The Winter of My Discontent

by Laura

I had found and began to converse online with several cousins. There was Bridget in Ireland, Eddie in Scotland, Joanna in Australia, Maureen and Coleen in Chicago, Eileen in Maryland, Doris in Pennsylvania, Don in Utah, Bill in Florida. Keeping everyone straight and sorted was becoming a full-time job. But I was learning, quickly, that these folk were family, regardless of how remote they may have been, and they had valuable information that helped me connect my familial dots. It helped, as well, that with a Daughter in China, I was used to navigating world time zones that included the International Date Line (back…to the future!).

It didn’t take long for Eddie-from-Scotland to start sending me documents, newspaper clippings, and photos of McManuses (my Mother’s Father’s family). He lived in Glasgow, almost around the corner from where my Grandfather John had lived, and was willing and able to fetch anything I needed for the family tree. He had some interesting stories, indeed! and wasn’t shy about sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Joanna and her Mum are related to me through my maternal family as well. Their family connected through my Great-Grandfather’s Scottish wife, Charlotte. Through them, I discovered my “royal connections” and the castle in our family; the one we now joke about getting back. Yes! We have a castle! Joanna lives in Australia by way of New Zealand. We’ve become far-flung from our beginnings in Ireland just 200 years ago.

Maureen and Coleen are related through my maternal Grandmother, as is Bridget…who has been my biggest help and my greatest cheerleader. The Cassidys emigrated to Chicago less than 100 years ago. Maureen and Coleen have also sent documents, stories, and pictures from the American Cassidys whilst Bridget, being a professional archeologist/genealogist, has been invaluable in her help, her research, and her diligence. She has given me not just family stories, documents, and pictures, but advice and connection. Bridget and I are related through my Grandmother, Ellen Cassidy McManus.  So is Don who has graciously shared his pictures with me as well as family anecdotes.

But it is Eileen, Doris, and Bill that are the connections I have with my Father’s side. My initial conversations with Eileen and Doris were difficult and rather frustrating, at best, since there seemed to be an assumption that I must have grown-up within “The Family” and knew more than I did and I understood better than I was able at the time. Then, suddenly, Eileen completely hosed the tree with which I matched on Ancestry; removing names, realigning family connections, and completely reworking pert ne’er everything. I thought I had this figured out, when, suddenly, I didn’t.

I could have cried. When I asked her about it, she casually told me I was actually connected to another tree she had in her profile. But my DNA didn’t connect to that tree (still doesn’t).  So I’m, like, seriously??? really??? How does THIS work???

Doris’ Family has a website, which I found quite by accident.  When I contacted their webmaster/historian, I was referred back to Doris…whose tree has some iffy names, redundant profiles, and repeated connections…like male Y is married to female A, twice, and she’s the same exact person with the same exact children. :sigh:  Not very accurate, at all. But it’s all I had, at the time, so I worked slowly and diligently, checking and double-checking everything, trying to make sense of the typically Irish families who seem intent on naming everyone by the same names.

Eventually, I discovered the Irish naming conventions. That helped. When searching through a sea of Catherines, Jameses, Johns, and Michaels, it was good to find the one family that had generational Charlottes, Duncans, and Grahams.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to decide if and when and how I contact my siblings. One day, I got the funny feeling that something was amiss. That there may be an issue with my younger brother, John.

But you can’t research current, living people.

What had been fairly smooth, fairly simple research…regardless of all the hours I was putting in…seemed to suddenly grind to a halt.

Now what?!? I found myself frustrated. Tired. Depressed. Becoming sick of the search and tired of the researching. I needed a break. I needed a vacation. I needed a Spa Day or some Shopping Therapy…

I needed a clue.