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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

34 Page Document "The Descendants of Thomas McLaughlin"

WARNING - Later Posts may have more updated information and discoveries but it is best to read them in order.

My Maxwell line has always been a bit of a mystery for my family as has been my McLaughlin family line. I knew that my great-grandmother, Mary McLaughlin, was born in Austin, NV in 1870, moved to Napa, CA, and married Jack Flanagan. I also had her father's name, Thomas McLaughlin but not much in the way of information beyond that. I started my search on that line in Napa, CA. I found Thomas and Ellen (Maxwell) McLaughlin living in the Salvador area of Napa. I wondered if I'd found the right people.

I found them in Austin, NV, too. Census information from those "hints" on Ancestry led me to the correct people. Also, there were not a lot of people living in Austin, NV, in the 1870s, although there are probably less now. It's considered a ghost town in Northern Nevada off Highway 50. Thank goodness I knew that my great-grandmother, Mary McLaughlin, went by the nickname of Minnie. I also knew some of her sibling's names but not much more. Oh, but I did have this hand written family tree that my sister had to do for school. It must have been in high school. There are no dates on the tree but there are names including last names. I found Ellen Maxwell on a passenger list as a young girl immigrating via Liverpool, England, from Ireland. I was not sure if it was her so I put it in my Ancestry "shoebox" for future reference. That "shoebox" is handy as it does not attach the document to anyone in particular plus you can get back to it without having to recreate the wheel of research.

As I was adding people to my McLaughlin/Maxwell line, I kept having a "JPMaxwell" tree pop up as a hint for my line. I peeked at his tree and wondered if they were my relatives. I had some doubt because, what were the chances? His tree was quite extensive including photos of Joseph Patrick Maxwell who emigrated from Ireland. I sent him a message over Ancestry. His response to me was that I was part of the long lost family who went west to Nevada and California. He also said that there was extensive history in Newport, New York for my McLaughlin's of which he is not related but knew of them. So maybe I am a doubting Thomas but I thought maybe..... I sent him a message back letting him know that I was going to ask my mom more about our Maxwell's and Mclaughlin's. (So seriously, at this point, wouldn't you bet it was true since we've got not just one side but both?)

Anyway, my mom came up to my house the next week and brought "the box" in which my grandma had been gathering information for years. She had collected information and documents for my Grandpa Flanagan's family. The majority of the contents of this large box are related to our Flanagan's. However, I found a manila folder in the box with McLaughlin written on it. The folder contains family worksheet pages for both McLaughlin and Maxwell. There are a few letters too. Apparently, the information originates from a few previous researchers - my Aunt Ellen Maxwell Flanagan, George Capes, and Thomas Malloy. Once I reviewed the family tree worksheets, I realized that Joseph Patrick Maxwell is my ancestor from Ireland. There was a worksheet in the box for him and Judith Shaffrey with their daughter, Ellen Maxwell plus all of the other children. What a find and we had the information all along. My mom admitted that she just never had the chance to look it over. How exciting! I reconnected with "JPMaxwell" and started populating and sourcing my tree.

Now, another interesting find came out of all of this. A location back east called the Irish Settlement in Newport, Herkimer County, New York, has proven itself as a link to the past for my family. More in the next post.....still need to get to that 34 page document!


  1. Very cool and exciting... I found out that John's Grandmother's Dad's brother was an architect in Chicago in the 1930s. In fact, there is a whole library of stuff in Chicago about the family that John's Grandmother's cousin has kept. Unfortunately, I'm only allowed to have one box copied a semster. I was able to get one box that was correspondence between Grandma and her cousin. It was fun to read. Good luck on your search..

  2. That is so cool. Finds like that are rare but out there, I'm find out!