Author Archives: Erin Simmonds

Luck of the Irish?

This is Erin. I got lucky and found an interesting website that has a lot of Irish records from the turn of the century. It has censuses from 1901 and 1911, as well as Parish Tithe Books and some military information. This has been an awesome discovery!

I found one of my great-great grandfather, Robert Kennedy, along with his second wife and many children, living in Tullaroan, Kilkenny, Ireland. The Irish census is pretty cool because it shows not only every member of the family living in the house, but also the property ownership of the household. If the household has a stable, for example, or  boiling room, or a cow barn, or even a piggery (which I’m assuming is like a pig sty, but a much cooler word). So, I’ve found that my ancestors were farmers in Ireland, moderately well-off, with a stable and other farm buildings. They seem to have been doing well, at least in 1901-1911.

Unfortunately, the census records for many of the decades earlier than that have been lost. This is a big problem for me, since I don’t know who the parents of Robert Kennedy are, and could really use a handy-dandy census right about now. Fortunately I know the county and town in which he lived, so hopefully that will help my search.

What are my next steps? I’m going to use the same website to see if I can find any other Irish branches of my family. I’m not sure if the timing is right, but hopefully something will turn up. I’m also planning to dig deeper into the town and county records of Tullaroan to try to find more information.

In the meantime: here are copies of the first pages of the censuses:


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ireland census 1911



I think I found her!

Hey guys, this is Erin. So, I’ve been searching for a week, fruitlessly it seems, to find my great-grandmother Minnie Kennedy’s immigration records. I searched on, on, on, and in the National Archives for her records. There were a bunch of Mary/Minnie Kennedy’s that emigrated from Ireland in the time frame in which I was searching (1900-1902). I don’t have a ton of information on Mary, only a paragraph written in a genealogy book someone else in the family had compiled. It had her birthplace as  Tullaroan, Kilkenny, Ireland. I don’t know where that fact came from, but for some reason I just believed it. 

Like I said, I searched all the databases for a Mary Kennedy in her early 20s, from Kilkenny. Unfortunately, nothing really came up. Then I realized, Duh! I know that this family book has a lot of mistakes in it; heck, the page on my parents has mistakes! Why am I focusing so much on this specific hometown? After that minor epiphany, I was able to open up my search a little more and I have found a likely candidate! I found Mary Kennedy, age 22 from Cappamore, Ireland. She immigrated through Ellis Island and her final destination was Albany, New York! I’m pretty sure my Mary started out in Albany, but not 100% sure. However, the ship’s manifest says Mary was going to stay with her cousin in New York. I think my next step is to find out more about this cousin and see if I’m related to her and also find out more about her home town of Cappamore and see if I have any ancestors I can connect to there.

Okay, so I don’t definitely know it’s her. But I have a hunch it is. I’m going to keep working, but it was a huge relief to find something on Mary.



Immigration Confusion’

This is Erin. I don’t know how to make my name show up…So, I’ve been searching and searching my family, who have lived in Upstate New York since the 1800s. I know the county, the town, even the cemetery in which they are all buried (which I asked my dad to visit and take pictures, but he refused since it’s January and they have 3 feet of snow-I forgot that cemetery searching would be different in NY than it is here)! It was pretty easy to find all the relatives dating back to the early 1800s. Unfortunately, the easy part is over. Finding records in the United States, via censuses, newspapers, death certificates, and grave markers, is pretty easy. It all pops up in, and if it’s a person with the same name as my relative and also from Franklin County, New York, I can be fairly confident that it is, in fact, my relative on the document.

Unfortunately, once I turned to immigration records, the ease of discovery dwindled. Do you know how many Ellen Howards immigrated to the United States from Ireland between the years 1823 and 1849?! Hundreds! So, how do I find which one is my Ellen Howard and not some other random lady? Also, since I haven’t been able to find a marriage record for Ellen and her husband, William Quirk, it’s possible they were married in Ireland and came over to New York together! In that case, I have to search for not only Ellen Howard, but also Ellen Quirk! And since it was too early for Ellis Island, the records are not as organized or digitized as they later became. So yeah, I’ve been struggling, to say the least.

How am I going to fix this problem? Well, first, I have contacted a woman on who is definitely a relative and has information on her tree that I don’t have on mine. She even has pictures of some of the relatives, which never got passed down to my family (my grandfather was the youngest of 8 kids, my mom is the youngest of 6; there is no way me, my mother, or even any of her siblings ended up with anything cool). So, hopefully she will have some good information, or at least know someone I can talk to in her family. Second, I’m going to contact the town clerk in Franklin, New York, to find any more information on my relatives that lived there. Maybe there’s newspaper records or church records. I haven’t been able to figure out what church they attended (not too many Catholic churches in the mountains of Upstate New York). Hopefully that phone call will be useful.

Susan Barbara Alice McGorty Williams

Zach and I went to the library today and found much of the same information that Eli and Sapana found, so I won’t repeat everything they said. The only addition I’d like to make is to say that the gravestone marked Susan Barbara Alice is actually our Mrs. Alice WIlliams! We confirmed this based on the birth and death records we have for her. She married James McGorty first, but he died in 1915. Sarah died in 1917. That means that Alice married Thomas sometime between 1917 and his death in 1921.

Unfortunately, as Sapana pointed out, the McGraw/McGorty plot in Oakwood is home to Alice, but not Thomas, since she is buried with her first husband (and with no mention of her being Mrs. Alice Williams at the time of her death!)

So, Thomas and Sarah are still MIA, but we now know who Alice is and a lot of her family members!

Some more Williams graves

Hey everybody,

I visited another cemetery today; my roommate and I are dying to know where Thomas and Sarah are. We went to Cedar Springs Cemetery in Spartanburg to look for one of Thomas and Sarah’s sons, Geddy Hill Williams. There is a Williams family plot there, so I got some pics.

This is Geddy Hill Williams, who is, I’m pretty sure, Thomas and Sarah’s son:

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I’m pretty sure this is Geddy’s wife, Sallie N Williams.

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This is Geddy Hill and Sallie’s son, Geddy Ray Williams, Sr. (I’m thinking Jr. is probably still alive! Someone to contact?)

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I think this is Geddy Ray Sr.’s wife, Sadie Jolley Williams.

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Not sure who this one is, obvious related to Sadie Jolley Williams. Could it be her mother? We’re going to need to do more research to confirm all these relationships.


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Here’s Ruby. Her stone is actually found outside the family plot. Not sure why, probably this could be investigated by contacting the Cedar Springs Baptist Church to find cemetery records.


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Ruby’s gravestone is on the right, next to the tree. You can see that it’s outside the marked plot.


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But here’s what was really exciting:

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This is Frank A. Williams. His stone is hidden under that tree that Ruby’s grave is next to. The photo isn’t great because I had to crawl under the tree a little. At first, I got super excited because I thought it might be Thomas or Sarah, but unfortunately it wasn’t. Not sure who Frank is, but he was born Dec 13 1910, died Sept 22, 1960.

The other interesting thing is that there are 3 unoccupied/unmarked  areas of the Williams plot. Could someone be there? Or are there Williams still around that are planning to be buried there? More to look for…

Looking for my Irish roots

Like I told the class before, my dad is really into genealogy. He’s been doing this for years, so I chose to take this interim to find out what he’s been so excited about all this time. He’ll be super excited to find out that I have most definitely been bitten by the genealogy bug! It’s almost 1:00 am and I told myself I was planning to go to bed early, but here I am, still awake having spent the past 3 hours on!

I’m looking mostly at my mom’s side of the family, since my dad has done a lot of his ancestors already. So far, I’ve traced my mom’s side back to the first generation in America. I’ve found 6 of the 8 great-great-grandparents on that side of the family and 4 of the 16 great-great-great- grandparents. I’ve mostly used US census data and other American information. This week I plan to research more into the Irish documents, particularly searching for immigration records.

However, my dad has provided me with copies of my great-grandmother’s immigration records:Image

Mary Nally came to America in 1912 from Clonbonny, Athlone, Westmeathe, Ireland. She came by herself to stay with her aunt in Albany, NY. I had seen these records before, but it was pretty cool to upload them onto my family tree and really understand more about who she was and how she is connected to me. It really got me think. Mary was 20 years old when she came to America, the same age as me. She came all by herself, leaving behind her entire family to go with an aunt that she probably didn’t know very well. It seems terribly scary and incredibly brave. I’m not sure I could do what she did, at this age. And what is also cool is that I can find out a lot of the rest of her story. She came to America at age 20, married Joseph McEvoy, an electrician, within the next 7 years, and had 6 children! I also found Joseph’s World War I Draft registration Card, which I used to help me find the name of his mother (and subsequently, his father).


Another interesting thing that I may have found is that my great-grandfather, James Quirk, may have been a bootlegger during prohibition! I found a newspaper article saying he had been charged with bootlegging during prohibition, but I’m still trying to establish for sure that he lived in that town at that time (it could be a different James Quirk, after all). Census records around that time have him living in areas fairly close to where the newspaper is from, so it’s looking good!

So far I have been having a ball looking into my family tree. Now I just need to call my dad and tell him about it!

Father of Sarah B. Roberts Williams

Cemetery Explorations

Hey Everybody! This is Erin. So, I saw that a lot of people have been doing online/library research. I thought I’d follow up on that with some trips to graveyards and cemeteries. My roommate and I adventured all over Spartanburg looking for some pertinent graves. Here’s what I’ve found.

First, I found Annie Hartsten Williams and Johnie Brookfield Williams in Magnolia Cemetery.

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I think it’s interesting that they’re in a fairly large family plot, but they’re the only two people there. Is it possible that the rest of their family was supposed to be buried there and wasn’t? Or is Sarah and/or Thomas unmarked? As you can see, they are the only two Williams listed in Magnolia, even though says they are supposed to be in Magnolia and Sarah’s obit lists her as being buried in Magnolia. Johnie’s grave marker says he is the son of T.A. and S.B. Williams. It lists his birth and death dates and a Bible verse. Annie’s grave markers says the same thing, but instead of a Bible verse, it is some kind of poem. I couldn’t quite read it, but the gist of it is about her death leaves something missing that can’t ever be replaced, a hole that can’t be filled.

I then went to Church of the Advent, in downtown Spartanburg. Here, I found Sarah’s parents, C.B. Roberts and Ellen Grove Roberts. You can’t see it in the photo or even on the gravestone, but Ellen was born March 1, 1829. I did a rubbing of the grave and I’m pretty sure that’s what it says. I”ll bring it in tomorrow. They are the only Roberts in the cemetery. However, some interesting things to note: Charles’ side of the shared marker looks pretty new, so it was recently replaced. In addition, it is right next to a fairly new addition of the church. Could their grave marker have been moved during the construction? Were there other Roberts in the cemetery? Some interesting followups could be, who replaced it? Were any graves disturbed during construction? In addition, it looks like Charles served in the Civil War. There may be some military records that could be of use.

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Finally, I went to Oakwood Cemetery to look for the Dr. A.O. Thomas and his wife, Sylvia. They are the ones listed on the obits posted on the blog earlier. Oakwood is amazing, but so huge! After searching for a while, we finally found the grave marker. Unfortunately, it is by itself, so it’s not part of a family plot or anything. Thomas was nowhere to be found.

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I’m not sure what the Woodmen of the World club is, but it might be an organization that would have some records we could look into.

After reading some of the other blog posts this weekend, I think the key to where Thomas is buried is his second wife. If he remarried and had more children, it is possible he is buried with them, which would explain why Thomas and Sarah’s obits have them listed in different cemeteries. I think we need to find out more about Thomas’ parents and his second wife.