Many times genealogy is like placing pieces of a puzzle together. First we collect the pieces. Then we fit them together and the picture becomes clear. Sometimes it is not obvious how the pieces all fit together. Such was the case when I was looking for the parents of my grandfather, Thomas Garbally.
I knew from his death certificate that Thomas Garbally died in Cincinnati, Ohio on 7 January 1916 at the age of 41. The death certificate stated that his father’s name was Dennis Garbally and his mother’s name was Jennie O’Brien. The problem arose when I could not find a source with primary information confirming the relationships. Primary information is data that is created close to the time of the event by an eyewitness or participant. There is also secondary information which is data supplied sometime after the event by a person who recorded the event after hearing about it. The birth information in the death certificate was definitely secondary information since it had been supplied by his wife, Sophie, who would have only heard about it. What I needed was a birth or baptism record for Thomas (primary information) to connect him to his parents. If neither of these could be found, then I could use a Will or Probate for either Dennis or Jennie stating their relationship to Thomas.
Unfortunately, after searching many years, I could find none of the needed records. I then began collecting other “pieces of the puzzle”to establish the relationship between Thomas and his parents, Dennis and Jennie Garbally.
The records that I had for Thomas were created when he was an adult and none of them contained the names of his parents. I found very little information on Dennis and Jennie Garbally. There was a Dennis and Jane Garbally who appeared in the 1870, 1880 and 1900 Census in Hamilton County, Ohio. The name Jane is close in spelling and sound to Jennie and this couple in the census had a son Thomas who fit the age of my grandfather. But I still had no proof that my grandfather Thomas was the Thomas who was listed as their son. The census records were the only records that I could find about this couple.
I decided to expand my search to include the siblings of Thomas. If Thomas was the son of Dennis and Jane, then he had two brothers and three sisters. I found records for James Garbally, who could be Thomas’s brother, in the 1910 Census in Cincinnati, Ohio and also in the Cincinnati City Directories from 1909-1917. The last directory entry for James Garbally was in 1917. I could not locate James Garbally in the 1920 Census. Although James could have simply moved from Cincinnati, I decided to check for a death record because World War I occurred during this time and also the Influenza Epidemic. I found that James Garbally died on 9 June 1918 in Cincinnati, Ohio, age 48. I extracted a few useful clues from the death certificate. The death certificate stated that James was single, never married, his parents were Dennis Garbally and Jane O’Brien and burial was in Calvary Cemetery. When I looked at the cemetery records, I found that Dennis and Jane Garbally were buried in the same lot as James Garbally. The cemetery records and headstone confirmed that James was the son of Dennis and Jane Garbally. Now that I had established the relationship between James and his parents, I needed to establish the relationship between James and my grandfather, Thomas.
For the majority of people, more records are created at the time of death than at any time during their life. And so it was for James. I already had his death certificate and cemetery records. My next step was to look in the newspapers for an obituary. Cincinnati had two major newspapers during this time period. I first checked The Cincinnati Enquirer and found an obituary on 11 June 1918 for James. It stated that he was the son of Dennis and Jane and other information which was consistent with the death certificate. There were two things that I thought were unusual about this obituary. First, there were no living relatives mentioned and second, the obituary stated that the funeral mass was at a Catholic church across the Ohio River from Cincinnati in Dayton, Kentucky. The research up to this point indicated that James Garbally had lived his entire life in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, Thomas Garbally, my grandfather, had moved to Dayton from Cincinnati in 1913. I thought I might be onto something important.
Usually obituaries are the same when they appear in more than one newspaper in the same city. However, I like to check all the newspapers in the hope that they will not be duplicates. In this case my thoroughness paid off. The obituary from The Cincinnati Post had all the same information that had been in the Enquirer with one small sentence added “funeral from the residence of his sister-in-law, Sophie Garbally, 1009 Fourth Avenue, Dayton, Ky.” Sophie Garbally was my grandmother, wife of Thomas Garbally, and she owned the house at 1009 Fourth Avenue, Dayton, Kentucky.
By proving that James was the son of Dennis and Jane Garbally and then proving that James was the brother of Thomas, I established proof of the relationship between Thomas Garbally and Dennis and Jane Garbally. I completed the puzzle by putting all of the pieces together.