Downtown Taghmon

Downtown Taghmon
Main Street, Taghmon, County Wexford, 2011

About James Connor and Anastasia Colfour (Colfer)

About James Connor and Anastasia Colfer

James Connor (c1818-1897) and Anastasia Colfour (Colfer) (c1821-1884) married in the Parish of Taghmon in 1842 and emigrated from County Wexford, possibly the town of Taghmon, between c1852-1854. History states that James preceded Anna by two years. Shortly after arriving in America, they settled in Evanston, Illinois. They lived and farmed in an area of Evanston now known as Stockham Park until about 1862 when they moved to the corner of Ridge Avenue and Lake Street in Evanston. Several siblings of James' also came to the U.S. around the same time and resided in Evanston. They include his twin siblings Katherine and Thomas, both of whom never married; and, his brother Patrick who married Margaret Welsch. James and Anna had six children, the first five of whom were born in Ireland. They include Ellen (Sullivan) (1843-1919), James C. (1846-1890), Bridget Lucy (Headen/Hayden) (1849-1876); John A. (1852-1932); Mary E. (Haughey) (1854-1934); and, Thomas E. (1857-1929). Anna died of typhoid pneumonia on April 15, 1884. James, lived to be 79, spending the last thirteen years living with his son Thomas. James died on October 2, 1897.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Research on the Connor Children Birthdates

Nancy Connor Post (1946-2004), a third cousin, and avid researcher, provided this document to me in 2002. She had been researching her Connor ancestors and decided to ask for assistance in Wexford, Ireland. She wrote to the Taghmon Historical Society and they referred her inquiry to Mr. Hilary Murphy. Mr. Murphy provided "birth dates" for the five Connor children that were born in Ireland per the following letter.

Click on image to enlarge

However, Mr. Murphy did not provide sources for the birth dates so it is not clear where he found them. But he did get this information in Ireland. Now that the National Library of Ireland has church records on line, I thought I would check out the information provided by Mr. Murphy, some 14 years ago, and compare the birth dates with other records that are available in the states.

I have compared four sources to see if a good "guess" at a birth date could be established for each of the Connor children. These include the above letter, the Taghmon Church records online at the Irish National Library, pages from the Connor Family Bible held by Chuck and Lori Reiss, and any death certificates I could locate.

Ellen Connor
Murphy Document: born August 15, 1843
Taghmon Church Baptism Registry: baptism August 25, 1843
Connor Family Bible: born August 24, 1843
Death Certificate: born August 15, 1848

Assumed birth date: August 15, 1843
Comments: August 15 is the date that Mr. Murphy found in some unknown Irish record. It is also the month and day that is recorded on Ellen's death certificate, so it must have been the month and day she had told others was her birthday. However, Ellen must have also said she was born in 1848, 5 years after her actual birth year. When her sister Mary recorded information in the Connor Family Bible in 1877, she knew Ellen's correct birth year of 1843. The birth year of 1848 was used for her death certificate as this seems to be the year Ellen told others she was born.

Click on image to enlarge

James Connor
Murphy Document: born April 6, 1846
Taghmon Church Baptism Registry: baptism April 7, 1846
Connor Family Bible: born April 6, 1846
Death Certificate: No certificate can be located

Assumed birth date: April 6, 1846
Unlike the Connor women, James' birth date seems fairly straight forward.

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Bridget Connor
Murphy Document: born Mary 26, 1849
Taghmon Church Registry: baptism May 28, 1849
Family Bible: born May 27, 1849
Death Certificate: None can be located

Assumed birth date: Either May 26 or 27, 1849
Comments: I wish I knew the source of Mr. Murphy's date. He seems to be right on the first two Connor children.

Click on image to enlarge

John Connor
Murphy Document: born October 16, 1852
Taghmon Church Registry: baptism October 16, 1852
Family Bible: born January 22, 1854
Death Certificate: None can be located

Assumed birth date: October 16, 1852
My theory is, Mary needed John to be born a little later to make the birth year she chose for herself to use in the family bible, work for her. I have searched the Taghmon baptism registry and there was no John Connor baptized in 1854 or later.

Click on image to enlarge

Mary Connor
Murphy Document: born May 21, 1854, Ireland
Taghmon Church Registry: baptism May 21, 1854, Ireland
Family Bible: born September 27, 1859, Illinois
Death Certificate: September 27, 1858, Illinois

Assumed birth date: May 21, 1854, Ireland
Comments: Initially, I thought perhaps the Mary Connor born in Ireland died, and a second Mary Connor was born in Evanston. This is still possible but I have my doubts. Since Mary was the recorder of the early births and deaths in the Connor Bible, I think if there had been a child that had died, she would have recorded the death of the earlier Mary in the Bible. Since the Connor family is believed to be in the US by 1859, she could not record herself as being born in Ireland, so this is why I think she noted she was born in Illinois.  I am not sure why there is such a discrepancy of birth month and day.

Click on image to enlarge

Thomas Connor
Murphy Document: no information as he was born in Illinois
Taghmon Church Registry: no information as he was born in Illinois
Family Bible: born April 16, 1857
Death Certificate: born April 27, 1857

Assumed birth date: April 16, 1857, Illinois
Comment: It is likely Thomas was baptized, but the church records for St. Mary's in Evanston don't start until 1872 and there are no birth certificates before the Chicago fire of 1871 for Cook County. I need to see if I can find a baptismal record, perhaps in a nearby church.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Patrick Connor 1880 Death Certificate

Patrick Connor (1823-1880) is the older brother of James Connor (1818-1897).

The Physician's Certificate of Death, issued in Evanston, Cook County, Illinois shows Patrick's last name spelled "Conners." A not uncommon spelling.

The certificate states he died in Evanston on March 28, 1880, which was a Sunday, at 7:45 p.m.  He was married. Although his wife's name is not listed, he was married to Margaret Welsch Connor (1825-1890). Given he is thought, at the time of his death, to be 56 years, 3 months and 7 days old, this would calculate a birth date of December 21, 1823.

It also states he was born in Ireland and had resided in Illinois for 28 years. From what I can tell, the Connors came directly to Illinois from Ireland which would give a c1852 immigration date.

The cause of death is given as "exhaustion from tuberculosis" which the certificate says he had for fifteen years. He was buried in Calvery Cemetery, Evanston, Illinois. The undertaker was John Hebbelthwaite located on Davis Street in Evanston, IL.

Source: Family History Library, digital folder #004004754, image #01216.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thomas Connor - Jennie Colbert Marriage Registration 1885

Thomas Connor, son of James Connor and Anastasia Colfer, married Jennie Colbert, daughter of Edmund and Margaret Colbert, on May 27, 1885 in Racine, Wisconsin.

Of note is the spelling of the last name of Thomas' mother, Anastasia "Coffer."  Other spellings include "Colfour" (in her obituary), "Colfor" (in the family bible), and "Colfer" as the common spelling in County Wexford, Ireland.

1. Full name of husband: Thomas Connor
2. Name of the father of husband: James Connor
3. Name of the mother of husband before marriage: Anastasia Coffer
4. Occupation of husband: Book keeper
5. Resident of husband: Evanston [Illinois]
6. Birthplace of husband: Evanston [Illinois - ditto marks used for birthplace]
7. Full name of wife previous to marriage: Jennie Colbert [indexed as Jonnie]
8. Name of the father of wife: Edmund Colbert
9. Name of the mother of wife before marriage: Margaret Colbert [ditto marks used for last name]
10. Birthplace of wife: Racine [Wisconsin]
11. Time when the marriage was contracted: May 27, 1885
12. The place, town or township and county, where the marriage was contracted: Racine [Wisconsin]
13. The color of the parties: White
14. By what ceremony contracted: Catholic
15: Names of subscribing witnesses: John Connor; Minnie Colbert
16. Name of person pronouncing marriage: Geo W. Mathews
17. Residence of person last named: Racine [Wisconsin]
18 Date of certificate or affidavit of marriage: May 27, 1885
19 Date of registration: June 1, 1885
20 Any additional circumstances: [Blank]

Source: Pre-1907 Wisconsin Marriage Records, Racine County, vol. 3, page 272, microfilm, Wisconsin State Historical Society.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

James C. Connor Will, 1889

James C. Connor signed his will on February 15, 1889, the same day he applied for his passport to go to the Holy Land.  It appears he was getting his "house in order" in anticipation of the trip which was only a week away.

In the name of God Amen. I James C. Connor of the Village of Evanston in the County of Cook and State of Illinois of the age of Forty two years do make and publish and declare this my last will and testament.  I being at the time of the making thereof of sound mind and memory.

I give and bequeath to my wife Hannah Connor all the property of every kind nature and description of which I shall die seized, the above including all the real estate, personal property choses in action.  Life insurance and everything I have at the time of my death to be and remain hers in fee simple - absolutely and forever.

I hereby appoint Hannah Connor my said wife, sole executrix of this my last will and testament, and request that no bond shall be required or demanded of her, from any court as such executrix, or for the carrying out of the provisions of this my will.

In witness whereof I have herewith set my hand and seal this 15th day of February in the year of our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Eighty-nine (1889)

(Signed) James C. Connor (Seal)

The above and foregoing instrument consisting of one page was at the date thereof signed, sealed, published and declared by the said James C. Connor as and for his last will and testament in presence of us who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.

Thomas Bates, 330 Maple Ave. Evanston, Ills.
Thomas B. Brougham, 5131 Washington Ave. Hyde Park, Ills.

Dunbrody (Dunbrodie) Famine Ship

On James Charles Connor's 1889 passport application, it states he "emigrated to the United States, sailing on board the 'Dunbrodie' from Queenstown or Liverpool, on or about the 1st day of May 1856."

In New Ross, County Wexford, a replica of the famine ship is anchored.  They even have a Facebook page at

I have written them to see if they have any information regarding the trans-Atlantic crossings of the ship in 1856.

There is also a webpage for the ship: 

Images from various Dunbrody websites.

James C. Connor Goes to the Holy Land, 1889

When the 1889 passport for James Charles Connor was applied for, it was requested that the completed passport be sent to Rev. Charles A. Vissani.  Fr. Vassani. O.S.F., was a Franciscan who organized the first Holy Land Pilgrimage from the United States.  James Connor and about 100 others participated in the event.  This article from the New York Times outlines their travels.  Unlike the article in the Industrial Chicago: The Building Interests noted in a previous post, there is no mention of Mr. McCann being a part of the Holy Land Pilgrimage.

James C. Connor, Passport Application, 1889

James C. Connor applied for a passport on February 15, 1889 in anticipation of a European trip.  He was 42 years old and planned to travel with his business associate, Mr. McCann, as mentioned in the write up of his travels noted below.

This passport application states the ship he traveled on coming to America, the "Dunbrodie," embarked from the ports of Queenstown/Liverpool, on or about the first day of May 1856.

Further, he states "I was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the District Court of the United States at Chicago, Illinois on the first day of November, 1860 as shown by the accompanying Certificate of my Father's Naturalization; that I am the son of James Conners, the identical person described in said Certificate and having been 14 years of age at the time of my father's naturalization."

"In 1889 Mr. McCann, accompanied by Mr. James C. Connor, enjoyed a European trip, visiting the Mediterranean, Rome, Naples, Alexandria and Cairo, passing through the Suez canal to the Holy Land, where they spent some time visiting the principal historical spots.  They were with a party of tourists known as the First American Catholic Pilgrimage, and were gone six months.  On his return he visited his native land, passing also through England and Scotland."
Industrial Chicago: The Building Interests, Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Company, Vol. 1, 1891, page 746-747.

When the passport application was first viewed, it seemed odd that the "applicant desires passport sent to the following address:" area noted it was to be sent to a priest in New York City.  But, now knowing he was participating in the "First American Catholic Pilgrimage" this accounts for the passport being sent to Rev. Charles A. Vissani, No. 309 52nd St., New York, N.Y. and why it says "please forward at once."

The Pilgrimage group left Hoboken, NJ aboard the ship the Wieland on February 21 and planned to return to the US by the middle of June.  However, the article above states James Connor continued on to Ireland, England and Scotland, so he probably didn't return until at least July.  See the article: Off to the Holy Land: Pilgrims from this Country to Jerusalem, February 17, 1889, New York Times.

With the above information, it is time to find his passenger list and, hopefully, his father's Naturalization papers.  How exciting.