Monday, September 26, 2022

Still Seeking Signs


Sometimes, we can find ourselves researching a family whose members we think are related to our line, only to discover we were on the wrong track all along. That's how it's been this month as I try to connect the Murdock sisters back to their parents in Lafayette, Indiana, and then, hopefully, to the generation before that, back in Ireland. No matter what records I've found, I'm still left seeking more signs to clarify family connections.

The youngest of the three Murdock sisters, Sarah, had married a man by the name of John Nolan. As we've seen, John and Sarah moved around the midwest quite a few times, judging from the birth location for each Nolan child, as recorded in census records. Still, it was somewhat of a surprise to me to find Sarah's family—if, indeed, this was the correct one—once again appearing in another state by the time of the 1880 census.

This discovery in Sedgwick County, Kansas, was one I wasn't entirely confident about, as I mentioned last week. That, of course, launched me on yet another search—this time, to find any documentation to confirm I had found the right Sarah Nolan, instead of another Irish immigrant with the same name. By the end of last week, we had tried following the story of Sarah's oldest son, James, but that ended with the discovery of his sad demise at his own hand in 1892, when he was not quite forty.

This week begins the search all over again, this time with the next-oldest remaining son, John Nolan. Referring back to the 1886 city directory where we had found listings for Sarah and her family, it is reassuring to see the note, for those Nolan family members living at 745 South Main Street, that they had arrived in Wichita from Indiana. Likewise, a Kansas state census, taken in 1885, confirmed the Nolan family's arrival from Indiana.

The only drawback: by 1885, there was no sign in Sarah's household of her son John in the census or the city directory. However, by the time of the 1889 edition, there is mention of John Nolan in the Wichita city directory.

Take that back—there was not one mention of John Nolan in that city directory, but two. Though we are provided with the helpful information that, like his Murdock uncles before him, our John worked as a grocer—same as his brother Tony—we still need to proceed cautiously to ensure we don't end up researching the wrong line.

The bottom line is our hope to discover a death record for one of the Nolan children, identifying the maiden name of their mother, Sarah. We'll need at least one of the children to have lived into the beginning of the twentieth century, when states began issuing death certificates with such identifying information as parents' names. Let's see what we can find on Sarah's son John tomorrow. 

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