Discovering Your Family's Past
The more time passes, the more the stories of our past fade and are forgotten. But our ancestors left traces behind: photos, letters, artifacts, legal documents, passenger records, gravestones. Genealogists discover and analyze these traces to recover your family's forgotten stories.
What story does that German bank note tell? In post-World War I Germany, denominations of paper money skyrocketed from ordinary ones, fives, tens, and twenties, to one million, fifty million, one hundred million mark notes and more, just for everyday shopping. A family who lived through that terrible inflation brought that hundred million mark note to America. Even though this family had to struggle to make a new start, the note reminded them that they had survived much harder times.
Are you ready to recover your family's forgotten stories? Let's get started.
Discovering the Fitzpatricks of Cork
One of the most exciting discoveries I've ever made was finding details about the Irish branch of my family. In Paris, of all places.
An Irishwoman in Paris
I grew up knowing that my grandmother's grandmother was an Irish woman who went to work in Paris. The story was that her sisters all became nuns. She didn't want to be a nun, so she went to Paris to work as a governess. Her name was Barbara Fitzpatrick. She died in childbirth when my great grandfather was a small child. She and her baby were buried in the crypt of Notre Dame Cathedral. And that's all I knew, until I discovered the Paris Archives online.
Documents Waiting to Be Discovered, People and Stories Waiting to Be Found
The archives are organized by arrondissement (neighborhood district) and by year. Although I had a fair idea of the years I was looking for, I had no idea which arrondissement. I started with the first arrondissement, and unbelievably there they were: Barbara and her husband Joseph Huske. They lived in an apartment not far from the Louvre. I'm so grateful to the French for their thorough marriage records! This one went on in great detail. There in the section about the bride were her occcupation, her hometown, her father's name, her mother's maiden name, her father's occupation, and the fact that her mother had already died.
Just like that, I learned that Barbara was the daughter of Cornelius Fitzpatrick and Margaret Russell of Cork, Ireland. Cornelius was a tailor, and Barbara was described as a giletiere, or maker of gentlemen's waistcoats. That made perfect sense. Barbara's husband, Joseph Huske, was also a tailor. Most likely they met through work. Maybe Barbara even worked for Joseph before their marriage.
I also found my great grandfather's birth record, and then the birth record for the Huskes' second child, Vincent. And within a week of Vincent's birth, his death record, and Barbara's.
These documents confirmed much of what I had been told about Barbara. They also opened the door to learning more about her family in Ireland.
What discoveries are waiting for you? Let's start looking!
Recover Your Family's Forgotten Stories
Ready to learn more about your ancestors? Liaisons Genealogy can help you get started, guide you on the way, and take on the tasks you want to hand off to a professional. Liaisons can:
Help you evaluate what you know about your family's history
Create a research plan tailored to your interests and budget
Find documents relating to your family
Understand the story behind the documents
Research specific questions
Help you find your way around "brick walls"
Gather oral history
Place your family's experience in historical context
Compile your findings into a written narrative
I can also help you use DNA testing to answer questions about your heritage.
Recovered Family Stories
One of the most frequent requests that clients make is to discover what county their ancestors came from in Ireland. Very often it's possible to locate not only the county, but also the townland and parish. Sometimes there's more to discover. One client descended from a line of barristers who were often written up in the local and regional newspapers, and whose ancestral home serves as an inn today. Another client's Irish ancestor turned out to have stood trial for murder, and to have died in a mental hospital.
Roots in Lithuania
A client only knew that her great grandparents had come to New York City from Eastern Europe. She wanted to know her great grandmother's maiden name and where she was born. I was able to trace her great grandmother to a village in Lithuania, and to find her birth record. The birth record gave her parents' names, and led to records of their other children, their own parents, and extended family.
Ancestors in Nova Scotia
Another client believed his great grandmother had been born in Massachusetts. It turned out that she, his great grandfather, and even his grandfather had been born in Nova Scotia. His great grandfather and great grandmother were both born to Irish immigrants and were baptized in the same parish. They moved to Massachusetts after they were married and had already started their family. Their oldest son, the client's grandfather, never admitted to being born in Canada. He always claimed to have been born in Massachusetts, perhaps so he could have the benefits of U.S. citizenship without having to be naturalized.
Same Name, Wrong Person
Sometimes tracing family history involves distinguishing different people who had the same name and lived in the same place at the same time. The results are not always satisfying. A client wanted to prove that his family was descended from a distinguished resident of New York state, but unfortunately there was no connection. Another client wanted to prove her ancestor was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in colonial times. However, although a man of the same name was born there, the research to date has not connected him with her ancestor.