Monday, August 20, 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends

After explaining my Tully puzzle over family members all seeming to bear the same given names, I got a little research help from a reader.

The issue was how to pursue the descendants of one Mary Tully—if there were any.

It turns out there are.

Mary Hogan Tully’s passing was commemorated by the saving of one memento from her funeral by my husband’s grandmother Agnes Tully Stevens. From that, I launched into the sad rehearsal of her family members’ difficulties in life. While perusing our family histories is an apt reminder of how difficult times past could have been for our ancestors—even in “modern” America—it seems like Mary Hogan Tully’s family fared a little worse than some.

And yet, though some of her descendants disappeared into documentation’s deep voids, and others saw their descendants fulfilled by career rather than family, in the midst of sickness and turmoil, it appears that one Tully child emerged to lead a long and fruitful life.

It was Iggy—blogger Intense Guy—who found the link for me. True to his name, he tenaciously wrestles data until it cries “uncle”—and this time, he found an obituary for Mary Hogan Tully’s grandchild, Ruth M. Tully Franzen Werner. Though she was born in Chicago in 1913, and though she lived in a household and neighborhood ridden with tuberculosis, she herself made it to ninety three years of age.

Since her obituary is fairly recent and most likely contains names of descendants still living, in respect of their privacy, I’ll not be sharing a copy of that obituary. However, the gift of that resource has provided me with a link to some living distant cousins, once again courtesy of Iggy.

Family history research, done as a team effort, makes a lot of sense—if you can assemble a team of researchers with like genealogical goals. I’ve already met a few distant relatives with whom I share similar research goals, and from time to time, we are sure to sharpen each other’s iron. I’ve also benefited from online forum members who have shared from their resources.

I’ve particularly been eyeing the connection capabilities of and other online communities that are seeking to facilitate this type of research connection. Through Ancestry, I recently ran across another researcher who turns out to be a cousin of a cousin. Though this person is what my family likes to term an “outlaw,” I’m still glad to pass along the word to the other side of my family—serving somewhat as a midwife in birthing new family connections. Every little connection helps bring each of us closer to our own research goals. It also sharpens us as we share tips, resources and ideas on how to better tackle our brick walls and black sheep relatives. And those of us fortunate enough to be recipients of family keepsakes—especially photographs—can use digital capabilities to share copies with the multiplied number of descendants that come with each passing generation.

Many people have commented on how friendly genealogists are—and how keen they are to talk shop with anyone willing to listen. When we tap into that friendly tendency to help each other along with our resource—whether through official means like genealogical societies or through the more recent digital frontiers of online forums, wikis, or Facebook groups—we have the potential to accelerate our research results.


  1. You are more than welcome.

    I figure helping your search does several things:

    1) hones and sharpens my own searches (using a fresh target helps when your hit a brick wall - and you find something. It's encouragement in a form of "see, you can do it!"

    2) to express my thankfulness for the help you have offered me -

    3) to express my awe and appreciation for the effort you have poured into "finding your roots". When I search for some of your "folks" - I find your trail in forums all over (sometimes have to use "-tapestry" in my searches!) relentlessly looking (and endlessly helping others) with their searches. Its not escaped my attention that you've "been at it" for years - and tirelessly too. It's a privilege to know and be associated with you and your endeavor.

    1. Thank you so much, Iggy, for your kind and encouraging words. I'm glad to have been able to return the help, though in such small ways.

      Which brings up the thought about the synergy of corroboration. I think genealogy is definitely a "team sport"--even though most people think they are pursuing their data alone on their computer or in a library. It's when we join together to compare notes or share tactics that we make the most headway.

  2. I appreciate sharing in the successes of your research, especially when due to collaboration of other researchers. It really testifies as to how much we all need each other, and that the human family is waiting to be connected, whether through our genealogical roots, or just plain empathetic reaching. Your success is our success

    1. Brenda, you bring up such a vital point about collaboration. I think the genealogical community has done a lot to bring people together in research pursuits, but I also think we have many more aspects of collaboration yet to exploit.


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