15 March 2015

52 Ancestors: Luck of the Irish

My maternal grandmother always boasted that she was 100% Irish since all four of her grandparents were born in Ireland. My DNA shows I am only 17% Irish. I am also 29% Great Britain and 14 % Scandinavian. In addition I am 35% Eastern Europe (Daddy’s grandparents came from Poland/Ukraine). 

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small, challenges fellow GeneaBloggers each week with her 52 Ancestors Challenge. This week’s prompt is:  Do you have an ancestor who seemed particularly lucky? Do you have a favorite Irish ancestor? This is their week 

Today however, being the month – not just the week or the day – of the Irish, I’d like to talk about my maternal grandmother’s Irish lines. The prompt asks if I have a favorite Irish ancestor. Favorite is a relative (no pun intended) term. I love them all! I would also like to use this post to (try to) answer a cousin’s recent question about immigration. 

Approximately four million people left their homes in Ireland between 1856 and 1914. The majority were between the ages of 18 and 30, young people looking for a better life. 

My great grandfather is Martin Joseph Walsh. Martin’s parents are Michael Walsh and Anna Keating. Sadly, I do not know – with certainty – when exactly either of them immigrated. From family stories I knew the family name changed at some point from Walsh to Welsh, due to an “unfavorable” family with the same name living near by. The first place I can confirm and document him living is in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, PA.  

1847 -- Michael Walsh was born in Ireland around 1847. His birth year is estimated from the 1880 Census record. 

1855 – Anna Keating was born to Martin Keating and Knapy Penelope in Ireland, according to her death certificate. 

Abt. 1862 -- My grandmother had told me that Anna had come over as a child – perhaps seven years old – with her older siblings and they all settled in Ringtown, near Shenandoah. I have no documented confirmation of this however. 

1875 – Daughter Katherine is born in Shenandoah. 

1877 – Son Daniel James is born in Shenandoah. 

1879 – John is born in Shenandoah. 

1880 -- On the 1880 Federal Census he is already using the last name Welsh. He is 33, making his birth year 1847. That year the Census does not shed much light. It does confirm he was a miner and that both he and his parents were born in Ireland. His wife is 26 year old Annie (Anna Keating). She and her parents were also of Irish birth. Three children still live at home: Kate, age 5; Daniel, age 3; and John, age 1.  

1881 – Daughter Margaret Agnes was born in Shenandoah. 

1884 – Son Martin Joseph is born in Shenandoah. 

1893 – Son Michael Joseph is born in Shenandoah. 

1910 -- By the 1910 Federal Census, Anna is a widow. Hence, Michael – the father and immigrant - died sometime between 1892 and 1910. The 1910 Federal Census did ask for an immigration year and citizen status but either Anna chose not to answer those questions or son Michael (who was living at home still) answered the questions and simply did not know.  

Since their oldest child was born in February of 1875, I feel it is safe to say that Michael and Anna got married sometime before June of 1874. This assumes that Katherine is in fact their first child. Anna states she had 11 children but only six were living in 1910. The timeline of the other children indicate possibly two were born between Martin and Michael. Some might have been multiples. I just simply do not know anything about them. 

My conclusion as to when exactly Michael and Anna immigrated is purely a guess. Going on the assumption that they married in (or before) 1874, then Michael would have immigrated sometime between 1847 and 1873. Anna would have immigrated sometime around 1862. 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a weekly genealogical challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.