Thursday, February 26, 2015

Census Series: Wheeling, West Virginia 1880

About 30,000 residents were enumerated in Wheeling, West Virginia in the 1880 U.S. federal census. Irish immigrants accounted for about 5% of the population at that point. J.L Stauton[1] was the census enumerator in the first sub-district of the 6th Ward. This section was in the downtown area where Market, Main and 20th Sts. straddle Wheeling Creek as it flows into the Ohio river. As he went about his work, he recorded the county or province of birth for about 55% of Irish immigrants that he enumerated.

Page from 1880 U.S. federal census, Wheeling, West Virginia
The 1880 federal census also asked for the place of birth of the person's parents and he also recorded this information. This can be particularly useful if one of the parents is deceased. For example 23 year old Alice Moran, is living with her mother Mary at 31 Main St.[2] Alice is listed as being born in West Virginia, mother born in Kilkenny and father born in Dublin. There is no male of the correct age living with the family so he may be deceased. Despite this possibility, we know what county in Ireland he most likely came from.

It is interesting to note the strong presence of people from Connaught, with Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, and Connaught itself, all heavily represented. The numbers for place of birth information from this 6th Ward sub-district are:

Galway 13
Mayo 13
Connaught 6
Roscommon 5
Cork 3
Derry 3
Ulster 3
Tyrone  3
Kilkenny 3
Sligo 2
Donegal 2
Laois (Queens) 1
Longford 1
Dublin 1
Carlow 1
Down 1
Munster 1 [3]
Cavan    1
Total 63

Ireland  50

[1] That is my best effort at interpreting his signature at the top of the census pages.
[2], 1800 US Census, Ohio County, West Virginia, population schedule, City of Wheeling 1st Supervisors District, Sheet 2B, House 17, family 21, Alice Moran; digital image, accessed 2 February 2015; citing Family History Film 1255410 Roll 1410. 
[3] This could refer to Munster, Germany

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Montreal Emigrant Society, 1832

The Montreal Emigrant Society was founded in 1831 to provide safe passage, employment, and relief to poor and destitute immigrants from Ireland and Great Britain. They arrived at Montreal after a trans-Atlantic crossing but that was not the final destination for many. The Society helped them on their way to other parts of Canada and also provided temporary accommodation and food.

In total, between 1831 and 1835, the society provided assistance to 49,740 immigrants. In 1832, 8,763 received assistance to settle in other parts of Canada.[1] One of the passage books from this year survives and provides information for almost 2,000 immigrants. It covers the dates from 23 May to 1 November. The entries record the names of single adults or heads of families, along with ages of the adults, ages of any children, ticket number, where sent, occupation, and 'where from.' For Irish immigrants, a county of origin is provided.

Montreal Emigrant Society Passage Book - Entry for Pat Murphy & brother, and others

For example, Pat Murphy and his brother traveled on ticket 314 to Cornwall on 13 June 1832. Both were under 14 years of age and were from Armagh.[2] Another entry outlines that Lawrance Ryan and his wife, both aged between 20 and 40, and their three children, one an infant, another aged between 7 and 14, and a third over 14 years, travelled on ticket 841 to Prescott on 21 July 1832. He was a farmer, originally from Cork.[3]

You can access the database by clicking here. It is a good idea to read about the records and the database limitations before searching. While the ledger pages were scanned, they were seemingly not done so at a high resolution, as can be seen by clicking the image, above.

[1] Library and Archives Canada. Immigrants Sponsored by the Montreal Emigrant Society, 1832. 24 April 2014. accessed 10 February 2015.
[2] “Immigrants Sponsored by the Montreal Emigrant Society, 1832”, database, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 10 February 2015), entry for Patrick Murphy, 13 June 1832; citing  Montreal Emigrant Society Passage Book, Microfilm Number H-962, Volume 46, Reference RG7 G18, Item 1229
[3] “Immigrants Sponsored by the Montreal Emigrant Society, 1832”, database, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 10 February 2015), entry for Lawrence Ryan, 21 July 1832; citing  Montreal Emigrant Society Passage Book, Microfilm Number H-962, Volume 46, Reference RG7 G18, Item 1654.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Talk Next Week - New York University

My 2015 lecture season kicks off next week and I will be speaking at New York University about my book, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City. I'd be delighted to meet some blog readers and thank you in person if you bought a copy. Full details below. 

Saturday, 28 February: Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City. Host: New York Irish History Roundtable. Venue: Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, One Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003. 2pm, RSVP and details at

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ulster Historical Foundation US/Canada Tour

The Ulster Historical Foundation will once again embark on their yearly, epic North American road trip to give lectures and workshops about Irish and Scots-Irish genealogy research.  They start in Ottawa on March 14th and finish up at the end of the month on the west coast in Medford, Oregon. The full list of dates and cities was announced last week and include:

Saturday 14 March Ottawa, ONT
Sunday 15 March State College, PA
Monday 16 March Staunton, VA
Tuesday 17 March Williamsburg, VA
Wednesday 18 March Winchester, VA
Friday 20 March Maryville, TN
Saturday 21 March Boston, MA
Sunday 22 March Fairfield, CT
Monday 23 March Pittsburgh , PA
Wednesday 25 March Green Bay, WI
Friday 27 March Moscow, ID
Saturday 28 March Yakima, WA
Sunday 29 March Oakland, CA
Monday 30 March Medford, OR

For more information about each stop, you can consult their website or Facebook page.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Digitized Irish American Newspapers

My recent article about new editions of the Gaelic American newspaper on GenealogyBank got me thinking about the number of Irish American newspapers that have been digitized and are available for research. Below you will find a table of what I could find.

Irish American newspapers fall into two broad categories. First, there are those with titles that clearly indicate that they were/are aimed at Irish immigrants and those of Irish descent (e.g. Irish American, Irish Nation). The second category is Catholic newspapers that had an Irish focus or were read by large numbers of Irish immigrants and their descendants (e.g. The Pilot). It can be argued that there is a third group of newspapers of great use to those with Irish ancestors, but were not aimed at the Irish market. Those are the newspapers that were published in areas where a lot of Irish lived and in which many notices and articles of interest are contained, such as obituaries, death notices, information wanted ads, etc (e.g. Brooklyn Daily Eagle). This third group of titles is significantly larger, so for now, I'll focus on those in the first two categories.

If you can add to the list, please leave a comment at the end of this post and I will update the table.

You can read my previous posts about Irish American newspapers by clicking the 'Newspaper' link in the Archive section of this website.

Years Available
Kentucky Irish American
Kentucky Irish American
Kentucky Irish American
1900, 01, 09, 10
The Pilot
New York
New York City
Gaelic American
New York
New York City
Irish American
New York
New York City
Irish Citizen
New York
New York City
Irish Nation
New York
New York City
Irish Voice
New York
New York City
Irish World
New York
New York City
The Exile
New York
New York City
The Shamrock
New York
New York City
The Shamrock, or, Hibernian Chronicle
New York
New York City
The Truth Teller
New York
New York City
The Western Star, and, Harp of Erin
The Catholic Herald
South Carolina
United States Catholic Miscellany

[1] You need to be or know someone who is a student, staff, or faculty member of Boston College to access this collection.
[2] Generally, only institutions such as libraries have subscription access to Readex.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Irish In The Ottawa Valley -

I've yet to write a Canadian-themed post this year so that will be rectified by discussing the website Opening the site, we are first greeting with a heading, outlining that it is  "a digital history of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, Canada, including the cities of Ottawa and Hull / Gatineau, 1600 to 2014." It seems to be something of a Rootsweb type site with a lot of contributors proving all sorts of historical and genealogical information. The important thing, though, is that there is a lot of genealogical and historical information on this site about Irish immigrants and their descendants.

'Control+F' will definitely be your friend on The first page is lengthy, but provides links to other pages on the site that go into more detail. Indeed, on that first page you will find three tables of settlers in the Ottawa area. A significant number of the entries have an Irish county of origin listed and the name of the people can be clicked for more information.

The website also has a substantial bibliography of books for many different ethnic groups, including the Irish, in the region and country. If you do have ancestors who once lived in the Ottawa/Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec area, then this site is definitely worth checking out.

Access the site by clicking here.

Friday, February 6, 2015

St. Joseph's New Cemetery, Cincinnati

St. Joseph's New Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio opened in 1854 and was purchased due to the original St. Joseph's Cemetery—located closer to the center of downtown—filling up. That first cemetery housed the remains of the growing German and Irish Catholic population of the city and was open from 1842 to 1853. [1]

The website for the new cemetery has an extensive database of over 120,000 interments, covering the time period from the 1850s to 2008. There is also a helpful browse option, useful for names that have been erroneously transcribed or spelled in an unconventional manner. Information returned from the database includes name of deceased, date of interment, and where known, age, date of death, spouse's name, and parents' names.

[1] Blevins, Michael J. St. Joseph Cemetery Association. 18 November 2008. accessed 13 January 2015. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Irish Remedy

This dramatic and chaotic picture was created in 1898 by artist Charles Joseph Staniland. The title, The Irish Remedy - Emigration to America, is an overtly political statement and provides a pointed commentary that is sadly still relevant to this day.

The crowded nature of the image, dominated by  a large ship and masses of people, leaves nobody in doubt as to what the main components of this remedy are.

Source: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. The Irish Remedy - Emigration To America. New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1898. accessed 20
January, 2015.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gaelic American Newspaper On has recently added editions of an Irish-focused title to their considerable collection of U.S. newspapers. Editions of the Gaelic American for the year 1905 to 1907 are available to search, with the most recent upload filling in gaps for October 1906. This is another addition to their growing number of New York City-based Irish newspapers. Currently, you can search:

Gaelic American, 1905-1907
Irish American, 1849-1914
Irish Citizen, 1867-1869
Irish Nation, 1881-1883
Irish Voice, 2006-Current
Irish World, 1890-1905

The standout newspaper in this collection is undoubtedly the Irish American. For more information about this title, and all other New York City Irish newspapers, consult Chapter 3 of my book, Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City.

You can access the complete list of GenealogyBank newspapers by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Irish Place Of Origin In Reproductive Loan Fund Records

Last Friday (1/23/15), as part of their self-styled Irish Family History Day, Find My Past released a significant tranche of Irish records. For more information about this you can read the report from the always excellent Irish Genealogy News. What caught my eye, and what is of interest to this blog, is the set of records, Ireland, Poverty Relief Loans, 1824-1871.

The Poverty Relief Loans are a collection of papers related to the Irish Reproductive Loan Fund. The fund was created in 1822 to provide short term, low interest loans to the ‘industrious poor.’ By industrious it is meant people who will use the loan for reproductive purposes, for example, a fisherman who needs money to repair a boat or a farmer who wants to purchase new seeds. The fund did not require any capital or physical backing, instead they required that each borrower have two guarantors sign for the loan. In some records the role of guarantor is also called security or sureties. These guarantors were often neighbors or close relatives. If the borrower defaulted on the loan then responsibility for repayment would lie with the guarantors. The records are significant because they include the years of the Great Famine and record those living on Ireland’s Western Seaboard who were hit the worst by the catastrophe.[1]

A large number of the Reproductive Loan Funds failed and closed during the years of The Great Famine. This era, of course, saw huge numbers of Irish people emigrate. In the early 1850s, a detailed townland-by-townland survey was carried out where the Funds were active, to see what happened to those who availed of loans.[2] It is these documents that will be of particular use to those in the U.S. and Canada who are trying to establish a townland of origin in Ireland for their ancestors; they recorded deaths, economic circumstances and, crucially, instance of emigration.

So, an example. Let's say that you have a Michael Ryan in your family tree, born in Ireland, appearing in the U.S. federal census of 1890, and you have traced his arrival in the U.S. to the time of the Great Famine.[3] How many Michael Ryans were born in Ireland? How long is a piece of string? You might never find out where he is from. But, lets also say that in the same building on that census document, the next entry after Michael Ryan and his family is for the Ebzery family, also from Ireland.

You've worked hard on researching your Irish ancestors over the last twenty years and you know that the FAN club methodology can be useful, all the more so with rare names. Ebzery is an unusual name in Ireland and a quick check of the 1901 census and Griffith's Valuation, shows that there are only a few of them, all concentrated in Limerick. That's a good development, but there are still a lot of Michael Ryans in Limerick.

Now it's time to look for these names in the Reproductive Loan Fund records. Philip Ebzery took out a loan on 23 November 1846, with John Ebzery and Michael Ryan acting as sureties.[4] An 1853 record from the townland of Doonscardeen in the civil parish of Robertstown, Limerick gives the following information -

Ebzery/Ryan Reproductive Loan Fund [5] - Click for larger image

For Philip it says: “resided here in 1846 a farmer, was poor, died about 4 years ago, family all emigrated.” For John Ebzery, it states: “lived here in 1846, was a farmer, went to Australia about four years since with his mother and sisters” and for Michael Ryan it outlines that he was: “lived here in 1846, a poor laborer supporting his mother and sisters” and he “emigrated to America with his family in 1847.”[6]

To suddenly find this information after years of searching would be a fantastic development for your genealogy research. You could now hone in on Catholic parish registers from the area to look for baptismal and marriage information to further link this Michael Ryan with the one in the U.S.

To learn more about these records, and see another  example of tracing an emigrant from his appearance in these records to the U.S federal census, you can read the associated Find My Past blog post.

Some of these records have been available for free online for a number of years. In 2003, the non-genealogy website,, digitized records for counties Cork, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, and Tipperary for the years 1846-1848 and 1853-1854 (Clare and Sligo are not included).[7] Crucially, they include the relevant records that contain information about those who emigrated.

This website is no longer maintained, but can be accessed via the UK Government Web Archive. To access it, follow the instructions at this link, and search for 'Reproductive Loan Fund.' Alternatively, you can use this archived version (not all functionality will work).

The record images on the Moving Here website are not indexed, as they would be on a genealogy website, so you will have to experiment with the names of counties and areas within to see if they are available. If you find records for an area of interest, you can download them as pdf files.

The Skibbereen Heritage Centre (Co. Cork) has also transcribed information from eight funds that were active in the area. Access their database here.

[1] FindMyPast. How to use our new Poverty Relief Loans to find your Irish ancestors. 2014. accessed 24 January 2015.
[2] Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. 3rd ed. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. 2006. p. 29.
[3] Just checking to see if you are awake; practically all of this census was destroyed in a fire in the 1920s. We'll use 1880 instead for this example :)
[4] Grenham. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. 2006. p. 29.
[5] National Archives. Irish Reproductive Loan Fund Records. Reference T91/180/0448. Image from accessed 6 July 2012.
[6] Grenham. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. 2006. p. 29.
[7] Ibid.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kansas Irish Genealogy Sources

It can be more difficult to find substantial and useful sources for the study of Irish genealogy in the United States the further west one is from the east coast. The vast majority of Irish immigrants stayed in states such as New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, many did travel to the midwest and beyond, where records about their lives were made and books written about their communities.

For those who are researching their Irish ancestry in Kansas, the state historical society provides a very useful online bibliography of sources, reproduced below, to aid such research. You can access the relevant webpage of the Kansas Historical Society by clicking here.

Bird, Roy. The Irish Arrive in Kansas. Kanhistique. 5 (March 1980): 1 and 3. (Oversize/K/978.105/K13/v.5/no. 11).

Bush, Maynie S. "Irish." The Frankfort Story. Frankfort, KS: Frankfort Centennial Committee, 1967. (K/978.1/-M35/F853/pp. 139-143).

Butler, Thomas A. The State of Kansas and Irish Immigration. Dublin, Ireland: McGlashan and Gill, 1871. (K/325.1/Pam.v.1).

Forter, Emma E. "The Irish in Marshall County." History of Marshall County, Kansas. Indianapolis, IN: B.F. Bowen Co., 1917. (K/978.1/-M35/F77).

"Into Old History: Dedicates a Feature to Early Irish Settlers of Solomon Community." Salina Journal. July 18, 1933. [1 p.]. (Reel: S 303).

"Irish Colony Settled Garden Township." Newton Kansan (Fiftieth Anniversary Edition). Aug. 22, 1922. [1 p.]. (Reel: N 469)

Madden, John. "The Irish Colony in Marion County." Florence Bulletin. Oct. 11, 1934. [1 p.]. (Reel: NP 4303).

__________. "A Lost Colony." Marion Review. Sept. 26, 1934. [2 pp.]. (Location: 34-04-01-02).

O'Neill, Pat. From the Bottom Up: The Story of the Irish in Kansas City. Kansas City, MO: Pants Publisher, 2000. (K/917.78/On2).

Owen, J.S. "Irish Came to Kansas Not in Colonies But in Families." Topeka State Journal. Mar. 18, 1939. [1 p.]. (Reel: T 1593).

Patrick, Nikki. "Irish Had Role in the Growth of Southeast Kansas." Pittsburg Morning Sun. Mar. 13, 1982. [2 pp.]. (Reel: P 1500).

Redmond, Bernard P. "History of Coal Creek: Its Irish Pioneers. Seneca Courier-Tribune. Apr. 14, 21 and 28, May 5, 12 and 29, June 2, 12, 16 and 19, and July 3 and 7, 1941. [13 pp.]. (Reel: S 891).

Rupp, Jane C. "Irish Settlement in Clark Township." Marion County Scrapbook. (Vol. 1). N.p.: Author, 1927. (K/978.1/-M34/R87/p. 45).

Taylor, Loren L. "A Short Ethnic History of the Irish People in Wyandotte County." A Short Ethnic History of Wyandotte County. Kansas City, KS: Kansas City Kansas Ethnic Council, 1982. (K/978.1/-W97/K133s).

Waldron, Nell B. "Colonization in Kansas from 1861 to 1890." Doctorate dissertation, Northwest University, Evanston, 1923. (K/325.1/W147/c. 2/pp. 40-120).

Monday, January 19, 2015

From Achill To Cleveland

In 2003, the town of Achill in Co. Mayo was twinned with the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The reason for this twinning was due to the considerable number of Achill emigrants who settled in the city over the last 150 years.

A great example of this connection is seen in the Lavelle Family From Achill to Cleveland website. Lavelle is one of those wonderful rare Irish names and can be tied to a particular part of Ireland. MacLysaght's The Surnames of Ireland outlines that it "is the name of a north Connacht sept, also found in Donegal."[1] Indeed, the website has documented 44 different Lavelle families who settled in Cleveland from Achill.

Estimates vary as to how many Clevelanders have Achill ancestry with anything from 25%[2] to 80%[3] claiming such links. However, I have not been able to find cited documentation to support these numbers.

Do you have Irish ancestors in the Cleveland area and are looking for their place of origin? Chances are, they were from Achill.

[1] MccLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. p. 190.
[2] Lavelle Family From Achill to Cleveland. Year Unknown. accessed 6 January 2015
[3] Author Unknown. History of the Twinning of Cleveland, Ohio and the Parish of Achill, County Mayo, Ireland. Year Unknown;;brand=default: accessed 6 January 2015.