Friday, March 18, 2011

Genealogy's Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boy(s)

Growing up, I read my mother's whole collection of Nancy Drew mystery novels from the 1940s, and then moved on to the 1990s continuation that followed an updated Nancy Drew, which sometimes included, and frankly were my favorites, books featuring a collaboration between Nancy Drew and Frank and Joe Hardy to solve a mystery.

Because I see genealogy as part detective work and I'm a huge self-proclaimed fan, I sometimes fancy myself to be Nancy Drew. And since I'm Nancy Drew in this scenario, I guess that would make my dad one of the Hardy Boys.

The other night, he waited till one of my favorite tv shows ended to tell me about some detective work he'd been doing regarding letters his great-grandmother, Mary Horgan Gorry, had written to a soldier, R. Morrow, in 1918, while he was stationed in Tennessee. Who was this guy? How did she know him? Why was he writing to her?

So my dad, like any good genealogist and detective, started with some basic assumptions - if you don't have facts, you start with an educated guess based on what you do know, and the information you find will either help confirm or refute your hypothesis. So my dad tells me that since they were writing to each other, he assumed they knew each other and so that R. Morrow lived in New York. Fair assumption. I'm not sure they had the same soldier pen pal services during World War I that they have nowadays. And just to give himself somewhere to start, he assumed the "R" stood for Robert. Also a fair assumption. He looked in the 1920 census and found a Robert Morrow living at 646 East 16th St. in Manhattan. In 1910, R. Morrow was living at 648 East 16th St.

In 1910, More Grandma lived at 652 East 16th St. So they were neighbors. And my dad is still working on it, trying to figure out what happened to R. Morrow from there on out. He's got some leads. He's making more educated guesses. He's working all angles of this case.

Father, I have taught you well.


Happy weekend everyone!


  1. Aw, you are so lucky that genealogy really is a family pursuit! It must be a lot of fun to share it with your Dad.

  2. Greta, it really is! My dad and I talk genealogy all the time - unfortunately, it drives my brothers and sister nuts! :)