Irish Ancestral Homelands of the Watne Branch

In our 1 Mar 2019 post introducing Elizabeth Hannah Walker, we teased that we now know where the Gallagher branch and Hannah-Virtue branch of our Watne branch lived in Ireland. It is time for the big reveal.

Ancestral homelands of the Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families in Ireland.
Migration of the Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families within Ireland and to Ontario.

Check out this interactive version of the map with each pin listing which ancestors lived there.

The Porter branch is still a mystery.

The Gallagher branch is from two places that are about 11 miles apart:

  • Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1792)
  • Killymard Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1789)

The Hannah-Virtue branch is from four places that are within 7 miles of each other:

  • Meenadreen Townland, Donegal Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1803)
  • Kilgole Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1843)
  • Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1785)
  • Tievebrack Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland (before 1797)

These townlands are very small. Their area in square miles varies from 0.20 for Kilgole Townland to 1.25 for Meenadreen Townland. Farms in Drumhome Parish at the time varied in size from 6 to 20 acres, or 0.01 to 0.03 square miles. When the Porter-Gallagher and Hannah-Virtue families reached North Dakota, they were each able to patent one or more lots of 160 acres.

Our recent progress on these branches is based on the Walker family research, which introduced us to the work of Donegal Ancestry Ltd. and the RootsIreland.ie on-line database of Irish records. From these records, to date, we have identified 11 previously unknown ancestors, solved the mystery of our Hindman (Hyndman) DNA matches, and added over 120 baptism and marriage records to our family tree. And, most importantly, we know precisely where to visit in Ireland to walk in their footsteps. Thank you F. Walker for opening this door for us.

Starting from the marriage record for Francis Walker and Elizabeth Hannah, we learn:

  • They married on 17 Feb 1825 in Drumhome Parish, County Donegal, Ireland, and their denomination is Church of Ireland.
  • Francis was living in Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish.
  • Elizabeth was living in Tievebrack Townland, Drumhome Parish, which is immediately east of Derries Townland.
  • Unfortunately, this record does not identify their parents, or any sponsors/informants.

With these two places, Derries and Tievebrack Townlands, we started digging. Here are a few key things we found in the records:

  • Of the over 120 records found, all are for the Church of Ireland. This is consistent with these families listing their religion as Church of England in the 1851 Census of Canada.
  • Ellen Jane Hannah (listed as Jane Hanna), daughter of Francis Hannah and Catherine Virtue, was born on 31 May 1845, was baptized on 13 Jul 1845 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Kilgole Townland.
  • Catherine Walker, wife of Richard Hannah, is the daughter of Andrew Walker and Elizabeth Hindman, was baptized on 8 Jun 1788 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland—the first explanation for our DNA matches to the Hindman family.
  • Mary Jane Gallagher (listed as Jane Gallagher), daughter of William Gallagher and Mary Walker, was baptized on 18 Nov 1832 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland.
  • William Gallagher is the son of James Gallagher and Jane Maichlum (McCollum), was baptized on 1 Apr 1803 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland.
  • Mary Walker, wife of William Gallagher, is the daughter of Francis Walker and Ann Hindman, was baptized on 26 Apr 1801 in Drumhome Parish, and they were living in Derries Townland—the second explanation for our DNA matches to the Hindman family.
  • Francis Walker (Gallagher branch) and Andrew Walker (Hannah-Virtue branch) are brothers or 1st cousins.
  • Ann Hindman (Gallagher branch) and Elizabeth Hindman (Hannah-Virtue branch) are sisters.

That means Mary Jane Gallagher and Ellen Jane Hannah are 2nd cousins 1x removed through both their Walker and Hindman lines.

From the records, it appears the William Gallagher-Mary Walker Gallagher family was living in Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, when they then emigrated from Ireland to Manvers Township, Victoria County, Canada West (now Ontario) some time between Nov 1838 and 1842.

From the records, it appears the Francis Hannah-Catherine Virtue Hannah family was living in Kilgole Townland, Drumhome Parish, when they then emigrated from Ireland to Manvers Township between 13 Jul 1845 and early-1848. Their son Richard Hannah is said to have been born at sea on 12 Mar 1848, although his records list other places (e.g. Ireland, Canada) and later dates as well.

We can now understand how our Irish ancestors and relatives in the Watne branch came to emigrate from Ireland to Manvers Township. These families knew each other in Ireland—going back at least three generations.

We do not know why they emigrated. Note that the William Gallagher-Mary Walker Gallagher family emigrated three to seven years before the start of the Great Famine or Great Hunger of 1845-1849, known to us outside Ireland as the Irish Potato Famine. And the famine was most severe in the west and south of Ireland—these families lived in the north. There is more to learn.

A few comments about the records we found and the conclusions drawn from them are appropriate:

  • The RootsIreland.ie on-line records show the transcription data, and not images of the original source documents. It is not possible for us to confirm the transcriptions at this time. Never mind whether the original source documents were recorded accurately as well.
  • It is rare (like never) to find all three of the birth/baptism, marriage, and burial/death records for an individual during this time period among these records. Only one burial/death record has been found.
  • The records available before 1848 are sparse in time—mostly birth/baptism records. The earliest record found so far is dated 1783. These families could have therefore resided in other townlands in between the available birth/baptism records of their children. The six places listed above may not be the only places they lived in Ireland during these generations, but we can assume they were nearby at least.

So, what are we looking for now? Well, more ancestors, including the family of Andrew Porter. And an explanation for family stories saying that some of these ancestors are Scottish. Perhaps we need to go back several more generations, prior to 1785, to find their ancestors emigrated from Scotland to Ireland.

Extra Credit: “Drive” around these townlands in Google Street View.

[Updated 14 Jul 2019]
All the event locations for Ireland in our family tree have now been updated to the form City or Townland, Civil Parish, County, Country.

So we can now properly differentiate between:

  • Donegal, Ireland—the county
  • Donegal, Donegal, Ireland—the civil parish
  • Donegal, Donegal, Donegal, Ireland—the townland
  • Donegal, Clonmel, Cork, Ireland—another townland in Ireland
  • Donegal, Knockgraffon, Tipperary, Ireland—yet another townland in Ireland

So the County Donegal heat map now shows everyone in their correct locations.