Surname Variations

Thinking about the IGSI-sponsored trip to Ireland has prompted me to take another look at my own Irish connection.

Before I go further with my story, let me give you the link to more information about IGSI’s September 12-23, 2015 trip: It promises to be the perfect combination of genealogy and touring. Time for research in both Dublin and Belfast, plus a guided tour of the Irish countryside with friendly folks who share your interest in family history!

My interest in Irish family history began about eight years ago when I realized how little my husband and his sister knew of their Irish roots. Bill’s father was a Minnesota blend of four Irish Catholic families, all of whom had come to the U.S. during the Famine years from the south and west of Ireland. I’ve spent much time and energy researching those family lines but many questions remain.

Along the way I also conducted research on my paternal grandmother, whose ancestors settled in Pennsylvania in the very early 1700s. My third great-grandmother, Elizabeth McKlveen, was (according to family lore) born in Ireland in about 1792. Her father, Henry, was supposedly born in Scotland. The family settled in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, PA, in about 1800.

Now I’ve been dabbling in the ancestry of early McKlveen neighbors in Donegal Township, trying to find a common point of origin. I’ve also been looking in County Donegal, Ireland, since it seems logical that the township name originated with the immigrants’ home county.

While I found few name variants when I was researching Hickeys/Quinns/Ryans/Rowans, that is certainly not the case for the McKlveens. The “k” and “v” are American twists on the spelling. In Tithe Applotment Books and Griffiths, I find these variations: MCILWAINE, MCILWAIN, MCWANE, MCELWAINE, and MCELWAIN – enough entries to fill several pages of an Excel spreadsheet. In U.S. records, in addition to McKlveen, I find: MCILVANE, MCELVAIN, MCELVEEN, MCWAINE, MCELVAEN, MCKLEVEEN, and MCELVEAN.

Then I found Henry MCILVENNA on the 1796 Irish Flax Growers List. In County Armagh! Agh! Could it be? Back to the drawing board.

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