I posted on Facebook over the weekend, an article titled Revealed: Every Irish person has at least 14,000 living cousins. I then complained, why couldn't I find mine! That reference was primarily to my big brick wall which is the Mackeys and Johnstons of Rossinver parish in Leitrim (who may have migrated down from Donegal). I have had better luck with some of my husband's lines. A few years ago while traveling in Ireland I received a message through Ancestry from Anita indicating a possible connection to the King/Loughlin (sometimes O'Loughlin) line from County Down. I sent a note saying I'd get back to her when I returned home, only to find out that she was living in Down, and I was in Belfast at PRONI. Needless to say, we connected to discover that she and my husband were 3rd cousins 1x removed. Not only that, but her husband was the Archivist who conducted the orientations for my groups at PRONI.
Anita had written a wonderful document about the O'Loughlin family which extended my research back another generation. She did not, however, know a lot about the King family; Bridget King was my husband's grandmother. My research had shown that Ellen Loughlin and James King had 11 children, Bridget was the 9th child. In my early days of researching, I learned a lot about this family (and about the idiosyncrasies of Irish research). By the 1901 census when Bridget was 12 years old, she was listed in the census as 9. When you have a child just about every year, it's hard to understand how you can lose 3 years for a 12 year old! That brought into question the ages of all of the other children. (As a reminder, the Irish were not great with dates, so be flexible...I usually use ± 5 years.) I had Bridget's birth registration but there were lots of Kings in the area and paying for each of the other 10 (especially if it was the wrong one) was expensive. When the GRONI index came online it included the maiden name of the mother, which made the identification of the children (and their actual ages) much easier. And with IrishGenealogy.ie I as able to get each of the registrations for free.
Some additional information came from the census: 10 of the 11 children appeared in the 1901 census. The older girls could read but none of the boys could read. James (the father) made his mark (x) on the signature line. The oldest two sons were laborers and the girls and younger boys, down to the youngest, were indicated as factory workers. By the 1911 census only the youngest two children were still in the household and both could read and write.
Over the years, I've been able to add to my knowledge of the family. All of the females, except Teresa emigrated to the US and so I had family information about them. No one, however, seemed to know of the existence of Teresa, the youngest child. I have her marriage record...she married Hugh O'Hagan and had two sons, John and Hugh, in Ireland. But then the trail ends. A few months ago a hint came up for Hugh O'Hagan, but it was in New York. I was going to ignore it, but luckily I took a look. It was the Petition for Naturalization in 1932. It stated that Hugh had been in the US since 1927; he was a widower, his wife Teresa died in Ireland on 3 Feb 1931 and that his two sons, John and Hugh were living in Ireland. Since all of Teresa's sisters were living in the New York area, I was even more surprised that no one seemed to know about this sister or her husband who appears to have emigrated 4 years before her death. Just another reminder that records are frequently not where you expect them!
Last year on our visit to the Ulster Historical Foundation, Fintan Mullen did a presentation on School Records. The government in Northern Ireland after the partition, required that school records be maintained and forwarded to the Public Record Office. Unfortunately this didn't happen in the Republic, so there are fewer school records there. Below is the record for Bridget King. She attended school from 1899-1903 and was struck from the roles 17 October 1903 with the notation "Gone to America."
So that brings me back to my upcoming research trip. Each trip runs from Sunday - Saturday, so on October 12th, I'll be traveling from Dublin to Belfast. Anita is going to pick me up at one of the Down train stations and take me to visit the area where the Kings lived. From what I've heard, there are no longer Kings in the area but I'm looking forward to becoming familiar with the area. Through Ancestry and some DNA connections I've received answers to some of my questions about the family. There was a story that had passed down that one of Bridget's brothers was killed by the Black and Tans. Since I've got just about everyone identified, I'm pretty sure that the story is not true. I did find out that one of her brothers, Edward, moved to England and enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was killed in 1915 in Gallipoli, Turkey. I received that information through a Facebook message. This person's grandfather, a cousin to Edward, was with him the day he was killed and had passed the story to his grandson. Bits and pieces come from various places, so if you have DNA tested, post your results in as many places as possible, and don't forget to add or connect to a tree with dates and places. Without a tree there is no way to know whether there is a connection. Join the Facebook groups in the areas where your ancestors lived. And finally, always be open to the possibility that records are no where you expect them to be!
On Sunday, October 20th, I'll be doing a presentation for the North of Ireland Family History Society titled "Finding Your American Cousins." If you're in the Belfast area, I hope you'll attend and introduce yourself.