Thursday, May 29, 2014

Irish Immigrants in New Brunswick Census 1851 & 1861

In the years following 1845 New Brunswick experienced an influx of Irish immigrants due to the failed potato crop in Ireland. The wave abated by 1851 but is commonly remembered as the sole contribution of Irish to New Brunswick. Yet thousands of Irish were living in New Brunswick prior to these events. In 1851 and 1861 New Brunswick conducted full censuses which were to become invaluable records documenting the makeup of the province. In particular these records highlight the “Irishness” of the province, bringing to light a substantial number of Irish persons who made their home in New Brunswick prior to the famine in their homeland. Unlike previously gathered statistics, such as those from 1841, these returns enumerated the birthplace of immigrants living in New Brunswick, identifying those born in England, Scotland, Ireland.[1]

These are valuable census records beyond the obvious notion of looking for Irish ancestors who lived in New Brunswick:

New Brunswick shares a long border with the U.S. state of Maine. Therefore, there would have been a lot of migration to the New England region and vice versa.

The port city of Saint John is in New Brunswick. Irish immigrant who stayed in the city for an initial few years in 1849-51 and 1859-61 period will be recorded.

Many Irish immigrants might be captured in these censuses who then moved elsewhere in Canada.

For more detailed information about the Irish in New Brunswick in the mid 19th century, you can read this paper by P.M Toner - The Irish of New Brunswick at Mid-Century: The 1851 Census.

[1] Library and Archives Canada. Irish Immigrants in the New Brunswick Census 1841 and 1851. Date Unknown. Available online at accessed 22 May 2014.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Omaha Catholic Cemeteries

The Archdiocese of Omaha was originally founded as the Vicariate Apostolic of the Nebraska Territory in 1859.[1] Since then, it has decreased in size and increased in importance, becoming an archdiocese in 1945. Currently, the archdiocese consists of 23 counties in north-eastern Nebraska.

Since the late 19th century, the archdiocese has had five cemeteries under is auspices: Saint Mary Magdalene (opened in 1868, traditionally German), Holy Sepulchre (1873), Saint Mary (1883), Calvary (1952), and Resurrection (founding year unknown, but after 1952).

Burials at these cemeteries are available to search via the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Omaha website. Where known, you will be provided with name, date of death and plot location. Click here to search the database.

[1] Archdiocese of Omaha. Prelate History. Available online at : accessed 6 May 2014.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Found My Townland, Do I Have Any Long Lost Cousins?

After the joy of finding your townland of origin is realized, the next question on your mind can be: do I have any cousins in Ireland? Due to the nature of Irish social history, you might very well find some long-lost cousins still on the same piece of land that your ancestor left in the 19th century.

However, if you don't, tracing forward from some point in the 19th century to find modern-day cousins can be a difficult process. Last Monday, John Grenham provided a helpful list of resource to do just that in his weekly genealogy column.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Irish Directories Database

City directories are one of the most useful genealogical resources in the Unites States. Did you know that directories, in various formats, have been published in Ireland since the mid-eighteenth century? Many of these publications have come online over the last number of years. However, one stumbling block to utilizing them for research is the fact that they are spread across a large number of free, subscriptions, and fee-paying websites.

Myself and Shane Wilson, a Dublin based family historian and owner of the excellent Irish genealogy website,, have created the Irish Directories Database. This database will allow you to easily find Irish directories that are currently online.

To access the database, click here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How A Professional Genealogist Found Her Townland Of Origin, Part II

This is the second post from professional genealogist, Lisa Walsh Dougherty, about how she found her townland of origin. To read her first post scroll down, or click here.

Lisa (Walsh) Dougherty has been an avid family history researcher for nearly 20 years.  Since 2009, she has shared her knowledge and experience with many through her volunteer hours, workshop trainings, and commissioned research.  A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and a graduate of the ProGen Study Group, she specializes in helping people with Irish roots discover their “Townland of Origin”.  Lisa is based in Upstate New York near Albany, and provides a free consultation toward assisting you in finding your own unique family story! You can find out about Lisa's professional genealogy services on her APG profile page.

Her website is Upstate NY Genealogy.

My great-great grandmother, Anne Mortimer, left County Laois (then Queen’s County), Ireland in the mid-1860s.  She married a man, James Walsh, who was native to nearly the same area, and they settled in Troy, NY.  Two brothers and a sister also emigrated and lived nearby, at least initially.  A brother John remained in Ireland, where he raised a large family.  The Mortimer letter writers of the 1970s, and the Mortimers who remain in the area today, are descended from John and his wife Maria Bennett.

Over the years 2000 to 2013, while busy with raising our son, I posted on a variety of genealogy message boards, and received sporadic replies from various family members, telling me of other Mortimer family members.  One who owned a pub in Kinsale, another who played in Wham’s backup band, still another who was a member of a popular UK “boy band” of the 1990s.  Those Mortimers were indeed a talented and diverse bunch, scattered all over the globe.

Recently, comparing family trees on, I stumbled across a tree that contained many of the same Mortimers that mine did.  I contacted the owner, who turned out to be a local Laois woman with a wealth of knowledge about the area and its families.  She gave me information about family members who had remained in Ireland that I did not have, and I was able to fill her in on those who had emigrated. After an absence of 14 years, I finally returned to Ireland in April 2014. My new-found Ancestry contact was able to arrange for me to meet my cousin, Sean Mortimer, brother of Brendan Mortimer who had shown us around in 1999, now, sadly, deceased.  We had a wonderful visit—he lives very nearby the townland of Killinure where my great-great grandmother was born.

3rd cousins Lisa (Walsh) Dougherty and Sean Mortimer, Killinure, County Laois, April 12, 2014

Since returning home, I've become Facebook “friends” with several other Mortimers from County Laois, many of whom heard of my visit through the grapevine.  Plans are underway for the formation of a Facebook group dedicated to the descendants of Michael Mortimer and Catherine Phalen, where we can all connect, share pictures, stories and interesting tidbits, 140 years after the family was separated.  Modern technology continues to propel my research forward, but the foundation laid by those 1970s letters is the strength the Mortimer family tree is built on.  My dad would approve, wherever he is today. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How A Professional Genealogist Found Her Townland Of Origin, Part I

This week and next, Townland of Origin is delighted to have guest posts from professional genealogist, Lisa Walsh Dougherty. Lisa has been researching her Irish ancestry since the 1990s. In her article, she outlines how she found her townland of origin.

Lisa (Walsh) Dougherty has been an avid family history researcher for nearly 20 years.  Since 2009, she has shared her knowledge and experience with many through her volunteer hours, workshop trainings, and commissioned research.  A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and a graduate of the ProGen Study Group, she specializes in helping people with Irish roots discover their “Townland of Origin”.  Lisa is based in Upstate New York near Albany, and provides a free consultation toward assisting you in finding your own unique family story! You can find out about Lisa's professional genealogy services on her APG profile page.

Her website is Upstate NY Genealogy.

I grew up being aware and very proud of my Irish roots.  It was something that made a huge impression on me, and I remember it always being a part of my life.  When I was a teenager, my father, Jack Walsh, became interested in genealogy, and his one goal was to find out about his Irish roots.  I don't think I was aware until much later that my dad was only half-Irish, because this was the only part of his origins that he was interested in.  He pursued his family history the way many people did in those days, by visiting family plots in cemeteries, utilizing local libraries, and writing letters.  A gravestone found in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Troy, New York, revealed a puzzling place of origin for his great-grandfather James Walsh—Osary, Queen’s County.  Research in the local library told us that Queen’s County was now called Laois, and Osary was actually Ossory.  An ad placed in the Laois Nationalist newspaper seeking information on the Walsh family (with a mention of the wife’s maiden name, Anne Mortimer) yielded surprising results in the form of several letters from Mortimer family members who very well could have been cousins!

Alas, Dad passed away in 1990, after a short-lived interest in genealogy only got him so far.  His desire for answers and legacy lived on—I found his genealogy folder 5 years after his death, stuffed in a drawer and forgotten.  With the dawn of the internet, and a whole new world of possibilities opening up, the time was ripe for new discoveries. This was the beginning of my own personal obsession with family history, and for me it has been not fleeting, but life-changing.

My husband and I went on our first of 4 trips to Ireland in the 1990s, with a guided tour in 1996.  It was not nearly enough to satisfy my hunger for all things Irish.  I dug out the Mortimer letters from the 1970s, booked a B&B nearby where they had been sent from, and started my journey.  In 1997, I met Jim Mortimer, one of the letter writers, knew we were cousins, but did not know how.  By our 4th trip in 1999, the B&B owners where we stayed had become good friends, and were seeking out my Mortimer relatives for me so I could meet them when I got there!  Their detective work introduced me to more members of the Mortimer clan, including an audience with an elderly gentleman, Michael Mortimer, who had a razor-sharp memory, and his son Brendan who showed us the family homestead high in the Slieve Bloom Mountains.  A chance meeting in the local pub with the parish priest’s bridge partner got my sister and I in to copy the baptism and marriage records.  Only after a thorough examination of those, together with the memories in the 1970s letters, was I able to piece together everyone’s relationship.

On Monday, learn more about those relationships and which townland Lisa’s ancestors came from.

Monday, May 12, 2014

From Tipperary to Rutland County, Vermont

In a random browse through the online version of Bruce Elliott's Irish Migrants in the Canada's[1] (see my article about this fantastic book), I came across a short reference to a migration of Irish people from north Tipperary to Rutland County, Vermont. Peter Patten, who is from that part of Vermont, is an expert on this migration and has researched it extensively.

He outlines that, "In the 1800s the Portroe Slate Quarries were one of the largest employers in North Tipperary. However, the onset of the Great Famine in the 1840s saw a significant decline in the numbers employed in Portroe. Many of those who lost their jobs decided to emigrate and...they pretty much reformed their community [in] Castleton, Vermont, in a strikingly similar landscape."[2]

The density of numbers who made this Tipperary to Rutland County, VT migration is illustrated in this transcribed list of men who naturalized in Rutland County, VT from 1859 to 1873.

[1] Elliot, Bruce S. Irish Migrants in the Canada's: A New Approach. Belfast. McGill-Queens Press. 2004. p251.
[2] Ormond Historical Society. Portroe to Castleton - The Slate Quarry Emigrants; Rebuilding a Tipperary Community in Rural Vermont. 2013. accessed 27 March 2014.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Emigration To New York

This image of Irish emigrants waiting to board ships to New York comes from an 1866 edition of Harper's Weekly. There is a large crowd on the docks with many ships moored and ready to bring them across the Atlantic. 

The image was sourced from the Historical Archaeology journal.[1]

[1] Linn, Meredith B. Elixir of Emigration: Soda Water and the Making of Irish Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City. Historical Archaeology. Vol. 44. No. 4. 2010. p. 73.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Poetic Place Of Origin

I came across this fantastically poetic example of an Irish place of origin in an article about indentured servitude of Irish people in Philadelphia.[1] Along with his home town of Belfast, a lot of other valuable genealogical information is included. 

[1] Clark, Dennis. Babes in Bondage: Indentured Irish Children in Philadelphia in the Nineteenth Century. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Vol. 101. No. 4. October 1977. p. 478.
Originally from Geiser, Karl Friedrick. Redemptioners and Indentured Servants in the Colony and Common wealth of Pennsylvania New Haven, CT. 1901. p. 6.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where The Irish Lived In Canada 1901 II

In my last post, I highlighted two maps that show where people of Irish origin lived in Canada in 1901. These two maps, below, show the rest of Canada - Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta. Scroll down to the first part of this blog post or click here to read it.

Origins of the people of Canada 1901
Manitoba and Saskatchewan
Green sections = Irish origin

Origins of the people of Canada 1901
British Columbia and Alberta
Green sections = Irish origin

The maps come from the excellent David Rumsey website. You can zoom in for more details, and find more information about the maps on the site. Click here for Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Click here for British Columbia and Alberta.