by Sara

I suspect all of us have an immigrant ancestor or two that we’ve been seeking for a number of years. Sometimes the only way to find out more about this immigrant is to view records found in their country of origin, some of which may have been microfilmed by the LDS Church or made available on Family Search. But more often, the clue to our family’s origins may be right under our nose, in a standard American source, such as the census, a printed book, church register, obituary, newspaper article, Social Security application, or a birth/death record.

Such was the case when I accidentally found a family's place of origin Ireland (!!!!) while trying to answer a totally different question. Originally, I was trying to find the parents of Patrick Hughes of St. Joseph County, Indiana. I hoped to find this information in his death record and/or obituary. According to the Vital statistics index to St. Joseph County, Indiana newspapers, 1831-1912 (977.201 SA2EIR), Patrick died in 1896. His obituary (found on microfilm in South Bend) did not list his parents' names, but listed several siblings. Those siblings had obituaries also, and in brother Edward’s obituary, their mother, Ann Hughes, was mentioned. Ann’s obituary finally gave the name of her husband Thomas, and his obituary yielded an unexpected clue: He was from County Kildare in Ireland. Through investigating all the children of the immigrant, clues were followed that pointed to the names of Patrick’s parents, and finally to a county of origin in Ireland. Should a more extensive, systematic search be undertaken on this entire family and their close associates in American records (especially Catholic Church records, home sources, land records, probate records, cemetery records, vital records, and military records), the name of their specific hometown or parish in Ireland might also be unearthed.

So, the moral of the story is to take the time to view the obituaries for your immigrant ancestors and all their children. You may be amazed at what you find!