Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fungi, Family, and Far Fetched Comparisons

I'm still hooked on the whole Ancestry.com thing. Like a true addiction, my family has suggested they might need to stage an intervention to save me from the winding trails back into my past! Some have refrained because they do want to know the scoop on the ancestors but I think a few others might be convening planning meetings to organize the 'intervention' (:

I don't really have the words to describe how the tidbits I find send tingles of excitement throughout my whole being! Then there's the ironic finds.....

You may recall that I had started with my Dad's family first because we knew so much about my Mom's family already. WELL....let's just say the paper record trail isn't quite matching with the maternal story line!!! The story line [in the abridged version] is that her mother's family had come straight to Chicago from Ireland some time in the 1870's...this seems to be true as I've found lots of that family all over the Cook County records all the way back to 1887. According to the story line, her father's family had also come in the 1870's and they were all New Yorkers.....sort of only very partially true! Seems my grandfather, who supposedly opened the Chicago branch of the family after being sent here by the Navy to act as a stenographer at Great Lakes Naval Base during WWI, had not only been in the area for much longer than that but had been preceded here by several Aunts and Uncles who not only didn't come from NY [seems they arrived from Ireland in Rhode Island?!?!?] and more like the 1850's not 1870's] but who had gone out to the Butte, Montana copper mines and then returned as far as Chicago where I found an 1880 Federal Census record of their residence.

I know a lot of this from the documents found on Ancestry.com AND a pair of ancient, dusty photo albums my Mom had inherited from her Dad...that dashing gent in the above photograph!
In his beautiful calligraphic script there are descriptions. Not fleshy ones detailing genealogy as I would like but ones showing a young man on the MOVE!! He owned a motorcycle with a side car and back before highways were even a concept he documented trips from his CHICAGO base out to Butte, Montana in 1917....

were we meet  "a cousin in Butte" .....sigh....c'mon Grandpa couldn't you have given me the tiniest bit of a hint of how this cousin was related???? He has pictures in Denver, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, San Diego and lots more at the Wisconsin logging camp where I found him in the 1920 Federal Census.....but here he is in his Navy duds with his mother [my Great-grandmother!!!!] and brother in 1918 in their New York backyard?????

That's him on the left!

So he left Great Lakes and went to Wisconsin to live AFTER WWI ended!!! So much for the 'story'! There are pictures dated all through the 20's of "Ohio Trip" and "Washington DC Trip" and "Travels back East". Then he seems to 'settle down' and marry my Grandmother and snap pictures of his growing family including this one of my Mom.....

who was always deathly afraid of our birds when they would make the odd escape during my childhood?!?!? Maybe this canary left deep seated scars?

The photo albums really sparked some long lost memories in my Mom! Suddenly I heard about these cousins....

the GREAT grandchildren of one of those Uncles who supposedly lived in New York with all her other paternal relatives....except they lived in Chicago.....and according to the Federal Census records so had the Uncle, his son, grandson, AND Great grandsons!!!  Two of my Grandfather's Aunts had also settled here and while my Mom regaled me for the first time ever with tales of these different families she kept maintaining that they weren't her father's relatives....just family friends....even after I showed her the paper trail?!?!? 

Now this is the far fetched part of the post......

So the other day I find these mega-monster mushrooms growing in my neighbor's parkway.

There were more beginning to sprout as well. I happen to know that these mushrooms grow as a result of decomposing wood in the soil. Now I was here last summer when the big old maple up by their house finally died and was cut down. But my new neighbors just moved in this spring and they wouldn't have known about the maple tree! So as they look at these mushrooms growing 20 feet away they might very logically assume the parkway was the location of the old tree. Only someone with all the information would know that these mushrooms are sprouting from the extended root structure!

Did my Mom only ever hear about the big family tree in New York and not the roots that had made their way all the way out to Chicago and Butte? Was my Grandfather negligent in conveying the relationships to my Mother or was she so focused on the New York connection that she missed the 'mushrooms' that had sprouted from the Chicago branches? Not real confident that I'll ever have an answer but boy it makes the hunt interesting!!!

Time to add the caption updates that I got from my Mom so the next generation can understand the curious discrepancies that crop up in genealogy.....

Like why my Uncle and Grandfather were alone on this park bench in New York in 1937! I want them to know that it was just a "Boy's Trip" to the American Legion Convention in New York.......  nothing more.


  1. its really fascinating isn't it. I should be quizing my grandparents now, my one grandpa knows alot of our history, we used to own wall street, hmmmm don'tknwo what happend after that. Very interesting. We've had such a wet year that we have some huge mushrooms too!

  2. oh wow. this must be thrilling for you. I've been one of two unofficial genealogists in my extended family too, and the stuff I've found (really with the help of my Aunt) has been spine tingling too. I love your old photos. maybe I should post some too. (thanks for the inspiration) I love the one of your mom next to the bird cage -- with the knee socks. so cute. oh and the mushrooms are "ganormous." Gae whose blog I read (Cherished hearts at Home) went into her bac yard one morning and spray painted the tops of the mushrooms in bright colors and then brought her little ones out there and told them they were from the fairies. so cute. i sent you a private email yesterday.

  3. Very cool stuff! My family paid someone several years ago to do our family tree. We already we were related to Abraham Lincoln but it was neat reading about it!
    (i love all your old photos)