I did. I couldn't sleep one night recently, and didn't really want to work-work for fear of getting the old brain cells spinning, so I puttered around the Internet for a bit. After a while, I decided to check out Google Books since I hadn't been there in some time. I experimented with some combinations of locations and surnames from my family history and was astonished -- upon searching for "Jersey City" and Nelligan -- to come upon this entry:
There's a particular 2nd great-granduncle I've always had affection for. His name was Daniel Nelligan and I learned of him from his great-niece, my nana, who knew him as a youngster. He was a colorful fellow, so I know more of him than many other relatives, but what struck me most is what I learned when I researched him -- that he had outlived two wives and all seven of his children. How heartbreaking would that be?
Well, this unexpected entry -- who knew that Google Books would have annual railroad reports complete with accident summaries from the 1800s? -- is for one of his sons. I knew he had lost a son named David, but I never knew how. With his father, Daniel, affectionately know as the "grand old man of the Erie," David must have grown up around trains and gotten too comfortable with them for his own good. Poor Daniel's story is even sadder than I had thought.
But still, I'm glad for this unexpected little insight that helps me know the lives of David and Daniel that much better. If you haven't played with Google Books for a while, it's time for another visit.