The Bannon Family

Eleanor Keenan, my ggg-grandmother, was born c. 1799 in Northern Ireland, and died c. 1860 in Louisville, Kentucky. She immigrated to the United States in 1849 from Ireland; arriving on November 01, 1849 at the Port of New Orleans from Liverpool1. Before the invention of the steamboat, a trip from Louisville to New Orleans often required four months. In 1820, the trip was made by steamboat in 20 days. By 1838, the same trip was being made in six days. Elenora Bannon Campbell would have traveled from New Orleans to Louisville by way of steamboat up the Mississippi river to the Ohio River – the trip taking six to eight days.

After having researched the family of my great grandmother, Catherine Bannon, for over twenty years and having done so for so long, it was sometimes very easy to forget or overlook some things. In the 1840′s, my gg-grandfather, Richard Bannon, and his brother, Patrick, left Ireland and came to America. We know that they eventually settled in Louisville, Kentucky and that the Bannon family has a presence to this day in that city. Because of the long presence of the family in Louisville, it just never occurred to me to look for them outside that city. Looking back, I now realize that I made the mistake of ignoring several clues that would have led me to finding the Bannon/Campbell family residing in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1850.

This most recent discovery began for me after I read a newspaper article in which a woman described going back and reviewing census records that she had previously read and because of this review she had found clues regarding her ancestors that she had previously overlooked. This got me thinking…

Over the past few years, I had concentrated my research efforts on other branches of my family and I had not conducted any recent searches regarding the Bannon branch – the branch that I had first started with over twenty years ago. This prompted me to go back and review a packet of information that I received from someone back in 1987. One item that I was missing, and was looking for, was something that would tell me when my ggg-grandmother, Elenora (Keenan Bannon) Campbell died.

In the packet of information that I received were grave plots and cemetery cards showing where some Bannons were buried. One grave plot shows Elenora Campbell & James Bannon buried in the same tomb in section I, lot 24 of St Louis Cemetery in Louisville. The plot diagram has, for most burials, the date on which person died, but for Elenora Campbell & James Bannon, no dates are given. On the next page there are copies of two internment cards for Elenora and James. The cards show that both were re-interned at St Louis Cemetery on Sept 5, 1903 and that they were originally buried at St Johns Cemetery. The card for Elenora states “Ireland Age 63″ and for James it states “Ky. age_child”. I take this to mean that Elenora was born in Ireland and that she died at age 63 – but when?

I know that Elenora (Bannon) Campbell must have been born around 1800, so the assumption is that she died sometime in the 1860′s. We know, from a passenger list, that Elenora emmigrated from Ireland along with her second husband, Bernard J Campbell, his two daughters from a previous marriage, Margeret & Rosy, and their two sons, Bernard J., Jr. and William. The family arrived in America in November of 1849 – her two elder sons, Richard and Patrick, emmigrated that same year or earlier. Therefore I should have been able to find Elenora and family in at least the US Census of 1850 and possibly in the US Census of 1860.

Long ago I had found the second son of Elenora, Patrick, in the US Census of 1860 residing in Louisville, Ky. He was married then and living with his first wife, Louisa Ellen nee Smith. Also long ago, I had found a biographical sketch of Patrick Bannon that appeared in History of Kentucky by Z. F. Smith c.1870. In this biographical sketch was the first clue that I had ignored: “He came to America and to Cincinnati in April 1849, where in the course of six months, he began business for himself in the plastering trade.”

As was I doing some research regarding the Civil War-period, I had found my gg-grandfather, Richard Bannon, living in Covington, Kentucky in 1860 (I discuss this in more detail here). This was the second clue that I was ignoring.

Yet, it was neither of these clues – which I should have heeded – that led to me to my discovery. What I was doing was trying to find out whatever happened to William J. Campbell, the younger half-brother of Richard & Patrick Bannon, and brother of Bernard J. Campbell. I had never found William J. beyond the original passenger list of list of 1849 which indicated that he had been born in 1839.

Doing a search on, I found a William J. Campbell, occupation plasterer, in the Louisville City Directory of 1886. The “plasterer” occupation almost settles the questions of this being the half-brother of Richard Bannon, because all Bannon and Campbell men in my line listed their occupation as “plasterer” on more than one occasion throughout the records of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Having found him in 1886, provoked me to make yet another attempt at looking for him once again in the census records of 1860. Within minutes I found a William Campbell in 1860 Louisville. One this page (6th Ward, Louisville, Jefferson, KY – roll #M653-376, image 353), I found the following:

Jas. Campbell 59 plasterer Ireland
R. Campbell 23   Ireland
William Campbell 20 plasterer Ireland

Beneath this family entry is:

B. J. Campbell 22 plasterer Ireland
M. E. Campbell 22   Brunswick
Mary Campbell 1 mos   Kentucky

Finding these entries in the 1860 census provides the answers to a number questions: First of all it tells me that Elenora (Bannon) Campbell died before 1860 and that if she died at age 63 that would make her birth year at least 1796 (assuming that she died in 1859). Secondly it tells me that Rosy’s elder sister, Margaret, either married or died before 1860. Thirdly, and this is most interesting to me, I can see by this record that B. J. Campbell was previously married before he eventually married his half-brother’s widow, my gg-grandmother Henrietta Kelsey Bannon. So, this tells me that his first wife “M. E” was born in the German state of Brunswick and that they had at least one child, Mary, born in 1860. Not surprising – only that I did not previously know this. (Actually, when I think about it I should have realized this because the person who contacted me twenty years ago was a descendant of this earlier marriage).

Having found a part of the family in the 1860 made me determined that I would find the family in the 1850 census. So, once again I searched for the Campbell – not the Bannon – family in the 1850 census records in Louisville, Kentucky. There are literally hundreds of Campbells living in Louisville 1850. Rather than search for the two “Bernard James”, who went by different names – “Jas.”, “James”, “Bernard James”, and “B. J.” – I decided to focus on finding a “William” born Ireland c. 1839. My search for “William Campbell” in Louisville 1850 did not come up dry, but none of the entries that I found matched what I was looking for.

Before giving up I decided to expand my search and I queried for any “William Campbell born in Ireland around 1839″ and with this I able to find the family in Cincinnati 1850 (roll # M432-690, page 586, Image 139). Below is the image of what I found:


What this tells me is:

(Bernard) James Campbell and his two step-sons, Richard & Patrick Bannon, were employed as plasterers in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1850. This certainly makes sense and jives with the entry in Patrick Bannon’s bio-sketch and the fact that Richard Bannon is found in 1860 Covington, KY (the city located just across the river from Cincinnati).

Eleanor Campbell is listed as age 54. This would make her year of birth as c. 1796 and if she did die at age 63, then her year of death would have been 1859 (before 1860).

One puzzle is presented by the entry of “Eleanor” shown below Richard Bannon. Is this a previously unknown sister of Richard & Patrick? Or perhaps was Richard Bannon married to a woman named “Eleanor” years before he married my great-great grandmother, Henrietta Kelsey in 1864 at age 46. Hmmm – another puzzle.

Other than the entry of the previously unknown “Eleanor Bannon”, everything matches except the some of the ages do not match previously known years of birth. For example it shows that Richard Bannon was 28 years old in 1850. I know his birth-year as 1818, but this census record indicates his year of birth as 1822. Yet, there are too many overriding indicators that satisfy the criteria.

One question that remains unanswered for me is: Who is the child, James Bannon, which was re-interned in same tomb as Eleanor Campbell in 1903? Nothing in the known records indicate that Eleanor (Keenan Bannon) Campbell had son named “James Bannon” and given the fact that both were re-interned in same plot as that of Eleanor’s son, Patrick, and his family, indicates to me that “James Bannon” was a son of Patrick Bannon and possibly his first wife, Louisa Ellen. Of course, that is only a theory.

More Information

John Knox? John Not!

Henrietta Knox Kelsey, was my great-great grandmother on my maternal grandmother’s side. Her daughter,  Rose Bannon,  preserved the story of how Henrietta and Richard Bannon met and married. Rose Bannon (my grandmother’s aunt) wrote this in a letter to her niece sometime around 1964. Ms. Betty Ann Bannon of Tampa, Florida provided me with a [...]

Biographical Sketch of Patrick Bannon

Patrick Bannon, the second son of Elenora Keenan, was born on July 12, 1824 in Killough, Down Co., Ireland. He emigrated circa 1843 from Ireland. He was naturalized in 1854 in Louisville, Kentucky. He married Louisa Ellen Smith, daughter of Early Smith, in 1860 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was President of the Board of the [...]