Friday, August 17, 2012

Why I Know There Are Others Out There

I’ve resumed muddling over what I feel are the missing Tullys out of the Ireland-to-Chicago bunch that I’ve been researching, thanks to the instigation provided by my husband’s grandmother’s papers. Agnes Tully Stevens had certainly saved an expansive collection of everything from significant documents to near-worthless ephemera (well, from anyone else’s viewpoint).

Add to that, I’ve been inspired to revisit the collection of unidentified photographs sent to me last year by the descendants of Agnes’ cousin, Edna Tully McCaughey. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up there, too.

So this week, while puzzling over the funeral-supplied thank you card for the enigmatic “Mrs. Mary Tully,” I’ve taken some time to wander through all my notes and databases. And I’ve stumbled across reminders of why I have this hunch I’m missing whole branches of this Tully family tree.

For starters, I’ve seen signatures and mentions of a “P. J. Tully” affixed to other Tully cousin marriage documents and photos. I have no idea who that P. J. Tully is—though I can feel fairly confident in any wager that the “P” stands for Patrick! While I’m still puzzled over this man’s identity within the family constellation, at least his existence in family papers shows me there is a P. J. Tully yet to be found.

So I must keep looking.

Another reminder surfaced this week, from the notes accompanying Edna Tully McCaughey’s photographs. It was a note from the back of a sweet mother-daughter portrait: 

Aunt Carrie wife of
Coz Patrick Tully
Auntie Maggie Tully
+daughter Maud Tully

When I first posted the picture, I noted my confusion over the reference—plus my frustration over not being able to locate any viable hits in all the usual online genealogy databases. I had thought surely a name like Maud would help me isolate the specific family connection I was seeking.

Give any search a year to percolate in this amazing milieu of document digitization and something is bound to show up.

And it has.

It partly uncovered itself thanks to a serendipitous discovery, while reviewing the 1861 census in the Canadian town the Tullys briefly called home while on their trek from Ireland to the United States. Sandwiched in between Agnes’ uncle Patrick and his bride-to-be, Mary Hogan, there was another Tully family. While I can’t say for sure that this Michael Tully family is related to my Tully line, with a firstborn son named the same as the patriarch of my Tully family, I thought maybe I could explore the possibilities.

Working backwards from a hunch is never a recommended, kosher way to approach this type of research, but I took the liberty to play in this playground. I’ll save the details of what I found for another day. For right now, suffice it to say I may have uncovered the mystery of “Coz Patrick” and his wife Carrie. And Maud and Maggie, too.

And yet, I can’t be all that sure that this cousin Patrick is the P. J. Tully I first set out to find. There may be even more to this story—and this family. But that’s the way that unwinding chain of relationships tempts us to research further and pursue even more family stories.


  1. Been there! Like you, I have often been frustrated by the nameless faces affixed to old albums. Then a year later an initial here, a note there, a document and POW - the fog lifts. That's what keeps me going.

    1. I love how these pieces do tend to fall together at some point over time. Love it when it feels like hitting the jackpot! I've heard a lot of people mention that it's this aspect of the research that is so enticing.

  2. There is no doubt that Patrick Tully (b. 26 Jul 1862 d. 7 Feb 1939) was this man:

    Blue Island, Kensington, and Riverdale (from the photograph) is a stone throw from the town Patrick died in.

    Patrick's wife was named Carrie and they had a daughter named what else, Margaret - who I presume they may have called Maud or even Maggie.

    The only "P J Tully" I can find living in Illinois is a Peter J - born in Scotland to Irish parents.

    1. Interesting to see the proximity of the photography studio to the death cert address for Patrick. I am pretty sure this is the right Patrick, but will pursue other records to connect this Michael-Patrick line to my John-Agnes Tully descent. I'm thinking it's time to go back to the parish microfilm I obtained from my local Family History Center (well, when it was still called that) over a decade ago. Now that I know more names to look for, that may lead me to even more connections.

      About P. J. Tully--I'm not sure I'd buy a Peter. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised to discover this Patrick had a middle initial J. But I'll need to find some documentation for this...and it's not likely I'll find it online...yet.


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