Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bad, Bad, Bad Genealogist

The original working model for my search. Click on image to enlarge.

When I received my reply to my AncestryDNA email regarding my close match, I had very little time left before I had to be in my car and headed to Dayton, Ohio. I did not have the luxury to mull and ponder over the possibility of an elusive Daugherty connection that seemed tantalizingly close.

But I didn't need that much time.


Because I am a bad, bad, bad genealogist.

The match with this new mysterious Daugherty connection was within a first cousin range as indicated by AncestryDNA's I-told-you-so approach. I had no hard data at my fingertips to corroborate this information. No quantitative amount of DNA segments to guide me. No percentages of shared DNA with which to play my familiar numbers game. But the short reply email I received to my inquiry told me two things. Firstly, when I indicated that the match was within a first cousin range, the respondent asked me if I was doing this for someone considerably older than me. So I inferred that the mystery match was an older man. Secondly, the response indicated that if I was truly that closely related to this person, it would either have to be through the Daugherty or the Tries family.

I had been mired in Daughertys for months. But I had yet to come across the surname Tries.

So how does that make me a bad, bad, bad genealogist?

Simple deduction indicated that if this mystery person thought I was related via the Daugherty or the Tries family, then somewhere a Daugherty married a Tries. So I did a simple check of such in FamilySearch's search engine. And in a fraction of a second I had this:

"Ira Dougherty" married "Katherine Trese" on 4 February 1911 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

If you refer to the opening graphic you will see a simplified version of the working model I had for my mother's unknown father that you have seen before. You will also see that Ira Daugherty was the brother to Bertha (Daugherty) Ryder Rieder Prestidge Merrifield and LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader Johnston that I have discussed in detail in previous blog posts. I had already located two marriages for Ira Daugherty, and I knew that he died in the same automobile accident that killed LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader's youngest son in 1943. But this was the first time I had heard of Katherine Tries.

If Ira Daugherty happened to sire some sons by this newly-discovered bride, they too would mathematically qualify to be candidates for my mother's father, just like the Schrader brothers. They would all be males of the same generation to be on the list of "possible grandfathers."

As I anxiously watched the time, with my car already packed and ready to drive, it was again only the matter of a couple of key strokes to find Ira Daugherty enumerated in the 1920 census, living in Chicago with his wife, Catherine, and their 5-year-old daughter, Lillian.

And it was equally just as easy finding them in the 1930 census enumeration of Chicago, where Ira Daugherty was living with his wife, Cathrine, and children Lillian, age 15; Gladys, age 8; Thomas, age 6; and Harold, age 3.

Thomas and Harold Daugherty.

Two boys.

And two more candidates for my mother's missing father that should have been on my list from the very beginning.

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

Why did they not make this blasted list from the very beginning?

Because I am a bad, bad, bad genealogist.

Ira Daugherty was a passenger in his own car when his nephew flipped it and died on impact south of Niles, Michigan, on 15 March 1943. Three days later, without gaining consciousness, Ira too died. His obituary published the day of his death in the Niles newspaper rehashed the details of the horrible accident that it had previously reported upon days before. It also narrated a fairly standard biographical sketch of Ira Daugherty. The obituary provided the standard vital information one usually expects to read in the newspaper. It gave his date and place of birth. It indicated his service overseas in World War I. And, most importantly it completely enumerated his survivors by name. His brothers and sisters were listed with their places of residence. His five step-children born to his surviving wife, Melita, by her deceased first husband, were also mentioned by name. Even included was a brief passage indicating his eldest stepson, Rudy Schmaltz, was station in Virginia in the United States Army. For a genealogist, it was a fairly thorough assessment of a life lived and ended tragically. 

No children of Ira Daugherty were mentioned.

When Albert Daugherty died in Niles, Michigan, on 11 December 1960, he too was honored with a detailed obituary in the local newspaper, the Niles Daily Star. Having no children of his own, the obituary was so complete as to list his surviving nieces and nephews: Margaret Byrd, Catherine Dorn, Edward Schrader, Ted Schrader, and Joseph Schrader. These were the children of his sisters, Bertha and LaVina.

No children of Ira Daugherty were mentioned.

Based on such information, I had discounted Ira Daugherty as a possible source for male heirs to be my mother's father. And although I had meticulously detailed the lives of his two childless brothers, Albert and John Jr., I had done so primarily because they were always attached by the hip to their parents and to their sisters in all their frequent moves back and forth between Grand Rapids, Niles, Dowagiac, and Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana. Somehow the need to dig further into Ira's life was never a priority since I had already deemed him "childless."

Trust me, there were tantalizing clues. And they had been uncomfortably stirring in the back of my mind. When the progenitor of all these siblings, John Henry Daugherty Sr., died in 1939, he too got a nice obituary in the Niles Daily Star. It stated he was survived by eleven grandchildren. Bertha had two. LaVina had five. And in my notes, I have underlined, "Who are the other four grandchildren???" Even accounting for step-grandchildren, the number never really worked. It bothered me.

Bad, bad, bad genealogist.

But now I had two new boys to contend with, Thomas and Harold Daugherty. So what became of them? Why were they ostracized from the Daugherty family? Or conversely, had they somehow been the ones to cut ties from the often drunk, less-than-law-abiding, rowdy Daugherty family and their extended kin now centered in Niles, Michigan?

The new working model for my search. Click on image to enlarge.

There was one more census to check: 1940. And there they were. This time no longer residing in Chicago, Illinois, "widowed" Katherine Daugherty was living in South Bend, Indiana, at 4 South Taylor Court, with her children: Gladys, 18; Thomas, 16; and Harold, 13.

Yes. There they were. The two brothers Thomas Daugherty and Harold Daugherty were living in South Bend, Indiana, on the census six years before my mother's conception. South Bend, Indiana. Just a bus ride away from Elkhart, Indiana, where my grandmother Helen (Timmons) Miller lived. South Bend, Indiana. Where Helen's first husband, Eldon, had found work at Bendix during the war.

Oh, and what was the profile name of the AncestryDNA account who was apparently a close genetic match to me?  The same AncestryDNA match that was apparently a much older male? The same AncestryDNA match who was apparently related to Ira Daugherty and Katherine Tries?


Harold Daugherty.

Apparently Ira Daugherty's youngest son was alive and well, and he shared enough DNA with me to be within a first cousin relationship.

If you recall, first cousins shares an average of 12.5% of their autosomal DNA in common with each other. This, of course, would be the most common default for any of the DNA companies to report if such a value came up as a match, because it's far more common for cousins to be tested at the same time.

But who else would share 12.5% of their DNA with me?

A great-uncle would.

And with that revelation, I looked at my watch. I was nearly twenty minutes behind schedule. I stuffed my notes in my pocket and jumped in the car.


  1. Amazing. I've been following your blog, hardly able to wait to see where this would take you. You, sir, are not a bad genealogist. Oversight in hindsight. I've beem trying to locate my grandfather, whom I've never met, and from who no one has heard from in 50 years only to find out he and I are currently living in the same town. I have yet to locate him, and we're probably within blocks of each other. I commend your work. Good luck with getting the rest of the answers to the mystery!

  2. Son. Of. A. Bitch. You've done it to us AGAIN - lured me in with the idea that "The pieces of the puzzle are coming together" and then leave me hanging. Son. Of. A. Bitch.

  3. Ah, Michael, deep sympathies. One always learns the hard way that failure to follow all the twigs (such as Ira's Census enumerations) will usually end in chasing one's tail.

    I look forward to seeing the catch-up.

  4. I think I learn more from watching "mistakes" and oversights than from easy success, especially because the path to solving such mysteries is probably more often crooked than smooth and straight. And I have a lot to learn.

  5. I feel like we are getting very close to the end of the story? And what a story it has been! Maybe for Christmas!

  6. Michael, I join so many others in thanking you for taking us along on your genealogy research journey. Your energy and professionalism are inspiring. I hope you won't continue to be hard on yourself about the grandchild number clue. So much else cut the other way about Ira.You have given me a template for some research I want to do to verify a paternal situation. And you are an excellent writer.

  7. So it's grandpa Thomas, eh? Such a shame he died in 1997. Can't wait to hear about his life and whether or not your mum has siblings!

  8. Please, Santa, bring me the end of this story for Christmas, I can't stand the suspense anymore!

  9. My mother-in-law has a similarly perplexing set of grandparents. This story is inspiring me that I may yet live to solve the puzzle (and given me a few ideas about how to make better use of our FTDNA test results).

  10. Having read this far, I for one am not rushing to judgment. But even if Thomas really is the Hoosier Daddy, this doesn't begin to end the story. It just opens the sequel. I think a seance with grandmother Helen is definitely in order as the opening chapter.