I’m on a train, snuggled into an economy sleeper, heading west from Chicago, and that gives me a lot of time to think about the ancestor I chose for this challenge — my great-great grandfather, Nicholas Connelly.
Truth be told, I really need to do a bit of research to solidly connect the Nicholas Connelly that I find in the 1891 England Census in Yorkshire to Mary Connolly, my grandfather’s mother — in writing, in a report to file — but I’m confident enough with the relationship to go ahead and spend the time trying to figure out when this man died.
I could pull information for the objective from the FamilySearch tree and if I did, it would read something like this:
“Determine a death date and place for Nicholas Connelly, born c. 1856 in Ireland, the husband of Catherine O’Toole.”
But, there are two census records attached to the tree and reviewing the information on the most recent one tells me that Nicholas’ last-known residence was 9 Terrace Street in 1891. I find a widow with some of the same children living at the same address in 1901 and so it’s almost certain that he died while living in that place. I’m going to include the address as an identifier because I think it will prove to be very important.
I’ve also noticed that early English newspapers seem to identify men by occupation and so I’m thinking that information might prove useful in picking out a death notice or a death record for Nicholas. In 1891 he was enumerated as a “mechanics labourer” so I’m also going to add that in.
I’m sure I could tweak this objective to make it stronger, but I’m happy moving forward with it worded like this:
Research Objective: Determine a death date and place for Nicholas Connelly, husband of Catherine O’Toole, a mechanics labourer who was born c. 1856 in Ireland, and who was living at 9 Terrace Street, Northowram, Halifax, Yorkshire, England in 1891.
Yesterday, when I surfed around my FamilySearch tree, looking for a research question, Nicholas was a name without a death date. Today, as a result of the little bit of work that I’ve done looking for identifying information in census records so that I can flesh out the objective, he’s starting to become real to me. For example, in 1881 he was a “hemp cutter.” I read up on the industry and I’m guessing he was earning a living harvesting the crop by hand which must must have been a back-breaking job. Also, if I understand correctly, it looks like all nine members of his household were living in two rooms in 1891. I’m starting to understand a little bit about Nicholas–who he was and how he lived–and he’s beginning to become a real person to me. I love, love, love it when that begins to happen.
FamilySearch Tree, entry no. 964Y-V77 for Nicholas Connolly; FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/964Y-V77 : accessed 23 January 2019).
1881 England Census, Yorkshire, Halifax, Ovenden, p. 14 (printed), no. 77, entry for Nicholas Conley; “1881 England Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7572/WRYRG11_4416_4420-0557?pid=24283474 : accessed 23 January 2019) > Yorkshire > Ovenden > District 4 > image 15 of 33; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881 (Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK, Public Record Office, 1901).
1891 England Census, Yorkshire, Halifax, Northowram, p. 59 (stamped), no. 127, entry for Nicholas Connelly; “1891 England Census,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6598/WRYRG12_3604_3606-0542?pid=5481077 : accessed 23 January 2019) > Yorkshire > Northowram > District 13 > image 17 of 21; citing The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England, class RG12, piece 3606, folio 59, page 19.
1901 England Census, Yorkshire, Halifax, Northowram, p. 20, no. 127, entry for Katherine Connolly; “1901 England Census,” database with images, Ancestry (hhttps://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7814/YRKRG13_4136_4139-0480?pid=26369715 : accessed 23 January 2019) > Yorkshire > Northowram > District 12 > image 21 of 44; citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901 (Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK, Public Record Office, 1901).