Last week, I read a post over on PastSmith that really resonated with me. She has a few photos that are presenting potential relatives that she hasn’t been able to connect to her tree. She has some interesting clues that may very well lead her somewhere. She posed the following question:
“Have you ever had to start midstream, so to speak, in research? This is the first time I’ve tried to connect someone to a person in my tree without starting with something concrete. It’s a little disconcerting!“
I immediately thought of Maggie Douglas. Her’s is an interesting research story. I’m going to tell it parts. Today? Part one, an introduction. Here goes…
That photo up there is my spunky great grandmother Mary Brown Young Costello. She was born in Scotland and at the age of seven she, her mother, and her three living siblings left Scotland to join their husband and father in America.
Mary lived the remainder of her life in Montana and Washington State. I have always had so many records about her that I was not particularly concerned with her immigration and travel records. I knew when she arrived, where she lived and so on. Well a few years ago I revisited the information I had on Mary and decided it was high time I gather the rest of the records I could. That meant immigration and travel records were a must. I found this:You can see Catherine Young, age 36, with her four children Catherine, Mary, Alexander, and George. As it turns out I wasn’t nearly as curious about this record as I should have been. I made three big rookie mistakes – at first. Mistake one – I found this and quit looking for other travel documents. Mistake two – I thought this was the whole record. Mistake three – I didn’t read the whole page.
Let’s break this down a bit.
Mistake one – Later, I had gained more knowledge and learned that there could be multiple travel records. I needed to look for records from the port they left, the port in which they arrived, the Ship Manifest, and the Border Crossing record – they arrived in Quebec and crossed from Canada to the US. Not to mention there is the possibility of a passport application, a passport, a naturalization record and probably others I don’t know about. Each of those records has the potential to add new information. Lesson: Don’t quit looking when you find record number one! I’ve gone on to find two more so far.
Mistake two – Ummm, there’s this little thing at the bottom of the page. It’s totally familiar to everyone. We see them all the time and I apparently ignore them. It’s an arrow. A small little thing inviting the reader to click on over to the next page and see what is there. Guess what? What was there was page two of the document! Page two, that added more information. Page two that made me realize Maggie Douglas existed. Here’s page two:On page one, Catherine is listed on line 18, she is also on line 18 on page two. On this page we learn that Catherine was traveling with $500 and that her passage was paid by her husband. She and her children were traveling to James Young who was living at 829 Placer Street in Butte, Montana. And here is where mistake number three comes in. Let your eyes glance upward and see that whoever is listed on the line above Catherine is traveling to her cousin James Young living at 829 Placer Street. What now?
I noticed that little fact a few YEARS after I originally found this record because I didn’t click to page two and I didn’t read the entire record. Lesson: ALWAYS check for a page two, and three and so on. Read the ENTIRE record.
Back to Maggie. Reviewing both page one and page two, this is what I know about Maggie Douglas:
- Maggie Douglas
- Age 26
- Able to read and write.
- Citizen of Scotland
- Race – Scottish
- Last permanent residence: Clydebank, Scotland
- Nearest relative in Scotland: Brother-in-law D J Muir, Dock Street, Yoker
- Final Destination: Butte, Montana
- She had a ticket that she paid for herself.
- She was either traveling with $100 or $1,000. You could convince me of either.
- She had never been to the US before.
- She was joining her cousin James Young who lived at 829 Placer Street in Butte, Montana.
- She answered no to the next several questions – she wasn’t a polygamist, anarchist, cripple and so on.
- She was 5’7″, dark complexion, brown hair, blue eyes, no identifying marks.
- She was born in Clydebank, Scotland.
Once I had read through the record, I was completely stumped. I had no Maggie Douglas in my tree. No D J Muir in my tree. No idea how Maggie and James were related. Where on earth to start?
I was faced with doing exactly what PastSmith was talking about – I was being forced to start midstream.
To be continued…