Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicago Trip Preparation Part III – Organizing my Itinerary and Reviewing my Research

It is six weeks before my research trip to Chicago – time to assemble my trip binder. I have been collecting notes (operating times, addresses, ckecklists, maps) on various research sites that I plan to visit and putting them into a manila folder. My next step is to organize the notes by day of visit.

First I get a 3-ring binder and some dividers. Then I take my trip calendar, see my post from June 24, 2012, where I have made a rough outline of my destinations by day of the week. I make a divider for each day and place them in the binder. Now I’m ready to tackle my bulging folder. I separate the notes and rearrange them according to the sites I will be visiting. Then I punch holes in the sheets and place them in the binder. It’s a quick way to bring order to my chaos.

While I am in this trip preparation mode, I decide to take a look at a webinar by Marian Pierre-Louis, “Ten Brick Wall Tips for Beginners” that I bought on a CD from Legacy Family Tree.com. One of my main goals for this trip is to try to gain more information on one of my brick walls. I haven’t been able to find much information on my great grandmother’s parents – John Kearney and Mary Duffy Kearney. Maybe some of Ms. Pierre-Louis’ tips could help me.

In fact, the webinar is full of helpful ideas. And it was the very first tip that helped me push my research forward, and put me in a better position to learn more from my trip to Chicago. Ms. Pierre-Louis cautioned her audience to review their research. She said that she knows people will say “Oh, I do that.” But she encouraged everyone to regularly review all their findings on their brick wall challenge.
 I believe the key here is “regularly.” As we find new information, it is important to re-look at our accumulated notes. Sometimes the new facts may give us a different perspective or idea. And, Ms. Pierre-Louis says this review can help us reorganize our information that may provide us a new research route. Well, I was inspired!

I started reviewing my documents on the Kearney/Carney family. A challenge I had been working on was to find where this family lived in Chicago. I knew that their daughter, Mary Carney/Kearney Kries Lauer, lived in West/North Chicago after her marriage in 1895. But before that date, I had no idea where she had lived with her parents. I have been unable to find a birth record for Mary where I might find a residence for her parents listed.

I looked again at the baptismal record for Patrick William Kearney – the infant son of John Kearney and Mary Duffy Kearney who was born 8 Dec 1877 and died in 1879. We know that documents can have many clues besides the obvious. I saw the sponsors’ names on the baptismal record – James Devine and Julia Cosgrove. I had noticed these names before. In fact, I had done a long search on the Cosgrove family, trying to link the Kearneys and the Cosgroves. But something new struck me. What were their addresses? If they were friends of the Kearney family, they must have lived close by.
On Patrick William Kearney’s death record, his parents’ residence is given as “Halsted at Hastings,” a South Chicago address. This is a big clue, but I wanted more evidence. If James Devine and Julia Cosgrove also lived in South Chicago, I could be pretty sure that I had placed my great, great grandparents in 1875. This is where the online Chicago City Directories might offer me some answers.
An important thing to remember when using the directories to search for addresses is that in 1909 the streets in Chicago were renumbered. If you want to plot pre-1909 addresses on maps.google.com or mapquest.com, you have to use a conversion tool to update the old addresses. 

In the 1875 directory, I found James Devine living at 80 (549 – post 1909) Barber St, also a South Chicago address near Halsted at Hastings.  Julia Cosgrove lived with her husband, Matthew, at 308 (703 – post 1909) S. Desplaines, also a South Chicago address but at some distance from the Kearney home.

Now that I had two addresses suggesting the South Chicago status of John Kearney and Mary Duffy Kearney, I wondered if there were any other friends of the family that might give me more confirmation. I remembered researching Catherine Sweeney Brookins Dinan, a friend of Mary Duffy Kearney and later a friend of her daughter, Mary Kearney Kries Lauer. Catherine had been a baptismal sponsor of Mary Kearney Kries Lauer’s first child, Henrietta Kries. I searched the 1875 City Directory for George Brookins, the first husband of Catherine, and saw that the couple also lived in South Chicago at 716 W. 18th St., near the Kearney/Duffy home.

By this point, I had strong evidence that John Kearney and Mary Duffy were South Chicagoans. This knowledge would save me time in my research in Chicago. And I would never have come to this conclusion if I hadn’t followed Marian Pierre-Louis’ Brick Wall Tip # 1 – look over your accumulated research on your brick wall(s) regularly and you will increase your chances of solving the case(s).

Categories: genealogy education, genealogy tools, research terms

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