Attempting to regain focus on my family tree, I pulled up Ancestry.com and stared at the records of one of my Irish immigrant ancestors. And suddenly, I became intrigued with a fellow researcher of my ancestor, wondering if he might hold a bit of information on our mutual ancestor.
Zipping an e-mail with a "hello" and "what do you know about our ancestor?", I closed the webpage and went about my boring day. But my fellow researcher was quick on the draw and zipped a response right back.
"Hello again," he said.
Now I really am pathetic, I thought. It seems I have contacted this same fellow researcher in the past and with further dialogue, I calculate him to be my 4th cousin.
He must think I do not have a life; routinely stalking him about our ancestor.
But in our discussion, my 4th cousin revealed he just recently stumbled on surprising and startling information. The passenger list that we had downloaded from Ancestry.com is full of transcriptions errors. The index states that our ancestors arrived at the Port of New Orleans from Londonderry; however,--my 4th cousin, fellow researcher and holder of earth shattering news--revealed he had just discovered a wonderful website of Irish immigrants in Delaware: Lalley.com.
Mr. Lalley had obtained Irish passenger lists from the Delaware State Archives and published the lists on his website. And lo and behold, the ship of our Irish ancestors actually docked at New Castle, Delaware: a common port of Irish immigrants in the early 1800's.
This new, jaw-dropping information swiftly turned my research around. It all makes sense. The family was found in New Jersey and then settled in Michigan. Why on earth did they port in New Orleans? I wondered for years. But it was on Ancestry.com, so I accepted the information as fact, though all along I knew it never made sense.
So, what did I learn from this turn of events? Nothing. It was just a wake-up call to my bored mind with a little reminder of my own number one genealogical principle: Our best resource in genealogy is each other.
Errors in transcriptions of documents will always occur but reaching out and contacting fellow researchers is by far, our very best source of good research.
And so I tip my hat to my 4th cousin and Mr. Lalley of Lalley.com. You both shook up my bored, uncreative mind and restarted my thinking juices.
Thanks. I needed that!
For exploration of your ancestor's passenger lists, try the following websites:
Keep searching for answers,