I am looking forward to Saturday. The last of the microfilms I ordered recently has arrived at the local Family History Library has arrived. I won't be ordering anymore until after my trip to Massachusetts, and this will give me yet another bit of research completed.
This particular microfilm is part of my focus on the brick wall that is my great-great grandmother, Emma Anna (Murphy)(Regan) Shaw. She is probably the person I work on the most; she has her own folder dedicated to her.
The reason she is so frustrating, is because I have no documents on her prior to her 1888 marriage to my great-great grandfather, Erastus Shaw. We know her first husband's surname was Regan, but nothing more. And we know her parents are John Patrick Murphy and Mary Ann Fras(h)er, one of Irish descent (obviously), the other one of Scottish descent.
There are numerous conflicting records from 1888 through her 1945 death, including her marriage and death certificates, her son's birth, marriage, and death certificates, and censuses.
The confusion is particularly with regard to her birthplace. It has been given as Massachusetts, Maine, and Nova Scotia.
Personally, I am inclined to accept Nova Scotia as the correct place of birth since it appears on the earliest record we have of her (her marriage certificate of 1888). Also, if she had been born in Massachusetts or Maine, she OUGHT to appear in United States censuses for 1870 and 1880, as well as (possibly) the Massachusetts 1865 census (she was born approx. 1861-1863). But she doesn't.
So if that leaves Nova Scotia as the most logical option, that STILL leaves us with no town or county to explore. Thus, I have had to work my way through Nova Scotia, county by county, town by town over the past year. And it's getting me nowhere, except to know where she has NOT been.
Now, the only other clue is that she owned a store. It is true. The Middleboro Directory for 1897 and 1899 show that she was listed as both a "grocer" and as proprietor of a "dining room". However, these businesses MUST have been in Middleboro to be listed in the directory.
Though family lore places the businesses in the Cambridge area, I would think that would be included in any directory listing in another town. But as Emma and Erastus resided in Middleboro, it makes sense her business was there too.
So my latest focus is to go over Massachusetts deeds, county by county, both grantor and grantee indexes, from 1880 through 1889, to see if I can find Emma listed by her first married name.
It's all about going step by step, ruling some things out, and pursuing the other avenues that are still open to you!