The Thrill of the Hunt

Innis Family Tree

My husband Scotty collects model and toy cars. It is his passion and he meets a lot of people through the hobby. While I’m probably no more interested in toy cars than my husband is in genealogy, we do make an effort to spend time with each other in those pursuits. He pretends to be excited for me when I find documentation, and I respond in-kind when he finds a model he has been looking for. He does enjoy tromping cemeteries with me and I have spent many hours at toy shows with him – both of us understand the “thrill of the hunt.”

Recently, Scotty wanted to go look at the toy car collection of an acquaintance from one of his hobby clubs. He asked me to go along and needing a break from the computer I readily agreed. I had met the gentleman, but had never met his wife; however, most “toy widows” can find common ground and we usually get along quite well. When we arrived, Scotty promptly went off to look at the collection and I sat down in the living room with Sue (not her real name) and began chatting. She asked me about my hobbies and I told her about my work in genealogy and family history.

I asked her about her family (I can’t help it – I’m nosy) and she told me she knew little beyond the names of her grandparents. It’s always a little surprising to me when people don’t know more than that. Family historians usually know the names and dates of several generations – although we aren’t always so good with our living relatives. Sue mentioned that one of her favorite relatives ‘Uncle Eddie” had been placed in an orphanage during the depression because the family was so poor. Don’t ask me why, but I was hooked right then and there. Everyone has eras that interest them more than others and for me it is 1840-1870 and 1910-1930.

I decided that if Sue was willing to let me write about my research, then her family would be my next project on Find Your Dead. I asked her if she was willing and I explained the ground rules. The only thing she asked was that I change her name for privacy purposes and we don’t discuss the living online without their express permission. She immediately brought out the small amount of material she had and I scratched out a rudimentary family tree.

We will be looking at the ancestry of Thomas Roberts Innis and Mary Lou Kelly. The information Sue provided was pretty basic: Thomas Roberts Innis, born 1909, was the son of Thomas Ballard Innis and Loula Roberts. Sue stated that Thomas R. was born in Texas, but thinks his parents were originally from Tennessee. He had three sisters: Blanche, Edith (who married a man named Cowles,) and Pauline. Eddie was his only brother. She thought the girls were older than Thomas, but wasn’t sure. Sue was positive that Eddie was the youngest and she thought the family may have been in Denver when Eddie was placed in the orphanage by his mother and he died in California. Sue also told me that Loula Roberts had a twin named Bula.

Mary Lou Kelly was born about 1910 (possibly in Denver) and was the daughter of Arthur Leroy Kelly and Annie Elizabeth Gruner. Sue stated that Arthur was in the military and died in Denver and is buried in the National Cemetery there. She thought Annie was from Walla Walla, Washington and that Annie’s father was from Germany and her mother’s maiden name was Lambert. Sue had a rather confusing family color coded descendancy chart done by a relative several years ago that didn’t have much beyond the names. Mary Lou had two sisters: Alice and Patricia.

This is the starting point for the Innis and Kelly work that I will do. It is actually not a bad amount of information to start with. There are enough names and places to be able to distinguish between family groups on the census and having the siblings will help make the search easier. Sue has no computer or online access, but has agreed to dig through her papers and pictures, and has also promised to ask her family members for more information about earlier generations.

Part of the fun with this family is that I have never worked in most of the places that Sue mentioned. While I have researched Washington records, I have no experience in Texas, Colorado, or Tennessee. Part of doing Cold Genealogy is to hone our existing skills, but also to learn about areas that we may not normally research. It is after all about – “the thrill of the hunt!”

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