Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Another Brother's Story

The key thing to remember when researching large families is that any one of those siblings can hold the key to unlock the brick wall mystery keeping us from our answer. In the case of the mystery photo album I found in northern California—the one originating far from there, in County Cork, Ireland—we've discarded the possibilities from one side of the target family, and moved on to the other side of the family. In other words, rather than following possibilities from album creator Alice Hawkes' side of the family, we are now looking at her husband's side of the family.

Alice's husband, Harry Reid, also came from a family with many children. In fact, before Harry's parents were married, his father's first wife had also had several children before her untimely death.

We could follow a careful routine of obtaining all the details on each of the Reid children in turn, by date of birth, and examine each for possibility of a nexus with a California-bound descendant. Since we've already obtained a hint from Harry and Alice's granddaughter Heather, though, it would be more to the point to hold up that hypothesis for examination. And we've begun that process, with the phone call to Heather's mother's cousin, Rita, this past weekend.

Rita, as we've discovered, is a daughter of Harry Reid's next-oldest brother Richard. According to Rita, her father was born in Ireland—in County Cork, we can presume—but moved to Canada. In fact, it was quite easy to confirm Rita's report, now that genealogical documentation is handily available. In a quick visit to irishgenealogy.ie, I was able to pull up this record from the birth returns of the district of Bandon, showing Richard to be son of Henry and Elizabeth Wolfe Reid, born on May 7, 1887 at Grange.

There may need to be some reading between the historical lines for just how Richard ended up moving to Canada. However, once again, it was easy to locate an explanation of that fact, thanks this time to Ancestry.com. Dated April 5 of 1915, record of Richard's signature on a declaration when he signed up to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force may provide a key to how and why—or at least when—he moved from Ireland.

Apparently, this document represented the right Richard Reid—after all, this could be a name held by many, both in Ireland and in Canada—for it showed his application, indicating his place of birth in Grange Cottage on that very same May 7, 1887. He gave his next-of-kin to be Henry Reid, still living at that same address.

Indeed, Rita's father did serve in the first World War, and, according to Rita, he had been trapped in a trench at one point during his service. Fortunately, we have the vantage point of looking back through history to Richard's story, and can see that he survived his service and returned to Canada, where he can be found in the city of Toronto in the 1921 census.

That document includes the detail that Richard had immigrated to Canada in 1908. But that is not all we discover by locating that Canadian census record. By 1921, not only had Richard Reid survived the war, but he had returned to his new homeland and settled down with a wife. He was, by then, also the proud papa of a baby girl. That, however, begins a new chapter in his life, as well as a convenient moment to pause in our recounting of it—for with the next step, the family will find themselves moving once again.   


  1. I really enjoy your posts! I dont have cable, so you are my favorite serial LOL. I have really enjoyed the saga of the found photo album. I am a genealogy beginner and really love your detecting.

    1. You absolutely made my day, Miss Merry! Thanks so much for the encouraging word. I really do (secretly) fancy myself as creating a sort of genealogical soap opera, so perhaps your hunch was not that far from reality.


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