It’s been that many days and two martinis since I’ve posted a word on this blog.  It seems like an eternity, and quite possibly, is.

Deep into the research of my ancestry, I’ve put most everything else aside.  The research is fascinating; I have a natural aptitude for details and love the thrill of the hunt.  What have I found?

I’m all over the world.  I’m SO all over the world, that I’m having a DNA test done through the ancestry site where I ‘grow’ my tree.  You see, with every successful link, more questions arise.

Legal documents don’t always tell the truth.  A prime example?  My birth certificate.

On my birth certificate there is a mother, the correct one, and a father, an incorrect one.  If my mother had not told me who the correct birth father is, I would never have known.

This presents a problem in the research.  I, and all who do this type of research, must try to prove each document with another document and deduce the most plausible set of circumstances.

I have found incredibly dedicated people deep in my ancestry and some heartbreaking sad stories, in the not too distant past.  I know something of James Cole, my great-grandfather.  Over time, I hope to learn more about his life, though I realize that facts could be out of reach.

James Cole was born in 1872, in Ballyboggan, Meath, Ireland.  As a young man, he became a merchant marine, sailing from Londonderry, Ireland, to Liverpool, England, and on to Portland, Maine and eventually, to Nova Scotia or Quebec.

His father and mother, Dermot and Julia Cole, along with their sons, came from Ireland in 1885 with their five sons, to live in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  James married Georgine Pothier and eventually had four children. Since James brother Michael was a Roman Catholic priest, it’s likely theymarried in a Catholic church ceremony.

On November 10, 1900, tragedy struck, as it had many time before, in the Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and Quebec.   The tides are higher here than anywhere else in the world!

The City of Monticello sank, just four miles from its final destination, taking with it all but four of its passengers.  James Cole, 28, Fireman, perished with the rest of the passengers and crew.  Men only, waited on the shores along the Canadian coast, to watch for and collect the battered and bloodied bodies.

SS City of Monticello, going down in the Bay of Fundy

Since there were four survivors, one being a Captain of another ship, many newspapers of the time reported on the disaster.

Georgine widowed and four small children were fatherless.  Each child, sent to live with a relative, three baby girls and a son, the oldest only four years old, now separated by tragedy.

James is buried in Our Lady of Calvary Cemetery in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.  I am actively seeking someone who will walk in the cemetery to photograph his final resting place.

I can only imagine the pain the family suffered, and Georgine devastated, at the loss of her husband, and further insult by having to separate her precious children.  My heart aches for them.


I never knew my grandmother, Margaret Cole, one of James’ daughters.  I doubt she ever knew I existed.  (remember the birth certificate?)  I wonder if she knew what happened to her father.  Her mother eventually remarried and Margaret came to the USA and married my grandfather, who is the most elusive of all the ancestors!

When I was in my teens and long after, folks would always say, “Are you Irish?”  I’d reply, “No, not at all.”  Indeed.

Why the double-edged sword?  I’m grateful to those who came before me, as they existed, lived, loved and died, I do and will meet the same end.  Touching their lives, only briefly,  reminds me of how alone I felt as a child, how different, with the longing to know where I came from.  Having a mother who never really got to know her children, as children, no grandparents to know me, no father to love me.  The knowledge is bittersweet.

I’ve had many epiphanies since I started my research.  Painful, poignant and incredible.  Now, I’ll let the martini do the talking, and say that the only reason for being is to love those who love you, respect and care for the rest, all that live and breathe and live your life as if every breath you take is your last one.

Thanks to Jody  at for giving me a nudge. Peace.

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