Thomas and Catherine Connolly

Thomas and Catherine Connolly are my 4x great grandparents. This line of the family seems to have a lot of people that have researched it. No-one has been able to find the ship they came over in but think it was 1847-48 during the potato famine. I have seen discussions that say they came through Philadelphia yet I have seen a few people show they came in through New York and Thomas was a shoemaker. I am not sure I accept the New York shoemaker as there is a Thomas Connolly that lived in New York after the immigration that is a shoemaker. The Thomas Connolly that lived in Wisconsin is a farmer and lived in a community with his sons all having farms in the same town. He has children that briefly lived in Massachusetts so I think the port of Boston shouldn’t be ruled out. It seems that the family came over at different times. It appears they are from County Monaghan in Ireland. One of the children’s tombstones, James, has this location engraved on it. Their son Edward’s branch of the tree has him listed as specifically being from Carrickmacross which is in County Monaghan.

County Monaghan is the dark green area.

Another issue that makes researching this family challenging is the spelling of the name. I have seen Connolly/Connelly/Conley/Conely. Perhaps there are other spellings that I haven’t come across yet.

The researchers have listed Catherine’s maiden name as Martin. I haven’t seen any documentation that this is her name. I don’t know if it was passed down through the generations as her name or if someone has a family bible that shows this or some other document. The name came from somewhere but I haven’t read where. Would like to have this confirmed.
The names of the children are consistent throughout the online family trees. They are:
Patrick 1814
Bridget 1816
Owen 1822
James 1826
Thomas 1829
Rose 1832
Edward 1835
I can agree with this list as all the sons have farms together in Wisconsin. Bridget has Catherine living with her in the 1860 census. Bridget’s daughter Mary is living with Owen’s family in 1870. In that same census, Catherine Conley, age 80, is living with Owen also. No one has been able to track Rose and I haven’t been able to find her anywhere except online trees. There is one researcher that seems to have done extensive work and has her listed but I haven’t seen the documentation.

There is one puzzling thing I have found. In the 1860 US census, a Thomas Conely and Catherine Conely are listed as living in Cedarburg, WI with the Jerry and Mary Holland family. This family lives on the adjoining land to William and Bridget Rice, Bridget being Thomas and Catherine’s daughter. Also as I said above, Catherine Conely was listed on the 1860 census with William and Bridget Rice. I have seen other instances where the same person is enumerated in the same census year in different households. Considering these farms are next to each other, it is possible Catherine divided her time between the two places helping both families. The Rice household was enumerated on 25 June 1860 and the Holland household was enumerated on 27 June 1860. The thing that puzzles me is that no online family tree lists Mary as a daughter. They use this census to show both Thomas and Catherine but haven’t extrapolated the information that Mary’s maiden name is indeed Connolly and therefore she is possibly a daughter. The only other explanation I can think of is perhaps Mary is a niece but I don’t know why Thomas and Catherine would be living with them when they had all of the other children living in the area. The other thing is that Mary’s birth fits in nicely to the above list- 1824 and she was born in Ireland just like the other children. So for now, I am going to try to further prove Mary’s relationship to Thomas and Catherine.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.52.16 AM
1860 US census

Finally, no-one has pinned down the deaths of either Thomas or Catherine nor have the tombstones been found. I have written to the cemeteries the children are buried in but have received no responses. I have one other request out right now to the Archdiocese to see if there is a record of a funeral mass for Catherine. I have her death narrowed down to between 1870-1875. She is on the 1870 census but the 1875 Wisconsin census doesn’t seem to have her.

There are still a lot of questions to be researched and hopefully a breakthrough will occur. If anyone can contribute to my research I will gratefully accept additional information.

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