This is a story of my research into the Besticks of County Longford and a lesson that I learned.
I have been lucky enough to visit Ireland twice. On our first trip to Ireland in 1995, my husband and I visited the city of Longford. I knew my Bestick ancestors had come from there and I wanted to see the town where they had lived.
While walking around the town on a cloudy day, we came to St. John’s, Church of Ireland, which had an old graveyard around it. There were many headstones that were over 100 years old. Some were legible, many were not. Most that were readable contained minimal information. As we were walking around looking at the headstones, the sun broke through the clouds. My husband then pointed at a nearby headstone and asked, “Can you read that word?” I looked and read “Bestick.” I was thrilled. With the angle of the sun and a lot of effort, we were able to make out the following inscription: “O Lord have mercy on the soul of Catharine Bestick who departed this life on the 19 of August 1830 aged 21 years”
The sun had broken through at just the right moment for us to see the inscription. If we had been there on a rainy day, we would not have made this discovery.
Our next trip to Ireland was in 2006 with our daughters. This trip was the Library-Tour of Ireland for me and the Playground-Tour of-Ireland for my husband and the kids. (It is great to have a family that puts up with my family history obsession.) While at the Longford County Library, I copied some pages from a manuscript, including a transcription of the Catharine Bestick headstone we had found in 1995. Upon comparing the two versions, I discovered that the manuscript contained an extra line of text that was not visible on the headstone in 1995. This line was … “Erected by her Mother Anne Bestick”
This experience taught me a valuable lesson about genealogy research—always look at all the available sources. It might have seemed like a waste of time to copy a transcription of a headstone that I had already photographed and transcribed myself. But in this case, the transcription contained more information than the original headstone. If I hadn’t copied the manuscript, I would have missed a valuable clue to the relationships of one Bestick family of Longford.
I am a genealogist with over 30 years experience. I have been researching my own family history since 1974, and I did client research for several years. I hope to have more time for research and blogging in 2014 than I have had in the last few years.