On a recent Surname Saturday post, I wrote about my great grandfather John Fleming Walsh. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for the detective work I conducted to discover his parents and siblings. Using a few clues in photos and numerous census records and my powers of deductive reasoning, I put together what appeared to be a pretty complete family record. Except for a couple inconsistencies with initials which I easily dismissed as census-taker error, I had concluded John Walsh’s parents were John and Ellen Walsh, and his brothers were Patrick, Thomas, and Edward all of whom were in Portsmouth, Virginia, just streets away from John.
Then this happened. In Googling for information about vital records, I found that the local history room of the Portsmouth Public library has an index to marriages. My great-grandparents are in the index!
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Not the end of the world (although it felt like it at the moment). I searched for Patrick and Mary Walsh, but I could not find such a couple in Virginia. There are plenty of Patrick and Mary Walshes in Dakota Territory, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Illinois. In the ONLY census where I can confirm MY John Walsh, he claimed to have been born in Virginia. Maybe that’s not true either, who knows. The marriage index on FamilySearch says John was born in Ireland.
I went to Findagrave.com thinking maybe there would be a clue to this Patrick and Mary. Instead I found John J. Walsh Jr. and Ellen Murray Walsh buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Portsmouth. Ellen (1869-1894) and John J. Jr. (1894-1895) – looks like mother and son to me. This also looks like a wife for the John J. Walsh that I had THOUGHT was my John Walsh, the widowed son of Ellen Walsh of the 1900 Portsmouth census. The dates are right. And that name Murray is the same maiden name of Thomas Walsh’s wife Delia. They must have been sisters or cousins, but I have not found them together in a census.
So it’s back to the drawing board.