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 Ancestry.com 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.


  1. I vote for a different Ellen a mystery person:)

    1. I suspect it is the same person - the typo(s) are so close...

  2. Reburials are often 'sans headstones' - as I found out to my regret about my x-times-great grandparents. They were dug up by the City of Philadelphia to make a parking lot for Temple University and reburied. The headstones were all used to line the river bank as rip-rap. Someone needs to be slapped and hard!

    1. Oh, how awful! Even worse, considering someone paid for those headstones. How inconsiderate to take that property and just dispose of it--to say nothing of the disrespect for those family members' remains!


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