A Brick Wall
One of the ladies in this picture is Annie McHugh, my father's aunt. When I began this family research, I thought the easiest line to trace would be the McHugh line, since my dad is still with us and able to help me out. Plus, I'd found my grandfather Joseph McHugh's family very early on in my searches of the Census records. Unfortunately, I haven't found a thing on them since.
Dennis Joseph McHugh was born either in 1854 or 1845 (I suspect 1854 since his wife, Mary Griffin, was born in 1867) in Ireland (probably County Cork). Dennis and Mary had 8 children that we've found: Patrick (b. 1887), John (1889), Anthony(1893), Annie (1896), Michael(1898), Francis(1900), Joseph(1902) and Edward(1906). I have the above picture of Annie, and one with Anthony in a WWI army uniform (below; I believe he is the one in the middle). Several years ago, long before I had a computer, let alone began researching my family, I received a letter from a first cousin of my father (from my dad's mother's line, the Hodick family). In this letter this cousin talked about my dad's first cousin from the McHugh line. This letter included a newspaper clipping and photo about this McHugh cousin, and this man looks just like my grandfather Joseph McHugh, leaving no room for doubt of a connection. This cousin was born in 1925 and living in Luzerne County PA. I have reason to believe he is still alive and have a likely phone number and address for him. I also believe I found his parents (his father would have been Francis McHugh ) and his siblings in the 1930 Census Records. The big dilemma is that my dad thinks his Uncle Francis had only girls, and the Census lists only boys. All the other information on the census record is consistent with what we know of this McHugh line, and its possible Francis had daughters after 1930, and that my dad never knew the sons.
The question I pose here is this: Should I venture a phone call or a letter to this man? He'd be 80 years old this year, I have no reason to believe he knows my family even exists, and I don't have a go-between to pave the way (the Hodick cousin that had some contact with him has since passed away). I'd found some listings for McHughs in the Nanticoke, PA and Wilkes-Barre PA area, where our McHughs were known to live, and I'd contacted a few of them who'd had emails listed. There were no connections made. I'd even emailed a pastor at a Catholic church in the area whose name was McHugh, asking how I'd go about seeking church records for my ancestors if they attended that church. In this email I included the names I was searching in hopes he'd know to whom I was referring. I didn't receive a response.
Just how far should we go when searching for living relatives? I'd contacted a few people earlier this year when trying to locate my uncle, and none of them were upset about my call and they even wished me luck in finding him (I did). I just haven't formulated an opinion on if, when, and how to contact people who may have no connection to my family whatsoever. But I also fear that I'll miss out on connecting with people who do have connections with my family and would love to have some level of communication.