Nellie (Callahan) Gibson, probably of County Cork, and of Rye, New Hampshire

In 1947 Mrs N J Gibson, of Rye, New Hampshire, received a letter postmarked CeannToir (Kanturk), County Cork, Ireland. Can this letter help us identify Mrs Gibson's Irish county of origin, if any?An image of the envelope was once at the Jim Forte Postal History site, but is no longer there.

In 1940, there was a Nellie J Gibson, widowed, age 74, and born in Ireland, living on Cable Road, Rye, NH, who is most likely the recipient of the letter. She and her husband, Joseph, had been in Rye since at least 1910. They were married in Melrose, Massachusetts, January 22, 1895, and their two sons were born there: Walter Lincoln, born February 12, 1896, and Harold Leroy, born October 23, 1908. Nellie's marriage record stated that her maiden name was Callahan, and her parents were Daniel Callahan and Julia Reardon.

On the 1900 census while still in Melrose, the Gibson household included two boarders—a married couple—Annie and Robert Booth. Annie's marriage record stated that her parents were also Daniel and Julia (Reardon) Callahan. So Nellie and Annie were very likely sisters.

Nellie and Annie both arrived in the United States before immigrants had to provide the name of a close relative in the country from which they came. Otherwise, I would have looked for their passenger manifests. So now my next step was to look for their births in Ireland.

A Possible Birth Family

Ireland is not a huge place, but there are a lot of Callahans and Reardons. Because of the envelope that Nellie received, I started in Cork. Even still I found two couples named Daniel Callahan and Julia Reardon. One of them, though, had a daughter Ellen born January 25, 1866. This bears a close resemblance to the date of birth given on Nellie's death record, namely January 22, 1865. (Nellie or her son may not have known or remembered her exact date of birth.) This couple was living in Laght Townland, in the civil parish of Dromtarriffe, in the Registrar's District of Millstreet, Co. Cork. The Catholic parish was also Dromtarriffe, and Ellen was baptized there on January 26.

Laght Townland is only a 9 minute drive from Kanturk, whereas the other couple was farther away, in Macroom if I remember right. So it's possible that Laght was the home of Nellie J (Callahan) Gibson of Rye, New Hampshire. I would be a lot more certain if I had found a birth or baptism record for a daughter Annie in the same family. I found daughters Mary, Honora, and Julia, and sons Daniel, Dennis, and Timothy, but no Ann or Anna.


So, in review, did the envelope help us find Nellie's county of origin? I would say yes, if only because if she wasn't from Cork she'd be less likely to get a letter from there. Did it help us identify her townland of birth? I wouldn't want to say for sure. It would be very helpful to find some American record connected to Nellie that mentioned where she was from. Otherwise, we are really just guessing which needle in the haystack is hers.


US Federal Censuses
Massachusetts Town Birth Records
Massachusetts Town Marriage Records
New Hampshire Death Records
Irish Civil Records
Irish Catholic Parish Registers