Friday, July 31, 2020

Hints? Or Discrepancies?

When piecing together the story of our family's history, we rely so much on newspaper accounts. Obituaries, for instance, are one mainstay of reports concerning close relationships, and yet, we need to proceed cautiously with this resource. Newspapers often contain mistakes, but it's up to us to discern which details provide worthwhile clues for our research, and which ones are simply discrepancies.

Take the obituary of Daniel Falvy we reviewed yesterday. Daniel Falvy was the next door neighbor of a possible relative of my husband's Kelly family in Fort Wayne, Indiana. While Daniel was the only head of household to carry that surname in Fort Wayne, that very surname also happened to be the maiden name of our Kelly relative. I've hoping that, in discovering Daniel's origin and family, I'll be led to further information on our Johanna Falvey Kelly.

There were some promising hints in Daniel's 1915 obituary. While the memorial did not come out and specifically name his parents, it revealed some helpful details—helpful enough, hopefully, to lead us to some reasonable possibilities. The obituary stated, for instance, that Daniel Falvy "came to America with his parents when he was twelve years of age." It mentioned the place—Upper Sandusky—where the family settled after emigration from County Kerry, Ireland. It also provided a timeline regarding when Daniel left his family and arrived in Fort Wayne: "forty years ago."

And there, precisely, lies the problem. Forty years before Daniel's 1915 death would be 1875. By that time, Daniel Falvy was not only married, but he was about to welcome his second daughter into his growing household. Hint: both daughters were born in Fort Wayne. In fact, he and Abbie Murphy were married in Fort Wayne, as well. In 1872. It's unlikely he met his wife anywhere other than her hometown.

Well, that slick little detail didn't add up quite as smoothly as we had hoped. What about the other detail: about spending his teenage years in Upper Sandusky? The only Upper Sandusky I am aware of is a city in the state of Ohio, not Indiana. So, to Ohio I went, looking for any census records to substantiate that report. I tried spelling the surname Falvey. I tried Falvy. I tried modifying the search name with "sounds like" and "similar" options. The strange thing? On, I could find no Daniel Falvey listings for either the 1870 census or even the 1860 census.

Perhaps, since that newspaper math was wrong, their geography wasn't much better.

I did, however, find one possibility. When I tried a search using the word "Sandusky" for the search term at Ancestry, "place your ancestor might have lived," there was a Falvey family listed. Of interest was the fact that the head of household was named Michael—a good sign for one of my husband's DNA matches whose ancestral Falvey line reaches back through a string of Michaels.

Besides the absence of anyone named Daniel in that home, however, there was another down side. This family didn't live in Upper Sandusky, like the newspaper report had asserted. Oh, they were still in Ohio, alright, but about seventy miles from the place where the Fort Wayne Sentinel reported they should have been. And yet, delving into this discrepancy a little bit further, I found some interesting possibilities—just enough to nudge this wild goose chase a bit farther down the research rabbit trail.


  1. Peaking my excitement! We live next door to Sandusky, Ohio!

    1. Uh, Sandusky, you say? Now, there may be the precise key to my research difficulties, as we'll see next week, Miss Merry.


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