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.
- 1860 U.S. Census, Miami County, Ohio, population schedule, Brown Twp., p. 41 (handwritten), dwelling 307, family 301, Samuel Sayers household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Feb 2009); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1010.
John Kelly is listed as a 22yo farm laborer from Ireland with no personal property of value (unlike the other two farm laborers listed with the family).
- 1870 U.S. Census, Miami County, Ohio, population schedule, Brown Twp., p. 265 (stamped), p. 35 (handwritten), dwelling 296, family 294, John Kelly household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 May 2008); citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 1244.
John Kelly is listed as a 31yo white male farmer, Irish born, with both parents of foreign birth. He is also listed as a citizen. He is shown with his presumed wife Johannah, age 20, born Ireland, and presumed children Catherine (3, born Canada), Ella (2, born Ohio) and John (3/12, born Ohio).
- 1880 U.S. Census, Miami County, Ohio, population schedule, Brown Twp., enumeration district (ED) 131, p. 14B, dwelling 131, family 131, John Kelley household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 May 2008); citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1049.
John KELLEY, age 40, farmer, is listed with wife Johanna (age 30) and children Catherine (14, born Canada), Ella (12, born Ohio, as are her younger sibs), Johnny (10), Margaret (8), Thomas (6), Mary (4), Edward (3), and farm laborer John PIERCE (50, born in Ireland).
- Jan 28 1881, John KELLEY bought a 160 acre farm in Jackson Twp, Darke County. Citation is to the (Darke County) Deed Book 145, p. 502-503.
- 1888 plat book for Darke County shows the John KELLEY farm.
- 9 Aug 1894, Mrs. Johannah KELLY dies of heart trouble. Schirack and Schirack Jr., Notes from Union City Times, Death notice of Mrs. Johanna Kelly. Cites 17 Aug 1894 Friday Union City Times. While I’m not detailing the sources here (unless asked — this is becoming quite a pile of words as it is), Johannah has brothers and sisters living in the area, and there are several pointers to Tipperary origins for these LEAHEYs.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Darke County, Ohio, population schedule, Jackson Twp., enumeration district (ED) 59, sh. 11B (handwritten), dwelling 241, family 242, John Kelly household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 May 2008); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1262.
John Kelly, born Nov 1839, age 60, widowed, born in Ireland of Irish parents. Arrived 1859, in the country for 40 years, naturalized. Occupation farmer; he can read, write, and speak English.
- 14 Feb 1905, John KELLEY writes his will, signing it with a mark.
- 16 Feb 1905, John KELLY dies. The Union City Times says “DIED John Kelly, Thursday Feb 16 1905 at residence North Union St, aged 64 years 2 months 23 days; Interment Catholic cemetery.”
- 25 Feb 1905, the will is probated. Citation is to Record of Wills, Darke County Probate Court, volume not noted, p 392-395. Also have copies of applications for letters testamentary and letters of administration, the latter signed by all the heirs (his children).
- 1920 U.S. Census, Randolph County, Indiana, population schedule, White River Twp., enumeration district (ED) 168, p. 5A, dwelling 127, family 127, Thomas Dillon household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Apr 2008); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 464.
John’s oldest daughter Catherine KELLY DILLON is visited by a census taker who helpfully writes “Tipperary” above the “Ireland” listed for the place of birth of both her parents.
- Robert E Kelly, passport #304144 issued 7 Jun 1923. Purpose was “pleasure”, intended date of travel was early July on the SS Canopic. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925″. Database and images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2007.
John’s youngest son Robert Emmett applies for a passport, stating of his father:
… my father John Kelly was born in Ireland and is now deceased; that he emigrated to the United States from the port of Liverpool England on or about 1849; that he resided 57 years, uninterruptedly, in the United States from 1849 to 1906 at Darke County Ohio; that he was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the Darke County, Ohio [“court” is on the form here, but is lined through] […]
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”
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.