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Saturday, October 17, 2009

How to find Birthplace of an ancestor born circa 1835 Ireland

Blaine's Question:
I have spent over ten years on this one. My great great grandfather John O'Connell was born in Ireland in 1825 and, per his marriage record, was the son of Jeremiah O'Connell & Bridget. He emigrated (per his obituary) to Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1846 and, by 1850 was living in Andover MA. In February,1850 he married Mary Horan of Buttevant, Co. Cork in Lawrence, MA . He and Mary lived in Andover until their deaths in 1896. John had a wheelwright shop. Family lore indicates that he may have come from Limerick along with four brothers each of whom "went his own way." John did not serve in the Civil War.

I have all the census records for John and Mary from 1850 through 1880. I have their marriage record and their death records. The 1865 state census shows that he was naturalized. The 1870 federal census shows he was a male "citizen". He was listed on Andover's voting records in 1877 and 1884. I have contacted the Massachusetts Judicial Archives as well as every Essex County, Massachusetts court that I can think of. I have also tried the National Archives. asking if there is a record of his naturalization. I've found nothing.

Can you offer any suggestions on how to proceed further with the search for a naturalization record or some other record that might identify his actual place of birth? Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness.

AskOlive Answer:
Hello Blaine, You will need to know if John was Catholic or non-Catholic, as different records exist in Ireland for each religion. I would pay a visit to Ireland GenWeb for more help. As for naturalization records, since you know that in 1870 he indicated he was a citizen of the USA, there should be some papers for him. However it is unlikely they will give the detail you want but you may be lucky. See an example of an 1832 naturalization document versus an 1880. The very early one gives a specific place of birth, the later one gives only country of birth. Since you are looking somewhere between 1850ish and 1865 you may or may not find what you need.

You may want to check for free Massachusetts naturalizations but don't miss Footnote.com and their Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

You may also need to check neighbouring counties or states in case John naturalized elsewhere.

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