Monday, November 17, 2014

From One Michael to Another

While I was in the neighborhood, seeking whatever became of the Michael Tully, son of John and Catherine whom I had found in Detroit, that fruitless search led to yet another Michael who might have been a relative of our Irish immigrant families.

If you recall, I had traced this Tully family from County Tipperary in Ireland, over the Atlantic to a tiny village in Brant County, Ontario, called Paris. Along with John and Catherine Flannery Tully’s family, the same 1852 census page also recorded a Flannery family—which handily also contained a Michael—as well as our direct line, Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully.

Could they have all moved to Detroit together?

I mentioned, the other day, that Michael Tully had seemed to disappear after I located him in the 1880 census. My theory was that, switching tracks and looking on another database, I might find something I couldn’t find at my first research stop. And that’s exactly what happened. I moved from what I had found on Michael Tully in to check what might be available on

This time, I did locate a possible death record for Michael Tully, still in Detroit. Unfortunately, the record is contained in a collection sans photocopies, so the index only included a listing of the father’s surname. It did not include any information on the mother’s maiden name.

Great, I thought: this could be anybody. Of course a man’s father’s surname should be the same as his own! However, I settled down enough to realize that there were other clues fingering our guy:

  • He was born in Canada
  • His year of birth (1853) matched prior census records
  • He was still listed as single

I need more substantiation before I determine that the Michael Tully who died in Detroit on 28 December, 1921, was one and the same as my Michael, son of John and Catherine Flannery Tully. I made a mental note to post a plea on an online genealogical forum for local assistance in obtaining an obituary, since this man’s headstone was not among those millions listed at Find A Grave. And then I moved on to see what else I could find.

Sometimes, I try a search trick in which I leave the main fields blank—you know, that place where we automatically fill in the person’s first and last names—but instead, complete the search box by adding in only the parents’ surnames. That idea didn’t go over so well for our Michael. While it did flush out a Tully woman whose mother’s maiden name was Flannery when I tried it on, it was for someone so far afield of my data possibilities that I discarded it out of hand.

Well, almost. I’ll hang on to that one, just in case. One never knows.

I stumbled upon a refresher post on resources for Michigan death certificates online by Diane Gould Hall on her Michigan Family Trails blog, and tried my hand at trawling through all the Michigan death certs I could find at Just in case Michael’s own parents died earlier than he, I tried poking around GENDIS, Michigan’s Genealogical Death Indexing System, but could find nothing for either John Tully or Catherine Flannery Tully.

I tried searching the GENDIS for surname only, to see if anything—anything—would come up. Nothing. Not on Tully. Not on Flannery. Then I left the decedent’s name fields blank and just entered the father’s surname.

Somewhere in the midst of all that poking around, I did flush out a result. It was for a one-year-old child who died of scarlet fever.

Her father’s name was Michael. But the surname was not Tully. It was Flannery.

Wait! Flannery? I have one of those!

And I was off, on a wild search for a Michael Flannery who now lived in Detroit, but at one time—could it have been the same one?—lived in Paris, Ontario in Canada. It could all be a coincidence. But if I could find any pattern of immigration between Paris, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, perhaps I could reconstruct these three families whose heads of household at one time were not only neighbors, but likely siblings.


  1. Replies
    1. Here's hoping it will turn into something worthwhile...

  2. All those twists and turns and maybes keep it fun don't you think?

    1. Yes, you're right, Ellie. I suppose. But I'm just a tad too impatient right now. Maybe I've lost sight of the journey. Been too caught up in the destination. May be time for some re-calibration...

  3. I just discovered something interesting - the railroad that ran through Ingersoll (and Paris) was the Great Western (later the Grand Trunk). It was "noted" for it's role in moving immigrants "west" to the USA. And guess where the port of entry was? Detroit.

    "The Great Western gained most of its revenue from shipping US Midwest bounds immigrants through Southern Ontario in special `immigrant' cars. "

    1. I just ran into info on that railroad last night, myself, while looking up details on Essex. In some of those rural Canadian counties en route to Detroit, the railroad line coming through was quite a big deal. Interesting that it was promoted as a way to bring immigrants west through Ontario to Detroit. That's exactly what happened, at least in our family's case.

  4. Replies
    1. I'm cheering too, Far Side...but I still want to find proof before I'm satisfied I figured it all out. Why couldn't these people have cooperated and made it easier on us?! I still need some way to figure out whether they were siblings or cousins or ... ???


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