It was while I was puzzling over the Find A Grave entry for Annie—was Mrs. Michael Creahan really the former Ann Kelley?—that I was struck with one of those serendipitous finds.
Serendipitous is one of those words that seems too long to be worth the trouble—until, that is, the trouble results in a discovery so successful, it melts away all the agony of former defeat. Then, serendipitous becomes not a word your mouth says, but a word your mouth savors.
So, on my tree in Ancestry.com, I was punching in all the data I had found so far on this branch of the Kelly family that had unexpectedly popped into view—remembering the lesson I had learned by neglecting to do so when I had found Johanna Flanagan Lee in another family line. What should happen when I got to the point of entering Ann as Michael Creahan’s wife—hoping fervently I wasn’t prematurely taking that liberty—but one of those shaky-leaf Ancestry hints popped up.
The hint breathlessly assured me there was a way to get Ann Creahan’s obituary.
No way, I thought. I had already tried every way I could to access the historic newspaper collection for Lafayette, Indiana, with no results.
I checked it out, anyhow. It was a worthwhile move.
The Ancestry page warned me that, with the next click, I would be whisked away from their site and into the domain of an entirely different website. Fine, I thought, I’m willing to take that risk.
With that, I moved to a small town cyberworld that turned out to be a pretty slick operation. It was the website for the Monroe County, Indiana, Public Library. More specifically, I was brought directly to their Obituary Index page.
Granted, like Dorothy in Oz, I suddenly had a gasp of recognition: this wasn’t Kansas, er, Tippecanoe County. Why would Monroe County house an obituary for someone I was seeking in an entirely different county? The two counties weren't even next to each other.
I decided to give it a try anyhow, and entered the name of the woman I was seeking: Ann Creahan.
Her obit was there! And for the paltry sum of $3.50, the library promised to send it to me. I wasn’t a patron, I didn’t have a library card number, I didn’t even live in the state of Indiana, for crying out loud. But they were game if I was. I entered my PayPal information on the secure page for that purpose, indicated which obituary I was seeking, and was done with the whole process in a few minutes. Easy.
It may seem rather mundane for me to marvel at this minor feat of computerized genealogical research aids. After all, we do have the technology. But how many of us local organizations actually use it? I, for one, having researched in counties across the United States, was impressed.
Within only a few days—I made this transaction over a weekend—I had an emailed copy of the very obituary I was seeking. Not only was the whole transaction easy, it delivered a long, detail-packed obituary, as well.
So detailed, in fact, that I’ll save my discussion of it for tomorrow’s post. I want you to savor the moment as much as I did.