Our story begins in Ireland during the 1830’s, for it is during this period that some of our earliest known ancestors were born. Ellen Carney, John Garvey, William McCafferty, Michael Gill, Michael Stanton, Mary Moran, Bridget Gill, and Patrick Loftus; all born between 1830-1845. Except for Ellen Garvey, we know nothing about their past, yet somehow these families came together years later in Cleveland to bear the children that would eventually lead to the McCafferty Clan. We assume that they were all born in Ireland, but that may not be the case. Loftus is an English surname, the Gills may have come from the Isle of Man, and McCafferty is rumored to be Scottish. What we do know is that they all converged in Ireland during the middle of the nineteenth century, and it is here that we first begin to trace our roots.
Having survived the famine, our ancestors remained in Ireland and continued to farm in the areas of Westport and Castlebar in County Mayo. It is during this post-famine period that we document the first concrete link to our relatives in Ireland in the form of the Griffith’s Primary Valuation. The purpose of Griffith's Valuation was to evaluate every parcel of land and every building in Ireland, and assign to it a fair value which was to be the basis for taxation. They also needed to identify the person or persons responsible for that property, whether they were a tenant or owner, so that they would know who was responsible for paying those taxes. The Griffith’s also provided us with other information, such as the names of the neighboring families, the townland where their house was located, and other areas where they farmed land. The process of gathering this information was prone to all the errors we find in census records -- misinformation, transcription errors, creative spelling by the person recording names, language problems (a large portion of the rural Irish still spoke Irish as their primary language), and so forth. Add to that the fact that it took many years to complete the project (the results were published from 1848 to 1864), and we can see there are many problems with these records. However, since most of the 19th century census records for Ireland were destroyed in the fire at the Public Records Office in 1922, Griffith's remains as our earliest comprehensive source of names for the entire island.
Another piece of the paper trail our ancestors left behind was from their birth records. Beginning in 1864, the Irish were required to register all births, and often this information contained the names of the parents (including the mothers maiden name) and the town where they lived. The Church of Latter Day Saints has an extensive collection of archives from around the world, including microfiche copies of these birth records. Using the IGI (International Genealogical Index), we were able to locate the birth records for several of the ancestors and photocopy the specific records. Then, armed with the parents names and their townlands, we went back and narrowed our search in the Griffith’s to locate specific records and identify where our ancestors lived during this period of time.
The final piece of the puzzle from Ireland came in the form of Church records. Knowing where the lived helped us locate the corresponding parish, which in turn helped locate baptism records. This information confirmed birthdates, names of parents, and also provided the names of the godparents, who were often relatives. Altogether, we located baptism records for Anna, Mary, Pat, and Catherine Garvey; birth records for Patrick Loftus, James McCafferty, Anna Garvey, and Peter and Michael Gill (John’s brothers); and Griffith’s records for the Gills and Stantons on Inishgowla Island in Clew Bay and John Garvey in Roslahan near Castlebar.
Analyzing the Griffith’s a little more closely gives us some clues as to how these families came back together again in Cleveland. For example, Patrick Loftus and Anne Sudival were listed as parents of Pat Loftus on the birth records, with the name Michael Sudival also listed as the grandfather. Looking at the Griffith’s for Ballinlassa in the Parish of Drum, Patrick Loftus and Michael Sudival lived in the townland while John Garvey farmed land there. When Patrick Garvey moved to Cleveland and eventually married Mary Garvey, it wasn’t by accident. The families knew each other from Ireland. The same can be said of the Stantons and Gills. There were five households on Inishgowla, and island of roughly 31 acres; two Gills, two Stantons, and John Golden. Michael Gill and Michael Stanton actually farmed together on another small island named Inishleague. Located less than 2 miles from Inishgowla were the islands of Collan More (home of Michael Moran) and Island More (home for another Gill clan with eight different Gills listed as heads of the household). Once again, when John Gill and Bridget Stanton married, there was a prior family connection from back in Ireland.