I’m reading a book on Irish genealogy research – always trying to expand my knowledge. The author uses examples from some now-famous Boston Irish families, the Kennedys and their in-laws, the Fitzgeralds.
She demonstrates tracing a family back through census records. Through clues in the census, such as age at marriage or the approximate birth year of the oldest child, researchers can move on to marriage records which may identify the parents of the couple, channeling their line back through the generations.
The book’s author starts with John F. Kennedy, living with his parents Joseph and Rose on the 1940 census, working back to find Joe and Rose’s marriage record, then Rose’s parents’ marriage and further back to the 1857 marriage of Rose’s paternal grandparents, Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose Cox. The author goes on to point out that the marriage informant was the Rev. Geo. F. Haskins of Boston.
Determining the officiant on a marriage record is always a good practice for a genealogist. He may be more easily found in a city directory, which would provide a clue as to his denomination and the parish he served in. With that kind of information, genealogists can gather information on the neighborhood, the mix of people and occupations who spent time living where their ancestors lived. All these small details combine to create a richer picture of our ancestors’ lives.
When I read the name of the priest who joined Thomas Fitzgerald and Rose Cox in holy matrimony, I knew I’d seen it before… on the marriage record of my own great-great-grandparents. In 1850 in that mid-19th century Boston neighborhood, Rev. Geo. F. Haskins also celebrated the marriage of John Fields and Mary Devlin.
Fun to think that my ancestors and President Kennedy’s ancestors might have worshipped together at St. John’s Catholic Church in Boston 150 years ago. Pay attention to every name. You might just turn up a link to Camelot!.
 Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 for John Fields, John Fields and Mary Devlin, 14 April 1850 (ancestry.com : accessed 4 Feb 2018)
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.