The biggest decision in writing family history is where to begin. When you have over 4,000 people in your family tree, it is quite overwhelming to think about writing the family story. Obviously it is not something that can be accomplished in a month. It reminds me of that old joke - How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So I will begin with my first bite, writing about one particular relative.
I got interested in genealogy when my mom died at the age of 69 in 1989. In a sudden, heart-breaking moment I realized that I could no longer ask her any questions about my grandparents or any other family members, for that matter. Instead I began asking questions of my mom's remaining siblings. So it seems logical to begin with my mom's grandfather, Michael Crusham. Here's how his story begins.
Michael J. Crusham
Note: While the family name has always been spelled Crusham in the United States, there are no records for that name in County Galway, Ireland. My aunts remember their grandpa telling them that a cousin of his came from Ireland for a visit and accused him of being "high hat" for changing the family name. From that we had deduced that the name had been changed. But from what? There was a lot of family discussion on what the name might have been. Cushin? Cushing? O'Cashan? Grisham? (Some deep-seated desire to find out we were related to John Grisham, no doubt.) During a trip I made to Tuam, County Galway, Ireland in 1997, I was able to find the family name predominantly as Crisham. Church records, however, also had it spelled as Cresham or Chrisham, sometimes within the same record that indicated the name was Crisham. I have been told by various sources that the true name was, and still is, Crisham.
Why did Michael leave Ireland? Did he really steal a horse? Was the law after him? Family lore says it is so, but I have not substantiated that fact. What I do know is that Michael J. Crusham left Ireland in 1879. While I have yet to find him on a passenger list, I believe he came to the United States by himself around the age of 22. His age at arrival is a little murky, however. His Petition for Naturalization through the State of Ohio, Hamilton County Probate Court, dated 11 March 1887, states that he arrived in the United States on 4 March 1879 "under the age of eighteen years." Later in the same record the witness for Michael states that he "knows that said applicant has resided in the United States three years next preceding his arrival at the age of twenty-one years."
|Church of the Assumption|
So what happened to make Michael leave all that behind in 1879?