When I started researching the Irish branch of our Barnes family I started with John Barnes and his wife Mary Ryan. We knew they had lived near Birr in County Offaly, Ireland – then called County King’s. We knew they were farmers and had a large family, twelve children, they were Catholic, and that John Barnes died suddenly in 1892. Truthfully, that’s more than a lot of other family researchers know when starting out. Family members had previously checked with St. Brendan’s Roman Catholic Church in Birr, without finding any of our Barnes family.
My first step was to contact the Irish Midlands Ancestry in Tullamore, Ireland in 2005. They quickly found records pertaining to our Barnes family with the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church. That was the church where John Barnes had married Mary Ann Ryan on 13 June 1859. Remarkably they found that John Barnes did indeed die in 1892, on April 16th. The cause of death was “Apoplexy Sudden” a medical term that usually meant a stroke, or ruptured aortic aneurysm. He had died when he was sixty, so now we also knew he was born about 1832. Family stories tell that he was either born in Scotland, or his father had been born there. The researchers couldn’t find a birth record in the Kilcolman Parish for John Barnes, searching between the years 1830 – 1899, except for a son named John, in 1870. Below is the death record for John Barnes from 1892.
This month I tried a 30-day trial on-line subscription to GenealogyBank.com to research the historical newspapers that they have. On a whim I did a search for John Barnes in the time period of 1892 under the New York Newspaper Archives. I had hopes that since so many of his children had moved to New York City, that maybe I could find an obituary. I did find what I was looking for – in the Irish World (New York, NY). They have historical issues from 1890 – 1905, and the death notice had been published on 14 May 1892 on page 6. It is only a short paragraph, but it was there! If you click on the image it will enlarge.
Most likely John Barnes was buried at the Kilcolman Parish cemetery, but most of the older graves are unmarked. Here’s a photo of the interior of the Kilcoman Church.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand. ~ Irish Prayer