Researching My Mother's Irish Roots

 

Bob Gray

March 2016

Cassidy-Gillan Family Updated April 2016

 

My mother, Mary Elizabeth Lynch Gray, was a second or third generation Irish American, depending on which side of her family you use.  Two of her grandparents were born in Ireland and all eight of her great grandparents were born there.  The earliest known attempt at documenting my mother's family is a family tree developed by my sister which is recreated here.  Slightly more detail is given for her mother's side of the family, probably because her father died before the family tree was developed.  Also, my mother told me that her mother took her on a trip to visit family in Dunkirk and Buffalo, New York when she was young.  She couldn't have been too young though as she said she had a crush on one of her cousins in Buffalo who had red hair.  An updated version of the family tree for my mother's side of the Gray-Lynch family is provided in the figure below. 

 

Over the years I have managed to identify all of her great grandparent's names.  However, very little is known about her family's time in Ireland.  Beyond the notes on my sister's family tree, I found the following information:

 

1) There is a reference in a great uncle's obituary (John O'Brien) and a great aunt’s obituary (Ellen O’Brien Carroll) to being from County Carlow, Ireland which conflicts with the family tree information that shows Thomas O'Brien (my mother's maternal grandfather) and his family were from Dublin, Ireland,

 

2) My mother’s maternal grandmother’s obituary states that she (Margaret O’Connell O’Brien) was born in County Cork, Ireland, and

 

3) Records of two of my mother's other great uncle’s births were found on Family Search org, indicating the O'Connells lived in Bluepool, just outside Kanturk, Cork, Ireland.

 

One of the real difficulties with researching Irish ancestors is the fact than most of the civil census records have been destroyed.  The first full government census of Ireland was taken in 1821 with further censuses at ten-yearly intervals from 1831 through to 1911. No census was taken in 1921, because of the War of Independence.  The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after the censuses were taken. Those for 1881 and 1891 were pulped during the First World War, probably because of the paper shortage. The returns for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were, apart from a few survivals, notably for a few counties for 1821 and 1831, destroyed in 1922 in the fire at the Public Record Office at the beginning of the Civil War [1] in Ireland.

 

 

There are few substitutes for the census records, such as the Griffith's Valuation, but these mostly provide the name the proprietor or renter of a specific piece of property or building.  No other information about the occupants of a property was recorded.  The largest resource for researching ones Irish ancestors comes from the records of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.  Early in my quest for information on my mother's family in Ireland, I tried to find my mother's family at Roots Ireland organization (www.rootsireland.org).  At that time, only a few counties were on-line and some of those were not complete.  In the intervening years, many more counties have been put on-line.  So, I decided to have another go at finding my mother's family in Ireland.  New records are being added all the time (over 14,000 County Sligo marriage records were put on-line while working on this paper), so this will be a living document for the foreseeable future.

 

Working with church records is not at all like working with civil census records.  They are not a snap shot in time but rather a record of events.  Also, there is no guarantee that they are complete.  The information recorded is also free form, so one record may include full names of parents while another does not.  In genealogic research, I have found that the extra bits of information included in census forms, such as “Where were your parents born?”, often proved useful in determining the correctness of a record.  Without those extra bits of information in the church records, I quickly found myself in the position of having to choose one record over one or more others as being the correct one for my mother's family.  It is for this reason that I am publishing this memo.  It documents the decisions made during my research with the hope that future information will either confirm or deny the validity of those decisions.  I apologize in advance for the lengthy and rambling nature of this document but, as I said, its purpose is to document the steps I took during my research.

 

My mother's four sets of great grandparents are discussed in the order of decreasing knowledge about them in Ireland.  Her maternal great grandparents had several children in Ireland, making for a good starting point in my research.  Her paternal great grandparents may have been married Ireland, but all of their known children were born in New York.  This makes researching their time in Ireland much more difficult.  The discussions start with information about the family's time in the United States followed by how that information was used to research their Irish records.

 

In doing this research, I found that my knowledge of the geography of Ireland was very limited.  The map below, from the National Library of Ireland, shows the counties of Ireland.  The on-line version of the map can be switched to show Roman Catholic parish borders which proved to very helpful in identify areas where my mother’s family lived.

 

 

The O'Connell-Kennedy Family

 

The first records of the O'Connell-Kennedy family in the United States are from the 1880 US Census where Richard and his daughter, Hanna, are found in Erie, Pennsylvania staying with his other daughter (my mother's maternal grandmother) Margaret's family.   The census information is as follows:

 

                        Richard O'Connor, Father-in-law, age 49,

                        Hannah, Sister-in-law, age 17.

 

Richard also shows up in the 1880 Census records for Buffalo, New York where he is living with his son, John.  The dates of the two census records are June 23, 1880, Buffalo, and June 19, 1880, Erie, making it feasible for him to have been at both places when the census was collected.  My mother said the O’Connells all came to the United States at the same time but most likely they came by way of Canada and part of the family stayed there until after the 1880 US Census was completed as none of the other family members could be found.  Given the fact that both Richard O’Connell and his wife Johanna Kennedy died before 1900, there was little information to go on, except for the fact that my mother had visited the O’Connells and remembered the names of the children.  Eventually, all eight of Richard and Johanna’s children were identified along with their families as shown in the figure below.  Johanna’s maiden name was verified by the marriage record for her son, Edward. 

 

 

The birth years for the O’Connell-Kennedy family were estimated from census records, obituaries, and gravestones as listed in the second column of the table below.  The third column shows the date of baptism that was found in the records at Roots Ireland org. 


 

Baptism records for Richard O’Connell, Johanna Kennedy and their children

Name

Estimated Birth Month & Year

Baptism Date

Location

Address

Parish

Richard O’Connell

1827

November 18, 1827

Castletownroche

Castletownroche

Johanna Kennedy

1827

June 29, 1821

-

Rathcormac

John H O’Connell

August 1849

August 23, 1847

Bluepool

Castlemagner

Margaret O’Connell

June 1854

July 1, 1849

Bluepool

Castlemagner

Edward D. O’Connell

August 1853

August 17, 1851

Bluepool

Castlemagner

Mary O’Connell

~ 1854

May 28, 1854

March 22, 1857

Bluepool

Castlemagner

Johanna O’Connell

November 1868

October 29, 1859

December 9, 1860

Bluepool

Castlemagner

Ellen O’Connell

July 1871

November 29, 1863

Bluepool

Castlemagner

William J. O’Connell

September 1867

September 8, 1867

Greenane

Kanturk

James A. O’Connell

December 1870

December 25, 1870

Greenane

Kanturk

 

Examination of the baptism dates for Richard and Johanna’s children shows a distribution with two to five years between children, while the estimated birth years based on information from the states has conflicts and a gap of 13 years.  With the exception of Mary, the daughter’s actual birth years are earlier than the estimated birth years in the second column.  John and Edward’s estimated birth years were off by two years, but the differences in the daughters information is in the five to ten years range.   There is no ambiguity associated with the baptism records for Richard and Johanna’s children as no other records were found on-line for all of Ireland.  One unusual thing to be noted is the fact that both Mary and Johanna appear twice in the records.  It is not known why this would occur.

 

There were five Johanna Kennedys baptized in County Cork between the years 1817 to 1837.  Of the five, one was earlier than 1827 and the other four were for 1833 or 1835 as shown in the table below.  Johanna's gravestone gives her birth year as 1827, but she is listed as 55 years old in the 1892 New York State census making her birth year about 1837.   Given the differences in her children's estimated ages and their baptism records, it is certainly possible that Johanna’s estimated birth year is incorrect as well.  However, her children’s estimated birth year was always later than or equal to their actual baptism year, never earlier.  With the exception of one of the sponsors, their names probably are not useful in determining which record, if any, is for the Johanna Kennedy of interest here.  The Johanna born in 1821 was the only baptism record found for her parents.  The Johanna born in 1833 had a sister, Catherine, born in Donerraile Parish.  The three born in 1835 all had multiple siblings born in the same parish listed in the table below.

 

Baptism records for Johanna Kennedy between 1817 and 1837 in County Cork, Ireland

Baptism Date

Father’s Name

Mother’s Name

Parish

Address

Sponsor 1

Sponsor 2

29-Jun-1821

William Kenedy

Johanna Kenery

Rathcormac

-

William Barry

Elizabeth Dwyre

29-Sep-1833

William Kennedy

Nancy Linehan

Mallow

-

Carol Daly

Catherine Nagle

12-Mar-1835

Jeremiah Kennedy

Ellen Callaghan

Castletownroche

Ballyhooly

John Duggan

Mary Kennedy

01-Jun-1835

John Kennedy

Mary McGrath

Mitchelstown

-

Timothy Denihan

Honora Lewis

24-Oct-1835

Michael Kenedy

Margaret Lynch

Charleville

-

John Moore

Ann Croke

 

Three baptism records were found for a Richard Connell between the years 1817 to 1837 (1821, 1827, and 833).  The one in 1821 appears to have a transcription error as the father’s name, see snippet of the record below, looks to be more like Condone than Connell which is the mother’s surname with only one “l”.    This leaves the record for 1827 as being more likely to be correct with the one in 1833 a possible match.  The estimated birth year for Richard O’Connell comes from his gravestone and his death notice which gives his age as 68 in 1895.  There are three census records for Richard, two from 1880 and one from 1892.  The two for 1880 give his age as 49 for an estimated birth year of 1831 and the one in 1892 gives his age as 60 for a birth year of 1832. 

 

 

The baptism information for the two Richard Connells is provided in the table below.  Again, the sponsor information does not look like it will be a help in determining which record is correct.

 

Baptism records for Richard Connell between 1817 and 1837 in County Cork, Ireland

Baptism Date

Father’s Name

Mother’s Name

Parish

Address

Sponsor 1

Sponsor 2

18-Nov-1827

Patrick Connell

Bridget Clifford

Castletownroche

Castletownroche

James Connel

Bridget Doyle

15-May-1833

John O Connell

Catherine Nagle

Buttevant

Jordanstown

John Donegan

Honora Coghlan

 

The distances between the various parishes, obtained from Google Maps, is listed in the table below.  As the table shows, the parishes are not very far from each other, with the furthest distance being thirty miles.  Therefore, the distance between the parishes of interest cannot be used as a deciding factor to determine which of the possible baptisms for Richard O’Connell and Johanna Kennedy might be correct.

 

 

The ages of the candidates compared with the birth of their eldest child leads to the conclusion that the correct records must be the 1821 baptism for Johanna Kennedy and the 1827 baptism for Richard O’Connell.  These two would have been 26 and 20 years old when their son John was born.  The others all would have been 14 or younger, making them unlikely to be the parents of John H O’Connell born in August 1847.  As far as Margaret O’Connell’s birth year being six years different from her estimated birth year, my mother wrote that her grandmother told her she never knew when she was born [2].  If the 1821 and 1827 records are not correct, then the subsequent information about their parents will also be incorrect for the Richard O’Connell and Johanna Kennedy under study here.

 

There is one complication associated with this selection.  Richard O’Connell had a niece, Hannah, who died in Buffalo in 1891 at the age of 15.  This indicates that Richard had a brother and the only other baptism record found for his parents listed above was for a sister, Johanna.  The death notice for Richard’s niece does not specify where she was born but it is assumed that she was born in Ireland and came to live with Richard.  A Patrick Connell and Mary Driscoll had two sons, John and Patrick, who were baptized in Castletownroche Parish which is where Richard was baptized.  Richard's sister, Johanna, was born before Richard and was baptized in Killevullen Parish.  Richard was born in 1827.  The eldest son of Patrick Connell and Mary Driscoll, John Connell, was born in 1830, making the marriage of Patrick Connell and Mary Driscoll around 1829.  There are four baptism records for a Johanna Connell with a father John Connell and a birth year between 1875 and 1877.  There is also one baptism record for a Johanna Connell born in 1876 to a Patrick Connell.   It is possible that Richard’s mother, Bridget Clifford, died shortly after Richard was born and his father, Patrick Connell then married Mary Driscoll, making Richard a half brother of John and Patrick, either of which may have been the father of Johanna Connnel, niece of Richard who died in Buffalo in 1891.

 

To date, only one baptism record has been identified for a Bridget Clifford born in Cork between 1780 and 1810.  A total of twelve baptism records were found for a Patrick Connell in the appropriate time period, making identification of Richard’s father difficult.  The twelve records are summarized in the table below.  There are three for Rathcormac Parish which is where it is believed that Richard’s wife, Johanna Kennedy was baptized.  Rathcormac Parish and Castletownroche Parish are about twelve miles apart.  Of these three, the one in 1797 may be the most likely based on traditional Irish naming conventions where the first son was named after the paternal grandfather, the first daughter was named after the maternal grandmother, and the second daughter was named after the paternal grandmother.  The record for 1806 has to be a close second choice as it puts him closer in age to Bridget Clifford.  Additional research is needed before a more definitive answer can be obtained for Patrick Connell’s parents.

 

 

 

Patrick Connell Baptism Records, 1780 – 1810, County Cork

Date

Parish

Father's Name

Mother's Name

12-Jun-1792

Cloyne

Maurice

Catherine Moreen

12-Mar-1797

Rathcormac

John

Margaret Leary

10-Mar-1799

Shandrum

John

Mary Linnane

11-Mar-1803

Kilnamartyra

Jeremiah

Mary Connell

06-May-1804

Cloyne

Michael

Mary Murphy

03-Jun-1804

Rathcormac

Patrick

Johanna Spillane

16-Dec-1806

Rathcormac

John

Mary Cahill

31-Mar-1807

Macroom

Patrick

Mary Mahony

18-Sep-1808

Ballyclough

William

Ellen Kavanagh

26-Sep-1808

Shandrum

Denis

Bridget Berkly

 03-Nov-1809

Youghal

John

Mary Coller

24-Dec-1810

Macroom

Michael

Margaret Lucy

 

A family tree of Richard’s ancestors is provided below.

 

A single baptism record was found for a William Kennedy between 1770 and 1806 in County Cork and also only one record was found for Johanna Kenery over the same period.  It is noted that Roots Ireland org uses Kenery as an alternate for the surname Kennedy, making it possible that Kenery is not Johanna’s maiden name but the different spellings in the same record make that unlikely.  A family tree of Johanna’s ancestors is provided below.

 

 

Work is continuing on verifying the findings presented above and on extending their families further back in time.  The maps below present where the Connell – Kennedy families lived in County Cork, Ireland.  The locations are based on their baptism records.  The first map shows the Bluepool and Greenane areas outside Kanturk and the second map shows the locations of the baptisms for the people in the family trees for Richard Connell and Johanna Kennedy provided above.  These are current maps from Google, not from the mid 1800s when my mother’s family was in Ireland but they are believed to be representative of where the families lived.  The locations marked with red diamonds on the second map are no more than 31 miles apart as listed in one of the tables above.

 

 

Boundaries of Greenane (top) and Bluepool (bottom) areas just outside Kanturk, County Cork, Ireland

 

 

Google map showing Kanturk, Mitchelstown, Killabullen, Castletownroche, Rathcormac, and Castelyons Parishes.

 

All of the parishes are in the Clyone Diocese.  The history of the diocese can be found at http://cloynediocese.ie/about-the-diocese/history/ and the map of the parishes below is also from the diocese’s web site.  It is not known if the current boundaries for the parishes are consistent with their boundaries in the mid-1800s.

 

The parish boundaries for the Cloyne Diocese, County Cork, Ireland

 

The O'Brien-Kelly nee McDonnell Family

 

The family tree developed by my sister in the mid-1950s showed my mother’s maternal grandfather, Thomas O’Brien, as the son of John O’Brien and Ann McDonald and that all three of them were born in Dublin, Ireland.  With the help of my mother, I was able to fill in the rest of Thomas O’Brien’s siblings.  Also, based on my mother’s research, it was decided that Ann’s surname was probably McDonnell, not McDonald, because of a gravestone for a Mike McDonnell (1816 – 1864) in the O’Brien family plot at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Dunkirk, New York.  As will be discussed later in this section, I now believe her maiden name was Kelly, hence the family is referred to as the O’Brien-Kelly nee McDonnell family as my posted genealogy web pages have shown her surname as McDonnell.  Thomas O’Brien’s father was listed as John O’Brien in my sister’s family tree, but the information listed was consistent with Thomas’ brother John who lived in Dunkirk.  There is a gravestone for a Thomas O’Brien (1820 – 1854) in the O’Brien family plot at St. Mary’s Cemetery which my mother decided must have been a marker for her great grandfather as she knew he died in Ireland.  In 2015, I found several Dunkirk City Directory listings for Anna O’Brien stating she was the widow of William.  There is no doubt that this is for the Ann O’Brien of interest as she is living at the same address as her son, John W. O’Brien whose occupation is given as flour merchant.  So, my starting point for researching the O’Brien-Kelly nee McDonnell family is presented in the family tree shown below.  Note that Anna’s surname is left as McDonnell.  The birth year information was obtained from census records, obituaries, and gravestones.  In doing my research at Roots Ireland org, I assumed that the family was from County Carlow, not Dublin, as the obituaries for John W. O’Brien and Ellen O’Brien Carroll listed County Carlow as their place of birth in Ireland.

 

 

A search of baptism records for County Carlow for children of William O’Brien and Ann McDonnell produced no results.  A search for baptism records where the father was William O’Brien and the mother’s given name was Ann produced six records between the years of 1835 to 1855 as listed in the table below.  Clearly, the six records are for the same parents.  It is noted that the names of the children and their order of birth are nearly consistent with the names and estimated birth years shown in the family tree for William O’Brien and Ann McDonnell.  The only real inconsistencies are Bridget instead of Jane and the order of birth for Jane and Mary versus the order of birth for Mary and Bridget.  There are also considerable differences in the birth year for John W. and Jane/Bridget O’Brien which initially led me to discard this finding.

 

Baptism records for children of William O’Brien and Ann Unknown in County Carlow

Name

Date

Father

Mother

Parrish

Address

Sponsor 1

Sponsor 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

John

30-Jul-1837

William

Brien

Anne

Kelly

Clonegal

Coolroe

Thomas

Brien

Mary

Pender

Ellen

10-May-1840

William

Bryan

Anne

Kelly

Clonegal

Coolroe

Thomas

Bryan

Mary

Roach

Anne

04-Aug-1844

William

Bryan

Anne

Kelly

Clonegal

Coolroe

James

Pender

Mary

Foster

Mary

14-Aug-1846

William

Bryan

Anne

Kelly

Clonegal

Coolroe

William

Doyle

Mary

Breene

Bridget

10-Jan-1849

William

Bryan

Anne

Kelly

Clonegal

Coolroe

William

Connolly

Bridget

McDonald

Thomas

13-Jan-1850

William

Bryan

Anne

Kelly

Clonegal

Coolroe

John

McDonald

Bridget

McDonald

 

The search was widened to include nearby counties, including Dublin, with no result.  Searches for common parents of a William and Thomas O’Brien in the 1800 to 1820 time frame produced negative results as well.  Also, no common parents of an Ann and Michael McDonnell could be found.

 

I then decided to do a more detailed analysis of the estimated birth years for the six children.  In doing so, I discovered that I must have based their estimated birth years on the first records I found for them as opposed to identifying the most likely birth year from all of the available records.  A good deal of variation was found in the estimated birth years, particularly for Mary whose birth year ranged from 1849 to 1870.  It was also found that Jane’s birth year was given as 1849 on her gravestone and 1848 in her obituary.  The table below presents all of the estimated birth year information for each child along with the date on the baptism record.  The 1900 Census asked each person the month and year of the birth.  The birth month information for John, Anne, and Thomas are very consistent with the baptism month but there are big differences in birth months and baptism months for Mary and Jane. 

 

Estimated birth years for various census and other records for O’Brien children listed in table above

Name

Baptism

Gravestone

Obituary

1920

1910

1905

1900

1892

1880

1875

1870

1865

1860

1855

John W

30-Jul-1837

1842

1842

1843

1846

1845

Jul 1845

1843

1844

1845

1842

1841

1839

1841

Ellen

10-May-1840

1844

1845

1844

1843

1842

-

1843

1843

1843

1842

1842

1842

-

Anne

04-Aug-1844

1848

1848

 

1849

1851

Jul 1849

1844

1848

-

-

1845

-

-

Mary

14-Aug-1846

1849

-

1870

1860

1857

Feb 1856

1852

1851

1852

1849

1848

-

-

Jane

10-Jan-1849

1849

1848

 

1846

1845

Aug 1845

1845

1846

-

1844

1849

1844

-

Thomas

13-Jan-1850

1853

1851

1851

1852

-

Jan 1851

-

1853

-

-

1850

-

-

 

This finding, coupled with the volatility of Mary’s estimated birth year makes it reasonable to assume that Mary was born before Jane.  Jane’s obituary states she lived in Dunkirk for 55 years, making her immigration in 1864 while the 1900 US Census states she had lived in the United States for 43 years, yielding an immigration year around 1856.  Jane married Bartholomew Cavanaugh around 1868 based on the birth year of their oldest child.  There are no records for either a Jane or Bridget O’Brien in the 1855 New York State Census.  The 1860 census has a record for a Jane O’Brien, age 16, born around 1844 in Ireland, working as a servant for Thomas P Grosvenor.   There also is a record for a Bridget O'Bryan age 16, born in Ireland, in the 1865 New York State Census for Dunkirk, New York who is working as a servant for Henry Vanburen.  Other than the fact that both families were in the 2nd ward of Dunkirk, there is no known link between the two families.   The 1870 census has Jean Cavanaugh age 26, making her birth year around 1844 and other census records show her birth year as 1845 or 1846.  Searches of nicknames for Jane and Bridget have not yielded any connection between the two, so, if it is assumed that they are the same person, then Jane must have been her middle name.  The microfilm record of Bridget Brien’s baptism was examined to see if there was a middle name given but the record only shows Bridget.  In support of the assumption that Jane may have been Bridget’s middle name, middle initials have been identified for all of her siblings and my mother’s mother was Mary Jane O’Brien Lynch but she went by Jenny.  At that time, Jenny was the diminutive form of Jane [3].  Mary Jane O’Brien Lynch was probably named after her aunts, indicating that Mary was older than Jane as she was given top billing.  Only two baptism records for a Jane O’Brien could be found for County Carlow in the years 1847 to 1857, regardless of the parent’s given names, indicating that Jane was not a very common name among the Briens during that period. 

 

If it is assumed that Ann’s maiden name is Kelly, then the question remains as to her relation to the Mike McDonnell buried in the O’Brien family plot.  One explanation might be that Mike McDonnell was a brother-in-law or otherwise related to Ann by marriage.  It is noted that John and Bridget McDonald were sponsors for Thomas and Bridget McDonald was a sponsor for Bridget, as listed in the table above.  My mother’s mother, Mary Jane O’Brien Lynch, was undoubtedly the source of information for my sister’s family tree where Ann’s last name is given as McDonald.  My mother’s mother told her that she had seen Ann in Dunkirk on a family visit.  She also told my mother that Ann’s son John W. was upset with his mother allegedly because she’d had a baby by another man, not John’s father, in Ireland and had left the baby in Ireland when she came to the United States.  No proof of this could be found in the baptism records for County Carlow.  Census records indicate that Ann immigrated to the United States around 1860.  No census records could be found for her or Mike McDonnell in the 1860 US Census for Dunkirk, New York.  Mike McDonnell died in 1864.  It is theorized that the source of the difficulties between Ann and her son John was that Mike McDonnell had accompanied Ann to the United States.  The 1865 New York State Census record for Ann O’Brien, see figure below, provides support for this theory as it identifies her as being a widow and having been married twice. 

 

If Ann was officially married to Mike McDonnell, she reverted back to O’Brien as Ann is identified as Anna E. O’Brien, widow of William, in several records for Dunkirk.  As to the variation of McDonald versus McDonnell, the Roots Ireland org data search engine treats them as alternate spellings of the same surname.  The microfilm records were reviewed to verify that the McDonalds were not simply available sponsors at the church.  The McDonalds only appear for the records of Mary and Thomas Brien, indicating they and the Briens knew each other.  Although searches for links between Michael McDonnell/McDonald and John and Bridget McDonald produced no results, it seems likely that one did exist. 

 

 

 

1865 New York State Census record for Ann, Mary, and Thomas O’Bryan, Dunkirk, New York.

 

The final analysis involves an investigation into how likely is it that there could be other families with six children with the same names in the same order.  The population of Ireland peaked at about 8.2 million just prior to the great famine which started around 1841.  By 1851, the population had fallen to about 6.5 million.   The population of Ireland in 2012 was about 4 million and some 54,000 lived in County Carlow.  If it is assumed that half the population is comprised of married couples (probably an over estimate), this yields about 27,700 to 21,900 families in the time period of 1841 to 1851 in the County Carlow.  If is then assumed that the families can have between zero to six children with equal probability, there would have been somewhere between three to four thousand families with six children.  This again is most likely an over estimate as current distributions fall off as the number of children increase.  Then, following a procedure suggested by my son [4], I queried the for County Carlow records for the number of baptisms for each given name associated with the surname of Brien except for Ann in the 1802-1822 time period which used Kelly.  The results are shown in the table below along with the calculated frequency of each given name.  Note:  In calculating the frequency, it is assumed that half the total baptisms for a specific surname are evenly split between males and females. 

 

 

 

Frequency of Given Names for County Carlow

Given Name

Time Period

Total Surname

Number with given name

Frequency

William

1802-1822

101

2

0.03960396

Ann

1802-1822

110

6

0.109090909

John

1835-1855

657

56

0.170471842

Ellen

1835-1855

657

12

0.03652968

Ann

1835-1855

657

35

0.106544901

Mary

1835-1855

657

73

0.222222222

Bridget

1835-1855

657

37

0.112633181

Thomas

1835-1855

657

32

0.097412481

 

Then the odds of families having the distribution of given names listed in the table is found by multiplying the number of families by the product of the frequencies of the eight names (e.g. the product of the numbers in the right hand column).  Using the three to four thousand families estimated above yields odds on the order of 36,000 to 1 and higher against a family having the exact same set of given names.  Looking at it another way, there are a total of 201 marriage records for the surname Brien in County Carlow between the years 1832 to 1842.  This smaller number of families makes the odds against having Brien families with the same set of eight names greater than 700,000 to 1.  Therefore, even with the popularity of many of the O’Brien family names, it is highly unlikely that there was another family with the same set of names in County Carlow in the mid-1800s and it is concluded that Ann’s maiden name was Kelly, not McDonald or McDonnell.  As a test of this conclusion, a search was made of the baptism records for County Carlow for each of the O’Brien children, regardless of the father’s first name and the mother’s surname.  The results are presented in the table below.  Of the thirteen Brien families with at least one match to the O’Brien children, only two had six children and one had nine.  Except for William Brien and Ann Kelly, none of the families have more than three children with the same names as the O’Brien children.

 

Families in County Carlow with at least one match to the O’Brien children

Father

Mother

Children

Patrick Brien

Ann Hawley

John

Thomas Brien

Ann Murray

Thomas

Thomas Brien

Ann Cullen

Denis, Thomas

John Brien

Ann Nowlan

John, Thomas

James Brien

Ann Kehoe

Thomas, Elizabeth

Andrew Brien

Ann Hennessy

Margaret, Thomas, Catherine, Bridget

John Brien

Ann Fleming

Joanne, John, William, James

Patrick Brien

Ann Foley

James, Daniel, Ellen, Mary, Anne

Laurence Brien

Ann Bryne

Thomas, Stephen, Daniel, Bridget, Mary

Michael Brien

Ann Marshal

Patrick, John, Mary, Sandy, Anne

William Brien

Anne Kelly

John, Ellen, Ann, Mary, Bridget, Thomas

Mathew Brian

Ann Donohoe

Terence, Mary, Patrick, Anne, Christopher, Thomas

Patrick Brien

Ann Sharkey

Bridget, Catherine, Rose, Mathew, Margaret, Patrick, John, Elizabeth, Maurice

 

The marriage record in the table below is clearly correct for the William O’Brien and Ann Kelly of interest as it occurred in Clonegal Parish where their children were baptized.  The address given for both is Clonegal.  A search was then made for William and Ann starting in Clonegal Parish.  No baptism records were found in Clonegal over the period from 1799 to 1819, so a general search of County Carlow was made.  The results for William Brien and Ann Kelly are provided in the next two tables. 

 

Marriage Record for William Brien and Ann Kelly

Date of Marriage:

11-Aug-1834

Parish / District:

Clonegal

County:

Co. Carlow

 

Husband

 

Wife

Name:

William

Brien

 

Anne

Kelly

Address:

Clonegal

 

Clonegal

 

Baptism records for William O’Brien between 1799 and 1809 in County Carlow

Date

Father

Mother

Parrish

Address

Sponsor 1

Sponsor 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

23-Oct 1799

John

Bryan

Bridget

NR

Rathvilly

Nocklishan

Laurence

Murphy

Ann

Murphy

15-Apr 1799

Patrick

Brien

Bridget

Dobbin

Cathedral    of the Assumption

Not Recorded (NR)

Philip

Houghney

Elizabeth

Dobbin

12-Oct 1802

William

Brien

Margaret

NR

Rathvilly

Rathvilly

Michael

Byrne

Mary

Healy

04-Jul 1808

Michael

Bryan

Bridget

NR

Borris

Tomduff

Patrick

Bryan

Catherine

Murphy

28-May 1814

James

Bryan

Bridget

Butler

Tinryland

NR

Catherine

Bryan

NR

NR

04-Apr 1818

Peter

Bryan

Mary

Murphy

Tinryland

NR

NR

Nowlan

Anne

Hayden

Baptism records for Ann Kelly between 1799 and 1809 in County Carlow

Name

Date

Father

Mother

Parrish

Address

Sponsor 1

Sponsor 2

First

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

Anne

14-Apr 1800

Edward

Margaret

NR

Rathvilly

Ricketstown

Thomas

Davis

Anne

Kelly

Anne

08-Aug 1802

William

Bridget

NR

Rathvilly

Rathvilly

Anthony

Harman

Margaret

Doyle

Anne

06-Oct 1802

John

Elizabeth

NR

Rathvilly

Baugh

Patrick

MacGurk

Eleanor

Doyle

Anne

08-May 1804

James

Catherine

NR

Rathvilly

Ballyhacket

Thomas

Wright

Bridget

Doolin

Anne

01-Dec 1804

James

Bridget

NR

Rathvilly

Tyneclash

Andrew

Kavanagh

Mary

Fegan

Anne

25-Aug 1807

Denis

Margaret

NR

Rathvilly

Tobinstown

Cornelius

Kelly

Anne

Kelly

Anne

15-Jul 1808

William

Anne

NR

Rathvilly

Willstn

John

Kelly

Anne

Brennan

Anne

03-Nov 1810

Michael

Ellen

Murphy

Borris

Borris

Thomas

Towel

Bridget

Murphy

Anne

02-Oct 1812

Terence

Mary

Moressy

Borris

Borris

Michael

Kelly

Margaret

Lanen

Anne

30-Apr 1814

Michael

Joanne

NR

Tullow

Ballymurphy

Garret

Dwire

Anne

Farrol

Anna

08-Apr 1815

James

Bridget

Bunbury

Tinryland

NR

Patrick

Walsh

Anne

Sheehan

Anne

16-Jun 1816

William

Elizabeth

Hamilton

Tinryland

NR

Patrick

Maher

Elizabeth

Thorpe

Anne

18-Aug 1816

John

Mary

Kelly

Ballon

NR

Michael

Donohoe

NR

NR

Anne

02-Oct 1816

Edward

Mary

NR

Tullow

C's Quarters

Catherine

Neil

NR

NR

Anne

22-Dec 1817

Thomas

Margaret

NR

Tulow

Tullow

William

Hoar

Judith

Hoar

Anne

01-Jan 1819

John

Mary

Gafney

Tinryland

NR

Patrick

Kelly

Margaret

Siggins Or Higgins

NR – Not Recorded

 

In an effort to identify the correct William Brien, a search was made for the baptism record of the Thomas O’Brien, born in 1820, and buried in the O’Brien family plot in Dunkirk, New York.  Only one baptism record was found for a Thomas Bryan in the years 1815 to 1825 in County Carlow.  He was baptized 27-Dec-1822 in Tinryland Parish and his parents were William Bryan and Mary Doyle.  There is a marriage record for William Bryan and Mary Doyle dated 15-Feb-1822 in Leighlinbridge Parish.  This is most likely the same couple as the parents of Thomas Brien, baptized 27-Dec-1822.  The witnesses for their marriage were James Brien (Note different spelling) and William Doyle.  No other baptism records are found for the couple.  The discrepancy in birth year for Thomas O’Brien, 1820 on his gravestone versus 1822 on the baptism record, is bothersome but not outside the range of variations found in similar records for the family.  Although my mother thought that John W. O’Brien came to the United States on his own, in all likelihood, Thomas O’Brien came with him around 1853 and Thomas died shortly after arriving in Dunkirk, New York.  Thomas and John W. were most likely related but the actual family link has not yet been established.  In the baptism records for the children of William Brien and Ann Kelly, a Thomas Brien/Bryan is the sponsor for John W. and Ellen.  This most likely is the same Thomas Brien. My mother also wrote [2] that her grandfather, Thomas O’Brien came to the United States next followed by her great aunts and then her great grandmother.  The census information for Dunkirk indicates that three of the sisters (Ellen, Ann, and Bridget) came after John W. around 1860 as there are records for them in the 1860 US Census.  It is likely that Thomas and Mary came with their mother, Ann, around 1863, as the three are found living together in the 1865 New York State Census. 

 

John W. O’Brien’s middle name was probably William after his father.  The tradition at the time was to name the first son after the paternal grandfather, which would indicate that the William Bryan, baptized 23-Oct-1799 in Rathvilly Parish is a good candidate for Ann Kelly’s husband as his father’s given name was John.

 

The lack of additional information on the family of Ann Kelly makes it difficult, if not impossible, to narrow the list of potential baptism records listed in the table above.  The volatility of her birth year was also investigated as shown in the table below.  Compared with some other family members, her estimated birth year is relatively stable, suggesting her birth year was probably 1812.  The only outlier is a statement in my mother’s family history letter that says Anna was 101 years old when she died in 1903.

 

Anna Kelly O’Brien

Source

1865

1870

1880

1892

1900

Obituary

Gravestone

Family History Letter [2]

Age

52

56

65

76

90

90

90

101

Estimated Birth Year

1813

1814

1815

1816

1810

1812

1812

1802

 

One piece of information not used during the initial investigation was the birth information for Ann Kelly O’Brien listed as September 1910 in the 1900 Census.  Although the birth year has been found to be somewhat unreliable, the birth month listed in 1900 census records is typically correct.  (Note: The discrepancy in the 1900 census birth months versus the baptism months for Mary and Jane in the table of William Brien and Ann Kelly children is probably the most troubling in accepting this to be the correct family.  It is almost as if their birth months were swapped at some point.)  Looking at the list of baptism records for Ann Kellys, three are found for the month of October, as highlighted in turquoise.  The baptism record for 2 October 1812 in Borris Parish is clearly the closest match to Ann Kelly’s estimated birth in September 1812.  There is also one baptism record for Borris Parish for a William Brien on 04-Jul 1808.  However, the fathers of this Ann (Terence) and William (Michel) are not good matches with the children’s names. 

 

Future research will focus on investigating the families of the Ann Kellys listed in the table.  Unfortunately, there is little data available for County Carlow beyond baptism and marriage records.  Future research will start with an investigation of the other children of the 16 sets of parents identified in the baptism table for Ann Kelly.  The names of Ann’s siblings and/or the sponsors may help identify the correct Ann Kelly.

 

The map below shows the area of Coolroe, County Carlow, Ireland.  Coolroe is about 16 miles southeast of the city of Carlow.  The map shows that the border between County Carlow and County Wicklow is only about one mile to the east from Coolroe.  Given the proximity of County Wicklow, it is possible that William Brien and Ann Kelly were born there instead of in County Carlow. 

 

 

The Cassidy-Gillan Family

 

My mother’s paternal grandparents were both born in Troy, Rensselaer, New York.  Their parents were all born in Ireland.  Her paternal grandmother’s parents were Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan, shown in the photograph below with their daughter Mary and son-in-law, J. Frank Lynch.  My sister’s family tree only references the fact that the surname was Cassidy.  The identities of her great grandparents and their children were found in various census, marriage, and death records.  The Cassidy-Gillan family is presented in the family tree shown below.  There is a record for a Mark and Margaret Cassidy coming to the United States on the ship Columbia which departed Liverpool, England and arrived at New York, New York on 22 June 1860.  Mark, born 1836, is listed as a laborer and Margaret, born 1838, is listed as his wife.  There is an 1860 Census record for a Marcus Cassida, age 21, in Brunswick, Rensselaer, New York.  Note:  Marcus is the Gaelic spelling which became Mark in the United States.  There isn’t a listing for Margaret in the 1860 Census.  The 1860 Census record is believed to be correct as his occupation is a laborer on a farm whose owner's occupation is given as milk man. 

 

 

J. Frank Lynch, Mary Louisa Cassidy Lynch, Mark Cassidy, and Margaret Gillan Cassidy, c. 1900.

 

Mark's occupation is later identified as a milk man, etc.  Also, in 1865, Mark and his family are listed in Brunswick, not far from the owner of this farm, Wait J. Stillman.  There is an 1860 Census record for a Margaret Gillon, born 1838, in Troy, Rensselaer, New York, but this not the correct Margaret Gillan as the same Margaret Gillon shows up in the 1865 New York State. 

 

A search for a Mark Cassidy born around 1839 produced only one result: Mark Cassidy, baptized 31-Dec-1826, father: John Cassidy, mother: Brigid McCrory, County Tyrone, Lissan Parrish, Address: Drumard.  Tyrone is in Northern Ireland and Lissan is a Roman Catholic parish.  None of the available census records for the United States indicates a birth year less than 1835, making it very unlikely that the baptism record for 31-Dec-1826 is for the Mark Cassidy of interest here.

 

There is a marriage record for Mark Cassidy and Margaret McGuire on 11-May-1860 in Muckno Parish, County Monaghan.  However, Margaret’s maiden name appears on her gravestone and the marriage record for J. Frank Lynch and Mary Louise Cassidy as Gillan, and on the marriage record for George Kelly and Margaret Cassidy as Gillian.  It seems likely that her maiden name is some form of Gillan and not McGuire. 

 

Next, a search was made for all Cassidy baptism records between 1844 and 1854 where the child’s name was unknown.  Of the 1,440 baptisms for Cassidy from 1834 to 1844, a total of six baptism records were found as listed in the next table below.  Nothing significant is seen in any of the records.  Most likely, half of the records are for girls and half are for boys as none of them indicated the sex of the child.  It is also possible that the children in the table were still born or died shortly after birth, and therefore were not given a first name. 

 

 


 

Unknown Cassidy Baptisms from 1834 to 1844

Date

County

Parish

Address

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

00-Jan-1834

Tyrone

Dungannon

Dungannon

Terence

Cassidy

Mary

Cumberland

Michael

N/A

Rose

Doyle

11-Sep-1836

Westmeath

Mullingar

N/A

John

Cassidy

Anne

Gay

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

07-Feb-1838

Derry

Lavey

N/A

Thomas

Cassidy

Mary

McPeak

John

Convery

Sarah

Cassidy

06-Oct-1842

Mayo

Aglish

N/A

John

Casidy

Bridget

Cassidy

Phillibh

Connor

Mary

Keary

13-Sep-1843

Sligo

Sligo

N/A

Francis

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

01-Dec-1844

Meath

Lobinstown

N/A

Patrick

Cassidy

Mary

Gaughran

Mary

MacArdle

N/A

N/A

. 

Turning to Margaret Cassidy, a total of nine baptism records were found between the years of 1839 to 1840.  There were three more hits in the search results for the surname Killian which were discarded as being to dissimilar from Margaret’s surname.  There are another 15 if the span of years is extended to 1834 to 1844.  Of the nine records listed in the table below, one stands out because she was a paternal twin of Owen Cassidy.  Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan had twins, Mark and Margaret as shown in the family tree above.  The reason this is significant is because the odds of having twins is 1 in 90 births for the population at large.  Those odds increase to 1 in 17 for a mother who is a fraternal twin.  If the father is a fraternal twin, it doesn't affect the odds, as fraternal twinning is apparently carried down the maternal line [5].  Therefore, it seems five times as likely that the baptism record for the Margaret Cassidy baptized in County Weastmeath on 18-May-1841 is the wife of Mark Cassidy compared with the other eight in the list.  It is also noted that one of the unknown Cassidys in the table above was baptized in County Westmeath.


 

Margaret Gillan Baptisms from 1839 to 1841

Date

County

Parish

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

22-Jul-1840

Dublin

Rush

James

Gillon

Mary

Foley

Matthew

Halfpenny

Mary Anne

St Laurence

14-Jun-1841

Sligo

Ahamlish

John

Gillan

Bridget

Cuinigham

John

Martin

Margaret

Gallagher

25-May-1841

Sligo

Drumcliffe**

Patrick

Gillan

Eleanora

Devins

Michael

Gillan

Mary Anne

Devins

15-Apr-1841

Leitrim

Killanummery

Michael

Gillan

Bridget

MacGarry

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

18-May-1841*

Westmeath

Milltown

Michael

Gillan

Judith

Keena

Patrick

Keena

Bridget

Gillan

26-Oct-1841

Longford

Ardagh And Moydow

Thomas

Gillen

Mary

Kennedy

Bryan

Farrell

Mary

Gillen

25-Dec-1839

Armagh

Armagh

Michael

Gillon

Sarah

Lennon

James

Gillon

Margaret

Gillon

11-Jan-1839

Dublin

Rush

William

Gillon

Anne

Wade

William

Austin

Mary

St Laurence

29-Mar-1839

Leitrim

Killanummery

Martin

Gillon

Mary

Foley

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

                                            * Twin of Owen Cassidy        **Address Cregg, all others not recorded

 

A look at which county Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan may have been from is presented in the chart below.  There are a total of 9,517,759 baptism records at Roots Ireland org.  A search was made, by county, for baptisms with surnames of Cassidy and Gillan.  A total of 14,186 baptisms were found for the surname Cassidy and a total of 6,352 baptisms were found for Gillan.  Assuming they met in Ireland, then the most likely counties would be Antrim and Tyrone as there are large numbers of both surnames in these two counties.  If they met in the United States, then there are several likely counties for each.  These numbers are for all years covered by Roots Ireland org data. 

 

 

Research on Mark Cassidy was expanded by eliminating the estimated range for his birth year.  In doing so, a total of four Mark Cassidy baptism records were found out of the more than 9.5 baptism records on-line in April 2016.  Of these four, the first one was born much too early and the last two were born too late to be the Mark Cassidy of interest here.  While the remaining Mark Cassidy is some 13 years older than US records indicate, he is close enough in age to be a possible match as he would have been in his thirties when he married Margaret and started a family.  If this is the correct Mark Cassidy, he would have been 85 when he died in 1911, which is certainly plausible.  Given the large difference between the baptism year of 1826 and Mark’s birth year based on US records (1829), an analysis was performed on the O’Connell children’s baptism and US records.  The O’Connell children were used for this analysis because they represent the best available data as there is little doubt that the baptism records presented above are for the children of the Richard O’Connell and Johanna Kennedy who were my mother’s great grandparents.  Where possible, gravestone birth years were used instead of US Census information.  If US Census information was used, then the one resulting in the closet match to the baptism year was used.  The somewhat surprising results of this analysis are shown in the chart below and the following table.  The analysis indicates that a variation of 13 years may not be unusual.  Certainly, this finding does not verify that the Mark Cassidy of interest was born in 1826 but it does indicate the level of uncertainty associated with birth year estimates based on US records.  This finding does add credibility to the O’Brien/Kelly family findings as their age variations are well within the ones found for the O’Connell/Kennedy family.  Support for this birth year variation is found in an internet posting by Mary in Florida (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlker/spelling.html) who makes the point that death records are probably the least reliable source of birth year information as it was given by somebody other than the deceased. 

 

Mark Cassidy Baptisms

Date

County

Parish

Address

Name

Father

Mother

First

Middle

First

Last

First

Last

26-Aug-1791

Mayo

Killala

-

Mark

Anthony

Patrick

Cassidy

Esther

Healy

31-Dec-1826

Tyrone

Lissan

Drumard

Mark

-

John

Cassidy

Brigid

McCrory

29-Mar-1849

Cavan

Killinkere

Carn

Mark

-

Mark

Cassidy

Ann

Farrelly

Born 27-Dec-1863

Bap. 14-Feb-1864

Antrim

St George's, Belfast, Church of Ireland

Sydenham

Mark

Mortimer

Robert

Cassidy

Anne

Ardagh

 

 

Birth Year Variation for O'Connell Children

Baptism Record to Closest United States Record

First Name

Source

Difference

John

Closest Census

0

Margaret

Gravestone

5

Edward

Gravestone

12

Mary

Closest Census

0

Ann

Closest Census

13

Ellen

Closest Census

8

William

Closest Census

3

James

Closest Census

0

 

 

On the assumption that Mark and Margaret knew each other in Ireland and were married there before coming the United States, a search was made for Margaret Gillans who were baptized in Lissan parish.  The table below lists the two Margaret Gillan’s baptized in Lissan Parish, County Tyrone, Ireland.  It should be noted that Roots Ireland search engine treats Gillan and McGillan variants as the same surname.  The birth year for Margaret Gillen born in Ballyford is closer to the estimated birth year of the Margaret GIllan who was married to Mark Cassidy but several other factors indicate that the Margaret McGillen born in Coltrim is probably the correct person.  The other factors include the address given for the family when a sibling of Mark Cassidy was baptized and given names of Mark and Margaret’s children.  The baptism records for children born to Henry McGillen and Elizabeth Hill in Lissan Parish are provided in a table below.  It is noted that when Mark’s sister, Mary, was baptized, the Cassidy’s address was given as Coltrim which is where the McGillen family lived when their daughter was baptized.  Another indicator comes from traditional Irish naming conventions where the first son was named after the paternal grandfather, the first daughter was named after the maternal grandmother, the second son was named after the maternal grandfather, and second daughter was named after the paternal grandmother.  If the selected baptism records are correct, then Mark and Margaret didn’t adhere to this convention as their first two daughters’ names, Mary Louisa and Ellen, don’t follow the pattern.  There next two children were twins and clearly were named after their parents.  Their fifth child’s name was Elizabeth, which is the name of Margaret’s mother.  Their sixth child was name John Henry which is a combination of the two grandparents with the paternal grandparent coming first.  Their seventh child was named Emily (also identified as Martha in the 1875 New York State Census) which should have been Brigid to follow the traditional naming pattern.   As shown in the table of children of John Cassidy and Brigid McCrory, Mark had an older sister named Mary which would indicate that his maternal grandmother’s name was Mary.  So, it is possible that their first daughter was named after her.  If that is true, then their second daughter’s name may have come from another grandmother.

 

Margaret Gillan Baptisms County Tyrone, Lissan Parish

Date

Address

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

14-Sep-1830

Coltrim

Henry

McGillen*

Elizabeth

Hill

Henry

-

Brigid

Cushly

15-Jun-1834

Ballyford

Louglin?

Gillen

Sara

McGillen

Patt

-

Bess

Corr

                    *CHILD AND FATHERS SURNAME MAY BE GILLIN

 

 

Children of John Cassidy and Brigid McCrory, Baptized at Lissan Parish, County Tyrone

Date

Address

Child

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

21-Sep-1823

Coltrim

Mary

Cassidy

Patrick

-

Susan

McSwigan

31-Dec-1826

Drumard

Mark

Cassidy

-

Tully

M

Mahon

12-Aug-1829

Rossmore

Patrick

Cassidy

James

-

Elizabeth

McGuckin

 

That would leave the question of why their seventh child was not named after Mark’s mother, Brigid.  One possible answer is that Mark’s brother Patrick already had a daughter named after their mother when Emily was born.  A search of the 1875 New York State Census for Troy produced the record for a Patrick Cassidy listed in the table below.  It is noted that Patrick’s estimated birth year is consistent with the brother of Mark.  It is also noted that his oldest child is named Bridget.  Initially, the listing of Ulster for the children was confusing as Ulster is another name for Northern Ireland.  However, there is an Ulster County, New York across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie.  Patrick Cassidy and his family were living in Saugerties, Ulster, New York in 1870.  Patrick’s estimated birth year is given as 1839 to 1840 in this record, the same as his wife Mary.  No other records for Patrick Cassidy and his family have been found.  Research will continue in an effort to verify the birth year for Patrick.

 

 

New York State Census, 1875

Name

Patrick Cassidy

Event Type

Census

Event Date

1875

Event Place

Troy, Rensselaer, New York, United States

Gender

Male

Age

45

Birth Year (Estimated)

1830

Page

11

Household

Role

Gender

Age

Birthplace

Patrick Cassidy

Head

M

45

Ireland

Mary Cassidy

Wife

F

38

Ireland

Bridget Cassidy

Child

F

8

Ulster

Joseph Cassidy

Child

M

5

Ulster

Jane Cassidy

Child

F

3

Ulster

Anne Cassidy

Child

F

2

Ulster

James Cassidy

Child

M

0

Ulster

 

 

Although the information is not compelling, it is assumed that the baptism records from Lissan Parish are correct for Mark Cassidy (bap. 31-Dec-1826) and Margaret Gillan (bap. 14-Sep-1830).  No marriage record for Mark and Margaret could be found, nor for Mark’s parents, John Cassidy and Brigid McCrory.  A marriage record for Margaret’s parents, Henry McGillen and Elizabeth Hill is provided in the table below.  Margaret appears to have been an only child as no other baptism records could be found for the couple.

 

Marriage Record

Date:

12-Sep-1829

County:

Tyrone

Parish:

Lissan

Husband:

Henry McGillin

Wife:

Elizabeth Hill

Husband’s Father:

McGillin

Wife’s Father:

Hill

 

The Roots Ireland site includes census substitutes and an entry for John Cassidy was found in them as listed in the table below.

 

Census substitutes for County Tyrone

Source

Last Name

First Name

Date

Address

Parish

County

Early 19th Century Tithe Books

Cassidy

John

1827

Drumrott

Lissan

Co. Tyrone

 

The two maps below highlighting the Lissan Parish were obtained from the National Library of Ireland.  The first map shows several counties including County Tyronne.  Note that Lissan Parish extends into County Derry.  The second map provides a more detailed look at the parish. 

 

Large scale map of Ireland - highlighted area shows the boundaries of Lissan Parish.

 

Expanded map of Ireland - highlighted area shows the boundaries of Lissan Parish.

 

Attention is now turned to the parents of Mark Cassidy (John Cassidy and Brigid McCrory) and Margaret Gillan (Henry McGillen and Elizabeth Hill).  Given Margaret’s birth year of 1830, a search was conducted for baptisms records for her parents in the period 1780 to 1815. Only one Henry McGillen (Gillin) was found in all of Ireland during that time period.  It was in County Armagh which is the county just east of County Tyrone.  This Henry McGillen/Gillin had three siblings as listed in the table below.  Note that the last two children are given the surname of Gillan which is how Margaret is listed on her gravestone.  The presence or absence of the “Mc” in the family’s name is not a concern as it is pretty much like the absence of an O’ in the records for the O’Connells and O’Briens listed above. Twenty baptism records were found for an Elizabeth Hill from 1795 to 1815, but none were for County Armagh or County Tyrone.

 

Children of John Gillin and Bridget Courtney, Baptized at Armagh Parish, County Armagh

Date

Address

Child

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

15-Apr-1809

Ballymastrum

Henry

Gillin

John

Duff

Ann

Cullin

07-Nov-1813

 

Bridget

Gillin

Roger

Cullin

Susan

McManus

07-Apr-1817

 

Esther

Gillan

Mark

Kennedy

Mary

McLoughlin

24-Nov-1819

 

James

Gillan

John

Sherry

Ann

Sherry

 

A search for other records of the Hill family in either county resulted in the census substitute information listed in the table below.  It is noted that one is in the townland of Coltrim which is where Margaret McGillin was baptized.  Unfortunately, the person’s first name is not included in the record.  The townland listed for John Hills, Drumrott, is the same townland listed for Mark Cassidy’s father, John Cassidy in a previous table.  Future research will examine the families of the various Elizabeth Hills to narrow the list.

 

Source

Surname

First Name

Year

Townland

Parish

County

Early 19th Century Tithe Books

Hill

John

1827

Lismoney

Lissan

Co. Tyrone

Early 19th Century Tithe Books

Hill

Mr.

1827

Coltrim

Lissan

Co. Tyrone

Early 19th Century Tithe Books

Hills

John

1827

Drumrott

Lissan

Co. Tyrone

 

Mark Cassidy’s parents have been identified as John Cassidy and Brigid McCrory.  No records were found for either in County Tyrone over the period of 1780 to 1820.  Expanding the search to all of Ireland, one baptism record was found for Brigid McCrory as shown in the table below.  It is noted that the spelling of her first and last name is consistent with the spelling in the baptism record for Mark Cassidy. Lifford Parish is about 40 miles west of Lissan Parish. 

 

Brigid McCrory Baptism County Donegal, Lifford Parish

Date

Address

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

06-Mar-1786

-

Edward

McCrory

Mary

McDavett

-

-

-

-

 

Given the likelihood that the above record is correct, a search was made for John Cassidy baptisms in Lifford Parish over the same time period which provided a single record as listed in the table below.  Lacking any additional information to identify him, it is assumed that this is John Cassidy was the father of Mark Cassidy.

 

John Cassidy Baptism County Donegal, Lifford Parish

Date

Address

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

01-Jul-1792

-

James

Cassidy

Rose

Dougherty

-

-

-

-

 

A search for baptism records of the parents of Brigid McCrory and John Cassidy in County Donegal produced only one possible match for Rose Dogherty as listed in the table below.  If this baptism record is correct, Rose would have been only 15 years old when her son John was born.  Most likely, this Rose Dougherty is a relative of James Cassidy’s mother.  One interesting note about her baptism record is that her mother’s maiden name, Breslan, is a variant of the maiden name of Ellen Brislin who is researched in the next section.  A search of all of Ireland produced several results for the parents of Brigid McCrory and John Cassidy but none that could be immediately identified as being correct.  Additional research, including a study of the movement of the population during the relevant time period, is needed.

 

Rose Dougherty Baptism County Donegal, Lifford Parish

Date

Address

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

27-Apr-1777

 

Hugh

Dougherty

Rose

Breslan

-

-

-

-

 

Family trees for Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan are provided below.  Note that their birth information has been updated in accordance with the baptism records identified for them. 

 

 

 

 

The Lynch-Brislin Family

 

As mentioned above, my mother’s paternal grandparents were both born in Troy, Rensselaer, New York.  Their parents were all born in Ireland.  Her paternal grandfather’s parents were John Lynch and Ellen Brislin.  My sister’s family tree only had information on my mother’s great grandfather, identified as John Lynch, blacksmith, and nothing about his wife.  The identity of her great grandmother, Ellen Brislin, was obtained from various census, marriage, and death records.  Specifically, Brislin is given on the baptism record for J. Frank Lynch, her son.  She is listed as Helen Lynch on her daughter Mary Lynch's baptism record and Bresnahan is given in Mary Lynch Scanlan's death certificate.  The first record of John Lynch in the United States is in the 1858 City Directory for Troy, New York where he is listed as a boilermaker boarding on First Street at the corner of Madison.  Unfortunately, no information on his family is given in the city directory.  This is most definitely the correct John Lynch as he is later found with his family in the 1860 Census and beyond and his occupation is always given as boilermaker.  Ellen shows up in the 1860 Census along with their daughter, Julia.  The Lynch-Brislin family is presented in the family tree shown below.  It is noted that both John and Ellen are identified as being born in Dublin, Ireland but there isn’t any supporting documentation for this being the case.  Most likely, this information came from my mother.  One of her cousins reported that he thought the family came from Cork.  Given John Lynch’s occupation of boilermaker, a relatively skilled occupation, early on in the United States it seems likely that he had some experience in the occupation prior to coming to the United States.  This would indicate that John was from one of the larger cities in Ireland such as Dublin or Cork. Unfortunately, records for the cities of Dublin and Cork are not yet available on-line at Roots Ireland org.

 

 

There are no marriage records for John Lynch and Ellen Brislin in the 1837 time frame at Roots Ireland org.  There are 441 baptism records for John Lynch for the years from 1835 to 1843 which covers the various birth years indicated by census records in the United States.  The chart below breaks out the 441 baptisms by county with County Cork having the most at 67.  Note: No death certificates or gravestones have been found for John and Ellen making the census information the best available.  It will be difficult, if not impossible, to narrow down the number of baptism records without additional information on John Lynch and his family in Ireland. 

 

Roots Ireland org has only five baptism records for an Ellen Brislin between the years of 1836 to 1842.  The five all have different spellings of the surname as shown in the table below.  A marriage record was found for the Ellen Brislane, baptized 03-Jul-1836 in Churchtown parish, indicating that she is not the Ellen Brislin of interest here.  An additional eleven baptism records were found for Ellen Bresnahan, also included in a table below.  It is interesting to note that half of the records are from County Cork.  Also, one of the sponsors for the Ellen baptized on in County Cork, is Julia Lynch which is the name of John and Ellen’s oldest child.  Future research will investigate possible links between the Ellen Brislins/Bresnahans identified in the tables below and the large number of John Lynch baptism records.

 


 

Ellen Brislin Baptisms from 1836 to 1842

Date

County

Parish

Address

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

26-Apr-1839

Fermanagh

Knockninny

Nead

Tom

Bresslin

Ellen

Bresslin

Ned

Magovran

C.

Martin

19-May-1840

Wicklow

Carnew

N/A

J(ames)

Brislawn

Mary

Murphy

John

Osborne

Mary

Brislawn

22-May-1840

Cork

Ballyclough

N/A

Edmond

Bruslane

Ellen

Fitzgerald

Owen

Egan

Mary

Scully

14-Oct-1842

Wexford

Kilanerin

Ballusk

Owen

Brislan

Bridget

Toole

John

Mulloy

Ellen

Murphy

03-Jul-1836*

Cork

Curchtown

Anna

John

Brislane

Mary

Sullivan

James

Brislane

Mary

Keogh

* Marriage record indicates she is not the Ellen Brislin of interest here.

 


 

Ellen Bresnahan Baptisms from 1836 to 1842

Date

County

Parish

(Address)

Father

Mother

Informant 1

Informant 2

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

First

Last

22-Jan-1836

Waterford

Knockanore

 

Bresnahan

Bridget

Coleman

John

Murry

Mary

Sullavan

25-Mar-1836*

Limerick

Askeaton

Cornelius

Bresnahan

Mary

Connors

Patk.

Connors

Ellen

Riordan

03-Sep-1837

Cork

Kanturk

Thomas

Brisnihan

Catherine

Stokes

John

Stoke

Johanna

Murphy

01-Nov-1837

Cork

Kanturk

Daniel

Brosnihan

Elizabeth

Finn

Owen

Finn

Margaret

Tuomey

13-Oct-1839

Cork

Churchtown  (Knockbarry)

Daniel

Bresnahan

Judith

Callaghan

Martin

O’Brian

Ellen

Callaghan

07-Feb-1840

Limerick

Feenagh & Kilmeedy

Daniel

Brosnan

Bridget

Daly

Con.

Dillane

Julia

Collins

24-May-1840*

Cork

Killarney (Aghaerreen)

Gerard

Brosnahan

Hannah

Falvey

William

Murphy

Julia

Lynch

17-Oct-1841

Tipperary

Emly

James

Bresnan

Nora

Dwane

Betty

Hayes

NR

NR

20-Jul-1843

Tipperary

Clogheen

Timothy

Busnahan

Margaret

NR

Dermot

Dolan

Catherine

Flynn

09-Dec-1844

Cork

Churchtown

Johana

Bresnahan

Johana

Fitzpatrick

John

Fitspatrick

Ellen

Bresnah

18-Aug-1845

Cork

Youghal (Pilmore)

William

Brosnahan

Ellen

Foley

Richard

Foley

Margaret

Flinn

* Date of birth, not baptism

 

Summary

 

All eight of my mother’s great grandparents and four of her grandparents were born in Ireland.  All of them but one came to the United States in the 1855 to 1880 time frame.  Her mother’s parents had multiple siblings who also came to the United States in the same time period.  The added knowledge provided by the large number of children born in Ireland led to a positive identification of her maternal grandmother’s baptism record in Ireland along with all of her sibling’s baptism records.  Thus it is known for certain that the O’Connell Kennedy family lived in Bluepool in the 1847 to 1865 time period and then moved to Greenane before immigrating to the United States.  Bluepool and Greenane are both just outside Kanturk, County Cork, Ireland.  Their baptism records were from the Castlemanger and Kanturk parishes.  Based on the location of the family when their children were born, two candidate baptism records for Richard O’Connell and Johanna Kennedy were identified at the Castletownroche and Rathcormac parishes.  These in turn led to the identification of two more generations of my mother’s family in Ireland.  These identifications are tentative and additional research is needed to verify their accuracy. 

 

My mother’s maternal grandfather, Thomas O’Brien, also had multiple siblings who were born in Ireland and then came to the United States.  Unfortunately, family history for the O’Briens was not as good as for the O’Connell-Kennedy family as there was uncertainty in the father’s given name and the mother’s surname.  However, the father’s given name was found in city directory listing for Anna O’Brien, making Anna’s surname the only real uncertainty.  Based on the names of their children and their estimated birth years, a highly likely match was found for a family in Ireland but there are sufficient discrepancies that it cannot be stated with certainty that it is the correct family.  The inconsistencies include 1) the maiden name of my mother’s great grandmother, Anna E. O’Brien, which was thought to be either McDonald or McDonnell, 2) the given name of one of the children, and 3) the birth years for several of the children.  The correlation with the O’Brien family is significant enough to make the family of William Bryan and Ann Kelly of Coolroe, County Carlow a likely match.  William Bryan and Ann Kelly are one of two families found in County Carlow with six children baptized in the same time frame as the O’Briens of interest here.  All six children were baptized at Clonegal Parish and a marriage record was also found for William and Ann at the same parish.  Candidate baptism records for William Bryan and Ann Kelly were identified but additional research is needed before the lists can be narrowed down.

 

The lack of family history information for my mother’s paternal great grandparents severely limited the ability to identify their baptism records in Ireland.  It is known for certain that three of the four paternal great grandparents came to the United States in the mid 1850s as they were found in the 1860 Census records or earlier city directory listings for Troy, New York.  It is believed that Mark Cassidy and Margaret Gillan were married in Ireland before coming to the United States based on ship passenger records, but Margaret does not show up in 1860 Census record with Mark, making it possible that they first met in the United States.  Perhaps the most disappointing result of the initial search for my mother’s ancestors was the fact that there are no baptism records for a Mark Cassidy, born about 1839 in Ireland.  A total of nine baptism records were found for Margaret Gillan born about 1940 with one being of particular interest as she was a fraternal twin and Mark and Margaret also had fraternal twins.  Follow-on research expanded the possible birth years for Mark and Margaret with the result that a likely match for the two was made.  There are over 9.5 million baptism records available at Roots Ireland org and there a total of four Mark Cassidys and only one could have been the father of the children of Mark and Margaret.  The uniqueness of his name allowed identification of Margaret Gillan as she was baptized at the same parish as Mark Cassidy.  The disparity in the birth years on their baptism records versus the information from their gravestones is troubling but research on other relatives showed that differences in actual and recorded birth years was fairly common. 

 

Even more uncertainty surrounds the identities of my mother’s other two paternal great grandparents.  There were 441 John Lynches baptized in Ireland from 1835 to 1843.  The statistics for John Lynch’s wife, Ellen Brislin or Bresnahan, are better with a total of only 16 possible baptisms found.  Based on the statistics for the two, it is likely that they were from County Cork not Dublin as indicated on their posted web pages. 

 

References

 

1. The National Archives of Ireland, www.nationalarchives.ie

2. O’Brien Family History, Mary E. Lynch Gray, 1977

3. Jenny (given name), Wikipedia.org

4. Private communication with Tyler Gray

5. http://www.twinstwice.com/twins.html