Friday, December 7, 2012

Death Certificates as Stocking Stuffers

This is the time of year when I'm often asked what is on my wish list for the holidays. While I can usually come up with some ideas, the things I would like the most (at least genealogically) might be harder to come by than the items in the 12 days of Christmas. So, here's what I would like to find under the tree (someday).

Dear Santa, (it can't hurt)
I have tried to be a good little genealogist this year. I know I have room for improvement, but I do plan to work on labeling my scanned photos and more thoroughly citing my sources in the coming year. If you happen to find any of these lying around on your travels this year (or any year) you will be sure to find some homemade cookies at my home in appreciation of your efforts.

  1. Death certificates make great stocking stuffers. How about one for Justus Whitcomb Gary (aka James or J.W.), who lived 1820ish - after 1900.
  2. While we're on the subject of J.W., did he materialize out of the ether or did he actually have parents? If you could throw me a bone, I would appreciate it.
  3. Juicy newspaper accounts are also welcome. How about some describing what Henry “Gentleman Hank” Harrigan did for the last 20 years of his life?
  4. Where in Tipperary did the Harrigans and possibly the Flynns come from? All of the death certificates and obits I have for any of them born there are frustratingly unhelpful in locating a hometown.
  5. Is our Clemens family really related to Mark Twain like Grandma said? So far, I've failed to find a connection.
  6. Is our John Brown, born in RI and early settler in Cohocton, NY, really a brother of Thurston Brown (they say the kids or grandkids who married were cousins)? If so, I could extend the lineage back a few more generations.
  7. Any photos of any of my people would be a wonderful present. No wrapping necessary.
  8. Any information, significant or trifling, about Joseph Salpatrick, the Christmas morning murderer.
  9. Any birth/death/marriage/divorce/parent/sibling/children/other information for anyone not singled out above.
  10. And would it be too much to ask for your elves to label all of my unidentified photos.

And here's one for the “if you're going to dream, dream big” category: a diary or a trove of letters from any one of my ancestors or their kin, particularly one of those elusive types.

I think I can say with certainty that I will never find all of the items on my wish list. However, I'm sure that I will eventually be able to cross some of them off. After all, there are still a lot of resources I have not been able to search due to time and distance constraints. I have come a long way in the nearly dozen years I have been researching my family history and I can't wait to see what else I learn about “my people's” lives over the next dozen.

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