Friday, December 16, 2016

Brown - Burns Connections

John Brown, the third son of Timothy/Thady Brown and Honora/Hannah Kelly, was baptized January 1, 1835 at Patrickswell Catholic Church in County Limerick, Ireland.  Remember from an earlier post (Instant gratification!) that the second child of Timothy and Hannah, David, baptized January 11, 1832, has not been accounted for in America, and, it is presumed that he died before the family arrived in Boston in January 1849.  (Arriving in America)  John is enumerated in the 1850 US census in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont with the rest of his family.   He is shown as single and was a laborer at age sixteen.  Like his older brother Patrick, John moved to central Ohio in the 1850s; unlike his brother, he did not leave the Columbus area.

John married Ellen Burns August 28, 1856 at St Patrick’s Catholic
Marriage Register from St. Patrick's, Columbus, OH
(click to enlarge)
Church in Columbus, Ohio.1    Ellen is a sister of Ann, the wife of Patrick.  Another sister, Martha Burns, also lived in Columbus.  Martha’s family and John and Ellen Brown lived and worked in close proximity; so close, that it is impossible to tell John’s story without also telling the story of Martha Burns and her husband, Peter. 

Did these families know each other from an earlier time?  The parents of Anne, Ellen, and Martha are Michael and Julia Burns.  Charts in the David Brown letter indicate that Julia’s maiden name
Portion of family tree from David Brown letter
was Thompson.2  The 1908 death certificate for Martha, the last survivor of the three sisters, shows the father’s name as Michael Burnes and the mother’s name as, “Julia,” with no surname given.3   One son of John and Ellen, James, shows a surname of “Thompson” for his mother’s maiden name on his death certificate.  The surname is “Burns,” but, it could be a clue to the identity of this family since there does not seem to be a surname referenced in other records. 

Julia died in 1887.  Her tombstone, see photo at left, indicates that she was a “native of Queens Co. Ireland” which is an earlier name
Tombstone, Mt. Calvary Cemetery
Columbus, Ohio
(click to enlarge)
for County Laois.4  Death certificates for most of the children of Anne and Ellen show their mother’s place of birth as “Ireland,” as do so many records for Irish families.   One daughter of Anne, Mary Ann, shows the birthplace of her mother, Anne Burns Brown, as “Queenstown.”5  Queenstown is now known as the city of Cobh in County Cork where many immigrants left for the Americas; but, the city had recently been in the news because of the Irish Civil War (1922 to 1924).  Perhaps the family of Mary Ann knew the location was “Queens-something” and picked up on the familiar name in the news.   A daughter of Ellen, another Mary Ann, shows the birthplace of her mother, Ellen Burns Brown, as “County Limerick.”6  We do know that Limerick is the origin of the Brown family, but was the Burns family also from Limerick?

Julia’s age is also in question.  Census records (1860 to 1880) give
1887 Death Register for Julia Burns
(click to enlarge)
her birth year as 1813, 1810, and 1800.  The tombstone shows 1790 as the birth year; the death register, (see copy of register right),7 shows 1792; and, an article in the Daily Ohio State Journal, (see notice below),
Notice of Julia's Death, Columbus, Ohio
8 states that she was born sometime between 1780 and 1790. A review of the birth year of the three daughters (from census records), Anne (1830 to 1835), Martha (1829 to 1834), and Ellen (1842) indicate that Julia could have been born as early as 1790, but probably not before.

Armed with this information, I attempted to find church records in Ireland using many surname variations of Burns/Byrnes and Thompson/Thomson.  I also checked alternate first names and nicknames for the three girls, Anne, Martha, and Ellen.9  I did not find baptism records, nor did I find a marriage record for Michael and Julia.  While I did not locate records, I believe Laois or one of the surrounding counties is the probable origin for the Burns family.  Information on the tombstone is the earliest information available and likely came from Martha, Julia’s daughter who was also born in Ireland, presumably in close vicinity of her mother’s birthplace.  Remember, that while some church records in Ireland began early, before 1800, other parishes did not begin until 1850 or even later. 

Because of the distance, it is unlikely that the Brown family and the family of Michael and Julia Burns knew one another in Ireland; but, what about Peter Burns, the husband of Martha Burns?  Peter was baptized May 17, 1832 at Carbury Catholic Church and lived in Cloonkeen,  Carbury, Kildare.10  Again, this is a long distance from Limerick and the Brown family.  However, Peter had three brothers, Patrick, John and Edward who were living in Montreal Canada by 1843.  All of the brothers married in Montreal.11  Patrick and John moved to Vermont by 1851.  John lived in Brandon, Rutland, Vermont, the same location the Browns were living in the 1850 US census.   The youngest son of John and Margaret Kilmartin Burns was baptized March 18, 1860 at St. Monica in Forestdale.12  Recall from the map in the Vermont post (Vermont) that Forestdale was one possible location for the Brown family (Hannah/Annora and her six children) in the 1850 census.  While the Brown family was in Ohio by 1860, earlier births are identified in the same area in the Civil War widow’s pension application for Margaret Kilmartin Burns.13   Could this be the connection to the Brown family?  (Remember this family.  They will have a part in the Brown story in a future generation.)

Martha Burns, daughter of Michael and Julia Burns, married Peter Burns, son of John and Esther Cary Burns,14 sometime before June 1851 when their oldest child, Julia, was born.  Both of their children, Julia and a younger brother, Willie (about 1853) were born in Ohio as shown in the 1860 U.S. Census.15   There does not appear to be a record of their marriage in Ohio despite a possible listing for Martha’s family in the 1850 U.S. Census in Columbiana County in central eastern, Ohio.  (See a previous discussion in It looked like home! The Vermont church records do not begin early enough, but could Martha and Peter have met and been married in Vermont? 

Additional information for Martha, which may give further insight, is contained in the 1900 U.S. Census, and a news clipping
Death notice for Martha Burns
(click to enlarge)
published at her death in 1909.16 The news clipping (see right) states that she, “. . . came to America  with her parents while still a girl.”  From this, we know that the family of Michael and Julia Burns probably traveled together.   Although all other records state that Martha was born in Ireland, the 1900 Census record states that she was born in Canada and came to the US in 1848.17 (see copy below) Could Martha and her family have emigrated first to Canada before coming to America?  I have not found any evidence, and, this may be too much of a coincidence, but, could there be a Canadian tie in addition to a Vermont tie?  Questions and yet more questions!
1900 U.S. Census (click to enlarge)

The next post will give further information about John, third son of Timothy and Hannah Brown, in Franklin County, Ohio – and yes, probably more questions.    

1.      Catholic Record Society, Marriage Register, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Columbus, Ohio.  Cropped to show only the entry for John and Ellen.  Additional marriage records are available online from Family Search.   Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, database, and 

2.      Brown, David, Kewanee, IL, 11 May 1943, Letter to Esther _________, Columbus, OH, Chart 2 and Chart 3.

3.      Certificate of Death #56218, Registered No. 2597, 1909, Martha Hogan, State of Ohio, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Franklin Township, Columbus, Ohio.  Available online at: 

4.      Catholic Cemeteries, Julia Burns, 1887, grave 3, lot 85, Cathedral, section B, Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.  There is no record for Michael Burns, husband of Julia.  Note that the tombstone shows the year of death as 1886.  The death register and the news article are from 1887.

5.      “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” database, Family search ( : 27 December 2014), Mary Cox, 22 Mar 1930; Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield; FHL microfilm 1,643,655.

6.      Certificate of Death #8915, Registration District #392, 1930, Mary Ann Murnane, State of Ohio, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Franklin County, Columbus, Ohio.  Available online at:

7.      “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, Family Search ( : 9 October 2014), Julia Burns, 10 Jul 1887; citing Death, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID Cn61, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,026,908

8.      Daily Ohio State Journal, Death of a Centennarian, Columbus, Ohio, July 12, 1887, page 2

9.      I checked indexes at Find My Past (, Irish Family History Foundation (, and both with and without surnames and variations for all of Ireland paying particular attention to the counties of Limerick, Laois, and the counties surrounding Laois.  I did locate one record showing the father as Michael Byrne and the mother as Judy Thompson, (Judith is an alternate name for Julia), in the parish of Killaveney in County Wicklow, but, I don't the other entries for the parish are the same couple.  (See below)  I also reviewed the microfilm for this parish available online through the National Library of Ireland ( with no further results.

10.  National Library Ireland, Carbury and Dunforth Catholic Church, Carbury, County Kildare, Ireland, microfilm 04203/10, Dublin, Ireland.  Peter was baptized May 17, 1832; Edward was baptized March 16, 1827; John was baptized February 23, 1825.  There is no baptismal record for Patrick born March 1821; however, baptismal records for this parish do not begin until October 1821.  Patrick was likely born and baptized in the same location as his brothers.

11. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968.  Available online at   Patrick married Rose Coffey February 8, 1843.  John married Margaret Kilmartin/Martin February 12, 1846. Edward married Mary Woods January 24, 1848.

12.  The Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society, Baptism Repertoire St Mary “Our Lady of Good Help” Brandon, Vermont  inluding the Old St. Monica, Forestdale, Vermont Mission, Vermont Catholic Diocese, 2014, Burlington, Vermont.  Baptisms for St. Monica include the years 1856 to 1868.  Baptisms for St. Mary include the years 1869 to 1948.

13.  John Burns (Pvt, Co. B, 7th Regiment, Vermont Infantry, Civil War, pension application no. 105,140, certificate no. 82,573, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications . . ., 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.   Papers include a signed affidavit from Dr. Charles Backus, who lived in the area of Forestdale, that he attended Margaret Kilmartin Burns at births in 1851 and 1853,

14.  Information from Great Aunt Maggie, (Margaret Brown Shrum), and her sisters, fervently avowed there was no blood relation between Martha Burns and Peter Burns.  I guess we should have asked more questions!

15.  1860 U.S. Federal Census, Perry, Franklin, Ohio, Roll: M653_962; Page 161; Image: 327

16.  Columbus Citizen, Wealthy Pioneer Woman is Dead, November 29, 1909, page 11, Columbus, Ohio

17.  1900 U.S. Federal Census, Franklin, Franklin, Ohio, Roll: 126; Page 7A; Enumeration District: 0030.  James, listed as a son, is actually the son of Martha's second husband, Michael Hogan and his first wife.

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