Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seeing My Great-Great Grandmother For The First Time

One of the motivations for my family history journey was the wondering about the family left behind when my ancestors left Scotland and Ireland. I have written about this previously. What happened to them and then their descendants? Where are they all now?

I have been lucky that through the marvels of technology, a.k.a. the Internet, I have been able to begin the process the making some of those re-connections with my long lost cousins from all parts of the globe, much to my amazement.

My most recent cousin connection has been with a cousin, Helen, who lives in New York City and her sister, Marie, who lives in my home province of Ontario, Canada! Both Helen and Marie had spotted a couple of my blog posts about our mutual ancestor, Agnes Sweeney who married William Mitchell and then Joseph Branchfield.

I have always been proud of the adversity that my ancestors faced and overcame. Agnes was certainly no exception. She was born in a Paisley, Renfrewshire poorhouse in 1870 and was only 15 years old when she married my second great grandfather William Mitchell. She became a mother for the first time when she only 16. Sometime following the birth of their fifth child, William disappeared. What happened to him is still not known. Did he abandon the family? Or, was there something else like an imprisonment or an institutional confinement? I may never really know.

Agnes married Joseph Branchfield in 1905. Joseph had been a boarder in Agnes' house which was located near the docks in Greenock, Scotland where Joseph worked. It appears that Agnes may have finally enjoyed some stability in her home life until her death in 1928.

And now, thanks to cousin Helen, I have a photo of Agnes who is pictured with Joseph and five of their children. I can certainly see some resemblance to my paternal grandmother who was Agnes' granddaughter.


  1. Have enjoyed your family search --- thanks for sharing the stories with us -- interesting, poignant, and love your family contacts that have shown up. Makes the stories even sweeter by telling.

  2. It's hard to describe the emotions when we see an ancestor's photo for the first time. Congratulations on being able to put a face to a name. It's a wonderful thing!