In many countries where the Irish settled, they did not necessarily attend an “Irish Parish” or even an “English speaking parish” as we term these in genealogy. I was recently working in a small frontier Catholic parish in Southern Illinois where many Irish and Germans settled. What I was looking at didn’t make much sense until I looked at who the priest was writing the information down. When the German priest was baptizing and transcribing names in the registers, it was a nightmare. He obviously did well with the German names.
A German Priest Writes Irish Names
What made this case fascinating was the German priest seemed to have confused O’Connell and O’Donnell. This also brought into question his usage of McDonell, McDonald also for O’Donnell. My search family was O’Donnell.
What I noticed through closely examining a ten year period of these records from 1864-1874 was when the Irish priest took over the writing, he obviously got the names correct. It was through his transcriptions I was able to understand McDonnell and McDonald were the same and were not O’Donnell. However, he also seemed to have gone back into the registers and wrote over the mess created by the German priest in an attempt to correct errors in Irish names. While admirable, it created a secondary mess where I could not tell if it was really O’Donnell or O’Connell.
Irish Priest Begins Writing Irish Names
My solution was to continue in the registers where the German priest was no longer writing and see what the Irish priest did with the same families a few years later. If I had only stopped after a few years in the registers, I would have missed so much. It literally took me about 10 years of sorting through every family and the godparent’s names to unravel the mess created between the Irish and German priests. However, in the end, it was well worth my time!
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