I have an Irish ancestor having a surname of Lynn. Anna Lynn is my Great Grandmother and 100% Irish. Her parents came to either New York or New Jersey around 1870. At some unknown point the family moved back to Ireland.

I've letters from Ireland to my Great Grandmother giving me connection to them and potential areas in the U.S. prior to returning. One letter from her younger brother Patrick clearly states a small town in Wisconsin where he was born.

I've researched all the parishes in this area and the surrounding area to no avail. Letters, her death and other documentation confirms they were Catholic and the family lived in Ulster in or near Bally Castle.

Nothing has been found on them outside of one possible census in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. This find is only possible at this point because I cannot validate with other documentation.

Anna Lynn Bentley passed away in 1927 and I've not been able to find her death certificate in the county she was living in at the time of her passing though I have found church records of her passing and burial.

Currently most information I have is contained letters sent from Ireland and it contains information of family members there; nothing really outside of they knew Anna Lynn Bentley was sick. Her being sick was confirmed in her death notice.

How does one organize this limited information and determine what location(s) to hopefully find more information on them?

2 Answers 2


Not sure if your focus is your family in America, before their return to Ireland, or your great-grandmother's whole life.

In order to identify gaps and clues needing follow-up, you should organize the pieces of information into a timeline, with dates (estimates or ranges if necessary) and places, and sources.

Points to include

  • each of the letters could be a date point; return address and destination address, if you also have the envelopes. Internal clues to past and current events

  • birth dates and places of the children; marriage dates and places; death and burial details

  • censuses, which will describe the residence location and contemporary family structure, but also citizenship status, economic conditions and other tidbits (depending on year and place)

  • date of entry to U.S. and date of return to Ireland

Some resources you haven't mentioned are newspapers, passenger lists, naturalization documents

A number of answers to other questions here also mention creating timelines. In particular, Determining what records are available about a individual? might be helpful.

  • Focus is currently part of what I am trying to know in where to start. I've my most information letters (w/envelopes) coming from Ireland to Deerbrook, Langlade, Wisconsin. These are first hand and definitive. So little information on them in America. Deerbook is expected because of her husband William Bentley, but all information on their lives in this area is second hand outside of two news articles regarding the car/train accident killing William Bentley. Anna Lynn died 8 years prior to the accident. I do have death information from the local church on Anna Lynn.
    – aallord
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 19:16
  • Since the Bentley family stayed in Langlade county, Anna's censuses after her marriage at abt age 17 are easy to find: 1900, 1910, 1920 (federal), 1895 and 1905 Wisconsin state. Those censuses have born New York state. Also findagrave memorials. They probably married in Wisconsin, since both Lynn & Bentley families were there in 1880.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:33

The US censuses would be a big help here. The US census in 1880 should be a starting point.

New Jersey had censuses in 1875/1885/1895. Wisconsin had censuses in 1836, 1838, 1842, 1846, 1847, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905.

Have you been able to find Anna Lynn in any of those records?

  • Yes, I've research these census records to no avail with any certainty. Just the 1880 from Mineral Point, Iowa, Wisconsin. To start here is making a blind leap and in regards to church records they turned up nothing.
    – aallord
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 19:18
  • I see her there; and a christening record from New Jersey 9-Dec-1870. FHL Film Number: 1403369 Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 20:04
  • The Christening is happening in New Jersey... The death announcement provided by her husband, William Bentley states New York... I've not other information on birth or anything pointing to where they came into the U.S. and where they went... So there is nothing of certainty to confirm for me this is the Anna Lynn I am searching... So what connection is there Anna Lynn born in New Jersey in 1870 is the Anna Lynn who passes away in 1927 in Wisconsin?
    – aallord
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 20:35
  • I don't know for sure - but the parents listed in the 1870 christening match those on the 1880 census. Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 22:55

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