, descendancy research,

Descendancy Research – A Story About Catherine Lucille

Last week I defined Descendancy Research.

Descendancy research is the process of tracing one person’s posterity or descendants.  It starts with one person and moves forward in time.

Descendancy research is a pretty hot topic right now among genealogists, particularly among those just beginning to work on their tree.  There are a lot of reasons why descendancy research is valuable to genealogical efforts.  I will continue to discuss this important topic in future posts.  Today, I want to illustrate the power of descendancy research through a true story.

First a graphic to acquaint you with the characters in our completely factual tale.

Catherine Lucille story

Several years ago, Gregg and I began a lovely correspondence.  {That story is, in it’s own right, a completely factual tale worthy of it’s own post.  Another day.}  I shared my research, countless documents and conclusions that grew his tree significantly.  He shared photos.  Oh, be still my heart, he had photos of the people I knew all about!  He also shared stories.  Can it be true?  Stories I would otherwise never have known.

Among the stories was a sad little tale about Catherine Lucille.  Catherine Lucille is Gregg’s first cousin, and my first cousin twice removed.  She is the daughter of Catherine, the oldest child of James & Catherine.  Catherine, mother of Catherine Lucille, died as a very young woman in 1923.  Catherine Lucille was the tender age of three at the time.  She was the only child.  Her father, William, was not able to care for her and work the long hours required of him.  He depended upon family members for her care.  He tried to keep her close by as much as possible.

When Catherine Lucille was an older teenager she lived with Gregg’s parents for a while.  Gregg never knew her as she moved on before he was born and never returned.  Among the family treasures Gregg’s father gave him was a little box that Catherine Lucille left behind.  Inside there are a few sad letters from a sickly William to his beloved daughter, a couple of documents, and a photo or two.

gg - william and catherine photo, letter montage

Gregg shared scans of these items with me and expressed on more than one occasion his desire to know what had happened to Catherine Lucille.

This past year I determined to solve the mystery of Catherine Lucille.  I spent time on and searching for records.  Using census and immigration records I was able to determine that William eventually remarried, had another daughter and lived in Canada, and that Catherine Lucille lived with various aunts and uncles as a young girl.  What I didn’t know was her ending.  I couldn’t find a marriage or death record.  I stalled.

Then I took a class on historical newspapers.  In the class I learned about a website called  This is a subscription website that has more recent obituaries.  While researching for a client, I began a membership with genealogybank.  After using it a handful of times, I remembered Catherine Lucille.

A search for Catherine Lucille on genealogybank’s website yielded an obituary.  It had enough information in the article to ensure that it was our Catherine Lucille.  It also had information about her children and grandchildren.  The words in her memorial were sweet and spoke of a happy life.  I felt such a calm, peaceful feeling as I read through the obituary.  Catherine Lucille’s story seemed to have a happy ending.

But I didn’t want to stop there.  I knew that Gregg and I had some important pieces of history that Catherine Lucille’s family deserved to know about.  Using the names of her children from the obituary, I searched through the familysearch catalog and discovered a marriage record collection for the county in which she died.  I took a guess and searched for the marriages of her children.  They were there!  From this record I now had the names of her children’s spouses.

Now on to the white pages.  I found entries for a few family members but the phone numbers were no longer active.  I checked on facebook and found a daughter in law and a granddaughter named Cathy.  I couldn’t help but wonder if she is Catherine, named for my Catherine Lucille.  I sent facebook messages and waited.  And waited.  I resent the facebook messages and waited.  And waited.

I was pretty busy with other projects so I emailed Gregg and explained my efforts.  I then gave him the addresses found in the whitepages.  I explained that I didn’t know if they were current, but worth a try.  After a period of time Gregg sent a few letters and waited.  But only for a short time before receiving a phone call from one of Catherine Lucille’s children!  We have now begun a phone and email correspondence with Catherine Lucille’s posterity.

We know the end of Catherine Lucille’s story and now her children and grandchildren know parts of the middle that had been long ago forgotten to time.  We were also able to share information on Catherine Lucille’s ancestors – photos, stories, and many generations of names, dates and places.  All information that had been previously unknown to them.  There is power in descendancy research.  The power to make connections.  To solve old mysteries.  To tell someone’s forgotten tale.  Even if it is sad.

Everyone has a Catherine Lucille or two in their tree.  Have you considered learning about yours?