Sometimes I am most certain that family lines do not organize themselves like branches in a tree, but rather as strands in a spider web. Yesterday, I found another feathery wisp. Though it does not explain the how of the connection, I think it explains the what. And that is enough of a start for me.
Working on the photographs in a collection on loan to me from the descendants of Edna Tully McCaughey, my husband’s paternal grandmother’s cousin and bridesmaid, I had found a picture bearing two different inscriptions. I recently posted on the first label—that for “cousin Agnes” who turned out to be a Dockery—but I also mentioned that the inscription on the reverse continued with what seemed to be a totally different family.
The inscription added to the bottom of the photo explained, “Aunt Ann McCabe children Pete, John, Sarah.”
Admittedly, these lines are not part of my husband’s family, but the lines of in-laws—what I learned in fun from my cousin to call “outlaws”—so it is understandable that these names would not ring any bells for me. Since these were Edna’s photographs, I had to look at them from the vantage point of Edna’s relationships. I knew that Edna’s maternal grandmother, the widowed Mary Ann Sullivan Swanton (who later married a man in Indiana named Edward Ryan) had a sister Julia, who married Michael Dockery and moved to Wisconsin, the source for this photograph. That would explain the photo’s first label, “Cousin Agnes.”
However, I didn’t know where this Ann would come in, the woman named in the second label for the same photo. Could she be a sister of Mary Ann and Julia? I couldn’t find one. Or could she be a sibling of Julia’s husband? If so, that would be yet another step away from the center of my web, too many iterations of the inlaw-of-inlaws chain. At that point, I decided to just set things aside.
Then I got to another photo with an inscrutable inscription—another one of those listings that seemed to lump two separate families together as one. While pondering that one (which I’ve given up on explaining and will just post “as is”), I accidentally stumbled on a possible answer for this Aunt Ann.
Borrowing from someone else’s online work, I found a viable explanation: Mary Ann and Julia must have, indeed, had a sister Anastasia, who according to one descendant’s posting online, preferred to be called Ann. And voilà! She did indeed marry a gentleman whose surname was McCabe, and three of her children were named Peter, John and Sarah.
An added bonus: they lived, during the 1860s, in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada, which opens up some possibilities for other photograph mysteries I’ve yet to tackle in this collection.