I had one of those earthquake moments in genealogy this week, when you finally breakthrough a long-standing brick wall and identify key information about an ancestor. For me it was my elusive Irish 3rd great grandfather who settled in Underhill, Vermont before heading west to Wisconsin. For years I had located and analyzed every tidbit of information about his activities in Vermont and Wisconsin in my search for the Irish county of his birth. As anyone dealing with immigrant ancestors knows, jumping back across the pond requires knowledge of where you want to land in order to locate even more ancestors. Naturalization documents are a great source of birthplace information, but I could not locate Bartholomew’s documentation. I researched him, his friends and family and had reached the conclusion that Bartholomew was ‘likely’ from County Leitrim, Ireland. I wanted more evidence. I did autosomal and Y-DNA on my Dad and Uncle, but they had few Irish matches and no matches in their surname project. Like any research that keeps ending in a brick wall, I let it stand for a few years.
Then I decided to book a trip to Ireland, and wanted to visit the county of Bartholomew’s birth. Yet, I was bothered by the lack of stronger evidence that Bartholomew was actually from County Leitrim, Ireland. I developed a new research plan that expanded my search to include a little town in New York where Bartholomew seemed to ‘visit’. After reviewing several sets of microfilms from this New York town, I found it. Bartholomew Gray’s Declaration of Intent which stated his birthplace as Leitrim, Ireland. Bartholomew’s brick wall crumbled and Country Leitrim is a definite stop on my trip to Ireland.