As families go, mine is a relatively easy one to track through history. Most of my ancestors came to America from various parts of Great Britain in the 17th and early 18th centuries and proceeded to live, throughout the years, fairly sedentary lives. As a result of this, my extended family has been able to be quite fastidious about maintaining family records and preserving our history. It became clear, however, when I started my own genealogical research project, that there was one obvious ancestral stone left unturned. For this reason, I decided to focus my research on the Brooklyn-based family of my maternal grandmother – a branch of my ancestry which, due to a combination of factors, has remained mysterious.
The only thing I had ever been told about these ancestors was that both of my grandmother’s parents were the children of Irish immigrants who settled in New York City in the late 19th century. I therefore decided to use this genealogy project in order to fill in the considerable gaps of my (and my family’s) knowledge and learn a little more about where my grandmother came from. By searching census records, I was able to find my grandmother’s household in Brooklyn quite easily. Using this information I was able to find out a lot about her father – my great-grandfather – including information about his parents and siblings and their journey from Ireland. My great-grandmother, however, has proven much more difficult. I soon discovered that my great-grandmother, Anna, was orphaned at a very young age and placed in the care of a convent by her two older brothers. This means that record-wise, Anna was cut off from the rest of her family at the age of five. This has proven to be a considerable roadblock, and one that I am still working to get past. Though even without this information, I am very happy to have learned all that I have about the ancestors that I had previously thought “unresearchable”. My whole family has been grateful for this better understanding of these lost relatives and look forward to the new discoveries that lay ahead!