Saturday, August 26, 2017

Four Years Old And Going On Hiatus

Townland of Origin began just over four years ago. The mission statement of the blog has always been to highlight interesting records and resources that can help a genealogist find their ancestor's place of origin in Ireland. Since 2013, there has been over 226,000 page views and almost 300 blog posts covering 42 American states, 32 Irish counties and 10 Canadian provinces. 

However, the time has come to go on hiatus, at least for the rest of this year, but likely for longer.

The best way to access the considerable amount of information on this website is via the Archive. Select your state, province or county of interest and proceed from there.

I'll still be active on twitter and will post new, old and interesting genealogy information that I come across.

Thanks to all to all those who have followed, read, and retweeted the posts. 


Joe Buggy

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'm Speaking At The Genealogy Event

The Genealogy Event takes place in Adare, County Limerick, from Thursday, 31 August to Saturday 2 September. There is a great lineup of speakers with topics such as DNA, military research, church records and newspaper just a sample of what will be available to attendees. I am presenting two talks on the Saturday - Researching Uncle Sam: Genealogy Resources in the USA and Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City.

Full details

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Beara Peninsula Genealogy

Riobard O'Dwyer has studied the genealogy, history and social customs of the families on the Beara Peninsula, Counties Cork and Kerry, for more than 40 years. Many people from this area emigrated to the United States and Canada over the last 200+ years. In 2009, he published three volumes of The Annals of Beara. The work contains information on families from the Roman Catholic parishes of Adrigole,  Allihies (both in Volume 1), Bere Island, Eyeries (both in Volume 2), Castletownbere and Glengarriff (both in Volume 3).[1] Volume 3 also contains a brief history of the O'Sullivan clan.[2]

Roman Catholic Parishes Beara Peninsula. Courtesy National Library of Ireland[3] 

The foreword to volume one outlines that he consulted every church record in the area. This was combined with local knowledge of who married whom, what occupation they had and where they lived locally or emigrated to.[4] The combination of these aspects allowed the author to tie many North American immigrants to what townland there were originally from on the peninsula.

The volumes were digitized earlier this year by the New England Historic Genealogical Society and are available on their website, Currently, only volume one has been indexed, while volumes two and three are browse only. A table of contents for all three volumes is available here (pdf).

[1] notes that Castletownbere and Bere Island are the same Roman Catholic parish.
[4] Search the map, Roman Catholic Parish Registers at the National Library of Ireland accessed 30 July 2017.
[4] O'Dwyer, Riobard. The Annals of Bears: Volume I Adrigole and Alihies Parishes. Statesboro, Georgia : Gold Stag Publications. 2009. p. i.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide

Journalist, Claire Santry, is most well-known in the Irish genealogy world for her indispensable blog, Irish Genealogy News. Those who have delved deeper into her output will also have come across her very useful Irish Genealogy Toolkit website. The website displays a depth of Irish genealogy knowledge that has been honed over many years. Her genealogical credentials also extend to being a fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society. Researchers have now been rewarded with The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide (2017, Family Tree Books, 238 pp. including index and appendices), her first genealogy book. Santry's publication aims to give the reader "a thorough grounding in genealogical techniques and point you [the reader] towards records you need to search, both in the United States and in Ireland." It does not disappoint.

Many people are keen to jump straight into Irish records when they know an ancestor came from Ireland. In some situations this may be possible for very recent immigrants in the family tree, thanks to the mass digitization of Irish records. Starting out by gathering records in the U.S. is the reality for the majority and Part 1 (Chapters 1-3) focuses on the North American side of the Atlantic. Important records sets—federal census, naturalization, passenger lists, vital records, military—are introduced that are necessary for working back towards the immigrant ancestor and taking the steps to unlock where they came from in Ireland. The detailed knowledge shown about digitized U.S. newspapers, and where to access them, is impressive and readers should include this section from Chapter 11 in their reading of Part 1.

Online research is now the starting point for many, so I was delighted to see Key Genealogy Principles in Chapter 2, where the differences between primary vs. secondary sources and original vs. derived sources are discussed. This chapter also stresses the importance of citations and research logs - concepts that many only discover after initial efforts turn into keeping track of hundreds of ancestors.
Civil registration, church records, census records, and land/property records form the backbone of genealogical research in Ireland and this makes up the core of the publication. Santry's book has few peers when it comes to providing an in-depth discussion of these record collections and pointing out the various merits of each website that houses those records. This is an important feature for a genealogy research guide to have in the age of the researcher also being a consumer of subscriptions and pay as you go credits.

History, Irish names/surnames and geography are well catered for, with an understanding of the latter crucial to researching in Ireland. Important historical context is provided in the shape of Irish immigration to the United States and a history of Ireland that will help the newcomer to understand why their ancestors may have emigrated from Ireland and what they experienced in the U.S. when they arrived there. The author's detailed knowledge of Irish administration divisions and what records were created in them is impressively showcased, along with excellent map examples and useful online tools. Can you tell a Nonie from a Bedilia and why a Smith and a McGowan could be brothers? You will after reading about names and surnames .

The two case studies about finding the Irish place of origin that are presented at the end illustrate the types of research than many people in the United States will have to do. They also provide an excellent insight into the realities of research and the various strategies that you will have to employ. It was also heartening to see DNA get a brief mention, as this is now a tool that can be utilized to help find the Irish place of origin. Previously, when asked, I used to primarily recommend two Irish genealogy books: Betit and Radford's A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors and Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. That duo now has a new partner to make it a trifecta.

It's available for purchase from the publisher Family Tree, as well as Amazon and Eason. A preview is available on Google Books.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Toronto Repealers 1844

One of the most useful sources for finding the Irish place of origin for Irish immigrants in the U.S. and Canada in the 1840s is newspaper reports about Repeal Associations. My previous post about Repeal Associations in Prince Edward Island, Canada, explains what they were.

Toronto, like other North American towns and cities, saw the establishment of a Repeal Association by Irish immigrants. The Toronto Mirror newspaper carried an article in 1844 about the activities of the organization and provided the names and Irish counties of origin of its members. These names were compiled in an article in Families, the journal of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Consult 'Nominal List of Repealers from the Toronto Mirror 2 February 1844' in the June 1997 (Vol. 36, No. 2, pp.111-116) edition to read the article. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Old Stone Bank

The records of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank of New York City are some of the best when it comes to helping a researcher find where their ancestors came from in Ireland. Financial and banking records in other states can also be just as useful if two criteria are met: (i) the bank had a system to prove a customer’s identity by asking a series of biographical questions to which it had the answers, already supplied by the customer, and (ii) the records of the institution have survived to this day. In Rhode Island, there is such a set of records.

The Providence Institution for Savings was founded in Providence, Rhode Island in 1819. The institution’s original building was destroyed in 1837. After seventeen years in temporary headquarters a new building was constructed at 86 South Main Street in 1854, which was expanded in 1898 into its present form. Since the construction of the domed building in 1854, the bank had been unofficially known as the "Old Stone Bank". The name was officially changed to Old Stone Savings Bank in 1967. This corporation was absorbed by Citizens Bank in 1993 after 174 years of service.[1]

The records of the Old Stone Savings Bank were acquired by the Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS) and have been arranged by series. The series of greatest general interest is Series 8, the Signature Books, containing 29 large volumes. From 1844 to 1857, the books include only signatures with occasional comments. In 1857, the depositor's residence began to be recorded. As of 1863, these volumes recorded name, residence, occupation and remarks. Birthplace and age began to be recorded systematically in 1882. Marital status and names of parents were added in 1890. The books come to a halt in 1897.[2]

Local historian Raymond McKenna has worked extensively in these records and also maintains the website Federal Hill Irish, which is all about Irish immigrants in Providence, RI. He has compiled a listing of almost 2,000 surnames from the signature books and what counties in Ireland the people with those names came from.[3]

The records are not digitized but are available for research at the RIHS library, located at 121 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906. You can read more about the collection by searching for 'Old Stone Bank Records' in the RIHS online catalog.

[1] Rick Staller. 2006. Old Stone Bank Records. Available online via Rhode Island Historical Society Catalog at accessed 23 April 2017.
[2] Ibid.
[3] McKenna, Raymond. Irish Surnames in Rhode Island & the Irish Counties They Represent. Federal Hill Irish. 20 November 2014. Available online at accessed 23 April 2017.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

From Roscommon to Texas, MD

Assisted emigration is a feature of 19th century migration from Ireland to the United States and Canada. The owners of the estates in Ireland from which the emigrants left varied, with one example begin 'Crown estates,' those ultimately owned by the British Monarch. They were dotted around Ireland and one such estate was Ballykilcline in Kilglass Civil Parish, County Roscommon.

Beginning in 1847, 366 people left the estate on ships that sailed from Liverpool to New York City.[1] The assisted emigrants sailed on the Roscius, Metoka, Jane Classon, Creole, Channing, and Laconic. The last of these ships left Liverpool on 25 April 1848.[2] The small area of Texas, Baltimore County, Maryland was where many of these arrivals ended up. A limestone quarry began there in the years before 1847 and the Balykilcline assisted emigrants moved there for employment.

The complete list of emigrants from Ballykilcline is available in Eilish Ellis' Emigrants from Ireland, 1847-1852: State-aided emigration schemes from crown estates in Ireland. A detailed website about the assisted emigrants is also available to review. Archaeological excavations of the Texas area were due to be carried out in the mid-2000s and an overview of this is available on the website of the Center for Heritage Resource Studies, University of Maryland.

I first learned about this migration on the Irish Genealogical Society International blog.

[1] Ellis, Eilish. Emigrants from Ireland, 1847-1852 : state-aided emigration schemes from crown estates in Ireland. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. 1993. p.12.
[2] 'The Emigrant Ships,' The Story of Ballykilcline, (http://www. accessed 25 March 2017.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ulster Historical Foundation U.S. Tour Webinars

The Ulster Historical Foundation annual tour of the United States finishes today in Little Rock, Arkansas. Last week, they visited Fountaindale, Illinois, and the Fountaindale Public Library has made all of their presentations available to view on Youtube and their Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy & Research blog.

Of particular interest to this blog are the presentations:

Emigration from Ireland to North America: An Overview

Emigration from Ireland to North America: Strategies for Researching Emigrant Ancestors


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Ulster to Philadelphia

An Alphabetical Index of Ulster Emigration to Philadelphia, 1803-1850 dates from the early 1990s and was compiled by Pennsylvanian Raymond D. Adams. The specific and succinct nature of the title quickly tells the genealogist what this publication should be used for. There are entries for almost 2,000 individuals who arrived into Philadelphia in the first half of the 19th century. Some combination of name, age, family members that traveled with them, ship, year of arrival, port of embarkation and address in Ireland is provided for each person. The address is typically a townland.

The main disadvantage of this book is that the primary sources from where the information came from is only hinted at - "Customs Lists and passenger Lists contained in the National Archives [presumably of the United States], existing passenger lists recorded voluntarily by ship's masters of the Cunard and Cooke shipping lines, and civil parish emigration lists retained by the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland."[1] Without clear citations, you still have to try and track down the original documentation that provided the information so as to help prove the Philadelphian immigrant's Irish place of origin.

Based on this description of sources and the specific years of arrival listed in the book, I'd suggest following up with Brian Mitchell's books to learn more about where the information comes from.

Mitchell, Brian. Irish Passenger Lists, 1803-1806 - Lists of Passengers Sailing from Ireland to America. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company. 1995.

An Alphabetical also available as a searchable database on Ancestry.

[1] Adams, Raymond D. An Alphabetical Index to Ulster Emigration to Philadelphia, 1803-1850. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company. 1992. p. vii.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Online U.S. Catholic Parish Registers 2017 List

In 2015 I started a yearly list of what Roman Catholic parish registers I found online in various formats. There has been two major announcements in relation to the availability of such records since the last list in August 2016. The New England Historic Genealogical Society has partnered with the Archdiocese of Boston to eventually digitize records from all of their parishes up to the turn of the 20th century. Findmypast recently placed the registers of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia online and plan to add registers from other dioceses in the future. I've also added entries for parishes from other states such as Kentucky and upstate New York. New additions are in bold in the table.

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

Region/Parishes Covered
Access & Format
Archdiocese of Mobile
Archdiocese of Mobile
Fort St. Philippe
1744, 1761-1765
St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, Woodland, Yolo County
Archdiocese of Denver
St Mary's Catholic Parish, Littleton
Delaware and Eastern Shore Maryland on Delmarva Peninsula
1795-1925 (S/NI)

Sacred Heart Parish, St. Vincent
c.1833 - c.1914
Archdiocese of Chicago
City of Chicago and surrounding area
South East Ohio / County map of parishes
Familysearch (S/NI)

Kaskaskia (Caskakias), Prairie du Rocher,
Fort de Chartres
1695-1813, 1761-1799,

St. Michael's Parish, Daviess County
St. Michael's Parish, Daviess County

St. Peter's Parish, Montgomery County
Archdiocese of New Orleans
Various Parishes

Archdiocese of New Orleans
Various Parishes

St. Gabriel
Archdiocese of Boston
Various Parishes

Van Buren

Ste. Luce, Frenchville, Aroostook County
Delaware and Eastern Shore Maryland on Delmarva Peninsula
1795-1925 (S/NI)

St. Anne, Detroit
Various others, Detroit
St. Anne, Mackinac (Makinac) County
Fort Fran├žais, Berrien County


St. Ferdinand, Florissant
Old Cathedral, St. Louis

St. Peter's Parish, Kirkwood
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 Jersey
Archdiocese of Newark
St Mary Star of the Sea Parish, Beyonne
New Jersey
Archdiocese of Newark
St. John the Baptist Parish, Jersey City
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)
New York
Various Parishes++
19th & 20th Centuries

New York

Brasher Falls
St. Joseph, Cooperville
Fort Covington
Fort Frederick, Albany
North west Ohio
Familysearch (S/NI)
Ancestry (S/NI)
of Philadelphia
Philadelphia and south east Pennsylvania
18th & 19th Century
of Philadelphia
All Parishes
 18th-20th centuries
Findmypast (S/I) Baptisms / Marriages / Registers Browse

Fort Duquesne, Pittsburgh
Diocese of Austin
St. Mary's of the Immaculate Conception, Austin

St. Francis Xavier, Green Bay


* 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"

+ Thanks to Nicole W. Miller (@nicolewmiller) for bringing these to my attention

++ Microfilms from parishes in the Diocese of Buffalo are available at the Family History Library. So far, some of these microfilms have been scanned and others have been indexed. You can access the scans and indexes via the Familysearch Catalog. Records that have been indexed are also available via the database New York Births and Christenings, 1640-1962, which is available on Familysearch.