I’ve been working on my brother-in-law’s Murphy-Higgins line for a few years. While I was able to find many generations of research done on both his Boisvert and La Grange lines, the Murphy-Higgins line moved at a snail’s crawl.
The trouble starts with his Great Great Grandmother. She was a widower before 1900. Documentation wise she fell off the face of the earth after 1900. The only information we had to go by was a photograph ca 1900 with her name – Margaret Higgins Murphy and South Carolina.
As the story went, Margaret left Glens Falls, NY to spend time with family in South Carolina. She stayed there a couple of years, dying in the state around 1913. Her body was sent back to Glens Falls for burial next to her husband.
I searched high and low for years trying to find a link between the Higgins family and South Carolina. I struck out in New York and South Carolina. It was almost impossible to find her since I had no clue where in South Carolina she moved to, when she went, or who her relatives were. The only thing I had to go by was the maiden name Higgins and the death date of 1913. Neither of them panned out.
While browsing familysearch.org a couple of weeks ago, I saw that they had death certificates for South Carolina. I decided to try my hand at them. It certainly couldn’t work.
Searching for Margaret Murphy proved a cumbersome task. But after a couple of hours and different research attempts, I was rewarded. I found what appeared to be the Margaret Murphy I was looking for. This woman was born about the right time in Ireland and she was buried in Glens Falls. She had been living in Charleston, SC with a sister. So, I had the connection to Glens Falls and a familial connection in Charleston.
The death date was off by a few years. This Margaret Murphy died in 1919. To top it off, Higgins was nowhere in sight. Her Father’s surname was O’Leary!
I searched for other death certificates but came up with nothing with a Glens Falls connection. The more I looked over the death certificate, the more I felt in my bones that she was the right one. If she was the right one, what was up with O’Leary?
I did some more research on the web and found an index listing for St. Mary’s Cemetery in Glens Falls. There I found the Murphy family. There was Patrick Murphy with his wife, Margaret. But, nothing in genealogy comes easy especially with brick walls. The index had no death date for Margaret, only a birth year.
Although I felt I had the right person, I was not satisfied. With Patrick Murphy’s name on the death certificate or a specific death date in the index, I still had a measure of doubt. I was going to have to find other records that might prove a connection between the two Margarets. I don’t think it will be easy.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com