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17 February 2011


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William R. Cumming

The English destroyed much of Irish written records in the years following 1801.

That people long ago knew the importance of controlling the historical record or destroying it.

For example how often do you hear that King Henry the Eighth died of tertiary syphillis. Some of his wives might have been lucky to lose their heads instead of the horrows of that disease.
Disclosure--Scottish and Welsh background. Clan Cumming sided with William Wallace of recent film fame.


The churches kept very good records and I am reasonably sure they remain even if government records were destroyed, but you would probably have to research locally.

dan bradburd

Madrid (pronounced mad rid locally) remains a lovely small town, surrounded mostly by dairy farms. Until very recently the US/Canadian border was quite open. It is still not unusual to see obituaries in local papers that tell of people moving back and forth, marrying in and out, as though the border almost wasn't there.
The area across the border, Upper Canada, became the refuge of and then home to 'loyalists' after the Revolution.

Barry Kelly

Alas, we Irish destroyed our own records in the civil war, between pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty IRA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Dublin

Allegedly, Winston Churchill said of it something to the effect of, "better to have a state without records than records without a state". I can't find a source for that, though.


I come from an enormous Irish family, which has been traced back to multiple counties in Ireland. The next step according to my cousin Paul (family historian) is to go to Ireland. He wanted me to go to particular towns and research the Church records which happen to be in Latin. Looks like its time to take a trip!! Good luck!

Barry Kelly

The other chunk of records was destroyed by the IRA when they burned down Custom House: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Custom_House,_Dublin


Sorry. The Lindemans and the Neuberts are German. I don't expect you to post this unless you want to.


aka Lee Neubert Lindeman


You have done well to get back as far as 1801 in Irish terms, as William says above the English destroyed etc., but you should also note that the Irish themselves burned The Four Courts in the Civil War post independence.


The destruction of Irish historical records in the Public Records Office (and in other parts of the Four Courts) closely followed the destruction of centuries of Irish records in the Custom House, Dublin in 1921. The cumulative effect was to destroy much of Ireland's historical resources.

My father tried our our uncommon surname 20 years ago. He got back as far as 1870.

ex-PFC Chuck

At least you're getting four generations back. I've been so far unable to get past my paternal grandfather, who we're about 99% certain fought at the Battle of Gettysburg with the First Minnesota Infantry. He died at 86 in 1929, about a decade before I was born. According to family lore he was an orphan at the time he immigrated from Sweden at age sixteen. This would have been in 1859 or 60, depending on the time of year. He also changed his name upon immigration, not wanting to be stuck with the patronymic "Gustafson." So far, I've come up empty searching the ship manifests under either name.

The 1% difference is that the name on the regimental roster is spelled differently from ours (and his later in life?), and that no one in my generation of the family ever heard any mention of him residing in Chisago County where he enlisted in 1961. To the best of our knowledge his entire time in Minnesota after he immigrated from Sweden was spent in St. Paul, Ramsey County. The regimental roster at the MN Historical Society does not contain his birth date; only his age at enlistment. If I can find a record of that date in the official records and it matches what we have from his death certificate I'd take that as proof. If anyone has a suggestion where I might find such records I'd appreciate it.

On the other hand, even those records are not always right. When I looked up my dad's First World War service records the Navy had his b'day as May 6, not the March 6 we always celebrated when he was alive.

Russ Wagenfeld

Hi Pat,
The back pages of Yankee Magazine often contain a genealogy section in which one can post the names of ancestors and ask for help tracking them down.


ex-PFC Chuck,

1st Minnesota? There's some real courage in your bloodline.


On the English side you can probably thank Cromwell (Thomas not Oliver), who mandated the keeping of parish records of births and deaths by the Anglican church soon after it split off from Rome. I don't know when the Catholic church in Ireland started to do the same.


i have found two John and Mary Langs in Madrid New york
as married couple in the 1850 New york Census..
both born in Ireland..in 1997
and he and Mary had children..Martha, william,Bridget,Julia, James and John..

The other John Lang..born Ireland..1819 married to Mary also..was in Madrid in 1850..
Patrick, Henry, Thomas, John, James and nicholas..

nicholas grew up and had a son..John H. Lang..born in 1878 ..

i can help further if you need.


The first John Lang was born Ireland..in 1797..(approx)

Professor N

Col Lang,

In the late 1980's, I too went on a hunt for my Irish ancestors.

Fortunately mine landed in Boston. The Boston Public Library had a terrific collection of ship logs of who landed where in Massachusetts, and what part of Ireland had previously been their home.

Getting names, and finding that a ships marriage had been performed on one of my great great grandparents, I then went to the town halls where they had migrated after leaving the ships. Since the Irish were considered a strange species in the 1800's, an annual census was done. These records provided more than just name, address and occupation. Little comments next to their names provided further information.

In 1989, I finally had enough information to go
to Ireland. Dublin has some really good straight statistical records. However, not all Irish registered their childrens' birth, or did so months after the fact.

My family came mostly from Seligo County. After false stops at two churches, I arrived at the one where 2 of my ancestors were born and married. The pastor even went further, and called an aunt, I never knew existed. This aunt bore an uncanny resemblance to my paternal grandmother.

My aunt was gracious and hosted myself and husband for two days at their home. She was also a wealth of family lore and myth, and she saw to it that I met other local relatives.

Hope this info is helpful.


For those with a Swedish background, there is a place in Växjö, in south Sweden, that has a lot of records about emigrants. Most came from that area. Still, the best places in Europe are the churches. As long as you know which ones to search.

ex-PFC Chuck

Lars, Thanks for the tip.

Fred, A local guy here, Brian Leehan who is (or at least was before the downsizing carnage) a researcher for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, wrote a worthwhile book about that terrible day, July 2, 1863. It's entitled Pale Horse at Plum Run: The First Minnesota at Gettysburg. http://amzn.to/fEEOH8 According to the records at the MNHS my grandfather was not among 70% casualties the regiment suffered, which I've read still stands as the largest single day percentage toll for a regiment in US Army history. What little I know about his service I learned from my mother who, being a history buff, probably pumped him for it during the few years she knew him in his last years. I sure wish now that I'd paid more attention to my folks when they talked about this stuff when I was growing up.


I will pass this on to my sister who is a genealogist. Our ancestors emigrated from Co. Meath, and lived in upstate NY for awhile in 1852. We also are related to Dailys, who also originally came from Co. Meath too.

Annie Burns

Good online source, not free!

Annie Burns



Col...I have kept researching your Lang ancestors..to see what pops up for you...read alot about St Lawrence County...and the town of MADRID..est 1797 and named for the Capitol of Spain..At that time only one dutch family lived along the River...and wore skins like indians..Later the Town of Waddington was created in 1859 out of part of Madrid..
Info says Irish settlers move into the area in 1816~1820 and set up thier own area...and are still the majority Group in the area...Population being 21 % Irish and 17% French with French Canadian..German..etc.being the rest.
Prime farm area..land...JOHN LANG listed as Farmer with 100 acres..Henry Lang being listed as Farmer also with big farm..250 acres..
JOHN LANG Jr and THOMAS LANG...apparently sons of JOHN LANG ran a place called Frontier Hotel at Madrid Springs...The population was only several hundred..But they built a nice Town...several stores..Grist Mill..Mined pottash..Had a Smelter...two Blacksmith shops..a saw mill..and logged Cedars and floated them on the River..
Skilled People...effecient..built several churchs and denominations..I check online Cemetary records for you great gandfathers grave but didnt locate ..
lot of History..British in areas war of 1812...Madrid was patriotic..formed militia..
Were any of the twojohn langs in mentioned early yourline..

An Irishman

Lots of overlap. My lot were all from Co. Westmeath and emigrated to Shenango County, NY south of Utica.

In 1990, I travelled to Ireland and went to the local parish where the family came from in 1850. The baptismal and marriage records carried you back to the late 1700s. The pastor explained to me that prior to the 1780s, the repression of the Catholic Church in Ireland meant that there was no place to record or maintain such records.

Unless you can trace yourself back to a clan that kept its own records, you'll have a hard time going much earlier than 1800.


I did not find any Data in My search of Ireland and county Louth and county Meath
but I dont belong to any of the bigger FEE ONLY data bases for records in Europe and the United states...Birth..Death..marriage..Baptism..Immigration.Passenger lists..Naturalization..etc..
They may have your relatives data..or something that shows who John Langs Mother and Father were in Ireland....Its possible the other Langs in MADRID were related and Immigrated there from Ireland with your Line...
I have found that true of My Line in Virginia...and later over to kentucky...Traveling in Groups..with the Patriarch..
sorry I cant be more helpful now..


There are LANG family Chat forums at Ancestry.Com I scrolled through them but nothing positive i could see...I saw many Books on the LANG name..as in "How the LANGS got to Ireland..".. and other LANG data books for sale..
my wife says LANG is a very common German name..meaning
LONG" as opposed to Short..
Dont know if there was a migration to Ireland at some point in history..may be in those books on the Langs..
but there are several references to the German LANG Familys too..
did you ever find John Langs grave..?
its ll been an interesting research project..i have compiled two Large Volumes on Mothers family in Virginia staring in 1680..
its Interestng to research Names and History..

Patrick Lang

Jim Ticehurst

Very kind of you. Family legend is that our Langs came from Scotland. They were supposedly Catholic from western Scotland who moved to Ireland in the time of King William. pl

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