Thursday, 8 December 2016

Don't ignore random inquiries: lessons learned in family history research

Years ago, I first learned the hard lesson of never to make assumptions in genealogy research or inquiries. It's still a lesson I continue to learn.

Let's recap. As I mentioned here, I was contacted back in the late 1990s by a woman that I really just blew off, much to my regret. Mary had posted widely in 1998 and 1999 looking for information about the Kingston, New York Doughertys. Here is one of her posts, and it is remarkably detailed. It contains information that I later found in my own research. Mary wasn't a Dougherty descendant herself, She had married a descendant of my 1st cousin 3x removed, Bridget Dougherty Hayden.

Evidently, Mary took to the internet late in life. But she posted everywhere, looking for Dougherty family ties. She even reached out to my 4th cousin, Hon. Charles Doherty Gonthier QC (1928-2009), who at that time sat on Canada's Supreme Court.

How Mary had gathered her information, I don't know, but once I began my own documented research, it lined up exactly. I've not come across other descendants of Bridget who are researching their family history, but hope springs...

I'm trying to prove a connection to two other lines of Doughertys now. In one case, the owner of a family tree shares my belief that we're related, mainly because he descends from a Thomas Dougherty (abt 1820-abt 1888), born in Ireland and who first settled in South Hero, Vermont. This Thomas went to Nebraska with his family as a widower. Is he the mystery third brother that different oral histories and stories have mentioned? And as my yet to be confirmed cousin says, "nobody named Dougherty goes to South Hero for the weather" and likens to soap characters who go upstairs never to be heard from again. A sense of humour is always great. He hasn't yet done any DNA testing, which would help to confirm our connection. The family of this Thomas has some of the familiar names in my line: James, Isabella and yet another Thomas.

The never ending story continues....