Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Ancestors Were From Cork

Having ancestors from Cork comes up time and time again when speaking with people in the American genealogy world. The names of these ancestors can sometimes be very 'Cork-like,' such as Cornelius Mahoney or Jeremiah Murphy. This came to mind when I wrote two of my recent posts (U.S. Census Series: Ward I, Boston 1860 and U.S. Naval Enlistment Records). In both, Cork has, by far, the largest representation from those who had their county of birth recorded. This is a potentially interesting observation and is worth looking at in more detail.

Can we say that if you don't know where your ancestors are from, and you want to play the percentages game, then Cork is the best place to start looking?

Before we go with this hypothesis it is worth highlighting three important points:
(i) about 10% of Irish people in the Naval enlistment records and 57% of Irish people in the Ward 1, Boston census returns recorded a place of birth. As this is the case, caution should be used before extrapolating any findings from the subset of records that record place of birth. 
(ii) these examples are just two record sets, one a point in time survey (census) from 1860 and the other (naval enlistment records) is a record set created via self-selection, as in some people chose to enlist, while others did not.
(iii) while it can't be measured, a maxim I have learned is that leaving from Ireland via the port of Cobh (known as Queenstown from approx. 1849 to 1922) can sometimes turn into 'born in Cork,' as family stories are passed down through the generations.

Despite all this, two interesting observations can be made if we look at statistics that can help with genealogical research. First, in the 1851 to 1880 period, county Cork had the largest number of emigrants leave Ireland (table one). 

Table 1: County with the highest number of emigrants leaving Ireland, 1851-1880[1]
1. Cork
1. Cork
1. Cork
1. Cork
2. Tipperary
2. Antrim
2. Antrim
2. Antrim
3. Limerick
3. Down
3. Tipperary
3. Down
4. Kerry
4. Tipperary
4. Limerick
4. Donegal
5. Galway
5. Limerick
5. Kerry
5. Tyrone

Second, Cork had the largest population of all counties in the 1851 to 1881 period (table two).  

Table 2: County with the largest population in Ireland, 1851-1881[2]
1. 653,512 Cork
1. 544,818 Cork
1. 517,076 Cork
1. 495,607 Cork
2. 410,919 Dublin
2. 410,252 Dublin
2. 405,262 Dublin
2. 421,913 Antrim
3. 352,912 Antrim
3. 368,977 Antrim
3. 404,015 Antrim
3. 418,910 Dublin
4. 333,650 Tipperary
4. 308,913 Down
4. 293,449 Down
4. 272,107 Down
5. 328,860 Down
5. 271,478 Galway
5. 249,720 Galway
5. 241,212 Mayo

It could be inferred that the reason Cork had the highest number of emigrants was because it was the county with the largest population. However, Dublin was the second most populous county in the same time period but did not produce the second highest number of emigrants. A casual observation for Cork and Dublin could be there that there were less economic opportunities in a large rural county than in a predominantly urban one. However, the 'large population = lots of emigrates' trend re-emerges with Antrim, the county with the third highest population and home to the second largest city on the island, Belfast.

So, to answer the question posed at the start: based purely on emigration numbers, probably, but even though Cork had the largest number of emigrants, that percentage is probably going to be small.

[1] Miller, Kerby A. Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North AmericaNew York : Oxford University Press, 1985.
[2] Census of Ireland for the Year 1891, Preliminary report with abstract of the enumerators' summaries 1891. Dublin: Alexander Thom. 1891.p. 13.  Available online at

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Online U.S. Catholic Parish Registers

Widespread access to online Catholic Church parish register records in the U.S. is still but a pipedream. A few blog posts could easily be written about the realities of why this is so, but that is a story for another day. Instead, I've decided to be positive and gather together in one place all of the online Catholic Church records that I'm aware of.

Sadly, the list is short, especially when you consider the thousands of parishes that exist across the United States. Please post a comment if you know of any I have missed and I'll add them to the list.

Another access method for Catholic parish registers that is sometimes not considered is microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Eventually, all of their microfilms will be on, but until that point is reached they remain a great way to access these records.

For example, see the list of registers for the state of New Jersey on the Familysearch Catalog (use Ctrl+F/Command+F Catholic to quickly highlight the relevant microfilms).

Access and Format Key
S - Scanned
I - Indexed
NI - Not Indexed
T - Transcriptions

Region/Parishes Covered
Access & Format
St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, Woodland, Yolo County
St. Mary's Catholic Parish, Littleton
Delaware and Eastern Shore Maryland on Delmarva Peninsula
1795-1925 (S/NI)
Archdiocese of Chicago
City of Chicago and surrounding area
South East Ohio / County map of parishes
Familysearch (S/NI)
St. Michael's Parish, Daviess County
St. Michael's Parish, Daviess County
Delaware and Eastern Shore Maryland on Delmarva Peninsula
1795-1925 (S/NI)
New Jersey
Archdiocese of Newark
St. Peter's Parish, Belville
Immaculate Conception Parish, Montclair
NYC Nuts (T/I)
New Jersey
Archdiocese of Newark
Various Parishes
19th Century
Familysearch (T/I)****
New York
Our Lady of Sorrow Parish, Bushwick
St. Leonards of Port Maurice, Bushwick
Most Holy Trinity, Williamsburg
New York
Ancestry: here & here (T/I)
North west Ohio
Familysearch (S/NI)
Ancestry (S/NI)
of Philadelphia
Philadelphia and south east Pennsylvania
18th & 19th Century

* Search for: "Burial register, St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, Woodland, Yolo Co., California"
** Search for: " St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1915-1985, of Littleton Colorado"
*** Records are contained within the database New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980
**** Search for: "Register of St. Michael Catholic Church, Daviess County, Indiana"