The John and Mary McErlain Family of St Joseph County Indiana and Berrien County Michigan: An Analysis of this Family's Migration from Ireland to St Joseph County, Indiana, Berrien County, Michigan and their Some of Their Children's Migration Out West to Iowa, Colorado and Beyond

The earliest evidence that I have of John McErlain and his wife Mary MacPit? is a baptismal record for their son Denys on June 24, 1838 at Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame. Mary's maiden name may have been written phonetically in the church records so it could be a variation of Macpit. Georgius McErlaine, the son of Joanna McErlain, who was 23 (born about 1837) was buried on August 20, 1860 and Sara Joanna, daughter of Joannis McErlain was buried on May 16?, 1845 at the cemetery of Notre Dame Du Lac according to Sacred Heart Church Burial Records. There is a John McErlein Family in the St Joseph County, Indiana Federal Census as early as 1840. According to this census, the John McErlain household was composed of 2 male adults between ages 40 and 50 (2 ages 10-15, 2 ages 5-10 and 2 below age 5- likely Dennis and George) as well as 3 females (1 between the age of 30-40, 1 from 10-15, and 1 from 5-10) which would seem to indicate a very large family of 11. I have yet to find this family in the 1850 St Joseph County or Berrien County Census records, but John McErlain appears to die at the age of 57 on November 8, 1859 in Berrien County, Michigan of Inflammatory Croup according to the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules 1850-1885. Wife Mary appears in the Berrien County, Michigan Census with children James, George, Dennis, Matilda and Tressa in 1860, moving to Clinton County, Iowa sometime before she appears in the Dewitt, Iowa Census at the age of 70 with son James (32, Billiard Hall) and her daughter Teressa (21). John and Teressa McErlaine (he is a 42 yr old Hotel Keeper and she a 38 yr old Landlady) live next door to them wiht children John S, Francis, George, Mary and Theresa in the Pacific Hotel. Mary McErlain (McPit?) widow of John McErlain appears to die on July 7, 1873 or 1876 according to the Iowas Gravestone's Index for St Joseph's Devit Cemetery in Clinton, Iowa. I'm not sure when her burial marker was erected or by whom but it indicates that she was born in County Londonderry, Ireland on November 1 2, 1800. I have seen no documented evidence other than this tombstone of her Irish origins.

Special Note: There is a list of lot owners in the Cedar Grove Cemetery Microfilm 1637531 item 3 that indicates that the "McErlain family" owns lot number 169 in Section B. I'm not certain that this lot is tied to this family but it would be worth pursuing to check it out!

The objective of this compilation is to try to establish the earliest possible evidence of this family in the United States through all available resources.

This will most definitely be a work in progress and all findings I speculate on would have to be proven for accuracy with Ireland and U.S. marriage records, church baptismal records and death records among other genealogical resources. Please use this information with that caveat in mind so that nothing is assumed and no stones are left unturned to assure it's your family and the connection is accurate. Please contact me if you feel that you are descended from this South Bend Indiana Irish family so that we can share information, see if there were common migration trails followed and delve further back into their origins in Ireland!

The following is a brief summary of what I have discovered about their children thus far (as well as a note on John McErlain and Teresa Meyers who I feel most probably is related but may not be their son:

  1. Dennis McErlain and Hattie H Puryn (or Pruyn): Dennis was baptized June 24, 1838 in Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame, St Joseph County, Indiana. He appears with his widowed mother Mary in the 1860 Berrien County, Bertrand, Michigan Census. He then appears to head west, marries Hattie Harriet Puryn or Pruyn sometime around 1865 or 1866 (likely in Iowa). They appear in the 1870 Delaware County, Manchester, Iowa census with son Wm D (3). He was a Saloon Keeper in this census. They moved to Clayton County, Elkader Township, Iowa sometime before June 5, 1880 where they were living with sons William D (13) and James A (5). Dennis was born in Indiana, his parents in Ireland and Hattie in New York as were her parents. On June 2, 1900 they were residents of New Wine, Dubuque, Iowa with Dennis (62, born April 1838 in Indiana, parents in Ireland) and Harriet H (57, born January 1843 in New York as were her parents). Dennis was a Agr Butler Cornson? House. Hattie's maiden name is confirmed by an Iowa County Marriage record for son James Adelbert Mcerlain (23, son of Dennis William McErlain and Hattie Puryn?) who married Anna Josephine Meyer on October 22, 1895 in Iowa City, Johnson, Iowa. Based on the "Iowa Find A Grave 1838-1934", Dennis appears to have been born April 20, 1838 and died November 23, 1901 and H.H. McErlain, born January 29, 1843 died on February 20, 1915. They were buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Dubuque County, Iowa.
  2. George McErlain appears with his widowed mother and siblings in the July 13, 1860 Census for Berrien County, Michigan. He is listed as 19, born in Indiana. I believe I have found a Sacred Heart Church burial record for him from August 20, 1860. He is listed as Georgius, son of Joanne McErlain, age 23. There is some age discrepancy, but I feel it is likely him.
  3. James McErlain appears in the 1860 Berrien County, Michigan census with his widowed mother Mary (he was a 23 yr old farm hand). In 1870, he appears in the Dewitt, Clinton, Iowa census. He was 33, managed a Billiard Hall and his widowed mother Mary (70) and sister Teressa (21) live with him. I'm not sure what becomes of him after this point. There is a Jas McErlain 42 year old Farmer living in Sheridan Counyt, Kansas who was a Farmer born in Michigan (parents born in Ireland) but I am unsure if this is him.
  4. Matilda McErlain and Edward Quigley. Matilda appears with her widowed Mother Mary in the 1860 Berrien County, Michigan Census (she was 25). She appears to have married Edward Quigley sometime before 1867 (possibly in Clinton County, Dewitt, Iowa) where they were residents when the 1870 US Census was conducted. They had three children Matilda (3), Edward (2) and Thressa 7/12 born in December of that year. Edward was a Grocer. In 1880, they were still living in Dewitt, Iowa and Edward was listed as a Grocery Keeper born in Ireland (as were his parents). Matilda (42), son John Edward born Indiana (12), Becca (10, born Iowa) and Teressa McErlain (30 yr old sister of Matilda) lived with them as well. Edward Quigley appears to have died before the 1900 census was taken as Matilda (born May 1835, 65 yr old widow) wa living with her son EJ Quigley (born June 1868), his wife Lucy (born January 1876) in their home in Dewitt, Iowa. They had only been married for one year. In 1910, Mother Matilda (75, Widow) continues to live with son Edward J (41), his wife Lucy B (34) and their four living children Edward (9), Mildred (7), Nelson (3), and Mary (2) in Clinton County, Dewitt, Iowa.
  5. Tressa McErlain was living with her widowed mother Mary in Berrien County Michigan when the 1860 Census was conducted. In 1870, Teressa (21) was living in the home of her brother James McErlain (32) and her mother Mary (70) in Dewitt, Clinton County, Iowa. I am not sure what becomes of her after this point.
  6. (Likely Related but unlikely to be a child) John McErlain and Theresa Meyer. I believe that John McErlain, could possibly be an older son of John McErlain and Mary McPit but I haven't seen proof of it yet. The reason I feel it may be unlikely is that John McErlain suggests that he didn't arrive in the United States until 1855 (much later than John McErlain and Mary Macpit). Father A Granger married John McErlain and Theresa Myers on February 2, 1858 in St Joseph County, Indiana according to the compilation "Marriage Records St Joseph County, South Bend, Indiana 1855-1861." I would expect to find that marriage in the Sacred Heart Church records at Notre Dame but have not uncovered it as of yet. When the 1860 Census was conducted, John "Mackerlane" 26, a farmer born in New York was living with his wife Teresha (23) and their son John (1) in Clay Township, St Joseph County, Indiana. Francisci Edmundi was baptized in Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame on February 4, 1861 (son of Joannes McErlain of Hibernia and Ther. Meyers of Germany). On June 14, 1863, Georgii Eugenii, son of Joanne McErlain and Ther. Myers was baptized in the same church. By 1870, they had moved to Dewitt, Clinton County, Iowa where John (42 yr old Hotel Keeper born in Canada, parents born in Ireland) was living in the Pacific Hotel with wife Teressa (Landlady 38), son John S (11) born in Missouri? (likely Michigan instead), Francis (9, Indiana), George E (7 Indiana), Mary (4 Iowa), and Theresa (2 Iowa). Of interest is I believe his brother James (32), sister Teressa (21) and mother Mary (70) next door. On August 7, 1873, Elizabeth, daughter of Joanne McErlain and Theresa Myers was baptized in Sacred Heart Church (she was born on June 28, 1873). Their daughter Elizabeth Cora was baptized in St Joseph Church, South Bend on November 3, 1870. By 1880 they appear to have returned to Clay Township in St Joseph County, Indiana where John (53) was a Farmer born in Canada (parents born in Ireland), wife Teressa (40, born in Michigan, dad in France, mom in Germany), son John J (21, Farm hand born in Miss), Frank E (19, born in Indiana), Geo (17 born in Indiana), Mary (14 born in Iowa), Ernst (9) born in Iowa and Cora (7) born in Indiana. Their daughter Elizabeth Cora was baptized in St Joseph Church, South Bend on November 3, 1870. In 1900, John McErlain (72 farmer born May 1828 in Canada, parents in Ireland) was living with wife Teresa (66 born October 1833 in MI, dad in France, mom in Germany). They had been married 40 years with all six of their children still living. Cora E Gooly (23 born January 1876) and her husband Steven (19 born April 1881) were living with them in Clay Township, St Joseph County, Indiana. I believe that John and Mary's daughter Mary McErlain married George Y Heppler on March 9, 1886 and resided in South Bend, Indiana through at least 1920. Their son Ernest J McErlain (born June 25, 1872 in Dewitt, Iowa) the son of John McErlain and Tressa Meyers, married Effi L Snyder (licence obtaiined October 30, 1917) in South Bend, Indiana.
  7. Owen McErlaine. Owen may be related to John McErlain and Mary DePit but I can't be sure. Owen McErlaine (24, Laborer born in Ireland) was living with the William Funcheon Family in Clay Township, St Joseph County, Indiana in 1850. I believe that he headed west and may have appeared in the 1870 US Census for Cedar, Clarence, Iowa (age 32 Railroad Laborer born in New York) with wife Nancy (23 born in Ireland) and children Mary E (4) and Francis J (3). By 1880, he is in Vail, Crawford, Iowa with wife Annie (34, born in Illinois), daughter Mary # (14, works in Milner Store) and daughter Juliana (13). An Iowa marriage record for daughter Nellie (father Owen McErlan and mother Anne Butler) helps prove her mother's maiden name. She married James Molseed on Octobre 23, 1817 in Vail, Iowa. Later, a California Death Index for Mary Ellen Molseed (born September 24, 1865 in Iowa) indicates that she died November 6, 1943 in Los Angeles, California and that her father was McErlain and Mother Butler. There are some serious gaps in this line that need to be connected to prove the accuracy of this information!