Monday, October 27, 2014

#52Ancestors (42) Thomas Riley of County Westmeath

My entry to the #52Ancestors calendar this week is a paternal great-great-grandfather, Thomas RILEY.

Riley family c 1913, Thomas on far right

Thomas is one of my connections back to Ireland. Born about 1840, he emigrated to the United States as a child, based on information reported on census records. He married Mary Ann McWEENEY on 3 Jun 1865 in Lockport, Will, Illinois. Their marriage is listed in the county clerk index, but the clerk's office was unable to locate a copy of their actual marriage license or return.

RILEY and its variants have made it difficult to pinpoint Thomas in 1850 or 1860 census records. The fact that I don't know his parents or any siblings doesn't help, either.

He first appears in records on the 1870 census in Lockport, Will, Illinois. I love that he is listed as a 'canal captain' and Mary Ann as a 'canal boat cook.' The Illinois and Michigan Canal was a huge undertaking that employed thousands of immigrants in areas southwest of Chicago. You can learn more about the canal here.

He remained in Lockport for the rest of his life, appearing as a laborer in censuses of 1880 and 1900.

Thomas and Mary Ann had four known children:
  • Elizabeth (Lizzie), 1866-1948, never married
  • James Charles, 1868-1906, never married
  • John Patrick, 1872-1955, married Rena Clara Blanchard, 11 children
  • Andrew, 1880-1889
Thomas' death record from Saint Dennis Church in Lockport states he was born in County Westmeath in Ireland, and he was 75 years old when he died. That's my only current lead in Ireland.

He died in 1915 and is buried in South Lockport Cemetery but he and Mary Ann have no stone.

© 2014 Sally Knudsen