About the Book
THE GENEALOGY QUEST: Tearing Down Brick Walls
Sometimes the path to researching family history presents frustrating obstacles. However, passion, determination and following another trail will lead to success, self-discovery and new family bonds. This is a story of one such quest, the process to learn about family and the personal riches genealogy brings to family – known and previously unknown. It’s the story of Catherine and Rose Keenan, two sisters from County Down Ireland, who traveled to America in the mid 1860s. Settling in Chicago with their respective families then moving to other parts of the country.
About the Author
John A Cavallone
John Cavallone was born and raised in the city of Chicago. Presently, he lives in the city’s southwest suburban region with his wife Rebecca. In addition to his passion for genealogy he is a former retail business owner, and currently consults with small businesses. He also contributes to the success of K-12 students by supporting education through technology. His full career history can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johncavallone.
Can you tell us more about your book “The Genealogy Quest: Tearing Down Brick Walls?”
I have been doing genealogy research on my family for over thirteen years. My wife and I married in 2008 and by default, marriage makes you part of my research. By 2010 I began researching my wife’s family and we ran into several challenges were I couldn’t go any further. There was no obvious information on a mysterious woman that was my wife’s second great grandmother Rose Keenan’s sister Catherine. Equally my wife’s great grandfather Patrick James McClory had “vanished” after leaving his family in Chicago between 1910 and 1920. This is the story of persistence and looking outside the direct path for evidence to locate information that would ultimately lead to who they were and what happened to them. It’s the story of how the research took us to a small town in Southwest Nebraska, Dalton, where Catherine moved to from Chicago in the late 1890s.
Your Protagonists, Catherine and Rose Keenan travel from County Down in Northern Ireland to America in the mid-1860s. Are these based people or are events that happen to them based on real life events?
Catherine and Rose Keenen are my wife’s ancestors that we discovered through over five years of genealogy research.
What inspired you to write about Catherine and Rose, and their journey to discover their past, family and future?
I love researching ancestors and putting life’s puzzle together. Though genealogy is gaining in popularity there is still a substantial amount of people who are only “aware” of family back to maybe their grandparents and even with that knowledge they don’t know their grandparents story. When I met my wife she had no idea about her family beyond vague information on her grandparents. Her father was unaware of how large his family actually was. We set on a path of discovering her family history, shared it with her 92 year old father and attached historical events to “real’ people. History from the mid-1860s came alive, from the birth of railroads, the challenges of working in steel mills with no unions, and the Homestead Act of 1862 including living in a sod house!
Which part of the book did you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoyed writing about the importance of “lost” relatives. Typically when people do genealogy or basic family research it’s linear, it follows just the parents, great grandparents, second great grandparents and so on. For me, it’s about finding everyone in the family, siblings that may have passed away as infants or young children, those that may have married and not had children or maybe not married and their lines effectively end. Their existence needs to be remembered as well. Rose is my wife’s 2nd great grandmother. We searched for information on her sister Catherine for years. Catherine had three children that died in infancy and one child that had a mental problems and was institutionalized in the early 1900s. Benny died alone hundreds of miles from where his family was living. Treatment for mental illnesses in the early 1900s are not like it is today. In our family tree there are many examples of these “lost” family members.
Will there be any sequels to Catherine and Rose’s story?
The Genealogy Quest is a story about uncovering family history, the road blocks in research and the persistence and strategies needed in finding what happened to ancestors. This story was about my wife’s family. There may be one on my family sometime in the future.
Your story focuses on 2 young ladies from Northern Ireland. Have you ever had the opportunity to visit the island itself? If so where did you visit? If not where would you like to visit?
My wife and I have not had the opportunity to travel to Northern Ireland. If we ever do we would love to experience County Down where her ancestors were from. However the research did take us from Chicago to the small towns of Sidney and Dalton in Southwest Nebraska. We met some of the nicest people during our visit that took us in and told us stories about the area and assisted us in researching Catherine Keenan’s family.
John, you have a vast career, stretching many disciplines and exploring several different avenues. What has been the most rewarding point of your professional life?
I find helping others is the most rewarding part of my life. Whether it is assisting others understand technology to make them more productive or improve their life or opening doors to family through family history research, the satisfaction is seeing others light up!
What guidance would you offer someone interested in writing about historical events, either fact or fiction?
The guidance I would offer about writing on historical events is research, fact check, and put yourself in the time of your story. We currently live in a time of exceptional conveniences that did not exist even one hundred years ago. There were daily challenges that existed back then that dwarf what we know today. Transportation and communication were not instant; heating and cooling were almost non-existent; food was a daily challenge, illnesses that we take for granted today could kill you!
Where can our readers find out more about you or contact you?
What will you be working on next? Do you have any further ideas for book or other projects?
My next book, “Technology in Education: A Blueprint for a Successful Foundation,” will be available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle at the beginning of February 2016. Technology in Education discusses the challenges of today’s demands for technology in the modern K12 classroom, the infrastructure needed to support it and the budget constraints due to limited resources. “Technology in Education” is a must read for all school administrators, school board members and interested community members / parents.
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