ORIGINS OF THE KELLY ALBUM
Contributed by members of the Kelly family, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Assembled electronically by Tom McFarland in December 2012

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The Kelly album was passed to the Kelly family of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, upon the death in 1940 of Emily Mary (Wright) Brown, who had no children. At the time of the Irish censuses of 1901 and 1911, Emily lived with her mother, Catherine (McFarland) Wright, and Catherine must certainly have influenced this album. Catherine was born in 1822 and probably assembled the album herself in the early 1890s after the death of her husband (John Wright) in 1885. The physical album (that is, without its pictures) is of a style used in the 1880s, so even though Emily seems to have added a few photos after 1900, the album was conceived earlier, when Emily was still in her 30s and probably less interested in preserving memories.. Catherine's father, Andrew McFarland of Armaloughy (Carnteel Parish), had died in 1857, but her mother (who was born Martha Delap) was probably alive until the 1880s: Catherine's nephew Robert McFarland claims Martha died at age 89. A photo of Martha appears to adorn page 4 of this album.

There is a chance that this album displays images from the family of Emily's husband, William Canovan Brown. However, the images of many people appear in this album, while William and Emily themselves had no children. Thus, if these images are Browns (rather than Wrights or McFarlands), then it would have been natural (upon Emily's passing in 1940) to pass this album to one of the Browns. Since the album was instead passed to the family of Matilda Jane (Wright) Kelly, the reasonable inference is that these images are largely Wrights, Kellys, and McFarlands.

In 2012, with enormous help from Evelynn Cartwright of Ontario, Canada, descendents of John Wright and Catherine McFarland were located in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, including Renee (Kelly) McCormick, whose son Alistair scanned the pages of this Victorian album (without removing the photos from their album slots), and these scans were emailed to Tom McFarland. In August 2017, Tom McFarland visited Belfast, and met with Renee, Norah Brown-Davis, and Fred Wilson, the later two descended from Catherine's sister Charlotte.

The album consists of 27 pages, an odd number, so it appears that upon opening the album cover, one sees a title page without a photo; album odd-numbered pages are therefore at the left, and even numbered pages on the right. Seven pages (1, 2, 3, 4, 25, 26, and 27) contain larger photos (4" tall), and the remaining 20 pages each contain slots for four images, each 2" tall. Thus there are 87 image slots, but 16 of the smaller slots are empty, so there are 71 images. The photos which once filled the empty spaces were kept by Renee's brother James Kelly, and Renee'ss son Alistair scanned these 4-5 additional old photos, which have been added back into this digital album as pages 40-44 until the original location can be learned.

All photos in the album are cabinet cards (no tin types). Foxing mold has invaded most photos, but the original detail of most has remained intact, and the foxing was digitally removed from all but a few photos. In four photos, the foxing obscured major parts of the image, and in these 4 cases, no attempt was made to remove the foxing; however, brightness and contrast were altered in all photos to bring out remaining features. The attempts to reconstruct damaged images required potentially inaccurate guesses as to what was originally in the photo. Thus, all original scans were saved, and as with other photos on this website, a mouse-click on the album jpg image sends the viewer to the original scan when the album is viewed using a CD or DVD rather than the internet.

Most of the photos were taken in the 1880s, judged by clothing style, but one was taken about 1903, another about 1915 (of Catherine herself just before her death), and two taken in the 1860s. One image is a drawing based on a photograph taken 1935-45. Most of the photos were dated by Leslie Bellais, clothing specialist with the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wisonsin, USA. Many were created by the photographer [Hunter & Co] of Armagh and Monahan. Roots Web lists this photographer as active around the year 1890.

Most of the images show people in late youth or early middle age (ages 25 to 40), and hence born 1850 to 1870. These people would have been the children of Catherine and Catherine's neices and nephews. A few photos capture the next generation forward in time, and at least one capture's the previous generation (Martha). However, Renee McCormick states that none of the photos had been identified as of 2013, so a major effort has been made to link photos with names, largely using photo dates (through clothing style), birth dates through various records, and knowledge of family relationships (such as through Wills and census data). Even then, im 2012, several photos could not be matched with names. However, in August 2017, during a visit to the Ballygawley COI, a marriage record was discovered, revealing Jane McFarland, a previously unknown sister of Catherine. Jane bore a son and 3 daughters, 9all between 1846 and 1858) and these dates match comfortably with several previously unidentified photos. However, the lack of birth dates for Jane's children still leaves some doubt about the identities for several photos.


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