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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finding an Ancestor who migrated Canada>USA>Canada

Question from Ron:
We have a relative born in Tavistock, Devon, England bet 1852 - 1855. He was orphaned at age 9. The following year after being orphaned which was around 1862 or 1863 he left with an Aunt and Grandmother from Liverpool by sailing ship to Quebec, Canada. From there they travelled inland by train making their way to meet another relative who was working in the gold mines at Cave Gulch, Montana. Three months after their arrival at the mining camp they all died from an epidemic which swept through the mining camp with the exception of the child James Phillips. Apparently no Death Records exist on his relatives. Later in his teens around 1868 James Phillips crossed the border into Alberta, Canada and many years later passed away in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 28, 1935.

Would James and his relatives had to have signed Naturalization papers or some other official documents in order to cross and travel from Canada into the USA and subsequently Montana? I have check Ancestry for US indexes for Nat. papers and could not find anything. Canada Passenger Lists are non existent prior to 1865.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Ron, How wonderful that you have so much detail on an ancestor! Unfortunately for your search, there were no requirements for any type of documentation to cross the US-Canada border. There are Border Crossing records but they do not begin until 1895. I'd check them anyway in case James crossed back to Canada for any reason. For an explanation of the US Canada Border Crossing Records and to understand how to find ancestors in these records, see Sue Swiggum's article published on Olive Tree Genealogy Blog

I must correct your statement that "Canada Passenger Lists are non existent prior to 1865" as that is not correct. Before 1865 passenger lists did not have to be archived. But there are many alternate lists to help you in a search for an ancestors arrival before 1865. There are shipping company records, such as the JJ COOKE records which are online. There are immigrant agent records, also online. The Hawke papers which are online and searchable, fit your time period very nicely! There are records of those who travelled inland once they arrived at a Canadian port. There are more, but too numerous to mention here. To search all online records pre-1865, please see Filling in the Gaps (left hand side of the 2 column chart has lists of online projects with links) has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA. You can also try the free website to search for naturalization papers. Choose USA then MONTANA.

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