Sometimes, You’re Wrong

Rule 51, Gibbs’ rules–NCIS, “Rule Fifty-One” (Episode 24, Season 7)

As I was working on this week’s 52 Ancestors prompt, the research I found or reviewed made me realize I had made a mistake in a prior post. That wasn’t exactly the discovery I wanted to make!

The irony of it all is that the post in question, Close Up, talked about a mistake in my tree. I made the correction to my tree as soon as I discovered it. The blog post discussed how/why the mistake was made in the first place. That’s all well and good, except I now realize the explanation was wrong.

How embarrassing!

Rather than try to incorporate the additional correction into this week’s regular blog, I decided it should be dealt with on its own, beforehand. Otherwise I think it might have become lost in this week’s post, and would also make it more confusing.

I won’t rehash Close Up in depth—you have the link to go back and re-read it, if you like. The original problem stemmed from John Joseph Carmody’s death certificate having the wrong names for his parents. I discovered that fact later on, from his newspaper obituary. Make no mistake—his death certificate is still wrong! But it’s not wrong for the reasons I listed in the previous blog. I had said Andrew J. Carmody (John Joseph’s nephew) had been the informant and gave incorrect information. Nope.

The current mistake happened because I relied on 10+ year old memory, instead of re-examining the document when I wrote the post. So, how did I figure it out, today? I looked at my photo of the headstone for Andrew J., the nephew. His death year of 1939 was carved in it. John Joseph died in 1940. It’s really hard to be an informant if you are already dead. I clearly had a new problem.

After checking Andrew J.’s death certificate to confirm the headstone was correct (hey, mistakes happen, and might not get corrected!), I looked at John Joseph’s death certificate. It clearly said the informant was Andrew M.—John’s son, not his deceased nephew. The decedant’s father was “John J. Carmody” and the mother was “Mary Whelan.”

Originally, I was operating under the assumption that John Joseph’s parents were Mary Whelan and Michael Carmody. So I had assumed Andrew M. got the mother’s name correct, but had been distracted or grieving when stating the father’s name and gave his own father‘s name (John Joseph) instead of John Joseph’s father’s name. When I found the obituary, I discovered my faulty reasoning.

Unfortunately, once I corrected my file based on the new information from the obituary, I didn’t really think about it further. When I decided to write about that incident for a blog post, I should have pulled up the death certificate to double-check facts. I didn’t, so I misremembered some of the details. About the only defense I can make is that we were traveling in France at the time, and my time and internet access were somewhat limited. It’s a poor excuse, but the best I can muster!

Hopefully, I don’t have to correct that blog ever again! Of course, it still doesn’t explain why Andrew M. got those two pieces of information so abysmally wrong in the first place. I guess none of us is perfect . . .

The Importance of Being Ernest–I mean, Aloysius

“Nostalgia has a way of blocking the reality of the past.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Nine days ago, I wrote a post about the name Alois/Aloysius (Unusual Name), and its appearance in our family. At the end I related a story about my oldest brother choosing it for his Confirmation name. Almost immediately I received an email from my sister-in-law (wife of middle brother) saying that he had Aloysius as a Confirmation name.

Had I mis-remembered the story? Entirely possible. It was not written down, just tucked away in memory. Could they have both chosen the same name? Maybe. Unfortunately, oldest brother, Bob, died in 2008, so he isn’t around to ask. How could I resolve this conflicting information?

When it got to a more decent hour, I called our mother (age 96!) on the off chance that she remembered. Now, she’s 96, wasn’t Catholic until she turned 70, and we’re talking about something that happened sixty years ago. I didn’t hold out much hope.

I was not mistaken. She did not remember who had which Confirmation name, though she remembered one of them had chosen Aloysius. She also confirmed that she didn’t care for the name, but didn’t remember telling anyone that. So perhaps I’ve mis-remembered that aspect of the story, and she was simply perturbed that the name was selected.

But that still didn’t resolve the issue. I messaged youngest brother, Bill, to see if he remembered anything. He thought he had chosen Paul, and that Bob had Aloysius, but reminded me it was a long time ago! If he’d read the blog entry, that also might have influenced his answer, so I took it with a grain of salt.

I decided I needed to follow my mother’s advice and call the parish. Hopefully they had a record of the names. The woman I spoke with two days later was very nice, and I gave her as much information as I could: our names, my Confirmation date, and all our graduation dates. I figured she might need to search through registers, so waited patiently for an email reply. It arrived today!

The email¹ from the parish secretary included all our Confirmation names, as well as the dates. Bob (Aloysius) and Carole (Lucy) were confirmed on the same day (our parish held Confirmation every other year, doing two grades at a time). Middle brother (Warren) was Thomas! Bill had correctly remembered Paul, and I already knew Elizabeth for me.

While I feel slightly vindicated (sorry, Warren!), truthfully I wouldn’t have cared if the answer had been different. I could have just as easily been wrong. This isn’t a fact I track in the genealogy, much less being a “vital” data point. But since the question had been raised, I needed to follow up on it, verifying it one way or another.

But now that this mystery has been solved, I can move on to others!

¹Lara Krupicka, Hinsdale, Illinois [(e-address for private use),] to Christine Bauman, e-mail, 29 January 2019, “Confirmation Names”; privately held by Bauman [(e-address & street address for private use),] Greenwood, Indiana.


Time to take stock . . .

BONUS POST! Brought to you at no extra charge . . .

Well, here we are, two months and ten posts into this adventure! It seems like a good time to pause for a moment and reflect. Amazingly, I’ve managed to keep up with the topics so far. I’m not sure how well that will work when we are traveling, so that worries me a bit.

Overall, I find myself enjoying this process–perhaps more than I expected. It’s interesting to see how some of the posts evolve–almost taking on a life of their own. Sometimes I see the prompt (which is always the title–in case you haven’t deduced that already) and my mind jumps immediately to an idea. I may stick with that, but often my mind migrates to another ancestor with a different story . . . and then another . . . and another. Eventually I land on one and stay there, but it can be a convoluted thought process.

Other prompts leave me scratching my head and wondering what in the world I will write about! Fortunately, long walks through the neighborhood provide an opportunity to work that out; a much better method than sitting in front of a computer screen, banging my head on the keyboard.

Regardless of how I end up at my topic, by the end of the piece I generally have a sense that it was the right ancestor and story. Luckily I’ve never gotten to the end and said, “Scratch this! I need to do someone else . . .” Whew! That would be extremely frustrating.

I frequently realize I need to reexamine my facts or look up something, because I have a gap that needs filling. Then, of course, there was Aunt Kate (Favorite Name). I realized there were many questions regarding her first husband needing resolution. When I couldn’t find what I needed, I sent a query to my extended cousins (as well as a quick call to Mom and an email to her brother), hoping someone heard/knew more than I did. While they did not have the answers I needed, most replied back to me, even if it was just, “Sorry!” Several contacted their parents or aunts–the older generation, who might have been more likely to remember her. Thanks, guys! One even made a request to IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository) for a record she thought might help. Thanks, Ellen! Even though it came after my deadline, it did answer one of many questions, so I appreciate the effort. (George Warren was an iron worker in 1892.)

One of the biggest challenges has been to figure out how to tell each story in a non-confusing way. When you know the people and story so well, it’s easy to assume everyone else does, too. That’s not really the case, and some stories can get a little complicated. So I try to make sure pronouns aren’t ambiguous–antecedents are our friends! I also try to let the post sit for a while (over night?) before I go back to edit and proofread. It’s a habit I developed in high school, and I find the time away from my writing gives me fresher eyes. It’s easier for me to realize something isn’t clear and either simplify it, or provide more information. Sometimes, both!

The post that gave me the most trouble was Heirloom. As I was wrapping it up, I realized it was longer than I wanted. WordPress provides me with a word count, so it’s easy to see. I didn’t want to start over from scratch, but wasn’t quite sure how I could cut it down. I decided to duplicate it (again, easy to do) and make changes to the copy. If I didn’t like them, I could always revert back to the original. That plan worked well, and I lobbed off 200 words or so, even after adding others to finish it up.

By far, the best reward has been the positive response I’ve received from family! No one has yet said, “Shut up, Chris!” so that’s a relief. Thank you, everyone, for sticking with the blog and reading it! And thank you, Amy Johnson Crow, for providing the nudge to do this. It took me 4 years to take the plunge, but better late than never, right?

The photo above was taken 7 May 2009, in the Caribbean on board the Holiday–a now-retired Carnival ship. Even though I added a caption to it, I guess it won’t display that when it’s up as the “featured image.” Go figure.

Oh Boy!

And so it begins . . .

After years of hearing how blogs are wonderful “cousin bait” for genealogists, and repeated nagging from some (maybe all?) of my children, I’ve decided to start a blog. We’ll see how it goes. The final prod was Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge. Blogging isn’t required, but it seemed having a blog set up might be the motivation to follow through each week. What’s the fun of writing, if no one else sees it? So the plan is to post at least for the weekly prompt, perhaps more. Wish me luck!