When I talk to family history researchers or listen to speakers relate their experiences, I get depressed by the people who had a cousin, grandparent or some other relative who had researched the family and left a considerable amount of material, including journals, pictures, heirlooms, original documents and letters. Others had a grandparent or someone else available to relate stories of their family's past. Jealousy rears its ugly head! Those folks are lucky! In some ways, though, they miss out on the thrill of the research effort.
Hopefully, the 'haves" are checking the stories for accuracy and cataloging everything that isn't already well organized.
Then there's folks like me. My maternal grandparents had died by the time I was four. My paternal grandfather died in 1939 and my paternal grandmother died when I was ten.
Mom and Uncle Mutt grew up with their maternal grandmother and great-grandmother accessible. They were able to pass along a few stories and details, but that was it. Uncle Mutt put together his recollections of the McHugh and Crail families. There were some errors, but he did a pretty good job. The notes provided a good foundation for further research.
It was the material resources that really hurt. According to Mom and Uncle Mutt, the following had been in the family prior to my grandparents' deaths. There may have been more goodies.
1. Catherine O'Neil Crail's journal that told of her trip from Ireland to Indiana and included at least a couple of generations of her family in County Cork.
2. A photograph of Aaron and John Crail from 1863 or 1864, in uniform, just before they left to serve in the Civil War.
3. A trunk with some family heirlooms, including Uncle Mutt's WWII uniform.
4. A McHugh coat of arms that hung in my grandfather's office at his tool and die shops.
What happened to the items after my grandparents passed, no one knows. One of my cousins had a print copy of the McHugh arms, so I do have that.
Pop told me that questions about the family just never came up, so he really didn't know anything. [The occasional story about his family did come up from time to time, however.] I had asked him about the origin of the Prall surname. He told me he'd heard it was Scottish. His sister's recollection was Pennsylvania-Dutch. Both were right to a degree. There are Pennsylvania-Dutch and Scots in the tree.
Once again, one of my cousins came up with the gems - a handful of family photos from about 1911 through the late 1930s. The photos included my grandparents, my grandfather's sister and her husband, Grandma's mother and grandmother and my father and aunt as infants.
So, the bulk of the research, both sides of the family, was left up to me. Tracking the Pralls had its bumps in the road. Shaky research on a couple of generations made it a challenge. The Faucetts finally came together thanks to bios of two of John Faucett's grandkids. There are still missing details though. I've been able to track most of the allied families back to the British Isles or Western Europe.
Heirlooms, photos and the like are almost non-existent, but details and stories have been located.
Mom's side of the family, despite the details from Mom and Uncle Mutt, came together much more slowly. Wisconsin research helped flesh out the McHugh story. Two generations of the Crail, Simmons and Crousore families were well documented. Beyond that, not much.
Three of my Salt Lake trips helped open the floodgates! One took the Crousores back another couple of generations into western Pennsylvania. A second added another 4-5 generations to the Simmons family and a couple of dozen [probably more] allied families to the mix. The third plugged some of the remaining gaps in the Crousore story and added another handful of families to the tree.
I'm reasonably proud of the research I've done and what I've accomplished. There is still more to do; I'll be working on my MacCallum line in Salt Lake come January.
As I have lamented frequently in numerous posts, if James B. Crail and Mary Ann Jones would just come out of hiding....................