Brick Walls

Brick Walls. The nemesis of many a family history researcher and genealogist. In our quest to find the answers, breaking down a brick wall can seem almost impossible. The task almost seems fruitless.
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As most of you are well aware my 4x great-grandmother Matilda McGaffin has been without question the most elusive person on my tree. I didn’t even have a death certificate. I knew that she was alive in 1895 because she is mentioned in the will of her husband James McGaffin. I had a feeling in my bones that this was likely going to come down to a spelling mistake. There was a database which has been useful to me in the past for searching misspellings and the index showed a record for a Matilda McGiffen who died in 1898. Another site was required in order to see the full details and it revealed that this Matilda died 7th August 1898, widow of James McGiffen farmer. I cannot describe the elation I felt at finally finding this record! My next aim is to find an original marriage certificate and at the moment I’ve only got a potential date – 9th July 1841.

The most obvious brick looming over my genealogy research all these years concerns my late grandfather. I have never known who his father was and it was something he never discussed or even mentioned. With the introduction of DNA kits, my aim was eventually to test his DNA to see if that could lead to any breakthroughs. I thought I had all the time in world but fate cruelly took that from me. The opportunity was always there in my grasp but now I’m clutching at nothing. I curse myself for wasting an opportune moment. It actually hurts knowing I will never have that opportunity again and that blank space on my tree will continue to remain blank. I will not resign myself to never being able to solve this mystery until I know have exhausted every possible research avenue.

Whether it is down to a spelling mistake or a misplaced record, I truly believe that the answer to a genealogical brick wall is out there somewhere. It may not be found today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year but at some stage the answer should reveal itself. If you keep maintaining that belief then who can say you are pursuing a lost cause.

Anyway I’m a McGaffin, we don’t give up that easily.

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