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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Google is Your Friend

Clara asked:

Do you know where I might find a copy of the book "History of Wellington County" by J. Hutchinson?  It is mentioned in "The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855 by Lucille H. Campey as a source.

Sure thing. A Google Search for the book gave me the answer to your question. You can purchase a copy of The History of Wellington County on

There is a cheaper copy (half the price!) available  here

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Land Records Can Be Very Helpful in Genealogy Research

Stanley asked for help with his Vrooman ancestry

I am looking for information on Vroomans that do not go through New York, My history says that my ancestors were 7 brothers that came over from Holland to Canada (not a lot to go on)

However I have traced my 2nd Great Grandfather back to Charles Vrooman b 26 Dec 1804 in Canada West, d 2 Jun 1894 in Fremont, Sanilac, Michigan; married to Esther Hoyt b 1823 New Brunswick, Canada, d 1883 Fremont, Sanilac, Michigan

I also know that Charles; mother, Elizabeth was living with him and Esther in 1961 [sic] census, and that Elizabeth's birthplace is noted as New Brunswick, and that she was born around 1789

However, I am not convinced by the argument that this is the same Elizabeth that is married to Adam Vrooman Jr and that her last name is McCowan with the sons David and James as has been put forth by various genealogist and on various forms.

My main reason for not thinking Adam is my Charles father is that the Michigan death index
for Charles Vroman states that Charles parents are William and Eliza.

I however have not been able to get past my 2 brick walls of William's father, mother and decedents, or Eliza's maiden name and parents
1851 Census Nissouri West, Middlesex Co. Ontario
Stanley - the first question that comes to  my mind is how you are so certain your Vrooman ancestors did not go through New York to arrive in Canada? Your family lore of 7 brothers arriving may be quite wrong or slightly confused. Family lore is often incorrect, memories fade over time and it's like the childhood game of "Telephone". By the time the last person gets the message started by the first person, it is jumbled. So I would keep an open mind. Go with the known and methodically dig backwards.

Re Charles' death certificate, remember that death certificates can also be incorrect. The information on them was not given by the deceased and may have been given by a family member who didn't know the answer (but thought they did) or by a family doctor. You do not know how accurate that information is. 

I took a quick look and found the following information:

1851 Census Nissouri West, Middlesex Ontario shows Charles Vrooman, 44 born Canada, a farmer with wife Ester born New Brunswick, age 29 and son Isaac Hoyt Vrooman age 1 born Canada. Also living with them are Benjamin Hoyt, 71 born USA and wife Elenor 63 born Nova Scotia. Going to the second page of this census page, we see that this is one family living in one home (a log home). I suggest you will find that Benjamin and Elenor Hoyt are the parents of Ester.

1861 Census Nissouri West, Middlesex Ontario shows Charles, 53 born Canada West (present day Ontario), his wife Ester, 37 and children Alexander 10, Hoyt 8, John 8, Arthur 6, Elenor 4, Gertrude 2 and 72 year old Elizabeth born New Brunswick, a widow.

1881 Census Caradoc, Middlesex Ontario shows Charles age 73 and Ester 57 living with their son Hoyt

Looking for Elizabeth Vrooman born New Brunswick in earlier census records (1851) does lead to Adam and Elizabeth Vrooman in Haldimand County but you have no way of knowing if this is your Elizabeth or not. My suggestion is you search more obscure records such as Upper Canada Land Petitions, Land Board Records and CLRI. I note that Charles is listed as a farmer in the census records so finding his land records may prove very helpful as you may find he was given land by a parent.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Getting Through the Confusing Maze of Variant Names and Spelling

Christine has confusion with the varied spelling of her ancestor's name - recorded variously as Grumbley, Grambley, Grumley, Grimley, Bromley, Grumly

I have been searching for my 2nd great grandfather Philip Richard Grumbley b: abt 1823 in Ireland.  My great grandfather’s obituary spelled his last name as Grambley but survived by a brother named Grumbley.  I can document the wife Rosa with Philip Richard Grumley and their children in  the 1880 Harmony Township, Clark County, Ohio census.  I found the family listed in 1870 as Grimley in Harmony Township, Clark County, Ohio.  In the 1860 census they are listed as Bromley in Green Township, Clark County, Ohio.  The church marriage records from the diocese list them in 1853 as Philipium Grumly and Rosea Hockett and shows them married in Springfield, Ohio at St Raphael’s Church.  I found marriage records for two of the daughters as late as 1887 in South Charleston, Ohio at St Charles Borromeo Parish.  Try as I might, I can not find a death record for either Rosa nor Philip Grumbley.  I have not found anything that tells me other than Ireland and I am not at all sure how their name was really spelled!  I have been a member of ancestry since it’s beginning and I have used, findagrave and the Clark County Heritage Center Library.  No luck……… Can you help?

Christine - Normally when there is such a jump from a surname starting with "G" to "B" as in that 1860 census, the usual reason is that the original record has been mis-transcribed. In this case, it has not. The image clearly shows Brumley. So how does this happen? Say the two names out loud. They sound rather similar, especially if mumbled, said with an accent or by a child. Remember we do not know who gave information when the census taker came around - was it a neighbour, a child? Did the person giving the information have a strong accent? This family was from Ireland and I can well imagine a clerk could easily confuse the sound of Grumley for Brumley. I'd discard that as a variant of the surname.

As for the other variations, remember that spelling was not standardized in the 19th century. People spelled words as they sounded (phonetically) and many individuals could not read or write. You can get more help with an article I wrote called  5 Tips to Help You Navigate the Confusing Maze of Surname Variations

Finding a place of origin in Ireland can be a challenge. One of the tricks I use is to trace the children and find their marriage and death records. Sometimes you get lucky and a county of origin is given. Also look for obituaries of the parents and all the children. Since you found church records for the family you know what religion they were. This can help you narrow the search in Ireland. I see they were Catholic so you might want to search the new online Catholic Parish Registers for Ireland. You might first want to read my blog post 10 Steps to Searching the Irish Catholic Parish Records When You Only Know a County of Origin. 

The tips will work even without you knowing a county of origin but hopefully you can narrow that down by finding those all-important death records.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Netherland Research is Not Simple or Quick

Lois asked a rather convoluted question which does not have a simple answer. Because of the several questions Lois asked, i am going to intersperse my answers with her questions.

Q: After 200 years of historical accounts of the immigrants from the Netherlands, debate is still continuing when the surname Teunise/Teunisen is researched. My ancestor was Teunis Nyssen, who had  7 children based on baptism records, one (Cornelis) from guardianship record after his mother Phoebe Janse died. By 1660, when the 2nd generation started marriage and having children, the names of daughters were Teunis with an “e” added and sons with “en”. Historians and genealogists either made decisions which person had which “Teunis” father, so for the children of Teunis Nyssen, Denyse was added to the name “de Nys, or of Nys, as opposed to child of Teunis Bogaert. 

Is my assumption on the addition of the “e” and “en” correct?
A: The simple answer is "NO". The patronymic was formed by adding -se, -sen, or -szen. Daughters would very often have the ending -x or -dr. added. I suggest that what you are finding ("e" vs "en") is simply the way the name/patronymic was recorded by that specific clerk or individual. See Dutch Patronymics of the 1600s for more help. 

Also, if you have not seen my page on the DAMEN family of New Netherland I urge you to take a look.  As well as a brief expanation of the family origins, you will find several resources for you to use. You will definitely want the 4th one but you may find the others very helpful as well:

Q: The “Teunis” problem seems to have led to the following children  being attributed to Nyssen:   Hillegonde, Geertje, James, Joris and Teunis. So the second question relates to children naming  traditions.    First son after father’s father, 2nd mother’s father and 1st daughter after mother’s mother, 2nd after father’s mother...with exceptions.    A son Teunis for Nyssen is possible, but many records show him by age as 1st son, whereas he would be Dionys (name for Teunis’ father), 2nd son was Jan named for mother’s father.  
A:  You should never take naming traditions or customs as being set in stone. They might be observed by the couple but they might not be. One parent might be honoured by having a grandchild named after him/her but another might be on the "outs" with the family. A rich uncle or someone who could bestow favours on the couple might be the person honoured with a child's name. There may be a missing child which had the name of the missing parent. There are many reasons why naming patterns cannot be relied on!

Q: Is there any way to ID all the men named Teunis who would have been fathers between 1640 and 1670, so the “supposed children” could be linked to the correct parents?  If there is, how can it be communicated to people who have ancestry trees in various websites?  
A: You could certainly devote many years of research and study into an attempt to find all men named Teunis (or Antonis) who could have been fathers in that 30 year time span.  But if you were thinking of the entire area of New Netherland you would have quite a lifetime project ahead of you. Even if you found them all, determing which children belong to which father would quite likely take yet another lifetime, if indeed it could be done. 

Researching the Dutch in New Netherland is not an easy task. It requires years of study to understand naming patterns, customs, patronymics etc *and* to find the records to assist in the research. There are records that Dr. Gehring has been working on translating from the Dutch for over 25 years now! 

Photo credit: Stuart Miles on FreeDigital.Net

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Search all the Children not just your Direct Ancestor!

Pamela asked about naturalization records for her ancestor William Galbraith.

I’m wondering if you would help me locate naturalization records for William Galbraith. We have reason to believe that he came from Northern Ireland in 1830, that he was a resident of Rochester, New York in 1841, that he resided in Ohio between 1843-1852 and became a naturalized citizen in Ohio, that he died in Portage, Wisconsin.  He was married to Eliza Woods and had 7 children. Samuel is my husband's descendent. I’m looking to find out where he came from in Ireland and thought his naturalization record might show this info.
Olive Tree Genealogy responds: 


It is unlikely that this early Naturalization will show anything more than William being from Ireland.  

Before September 27, 1906, there was no US Naturalization Service, and the BCIS has no naturalization records dated before September 1906. Before the 1906 act, declarations of intention had no expiration date. 

Before 1906, the declaration of intent generally contains more genealogically useful information than the petition. Petitions before 1906 usually show only a name, former allegiance, and date of naturalization. The declaration may include the alien's exact date of immigration into the United States. 

To search Ohio records see

Since you hope to find his Irish origins, I'd hunt for the marriages and deaths of all his children. Sometimes a county in Ireland is provided on these documents. Also look for his marriage and death records. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Search Alternates to Ships Passenger Lists to Canada Before 1865

Barbara asked the following question about her great-grandmother Elizabeth Hayes, born 1841 in Newcastle, England

My great grandmother emigrated from Staffordshire England between 1851 and 1861. She was found in the 1851 of Staffordshire and I can’t find her in the 1861 of either England or Ontario.  I’ve spent years trying to find records of who she might have come from, the ship, and where she entered Canada.  In 1862 she was in Toronto and married my great grandfather in 1863 in Toronto. She was a witness to her Aunt’s marriage in 1862.
 Barbara - You have a challenge ahead of you. Before 1865 ships passenger list to Canada did not have to be archived. There are some lists but the challenge is finding them as they are few and far between. However there are substitute lists such as Shipping Company Records, Immigration Agent Records, St. Lawrence Steamship Records, etc. 

See Filling in the Gaps at for links to alternate records for pre 1865 immigration AND for details on any that are available only offline.

You may also wish to purchase the e-book which contains much more information than found in the links provided above

 Filling in the Gaps: Finding Pre-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada on also available as Filling in the Gaps: Finding Pre-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada  on

It is also available as
Filling in the Gaps: Finding Pre-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada is available in paperback format on CreateSpace

Filling in the Gaps: Finding Pre-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada Paperback version on

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Look for Obituaries & Death Records of Everyone in the Family

Diane asked for help with William Henry Leitch

Son of John E Leitch and Sarah Blagborough in Brantford, Ontario.  He is my grandfather.  I found reference to him in the 1924 Brantford City Directory, working as a salesman for Met Life Insurance.  After that……..nothing.  I know he and my G.mother separated shortly after that date……any suggestions on how I might find out what happened to him?  Have not been able to locate him in any local cemetery or find an obit or death record for him.  His sister emigrated to Mass, USA and I found her but he was not with her.

1953 Voter's List
I did a little digging and found William born ca 1887 and often going by his middle name of Henry in the records. In 1891 he is 4 years old in Brantford with his parents and sister Florence May. In 1901 he is a lodger in Brantford with his wife Nellie. In 1921 he and Nellie and their son Harold are still in Brantford.

In 1953 his wife Nellie is listed as a widow living in Brantford with their son Harold and a Mavis Leitch who I suspect is a daughter.

Nellie may have lied about her matrimonial status but it is also possible she was telling the truth. I would look for cemetery records in and around Brantford between 1924 and 1953. Also you might check newspapers for an obituary of either his sister in Massachusetts or William Henry himself. Try death records and obituaries of his children as well.

Could this be your Nellie Leitch celebrating her 90th birthday? Brantford Expositor Index:
Leitch Mrs Nellie 90th
Jul 16, 1980

Leitch Nellie 90th
Jul 26, 1980

Perhaps this is her death?

Jan 25, 1992

You can search for yourself at 

Obituaries and death records of all family members may prove to be very helpful