Gerónimo Sullivan from Bere Island to Argentina

Maria Schmid and Jerónimo Sullivan
Maria Teresa Linares
Anna Riddell, the grand-niece of Patrick Murphy with Maria Teresa Linares on Bere Island.
Helen Riddell

Maria Teresa Linares of Córdoba. Argentina tells how she traced her ancestors to Bere Island.

I am the great granddaughter of Gerónimo Sullivan, a man who came from Ireland and married my great grandmother, a German woman. That was all we knew about our great-grandparents until 2010 and we thought this was accurate.  When Gerónimo died in Córdoba, he left behind a five-year-old son, Jerónimo Sullivan (my grandfather). Jerónimo had two daughters, my mother Nelly and my aunt María Victoria.

My mother was eight years old when her Austrian (not German as we thought) grandmother, Geronimo’s wife, died, and twenty years old when her mother died and twenty-two when her father passed away. All our information sources disappeared with their deaths.

Tracing the family

In December 2009, I decided to trace our roots, but I didn’t know where to start because we bear a very common Irish family name and a very common Austrian family name.  The first thing I did was to search on FamilySearch where I found them (Gerónimo and Maria Schmid) listed on the second national census in 1895  According to the information Gerónimo Sullivan provided there he was married, English, 36 years old, working as an engine driver for the British Railways, living in Córdoba and had a two-year-old son (Jerónimo).

The second step was the Official Register Office. I applied for a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate in the hope of obtaining some valuable data about Gerónimo and Maria, and about their parents as well, considering that on my birth certificate my paternal and maternal grandparents are mentioned.

Unfortunately, his birth record could not be found though, because for some (unknown) reason his birth had not been officially registered.  At that point, my research seemed to be stagnated. I asked the person in charge of the Births section for help. And two weeks later, I had the birth certificate (registered five years after his birth), but with very little information, only the date of birth (16th September 1893), place of birth (Córdoba) and parents (Gerónimo Sullivan and Maria Schmid). Nevertheless, this certificate referred to a court record and had a comment “delayed birth registration.”

Historical Archives, Córdoba

With this file number I went to the Historical Archive to research there. The Head of the History Archive of the City Córdoba helped me by giving me some ideas on how to approach the research successfully, because he said that with the bits and pieces of information I had, we couldn’t do much, there are hundreds of hundreds of books containing thousands and thousands of Court files. He suggested that I should first take a look at the criminal files. I was disappointed about his advice because I did not believe that my relatives could have been criminals.  Anyway, I did as he recommended.  After spending three months reading these records about train accidents, robberies and murders at train stations to no avail, I decided to follow my instincts and started by researching into civil files. And 30 minutes Iater, I had found the inheritance proceedings with relevant details.  It stated that Geronimo (Jeremiah) Sullivan and Maria Schmid had married in Tucumán (a northern province of Argentina) and that the best man had been Patrick Murphy, born in Ireland too and the same age as Jeremiah. This marriage certificate revealed more about Gerónimo and Maria Schmid.  As for Gerónimo, he declared that he was born in Berehaven and that his parents were Michael Sullivan and Margaret Holland and farmers.

Beara Genealogist Ribald O’Dwyer

However, it was the Irish genealogist Riobard O’Dwyer, whose contact I had by chance, who in 2010 gave me the most reliable and complete information about Jeremiah, his sister Maria and about Patrick Murphy as well, such as their parents’ and siblings’ names, places of birth and baptism dates. I found on FamilySearch the marriage certificate of Mary Sullivan (Jeremiah’s sister) and Patrick Murphy. They married in Córdoba on 12 February 1883. Jeremiah Sullivan was the best man.

So Jeremiah (or Gerónimo), Mary, and perhaps other sisters and brothers, and Patrick Murphy came to Argentina before 1883 or shortly before this date.
In 2011 when I visited Bere Island for the first time, I met Helen Riddell, and she told me that Patrick Murphy was a brother of her great-grandfather, John Murphy who had also travelled to Argentina with Patrick.

The Descendants

Jeremiah Sullivan (born in Bere Island, christened on 9 October 1854, and died in Córdoba on 12 May 1897) and Maria Schmid (born in Schärfenberg, Austria, on 22 January 1863, died in Córdoba, Argentina, on 18 May 1939) had only one child: Jerónimo Sullivan (born in Córdoba, on 16 September 1893).
Jerónimo had two daughters: Nelly, my mother, who had 9 children, and María Victoria, who had seven children. Both married into Argentine families with Spanish ancestry (Linares and Márquez).

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