Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Luck of the Irish

In the dozen or so records I could've ordered to see if they might include William's specific birthplace in Ireland, each was equally unlikely. I chose his pension record to start with because of the incredible amount of genealogy information it would include even if it didn't reveal his county of birth.


As I was excitedly flipping through the scanned pages of the pension record I recieved I saw William's death certificate, a list of his living children's names and birthdates, his first wife's death certificate, a certified record from the church of his second marriage, death record for his second wife, affidavits from 2 of his long-time friends, a letter written by William himself, and at least 7 instances of his actual signature. (Click HERE to download the entire pension file as a PDF.) Then, on page 24, I found it!

As you can see it clearly states that William was born on 26 May 1826 in County Down Ireland. (I do have some conflicting sources on the year of his birth being 1924, but thats another post I guess.) WooHooooooo!!!!! It took me over 2 weeks of nearly shaking with over-enthusiasm before I could even calm down enough to write about it! I'll be posting more about Irish genealogy research and my plan for William in the next post, but for now I can tell you that the FIRST thing I did after the kids were in bed was learn all I could about Irish genealogy research that I could do from the US.

This is an Irish map with County Down highlighted in red. County Down just so happens to be the suspected burial place of St Patrick!

Later that same night I learned that non-catholic Irish Civil Marriage Registration started in 1845. Since I knew that William and Mary Park immigrated in 1852 and had their first known child in 1853, it can be assumed that they were married shortly before that. I guessed that it was 1851. I went to the website rootsireland.ie and searched the civil marriage records for William Park and Mary Weir. Low and behold... Voila!

I have now officially found a record of our William in his home country of Ireland! Just look at all the incredible information found in their marriage record: a parish of origin in County Down for William, the parish and county of origin for his wife Mary, William's father and father-in-law's occupations, and a witness that shares William's surname (a brother perhaps??).


That's an incredible windfall of information in just 24 hours. And it didn't stop there! Next time I'll talk about other Irish resources including Griffith's Valuation. In the meantime if you're interested in Irish family history you can register for a free webinar called Erin in the USA: Irish Research on this Side of the Atlantic which will be live tomorrow night (March 20th) from 8-9:30 Central time. William's records have seemed to fall right in my lap recently. And THAT'S what I call
...the Luck o' the Irish!


  1. Great job! Someday when I finally visit Ireland I'll have a connection to a specific place. Thank you for all your hard work.

  2. Jessica, that is an exciting find. I have looked through many pension records, with fingers crossed hoping for children, birthdates, marriages, birthplaces, etc. You hit the jackpot with that one. As I always, the ancestors want to be found;)