As the Ancestry.com – Expert Connect service celebrates its first anniversary since launching on June 24, 2009, we wanted to share Kathy Morrissey’s story of how she found her grandmother’s true age, a family mystery, and passed that along to her mother. Expert Connect is an online tool available on Ancestry.com that links you to hundreds of experienced genealogists who can assist you with your research goals. Kathy has been an Ancestry.com subscriber since November 2006.
EC [Expert Connect]: How did you first get interested in researching your genealogy?
KM [Kathy Morrissey]: My interest was first ignited in grade school when we had a homework assignment to build our family tree. I was always sad that my family tree could not go past my grandparents’ on my mother’s side. We tried to get more stories from my grandparents, but we were never certain if their memories were correct. I also remember my father trying to get more information about my grandmother’s family while in England but was asked to not look any further by the city office, similar to the chamber in the U.S.
When Good Morning America featured an ancestry search for their anchors, I became more interested and decided to try Ancestry.com. I’ve built 2 trees, beginning with my husband on one tree and me on the other.
EC: Why did you use Expert Connect on Ancestry.com?
KM: My main goal was to locate the birth certificate of my maternal grandmother. I wanted to find it as a gift for my mother. All of us had heard the stories, heard various names and we wanted to try and connect the dots. I had worked on it tirelessly for three years but just could not land on the specific document.
As I was approaching Mother’s Day 2010, my mother (now 89), I realized how much time had passed without achieving my goal. I really questioned myself about hiring an expert, I went back and forth (praying) on whether I should do this or not.
I decided to place a project request. It felt like a ‘self-absorbed’ wish of my own. As I shared with some of my coworkers what I was thinking, they confirmed my decision in getting the truth while I could still share the results with my mother.
EC: How was your experience with the expert that you had hired, Elizabeth Peters ?
KM: Elizabeth was excellent to work with! I had concern choosing someone without personal knowledge of them, but Elizabeth was the perfect choice. Her communication via the message board and email gave me comfort & assurance with my decision. I recommend her and hope to use her again in the future following another branch of our family tree.
Elizabeth was monitoring my project request. Her first bid response was one of the highest. It made me gulp a little. But once I added more detail to the bid request, Elizabeth came back and gave me a flat rate cost for researching and, if found, delivering the birth certificate of my grandmother and the names of her parents.
We had heard so many stories of Lucy Horsfall (my grandmother) but we needed to connect the dots. In our minds’ memory, we felt Lucy was a real life Cinderella story. She did not have a stepmother, but she was monitored by her birth family even though she was placed as a servant girl. We knew she was given a doll once, only to have the people take it from her and sell it in their store. That is why, when Lucy was in her final years, needing care in a nursing home, my sister and I gave her a doll. Her very own doll…..finally!
We were never certain of Lucy’s age. Often we wondered if she lied about her age in order to leave being a servant. Thankfully, Elizabeth located her birth certificate and we now know she never lied about the year she was born. Lucy lived to age 101….it really was her true age!
EC: What did you do with the research that your expert delivered (ie, upload that to my Ancestry.com Family Tree; print a hard copy book or other document; share with family, etc)?
KM: The documents are loaded onto our Family Tree. I also sent copies of it to all family members. For one cousin who had not kept in touch with us very regularly – it made her day to finally know the real birth date of Lucy and that all the stories we had heard lined up to paint a picture of Lucy’s life before coming to the U.S.
If you’d like the help of a professional genealogist, see the “Hire an Expert” section on the Ancestry.com homepage, or visit http://expertconnect.ancestry.com.