Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Whelan Families of Chicago

One of my family history projects is to sort out the various Whelan families of Chicago. I hope that by doing this, I’ll discover the Irish origins of my Whelans, and maybe help others find the origins of their Whelans also.

My great-grandfather, Timothy Whelan, came to Chicago from Ireland in about 1850. I’ve been told by a reliable source that he came from County Kilkenny, but I have no documentation that confirms or disproves that. The surname Whelan is common in County Kilkenny. The surname of Timothy’s first wife, Mary Sinnott, is also found throughout County Kilkenny.

When I began my family history research many, many years ago, no one knew of any relatives of Timothy’s, although it was said that he was somehow related to “the cigar store Whelans.” Since starting my research, I have found at least five possible siblings or other relatives of Timothy who lived in Chicago. (I still haven’t figured out the connection to the cigar store Whelans.)

Timothy’s possible relatives:
1. Patrick Whelan. In 1857, Patrick and Timothy both lived on Hinsdale between Franklin and North Market. Both had arrived from Ireland 7 years earlier. (city directory)
2. James Whelan. In 1860, Timothy and James lived on Hinsdale between N. Franklin and N. Market. (city directory)
3. Mary Whelan. In 1860, Mary (widow of Ross) and Timothy lived on Hinsdale between N. Franklin and N. Market. (city directory)
4. John Whelan. In 1860, John and Timothy lived on Hinsdale between N. Franklin and N. Market. (city directory)
5. William Whelan. In 1862, William and Timothy lived at 34 Hinsdale. (city directory)
6. James Whelan. In 1874, James was a baptism sponsor for Timothy’s daughter.

By putting together clues from obituaries, city directories and other sources, I have determined that the Whelan families of Chicago came from at least four different counties in Ireland: Kilkenny, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford. I’m continuing to gather information about the Whelans and to sort out the different family trees.

So, if you are related to a Whelan family of Chicago, please contact me. I’d be happy to exchange information.


Sheri said...

Is this the same family as the one that you used to become certified? I saw your portfolio on the BCG website awhile back and loved the reports on this family. Very interesting and great original sources used.

Sheri Fenley

Kathy Brady-Blake said...

Hi Sheri. I'm glad you liked the reports in my portfolio. Yes, this is the same family. Since they lived in Chicago for so long, I've gotten to look for them in alot of different sources. And now I've expanded my research to collecting all the Chicago Whelans I can find. Coming soon--a post about the many alternate spellings of the name Whelan.

Anonymous said...

My Husband is also from the Whalen/Whelan family. His Grandmother was Margaret Whalen of Chicago, buried Joliet. However, his Great Grandparents are: Thomas Whalen Born May 1855, County Carlow, Clonegal Ireland, Died Nov 6, 1905 and taken "thence by carriage" to Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Evanston. He married Delia nee Noonan in 1881. Delia was born Jan 1868 Ireland, Died Feb, 22, 1919, Buried also in Calvary. Thomas was a Horseshoer on the South Side of Chicago and lived at 2908 Canal St for most of his life. He and Delia had 12 children, although I don't have their names handy at this writing. I would love to have photos of their graves in Calvary for my husband. My Husband calls it "digging up dead people". I guess that we can have a sense of humor when we never knew the folks but, sure do bless them for their and our existence.

There was a company called Whalen and Sons on the south side during the time of Thomas's life. In and around 1892 Thomas was listed (again) as a horseshoer at 451 S Halsted with residence at 313 W 12th. Whalen and Son was listed in 1880 at 451 S Halsted. Michael and Thomas were the Whalen and Son. Oh, Thomas's brother was James Whalen DOD December 24, 1895, Born County Carlow also and ofcourse, resting at Calvary, Evanston. I would love comments, suggestions, etc. for further investigating of the Whalen/Whelans of Chicago. Thanks!

Kathy Brady-Blake said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for your comment. So, there were Whelans in Chicago from County Carlow too. That makes 5 different counties!
I'd be happy to take cemetery photos for you the next time I'm at Calvary. So, send me the names, death dates and lot numbers if you have them.
I'll look in my files to see if I have anything on your Thomas, Michael and James. The info you've given me will help me sort out the Chicago Whelans.
I recommend searching city directories and church records for your Whelans. And checking all available newspapers for obituaries--not just the Tribune. It seems that you already have some obits. There are other sources too, depending on your research goal.
Thanks again for the info!

dsking said...

Hi Kathy:

Thomas Whalen was buried in Calvary on November 8, 1905, he died on the 6th of November 1905. His wife Delia Nee Noonan Whalen died February 22,1919 and is also buried in Calvary. I also have a bunch of Murphys that are buried in Calvary also. Don't know when I will make it back there from Colorado but, photos of the Whalen markers would be wonderful!

Thank you!

Kathy Brady-Blake said...

Hi! You have great timing. The snow just melted off this weekend. So I'm planning to go to Calvary and take some photos this week. I'll look for headstones for your Thomas and Delia. I'll post the results here on my blog.

Paul Mc Nally said...

The siblings of James Whelan, the grandfather of my wife, Phil Andrews, left Wexford, Ireland for Chicago towards the end of the 19th century. The story is that James Whelan also went to Chicago and came back to Ireland. However we have no documentary proof of this. James Whelan was married twice. He had one daughter namely, Annie Whelan, who was born in Waterford, Ireland in 1887. Her mother, Kate, died in 1894 and James married my wife's grandmother shortly after Kate's death. James was brought up by her mother's parents. James and his new wife moved to Dublin where they had 3 children including my wife's mother. Annie left Ireland for Chicago probably after the first world war when she was in her early 20s and joined up with her fathers siblings. There were at least 6 of them living there. Annie married Martin Higgins, originally from Belfast, in 1920. They had 4 children including one daughter, Mary, who is still alive and aged 90. We have recently travelled to Chicago and met Mary for the first time. We did not know of her existence until recently even though she is my wife's half first cousin. She is being looked after by her adopted son. Unfortunately Mary has lost contact with the other members of her Whelan family in Chicago. From our researches there are not many of the family left and very few, if any males. I can send you full details of the records we hold of these Whelans of Chicago, if you wish. Paul McNally