A Humbling Experience
By Sandra Lindsay - sandra.lindsay[at]sympatico.ca
This is my story of research gone awry or how you
can make anything fit your facts when you want to!
My first foray into genealogy began in 2001 when
my mother asked me to “please look into your father’s Lindsay family when you
have a few minutes”. She obviously didn’t know anything about the addicting
effects of genealogy as 10 years later I am still working on that line and
multiple other branches of both sides of my family. After visiting the Archives
of Ontario I found some information on my ggrandfather, John Thomas Beynon
Lindsay from Thornhill, York County, and that led me to my gggrandfather John
Lindsay whose death certificate said that he was born in Kerry’s, Ireland. After
posting to the County Kerry mailing list and realizing how unlikely it was that
I would find a townland, I found a professional researcher online and hired him
to do some research. It was hashed around that it might mean the Kerries
Townland in County Kerry but that was ruled out by several experts online and
the researcher who said that many people in other countries add “an apostrophe
s” to County Kerry. Because my ancestor was Methodist my researcher looked for
the pockets of Methodists in County Kerry and concentrated his research in the
parishes of those areas where the Lindsay name showed up in Tithe Applotments or
Griffiths Valuations. There was only 1 parish and that showed a John Lindsay who
was baptised in 1802 to parents named Joseph and Catherine. According to the death
registration and headstone my John Lindsay was born in 1800. Irregular Methodist
circuits allowed for delayed baptisms. My researcher felt that the dates in
Canada were likely slightly wrong but he always admonished that you can never be
100% sure with these things.
Once I knew the townland of Tarbert I used
Rootsweb’s surname search with Lindsay and Tarbert, Ireland. I came up with the
name Jackie Lindsay who was also researching Joseph. I emailed her at a U.K.
email address and heard back very soon from a very excited woman who had so much
in common with me. We were similar ages with children of similar ages. Her late
husband, Thomas, was descended from a Joseph Lindsay baptised in 1800 who would
have been the older brother of my John. Thomas would have been my 4th
cousin and Jackie had continued his family’s research. The English Lindsay
family had done a lot of research in the late 1800’s to apply for the granting
of a specific Irish coat of arms for the Lindsays. History had it that 2
brothers, John and his older brother Thomas, had drowned in the harbour of Quebec
City on the way to emigrate to Canada. Jackie phoned all over to tell people
that John had not drowned after all. I was thrilled to be the bearer of such
positive news and to be able to receive the benefit of all their research.
Jackie and I became online friends first of all and then face-to-face friends
when I visited England that year and made a detour to her town. Since then we
have visited once in Canada and four times in England and fondly shared the news
of 3 marriages and 5 grandchildren.
In 2007 I decided to have my brother’s DNA tested
through the Lindsay DNA Project in hopes of finding some other people connected
to this family. Jackie and I were stuck at Joseph Sr. born about 1757 who had
journeyed to Ireland to work for a family in Tarbert. We could not find where he
came from – assumed Scotland – but the name Lindsay is so common there. The DNA
project manager wanted the DNA of another male for comparison to my brother’s –
a cousin of mine plus any relative of Jackie’s husband. My other brother is the
only living male in our Canadian line that was born with the name Lindsay but
Jackie was able to find a cousin of her husband in Australia who agreed to be
tested. Their line is running out of males as well. The tests were done - and to
our great surprise - there was no match at all. We were in total shock. The
project manager said he had seen this before. The assumption is that somewhere
along the line a woman had a child that was not fathered by her husband.
Researchers on both sides of the Atlantic weighed
in on this. We have had experts, professional researchers, genealogy lecturers
that have gotten involved through contact with various people that Jackie and I
have copied on our emails. There were niggling questions we always had. We could
never figure out why John would not have contacted his family if he survived the
drowning. The names certainly fit. John’s son had Thomas as one of his middle
names and the name Thomas figured prominently in the Tarbert Lindsay names. John
was on his way to Canada but how did he meet his wife who was from Queen’s
County – a long distance from Kerry? Who was Samuel Lindsay? John’s daughter
attended his daughter’s wedding in Toronto but the name Samuel did not occur in
the large Kerry family.
In March 2011 I went back to the original death
certificate. It is now accessible through ancestry.com. All of a sudden, after
10 years, it now looked to me like it could possibly read King’s County - not
Kerry’s. This would answer how John met his wife because King’s is next to
Queen’s. All this time, all the discussions, all the emails, all the theorizing,
the money spent on professional research and I had read one word wrong. I sat
with my head in my hands for ½ hour or so and then emailed Jackie. She couldn’t
believe it either. At one time we signed our letters “cil” for cousin-in-law.
Now we sign them “col” for cousin-out-law.
Three lessons have been learned from this:
1. DNA or the family trees aside, Jackie has
become a good friend and nothing will change that.
2. It doesn’t matter how impressed my relatives
are with the findings I have made, I will never again allow myself to become
conceited and think that I actually know what I’m doing when it comes to
3. When we assume we often make an ASS out of U and ME … usually ME!!!
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