I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d find it. After all, at this point in time, what more could there possibly be to find. And there it was, staring me in the face on Ancestry.com as if daring me to open it. Could it? Could it possible be him?
AND IT WAS!
My Geoghan family line has been a bone of contention in my family tree for some time. The origins of our roots in Ireland and the UK were a total mystery. Geoghan is an Irish name, but paperwork seemed divided between Scotland and Ireland so far as census records and the old “Where were your parents born” type of questions.
Last year I was able to find a birth record in Glasgow, Scotland that I believed quite strongly was my great grandfather Thomas Geoghan. From the records I was able to find on FamilySearch.org and time spent at my local Family History Center, I found more records on Thomas’ parents and siblings. Him and his siblings were all born in Govan, Lanarkshire which is part of Glasgow, while his parents (George Geoghan and Ann Donnelly) were listed as born in Ireland. No city, town or village listed, just Ireland. Big help, right?
This family shows up on the 1851 and 1861 census of Scotland and then I have ship passenger lists that bring over, first George (the father) and then Ann and the kids. They show up here in America on 1875 Rhode Island State census in East Greenwich, Kent county. They’re also there in 1880 for the US Federal Census.
Then nothing. Crickets chirping …
Now, my great grandfather, Thomas Geoghan, I trace back to Unionville/Farmington, Hartford Count, Ct where the oldest record I had of him was the record of his marriage in the town clerks office dated October 28, 1883. We know the first five of his six children were born in Unionville. From there the family moved to Westport, CT for a few years before eventually moving on to New York City.
But how to find a definitive connection between the Thomas born in Govan who moved to Rhode Island to the Thomas who married Ellen Stapleton in Unionville, CT? Now you see my conundrum.
The missing piece of the puzzle turns out to be a copy of the probate papers of my great, great grandfather, George Geoghan, my immigrant ancestor. Where did he die? FARMINGTON! The papers list his living next of kin and list son Thomas as living in WESTPORT! So with this one piece of the puzzle, I put George in Unionville from Rhode Island and I put his son living in his next place of residence.
Here is that section of the probate papers that lists George’s children. It even lists Thomas’ wife, Ellen, as a witness. This is definitely the same family as daughter Catherine is listed with her maiden and married name (Kehoe)
So the next step is to hire a genealogist in Glasgow to see what can be found on the origins of the Geoghans and Donnellys. Somewhere in Govan there has to be at least one record that lists the name of their parents or a clue as to what village in Ireland George and Ann were born. I reached out to a genealogist in Glasgow yesterday online. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them and they won’t charge me two arms and a leg to do the research.
Interesting facts I found out from the probate paperwork: George had a house on about 1/4 acres of land in Farmington which is listed as “situated on Battle Row.” There is no street called Battle Row on today’s map of Farmington. I reached out to the Farmington Historical Society for help on this. I have the feeling it may be more of a slang term for a street and not its proper name. Note the value of the land and house are $250.00. Guess real estate was a lot cheaper back in 1894! Here is that section of the papers:
I love how it lists his belongings as:
- Peanuts: $2.00 (This must have been a lot of peanuts!)
- Show Case: $3.00
- Scales: $0.50
- Cigars and Tobacco: $1.50
- Lamp: $0.25
Come on, he’s Irish/Scottish, you going to tell me along with those cigars he didn’t have some whisky stashed around the house? What was that show case listed supposed to be?
In the end, I made the connection and I’m over the moon about it. The family in Govan is indeed my family. Now I just need to find the clues that will point me to their home town in Ireland. Before I sign off, here’s the complete probate paperwork for those who want to peruse it in its entirety.
Here is an updated Narrative Report for George and his descendants: