Thursday, February 6, 2014

The last word about the tree.

I have completed my search.  Standing on the shoulders of giants I have hit dead ends in Irish rural churchyards and have no one to ask. It has been a fascinating adventure.

Mrs. T asked what have I learned (what's the big picture) on my adventure?  Most likely, I won't know that answer for a long time and the take aways are certainly not unique to me, they are universal which is why does such a booming business.

I don't much cotton to the notion that the big life decisions are made for the "greater good".  That husband and wife suffer so the children will have a better life doesn't hold for me.  Adults do what they need to do. How awful must daily life be for an illiterate Irish farmer to decide to pack up his wife and 6 children, leave kith and kin and move to America on the hope/dream/expectation that life there will be better? That individual glimmer of hope is the genuine story of American greatness.  That is also a continuing saga, lived by countless families, world wide, every day, and if you live in North America (unless you are black) somewhere in time, it's your story too.

I also took away a strong sense of the basic dignity of people.  Image a world free from computers, good transportation networks and decent communications, say the world until the mid 1950's.  It strikes me that a man could change his identity as often as his socks, though most didn't. Families, father to son, mothers to daughters are relatively easily followed for generations. Dates may be fungible but the family unit holds.  Can't find an in law check the cemetery.

People 100+ years ago were tougher than we. Children and mothers died too young.  Life spans were short and brutal. My ancestors left Ireland during the famine, work their way westward building railroads and set down roots 5 years later in eastern Illinois.  In their first 15 years in Illinois their community endured a cholera epidemic, drought, malaria epidemic, small pox, 2 tornados and a city wide fire. Their village survives.  

My mother's family and my father's lived less than 10 miles apart in Cnty Cork, and had to come to America to meet.

I'm probably related to you.

Finally, I suspect we are each missing a big adventure.  A trial by fire, a test,  a challenge, one that doesn't involve life threatening medical treatment.  Mine pales in comparison to grandfather's but I'm planning it.




Lou Archer said...

Wow. It could be thanks to that Native American tribe that I'm here today. Spooky.

My parents too were raised in Ireland yet met in London and married. My dad had plans to go to Australia but had to wait till he was 65+ to get there.

Nice reading you. xx

Toad said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

I am about to start the search of my Irish roots.....did the Cajun French, the Devon English and the Lowland Scot research fairly easily.
Before I start, are there any pitfalls I should avoid?

Toad said...

Start with your parents and work sequentially. If you use trust their hints, esp if when another family member however obscure has blazed the trail for you. Then check your work, via census records in the US making certain little things like dates and race match. Birth/death dates 100 yrs ago were often abouts rather than certainties.

If you are lucky and your family lived in one community for a while check on-line cemetery records. I found them a great source for locating missing relatives, esp in-laws and grand parents.

Good luck I hope you find it a lot of fun, you'll be surprised every day.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to anon, Marriage Licenses are an excellent source because they state the date of birth of both applicants, the birth state of both applicants, the maiden name of the bride, and the full name of the groom, the city/state/venue where they were married [long ago the parents of the applicants were also included, but not so today]. Having these fundamental facts all found in one place is most helpful.