There’s no doubt about it, genealogy research can frustrate the soul. When I run into one of those inevitable brick walls, trying to scale it exhausts me. Instead of stepping back and regrouping, I’m tempted to give up researching altogether. One of those moments pummeled me not long ago.

Image: Drought

Image © Lorant Fulop

For years I’ve been trying to find information on the parents of Susan McDONNELL Shipman (1833-1924), my 2nd great grandmother. I’ve searched online, the library and the Madison County Genealogical & Historical Society all to no avail. I’ve found census records and proof of death for Susan but nothing has provided a clue as to who her parents were.

Finally, I purchased a copy of her death certificate. I impatiently waited for it to arrive, hoping for a revelation. I even tweeted about my excitement. When it finally arrived in the mail, I stood in the middle of my driveway and tore open the envelope only to discover… NO INFORMATION ON HER PARENTS!

Apparently she was out of town visiting friends when she suddenly died (heart disease was a contributing factor). It was Lee Howel who provided the personal information and he didn’t know anything about her parents or where she was born. *sigh*

I failed to obtain my goal and ended up with more questions than answers. Who was this 91 year old woman visiting? Why were there no family members with her? Where do I go from here? Although I’m tempted to quit, that would be too drastic – even for me. I guess I’ll fall back on my tried and true routine: move on to a new mystery and return to this one later.

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