Jan 27, 2010

How I Broke Thru The Wall

with some Divine Intervention...When researching a family line there comes a point where you become 'stuck'. In genealogy circles it's called hitting the proverbial brick wall. It seems as though you have found everything there is to find and there is no where else to go. As it turns out, that is simply not true. It just means it's time to get creative and start thinking and looking outside the box.

This is where I was a few years ago with my paternal line. I could follow my own direct line back to my gg grandparents. From census records I was able to determine who their other children were and piece together the families of those collateral lines. And this is where I got 'stuck'. So here we have 3 generations. I am the 5th generation so the entire 4th generation is missing. I could connect myself through my own line as I knew that John Jr. son of John (1) was my grandfather but I had no idea about the descendants of the other 4 children. If I was to find any living relatives that could share information I needed to find that 4th generation.

Edward and Margaret had 5 surviving children;
(1) John; 3 Children (Edward, Thomas, John Jr) <---My Line
(2) Hugh; 3 Children (Edward, Margaret, John)
(3) Mary; 5 Children (Maggie, Bridget, John, Edward, Frances)
(4) Edward; 5 Children (Mary, Cicely, Patrick, Francis, Edward)
(5) Francis; 3 Children (William, Margaret, Ellen) <---Bill's Line

I started with what I knew for sure; Thomas, son of John (1), my Great Uncle was a Priest in Toronto.

I looked up the Archdiocese of Toronto and sent them an email asking if they had any information about a priest named Thomas Manley who died in 1947. I remember my husband being very skeptical and saying he didn't think I would even get a reply. Not only did they reply, they sent me a 2 page profile on him along with 3 photos. This profile was a treasure trove of genealogical information but one tiny little notation on page 2 made my heart start racing;

''Cousin of Rev. Hugh Edward Patrick Manley and Rev. Thomas Joseph Michael Manley''

Bingo! Jackpot! Who are these two guys? They're aren't in the list above so they must not be first cousins. They MUST be part of that missing 4th generation but who do they belong to? And there is a good possibility that they are still alive, so how am I going to find them? Well it was actually kind of easy. I made a beeline to the nearest Catholic church in my neighborhood and went to see the Parish Secretary. I told her what I found and asked her how I could find out who they were. She got out her trusty Priest's directory and within 5 minutes she had Father Hugh on the phone...

...While I sat there, nearly hyperventilating.

Father Hugh was elderly and not in very good health but he told her that I could give his brother Bill a call because Bill had done quite a bit of research on the family. So off I went, still not knowing who he was but I had Bill's phone number. As soon as I got home I called Bill and found out that he and the 2 priests were  brothers and grandsons of Francis (5) through his son William. Bill filled in the entire Francis (5) line for me and also put me in touch with the great grandaughter of Edward (4) who in turn filled in that line for me. Eventually I figured out Hugh (2) and Mary's (3) lines as well so now I have the complete picture.

Over the next year I spoke to Bill on the phone several times, received several letters from him (written in long hand) and he even came to visit me one day with his wife and one of his daughters while passing through my town. It turns out his wife is from the same town that I live in. Bill passed away about a year after I found him and is buried here in the town where I live. He was such a wonderful man and it was such a pleasure to have been able to get to know him a little.

Genealogy is about so much more than figuring out names and dates and if you get stuck and need more information...just ask for it ;-)

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