Saturday, August 27, 2011

Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole

I don’t suppose there are many genealogy hobbyists who share my proclivity to follow bunny trails. Most researchers want to push the envelope farther back in time, not sideways.

When I am faced with the temptation to examine the relations of in-laws, though, my weak-kneed response yields rather handily to the slightest lure. And deeper down the rabbit hole I go….

Take, for instance, that wonderful collection of Tully photographs sent to me this summer for perusal. “See if anyone in your family can identify these photos,” my benefactress offered, as I packed for my trip to Chicago.

Wonderful offer. Unfortunately, I found no takers. Those pictures remain as unidentified as they were two months ago. All, that is, but the ones already bearing inked legends on their reverse.

And so, I take the bait. Follow the bunny trail. Take the plunge down the rabbit hole. Whatever you wish to call it, I got hooked. I started researching someone else’s family.

Today, I puzzled over this photo. It was labeled “Coz Agnes,” ostensibly by Edna Tully McCaughey herself. The minute I set eyes on that entry, my heart leaped. “Why, that must be Edna’s cousin, Agnes Tully,” I concluded. That would be a serendipitous find, indeed, to receive a photograph of my husband’s grandmother in her youth, from someone in Minnesota whom I don’t even know.

But it wasn’t to be. The writing continued: “Aunt Julia’s daughter; Aunt Julia children: Michael, Sarah, Charles, Julia, Maria, Agnes.” That would never do; my Agnes’s mother was a Catherine. As I was to find out only a few days ago via records, Edna’s “Aunt Julia” was actually her great-aunt, her maternal grandmother’s sister, Julia Sullivan Dockery. This photo’s subject, then, would have been Agnes Dockery, born about 1873 in Wisconsin, soon-to-be bride of George A. O’Brien in 1899.

The photo’s inscription didn’t make life that easy, though. Underneath that hasty listing of Aunt Julia’s children, the legend continued: “Aunt Ann McCabe children: Pete, John, Sarah.”

Wait. Aunt Ann? What did McCabe have to do with Dockery? I was totally lost. Why did she include this note along with the other on the back of a picture with only one subject?

At this point, the confusion got the best of me. I had to figure out who the McCabe family was. Searching online, I found an entry on Rootsweb of a viable connection.

At least, my mind has been put at ease over relational issues. I now know the connection between the Dockery family and the McCabe family in someone else’s Sullivan line—but the nagging question still remains: whose likeness is this? Can I be satisfied with the first explanation on the page? Or deterred by the additional information? I may have to go hunting until I can form a quorum of Dockery descendants willing to vote on the issue.

Perhaps the Chesire Cat will assist me....

1 comment:

  1. I've had to set some working rules for my own family tree research to keep it from getting out of hand.

    I decided to only go back as far as the "old country" - and only UP the tree. So if an uncle/aunt had 10 children... I'm not looking at the children (yet). My mother's father side of the family came over from the old country in 1680 and some other branches are nearly as long so I've enough to do for a great while...


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