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Focusing on the Past

Focusing on the past; illuminating the future is more than a slogan for Brannigan and Murphy.  It entails being involved in lifelong learning. To that end, there has been a tremendous effort on our part acquiring additional skills while sharpening those already held. We hold new credentials in several areas, the most notable being an investigator. It is always good having the most up-to-date information and expertise possible.  Additionally, genealogy is enjoying and ever increasing interest. Brannigan and Murphy have received research requests in keeping with this growth rate.


Individual family searches are always wonderful challenges.  One search for my friend, Marcia, revealed that an ancestor built a diving bell to recover 20 tons of iron bars had fallen off his ship. The freight was located at a depth of 62 feet during low tide.  Talk about a challenge.

A dividing bell was constructed by her ancestor, Captain Richard Tripe, and an adventure ensued.  During the recovery process, a physician examined his hearing and physical well-being.  The impressive part is that the year was in 1805. It was the Piscataqua River near Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Dr. Benjamin Silliman was the first professor of chemistry at Yale, and Captain Tripe successfully recovered the iron bar shipment.

Dig back far enough and everyone has an interesting tale in his or her family tree. Contact us if you are in the market for a discovery in one of your branches or limbs.


This last week another case brought me to an interesting word that isn’t used too frequently: Cenotaph.  The term has roots in Old French, Latin, and Greek. Each language expresses the meaning “empty tomb.”  A cenotaph is a tribute to a dead person or percenotaph flight 103sons who are buried in a different location. There are not too many situations to use this word, but it is an interesting one, rating cenotaph plaqueright up there with sarcophagus.

Through the years, I have visited several cenotaphs and felt the solemn tribute it gave to those buried elsewhere. A recent case presented asking Brannigan and Murphy to photograph the cenotaph honoring, in part, Lawanda Thomas (1967-1988). Lawanda was a 22-year-old enlisted Senior Airman with the U.S. Air Force from Detroit, Michigan. She lost her life, along with many others, in a peacetime terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Many bodies, including Lawanda’s, have not been recovered.  One cenotaph honoring all lives lost during that event is located in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC while another is in Lockerbie, Scotland.


It is always handy having a solid piece of trivia in your pocket. Here is one you may find useful. Who is the only U.S. President buried in Washington, DC? Many will say Kennedy but his grave is in Arlington, Virginia. The correct answer is Woodrow Wilson. He, and his wife Edith, are both located in the Washington National Cathedral. You can find Woodrow’s sarcophagus just near the window encasing the only moon rock outside the U.S. Government’s control, midway down the center aisle on the right.

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