Distant Cousins

“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”


Our goal is so find as many connections to living relatives as we can. By finding distant cousins, we will broaden the understanding of our own family and discover new connections. Connecting with living relatives through DNA testing will help confirm or refute potential connections. Following are some of the "people of interest" we hope to learn more about through further research and DNA testing.

People of interest include people:

  • With the same last name.

  • With many of the same first names in the family.

  • Who lived in close proximity to our known relatives.

  • Who belonged to the same religion or worked in the same occupation.

  • Who had other things in common with our known ancestors.

Hugh and Samuel McKenna in County Tyrone

Samuel McKenna (1802-1875)

Recently we found a letter written to Thomas McKenna from his cousin John McKenna, "The Wild Irishmen", from Rio, Wisconsin in 1894. From the few facts that he included in his letter, we were able to document his grandparents, parents, siblings and over 100 of their descendants. The most important discovery is that we now know the names of Hugh McKenna's parents, Hugh and Sarah. We also discovered that they lived in Minterburn, County Tyrone (Aghaloo Parish) before immigrating to the United States and that they belonged to the Church of Ireland. We can now search those Church Records looking for additional family connections. The records are on microfilm at the Public Records of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and go back as far as 1791.

In the Griffith's Valuation there are only 5 Samuel McKennas in all of Ireland - three of them are in Aghaloo, County Tyrone, one is in Loughgill, County Armagh (18 miles East of Caledon, County Tyrone and the other lived in Moira, County Down (about 8 miles SW from Lisburn). Therefore, Samuel McKenna is a rare name and thus will be of great interest to us.

(Samuel's FamilySearch ID is L119-GR2)

According to Griffith's Valuation of 1851, Hugh McKenna lived in Tullanafoile, and Samuel lived in Mullintor.

The distance between the locations is about 17 miles.

George McKenna (1816 - )

In the 1852 Christ Church Census in Belfast, George and Mary A. McKenna are listed as living on Killen Street. George is a carpenter and is 36 years old. George is of particular interest because he is a McKenna that belongs to the Church of Ireland and he is a carpenter, which is the profession Thomas will learn when he is in his young 20's. Thomas and Sarah named their 3rd son George. George could easily be Hugh's younger brother.

George is also of interest because Killen Street is very close to Albert Street Place (1852) and Galway Street (1860) where Hugh and his family lived.

There are only 12 George McKenna's in the Griffith's Valuation compared to 84 Hugh McKenna's. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find any other vital records related to George and Mary A.

(George McKenna's FamilySearch ID is 21JF-WFJ)

1852 Christ Church Census - Belfast

George and Mary A McKenna lived on Killen Street in the 1852 Christ Church Census.

Hugh McKenna lived on Albert Street Place in 1852 and on Galway Street in 1860.

Patrick McKenna (1831-1868)

Patrick McKenna married Elizabeth Brown in Brantry, Aghaloo, County Tyrone in 1854 in the Brantry Church of Ireland. Patrick's father was Hugh McKenna who lived in Cumber, Aghaloo, County Tyrone which is very close to where Samuel McKenna lived in Minterburn. Patrick's brother Charles McKenna married Elizabeth Quinn in 1852, also in the Brantry Church of Ireland.

Is it possible that Patrick and Charles could be Thomas' older brothers. That would imply that Hugh and his family lived in Aghaloo Parish instead of Clogher Parish prior to moving to Belfast. Searching the Aghaloo Parish records will help us know whether Hugh lived there or not. We have identified living descendants of Patrick (DiggerKingFamily) who have been contacted to compare DNA tests.

(Patrick's FamilySearch ID is GHYM-8PD)

Other McKenna’s in the Aghaloo/Caledon/Minterburn Area with non-Catholic marriages:

  • John McKenna, son of Robert McKenna married Margaret Wilson, daughter of John Wilson on 25 Dec 1851 in the Minterburn Presbyterian Church in County Tyrone. (John's FamilySearch ID is MBPY-MS6.)

  • Catherine McKenna, daughter of John McKenna, married William Hocton, son of James Hocton on 24 December 1856 in Caledon, County Tyrone in the Caledon Church of Ireland. Catherine's FamilySearch ID is GX58-JXT.

  • Nancy (or Ann)McKenna, daughter of Robert McKenna married John Martin, son of William Martin on 13 March 1846 in Killeeshil, County Tyrone in the Presbyterian Church (NE of Ballygawley) (Nancy's FamilySearch ID is M8NR-4NY.)

“My grandfather who was born in 1872 was called Hugh after his father. He never met his father as he immigrated before he was born. He had three older brothers, Patrick, John and James who all also emigrated. My grandfather's mother nee Meenan … I still live in Tullanafoile.”

Email from G. McKenna who currently lives in Tullanafoile, County Tyrone.

Hugh McKenna (1840- )

This Hugh McKenna was born in Tullanafoile, County Tyrone in about 1840. Hugh and three of his son's emigrated in 1872 leaving his pregnant wife behind. Based on his birth year and location, he could be Thomas' older brother. But he was not listed with the family in the 1852 Christ Church Census and his 1863 marriage to Bridget Gorman was performed in the Catholic Church.

Hugh's great granddaughter still lives in Tullanafoile. Another possible descendant, B. McKenna, also still lives there. We hope to confirm or refute our connection by asking G. McKenna and/or B. McKenna to take a DNA test and submit their results to GedMatch.com. Hugh McKenna's FamilySearch ID is M8NM-FRP.

William McKenna (1840 - )

William and Mary Ritchie McKenna lived in Belfast and belonged to the Church of Ireland. They had a son names Herbert Hugh McKenna which is close to Thomas' son's name Hugh Herbert.

(William McKenna's FamilySearch ID is L8RM-BDL.)

Robert McKenna (1842 - )

Robert McKenna was born in Armagh (see 1901 and 1911 Census) and married Eliza Patterson in Belfast in 1862 in a Church of Ireland marriage. His father was Hugh McKenna. Robert was a shoemaker and Hugh was a labourer. Robert and Eliza had three children born in Armagh between 1864-1867. Robert was not listed in the 1852 Christ Church Census with Hugh and Mary McKenna’s family.

(Robert McKenna's FamilySearchID is KZ6C-VBJ.)

Samuel McKenna (1801 - )

Samuel McKenna lived in Moneyreagh, County Down, and had at least two daughters who were married in the Church of Ireland prior to 1863. Because of the non-Catholic marriages and the rareness of the name Samuel McKenna, this family may be of interest.

(Samuel McKenna's FamilySearch ID is GM25-6JL.)

Hugh McKenna (1840 - )

Hugh and Mary McKenna had 5 children living south of Augher, Clogher, Tyrone in the townland of Altnaveagh in the 1901 and 1911 Census Records. They were a Catholic Family. This family is of interest due to the close proximity to Tullanafoile and the common first name.

(Hugh's FamilySearch ID is GC1W-4FJ.)

Michael Joseph McKenna (1830-1923)

Michael and his family lived in Wisconsin (Beaver Dam and Fox Lake) about 20 miles from Rio, Otsego, Fall River, Wyocena and Lowville Wisconsin where our cousin John and his relations lived. He is not likely related as the Ancestry.com Family Tree shows Michael’s father as Patrick and his mother as Catherine Quinn and they were from County Tipperary in Ireland.

(Michael's FamilySearch ID is 9X9M-XKB.)

Hugh McKenna (1828-1896)

Hugh McKenna was born in County Tyrone. He and his descendants lived in Pittsfield, Pike, Illinois with children born between 1859-1878.

(Hugh McKenna's FamilySearch ID is LRJX-2R1.)

John Falls McKenna (1833-1914)

John lived in Moscow, Iowa County, Wisconsin. This is about 60 Miles from where Samuel McKenna lived. Some of his records show that he lived in Dungannon, County Tyrone. Samuel McKenna’s (Wisconsin) children were married in the Barony of Lower Dunganon (145 Townlands) or the in the Civil Parish of Aghaloo (68 townlands). According to the 1900 US Census, John Immigrated to the US in 1840.

(John Falls McKenna's FamilySearch ID is LJGM-GQY.)