This week's Fun from Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings is to find our "most recent unknown ancestor" (MRUA) defined as the individual with the lowest number in our Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List who lacks either a first name or surname. We're then asked to think about what might be in our research files for this person, what we've looked at recently, what we might have missed, and what resources (on- or off-line) might help us.
I found this a really useful exercise for a family that's been one of my most challenging to research. I knew before going into this which branch I was going to land on for this challenge - the only thing I wasn't certain about was which individual specifically would be the MRUA. My father's maternal line is the one where I have the least information and the most holes. But they're also the line in which I derive the most satisfaction when I find any clues at all (much less any solid connections).
I've written about the McCormicks over the years, and some of the challenges I've had with them. In reviewing my Ahnentafel List, the most recent unknown ancestor is number 40 - the father of my great-great grandfather Thomas McCormick.
Thomas Joseph McCormick was born in Ireland, 1847. The 1900 census gives his year of immigration to the United States as 1865, though since the 1900 census is also off on his age by three years, I take this as a ballpark date. Thomas McCormick died in Maine, Sept. 1905, presumably while on business as the superintendent of an Albany, New York paper mill. I've traced his residences in the United States from Albany, NY, to Berlin, NH, to Norwich, CT - with census and city directories for the locales indicating he was employed in paper mills.
Thomas was married to Margaret Gilligan, born 18 Jan 1851, also in Ireland, and who, according to the 1900 census entered the US in 1860. Thomas and Margaret had 7 children, all born in Connecticut between the years 1874 and 1888, six living to adulthood. I have yet to identify Thomas (or Margaret) on any passenger lists, and since the earliest I place him in the US is in Connecticut, 1874, am not exactly sure where he would have entered this country - either New York or Boston, I'm guessing. I have not yet located any marriage records for Thomas and Margaret.
So where to go from here? I need to learn more about Thomas before figuring out who his father was. I have a fair amount of raw data on various McCormick families living in the Norwich, Connecticut area from 1882-1900. I need to analyze the family groups, many of whom have the male names Thomas, Joseph, and Daniel, and who were working at the paper mill, to try and determine any possible familial relationships. Also, Thomas and Margaret's daughter, Maggie, died in Sprague, Norwich County, Connecticut in 1880 - tracing any church records relating to her life and death may yield more details about the family. I also want to find any naturalization records for Thomas (1900 census indicates he was naturalized). I recently found more details about the family during their stay in Berlin, Coos County, New Hampshire, including the marriage of their daughter Catherine to William McCann - there may be more details there to uncover.
Essentially, I need to better analyze the data I have, look into finding church records, and research other family groups living near the McCormicks, particularly in Nowich County, Connecticut.