Monday, January 20, 2014

#52Ancestors (3) Catherine Allen

Week Three of the 52 Ancestor challenge brings me to possibly the one ancestor who is not a blood relative. She has a very important role in my paternal family tree, though.

Catherine Allen Kerr
(1855-1932)

Standing: Catherine Allen Kerr
Sitting: Elizabeth Goodwin Allen (mother)
and Susannah Allen Wilkinson (sister)
with unidentified child

Catherine ALLEN is a part of my coal mining immigrant family from Ireland and Scotland to the 1870's boomtown of Braidwood, in Will County, Illinois. She was born 8 July 1855 in New Mines, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Thomas ALLEN and Elizabeth GOODWIN ALLEN, were recent immigrants to the United States from Scotland. Thomas and Elizabeth had 13 children, nine in Pennsylvania and four more after their 1866 arrival in Braidwood. Catherine was third born but the first to survive childhood.

On New Year's Eve of 1878, at age 23, Catherine married another local Scottish miner, Robert KERR. Robert was a recent widower with a young daughter, and Catherine could fit right into his family. Robert was also my great-great-grandfather.

Marriage License copy from Will County, 1878, #7441

Return filed after their marriage

This copy of Catherine and Robert's marriage return is one of my favorite documents. Illinois recorded marriage returns as early as 1836 but few survive. This is one of only two pre-1900 returns I have been able to locate for my family. It is filled with demographic information. Isn't this record amazing?!


I was also pleasantly surprised to see that they both signed their marriage return.

Catherine and Robert had a family of 12 children between 1879 and 1897, plus Robert's daughter Maggie, my great-grandmother. They lived for many years in Braidwood until the coal mining boom subsided. Many laborers, including Robert, moved north to the city of Joliet to find work in the mills and prison.

Catherine was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church and the Good Hope Temple No. 153 of the Pythian Sisters.

Catherine died on 2 May 1932 at age 76 as the result of heart failure. She was buried in Elmhurst Cemetery in Joliet, alongside Robert and several of her children and siblings.


Catherine Allen Kerr is a paternal step-great-great-grandmother.

Catherine's page in my database

(c) 2014 Sally Knudsen






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