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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Finding David Chesterman

Tom asked
David James Chesterman was a native of Andover, Hampshire, England, b. about 1830. Martha Sandy was a native of Fordingbridge, Hampshire, England, b. about 1829. David arrived in Canada before 1855, but I don’t know any more details of this event. Martha (age 26) arrived in New York aboard the Mary Ann Peters on 22 May 1854. David and Martha were married in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ogdensburg, NY on 27 May 1854. The marriage register of the church shows that David’s residence was “Elgin Canada W”, and Martha’s residence was “Bristol England”.

The family Bible of David and Martha recorded their marriage (see above), and the birth of one child, George William Chesterman at Meaford Canada W (Ontario) on 23 Aug 1857. For the 1861 census the family of 3 had returned to Ibsley, Hampshire, England. I have not found a passenger list showing this return to England. This Chesterman family remained in England until after the 1871 census, which recorded them living in Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire, England. Some time between 1871 and 1881 the three of them returned to Ontario, although I have not found them on any passenger list.

The 1881 census of Canada shows that James (DJ) and Martha Chesterman were living in Ramsay, Lanark County, Ontario. Ontario marriage register shows that George married Ellen Toshack Cram on 20 July 1882 in Almonte, Lanark, Ontario, and names David James Chesterman and Martha Sandy as his parents. The family Bible recorded the death of Martha on 25 March 1887, but did not record the place of death or the place of burial. I haven’t found any record of it in the Ontario death register, so I am still looking for this information.

The Perth (Ontario) Courier reported the death of David James Chesterman on 24 Nov 1893, “Chesterman—Died, at Almonte on the 6th November, David James Chesterman, aged 64.” I haven’t found any record of this death in the Ontario death register, so I am still looking for this information and the place of burial.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Tom - so many unanswered questions! It's very frustrating I know when you have one set of ancestors who are much harder to find than others. But you've gathered quite a bit of good detail on your David and Martha, and I wonder if making a short timeline might be useful?

For example your timeline would consist of the years and what you know:

1829: Martha Sandy, Fordingbridge, Hampshire England
1830: David James Chesterman birth Andover, Hampshire England
1830-1855: David arrives in Canada
1854: Martha arrives in NY
1854: David & Martha marry Ogdensburg New York. David of Elgin, Canada West
etc

By creating the timeline this way, I can see immediately that we have a big timeline for David's immigration (1830-1855) but we should be able to narrow that! If he was still in England he should show up in the 1841 census. If he doesn't, then we might tentatively change his immigration time frame to 1830-1841. Likewise you can check the Canada West (Ontario) census for 1851. Not finding him there will not be proof that he wasn't physically in Ontario as much of that year's census is missing BUT if you find him there you have helped narrow the timeframe.

If he married Martha in May in New York and the record says he was in Elgin (presumably Elgin County) then you have to allow time for him to travel from Elgin to New York in time for the wedding! Also, how did he meet Martha? Where did he meet her? Since she married so soon after arrival, it makes me wonder if they met in England and David sent for her to come to meet him.

You say the family returned to Ontario from England between 1871 and 1881. They should turn up then on either the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 (online and indexed on Ancestry and online but not indexed on LAC) or in American ships passenger lists, also online.

Regarding David Chesterman's death in 1893, I see that the 1891 census for Almonte Town, Lanark Ontario has David Chesteman [sic] age 62, a widower born England, living with Frederick and Janet Crusoe. Have you tried searching the online Vital Registrations using only a location and a year of death? You could also add an approximate year of birth, but you might want to try this method of leaving out the person's name.

I would also look for local United Churches in the Almonte area. David states he was a Methodist and this became United Church, so perhaps you can find a church burial record. Did you look at the Lookup Service for Lanark GenWeb Cemeteries? There is also the Wesleyan Methodist Burial Ground near Almonte that you might want to have a look at.

I'm personally somewhat intrigued by the burial of John Chesterman (1820-1878) and William Chesterfield (1846-1913) in Estherville Cemetery in Bayham, Elgin County. Could they be relatives of your David? If this were my family, I would track them down to either eliminate them as relatives or find that they are.

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