Thursday, August 6, 2020

Traveling to Toledo

Researching our roots is a step-by-step process in which we trace our ancestors' every move, only in a backwards direction—from current residence back to forsaken homeland, from last days to early years. When the family's personal history follows a logical trajectory, the search may be simple. What happens, however, when family history research takes a turn, directing us to look in a different city?

While the focus of my search right now is a man who settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we've now found evidence that Timothy Kelly had connections to another midwestern city: Toledo, Ohio. To find our Kelly connection in Toledo would be a challenge primarily because of the commonness of that surname. That's when we have to reassess all the clues we've already assembled and see if they can point us in the right direction in this new research journey.

For one thing, Timothy Kelly's own obituary mentioned the name of his one remaining sister: Margaret. That she was still single, after all those years, was suggested by the fact that her surname still was Kelly. A few mentions in social sections of the Fort Wayne newspapers, where our Timothy had lived for most of his adult life, suggested that this Margaret Kelly lived in Toledo, Ohio.

There were, as I discovered, a few other connections between the Kelly home in Fort Wayne and the Ohio city of Toledo. Considering some of the Kelly family were railroad men, that is not surprising. There was, for instance, a curious report in the June 8, 1898, Fort Wayne Sentinel, headlined "Brakeman Shot." The article began,
Mrs. Richard Kelley, of 73 Hoagland Avenue, was summoned to Toledo yesterday by a telegram which stated that her husband, a brakeman on the Wabash road, had been injured.

Richard, as I had already discovered by tracing Timothy Kelly's family through each decade's census entry, was one of Timothy's sons. The unexpected report—the result of a fight at a boarding house for railroad employees—at least gives me an idea of the whereabouts of that particular son of Timothy Kelly. As a side note, the injury was not fatal, and it did indeed involve the correct Kelly, despite the newspaper's typical misspelling of his surname. Furthermore, the address for the Kelly household was confirmed only a couple years later with the family's entry in the 1900 census. (Ironically, the injured Richard Kelly went on to serve as one of Fort Wayne's police captains, many years later.)

Another Toledo connection regarding the Kelly family was noted through the census record, twenty years later, when Timothy Kelly's youngest daughter Deborah—by then known as Mrs. Frank C. Pence—resided with her husband in Toledo.

By 1920, Timothy's sister Margaret was long gone, but she certainly wasn't hard to find in the census records before her passing. There was, for instance, an unmarried Margaret Kelly, who had been born in Ireland in March of 1841, on Saint Mary's Street in Toledo, according to the 1900 census. Conveniently, this Margaret Kelly's household included two nieces from Ireland, who were likely sisters: Margaret and Katherine Sullivan.

It wouldn't be too terribly difficult to see if those three names could be pieced together to find the family nexus. More exciting, though, was the possibility of tracing these three women to see if anything further could be discovered about Margaret's and Timothy's mutual place of origin—and, possibly, the name of their parents, as well.

Discovering that last detail would provide the next step in determining just how Timothy Kelly might have been related to that other Kelly man I'm primarily interested in: John Kelly, the husband of Johanna Falvey, who, with his wife, had immigrated from County Kerry to Fort Wayne back in 1869.


  1. I hope this all ties up with John Kelly!

    1. Oh, I sure do, too, Miss Merry...but I'll never know for sure unless I try this out!


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