Monday, June 6, 2016
Still Seeking James White-- In Which I Try A New Tactic
What do you do when the church records you desperately need to prove the lineage of your 2nd great-grandfather are nowhere to be found? You do what I'm doing, doggedly looking for any scrap of evidence of James White's, (or his associate's), townland in Ireland-- though I'm pretty well convinced it's in Rathdowney Parish in the county of Queens, aka Laois. Over the years I've collected all the church records containing the surnames White and Keyes in the registers of St. Anne's Catholic Church in Palmyra, NY since those are the surnames of Grandpa James' parents, and St. Anne's was his Parish.
Now that the Catholic records from Ireland are available online, I've begun doing the same for Rathdowney Parish in Laois. The problem with that, is the rather large gap in Rathdowney records which includes the years grandfather and his only known sibling Catherine White were born. Unfortunately, it's also the time frame many of the early immigrants to Palmyra were born. Why can't curates and priests take better care of the records entrusted to them? Someday I'm going to look up who was on watch when these records vanished, though undoubtedly it's too late to chastise them for their negligence.
Anyway, by comparing the two sets of church records I have been able to definitely connect at least one family of Keyes who lived in the Rathdowney townland of Kyleahaw with several Keyes immigrants to Palmyra! By the way, Kyleahaw is the very townland Margaret and Michael Treacy gave as their home address when they came to America in 1909 and 1914 to their Aunt and Uncle Mary Ford and James White Jr. in Palmyra. A bit more about that here.
But back to the Keyes family--once in America, a Mary Keyes married Edward Hennessey at St. Anne's in 1863. In 1870, Mary's brother William married Mary McGreal, also at St. Anne's. Both Mary and William gave their parent's names as Daniel Keyes and Mary Fogarty. I was unable to find baptisms for Mary or William Keyes in Rathdowney, their births most likely fall in the period for which the records are missing. But! I was able to locate a baptism there for Daniel Key, child of Daniel Key and Mary Fogarty born in 1843, about the time those records commence again. (In most Irish records the name is recorded as Key while in America it's Keyes.)
Then too, it's an accepted fact that Irish immigrants in America tended to settle near family and friends from their old townlands and I've found more than a few former Rathdowney residents in 19th century Palmyra and vicinity. I even found a photo of one of them in a Google search, Michael Delaney, a railroad man in Palmyra was born in Rathdowney in 1846.
Since there are no church records for Grandfather James, I have a feeling I'll be looking for circumstantial evidence for some time to come-- but there are times when that's all that's available. Circumstantial though it may be, the evidence continues to mount...