Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Clinch family of Aurora, Illinois, continued

The Aurora Daily Express [1] told of the horrible death suffered by Edward Clinch, on Thursday, 16 January 1890. Edward was originally from the tiny village of Athgarvan, in Co. Kildare, same as my third great-grandmother, Anne (Clynch) Byrne. I’m investigating just how they may have been related.

‘The fate of Edward C. Clinch, whose body was brought here yesterday was another illustration of the great risks which a man takes when he enters the employ of a railroad company. Mr. Clinch, a man about fifty-five, had been in the employ of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy company for some time. He was formerly an oiler in the Aurora yards but has lately been acting as flagman at the crossing between Clyde and Hawthorne. He boarded at 803 Jefferson avenue, going to work on an early train and out again at night.’
The death of Edward Clinch, Aurora Daily Express, 17 January 1890

The morning after he was killed, an inquest was held into his death and the verdict was published in the newspaper:

‘After hearing all the evidence the coroner’s jury returned a verdict “that Edward Clinch came to his death at LaVerne, Cook County, on Thursday morning, Jan. 16th, by being run over by the forward section of freight No. 61, which had broken in two. That said death was in great part the result of his own carelessness, but we further find that the head brakeman was not at his post, at the rear of the forward section, as required when a train breaks in two, and this may have contributed, in a measure, to the fatality.”’
Verdict of the Coroner's Jury, Aurora Daily Express, 18 January 1890

Edward’s funeral was held that Sunday afternoon at St Mary’s church, Aurora. He was buried in the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery nearby. A photograph of his headstone, found online here, shows he is buried beside a ‘Mary Murray 1837-1897’. Although I’ve yet to find concrete proof, and despite the understatement of her age by about twelve years, I suspect Mary Murray was Edward’s sister. Mary Clynch was baptised in Athgarvan, in 1825. It would be strange for them to share a grave, if they were not related.

These articles help connect Edward to an 1880 federal census enumerated in Aurora, where he was working as an 'oiler'. Here, Edward Clinch was named as the brother of Mary Murry’s husband, John Murry. But, given he doesn’t share John’s surname, it’s possibly more likely he was John's brother-in-law, and Mary’s brother. 

The Murry-Clinch household in Aurora, Illinois, in 1880 

If I’ve identified the right family, Mary’s age was understated by about twenty-five years. This may be a stretch, even for the nineteenth-century Irish who often had little clue when they were born, but another factor connects the household with my target Clinch family:-

Also, living with John and Mary Murry in 1880 were their ‘adopted’ sons Ed and Pat Clinch and daughter Clara Clinch. These were in fact some of the children of Martin Clinch, Mary and Edward’s suspected brother, who died in Aurora in 1871. Edward, Martin and Mary Clinch had all sailed to America together in 1854. 

So, while there’s plenty to suggest Martin, Edward and Mary were closely related, and probably siblings, apart from their mutual origin in Athgarvan, nothing seems to link them directly to my third great-grandmother. So, I'm back to hoping a DNA match will come to the rescue and confirm a relationship.

And, as far as I can tell at this point, only Martin Clinch and his wife Catherine Fox had descendants. Their eldest daughter Maria was born in Athgarvan before the family emigrated, while the rest of their children were born in Illinois - Edward about 1859; Katie about 1860; John about 1862; Pat about 1865; Laurence about 1867 and Clara about 1869. 
Clinch household, 1870 Census, Aurora 

Katie married Hugh McNally in 1882 and had six children with him, adding the McNally surname to Dad’s list of potential DNA matches. Clara married Ole Arneson in 1908, but the couple seemingly had no children.  Sadly however, there are no likely Clinch or McNally matches appearing among our DNA cousins, just yet.

If you descend from Martin Clinch (c. 1816-1871) of Aurora, I would love to hear from you! blackraven.genealogy(at)gmail(dot)com.

Continued from The Clynch Connection.

Update: I met a descendant of Martin Clinch, who has tested her DNA, but unfortunately she shares no detectable DNA with my Dad, here.

[1] Aurora Daily Express, 17 January 1890, 18 January 1890.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. It is amazing the work you are doing to put together these clues. Great job!

  2. One of our daughters lives in that area of Illinois & I have been to Aurora several times. It is a very pretty area. There are lots of trains in the area. Edward's death sounds awful. There were probably more deaths related to trains in those years than today.

  3. Thanks Colleen. It was probably the work with the railroad that brought Edward and his brother Martin to Aurora. Your're right, it seems it was a dangerous job, then - Edward is the second probable 'relative' I've discovered that died in a similar accident.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!