Catherine is my 4th Great-Grandmother. I am a direct-line descendant, mother-to-daughter. She is also my “brickwall”, my family tree barrier. I found Catherine very early on in my research, but she has been confusing and confounding me ever since. Without more information, like a solid birthdate, I’m well and truly stuck.
Because I am a direct descendant, it was Catherine that initially motivated me to do a mitochondrial DNA test. I foolishly hoped I might get a clue. Little did I know that she is too close to me for that to have any real efficacy. Still, I’m glad to have done the test because it’s been interesting reading about haplogroups and hunter-gatherer migration patterns. I may be the Viking in the Irish living room. Ha!
Back to Catherine. How I found her in the first place was a mention in a death record. Death records can be gold mines of information. Besides the name of the deceased, a birthdate and place, and a spouse (many with maiden names), these records also list the cause (many families tend to have genetically-based patterns of disease), a child as a reporter, and parents’ names and places of birth. This will often help you reach back another generation. All good. Which is how I found Catherine. She was listed as the Mother of my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Catherine McMurray Duffy, on this Catherine’s death record out of Scotland.
Only one hiccup, though. And that’s her married name. Is it McMurray, or McIlmurray? In any case, I’ve run across two people also researching Catherine Loughran, both in Scotland, and who also have her as their kin through a different line than mine. Seems that since one of Catherine’s Granddaughters emigrated to America, the knowledge of that line in Scotland basically ends. I have the rest of the story, since I’ve been able to connect the dots back to Scotland, but haven’t been able to get further back than Catherine having been born in Ireland. She married a man named Felix, this we all have, and I have a Griffith’s Valuation that lists him in Leitrim, Ireland, in 1857. So there’s that. But it isn’t much, really.
Ancestry has since added many more documents from Ireland to their database, so I am beginning to plow through those, trying to determine which one of almost 5000 “Catherine Loughran”s is my Grandmother. Not quite as daunting as the half-million hits one gets for “John McManus”… but, still. Without a birthdate, a deathdate, or her parents’ names, I really am guessing. Although putting her in Leitrim in 1857 is something.
So, for the three of us, her Grandchildren, who are looking for her, I hope she smiles and sends an angel to guide us in our work. For here we are, 100+ years after she’s died, thinking about her, wondering about her, and wanting to know something about her.
Her blood still flows in our veins…