Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

17 March 2016: For my Geoghan Cousins … more history on our Irish/Scottish roots March 17, 2016

I’ve been redoubling my efforts to unearth the history of the Geoghan family. Of all my family lines, the Geoghans are the most stubborn and cause the most brick walls. Seeing as my last name is Geoghan, I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this fact …

As it stands, the earliest definite record of the Geoghan family is the marriage record of my great-grandfather Thomas Geoghan, who married Ellen Stapleton in Unionville, CT on 28 Oct 1883. This record is on file in the Unionville town clerks office, but that is where the paper trail on them ends … or does it …

Geoghan variations

A few weeks ago, I came across a birth record on familysearch.org for a Thomas Gihigan with the exact same birthdate as is on my great-grandfather Thomas Geoghan’s death certificate. Could these two Thomas’ be the same man? Maybe yes and maybe no. Let’s examine the evidence.

The first thing I did was trot on down to the Orlando Family History Center and order the microfilm for the record that was on familysearch.org. FamilySearch.org is the genealogy website that is run by the Mormon Church, and if you find a record that there is no image for on the site, you can usually order the microfilm of the original record and have it sent to local Family History Center at your local Mormon church for a nominal fee. I did just that and here is the birth record of Thomas Gihigan:

Thomas LR

WOW! I love this record! I mean those Scots are insanely detailed in their record keeping. Here’s a transcription of the above:

  • Birth Registration: Partick, district of Lanark
  • Thomas Gihigan, Born 15 Aug 1862 at 10:40am at 1 Wells Lane, Partick
  • Father: George Gihigan, Construction laborer
  • Mother: Ann Gihigan, maiden name Donnelly
  • Married: July 1, 1850, Glasgow
  • Informant: Ann Gihigan, signed with an “x” for her mark.
  • Birth Registered, August 29th, 1862

Partick is just to the west of downtown Glasgow, in Lanarkshire Scotland. A neat little area when you wonder around its streets on Google Earth. Also note that on the birth record, Ann signed with “Her mark,” not a signature. I highly suspect that she was not able to read and write. This unfortunate circumstance will probably led to a myriad of frenetic spellings of our last name of Geoghan.

Partick, Scotland

Partick, Scotland

Taking the info on this record, I did some research into George Gihigan and his wife, Ann Donnelly. I found records on a few other children they had:

  • Ann Gahigan                      Born 19 Nov 1857             Govan, Lanark, Scotland
  • George Gihigan                Born 8 Jul 1860                  Govan, Lanark, Scotland

Govan is either part of Partick, or Partick is part of Govan. I honestly can’t quite figure out how the Scottish are designating areas, districts, regions, but I think Partick is a part of Govan.

Partick-nr-Broomhill, Govan, Glasgow, Tram Car

Partick-nr-Broomhill, Govan, Glasgow, Tram Car

When I did a search of George Gihigan with a wife Ann and children Ann, George and Thomas, I found this record in the 1861 Census of Scotland:

1861 Scotland Census: ED 2, Household 62, Line 8, Registration District: Partick, Civil Parish: Govan, County: Lanarkshire, Address: 32 Bridge Street

  • George Gahigan: Head … Age 35 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Dock Labourer
  • Ann Gahigan:     Spouse: Age 35 … Born in Ireland
  • Catherine Gahigan: Daughter … Age 10 … Born in Partick … Occ: Scholar
  • James Gahigan:   Son … Age 5 … Born in Partick … Occ: Scholar
  • George Gahigan: Son … Age 9 Months … Born in Partick
  • Patrick Donnelly: Age 24
  • Patrick Moren: Age 22
  • Peter Coyne: Age 21

This record show George and Ann with children Catherine, James and George. If this is Thomas’ parents, Thomas would have been born the year after this census was done. Just because I couldn’t find birth records on Familysearch.org doesn’t mean they aren’t out there somewhere so this doesn’t bother me. I’ll also note that one of the other men in the house is Patrick Donnelly. Could he be a relation of the mother whose maiden name was Donnelly?

Since both Thomas’ birth record and this census record had street names with them, I did a little digging on Well Lane and Bridge Street.   I found a website with a street index for the 1881 census for Scotland that listed both streets in the same area of Govan:

Street Index, 1881 Census for: Govan (646-2) Lanark, Scotland

Enumeration District 3

Bridge Street     Burnbank House

Castlebank St     Dumbarton Road

Kelvin Street      Knowe Street

Well Lane            Well Street

Dumbarton Road, Partick

Dumbarton Road, Partick

According to another website I found (http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/info-streetschanged3.html) these streets have changed names since them.

A list of Glasgow street names which were subject to change prior to the 1940s

Old Name: Well Lane, Partick … New Name: Cooper’s Well Lane, W. 1.

Old name: Bridge Street, Partick               … New Name: Partick Bridge Street, Wl

If the address of 32 Bridge Street on the 1861 Census is correct as the current 32 Partick Bridge Street, this is where they lived:

32 Partick Bridge Street - Previously 32 Bridge Street

By comparison, here is where Coopers Well Lane is:

Coopers Well

Turns out these modern streets are right in the same small neighborhood which lends credibility to the theory that the birth record family and the census record family are one in the same, but this is where I lose the paper trail in Scotland.




Now we turn to America. As I stated above, I was left with a gap from the marriage record in the year 1883 and the 1861 Census of Scotland.   My first glimpse of who I suspect is the same family is in the 1875 Rhode Island State Census with this family:

1875 Rhode Island State Census: East Greenwich, Kent County, RI, ED 2, Line 22, Household 154, Vol 5, Page 86

  • George Mc Geohegan: Head … Age 47 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Bleacher in Print Works
  • Ann Mc Geohegan:       Wife … Age 49 … Born in Ireland … Housekeeper … Cannot read or write
  • Catharine Mc Geohegan: Daughter … Age 24 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Work in Print Works
  • Peter Kehea:       Son in Law … Age 24 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works
  • James Mc Geohegan:   Son … Age 19 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works
  • George Mc Geohegan: Son … Age 15 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works
  • Thomas Mc Geohegan: Son … Age 12 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works

1875 RI Census Kent East Greenwich McGeohegan Family

When you compare this census record to the 1861 census in Scotland, here is how it matches up:

George Sr:   Same birth place on both records. 1861 has him born circa 1826 where 1875 has him born circa 1828

Ann: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have her born circa 1826. EXACT MATCH

Catherine: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have her born circa 1851. EXACT MATCH

James: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have him born circa 1856. EXACT MATCH

George: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have her born circa 1860. EXACT MATCH

Thomas I compare with his birth record and the 1875 census: Same birth place on both records. 1875 census says born circa 1863 (when he was born in 1862 so a strong match)


This same family shows up on the 1880 US Federal Census with yet another creative spelling of our last name:

1880 US Federal Census: East Greenwich, Kent Co., Rhode Island, Sheet C, Sheet # 185, House 288, Family 408

  • George Mcgorgan: Head … Age 55 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Works in Print Works … Parents born in Ireland
  • Ann Mcgorgan:       Wife … Age 55 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Keeps House … Parents born in Ireland
  • James Mcgorgan:     Son … Age 25 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Works in Print Works
  • George Mcgorgan:   Son … Age 20 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Works in Print Works
  • Thomas Mcgorgan:   Son … Age 18 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Works in Print Works
  • Catherine Keough: Daughter … Age 27 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Keeps House
  • James Keough:     Grandson … Age 4 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Peter Keough:           Grandson … Age 3 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Annie Keough: Granddaughter … Age 2 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Mary Keough: Granddaughter … Age 1 … Born in Rhode Island
1880 US Federal Census: PAGE 1

1880 US Federal Census: PAGE 1

1880 US Federal Census East Greenwich Kent RI Geoghan Family

1880 US Federal Census: PAGE 2

If you have doubts about Mcgorgan as being Geoghan, note that Daughter Catherine was married to Peter Kehea in the 1875 census, and here she is Catherine Keough. Catherine’s daughter Mary is indeed the daughter of the Peter who was on the 1875 but missing from the 1880 census. I found this record of her birth on familysearch.org:

Rhode Island Births and Christenings, 1600-1914: Indexing #: I04917-0 … System Origin   Rhode Island-EASy … GS Film # 1822628

Name: Mary Elizabeth Kehoe … Gender : Female

Birth Date/Place: 10 May 1879, East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Father’s Name: Peter Kehoe … Mother’s Name: Katharine

This is where I’d love to say I found the family on the 1890 US Federal Census, but almost the entire census burned in a fire in Washington DC. We know that prior to 1900, that my great-grandfather, Thomas, was living in Unionville, Hartford County, Conn, and that on the 1900 US Federal Census, the family was living in Westport, CT. Family rumor was that there was a flood in Unionville and it washed the family farm away, so the packed up what little they had left and moved to Westport.

So if my Great Grandfather is the same Thomas as the one in the above records from Scotland and Rhode Island, what happened to the rest of the family? I haven’t been able to track down what happened to his parents, George and Ann, but I was able to find his sister Catherine and niece Mary. Here is a 1900 US Federal Census from Farmington, Hartford County, Conn with what I suspect is Mary Kehoe, Thomas’ niece, the daughter of his sister Catherine.

1900 US Federal Census: Farmington Township, Hartford, Connecticut, District 136, Sheet # Letter 4A, Household ID 77, Line # 32, GS Film # 1240136, Digital Folder # 004118707

  • Charles Carrington: Head … Age 61 … Born in Connecticut
  • Elizabeth Carrington: Wife … Age 62 … Born in Connecticut
  • Mary Kehoe: Servant … Age 21 … Born in Rhode Island … Single … White … Born: May 1879 … Father Born Ireland, Mother born Scotland
1900 US Federal Census

1900 US Federal Census

Farmington where Mary was in 1900 is only a twenty-minute drive from Unionville where Thomas was living with his family just before 1900. I find this a little more than coincidence. I couldn’t find Catherine on the 1900 census, but I did find her in 1920 with Mary and a young adopted son:

1920 US Federal Census: New Haven Ward 2, New Haven, Connecticut Sheet Letter A, Sheet Number 13

  • Katherine Kehoe: Head … Widowed Female, Age 68 … Born in Scotland … Father’s Birthplace: Scotland … Mother’s Birthplace: Ireland … Can read and write … Owns home.
  • Mary Farmer: Daughter … Age 40 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Walter Leide: Adopted Son … Age 7 … Born in Connecticut

1920 US Fedeal Census NewHaven

The only other record I could find on Thomas’ family was of his brother George. I found a death record for him in Richmond, NYC, New York, listing him as George McGeoghan. He died 24 June 1905.

When you trace this family from Scotland to America, I feel pretty certain they are the same family. I’m still searching for some immigration paperwork to tie them together a little more definitively. One thing that I think is very interesting is that on the Rhode Island Census’ it lists the occupations of the men in the family as “Works in Print Works,” and our great-grandfather Thomas was listed on the 1910 Census with an occupation of “Paper Maker, Paper Factory.” Another coincidence? We’ll have to see what future research shows.

I’ll post again when I have more developments.


Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

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