Sunday, March 19, 2017
The Luck ‘O the Irish….Perhaps…
Finding Susan McKenna Hughes
I decided, like many other people, to take advantage of Ancestry’s free Irish records this weekend in honor of St. Patrick’s day. I thought I’d see what I could find on my Irish 3x Great-Grandparents Patrick and Susan McKenna Hughes since I know they came from Ireland.
Frequently when we do genealogy we make a ‘guess’ as we start on our research journey because that is all we have at the time…a guess. That is how I started this research, with a guess. Hopefully, a good guess.
I use my guesses but always look for information to confirm or refute my guesses. The more information I can find the more likely my guess is true. Here are my guesses for this research:
I know from Sarah’s marriage license that her parents were listed as Patrick and Susan Hughes from Ireland. (see post- Finding my Irish Roots-First Steps).
I knew from a post I did several weeks ago about a family legend that my great-great-grandmother Sarah Hughes Rowan was believed to be a ‘cousin’ of Arch Bishop John Hughes (see post entitled-Hughes-Researching a Family Story, Part 1) that the Arch Bishop’s family was from Annalogham, Tyrone, Ireland so I took a guess that my Hughes side of the family probably came from County Tyrone also.
I was able to find a marriage record for a Patrick and Susan Hughes in Clonfeacle Parish, County Tyrone, Ireland in 1846. In that marriage record I noticed that one of their witnesses was an Ellen McKenna. I decided to take a guess that she was probably Susan’s sister or relative at least. (I also noticed that the male witness is not a Hughes. Perhaps he was a friend of Patrick’s? Is this where Patrick grew up or was this just Susan’s home town? Research for another time.)
I knew the family was reported to be staunchly Roman Catholic. (There is a family story that when Susan’s daughter Sarah married an Episcopalian/Protestant she was disowned by her mother. Something I struggle to try and understand based on the religious beliefs of the times. The family story is that when Sarah took her first child to see her mother Susan said through the door that she no longer had a daughter and wouldn’t even see her grandchild.)
I was able to look in Ancestry under Select Catholic Birth and Baptism Registers, 1763-1912. I guessed that Susan was about 20 years old when she was married in 1846 making her birth about 1826 roughly. I was able to find a Susan Helen McKenna (YEA) that was baptized on 2 January 1820 in the Parish of Moy/Clonfeacle, County Tyrone in Ireland. This listed Susan’s father as Felix and her mother as Sarah (interesting the name of my great-great grandmother, Susan’s daughter. That would make sense although Sarah is also a popular Irish name.)
(you can click on images to enlarge)
Then I looked for an Ellen McKenna of a similar age. I was able to find an Ellen McKenna baptized in Moy/Clonfeacle, Tyrone Ireland on 3 April 1822, 2 years younger than Sarah. Ellen’s parents were also Felice (Felice appears to be the Latin form of Felix) and Sarah. Well, that helps my case that I have found the right Sarah since Sarah and Ellen were sisters.)
I continued to look and also found a Fel McKenna, parents Fel and Sar McKenna baptized 9 January 1817 (3 years older than Sarah). In the register it looks like the names were all written as partial names.
I am still not certain I have found the ‘right’ Susan McKenna. I think I have connected the dots in a reasonable way. If my thinking is correct then I have found Susan’s siblings (at least 2 of them) and an entire new generation by locating the names of her parents-Felice and Sarah McKenna. I still don’t know Sarah’s maiden name and was unable to find a marriage record for Felice and Sarah…yet. I have a lot more then I did before this weekend. I will continue to search Susan and her family to find additional information which will increase my certainty that I have found the right Susan McKenna or refute and send me on a different path. I am happy I found this information and feel like I am on the right path.
Enjoying looking for your pot of gold!
If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,