By Ellen Meuser
When McLean Resident Michael Gorman heard about the wonderful work that Media Center Coordinator Stephen Root was doing in genealogy, he seized the opportunity to learn more about his family’s history. “It turned out to be even more interesting than we initially thought it would be,” said Michael, as he explained his project that spanned several months to complete.
Michael’s mother and father both grew up as a single child, so their family unit was small. He has three sisters, but said that since he didn’t have any first cousins, aunts or uncles, he has always wanted to learn more about his ancestors. His interest was further piqued when his grandmother mentioned that a family friend might actually be related.
He began this venture with the initial goal of completing four generations of his family tree, which he believed would also help him to learn if his friend was, in fact, related. He worked closely with Stephen in the media center, tracing his family back to their Irish roots. They met once a week for two-hour sessions,for several months. Stephen’s dedication carried through “after hours” work to further the research. Michael’s sisters volunteered the details they knew, which was helpful in confirming what information was correct.
They had great success with the online resources, which gave them access to detailed census information. Michael found that he could trace his name, Michael Patrick, back to his great-great grandfather, a shoemaker who had moved from Ireland to Manchester, England. He followed the migration of his great-grandfather Daniel to South Boston in 1887, and was excited to learn that Daniels’s son, George Sr., tried out for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves! Michael also discovered that he still has French Canadian relatives, and that an uncle who was drafted into WWII and ended up missing in action, was later found living in Atlanta. Finally, he uncovered the mystery of his friend’s association with his family—he simply shared a fairly common last name!
Michael completed his goal; he traced his family back to the 1790s. With Stephen’s assistance, they designed a comprehensive family tree in a beautiful poster format. Stephen was able to incorporate many of the pictures Michael’s sisters had in their possession. It is a true treasure to display.
Michael is proud that the work he has done will provide his family members with a foundation they can build upon, by adding new marriages and children.
Stephen Root is currently working with other residents, to retrace their ancestry with online resources, and is always happy to take on new projects.