Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Genealogical Giant - Talk about Irish Luck!

   Dave McDonald in his "Thinking Genealogically" blog wrote a recent post about a "genealogical giant" in his life.  He asked his readers about their own "genealogical giants."
   One who immediately came to my mind was Ed O'Day. Ed and I have never met in person, but corresponded for awhile years ago.  I learned about him from a member of the historical society in my Massachusetts home town. I remembered his parents, the Postmaster and Postmistress in town, but I had never met Ed, who had left town, probably before I was born.  Known to many as Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, here was a hometown descendant of an Irish Famine era family. He had extensively researched his own family and other local Irish families, as well. And he was willing to share some of his knowledge with me!
   He shared information from the Chattel Mortgage Books he found in the basement of the town hall. (I would never have learned of their existence from any other source.) He had naturalization information found at the county courthouse. I learned from him that naturalization papers for the brother of my husband's great great grandfather contained the parish and county of his birthplace in Ireland. I hadn't even known there was a brother! Later, I was able to locate images of these naturalization papers online at familysearch.org.
   Ed was familiar with the history of the Roman Catholic church in the area, and knew how to find records according to the time period.  He had written a history of the Roman Catholic Parish in our town. He had also researched and written a scholarly article about Irish railroad workers.
   Ed published some information helpful to those researching Irish families.  It is on a website entitled Irish and Irish-American Family Research Many listed resources have become available online in the fourteen years since he posted the information. A checklist for locating Irish origins using American records is just one of the items available on this site.
   I will always be grateful for Ed's kindness, assistance, and encouragement.  I feel so fortunate to have found an Irish genealogist and historian from my own hometown.