Wednesday, July 8, 2009

YARR! The Anatomy of a search.

I was working on this blog some time back but I got sidetracked and never finished it. When we went to Ireland one of my favorite places that we visited was Ballyarr wood. The reason we went there is contained here. I have been intending to post some of my pictures from Ballyarr that relate that part of our trip so this will should serve as a prelude of sorts:

In a pile of Obituaries and Newspaper clippings I found this clue:

Sarah Harvey nae Diver was my Great Great Great Grandmother and the Mother of My Great Great Grandfather's (James Alexander Gilmour) wife: Sarah Harvey Gilmour.

A Post of Moville, County Donegal,
Embarkation point north of Londonderry.

County Donegal is west of, and very near to where the Gilmour's came from at Killaloo Glebe. Armed with this clue I searched Donegal for the Townland of Ballyor mentioned in this Obituary.


Guess what... No such location. So I brought up Google maps, zoomed in and crept slowly across the entire county inch by inch. Just North of Letterkenny I came upon Ballyare and Ballyarr, Ballyarr Glebe and Glenview Ballyare.

This must be the place.


Next, I searched The Origins Network for maps of Ballyarr, Donegal. and this is what I found:

A Map of the Townland of Ballyarr, Parish of Tullyfern,
County of Donegal and its environs.

The original scan was a very poor high contrast xerox. I enhanced it as best I could in a imaging program but it is still quite lacking.

The results for the Griffiths data was a bit better:

Click to enlarge.

If you look closely you will notice a Henry and James Diver listed with map references , which unfortunately do not have the corresponding references numbers 13a&b and numbers 14 a&b on the map. It does however indicate that they were evaluated as having: "Houses, offices, land" that they were expected to pay local tax on to their Landowner/leaseholder: Thomas Petterson.

When we got to Ireland I tried to find a corresponding map to actually locate them. It unfortunately didn't happen. (more on this later...)

So, what did I know now that I didn't know when I started. The correct name and probable place, of the birthplace of my ancestor Sarah (Diver) Harvey in 1849 at the height of the famine.

From here I moved onto passenger lists on

I found a Dever family entering Philadelphia PA. on the ship Jan Anderson in 1853. John, Catherine and Sarah was 4 years of age at the time.

Diver or Dever? It all comes down to what the person writing the name down though was the right way to spell what they were hearing. What is important here is age and the emigration point Londonderry , Ireland.

O.K., so Diver is spelled Dever. There is one that's listed as and transcribed as Dever but when you look at the original it is actually Diver, but her birth year listed is 1844. The embarkation point was Londonderry, Ireland as well, so I decided to go with the info in my Obituary. I'm going to have to say that even though the spelling varies, the correct birth date is more often more reliable in the Obit even though they got the location spelling wrong. I have found that the possibility that someone misspelled the last name is most probably the case on average also.


More on this later....