I was very happy to see Jasia's post Found Aunt Josie's Grave over at Creative Gene and it got me to thinking about one of my own blogging "gambles": my theory that the MacEntee and McEntee families of the Hudson Valley, New York area are, in fact, descended from the same common ancestor.
If you remember from my posts entitled Two Roads: Do McEntee and MacEntee Converge or Fork? back in February and March 2008, I had no conclusive proof of a name change by my great-grandfather Elmer MacEntee. All I had were copies of two census reports from different years, one with the last name spelled McEntee and the other one with the last name spelled MacEntee. In addition, there were various tales passed down from generation to generation as to why the name was changed: an ancestor moved from Canada to New York and since they weren't hiring "Irish" he added the "a" to make the name look Scots; an ancestor had a religious dispute with his father who was Roman Catholic and added the "a" when he became a Protestant; etc.
One way to get such a topic and a theory as to the change noticed and discussed is to post, and keep posting, about it in your blog. My jackpot payoff came last night when I received the following email from someone who turns out to be my 2nd Cousin and still lives in the mid-Hudson region:
"I was reading through your blog and came upon the entry regarding the McEntee/Mac Entee split. It made me smile as I recalled my Dad telling me about the name change. This was a big deal to him. As my Dad explained, the name change was deliberate. Dad said Elmer was a builder and his livelihood depended on word of mouth references. Apparently, McEntee was mispronounced often enough so as to prompt Elmer to make a change that would reconcile the pronunciation and name spelling. My dad was always very insistent about the space being placed in the name -- which makes sense given Elmer's intention. That said, I don't think his idea worked so well because my name is mispronounced as often as stated correctly. That's the explanation I have -- could be off the mark completely but seems plausible."
While this still offers no conclusive source evidence, it at least confirms what the census reports show me: it was Elmer MacEntee who made the name change.
And my new found cousin also offered me some great insights on Elmer from stories passed down through the years within his family:
"My father was eight when Elmer died, but he did have a strong bond with him. Dad said he was an excellent musician, played several instruments, including the coronet for the trapeze artists when the circus was in town. My father had also shared an endearing story about him. As a builder, Elmer was not always paid on time. One Christmas, the family went without gifts. In early January, he was paid and came through the door with a sack full of presents -- telling the children that the toys were late because Santa had gotten stuck in a snowbank."
All I can say is WOW! These "wins" make it all worth it. Now I'm sending out some genea-blogger karma to all my colleagues waiting for their own jackpots - I hope it happens soon!