Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Identification of the Parents for John J. Barrett and AdditionalSiblings – the Power of Collateral Searching and a Bit of Luck

The identification of a townland in Irish research is critical to determining what records exist for the area as well as using the land records from Griffith's Valuation or the Tithe Applotment. When luck enough to have stories or old letters, research into the claims made through records and historical articles can piece together families in the absence of census records. The evidence may represent a reasonable conclusion since unfortunately so many records have been lost over the year.

An earlier attempt was made to establish the lineage of John J. Barrett and/or Anne Cormac Mannion. An old family “letter” provided some names with large gaps in the history. The letter led to research in various old books such as Mac Furbis', The genealogies, tribes, and customs of Hy-Fiachrach, commonly called O'Dowda's country, to records such as the Ordnance Survey Letters of County Mayo, and then early land record notations from historical articles found through JSTOR. The information allowed for a potential lineage to be drawn for the Cormac (Cormick/Cormack is often used) family with additional evidence compiled from the Tithe Applotment and Griffith’s Valuation.

Research did not however result in any reasonable evidence for John J. Barrett's parents or lineage. Obituaries for both John J. Barrett and Anne Cormac Mannion Barrett indicated that they and all but one child, Michael, immigrated from County Mayo, Ireland in the early 1870s1,2. Furthermore, John J. was apparently born in Ballycastle, Mayo while Anne was born in Castlehill, Mayo. The current information allowed for the creation of the following Barrett tree (spouses for the children are included):

Descendants of John J. Barrett and Anne Cormac Mannion

The Petition for naturalization for Charles J. Barrett, was located, having been filed 21 May 1889. Charles stated provided his date of entry or arrival into New York as 24 April 1871.

Petition for Naturalization of Charles J. Barrett

A search of immigration records online resulted in no records for that date. However, broadening the search dates resulted in a record for a Chas Barrett arriving 31 March 1871 to New York on the S.S. Erin3.

S.S. Erin Manifest for 31 March 1871 into New York.

The record shows a Barrett family with Ann, Thos., Chas, Maria and Edwd. arriving from England. John J. Barrett, his son John E. and daughter Catharine were not found in the records.

Possible record for Barrett family immigrating to the United States on S.S. Erin: Ann, Thos., Maria, Chas., Edwd Barrett.


The heading “the country to which they severally belong” indicates England which aligns with a biographical sketch for John E. Barrett4 suggesting that the Barrett family left Ireland for England before leaving for the United States.

The 1900 U.S. census record for Catharine5 indicated she potentially married in Ireland and immigrated to the U.S. after her husband, Martin Burke, in 1875. Michael, the only son to not have immigrated to the U.S. lived in England according to the obituary of John J. Barrett. The immigration ship list for John J. and his son John E. have not been found, however naturalization records for John E. Barrett indicate that he immigrated in March 1871. The ship list has not been located for John E. Barrett. 

As previously mentioned, the obituary for John J. Barrett identified his siblings, Edward in St. Louis and Thomas G. a doctor in the Scranton area. There was no mention of John J.'s parents. A search for records associated with Thomas G. identified his wife and children through U.S. Census records6,7 and a notice of his death8, with little historical information to elucidate the parents of Thomas G. and John J.

The path for identifying the parents of John J. Barrett and his siblings was running cold. A collateral search was started yet again, looking first to John J. Barrett's children, specifically, his daughter Catharine, who married Martin Burke and appeared to stay in Ireland or England until 1875 as noted previously. Thus, a search was undertaken to try and find any records in Ireland for John J. Barrett's daughter, Catherine (Barrett) Burke. A bit of luck shined during a Google search for Catherine Burke Barrett. A biography for Thomas G. Barrett, MD in “Portrait and Biographical Record of Lackawanna County”, was discovered in a free digitized book9. It was determined that this Thomas G. Barrett was the brother of John J. Barrett, and within the entry, the names of John J. and Thomas G.'s parents were listed, a Professor Michael Barrett and Catherine (Burke) Barrett.


This was not the Catharine of the intended search but paying attention to collateral lines was critical to at least stop on the search result and review the record.  The biographical sketch list the parents and identifies his brother John by name, location and occupation. In addition, the information indicates two brothers, the previously identified Edward in St. Louis, and a fourth brother, Dominick who was noted to have died in Illinois and was a teacher.



Included is a wealth information about Thomas G.’s life in the British Army and that there were eleven children of Michael Barrett and Catherine Burke, seven of whom were no longer living. Further information from the sketch noted that in addition to the immigration of John J., Thomas G., Edward (of St. Louis) and Dominick, both Professor Michael Barrett and his wife, Catherine immigrated to the United States, settling in the mid-west. The biography indicated Catherine died and was buried in Jacksonville, Illinois, while Michael lived a long life before dying in St. Louis.

It is often said regarding genealogical research to ensure time is spent on collateral lines. In this instance, while attempting to focus on a sibling of the the ancestor of focus, luck played a part in the identification of a different Catherine (Burke) Barrett, turning out to be my 4great-grandmother married to Professor Michael Barrett. They resided in Mayo until their immigration with much of the family.

Employing a well known technique in genealogical research combined with some additional luck resulted in the identification of the parents for John J. Barrett, Professor Michael Barrett and Catharine (Burke) Barrett,  adding an additional branch to the Barrett Family tree:








1The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania) · Thu, Apr 27, 1899 · Page 10 http://www.newspapers.com/clip/248907/the_scranton_republican_27_april_1899
2 The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania) · Tue, Dec 26, 1893 · Page 8 http://www.newspapers.com/clip/248943/the_scranton_republican_26_dec_1893The Scranton
3Year: 1871; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 340; Line: 3; List Number: 241 Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
4Derby, George, and James T. White. "The National Cyclopedia of American Biography ... V.1-." Google Books. J. T. White, 2 Feb. 2009. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <https://books.google.com/books?id=q-c-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=John%2BErigena%2BBarrett%2BNational%2Bcyclopaedia%2Bof%2Bamerican%2Bbiography&source=bl&ots=CHKt-Idqlm&sig=Ip_5PXfvRL0mwyzWrc9DsjOu82s&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eVAEVf7YEIvFgwSWjYCABQ&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false>.
5Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittston, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1433; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0110; FHL microfilm: 1241433. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
6Year: 1900; Census Place: Hughestown, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1432; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 1241432
7Year: 1880; Census Place: Hughestown, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1150; Family History Film: 1255150; Page: 289A; Enumeration District: 139; Image: 0585
8Pittston Gazette, (Pittston, Pennsylvania), 26 Apr 1904, Tue • Page 3
9Chapman Publishing Co. Portrait and Biographical Record of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. New York, NY: Chapman Publishing Company, 1897. Original from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  DigitizedFeb 10, 2012

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