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James Casey apparently married Margaret Welsh in Ireland, presumably County Roscommon, and had at least one child: Catherine Casey (my second great grandmother), born 1824. James Emigrated to the United States in 1839-40 or earlier. He had three children by a second wife, Mary Swift, born 1806 in Ireland: Dennis Casey, born 1840 in New York state, Anna Casey, born 1842, also in New York state, and Mary Casey, born 1846 in Wisconsin, probably Milwaukee or Waukesha County. I assume that Catherine Casey (1824) emigrated with her father James. In crossing the Atlantic, they may have been accompanied by Bernard Burke, Catherine Casey's husband (and my second-great grandfather) in 1843 or earlier. Bernard and Catherine's first child (of 16), Margaret, was born in Wisconsin in December 1843. Oral family history has it that the Caseys and Bernard Burke came from County Roscommon( though my father thought it was County Clare). I have no proof that James Casey and Mary Swift emigrated together; they might have met on the ship or in New York.

Margaret Welsh is identified as Catherine Casey's mother in the latter's death record, Woodbury County, Iowa, 1910. James Casey is confirmed as Catherine Casey's father in his will, probated on December 3, 1860.

My primary objective is to discover the Roscommon Civil Parish and, possibly, the Townland from which James Casey, his first wife, Margaret Welsh, his daughter Catherine Casey, Bernard Burke (possibly), and Mary Swift (possibly) came from. All of that so I can come to Ireland (a second time) to visit the ground they walked on.

My thanks to anyone who can help.

Paul W. Burke


Wednesday 17th Jan 2024, 10:41PM

Message Board Replies

  • Paul:

    I searched on two different subscription sites and failed to find the James Casey/Margaret Welsh/Walsh marriage record or the baptismal record for Catherine. I searched for all of Ireland not just Co. Roscommon. Unfortunately, many of the RC parishes in Ireland including Co. Roscommon do not have records back to the 1820s and civil registration did not begin until 1864.

    Have you taken a general DNA test? If you have not taken a DNA test, you may get matches with 3rd or 4th cousins who might have more information on the origins of the family in Ireland.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 24th Jan 2024, 02:52PM
  • Roger, thank you SO much for what must have been a lot of work! I've done some of that for my Irish great grandmother from County Donegal.

    Yes, I have taken the Ancestry DNA test and, yes, I've gotten lots of hits regarding 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins, but many have no tree, most have fewer than a dozen members in their trees, and I can find nobody that has gone even as far back as I have. And many Ancestry or Family Search users have grabbed a phony name, date or county and never corroborated the information. Frustrating.

    Only in the last few years have I been able to verify that Margaret Welsh and James Casey (1789) were the parents of my 2nd great grandmother, Catherine Casey Burke, thanks to Catherine's record of death in Sioux City, Iowa, and the probate of James Casey's will. I have found no other researcher who'd even gotten that far!

    There is one more breadcrumb. My father was probably the only one in the family who thought that my great grandparents, Bernard and Catherine, had come from County Clare. And the Roscommon connection, though frequently repeated by my forebears, has yet to be proven.

    I thank you for what you've done. It feels very important for me to trace them back to a parish and a townland and then visit Ireland once more to set foot on their ground and honor their lives. If you have other suggestions or leads, I would love to hear them and follow up. I've had no success in combing passenger lists and other immigration documents.

    Paul Burke


    Wednesday 24th Jan 2024, 10:12PM
  • Paul:

    I share your pain with DNA matches having very little info or little interest in researching ancestors. Ancestry in particular is frustrating because so many people just test their DNA for ethnicity only. I've tested with Ancestry, Family Tree DNA and have my data on MyHeritage and Gedmatch. I also use DNA Painter to identify common matches on my various lines. Three of my grandparents were born in Ireland in the 1880s and the fourth was one generation back so I've been able to track down church and civil records. I have identified all but one of my gr-gr grandparents but pre-1850 is tough sledding. I also have Donegal ancestors on one line and Donegal is the worst county for pre-1850 church records.

    As you know, Casey, Walsh and Burke are very common Irish surnames and were found in all 32 counties in the mid-19th century. Clare and Roscommon had good numbers of all three surnames. Shane Wilson from Dublin who is one of our volunteers has a great web site and this link will show you a county by county breakdown. Just enter the three surnames  The data is based on the Griffiths Valuation head of household data.

    Did your Ancestry ethnicity data that points to either Roscommon or Clare?

    You asked for suggestions. Normally, I would suggest looking at the Tithe listings. There are five James Casey records in Roscommon but if your James was leasing land in the 1820s/1830s why would he leave? 


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 25th Jan 2024, 06:41PM
  • Roger, thanks again for the links and the suggestions. I don't know why James Casey or Bernard Burke would emigrate from Eire unless it was just getting to the point of being fed up with the second class status that the lower classes and Catholics, in particular, suffered through. Possibly the prospect of owning large pieces of land in the New World?

    BTW, are you in the U.S. or Ireland?




    Friday 26th Jan 2024, 04:23AM
  • Paul:

    I live near Baltimore Maryland.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 26th Jan 2024, 08:52PM

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