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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Shaffrey Line - Part 1

Mary was my great grandmother.  That name is rather common for the time frame in which I am talking about.  I should clarify this statement.  Mary Elizabeth McLaughlin was my great grandmother and she went by the nickname of "Minnie" her whole life.  In fact, her son, my grandfather, Richard Joseph Flanagan called her "Min" instead of mom.  I wonder if that was just as an adult or if that was what he always called her.  Mary's married name was Minnie Flanagan.

I am often struck by the fact that so much of a woman's identity of the past can be lost when she gets married.  The change over to her husband's surname can sometimes make it extraordinarily difficult to trace the female family line back in time.  That's why some people leave clues.

In my experience with family histories, I have found that some family members just don't want to talk about the past and other family members.  I have also found that that does not just mean forgetting the past 30 years or so.  It can also mean forgetting the past 100 years and not carrying forward valuable information of one's origins.  Well, thank goodness that is not the case for all of my family lines.  In fact, I think if my McLaughlin/Maxwell family line knew exactly what information we would have needed to properly create and preserve a family tree, they would have certainly left it behind in a complete fashion.  Hind sight is 20/20.

Minnie's parents were Thomas Michael McLaughlin and Ellen Maxwell.  When it comes to creating a family tree surrounding them and sourcing it, I can find specific documentation every time I try.  I may be missing a census in 1870, but I can pinpoint Thomas and Ellen's locations going back to their births.

While the McLaughlin name was and is no secret in Newport, Herkimer County, New York, their origins do rather run dry when you try and complete research in County Longford, Ireland from a stateside location like my own home office in California.  I'm still not entirely sure how much there is to find about my direct line ancestor and 4th great grandfather, Michael McLaughlin, born about 1785 or so in and around Ringowny, Parish of Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland.  Someday my quest to pursue the McLaughlin line will continue but for now I am in search of my Maxwell's and maybe successfully finding my Shaffrey line as I write this.

Minnie most definitely wanted to continue her mother's surname and keep it alive in the family line.  She made sure to include the name "Maxwell" in two of her children's names.  My grandfather's oldest sister was Ellen Maxwell Flanagan.  His youngest brother was John Maxwell Flanagan.  She didn't pick her own surname of McLaughlin as their middle names and instead insisted upon Maxwell as their middle names.  In fact, John's nickname was Max as a kid.  She left a huge clue for those in the family line who have not yet been clued in.

So how easy is it to trace the Maxwell's?  Well, stateside it has proven to be easy.  In fact, there are Maxwell's, McLaughlin's, and Maxwell/McLaughlin's who can point you in the direction of each other and the Irish Settlement in Upstate New York.  That truly is a special connection that in and of itself lends proof of the family lines.

How do you make the jump back to Ireland to research the Maxwell line?  Well, it is tough and what I have found instead is my Shaffrey line.

More in part 2 when I get to writing it.

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