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Ancestry.com and the Luck of the Irish

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My name is Tom McNamara. My paternal grandparents passed away when I was young, and my father never talked about his ancestors other than they had emigrated from County Clare Ireland during the potato famine.

My wife and I were planning a trip to Ireland so I joined Ancestry.com to find my roots. With the help of census records, passenger lists, and family trees, I was able to discover that my great-great-grandfather (also named Tom McNamara) was born in Kimaley, a little village in County Clare. A trip to that village was now on our itinerary.

When we arrived in County Clare our first stop was Bunratty Castle. On the castle grounds was a pub with the same surname as ours, so we checked it out. Armed with the knowledge from research and a lot of Irish, we chatted with the couple next to us. This gentleman’s best friend was also named Tom McNamara. The friend ‘Tom Mac’ lived on the ancestral lands in Kilmaley! They took another look at me and knew I was related.

They called their friend and we got to meet him the next day. And you know, he did look like me! Our great-great-grandfathers were brothers! On Tom Mac’s acreage was the original manor house built in the 1700s and the family cemetery. I got to see the house where my ancestors lived and the graveyard where they were buried. The tour was fabulous.

Thanks to Ancestry.com and a newly discovered distant cousin, I had one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.

A Father Finds His Long Lost Daughter

timothy and adelia stokin

For the past decade I have been researching my father’s side of the family, and knew particularly little about my 4th great-grandfather, Timothy Stokin, and his family. 

The first break-through in our research came with finding Timothy and his family in Greenfield, Pennsylvania, in 1850. By 1860, they had moved to Merton, Wisconsin. Through those censuses we learned about Timothy and Adelia’s children who are not direct relatives of ours. We also learned that by 1880, the Stokins had settled in Pepin, Wisconsin.

The story of the Stokins gets more interesting at this point. In 1875, The New York Times ran a story about how Timothy and his wife were reunited with a daughter who was abducted as an infant while the family was living in Waukesha. Taken by a previous suitor, the daughter, Fannie, was taken to St. Louis where she was raised. Thanks to a ship captain on the Mississippi River, she ultimately ended up in the Durand and Menominee area in Wisconsin where a neighbor thought she bore an uncanny resemblance to the Stokins. In August 1875, the family was reunited after nearly 20 years. 

Since finding this story through Ancestry.com, we have been able to learn more about Timothy’s service in the Civil War, and the death of one of their sons early in the war.

More importantly, we have reconnected with a number of relatives through Ancestry.com who have been able to share stories of what life was like for the Stokins in the late 1800s—including the fact that they worked the docks in Durand and Pepin Wisconsin and often took in new immigrants into their home because of their ability to speak German. We have a number of handwritten family histories about the Stokins, as a result. 

Thanks to a more recent connection, we also now have the portrait below. According to another article found on Ancestry.com we were able to determine that this photo is a style called crayon portraits. In this case, we have an original photo, so know that this was created in a studio based on that original. It is a similar style to about a half a dozen other portraits of relatives who lived in Wisconsin around the same time. 

Tim Krause

Thank you Ancestry.com!

Thank you Ancestry! After 50+ years of knowing my siblings names, but not knowing where they lived or how to get in touch with them we finally connected. Someone was getting info from my tree. It happened several times so I looked at their tree and there I found my sister that I had never seen. After many conversations by e-mail and phone, we finally met for the first time on June 12, 2012. Everything was just GREAT.

Thank you again Ancestry.com!

Dave

I found my parents on the 1940 census record and never knew the grandmother that saved my brother’s life lived with them. This is the house they lived in for the 1940 census. David was born at this home and they had two family doctors at the delivery. Both of them declared that David was dead just after birth. Mothers grandmother was there along with her mother and the old grandmother Nannie Anderson/Craig/Hall said “Oh no, he isn’t dead,” and she picked him up and spanked his butt and he started crying. I wonder who got paid for the delivery? Grandma saved his live. You can see a picture of Grandma Nancy Jane Anderson (Craig-Hall) in my tree. This is a picture of the my mother Myrtle Montgomery and David Montgomery (very much alive) taken not long after the 1940 census record.

I found my parents on the 1940 census record and never knew the grandmother that saved my brother’s life lived with them. This is the house they lived in for the 1940 census. David was born at this home and they had two family doctors at the delivery. Both of them declared that David was dead just after birth. Mothers grandmother was there along with her mother and the old grandmother Nannie Anderson/Craig/Hall said “Oh no, he isn’t dead,” and she picked him up and spanked his butt and he started crying. I wonder who got paid for the delivery? Grandma saved his live. You can see a picture of Grandma Nancy Jane Anderson (Craig-Hall) in my tree. This is a picture of the my mother Myrtle Montgomery and David Montgomery (very much alive) taken not long after the 1940 census record.

Happy Ending

Ancestry.com is not just for tracing family roots. It can also be a medium to connect with missing family. For 30 years, we were aware of the existence of my husband’s biological brother and sister but had no place to look.

My mother did all the genealogy work for me before she passed away so I joined Ancestry.com to put it all into one place. It has been several years now and I have lots of information. On the off-chance that my husband’s biological family might be on Ancestry.com too, I recently changed his information to the biological family name.

Four weeks ago we got an email from a lady who was looking for her cousin’s mother. As soon as I saw the email, I knew that the cousins were the missing brother and sister. This has been a remarkable process and we are meeting them for the first time in July.

There are other Gaulthier children out there and we may never find them, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Thanks to Ancestry.com, one of life little mysteries has been solved.

Family and Friends

My sister’s and I inherited several boxes when my mother past away full of family goodies from the mid 1800 to 2001.  But one funeral card we found in one of the boxes had an unfamiliar name.  We searched looking for a connection, thinking and brain storming who could it be.  Finally looking through the 1940 census, the man on the funeral card was my grandfather’s next door neighbor.  He passed away one week after the 1940 census was taken.  One mystery solved many, many more to conquer.