What happens when two baby boomers in different parts of the country decide to search for their roots?
Well, in the case of a Wheeling woman and a Florida man, they discovered that they are related!
Through genealogical research at the Ohio County Public Library, Nancy Holloway of Wheeling found that her great-great-grandparents, John G. Flood and Mary Carpenter Flood, had lived in Wheeling. Doing similar research, Thomas Shaw of Lakeland, Fla., formerly of Kent, Ohio, learned about his great-great-grandparents who were the same Floods.
Photo by Linda Comins
Third cousins Thomas Shaw of Lakeland, Fla., formerly of Kent, Ohio, and Nancy Holloway of Wheeling meet for the first time in the Wheeling Room of the Ohio County Public Library. They are doing genealogical research on their mutual great-great-grandparents, John G. Flood and Mary Carpenter Flood, and extended family.
But, it took library employee Diane Rhodes to make the connection for Holloway and Shaw and to put the third cousins in contact with each other.
Both Holloway and Shaw are related to the Floods on their respective mother's side of the family. When Shaw contacted the library with an inquiry about the Floods, the name rang a bell with Rhodes, she explained, because she remembered having heard Holloway mention those relatives.
When Shaw traveled from Florida to Cleveland for a family wedding, he made a side trip to the library's Wheeling Room, where appropriately, he was introduced face-to-face with his newfound cousin, Holloway.
"I've been working on genealogy for a while," Holloway said. She had learned that her great-great-grandparents were buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Steubenville and she had spoken to Rhodes about her desire to find their graves.
"Diane (Rhodes) remembered the names of the people I'd gone to find," Holloway said. "Eventually, my husband and I drove up to Steubenville and we found it (the gravesite)."
Meanwhile, Shaw said that as part of his travels north for his niece's wedding, he wanted to make a side trip to Wheeling to continue his genealogical research. "I had one day to do this," he said.
In preparation for that visit, Shaw called the library and spoke to Rhodes. "She was really nice. I talked to her for about 10 or 15 minutes," he said. "I sent her an email. As soon as she saw that, she thought, 'The Floods, oh, yeah.'" After being put in touch with Holloway, Shaw said, "We spent about 45 minutes on the phone."
He commented, "It's amazing. I'll never discount the possibility of looking up at a third cousin." As they continued to examine documents in the Wheeling Room, he added, "We're all looking for the same people, just a couple of generations back."
Regarding the new connection, Holloway remarked, "It's amazing. Diane knew the names just from our conversations."
Shaw said records show that the Floods were united in marriage at St. James Cathedral (the predecessor of the current Cathedral of St. Joseph) in Wheeling in 1853, then moved to Steubenville in 1857 or 1858, after the birth of their third child.
Holloway said her great-grandmother, Maggie Flood, was born in Steubenville, but later moved to Wheeling. Holloway found her ancestor's baptismal record in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston's archives when those documents were stored in the Catholic Heritage Center at 20th and Main streets. "A little voice kept saying to me, 'Go over there.' There are so many miraculous encounters in finding things," she said. The records indicated that Maggie Flood had been baptized at St. Joseph's Cathedral.
During her research, Holloway made discoveries of "needle in the haystack stuff." She said, "I was convinced I was meant to do this."
After Maggie Flood's father died in Steubenville, she lived with her grandmother in Wheeling. Maggie Flood married a man named Coffee, and their daughter, Leota Coffee, was Holloway's maternal grandmother. Holloway is the daughter of Nancy Coffee Reass.
Picking up the family story, Shaw said that after his great-great-grandfather, John G. Flood, died in Steubenville, "the kids got broken up," with some of the children moving to Wheeling and the two youngest children being placed in an orphanage in Cincinnati. Later, one of the children, also named John Flood, in Steubenville was able to get his brother, Thomas, out of the orphanage.
Thomas Flood later lived in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, and married Alice Kelly in Dennison, where they lived for a few years before moving to Columbus, Shaw said. Their son, Thomas, married Mary Carter in Columbus and had a daughter, Mary Josephine Flood, who married Henry Mulholland. Shaw, in turn, is the son of their daughter, Alice Mulholland, and her husband, Sanford Shaw. Alice Mulholland Shaw now lives in Florida, her son said.
Regarding his mother's reaction to the discovery of "new" family members through genealogical research, Shaw said, "She's glad to see that I'm having fun with it."
Holloway concluded, "I always figured there would be a lot of cousins out there."