Friday, July 7, 2023

Thankful for What Others Share


Every time I see a document which another researcher has shared on, it reminds me how thankful I am that others are willing to share the details they are finding. At the beginning of this month, while struggling with just how I am going to discover more about my father-in-law's mystery relative, Johanna Flanagan Lee, I stumbled upon three such shared documents. Hopefully, they will lead to further helpful discoveries.

The documents were copies of baptismal records. While the copies included the entire page from a register, unfortunately the copy did not include the location of the records, though the subscriber's notes indicated the record came from "Holy Family Church." This could possibly be the parish known as Church of the Holy Family, which opened its doors in Chicago in 1857, primarily to Irish immigrants.

Helpfully, the three baptismal records shared by this subscriber were for sons of a couple named John Lee and Johanna Flanagan—and the names and dates matched up to the three eldest sons of John and Johanna.

While it is nice to have an idea about birthdates, there is one more detail which can come in handy in Catholic baptismal records: the names of the sponsors (or godparents). For these Irish-born parents, I am hoping they might be recent enough immigrants to not have forgotten the naming patterns prevalent in their homeland—and even more so, the tradition of choosing siblings or in-laws to stand in as godparents.

While I can't vouch for one of the sons, the sponsors listed for the other two sons give me hope that there might be some clues embedded in these shared documents. For instance, for the third-born son, John James Lee, one of the sponsors was someone named Catharine Flanagan. Who was she? Any chance this was a sister of Johanna, herself a Flanagan?

Even more interesting to me was the discovery that the godfather for their second born son, George, was a man named Edward Flanagan. In the many years I've tried to grapple with this Johanna Flanagan Lee puzzle, I have run across that name, Edward Flanagan. Ever since the earliest years of this blog, when I wrote about discovering that William Flanagan had a niece named Johanna, I had learned that there were other family members buried in the family plot along with William. Besides Johanna, there had been someone named Edward.

Whether Edward was Johanna's father or a brother—or merely someone else far from home, bearing that fairly common Irish surname—I haven't been able to discover.


However, there is a concept in genealogical circles known as reasonably exhaustive research. It is prompting me to follow suit and see if I can discover just who this Edward Flanagan might have been. Will there be more than one Irish immigrant by that name in Chicago? Of course there will be, but if I can isolate just one who demonstrates a connection to the Flanagans related to Johanna, that might lead me to some answers on this family's specific roots back in County Limerick.

Above image: Excerpt from baptismal records of "Holy Family Catholic Church" in Chicago, posted by an subscriber, showing the June 22, 1877, entry for George Aloysius, son of John Lee and Joanna Flanagan.

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