Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Serial Seekers

Last summer during our trip back to Chicago to visit family, I discovered I am not the only one who has been seeking information on our Stevens and Tully family lines. I found out I have been preceded by another Tully relative who did some searching in her own time: Agnes Tully Stevens.

Yesterday, in closing the chapter on Frank Stevens, Agnes Tully Stevens’ next-to-youngest child, I mentioned that I would begin a new series exploring Agnes’ own correspondence through the years. Of course, the reasonable thing to do would be to present these letters in a logical fashion—oh, say, by date—but it appears that I am not called to such an organized approach.

Instead, I perused my stack of Tully papers, pulled out one packet that struck my fancy, and I believe I’ll run with that.

Of course, the letter is more recent by a decade than the last point at which we discussed Agnes: the date of her last saved insurance license and saved correspondence with friends. Though now in her eighties, the woman still had plenty of spunk to spare. So, once again, we begin at the end, and will work our way backwards from there.

Since this week plays host to a day of commemorating Saint Patrick—and by extension all things Irish—I think it would be fitting to begin this series on Agnes Tully Stevens’ letters with those she gave thought to in the late 1960s, for it is at this point that she puts in writing her concern for her Irish roots.

Thankfully for me, as this family’s unofficial historian and archivist, Agnes’ words, written, give me a documented source for some of these family legends swirling around our circles as oral tradition. That is a good starting point: I like written documentation. It seems so much more solid.

But, oh, how much I would have given—now that I’ve discovered this fellow traveler on the family-roots-seeking journey—to be able to sit down and talk with this scribe of a different era, the one who wrote such stories down. I would love to ask her how she knew. Someone before her must have wanted to know about this root thing, too.

If we can’t ever get to be fellow researchers together—at the same time—at least I can take consolation that those other family seekers were there before me. Just as in a relay race, one passes the baton to another in this journey of ancestor-seeking. They are my trailblazers. The path they started encourages me to follow, to find more, to someday connect with the prize of the long-lost homeland.


  1. The baton metaphor is comforting as I survey all that is undone. We needn't worry about finishing, only run our leg of the race.

  2. Family historians ..they are such a tireless bunch:)


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