I have written before about why it pays to advertise your family research interests online and this is another example with my Jeffers family from Portadown, County Armagh Ireland. I placed a query about the family on an Ancestry.com message board in November 1998 and my first direct reply was in October 2001, almost three years later. Unfortunately that person never wrote back after establishing we were interested in the same family.
Now in February 2010 over eight years later I have yet another contact. So the first important lesson is be patient and don’t expect instant success.
My gg grandmother was Maria Jeffers born ca 1844 in Portadown, County Armagh. She migrated to Queensland, Australia in 1864. She left behind her parents Isaac Jeffers and Harriet Ballantyne and siblings Isaac, Jacob, William, James and Mary Anne. From some surviving letters we know that Maria continued to write home to her family and in particular her brother James. We have a letter from his wife advising of his death in 1910.
One of Maria’s granddaughters told me that Maria also wrote to family in the USA but there were no surviving letters and a quick look at the Jeffers name in the US revealed that without a State and some idea of family names it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Coming back to my most recent contact, it is from descendants of Maria’s brother Isaac who went to the US in 1894 without his family and then returned for them in 1895. They settled in Pennsylvannia and moved to New Jersey in the 1900s where members of the family still live today.
It is interesting to speculate why didn’t he come out to Australia with his family to be closer to his sister and her family. Or did he come out here and decide that he didn’t like the Queensland climate, too hot and tropical? Certainly the trip to the US was quicker than to Australia, or perhaps there was a more attractive immigration scheme and so on.
My new contact is only starting out on family history so I can assist with what I know of the family in Ireland and it has spurred me to relook at the Jeffers family as there are more resources available now than when I last looked.
It is also interesting to add the American cousins to the Australian cousins and should I now also try to find again the descendants of the brother James who stayed in Portadown. He only had daughters which makes it a little more difficult as they probably married. What about the other brothers and sister – what happened to them?
One unexpected email to a message board posting nearly 11 years ago has triggered a whole range of questions and a renewed desire to look at my Jeffers family again. It will be interesting to see what I turn up. Stay tuned for the answer!