Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Family Next Door

Just because two people in town claim the same surname doesn't always mean they are related, of course. I know better than to assume such a relationship between two men named Kelly, for instance—even if they did pool their resources to purchase a family burial plot together. But when two associated men named Kelly link up with two people named Falvey in the same town, I begin to wonder about some close connections. Could John Kelly's wife Johanna Falvey be kin with Timothy Kelly's next door neighbor Daniel Falvey?

I set out to see what I could discover about this Falvey family next door. My first step was to pull up every newspaper article I could find in Fort Wayne containing the surname Falvey. As I later discovered, I needed to extend that initial search to include an alternate spelling of Falvy, as well.

Most of the results came from the social columns of Fort Wayne's newspapers. There were plenty of happy mentions of the Falvey surname over the years, thanks to school awards and church ceremonies. Sadly, there were also mentions of the unexpected passing of some of Daniel's children at young ages, meriting sorrowful insertions within the pages of the Fort Wayne Sentinel.

Between those articles found in the pages of the local newspapers, plus his appearance in the decennial census records, I learned that Daniel Falvy and his wife Abbie had at least six children: Mary, Kate, John, Julia, Abbie, and Daniel. Of those names, Mary and Catherine were echoed in the families of Daniel's next door neighbor, Timothy Kelly, as well as that other Kelly family I've been pursuing, of John Kelly and his wife Johanna Falvey. Perhaps those names were a fixture in every Irish immigrant's home in America...

I learned also that, even though both Daniel and his wife Abbie were born in Ireland, they were married in Allen County in 1872. According to the 1910 census, Daniel claimed to have arrived in the United States in 1860—and to have become a naturalized citizen. Considering that in the 1910 census, he claimed to have been sixty years of age, that meant he had arrived in this country at a young age. Who were the parents who brought him here?

One key to discovering such information is usually the person's own obituary—but such a detail is generally more common an insertion in modern memorials than those in the year in which Daniel died. Not long after the 1910 census, I found a May 3, 1915, news item concerning the passing of deputy sheriff Daniel Falvy, who had been "installed into office" only three years before that report. While the obituary provided details of his work life and some history of his childhood, it lacked the very clues which help a genealogist push the pedigree chart back another generation.

From the Fort Wayne Sentinel:
   Daniel Falvy, deputy sheriff to the county commissioners' court, died late Saturday afternoon at the family residence, 1209 Boone street, at the age of 68 years. Death was due to heart trouble and followed a very short illness. The deceased continued at his post until April 12, when sickness forced him to remain at home.
   Mr. Falvy was installed into office with Sheriff Gladieux three years ago and was an efficient public servant and was very popular with his associates. He was a prominent figure in local politics and was well known throughout the city and vicinity.
   The deceased was born in County Kerry, Ireland, but came to America with his parents when he was twelve years of age. The family located at Upper Sandusky, where he remained until forty years ago, when he moved to Fort Wayne. He had resided here ever since.
   He was a charter member of the C. B. L. and of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and was a devout member of the Cathedral and of the Holy Name society of the same congregation. Besides the wife he is survived by four children: John, Julia, Catherine and Daniel, jr., all of this city.
   Funeral services Tuesday morning at 8:30 at the residence and at 9 o'clock at the Cathedral. Interment at Lindenwood.

Though complete with some helpful details, as we'll see later this week, there were a few items which just didn't live up to providing the helpful guidance we'd hoped for. 


  1. Jacqi, a marriage proposal from a Kerry man goes something like 'would you like to be buried with my people?' If your two purchased a grave between them, there's little doubt but they were family, and close family too, probably.

    1. Oh, Dara, thank you so much for sharing that tidbit. Only a local researcher would know a detail like that!


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