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So it's beginning to appear as if some McMahons from Clare settled first in New Jersey.  One hint came from a too-distant-to-track-the-connection cousin from a Family Tree match and the other from an old FT post I found in an internet search.  So I'm wondering if anyone knows of any of the families who settled in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, right across from New York city around the cusp of the 1850s.

The reason it's relevant is that I found my John and Ellen McMahon Curtis's first U.S. born child in both Ancestry and Family Tree with a New Jersey, not a New York,  birth entry.  The daughter Ellen, sometimes Nellie later on,  was also later married in New Jersey to a John Farley, born in in New York, and moved to New Jersey with her large family after her parents both died near the turn of the century.

Also, the only death listing I can find for the mother Ellen, although I can't confirm it is her, is from New Jersey.  

And yet the Curtis family lived together continuously in a variety of gently improving addresses in Brooklyn, New York including in the 1900 census, the first in which the parents were absent.

So, trying to stay with verifiable data, I initially ignored all these hints, but I think I'm now starting to take them seriously because this could easily fit the pattern of there having been slightly earlier emigrants who supported the family's adjustment to America initially and then stayed closely connected over the years.  And in this scenario, immediate family makes the most sense.

I'm also taking seriously the fact that another of Ellen's relatives might have settled in Canada.

In the 1880 U.S. census, a young many named Patrick McMahon, born in Canada about the same time as Ellen's first U.S. daughter, was living with the John and Ellen's family in New York along with a friend/relative of his, Samuel Donohue, about the same age, also born in Canada. 

Searching in Canada censuses, I found  a Patrick McMahon born about that time to a Patrick and Ellen McMahon with older children Michael, Catherine, Ellen and Mary living in Canada in 1861.  I found them again in the U.S. 1870 census living in Illinois, this time with Patrick and two additional children Maureen and it looks like Low (?).  In both cases, Patrick sr. was a farmer.  Then in 1891 in Ontario, I found an entry that might be the original young Patrick, now married to a ten-year younger Ellen, with offspring John, Patrick, Peter, Margaret and James. 

I'm hoping that there might still be McMahons living in Clare who have some idea of the New Jersey and Canadian emigrants who left around the 1850s.  I'm suspecting the parents of this group were Patrick (Ellen's first born son and the adult farmer's name) and Ellen McMahon (because a 75 year old woman named that was with the Curtis family in the 1860 U.S. census.

Again, I'd appreciate any hints whatsoever.  Although of course I'm dreaming that perhaps we might even find family.  Thanks for whatever you can do.  Jude





Friday 20th Jan 2017, 01:28AM

Message Board Replies

  • Dear Jude

    I hope someone with a connection to the Curtis/McMahon family will be in touch. In the meantime please feel free to add your ancestor's details to our XO Chronicles Project. You can learn more about it HERE. It might be another avenue through which others can learn more about the family and open it up to a wider audience. As an aside, this is an interesting tutorial on chain migration you might find interesting. You might also be interested in this wider McMahon site, even though it does reference Co. Monaghan. 


    Best wishes

    Clare Doyle

    Genealogy Support 

    Clare Doyle

    Friday 20th Jan 2017, 04:52PM
  • Clare: Do you want to move the post off to another section?  That would be your choice absolutely.  J


    Saturday 21st Jan 2017, 04:06AM
  • Hi Jude, not at all - you can leave the message here and also add to the Chronicles if you wish! 

    All the best


    Genealogy Support 

    Clare Doyle

    Monday 23rd Jan 2017, 10:42AM
  • Dear Jude,

    I don't know what Irish records you've searched, so I may be telling you something you already know. Have you looked at the Catholic parish records on the National Library of Ireland site ( ? The records for Killinaboy/Rath go back quite early in the 19th century. Now that you have a parish, if you have a guess about when a person was born, you can look through a few years before and after. I've been through a lot of the records and I do remember noticing McMahons. They're not indexed, so you have to read through them; some pages are in better condition than others. The Co. Clare library also has lots of good information on its website, if you're not familiar with that -

    The Catholic records were a goldmine for me. I had found my great-great grandparents' civil marriage record on, which gave me the specific townlands they lived in when they were married; Griffith's confirmed this and the Tithe Applotment books suggested nearby towns where they might have lived before. I believe the civil marriage records for Catholics started in 1876, lucky for me the year they married. But ancestry has also indexed some of the church records as well. Having the townlands helped when I searched the Catholic parish records, as the townland is frequently noted. In my case, it also helped that the parents and two sons stayed in Ireland while all the daughters left, and that happened fairly late in the 19th century. So the family could still be found in the same place in the 1901 and 1911 censuses. I also found my great-grandfather's mother and brother living fairly close by. With all this I eventually found all the surnames of the previous generation, and even earlier in one case. 

    If you find any Guilligan, McGan, Hogan, Neylon, or Fitzpatrick in your line, we might find some common names. I haven't gotten around to a dna test yet. 

    Another branch of my family settled in Newark, NJ before 1850, and there was a very large Irish population there. More from Ulster than Connacht, I think. So if you're not sure where in New Jersey your Nell was born, you might look into Newark as well. 

    Hope that's helpful. Good luck.



    Monday 23rd Jan 2017, 12:42PM
  • Ellen:  Thank you so much for all the suggestions and I'm so glad you have had so much good fortune hunting.  I think that the lack of records, with all detailed ones later than the 1820s to 1850/1 that I'm searching, makes a big difference in success. Sorry for my delay responding but had medical issues in house that took all focus.  Back now!  What I wanted to ask you about was a possible connection with your surname Neylan.   Is Noland an anglicized version?  My brother's dna from FT did not locate any one closer than genetic distance of 5 generations.  But among the only six individuals in this 5 generation distance were three men named Noland (and one named Curtin whom we know were located in the wider Munster area as well.)  One ancestor was named: Pierce Noland b abt 1654 Tipperary.  Any chance we overlap even if way back?  Did you ever do dna?  We have various amounts of data on ancestry, 23 and me, and FT.   My mtdna is in process with FT as well.  Let me know if we can look each other up.  Jude


    Wednesday 24th May 2017, 12:56AM
  • Dear Jude,

    I'm sorry to be slow in replying. I've been pretty busy with work recently. I still haven't done a DNA test. I'm doubtful about Neylon being changed into Noland, but I guess it's possible. There are several sites I've come across that give background and permutations on Irish names; the one that comes to mind now is the Irish Times genealogy site. 

    I've seen the name Curtin multiple times in parish records for Clare -- whether Killinaboy or Rath or another close by I don't remember. 

    I have to run now but will come back later and look again at your last message. None of my Clare people went to New Jersey or Ontario, but I do have a little experience with records from both of those places with other branches of the family.



    Wednesday 24th May 2017, 03:58PM
  • Made a discovery that just might help searching for Irish records.   I didn't lose John and Ellen Curtis' first born son after the U.S. Federal Census of 1860.  He in fact was a substitute for a doctor in the civil war.  And he became an apparently succfull businessman, but under the name Joseph P. Curtis.  Really makes sense in terms of family structure.  So would Joseph be the Curtis or the McMahon grandfather's name if they followed Irish naming patterns?  Since James Francis is the name that was given their first born American son, and it continued until ended by an early accidental death of # IV, without children,  I've hypothosized that this might have been the name of the Curtis grandfather.  Any thoughts?


    Saturday 1st Jul 2017, 06:28PM

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