Sunday, February 18, 2018

SUCCESS!! Emigrant Savings Bank-Ann Meenan Rowan

Emigrants Savings Bank 2
The picture comes from  Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper 1880.
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC),  Posted by Townland of Origin.

I have searched and searched to find out where my 3rd great-grandmother Ann Meenan Rowan was born in Ireland.  (See post-A lot More Questions Than Answers-The Life of Ann Rowan.)  I knew that Ann reported she was born in Ireland but I didn’t know where or who her parents were.  I was discouraged after all the searching with no answers.  I am unable to even find a death certificate for Ann that might contain her parents’ names.  I decided to try the Emigrant Savings Bank.  I had heard of this bank for Irish immigrants but really didn’t know much about it.  All researchers will tell you to find out about the record collection you are searching and don’t just ‘report’ the information you may find. 

So what was the Emigrant Savings Bank and can it help me?
After some research I learned that the Emigrant Savings Bank records are said to be some of the best records of Irish immigration anywhere.  They contain records of depositors and borrowers.  The Emigrant Savings Bank was established in 1850 by Officers of the Irish Immigrant Society to help protect the Irish immigrants and to allow them a way to send money home to destitute relatives in Ireland.  This time period follows the mass migration of Irish to America following the potato famine in Ireland. 
The Emigrant Savings Bank records are a series of 59 volumes arranged in to seven series:
  • I. Irish Emigrant Society-
  • II. Deposit Accounts-
  • III. Real Estate-
  • IV. Real Estate Finances-
  • V. Main Branch-
  • VI. Bank Buildings-
  • VII. Investments-
When a new account was opened it was entered in the following 3 volumes-Index Book (contain names and account numbers), Test Book (contain a wide range of information which could include names of spouses & children, immigration year, name of ship, ports of embarkation and entry, occupations, etc.), and  Deposit-Account Ledger (contain basic banking transactions). 

A 4th volume –Transfer, Signature, and Test Books (contained changes in information such as addresses, account holder and information such as year born, place of birth, etc.).

1) First I looked on Ancestry in the Index Book for your family Surname.  There are 3 books covering 1850-1880.  All last names are grouped together under the same letter but are not alphabetized.
In the Emigrant Savings Bank Index Book records I found:
Rowan Ann Account # 47225

2) Second I looked on Ancestry in the Test Book records.
In the Emigrant Savings Bank Test Book records I found:

19 June 1865- #225.  Ann Rowan (her mark), Residence-623 Washington St, Occupation-Housekeeper, Birth year-1813, Where Born-County Monaghan, and 1837 per __, Relations-Widow of William, 1 ch John W, nee Meenan

SUCCESS!!  This has to be ‘my’ ANN!  The birth year, the husband, the son and the nee (maiden name) all match!!  Now I know the County she was from in Ireland-County Monaghan!!  WOW!!  I didn’t realize until I was transcribing the record that the # listed after County Monaghan was the year that Ann immigrated to America.  Another piece of information I hadn’t yet been able to find.  I also see by Ann’s ‘mark’ that she was unable to sign her name.

3) I looked in Deposit-Account Ledger under Ann’s name and was unable to find anything.  I tried searching by just the account number and again found nothing.  Then I realized the Deposit Account Ledger’s only go up to account 18,000 and Ann’s was # 47, 225.

These collections are housed at the New York Public Library and are available on microfilm there.   The New York Public Library has a User’s Guide to the Emigrant Savings Bank Records which I found useful.   (There is a lot more to the records then I am describing here.)  There are record books that appear to have been lost before being given to the Library.  Some of the records- Index Books, Test Books, and the Deposit-Account Ledgers are now available on line through (1850-1883).  There is also a great Youtube video entitled Emigrant Savings Bank Records-5 minute Find- Ancestry.  I think I do need to visit the New York Public Library to see what additional information I can find there on my next visit to the East Coast but there may not be any additional information. Perhaps I can find something in the Irish Emigrant Society minutes?  I do not believe Ann ever owned property.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. Excellent information. I have never looked at this record collection. But, I will now. Thanks Debby!

  2. It was an amazing find and now I understand the records a lot better. Thanks, Diane!

  3. well done. I don't have any Irish ancestors (somehow!), but friends and colleagues do. This may be a big help.

  4. Thank-you Randy. This is the only Irish ancestor I have been able to locate in the Emigrant Savings Bank but what a find!