Feb 5 2013
I had been searching for my husband’s heritage for 20 years and had been told I would never figure it out. Years and years of looking for the Kelly Clan lead to roads that went nowhere. There was a lot of mythology but little fact. I began to think that maybe the family was right. The only document I had to begin my search was a death certificate for a Grandfather with a very common Irish name. The mother on the death Certificate was listed as unknown, and the father was also listed as unknown in New York. I think most people would have stopped here.
I kept trudging along looking for any clue. I knew the family had lived in the Goldhill, Sierraville and Loyalton areas of California. There were many Kelly’s in the area and I wasn’t sure if it was possible to figure it out. I happened upon a Kelly surname forum where I found a posting from a man that referred to two Kelly brothers that had married two sisters. He mentioned that he had lost track of them in New York in the 1860′s. I realized that his information was matching my research in the Sierraville, California area so I decided to contact him in hopes that he would collaborate with me to share and compare our research.
When we finally connected, he was surprised to have received the email from me. He had taken great efforts to remove his genealogy and contact information from the internet. He had even gone as far as changing his email addresses. He did in fact have extensive research on my husband’s family but was reluctant to collaborate with me. The reason he had gotten discouraged was because someone had stolen his research. Those same people published and tried to profit from it. They never thanked him or sited him as the source.
It took me weeks to convince him to validate what I had collected on the family. Once he was confident that I could be trusted with his research, I was able to get the Kelly family back to Quebec in the early 1820′s.
The reason I’m writing this article is because I believe that we as genealogists have a responsibility to site the original researcher when taking information from them. It’s important to remember that they have paid for documents and have invested their time researching and acquiring them. Any good genealogist knows it’s about collaboration and comparing documents and validating the connections. I would publicly like to thank all the researchers before me that made my journey amazing, exciting, and worth the wait to find the characters.