Nov 27, 2008

The Wall Is 158 Years Too Late...

Last month I got a free subscription to “” and thought I would give the ‘ol family tree a climb. Previously, I knew my grandfather’s (who died in 1964) was named Frank, and my great-grandfather’s (died in about the ‘30s) name was George A. Armed with that info, I started running down censes records, passenger ship lists and war enrollments; I was pretty blown away with what I found.

First of all, I discovered that George A was from the Michigan area before he came to Washington State, and censes records show that he listed his mother and father’s place of origin as “Ireland.” Now, this is not unusual, lots of immigrants came from Ireland; however most of them came after 1860, and I found a record showing George was born in “New York”, in 1849, then moved to Michigan almost immediately with his older sister “Mary Jr” (yup, named after her mother), and father “Peter.” Mary was born in 1827, and Peter was born in 1817.

I found the only passenger record of a Mary Kellett (assuming they were married before they immigrated) travelling on “The Queen Of The West” in 1850, however, she would have had Mary Jr and George with her, and they were not listed beneath her on the passenger list. Upon closer inspection of the document, I find that there is an infant George and an infant Mary listed under the two families next to her on the list, and Mary is exactly the correct age, 23. So, did she lie about who the kids belonged to so that she could later say they were born in New York as “Anchor babies?”

But where was Peter? I found the one and only Peter shown coming into New York was on the ship “Meteor” in 1849, However, the spelling of the last name was “Kellet” not the correct “Kellett;" but this was a common mistake.

The biggest problem was that he listed his age as “25,” not what his real age would have been at the time, 32. So, was this great-great-grand dad or not? I then saw that many of the males listed on the passenger manifest also listed their age as “25” or “24.” Perhaps there was some immigration rule that gave some benefit to being 25 or younger? Then it hit me: my family started out in this country as a bunch of scheming, lying, conniving illegal immigrants!

Peter’s history of lying about his age did not stop there; in 1861, at the age of 44, he joined the Michigan 14th Union Army, “H” company (The” Irish Brigade”).

Army rules evidently had a maximum age of 40 years to join, so he lies about his age once again to fight in the Civil War. It’s pretty hard to be anything but proud for that falsehood. I also found that George marries someone named Lydia Beckley, daughter of Guy Beckley, the town “Constable,” I guess I have police work in the blood, a great-great grandfather who was a cop.

Yakima County is about 50% Hispanic, many of whom are here illegally. I am still very frustrated that our government has not dealt well with the whole problem of illegal immigration; however I now have a bit more understanding of the issue on a personal level.

I’m hoping that an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not on this reading list… I may be deported.


Remo said...

Okay, Okay... I hung up the phone. not, repeat NOT on their way to WA.

That is seriously cool to find your roots.

Myra said...

People who came over embellished, changed their names, etc., just to have an opportunity for a better life. Very cool that you were able to trace back as far as you did!

Sharon said...

I am always facinated with ancestory. I've tried to dig around, and I too find some "questionable" info. Glad to see you are back to writing again. I shall have to catch up....I haven't been bloggin much lately since the AOHell kick-out.

Martha said...

At least you can still blog no matter where they send you ;-)

I've always wanted to do the whole ancestory thing - very cool!

Frances said...

I am a new reader to your blog, and find it very interesting. Family ancestry is interesting to me, too. My great-grandfather came over from Ireland to the U.S. His last name was O'James, but he changed it by dropping the O and it became James. I assume he did this to better fit in here in America. I am from Texas, but do not have a blog. Take care!!

be603 said...

deported? HAH! More likely elected President.