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Chapter Seven

More About Kilmartin

The Kilmartin name is hardly mentioned in any story, activity, or highlight of the 16th or 17th century. All census reports of early Ireland (1821, 31, 41) were lost, destroyed, or not available. It appears the Sept grew very rapidly from the census of 1659. When details of the 1854 Land Evaluation Records were published and available in the Dublin Castle office, we find Kilmartin’s and Gilmartin’s scattered throughout the counties of Roscommon, Sligo, and Leitrim, under many different first names. It indicates that many families were live and active. We will try to pull the pieces together as well as the facts are known.

My research began in 1971, when Mary, the three children, and I brought Rosanne to Le Moyne College, in Syracuse. After leaving Rosanne to her studies, we headed south to our cousin, Mary Ann (Stratton) Coddington, who lived in Horseheads, Pa. She showed us the way to Blossburg, Pa., and St. Andrews Cemetery, where John and Rose (Donegan) Guiry, my maternal grandparents, are buried. While in the cemetery, we asked the children to look for any grave stones marked "Gilmartin". Soon we heard a shout and hurried over to an old stone marked with a double inscription. It was the burial of Thomas, age 9, who died on Saturday, May 21, 1873, and Luke, age 1 year and 7 months, who died December 18th, 1873. Their parents were Thomas and Ann KILLMARTIN. With this information I checked the 1860 New York State Census, the 1870 U.S. Census for Bloss Township, Pa., the St. Andrews Church records of birth, and the New York City records of death.

1870 Census Bloss Township, PA

I verified that Thomas Kilmartin, and Ann (Neary) Kilmartin were indeed my great grandparents on my fathers side. In making genealogy charts the male line is followed to show the continuation of the surname. All records said they were born in Ireland but to date, (1989) I have not located a specific parish, barony, or county. I have accumulated a mass of material secured from microfilm of the counties of Leitrim and Sligo, showing many "Kilmartin’s" and "Gilmartin’s," but have been unable to discover the actual county as yet.

Thomas was born in 1828 in Ireland. From the records of his four children, we know he was in England in 1851 until 1859. He was listed as a Mason Laborer in the town of Bradford and North Bierly. Both towns are in the Leeds area of Lancashire. It was the practice of Irish laborers to go to England during harvest time to earn enough money to return and pay the rent on the land they were working. It could have been that the Great Famine, which started in 1843 and continued through 1846, was the reason to go to England. There are many other possibilities. After looking at church records of death and birth in the Catholic churches of St. Mary’s, Mount St. Marie, and St. Patrick’s, in Lancanshire, I found many "Kilmartin’s" and "Neary’s," but none arrived before 1824. They may have been related, so perhaps Ann stayed with them when Thomas left for America in April of 1859.

Their first child, Mary, was born June 10th, 1851, in the workhouse in Leeds. This may tell us that this was the place to take a pregnant wife if you were traveling, or out of work. The father is not mentioned in the records because he wouldn’t have been admitted to the workhouse. The second child was Margaret, born in 1853, based on the census reports. We were unable to find the birth record. Michael, the third child, was born on the 27th of March, 1857, at 100 Vincent Street, Bradford West. Thomas was listed as a mason laborer. The fourth child was John, born on November 26, 1859 at 68 Longcroft Place, Bradford West. By this time Thomas was in Corning, New York, having left in April. The child was conceived in February, and Ann either stayed at this address, or moved in with her parents or friends.

If we could visualize the situation, it may show that they were in a confused condition with three children to care for and a husband so far away in America. I have another theory that could take many years to prove.

In a book by Oscar Handlin, Boston Immigrants, he tells of the Union of Tailors in London. They assisted 7000 unemployed tailors in emigrating to America. Upon Thomas’s arrival in America, he stayed with a "Michael Kilmartin." Michael, a tailor by trade, had been in America since about 1848. Michael could have financed Thomas’s passage, helped in planning the trip, or just encouraged him to come. Thomas was reassured that this was the thing to do, as he was not likely to leave his family alone in Bradford. As we learn later, Ann left when their fourth child John was a year old, on the same ship Thomas took, the Great Western.

Chapter 8

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