Kilpatrick family history

After thirteen years' study of a wide range of Irish, Canadian, and American records, I've decided, finally, that I'm as ready as I'll ever be to put quill to paper and write the family history of our branch of the Kilpatricks of Lislea townland, parish of Kilrea, county Londonderry.

This research commenced in late 2001, when our mother, Dorothy May Causton née Kilpatrick (1922-2003) asked me to turn my genealogical attention to her forebears in Ireland. After completing a preliminary study of her maternal grandparents (the Flavells and Gilmores of county Armagh), I started to research her paternal grandparents, whose surnames were Huggins and Kilpatrick, of counties Tyrone and Derry, respectively. By April 2002, we knew that Mum's paternal grandmother, Sarah Selina, descended from a long line of John Hugginses in Glenarb townland, parish of Aghaloo, county Tyrone. Further research of the Huggins line would continue over the next decade, but for the remainder of 2002, I concentrated on finding the elusive, ancestral townland of the Kilpatrick family.

Like most people who are removed from the old country by two (e.g., my mother), three (me), or more generations, we began with scant information about our Kilpatricks:

  • The most valuable information would prove to be the lists of births and deaths inscribed in the family bible by Samuel Kilpatrick (c1803-1894) and Jane McCay (c1806-1886). Samuel and Jane had recorded the births of their children, all but one of whom were born in Ireland, and the deaths of those who predeceased them. A later hand, probably that of Samuel's and Jane's youngest child, Robert Gordon Kilpatrick (1851-1929), recorded the births of children born to his sister, Mary Kilpatrick (1837-1887) and Archibald McLister (1819-1896), and of the deaths of Robert Gordon's three sisters.
  • One of our cousins had made a number of enquiries to various churches and record offices in Ontario during the late 1970s. Kathryn was doing family history research the old fashioned way, that is, without the benefit of computers, networks, or subscription services. She wrote letters, made long distance telephone calls, drove to record offices, and pored over dusty, old documents. Some of the information that Kathryn unearthed would have remained unknown to us, except for her having done this leg work.
  • Family oral tradition held that Samuel and Jane had come to Canada from county Londonderry during the famine, an assertion that was borne out by corroboration to historical records in Northern Ireland.

The initial research objective was to determine whether Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane M'Cay had, indeed, emigrated from the county Londonderry and, if so, which parish. After purchasing a directory of The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, I wrote letters to every congregation in county Derry. I received several kind responses, most notably a very friendly and engaging missive from the minister of the Ballymoney congregation, but, unfortunately, no research leads as to the parish of origin of our Samuel and Jane. At this point, I was prepared to go to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland [PRONI] in Belfast, to comb through microfilm copies of every Presbyterian congregational record. However, knowing that such an effort would take weeks or, perhaps, months, and that many of the Presbyterian records date only from the mid 1800s, I began to despair of ever finding the home parish of the Kilpatricks and M'Cays.

Most fortuitously, in September 2002, Linde Lunney connected the dots between a post that I had made to a RootsWeb mailing list on May 30, 2002, enquiring about the county Londonderry origins of our Kilpatrick family, and a post made by Barbara Braswell only weeks before, to the Bann Valley genealogy mailing list hosted by Richard Torrens: in this post, Barbara detailed her transcriptions of the surviving records for Kilrea First Presbyterian Church. The church records for the marriage of, and children born to, Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane McCay, matched the entries in the Kilpatrick family bible exactly! By this time, our mother's mortal life star was fading quickly, and it meant a great deal to be able to deliver this, the last piece of her Irish family history puzzle.

Thus, much of the Irish information in the Kilpatrick family history comes from the records of Kilrea First Presbyterian church, as transcribed by Barbara Braswell and posted to Richard Torrens' Bann Valley Genealogy web site. These data have been supplemented by references to marriage records transcribed at the Record Office in Coleraine during one of my research trips to Northern Ireland. Other Irish resources include: Tithe Applotment records of 1826; surviving fragments of the 1831 census; Griffith's Valuation, conducted in the parish of Kilrea in 1859; and research commissioned from professional genealogists in Northern Ireland, to take photographs of gravestones and obtain copies of certain records held at the PRONI.

Our earliest, verifiable Kilpatrick ancestors in the parish of Kilrea are the parents of Samuel Kilpatrick: Adam Kilpatrick, who died sometime before 1828, and Mary Gordon, who died sometime before 1860. Since deaths and burials were not recorded in the church records, and headstones did not survive for Adam and Mary, we do not know exactly when they died. Traces do survive of earlier members of the family, which I will discuss in a chapter entitled, Early mentions of the Kilpatrick surname in the parishes of Kilrea and Tamlaght O'Crilly, county Londonderry.

Of the several children born to Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane M'Cay, only two marriages bore children: Mary Kilpatrick (1837-1887) and Archibald McLister (1819-1896) who, within a few years of their marriage in Ontario in 1858, moved to the rural village of Sherman in Summit County, Ohio; and, Robert Gordon Kilpatrick (1851-1929) and Sarah Selina Huggins (1855-1928), who lived in several Canadian provinces before finally settling in Toronto in the early 1890s.

Most of the Canadian and American research data were derived from public records hosted by Ancestry, accessible by subscription. However, the American research was started in 2004, by commissioning research from a professional genealogist in Akron, Ohio. At that time, most of the public records which are so readily available online today–whether freely, as on Family Search, or by subscription, for example, to Ancestry–were not at all available online ten years ago. Thus, commissioning research or going directly to Akron, Ohio were the only means by which family history research of the Mary Kilpatrick and Archie McLister line could commence. Similarly, until late 2006, when I finally bought an Ancestry subscription, most of my Canadian research work was done by attending public libraries, or in the local Family History Centres, scrolling for hours through microfilms borrowed through the LDS' extensive lending library.

During the next several months, my plan is to prepare a comprehensive family history report of the near relatives of Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane M'Cay in Ireland, their descendants (excepting living persons) in Ontario and Ohio, the socioeconomic and cultural history of the parish in which they lived, and the context of the Great Famine from which they fled in 1847. Currently, the proposed outline for this report takes the following form:

  1. Introduction
  2. From Scotland to Ireland
  3. Early mentions of the Kilpatrick surname in the parishes of Kilrea and Tamlaght O'Crilly, county Londonderry
  4. The parish of Kilrea in the early 19th century
  5. The Great Famine, 1847-1852
  6. The flight to Québec, 1847
  7. Starting anew in Prescott, Canada West (Ontario), 1847-1881
  8. Retirement to St. Thomas, Ontario, 1886-1901
  9. The Kilpatrick-Huggins family of Toronto, Ontario
  10. The McLister-Kilpatrick branch of Summit County, Ohio
  11. Co-lateral lines in the parish of Kilrea
  12. Suggestions for further research
  13. Concluding remarks

A variation of this blog will likely be the stuff of the first chapter, the Introduction. However, my first order of business will be to produce a family tree from my family history file (compiled in Reunion for the Mac). A lot of data (1.1 GB) have been input into a digital family file, and a corresponding lot of editing needs to be done before it may be published to this web site. Updates of my progress will be posted to this blog.

Best wishes–and White Rabbits–on this Novem-brrrr-y day,

ajk

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© Alison Kilpatrick, 2014. All rights reserved.
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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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