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Tales from the Genealogical Trenches
Finding Irish Ancestors

These people have learned that knowing the family stories can be just as much fun as knowing the names and dates:

I am currently trying to find out where my great-great grandfather James D. Farrell came from in Ireland. He was born April 7, 1818 and came to the United States in 1834. In 1842, he married my great-great grandmother, Catharine O'Farrell in Philadelphia. She had come over when she was quite young in 1827 at the age of about 5. When two people of the same surname married it was considered a "cure," so she would sell excess fruits and vegetables that she canned to those who had someone ill in the hopes that the food would "cure" them.

My favorite story is about the time there was a very bad thunderstorm. My great-great grandmother, being the good Catholic that she was, got the bottle of holy water and sprinkled everyone with the water saying "Bless you." Imagine everyone's surprise the next morning when they realized she had grabbed the bottle of blueing for the laundry instead of the holy water. Everywhere and everyone was spotted with blueing!

— Anonymous

I remember a story that my grandmother told me about her grandmother, Susan Cody Barnett. Susan was born in County Kilkenny and came to the United States with her mother Ann. They went west to California during the gold rush of 1849 and operated a boarding house near San Francisco. The mother, Ann, died there and Susan decided to leave California and go east. She took a ship south to Panama, crossed the Isthmus of Panama, and then got on another ship and sailed up to New Orleans. From there she was headed to join a convent and to become a nun in St. Louis. While on the train to St. Louis she met two women who introduced her to their brother, Edwin Barnett — and I'm happy to say that the rest was history.

— Jeff Palmer

July 24, 1996

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