researcher a pile of papers with little memory of how—or why—they were put in the folder which got taken home.

But triumphant that return trip always manages to be. Trophies in hand—or, more correctly, in folders secreted in the carry-on luggage, too precious to risk loss at the hands of baggage handlers—we arrive home, deposit the prized records on top of our desks, and drop exhausted into bed.

Or something along that order.

Now, home and back to my senses, I look at that pile and wonder, "What is all this supposed to mean?" I try to remember what I looked for—and what I didn't think to look for. I look at all my scribbled notes and wonder what, in the rush, I was desperately trying to find before the archives' lights were turned out and the last recalcitrant researcher was kicked out the door upon closing.

Unfortunately, in all the whirlwind of desperate searching, the identity of that mystery John Kelly was dangling in the midst of the angst. I try to remember: did I seek any record of him in the immigration records from the local courthouse? If so, did I find any—but not get them copied? Or was he just impossible to find?

Questions that don't arrive home until much later than the researchers did need to be answered—and soon, before those faint memories vanish entirely. Though I haven't been home much more than a day, after unpacking and doing all the laundry, I had to pull out that research file and review my notes and discoveries. Especially regarding John Kelly, the man who popped up in Lafayette, Indiana, just before Ann Kelly's wedding.

So what do we know about this man who gave his "solemn oath" that Barnard Doyle and Ann Kelly were "of lawful age to marry without the consent of their parent or guardian"? I had never seen any mention of a John Kelly in Ann's family records. Why would he show up at this point—two days before the Doyle-Kelly marriage in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, on January 7, 1872?

Unfortunately, my scribbled notes on what was there at the genealogy center in Lafayette didn't provide much of a lead. There was the note about a John Kelly who married Johanna Kinney, listed as Marriage Record #7, page 83—but it came with no helpful additional information other than the date: November 2, 1856. Besides, in trying to uncover more on this couple after the fact, the Johanna Kelly I found in the Find A Grave listings linked to a husband named Michael. Not exactly what I had in mind.

I found another marriage record for a John Kelly—this time for a man who married someone named Mary Green. It was another 1856 marriage, but earlier than John and Johanna, on September 29, according to page 55 in that same volume of documents.

After exhausting the marriage records for everyone named John Kelly—or Kelley—I moved on to other resources. I found a John Kelly in Tippecanoe County who died in February of 1879. But then I found other records indicating he (or yet another man with the same name) had a brother named William—and that he might have been a son of Thomas Kelly, not James. Another note indicated he had moved to Quincy, Illinois.

There was another John Kelly, this time a railroad brakeman, who died in a work incident on May 22, 1876. And another one—this time sporting a middle initial plus an extra "e" in his surname—died on October 21, 1865. Fortunately, a side note in his otherwise uninformative obituary indicated he was a printer in Lafayette—an identity I was nevertheless unable to conjure up in the 1860 census.

An unusual report of a murder—of railroad employee John Kelly by a local man named Samuel Stevens (no relation of ours, as he turned out to be son of Isaac "Stephens")—unfortunately contained no date on the scanned news clipping, but the fact that he, like the other John Kelly, was a railroad worker makes me wonder.

But who am I kidding? There were likely dozens of railroad employees in Lafayette—or simply those passing through—with the name of John Kelly. There clearly needed to be a different approach to answering my research question. With less than an hour to go before closing at the genealogy center in Lafayette, I switched to searching the immigration records for any mention of Ann Kelly's brothers Mathew or Thomas.

 Above: "The North Side of Hook Mountain" by American landscape painter Sanford Robinson Gifford; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Not Another John Kelly!

It can sometimes be a delight to stumble unexpectedly upon another name that belongs in the family history. Sometimes. When it comes to uncovering yet another John Kelly, though, I'm not so sure.

There are plenty of Kellys to be had—not only in their native habitat in Ireland, but in far-flung destinations around the world. Even in Lafayette, Indiana, the name has its doubles, apparently.

So when I discovered that the family member standing in to vouch for Ann Kelly and her intended, Barnard Doyle, upon the eve of their wedding was named John Kelly, let's just say I wasn't exactly delighted. I had already encountered more than my fair share of John Kellys to deal with on the Fort Wayne side of the Kelly family.

I had already discovered that this Lafayette Kelly family had had plenty of doubles for each of the siblings' names. Catherine Kelly, though dying young, had had a double in Lafayette. Seeking for any court or immigration records for her brothers, I also discovered that one of them—Thomas—had a double who had evidently had his day in court with a paper trail to prove it. Even one of the sisters ended up having a double in her own family when her brother married a woman with the exact same name, resulting—at least temporarily—with two Bridget Kellys.

And now I had to isolate just one John Kelly in this mix of doubles?

It was clear from census records for 1870—the last enumeration before Ann and Barnard were married—that there were two John Kellys in town. One, presumably married to a woman named Elia with two teenagers in his household, was aged forty nine, putting his year of birth around 1821. If this man were part of the same Kelly household as our Catherine, Bridget, Thomas and Ann, a date of birth this early would make him just a year older than Mathew, the oldest son listed in our Kelly family.

If, however, the other John Kelly in Lafayette turned out to be a brother in our Kelly family, he would have had to take his place on the other end of the age spectrum; born about 1834, he would have been only five years older than Ann—and about the same age as her sister Bridget.

From that time period, it's clear some other hints would have to be garnered before we could determine which one of these two John Kellys might be ours. Even more than that, we would have to conclusively determine whether either of these two men were related to our Kellys. Though his willingness to vouch for Ann Kelly in her application for a marriage record seems to infer a relationship, he could have found himself in this position by virtue of his connection with Barnard, rather than Ann. Furthermore, a connection between John Kelly and Ann Kelly might be beckoning us to review our assumption that Ann even belongs in our Kelly family at all. Perhaps this Kelly-Doyle marriage is not the connection we assume it to be.

Seeing this whole pursuit began with a DNA test match in which the two parties—my husband and someone related at the estimated level of second to fourth cousin—both claimed Kelly as a surname in their respective family histories, we have to remember that names as common as Kelly may not mean much when it comes to placement in our respective trees.

Two tasks yet to tackle: delve into the Kelly siblings' history further, and verify the other guy's family tree. Fortunately, while we were in Lafayette, I did check into a few other records on the Kelly family. Now that we are back home from our research journey, it may afford us the breathing spell to regroup and review the rest of those recently acquired records.

Above: "Autumn Landscape, South Main Street, Road to Kramers," oil on cardboard circa 1877 by American artist Edward Edmondson, Jr.; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Confirming Those Wedding Bells

There are some times in the search for ancestors when nothing else will do but to travel to retrieve documents on site. That was certainly the case for the wedding of Barnard Doyle and Ann Kelly in Lafayette, Indiana.

The date was the fifth of January, 1872, when Daniel Royse, clerk of the Tippecanoe County Civil Circuit Court issued the marriage license for Barnard and Ann. At that date, of course there would be no additional information added to the record for this couple—the very thing I knew better than to hope for. However, I couldn't help wishing the outcome would be a bit different.

Volunteers at the Frank Arganbright Genealogy Center helped me retrieve the actual record of the Doyle-Kelly marriage from their archives when my husband and I visited there last Thursday. We all knew better than to expect much more than that, but the one woman who has been such a help to me in my Lafayette research over the last decade still urged us to see what else could be found. Sometimes, there are other documents filed along with the marriage license. One could never tell when something might be stuck in with the one being sought.

Just checking, we confirmed that the return was completed and filed back at the courthouse—which happened on January 15 of that same year. The addendum was completed by a John R. Dinnen, which the Genealogy Center's records confirmed was a priest at the local Catholic Church of that time period. The Reverend Dinnen provided the actual date of the ceremony: January 7, 1872.

But along with the usual form for that purpose, there was indeed an additional page. On that same original date—January 5—in which the couple had applied for their marriage license, they had brought along another person to complete an additional form. This I was thankful for, as I hoped it would provide some way for me to identify that the Ann Kelly of this marriage record was indeed the youngest sibling of my husband's second great grandmother, the daughter of James and Mary Kelly.

Below the appropriate court headings, the text of this record read:
On this 5 day of Jany A. D. 1872 before me, Daniel Royse, Clerk of the Tippecanoe Civil Circuit Court, in the State of Indiana, personally came John Kelly who being by me duly sworn, upon his solemn oath, saith that he is well acquainted with Barnard Doyle [and] Ann Kelly and that they are of lawful age to marry without the consent of their parent...or guardian...and that he knows of no lawful objection to their being joined together in matrimony, and that she has been a resident of Tippecanoe County for more than one month last past; all of which he verily believes. And further saith not.

All well and good. By 1872, Ann's father, James, would have been long gone—as would, possibly, Ann's mother, Mary. Though Ann may have been thirty three years of age by that point, herself—and likewise Barnard—I'm glad that someone thought that completed document necessary. Otherwise, I would have had no other name to go along with Ann's. And we all know how common a name Ann Kelly can be.

But that signature added to the bottom of the page—the one for John Kelly—brings up another question: who was John Kelly? I know Ann's brothers Mathew and Thomas. But who was John? And was he part of this same Kelly family? Or are we getting sidetracked onto another Kelly family's history?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Adding Another Kelly to the Collection

Genealogical researchers have become used to the routine of adding female names to the family group sheet—and eventually seeing such entries disappear on the timeline of the family's history. Whatever becomes of such siblings to our direct line, we sometimes never know. Do they marry and become untraceable, thanks to an unknown married name? Do they end up with the fate of an early—but undocumented—death?

Such was the situation with my husband's Kelly family, which had settled in Lafayette, Indiana. At first, all I had been able to discover was the name of the parents of our direct line—James and Mary Kelly, parents of Catherine Kelly Stevens, the unfortunate young woman who met her fate after the birth of her third son.

It wasn't until years later, when Internet resources gifted us with digitized versions of each decennial census record, that I uncovered more information. That was when I discovered the widow Mary with all the rest of her children. I now knew the identities of the deceased Catherine's siblings.

There was oldest brother Mathew, the Irish-born bachelor who died in Lafayette in 1895 and his spinster sister Rose who died seven years before him. There were the two Kelly siblings whom I knew were married in Lafayette: Bridget to Michael Creahan, and Thomas to Bridget Dolan.

And then there was Ann.

Ann Kelly was the baby of the family—at least as far as I could tell. Born in Ireland about 1839, I could find her with the rest of the family in the 1860 census, when they lived in nearby Warren County, Indiana. At the time, Ann was listed as a woman of twenty one years of age.

The problem with Ann begins with the next census—the one for 1870. Not a trace can I find for anyone in this Kelly family, with the exception of Thomas, who was by then married and in a household of his own in Tippecanoe County. Where did the rest of those Kellys go? More importantly, what happened to Ann?

What I didn't know—at least, if the rest of the story, according to the administrator for two DNA matches, turns out to be true—is that Ann married a man by the name of Bernard Doyle. Now that I learned this by virtue of corresponding with that administrator, one of those transcribed collections at Ancestry indicated that such a marriage did indeed occur on January 7, 1872, in Tippecanoe County.

Unfortunately, that 1872 date was likely to be too soon to glean any more information from the actual marriage records than the names of bride and groom—and maybe the mention of the officiant's name and church affiliation.

Still, since we had the chance to take a look at the actual records in Tippecanoe County, thanks to the archives at the Frank Arganbright Genealogy Center there, we couldn't visit the Chicago area without driving down to Lafayette to take a look for ourselves.

As it turned out, my guess was right on. There wasn't much to discover on the actual document containing the marriage record for Ann Kelly and Frank Doyle. But at least there was a crumb. And no matter how small the hint, you know I'll follow those leads anywhere...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What You Can Find in Lafayette

There are some places with average collections—or sometimes, next to nothing—to offer the itinerant genealogical researcher, while other cities provide collections which manage to delightfully exceed expectations. In this latter category, locations like Salt Lake City and Fort Wayne come to mind. But not necessarily Lafayette, Indiana—unless you already knew about the Alameda McCollough Research Library housed at the Frank Arganbright Genealogy Center.

For a city of only seventy thousand, Lafayette is a place where you might not expect much, as far as research collections go. But for those pursuing documentation for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, we are fortunate to be recipients of the largess of an unassuming newspaperman who, upon his passing in 2008, left a gift sufficient to house the county's archival collection of books, vertical files, court records, and other genealogical treasures.

After serving his country during World War II, Frank Arganbright became a journalism alumnus of Indiana University at Bloomington. He first worked as a newspaper reporter at the Lafayette Journal and Courier, then attained the role of assistant city editor and, eventually, city editor. He remained at the Journal and Courier until 1972, when he assumed the role of senior editor for the Office of Public Information at Purdue University.

Somewhere along the way, this unassuming man—compared to "The Millionaire Next Door"—amassed enough of a fortune to bestow one million dollars toward a scholarship in his name at his alma mater, Indiana University at Bloomington, in addition to his legacy which established the genealogy center in his adopted home town, Lafayette.

For those of us blissfully unaware of who Frank Arganbright was—but who are keen to research our Lafayette roots—there is a lot to appreciate in this largess. While the center houses the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, a solid partnership with Tippecanoe County Area Genealogical Society members provides the volunteer staff hours to guide visitors through the collections of court documents archived at the Arganbright center.

Perhaps now that you know the research resources I knew I'd find at Lafayette, you can understand why I was so keen on making a stop here, the next time I got the chance to fly to the Chicago area. On a good day without (much) traffic, within a matter of less than a two hour drive, a researcher could be happily entrenched in the indices and card catalogs which are the key to Tippecanoe County family history answers. Better yet, managing to score a visit during the longest day in that very limited schedule in which the collection is open to the public—yes, I made it for the long Thursday schedule—is a bonus.

It wasn't lost on me how much the volunteers contributed to the collection's existence. While I searched for answers, behind me were volunteers, preserving and preparing additional local historic documents to be added to the collection. It is an arduous process, but one which the Society has been steadily working on for years. Some of those volunteers have devoted themselves to this process, shepherding Society members through such projects, while also using their knowledge and expertise to assist visiting researchers capably and effectively.

Thankfully, I once again was able to benefit from this assistance during last Thursday's visit, in my quest to determine whether Ann Kelly Doyle was indeed part of my husband's Kelly roots—and whether that DNA match was pointing me to the Kellys or someone else.

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.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Meanwhile, Back in Indiana . . .

It was heartening to locate the marriage record for Johanna, Mary Danehy's older sister, and her husband Cornelius Sweeney. Double cause for rejoicing to realize that marriage was registered at the same location as that for the birth of their son Philip only three years later.

I begin now to wonder whether that three year gap might indeed have been taken by the arrival of an older son, someone named after his father's father. There certainly was enough time for such an event to have occurred. Discovery of such a detail might possibly provide us a hint as to who Cornelius Sweeney's father was, and whether the family was still living at Millstreet in the prior generation.

When one genealogical detail leads seamlessly into the next discovery, it's hard to call it quits and recall just how far afield we are wandering from our original research goal. That's when I have to rein in this galloping runaway research juggernaut and refocus on original goals. Remember Mary Danehy? The second wife of widower Timothy Kelly? Who somehow was related to my husband's Kelly ancestors in Fort Wayne?

Yeah, those Kellys. I was trying to figure out if, by connecting the people, I could simultaneously connect them to their homeland. While Millstreet is a solid answer for place of origin, it still brings us to County Cork, not the expected County Kerry of our family's own Kellys, whose patriarch, incidentally, married a woman named Falvey, who was decidedly from County Kerry, not Cork.

Oh, dear, we've gone quite far afield.

Admittedly, while the exercise did nothing to lead me closer to the Kellys' home, it did lay out a wonderful path back to the homeland for the Danehy family. And if you are a Danehy descendant, you are welcome.

In the meantime, it feels like it is time to regroup and reassess our research direction. You win some, you lose some. You can't move forward without exploring all avenues, even if some of them turn out to be false leads.

I'm not too discouraged about this lack of progress. There still is that double DNA match which points to this type of connection, one between the Kellys, Falveys and Danehys. The whole lot of them could turn out to be cousins, just one generation prior to my stopping point. And it may, after all, pay to take the journey back just one more step.

Meanwhile, another DNA match has beckoned, and I'm off on that chase, as well. As they used to say in the news media: news flash! Because...I'm not writing you from California any more. Now, I'm in Indiana. And I'm looking for another set of Kellys. On the opposite side of the state from Fort Wayne, in a place called Lafayette.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Maybe This is The One

Having found a promising entry in County Cork civil registers for the 1868 birth of Philip Sweeney, son of Cornelius and Johanna, the next step was to see if there were any marriage records for his parents at the same location.

Once again, a transcription of an old "collection" at provided the trailblazer to hint at the right place to search. Now that the Irish civil registers are provided online, I returned to see what could be found for Philip's parents.

The Ancestry report indicated that I need to be creative with spelling. They had located a record for Swinyrather than Sweeneyand Cornelius' given name abbreviated as Cor's. However, the rest of the entry was promising: a bride named Johanna Denehy, the same location as Philip's birth in Millstreet, and a date for the marriage set at a discreet distance from his December 1, 1868, arrival. According to this Ancestry transcription, the date of the marriage was 26 February, 1865.

From this point, I went to the Irish Genealogy website to see what I could find to replicate that Ancestry report.

While the civil registrations for birth records that we viewed yesterday included digitized images of the original records, that was not soat least as far as I could tellfor the marriage records I was seeking today, even for those only a few years prior to Philip's birth.

Still, the search engine brought up a result for a Cornelius "Swiny"just as the Ancestry collection had indicatedbut it only showed the transcription for Cornelius, alone. No mention of the wife or any further details than the year of the marriage.

Undeterred, I did a second searchthis time for Johanna, spelling her surname just as the Ancestry record had indicated: Denehy. Sure enough, the returns quarter, volume number and page number matched the entry for Cornelius exactly.

I'd say we have a match.

Above: "On the Saco" undated oil painting by German-American landscape artist, Albert Bierstadt; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Whatever Can Be Found —
Now That We Can Find It

Can a hint served up by Ancestrythe kind that says only that it comes from "Select Births and Baptisms" with no other source givenreally be reliable? After all, I'm finding some tempting notes about the Irish-born son of Cornelius and Johanna Danehy Sweeney; I'd like to know whether they are reliable.

All these "collections" of previously assembled transcriptions may have been helpful trailblazers in the past, but now that Irish records are being digitized and coming online at a dizzying paceIrish genealogist John Grenham characterized the resultant euphoria over this development as becoming "Punch Drunk"it may be possible to go straight to the source to verify those older reports.

So when I saw several shaky leaf hints insisting that my guyin this case, Phillip Sweeney, born in Ireland in 1868was listed in this or that "collection," I took the high road to find out just where I could lay eyes on the original document.

Grenham does provide several links for those archived records coming online at such a dizzying pace. One recent addition I already knew, thanks to the international buzz over its arrival, was that of the Irish Civil Registrations. Despite his family's being Catholic, because of Philip Sweeney's arrival in 1868, I knew his registration was sure to be included in the recordssomewhere in Cork, where all indicators seemed to be pointing for his family's origin.

True, one of the "collections" I had found had already mentioned a location in County Cork: a place called Millstreet. The record transcription provided by Ancestry, however, was so sparse as to be nearly useless. It confirmed the name of the child and his year of birth, which matched what I had gleaned from elsewhere. But knowing the Irish, this search was sure to be filled with the treachery of spelling variations and incorrectly-recalled dates. Besides, the record didn't even confirm the names of the parents. Clearly, I needed something more than this.

Because now we can, I headed to the Irish website which now contains those images, clicked on "Civil Records," and entered my search query. Sure enough, a result came up for a Philip "Sweeny" born in County Cork in 1868. Clicking below the transcription on the hyperlinked term, "image," in no time, I was staring at the very entry made in the register for the son of Cornelius Sweeney and Johanna "Denahy."

It was indeed for a birth registered in the District of Millstreet. I learned that Philip was born on December 1, 1868, in a place called Rathcool, Dromtariffe. I could see, further, that Corneliusthe reporting partyleft his mark, for he couldn't sign his own name, and that he did so in the district office on the sixth of that same month.

If this was the right Philipand my, oh my, how many chances there are to get an identity wrong in such a casethen I was just gifted with the location of the Sweeney residence almost twelve years before they left for America. If the family stayed in one place for long, it might also mean this was the place where Cornelius and Johanna were married, too. Perhaps this location would also show me the records for some others in this extended familyat least on the Danehy side, where so many documents had already woven this family together and identified them as former residents of County Cork.

Could that mean they were all residents of this same area, Millstreet?

Above: Excerpt from the Irish Civil Registration for the district of Millstreet in County Cork, showing the December 1, 1868, birth of Philip, son of Cornelius Sweeney and his wife, Johanna Danehy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wedding Bells — Where?

Realizing that Johanna Danehy had married her husband, Cornelius Sweeney, not in Fort Wayne where the family lived, but somewhere back in Ireland was helpful. At least it provided the bait to tempt me to look further, back in the family's homeland. But before I could check out any documents, back in Ireland, I needed to have a clearer picture of just who comprised that family constellation before the Sweeneys left County Cork, Ireland, for Allen County, Indiana.

Fortunately, both Johanna, born in 1847, and her husband Cornelius Sweeney, born in 1846, lived long enough to be included in the 1900 census in Fort Wayne. There, they reported that Johanna had been the mother of five childrenthree still livingand that the couple had arrived on American shores in 1880. They had only been in this country for twenty years at the point of that census. Cornelius claimed he had been naturalized.

But who were those three remaining children? Only one still lived with his parents: eighteen year old John Joseph Sweeney, born in Fort Wayne barely two years after his parents arrived in the country.

It was back to searching for death certificates at, where the recently placed Indiana Death Certificates collection was seemingly well-timed to arrive just before I needed it. There, searching for an unknown Sweeney child with parents named Cornelius and Johanna, brought up just one more result: that of John's older brother, Phillipthe one I had already found, thanks to the Catholic Cemetery burial records at the Genealogy Center.

While I had already found the cemetery's record for the third remaining childa daughter, Julia, who had married a local man named James DoyleI couldn't locate any death record confirming her family information.

Still, by all reports, the older two children were born in IrelandJulia's Irish origin we surmise, according to her headstone, in 1867, and Phillip the following year. Phillip's death certificate flatly stated he was born in Irelandjust "Ireland," precluding any hope of clerical error including more information than was required.

Yet to be completed is a search for newspaper accounts of their passingor any other mention that can be found of any of the family members. All in good time, though, for this search needs to be conducted in a systematic manner.

Or does it? Those bright, shiny objects presenting themselves as shaky leaf hints at are sometimes irresistible. What is an innocent researcher to do when presented with two tantalizing possibilities for birth records for one of the children of this very couple? Perhaps these will be the documents that lead us back to the Danehy family's origin. If they can corroborate with any marriage records for Cornelius and Johanna, I'd consider that case closed.

Above: The Fort Wayne, Indiana, household of Cornelius Sweeney from the 1900 U.S. Census; image courtesy

Monday, October 17, 2016

Getting Those Hints

Perhaps it was because her sister, Mary Danehy, had gotten married after arriving in the U.S. that I had assumed such was the case for Johanna Danehy, as well.

The first record I had found for Johanna was that of her burial at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne. There, I found her alongside her husband, Cornelius Sweeney, in Section B, lot 516, as we discussed the other day.

Working my way backwards in time, as genealogists are accustomed to doing, I discovered it wasn't a long stretch at all from her death in 1912 to the earliest document in which I found her in America. That first glimpse of Johanna Danehy Sweeney's family constellation was provided, courtesy of the 1880 census.

There, living one house down from her brother Michael Danehy on Bass Street, Johanna cared for a small household: just her husband and one son, thirteen year old Phillip, no doubt named for his maternal grandfather.

I'm not sure why the knowledge of Irish naming patterns didn't set off bells in my head, for I surely am aware that a son named for his mother's father meant a son who was second-born. But it didn't occur to me, when I first found this record, to go seeking whatever became of that firstborn son.

Nor did the obvious entry for place of birth in that same census prompt any questions in my mind. I was so lulled into assuming the same pattern for one sister as the other that I didn't notice it in the least.

It wasn't until reviewing the family's burial records last week that something jogged my mind to wake up and pay attention to these telltale details. Lo and behold, son Phillip was born in 1868in Ireland. Which meant not only would an older brother have been born there as well, but that his parents were married in Ireland, as well.

Truth be told, I was plodding along my mind-numbed way for quite a while...until a hint from Ancestry broke into my foggy reverie and suggested there might just be a marriage record for a Cornelius Sweeney and a Johanna Danehy in Ireland.

You know those shaky leaf hints we all are so fond of scorning?

Yeah, one of those.

Thankfully, I took a look. At just about the time I was writing my post for last Friday. Hmmm...this will take some more thought. And a bit of time to check it all out. With the weekend behind me now, that's exactly what I did.

I do feel justified in taking caution to not ricochet in the opposite direction and gullibly glom on to every hint thrown my way, for those Irish naming patterns can turn around and shoot you in the foot if you are not careful. After all, not only did I find telltale signs of a marriage in County Cork for Cornelius and Johanna, but another for Cornelius and Ann. With spelling variations for the surname Sweeney going wild in the pages of various church registers, this was going to be a search that banned all jumps to conclusions.

The beauty of finding the right record, of course, would be the concurrent identification of the exact place where the entire family originated in County Cork, Ireland. Wherever Johanna got married would likely be the place the Danehy family once called home. Depending on how long Johanna and Cornelius were married before leaving for America, there is the possibility that, just like her father had left behind one son when he left the country, she and her husband might have found themselves doing the same, as well.

Above: "A Wooded Path in Autumn," 1902 oil on canvas by Danish artist Hans Andersen Brendekilde; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Just Passing Through

Oh, the drama hidden within the boundaries of the places we sometimes are just passing through.

Every now and then, our family business sends us to places we've not visited before. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a day in the city of Willits, California, while my husband conducted a seminar there.

Whenever I have such an opportunity, I like to glean a bit of the history of the region. Willits is such a small townright now, the population has dipped below five thousand, a trend begun at the dawn of the new millenniumI hadn't thought there would be much to discover. Tucked away in the redwood forests of the northern reaches of our state, it is no surprise that this remote hideaway in the hills is not a population magnet. What could possibly have happened, throughout history, in a place so tiny?

Willits doesn't lack for natural beauty. We drove ina task requiring more than three hours travel northward from the much more populous Bay area—under cover of night, to the drizzle and sputtering rain heralding the official rainy season that constitutes northern California's autumn. When we awoke the next morning, the hills were wrapped in a magical mist. Narrow, winding country roads beckonedas well as the old-fashioned ambience of the downtown. I had to check out what makes this place what it is.

Perhaps it is years of genealogical research that shapes the way my mind takes in information. To know Willits better, my first instinct was to learn about its history.

I quickly discovered a not-so-sleepy town with its own checkered past.

There are some good parts. The area around Willits has been known for years as the later-years residence and final resting place of the legendary Seabiscuitthe thoroughbred race horse whose comeback story became a symbol of hope during America's Great Depression. The California Western Railroad's Mendocino County linenow a heritage railroad popularly dubbed the Skunk Trainstill runs some excursions from Willits westward through that scenic redwood country.

But Willits, in that checkered past, is also one of the haunts for the notorious activities of Charles Earl Bowlesbetter recalled by his moniker, Black Bart. Among other activities in Mendocino County, Black Bart held up the June 14, 1882, stagecoach run from Little Lake to Ukiah. The coach was headed to the county seat of Mendocino from the township of Little Lakethe very place that soon became known as the city of Willits. On board the coach that day was Little Lake's postmaster, Hiram Willits.

If Hiram's name seems vaguely familiar, it is because the locale he served was soon to become his namesake city. Hiram Willits, arriving in northern California from Indiana before the 1860 census, obtained several large parcels of land in the area, some as early as 1862. In particular, one became the parcel upon which the original town's settlement was established.

Life in that original settlement in the 1860s was likely no different than any other rugged pioneer territory. Despite its remote situation, news of the day was just as passionately debated in this remote outpost as in the rest of the countryin the case of the new town, coming to a head on election day in 1867 with a shootout between members of a family advocating the cause of the South and a family supporting the North. Within barely fifteen seconds, three members of the pro-Union Coates family lay dead, including Abraham Francis Coates, who had just registered to vote the last January, likely upon turning twenty one years of age.

Such a sudden turn of events was not isolated to this incident. Only twelve years later, three young men suspected of theft and reckless behavior became victims of a triple lynching.

While everyday life has undoubtedly become much tamer in these modern times, Willits has remained the site of a different kind of struggle. In a real-life scene very much like the one played out in the movie Erin Brockovich, litigation alleged that a local company had inappropriately disposed of hexavalent chromium over the course of decades, causing health problems among local residents.

Even the re-routing of the local highway can't detour around that inevitable clash of widely divergent opinions. Highway 101, the route stretching from the north end of Los Angeles upward through the rest of Californiaand, ultimately, wending its way along the coasts of Oregon and Washingtonhappens to shrink down to a two-lane road, becoming Main Street through the center of downtown Willits. Construction to build a bypass elicited strong feelings on either side of the issue. It will kill the central business districtor stop propping up excess business establishments. It will get rid of that impossible nonstop stream of annoying trafficor destroy the environment by sending unnecessary volumes of traffic into protected wetlands. It seems Willits doesn't lack for divergent opinions, no matter the era or the topic.

Though I have no roots in the area, it was nice to see the ever-familiar typical late 1880s local history genre had not bypassed a place as remote and tiny as Willits. Indeed, Mendocino County has at least two such volumes published, including the 1880 work by Lyman Palmer available at Ex Libris Rosetta, which I found, thanks to a mention on's wiki for Mendocino County and their book search utility.

Somehow, becoming familiar with research techniques for genealogical pursuits can be nicely cross-applied to discovering the local history of any place our family happens to visit, and it certainly adds an unexpected aspect to our travels, no matter how brief our stay.

Above: Excerpt from the title page of Lyman Palmer's History of Mendocino County, California, published in 1880 by Alley, Bowen & Company, San Francisco.     

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Off the Shelf:
The Family Tree Guide to
DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy

While my purpose in blogging about books is to encourage myself to get busy reading the books I already have, for this month's review, the shelf can hardly be said to have had the book resting there long at all. In fact, this one arrived at our home just last week, and I'm already busy reading it.

Making its official debut among the holdings at Family Tree Books just this month, Blaine Bettinger's The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy gives me a handy source to revisit all the concepts, definitions and methodology I learned from the author at last year's Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

Sometimes, even a forty-hour-long class is just not enough to pound all these concepts into one, limited mind. So I need a review. This volume is just the companion piece to fill the bill.

Especially since I launched a DNA Special Interest Group for our local genealogical society, whose members are clamoring to learn more about what to do with those test results they've just gotten from Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA or 23 & Me, I need to be prepared with specific segments of this broad expanse of interrelated concepts. As a teacher, Blaine has been so generous to share his many diagrams, charts, and other instructional tools over the yearsespecially those found, before the issue of his book, on his helpful blog, The Genetic Genealogistgranting me permission to use them with the customary attribution. This I've gladly done, since the Bettinger touch is to succinctly explain complex topics in clear terms for members of our group.

His book, of course, furthers this understanding by his systematic coverage of the terms and concepts needed to put this powerful genealogical tool to work in our family history quest. Just as Blaine is an excellent instructor in the many presentations of his that I've attended, he transfers that same teaching skill to his written presentation.

The Guide comes in handy, in my case, for yet another reason: I've just received word that I'm now registered for the DNA class at SLIG 2017this time with lead instructor CeCe Moore, another genetic genealogy expert from whom I appreciate learning more on this topicand I've got to brush up on everything before I head to Salt Lake City next January.


Friday, October 14, 2016

A Daughter's Burial

It may turn out, in my quest to determine just where in Ireland this Danehy family originated, that it will be a married daughter rather than a son who will lead us home.

Focusing, as we have lately, on the burial records for the extended Danehy family, the best we have been able to do for clues has been to learn of the family's origin in County Cork, Ireland. There have been some tempting baptismal records located but, the Irish being the Irish, those traditional naming patterns require such caution, lest they trip up the hapless researcher by tricking us into assuming a couple matching names equals the right family.

That, however, was what we gleaned following the burial records for the sons. Now is the time to make a detour in the process and see what can be learned by checking the burials for one of Phillip Danehy's daughters.

It's Johanna Danehy we're concerned with, at this point. Turning our attention to the next burial plot at the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery containing names associated to this family, we're currently considering another lot in the same Section B where the majority of the Danehy family had been buried. This time, we'll review who was buried in Lot 516. The names we'll see won't be Danehys, however, but Sweeneys, for Johanna married an Irish man by the name of Cornelius Sweeney.

We've already discussed Johanna Sweeney when we discovered her relationship to Mary Danehy Kelly, the second wife of the Kelly man whose sharing of yet another Kelly family plot has tempted me to conclude that he was related to my husband's Kelly line. But it turns out there is much more to learn about this wife of Cornelius Sweeney.

Just like the first family plot we encountered in this tour of Danehy family burials at the Catholic Cemetery, Lot 516 included burials of several family members. There were eleven that I could find, in fact.

Of course, there was the final resting place for Johanna, herself, buried just after New Year's Day in 1912. She joined her husband, Cornelius, who died in 1901.

Three other burials in this plot under the surname Sweeney included that of Philip J. Sweeney, son of Johanna and Cornelius, his wife Sophia and one for a ten year old child, June J. Sweeney, who died in 1925. It turned out that June was the great granddaughter of Johanna and Cornelius, and granddaughter of their son Philip.

It took a little work to determine one of the other burials the Genealogy Center had listed for this plotfor Julia "Sweeny" Doyle, who died in 1917was that of a daughter of Johanna and Cornelius. She had married James B. Doyle in 1893. Predictably, his was another one of the burials in this expansive family plot, having died more than ten years after his wife, in 1928.

Although I hadn't expected to see it so, it turns out it was Johanna's family plot in which her parents, Phillip and Ellen, were buried. The only problem was that the Genealogy Center's online listing of Catholic Cemetery burials listed them under the surname "Denary." However, the dates match up with other records, as well as the photograph of their burial showing on their memorial at Find A Grave. Not to mention, the Genealogy Center gives this plot number for their burial, despite the unusual misspelling of their surname.

Joining the family in this plot was one other person listed under that misspelling: someone named Margaret "Denary," who died on May 2, 1906. That date matches up with the death certificate of a two month old infant, the daughter of Cornelius Danehy, yet another immigrant child of the immigrant Phillip's son who remained in Ireland. Oddly, this infant was not buried in the same plot as her parents, whom we noted were buried in Lot 10.

There was one final burial in this family location, that of the woman whose family ties were what got me started on this whole search in the first place: Mary Danehy Kelly. Because she was Timothy Kelly's second wife, hers did not become the coveted place alongside her husband. That was surely an honor Timothy's children insisted should go to their own mother. At Mary's passing in 1913, she ended up joining the burial place of her married sisterwho strangely carried the same surname as Mary's own mystery daughter, Margaret Sweeney.

In a family plot spanning the burials of the Danehy patriarch and his wife, Phillip and Ellen, in 1885 and 1886, to the last of the Sweeney family burials in 1954, it seems odd that Mary's own daughterherself a Sweeney who died well before the last of the family's burialscould not be included in the mix. Whether that speaks volumes about any family discord, I can't tell. It certainly does nothing to reveal the origin of that particular Margaret Sweeney.

One unexpected revelation from the study of these Danehy family burials, however, was the discovery that Mary's sister Johanna may, herself, been married not in Fort Wayne, but back in Ireland. This accidental realization just might lead us to the jumping off place in Cork County where the family once livedand possibly provide some detail on this other Sweeney's own story, as well.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rinse; Repeat

You know that "exhaustive search" I mentioned yesterday, the inspiration for my grit-your-teeth-and-do-it approach to searching through the Fort Wayne Catholic Cemetery records? Well, it may seem exhausting, trawling through those indexed records via the Genealogy Center. But that doesn't mean one pass through the records was my ticket to stop repeating the search process. There was another Danehy family plot to puzzle over.

This one, located in Section O, was lot number 74. Right away, I could see there were two additional Danehys located in this plot: Daniel J. and Beatrice E. Danehy.

This Daniel Danehy was a grandson of the original Danehy immigrant to Fort Wayne, Phillip. Daniel was also one of the Irish-born sons of the very man whom Phillip had designated as his executor should his first choice, his County Cork parish priest, predecease him. Daniel, apparently, came to Fort Wayne in 1909 and stayed there until his death in 1954.

Along the way, he marriedBeatrice E. Ottenweller, a Fort Wayne nativeand raised a family of at least two daughters and two sons. However, none of those children appeared in the family burial plot. The only other Danehy listed in that burial location was Daniel's wife, Beatrice, who died June 14, 1976.

It was back to that search routine to see who else might show up in the Catholic Cemetery records at the Genealogy Center. But try as I might, I couldn't turn up any other names listed for Section O, lot number 74.

Perhaps it was close enough on the timeline to shift from the old preference of purchasing family lots to that of buying a burial place for couples alone. After all, the first burial listed was dated 1954; the second not until 1976. These were far removed from those quaint, 1800s burials in which eight or more members of an extended family were laid to rest, all in the same vicinity, regardless of how many thousands of miles away they might actually have died.

So this one Fort Wayne cemetery plot, regardless of how I tried to spell the surname Danehy, turned out to contain only two members of Phillip Danehy's extended family: one grandson from Ireland and his homegrown spouse. Despite the thoroughness of the exercise, it didn't reveal any further clues about the Danehy family.

However, the overall search project is not over yet. There is one more plot to be consideredone which contains some of the oldest of the Danehy burials.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Thinking my results from yesterday's search through Fort Wayne burial records via Allen County Public Library's online Genealogy Center were a snap, I thought the rest of my quest would follow suit. Wrong notion.

Yesterday's search yielded me twelve Danehy burials in the same family plot at the Catholic Cemetery. From all those in Lot 49 of Section B, I was able to determine relationships and double check my family tree sketch for those descendants of the immigrant Phillip Danehy. What could be more encouraging? After all, there were at least three other family plots in that same cemetery. Surely I was on a roll.

From the online burial records, I started work on another plot which included Danehys: Lot 10 in the same section of the cemetery. It wasn't long before I realized only three people claiming that same surname were buried in that family plot: husband and wife Cornelius and Margaret Rayel Danehy, and their son, John F. Danehy. Where were the others from their family?

It seemed a simple matter to go through the various spelling permutations of the family's surname. Surely, I thought, the records for the others were simply spelled Denehy instead of Danehy. Or...perhaps a married daughter and her family were buried in the plot; surely I could find that.

No matter which contortions I chose to explain away one family plot filled with twelve Danehys and another containing only three, I couldn't come up with a reasonable answer. Of course, going to Fort Wayne and looking it up myself would be one optionbut not one I plan on taking in the near future.

So I took an alternate route: grunt work. You know those exhaustive searches? Well, I'm here to say: I'm exhausted.

What I didsince the search function for the Catholic Cemetery at the Genealogy Center doesn't make this an easy processwas to go through the entire list, bit by bit, and search for any burials showing the location, lot 10 in section B. Because the search function doesn't simply allow you to page through the entire alphabet, I used the fuzzy search option and searched for names containing two contiguous letter sequences, starting with the vowels.

Yes, that means I started with "aa" and went through "az," then for each entry, checked the "find" function, which I had set to "ln. 10"just as the website had abbreviated the entry. I did that for each stop along the way. Once I completed the sequence for "az," I went on to "ea" and repeated the whole dance again.

It did yield some information, thankfully, but not what I had hoped. Apparently, after husband and wife, Cornelius and Margaret, were buried in 1920 and 1949, respectively, there were six additional burials for which I can determine no family connection.

One was for what appeared to be an infantthe entry at the Genealogy Center is unclear on this, and I can't locate a corresponding Find A Grave memorial, nor a death certificate in the Indiana collection at The name for the burial was Thomas J. Hirschfelder. Whoever he was, he died on July 21, 1934. The only other detail on the notation at the website was that he was born in Fort Wayne.

The other entries all seemed to be related to each otherthough not to the Danehys in any way that I've been able to discern. The first of this family was a young, single woman named Myrtle Strube. According to her death certificatethe scan of which was quite faded and difficult to readshe was the daughter of Adolph and Elizabeth Ashley Strube.

No surprise here to discover that Adolph and Elizabeth were also buried in the same plotAdolph in 1941, following his wife's earlier burial in 1934. They, in turn, joined another single daughter, Marguerite, and a son, also named Adolph.

How these members of the Strube familyor the infant Thomas Hirschfelderwere related to the Danehys is beyond me. Likely, there was no connection whatsoeverother than a possible financial transaction, or perhaps a charitable gesture to destitute members of the same congregation.

And yet, even that explanation doesn't seem likely, as, after the last of the Strube burials in 1941, one last burial took place in 1972: that of Cornelius' and Margaret's son, John F. Danehy.

Perhaps there is a connection and I have yet to find it. But after my alphabet dance on the keyboard, searching through the burial records recorded at the Genealogy Center, I'll save that next challenge for another day. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Little Reconstruction

The Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne may have opened for business in 1873, but that doesn't necessarily mean its oldest burials dated back to that year. The cemetery also includes some burials from deaths pre-dating that year, owing to the removal of interments from the previous cemetery on Cathedral Square. This creates the unexpected situation of finding some burials mentioned, in the various compilations of burial records, more than once.

I'm not sure that was the case with the Denehy family, although for some reason, I have one burial which may or may not be listed twice. All I have to rely on, at this point, are the two sources for burial information used at the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and the volunteer-provided records at Find A Grave.

My goal this week was to determine all the Danehy burials at the Catholic Cemetery, then sort them into their respective family plots and align that information withhopefullythe records I've assembled on my newly-created Danehy family tree.

Since it seemed to contain the largest number of family burials, I started this exercise with the list for one plot: lot number 49 in section B of the cemetery. Whichever branch of the Danehys this turned out to be, it was a plot big enough to include twelve members of the extended family.

According to the Genealogy Center, the plot included two unnamed day-old infants, one dying in 1932, the other in 1935. These, I presume, were left as unmarked graves, since there was no entry for either of these infants among the entries for this surname at Find A Grave.

I was able to piece together some couples within this larger grouping. There was Jane, wife of Cornelius Danehy, son of the immigrant patriarch, Phillip. His younger brother, Michael and his wifeone of the many Ellens in this familywas another couple. Yet another brother, James, was also there, along with his wife Margaretrepresenting another popular name in this family.

There were some single adults in the mix, as well. One was Jeremiah, the ill-fated grandson of the patriarch Phillip, a son of Cornelius who, while visiting relatives in Pittsburgh, fell off an excursion boat and drowned.

Two other single womenneither of which were accounted for yet in my family history researchwere Anna and Dorothy Danehy. Each of these women was listed as a single woman in the Genealogy Center indexes. They each lived long lives. Both dying in the 1960s, Dorothy was born in 1878 and Anna born in 1884. Thankfully, the recent addition at of the Indiana Death Certificates, 1899-2011, helped provide the answer: both were daughters of Phillip's son Michael and his wife Ellen. This detail allows me to build out another generation in the Danehy family tree with confirmation of these two of their children.

There was one more burial in this family plot which had me puzzled. It was for a woman namedwhat else?Ellen. This Ellen was born, according to the Genealogy Center index, about 1818 in Ireland, and died in Fort Wayne in 1876.

My first inclination was to assume this was Phillip's own wife whose name, I already knew, was Ellen. But that raised a question: if this was Phillip's wife, then where was Phillip? Wouldn't the couple be buried in the same plot? There was no record of any Phillip in this plot.

This is where things get confusing. Of course, we are already geared up for such a problem, knowing the many spelling variations this surname has taken. But in the Genealogy Center records, the couple I believe are our Phillip and Ellen were transcribed in their index as Phillip and Ellen "Denary."

Double checking via Find A Grave, there is an entry for Phillip and Ellenlikely in the same lot number 516 as the Genealogy Center has thembut this one shows Ellen's date of death as June 6, 1886. And that date can be clearly seen in the photograph attached to the Find A Grave memorial.

The problem is that the Ellen who was buriedalong with the other eleven Danehysin lot number 49 happened to die on June 5, 1876. Transcription error? Or different person entirely? If so, who was this other Ellen, who was born in Ireland in 1818? Whoever she was, hers was a heritage which reached as far back into the homeland as the patriarch Phillip, himself.
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