Now, why can’t all Irish genealogical research be this “easy”??
I’m currently researching a friend of mine’s main paternal Keely line and have successfully traced it back to her gggg-gf, John Keely, “born in Ireland”. For those researching your Irish ancestors, how many times have you seen this; where you get the country of birth – that’s IT? I know, because I’m one-quarter Irish decent and have found an origin there for just ONE of the lines thus far. And that was only because one of the immigrant ancestors received a Purple Heart. (Patrick J. Kyle is one of the few to be awarded the medal WITHOUT a major war going on.)
Here is John Keely’s family living in Manhattan from the 1870 Federal Census for New York City…
We see John with wife Julia, two sons and three daughters. In determining when they came to America, the later records (census, naturalization) give their immigration date anywhere from 1862 to 1867. If the above record is accurate, then their arrival would be more towards the lower end of that range, as Ellen’s birth year in Ireland would be calculated as “circa 1863”.
So, then it was off to search NYC Passenger Lists. Given their large family and the fact they came over all together, they were easily found…arriving June 24 1864. In roughly two weeks, it will be EXACTLY 150 years ago that they set foot in America. I thought the timing of this find was sooooo cool!! (I suggested my friend to raise a glass this June 24th, honoring the 150 years her Keelys have been here – ha!)
I have NO idea why John & Julia are listed a “Reely” while their children are “Keely”, but this is most definitely them. Youngest Ellen is slightly “older” than the 1870 census had indicated. (No way! CAN’T happen! <–sarcasm)
As many of you that have scoured passenger lists know, the larger the family you’re looking for; the easier they should be to find. Even prior to finding them in the 1870 census, I already had John’s entire family, so when I saw this passenger list listing, I just knew it was them. Which is one reason (of many!) why it is SO IMPORTANT to build ENTIRE FAMILIES in your main lines! Just concentrating on only John and Julia wouldn’t have gotten me very far OR given me the confidence to say, “Yes, this IS the same family I’m looking for!”
Of course, that’s not to say that the entire family will be together during their emigration. There are times when only the father would come over, establish a home, find work, before sending word for the wife and kids to join him here. Believe me, finding a 40-ish John Keely sailing solo is MUCH more difficult. Other times, the couple would marry and THEN emigrate. Obviously, a pair is less difficult to locate AND confirm than a single individual in these lists. And then by adding a child, or two, or FIVE, you have a GROUP to look for as opposed to just ONE PERSON.
But that wasn’t the “easy” part I was alluding to at the beginning of this post. Note how ALL birthplaces given in the above docs are “Ireland”. Yeah, REAL helpful, Uncle Sam; I already knew that.
So, totally switching gears, I hit ancestry.com’s newspaper obituary collection, specifically looking for John Keely in the New York Times. I came across this “obit” in 1903…
Not all that much there, but his age and middle initial are a match. And from prior FAMILY research (!!) in the NYC directories, I know that 110 E. 111th St. was John Keely JR.’s address at the time. Now for nearly all of the obituaries for MY Irish ancestors, I was lucky if I got THIS much info on them!
But I didn’t stop there. I had search results left to go through. Not to mention I wasn’t fully satisfied with John Keely’s “chart” obit there!
In the Listen To Your Genealogical GUT Dept., I kept going and found this wonderful little GEM in the paper dated a few days later…
Could you ask for MORE?!? (Well, yeah; but I digress…) Gotta love the numeric-street-spelled-out “filler” there, huh?
Now I’m jealous. Out of ALL the Irish research I’ve done, this is the ONLY obit that names a county AND town where the deceased is from! And the very first line I researched for her – BOOM – location IN Ireland!! So yes, finding an item like this is definitely more the exception than the rule when it came to our Irish immigrants!
I’ve done no further Keely research IN Ireland and whether John IS actually from Loughrea is irrelevant here. Merely the fact that it IS noted gives me at least a STARTING point in Ireland. Because isn’t “Loughrea, County Galway” SO much better than “Ireland”??
If YOU have any Irish ancestors (or any other nationalities for that matter), shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be more than happy to assist you in your research!