Wills often contain valuable clues for tracing your ancestors. If you're lucky, they'll list the children's names and sometimes even grandchildren. If the inheritance involves land, they may give details on the name and location of the property. You may find additional probate records with the will that pinpoint the date of death and other details about the estate.
I'm choosing Patrick Creedan's will for this prompt for the unique clues it provided. I originally transcribed the will in 2012 when I found it in the Clinton County, Ohio Probate Records on FamilySearch.org. It's really important to note a lot of the probate records on FamilySearch are not indexed and don't show up when you search their records! I have a post here with tips on finding these records. In this case, the record has since been indexed at Ancestry.com, but there are still many records that are not searchable.
|Patrick Creedan's Will, Clinton County, Ohio, 1883|
1. Patrick's son Timothy
2. Patrick's daughter Julia - This share actually goes to Timothy on account of Julia being a "religious" in the Sisters of Charity. Timothy is named as Julia's "full brother".
3. Patrick's son John
4. Patrick's daughter Hanna Jane
5. Patrick's son Patrick William
6 and 7. Patrick's daughter Rosanna receives two shares due to her "feeble mental condition"
8. Patrick's grandson Elija Bernard the son Patrick's deceased daughter Johanna
The witnesses to the will were Bridget Keefe and Michael O'Donaghue. The executor was Timothy Keefe.
So, what story does it reveal without looking at any other records?
Patrick Creedan, a resident of Clinton County, Ohio, died in June 1883. His daughters Phoebe and Johanna preceded him in death. Masses were to be held for him and his deceased family members.
Patrick was survived by his children Timothy, Julia, John, Hanna Jane, Patrick William, Rosanna, and a grandson Elija Bernard. Elija was the son of Patrick's daughter Johanna. Timothy and Julia are called out as "full" siblings, so the other children probably had a different mother and Patrick probably had at least two wives. The wives aren't mentioned in the will, so probably died before 1883.
Patrick's daughter Rosanna needs additional care to be provided for by receiving an extra share of his estate. Patrick was most likely a Catholic since he designates some of his estate to be used to pay for masses for him and his deceased family and his daughter Julia is in the Sisters of Charity. Patrick is acquainted with the Keefe family and Michael O'Donaghue.
Further research on the clues in the will led to the following discoveries:
Patrick's son Timothy became guardian of Rosanna. Guardianship bonds showed that Rosanna moved with Timothy's family to Mercer County, Ohio. This was important in helping to establish that the Timothy Creeden in Mercer County was the same person as the one in Clinton County.
The Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, Ohio had records for Julia that showed she entered their convent in Cincinnati in 1870. She took her vows in 1872 and received the name of Sister Mary Felix. With that information, I was able to find her death certificate which named her parents as Patrick Creedon and Mary Coakley. That led to her baptism record in Ireland which gave her address as Carrigapooka in Clondrohid, County Cork, Ireland. Since the will stated Timothy was her full brother, I finally had names for my 2x great-grandfather Timothy's parents and a specific location in Ireland!
Timothy Keefe's mother was Johanna Creedon. The Keefes were from the same area of County Cork and an article about Julia Creedon states that she was related to the Keefe family of Clinton County. I haven't found any records showing the relationship of Johanna to Patrick, but it does look like they were related.
Michael O'Donaghue was the priest at St. Columbkill church in Clinton County from 1882-1905/1906. According to a newspaper article Patrick Creedan was at the first mass held in Clinton County in 1852, along with members of the Keefe and Coakley families.
This will really helped me break down my brick wall on Timothy Creeden! For the full transcription, see my original post on Patrick Creedan's will.
#52Ancestors is a series of weekly family history prompts developed by Amy Johnson Crow.