If you heard a heavy sigh awhile ago, that was me. I have been researching a prospective Dolan family for a couple of years now to see if the father might be my “Unknown Dolan”, brother to Patrick, Catherine, Margaret, and Bridget. Tonight I got my answer and it wasn’t good.
I have a trial membership to Footnote.com. I spent some time going through city directories for San Francisco to pinpoint when John Dolan died. I was able to narrow it down to 1890-1893.
With that information, I search the Morning Call newspaper at the Library of Congress website. It’s part of the Chronicling America collection. I started with 1893 and went backwards.
Finally, I found what I was looking for. There was the obituary for John Dolan and he’s…
Rats! Double rats!
John Dolan who I have been tracking for about 5 years is the brother of Lawrence Dolan and comes from County Galway. He is not from County Roscommon and he is not related to my people. Now I have a boatload of research about a family who doesn’t belong in my tree. I’ve got obituaries, census pages, city directory pages, newspaper articles, and more. At least, it wasn’t my ancestor and I never put the information into my database. (Thank goodness for small favors!)
It’s depressing though. I’ve wasting alot of time chasing up a tree that turns out to be mine. It’s a good lesson, though. Not only do we set out to prove things but to disprove them. Had I taken my assumptions and ancectodal information, I would have connected the wrong person to my tree. Instead, I painstakingly tracked each member until I got the definitive piece of proof–the obituary. Unfortunately, in this case, it disproves the connection. Without that document, I could never really say whether John Dolan was my relative or not.
Sadly, I am back to square one. I’ll lament for awhile and then I’ll get back on the genealogy wagon. I know my Dolan’s are out there. I just have to find them.
Hey! I’d be glad to trade you the family of John and Bridget Dolan for William and Thomas Dolan, the nephew’s of Patrick Dolan. Call me 🙂
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com