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Friday, December 20, 2013

One Brick Wall Down

A few months ago, I posted several names that were solid brick walls in my research. One of them was Elizabeth Rachel Lacy, my gt. grandmother. I had been unable to find any documentation for her for many years. I finally decided to go back to what my cousin, Pete, had originally said about her. My reasoning was that he had been the first born grandson of Jesse Pye, who was the son of my elusive Elizabeth. He had spent many years listening to Jesse talk about his relatives and life in Newfoundland and Labrador. Just because I couldn’t find anything to prove what he had written didn’t mean some or all of it was not true.

So, I started off at square one, as they say. Elizabeth, who went by her middle name, as seems to be the way in NFLD, which was Rachel. It was always a given that her name was Lacy and not Lacey. But for my search purposes, I looked at every, Elizabeth and/or Rachel who had a Lacy/Lacey last name. Now the next thing Pete had recorded was that her parents were known as John Lacy and his wife Esther Reynolds. Off I went to connect the dots or so I hoped.

To begin with, The Grand Banks site for NFLD has added quite a few more searchable records. This was an enormous help. I was able to extend my search to places I hadn’t been able to check on before. I was looking for a Murray Cove near Carbonear. But with more records, I stumbled upon Mulley’s Cove and hit the jackpot. Over the years, the location’s name had become corrupted in our family’s version of the story, so my searching was in the wrong place. As Dick Eastman suggested in a recent newsletter, family history can be lost in just three generations. In this case, thankfully, it wasn’t lost, but some definite distortions had occurred.  But here I found that John Lacey had married Esther Reynolds on Nov 13 1839. Then I went into the census and found my gt. grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel Lacey, b. Jul 27 1843 in Mulley’s Cove. Finally I had validation of who her parents were and that she had 10 siblings. I also discovered that her name was spelled Lacey in all the records, contrary to every thing our family tale reported. Long ago I had discovered that one needed to look for every variation of the spelling, so this didn’t surprise me much. The Lacy ‘tale’ was based on John Lacy having been born in Belfast and that he was of the Irish Lacy family.

Now I realized that earlier records were also on line and to my surprise and delight, I found John Lacey was actually born in St. John’s, NFLD on Nov 13 1812, not in Ireland. His father was Robert Lacey and his mother was Rachel Thistle (nee) who married at St. John’s Congregational Church, May 6 1809. In 1817 Robert was a shoemaker but in later documents he became a fisherman. Robert’s father was John Lacey, also a shoemaker. So far I’ve found four children for Robert and Rachel: Daniel, John, William and Mary Ann. But now a new mystery presents itself, where was John Lacy/Lacey born?

I have discovered that, my Newfoundland ancestors were the hardiest, toughest people. They had large families and many of the children died young. As Darwin suggested in his Origin of the Species, these folks were “better designed for an immediate, local environment.”

Interestingly, while following some history on the Reynolds family, I discovered that this Lacy/Lacey family may have come from Devon, England and not from Ireland at all. The Reynolds history also suggested that the Thistle family came from the Channel Islands.

I was very satisfied with this session of research. Not only did I find my gt. grandmother, but I found her parents and her grandparents as well.

Reminder to self – do not shelve family history stories until they can be proven wrong!!

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