Friday, March 29, 2013

Life Happens, Tangents, Social Media, and Genealogy Wow!

I like tangents. Some of my very best genealogical finds come when I go off into tangents. Unfortunately, though, it's making my Daughters of the American Revolution and United Empire Loyalists research journeys much, much longer.

In my last blog post, I stated that the only way to find out about Annie's mother's maiden name was to go ahead and order a copy of Daniel and Annie's marriage record from the Archdiocese of New Orleans Archives.

And? I lied. That's not the only way. It was just the way I thought would be the easiest because I had not found a cousin {or the cousin} who had a copy of their church marriage record or a Family Bible or, really, anything that indicated what Annie's mother's name was.

You see, it all started about 2008 when I first started researching Daniel and Annie. When I joined the NGS the first time, I searched their database of family group sheets and found one submitted by a lady. It didn't give me anything I hadn't already found online. But? The name and address of the lady who had submitted it to the NGS was stamped across the front of it.

I tried writing her, but I never received a response, and I wasn't really surprised because the family group sheet had been submitted ages ago, like back in the 1980s.

Then? I Googled Daniel and Annie's names together and came across a Vaughan/Vaughn family website which was just a database of submitted info, and? It didn't contain anything I didn't already have about Daniel and Annie. After accessing it just that one time, it became infected with malware. Over the years, I've periodically checked it while searching online, and every time, the browser indicated that the site was infected with malware. {And, yes, I had cleaned out my cache and used different browsers.}

And then I ran into some clues online involving the same lady who had submitted the family group sheet to NGS. Some very nice unsubstantiated pieces of info like how
 Annie had 8 or 9 brothers one of whom is named Henry and, oh by the way she had a partial letter that Henry had sent Annie and it had Henry's address in Dublin and there was a date too... . And? There was an email address. So, of course I emailed her. And? No response. One of the best pieces of info that she left, though, was that she was Annie's great granddaughter through Henry Lewis, which is my Boo's older brother making her my second cousin once removed. But after about 2001, she seemed to drop off the online internet forums and sites.

So in reviewing all of this when I was gathering everything together for my DAR application, I thought, well, I just need to get the documents myself if possible.

And about the same time I started blogging about my DAR and UEL application journey, which, if you'll remember, has also included tangents along the way because I just can't help myself. I mean, it's a no-brainer when the archivist emails you and says, "I found your great-grandmother's baptismal record, but I also found her siblings' baptismal records. You want those?"

Of course, I want those. But for me, having them in my hand led me to blog about each one. For some, documents are cold with clues and facts...just names and dates.  For me, though, a document comes alive. Each one is a soupy mixture of tidbits of stories and it seems when I hold one in my hands - even if it is just a photocopy, the stories seem to bubble up in my head until they start to spill over. And that's exactly what happened when I received all those baptismal records. I couldn't not speculate about each one's baptismal day based on what I already had found about each one's life and about what I personally have experienced on that ferry ride between Bolivar Point and Galveston Island.

For me, it's kind of like the movie Night at the Museum or book The Night at the Museum by Milam Trenc. You know how the statues and history come alive when the museum closed? Well, when I get a document and look at each piece of information and when I start to piece things together within the context of what I know already or what I've found, well, the people in my tree start to come alive...the stories start to become more real...and then my imagination starts playing with possibilities and then I write stories about the possibilities. I mean they're always open-ended because I don't usually have everything yet. But I always stop to look at a document and wonder...And instead of wondering in my head or on a piece of paper, I blog it. I blog my questions and possibilities as I go.

And, in this case, with my great-grandmother's {Boo's} siblings, blogging about each one's baptismal record was one of the best things I could have done because a descendant of one of my Boo's sisters contacted me because he'd been Googling. And since I had been off on one of my tangents with the baptismal records that have absolutely nothing to do with my DAR and UEL apps, Google matched us up and he emailed me. He also confirmed all of Vyla's names throughout the years. {Google has got to be the best distant cousin matchmaker. At least it is for me. Ancestry's trees come in at a close second though.}

Anywho, this cousin is also a second cousin once removed because he descends from Vyla. And he and his wife were supposed to come to Texas last October to photograph tombstones and do some research. But then life happened and then the trip got rescheduled to January. And then life happened again and the trip got pushed off to March.

And then in the meantime, um, life happened to me as well, but somehow I've found the time here and there to keep digging and to even keep blogging a bit. And every time I blogged, I tweeted about my blog post. You know, just to share it and what-have-you.

Then one of those times a fellow tweeter, who I had started following because she's a photographer/Photoshop kind of person and then she followed back and then she started following some other fellow genealogists and then we, um, kind of got her hooked on genealogy {I swear to you I didn't do it on purpose.}, direct messaged me after I tweeted a link to one of my blog posts. She said that she was really enjoying Daniel's and Annie's story unfold, that she had Googled their names, found this Vaughan Family Website and asked if I'd seen it.

And?

It was that original site that I hadn't checked in a year. You know, the one with the malware. It had been taken down and redone. And? This time it had some more info. And it was from that same lady/2nd cousin who descends from my Boo's older brother, Henry Lewis. This time there was a ton of detail and verbiage that made it clear that she has some documentation of some kind. It just wasn't listed on there anywhere.

So then I went to Facebook and found her and sent a friend request. Then I messaged her. {Which I should have done before, but, you know, life happens...}

And?

No response. *big sigh*

So I kept going with Daniel's and Annie's civil marriage record and ordered microfilm for other parts of the tree for my DAR and UEL applications. And then I started combing through all those clues from that Vaughan/Vaughn family site. Like...

...the clue where she states that their marriage record indicates Annie's mother's maiden name...

...the clue where she states that Annie had been just visiting her cousins - the Browns - in New Orleans when she met Daniel because Daniel had been doing some carpentry work for her cousins and they were married by a Rev. Gleason in St. Alphonsus Church in New Orleans...

...the clue where she states Annie's cousin's husband was the city engineer for the City of New Orleans and that there was a family rumor that Annie's father had been an engineer in Dublin too...So I started checking out some of these clues online, and I never got around to ordering Daniel and Annie's marriage record from the Archdiocese of New Orleans Archives. You know, the one I said might contain Annie's mother's maiden name? Yeah, that one.

Turns out Annie's mother's name, according to this lovely lady cousin, is Jane Lennon. {Ohmigosh, right? That was totally one of my speculations/possibilities}. And since I already knew one of Daniel and Annie's marriage witnesses was Katie L. Lennon, well, I thought to myself, "Hm. Cousin?"

But wait. She stated that the Browns were Annie's cousins. So I skipped off to Ancestry.com and did a little census and city directory work and found found a Kate Lennon living in a household with a Henry Brown, a Jennie L. Brown, and some other Brown family members. And? Henry Brown's occupation was listed as a civil engineer. 

{Goose bumps, or is that just me?}

Then? I decided to take the plunge with Annie's info on irishgenealogy.ie. I mean, I had her possible-and-completely-unsubstantiated parent's names now and one of her brother's names. I was feeling kind of lucky and optimistic about being able to find Annie's baptismal record if it had been placed online. And I was on the couch with my iPad and thought, "Why not just have a peek?" So I looked, and...

None with the right date and/or parents. So then I searched for her parents together because it allows you to look for one person as well as another at the same time, and...

I found a James O'Brien who had married a Jane Lennon in 1831 in St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. But? Nothing conclusive to say they were, indeed, Annie's parents. And sadly, there was no address and the blanks for their parents were empty. Then another marriage record came with up when I searched their names but the one getting married this time was a Henry O'Brien in 1887 and his parents were James and Jane (Lennon) O'Brien. And his address was 61 Lr. Mecklenburgh in Dublin.

Which jogged my memory of those clues about Annie's brother Henry from Dublin from my second cousin. Remember that partial letter? Well, it was sent in 1886 and his address, according to my wonderfully generous but elusive lady cousin, was 61 Lr Mecklenb---h (?) in Dublin.

So unless Henry O'Brien from the 1886 letter who was Annie's brother moved out of the 61 Lr Mecklenburgh residence and then a Henry O'Brien from 1887 whose parents were also a James O'Brien and Jane Lennon moved in, well, I'm pretty sure they are her parents. Maybe.

However, I still need to see that church marriage record. I want/need verification. I also need to familiarize myself with Irish records. You know, what's available for what time periods, and where are they located? I can't just blindly keep on drifting along the Internet looking at Irish records here and Irish records there never knowing for sure that I've looked at everything that exists, online or off. {Which is why I just bought Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: Irish Genealogy by John Grenham.} I need to get a lay of the land, so to speak.

So this week, I decided to take a look at the microfilm that I had previously ordered and I started with Daniel's family up in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and found some interesting information that I needed for both my DAR and UEL applications, and I'll get into the details of that in another blog post.


However, after a lovely day at the library perusing those handwritten parish records from about 1830s to the 1880s of St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Ypsilanti, Michigan, I came home and checked my email, and found an email from someone I didn't know {which happens a lot, btw} with 2 PDF attachments and no message. I usually delete those, but I knew my 2nd cousin was somewhere in the state taking photos of tombstones and the sender's email address was for a copy and print place in Giddings, Texas. {I Googled it.}

And? I clicked to view them. These were the PDFs {that I later converted to JPGs}:





Emails like this should come with a tissue warning. Seriously. 

So, I guessed that my 2nd cousin from Alabama had probably found my 2nd cousin that had left all those online clues. So I emailed him to see if he had been the one to send me these pics, and he called me later on that evening and confirmed that he'd found her!
Apparently life had happened to my other 2nd cousin and she hadn't been able to respond, but that she'd been doing genealogy for 50 years. And she had pictures and books and documents and letters and you name it. And when my 2nd cousin from Alabama was at the local copy/print place copying everything that my other 2nd cousin had so generously shared with him and he saw that pic of the Daniel and Annie, he said he knew I'd want to see it!

Oh my, was he ever right about that! Did you see Daniel's awesome 'stache!!!! And Annie! I love how she has one hand on Henry Lewis and the other around Genevieve. And then Vyla's hand is on Annie's shoulder. And my Boo! {She's Alice on the left.} I have memories of Boo from when I was real little. And thanks to another cousin who found me on Facebook, I have some other photos of her including one from 1920, but to see her here with everyone one else? Wow.

And then Henry Lewis. Another wow. When he grew up, I knew he had become a Master Mariner because I have his death certificate, and my literary mind wondered about the stories he could tell. In these photos, he looks bigger than life! And look at him on the boat. Just wow.

I'm meeting with my 2nd cousin from Alabama either Sunday or Monday, and I can't wait to see what our other cousin shared about the Vaughan and O'Brien families with him. And if a copy of Daniel and Annie's church marriage record is in there with her mother's maiden name, well, then I won't have to order it. If not, I'll still order it because it's important that I have something that links Annie to James O'Brien and Jane Lennon. Of course, there might be other things that have been found. I won't know until I see everything and assess it all.


And then many of you probably saw my Facebook update the other day about all of this, but what you didn't see is that another first cousin who recently started following me messaged me that evening and said she remembered that her dad had some photos of Daniel from the Civil War, and that it'd been a while since she had seen them, but that she thought that he had had a drum in those photos. But she was gonna contact him and see what happened to those photos.

{Dramatic pause.}


  • This is why I blog about my ancestors. {This isn't the first time I've hit the collaborative jackpot via my blog.}
  • This is why I don't wait until I have the whole story or all the facts. {If you want a cousin to contact you real quick-like, then blog something wrong. I mean, wrap it up with words like I think or I wonder or I guess, but my point is there is always someone who is gonna respond to that.}
  • This is why I not only research collaterals, but I blog about them as well. I just never know who is going to be Googling about their ancestor who might be related to my ancestor.
  • This is why I Tweet. {Others are accessing my blog posts by the social media platform of their choosing, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. And I meet the most remarkable people from around the world there. And then for some reason a few of them start looking for their ancestors. It's contagious, I think. I should probably come with a warning like, "Beware: following or interacting with me could very possibly lead you to wanting to learn about your family and where you come from."}
  • This is why I Facebook. {Even though I don't really like Facebook. It's not about me and what I prefer, but about the fact that so many others are on and like Facebook. And even when I post my blog posts there, life happens and they just don't click through on those links to my blog posts, but they certainly are reading Facebook updates. Note to self: Remember that.}


You can be certain that I'll be blogging about that collaborative family history jackpot my cousins are so generously sharing with me, particularly the, um, "stuff" I think will be useful for my DAR and UEL applications.  You know, the reason I started researching Daniel and Annie again in the first place.

~Caroline


Vaughn, Daniel Rooke and Family. Photograph. ca. 1895. Digital image. Privately held by Carolyn Marble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lincoln, Texas. 2013.

Vaughn, Henry Lewis and Henry Daniel Vaughn. Photograph. Digital image. Privately held by Carolyn Marble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lincoln, Texas. 2013.

Vaughn, Carolyn Elizabeth Laxson.  Photograph. Digital image. Privately held by Carolyn Marble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lincoln, Texas. 2013.

HLV & DEA B. Calvin Jr.  Photograph. Digital image. Privately held by Carolyn Marble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lincoln, Texas. 2013.

HLV (on sidewalk).  Photograph. Digital image. Privately held by Carolyn Marble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lincoln, Texas. 2013.

HLV (on boat).  Photograph. Digital image. Privately held by Carolyn Marble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lincoln, Texas. 2013.

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15 comments:

  1. Seriously awesome!! Pictures are my favorite thing about genealogy...although documents and old record books are a close second. :-)

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  2. I love how you told the story of how you made the connections. The pictures are so special and they are labelled! I hope you learn more during your cousin visit.

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  3. Oh, so much fun Carolyn! I can see how you were overwhelmed. That is a fun way to be overwhelmed though, wow! Enjoy your visit! Look forward to hearing all about it!

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  4. Happy dance time! I can't wait to hear what other goodies they bring!

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  5. This is so cool Caroline! Congrats!

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    Replies
    1. Caroline,

      I want to let you know that this post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/04/follow-fridayfab-finds-for-april-5-2013.html

      Have a great weekend!

      Delete
  6. What a jaw-dropping story of your search and collaborations! There are Daniel and Annie, big as life, and Henry as well. You knew they were there somewhere, all along! You just had to keep going and casting enough bread upon the waters for another relative, with more sources, to contact you. Annie's maiden name was the key. I don't ever hope to have a bonus as good as this one, but I am really happy for you. All your different research threads are coming together to make the entire fabric.

    And that is a splendid and dignified group photo. Hello, Annie!

    Happy Easter, Caroline!

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  7. That is fabulous!! I am going to send this along to my "genealogy posse" as I know they will enjoy following your "train of thought."

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  8. I love your stories!! As I was reading this I could hear you talking really fast like you were an excited little kid...it was great! You inspire me to find out more and to just keep looking.

    Enjoy your Easter!

    Shannon

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  9. I love that you have had so much success in your research and great examples how social media came into play to make it happen! Enjoy your newfound relatives!

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  10. Oh my gosh! Exciting for sure :) Can't wait to hear more

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  11. This post will really stretch that teeny tiny box on the preprinted research log forms, but actually it's all you need to document this "stream-of-conscious" research. Kinda multi-tasking gone wild.

    Congrats, Caroline!

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  12. Wow! So awesome! This reminds me that I need to answer my ol' cousin Merlyn that I found on Find A Grave about a month ago. I'm terrible at responding to cousin emails. Must get better.

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  13. This article was so cool Caroline! Social networking sites have quickly become the most visited sites in the world next to search engines. These sites are so addictive because it allows people to share their interests, likes and dislikes.

    Phoenix Social Media

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  14. Hi Caroline I just saw your blog listed at Geneabloggers and decided to check it out. I had no idea that you also had a blog besides your website. Looks nice and great work. I have to admit that I have yet to check out your show. Hope I get time to do so soon.

    Take care,

    Moises Garza
    We Are Cousins - My personal blog about Northeastern Mexico and South Texas Genealogy

    Mexican Genealogy - Blog where anyone with Mexican Ancestry can get startedwith their Family Genealogy and History.

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