Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's in a Name?

Birth certificate of Harold Daugherty, 16 March 1927
Cook County, Illinois, Clerk's Office

While waiting for Brighton to settle into his new home, and for his mind to be fully able to grasp the enormity of the existence of an unknown daughter fathered nearly seven decades before, I had time to dig into the factual aspect of the life of my new grandfather. After all, that's what I do. I am a genealogist.

Genetic research as it applies to genealogy is a very young beast, appreciably barely two decades old. The ability to analyze the autosomal DNA of person and how it relates to others is a very new invention. The cost-effectiveness of doing so and the accessibility to the general public that came rapidly upon its heels is nothing short of phenomenal. When asked if I regret missing out on getting to know my grandfather had my grandmother expressed doubts when we met her in 1982, I respond that even had I known, I would have had no way of finding him until at least 2013 when science allowed me to do so. 

Equally so, the methodology of genealogical research has changed considerably since I first started reading microfilm searching for information on my long-dead ancestors in 1980. Although I had access to excellent research repositories, such as the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, even as a teenager, a lot of research involved waiting. Writing letters. Waiting. Requesting documents. Waiting. Connecting with distant cousins. Waiting. Asking distant libraries to locate obituaries. More waiting. I used to pound out letters in rapid succession on my mother's old manual typewriter daily. And every day the race to the mailbox was my singular, ecstatic, most-anticipated pleasure. I once wrote a letter to forty-four county clerks in the state of Missouri asking them to check for a deed of sale for an ancestor's land. I knew only from an Ohio guardianship that his children received money from this sale after his death, and that it involved "land in Missouri." Instead of writing to all 114 counties first (after all, I was a high school student - stamps cost money!), I split the state by the Missouri River and wrote to all the northernmost counties first.

I got nearly forty-four replies. Many clerks went out of their way just to send records regarding people of the same surname, even though I had not asked for such. One of the clerks found the document I was looking for. I was jubilant.

This was genealogical research in the 1980s.

Yeah, okay, so I wasn't like a lot of teenagers.

In the 2010s I could instantly scour the Internet on hundreds of websites extracting information about my grandfather and his family. In minutes I could have snippets of newspaper articles, vital records, abstracts, and further leads. And although Ira Daugherty and his estranged family had eluded me temporarily in my DNA search (see Hoosier Daddy?: Bad, Bad, Bad Genealogist), I was rapidly making up for lost time learning about his wife and four children - the youngest being my presently clueless grandfather. I could amass hordes of data in one night on the computer that would have taken me months of letter-writing in the past.

Since my grandfather was older than the seventy-five years required by the state of Illinois for maintaining the privacy of his birth record, I was able to procure his certificate of birth in minutes through the Cook County Clerk's web site. It was a thrill to see a copy of the actual document that officially announced my grandfather's entrance into this world. It made the man real. It cemented him into my family tree. His connection to me was confirmed scientifically; hopefully soon mentally, physically, and emotionally; but now officially and clerically. All of these things are so separate, yet so deeply intertwined. The documents have more meaning when accompanied with stories and remembrances. The people who tell them have an almost eerie tangible connection when you can pinpoint precisely on what chromosome tiny parts of them reside within every cell of your very being.

Harold Daugherty was born at 10:05 p.m.. the night of 16 March 1927, the fourth child of Ira Daugherty, engineer, and Katherine "Fries," housewife. He was born at 3432 North Paulina Street in Chicago, Illinois. His mother was attended by a midwife, Mrs. Emilie Stryker; the same woman who attended her upon the birth of her son Thomas four years earlier.

The home at the North Paulina address no longer stands. It is now an empty lot immediately north of the Sine Qua Non Salon, housed in a wedge-shape brick building that fills the sharp thirty-degree intersection Paulina makes to the immediate south with North Lincoln Avenue. Lincoln then immediately intersects with West Roscoe Street in this very busy Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Just steps away from where baby Harold was born, the "L" rumbled overhead in 1927 as it still does today. Those catching the Brown Line at the Paulina Street Station are close enough to toss their emptied Starbucks cup upon the place of my grandfather's birth moments before catching the train.

Despite the traffic, the bustling businesses to the immediate south, and the trains overhead, 3432 North Paulina Street would have marked the first residential home on the west side of the street, in line with several tidy two-story, multi-family homes extending to the north. The imposing architecture of Alexander Hamilton Elementary School and St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church were merely a block away northward along the tree-line streets away from the traffic and noise.

It is unlikely that Ira and Katherine strolled this neighborhood with their newborn son, living immediately upon the dividing line between urban bustle and neighborhood calm. The Paulina Street address was likely one of several addresses inhabited by the Daugherty family. They were living elsewhere less than three years previously when their son, Thomas, was born; and they were living at another address when the census taker knocked on their door in 1930. Not a single city directory for the city of Chicago bears the name of Ira Daugherty, likely because he was equally as mobile as his restless siblings in Michigan. And likely because he preferred staying one step ahead of his many scams. This address may have been merely a stopping place for an unhappy pregnant mother to have another child.

One thing is clear by the document depicted at the beginning of this blog. My grandfather was born Harold Daugherty. Not Harold James Daugherty. Not Brighton Daugherty. Not even the Brighton H. J. Daugherty conglomeration he used briefly in the mid-1980s.

He was simply Harold.

Brighton stated later that his mother insisted on strong, regal British names for her sons. From the Old English Hereweald derived from the words for "army" and "power, leader, ruler," and a name carried by two kings of England, she chose quite wisely. And Katherine expected her sons to live up to the greatness implied by their names as well.

It seems perversely odd that Katherine (Tries) Daugherty would insist upon such Anglophilic names for her sons. After all, she was the daughter of German immigrants, both arriving upon the chaotic streets of Chicago less that a decade before her birth. Even Ira Daugherty himself, sporting a very Irish moniker, was the son of a German mother. His maternal grandfather whom he played with as a child had come to this country in 1851 from the Prussian province of Brandenburg sporting the unmistakably German name Friedrich Wilhelm Jonas.

Katherine spoke German easily with her parents, and Brighton recalls German folk songs his mother sang to him as a child. But unlike the isolated German enclaves of smaller cities or the rural Midwest, Brighton's mother grew up in the city of Chicago surrounded by neighbors of diverse European backgrounds. Her education would have been in the public schools with an Anglocentric basis, and she would have entered young womanhood when the nation was gripped with an almost paranoid anti-German fervor as the country entered into World War I. She was likely relieved to quietly tuck away her German heritage and identity as the former Katherine Tries, and experience the security in her married identity of Kate Daugherty. Her immediate family was no different. Kate's Rhenish Catholic father married her Pomeranian Protestant mother the year before her birth in 1892, having two illegitimate children together in the six-year span before her. There were few family ties in Chicago other than her mother's sister. As a consequence, her parents held no special social, fraternal, or religious ties to their German heritage once they arrived in this country. They were Americans, and they went about assimilating as such, like so many European immigrants before and after them. Katherine's siblings, the remaining Tries children, all of immediate German parentage, took spouses of English, Irish, Norwegian, and Greek birth or backgrounds. None of them married a German.

So upon Kate's insistence, and likely to Ira's indifference, their youngest son was called Harold. It was a name that she adored.

And it was one that he hated.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It Takes Two

Brighton Daugherty, 2005, Denver, Colorado
© Jeff Ball Photography, used with permission

At 87 years old, Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty had lived a life only few people could dream of living. 

I had never expected to find a living grandfather. That alone was a shocking surprise I was still trying to fully process and wrap my head around. It was actually possible that I could meet the man who had been the focus of my intense search for all these past months. Hours and hours of sifting through DNA results and begging for genetic material from strangers had paid off. Big time. This kind of story-book ending was nearly incomprehensible.

To understand the significance of these results, let me put a few things in perspective.

I am the genealogist who started researching as a pre-teen, and whose father was unable to spell his own mother's maiden name, and who further told me she was born on September 31st. Think about it.

I am the genealogist whose family discards photos, documents, memorabilia, and heirlooms because they are old and useless. Even decades into my research when my mother and her second husband managed a booth at an antique store, I had to rescue photos of the Dobyns and Hanks family that my mother tried to sell to the public as "Instant Ancestors"!

I am the genealogist who finally finds the document I have desperately needed for decades in Court Order Book 46, page 432 -- only to find that it is the only page that has been mysteriously torn from its bindings and has been missing for decades.

I am the genealogist that descends from impoverished ancestors whom nobody else is seeking. I have mastered the art of research because I have not had the luxury of "hooking up" to somebody else's family tree. Incidentally, I do consider this a good thing, but a factor nonetheless that has resulted in a lot of stubborn, dedicated, time-consuming, minutiae-sifting work.

Luck is rarely on my side.

So the grandfather I expected to find was dead. He was a native of Elkhart, Indiana, or vicinity. He had never moved away and had married as a young man. If he had ever left the confines of Indiana, it was for an exotic vacation to Disney World in Florida. He had worked doggedly at a local factory for over forty years, and he had two or three children who were now doing the same. Any local newspaper reporting of his lifetime accomplishments might be a mention at the birth or marriage of one of his children, perhaps a speeding ticket mentioned in the police blotter column, or an announcement of some time-related mile marker he had achieved in his marriage. He would have retired with little fanfare from a job he had learned to loathe years before, to then enjoy some mind-numbing pastime, like lawn care or watching NASCAR, until his horrible eating habits and lack of activity killed him. The number of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon he had consumed over a lifetime might easily be well into five digits. His death warranted the obligatory public mention of his devotion to his job and family, and touted his allegiance to the Masons or to the Elks or to the Eagle or to the Kiwanis, even though he had not attended a meeting in over two decades. His online condolences from past neighbors and coworkers all indicated he was "nice."

This is what I had anticipated. And if I were lucky, I would be able to procure some photographs from living family members to see if I had any resemblance to my grandfather, as I have no striking resemblance to either of my parents. I would have a starting point to resume work on the quarter of my ancestry that had recently been nullified. My DNA matches would make sense once I had a correct name and a new paper trail for which to attach to them.

The grandfather I found was none of the things I anticipated. And through Donna, who had been the impetus for him to be tested through AncestryDNA and who was my intermediate connection to Brighton Daugherty, I was beginning to learn about his incredible life.

The identity of the man I had been seeking came to me on 22 October 2014. I knew. My mother knew. Donna knew.

Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty did not.

Donna had met Brighton in Hawaii in 1985 when she and her husband had moved there from their home in Denver, Colorado. Brighton's wife, Gay, had been their realtor when they bought their home in Kona, and they liked her immediately. Although energetic and welcoming in her personal presentation, and enthusiastic in pursuing a friendship with this newly-arrived couple to their tropical paradise home, Gay was conspicuously hesitant about revealing many details about her husband.

"My husband Bright is different."

Never ones to follow the rigidly prescribed paths of the social norm, Donna and her husband found this initial assessment to be far more tempting and interesting of an invitation than a warning of any kind. Days later, both couples met, and the evening was spent discovering similar interests, such as Asian aesthetics, shared favorite authors, and compatible philosophical mindsets.

The complete lack of discussion regarding football teams, sports scores, and feigned masculine bravado suited both men just fine. The couple became great friends.

Upon the death of Donna's husband in 1993, and Brighton's divorce in 1994, the two had become intimate confidants, living together in Hawaii for nine years thereafter. Donna returned to her home in Denver, Colorado. Brighton followed a short while later and they resumed a close friendship, which they have maintained for nearly three decades. Donna seemed to be a good sparring partner for a man with stubborn convictions, and the mutual respect between two strong-willed persons was apparently a good part of the glue that cemented the friendship together.

Donna was significantly younger than Brighton, and when his age brought with it the myriad health issues expected of it, she stepped in to help where she could. Brighton passed his seventies in rather vigorous good health, but he entered into his eighties as a broken aged man. As he said to me later, "one day I just woke up old." His care was becoming a full-time job, and Donna was the only one who had applied for the position.

Spinal stenosis diagnosed decades before resulted in a series of surgeries to stabilize Brighton's vertebrae and save the use of his hands, which were becoming progressively numb from years of dealing with his ailment. His third surgery in 2011 ended in unexpected post-operative seizures and complete respiratory failure.

He remained on life support for nearly two weeks, and it was generally thought that he would not recover.

I am learning that you never tell Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty what to do. It is very likely that he heard the news of his impending death in his unconscious state and decided to prove everyone wrong.

Brighton recovered, but he also had experienced a traumatic brain injury from his near death experience. His ability to process information, especially in the short term, was deeply affected. And despite the tragic consequences of his 2011 ordeal, a fourth surgery for spinal stenosis was again performed in March 2014 to preserve nerve function and decrease pain. His post-surgical delirium was profound, and he remained in a rehab facility for an additional two months. After finally returning to his own home, he was immediately bounced back to the hospital a week later with a mysterious respiratory ailment and other complications. The doctors were quick to assume a cardiac-related problem, but the culprit was found in his home during his hospitalization. A long-standing water leak from a drainage pipe under his apartment had resulted in the growth of black mold in the flooring, the walls, and on several belongings that had been subjected to the moist environment.

So while I was chasing down my mystery grandfather during the bulk of 2014, Brighton Daugherty was struggling to regain a semblance of a normal life. And as I looked for the whereabouts of this mystery man, Brighton Daugherty had no home to call his own. He was sent back to a rehabilitation facility in early summer, 2014, after his hospitalization.

After hours upon hours, and days upon days of struggling against bureaucratic red tape, Donna was finally able to arrange living quarters in an assisted living center in Lakewood, a community contiguous with Denver, Colorado, on its west side. Although not at all what Brighton considered an ideal situation, it allowed him certain amounts of freedom, but consistent health care he was now unable to provide for himself.

My initial contact with Donna via AncestryDNA coincided with his move into his new home.

The corporate owner of Brighton's previous apartment had deemed his living space uninhabitable due to the mold, but they were still in possession of almost all of his personal belongings. Bright had nothing resembling the comforts of home for the majority of 2014. He was often agitated and confused about his new move, and he was verbally unhappy with his prospective new life, marginalized from society and devoid of the adventures he craved. He abhorred the presence of rules he was expected to follow.

This was not a good time to spring upon him the news of a previously-unknown sixty-seven-year-old daughter living in Indiana.

Frustratingly, that would just have to wait.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Explanation and a Commercial Break

I am afraid you have all run off and abandoned me when the story is just getting good. But of course, the fault would be mine, as it appears I ran off and abandoned you as well.

I did not.

I left my home in Granger, Indiana, on Friday, January 9th. I was supposed to board a plane at the ungodly morning hour of 7:35 a.m. and be happily skipping and frolicking in Salt Lake City, Utah, by 1:10 p.m. that same day. I was to be a guest lecturer in the German track of SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) that was to begin that following Monday.

Skipping and frolicking was not to be had on Friday, January 9th.

Although northern Indiana had experienced snow the night before, my flight was on time. And because I hate feeling rushed, I had arrived at the airport by 5:30 a.m. South Bend's airport is small, and check in and security checks take only minutes, but I would rather sit on my computer than feel like I am racing to the airport to beat the clock.

I had my breakfast and coffee at the airport. I bided my time playing with new 23andMe results for my paternal great-aunt, my deceased grandfather's only remaining sibling. Routine announcements were made about boarding. Air travel is tedious, but there is something blissful and secure about routine. All seemed good. After boarding my plane and drifting in and out of sleep (which I can do seconds after taking my seat), I realized we had not left the runway. It was just the normal dilly-dallying of flights ahead of us, and repetitive de-icing procedures while we waited. But we sat too long. The pilot announced the crew had timed out, and FAA regulations would not allow them to continue to fly, even though this first leg of my trip was just an hour-plus jaunt to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Everyone sullenly filed off the plane.

Chaos ensued.

You cannot cancel a flight at a small airport like South Bend, Indiana, and then find enough seat space on the few subsequent flights scheduled to leave that day to make everyone happy. I was booked on another flight a few hours later that never made it to South Bend. It was canceled in Chicago because of mechanical issues.

I sat in the airport in South Bend, Indiana, for sixteen hours. Waiting. Delayed. Canceled.

After several aborted attempts to go ANYWHERE, I was finally told there was no way I was getting to Salt Lake City that day. The best they could offer was to come back the next morning to try the same scheduled flight routine that failed me that day, or get on the only flight remaining out of South Bend to Atlanta, Georgia. I figured getting to Salt Lake City the next day out of Atlanta held more possibility of coming to fruition than doing the South Bend dance again. So I went to Atlanta.

The details of incompetence once I got to Atlanta would fill pages, but briefly I will say I got a hotel  arranged from a gate agent who was less than happy to help at the end of her shift, and I got on a shuttle to said hotel that arrived at the airport ninety minutes after its supposed "every thirty minute"  continual service.

The hotel was nearly forty miles from the airport. I was exhausted. I was given a card key to a room that did not work. Three keys later, I was no closer to getting into my room. On the fourth trip to the front desk, I asked for a new room instead of a new key. Once I got to the filthy room, I realized I  had left my wake up call under the old room number. I picked up the phone to dial the front desk only to realize the phone was not attached to anything. It was merely a prop. As too was the alarm clock that was plugged in but nonfunctional. I brushed my teeth with my finger and hand-sanitizer and went to bed.

I had to be back at the airport in two hours.

Although the flight to Utah was on time, I arrived to find no luggage. I also had no luggage claim tags, as the agent in South Bend took them from me when she rebooked my flight but never gave me replacements. I was too tired to be miffed. I just went through the motions and dragged my weary ass to the baggage claims office for Delta.

The gate agent in South Bend was indifferent; perhaps with apologetic undertones, but far from sympathetic. The agent in Atlanta was a she-devil. But the baggage claims representative in Salt Lake City was helpful and perky and personable. I should have noted his name. But I could barely recall my own.

He found my luggage in storage. It got there before I did.


If I was on the last flight into Atlanta, and on the first flight into Salt Lake City, how the hell did my luggage get there first? If there is a worm hole for luggage, I would like them to begin testing for human travel. I was too tired to ask questions. I was just happy to have my belongings intact, even though my sanity was not.

A friend picked me up in Salt Lake City on Saturday. We went to have real food. A meal that included things like eggs. Protein bars, overpriced airport coffee, complementary peanuts, and whatever gum or mints I could find in my computer bag hadn't really sated my desire for nutrition over the past twenty-four hours. When we got back to his house, and I was ushered into the spare bedroom, I just dropped my bag and hit the bed. Then I slept. For a long, long, long time.

Sunday I attended an instructors meeting and registration reception for SLIG. Monday was the first class in the German course, and although I was not lecturing that day, I wanted to sit in and absorb the content of the other lectures, meet the students, and check out the layout of the situation.

Throughout the afternoon, I noticed this slight tickle in my chest. An occasional cough. Hmmmm.... perhaps it's just the dry air? The inversion in Salt Lake City was pretty bad that week. The layer of smog was probably just making my bronchi unhappy.

I lectured on Tuesday. The voice was rough. The tickle had turned into a cough. And each one of them felt like a million little paper cuts in my lungs. I went back to my friend's place and slept for thirteen hours in anticipation of the following day's lecture.

I managed to pull off the next day's lecture, but I honestly have no memory of it. I ached all over. I am sure my friend beat me with a baseball bat during my hours of unconsciousness. On hindsight, I probably infected more people in my class than I enlightened. What has come to be known in genealogy circles as the SLIG-CRUD or the SLIG Epidemic of 2015 encompassed a whole host of respiratory nastiness that took down an outrageous number of registrants, attendees, and instructors.

I had the flu.

I had only anticipated staying with my friend in Utah for a few days and arranging other accommodations with other friends, but I could barely get out of bed. He came and went from work, while I felt miserable, begging for forgiveness for being the houseguest that never leaves. I had raided his plentiful supply of cold and flu remedies in his medicine cabinet. I took enough acetaminophen to destroy my liver and ibuprofen to anger my kidneys. I even had some codeine to add to the Mucinex to dull the cough. Double-dose swigs of NyQuil was the routine end to every night, although my bedtime was becoming more evening than nighttime as I became progressively weaker. The body aches subsided, and each day I felt a little better, but fatigued. I just figured time was necessary for recovery. But for every day I would get to the Family History Library to do research, the following day I would feel significantly worse.

Although SLIG ended, my illness did not. 

The walk to the Family History Library was two miles from where I was staying. I am a walker. That is not a bad distance, and normally it's a good time for me to swill a coffee and contemplate my day of research. It is invigorating. But by the time I would arrive at my destination this week I was drenched in sweat. So much so that I had to undress in the bathrooms and remove my first layer of clothes and ring them out into the sink. Sweating became the norm. I woke up that way. Beads of it would form on my forehead when I walked from my microfilm machine to the rows and rows of film-laden cabinets.

By the following Wednesday after SLIG I had to rest after my morning shower. Rest after dressing. And I even brushed my teeth sitting on the toilet because the whole morning ritual was exhausting. And sweaty.

On Thursday, my disease-addled mind thought I could walk to the Family History Library. It is more or less a straight line from where I was staying. 

I got lost. And confused. My eyes had trouble focusing on the street signs ahead of me. I checked. I was wearing my glasses. I sat on a park bench drenched in sweat contemplating my next move. I went back home.

That evening as I laid in the silence of my friend's spare bedroom, I could hear what sounded like the crunching of crisp dead leaves underfoot on an autumn day. It was the sound of inhaled air fighting to enter my lungs.

I had pneumonia.

I wept. Partly because I was over a thousand miles from home feeling miserable. But more so because I was not myself. The sweating, the fatigue, the inability to draw oxygen deeply into my lungs - these were bad things. Very bad. But I could not properly get into my own head. I felt "other worldly." I was spacey, confused, unable to wrap my head around simple concepts.

I was very sick.

And much to the dismay of friends and family, I did not go to the hospital. I am a veterinarian, and frankly, I would put the diagnostic skills of a veterinarian above most M.D.s any day; especially doctors in emergent-care facilities who are often stuck in a rush-in, rush-out, situation. Although I had taken way too long to diagnose myself, I figured I had pneumonia. A chest x-ray and blood gases would tell me how badly it was, but the treatment was antibiotics. I hadn't turned blue yet, so I didn't need supplemental oxygen. Going to an emergency room or an emergent care facility would accomplish confirmation of what I presumed, and treatment I could already procure. Being a doctor, I travel with an emergency drug stash to cover a wide variety of medical disasters. Luckily, I had the appropriate antibiotics for presumed community-acquired pneumonia. If that didn't turn things around, I would willingly turn my body over to a fully-staffed medical establishment.

Or a morgue.

Twenty-four hours after beginning antibiotics, I felt a bit of my presence returning. But I was oh-so-very tired.

Seventy-two hours after beginning antibiotics, I felt like Michael D. Lacopo - mind, body, and soul - had finally made a reentrance into society. Finally.

And then I had to board a flight for Denver, Colorado. That was a week ago.

Thankfully, it was uneventful.

I am back in Salt Lake City, Utah, to FINALLY do some research, and to lecture at the FGS 2015 National Conference. But I am also responding to several hundred unanswered emails. Yes, I said several hundred.

I am hoping to get caught up with my life as quickly as possible, and to pick you all up for the continued ride you have shared with me. I promise not to disappoint you again. I cannot promise I will not die, but let's just say it's not currently on my agenda.

BUT.... until I can pick up where we left off, let's talk genealogy. And research. And spending valuable, fun time together.

I will be teaching an advanced course in Pennsylvania research this summer with the knowledgeable Sharon Cook MacInnes, Ph.D., at GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) from July 19 to July 24. The class is shaping up to be something extremely exciting and fun and brimming with information. See more details at 2015 Pennsylvania: Research in the Keystone State | Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

I tell you this now because GRIP registration for this course opens on 18 February 2015 at noon Eastern Standard Time. There are only a limited number of registrant positions, and classes fill up quickly. I would love to see you in person and share my passion and my knowledge with you! Mark your calendars and check out the registration process at Registration | Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

I am alive. I am mostly well. I am also scatterbrained and way behind schedule. But I owe you a blog.

Where were we?

Oh yes, I have to take my mother to Denver to meet her father.