The Gyr Mystery
My general focus the past few weeks has been the Gyr family. When I started researching them, I only had a name of my maternal great-grandmother, Lillian GREER. This was passed along to me by my mother. Lillian GREER married Bernard Francis MACKIN, before 1930.
I was able to locate the death certificate of Lillian G. MACKIN, putting her birth in Jefferson, Kentucky on July 17, 1885. The parents were listed as Mary and Jerimiah GYER. At the time, I had not heard the GYER name before, from anyone. It sounded close enough to GREER though for me to hypothesize that GREER could be an americanized version of GYER. Some surname research of GYER suggested an origin point of Germany or Switzerland. Unfornately, there, the trail went cold for a long time. I wasn’t able to locate any GREERs or GYERs that lived in the Kentucky area that fit the data I already had.
A few months later, my uncle graciously sent me a large collection of photos and documents that belonged to my grandmother. In it, I discovered a few photos of my great-grandmother, Lillian. On the back of them was written “Lillian E. Gyr Mackin“. Two bits of information stuck out at me. First, the name GYR. Although very close to GYER, it was a significant piont in the right direction. Second, the “E”. What was that for? At the time I had no clue. Again, the trail went cold. No Lillian E., Mary or Jerimiah GYRs showed up in records that fit the data I had.
A short while later I quickly ran Lillian GYRs name through familysearch.org. A bunch of Elizabeth GYRs came up, although none in the right time frame or area. Why Elizabeth? After some research I was able to learn that the first uses of the name Lillian were as a diminutive of Elizabeth. I also remembered the “E” I saw on the back of the photograph. Turning back to census records, I was able to find an Elizabeth GYR with the correct birth data, and mother Mary, living in the Jefferson, Kentucky area around the turn of the century.
No sign of Jeremiah, however. I was able to find some city directory listings of what appears to be the correct person, but he disappears from records before the turn of the century. It’s possible that he may have died before 1900.
It took a while to get here, but this has opened up a whole new avenue of research for me and the GYR family. Pays to be persistent, and never let any bit of information, however small, go unresearched.