Who was Katie Kilcannon?

A month or two ago, I made a startling discovery of an obituary for my 3rd great-grandmother Margaret Donlan Cain.  It was online at http://www.newspaperarchive.com and revealed not only her death information but quite a bit of history for her that I’d never known before.

Today, I am focusing my attention on Katie Kilcannon.  On February 3 and again on February 10, 1916, a few days before Margaret’s obituary appeared in the Madison Weekly Herald, a short little piece showed up in the Madison Weekly Herald:


This has sparked my interest.  Miss Katie Kilcannon?  A cousin of Margaret Donlan Cain? Who was she and how was she related to Margaret?

I searched NewspaperArchives.com for more about Katie Kilcannon.  I found a December 30, 1913, article stating that she had gone to St. Louis to visit her nephew John Brennan, who was ill and in a coma and who had previously lived in Madison with her.  And I found one other article, on August 17, 1917, that she had gone to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis to visit the same nephew, John Brennan.

I found the following records in Ancestry.com:

The 1900 census lists Catherine Kilcannon, single and born November 1861 in Indiana, living with her sister Mary, single and born December 1864 in Indiana, and with their brother, Hugh Brannon, widowed and born February 1864 in Indiana, and his three children, Mary, John and Joseph Brannon.  They were all living at 409 East Street in Madison.

Katherine Kilcannon was listed in the 1910 census in Madison, Indiana.  It says she was born in 1856 in Indiana and her parents were born in Ireland.  She was single and living with a step-niece, Mary Brannon, 16, and two step-nephews, John Brannon, 15, and Joseph Brannon, 14.

The 1930 census lists Kate Kilcannon, single, at 409 East Street in Madison, Indiana, living alone, born 1858.

And then I found a death certificate for Catherine Louise Kilcannon, from 409 East Street, Madison, Indiana:

Kilcannon Katie death

There are a couple of things about this death certificate that are out of sync with information found in the censuses:  (1) This shows Katie’s birth in 1845, but all of the censuses showed her as born in the early 1860’s.  (2) Katherine’s father’s name is listed as Patrick Kilcannon from Ireland.  The censuses in 1860 and 1870 that I believe included Katherine had her father’s name as John Kilcommons.  Perhaps his name was John Patrick?  Or perhaps this informant never knew for sure who Katie’s parents were?  But, since I did not find more than one Katie or Katherine Kilcannon in Madison, Indiana, during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and since the address listed of 409 East Street matches both the 1900 and 1930 censuses, I believe this is the woman who was listed as Margaret Donlan Cain’s cousin in the Madison Weekly Herald.

Katie was the informant on the death certificate for her sister, Mary E. Kilcannon, who died in Madison on July 31, 1907 at the age of 45 years and 5 months, which would mean that Mary was born February 1862, which is close to the birth year shown in the 1900 census.  The death certificate listed Patrick Kilcannon and Mary Donlon as Mary’s parents, matching the parents on Katie’s later death certificate.  Note that the photo of Mary’s gravestone in St. Patrick’s Cemetery found on FindAGrave.com indicates that Mary died on July 30, 1907 and was 49 years old.  That would put her birth year about about 1958.  There was a Mary Kilcannon listed in the 1880 census in Madison, 22 years old (i.e. born about 1858) and working as a servant.

Conclusions:  Catherine Louise Kilcannon’s mother was Mary Louise Donelon from Ireland!  So there is the connection to Margaret Donelan.  Assuming that her mother Mary Louise Donelan was the Mary Kilcommons in the 1870 and 1880 censuses in Madison listed above, Mary Louis Donelan was born in Ireland in about 1836.  She must have been a cousin of Margaret’s and not a sister.  Otherwise Katie would have called herself Margaret’s niece, not her cousin, in the 1916 newspaper article.

This would help to explain why Margaret came to Madison, Indiana, in 1864 or 1865.  I’d always wondered why this young widow came to America during the Civil War with three young children and made her way to Indiana.  Presumably, she followed her cousins who were already there since about 1856.



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