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Sunday, November 8, 2009

New York to Canada - Finding the Records

Myra's Question (edited):
My great grandfather was George Colburn Herron. He said he was born in 'York State', on 23 August 1836. He died 10 May 1887, in Wilson township, Alpena county, Michigan.

His story was: he was born to Patrick and Mary Ann Herron. He said his father was from Ireland and his mother was Pennsylvania Dutch. He, saying he was the oldest, had 5 brothers and sisters. His mother died when he was about 8, his father apprenticed him out to a bad situation. He ran away from the apprenticeship, and ended up in the Cayuga area, Haldimand county, Ontario, Canada. He lived with Isaac
and Mary Mino, near a Link family (Jacob and Anna Maria) that included a daughter named Catherine, born in 1842 in Germany. The Mino family raised him, and his best friend there was Noble Brackinreed, a local boy who also was apprenticed out later. At one point, most likely during the US Civil War, Noble and George traveled out of Canada to Tennessee, and the story says (he told this to his daughter, who told
her own daughter later, who wrote all the stories down) that he and Noble were looking to improve their lives. They didn't stay there. Noble enlisted in the Union Army in Ohio (30 May 1862), and George returned to the Cayuga area. He and Catherine went off and married secretly, and they had their first child somewhere, either in Canada or the US,by 25 August 1862 (George S. Herron). Their 2nd child, Julia Anna, was born 19 April 1864, maybe in Port Huron, Michigan. No records have been found of the marriage or the first two births. The rest of the births all happened in Alpena county.

I can find NO records of George's family (although I did find a family in Albany, New York, in 1850, with a Patrick and Ann Herrin as parents, and 6 children, one of whom was named George. However, he was not the oldest of the children there, and the birth date (about 1844) was off by about 8 years. I've been told there is also a "York" area in Ontario, and there are Herrons around there, but I haven't found anything showing George there. Nor can I find anything in the Cayuga area indicating George was there! seemed satisfied with his stories being true.

The only time I find George, where I KNOW it's him, is in Alpena county, Michigan. This is my direct family line, and I can't go back beyond great grandfather George Colburn Herron in . I really need help. I use and I post queries all the time. I have never found anything or anyone that can or will help.

I would love to find anything showing George in the Cayuga area, or something about his marriage or the births of his first 2 children.In 1870, in Alpena county, there are Noble and his wife, Mary, with no children. 2 doors down (sort of, it was a farming community) were George and Catherine, with their 5 children. There, George stated he was born in Canada, and all children were stated to have been born in Michigan. The 1880 census (enumerated by Noble Brackinreed) said he was born in Ontario, with parents born in Ireland and PA. George died in 1887, so no other records are available. His death certificate listed his parents' names, and the 1880 census and his family stories stated where his parents were born.

I really need some help, guidance, etc. on this one

Guest Genealogist Kathryn Lake of LOOKING4ANCESTORS responds: Greetings Myra,

You have a challenging search ahead of you. The information you seek regarding George Herron's birth may not be available. From the information you have provided, George was born between 1836 - 1844 which was before Vital Registration in Ontario which began 1 July 1869. Records for this time period in Upper Canada (Ontario) are often difficult to find, especially births. Parish baptism records might provide the information you are looking for, however, you would need to know the church that the family attended. Have you searched for what records have been microfilmed for Haldimond County on the FamilySearch Library catalog?

A search of Isaac and Mary Minto on the 1851 Canada West census shows no George Herron residing with them. I did find two other "George Herron"s that may be a possibility, but not knowing the names of the siblings I'm not sure. The 1851 Canada West census is indexed and available on

Also, have you searched the 1842 Census of Canada West for Patrick Herron? This is a head of household census only. This census in not available on-line. I would suggest contacting the Haldimond County branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society to see if they have this census indexed. The microfilm can be borrowed from the Archives of Ontario through inter-library loan.

Another approach is to research George's siblings. Have you found the marriage and death registrations for them? They may name the parents on these records.

Good luck in your research.


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