Friday, June 19, 2020

Borrowing a Page from
the Southern Research Playbook

A few years ago, I took a week-long class at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy on researching southern American roots. There, Anne Gillespie Mitchell introduced the class to the concept of "kin" and how flipping through the ten pages preceding and following your target ancestor's census entry may reveal folks who actually are relatives.

I thought, in my current research dilemma, I could borrow that page from her playbook and apply it to my quest to find Falvey kin in Ireland. And why not? Ireland is, though rather large, an island, increasing the chances of inter-marriage among residents of limited geographic areas. If I found representatives of the Fleming and O'Brien families standing in for solemn occasions with the Kelly family, the reverse would also be conceivable: that Johanna Falvey or her husband John Kelly would be listed as sponsors for Fleming baptisms, for instance.

With that thought, I was off searching through the ten pages before and after the two baptismal records I had spotted. The result: while I found plenty of entries for Fleming family members and a very few Kelly entries, for the baptismal pages between the birth of the older Mary Kelly in 1864 and the younger one in 1867, I didn't see any entries where John Kelly or Johanna Falvey stood as sponsors for anyone else's children.

Where were they? Did they not participate in their community?

And that, perhaps, was the key to their absence: perhaps they did not live permanently in this community. There was, after all, one additional column in the baptismal entry book used by this County Kerry parish where I found John and Johanna Kelly mentioned as parents: the listing for "domicile." After all, in each of the two instances where I did find this couple named, their place of residence was listed differently: "Currow" in 1864 and "Barnfield" in 1867. How far apart were these two location?

If John and Johanna moved about frequently, it might do us good to familiarize ourselves with the location of the places where we found them. Perhaps there was a reason why I couldn't find connections between this couple and others in their community: it was no longer theirs.

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