Sometimes, the trail vanishes, the breadcrumbs disappear, and it's hard to know what's the next best step to take. That's where I am right now in my family history quest: stymied by a roadblock on the Kelly trail, not at all mitigated by actually traveling to the Irish immigrant family's landing place in Lafayette, Indiana.
Yesterday, I decided to take my own advice from class, and review the latest genealogical event I attended—the weekend conference for group project administrators sponsored by Family Tree DNA. What I really need to do, though, is apply that same advice to the bigger picture of where my research is stuck right now, and see if it will help move me forward in a productive way. So, as far as it applies to the current dilemma in my family history research, here are those questions once again:
- What surprised you?
- What turned out just as you expected?
- What will you work on next?
And here are my answers, floundering about in a sea of indecision as to what approach to take next.
What surprised me about actually going to the place where Ann Kelly and her family once lived was seeing how a dedicated group of genealogy and local history enthusiasts can make documents so easily accessible to like-minded researchers. For a city of seventy thousand, Lafayette adequately plays host to researchers at the Frank Arganbright Genealogy Center—an impressive outlay of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association staffed, partially, by volunteers from the county's genealogical society. Considering the entire Tippecanoe County has one hundred thousand less inhabitants than the city in which I live, I'm quite envious of them; I wish that inspiration and motivation could rub off on folks here.
I hate to admit it, but what turned out as expected, on this research trip to Tippecanoe County, was that deep down feeling that I had just stumbled upon yet another nineteenth-century woman whose life events would be shrouded in history. Though I could find a name matching hers, and a document indicating the name of the man who married her, face it: unless I could find any further identifying details, this Ann Kelly could be the right one. Or the wrong one. There seems to be no way to discern any difference. And for women with such oft-used names, coupled with the invisibility of women in general during those times, it would have been a rare occurrence for it to turn out otherwise.
The big question for me, now, is what will be the next project. The trail for this Kelly family has petered out. Unless someone kindly makes local church records available, I have no recourse than to give up that particular search.
That doesn't mean, however, that there is no more work to be done in the four main family lines I've been researching: my paternal and maternal lines plus those of my husband. In order to bring the answer to that question to light, I decided to revisit each line's database and examine its current condition to see if there are any glaring gaps which could use a work-up.
Humor me as I take the next four days to review the status on each of these lines. Hopefully, in the process, a sense of direction will emerge and we can start the next week with a new focus.
Above: "Winter Landscape with a Fox," undated oil on canvas by Swedish artist Bruno Liljefors; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.