I don’t suppose there are many genealogy hobbyists who share my proclivity to follow bunny trails. Most researchers want to push the envelope farther back in time, not sideways.
When I am faced with the temptation to examine the relations of in-laws, though, my weak-kneed response yields rather handily to the slightest lure. And deeper down the rabbit hole I go….
Take, for instance, that wonderful collection of Tully photographs sent to me this summer for perusal. “See if anyone in your family can identify these photos,” my benefactress offered, as I packed for my trip to Chicago.
Wonderful offer. Unfortunately, I found no takers. Those pictures remain as unidentified as they were two months ago. All, that is, but the ones already bearing inked legends on their reverse.
And so, I take the bait. Follow the bunny trail. Take the plunge down the rabbit hole. Whatever you wish to call it, I got hooked. I started researching someone else’s family.
Today, I puzzled over this photo. It was labeled “Coz Agnes,” ostensibly by Edna Tully McCaughey herself. The minute I set eyes on that entry, my heart leaped. “Why, that must be Edna’s cousin, Agnes Tully,” I concluded. That would be a serendipitous find, indeed, to receive a photograph of my husband’s grandmother in her youth, from someone in Minnesota whom I don’t even know.
But it wasn’t to be. The writing continued: “Aunt Julia’s daughter; Aunt Julia children: Michael, Sarah, Charles, Julia, Maria, Agnes.” That would never do; my Agnes’s mother was a Catherine. As I was to find out only a few days ago via Ancestry.com records, Edna’s “Aunt Julia” was actually her great-aunt, her maternal grandmother’s sister, Julia Sullivan Dockery. This photo’s subject, then, would have been Agnes Dockery, born about 1873 in Wisconsin, soon-to-be bride of George A. O’Brien in 1899.
The photo’s inscription didn’t make life that easy, though. Underneath that hasty listing of Aunt Julia’s children, the legend continued: “Aunt Ann McCabe children: Pete, John, Sarah.”
Wait. Aunt Ann? What did McCabe have to do with Dockery? I was totally lost. Why did she include this note along with the other on the back of a picture with only one subject?
At this point, the confusion got the best of me. I had to figure out who the McCabe family was. Searching online, I found an entry on Rootsweb of a viable connection.
At least, my mind has been put at ease over relational issues. I now know the connection between the Dockery family and the McCabe family in someone else’s Sullivan line—but the nagging question still remains: whose likeness is this? Can I be satisfied with the first explanation on the page? Or deterred by the additional information? I may have to go hunting until I can form a quorum of Dockery descendants willing to vote on the issue.
Perhaps the Chesire Cat will assist me....