Saturday, July 11, 2015

Timothy & Jeremiah Kiley

    My grandmother was interested in her family’s history and often told me about her parents and their siblings. I listened politely to what she said, but never asked her any insightful questions. She died when I was in high school and not at all interested in genealogy. How I wish I had been more curious!
     I was intrigued, and horrified, to hear that her mother’s two brothers, sons of Timothy and Margaret (Donovan) Kiley, died as teenagers or in their early twenties, supposedly during or after service in the Civil War. Neither was found in the 1870 census, in New York City where the family lived, or elsewhere, and I’ve found no death or burial records for either. I wonder if my grandmother really knew what happened to them.
    Timothy Kiley, who was born in New York circa 1841, according to the 1850 census, was more likely born in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland, in 1839. He was not living with his parents in 1855 or 1860 and his whereabouts at those census times are unknown. Timothy Kiely enlisted in New York as a Union soldier in May 1861, but deserted in August 1861, as did a future brother-in-law in the same unit. He allegedly died, unmarried, from the effects of a long imprisonment during the Civil War. Did his imprisonment have anything to do with his desertion, or had he re-enlisted and been captured.
    Jeremiah Kiley, who was born in New York circa 1845, enlisted in 1861 as a drummer and was honorably discharged and mustered out in June 1862. According to my grandmother, he died during the Civil War, so he must have re-enlisted.
    One of the difficulties in tracing the surname Kiley is that alternative spellings are many (i.e., Keily, Kieley, Kiely, Kileigh, Killey, Killy, Kyle, etc.) and it is often mistaken for Kelly and Riley, or some variations thereof. While I have never found in records after 1861 anyone named Timothy Kiley who definitely could be my great-grandmother’s brother, it is conceivable that Timothy did not die (perhaps was disowned in disgrace?) and took up life apart from his family.
    As for Jeremiah, I have no ideas about what became of him.