I admit it: I went about this process totally the wrong way. But I still like what happened.
Knowing that there was a mystery Michael Tully on the same census page as my family’s Denis Tully in Paris, Ontario, I played around with the search option at Ancestry.com to see what I could find. What was the possibility that I would find a Michael Tully with a wife Margaret and newborn son Denis (or, assuming the census taker preferred the English spelling over the French, Dennis)?
The possibility was good enough for me: at least two Ancestry.com members had posted research on such family groupings. They happened to post, in fact, enough of a descendancy to include a son named Patrick.
Who just happened to have a wife named Carrie.
And a daughter, it turns out, whom they called Margaret Maud.
Okay, now to reverse engines and do this the right way. What is the possibility that there are records online for a Patrick who has a wife named Carrie and a daughter called Margaret Maud?
Oh…and to add a bonus point, could they come from Paris, Ontario—and currently live in Chicago, Illinois?
Pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top?
The answer is:
How sweet is that?!
Now, for all you doubters, let me put this together in a reasonable, documentable fashion.
Because not everyone has an Ancestry.com subscription (and thus may not be able to access the links that refer back to material on that site), I’ve put together some links to FamilySearch.org.
Searching for those three names, I found a 1900 census record for the Hyde Park area of Chicago, showing the threesome listed. Patrick, born July 1862 in Canada, claimed an arrival in the United States in 1865. His wife, Carrie, was born in Indiana in 1866. Daughter Margaret made her appearance in Illinois in 1889, providing a time frame for the photograph with her mother which I posted yesterday.
There were more results. A transcription of Patrick’s death record confirms his birthplace as Paris, Ontario—and gives his parents’ names as Michael Tully and Margaret Dowling. Unfortunately, this record of his mother’s name doesn’t agree with the Ancestry.com member’s research (giving Dowd as her maiden name), but this could be the result of anything from transcription problem to informant error at that stressful point of losing a loved one.
The death record confirms that Patrick’s wife was named Carrie. And it shows me that he was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois—a place where I will be putting in a call shortly!
Apparently, Patrick’s wife predeceased him, succumbing on November 11, 1933, in Chicago, while Patrick died there on February 7, 1939. Carrie’s documentation shows her father’s name to have been William Kern, and her mother Magdalene Weber.
The more joyful Illinois Births and Christenings 1824-1940 brought news of their daughter’s christening on April 28, 1889, following her birth that month on the eleventh. Her full given name was Margaret Maud, providing that miniscule piece of the puzzle explaining the origin of the photograph’s tag with only that middle name. (Mercifully, this branch of the Tully family had awakened to the awkwardness of having its female contingent populated with women all bearing the same given name.) This record also confirmed her father to be Patrick Tully, and gave her mother’s maiden name as Kerr (which, once again, could be a transcription error)
But what about that note on the photograph yesterday that seemed to say that Maud was the daughter of Maggie, not Carrie?
The only way I can explain it is from a sense I get, looking over the entire collection of photographs passed down from Edna Tully McCaughey. Where there were inscriptions on the back of the pictures, often they seemed given in a hasty manner. Perhaps this was a task that Edna engaged in during the latter years of her life—her attempt to pass down to future generations some explanation of the relatives that had gone on before her. The “voice” she used in listing the relationships might have alternated between her own level of relationship, and putting things in terms of her children’s relationship to the person being named. Some of her other notes seemed to provide alternatives for the subjects’ identities—until I looked closer into the story behind the picture. Then, I could figure out what Edna might have been attempting to convey: more of a family connection than just a list of identities.
In the case of this mother-daughter portrait, there are two things to consider. First, while I haven’t adequately confirmed this, if this Patrick I’ve found is indeed the right one, he would be Edna’s cousin. Thus, his wife would be at that same level of relationship to her: cousin, not aunt. Second, Patrick’s mother was indeed a Margaret, which would explain Edna's identification of her as “Auntie Maggie.” Perhaps in her urgency to complete this labeling task, Edna wanted to signify to her children which Patrick—and we’ve seen how many of them there can be in this family—she was referring to. In this case, she may have invoked the name of his mother, almost as if inserting a parenthetical statement, in showing her children the relationship in this family grouping.
Whether these rationalizations would stand in the face of stringent genealogical proof standards or not, the documents this puzzle has led me to uncover serve as enough inducement to follow this research trail further.
I think I may have uncovered another cousin!