Another Researcher Poses Data Challenge #1

The key to John might be Jane. That is our hope; so far, the ploy has come up short.

Now, had you readImagining Genealogy from a Deathbed Rantyou’d know that John Kelly was likely our biological great grandfather. Born in the US 1859, or so, he vanished from Scotland after registering his non-wedlock son in Cambusnethan. 1 That was 13 May 1882. We suspect his son was allowed for adoption with a wonderful outcome.2 We are determined to profile John Kelly.

A few years later-1891, in fact- a Scottish widow, Jane Kelly, b. abt. 1860, was noted in Renton Dunbartonshire.1 She was tending to her wee daughters, Mary and Catherine, who were born in the US, 1885 and 1887, respectively. Turned out, their father was a John Kelly.1 Events suggested his birth about 1859.3

What were the chances that the two John Kelly were the same, such that we could find everything about our John, through this family? The analysis started in the book “Double Genealogy: The Adoption Witness”, and continued in the Rant.

Widow-Jane claimed her parents were Bernard Carroll and Catherine McCormick.1 So, a single Jane Carroll living in Renton in 1881 was of great interest.1,4 Inquiry showed that she resembled Widow-Jane on many, but not all counts.  If they were one, then a plausible storyline would have our John meet Jane while he was in Scotland, the two would repair to the US, where their children were born.2 She would return to Scotland upon his early demise. Surely someone in her path would whisper us, what we wanted to know. Of course, supposition is no guarantor of truth; to be kept in mind, to temper the zeal of the hunt.

Single-Jane was on her own, a boarder, in Renton. That situation introduced uncertainty as to identity, since there were no family markers. It prompted an elimination of all available Jane Carroll, including the routing out of “the Imposter, Jane Currol”. 1,4 These cuts raised odds for the match, giving the push to continue research.

The Rant ended with Widow-Jane admitting that Carroll was a surname she ascribed to herself, and to her father, unbeknownst.1 Thus, her father, as Bernard Carroll, was not searchable. We found a substitute that worked.  That is, it worked, as long as we also bought into her new age profile, which made her older, throughout the life she had led.

Another researcher, however, has posited a different Jane Carroll as wife to John Kelly. That Jane was Carroll from the get-go:  Jane Carroll b. 1861 of Bernard Carroll and Esther Darroch.1   We were open to the possibility because of the Rant – even if the mother was different (ours claimed Catherine McCormick), since experience has shown there can be “explanations”. Yes, we had dismissed Darroch-Jane during the purge of available Jane Carroll, but, Widow-Jane’s deceptions merited our second look.

Details of the analysis will be posted under “Not My Ancestor, Maybe Yours”. The researcher’s thesis did not work for several reasons. Jane Carroll of the Darroch mother actually wed John King. Both Janes had a Mary daughter, but our Jane’s was a couple of years older.1 Ours was born in the US, living in Dunbartonshire. The other was born and raised in Lanarkshire. This researcher’s prime interest was in the child Mary, who wed John Stevenson.1 It was Mary Kelly who married John Stevenson in Renton DNB, and all her documents lead back to the Jane who had assumed the Carroll name.



Research suggested that our Jane’s first use of assumed “Carroll” was at Census 1881, in Renton DNB. But, this rehash put Darroch-Jane, back into the elimination queue of competing Jane Carroll for the Renton slot – we could not otherwise, nail her in Census 1881. Her 1881 whereabouts remain unknown.

Darroch-Jane married John King in Lanark, Lanarkshire in 1886.1 She gave her usual address as Lanark, but five years had lapsed. Jane of the 1881 Census claimed Glasgow birth which worked with “explanation” for Widow-Jane, but not Darroch. More comforting, Darroch-Jane worked as a domestic servant. Single-Jane and Widow-Jane had the more qualified profession of hand-print workers in the Turkey Red Dye trade.  It is unlikely that Darroch-Jane was the Jane Carroll enumerated in Renton DNB in 1881.


Obviously each challenge adds hours of work. But this one ended in tremendous upside. The researcher got Mary Stevenson (Kelly’s) ancestry wrong, in our opinion. However, her descendant path was revealed and looks correct.  It brings a new world of leads to explore in our quest to see if Jane’s John is ours. Surely someone will know who her John Kelly was. Surely, surely, maybe.


Jane Kelly, so named, was on Main Street, in Renton at the 1911 Census, and many years later, at death. It is now apparent that she remained there for the family that her daughter, Mary, left behind. Mary died in an asylum of organic brain disease in 1915.1 She was only 30.

Mary and John Stevenson had two daughters; Margaret and Jennie.  Jennie lived and died, unmarried, in Renton 1904- 1934, also, about 30. We have her under study in the event she left a non-wedlock child. We note too, that John Kelly died young, probably around 30.

With all the youthful deaths, it will be specially heartening to follow Mary’s daughter Margaret. We are also following the children of John and Jane’s other daughter, Kate Quinn (Kelly).

Jane Carroll, born in Scotland in the mid-1800s, wed an elusive John Kelly (or Kealy) in New Jersey in 1884. Our likely direct ancestor was a data-similar John Kelly. We sought Jane to ask if the two John were one, but she had several aliases. It took Kate Rabbit to sort things out. CLICK for our true genealogical mystery series.

Notes & Sources
1. Cited Birth, Marriage and Death data were found in Old Parish Records and Statutory Registers at ScotlandsPeople and are © Crown Copyright National Records of Scotland. This includes but is not limited to:
1886 King, John (Statutory registers Marriages 648/21)
1903 Kelly, Mary (Statutory registers Marriages 494/2 12)
1855 Skiffington, Catherine (Statutory registers Marriages 507/1 51)
1856 McKearnun, Jane (Statutory registers Births 507/1 128)
1882 Kelly, James (Statutory Births 628/00 0314)
1861 Carrol, Jane (Statutory registers Births 632/98)
Cited census data 1841-1891 was found at ScotlandsPeople and are ©   Crown Copyright National Records of Scotland. Included are information on Statutory Registers. This     includes, but is not limited to:
1911 Kelly, Jane (Census 494/2 3/7
1881 Carroll, Jane (Census 494/7/37)
2. Double Genealogy: The Adoption Witness. Published by Copyright © 2018 Marilee Wein.
3. Documents Accessed at Family Search (FS): ©2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
New Jersey, Dept. of State, Div. of Archives and Record Management, State Archives at Trenton: citing NJ Marriages, 1678-1985 and NJ, Births, 1670-1980 film 494199 and NJ Births and Christenings 1660-1980. 1884 Jane Carroll to John Kealy
United States Census Data. Affiliate and data custodian: The United States Archive and Record Administration (NARA) College Park, MD. US Censuses 1840 – 1900
4. Documents accessed at FMP: Findmypast Ltd, Website: ©brightsolid online publishing ltd. ©2017 Findmypast and with thanks to Findmypast The underlying data are attributed as follows:
• Census data at ScotlandsPeople 1841-1911 are © Crown Copyright National Records of Scotland
• Birth, Marriage and Death data (BMD), including Old Parish Records (OPR) at ScotlandsPeople are ©    Crown Copyright National Records of Scotland
• Hints posted by other subscribers as to an enumerated person’s past or future census.

14 thoughts on “Another Researcher Poses Data Challenge #1

      1. DNA is just another source much like a census record. In most cases, DNA requires way more work than those “simple” census records. Unlike what the commercials say. DNA doesn’t prove anything on its own.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Not yet. “Adopted” regards my grandfather was laid on the table but once; a census which also specified a birthplace at odds with his own claim. My retirement hobby was to use my data skills and test for truth by sleuth alone. Neither member of my chosen non-wed biological couple were biologically related to his adoptive family and seemed absent from their social circle. Sleuthing reduced the randomness but DNA will definitely be needed to close the argument. Yikes, I am not ready for that!! However, I have lately found some living half-descendants of my proposed biological great grandma to contact. I’m currently trying to decide if, and how best to make an approach. The named father, with no rank or serial number, may get outed then, too – but only if he lived and had more children.


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