Wednesday, July 28, 2021

At the Far Reaches of the FAN Club


Could it be that the Irish stuck together in such an unlikely immigrant destination as Indiana? Searching through the census reports for each of the Kelly brothers—my father-in-law's great-grandmother's siblings—revealed nothing more than "farmer" or "laborer" for occupation. There had to be some way to deduce their origin in Ireland, and why they chose to migrate to Indiana.

Pressing my way through every branch of the extended Kelly family, looking at every census record and every other document I could find, I found myself far removed from the immediate family when I finally stumbled upon a clue. But was it a clue about the Kelly family? Or just a detail about the family of an in-law?

The youngest Kelly sibling was Ann, the one whose birth year kept changing with each decade's enumeration. She was the one who married Barnard Doyle, the son of neighboring Irish immigrants. While Ann was still living with her widowed mother and siblings in nearby Warren County in 1860, Barnard was at home on his parents' property in Tippecanoe County.

The head of that household was an Irish immigrant farmer by the name of Joseph Doyle. Unlike the few other Irish settlers in the area at that time, Joseph owned the property he was farming. He also had arrived in America earlier than the Kelly family, best I can tell, for his son Barnard had been born in Ohio about 1840.

What was handy about finding Barnard in his parents' household in the 1860 census was the confirmation of his father's identity, for at the end of their lives, both men ended up far from Indiana, buried in Kansas. Although Barnard's 1882 headstone was not helpful in that it mangled the name of the place in Ohio where he had been born, locating his father's memorial in the same cemetery proved more useful—if, that is, he turns out to be a part of the Kellys' "FAN Club" that led them to settle in Indiana, the Friends, Associates, and Neighbors in their personal circles.

Why? Because, like so many other Irish who died in America, Joseph Doyle had one detail included on his headstone: his origin in Ireland. Dying in 1885, only a few years after his son, Joseph made sure that anyone considering his final resting place knew that he was "born in Ferban, Kings Co. Ireland."

Of course we'll have to unpack that statement somewhat, before we can determine the place he once called home. The name Kings County is not what that area is called in the country of Ireland today. Now, it is known as County Offaly.

The designation of "Ferban" needs some revision, as well. A slight spelling rearrangement yields the currently correct town name of Ferbane.

That, however, is only the origin of my father-in-law's great-grandmother's youngest sister's father-in-law—admittedly a stretch. The question then becomes: did the Irish coming to Indiana immigrate as a cluster? Or independently of their fellow townspeople? Could Joseph Doyle have been a front runner for several of his neighbors back in County Offaly, leading them to a better life in the improbable destination of Lafayette, Indiana? This may be a challenge to determine, but there are more resources to consider.

Such is the process of research. 

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