Friday, August 16, 2013

Starting to Unravel the Mystery

We see, before our very eyes with the comments to yesterday's post, a demonstration of a point I like to make: research can go faster, better, and with more fun if you crowdsource your dilemmas. That's why I'm an advocate of blogging your family history. And of participating in online forums and genealogy sites. And going social—both at home with your local society, and elsewhere through media opportunities such as genchat.

Not that I don't believe in checking your own resources. By all means. In fact, let the "buyer" beware! We each need to prove our own research work. But that doesn't mean we can't share and share alike so those puzzle pieces one finds can be passed to the other who needs them.

Once again, I'm thankful to reader and fellow blogger "Intense Guy" for locating an old volume, readily available online, which provides a corollary to the Murdock family I'm currently exploring. Yet, while the link Iggy provided for Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, Indiana contained so much helpful information on this Murdock family, it still calls for further examination.

For one thing, the optical character recognition technology, combined with old print fonts, sometimes yields weird results. Like the statement about James Murdock's parents living on a farm in Ireland until emigration to Canada in 1848, then subsequently moving to New York "in 1830."

Say what?!

A simple switch to a different online version of the same volume yields the more believable 1850 as their date for moving to New York. (I appreciate that second version also, by the way, because it includes a handsome photograph of the subject of that biographical sketch, James Murdock, in addition to the more readable text.)

James, in case you are wondering, was younger brother of the mysterious Samuel I mentioned yesterday—the older brother who died in November, 1861, from injuries inflicted the week prior to his demise.

By using the biographical sketch for Samuel's better-known younger brother, we get some idea of this immigrant family's roots. I'm certainly grateful for that help. Considering the zigzag route the Murdock family took to arrive in Lafayette, Indiana, I can't say that I'd have come up with that conclusion on my own.

Or can we actually assume all this information provided in this town history is entirely correct?

While entering some of the siblings' names alongside my Stevens family's step-mother, Eliza Murdock Clark Stevens, I uncovered some details that seem to indicate that not all was remembered as clearly as brother James—or whoever provided this copy to the book's publisher—might have recalled.

For one thing, apparently the family didn't arrive in the New World all together. Remember Sally-Sibba-Sabina? Whether this entry, found at, is hers—after all, it lists the mother as "Libby" rather than a possible "Sibby"—it shows a mother accompanying young men of that same Murdock surname, in that same Murdock order: James, John and Thomas. They were sailing from Sligo, the Murdocks' former Irish home, arriving at the port of New York on November 5, 1852. Perhaps the Murdock patriarch, plus at least one older sibling, had already made the trip across the Atlantic. And Eliza, now married and perhaps also by now the proud parent of daughter Ellen-Helen-Nellie, had stayed behind to make the long trip to join the extended family at a later point.

That is...if this is, indeed, the listing for our Murdock family. And it may possibly be so. Witness the 1900 census entry for James in the household of his son Samuel: he gives his year of arrival in the United States as 1852. Bingo. Maybe.

If it was 1852, then James didn't quite remember things in that same order when providing the data for his biographical sketch. But if it is, I've also got a long way to go to find the rest of the bunch—especially to determine what became of his brother Samuel before his 1861 passing.

Even so, I'm still a whole lot further along in my research than if someone hadn't shared that helpful resource that moved this whole process along. For gifts like that, I am always grateful!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...