Friday, October 30, 2015

A Tale of Two Julias

When it comes to genealogical searches, it seems nothing can be simple. Or completed.

I was irked, the other day, to find an unidentified newspaper clipping—obviously concerning the passing of a family member—for which no year or publication title had been provided.

Of course, family in the midst of mourning don't stop to think, "I'll be sure to add all the information here, so my descendants can complete that citation properly."

You know I had to find the source for that little discovery.

So I went looking for any records of a Julia Tully, born in Michigan around 1870, who subsequently moved to the Chicago area before her early passing in—as we found out, thanks to an entry at—1890.

Online resources weren't very cooperative on this count. I figured, since her death record estimated her age to be about nineteen, that I could easily find her in the 1880 census. Wrong. I found two Julia Tullys: one born three years before and one born three years after my guestimate for Julia's arrival. The older Julia was daughter of James and Roseanna Tulley. The younger Julia was daughter of Thomas and Ellen Tully.

None of those names, of course, was in my Tully database. You knew it would be this way.

Trying the reverse approach—looking at my own database and seeing which Tully daughter might have been born around that target year of the obituary Julia's arrival—didn't yield much information, either. I did find a Tully daughter born in 1870—in Michigan, even—which would fit. But her parents—Michael and Margaret Dowd Tully—decided to call her Johanna, not Julia.

Since the main thing that irked me about this mystery clipping had been the unsourced origin, I figured I might as well try my hand at locating a duplicate in one of the online newspaper archives. I needed search no further than GenealogyBank, where—once again—I found two candidates for our Julia Tully.

Both segments were from newspaper articles published in 1890. Both named a Julia Tully. Only problem was: one was for a wedding announcement:
Miss Julia A. Tully and Mr. T. M. Tobin were joined in marriage last Wednesday morning at St. Patrick's Church by Father Van de Laar. Miss Julia Jones was bridesmaid and Mr. Thomas Tully was best man.

Likely, if Thomas Tully was best man for this Julia's wedding, he was her brother and son of the Thomas Tully I found in the 1880 census. Of course, given that the wedding announcement was published in the Daily Inter Ocean on Sunday, September 7, it's a pretty clear hint that this wasn't our Julia, whose funeral notice indicated her passing less than a week prior. Nix that set of records. No use struggling to see how Thomas, Ellen and this Julia Tully might have fit into the family tree.

However, in searching for the source of our newspaper clipping, GenealogyBank turned up another possibility: a brief notice published on September third in the Chicago Herald, with just the slightest variation—just enough for our purposes—to the wording found in our copy of the notice:
JULIA TULLY, Sept. 1, at Pullman, age 20 years, beloved daughter of Margrett Tully. Funeral from the Holy Rosary Church, thence to Mt. Olivet. Detroit and Cleveland papers please copy.

If she had to be a Tully in our family, I suppose it is no surprise to discover she was the daughter of a Margaret. That, essentially, told me next to nothing. She could be from any part of our Tully family—we did, at last count, sport a grand total of five by the name of Margaret, but I think I need to add a few more to the official tally.

However, a little more searching through the Chicago newspapers of that time period yielded one more clue: a funeral notice published in the Chicago Herald on December 31, 1890—barely four months after Julia's—for another lost Tully child.
At Pullman, Dec. 29, WILLIAM TULLY, beloved son of Margaret and the late Michael Tully. Funeral from his home at 9:30 o'clock this morning, and from the Holy Rosary Church at 10 o'clock, thence to Mount Olivet.

Of course, that doesn't confirm that Julia's mother Margaret is one and the same as William's mother Margaret. But at least we now know whose wife Margaret was.

And, pulling up that 1890 death record for William Tully, we discover two matching items: first, that he was born in Detroit, Michigan—just like Julia Tully—and second, that his address at the time of his passing was also at 217 Stephenson Street.

Looking a bit into the future after those two dreadful losses for that one Tully family, we find the widow Margaret in the 1900 census in the home of her married daughter—yet another Margaret—on that same Stephenson street. Bereft of all her six children but this daughter and one other survivor—likely her son Patrick—Margaret herself succumbed and joined her family at Mount Olivet shortly after her passing on 16 May, 1909.

While that may seem like a tidy package in confirming just who that Julia might have been, it still doesn't help me with one problem—and it creates yet another question in that nagging inquisitive researcher's mind.

The problem is: where was Julia in all the records prior to her passing? The child showing in this family for that approximate date of birth was named Johanna, not Julia. What became of Johanna? Was Johanna really Julia?

The question—brought on by all those newspaper editors constantly advising each other to "please copy"—is: Why Cleveland? Detroit I can understand; a number of the extended Tully family passed through Detroit in the long process of emigrating from Canada. But which Tully family members were living in Cleveland in 1890 who needed to be notified of a relative's passing in Chicago? Is it possible I will find more, as yet unidentified, Tully cousins in Cleveland?

There is always just one more thing to be discovered, no matter how thorough that search has been conducted. And yet, would we have it any other way?   


  1. You know, the Irish are funny people. I can absolutely accept "Julia" as possibly a NICKNAME for Johanna. Why? Because my Irish Aunt Lillie was not Lillian -- she was Elizabeth. Teresa was called Tate. Mary was called Mae. And in a very non-Irish line of my family, a child named Columbia in one census later became Leanna.

    1. Our Tullys had a Mary who was called Mae, too, Wendy. Thanks for the reminder. I had even been trying to squint and see if a sloppily written "Johanna" could be mistaken for a "Julia," but knew it was no use. Who knows what runs through people's minds when they contrive those nicknames?!

  2. It truly never ends. With the onslaught of continually growing online databases, I suspect the great growing snowball of information will continue to both help us and keep us scrambling to piece it all together.

    1. Well, at least on this side of the tipping point for that "great growing snowball," at least I'm still able to cherry-pick the good stuff. It's always nice to know that, if we can't find it now, we can just make a note to remind ourselves to revisit the research problem in a few months...when there'll likely be an answer that wasn't there, before.

  3. I wonder if Pullman is still there - they used to have a rail car empire - that no longer exists..

    1. I understand it was a model town in its day. Who knows about now...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...