There's always that renegade in the family tree—the black sheep who refuses to let his story be found. If you search hard enough, you are sure to discover that one's history, or at least part of it—the part that tantalizes but never provides the relief of knowing the rest of the story.
In my father-in-law's family, we have such an ancestor. He did "get away." Or maybe he didn't. The family lore is that, though Stephen Malloy hastily escaped Ireland at the time of civil unrest, he was shot and killed upon arrival in Boston.
What we do know is drawn from a long-preserved letter he had a companion write on his behalf. The letter was to be sent to his wife on the eve of his trip to America.
The positive part: at least that journey to Boston can be corroborated by documents; his name is included on the passenger list of the very ship he named in his letter. The drawback: once he landed in Boston, he disappeared. No reports of murder or even disappearance at the hands of suspicious characters.
Needless to say, this man's mysterious end has circled around to the top of my research list for decades, but without any success at finding answers. But every year brings new research resources, and with hope perennially springing afresh, I'm game to take on Stephen Malloy this year for yet another attempt at finding proof of his demise.
With that, my father-in-law's great-grandfather will take his place in my upcoming research plans as Ancestor #9 of my Twelve Most Wanted for 2021. I'll cast that research net even farther afield than I did in past years, and examine local history in the Massachusetts region where he was last recorded, as well as scour newspaper reports and other resources for the region.
It would be fruitless to repeat the research steps I've taken in the past, so the plan will need to include a fresh approach. Besides, it would be nice to lay this family legend to rest. Mysteries always nag at me to uncover their answers.