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Assume Nothing With Name Variants!

Orange Robot with plug hand using computer

Have you ever found that sometimes to get a job done right, you have to do it yourself? This week I learned that applies to computer searches and name variants too!

After my recent success in finding my great grandfather's birth mother I was encouraged to explore his wife's family further (see Blog of April 19 for details).

The great great grandmother (of Agnes Carroll wife of Charles T. Dow) in question is one Winifred Dorsey, daughter of Martha Golden (ca. 1780 in Roscommon per passenger lists, arriving in 1851 accompanied by her son-in-law, Henry Dorsey. Winifred also claimed to be from Roscommon; her birth date varies from 1809 - 1815. They had 4 children born in Roscommon, and 2 born in Connecticut between 1837 and 1856.

Simmering pot on back burner of a red stove

I admit to putting the Dorsey's on the back burner for quite a while, as I was never ever able to find any other documentation about them other than their arrivals in the US. As far as my immediate ancestors were concerned, the Dorsey's were nothing to be proud of compared to the Dows(who we now know we were NOT related to in any way), and the Carroll's who were certainly related to the signer of the Declaration of Independence (no proof of that yet).

My father, in fact, was quite not sure of his grandmother's maiden name, it might have been "D'Orsay?" They were French? He was visibly disappointed when I suggested census records showed "Dorsey" from Ireland.

This week I dove back in. I prepared myself for a new search by checking the name origin and sound-alikes, which included D'Orsay (Norman Conquest), and Darcy. Instead of allowing sites to search for "name variants," I typed in "Henry Darcy." Holy guacamole, I hit the jackpot!

FamilySearch found two naturalization documents for Henry in New London, CT in 1852 and 1855. From this we learn he was born in Castlerea(gh) Roscommon, and that he could write! He signed his own name, no "X" for Henry!

Henry Darcy applied for US Citizenship with this form

MyHeritage yielded a newspaper article from Boston about the accident that caused Henry's blindness in 1871! They have a newspaper collection now that has articles that cannot be found on Ancestry, and you might want to give that a look. It's not as smooth to look, and the citations are not as good, but information is what we are looking for, isn't it?

Ancestry and MyHeritage also revealed his military service in the Civil War under the name Darcy. He enlisted in Company E of the 26th Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers in September of 1862. I was lucky enough to find a complete history of this unit at Ancestry in this source:

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., American Civil War Regiments, 1861-1866 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999.

Henry was in The Battle of Port Hudson, LA while the Battle of Vicksburg was being waged not far away. His unit was under constant fire day and night, from May 27 till June 14, 1863 when Henry was wounded. He and the Unit were sent back to CT in August.

Henry Darcy's Civil War Service Pension Info

A 1903 newspaper article found at Ancestry about "The Gallant Old 9th" revealed that in October of 1864, Henry lied about his age as being 44 and not 50, to join others in what they called "The Irish 9th" and went back to Louisiana to fight some more! This was all confirmed by his Pension card, also under "Darcy."

The Hale Cemetery Inscription records show that Henry, Winifred, and three of their children were buried using the name "Darcy" but it appears that the other children adopted the "Dorsey" spelling. Henry's son and grandson used the name spelling "Henry Dorsey" and each had their own proud military histories.

gold gift box and red ribbon

If you have poor results in your searches try inputting some name variations yourself. Don't leave it to the computers. They are great, I love them and the internet! But like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you just never know what you're gonna get if you take that extra step yourself!

Mother's Day is coming, and the first DNA testing sale was just announced by FamilyTreeDNA: $40 off mtDNA (maternal) testing, the link is below.

Happy hunting! If I can help you with a nudge in a different direction, I'd be delighted. Please send me what you know and where you're stuck, and I'll take a look at no charge.

Leslie Ryan

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

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