Monday, February 6, 2017

Yet Another Harry and Alice


In trying to determine the identity of the woman who sent a family photo album from Ireland in 1936, all we have to go on is the fact that the frontispiece included a Christmas greeting signed "Harry and Alice." That, plus several notes in the album's pages, identifying a young mother only as "Self."

It's my guess that "Self" and "Alice" are one and the same person. The only trouble is, this family—now that we've uncovered just who they were—seemed to have a love affair with the given name Alice. Indeed, there was even another woman identified as Alice in the album, itself.

My problem is, unless I can figure out who this Harry and Alice were, I will likely have a hard time determining just who it might have been who received the album from them—and thus, lack any means to speculate on just how that album made its way from County Cork, Ireland, to an antique shop located nearly halfway around the world.

While I want to use due diligence in my speculations—reasonably exhaustive search and all—I'm not beyond engaging in some quick and dirty thumbnail sketching along the way. (Not to worry, though—I'll always steer back to the tried and true path before finalizing any assertions.)

So, in one of my fever-crazed deliriums this weekend, I poked around what can be found on Ancestry for any trees containing our Hawkes family. Believe me, there are several to be had. Sadly, in the end, I couldn't work up enough confidence to buy their conclusions—but I want to use this detour to bring up a few observations.

First of all, if we are looking for Alices in the Hawkes family, there are several to be had. And not all of them are blood line descendants. If we take the given name Harry to actually be a nickname for the more proper Henry, lo and behold, the possibilities for cousins expand, as we find the Hawkes family was in love with this name for their progeny, as well.

Thus, not unsurprisingly, I ran across one member of the Hawkes family called Harry—to differentiate from his dad, who was also named Henry—who ended up marrying a woman named Alice. Et voilĂ , right? There we have it: Harry and Alice.

I ran across that tidbit while perusing those other Hawkes family trees on Ancestry. And as we all know, while Ancestry.com is a wonderful tool for building one's family tree, that does not mean everyone who uses it does so with the utmost of care for meticulously documenting all assertions.

But let's set that concern aside for the moment and consider the possibilities. If this assertion were correct, how would this Harry and Alice Hawkes relate to our anchor character for this pursuit? Let's go back to the line of descent we rehearsed a while ago about Penrose Hawkes. He was son of John Pim Penrose Hawkes of County Cork, Ireland, who in turn was son of Quayle Welsted (or Welstead) Hawkes.

From this same Quayle Welsted Hawkes, we've already observed the connection to the Alice we were studying last week. Her father, Thomas Gibbons Hawkes, was another son of this same man.

As it turns out, the Harry and Alice we are looking at today also tie in with another son of Quayle Welsted Hawkes. This time, though, the line of descent goes from the patriarch to his son Henry, and then—supposedly, according to this other tree's records—to Henry's son, nicknamed Harry. Harry, as it turned out, did not have a sister Alice. So he found an Alice to marry.

Once again depending on someone else's family tree, I found that this Harry was born in New York, about five years before Penrose was born in County Cork. And yes, Harry and Penrose would have been cousins. It's tempting to assume this would be the answer to our puzzle.

Except for two things. First, I can't really use something I haven't yet proved for myself. And second, this Harry and Alice had three sons. Not two daughters, as we've come to presume, based on all the cute photographs of Harry and "Self" in poses labeled "family group," along with two charming daughters. This other Harry and Alice had no sign of anyone in their immediate family named Ruby or Iris.

I bring this up for two points. First, as tempting as it is to use other family trees—yet as frowned upon as it is in proper research protocol—I'm not against using it as a tool to quickly steer me away from other possibilities which might, in the end, provide a fruitless chase. More importantly, as a second point, I try to view other researchers as trail blazers for their own family's pedigree, taking their information as suggestion (possibly with insight which I would otherwise be lacking). Taking this quick tour of the lay of the land in the Hawkes generations has shown me that it is rife with occurrences of Harrys and Alices. Oh, my.

While online resources in the United States have provided so many digitized documents to supercharge our genealogical research, we have to remember that we are inquiring into a family who, while partially immigrating to this country, still had many branches back in their homeland—and some which had left the island for England, apparently, during Ireland's war-torn era between the Easter Rising of 1916 and the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.

While we were able to gain some research headway using these American-based resources, our lack of further progress may be a small hint urging us to broaden our search horizons just a bit more. For that, tomorrow, we'll move our search across the pond to other, more productive venues.



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