In Family Research, Follow the Hot Hand

The "hot hand phenomenon" - the theory that an athlete who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.

The “hot hand phenomenon” – the theory that an athlete who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!  Last weekend I celebrated my first Father’s Day with bacon, burgers, outdoor fun with family, and quality time with my son and wife.  Not much more a guy could ask for.  We also had a wedding this weekend for a cousin on my Parotto side.  It was a great time, and was good to spend some time with extended family I hadn’t seen in a while.  I got to talk to my grandfather’s sister, with whom I had spent some time last fall talking about family memories and reviewing documents she had collected when she was researching our family history.  I also talked with my grandmother’s sister (Neville family).  I always make sure to fully enjoy the time we have together, and every time we get together, I need to remind myself to make a better effort at getting out to visit with them.

In an earlier post, I mentioned how Patrick Blake’s father John either died in Dublin, Ireland, or in Canada, just after the family arrived.  But either way, I thought he died when Patrick was a baby because that’s what most sources said.  There was a conflicting story that said John died when Patrick was a young boy, but with no sources to back this up, I discounted the theory.

This week, as I continued going through my sources to summarize them in my family history story, I read a speech that Patrick made at an undertaker conference in Toronto. Patrick talked of the need for all undertakers and funeral directors to act courteously and professionally at all times to continue to change the public perception of them.  He told a story from his past that served as his motivation for pushing for this change.  When he was a young boy, he remembered an undertaker coming to the family home to talk with his mother and arrange for a burial.  He brought a black casket with him.  Patrick recalled him being an intimidating man, and that he was scared of him and the black casket.  He ran away from him to hide in his bedroom. This event made him realize that as an adult, after he got into the business, that families are going through very difficult times when they lose loved ones and part of the undertaker’s role should be to comfort and provide relief to the families during this time.

This was a neat story to read and learn more about what type of person my ancestor was, but more importantly, it was a first-hand account of when Patrick’s father actually died.  John Blake had made the trek to Canada with the family and had a hand in raising Patrick.  This will help in finding the passenger list for their immigration, because now I know to search for both Catherine and John.  It will also help me to track their movements in Canada before coming to Detroit, because now I will be looking for John instead of Catherine.

Another big success this week was making contact with another distant Blake cousin!

This relative is descended from Patrick’s son, William Blake.  William, and later his son, William Jr., carried on the Blake undertaking business after Patrick’s other sons passed away.  We just began corresponding, so not much more to report yet, but that makes four distant cousins I’ve now found, and only two branches left before I will have made contact with a descendent of each of Patrick’s kids that have children of their own.  I hope to be able to repeat my living relative search success with my other lines, especially the Parotto line, which I’ve not done much research on as of yet.  But just like in basketball or any other sport, you have to go with the hot hand!  The Blake findings kept coming, so who am I to stand in the way of progress?

I would normally say “more to come on this next week”, but I don’t believe I can say that this time.  Unfortunately, next week will be my last post as the “Family Tree Firsts” blogger, as my six-month assignment is coming to an end.  Amazing how fast time flies! Since it will be my last post, it will contain more reflections than new findings, and I can’t promise you I will make many new findings anyways.  But what I can promise you is that my last post will definitely exceed the word limit guideline.  Sorry!  So for the last time, I say – “Have a great week everyone!”  Talk to you next time.


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Brian Parotto of Hampshire, Ill.


Brian is attending Genealogy Summer School to enhance his family research, where select classes are on major discount. Learn more here: Genealogy Summer School Sale.

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