Notes from the past…

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Week #34: Genealogy Challenges

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Which genealogy challenge has given you the best sense of accomplishment? What was the research problem you had to hurdle? What steps did you take that led to success? Do you have any words of encouragement for others who are facing their own genealogy challenges?

Edward Tandy Easley was my first cousin, four times removed. A distant ancestor, but a physician, so he caught my interest. I have several folks in my family tree who were doctors, and with my own interest in all things medical (my mother and I were both RN’s), when I find a doctor in the family tree, a red light flashes in my head. (Or maybe it’s allergies…)

E T Easley served in the Civil War with Co H, 29th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, CSA. He was captured at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee in November, 1863, and spent the rest of the war as a POW at Rock Island, Illinois.

Interestingly, he didn’t become a physician until after his Civil War experiences, graduating from Louisville Medical College in Kentucky in 1874. Perhaps his experiences during the War, especially the probable substandard care his fellow prisoners received at Rock Island, encouraged his pursuit of a medical degree.

His career was short-lived, as was his life. He volunteered to go to Memphis, Tennessee to fight the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, and there succumbed to the disease on 30 Sep 1878 at the age of 35. No wife, no children.

When I began to study Dr E T Easley, I believed him to be the husband of my third great-grandaunt, Leah Jane Kennedy. My first encounter of Dr Easley came in a Hill County, Texas history book, written in 1892, which described Jane Kennedy as “… Jane, who became the wife of Dr E T Easley…”. Ok. The couple of census entries I located didn’t really dispute the relationship.

But when I found the information about his medical career and Yellow Fever death, the numbers just didn’t add up. Leah Jane was born in 1825 and E T in 1842. Now such an age difference isn’t really that unusual, but still…

I have a running “mental” list, a group of names that I keep in my head, of those ancestors with important unanswered questions. Past examples (now with those questions answered) included the fate of my second great-grandfather Crist Hayes Carrico and confirmation of the family tale that second great granduncle James Bennett, Jr was a bank-robber and murderer. A couple of active questions on the list include the truths behind the Native American ancestry of my great-grandmother Dovie C McBurnett and the Jewish heritage of another great-grandmother, Ruth Carroll.

Edward Tandy Easley was on that list. Was he really the husband of Leah Jane Kennedy?

One day I was searching Google Books, looking for data on another physician-ancestor, Dr Thomas Joshua Bennett of Texas. I found some medical journals for that period and decided to do a quick search for Dr Easley. too. And look what I found:

(click on images to enlarge)

Turns out that Edward Tandy Easley was the son of Leah Jane Kennedy! And her real husband? Dr Walker Tandy Easley… maybe that’s why Edward became a physician… another family tradition!

The moral of this story? If you think something doesn’t seem quite right, well, maybe it’s not! Keep looking and don’t accept anything at face value. At least not in genealogy… :)

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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

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