Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Seeking Sisters


If collateral lines are just the antidote for a brick wall ancestor, finding more collateral lines should mix up an even better elixir, right?

Not necessarily so, I'm finding as I research the newly-discovered lines of two of Eliza Murdock's sisters. Still, I'm grateful for the leads: two previously-unknown Murdock sisters, offered to us complete with each husband's name, with each living near Eliza's home in Lafayette, Indiana. And, added bonus, the name of a "beloved nephew" who was soon to turn twenty one, son of the older sister.

While I now know that Eliza Murdock Stevens had a sister named Sarah who married someone named John Nolan, and another sister Ellen, wife of Thomas Megarry, finding these Murdock siblings in Tippecanoe County records is not as easy as one would think.

The value of tracing these two sisters—both married before 1874, date of their brother John's will—is to potentially see their movement across the decades as well as the American continent. Each was born in Ireland—here, we'll still presume that happened in County Sligo, Ireland, as their brother James once claimed—but married in the United States. Each sister had children in America, as well. To find and compare their census entries, noting place of birth for each of their children, may help infer the movements of the entire Murdock family. May help.

However, when I start at the top of the family list with the older of the two sisters, Ellen, I am dismayed at what I cannot find. Perhaps I should not be so surprised. After all, women of the mid-1800s could be quite invisible. But there is an added dysfunction to this quest: the ever-morphing spelling of Ellen's husband's surname. It may take a couple generations for that spelling to settle itself into a routine appearance.

Thus, to find Ellen, we'll first track what became of her husband. Introduced to us in his brother-in-law's will, Ellen's husband was then called Thomas Megarry. By the time of his death, less than fifteen years after his wife was named in his brother-in-law's will, Thomas appeared under the name McGarry. His Find a Grave memorial does not include any photo of a headstone, but some kind volunteer did post a clipping of his 1889 obituary.

Like any memorial of that time period, the newspaper article lavished accolades upon Thomas McGarry's character, but barely glanced by his family connections: "a widow and eight children, four sons and four daughters." The Find a Grave memorial for Thomas' wife, Ellen—the one we are keenly interested in discovering—includes nothing more than dates and burial location. If there was ever an obituary, it appears I will have to go digging for that, myself.

Fortunately, Thomas and Ellen were the parents of the "beloved nephew" Samuel, also mentioned in John Murdock's will. Before we move on to explore what can be found on the other newly-discovered Murdock sister, we'll take some time tomorrow to see if any details can be gleaned by exploring nephew Samuel's own story. One thing I assure you: combining his uncle John's thousand dollar bequest with the Murdock business sense of his other uncle James, Samuel put those gifts to good use.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff. Reading about your research trail is as good as reading Agatha Christie.


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