Sunday, January 31, 2010

Broken Bow Land Office Records Go Online

In an effort to begin preserving and providing wider access to the information in the records, Homestead National Monument of America, located in Beatrice, Nebraska, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) contracted with the National Archives & Records Administration to microfilm the Broken Bow Land Office records (1890-1908). Using this microfilm, UNL has created an online index to the records. This pilot project is the precursor to new partnerships and, we hope, to new scholarship.

Funds for the project were received from the National Park Service, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Eastern National, and Tier One Bank. At the University, the Center for Great Plains Studies, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and the University Libraries have all contributed to the project. Many person hours were devoted to the project by National Park Service volunteers and staff, and by faculty, staff, and administrators at UNL. As new developments are announced, look for changes on the site.

Search the records here.

What if your ancestor was an axe murderer?

My research on my Pennsylvania ancestors this past week left me face to face with this possibility! I won't list any of the names here so I can protect the innocent in case this happens to be a different individual.

I was fairly confident that I had traced a couple different families in a specific community in Pennsylvania and was digging deeper by looking through newspaper accounts available on the internet. I came upon some articles that appeared in newspapers halfway across the country about this "well respected farmer" with the same name as my ancestor, living within a 10 mile radius of where my ancestor lived. The article stated he killed his 18 year old daughter by hitting her on the head with an axe and then killed himself. The incident was called a murder-suicide in the press.

There were variations on how the family spelled their surname, so this is why I haven't yet confirmed if this is my ancestor or not. But - both were farmers, both were living in the same vicinity, both had daughters 18 years of age. I've found information that the daughter in my family line died the same year as this incident, although another researcher indicates a different cause of death.

My ancestor disappeared from the census records after this incident. His widow had moved West with one of the sons and his family. They changed the spelling of their last name from the way it was spelled in Pennsylvania.

Hmmm. I suddenly feel as though I'm in the midst of a CSI "cold case" investigation! I shall continue looking into these people and see if I am able to prove or disprove if the killer was my ancestor.

Who said family history couldn't be exciting?

February 9 meeting of the Lincoln Lancaster County Genealogy Society

February 9th – Marcia Stewart
Getting Started with Military Records

This program builds on Cynthia's January "Getting Started" session by introducing military sources for genealogical information. Marcia will explain what is available, where to find the records, and what you can learn through these resources. Marcia, Cynthia, and Phyllis will share samples of some good genealogy finds.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County NE Genealogical Society cordially invites all in the community to hear our free programs.

Programs are on the second Tuesday, at 7:15 p.m.

Lower Level Theater
Dick Admin. Bldg.
Union College Campus
3800 So. 48th St. Lincoln, Nebraska

Visit the LLCGS web site.

Genealogy hits mainstream TV

NBC has been running some promotional advertisements for its upcoming show called Who Do You Think You Are - a look at the family history of celebrities. Apparently, NBC is teaming with for this venture.

NBC describes the program: NBC's commitment to bringing A-list talent to its 2009-2010 prime time schedule includes a unique and personal glimpse into the lives of our favorite celebrities. In each episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, a celebrity embarks on a journey of self-discovery and unearths his or her family tree - revealing surprising, inspiring and sometimes tragic stories that are often linked to events in American history. We share intimate moments with the stars as they learn about their past, and how the struggles of their ancestors have shaped today's world. Stars include Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon. Well, I would definitely take issue on whether or not these people are considered "a-list", but I digress.

I doubt if this will have the kind of impact on potential family historians the way that Alex Haley's Roots did in the 1970s, but at least it's introducing the general population to the intrigue of family history research. I only hope that family history newcomers don't think they will be able to trace their entire family back 300 years in under 60 minutes. Since there will be digital features for the show's viewers to begin their search on, I also am a bit concerned that people with little knowledge of the need for proper research and documentation will go crazy on Ancestry and start adding the wrong families to their trees.

This is already an issue on Ancestry. While I love Ancestry and feel like I couldn't get along without it, I've also learned to be careful with what I add to my tree that was compiled by another researcher. Many of the family trees on Ancestry do not provide documentation or historical records, so it becomes difficult to know if they are accurate. Sure, I've added a few of these to my tree along the way, and my goal is to double-back and confirm as much as I possibly can. This process means that I have been removing people from my trees that I am unable to confirm on my own.

So - it is definitely with great interest that I look forward to this new NBC show. It premieres on Friday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m. central. You can be sure that I'll review it here on

ABC - Good Morning America

ABC's Good Morning America is also getting into the genealogy act by discussing Faces of America with scholar Henry Louis Gates. You may recognize him from the "beer summit" at the White House last summer. Are George Stephanopoulous and Hillary Clinton really "cousins"?

Faces of America - PBS

Faces of America is featured on PBS. The series premieres nationally Wednesdays, February 10 - March 3, 2010 from 8-9 p.m. ET. Based on what I've seen so far, I'm putting my money on the PBS show, rather than NBC, but I'll be watching both of them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adding to the Welch Family

The recent discovery of the photograph of the grave marker for Mark Welch and his wife, Sarah Conneally (my great, great grandparents) in Connecticut has put my focus on Connecticut research this past week. And I once again returned to the autograph book that belonged to their daughter, Nellie Welch.

The autograph book includes entries from "Aunt Winnie" of Goshen, CT, "Cousin Annie" of Goshen, CT, and William E Welch of Goshen, CT. A search of the Welch family living in Goshen at this time resulted in several census records for this family. The head of the household is Edward Welch, who would be the brother of Mark Welch.

The children of Edward and Winnifred Welch were: Mary (b. about 1856), William (b. about 1858), Mark (b. about 1860), Richard (b. about 1862), James (b. about 1864), Anna (b. Feb 1866). Edward (b. about 1867) and John (b. about 1869).

1870 Census Record for the family of Edward and Winnifred Welch

So far, the only one of the children I've been able to verify in later census records is Anna, who married Mr. Kirwin and had a son, James Kirwin. Mr. Kirwin died before 1930, as Anna is a widow at the age of 34. Her parents, Edward and Winnifred, are living with Anna and Anna's son, James.

By 1910, Edward Welch has died, and Winnifred is living with Anna and her son.

Are any members of this Welch family your ancestor? If so, I'd love to hear from you and share information on this family and their descendants.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Success Story: When the pieces come together . . .

After receiving the photo of the gravestone of my great great grandparents, Mark Welch and Sarah Conneally, I went back to work on filling in some pieces of the Welch family genealogy. I'd had a great start as I have the autograph books that belonged to my great grandmother, Minnie Welch Kelly and her sister, Nellie Welch. Members of the family signed their entries as cousin, brother, uncle, aunt, etc. This really provided me with the first instance of being able to connect family members together.

Email correspondence amongst my fellow Conneally "cousins" and family history researchers continued to present some more clues to family relationships. We became intriguted with the 1900 census which showed Mark Welch at age 74, widowed and living with (as indexed) Clarence Gawngus, Margartta Gawngus and their child, Alfred C. Gawngus.

Other searches of the Gawngus name showed a possible variation as Gaengus. Again, this produced very little in other records searches. So I began searching based only the first names of the family. This turned out to be successful and I discovered the correct surname for this family was Garrigus.

My next step was to, once again, look through my great grandmother's photograph album that included photos of the family members in Connecticut. There I found the photograph above. The handwriting certainly confirmed the last name of Garrigus and there was Alfred, who was listed as their son in 1900 census.

One of the Conneally "cousins" asked if the family had other children. I had come across a daughter, Ethel, in a later census. Back to the photograph album.

Alfred and Ethel Garrigus

Aha! Written on the photo were the names Alfred and Ethel. The connection to the Welch family was made! From that point, I was able to find several members of the Garrigus family which I have added to my family tree. I am hopeful that I can locate some obituaries and tombstone locations that may lead me to more of the Welch family members.

You just never know what will happen when one thing leads to another.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Memoriam: Patricia Landon Kelly Petersen

Mom died on this day, January 19, in 1983. Not a day goes by that she's not in my heart. I have to know that she is guiding me through my family history journey.

Mark Welch and Sarah Conneally - my great great grandparents

The graves of Mark Welch and Sarah Conneally in St. Anthony's Cemetery, Litchfield, Connecticut

Never underestimate the power of the internet. Today's email brought this photograph from a "long lost relative" - actually a distant cousin who shares some of the same family lines. Wow! This is the first tangible documentation I have of my great great grandparents. Both were born in Ireland and settled in Connecticut. One of their daughters, Mary/Minnie Welch and her sister traveled to Nebraska as very young women. Minnie married my great grandfather, Dan Kelly, and raised three boys.

Any time I'm able to see my family go back another generation, it's a pretty special day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The more things change, the more they stay the same

In current times, many of us are concerned about the distractions while driving - cell phones, people reading and sending text messages. Our ancestors lives were not without issues in their day:


Two Narrow Escapes Recently – Horses Left Unhitched

The number of runaways occurring in St. Paul is arousing the attention of the officials of the city, and measures are being discussed to reach negligent drivers who leave their horses unhitched on the public thoroughfares. Almost daily a runaway occurs through carelessly leaving an animal standing without check-rain or hitching weight. That more serious results have not followed seems providential. Friday afternoon a horse and wagon belonging to Dayfield Bros., dashed down Third street, near Franklin, colliding with a buggy in which were Patrick Collins and his three little grandchildren, daughters of Daniel Kelly of the Valley house. The buggy was overturned and the occupants thrown to the pavement, all being more or less bruised and one of the little ones being badly hurt on the head and arm. Mr. Collins received an injury to his side which may yet result fatally, as he is over 70 years of age and the hurt is feared to be internal. The skin and flesh is lacerated and torn from his forehead and he is severely bruised.

St Paul Daily Globe
St Paul, MN
March 28, 1886

Jim McKee: John Fitzgerald, the Irish National League and Mount Emerald

Lincoln, Nebraska historian Jim McKee wrote this article about John Fitzgerald that was published in the January 17, 2010 Lincoln Journal Star newspaper.

Fitzgerald, the Irish National League and Mount Emerald

John was married to Mary Kelly, sister of my great grandfather, Dan Kelly.

Seeking Obituary for Margaret M. E. Kelly St Paul, Minnesota - 1974

I would appreciate any assistance in locating an obituary for Margaret M. E. Kelly of St. Paul, Minnesota who died April 5, 1974. She was born in Minnesota (probably St. Paul) on June 8, 1880. She was the daughter of Daniel Kelly and Mary Collins. She never married. From the information I've gathered so far, she outlived all of her other siblings: William Daniel (W. D.) Kelly, Minnie Kelly Manahan, Daniel Kelly, Bridget Kelly, Ursula May "Bird" Kelly Daggett, Jennie Kelly, John Vincent Kelly and Paul Harold Kelly. She died in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Thank to to anyone who is able to help.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's in a name?

Something that makes locating long lost relatives a challenge are various spellings of names. It was just last summer that I found my first reference to my great, great, great grandfather who was born in Kilkenny, Ireland. It was a biography of my great great grandfather, William D. Kelly, that was published in a 1905 collection of local biographical profiles. It said his father was Keron Kelly. Right now, I do not know if this was the correct spelling of his name or not.

Two of Keron's great grandchildren may have been named after him. One was William Kieran Langdon, son of Margaret Kelly and Michael Langdon. I've also seen his middle name spelled Keiran.

The other great grandchild was the son of John Kelly and Eunice Derieg. His name has been spelled Kiron, Kiran and even Karen!

John and Eunice Kelly of North Lathram, Caddo, Oklahoma

I've hit another roadblock looking for this line of the Kelly family. John Kelly was a brother of my great grandfather, Daniel Kelly, and a son of William D. Kelly and Mary Casey, both of whom were born in Ireland.

John was born in Nebraska, probably in Omaha, about 1865. He married Eunice Derieg at St. Theresa's procathedral in Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska on November 19, 1900. Eunice was born in New Brunswick, Canada. Many of her Derieg siblings remained in Lancaster county, Nebraska.

Census records indicate that John and Eunice had a son named John who was born in Nebraska about 1902. Another son named Kiron/Keiran/Kieran (many variations in spelling) was born in Nebraska about 1904. The 1910 census shows the couple with a daughter, Mary, also born about 1902. This census shows Eunice had given birth to eight children, only three of whom were living.

It appears the family moved from Nebraska to Oklahoma sometime between 1904 and 1910. A biography of John's father, William D Kelly, which was published in 1905, states that John was a farmer in Carney, Oklahoma.

The 1910 Census shows the family living in Lathram, Caddo, Oklahoma, with the three children.

We next find the family in 1920 census, living in Moffat, Morapos, Colorado, with the two sons. Mary is not listed with the family. At this time, Mary has either moved out of the family home, perhaps married or has died. The elder John is still farming at this time. The two sons, now ages 18 and 16, are listed as laborers/homestead farmers.

John died sometime between 1920 and 1930. The 1930 census shows that Eunice is now widowed and sons John and Kiron/Keiran/Kieran are living with her and farming.

The 1930 census is as far as I have been able to trace this family. As always, I am in search of death notices or obituaries for both John and Eunice. I would also like to locate information on the three children and any of their descendants.

Just the facts, ma'am

Way back in my early college years (circa 1970) while studying journalism, the importance of getting our facts correct was emphasized over and over again. You must get dates, you must get ages, you must get correct spellings - that was drummed into our heads over and over again. And if you didn't get a fact correct? Your punishment was to write an obituary on a currently living public official. This was when I first learned that newspapers and television stations kept all of this information constantly updated so when the person died, they were ready to go with the death notice with all of the pertinent facts already in hand. After being assigned to write three obituaries the first week, I made up my mind that it was never going to happen again and I became a dedicated fact checker and spelling checker.

As I go through various public records, newspaper articles and other resources in researching my family history, I discover that not everyone was so thorough in their fact checking. Names are misspelled, dates are not correct, family relationships are inaccurate. This makes the work of the family historian all the more challenging. One has to take a look at what was recorded and attempt to make as much sense of it as possible - constantly speculating, making inferences, eliminating alternate possibilities. I suppose that is what makes this hobby so addictive. You are always looking for just one more fact, one more piece of information.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

William D Kelly - my great-great grandfather

So often, family history information shows up when and where you least expect it. I've been continuing my research on the family of Daniel Kelly of St. Paul, Minnesota and while scouring the old issues of the St. Paul Daily Globe, I came across an obituary notice of my great-great grandfather, William D. Kelly, who was a brother of Daniel Kelly.

William had lived in St. Paul, MN from the late 1850s to the mid 1860s and had been in Nebraska for nearly 30 years when he died. And yet, here is his obituary from the St. Paul, Minnesota newspaper, more than 400 miles away.

This death notice also confirms another piece of information for me. I knew that William, his wife, Mary, and their children took off on one of the westward expeditions from St. Paul led by Captain James Fisk. Daughter Mary Kelly Fitzgerald was about 12 years old at the time and described their journey in detail in a 1938 newspaper interview. Based upon Mary's descriptions and the printed newspaper reports and journals from the time, I had concluded that the Kelly family was on the Fisk expedition of 1864. That date is confirmed in William's obituary. It is so nice when you are able to find corroborating information from different sources!

Date of newspaper notice: February 21, 1896.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Daniel Kelly Candidate for County Commissioner

As I continue to focus on the Daniel Kelly family and descendants of St Paul, Minnesota, I have come across this newspaper clipping from the St. Paul Globe of September 14, 1902.

The article reads:

Daniel Kelly, candidate for renomination on the Democratic ticket for county commissioner, is one of St. Paul's respected citizens; came to St. Paul July 5, 1856, and shortly afterwards commenced contracting in company with his brothers in building roads, etc., and later in supplying the frontier forts and Indian agencies. This business was continued for some years and many times attended with great peril. He is in the real estate and insurance business, offices 418 Pioneer Press building. Mr. Kelly was secretary of old Hope No. 3 volunteer fire department for five years. He is a territorial and junior pioneer.

Mr. Kelly is now county commissioner, filling the unexpired term of the vanquished George B. Whitehorne. the honorable city council appointed Mr. Kelly last October. His efforts at all times are in behalf of the taxpayers and economy, with fairness in all matters. He is a man of great executive ability, diligent and active in all county manners, and with his knowledge in real estate values is of great importance.

Dr William D Kelly of St Paul Minnesota

Dr. William D. Kelly of St. Paul Minnesota

Dr. William D. (W.D.) Kelly was one of three brothers who were physicians in St. Paul, Minnesota in the time frame of 1890 - 1955. They were the sons of Daniel William Kelly in the previous post.

Dr. William Daniel Kelly (W. D. Kelly) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 1, 1864. He practiced medicine in St. Paul from about 1895 until at least 1938.

Dr. Kelly's listing in the St. Paul city directory
What doctor has office hours on Sunday these days?!?!

He was the son of Daniel W Kelly (hotel and saloon proprietor and later involved in real estate) and Mary Collins. He lived in several different residences on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.

From all of the census records I've reviewed, he never married. Siblings were Nellie Kelly, Mary-Minnie Zieta Kelly (wife of Congressman James Manahan), Daniel Kelly, Bridget Kelly, Ursula May "Bird" Kelly, Jane/Jenny Kelly, Dr. John V. Kelly, Dr. Paul H. Kelly, and Margaret Kelly.

Copy of obituary sought

I've discovered two death records in Ramsey County, Minnesota for a William D. Kelly - one is April 7, 1940 and the other is December 21, 1943. Hopefully those dates can be a guide to locating an obituary in one of the St. Paul newspapers. The "other" William D. Kelly who was a contemporary in the St. Paul vicinity was shown as a farmer in census records, so perhaps that can help differentiate from the W. D. Kelly I am researching.

Information on the location of the cemetery where he is buried would also be welcome. I would speculate it would likely be in a Catholic cemetery. I've accumulated quite a bit of information on this family that I would be glad to share with other researchers. Thank you to anyone who is able to assist with this request.

UPDATE: An obituary for Dr. Kelly has been discovered.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Many "New" Kelly Relatives . . .

As usual, I was spending my Sunday afternoon seeing if I could add some more branches to the family tree. I went back to work on some of the descendants of Daniel W. Kelly of St. Paul, Minnesota. He was the brother of my great-great grandfather, William D. Kelly, who also lived in St. Paul for a while. They were two of the sons of Kieran (or Keron) Kelly from Kilkenny, Ireland.

I was fortunate to find an obituary on one of Daniel's granddaughters, who died in 2007. It was an online obituary and I had to pay $2.99 for it. That turned out to be quite a bargain considering all of the Kelly kin I was able to add to my family tree. With direct descendants from Daniel, their spouses and in-laws, the total additions to the family tree already exceeds 50 "new" family members.

As these new discoveries brought the generations up to present day, I'm hopeful that I'll be in touch with some of the long lost relatives at some point. I want to respect their privacy, so I won't post their names or locations on this blog.

But - if you are a descendant of Daniel W. Kelly who was born in July 1837 in Ireland and his wife, Mary Collins, born about 1842 and died about 1894. I'd love to hear from you!

It's definitely a small world.