I am trying to find anything at all about my g-g-g grandfather, Patrick Keelin. The only thing I know for sure about him is that he was born in Ireland, and that his son, John, was born in Virginia in 1845.

I have searched exhaustively records on familysearch.org, ancestry.com, and rootsweb.com. I have looked for census records in Virginia for Patrick Keelin, and I've spelled Keelin every which way I can think of, including changing the K for similar looking letters.

I've also tried to find earlier records for his son John-in the hopes that Patrick would be included. The earliest record I found was an 1880 KY census that lists John Keelin with his wife and children.

John's mother, Mary Smith, was supposedly born in Virginia, but I couldn't find a marriage record for her and Patrick, or any census record of them living together.

If anyone has any advice, I would really appreciate it! I think about Patrick a lot, since this is my only direct Irish ancestor, and so far it is nothing but a huge brick wall! Very frustrating! Thanks again

Thank you ColeValleyGirl for pointing that out. Here is how I know what I know about Patrick. On his son John's death certificate, it lists his parents names, and places of birth. Patrick Keelin, Ireland, and Mary Smith, Virginia.

I haven't been able to find any records of Patrick. I checked the family cemetery and there is no grave for him or his wife(I am assuming they were married?).

I know John was born in Virginia, since it says so on his death certificate, and several census records. I know John died in Kentucky, since it shows that on census records, and he is buried in Kentucky.

  • Perhaps he was really born in Kentucky: search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/…
    – user47
    Aug 7, 2013 at 20:56
  • Tara, welcome to Genealogy&FamilyHistory.SE, and thanks for an interesting question. You've provided some great information about what you've already tried unsuccessfully, but it would be really helpful to know 'how you know what you know' -- i.e. what sources you already have that name Patrick and give his birthplace/age, and ditto for John. That way we can help you build on that info.
    – user104
    Aug 8, 2013 at 18:12
  • Thank you everyone for this advice. JustinY, I know John was born in Virginia since it is on his death certificate, and on a few of his census records.
    – Tara
    Aug 8, 2013 at 20:08
  • American Luke, I only know of Patrick because his name is on his son John's death certificate. It lists his name and place of birth, Ireland. I wish it would've included the county in Ireland at least.
    – Tara
    Aug 8, 2013 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


There are starting to be some very good Irish genealogy websites. I recently found the marriage of my 2xgreat grandfather on one of them.

Google lists Killeen as a possible alternative. Have you used that as one of your search names?

I hope these links help your research. Remember not to be limited just by the common websites you know but use a search engine to see what is out there. You can even just put a name and a date as your search to see if there is anything (unfortunately there is nothing for Patrick that I could find but you may be able to find more).

  • Thank you so much Colin. I will check those sites out. I have used Killeen as a possible alternative, but I will try again and try to keep an open mind.
    – Tara
    Aug 8, 2013 at 20:16
  • No problem good luck with your research.
    – Colin
    Aug 8, 2013 at 20:41
  • Another surname that is worth trying is 'Keeling' if you haven't done so already.
    – rhm
    Aug 12, 2016 at 21:48

One avenue you might explore is local genealogical societies in the areas you believe he may have lived. You mention he lived in Virginia. If he was in Northern Virginia you might consider the Fairfax Genealogical Society. You can put his name on the 'surname research' site and others in the society may have information of interest. Another in nova is the Mount Vernon Genealogical Society. One problem with records in this area of the country is much of the Civil War was fought in this area and many records were destroyed.

Another avenue you may explore is to attempt to find the ship he came over on. One place to look may be here. Searching for his ship probably rates a question of it's own so feel free to write another question.

  • Thank you Duncan. Looking for the ship he came on is a good idea, I will check that out.
    – Tara
    Aug 8, 2013 at 20:17

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