Jan 142012

I found a marriage record for my great-great-grandparents, David Wilson and Elizabeth Gilliland, using the Irish Family History Foundation. At 5 Euros a page, it's not cheap if you need to try out many false alarms. In this case, there was only one record for the two of them, and if gave the same marriage date as familysearch.org.

It gives their marriage in Ballymena Parish in County Antrim on 29 Jan 1864. David was a farmer in Camlea and his father was James Wilson, also a farmer. Elizabeth was a spinster in Dunaird and her father was William Gillilund, a farmer. They were married in Buckna Presbyterian Church, which is to the east of Ballymena, close to Broughshane, where their oldest son, James Wilson was born the next year. It lists both as over 21, which means that both were born before 1843.

Witnesses are James Gilliland and Henry Lunn. Maybe James is Elizabeth's brother?

marriage record for my great-great-grandparents,
David Wilson and Elizabeth Gilliland

Jan 142012

Samuel Wilson, born 30 Aug 1871 and died 30 Apr 1946, and Anna E. Regina Cruice, born 22 Apr 1886 and died 21 Jun 1976, were married 30 Apr 1910 in Niagara Fall. Their one child was my grandmother, Helene Anna Wilson.

Because I found my great-grandfather's death certificate in Kenmore, I learned that his mother's name was Elizabeth Gilliland. I knew her name was Elizabeth, but some other record said that her last name was Watts, and other records just listed it as Elizabeth.

I did a search on "Samuel WIlson" with parents "David Wilson" and "Elizabeth Gillibrand" on familysearch.org and found a good bit of information:

A record for the birth of Samuel Wilson, which lists his birthday as 30 Aug 1870 instead of 30 Aug 1871. It lists his birthplace as Connor, County Antrim, Ireland. Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, film number 101210

When I googled this, I learned that the village of Connor is currently encompassed by the village of Kells, just to the southeast of Ballymena in what is now Northern Ireland. Before I had Ballymena as his birth place. This narrows it to the particular location in the Borough. According to Wikipedia, "Kells (from the Irish: Na Cealla) is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, near Ballymena. The area encompasses Kells and the village of Connor which are very close together and have a joint primary school, library, development association etc. It had a population of 1,745 people in the 2001 Census. It is within the Borough of Ballymena. An old stone bridge crosses the Kells Water, separating Kells from the adjacent village of Connor."

I also found my great-grandfather's siblings:

William Wilson, born 9 May 1866, christened 10 May 1866, in Conner, County Antrim, Ireland. Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, film number 101125

David Wilson, born 17 May 1873 in Conner, County Antrim, Ireland. Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, film number 255874

Ann Wilson, born 1 Dec 1876 in Conner, County Antrim, Ireland. Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, film number 255962

James Wilson, born 4 May 1865 in 0138, Broughshane, County Antrim, Ireland. Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, film number 101100. According to Wikipedia, "Broughshane (formerly Bruaghshane, from Irish: Bruach Sheáin) is a village within the Borough of Ballymena in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of Ballymena and 13.8 miles (22.2 km) north of Antrim, on the A42 road. It had a population of 2,364 at the 2001 Census."

One of the records noted that David Wilson, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Ballynashee, County Sligo, Ireland. Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881, film number 255962, for daughter Ann Wilson

David Wilson and Elizabeth Gilliland were married 29 Jan 1864. David Wilson's father's name was James Wilson. Elizabeth Gilliand's father's name was William Gilliland. Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898, film number 101452 

Jan 142012

My great-grandfather's death certificate arrived today. Samuel Wilson was born 30 August. While this says 1874, his naturalization documents say 1871. His wife, right after his death, fille this form out. He filled out his naturalization papers. So I'm going to assume that he was born in 1871.

He died 1 May 1946 in Kenmore, NY, of prostate cancer.

A couple new things from this document. One is his social security number. I can use that to order his social security application to see if that has some more information. The other is his mother's last name, or at least a possible last name. Some records say it's Elizabeth Watts. This says Elizabeth Gilliland or Gilliband.

Jan 062012

I finally gave up on ordering genealogical records from NY State. They cashed my checks back in July and still have yet to send me any records. I wrote a letter complaining, but I'm sure that will do no good.

So instead I've been emailing and writing various town clerks to see if they might have any vital records.

The Lockport Town Clerk found the death certificate for my wife's great-great-grandfather, John Morris. It's $11 for the death certificate but they charged no search fee upfront.

The Kenmore Town Clerk found the death certificate for my great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson. Again, no search fee. Just a $22 fee for a copy of the death certificate.

Now I'm hoping that this will have the names of his parents, specifically his mother. I have that his father, my great-great-grandfather, was David Wilson, and I even have what's thought to be a photo of David. What I'm unsure about is the name of his mother. It could be Elizabeth Watts. I'm also hoping that it will confirm both his birth date and his home town of Ballymena, Ireland.

Dec 252011

My great-grandfather Samuel Wilson, my mother's maternal grandfather, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, which is now in Northern Ireland and part of the United Kingdom.

He was born 30 Aug 1871. He left Ireland from Londonderry on 3 Dec 1890 and arrived in New York on the "State of Nebraska" on 21 Dec 1871.

Here is some information about Ballymena that I copied from Wikipedia and the Ballymena Council web page.

The name of the town of Ballymena comes from the Irish Gaelic “An Baile Meadhonach” meaning “middle townland”.

Ballymena is an area rich in history; you’ll notice many ancient buildings, churches and historical sites in the town and the surrounding villages of Gracehill, Cullybackey, Kells and Portglenone. The first recorded history of this area dates to the early Christian period between 5th – 7th centuries; however archaeologists have uncovered artifacts which are reputed to date from the Bronze Age.

The town of Ballymena is built on land given to the Adair family by King Charles 1 in 1626, on the provison that the town holds two annual fairs and a free Saturday market in perpetuity. Almost four hundred years on, the town upholds its promise; the Saturday market still runs and for two days in June, the town’s Ballymena Showgrounds plays host to one of the largest agricultural shows in Ireland.

Early History

The recorded history of the Ballymena area dates to the Early Christian period from the 5th to the 7th centuries. Ringforts found in the townland of Ballykeel and a site known as Camphill Fort in the townland of Ballee may also have been of this type. There are a number of souterrain sites within a 1¼ mile (2 km) radius of the centre of Ballymena.

Two miles north of Ballymena in the townland of Kirkinriola, the ancient parish church and graveyard possess several indicators of Early Christian settlement including a souterrain. Also in 1868, a gravedigger found a large stone slab on which was carved a cross with the inscription ord do degen. This refers to Bishop Degen, who lived in Ireland during the 7th century. This stone is now in the porch of the Parish Church of St Patrick, in the Parish of Kilconriola, which is found in Castle Street, Ballymena.

At the end of the 5th century, a church was founded in Connor, 5 miles south of Ballymena. This was followed by a monastery at Templemoyle, Kells. In 831, however, the Norse invaded the Ballymena area, burning the church.

In the 12th century, the Normans conquered much of County Antrim and County Down and created the core of the Earldom of Ulster. During this campaign they built great mounds of earth topped by wooden towers, referred to as mottes, as defensive structures. Harryville's motte-and-bailey is one of the best examples of this type of fortification in Northern Ireland. Some sources[who?], however, credit the Uí Fhloinn with building the mid-Antrim mottes and baileys in imitation of the invaders; the Uí Fhloinn defeated and repelled the Earl of Ulster, John de Courcy, in 1177 and 1178.

In 1315, Edward Bruce (brother of King Robert I of Scotland, known as "Robert Bruce") invaded Ireland. On 10 September 1315, at the Battle of Tawnybrack (5 miles south of Ballymena at Kells), Edward conquered the army of Richard De Burgo, the Norman Earl of Ulster.


n 1576, Queen Elizabeth I granted land, including the town of Ballymena, to Sir Thomas Smith. The lands had been forfeited to the crown after Shane O'Neill's resistance in the 1560s. Smith brought English settlers to the area. By 1581, Smith's settlement failed and the lands reverted to the crown.
On 10 May 1607, King James I granted the native Irish chief, Ruairí Óg MacQuillan the Ballymena Estate. The estate passed through several owners, eventually passing into the possession of William Adair, a Scottish laird from Kinhilt in southwestern Scotland. The estate was temporarily renamed "Kinhilstown" after the Adair's lands in Scotland. The original castle of Ballymena was built in the early 17th century, situated to take advantage of an ancient ford over the River Braid. In 1626 Charles I confirmed the grant of the Ballymena Estate to William Adair, giving him the right to hold a market at Ballymena on every Saturday.

In 1641, the local Ballymena garrison fought against the rebels but had to retreat to Carrickfergus. Ballymena's first market house (on the site of the present town hall) was built in 1684.

In 1690, the Duke of Württemberg, a Williamite general, used Galgorm Castle as his headquarters. Sir Robert Adair raised a Regiment of Foot for King William III and fought at the Battle of the Boyne.

By 1704, the population of Ballymena had reached 800. In 1707, the first Protestant (Church of Ireland) parish church was built. In 1740, the original Ballymena Castle burned down. The Gracehill Moravian settlement was founded in 1765. During the 1798 rebellion, Ballymena was occupied from 7 June to 9 June by a force of around 10,000 United Irishmen, who stormed the Market House (now the Town Hall) killing three of its defenders.

The first modern Roman Catholic Church in Ballymena was consecrated in 1827. By 1834 the population of Ballymena was about 4,000. In 1848 the Belfast and Ballymena Railway was established. In 1865 Robert Alexander Shafto Adair (late Baron Waveney) started building Ballymena Castle, a magnificent family residence, in the Demesne. The castle was not completed until 1887.

Ballymena, County Atrim, Northern Ireland

Dec 242011

My great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson, naturalization papers arrived today.

The first document is the Declaration of Intention. It states that he was of fair complexion, 5' 7", 150lbs, with auburn hair and blue eyes. He was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland on 30 Aug 1871. There is also the Petition and the Naturalization document itself.

He departed 3 Dec 1890 from Londonderry and arrived 21 Dec 1890 in New York.

He renounces his allegiance to "His Majesty George V, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India".

The Petition for Naturalization lists William Wilson and Rose Elizabeth Wilson as witnesses. Brother? Cousin?

Oct 292011

Today I received information on the naturalization of my mom's maternal grandfather, my great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson. I had found his gravemarker on findagrave.com recently. That gave me his birthdate so I could search for his naturalization records, hoping they might reveal something about his parents and his birthplace in Ireland.

This is the first step in genealogical search through Homeland Security (www.uscis.gov/genealogy). You first do an Index Search, which gives you this minimal information. Then you use the case number and file number to get a copy of the actual naturalization documentation.

One thing that's interesting from this is that I now have a different birth date. On his grave marker, it gives 30 Aug 1874. This gives 30 Aug 1871. Given that this was filled out by him, I imagine this has a higher probability of being the correct birth date. I'll give 1871 a try before checking out 1874. I'll also ping Ireland again. I had originally given them 1874 and they returned no match. Maybe they'll have better luck with 1871.

my great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson, naturalization information

Oct 072011

My mother's mother's parents were Samuel Wilson and Anna Regina Cruice. I've had information on Gramma Wilson for a while. I remember her from the few times we visited Florida, where she lived near my grandparents.

I had little on my great-grandfather, Samuel WIlson, who died many years before I was born. 

From census records, I was able to get his birth year, abt 1872, and that he was born in Ireland. Nothing on the date of his death. My aunt thought he might have died in the late 1950's but I was unable to find any records. 

I finally stumbled on findagrave.com. I think I tried using this a year or two ago, with nothing of use turning up. Maybe I've gotten better. Or the database has gotten better. Or both. But this time I got a hit.

I had no idea where my great-grandfather was buried. But on findagrave.com I was able to search all cemeteries in their database in Erie County in New York State. The trick for me was to first click on "Search for a cemetery" on the right column of the menu list, which bring me to this page http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cs. That let me narrow the cemeteries to Erie County and let me enter in "Samuel Wilson" into the name field. And there it was:

grave marker for Anna and Samuel Wilson

My great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson, was born 30 Aug 1874 and died 30 Apr 1946.

I tried a quick-and-dirty request for his birth certificate from the Civil Registration Service in Dublin, Ireland. Fortunately, a "no record found" only cost me 2 Euros. The Irish Family History Foundation (ifhf.rootsireland.ie) also turned up nothing. But I'll keep searching.

Update (29 Oct 2011)

Received information on Samuel Wilson's naturalization on 13 Jun 1928. This indicates his birth date as 30 Aug 1871 (age 56 in 1928), not 1874.