Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Building a New Tree

How many family trees do you have on Ancestry.com? I don't know about you, but I get the feeling the average number of trees any given family historian might tend would be one. Maybe two—one for each side of the family. Stretching upwards of thirty might be considered, um, extravagant.

True confessions: that's where I am. I know, I know: I'd be considered a disaster area by the likes of professional organizers like Janine Adams, who discussed that very question on her genealogy blog a couple years ago. But I have a reason for my zany approach to using family tree programs. I need a "sandbox" in which to play around with relationship possibilities.

You won't find most of my trees at Ancestry.com, my favored place to experiment with relationship possibilities. I believe when there's a need to experiment with constructing trees, it's best to make that type of scratch pad private and unsearchable. No sense tempting anyone to cut and paste from those tentative trees; they'd only be replicating theories, not realities.

So, this week, when I needed to explore the possibility that the only other Falvey family in Fort Wayne might just be related to my husband's brick wall ancestor, Johanna Falvey Kelly, I needed a quiet place to stretch out all the facts and documents and see if that theory added up to anything substantial.

Let's take a look at the initial clues which got me wondering about possibilities. First, how about proper introductions? We are going to be looking at the family of an Irish immigrant named Daniel Falvey. Unlike my husband's second great grandmother Johanna Falvey Kelly, Daniel reported that he arrived in the United States in 1860. Like Johanna, he came from some unidentified place in County Kerry. Unlike Johanna, he likely came at a young age, possibly traveling with his parents.

Daniel Falvey—or Falvy as later records spelled his surname—not only arrived in America before Johanna did, but he was also quite younger than she. Depending on the record used to glean her date of birth, she had been reported as having a birth date in 1830 (in the 1870 and 1880 census enumerations), November of 1829 (in the 1900 census) or 1826 (on her death report). Daniel, though having a fluctuating report for his own year of birth, showed dates more recent than Johanna's: anywhere from November of 1843 (in the 1900 census) to 1853 (in the 1880 census), while settling on a rough average with his headstone claiming 1847.

Given the wide gap between their dates of birth, it is unlikely that Johanna and Daniel would be siblings. In fact, they could be totally unrelated, except for their mutual origin in an Irish county claiming quite a few subjects with that same surname. And yet, there are a few details which draw me to explore the possibility that they might have been cousins.

The one detail which I know for sure is that Daniel did not come to this country alone. While the one maddening thing about his obituary was that it omitted any mention of his parents' names, that memorial did state that Daniel came to America with his parents. Finding those names might help in placing his origin in County Kerry, his homeland in Ireland—and lead us closer to the point of origin for Johanna Falvey and her husband with the unhelpful name of John Kelly.

There is, however, one other detail that causes me to wonder whether it was merely coincidence, or yet another hint that these two Falvey descendants were linked to each other back in Ireland. Evidence of this close encounter was something I stumbled upon while I was doing my due diligence on the F.A.N. Club approach—looking at the friends and neighbors of my target family. It was an unexpected additional connection between the Falveys and the Kellys, found in the earliest census record which included both families in Fort Wayne. I'll explain further as we take a closer look, tomorrow.


  1. Oh gosh! What is the clue? You introduced me to making "dirty" trees. I have four trees so far and am ready to start another. My husband has a small match and neither of us can find ANY reason. There are four other people who match both of them. only one has a tree (with 7 people). Just figuring out where to start.

    1. Oh, those small connections with tree-less matches can be frustrating! Of course, if the match is really that small, Miss Merry, it might be one of those coincidental, "oh, we're both Irish" connections--the type which are slated to go away, once Ancestry DNA makes their announced changes next month.

      If the match is over 20 cMs, though, does clicking on "shared matches" help any? That will sometimes turn up yet another tree which includes more information.

  2. My husband just has one tree there and his interest has stalled:) I wish I had time but with the yard, house etc...I just do not find time for much else...a few crafts to wind down with on the couch or at the dining table:)

    1. Far Side, you are amazing with all that you can get accomplished in a day. No wonder you don't have much time left for working on a family tree!


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