I am posting each of these stories here in order to demonstrate what can be done, and, to make the information available to interested others. PLEASE NOTE: these have not been edited and updated for new information, so if you read this, take the information WITH THAT IN MIND! Thanks! Enjoy reading this slice of our lives.
The Search Begins in Cedar County, Iowa
We first went to Cedar County right after ESU Commencement on May 13, 1995. Glenn Bolger's father, Frank Bolger (Nancy's Grandfather), was the son of Thomas Bolger, who had been a farmer in Coon Rapids, and had earlier married a Jessie Dolan, known to be the grand-daughter of a James Dolan (by a son, Josiah). He had presumably immigrated from Belfast, Ireland to Ohio with his family and, in 1844, settled in Cedar County, Iowa. We had a very crude list of names of the James Dolan lineage, but no more. We knew little of the origins of the Bolger family, though we had been told they had come from Ireland.
This search was also to be our first attempt to search old county and library records to dig up previously unknown information and to verify in records information previously provided us by family sources. We knew from our readings on family history and genealogy searches that all information obtained is not necessarily reliable. It is best to go to the original documents for verification, wherever possible. Multiple, reliable sources are even better. This allows a cross-check and confirmation.
Prior to leaving Emporia, Nancy had begun to examine U.S. census tapes for Cedar County for 1850, 1860, and 1870. The indexes for the census tapes had shown a number of Dolans in Center Township, including a James and a Josiah (see below). No Bolgers were noted on the 1850 census but there was a Michael Bolger, a Harriet Bolger and three children listed for 1860 in Cass Township, in western Cedar County. The census further showed Michael as born in Ireland and Harriet born in Ohio. In the 1870 census for Cass Township, the Michael Bolger family included for the first time a son, Thomas, listed as 9 years old. That fit with what we knew of Thomas. (In addition, the 1870 census showed Michael and Harriet aged 58 and 39. It listed other children: Rosamond, 16; Mary, 14; Nina, 12; Sarah, 6; Catherine, 3; and Michael, 3/12.) Our job, then, was to verify and confirm that we had identified the correct family and proceed to expand on that information. (Nancy recognized the Rosamond name, from family discussions, but was totally unaware of either of the Michaels. More on the younger Michael in a later episode.)
The 1850 census for Center Township which includes Tipton, the county seat, in the middle of the county, among the several Dolans, listed a Harriett Dolan, by herself, age 18, born in Ohio. Harriett did not appear anywhere on the Dolan name list. Was she from another family? Could Harriett Dolan, age 18, in Center Township in 1850, possibly be the same person as Harriet Bolger, age 27, in Cass Township in 1860?
Dolans in the the 1850 census included what appeared to be a family unit of James A. Dolan (age 43), Malvinna (16), Josiah (13), Chad (10), Harley (8), and Charlotte (6). The Dolan list we had showed children of James as: 1. John, 2. Charlie, 3. Melvina, 4. Josiah, 5. Charlotte. (This is fairly typical of how various records are at odds with one another and how it is important to note where you find each piece of evidence; later, one can work on questions about the source; most reliable, and/or original source?)
At the Cedar County Courthouse in Tipton, one of our first searches was of marriage records, from the beginning of recorded history there, which was the 1830's. They did have an index, by alpha name, so that helped a lot. Looking down the list we found (they are listed by male and then female along side): "Bulger Nichael Dalan Harriet" at Marriage Record Book D, page 4. The entry at that reference, plainly written in hand script, was, in part: "This is to certify that on the 24th day of February 1851 I did unite in the bonds of Matrimony Michael Bulger Aged 28 Years to Miss Harriet Dolan aged 19 Years in Cedar County Cass township at the House of Robert Gower." It was signed, Asa Haskins, Justice of the peace. [Harriet's roots will be discussed, more, later.]
Nancy did have, from her mother, Ruth, a copy of the Certificate of Marriage of Mr. Thomas Edmond Bolger to Miss Jessie Amanda Dolan, in Johnson County, February 18, 1889.
We also found in the marriage records, under Dolan (male list) the following, which we recorded for future reference: John Dolan, Rebecca Tyler; James Dolan, Amanda E. Stratton; Charles Dolan, Mary Paden; Pitt Dolan, Katie G. Spende. Under Dolan (female list): Arabell Dolan, Cyrus Boon; Rebecca Dolan, Geo Riggle; Sarah Dolan, Robert Filson; Kate Dolan, Hayden Pierce; Milisa Dalan, Phillip McSparen. Under B (female list) we found: Mary Bolger, Milton Vincent; Rosemond Bulger, David Negus. Each of these had a book and page reference where more information was provided, such as date, house where married, by whom, etc. We duly recorded this information, even though we doubted many would be of further interest. (We later were able to identify each - and they were very useful tidbits of information, later!)
We next went to property records, but that is another story .... see episode 2.
Let me share two cemetery visit stories at this point. They really depend a lot on information found in property records and at the library, but we will discuss those details later. The James Dolan family list, mentioned earlier, says he died in 1890 and was buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Cedar County. We found out at the library that the Mt. Zion Church and Cemetery were a few miles southwest of Tipton and easily accessible. While at the library, we also found the following article in the Directory of Cedar County, Center Township (I believe it was written about 1877, need to verify the date): "DOLAN, JAMES, farmer, Sec 15; P.O. Tipton; born in Ohio, Oct. 12, 1806; lived there thirty-eight years and came to Cedar County April 20, 1844, located at Gower's Ferry during the Summer and moved to where he now lives Oct. 17, 1844; bought the claim and entered the land from the Government; there were plenty of deer, turkeys and wolves here; only few are here now who were here when he came; owns farm of eighty acres; has held school and road offices. Married Nancy Harris from Ohio; she died in 1846; they had five children. Married Amanda E. Stratton, from Champaign Co., O., in June, 1852; they have four children - Pitt, Sallie, Arabella and George B.; had two sons in the army; they enlisted in the 24th Regt. Iowa Infantry and were in many battles."
We visited Mt. Zion Cemetery and found his marker with others. James Dolan d. 19 Jan 1891 Age 84 yr. 3 mo. 7d.; Amanda, wife of James n.d.; George B. d. Mar 7, 1921; Susie inf daughter of G.B. & S.P., Aug 1896; Blanche, dau./o G.B. & S.P. Oct 22, 1888, age 1 yr. 4 mo. (At the library we found information on Mt. Zion in Stones & Sites of Cedar Co, Ia. 1836-1986, p.375: Located in NW1/4 of SE1/4 Sec 15 (same section as James Dolan farm) Center Twsp. lying east of the church yard and on the north slope of a ridge. Access is by a gravel road on the south with main entrance on east and west ends. The deed contains "and it is hereby agreed that the meeting house there on standing is to be free to the use of other denominations when not occupied by the Mt. Zion Church. It is further agreed that should said church lose its visibility, that the house shall become the property of the State School Fund of the Free Baptist denomination in the State of Iowa." The church was locked, but we did look in the windows and it has pews and an alter and appears to still be used, sometimes, if not regularly. A few hundred feet west of the church (and cemetary) there is an abandoned farmstead (May 14, 1995) that sits on the land on which James Dolan lived. We have no way of knowing, yet, if this might have been where his homestead was located, but, it was fun to speculate this might have been it.
We also found the cemetery in Cass Township on a hill just north of the Michael Bolger property (on the same section, near the northeast corner), right along the nice paved county road (Straight west of Tipton, west of the Cedar River, north of West Branch; now marked with road signs: Solon Road and 210th Street). Just inside the front gate, and to the left, maybe fifty feet, are a large "Bolger" stone and four smaller grave markers: Michael 1808-1875; Fleeta 1851-1852; Nina 1858-1879; Katie 1867-1885; Harriet 1833-1912. (We later found this cemetery - see reference above, p 368 - is known by three names: Evergreen, Gunsolus, Green Hill. The description in the book includes: "This cemetery lies high on a small ridge on the north side of county paved road F28 one mile west of the Cedar River bridge at Cedar Bluff. Specifically the site is on the northern boundary of NE1/4 Sec. 32-81-4 Cass Twsp. where the Tipton & Iowa City Road intersects the Overman's Ferry and Cedar Rapids Road. The main entry gate is in the west fence near the SW corner. In addition there is a seldom used pedestrian gate in the SE corner."
We actually found this cemetery and the markers before we got to Tipton. We had driven north from West Branch and had just turned east toward Tipton. On the left, on a rise, was a small cemetery. We got out, walked past the gate, turned to our left, and there they were. We knew it was going to be a good day.
Family is forever! ;-)