Saturday, October 31, 2015

Almost N-N-Na-No-November

I may melt with the summer heat and chatter in the winter chill, but no, I am not stuttering, even though we are about to enter the month of November. I'm actually mulling over the thought of National Novel Writing Month—more informally known as NaNoWriMo.

Our local genealogical society has a special interest group devoted to members who want to write their family history. Whether in book form, short stories, or other formats, members of this group have found that sometimes we all need a push to get going. In our meeting Thursday night, one of our members casually mentioned, "Well, you know it's almost November. And that means NaNoWriMo."

I happen to know what NaNo is, only because that group member happens to also be my daughter. And said daughter has been participating in NaNo for every one of the last several years. Of course, she's a fan of fiction and a clever storyteller. But what if someone doesn't want to write a novel? What if someone—like me—only wants to write serious stuff, like whatever became of our ancestors?

There's a place for even me—and all my fuddy duddy non-fiction-loving friends—The Rebels at NaNo. Just like the rest of the NaNo participants, NaNo Rebels will awaken with the sunrise on November 1 and fly to their keyboard. Even though they will have chosen a genre outside the realm of fiction, the race will have begun: they have only until 11:59 p.m., November 30, to complete a fifty thousand word manuscript. No editing. No revisions. Just write!

If something like this sounds insane to you, consider that well over three hundred thousand participants from six continents—and several spots marked on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans which may possibly, come end of November, be totally submerged—participated in the 2014 NaNoWriMo. The program has been going strong every year since 1999—if you're like me and need to read every last line of background material, you can see the official history of the whole NaNo saga here—and is now coordinated by an official non-profit organization.

When it comes to those NaNo Rebels writing their way to fifty thousand word success, in the genealogy world they include no less than published writer Lisa Alzo, author of Three Slovak Women and Baba's Kitchen. Lisa has another writing project that's been bubbling on the back burner for over ten years, and has decided now is the time to revamp and recreate that dream during NaNoWriMo. She's signed on to the project under the name GenWriter, if you're looking for her in the Rebels forum at NaNo.

To infuse the commitment for all of us potential family history writers with more excitement, Lisa has teamed up with GeneaBloggers creator Thomas MacEntee to publicize contests and prize offerings to inspire participants' progress. That is only part of the buzz created around the NaNo event; the official website catalogs a number of other incentives to not only get people writing, but finishing their project.

As for me, well, this is probably the closest I've ever come to considering the plunge. I've always wanted to convert the stuff I've found, through incessant poking around, into book form. Maybe someday I will, I keep telling myself. But I know the only way that is going to happen is to sit down and do it. And keep doing it until it is done.

But then, there's that sticky thing called Life. And, oh, that little personal commitment to keep blogging on a daily basis. Things like that can get in the way. Besides, it's one thing to spin a yarn straight from your head onto a computer keyboard. Genealogical research, however, takes more than just editing. It takes a lot of background footwork. Research. Fact checking. Grunt work. All that plus fifty thousand words may be a daunting task for one month.

But how else does one kickstart a project like that?

Anyone else considering springing for NaNo 2015?    

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Tale of Two Julias

When it comes to genealogical searches, it seems nothing can be simple. Or completed.

I was irked, the other day, to find an unidentified newspaper clipping—obviously concerning the passing of a family member—for which no year or publication title had been provided.

Of course, family in the midst of mourning don't stop to think, "I'll be sure to add all the information here, so my descendants can complete that citation properly."

You know I had to find the source for that little discovery.

So I went looking for any records of a Julia Tully, born in Michigan around 1870, who subsequently moved to the Chicago area before her early passing in—as we found out, thanks to an entry at—1890.

Online resources weren't very cooperative on this count. I figured, since her death record estimated her age to be about nineteen, that I could easily find her in the 1880 census. Wrong. I found two Julia Tullys: one born three years before and one born three years after my guestimate for Julia's arrival. The older Julia was daughter of James and Roseanna Tulley. The younger Julia was daughter of Thomas and Ellen Tully.

None of those names, of course, was in my Tully database. You knew it would be this way.

Trying the reverse approach—looking at my own database and seeing which Tully daughter might have been born around that target year of the obituary Julia's arrival—didn't yield much information, either. I did find a Tully daughter born in 1870—in Michigan, even—which would fit. But her parents—Michael and Margaret Dowd Tully—decided to call her Johanna, not Julia.

Since the main thing that irked me about this mystery clipping had been the unsourced origin, I figured I might as well try my hand at locating a duplicate in one of the online newspaper archives. I needed search no further than GenealogyBank, where—once again—I found two candidates for our Julia Tully.

Both segments were from newspaper articles published in 1890. Both named a Julia Tully. Only problem was: one was for a wedding announcement:
Miss Julia A. Tully and Mr. T. M. Tobin were joined in marriage last Wednesday morning at St. Patrick's Church by Father Van de Laar. Miss Julia Jones was bridesmaid and Mr. Thomas Tully was best man.

Likely, if Thomas Tully was best man for this Julia's wedding, he was her brother and son of the Thomas Tully I found in the 1880 census. Of course, given that the wedding announcement was published in the Daily Inter Ocean on Sunday, September 7, it's a pretty clear hint that this wasn't our Julia, whose funeral notice indicated her passing less than a week prior. Nix that set of records. No use struggling to see how Thomas, Ellen and this Julia Tully might have fit into the family tree.

However, in searching for the source of our newspaper clipping, GenealogyBank turned up another possibility: a brief notice published on September third in the Chicago Herald, with just the slightest variation—just enough for our purposes—to the wording found in our copy of the notice:
JULIA TULLY, Sept. 1, at Pullman, age 20 years, beloved daughter of Margrett Tully. Funeral from the Holy Rosary Church, thence to Mt. Olivet. Detroit and Cleveland papers please copy.

If she had to be a Tully in our family, I suppose it is no surprise to discover she was the daughter of a Margaret. That, essentially, told me next to nothing. She could be from any part of our Tully family—we did, at last count, sport a grand total of five by the name of Margaret, but I think I need to add a few more to the official tally.

However, a little more searching through the Chicago newspapers of that time period yielded one more clue: a funeral notice published in the Chicago Herald on December 31, 1890—barely four months after Julia's—for another lost Tully child.
At Pullman, Dec. 29, WILLIAM TULLY, beloved son of Margaret and the late Michael Tully. Funeral from his home at 9:30 o'clock this morning, and from the Holy Rosary Church at 10 o'clock, thence to Mount Olivet.

Of course, that doesn't confirm that Julia's mother Margaret is one and the same as William's mother Margaret. But at least we now know whose wife Margaret was.

And, pulling up that 1890 death record for William Tully, we discover two matching items: first, that he was born in Detroit, Michigan—just like Julia Tully—and second, that his address at the time of his passing was also at 217 Stephenson Street.

Looking a bit into the future after those two dreadful losses for that one Tully family, we find the widow Margaret in the 1900 census in the home of her married daughter—yet another Margaret—on that same Stephenson street. Bereft of all her six children but this daughter and one other survivor—likely her son Patrick—Margaret herself succumbed and joined her family at Mount Olivet shortly after her passing on 16 May, 1909.

While that may seem like a tidy package in confirming just who that Julia might have been, it still doesn't help me with one problem—and it creates yet another question in that nagging inquisitive researcher's mind.

The problem is: where was Julia in all the records prior to her passing? The child showing in this family for that approximate date of birth was named Johanna, not Julia. What became of Johanna? Was Johanna really Julia?

The question—brought on by all those newspaper editors constantly advising each other to "please copy"—is: Why Cleveland? Detroit I can understand; a number of the extended Tully family passed through Detroit in the long process of emigrating from Canada. But which Tully family members were living in Cleveland in 1890 who needed to be notified of a relative's passing in Chicago? Is it possible I will find more, as yet unidentified, Tully cousins in Cleveland?

There is always just one more thing to be discovered, no matter how thorough that search has been conducted. And yet, would we have it any other way?   

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Need to Look This Stuff Up

It's personal confession time. And won't my Canadian friends laugh at me, now!

For some reason, when reading those old-fashioned news items which flagged the editors of newspapers from far-flung locations—you know, like John Tully's obituary instructions, "Ontario and Manitoba papers please copy"—I had always presumed that Ontario was the city in which some Tully relatives once lived.

Only problem: there is no city of Ontario. Not, at least, in Canada. Oh, there might be a city of Ontario in California. Or Indiana. Or Ohio. But the Ontario in Canada is a province.

I knew that. But somewhere in the back of my mind is a file folder for misinformation, and this particular misinformed thought had taken up residence there.

It's an honest mistake. After all, I'm not Canadian, myself. The only parts of Canada I've visited have been in the westernmost reaches—cities like Vancouver and Victoria.

I suppose my mistake would be no different than a non-American thinking that, since there is a city of New York in the state of New York, and a city of Washington, that it must likewise be in the state of Washington. (Hint: it isn't.)

So it took rediscovering that tiny newspaper clipping I told you about the other day to snap me back into reality with one simple line of detail: in this death notice, the obligatory request to "please copy" specified not the provinces in Canada, but the actual cities.

The undated obituary was for Daisy, the eldest child of John and Catherine Malloy Tully, who died in 1877. What is useful about rediscovering this clipping is that, in our current quest to determine what might have become of her aunt Margaret, this young Margaret's funeral notice leads us to the very town in Ontario where any remaining Canadian Tullys might still have been living. And pinpoint the date at which they were still there.

The actual town mentioned was a place called Seaforth. I had seen that town mentioned in other family papers, but once again, hadn't taken the time to look it up. Considering the unidentified family photos I had been perusing—all seeming to come from a studio in Hamilton—I had assumed Seaforth was located somewhere close to Hamilton.

On the contrary—as I finally do discover, once I get around to looking this stuff up—Seaforth was in the opposite direction from Hamilton, if looking at a map from the perspective of the Tullys' home in Paris. To put it another way, it was in the same direction—and in the same Huron County—as the Saint Columban cemetery Iggy was wondering about the other day. In fact, if you take a look at this map, courtesy Google Maps, of the red marker on the top left delineating Seaforth, Paris is on the opposite lower corner, near Brantford, just west of Hamilton (which couldn't fit on the map if enlarged to the point of showing both Seaforth and Saint Columban). Note, also, that the very next town, down the road from Seaforth and before you arrive at Dublin, is Saint Columban.

Of course, that means I've still got a lot of checking to do. It doesn't exactly mean I can welcome that other Margaret Tully into the family just yet. But it sure puts us in closer range than we had thought before. I'll be taking another look at census records for Seaforth, to see if perhaps any other recognizable family names had shown up there. Since Seaforth wasn't a city of significant size, I doubt it published a newspaper covering a wide region. Mentioning Seaforth in an obituary probably meant that there was family in that specific town. And since the deceased Margaret's mother Catherine Malloy Tully had grown up an only child, the only possibility for relatives might well have been on her father John Tully's side of the equation. 

TULLY--At Hyde Park, of scarlet fever, at 2 a.m. Sept 26, Margaret Ann, daughter of John and Catherine Tully, aged 5 years 10 months and 26 days. Funeral Thursday, Sept. 27, by cars to Calvary. Detroit (Mich.) and Seaforth (Ont.) papers please copy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Still More Out There Than I Know

It may seem like I'm still struggling—no, contorting myself—to develop an explanation of what became of the Tully family after their last appearance in the 1861 Canadian census. In particular, I'm seeking signs of the whereabouts of one particular Tully: the younger of the two daughters of Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully, who seems to have simply disappeared. There is no trace of what became of her.

Taking the high road on this journey of discovery—informing myself of the background story of immigration from Ireland to Canada—has been helpful in a general way. But it still hasn't answered my question.

I did, in the midst of researching yesterday's post, run across a good many other links that will be of help, and I'll post them as they become pertinent to our exploration in the next few days.

Better than that, though, was stumbling across a small, yellowed envelope containing two tiny newspaper clippings.

Oh yeah. Them.

Someone in the Tully family—likely John Tully's wife Catherine, who would have been Margaret's sister-in-law, if she ever met her—had snipped these sad announcements from a newspaper and tucked them away among other personal papers. When the whole set of Catherine's papers were passed along to her daughter Agnes, then to Agnes' son Ed, and then to me, I eventually uncovered them—then totally forgot that I had found them. Then recalled them again, almost exactly one year ago. And forgot them again.

Now out of their concealing envelope once again, perhaps they'll help to fill in a few more blanks. If nothing else, the one I'm sharing today will serve to encourage us that, yes, there are other Tully descendants out there—inexplicably, though, for I still have no idea just how they connect to the rest of the family. But they're there.

The clipping I'll share tomorrow will provide one additional hint to encourage us onward in this search.

As to the rest of the details—what publications the clippings were taken from and who they actually refer to—I still need to follow through and find a different source for the information. It's not lost upon me that, had I thought to capture the image of the death certificate as it was provided the first time I researched this name, I might still have it; as it is, those images were retracted from the database of the FamilySearch collection where I first found them. Moments such as these provide ample instigation for kicking one's self.

Of course, for lack of a parent's name upon which to pin this unfortunate deceased young lady's withered twig on the Tully family tree, I had left it—and all the associated research—just hanging out there in the ether.

I still don't know how to plug this person's name into the family tree. But what inspires me to find a way is the possibility that it will point me to one of those other missing branches in the tree. As I discovered last year, upon contemplating who that other John Tully might have been, down the street from our John Tully in that 1851 Canadian census, is that there are a few other Tully relatives I've not even researched entirely. I'm sure there are some out there of which I'm not even aware, at all.

Maybe the young Julia Tully, though captured by consumption at a young nineteen years of age, might still be able to lead us to her family.

We are pained to record the death of Miss Julia Tully, of 217 Stephenson avenue, on Sept. 1. She died of consumption, and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery on Wednesday. The funeral services were held in Holy Rosary Church, and the attendance was very large.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Not Time to Cut to The Chase

An action-starved audience, stuck in the midst of the plot lull where the behind-the-scenes details get filled in, might be thinking, "Cut to the chase!" They want action, and they want it now.

For those of us stuck in the shadow of a genealogical brick wall, it would most certainly not be advisable, now, to cut to the chase. The resultant splat might not be edifying—neither for us as the researchers, nor for our audience, those learning from our discoveries.

Well, maybe they would learn one thing: it pays to take our time when considering just what it is that has kept us at bay in our research progress.

That's what I hoped to achieve when, yesterday, I decided to take a detour to research some general information on Irish immigration to Canada during and just after the Great Famine. Since I am totally stuck on uncovering documentation to show what became of Margaret Tully, young sister of my husband's great grandfather, I am hoping this tactic will help illuminate some details that might otherwise be overlooked.

Before starting, though, a recap: I don't yet even have documentation showing the Tully family's exit from their home in Ballina, County Tipperary, just above the River Shannon to the east of Limerick. I don't suppose I'll ever uncover any such passenger lists or other records. The best I can estimate is that the Tully family arrived in Canada West in time for Margaret's mother—also a Margaret—to give birth to the Tullys' last child, William, almost two years before the 1851 census was taken.

Therein lies part of the problem. The impetus behind some collections of passenger records was the fact that the vessel would be leaving a port in one country and eventually sailing into harbor in an entirely different country. Not so for ships of the British Empire—of which was once said, "The sun never sets"—for the route between Ireland and Canada never took the King's subjects across international borders. That held true for many years after the Tullys' arrival, circa 1850, until the 1867 Canadian Confederation. Yet, even after that point, because of Canada's continued status as a semi-autonomous part of the British Empire, there was no need to seek naturalization papers in Canada for immigrants from other parts of the United Kingdom, thus eliminating that other typical route for genealogical searches.  

By the time the 1851 census was taken—likely, in 1852 in Canada West—the Tully family lived in Brant County in a small town called Paris. They were also there for the subsequent census in 1861.

But then they disappeared. At least, that's how it appeared on the paper trail. There was no sign of them in the 1871 enumeration for Brant County.

Of course, for our direct line, we know the rest of the story—further immigration to Chicago in the United States—by virtue of being able to discern it in retrospect. Where on earth our possible second cousins might be—descendants of great grandfather John Tully's sister Margaret—we have, at this point, no way of knowing.

Digging into historic narratives studying this general immigration flow helped sketch in the picture. I learned, right off the bat, that Irish arrivals in Canada did not commence with the tragic conditions the Irish were seeking to escape during the famine. The Irish had been arriving in significant numbers much earlier than that era. Mostly, in Ontario, those numbers were comprised of Protestant Irish from the northern part of the island, but following the resolution of the War of 1812, a growing portion of Irish immigrants were Catholic. Most of these came as laborers for transportation projects such as building roads, canals, or, later, railroads. Others came to work in the lumber industry.

With the increase in immigration as early as 1830, the main port of entry—Québec on the Saint Lawrence River—saw the annual arrival of an average of thirty thousand immigrants, two thirds of whom came from Ireland. Partly, this was owing to immigration restrictions imposed in the United States causing prohibitive increases in fares for those wishing to land at American ports. Thus, the more destitute—and likely more susceptible to disease among them—had no recourse but to choose the less expensive option and sail to Canada.

This, unfortunately, coincided with a time when major cholera and smallpox epidemics were sweeping through Europe. Concerned, the Canadian government established a quarantine station on an island near the entry port of Québec—Grosse Île—in order to control the spread of these serious, communicable diseases.

By the peak of Irish immigration at the time of the famine, the Grosse Île Quarantine station was so overburdened that dozens of ships lined up to await their mandatory landing and inspection. This unfortunately created the century's perfect storm and national tragedy where almost five thousand Irish immigrants died, thus conjuring up the specter of the "coffin ships." The largest Irish burial ground outside the island of Ireland can be found on Grosse Île.  

For those fortunate enough to survive the hardship of transatlantic travel conditions of the mid nineteenth century, the dream was of picking up life in a new world. While many Irish had left behind life in agrarian settings, most of the "Famine Irish" coming to Canada tended to settle in more urbanized areas. Often, they were seen as a source of "cheap labour that helped fuel the economic expansion of the 1850s and 1860s." This is exactly the scenario painted for our Tully family.

Though there were some earlier offers of land for Irish immigrants—the Petersborough settlement being an example from the 1820s—it wasn't until after 1856 that Irish immigration was driven by such items as special land grants for Irish settlements, such as ones in North Hastings County.

Yet, the point at which the Tullys most likely arrived in Brant County was a time frame sandwiched in between these two points. Not of the generation able to take up Peter Robinson's offer of land at the settlement which eventually bore his name, nor considering emigration from Ireland at the time of the later offers of land grants, the Tully family's arrival coincided with that of the segment of the immigrant population most likely to become the bulk of a different type of trend: the trend of continuing that immigration onward, yet again.

As noted in an article, "Irish Canadians," in the online Canadian Encyclopedia, the immigrant Irish were not well received, seen with resentment on account of their impoverished lifestyle, and soon felt the push to move onward. That "onward" soon became obvious: take the inland route across the international border and settle in the United States. By the 1860s, this number of Irish exiting Canada had escalated to the thousands; the Tullys were not traveling alone. Some of this may have occurred due to economic downturns in Ontario coupled with mining booms and opportunities for new land in the western United States and more distant provinces of Canada. We witnessed this draw in the decision made by the Ryan family—Margaret's older sister Johanna and brother in law Edward Ryan—to move to Dakota territory in the 1870s, and then to Winnipeg by the turn of the century.

Still, this broad sweep of immigration history helped us understand what propelled the Tullys out of their homeland in Ireland, what drew them to land in Canada near rivers and railroads, and what eventually convinced each of the grown Tully children to take their young families to better prospects in U.S. cities or territorial land out west. But it still doesn't help us figure out what might have become of Margaret, herself.

However, stumbling upon an envelope with a little sliver of a newspaper clipping enclosed while riffling through old files yesterday may have been the fortuitous discovery that will redirect our search tomorrow.

Above: painting by Alexandre Thomas Francia; courtesy Wikipedia photographer GdML under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license; artwork in the public domain.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tracing Those Immigrant Steps

In wondering what might have become of our mystery Margaret Tully—born in Ballina, County Tipperary, in 1844, and last seen at home at the time of the Canada West census in 1861—it vaguely crossed my mind that perhaps understanding how people immigrated to Canada might help sort out this puzzle. After all, immigration is nothing more than people moving from one place to another. Over vast distances, granted, but moving somewhere else. And that, often, was accommodated in groups. You didn't, for instance, see any brave sorts, back at the height of the Irish famine, bragging about solo trips sailing across the northern Atlantic. Most people headed across the ocean with people they already knew. Once they arrived in their New World, they tended to settle with those same people they knew.

Not that this was the first time I had considered this issue. Actually, our family had gone through the throes of tackling it through the summer months, as our daughter was designing a research proposal for a study in Canada on immigrants' remittances to their homeland—a useful pursuit for an inquisitive economics student of Irish immigrant descent.

As it turned out, upon querying a professor in Ontario for advice on her research design, it would be near impossible for her to zero in on her immigrant population; the bulk of the source documents she would have needed for her data is no longer existent—something we in the genealogical community have been bemoaning for decades.

And yet, she uncovered some pointers that could still be useful for our present brick wall quandary. First, that some Irish may have come over to Canada in large groups—not just their own families, but possibly immigrant groups sharing the same home town. Some of them might have been spearheaded by local leaders whose task it was to assemble a shipload of people for a given voyage. Some may have been organized for a specific purpose—to settle and farm a large tract of agricultural land, or to take on a specific project like building canals or laying down railroad tracks. In cases like these, my hunch of trying to find where Margaret went by following not only her siblings but her larger community would still ring true.

Then, the corollary would be that, upon arrival, these immigrants would tend to cluster in self-reinforcing communities, rather than freely intermingling with the population at large. Although, in the case of the Irish, they would not be as hampered by language barriers as other immigrants to the New World, our newly-arrived ancestors would likely seek out familiar signposts of what they considered important back home. One pillar of the traditional would likely be symbolized by their Church—and seeing the early establishment of the Catholic Church in Paris, the town where our Tully family settled, rings true there. In a land more hospitable to Protestant than Catholic traditions, there may not have been as many choices for places to settle in Canada for our Catholic Irish ancestors; this establishment would be important for an immigrant community.

It was for this reason that, in considering the suggestion that maybe Margaret Tully had married and moved to nearby Saint Columban in Huron County, Ontario, I realized there might be more to such a suggestion. Apparently, in the area was an "Irishtown" settlement—a telltale sign that, en masse, the Irish immigrants had felt a welcome bidding them head to Huron County.

Whether this was where our Margaret Tully ended up or not, it is this sort of background information that might help determine that immigrant flow—first from County Tipperary to Brant County in Ontario, and then onward to wherever the family, in all its branches, ended up. While it is possible each sibling went his own separate way, that generation-long tendency to stick with the extended family or larger group may still have held sway. It would help to spend some time familiarizing ourselves with the currents that pulled these Irish families across the ocean—and see where it would send them, after arrival in Canada. We'll take a further peek at what can be gleaned on this, tomorrow.

Above: "Eastern Point Light," 1880 watercolor over graphite on wove paper by American landscape painter, Winslow Homer; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Write, Therefore I . . . Think?

There are times when we have things all backwards. We presume some prerequisites to certain actions—which we may be entirely justified to assume—but then we go and do the whole thing in reverse order. Yet it seems to work out just fine, anyhow.

Take writing. If we took our grade school teachers seriously, we would unquestioningly first ply our scratch paper with thoughts in outline form before ever dreaming of letting our pens speak in real English. Never mind our brains never fit in such a box when formulating the first whiffs of a thought.

Perhaps that's why we doodle when we should have been doing those outlines. Our brains need gentle coaxing to come outside and play.

Perhaps that's why, like other bloggers, I sometimes find myself saying, "I don't know what I'm going to say until I start writing it."

Yesterday's post leads me to one of those instances. Honestly, I'm stuck on my Margaret Tully quandary. I have no idea where she disappeared to. The record trail isn't being very helpful, either. I've tried to stick with all the close relatives—you know, those obvious connections like siblings, since both parents seem to have dropped from sight by the early 1860s.

Perhaps being so regulated in my approach has hemmed that weary brain into confines too restricting. It needs the freedom to wonder, "What if..."

Blogging can sometimes be as therapeutic as journaling. A little free associating while writing can lead a wearied, stifled brain to greener pastures, where it can roam and, if thirsty, test the waters nearby.

It was while pulling up the references, yesterday, to the Tully family's more distant relations who had joined them, after crossing over from Ireland, in that same neighborhood in Paris, Ontario, that I got that broader perspective. Speaking of "Ed-blot" Flannery yesterday reminded me that our missing Margaret Tully's mother was a Flannery, and that, there in the 1851 record, Mr. Flannery and his wife and children were listed on the same "West River Street" in the Paris enumeration as Margaret Tully's household.

Also on that same census page was another Tully family—that of John Tully, his wife and two daughters. We've spent some time, last year, attempting to trace their whereabouts after this 1851 census, as well. Keeping in mind this John Tully may also have been married to a Flannery (based on records I found in Ireland during my trip last year), it would be good to revisit their story, as well.

Perhaps, in following the trail of these more distant relatives as they again picked up and moved onward, we may uncover some record of where their possible niece—our missing Margaret Tully—may have moved, as well.

Perhaps, in realizing all these possibilities I've just reviewed, I need to remember, when stuck on a problem and unable to figure it out, just write my way out of the puzzle. Sometimes, just putting words to paper can ease those tangled thoughts and let them unravel and do the problem solving they were meant to do.

Above, left: partial list of names from the 1851 Canadian census for Paris, Brant County, Ontario (Canada West), showing the Denis Tully household at the top, followed on line twenty five by the Ed Flannery family, all under the heading, inserted here below, of the identifying address for the census page. Also following but not shown here: possible additional relatives, the John Tully family, on lines forty six through forty nine. Images courtesy

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Can't Go Anywhere Without a Map

...especially when following the tracks of those missing ancestors!

In researching those hard-to-find ancestors—especially those living in places with which we're not personally familiar—it's inconceivable (to me, at least) that the search can be mounted without tools as basic as a map. Perhaps because I have this need to know everything possible about an ancestor's background before I feel sufficiently equipped to do a thorough search, I feel like I'm operating blind without guidance like maps, history books and other local resources.

So, in receiving that helpful suggestion a few days ago—about a possible candidate to satisfactorily answer the question, "What became of Margaret Tully," my husband's great grandfather's sister—I couldn't respond outright. I had to do a little background search first.

The suggestion had been made by "Intense Guy" that, possibly, Margaret Tully had indeed married, and moved about seventy miles distance from her adopted home town in Paris, Ontario. While we can cover that seventy miles a lot quicker today than she might have in the late 1800s, it is still within the realm of possibility. But first, I wanted to look at a map to see for myself.

Because I have copies of a number of old photographs from the extended family—including some obviously taken in Ontario and mailed to the family, once they settled in Chicago—I had an idea where any family left behind might have settled in Canada. The main hint was pointing to a city called Hamilton, nestled up against the western portion of Lake Ontario. From the perspective of Paris residents, that would be a trip of about thirty miles—roughly half the distance (and in the opposite direction) from Paris to the burial of the possible Margaret Tully.

Despite that, I still held out hope that this might be a possibility. The main reason was that I know one other branch of the Tully family moved first to Detroit before making the jump to join the family in Chicago. A good look at the map shows a convenient route west of Paris—and somewhat dropping to the southwest—leads a traveler from Paris to Detroit. If the possible married Margaret Tully were to the west of Paris—but along this route—it would certainly make sense.

Once I looked at the map and realized not only the distances but the directions, I lost my enthusiasm for that possibility. While the route to Detroit heads southwest, the route to the cemetery in question would be to the northwest. Of course, it is still possible, and I won't dismiss it entirely, yet. A few more variables need to be checked as well—primarily to revisit those maternal-line Flannery cousins (remember "Ed-blot"?) who had also settled in Paris, then moved onward. How close might some of them have been to this Margaret Tully's cemetery?

The possible Margaret Tully had married a man named Robert Fortune. Buried in the Catholic cemetery in Saint Columban in Huron County, Ontario, this Margaret Tully died in 1879 at the age of thirty three—at least, according to the couple's significant monument. There is likely a poignant story embedded in the dash on that stone.

In this Margaret's early demise, she left behind her husband, Robert, who apparently never remarried, and a son named after his father. The younger Robert also died in his thirties, causing me to wonder about any inherited health problems—rather than simply a case of his mother's death during childbirth as so often is the assumption during that era.

While it is tempting to think this might be our missing Margaret, we can't really yield to the temptation. While we can wink at the two year discrepancy in dates of birth—ours arriving in County Tipperary in early September, 1844, while this Margaret was estimated to have been born in 1846—we simply don't know enough about this Margaret to assure us that she was indeed our missing family member.

Still, Iggy, it's an impressive find. Search capabilities on Find A Grave outside burials in the United States are rather cumbersome, at best. It would be nice to be able to manipulate the search to hone results down to the level of provinces, at the very least, for our neighbors to the north.

Above: Map showing various routes from Paris, Ontario, to Saint Columban in neighboring Huron County. To the left, at the west shore of Lake Ontario, is the city of Hamilton, another possible area where Tully descendants might have settled. Map courtesy Google Maps.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sidetracked by Some Surnames

Do you ever get sidetracked while working on your family history, and start wondering about all the surnames that have married into your direct lines? I do. You can count on me to follow The Bright Shiny, once it makes itself known. And yesterday was just one of those days.

Perhaps it is through the haze of my recent malaise that I'm seeing things differently right now. Yesterday was such a nondescript day—one in which I felt like doing nothing. In the rare moments when I feel that way, I try to find something mindless to do, to spend my time doing something, but not really having to think about it.

So I took a spin through the kin on my trees. Hint hunting, mostly. Thought I'd clean up a few of those shaky leaves, since I was feeling quite shaky, myself. Somehow, no matter how bad I feel, those shaky leaves can create a time warp for me. Before I know it, the day has passed. It might as well be a day like this, with its interminable waiting for the bug to stop fighting with me and finally call it quits.

I picked my mother-in-law's maternal line. That's a line firmly ensconced in Perry County, Ohio—you know, that place where everyone's related and a cute high school gal can't accept a date without first whipping out her pedigree chart. Complete through the entire four generations preceding her, of course.

I like cleaning up my lines from Perry County. For one thing, up until about the second World War, most everyone stayed put in the same place their ancestors had farmed since the early 1800s. No wondering where that eighteen year old daughter disappeared to, come the next census enumeration. Everyone was always right there. And if they weren't, it was a safe bet you could find them in the church cemetery.

Another reason I like working on our Perry County lines: I know all those private resources tucked away hither and yon on the Internet. You know, the stuff nerdy genealogy enthusiasts just had to post, before blogging and HTML and Web 2.0 were cool—or even dreamed of. My best resource turns out to be the handiwork of a computer geek who escaped the agricultural backwoods of Perry County but nevertheless is still resident somewhere in the state. I know where—or used to remember, at least—because he turns out to be somethingth-cousin to my mother-in-law (another detail I've forgotten over the years I've known him).

Armed with all the details on his Perry County website, I began cross-checking my tree, adding what had been, up to this point, missing. Before I knew it, I was flying through the generations, working my way back down to the present, adding all the descendants of those Metzger ancestors. I saw surnames flash by my eyes as the work progressed, faster and faster. I saw Fink—a name intertwined with our Perry County families more than once over the centuries. I found Fenton, a new one for this tree. And then I saw Kline. That made me stop.

Somehow, in seeing surnames of strangers in this tree, I couldn't help but start thinking of others I knew with the same surname. Not those "dead people" that genealogists claim they like to "collect." But real people. From our own lives. Like my husband's good friend by that same surname, who recently lost his battle with a brain tumor.

That "What If" mood crept over me: what if good friends were also cousins, but didn't even know it? After all, we found an Ijams descendant emigrated from Ohio landing up in the very same California city where my Air Force brat husband eventually ended up. I've heard stories of best friends—who knew each other all their lives—discovering just recently that they were also cousins. It happens. A friend of mine emailed a Find A Grave volunteer, asking whether the volunteer might have more information than what he posted on her great grandmother's entry. "Wait. That's my great grandmother," the volunteer replied. They never knew each other, even though they grew up in the same town. This stuff happens.

Considering I might have entered into a feverish reverie, I thought better of trying to pursue that rabbit trail for the day. A little sleep might be in order. But I'll tuck that thought away for a better day. One never knows.

Above: "Autumn Roadside," 1918 oil on canvas by American landscape painter, Willard Leroy Metcalf; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wandering Through the Web—Again

It may be that I'm simply not ready to give up yet on a hopeless quest.

It may have sounded discouraging—to you, at least, if not to me, as well—in reading my post the other day about my unsuccessful attempts to locate any records confirming whatever became of the missing Margaret Tully.

Margaret, if you remember, was last seen in the tiny town of Paris, Ontario, at the time of the 1861 census. She was single and living in the home of her parents. Well, amend that: only her dad, Denis, was still there. Her mother—another Margaret—had already disappeared from view. Inexplicably. I presume she's dead.

The younger Margaret, however, had no such excuse. She was only eighteen. Barring flu—and, after my personal bout with that ailment this week, I can understand how it would tend to make people disappear—there should have been no reason for her not to be there. At home. With the rest of her siblings. Making life much easier for this researcher.

But no. Margaret must have had other ideas. Perhaps it was marriage that spirited her away from the Tully home, as I can find no evidence of her being buried with her fellow good Catholics at the church cemetery. Marriage records, however, present their own set of problems, as I've already noted as well.

I can't stop myself, though. I had to keep at it. And why not? Remembering the advice I give to my beginning genealogy students, I decided to wander through the Internet to check out what offerings there might be of a broader, historical perspective. If I can't find Margaret, perhaps at least I can educate myself about the setting the Irish-immigrant Tully family chose as their home between 1850 and 1870.

I started out by googling the phrase, "History of Paris, Ontario" and followed it up with a similar entry for "County of Brant." Right away, I was pointed to the website of The Paris Museum and Historical Society. I assure you, if we weren't on the verge of winter temperatures, realizing that they hold a local archival collection that would be of great interest to me would have made me want to hop on a plane and head to Canada immediately.

Instead, discovering that The Paris Museum and Historical Society hosts a Facebook page only meant I lost a few hours flipping through the many photos posted on their site there. Of course, not all pre-dated the 1900s, but there were enough of the earlier pictures to give me an idea of what the place might have looked like, back when Margaret was a teenager coming of age in Paris.

My foray onto Google also led me to some local history books. Of course, it would be unlikely that our humble farmers, the Tully family, would be included in the litany of the town's who's who. But books such as these are helpful to give a sense of what life was like for our ancestors. Two volumes of At the Forks of the Grand have been published—the first one originally issued in 1956, followed in 1982 with its sequel—and cover the history of Paris from 1793 through the late 1930s.

While of course these volumes are too recent to be included in public domain digitized book collections such as those at Hathi Trust or Internet Archive, I did find a link on their library's website to some photos of that era. At least, that gives a sense of the ambience of the time.

Likewise, googling "History of Brant County" yielded another book of interest—though again lacking any entries for our direct Tully family in their biographical sketches. Thanks to Google Books, I could access the 1883 volume, The History of the County of Brant, Ontario and scroll through its biographical entries. Still, no word on the Tully family.

Continuing on my worldwide web tour, it just so happened that I stumbled upon an old GenWeb entry for Brant County, Ontario, which happened to include a transcription of that very volume I had just located on Google Books.

In addition, on that same site, I happened to find a collection dubbed "The Ontario Vital Statistics Project." Remember my discovery of the marriage listings on Rootsweb the other day? Well, this is the rest of the collection. Handily, it contained not only marriage listings, but also death records—all, mind you, transcribed by volunteers. If a name wasn't included in the listing, it might simply be because no volunteer had transcribed and posted it. Although there were a few Tullys among the decedents on that list, our Tully family members, unfortunately, were not among those listed. Lack of volunteers? Or sign of no Tullys buried in Paris?

Back at the Brantford library, I discovered a Birth, Marriage, Death Search Index and decided to take it for a spin. You can imagine the predictable result: none of our Tully family showed up.

Perhaps that might be a signal for some to lay aside this search quest and await a better day for digitized results. I'm not sure I'm ready to do that—yet. For one thing, this second foray into the world of Search added some helpful resources to my list of finding aids—and, hopefully, someone else needing to research this same locale will read this entry and find the listings useful, too. Another point is that it gives me a broader perspective of the history and culture of the place our family once called home. Any family history project needs that type of perspective; a mere litany of names and dates is compelling to almost no one.

But it may have provided me a nudge in a different direction, as well. Granted, there are holes in the available documentation in that region for that time period, so this isn't conclusive, but there may be a good possibility that Margaret either moved with the rest of her family when they left Canada for more promising futures in the cities of the northern United States, or that she married someone before the rest of the family left, and settled in a part of Canada just outside the realm of Paris and Brant County.

Maybe, some day we'll know, for sure.


Above: "The Sisters," 1921 oil on canvas by American Impressionist artist, Edmund Charles Tarbell; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Are Genealogists Introverts?

With the arrival of Fall—and, with it, the obligatory accompaniment of germs, sniffles, and ailments—I suppose it was no surprise that I paid my dues early with a mandatory day spent in bed. And since I simply cannot sleep twenty four hours straight, it also meant spending a good amount of time with my face in a book.

My current read is a 2012 New York Times best seller—I told you I was behind the curve in my backlog of reading material—written by corporate attorney and negotiations consultant Susan Cain: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Not that I'm finished with it, already. Another aspect of my personal manifesto is that I revel in reading slowly; I want to suck all the essence out of a book. Flying through the pages simply can't accomplish that. So, in all that time since I first mentioned reading the book, I've managed to only conquer the first hundred pages. Hint: over another two hundred some-odd pages to go.

I offer that as a caveat, in case my observations today seem premature to those already in the know about this volume. Still, what the author is saying has gotten me thinking. And you know the route my thoughts will take have to do with my passion: genealogy. In particular, genealogical societies and their place in this post-Bowling Alone world.

After gleaning Susan Cain's definition of introvert—after all, any good debater must first define her terms—I happened upon a statement that made me perk up and think about its application:
Connecting people to fix the world over time is the deepest spiritual value you can have.

That statement was attributed to a man who, for seventeen years of his adult life, was a systems engineer for IBM. Before that, he confessed to interests in dinosaurs, chess and physics. One could think of a cerebral science devotee as someone likely to "fix the world over time." And yet, as Cain puts it in the hypothetical if-you-sat-next-to-him-on-the-plane scenario, he would not be one of those chatty, put-you-at-ease types of extroverts we all see as successful leaders.

In fact, his claim to "fix the world" might only indirectly have come from his skills as an engineer. That aspect provided the process, but it was the content—and the platform that universalized that content—that comprises his claim to fame. This nose-in-a-book engineer has managed to be the means for helping stranded families find homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He was the influence behind helping New York City commuters find rides during the 2005 transit strike in that city. He has, indeed, found a way to beneficially connect people.

The man behind those accomplishments—making everyday life a little more bearable, or at least a bit more convenient—is Craig Newmark. If that's not a name you recognize, the device he created will be: Craigslist.

Regardless of what negative remarks you may have read about Craigslist users, Craigslist clocked in as the seventh-largest English language website in the world a few years back. Not bad for an introvert with a goal of "connecting people to fix the world over time."

And Susan Cain's conclusion after sharing that vignette about one introvert?
Social media has made new forms of leadership possible for scores of people who don't fit the [extrovert leadership] mold.

But what about us? You know, those genealogists who prefer sequestering ourselves in the back corners of research libraries? Are we introverts?

If introversion were a brand, its advertising buzz words might include "reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned." At least, those are Susan Cain's labels (I cheated and took a peek at the back of the book—page 269, if you're wondering). Of course, that shopping list might not be what each of us introverts ordered. Humankind spans a wide spectrum of both cultural and psychological expressions. But most of us know where we stand, whether provided with labels or not.

It seems to me that many of the people that pursue their family history fall within this more quiet realm. Granted, we can get really jazzed about finding a long-sought document that affirms connection of one brick-wall ancestor to a specific family, but for the most part—other than said shouting and Snoopy-dancing—we tend to be quiet researchers who can muster an incredible amount of concentration in pursuing our quest.

So, let's fast-forward from the genealogist, gladly plying his or her solitary research skills in the leading libraries and archives of the world, to the potential member of a local genealogical society. Assuming that said researcher is an introvert, what beneficial reasons can be offered to coax said solitary researcher into joining up with other like-minded folk to form a local society?

Does the solitary researcher get the feeling of being submerged in a sea of gregariousness upon walking into a meeting of your local society? What can be done to mitigate that overwhelming feeling?

I like Susan Cain's observation that, unlike the mode of traditional leadership—seen incorrectly by many to be the sole domain of the extrovert—social media is opening up new avenues for collaborative work, allowing introverts to become part of the conversation. Craig Newmark being a capital example.

Cain also brought up the concept of "Connectors," a term she borrowed from Malcolm Gladwell's writings, which he offered as people with a "special gift for bringing the world together." Cain believes it is possible, through a form of quiet strength, to accomplish this goal of bringing the "world" together as an introvert, too. While I have yet to encounter her explanation of just how this can be accomplished—I am, after all, just shy of devouring those first hundred pages of her book—I look forward to exploring how to conduct genealogical society meetings so that the more vociferous among our members won't co-opt those less extroverted.

One avenue I think has the most promise: special interest groups, where a subset of a society's membership gathers to explore one specific research interest. I've seen some societies offer groups focused on research techniques for specific countries, ethnic groups or regions—for instance, British Isles, or African-American. I've also noticed special interest groups focused on process-oriented goals: using various tech solutions to research, or a family history writers' group.

No matter what the research domain of the group, by virtue of its smallness and focus, it ushers in a more intimate setting allowing members to ease into a more relaxed level of participation. This is much better suited to the introvert (although sometimes a challenge for the facilitator who needs to balance the contributions of those more than willing to monopolize conversations with those whose tentative offerings could so easily be run over by insistent volume).

And what about Cain's observation that online avenues—her example was social media—can afford the more reticent of our members an equal footing in participation? With genealogical societies seeing a growth in non-local membership—our northern California group includes members from Virginia and Florida, for instance—perhaps online chats about specific topics might be the vehicle to engage members from far-flung reaches of the continent in discussion with fellow members they might otherwise never have the opportunity to meet.

No wonder Facebook genealogical interest groups are flourishing! That's a perfect example of Cain's surmising that online conversations may open doors of participation for members who might otherwise shy away from sharing their work.

While what we are doing as we explore these online utilities at our fingertips may not be as much a case of "fixing the world" as that accomplished by participants of Craigslist, for instance, we are entering a world of possibilities for expanding the services of genealogical societies. And, considering many of our potential constituency see themselves firmly rooted in the realm of the introvert, this may be a timely development for genealogical societies.

Above: "The Letter," painting by American Impressionist artist Edmund Charles Tarbell; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Headed to SLIG

It's official: I'm finally registered for SLIG 2016. That's the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the "week-long intensive educational experience" presented annually by the Utah Genealogical Association. The program will be celebrating its twenty first year with this upcoming session—and I intend to be there to celebrate with them!

While registration for this January event opened a few months ago—and though the event is still almost three months in the future—the course I wanted to take was completely sold out by the time I headed to the registration page. So now you understand why I say I'm "finally" registered.

It was only thanks to immediately grabbing that waiting list option that I eventually found my way in—and actually, I hardly expected to see the email telling me I made it off the waiting list and onto the pending-registration list. (The joyful bearer of that news has become my new best friend—and it doesn't hurt that good-thoughts-generator to realize she has the same name as my sister.)

I'll be taking the genetic genealogy course with Blaine Bettinger—The Genetic Genealogist for those who read his blog—which probably explains why the rush to sign up for his class. In addition, the class will have assists from team members CeCe Moore (blogging at Your Genetic Genealogist) and Angie Bush, who recently presented a day-long seminar for a genealogical society near my home.

Yes, I realize I've already spent hours in conference sessions and seminars on this topic, but I'm hoping this focused, hands-on week will help with progress on my specific research goals. Remember those bi-monthly tallies I keep doing? The ones bemoaning my inability to find connections with my matrilineal mystery exact-match cousin (not to mention those other nine-hundred-plus autosomal matches)? Yeah, that's the stuff I'll be peppering my instructors with, over that week in January.

Of course, I'm not going to just sit still and put all my genetic genealogy learning on hold until then. There's so much to learn, so much to do. Besides, you think I can wait until January for answers I might uncover sooner? I'm operating on the theory that what I learn now will leave room—and time—for me to advance even further, once I get a face to face audience with the ones most likely to know the rest of the answers to my questions.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Remembering That
Genealogical Friend: Google

Whenever my college-aged daughter is advising her classmates on study problems, she likes to remind them to consult "Doctor Google." Even though I'm no longer in a degree program at a university, I like to remind myself of her advice. You see, Doctor Google is not only the college student's guide. Doctor Google has wonderful suggestions for genealogical research as well.

Take my quandary, mentioned the other day, about the missing Margaret Tully: did she die young? Or did she marry and disappear from view?

Now, we all know that not everything genealogical has magically migrated to the oft-touted online services marketed to people like us. I'm reminded of the poster created for the California Genealogical Society, which says exactly that:
Genealogy Research: Internet is just the tip of the iceberg; most research is done in libraries, archives, courthouses.

Since I don't have a trip to Paris, Ontario, coming up in the near future, though, I'll have to see what can be found online in the meantime.

My first inclination, when encountering a brick wall impeding my research progress, is to look at the finding aids available online. Besides searching the catalog at, that means reading through recommended wikis at

Over the past few days, that's exactly what I did. Since I knew Margaret was still in her family's home for the 1861 Canadian census, that became my starting point for testing one of those two hypotheses: that she got married.

Granted, there are many records out there, in all that vast volume of not-yet-indexed resources on Just finding one does not mean I have reached the end of my trail. The next step means taking a close look at just what is included in any possible collection on their website.

For instance, the first stop on my wiki tour was an entry called, "Canada Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)." That sounds like a promising file, doesn't it? Looking over the entry on the wiki, it turns out the answer is a resounding, "No." Not, at least, for me; I'm seeking marriage records for the province of Ontario, for which an asterisk marks the matrix, advising me that I need to look for the entries in an entirely different collection. (It would have been nice if the page had included hyperlinks to the specific collections referenced in that note.)

Not to worry. Later in that wiki, under "Related Websites," a link is provided to familiar territory: The Olive Tree Genealogy's page on "Canada Births, Deaths, Marriages Exchange." This address provides a place where researchers can voluntarily share information on births, baptisms, deaths or marriages in the stated provinces in Canada.

I selected Ontario for my search at Olive Tree, chose the entry for marriages, and clicked on the letter for Margaret's surname, which brought me to the page of listings.

Right away, I saw two reasons why this would not be the answer for my search. First, it contained information about certificates registered in Canada. That meant my Margaret's theoretical date of marriage would likely fall before that date at which registrations were required. Indeed, searching for earliest dates on the listing, I couldn't find anything dated earlier than 1868. Second, because this was a volunteer-driven project, it meant there would only be resources placed there by other researchers also pursuing the same surnames. Judging by past experience of the number of people researching the same lines as mine, I had that feeling mine likely would not be among them. Sure enough, it wasn't.

Back to the FamilySearch wikis, I kept clicking through hyperlinks and searching until I found more possibilities. One was a wiki entitled, "Ontario Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)." Unlike its similarly-entitled counterpart, this page lacked the detail. My first caution came with the introductory line, "This index is not complete for any particular place or region."

Oh oh.

Continuing my click-through extravaganza, I found another wiki for "Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927." Again, that date: too late. Still, I kept reading, and found a link to another wiki, "Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records." Now I was getting closer, right?

Not quite. The beauty of looking over these wikis before launching into something like a browse-only collection at FamilySearch is to determine whether the record of interest would even be included in the collection. This wiki listed the dioceses included. Mine was not among them.

The wiki once again warned, "Civil registration began in Ontario in 1869 but was not fully implemented until 1930."

Until 1930?!

I consider myself warned. Dejected, I didn't stop there, though. I decided to brief myself on the basics of acquiring vital records in Ontario, Canada, with one more stop on my wiki tour, "Ontario Vital Records." There, under the heading for "Marriage Records," I spotted this one hopeful observation:
From 1858 to 1869, the province required the counties to keep marriage registers. Clergymen of all faiths were supposed to record information from their parish registers in county marriage books.

Could it be possible that I might be able to find an answer to my Tully marriage hypothesis, after all?

It seemed I had reached the end of the line on the informative wikis on this topic at FamilySearch. But I hardly had all the direction I needed to complete my quest. That's where Doctor Google came in. I had to have somewhere else to search for this generic genealogy question. And why not? May I remind you of all the years of volunteer entries by genealogy enthusiasts, tucking away their research findings in websites as obscure as GeoCities, RootsWeb, GenForum, GenWeb and other now virtually discarded previous genealogy playgrounds. There has to be some way to tiptoe around this digital universe. And Google is just the way to do that!

I played around with a few search terms and ran across this old site hosted by RootsWeb: "Ontario Marriage Registrations, 1800-1927." While the entries are spotty, date-wise, it does seem to include some entries from Brant County, the county jurisdiction where the Tully family settled. Just in case, I also took a look at the marriages post-1869 registration date.

Sadly, no matter where I looked on the pages of this unexpected gift of a website, I couldn't find any possible Tully marriages. But that was just fine. Even though the results upon arrival are disappointing, the journey to get there taught me one thing: don't forget to Google your question—even if it is a genealogical research question. Google does genealogy, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wishing For Some "Beginner's Luck"

It must be the nature of things to get bogged down in the details, the more you know about a subject. When you're fresh to a topic, there's so much to learn. Facts fly at you with delightful abandon, and you are ready to absorb a whole universe of new information. Once you learn the details, understand the protocol, and are thoroughly equipped to explore the topic properly, progress seems to grind to a halt.

At least, that's the way it seems, now that I'm trying to make progress in the four family lines I'm tracking on a bi-monthly basis. Here it is, the second half of the month, and all I can say for myself is that the greatest ground covered lies at the point of the most recent discoveries. Even that seems glacially slow.

Those two recent finds had to do, first, with the DNA test that confirmed my husband's third cousin once removed on his paternal Tully line. Then, on my mother's maternal side, I stumbled upon an old genealogy book which provided me another angle in looking at her Taliaferro ancestors from South Carolina and Virginia. At least that gives me a double-check on reports from other hundred-year-old genealogies—but you know I'll also be cross-checking those authors' works with the documentation that is so much more easily found in today's online world.

That said, the progress still seems abysmally slow. For instance, in reviewing that Tully line, thanks to the DNA confirmation, I only picked up seven more entries, bringing the total count in the Stevens tree up to 917. At the same time, progress over at Family Tree DNA—the company I use for our DNA testing—seemed to slow to a snail's pace as well: a total of 529 matches with the last few added (only seven this time) as of October 12. Really, it's the luck of the draw with DNA tests: if your as-yet-unknown distant cousins don't happen to test, no matches for you!

On my maternal side, the book that I credit with super-charging my progress is actually a volume of reprints from the William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, accessed online through Right now, I'm in the midst of reviewing the series of "Carter Genealogy" articles published there in a series by Dr. Joseph L. Miller. It's been handy—albeit tedious—to come alongside his reports and cross check them with documentation available online. As I confirm records, they get added to my maternal tree—a process which admittedly speeds up the work, but only when I can find the corroborating evidence. From that point, the next task is to work my way back down to the present—a sort of reverse genealogy—to capture a genealogical picture of the possible descendants that may people my readout of personal autosomal DNA matches.

It is no surprise, then, to realize that this was where I witnessed the bulk of my progress in the last two weeks. My maternal tree jumped 269 entries, to land me at a grand total of 5,668. However, just like my husband's DNA progress, I only gained six fresh matches there, for a total of 934 as of the last arrival on October 12.

As has been the case for the last few months, there was absolutely no progress on my paternal line—the mystery line with unsubstantiated name changes and other inexplicable records and notes. Oh, how I'd love to uncover what was going on in that family—both before and after their emigration from Prussia. Not surprisingly, there were also no additional DNA matches on that line—and there haven't been any since mid-July.

Thankfully, on my husband's maternal side—the early settlers in the brand-new state of Ohio—I was able to add a modest increase. I confirmed thirty one additional individuals in the extended Flowers family, bringing the total in that tree to 2,268. Because this family has been in the country for so long, I suspect several of my husband's DNA matches may reach back into this line, and I have several contacts pending confirmation of exactly how the match lines up.

Still, a few here and a few there seems discouragingly slow. I keep waiting for some breakthrough, not realizing that I've already had some gratifying discoveries, already. I guess I'm just longing for those easy-rolling days that some people attribute to "beginner's luck." It would be nice to break through a few brick walls here or there, since I seem to be stockpiling them!

Above: "An October Morning," by Irish impressionist landscape and portrait painter, Walter Frederick Osborne, in 1885; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reaching Through Those Cracks

Is it possible to retrieve genealogical information that had slipped through the proverbial cracks in the record-keeping systems of the past? In particular, is it possible to find what became of a missing female ancestor whose coming of age coincided with her disappearance from all public notice?

I'm thinking, in particular, of the sister of my husband's great grandfather, John Tully. Admittedly, Margaret Tully is not a direct ancestor, so it seems hardly worth the effort to fuss over this—but only to those driven to zero in solely on their direct lines. I, on the other hand, am pursuing a policy of reverse genealogy, seeking all the descendants of our ancestors to better equip me in the process of identifying our genetic genealogy matches through DNA testing. So it's important to me to know what became of Margaret Tully, especially if she had any descendants.

All I know about Margaret Tully, at this point, is that she was born in 1844 in "Tauntina," the hill above the tiny village of Ballina in northern County Tipperary in Ireland. I can see that now from the digitized capture of the original Catholic Parish Registers, thankfully offered online by the National Library of Ireland—although, wouldn't you know it, the very line of her baptismal record is partially obscured by a frustrating fold in the page of the register. Thankfully, someone had also transcribed the record online in the Flannery Clan website, providing the date as 10 September 1844. The original record also provided a hint of relatives when it listed the sponsors as Mick Tully and Mary Gleeson.

The next point after that, Margaret showed up in the 1851 Canadian census in the Brant County household of her parents in the village of Paris. Though age eighteen at the time, she was still present in the family home for the 1861 census.

After that, who knows what happened. Her mother was already missing from the second census, and after that point, I lost track of her father. Her older brother Michael had already married and had one son—reliably named after Michael's father, as a good Irish son would have done—and was soon leaving town with his young family for Detroit, Michigan. Margaret's brothers Patrick, John and William followed that prompting to emigrate, and headed for Chicago. Older sister Johanna had already married and, though later than their brothers, had also headed west—in their case, first to Winnipeg, then to Dakota Territory.

But where was Margaret?

Of course, I'm not the only one facing this quandary. There are many researchers puzzling over their maiden aunts—or were they?—who seemed to disappear just as they turned that marriageable age.

Then, too, there are others—those resourceful researchers—who never let a minor inconvenience like a burned courthouse hinder their progress. I like to think of collections like the Sam Fink collection, assembled to replace missing marriage records after the disastrous fire in Chicago, and remind myself that there are work-arounds out there because there have always been hackers in the genealogical community. It seems our minds are wired for that. You know that overcoming spirit has become our heritage when you read stories like blogger Dara's tale of using dog license registers to confirm her ancestor's address in the record vacuum of early 1900s Ireland.

In my Margaret Tully's case, I have an additional pull by virtue of the several photographs sent from Canada to the Tully family, once they immigrated to Chicago. Could it be that Margaret was left behind, because she married someone back in Brant County, Ontario? There was someone in that vicinity—and later in the Hamilton area—who kept in touch with the now-American branch of the family. Who were they?

Frustratingly, it turns out that if Margaret did indeed marry, hers would be one of those ceremonies not likely to appear in civil records. Information on some of the holdings at indicate that the Catholic marriage records don't include the likely diocese for our Tully family. Then, though the dates of civil registrations may look promising, that was a great plan—but not necessarily the way things worked out in real life.

Likewise, looking over the holdings at for the Brant County area of Ontario doesn't give me much hope for success. It seems only some parts of the province were routinely covered during the likely years of marriage for someone Margaret's age.

Thankfully, FamilySearch's wiki provides some tips for those failing to unearth the desired marriage record within the province of Ontario. There may well be a way to find an answer to my wild goose chase—after all, Margaret could have just died young—but it will likely require reverting back to snail mail and waiting six weeks for my self-addressed, stamped envelope to find its way back to me.

Above: An unidentified man stands, hat in hand, for this full length portrait at Farmer Brothers, Photographers, in Hamilton, Ontario; from the private collection passed down to family from Edna Tully McCaughey.

Friday, October 16, 2015

When the Source
Doesn't Have That Source Document

Searching through all the ancestral lines connected to my husband's Tully family brought up an important point: some of those near-invisible women among his ancestors need to be found. But how? Once a young woman no longer shows up in her parents' household, unless she shows up in the church cemetery under a headstone confirming her maiden name, the only conclusion we could reach—at least in those bygone years of previous centuries—was that she married and disappeared into genealogical oblivion.

Unless, of course, we are gifted with a hint as to that married name.

In the case of John Tully's siblings, our review of the family showed us his brothers' names—now, even including the eldest brother (at least, among those I've been able to find), thanks to confirmation by DNA testing. Our Tully tree, for that generation, sports John's brothers Michael, Patrick and William.

As for John's sisters, we've only been fortunate to have clues for one: Johanna, who married fellow Irish immigrant Edward Ryan somewhere in Ontario, Canada—likely in Paris in Brant County, where the Tully family settled before the 1851 census.

But what of the other sister? Although I know her name was Margaret, and that the 1851 census showed her born in Ireland about 1844, after her appearance in the subsequent tally in 1861—still single and living at home—I never could find any mention of her again.

Of course, the same could be said about her mother—also called Margaret, a name oft-repeated in this family, as we've already seen—as I've not been able to track the rest of her life's story, either.

It would seem the logical approach might be to contact the local Catholic church in the town where the family lived. Even though Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church celebrated its first Mass on Christmas Day in 1857—in plenty of time for any possible marriage of the younger Margaret Tully, and certainly before either of them would have died—and even though that church is still in existence, it apparently has no record of any such Margaret Tully.

I know this because my husband's now-confirmed third-cousin-once-removed, herself a genealogy enthusiast, took it upon herself to write a letter requesting this information. I have a copy of the letter she received in response.

So...the church which the Tully family attended since its establishment in 1857 would not be able to provide any documentation of this Margaret Tully.

Nor could the cemetery—either via its entry on Find A Grave or Now what?

In this awkward research moment when the source document required is too soon for governmental record-keeping, but not, ahem, available at the source, a researcher begins to sense that sinking pit-of-the-stomach feeling some people experience when their genealogical trail leads them to the very county courthouse that burned down. It does seem like the end of the trail.

But it isn't. At least, not all the time. I've heard encouraging stories of locating alternate records—the Sam Fink files in Chicago come to mind here, but there are other resources devised by clever researchers in a number of locations.

One of those local resources that comes to mind is the material housed in county genealogical societies' collections. I know our local genealogical society has spent decades developing their own lists and finding aids. What about Brant County, Ontario?

Sometimes, those materials are in other repositories, like local libraries or historical societies. Occasionally, a local museum will house an archival collection. Or the nearby university.

Since Paris, Ontario, is now a town of only twelve thousand people, they may not have the resources to assemble a large mass of records from their local history. But it is certainly worth checking into.

The obvious alternative, though, is the county's genealogical society—which, in this case, operates on a system in which counties form branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Brant County is one of those branches. Either for a modest research fee or through other membership opportunities, it may be possible to mine those local resources and discover a clue to fill in the blanks where those missing source documents are keeping me in the dark.  
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