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.
Genealogy Gems Book Club
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