Yes, I know the itinerary calls for my destination to be Ireland, but that trip’s over a year away. In this family research journey, there will be many other stops along the way.
As have many other cities, Chicago has been an immigrant-magnet over the decades, and that includes our Tully family, for one.
It just so happens that some of those Tully descendants are still Chicago residents. Coincidentally, in a little over a week, it just so happens that my husband and I have the unexpected opportunity to stop by and spend some time with family there.
We are really planning the trip for the purpose of traveling to Columbus, where we will spend time with my relative whom I’ve mentioned before (the one with the serious health issue). But since a trip east—anywhere east—from California is such an all-day ordeal, factoring in a small detour to Chicago is entirely feasible.
This opportunity includes some research implications. First, of course, we’ll be able to spend some time with the Stevens-Tully cousins, which is always enjoyable and never long enough. Perhaps, if everyone’s schedule lines up, we’ll also be able to connect with some more distant cousins on the Tully side—maybe even a couple we’ve never before met.
On the drive from Chicago to Columbus, we generally have our choice of two routes: one through Fort Wayne (I’m sure you can imagine why I’d like this route), and the other through the small town of Lafayette, Indiana. As you’ll see in upcoming posts, Lafayette holds some significance for our Stevens family, as that is where immigrant John Stevens arrived for his final destination after leaving his own homeland in County Mayo, Ireland.
While I’ve done quite a bit of family history research already during our frequent stops in Lafayette, there is a matter of one set of documents I’ve yet to view: the church records from the time period 1850 through 1870 at Saint Mary’s, the first Catholic church in Lafayette. I’m hoping a chance to view those records will clarify some murky details in the earlier years of the Stevens family’s arrival in America—including everything from the typical spelling swap from “Stevens” to “Stephens” to the aggravating tendency to plug a suffix on the end of that surname, yielding “Stephenson” from “Stephens.”
Sometimes, the only way to be sure about these squishy copy details is to see the original documents with our own eyes. A little detour like that will still keep me on track for my overarching goal of seeing this family line all the way back to Ireland.