Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Joyce Bricks Start to Crumble

Well, who would have guessed that when I sat down at the computer this morning to drink my coffee, that I'd end up breaking down a significant portion of the hardest brick wall I've ever encountered?

Certainly not me, or I'd have brewed up a whole pot.

Two years ago, I lamented on the difficulties I encountered while researching Michael Joyce.

This latest chapter of the story actually started last week, when I knew I'd have a three day weekend with nothing planned.  I "got off my wallet" and plunked down the $28 for monthly access to an Irish records database.  I was searching for Michael Joyce, b. abt 1829 in County Galway, to "Pat Joyce" and "Rose Maden."  I came up empty handed.  No birth records, no baptismal records, no parents of anyone listed as Pat Joyce and Rose Maden.  I searched every way I could think of.  I did come to the conclusion, as I had expected, that "Maden" was actually "Madden," but learned little else.  Because I couldn't quite give up, I left the browser, with several potentially pertinent tabs, up.

This morning, I decided I'd putz around on the computer while I drank my morning coffee.  I took a look at some of those browser tabs I'd left up last week, and started following links here and there, eventually ending up at FamilySearch.  For kicks, I typed in Michael Joyce, and didn't get anything too exciting, but before I started the laundry I decided to type in "Patrick Joyce" and "Rose Madden" as parents, and left all other fields blank.  I got one return - a death certificate for Bridget Cummings.  Bridget's parents were listed as Patrick Joyce and Rose Madden.  I dug into the life of Bridget Cummings a little deeper, and realized she was just six years younger than our Michael.  My hopes began to rise, but when I realized that she lived and died in Clinton, Massachusetts, where our Michael lived after his arrival in the U.S., I had a strong hunch that I was on the right track.

After collecting a fair amount of information on Bridget Joyce Cummings, I turned to Ancestry family trees.  While I am cautious about information listed there, I like to get an overview of the family I'm researching, and potentially some clues.  I saw on Bridget's timeline that she had a brother, Thomas, in Berlin, Wisconsin.   I nearly fell off my chair - several years ago, we made a research trip to that area, as Michael lived in Berlin, and later moved to nearby Ripon, Wisconsin.   In our research, we ran across records on this Thomas Joyce, but could not make a connection despite feeling that there had to be one somehow.

The family tree I found listed the children of Patrick Joyce and Rose Madden - and among them was Michael, with no information other than that he died in North Dakota.  Our Michael died in South Dakota.  If you ask people who don't live in either area, it's all interchangeable!  :)

Now, the hard part.  I sent off a message to the tree owner, and I now am waiting for a response, although I think I already have the answer.  I will dig out the information I saved on Thomas Joyce from Berlin, and try to find more documentation that he and Michael are of the same family.

There's still more work to do, but it's good to know that Michael Joyce did NOT just drop out of the sky.

Oh, and I'm going to brew up another cup of that coffee.  And I'll do the laundry tomorrow.


  1. That is so exciting about your Joyce find. I recently found my gr-grandmother's baptismal record in Ireland by almost the same methods as yours. It was brick wall for years and persistence does pay off. Never give up.Looking forward to see bow it goes.

    1. Thanks, Magda. You are SO right, we just have to keep on trying!