The Byrne(Burns) Family of Kilcar, County Donegal and Greeley County, NE

The Byrne family was originally from County Wicklow, a county in southeastern Ireland, although they had been in Donegal for several generations at least. When the Byrne family came to the United States, some members changed the spelling to Burns, apparently to make it seem Scottish and improve their employment prospects. This particular family came from Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. I have another web page that discussed Kilcar genealogy and helps those with Kilcar ancestry find others working on the same families.

John Byrne b. Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, m. in Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Ann Carr, b. Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. John died Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. Mary Byrne Keeney of Killbegs, mother of Molly Keeney Love, said that John Byrne and Ann Carr are the parents of John Byrne. According to Margaret Curran of Shalwy, the Byrne family of Kille has the following story. In her words, "Well now, about the Byrnes of Kille. Yes there sure were Byrnes in Kille and they were all related to my father (RIP). My dad's name was Charles McCauley. We lived in this parish inland and about 10 miles from here. My Dad's mother's name was Margaret (Peggy) Carr and she was the daughter of Frank Carr and Bridget Byrne. Bridget was from Coguish. But she had seven Byrne uncles and they all settled down in the townlands all about these parishes. But two of them settled in Kille and they are the Byrnes you are tracing and also my relations. Molly Love's mother, the late Mary Keeney was related to us, as she was Byrne from Lower Largy before her marriage. Also there were a few families of Byrnes in Bavin who were of the same connection. Now about the Byrnes of Kille. Yes that was one of my late father's ancestors on his mother's side who lived on a farm next to Jim Cunninghams of Kille. But two great uncles settled in Kille, I was always told. But my Dad (R.I.P.) always told me the story that whenever his mother went to Killybegs (walking in those days) she always did visit her first cousin in Kille and spend the night with her [This would probably be Catherine "Kate" Byrne, who survived her brother Jimmy]. She was Byrne and she lived alone he told me. But I just forget did he say she emigrated or that she died there. But it definitely was on the farm next to Jim Cunningham's and now owned by Jim Cunningham's son. Even I had been asking Jim about it some years back but he didn't seem to know a lot about the Byrne families. But as I told you the two men who settled in Kille were of seven brothers who settled, even one of them in the Parish of Ardara, and when he died there his relations in Kilcar carried his coffin through the mountains all the way to Kilcar graveyard and he was buried there. It is all very interesting and I heard so much from the old people, but alas I only wish that I had written it all down." I am assuming that these seven brothers were the children of John Byrne and Ann Carr, although there is some probability that John Byrne is one of these seven. In 1833, the Tithe Applotment shows only one Byrne, James, in Kille, but by 1858 when Griffith's Valuation was conducted Kille had three Byrne households, Susan, John, and Hugh. John is the husband of Mary Campbell. (Sources: Margaret Curran; Molly Love; Mary Byrne Keeney, via Eileen Johnson)

A More Complete Byrne Descent

What follows is a register report. The children of a couple are listed below them. For those for which additional generations are presented, a number precedes them to link them to a prior reference. If only a roman numeral is shown, no more information is known.

1. John Byrne b. Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, m. in Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Ann Carr, b. Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. John died Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland.

Children:



Second Generation 2. John Byrne b. abt. 1825, Coguish, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation Farmer, m. in Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Mary Campbell, b. Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, (daughter of Eamon Campbell) d. 1909, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. John died 1902, Kille, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. John lived in Kille, a townland of Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. His farm was 7 acres of poor quality. Its valuation for purposes of the tithe was 1 pound 20 shillings, compared to 3 pounds 3 shillings for James Meehan's comparably sized plot. Mary was from Kille also. She was probably the daughter of Edward (Eamon) Campbell, who lived three farms east of the McNelis family and four farms west of the Byrne family. Joe Doogan, a descendant of the Campbells, still lives on the Campbell farm in 1992. The Campbells were visited by relatives from Greeley NE in 1945 and 1953.

Children:



3. Daniel Byrne b. Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation Farmer, m. Ellen "Nellie" Campbell, b. 1829.

Children:



4. Bridget Byrne b. Coguish, Kilcar, Donegal, IRE, m. Francis (Frank) Carr, occupation Tailor. This information came from Margaret Curran. There is some uncertainty whether I have Bridget in the correct generation. She may be John (wife of Ann Carr) Byrne's sister, not daughter, although this is considerably less likely. Margaret says that Bridget had seven brothers, who moved throughout the parish, including two to Ardara.

Children:



Third Generation

5. Patrick Burns b. 18-Mar-1851, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation farmer, m. 1892, in St. Guardi Church, New York, Anne Devor, b. 1863, County Donegal, Ireland, d. 1903, Logan Township, Greeley Co., NE. Patrick died 1931, Greeley, Neb. Patrick emigrated in 1874 and spent time in Missouri, Colorado, and Montana, before homesteading in Logan Precinct of Greeley Co., NE in 1885. In 1892 he married Anna, who had immigrated in 1884. In 1905, Patrick moved his family to a tract near O'Connor, NE. He lived on this farm until his death. His godparents were Denis and Margaret Byrne. I wonder whether Anna and brother Tom's wife Catherine McGuinness might also be from Kilcar. In any case, both brothers traveled from Nebraska back to New York to marry in 1892. Anne emigrated in 1884

Children:



6. Margaret (Madge) Byrne b. 7 DEC 1853, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, bapt: 7-Dec-1853, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, m. 1878, in St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, James McNelis, b. 1 SEP 1855, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, (son of Anthony McNelis and Catherine Meehan) occupation Farmer, d. 10 MAR 1938, Greeley, Neb, buried: Sacred Heart Cemetery, Greeley, Neb. Margaret died 8 SEP 1891, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. Madge died of kidney infection incurred in childbirth with Patrick. Her godparents were Thomas Cannon and his wife Sarah Cunningham (parents of Dennis Cannon, who married her daughter Margaret). James was left behind with his grandparents James and Margaret Meehan when his parents and brothers emigrated. He was 7 or 8 at the time. He and his children emigrated after Madge died. James lived near Largymore on the family plot. His

herd was two cows. He also worked as a fisherman. When he left for America, James had only $200. By the time he arrived in New York, having paid the fares for his family, he had only $25. He first went to Pennsylvania and considered leaving the children with his brothers, but instead went to O'Connor, Neb, where Madge's sister, Mary Burns Hanley, and her brothers, Patrick, Edward, Daniel, and Thomas Burns lived. Leaving his children in the care of the Burns families, he went to Leadville, Col., to work in the mines. While working at the smelter in the mines, he damaged his eyes and suffered from heat stroke. This affected his health for the rest of his life. After two or three years, he returned to Nebraska. He began farming the old Doyle place in Freeman Valley for 10 years. In 1906, he moved to Belfast, Neb.(a former town northwest of Greeley) and purchased 840 acres which he farmed and raised cattle on until 1922. He moved into Greeley and bought a store which he and his son Patrick ran. In his later years James McNelis lived with his daughter, Kate McNelis Walsh and her family. When he visited his son Jack and his family in Joplin, he used to bring a wooden bucket of candy, with little presents for the kids hidden in it.

Children:

This McNelis family is discussed further on my Anthony McNelis page. People with an interest in the McNelis name in general should see my McNelis Genealogy page.

7. Thomas Burns b. 10 Jul 1860, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation Farmer, m. 1892, in New York, NY, Catherine McGinnes, b. 1873, Ireland, d. 27-Nov-1949, Greeley, Neb. Thomas died 3-May-1951, Greeley, Neb. He sailed from Londonderry (now in Northern Ireland) on the Arcassin, arriving in New York on Sept 1, 1881. Like other members of his family he spent time in Colorado before coming to Greeley County, NB. They settled on a farm in Logan Precinct. He was 5 ft 4 in tall, weighing 120 pounds, with blue eyes. Catherine emigrated 1884.

Children:



8. Daniel Edward Burns b. 22 FEB 1868, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation farmer, m. 9-Jan-1893, in O'Connor, NE, Margaret A. McVeigh, b. 17-Feb-1876, Sharon, PA, (daughter of John McVeigh and Mary Laird) d. 7-Oct-1939, buried: Calvary Cemetery, Spalding, Neb. Daniel died 13-Aug-1951, Omaha, NE, buried: Calvary Cemetery, Spalding, Neb. Dan arrived in New York on the steamship Port Nassau on 5/20/1887. He lived in New York for several years, then spent three years in Montana and one in Colorado before settling in Greeley Co. in 1892. He attained citizenship on 9/26/1906. His farm was near Belfast, northwest of Greeley. They moved to Spalding where Dan was custodian of the Spalding Public School. Maggie operated a maternity home in Spalding. Maggie had moved to Nebraska with her parents at the age of three.

Children:



9. Mary Burns b. 7-Mar-1865, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, m. in Leadville, CO, Patrick Hanley, b. 1864, occupation farmer, d. 18-Dec-1931. Mary died 11-Jul-1946, Grand Island, Neb. Mary immigrated in 1885. Pat immigrated in 1880. She came alone to New York at 17. There she met two of her brothers who had preceded her to America. They soon went to Leadville, CO, where whe married Pat. They lived in Butte Montana, another mining town, moving to a farm near Greeley, NB in 1892. In 1918 they purchased a farm near Burwell NB where they lived until Pat died. She then moved to Grand Island and lived with her daughter. The Hanleys took care of some of the McNelis children while their father was in Colorado. Patrick: immigrated in 1880

Children:



10. Edward Byrne b. 1861, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation Farmer, m. Mary Byrne, b. 1869, Bavin, Kilcar, Donegal, Ireland. Edward died Killybegs, County Donegal, Ireland.

Children:



11. Margaret (Peggy) Carr m. Connell McCauley.

Children:



Fourth Generation

12. John C. Burns m. 16-Nov-1915, in Church of the Visitation, O'Connor, NE, Anna Cecelia Mulcahy, (daughter of Michael Mulcahy and Margaret O'Rourke) d. 17-May-1959. John died 30-Jun-1968.

Children:



13. Mary A. Burns m. 17-Feb-1922, in Church of the Visitation, O'Connor, NE, John M. O'Connor, d. 14-May-1969. Mary died 23-Sep-1977.

Children:



14. James J. McNelis m. Hannah Caffery For more about this family see is McNelis

15. Margaret McNelis m. Dennis Cannon,.For more about this family see is McNelis or Cannon

16. John McNelis m. Mary Bernadette Snell, For more about this family see is McNelis

17. Mary Teresa McNelis m. Dennis Donovan, For more about this family see is McNelis

18. Catherine Veronica McNelis m. Charles Louis Walsh For more about this family see McNelis

19. John J. "Jack" Burns b. 30-Sep-1893, m. (1) 18-Feb-1919, in Scotia, NE, Catherine Alice "Kit" Halpin, b. 1-Sep-1891, O'Connor, Greeley, NE, (daughter of William Halpin and Marguerita M. Noonan) d. 1-Feb-1958, buried: O'Connor, Greeley, NE, m. (2) ?-Jun-1960, Lotti P. Troy, d. 18-Mar-1972, buried: Denver, CO. John died 8-Oct-1971, buried: O'Connor, Greeley, NE. Jack attended school until the 3rd or 4th grade. He was a barber and entered the service as a barber, enlisting June 29, 1917 at Albion, NE. One of the first in the area to volunteer, Jack was honorably discharged from the Army Jan. 6, 1919. He farmed at Fish Creek until 1934 when he passed the exam and became postmaster. In 1945 he became a carrier on Rural Rte. 1.

Children:



20. Mary Gertrude Burns b. 7-Aug-1896, m. Joseph P. Fitzsimmons, b. 7-Aug-1896, (son of W.G. Fitzsimmons and Cora Slome) d. 2-Jan-1978. Mary died 2-Jan-1978.

Children:



21. Catharine Agatha Burns b. 12-Feb-1901, m. 5-Jul-1921, Edward J. Currie, b. 9-Oct-1897, (son of John Currie and Elizabeth Joyce) d. 1-May-1968. Catharine died 14-Oct-1978. Catharine graduated from Spalding Academy May 28, 1920. Catharine was a beautiful seamstress and worked for Natelson's in Omaha for years.

Children:



22. Daniel Edward Burns b. 1904, m. Margaret T. Furry, b. 1904, d. 1983. Daniel died 1979.

Children:



23. Margarita Theresa Burns b. 1-Sep-1906, m. Joseph McCarthy. Margarita died 17-Feb-1981. Margarita graduated from Spading Academy in 1913.

Children:



24. James Francis Burns b. 1916, m. Mae Frudil. James died 1965.

Children:



25. Agnes Eileen Hanley b. 11-May-1907, O'Connor, Greeley, NE, m. 4-Jun-1928, in Kearney, NE, John V. Ganow. Agnes died 10-Jun-1975, Grand Island, Neb.

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26. Mary Byrne b. 1893, Killybegs, County Donegal, Ireland, m. Mr. Keeney. Mary died Killybegs, County Donegal, Ireland, buried: Killybegs, County Donegal, Ireland.

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27. James Byrne b. 1895, Killybegs, County Donegal, Ireland, m. Jessie Erskine, b. 1896, d. 1971. James died 1961.

Children:



28. Charles McCauley b. ? ___ 1881, Crowkeragh, Kilcar, Donegal, IRE, m. Mary McGuire, b. ? ___ 1885, d. ? ___ 1964. Charles died ? ___ 1972.

Children:




This page represents what I know of the older generations of this family. If you are interested in subsequent generations I have some of that information. I would love to hear from anyone who thinks this may be their Byrne family. Write me at
Jim Dunn
212 E. Irvin
State College, PA 16801

USA

or e-mail at jwd6@psu.edu