What you can learn from my experiences connecting with my Irish ancestors
By Norman McFarland
I have inherited a couple old documents circa 1908 from my Great Aunt Lizzie. One document listed three generations of my family tree information. The second was a hand written letter dated 1908 from another Great Aunt to Great Aunt Lizzie. Like the generation of family before me, I had read and studied these old documents a great many times. The generation before me had converted the three-generation listing into a family tree and then filled in the more recent generations, including me. There were a few obvious questions by them based on how they had built the tree. Each time I read the Great Aunt Lizzie Letter, I got side tracked reading the cursive hand writing, missing what was actually said in the letter. Each time I read it, I would interpret it differently and have different ideas about who was being discussed.
I was reading the letter again late one evening in July 2009. One phrase jumped out at me “Uncle was a communicant for a good many years before he left Derry, but Mother cannot be sure as to what age he joined the Faughan Church under the Rev. M. Sweeney … ” Faughan church- that was my great grandfather’s church! Upon closer review, the fine print said “in which grandfather was an Elder.” In the context of the writers, “Uncle” was my great grandfather and “grandfather” was my 2nd great grandfather.