Thursday, November 3, 2016

If at First You Don't Succeed,
You Can Always Wait

The only positive thought I can console myself with, when searching for ancestors but sadly not finding any, is that the most productive action I can take may be to wait.

That's how it's going to be, it looks like, with my attempt to locate any more details on our Kelly family of Lafayette, Indiana. As helpful as the county archives may have been, it seems every document that could have been found already was.

Oh, I did take a spin through a second online resource for newspaper archives—this time, using the collection available at GenealogyBank—but there was not much to be found there concerning any Kellys.

Among the few curiosities I uncovered—though not for our family's Kellys—was a canal boatman named John Kelly who, in a drunken rage while in town back in 1858, fought another boatman and nearly killed him; the Lafayette city council's proceedings in 1875 which included voting in a man named Frank Kelly as a police officer for the fifth ward of the city; and an informative letter reprinted in the October 6, 1853, Lafayette Daily Journal from an "Irishman, who left here about a year since, for Australia" to seek his fortune in "the gold fields of Victoria." (This John Kelly's advice, following a long and detailed letter: "If you have comfortable firesides, stay by them.")

Wherever our Kellys were in Lafayette, they were keeping a low profile.

It may seem discouraging, after all that traveling, to pack away a research goal without having succeeded in the quest. I'm not taking it that way, though. I've long since learned that, based on how the digitization of historic documents has progressed in the last decade, waiting doesn't mean conceding research defeat. It only means the wise researcher bides her time.

There will be more material available to research at some later point. We can regroup, re-strategize, re-inform ourselves of options—and learn to wait. It may seem I've wandered into a region of faith, not fact, but it's by experience that I've discovered this: revisiting an old research problem often becomes a profitable exercise. Sometimes, a little time makes all the difference.



  1. Yes sometimes that is all you need , and someone a long lost relative may find your blog. (That happened to me last week...a relative from Sweden...we share relatives a brother and sister who are our great grandparents:)

    1. Oh, that is wonderful, Far Side! And a fairly "close" distant cousin, as well! So...are you making plans to visit Sweden now?

  2. I have first-hand experience with success in waiting for more records to become available online. I think of it as giving the research a rest for a while and hope my ancestors will decide to help me the next time I pull it out to work on it again.

    1. Waiting has become one of the best kept secrets for some researchers. Glad to hear you've discovered that as well, Nancy.

  3. Yes, "Patience, Grasshopper" should be a genealogist's motto.


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