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Luck of the Irish ☘️

My current AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate states I am 28% Irish. My traditional genealogical research suggests I am closer to 22%. St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays and appropriately, the prompt for Week 11 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge is, "Lucky."


According to Edward T. O’Donnell, the phrase "Luck of the Irish" was originally a somewhat derogatory statement, "it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed." So, I'm going to use this writing prompt to share some of my skills, not luck, with researching one of my Irish families.


In 1979, my great granduncle, William J. Cronin wrote a six page family narrative entitled “A Little Family History.”¹ It is my understanding that several copies of this document were originally created and distributed by "Uncle Bill" to multiple members of the extended Cronin family. One of those recipients was my mom, and in the early 2000s, as I began to explore my own genealogy, Bill’s document was passed down to me.


Bill's research states that his maternal grandparents, James Kielt and Catherine Mahoney, had sixteen children, “eight boys and eight girls … one set of twins.” However, only six of these children were still alive when their father, James died in 1901.


William wrote, "...the worst situation for infants was caused by horse manure. Obviously, in a city crowded with carriages, drays and wagons, thousands or horses were used. Their droppings, especially in the summer, dried, became dust and as such were part of every outdoor breath. Babies were terribly susceptible to a form of diarreah [sic] caused by this manure laden air and died in numbers...There were other great killers: scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid, pnuemonia [sic] and influenza...the poor could not flee epidemics."


The six surviving children and only one of the young deceased children were identified by name in Bill's research: Frank, John, Margaret, Charles, Madeline, the author’s mother, Kate, and William. There are still presumably nine children who remain unnamed.


This is a fantastic example of how multiple record sets should be examined to aid in answering a research question, in our case, to identify all of the children of James and Catherine. Examining the information from the 1880, 1900, and 1910 US Federal Censuses, we are able to find a bit more information about the family and particularly the children.² The table below correlates the names of all of the children listed in these records:

Wm. Cronin Research

1880 US Federal Census

1900 US Federal Census

1910 US Federal Census

Frank

Francis, male

born abt. 1871

Frank, male born abt. 1871

John

John, male

born abt. 1873

John, male

born Jul 1874

John, male

born abt. 1873

Margaret

Maggie, female

born abt. 1877

Maggie, female

born Sep 1878

James, male born abt. 1880

Kate

Kate, female born June 1884

Charles

Charles, male

born Jul 1892

Charles, male

born abt. 1893

Madeline

Madeline, female

born Jul 1897

Madeline, female

born abt. 1898

Between Bill's report and the three census records, we can now identify eight children by name. James was previously unnamed in Mr. Cronin’s documentation.


In both the 1900 and 1910 census records, Catherine is said to have had fifteen children with just six still living. This is in direct conflict with Bill's family history where he stated that Catherine had sixteen children. While we don't know who the informant was on these two census records, the consistency between the 1900 and 1910 record and the fact that this informant was more likely to have firsthand knowledge than a grandson many decades later, suggests that Catherine likely only had fifteen children. With this discrepancy in mind, another record set in necessary to identify more of the names of James' and Catherine's children.


Bill's research provides us the names of two churches the family attended: St. Peter and St. James, both in New York City. An index of baptismal records from both of these parishes, provides names for nine of the children of James and Catherine:³


Francis P., born 23 Jun 1871, parents: James Kielt and Catherine Mahoney;

Margaret, born 03 Sep 1877, parent: James Kelt and Catherine Mahoney;

James, born 20 Feb 1880, parents: James Kielt and Catharine Mahoney;

Jane, born 03 Sep 1882, parents: James Kielt and Catharine Mahoney;

Katharine, born 04 Jun 1884, parents: James Kielt and Katherine Mahon;

William, born 10 Jan 1886, parents: James Kilt and Cath Mahony;

Bernard Joseph, born 29 Jun 1892, parents: James Kielt and Catherine;

Irene, born 29 Jun 1892, parents: James Kielt and Catherine Mahony; and

Madalene, born 10 Jul 1897, parents: James Kielt and Catherine Mahoney.


A baptismal record was not located for John and based on the birthdates and additional research, it's been determined that Bernard Joseph and Charles are one in the same. Jane and Irene, however, are previously unidentified children. Accordingly, we have now named ten of James' and Catherine's children. In correlation with Bill's report, we have also now identified the set of twins: Bernard Joseph (a/k/a Charles) and Irene.


James and Catherine were both buried at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens County, New York.⁴ A memorial created, but mostly unsourced, for Catherine on FindAGrave includes a list of eight of her children. It excludes Jane and Irene. It also mentions three additional possible children: Fannie (abt 1875-10 Dec 1876), Richard J. (abt 1876-19 Feb 1878), and John (abt 1878-15 Feb 1878). Since the household already included a son John born approximately 4-5 years prior to this one, it may not be likely this John is, in fact, a child of James and Catherine, but additional research should be conducted.


An index listing for the death of Fannie Kielt includes a note with the address "35 Oak St. 4th Ward."⁵ This is an exact match for the James and Catherine Kielt household in the 1880 US Federal Census. A similar note, in the same database, for both Richard J. Kielt and John Kielt reads "109 West 17th Street."⁶ This address is not a match to James and Catherine's known addresses. A deeper dive into this address brought up a third child, Mary Keilt, who died on 4 Feb 1878. While it does not appear that Richard J., John, or Mary were children of James and Catherine, it is undeniable, this separate Kielt family suffered a tragic loss of at least three children within a single month.


At this point we have identified eleven children, by name, of James and Catherine Kielt: Francis "Frank," John, Fannie, James, Jane, Katherine "Kate", Margaret "Maggie," William, Bernard Joseph (a/k/a Charles), Irene, and Madeline. Five boys and six girls with one set of twins. Additional work is still being done to identify the remaining four or five children. While I consider myself lucky to be Irish, it is nothing short of skill and hard work that has brought us this far and will one day solve the remainder of this research question.

 

1. Wm. J. Cronin, A Little Family History (July 18, 1979); privately held by Laura A. Weber [address for private use,] Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2. 1880 U.S. Census, New York, New York, population schedule, City of New York, Enumeration District (ED) 29, sheet 512C (stamped), p. 35, dwelling 57, family 461, James Kielt household; digital image Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/‌collections/6742/images/4242173-00737 : last accessed on 26 Jan 2022); NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 867, National Archives, Washington, DC. Also, 1900 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, City of New York, Borough of Brooklyn, Enumeration District (ED) 32, sheet 5A, p. 237 (stamped), dwelling 40, family 81, James Kielt household; digital image, Ancestry

(https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7602/images/4114528_00167 : accessed 26 Jan 2022); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1044, National Archives, Washington, DC. Also, 1910 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, City of New York, Borough of Brooklyn, Enumeration District (ED) 34, sheet 5A, dwelling 28, family 100, Catherine Kielt household; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7884/images/4449710_01078 : last accessed on 26 Jan 2022); NARA microfilm publication T624, Roll 955, National Archives, Washington, DC.

3. “Parish Baptisms in Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers),” online index, FindMyPast (https://www.findmypast.com/ : accessed 11 March 2023); broad search of “Kielt” and name variants with keywords "St Peter" and "St James.

4. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/197952380/catharine-kielt : accessed 11 March 2023), memorial page for Catharine Mahoney Kielt (Dec 1854–6 Mar 1923), Find a Grave Memorial ID 197952380, citing Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queens County, New York, USA; Maintained by Virginia D (contributor 48327939). Also, Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/67385002/james-kielt : accessed 11 March 2023), memorial page for James Kielt (1845–15 May 1901), Find a Grave Memorial ID 67385002, citing Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queens County, New York, USA; Maintained by Peg Carey Laird (contributor 48346148).

5. "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," online index FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ : accessed 11 March 2023); listing for Fannie Kielt, 10 Dec 1876, Manhattan; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,548.

6. "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," online index FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ : accessed 11 March 2023); listing for Richard J. Kielt, 19 Feb 1878, Manhattan; citing New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,548. Also, ibid; listing for John Kielt, 15 Feb 1878. Also, ibid; listing for Mary Keilt, 04 Feb 1878.



 

Disclaimer: Each blog post is created and presented for marketing and entertainment purposes only but are based on larger research which adheres to the standards of The Board of Certification of Genealogists® as set forth in Genealogical Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014).

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