Ancestry.com

Q&A from Finding Your Irish Ancestors in America … and Ireland

Posted by Juliana Smith on March 17, 2011 in Webinars


Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!
(St. Patrick’s Day Blessings!) Thanks to everyone who attended our Irish webinar last night. We had two wonderful presenters and a fantastic audience with lots of great questions. If you weren’t able to attend the class, it’s now available in the Learning Center archive here.

Since it wasn’t possible to answer every question last night, we thought we’d grab a few of the most frequently asked questions and post them here.

Kay asked, “How do we find Irish ancestors that lived in Canada?”
Ancestry.com has some terrific Canadian collections to help you find your Irish-Canadian ancestors. With a World Deluxe membership (or a Canadian membership to Ancestry.ca), you can access Canadian censuses and many other records. You can browse a list of some of our more popular Canadian collections on the Canada place page here. If you’re searching through the search form on the homepage at Ancestry.com, you can check the collection priority box at the bottom of the search box to give Canadian records higher priority and check the box below it to return only Canadian records.

Gary wanted to know, “What’s the difference between a parish, a barony, and a county?”
Once you discover your ancestor’s place of origin in Ireland, it’s important to larn about the names of the various land divisions into which that place fell. The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland has an excellent description of these and other land divisions in Ireland here.

Carolyn asked about a problem many of us will run into with our Irish ancestors, “When I estimate birth years based on ages in census records, I end up with different birth dates from census to census, even though I know I have the right person, living with the same people?”
As Eileen mentioned in her portion of the class, our Irish ancestors were often inconsistent when it came to giving their ages, so you will find some wide ranging answers when it comes to birthdates. Gather than range of dates for the person you’re searching for and pick a year in the center of that range. Using the advanced search form on Ancestry.com, you can specify +/- 1, 2, 5 or even 10 years using the and give yourself a little wiggle room in your searches for other records. Try to locate as many records as you can on the person and you’ll often be able to narrow it down. Also keep in mind that the ages got fuzzier as our ancestors got older. Records created when they were young are more likely to be accurate. It’s harder for a 5 year old to pass for a 14 year old, but may have been easier to believe that a 64 year old was only 55.

Doris inquired about a place in Ireland, “Tullamore – is it in County Kerry or Offaly? I’ve been given both.”
Actually Doris, according to the place names database on the Irish Times website, there are four places named Tullamore—in Counties Clare, Kerry, Offaly, and Tipperary. Try searching Griffith’s Valuation on Ancestry.com and see if the surname you’re researching is more predominant in one of the locations. If you’re working with a not-so-common surname, this could help you zero in on the correct Tullamore. Keep looking for records on this side of the pond as well. You may run across another record of your ancestor, this time with the county listed.

Nanette asked, “Did all the Irish who came to this country go through the naturalization process, and did they have to have passports in order to enter the United States?”
Many of our ancestors were never formally naturalized. That said, immigrants living in urban areas like New York City or Chicago may have been more likely to have been naturalized because political “machines” were keenly aware of large numbers of immigrants arriving in the mid-nineteenth century. In efforts to win the votes of these new residents, politicians were often swift in assisting immigrants in obtaining naturalization so that they could return the favor in the form of a vote cast in their direction—in some cases disregarding the five-year residency requirement.

For the most part, passports were not required of U.S. citizens for foreign travel until World War I, although they were mandatory for a short time during the Civil War (Aug. 19, 1861–Mar. 17, 1862). Immigrants who traveled often requested passports once they were naturalized to avoid hassles when returning to the U.S.

Ancestry.com has millions of naturalization indexes and well over a million actual records online, which can be searched here. There is also a collection of U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 available.

About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 15 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

27 comments

Comments
1 Mary Ellen ParkerMarch 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

Ms. O Duill showed what looked like an individual family household census sheet. Is this available for all counties? I looked at Roscommon County for 1901 Census and it showed people in the same area but they were all grouped together and not listed by household. I had to search through a list by name and age for the 5 people that I knew had lived together (information that I had from another source). What is typical? Thank you

2 JeanneMarch 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

you go to http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie when you get to the 1901 census put in the name county, click on the name you want a list of everyone in the house is listed in the first box, under that on the left is a box that says View census images if you click on that you will see the individual family sheet. In the same box will be Other original census images available with 3 links for other information.

3 RoccoMarch 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Mary Ellen Parker,

Transcribers make mistakes, all databases are full of them. Are transcription mistakes typical? It depends on the database and how sloppy the transcriber was. Some db’s are transcribed by computer OCR, computers don’t know how to think.

The lesson to be learned is to always look at the document, and use your brain to evaluate it.

4 RebeccaMarch 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Like the webinar. But only 4 questions answered in the blog????? Would join again. I did ask a question about where a place was or what it might have been called in the past. I even bought a map from ancestry thinking it would be on there but it wasn’t.

5 JeanneMarch 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I also could not believe that only few questions and answers are on the blog, i asked 3 questions. One question that was answered on age, they went over in the webinar. Rebecca what place were you asking about maybe someone here might know.

6 Andy HatchettMarch 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Jeanne Re: #5

You have to realize that there are thousands that attend these webinars and ask questions- not all of them are going to be answered- either during the webinar or in a Blog posting afterwards.

Best thing to do if you have a question is to post it on the appropriate message board, that way more people see it and may be able to provide an answer.

7 Seán SloaneMarch 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I missed the webinar as I live in Europe. The e-mail said there would be a link sent to watch it later if it was missed. I haven’t gotten a link, yet ;)

8 JadeMarch 21, 2011 at 1:15 am

The presentation should be put in text in the Learning Center.

Webinars are not ~searchable~ for getting answers to questions.

9 JadeMarch 21, 2011 at 1:23 am

Nanette asked, “Did all the Irish who came to this country go through the naturalization process . . .”

The huge numbers of 18th century Irish immigrants who arrived in the colonies before the end of the Revolutionary War (1783) did not have to “naturalize” because they were British subjects entering a British colony.

Ancestry.com has very little concerning immigrants before the mid-19th-century except a rather small smattering of transcripts of New England vital records.

Always bear in mind that the webinars presented by Ancestry.com are not about how to do the research generally, but are oriented to databases Ancestry.com has available to subscribers.

10 JAMarch 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Sorry to say that I was a bit disappointed in the webinar. I have relatives here that knowingly came from Ireland; but I can find no immigration records, even though I have a round about date. I did not learn anything additional to assist me. My family members are no longer around to remember any stories.

11 StephenMarch 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Were we suppose to get a copy of the webinar if we attended the webinar?
Again, none of my questions were answered on this blog.

12 Sally AppenzellarMarch 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm

You may like to hear a success story due to the webinar. Like others I did not initially learn about anything I hadn’t already tried – or so I thought. I have collected all kinds of facts to use to validate my ancestors. One last source, the Emigrant Savings Bank database turned out to be a goldmine for me. I found my grandmother’s great grandmother, five accounts she opened, one for each of three daughters (for whom I had names and ages), and I could match her for sure because I docuemented that she owned a boarding house in Spuyten Duyvil – all data in the bank account files. What’s more I found her immigration date, ship, homeland in Carrigatogher, Tipperary, and both parents full names. It is amazing that the Bank collected so much personal info (no license, passport, or SSN to prove ownership or inheritance of an account otherwise). And even more amazing that the Bank kept the files and subsequently shared them with us genealogists. All of this I found on St. Patrick’s day. At last I jumped the pond to Tipperary, just where my grandmother always said her family was from!

13 Linda HolleyMarch 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

You can do better!!

14 Joan EdmondsMarch 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I feel that the webinar and this blog are both helpful–when you are digging for info, each little piece helps.

15 joan MulcareMarch 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I don’t think I am that smart, but there was not much new in the presentation. Sorry to say, I only listened to the first speaker and I am sure she was helpful to a new researcher. I did not learn much new. I just could not sit for the rest of the presentation so I cannot comment on it. Perhaps it would be better to have a short presentation more often. I loved your first speaker’s accent.

16 NancyMarch 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I have another question. What nationality is someone who is born at sea? The father was from Scotland, came to the US and married. On the way back to Scotland, one of the children was born. They had two more children and then moved to Ireland before coming back to the US. (The three younger What country’s ship passenger lists would they be on?

17 NancyMarch 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Sorry, part of a sentence is missing. It should read (The three younger children came to the US later.)

18 Carmen FarrellMarch 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I was very disspointed in the webinar. It touched only on the easiest found information and did nothing for us whose ancestors came over around 1800 or before. Further, it concentrated on large cities who historically have easy to find info. My questions were not answered on these subjects either. When and where can we get information on older ancestors, and particulalty those who did not settle in New York and Chicago? The seminar should have been entitled “Finding your ‘recent’ Irish ancestors.”

19 B. BlackMarch 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Agree with previous comments. This was soooooo basic. Also they do things just to go along with what is on their web site.

Off the subject, but anyone else object to the later versions Family Tree Maker Software? Hate multiple things on it (have gone back to using 2006 – It IS COMPATIBLE with Windows 7 except for the pdf printing.)

20 yvonne marshallMarch 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I was quite happy with the webinar because it confirmed my research processes and I am confident that more info will become available in the near future.

WILL you please do lots more on Ireland and get Directories and Cemetery records ??

One more – GERMAN webinars please oh please ??

Yvonne in Melbourne Australia

21 G. YorkMarch 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm

My question is to B. Black….how do you get back to version of Family Tree Maker software? I’m not real computer wise and my Family Tree Maker has been upgraded every year, but I don’t like the software. Liked it much better when it was simpler.

22 VirginiaMarch 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm

You can’t find your ancestors if you don’t know where they were–townland, parish, county etc. But your answer from PRONI left out an absolutely vital fact. There are two kinds of parishes in Irish records–civil (Protestant Church of Ireland) and Catholic.

That’s why you can get two different parish names for the same person. You need to know whether the record was from the government or the Catholic church to find your ancestors. This should have been mentioned in Ancestry’s answer.

23 Chris (New Zealand)March 30, 2011 at 1:33 am

I have traced one lot of my ancestors back to dob 1778, confirmed from a headstone in Mt Jerome. But what resources are there to go back further than this? I have been told by one genealogist that unless my ancestors are famous it is unlikely I will be able to go back further than this?

Is this true? Is it difficult or nigh on impossible to get further back than this in Southern Ireland, Dublin, Meath, Limerick etc?

I would appreciate any feedback or personal experience. – Chris

24 Melody MarshallMarch 30, 2011 at 4:37 am

I enjoyed the webinar, my first one. To many of us amateur “genealogists” it was great to listen to and see the structured steps it takes to do our research. The material covered might have seemed basic but it gave us a chance to see if we missed any overlooked clues to look for.

I agree that I wished it would have covered what you do when you do not find a specific record on an Irish ancestor or how to go about finding it in rural areas.

I also submitted question pertaining to my gr-grandmother arriving as a child from Ireland around 1850-1853 and without knowing her parents and siblings names, how do I track down a naturalization record for her? My reading indicates that children and women before Ellis Island were naturalized under the husband/father’s name?? Anyone with advice??!

Congratulations to #12 Sally Apprenzellar for finding new infornmation through the Emigrant Savings Bank. I too will check it out and the rest of sites indicated through the webinar.

Just reading everyone’s comments gives a person clues to look for. Good Luck with your searches to All. –Melody

25 Pam HalseyMarch 30, 2011 at 6:27 am

I also did not stay for the complete webinar because it was too basic for my needs. I also have found information about my ggg gf previously that I have not been able to find recently. Robert McAfee entered the Port of Philadelphia June 18, 1844 on the ship Venture. Why can I no longer get that result on Ancestry? He was born in Ireland in 1825 and lived in NM Territory from 1848 until his death in 1900.

I would be very interested in a more in depth presentation.

Thanks,

Pam Halsey

26 BarbaraMarch 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

Was surprised there were so few questions. I asked a question, but didn’t see it included.

27 Seán SloaneMarch 30, 2011 at 11:32 am

How would one go about finding information for someone with very common names, i.e., John O’Kelley (dropped the O upon arrival in the USA). I know his son was born at Ohio in 1841 and a family tale says he was born in Northern Ireland. I have his son’s death certificate and it said his father was born at New York and census records say Ohio as well… These were my 2nd and 3rd great grandfathers and I know nothing more as there was no information passed down… I know the son was enlisted in the Union Army for Wisconsin but can no longer find the records after ancestry renamed them :(

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