My Brickwall Ancestor: John KELLY, (1840-1905) – Madness Monday

Per Miriam’s splendid suggestion, I’m going to attempt a writeup of one of my current challenges in family history. (I’m not overly fond of the phrase “brick wall”.) As a novice genealogist, however, I am modifying Miriam’s instructions, in that I am perfectly glad to be told “you should check database thus-and-so.” I don’t expect anyone to do my work for me. 🙂

What I Want to Know:

John KELLY’s parents, and the date and location of his marriage to Johannah LEAHEY.

Known Timeline:

Searches Done:

Phyllis Crick of the Garst Museum in Greenville, OH kindly sent me their surname files on KELLY. She found an 1865 naturalization for a John KELLY, but in Darke County. A check of KELLY naturalizations in Miami County in this time period only turned up a Samuel KELLY. She also sent me the will and letters testamentary for John KELLY, the purchase and sale records for his farm in Darke County, and copies from extraction books of the Union City newspapers.

Ancestry.com search (exact) for KELLY/KELLEY in Brown, Miami, OH in the 1800s in census and voting records shows three groups of KELLYs: a John born in Ireland which I believe is my subject, a group born in Delaware (includes a John and a Samuel), and a group born in New Jersey.

A Footnote.com search for John KELLY between 1845-1880 in Ohio turns up four Civil War pension file index cards. I dismiss two because they are for widows (we know my John outlived his wife). The other two are for invalid pensions. It seems like an unlikely lead (see my Theories, below), but if someone tells me I should check it out, you should also tell me how. 🙂

Searched http://dcoweb.org and http://randolph.dcoweb.org for KELLY and KELLEY. Found an obit for Thomas Francis KELLY, John’s son. Found a 1902 directory for Union City, IN which lists on Rural Route 5 “Kelley John — Thos, Ed, Maggie, Mary, Robt., Jose, Celia”.

Unchecked Possible Resources:

  • Request Indiana death certificate (in process).
  • Query St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Union City, IN for records.
  • Research extant Catholic churches in Brown Twp, Miami OH during the period he was there, and query them for KELLY records.

Suspicions and Theories:

I have two theories for why his eldest daughter was born in Canada, when all her younger siblings were born in Ohio or Indiana. First: he was ducking the Civil War by skipping north over the border. Second, that he went back to Ireland to marry his wife (I don’t know where the marriage was, or when, except that Johannah first appears as his wife in the 1870 census, and their oldest child was born in 1865) and returned with her through Canada, taking enough time at it that Catherine was born north of the border. Speculation on these lines very much welcome!

My mother (b. 1946) reports being taken, a couple times, to reunions for ARMSTRONG-KELLY-CULLEN-LEAHEY. Of note is that she remembers the older attendees lamenting that the younger generation didn’t have much interest in the reunions, as they didn’t know their cousins. This made me very excited when I determined that Johannah LEAHEY KELLY’s mother was Catherine ARMSTRONG. It also makes me think of chain migration. I have ample evidence that these LEAHEYs originated in Tipperary, which makes me trust the information from Catherine KELLY DILLON’s 1920 census the more.

One thought on “My Brickwall Ancestor: John KELLY, (1840-1905) – Madness Monday

  1. My James Kelly is one of my brick walls. I believe that he emigrated to Canada and then onto the United States. His first child was also born in Canada and the rest in Jefferson County, NY. It was less expensive for some reason to take the ship to Canada than to come directly to the US. So you may want to look at Canadian ships lists, something I haven’t gotten around to yet. I think it more likely that John came over in 1859 than 1849 but you could check the 1851 Canadian census. Another resource you might look for is an old history of the county he settled in, they often listed the rolls of those that served in the Civil War and that might give you a better idea of whether or not to spend the big bucks on a Civil War pension file that may or may not be his.

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