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 Ancestry.com, 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 Ancestry.com 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 FamilySearch.org.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it may be a rough go, attempting to locate those local newspaper reports. However, Ancestry has quite a few for Fort Wayne...if I look for just the right dates.

  2. I would love to see a copy of all the newspapers still in existence online!! OCR goofs and all!

    1. After a while, one can pick up that OCR-speak, at least with a lot of practice ;)


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