In 2016 when I attended the Nebraska State Genealogical Society Conference, featured speaker Joshua Taylor made mention of those ancestors who become our lifelong research projects. Mine is my great-great grandmother, Emma Anna Murphy.
I wrote about Emma constantly in the previous iteration of my genealogy blog, known simply as “New England Genealogy,” but she bears readdressing here, since I’m starting fresh.
Like many mysterious ancestors, Emma has kept me up at night. I’ve even dreamed about her, despite not knowing what she looks like. Then I’ve woken up, hoping there would be answers waiting. Of course, there haven’t been…
My dear great-great grandmother passed away in 1945 after what seemed like a fairly normal, occasionally eventful, life. If you consult any vital or census records pertaining to her, they’ll let you know she was born in Maine. Or Massachusetts. Or, perhaps, Nova Scotia. So there’s that.
She seemed to be feisty, considering the family story that she’d walk a mile and a half to give her son a piece of her mind. And then there’s the newspaper article about how she ended up in court on charges of assault in 1910.
Sometime during the 1890s, she ran a little “dining room” and “variety store” out of the home she and her husband, my great-great grandfather Erastus Bartlett Shaw, had in Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Prior to that, she married Erastus in Middleborough in 1888.
And prior to that? Nothing. We have nothing but odd clues to go on – various places of birth reported – her age (born maybe about 1861), and her previous married name (Reagan or any variation thereof), but not her first husband’s name.
In future posts, I’ll share more about the steps I’ve taken to work through this particular genealogical problem, as well as how access to a wider range of records and DNA has changed my approach to Emma.