Ellen Sloan, Killowen to Brooklyn


Some people are easy to find, some are hard. Ellen Sloan would have been a lot easier to find if 1) she hadn't said she was the cousin of Minnie Keeves/Caves of Mullahead, County Armagh; 2) she hadn't taken a few years off her age as she got older, and 3) she had shown up on at least one United States census. Just one would have been good enough. But, for better or worse, here is her story.

Early Life

Killowen, Co. Down

Ellen Maria Sloan was born August 22, 1873, in Ballincurry Townland, Killowen, County Down, and was baptized the same day in Kilbroney Catholic Parish. She is the third known child of James Sloan and Mary Brennan, preceded by her sister Susan and a brother Peter. Following her in the family were Thomas, David, Francis and Matthew.

Ellen was still in Ballincurry in 1894 and 1895 when she was the informant on the death records of her father (July 10, 1894) and her brother Peter (April 17, 1895), but is not with the family in 1901. She may or may not be the Ellen Sloan on the 1901 census who was working as a servant in the household of Oliver Goldsmith, vicar of the Church of Ireland in Greyabbey, County Down.

Emigration and Citizenship

At any rate, Ellen Sloan left Ireland for America on October 5, 1907, from Londonderry aboard the Columbia. She said she was 30 years old, born in County Cavan, and last resided in County Armagh. She was travelling with Minnie Keeves [Caves] whose father Charles lived in Mullahead, Tandragee, Armagh. They were both headed to Minnie's sister Frances' home at 536 North 40th Street, Brooklyn. They said their final destination was Philadelphia, but I don't think they ever got that far. They arrived in New York on October 14.

Now, this might not look like our Ellen Sloan, but I am pretty sure that it is, because…

Declaration of Intention,
Ellen Sloan, 1925

…on February 11, 1925, an Ellen Sloan declared her intention to become a citizen of the United States in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn. On that occasion, she stated that she had been born in Killowen, County Down, on August 15, 1873, and had arrived on the Columbia on or about October 12, 1907. The dates match closely enough to what we have already seen to say that this is the daughter of James Sloan and Mary Brennan.

When Ellen filed her petition for naturalization on January 25, 1928, in the same court, she got the date of arrival exactly right, October 14, 1907. Both records required a physical description—Ellen was 5'6", 155 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. She also stated that her occupation was a food checker. She became a US citizen on June 12, 1928.

Return to Ireland

Previous to that, Ellen had made a trip back to Ireland. On June 9, 1924, she arrived at Moville, Co. Donegal, on the TSS Tuscania, and was headed to Mayobridge, Newry. On her voyage back to New York she stated that her last residence in Ireland had been her nephew Peter Sloan's home in Mayobridge, County Down. Interestingly, there was a Peter Sloan in Ellen's sister's household in 1901 in Ballincurry who later lived in Mayobridge before moving to Dundalk, Co. Louth. This Peter was likely the person Ellen visited.

On the passenger manifest, Ellen said that she was going to her sister Mary Sloan's home at 306 East 3rd, Brooklyn.

David and Mary Sloan, of Brooklyn

Let's take a brief interlude to consider Ellen Sloan's destination, her "sister" Mary Sloan. Ellen had no sister Mary, and definitely no sister at all born as early as 1859, which is what Mary Sloan's information said. Mary and Ellen may have been relatives in Ireland, or acquaintances. Or Ellen Sloan may have been related to Mary's husband David.

David Sloan was born about 1855, the son of David Sloan and Julia Feran. His tombstone said he was a native of Killowen, County Down. I didn't look through the baptism registers for David, but there was a Mary Sloan baptized April 19, 1850, in Kilbroney Parish, daughter of David Sloan and Julia Feran. David died February 3, 1908, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Brooklyn.

David's wife, Mary Sloan, was also a Sloan by birth, the daughter of James Sloan and Margaret Sloan. She died June 10, 1930, and is buried with her husband. The headstone gave her birth as May 14, 1859. I have a feeling that Mary was also from Killowen or nearby, but I couldn't find her on the Kilbroney or Kilkeel baptism registers, at least as indexed at ancestry.com and findmypast.ie. But Sloan is a common enough name throughout Ireland, so Mary may have been from somewhere else.

Later Years

Getting back to Ellen Sloan, you will remember that she was headed for 306 East 3rd, Brooklyn, in 1924. She is listed in the 1933 Brooklyn City Directory at that address. But alas, not on the 1930 Census at that address with Mary Sloan, her son, daughter, and granddaughter. Which kept her census slate clean, since I didn't find her in 1910 or 1920, in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, or Cleveland, where her brother Matt had settled.

Ellen Sloan died 22 Oct 1939, in Brooklyn. Her last residence was 306 East 3rd, Brooklyn, her occupation–food checker. The death record gave the names of her parents as James Sloane and Mary Brennan. Interestingly, it also said she was widowed and her husband's name had been John, no last name given. On all her earlier records–the passenger manifests and her naturalization documents–she said she was unmarried. I never found a trace of a marriage.

Ellen is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Brooklyn. There is no listing for her on findagrave.com, so I don't know the plot number or whether there is a stone or not; the cemetery might be willing to provide that information. There was no death notice in the Brooklyn Eagle for the dates October 23 to 25.


So in the end, I am about 99% sure this is the Ellen Sloan born in 1873 in Ballincurry. Which is about all the certainty you can expect from paper records, I guess. It would have been a little better, as I said at the beginning, if she hadn't claimed to be Minnie Keeves' cousin or, for that matter, if her death record hadn't said she was a widow. But in the first case, she may have needed a destination in the United States to be admitted, and may have known Minnie from working as a domestic servant. As far as "widow" on her death certificate goes, that information could only come from her survivors, probably a neighbor, or a relative of Mary Sloan. Although, they did get her parents' names correct. Well, we might just have to end it there…

Sources and details for Ellen Sloan are in the Ohio Families tree on this site.


The picture of Carlingford Lough and Killowen, "IMG_9643" by mary_mac_82, is licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 .

Mary Ellen (Gaffney) Lavin of Cuilmore, Sligo, and Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York

Sometime in the 1940's, Mrs M G Lavin of 179 East 32nd, Brooklyn, NY, received a letter from Co. Roscommon, Ireland.1 The name of the post office and the exact date were unreadable. Can we identify Mrs Lavin? Did she come from Roscommon?

When the 1940 census of Brooklyn was taken, Malachy and Mary Lavin were living at 179 East 32nd Street. Malachy was 49 and his wife was 47. With them was Anne Curley, 32, who was called Malachy's sister. The supplemental information for Mary said that she was married at 24 and never had children. (Note: I never established that Anne Curley was related to either Malachy or Mary Lavin.)

Mary (Gaffney) Lavin

I am fairly certain that this couple was married June 23, 1918, in Manhattan. If correct, then Mary's maiden name was Gaffney and her parents were Thomas Gaffney and Anne Finn. Working backward we find a Mary Gaffney arriving at Ellis Island on May 1, 1910, aboard the SS Carmania. Her nearest relative in Ireland was her father Thomas, of Gurteen, Ballymote. She was headed to her aunt Mrs. McKeever's home at 2055 3rd Avenue, New York. There was a Bridget (Finn) McKeever living at that address, according to the 1910 census and the New York City birth records.

So Mary (Gaffney) Lavin was from Co. Sligo, not Roscommon. Her father Thomas was actually in Cuilmore Townland, Sligo, in 1901 and 1911.

The Lavins

Cuilmore, Sligo, was near the border with Co. Roscommon, and not far from Clegernagh Townland, Roscommon, where Mary's husband, Malachy Lavin was born in 1885, son of John Lavin and Catherine Lavin. Malachy arrived in the United States on April 29, 1912, aboard the SS Caronia, headed for his sister Mary Lavin's home in Garden City, Long Island. I didn't find Mary in America, but she is on the 1901 Census of Clegernagh with her mother.

If I have everything correct, Mary and Malachy Lavin lived for a time in Orange, New Jersey, but spent most of their married lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Malachy died in November 1968 and Mary in August 1969. They are both buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

There is more about both of these families, including the sources, in the Other Families section of this website.


I am not 100% certain of all the conclusions in this article. If this were my family, I would like to see the death record for the Mary Lavin who died in Brooklyn in 1969. It might give her parents' names. If they are Gaffney and Finn, then I have identified her correctly. Or, if Mary applied for a Social Security number, the information might be on the application. She didn't have a SSN in 1940. Ancestry.com has these records, but I don't currently have access to ancestry.com.


November 2019, I looked for a death notice for Mary E Lavin in the Brooklyn Eagle, but the online archives for the paper only go up to 1963. And the 1969 death records are not at familysearch or ancestry.com.


^1. The envelope was once on the Jim Forte Postal History site but has been sold. I am not connected with the site.

Laura Clary Goodenow of Rochester, Indiana

On September 18, 1907, Mr Harvey F Clary, of Rochester, Indiana, received a postcard from his sister Laura in Lima, Ohio.1 It read:

Dear Brother,
We got here alright. Genova never cried a bit coming, and this afternoon she has been saying boppa all the time nearly. Will bring you something. And will send another card soon.

What was the occasion for the postcard?

The Clarys of Rochester, Indiana

Laura and Harvey were children of Elbert Elihu Clary and Nevada Belle Williams of Rochester, Indiana. Laura was born August 12, 1887, and Harvey on April 18, 1896. Both were in their parents' household in 1900 in Rochester where their father was working as a liveryman.

The Goodenows of Lima, Ohio

Robert Goodenow was born in Lima, Ohio, October 13, 1885, the son of Elvin Goodenow and Irene Underwood. He too was in his parents' home in 1900. Robert's father worked as an oil well shooter, but Robert became a railroad clerk, an occupation that evidently took him to Rochester, Indiana, where–in 1906–he was wed to Laura Clary.

"Over the hills and through the woods"

Laura and Robert's first child Genova was born on March 17, 1907. By September they must have felt that she was old enough to visit her grandmother Irene in Lima. Irene Goodenow's husband Elvin had died March 18, 1904, of liver trouble, but Irene was still at 367 Jackson. Upon arriving Laura, proud of her new daughter for saying "Papa" all afternoon, wrote back to Harvey to let him know they had all arrived safely.


Robert and Laura returned to Rochester, as hinted at in Laura's message to Harvey. Their daughter Edna was born in Indiana January 29, 1909, completing their family. By 1917 the family had moved to Los Angeles, and Robert had settled into work in the insurance business, which he pursued until at least 1940.

Robert Goodenow died in 1962 and Laura in 1972, both in Mendocino County, California. Genova (Goodenow) Crane died in 1991 in Butte County. They are all buried in Cuffys Cove Community Cemetery, Mendocino County, California.


Most of the sources used for this article can be found by following the links in Laura Clary's family tree at familysearch.org: Laura J Clary. Her father in law's death date came from an OCR scan of the Lima [Ohio] News of March 18, 1904 at newspapers.com: Alvin Goodenou. Elvin's wife Irene was located in 1906 in the Lima City Directory for that year at ancestry.com.


^1.The image of the postcard to Mr Harvey F Clary can be found on the Jim Forte Postal History site, unless it has been sold.

Margaret (O'Donnell) Carpenter, Bruckness, Donegal, and Detroit, Michigan

Bruckless, Donegal

Bruckless, Donegal

In 1915, Mrs Charles Carpenter of 693 Meldrum Ave, Detroit, Michigan, received a postcard from her sister Cassie in Bruckless, County Donegal, Ireland. 1 Here is a transcription of the text:

Dear Sister
Glad to get your letter and to know all are well.
Thank God we are all well at home. My thoughts were all about poor Jane these past few days, 2 years passed so quickly. I hope she is happy in heaven. Con's wife was in a great hurry.
Fr. Brennan asked me a week ago did you write lately. He is expect- soon to hear from all the Yankees.
The Bradys have not written yet + I wrote to Pat himself to send something in memory of Jane, but he has not answered. We miss the dear old church so much now in Lent especially.
Best love from all,

Working from this information, let's see if we can find a family to match with this county of origin in Ireland.

The 1915 Detroit City Directory at ancestry.com has a listing for a Charles M Carpenter, watchman, living at 693 Meldrum Ave in Detroit.2

In 1920 Charles was still at that address. He was 45, born in Michigan and working as a tower man for the railroad. His wife Margaret, the recipient of the postcard, was 46 and born in Ireland. They had a son William J. who was 11.3

In 1930 the family is at 2917 Meldrum, and with them is a niece, Mary O'Donnell, age 17, who had arrived in the US in 1926.4 In 1940 Charles, his son William, and William's family are all still there, but Charles is a widower5. Looking for a death record for Margaret, we find that she died 27 Oct 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. Her father's name, John O'Donnell, is on that record.6

Finally, the 1901 Census of Bruckless, (Dunkinelly, Donegal), Ireland, lists this family in house 2:

John O'Donnell, 65, head, postmaster
Mary O'Donnell, 62, wife, postmaster's wife
Cassie O'Donnell, 30, daughter, dressmaker
Lizzie O'Donnell, 27, daughter, dressmaker
Ellen O'Donnell, 25, daughter, dressmaker
Henry James O'Donnell, 23, son, station master

All were Catholic and could read and write. All could speak English, and all but Ellen could also speak Irish.7


So I think it is safe to say that Margaret (O'Donnell) Carpenter of Detroit, Michigan, was from Bruckless Townland, Dunkinelly, County Donegal, Ireland. I hope this helps her descendants find their Irish roots.


1. The image of the postcard once appeared at the Jim Forte Postal History website. The card has since been sold, and the image is no longer there. I am not connected with Mr. Forte's website or company in any way.

2. City Directories at ancestry.com

3. 1920 Census of the 15th ward of Detroit, Michigan; series T625, Roll 814, Page 158, at HeritageQuestOnline.com.

4. "United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X79T-MCQ : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Charles M Carpenter, 1930.

5. "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KH9K-5K8 : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Charles Carpenter, 1940.

6. "Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KF71-41X : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Margaret Carpenter, 1934.

7. National Archives of Ireland,  http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Donegal/Dunkinelly/Bruckless/1168440/

Mary E Keane, Nahant, Massachusetts

About March 1943, Miss Mary Keane of 93 Fox Hill Road, Nahant, Massachusetts, received a letter from Gaillimh (Galway) Ireland.1 Can this postmark tell us anything about her family's Irish origins?

Mary E Keane was born February 24, 1910, in Nahant, Massachusetts, the first child of Michael F Keane and Mary T Nolan. Michael and Mary had been married in Nahant on April 14, 1909. Both had been born in Ireland.

In 1940 the family was living at the address on the letter, 93 Fox Hill Road, Nahant. With Mary and her parents were the two other children in the family: Katherine Theresa, born August 5, 1911, and James John, born September 3, 1917. Her father was working as the manager of a state boat house. His later information said that this was for the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).

Mary Keane remained single and lived most of her life in Nahant, dying on January 15, 1997, in Lynn. She is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Nahant, with her parents and her brother James.

Michael F Keane of Island Eddy and Nahant

When Mary's father was married, he stated that his parents were James Keane and Maria Connolly. I spent a long time looking for the ship manifest for his arrival, hoping that it would tell me at least his county of origin in Ireland. I was unsuccessful and was ready to give up on finding his birth family, until I remembered the trick of looking for siblings. So I went to familysearch.org and looked for anyone with those two parents.

There were a number of matches, but the one that stood out was Honora "Nora" Keane, who was born in Island Eddy, Galway, and married in Lynn, Massachusetts. Although the names Keane and Connolly are common enough, I thought that it had to be more than coincidence that both a Michael and a Honora Keane would settle in the Lynn/Nahant area. They were very likely brother and sister. And so it turned out to be. There was a record for a Michael Keane, born October 12, 1877, in Island Eddy as well.

Interestingly, Michael wasn't actually born on that date. The Irish Catholic parish records are now online and Michael's baptism was on September 11, 1877. That same record says he was born September 6. Since you can't get baptized until you are born 🙂 I believe the date of birth on this record is the correct one. What probably happened is either that his parents registered his birth on the October date, or they gave that date as his birthdate so they wouldn't have to pay the fine for a late registration.

Michael Keane, baptism record, page 1

Michael Keane, baptism record, page 2

Michael and Honora, or Nora, as she was called, are on the 1901 Census of house 4 in Eddy Island, Clarenbridge, Galway, with their parents James, age 60, and Maria, 50, along with their brothers and sisters: Thomas, Catherine, John, Martin, Winnie and James. Michael might have been visiting from America, because he was naturalized in 1904 and I am pretty sure the residency requirement was 5 years.

Mary T Nolan

What about Mary T Nolan's Irish origins? When Mary was married, she said that her parents were Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly. On Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, taken in the 1850's and 1860's, those two surnames occur together only in Belfast, Dublin, and Co. Laois.

When Mary arrived in America she said she was headed for the home of her cousin, Annie Long, in Lynn. There is a birth record for an Annie Long in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, that could be her, but I suspect it is a common name. I was unable to find a birth record for Mary Nolan, or any of her siblings.

If this were my family, I would probably plunk down a few dollars at rootsireland.ie and look through the index for children of Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly. Then go to the Parish Records at the National Library of Ireland, nli.ie, and look for the baptisms. However, the records might not be complete or the family just might not have been recorded. Still I would start looking in Laois.


I looked through the baptisms in Co. Laois for children of Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly, and didn't find any. Your mileage may vary, as they say. Or try rootsireland.ie, since that is supposed to be the best site for the Irish parish records.


So although the postmark of "Galway" didn't give us much to go on this time, at least we were able to determine the Irish county of origin for the recipient. To clinch the matter, I found a post at facebook that mentioned a "Jim Keane of Nahant MA. USA ... [whose] father was from Island Eddy." That would be Mary E Keane's brother James J Keane.

There are a few other Galway families on the site. Click on the Co. Galway category at the top of this post. Sources and more information on the Keanes are in the New England Families tree on my other website.


^1.The image of the letter to Mary Keane can be found on the Jim Forte Postal History website, unless it has been sold. I am not connected with the site.

My Old Ohio Home
Most of the information here is about my family or my wife’s, or about families with ties to Cleveland, Ohio, or the area near Rostrevor and Kilkeel in County Down, Ireland. There are also some unrelated families included that I came across. Whatever the case, I hope the material is helpful in your own research.
-- Ed Hamilton