Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Taking a Detour

Sometimes, the direct route to an answer isn't the best option, considering current conditions. Perhaps there's a traffic jam. Or construction in the way. For family historians on the road to a better understanding of their roots, that might involve running into the dreaded "brick wall" which brings all research to an abrupt stop.

That's when I prefer taking a detour. The scenic route. The bypass which avoids unnecessary roadblocks. Sometimes, this may not work to help me arrive at the answer to my research question, but often—no matter the end result—it leads to some enlightening information.

That's the process I'll be using for this upcoming month's research project, when we explore the family of Johanna Flanagan Lee, immigrant from somewhere in the south of Ireland to the chill winter winds of Chicago, Illinois. Last January, in selecting my Twelve Most Wanted for 2023, Johanna gained the spot for this coming July's research efforts.

The month of July marks the first of three months in which I'll work on the ancestry of my father-in-law. Three out of his four grandparents were born in Ireland, and certainly all eight of his great-grandparents were from that same country.

For the month of July, however, my goal will not be to work on any of those direct line ancestors. Instead, stuck on a key question about one particular great-grandmother of his, I am going to take a detour rather than a direct route: I will be researching a collateral line.

While that line does have to do with my father-in-law's Flanagan line, it is actually a cousin of his maternal grandmother who will grab our attention this coming month. That cousin, Johanna Flanagan Lee, was mentioned in obituaries as a relative of two known Flanagan ancestors—it's just that I don't know exactly how she is related. Her father, a Flanagan, is a total unknown—so far.

While that may sound like a research dilemma for someone else's family tree, not ours, it comes with a tempting hook: if I can find Johanna's parents, perhaps I can tie that knowledge to what I already know about my father-in-law's direct line, and together, those facts might tease out some leads. If nothing else materializes, at least I can build out Johanna's own family tree and see if it leads to some fellow researchers. Tomorrow, we'll start with what is already known about Johanna, and then determine which direction will be the best to take first.  

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