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.