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Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Challenging Upper Canada (Ontario) Puzzle

Bob S. asked about a challenging ancestor named John Smith. Since Bob's query was very long, I taking bits and pieces to respond to.

I have hit a brick wall with with my 2nd great-grandfather John Smith. Based on information that I have been able to find he was born between 1817 and 1826. Most information said that he was born in Canada, but his sons death registration said that he was English. He was a widower when he married my 2nd great-grandmother, Susannah Powles(s), on Jan. 13, 1856 at Christ Church, Tyendinaga, Hastings
Bob - First let me say what terrific research you have done already on this elusive ancestor. I am sorry I can't include everything you sent me here in this blog post.

Searching Land Records
I found a property owned by John M Smith but it said it was Lot 37 in Concession III.  Think that it is the same Lot/person because of proximity but am not familiar with these records.. I also tried looking for property that John Smith indicated on 1851Census.  I think that this is my John Smith but am not positive.  He listed in column "Residence if out of Limits" as "4th Con Richm"  which I interpreted as IV Concession in Richmond, Lennox County which is adjacent to Tyendinaga.  Searching the map for Richmond, Lennox at http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/.../fro-m-richmond.jpg.  I found a J Smith listed as owning property in Concession III Lots 13 and 14 on the 1880 map.  I am not sure if we would have retained that property (if it was his).
The first thing I want to suggest re this land confusion is that you consult land records. I have written extensively about searching for land records in Ontario and you may wish to familiarize yourself with what is available for Ontario Land Records. I suggest you start with the CLRI and also the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for all these properties you have found.

The Computerized Land Record Index (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants of Crown Land, sales of land from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. If your ancestor settled anywhere in Ontario and he was the first time owner of Crown Land, he should be on these lists.

The Abstract Indexes to Deeds are the indexed record of every transaction on a plot of land from Crown ownership to the present day. Using the Abstract Indexes to Deeds you can check for every instance of your name of interest on that parcel of land.

There was a property dispute between Susannah's children and grandmother and Indian Department has file that mentions the property description (part of Lot 38 Con 2).  I think that I have found this on the maps linked to the OliveTree website but the location appears to be off somewhat (lot 37 Con III).  Are these the same lots just different descriptions? 
No those are not the same lot but they were close, perhaps even bordering on each other. Each farm could be quite large so conceivably the lots could touch even though they are on different concessions.  

Formulate a Working Theory

Next - I took a look at that 1851/52 census for John who was visiting other Smiths. I suggest you formulate a theory (which you will work to prove or disprove) that they are his relatives, and quite possibly close relatives such as a father (or mother) and siblings. Research each of the Smith individuals found there and try to find something that links them to John. The following articles may be of help to you.

From Theory to Fact: 30 Years in the Making

Turn a Genealogy Guess Into a Working Theory

Assumptions vs Working Theories - The Good and the Bad

Also, you no doubt noticed the "F" in the column for Place of Birth for those Smith individuals in that 1851/52 census. You didn't ask what it meant so you may already know this, but for those who do not know, here is the official explanation in instructions to census takers in 1851:

"The BIRTH PLACE of each person: you will here note that those born of Canadian Parents are to be marked with an F." [Source: http://www.prdh.umontreal.ca/census/en/uguide/enum_1852.aspx] 

Coffin Plates & Other Death Records

  [I] have what appears to be a plate from a casket or box that indicated he died on Dec. 16th, 1888, aged 71 yrs 5 months.

This is a coffin plate. These were engraved with the deceased's name and death date and sometimes with more information, then placed on top of the coffin during the funeral. After the funeral, the plate was given to the family as a memento. You can read more about coffin plates on the AncestorsAtRest website where over 450 are shown with photos.  It is very possible that John's death was not registered. Even though it was mandatory to register a death, many people did not comply as it cost money and sometimes the trip to the Registry office was too difficult to make in the winter.

I suggest you try church records for the burial information. Check the census records to find out what religion John was, then look to see what church he might have used. Then check Ontario Archives to find out if that church has any surviving records.

Summary

I feel that your best bet is to trace those other Smiths John is visiting in 1851. It will be a lot of work but I believe well worth it. Check and compare every record you can find for them, including John. Are their similarities in the names of their children? In their places of birth? These are just a few of the questions you might ask yourself.

The land records should also help - often sons received land from fathers.

Best of luck!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Using Search Engine Tools Provided to Find an Ancestor

Angus C. asked Olive Tree Genealogy about the parents of his 2nd great-grandparents, Kenneth Roderick McKenzie and Hughenia Ross 

Kenneth Roderick McKenzie October 1839 Boularderie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia died 26 June 1916 North Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Hughenia Ross 1835 Boularderie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia died 8 May 1869 Boularderie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia In both cases for Hughenia Ross and Kenneth Roderick McKenzie I have not been able to find any information about their parents, where they were born or died is totally unknown to me. Any help and guidance you can give me to break through either (or both) my "brick walls" would be greatly appreciated.

A quick search of Nova Scotia Historical Vital Records using Hughenia's full name gave no results but using their "starts with" choice in the search engine, and only typing in HU provided this entry for a Hughessie McKenzie, died 1869 in Baddeck, Victoria County She was listed as born in Boularderie to John Ross, a farmer and Robina McKenzie. The informant is named as Kenneth R. McKenzie and her date of death matches what Angus C. sent me as well as her burial record which I found with a quick search online.

Her burial is recorded with her husband in Man O War Point Cemetery, Boularderie Island, Victoria County, Nova Scotia.

 Kenneth R MacKenzie, merchant, d June 26, 1916, age 83 his wife Hughenia Ross d May 8, 1869, age 33, their youngest child John Knox MacKenzie d Mar 21, 1869 age 4 mo.







A newspaper article extraction found on Ancestry.com revealed the marriage of Hughina and Kenneth, with much more detail. Angus C. can now send for the full article to see what, if any, other clues are found in it.

Name:     Hughinia Ross
Gender:     Female
Event Type:     Marriage
Marriage Date:     19 Nov 1863
Marriage Place:     Boularderie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Spouse :     Kenneth W. [sic] McKenzie
Cleric 1 Name:     Rev. J. Fraser
Reference Date 1:     8 Jan 1863
Source:     Gazette (Royal Newfoundland Gazette) 1807-; Harbor Grace Standard ( also known as Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser) 1859-1936; Express (Newfoundland Express) 1851-1876; Record 1862-1863
Notes:     Bride was the youngest sister of W. Ross, M.P. for County Victoria, C.B. Bride was also sister of Roderick Ross, M.P. for Wapue, New Zealand. Groom was "late" of Harbour Grace.

Armed with the names of two of Hughina's brothers and her father and mother, I am sure more can be found about her parents.  Being curious I had a very quick search for the two brothers named in the marriage extract and found M.P. William Ross (1824-1912), son of John Ross and Robina McKenzie. Here is his wikipedia biography.

Given the variation in spelling of their names (McKenzie vs MacKenzie; Hughenia vs other variants) I urge Angus to not restrict his searching to an exact spelling but instead use wildcards or "starts with" tools provided in online search engines.

For those genealogists curious about how long my search took, it was approximately one hour for the information I found listed above. 

Continuing on because I am now fascinated by this family, I next found this entry on http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/NS-CAPE-BRETON/2000-07/0964797229

The following is a transcription of a letter from Rev. Gillis, minister
at St John's Presbyterian Church, Belfast, PEI, dated 1979. Baptisms done by Rev. John MacLennan on trips to Boularderie. 


Baptized on September 16, 1831 to John Ross & Robina McKenzie
* William born December 20, 1825
* Jane born May 20, 1827
* Angus born August 20, 1829


A search quick found Robina and John's burials recorded as 

John Ross, native of Durness, Sutherlandshire, Scotland,
d Dec 25, 1857, age 83

Robina, relict of late John Ross, d Dec 7, 1862 age 67 yrs
b in Parish of Eddrachillis, Sutherlandshire, Scotland



As much as I am having fun with this query, it's time for Angus C to take over. If they were my ancestors I would run, not walk, to ScotlandsPeople website to see what I could find for John and Robina. Another hint for Angus: The marriage of John and Robina can be found on the  FamilySearch website. Once you find it, you can get the image on ScotlandsPeople for only 6 credits. That marriage should provide you with the fathers of both bride and groom.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Finding Out of Print Books

Annie asked me for help finding a book that is out of print:
There is a book, now out of print, that traces my family history back centuries.  It's called the Stapletons of Drom. Do you have a resource for finding such books, long out of print?
Annie, the first thing I do is search Google books. Then I try WorldCat

Trying WorldCat I found 11 Libraries that have this book. Since I don't know where you live, you will need to go to WorldCat and type in your postal or zip code.

If you want to purchase a copy, Amazon has it

Good luck

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Don't Forget Nearby Countries When Searching for a Genealogy Record

Beth sent the following question to Olive Tree Genealogy:

I’m looking for a marriage record John Staehli born in Switzerland 1865, father and mother unknown. Magdalena Gasho born 1863 Canada father Andrew Gascho and mother Lydia Ginerich,  married in 1891-1892 in Canada. (on Ancestry trees someone put Nov 1891, and I’m looking for confirmation) I’ve researched many places and haven’t come across this record. Magdalena was a mennonite.

Beth - first let me correct an error in your family tree information. Magdalena's mother was Lydia GINGERICH/GINGRICH, not GINERICH. I'm also a GINGRICH descendant.

Since this couple's first child, Anna Maria, was born in Michigan (see image) and they continued to reside in Michigan, i would not be so sure they married in Ontario. Have you checked Michigan marriage records?


Notice also that the surname Staehli was badly recorded and then corrected in 1940. Have you used wildcards when searching for this couple?

Their surnames are such that they can easily be incorrectly recorded or indexed on websites.

In summary, I'd check Michigan marriages and I would use wildcards to search for this couple online. See Wildcards are Your Friend! A Canadian Case Study Part 2  for help with using wildcards.
















Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why You Can't Find an Ancestor in the 1851 Canadian Census

Sharon recently wrote to AskOliveTree@gmail.com

My ancestor John Davis was born in Whitechurch in 1820.  So were his children.  I can not find any census of Whitechurch, was the name changed, if so, to what?


Hello Sharon,

Here is a link to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) where the list of surviving census returns for 1851 are listed. Many did not survive.

I'm afraid Whitchurch was one that has not survived the years. You may want to look for alternate records for that time period.

Perhaps land records might prove helpful. See Ontario Land Records.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Why You Should Check Your Sources Carefully

This email came to Olive Tree Genealogy from Sam:

Hi my name is Sam .. I have a eill [sic] from 1856 for John Calvert... a family chart with that has Obed Calvert 1743-1809 as Father. also refered to as Francis ( Obed ) Calvert. Also Ino Calvert as Obed's father.. I faxed to a Calvert genealogist who told me he had never seen the names Ino or Obed in U.S. Calvert circles. here.. do you see these names over there? I live in Oceanside Ca., near San Diego Ca.
Hi Sam-

I'm guessing that you meant "will" not "eill". Your reference to "Ino" Calvert is almost certainly a misreading of the abbreviation "Jno.". Jno. was often used in place of the first name Jonathan (although some genealogists will argue it stood for the name "John") So the man you are searching is John or Jonathan Calvert, not Ino. 

Remember too that Obed could be a shortened version of Obediah. If you are positive the reference to Francis is for the same man, perhaps he used his first and middle names indiscriminately. However they could be different men. Without knowing your sources I cannot comment.  As well, the word "ibid" means the same as "ditto" and I have to wonder if there is confusion there as well. I suggest you study your sources carefully - go over them again and again to make sure you have not missed a clue or misunderstood something. See my article Everyone Makes Mistakes: Why You Should Review YourResearch Notes

Your last question as to whether I have seen the names "over there" is confusing as I live in Canada and I wouldn't call that "over there" from California! In any case your best bet is to continue your search by looking for documents for the men whose names you know to be correct. That will be the best way to find out where the family originated and who the immigrant ancestor was.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Online Search Engines are a Genealogist's Friend

Diane wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy with this question


These 2 ancestors [William and Martha Medcalf] emigrated from Ireland to Ontario Canada in 1819 with 10 children we think. They are from Delgany, Country Wicklow but have not been able to access any information about them before coming to Canada. Much appreciated for any suggestions.

Diane - this is where Google is your friend (or any other search engine you prefer). A quick search using search terms "delgany ireland church records" brought several results indicating that these records are online.

After going to the website and downloading the PDF files for the transcribed records of THE PARISH REGISTERS OF CHRIST CHURCH, DELGANY VOLUME 2 BAPTISMS 1777-1819, MARRIAGES 1777-1819 & BURIALS 1777-1819, I found the following baptisms for children of William and Martha:

23 Nov 1809 Eliz’th MEDCALF Will’m/Martha, Downs
27 Jun 1805 John MEDCALF Wm/Martha, Downs
9 Feb 1812 Henry MEDCALF Wm/Martha, Downs
16 Oct 1813 Will’m MEDCALF Wm/Martha, Downs

"Downs" is their residence. I am sure you can find much more by downloading and searching more records.

You should also search the Upper Canada Land Petitions to see if the family applied for land once in Canada. Their petitions may reveal more about their lives in Ireland. You may wish to read my tutorials on searching those petitions and finding the actual images onlline once you have completed your search in the index.

Using Land Petitions to Learn about an Ancestor

Finding an Ancestor in the Challenging Upper Canada Land Books

Searching Ontario Canada Land Records, eh? 

 In fact I did a quick search and here are the results for MEDCALF. Using my tutorials to guide you, you can now find the actual petitions online using the index information for any names below that are of interest.

 

It appears that one of William and Martha's sons (Francis Henry Medcalf) became a mayor in Toronto Ontario. There may be quite a bit of biographical information about him in Toronto archives or libraries.