QC Blog: Steelers beat Ravens, and I Scored a Genealogy Win!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Steelers beat Ravens, and I Scored a Genealogy Win!

The Steelers had a big day on Saturday, and so did I.

One of my hobbies is Genealogy. Some days when you're researching your family Genealogy, you move forward in the game, by finding a name here, a small piece of information, a little hint that allows you to find out more. Other days, you score a touchdown, and find a huge piece of information that alters the course of your research. Once in a while, you score the equivalent of a Steeler Win and you find that piece of information that is the ship your ancestor came over on - the name, the date or anything related to that trip they took across the ocean that was the beginning of your life here in America.

My relatives took many journeys, some from Ireland, others from Germany and some from Italy. I do most of my research on my Irish side of the family, since those are the relatives most familiar to me. If you aren't famous, like the Rooney family, your poor Irish history is pretty difficult to find, combined with sparse record keeping in the 1800's. About 2 months ago, I did score a touchdown in my Irish history by finding a lead in where my Kelly family (the Smith's of Irish names) possibly came from. I was excited and thrilled because it's the first thing I really have "discovered" on my own, without help from my genealogy cousin, who's done a ton of research before me.

In the past two months, I've been concentrating on the Italian side of my history. This is the side I know the least about, but since they came here in the 1900's, there are likely to be more records to be found. Unfortunately, even though the 1930 census became available last year, I can't find my father's family at all. This should have been easy - I thought I even knew the street they lived on - but inexplicably, they aren't there. Where could my grandparents and three children (one of those is my dad) have been in 1930? I was disappointed and discouraged, but I continued to sign on to my Ancestry account several times a week, typing in names and searching for information. I've searched the Ellis Island site and can't find anything relating to my grandfather, even though I know the approximate year he came here. The thing about researching on the Internet is that search engines are not perfect. Sometimes, finding information depends on how you type a name in or how the transcriber read the words on the ship's manifest or the census report.

The big event for this past weekend was the Steelers-Ravens playoff game. Sometimes when I watch the game, I wear earphones to hear the radio play by play, so I don't have to ask so many questions (because even after 33 years of watching this game, I don't think I'll ever understand it!) After the first half, I was frustrated, so I got up and logged onto my computer and started typing in genealogy searches. There were 15,000 matches to my grandfather's last name and with the game proceeding in my ears, I started clicking through page after page of results. The Steelers started to do well, which of course means if you're not in the room when they do well, you need to stay where you are, so their luck won't change. I'm still searching, page after page.

The Steelers score a touchdown. Well, now I'm just staying right where I am, so I don't jinx them. When I reached about page 35 in the results, I started to see his name on citizenship papers, and opened one up that I knew the second I saw it - it was him. This was my grandfather and the ship he came over on was listed and the year was close, and I'm asking myself, could it actually be him? I then went to the Ellis Island site and typed in the ship name and the date I found on the papers discovered on Ancestry and there was his name and his father (I did know he came here with his dad), and it was spelled incorrectly in a way I wouldn't have even guessed. But it was him.

And here I was, while the Steelers were winning the game and my husband and sons were yelling and cheering in the other room, and the game is blaring in my ears and I'm thinking - this is it - the ship he came over on, the date, the name of the boat and I'm scoring my own WIN in my family history. In addition, I've discovered that he came over and stayed with an uncle, so there were relatives from Italy here that I didn't even know about before, so it's an entirely new family lead to research. And I found one of the most important finds in the family history game, another name. On the ship's manifest papers, his step-mother's name is listed, and the great grandmother who was a blank space on a chart before, now has a name. Her name was Frances.

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