One day, as I was on my computer, my mother asked me to look up a friend that she had known in school. She said his name was Francis O’Reilly and she wondered what had happened to him.
She had known him since she was four years old. He would always play pranks on her, like when he dumped an inkwell all over her hair and dress. It was a pretty yellow dress, and she was upset that it had gotten ruined. Boy, did he get in trouble! Later that week, he came to her house and apologized, giving her some comic books and a duck’s egg.
My mother recalled that he would sometimes get in trouble, but he did have a chivalrous streak. There were a few times, when she was a teenager, that he would walk with her to make sure she got home safely after a dance or party. When she moved to America in 1957, she lost touch with him but would always remember that he was her friend.
You are probably wondering what this story has to do with genealogy. Well, if you think about it, your ancestors had friends and neighbors who interacted with their lives, too.
Back in the 1880’s, one of my great-great-uncles and two of his friends moved to Durham County, England. Farming in Suffolk had not been as productive as coal mining up north. There he met and married his wife and had three children. If he had not decided to move and had married another woman, his whole lineage would have had a different result.
As it was, all three of these men shared a friendship that lasted over 50 years. They lived and worked in the same parish in Durham. They witnessed baptisms and marriages of each other’s children and grandchildren. In 1910, two of the friend’s children married, growing this bond even stronger.
In modern times, with social media, staying in touch with friends has become very simple. You can get on Facebook and connect with a friend. In the past, people would have to write letters or make expensive, long-distance phone calls to communicate. It was no wonder that when someone moved away, they no longer stayed in touch with each other.
Genealogy does not mean that you only have to focus on your personal family history. You might find that your ancestor had the same friend or neighbor for 30 or 40 years. Make a special notation of this event, so that other’s will know of the connection.
In response to my mother’s question about finding Francis O’Reilly, I am still looking. I have made a family tree for him, including his parents and siblings. I have searched the internet for information on him and created a group on Facebook entitled “Finding Francis O’Reilly.” The goal of this site is to not only find Francis but to help others find lost family and friends, too.
And, with as many people on social media today, I would not be surprised that a lead would turn up, guiding us in the right direction. Persistence and dedication to a cause often pay off. You just need a little patience.
Below, I have included what I know about Francis:
- Francis M O’Reilly, born Oct-Nov-Dec 1939 in Lothingland Registration District (probably Lowestoft).
- Father was Francis O’Reilly, born 1901, unknown birthplace, his father was, John O’Reilly.
- Mother was Eva A Pigney, born 1914, probably in Lowestoft, father, George Pigney (1889 Rockland St Mary, Norfolk) and mother, Mary A Bates (no information).
- Brother was John P O’Reilly, born 1935, probably in Lowestoft.
- Sister was Rosemary O’Reilly, born 1943, probably in Lowestoft.
- Rosemary married Noel McClelland (1939 birthplace unknown to 1 Sep 2015) in 1963 Oxfordshire, England. Noel was living in Shackleford, Surrey, at the time of his death.
- Rosemary and Noel had three children, Richard N (1964 Oxfordshire), Noella (1966 probably Lowestoft) and Kieron Roy (1977 Great Yarmouth).
- Noella married Kevin Wiltshire (no information) in 1987, probably Lowestoft.
If you have any ideas about how I can find Francis, please leave a comment. I will keep you updated on my progress as soon as I get a lead. You can check back on this page or my Facebook group page. Thanks for your interest in Finding O’Reilly.
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