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 Lo_an Fund Records

**4/14/15 Note: I have modified every instance of the word (l o a n) in this post as I am getting too many spam posts about lo_ans and finance!**

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 Lo_ans, 1824-1871.

The Poverty Relief Lo_ans are a collection of papers related to the Irish Reproductive Lo_an Fund. The fund was created in 1822 to provide short term, low interest lo_ans to the ‘industrious poor.’ By industrious it is meant people who will use the lo_an 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 lo_an. 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 lo_an 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 Lo_an 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 lo_ans.[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 Lo_an Fund records. Philip Ebzery took out a lo_an 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 Lo_an 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 Lo_an 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 Lo_ans 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 Lo_an 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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

McLean, VA FHC Irish Collection

The worldwide network of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon/LDS) Family History Center's (FHC) have been an indispensable part of family history research for many people. Despite the advent of billions of records coming online, there are still many billions of records that are very much offline. When this is the case, getting those microfilmed records delivered to your local FHC can sometimes be the best option to move your research forward or, in reality, backwards!

The McLean, Virginia FHC is located just a few miles west of Washington, D.C. It is an unusual setting for one of the largest and little-known collections of Irish genealogy records, containing over 3,000 microfilms along with books related to Irish genealogy. My understanding is that it serves as a closer location, east of the Mississippi river, to the large Irish American populations in the east coast states. This results in less wait time for films ordered from FHCs in these states, as they do not have to come from the main LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Many people come to the nation's capital to do research at the National Archives and Library of Congress. If you do so for Irish genealogy research, then make sure to take the short trip a few miles across the Potomac river to check out the resources at the McLean FHC.

The Mount Vernon Genealogical Society (Virginia) has produced this helpful guide to Irish collections at the McLean FHC. The McLean FHC is included in the GSI database on this website. Click here to see all groups, societies, and institutions in the U.S. and Canada that can help your Irish genealogy research.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Irish In Cleveland Book

Many states, cities, and towns have a seminal publication about the Irish community that lives there. In Cleveland, Ohio it is The Irish Americans And Their Communities of Cleveland. The book was published in 1978 and written by Nelson Callahan and William Hickey.

The book begins with a brief overview of Irish history and Irish immigration to North America, before focusing on the Irish immigrants who came to Cleveland. Chapter 3, Settling in Cleveland, forms the core of the first section and follows a broadly chronological path through the 19th century. Beginning with those who first came in the 1820s, it moves on to those who lived on Whiskey Island and in Irishtown, focusing on such topics as employment, crime, the Civil War, and politics along the way.

The Catholic Church is a central theme that runs through the second half of the book. As in many other urban areas, it played a defining role in the lives of 19th century Irish immigrants who moved to the growing American cities. Readers will learn about the parishes and cemeteries in the city, which can lead to useful genealogical information. There are also maps, photographs, and information about Cleveland Irish organizations as they existed when the book was published.

While not aimed at genealogists, the book will be valuable to those who have ancestors in the city. Luckily it is available to read for free on the Cleveland Memory website, click here to access

Friday, January 9, 2015

Maps Of Select U.S. Cities 1930

I came across this interesting set of maps on the National Historic Geographical Information System website (NHGIS).[1] NHGIS provides free online access to summary statistics and GIS[2] boundary files for U.S. censuses and other nationwide surveys from 1790 through the present.[3] There are different sample maps to view, one of which is a set of maps for three U.S. cities, created from 1930 federal census data.

The maps show the distribution of first and second generation Irish immigrants in the cities of Boston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. There can sometimes be ambiguity as to whether a first generation immigrant is the foreign-born person who immigrated or their native-born children. Social science researchers and demographers mostly refer to the first generation as those who are foreign-born and immigrated to the U.S.

Unfortunately the detail is not of the highest quality on the maps and there are no sub-boundaries for the cities. However, they can be useful when used with more detail maps of the cities. They indicate areas with high concentrations of Irish-born people and their children, and can be useful as  a starting point to work out where an immigrant might have lived upon arrival, if not already known. The thinking being that a new immigrant is more likely to first stay in an area with a lot of Irish people.

You can see this and other non-Irish maps on the NHGIS website by clicking here.

Note: as you can probably make out on the maps, the definition of Irish for this map includes those born in the then Free State and Northern Ireland.

[1] Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. 2011. accessed 6 December 2014
[2] Geographic Information Systems
[3] Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. 2011. accessed 6 December 2014

Monday, January 5, 2015

Western Reserve Historical Society

The Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) is the oldest cultural institution in Cleveland, Ohio and its efforts concentrate on the history of northeastern Ohio. It does this in many ways, such as with their large number of significant collections focusing of different ethnic groups, one of which is the Irish. Their "Irish American History Archives....collects, preserves, and makes available for research the papers and photographs of the Cleveland Irish community and the historical records of Irish organizations and institutions in northeast Ohio. Materials relating to politics, religion, culture, business, labor, genealogy, education, fraternal organizations, charities, and individual life experiences are the key to the understanding of the Irish experience in greater Cleveland."[1] The WRHS Irish American History Archives is maintained in partnership with the Irish American Archives Society, a Cleveland based non-profit organization.

The collection is wide ranging and consists of books, manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, and other items. A considerable number of genealogy books are included, making it a good place to conduct research if you live in northern Ohio or western Pennsylvania. The family papers of many Cleveland area Irish families are housed here and contain genealogies, photographs, and other useful information. One final example of the use of this collections is the considerable number of organizations that have their records housed as WRHS, including the Burke School of Irish Dance, McGorray Brothers Funeral Home, and the superbly named Knights of Equity, an Irish Catholic social group, first established in 1895.

Click here to access the website of the WRHS Irish American Archives. The Western Reserve Historical Society is located at 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.

[1] Western Reserve Historical Society. Irish American Archives. Year Unknown. Available at accessed 31 December 2014.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Naturalization Records From Troup County, Georiga

Troup County, Georgia, was founded in 1826 on the border of that state with Alabama. Documents from the Troup County Archives are available to view via the Digital Library of Georgia. One interesting set of documents is the Inventory of the Troup County, Georgia Superior Court Records 1827-1926, 1936-1937. A subset of these records is ‘Series IV: Naturalizations, 1842-1908.’ Scanned images of the naturalization applications for sixty-eight immigrants are available to view. Eight of these men were from Ireland and their Irish county of origin is recorded on the documentation. They are:

Name                    Year of Naturalization                    County of Origin
Maginis, Daniel                 1843                                       Dublin
Ryan, Daniel                       1854                                       Limerick
Ryan, James                       1854                                       Tipperary
Ryan, John                          1854                                       Limerick
Sullivan, Jeremiah            1855                                       Kerry
Simpson, Thomas            1859                                       Leitrim? (unsure if it is this county)
Gaffney, Thomas              1860                                       Roscommon
Riley, Jeremiah                 1860                                       Cork

Access these records by clicking here. Access the Digital Library of Georgia website by click here.