In the mid-1990s, when I was visiting my grandparents, grandma showed me a stack of letters that had belonged to her mother, Nell Basquill. They were written by Nell’s brother, William.

She sent me to the library with grandpa, to photocopy them, because she’d decided I would want them. I have no idea why she thought that.

I read them, and they didn’t make any sense to me. I put them away, and two moves later, I found them in a box of papers. That little stack of letters was what got me interested in genealogy.

I still don’t know who some of the people mentioned by William were. But every time I look at them, I figure out another little piece of the puzzle.

Hubert Martin Keane (1878-1957)

My most recent mystery was Hubert Martin Keane. I found him living with Mary Anne Baskwell in Boston in the 1940 census. I almost ignored him as just a random lodger, but since he was born in Ireland, I thought I’d try to find him in the civil birth register.

It turns out he was easy to pin down. He was born 9 Dec 1878 in Slaugar, County Mayo, and his parents were Michael Keane and Bridget Baskville.

It can’t have been a coincidence that the daughter of William Baskuil was living with the son of Bridget Baskville. I thought maybe they were first cousins, and that Bridget may have been an as yet unidentified daughter of Michael Basquil and Margaret Kelly, my great grandma Nell’s grandparents. (Mary Ann was the daughter of Walter’s brother, William, and Anne Gibbons. So Mary Anne and my great grandma Nell were first cousins.)

I thought there might be something in those old letters that could help, so I pulled them out. I hit the jackpot, but it wasn’t the one I wanted to hit.

Letter from William Basquil to his sister Nell, 9 Jun 1974

“Mrs. O Hara a granddaughter of Uncle Dennis told me that Dad’s [Walter’s] only sister Aunt Margarett lived in Boston & was married to a man named Bourke, did you ever contact her.”

Walter only had one sister, Margaret Theresa Basquil, who did indeed marry a man named Thomas Burke. She came to the US in the mid-1870s and died in Boston. So Bridget Baskville is not one of Walter’s sisters, which means that Hubert Keane is not a first cousin to Mary Ann Baskwell.

I still think there was a relationship between Bridget Baskville and my Basquills. It’s just too much of a coincidence, otherwise.