Friday, December 2, 2022

On the Lookout for Outlaws


Family historians may launch their quest to discover their roots by focusing on their direct lines, but once sailing deeper, might inspect collateral lines, as well. Rare indeed, I suppose, are those who navigate yet further to explore the relatives my family facetiously dubbed their "outlaws."

As I set out my research route for this year—the annual grouping of the ancestors I call my "Twelve Most Wanted"—I promised myself I would at least float the idea of exploring the other side of my cousin's family, the one who introduced me to the use of that term, outlaws. I set the date to consider this as the last month of the year, just in case a more pressing research emergency came up in the meantime.

Now that it's December—how did that happen already?—I am ready to begin this exploration. This month, we'll focus on the other side of one cousin's family. The goal is to verify the family tradition that someone, somewhere generations past in this family played a small but significant role in the American Civil War, and, more specifically, in this country's navigational equipment.

According to my cousin, there are some twists and turns in the route back through this family's history. I've been forewarned to navigate this quest with eyes wide open. We'll begin next week with an overview of what is already known, then proceed carefully through the generations of this New York City family to see if we can pinpoint documentation either confirming this specific family tradition or clarifying it further.

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