Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Grandma’s Box

This lovely couple is Tom and Jenny, my grandmother’s grandparents.  Jenny is my enate great-great grandmother.  There was a family story that they loved each other so much that they got married twice.   Their story probably could have gone on forever if not for one small detail… nosey progeny. When I first began my research, I found a marriage record for Thomas and Emma J. Thompson dated May 6, 1875.  Being the neophyte supersleuth that I was, I was happy to find the marriage record and believed that name reversal was at play here, as that was very common.  This worked out well in my mind since their only child, a daughter named Addie, was born in 1883. Fast forward to a random Saturday morning at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.  For years, cousins and I have been tracking Collier ancestors and trying to put together one of our most elusive lines.  That particular day I decided to peek at the court records on microfilm.  Was I ever surprised to find a listing for a divorce of Emma J. Thompson and Thomas Collier.  I immediately reviewed the file for this couple and it turned out that Emma J. was not Jenny E.  A small tidbit that gave away the shenanigans was a handwritten note by Tom’s attorney, removing himself from the case, as his client had a child out of wedlock.  Other papers told of accusations of Tom’s extramarital activities, most notably with Jenny Thompson.  This marriage was dissolved on October 9, 1891. A walk back through the census and other documents revealed that Emma J. was most likely the older sister of Jenny...

Why I Do What I Do

Meet my grandma, Fayette Winona Madeline Driscoll Dolan.  I was enormously privileged to grow up in the house with my grandparents, as she had with hers.  My grandma was an interesting woman.  When I heard children at school talking of being Irish or Italian, I came home and asked, “Grandma, what are we?”  She did not hesitate to answer, “Yankees.”  When I asked her where we were from, I got a matter of fact answer.  “Here.” Well, that solves everything!  We’re from here.  End of story.  Right?  Not so much! A few more years passed by and Thanksgiving time was rolling around, just as it is now.  Grandma casually remarked, “Our people came over on that boat.”  I wasn’t sure whether she was serious or whether she was starting to crack up but she seemed serious enough.  Years later I know that she couldn’t have been more serious and was absolutely right. Many years later I have come to acquire the collections of newspapers, photographs, deeds, and bills that my grandmother and generations before her had hoarded.  I have a favorite quote about that and sadly, the woman who wrote it passed away on October 28th of this year. “Blessed are the great-grandmothers, who hoarded newspaper clippings and old letters, for they tell the story of their time.” -Beatitudes of a Family Genealogist by Wilma Mauk (1922-2011)...

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