As some of you will recall, I did some research for Historian Jeff Harding awhile ago that resulted in some never before discovered details about the fiance of General John Reynolds. We had an article in “Civil War” magazine before Jeff decided that this story needed a book. You can read my first post about the discoveries here: Genealogy Research Helps Solve a Civil War Mystery
He’s been working on it over the last couple of years and it will be released on February 7, 2022! Here is the short blurb….
Union general John Reynolds was one of the most beloved and respected military leaders of the Civil War, yet beyond the battlefield, the captivating true story of his secret romance with Catherine “Kate” Mary Hewitt remains etched into his legacy. Clandestinely engaged before John marched off to war, the couple’s love remained a secret. Kate made a poignant “last promise,” a commitment to enter into a religious life if her beloved were to be killed. Tragically, Reynolds lost his life leading troops into action during the opening phases of the Battle of Gettysburg. Within days Kate was embraced by the Reynolds family and soon began to honor her promise of a religious life. Yet a few years later she seemed to disappear. Author Jeffrey J. Harding unveils new findings on Kate’s life before and after John’s death as he recounts Gettysburg’s saga of star-crossed love.
There have been other times in my years of genealogy research when re-visiting the records for a family turn up something new that answers some long standing questions. This happened recently with my Bannon family from County Fermanagh, Ireland and New Haven, Connecticut.
The Bannon family emigrated to New Haven in the mid to late 1850s. They settled in a block of buildings on what was first called “Governeur’s Lane” and later renamed to “Madison Street”. I started calling the area the “Bannon Compound” as there were so many Bannons and relatives living in the houses over the years. My direct ancestor, James Bannon and his wife, Bridget McHugh, lived on Madison Street for the longest amount of time, into the 1880s.
The star marks Madison Street, New Haven, CT in 1868.
In the 1860 census there was a Catherine Bannon living on Madison Street. I originally thought that she was the widow of a Bannon male, although I never found a husband for her. I eventually made the connection that the Joseph Bannon, who was living there and who had immigrated with James and Margaret Bannon earlier, was actually Catherine’s son. At that time I still thought that Catherine was the sister in law of the younger James Bannon. My original report on the family lists her as such. I was aware that Joseph Bannon’s death record only lists his mother as Catherine Bannon, but figured that could just mean that the informant had no idea what his father’s name was.
It’s been years since I did any serious research on the Ratcliffe family of Cheshire and Lancashire, England. Recently, due to some new DNA matches, I started to look at my old information on the family. I saw my notes saying that “according to family, Samuel Ratcliffe supposedly drowned in the River Mersey”. That fact remains true, however, the details passed down left out some details.
Up until now, all that I had as far as documentation was his burial record in Little Leigh, Cheshire, England.
I was told that Samuel was a “waterman” and that the assumption was that he drowned while working on the river. Today I decided to search the newspaper archive on FindMyPast and see if I could find anything on his death. The absolute last article in the search results was exactly what I was hoping to find.
As you can see in this article, while he was an employee of the Bridgewater Navigation Company, Samuel’s death was the result of a bad decision made after a night of drinking. Not exactly as noble as falling off a boat while working as a waterman.
I had been in a discussion on Twitter the other day with other genealogists about “Family Lore” and stories handed down vs facts. This discovery is a prime example of how much they can differ. Family lore is always great to “clues”, but it’s always smart to try to back it up with facts.