About My Ancestors · California Genealogy

My Kelly’s Are Driving Me Insane

I have spent the last couple of days working on my Kelly line. I have learned alot about Martin and Catherine (Dolan) Kelly in the last two years. Even though I have collected alot of data on them, I still can’t find the couple in the 1880 Census.

I decided to take another look at the census as I’ve learned some things about the family that may change things.

1. Catherine (Dolan) Kelly was not the person who died in 1872 that is listed on the tombstone. I suspected as much given the fact that she gave birth two years later.

2. Oldest son, Michael, was living with his Uncle, John Kelly, not his parents.

3. I could pinpoint their whereabouts with city directories for 1879-1881.

First, I looked over the pages I already had for other family members. Maybe some or all were living with relatives. Winifred was young enough that if she wasn’t married she might have been with a sibling or other relative. I didn’t find anyone on these sheets that I didn’t already know about.

As I looked over my data, I realized not only were Martin and Catherine missing from the 1880 census, so were their children, John, Mathew, and Winifred. All were adults (20 years and older) and should have been listed either with their parents or on their own.

I decided to try both ancestry.com and familysearch.org’s indexes. My first attempt was by their name and variants. I found many people with the same names, but not my people.

I decided to see if I could find the boarding house that Martin Kelly owned on Mission Road. I had the address and I could pinpoint whereabouts in the census it might be located. I would have to go page by page but I might get lucky. This was how I found his daughter, Mary (Kelly) Meincke, and her family. They were not listed in a census index, but by paging through looking for the address, I was able to find them.

After a couple of hours of clicking on arrows, I found the boarding house. Yeah…no, boo! The Kelly’s weren’t listed. Only their boarders got in the census. The owner of the boardinghouse, Martin Kelly, was somehow overlooked.

I had some other possibilities. A John and Matthew Kelly worked at a saloon owned by a Martin Kelly in 1880. The saloon was located on Howard. I found one side of the street in the census but not the other. I think my ancestors are deliberately evading me.

So, I went back to name searches. I factored in the variations (Kelly, Kelley, Kiley, etc.) I did searches like Mar* Kel*, Jno Kel*, Winnie Kel*, and so forth. I also tried initials for the first name in case their full names were not given.

I widened the geographical region. When San Francisco proved fruitless, I searched for California. When that didn’t work, I searched the entire country. There were a couple of possibilities, but nothing was close enough that I could say I had the people I was looking for.

It’s possible they didn’t get in the census at all. John and Matthew might have been married and I’m missing them because I don’t know their spouses. Winifred did marry but I’m fairly sure that wasn’t until 1887 or 1888. It’s possible they lived outside of San Francisco or even outside the state of California. It’s possible that they are in the census but information is wrong like the age or birthplace.

It really bugs me that I can’t find them. I really want that census sheet because I think it will help me identify when Catherine (Dolan) Kelly died. I think at this point I will have to resign myself to the fact that they’ve gone missing and they may never have been enumerated.

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