Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Planning . . . Or is it Dreaming?


What is it about this pandemic season that makes us feel as if we'll never travel again? I already know that isn't true. My husband is planning a business trip to Oklahoma, and my daughter has already made it to Hawaii. Even I, without the shield of a vaccine on board, managed to survive a couple emergency get-out-of-town trips this year.

But when it comes to a research journey to benefit those never-ending questions about our family history, that sort of travel seems out of sight. Yes, I know I can request that copies of records can be mailed to me. But it is not the same thing as going there myself. The thrill of the "hunt" is still a motivation.

Thus, here I sit, trying to gather my thoughts and determine what I would hunt for, if I had the opportunity to head back east to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. There have certainly been astute observations made by helpful readers—and I intend to follow up on these. But I can't seem to envision the opportunity to actually go there and get to work on any research plans.

Do you ever reach that stage of research malaise? Perhaps it is just an artifact of can't-do-that limits. Or maybe that, combined with ancestor exhaustion. I have, after all, worn myself to a frazzle, trying to invent ways around my research roadblock. I've tackled Mary Carroll Gordon's ancestry before, after all. This is not the first time I've tangled with this dead end.

I realize there is a camp within the family history milieu which believes in setting a research goal and sticking with it. Not so, for me. I sometime reach a point when I feel that I can forgive myself for laying aside an invincible research question.

There are many reasons why I give myself that permission. Every year, for instance, more and more records become digitized and available to view online. In addition, my travel plans can change—or at least they had in the past, when opportunities opened up to visit a new-to-me part of the country. I am, after all, amassing quite a collection of reasons to stop by that particular corner of the country, and once things open up, I just may be able to do so.

With all that in mind, I don't struggle too much with setting aside an unanswered research question at the end of its designated time. There will be another season to revisit Mary Carroll's story. Maybe next time, it will be in person, not within the limits of cyber-space.

If the struggle to find documentation regarding the connection between Mary Carroll and her parents—whether Anthony Carroll and his first wife or some other couple—was not a successful one this month, don't worry about setting that project aside for now. For next month, we've got another research question which has proven just as much a challenge as Mary's story. For that one, I've already wrestled with it before, so we may as well get an early jump on May's research goal.

With that, we'll begin laying down the preliminary groundwork for another of my mother-in-law's research challenges a few days early. Tomorrow, we'll meet Ancestor Number Five on my Twelve Most Wanted for 2021: Sarah Howard Ijams.

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