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My great-great grandfather, James Patrick O'Reilly, was born on 16 October 1836 in Milltown, Drumlane parish, County Cavan Ireland per his Bible record. No evidence of a birth or baptism has been found.

The family story is four brothers, Charles, George, Robert and James immigrated to the United States with James being the only one to come south to Huntsville, Alabama. No evidence of this immigration has been found. James is believed to have immigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1858. A review of ship lists for that period does not provide a suitable candidate.

On 3 March 1859, James O'Reilly married Susan Hindon in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama USA. He lived in Huntsville from that point passing away on 15 Auugust 1886.

I have been looking for years for a way to determine the parents of James O'Reilly, but have had no success.

James had an older brother, Terrence, born c. 1829. He married Margaret Woods in 7 September 1862 in Ireland. A marriage record has not been found. He and Margaret migrated to the United States via New York arriving on 19 August 1865 on the ship Escort. He traved to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania where he lived in Elizabeth, a town near Pittsburg, until c. 1880 when he migrated to Madison County, Alabama where he lived the remainder of his life passing away in 1905.

If anyone has any information they could share that might shed some light on the parents of James or Terrence O'Reilly, it would be much appreciated.

George O'Reilly




Friday 6th November 2020, 07:45PM

Message Board Replies

  • Hi George,  

    I hope this finds you well.  As you already know it is difficult to get records back that far and the abundance of the names leaving you with too much to pick from.  When you say you have searched for years for the names of their parents, I guess you have got all the marriage & death records for the brothers.  As first names go Robert & George are a little more unusual to go in front of O'Reilly, in my own family tree, James, Patrick, Terence, Charles and too numerous Johns decorate my tree, so if you were able to concentrate on the little more unusual, it might narrow your search.  I presume they had sisters, these are also very difficult to find, not knowing their first or surnames.  Do consider mispellings Reilly, Riley etc, with & without the 'O'  Look to see can you find chain migration, as usually younger nieces & nephews would have joined them, look to see who lives with them in the census records,it might widen the family and take you back a little further.

    I looked up RootsIreland (church records) but I could not find the marriage for Terrence & Margaret either (do you have her dates/where she as from, guessing Cavan), just outside civil registration (not that it guarantees anything).  Where did you find their passenger list as I could not find it on Ellis Island site?  

    For a fee you could try Cavan Genealogy Centre
    Irish Family History Foundation
    Cana House
    Farnham Street
    Co. Cavan

    Let me know me know of any other clues.  Regards Carmel O'Callaghan

    Bailieborough Cavan

    Sunday 8th November 2020, 11:53AM
  • Carmel, thanks for a reply and your suggestions, all good

    I have not been able to find any information on the 4 brothers, agree that Robert and George would be unusal names for an O'Reilly in that period, makes me have doubts about my family's story. Other than the story of the 4 brothers, there is no other information. I have reviewed the ship passenger lists through the port of New York for 1850 throught 1858 looking for 4 individuals with the right names traveling together and have had no luck.

    I thought I might be able to find/develop some information on James and Terrence by looking at Cavan records but there are two many Terrences and James of which I have no way to differentiate as to who might be related. In the US, I would have collected all the names and found a way to differentiate them in the census, but with the census missing for 1821-1851 for Drumlane parish, Cavan County

    I've also always had a concern of my ancestor not even being in the records, slight as they are, since I presume he was of the poorest class of society and may not have made it into baptismal, census, or other records.

    I too have not been able to find a marriage for Terrence and Margaret Woods, making me doubt her name, and the date of the marriage, although I have personally seen the Bible record where her name and the marriage date was written.

    I found the immigration information from the Castle Garden website and the National Archives website for ship passenger lists.  

    His name was listed as Tyce Rully, age 29, laborer, with his wife, Margt, going to Pennsylvania. On a close review of the ship list entry, I believe his name is Terce Reilly, short for Terence Reilly. In the 1900 Madison County, Alabama census, he stated he immigrated to the US in August 1865. He is found in 1870 in Elizabeth, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania where he lived until 1880 when he moved to Madison County, Alabama.

    The FamilySearch website has his name as Terce Reilly

    Links below


    George O'Reilly


    Monday 9th November 2020, 06:06PM