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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deciphering Old Handwriting

Jewish Gem wrote with several challenging questions. I'm answering one about deciphering handwriting today. There is a graphic which goes with the question

I am having difficulty reading Jennie's husband's name on Yetta Meyerson's birth certificate. Can you help me???
Dear Jewish Gem - I've taken the liberty of cropping and enlarging the name on the graphic you sent me. I have compared the letter formations of the name with other words on the same certificate.

My reading of this name is "Abraham" I am sorry I can't show you how I arrived at that, but I think you can clearly see the ending "aham" on the name.

What looks at first glance like 2 letters in front of "aham" is in reality 3 letters, rather scrunched together - those letters being "Abr"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Census Records Hold Many Clues!

Over on the Olive Tree Genealogy Page on Facebook, Marilyn

asked about a challenge she has in her genealogy.
what do you do when all you have is first name and married last name.first name in 1880 census as on marriage licence in1866 my ggreatgrandmother was velinda/velinder (do not know maiden name ) married jacob b brown 1866.they are on 1880 census.with son charles andrew brown and emma .i lived next door to emma until she passed in 1954.came a berry family tre with the names and dates correct.but 2 other children mary a and scoto born i 1860s.i am thinking she was married previous or my ggreatgrandfather was a father at not have a death or anything on her or first 2 children.the main names in the tree were jagodzinski poland and ill.had our dates of birth as jacob ohio/the rest indiana.
Hi Marilyn,

It doesn't sound like you have seen this family in any census other than 1880. The 1900 and 1910 give the number of children a woman has had and how many are living. This will help you figure out how many children your Verlinda had.

I noted that in both 1900 and 1910 she is listed as Malinda, so be sure to check for her under this name too. In 1900 she says she had 6 children with 5 living; in 1910 she says 7 children with 6 living. A little discrepancy you will have to try to resolve

If you search 1870 census you will find the children you spotted on that Berry Family Tree. Plus another child (10 year old Mary), no telling if it is hers, Jacobs (unlikely) or a niece or other relative!

By 1900 they have 3 more children listed.

So all in all 7 children if you don't count Mary, the 10 year old living with them in 1870

I would hunt for the marriage records of all those 7 children. Almost certainly their mother's maiden name will be given. Also hunt for their deaths and see what information is available there.

I'm going to go out on a limb though and suggest that this person may be your Verlinda - she is indexed on as Malinda Anderson and is a 19 year old in the 1860 census for Hamilton, Jackson, Indiana. She has a 3 month old daughter named Mary Ann Anderson. A look at the image shows her first name to be Verlinda at least that is how I read it.

The little girl is the right age to be the 10 year old Mary A. "Brown" found living with Malinda/Verlinda and her husband Jacob Brown in 1870. We know Mary A. is not Jacob's daughter as he was 13 when she was born. Malinda is with Paul Anderson age 21.

It's a working theory, and that is how I approach challenges. Develop a theory, and then work to prove or disprove it. Try to find Paul and Malinda/Verlinda Anderson in 1870. If you find them, you've proven the theory wrong.

Keep going and keep gathering records, as many as you can, until you have sorted out all the players (ancestors and others not related)

I'll leave you to have some fun now!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finding What You Want Online

Sarah G. asked about my McGinnis Ancestors:

Where can I find your McGinnis material? I am a descendant of Edward's daughter Margaret, d 21 Oct 1843 in Limestone Co AL She m Stephen Brundidge,Washington
Dear Sarah,

It's always nice to hear from another McGinnis researcher - or any researcher looking for the same family names as I am! Here is a little tip for finding things on the 'net: go to Google and type in what you are looking for.

For example you wanted to see my McGinnis Family Tree. If you go to Google and type in my name (Lorine McGinnis Schulze) or the name of my website (Olive Tree Genealogy) followed by the words McGinnis Family, you will see the following (for me it was the first result displayed on the page, it may be in a different position for you)

You can then click on the link in Google to go directly to the page.

The link for my McGinnis family information is
The McGinnis Family of Puslinch Township, Wellington County Ontario - 13 visits - 6 Nov

Find ancestors on the family tree of The McGinnis & Bell & King Family of Puslinch Township, Wellington County Ontario.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FInding Relationship in a Complex Family

Zubeida asked a relationship question. I admit that I thought the query was bogus and a prank but I'm answering it anyway! It does remind me of the song "I'm my own Grandpa..."

My mom had a son with her first husband which made him my step brother. My mother's brother (my auncle) had 2 daughters.... and they are my cousins as well as my step brother's cousin.

My father had 2 daughters with the 2 cousins (one by each of them), which made me also their sister. The one had a son and he wants to get married to my step brother's grandchild.

Are they related? If so, how? And are they allowed to get married?
Well Zubeida I had to enter all your family members into my FTM program to get the answer to this. First though let me correct you.

 You state that your mother had a son by another husband (not your father). That makes the son your HALF-brother, not your step-brother as you stated.
A step relationship is one that has no blood ties. But you and this son share your mother as a common parent and thus you are related by blood.
Okay moving on - your HALF-brother's grandchild is the third cousin to the grandson of the daughter your father sired with your uncle's daughter. So the two people wishing to marry are third cousins.

Whether or not it is legal for them to marry depends on where they live. You would have to check into the law in that country.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finding Information on a British Home Child

Helen posed an interesting question about a British Home Child.

The Canadian Parliament designated 2010 as the Year of the British Home Children. Volunteers and descendants are making a special effort to alert people to this part of Canadian history, as well as discover the histories/relations of the children.

Charles Thomas BULPITT b. 1907 (parents Andrew Sidney BULPITT - Alice Emily SMITH) emigrated to Canada - age 16, August 4, 1923, on the ship S.S. Megantic, under the auspices of the Marchmont Home, Belleville. He was placed on the farm of J. Benson Cox near Goderich. This proved to be an abusive environment. Charles committed suicide Dec. 22, 1923, & is buried in the Colborne cemetery.

We have contacted Charles' niece in England who was not aware of his life in Canada. She has contacted Barnardo's for information but will not receive documents for another 8 months.

With your experience you probably know where to find facts re this boy's short life in Canada, where he is buried in Colborne, who paid for the headstone (picture found/sent by a BHC volunteer),community feelings, & other facts to complete a picture of Charles BULPITT's life. The material is all forwarded to the English relatives.

Dear Helen - Such a sad fate for a young teenage boy. I can tell you from personal experience researching a British Home Child that the Barnardo's files are very complete.

The files I received for my husband's ancestor Albert Finch contained summaries of letters exchanged between the Home and young Albert. These summaries gave a very good glimpse into Albert's life in Ontario. His first placement was not a happy one and he ran away. Full details were given for this event, and also what was done when the boy was found. His second placement was successful and he was treated very well there.

There were also sketchy details of the families Albert was placed with, and his determination to save enough money to bring his younger brother and sister to Canada to join him.

All in all a fascinating glimpse into a young orphan's life and plenty of detail to flesh out his first years in Ontario.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the Barnardo records to arrive, here are some suggestions for further research:

I see that Charles was attended at the Brophy Funeral Home in Goderich Ontario. I would find out if they still exist and if so, write to them

Write to the Cemetery where Charles is buried and ask them to send you the information from his burial.

Write to the local church

Write to the Funeral Home

Write to Huron Co. Museum and see if they have any details

Is there a newspaper for that area and that time period? There may be some mention of young Charles and his suicide.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Digging Deep Sometimes Means Slowing Down

A few days ago I wrote about disliking anonymous queries. I also posted an anonymous query because I thought the problem was probably something that many genealogists experience. So I broke the query into 4 "topics" and posted responses to all.

Well this morning I received an email from my anonymous researcher. She apologized for her oversight and gave me her name. Thank you Judy!!

In her email she went through each of my 4 points with her own comments and explanations. I really appreciate that as it's great to have ongoing discussion and really good to know that she is willing to dig deeper!

I want to post one of her comments and give another answer, as I think this will also help in her search.

Judy said:

Hi Judy, I'm not sure I'm understanding your response. Depending where you meant to put the period to show the end of your sentence, it can be read two ways. I'm going to assume you meant to put a period here:

In your last response you state that the 1842 census can be obtained [PERIOD HERE?) on it states that that is not available.....

Yes I did say the 1842 census should be something you look at for your ancestors. BUT I directed you via a link to not to or Ancestry does not have that census online.

If you go to the link I gave you, you will see the note with information as to where you can obtain that 1842 census. It is not on Ancestry and must be consulted elswhere. The note on that 1842 page explains exactly how to obtain it.

This is another example of sometimes needing to dig deep and search OFFline as well as online.

I can tell you are really excited about your genealogy and want to find the answers fast, but I urge you to slow down just a bit. You've done a lot of work and I sense that you are chomping at the bit and want to do more but I think you might be missing things in your eagerness.

I'm going to re-read your last email carefully and see if there is any more direction or guidance I can offer you. Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate that!
In your last response you state that the 1842 census can be obtained on it states that that is not available.....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Genealogy Isn't Always Easy So Dig Deep!

I dislike anonymous queries. Most often I don't respond to them. But this one caught my attention because I believe many genealogists are struggling with a similar problem.

So I've decided to respond to it. I'm going to break this query into 4 sections (questions) and respond to each in turn.

Q 1:
.... I still can't find out when my GGGrandfather Robert Scott born 1804 in County Mayo Ireland died 9 Jan. 1893 in Chatham Ontario ,came to Ontario Canada lived in Norwich Oxford County where he had 10 children with his wife Ann Carroll .

ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear anonymous, You are very lucky that your ancestor had 10 children. By tracing each of these children and finding their obituaries or death notices you may find evidence of when their father came to Ontario. When you are stuck it's a good idea to broaden your searches to other family members

Q 2:
The James Allison records are just letters and orphens who came to Canada in the 1840's.

ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Not sure how/where you got this idea but it's not correct.The James Allison Records cover the years 1823-1849. They are not just letters and orphans! James Allison was the emigrant agent at Montreal. His job was to see that destitute immigrants arriving in that city had food and transportation to their settlement areas (usually Upper Canada, which is now the province of Ontario)

The records include such items as lists of passengers on steamboats from Montreal to Upper Canada, provisioning lists of immigrants including such comments as "expecting to get to her husband in Merrickville"

Q 3:
I have looked in your site and can't find anything. WHAT file would give me info on when these two Ann Carroll born 14 May 1815 in Ireland don't know where and died in Portage La Prairie Manitoba on 1 Jan. 1916 at the age of 101 years old . These two person have been a mystery to me as there is no info on them as to when they came to Ontario Canada & who they came with (siblings & parents) . I have them in census from 1851- 1910 but not before 1851 is there any info on persons of this time period.

ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: This is a challenging time period and you do not have a very narrow timeframe in which to search. Basically you are saying that between 1815 and 1851 (almost 40 years) is when they arrived in Ontario. You will need to narrow that down.

Regarding my site Olive Tree Genealogy, it requires reading what is there and clicking on various links that might take you to a database of interest.

For this early time period in Ontario you may have to search OFFline as well as ONline. Thus you may need to read the instructional information on my site in order to learn WHAT is available for this time period and WHERE to find it. Often we have to learn what is available before we jump in to searching frantically for an ancestor's name.

The fact that you misunderstood the scope of the James Allison records suggests to me that you skimmed over my site's pages far too quickly.

Q 4:
Your help in directing me to the sites for immigration between 1800- 1831 would be gratefully apprectiated. already have checked out 18 sites

ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: It's interesting that you have kept track of how many sites you have been to! I'm sorry to tell you that is not a lot of searching! It's a drop in the bucket when you consider how challenging a time period early Ontario records are, and how many different sites and physical repositories you will probably have to consult in your quest.

As for immigration between 1800 and 1831 I can definitely direct you, but I'm curious how you suddenly got down from that 1851 year to 1831?

In any case, if you visit Filling in The Gaps you will see a 2-column chart called "Finding Ancestors on Canadian Passenger Lists"

You want "Ships Passenger Lists Before 1865" on the left side. You must understand that there are *no* comprehensive ships passenger lists of immigrants arriving in Canada prior to 1865. Until that year, shipping companies were not required by the government to keep their passenger manifests.

What I have done is to list EVERY possible alternative source, such as Steamship Records, Emigration Agent records, Shipping Company Records and so on.

I cannot stress enough that at this time NO OTHER LISTS OR RESOURCES ARE KNOWN TO EXIST.

There may be others which have not yet been discovered - buried in a dusty basement of an Archive or in ledger books buried amongst other physical items. But the important point is that this list online has ALL AVAILABLE RESOURCES for Ships Passenger Lists to Canada before 1865 listed and linked to. A few are only found offline but most have been published online as special projects.

You can of course also consult land records for your ancestor as most settlers immediately bought land. Find out when he bought his (if he bought any) and that will narrow your time frame for immigration.

You can also consult early (pre 1851) tax and assessment records to find out when he was living in Upper Canada.

You appear to have overlooked the 1842 census which actually gives the number of years the person had been in the province. Look for your ancestor there.

Friday, November 19, 2010

AskOliveTree Tries to Help

Jerry asked about an ancestor in Scotland but it seems he confused the AskOliveTree purpose with a lookup service. Here is Jerry's question:

Could you look for George Walker in Galashiels, Scotland Daughter Charlotte Berup Walker, age 5 in 1901 census. Owner of the Salmon Inn at one time in Galashiels?

Hello Jerry - I really enjoy helping genealogists overcome their challenges and brick walls. But AskOlive Tree blog doesn't provde a lookup service. I'm sorry that wasn't clear to you.

Sometimes a query intrigues me so much that I do have a little look for more information, but if you read through past questions and my responses, you will see that for the most part I offer help and direction and attempt to guide researchers to the right place for their needs.

Suggestions might be ideas for the researcher as to where to look next. They might include links to online records that will be just what the person needs.

For your query you need to consult the 1901 census. It's available on and may be found on other websites too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FInding WW2 Records for English Soldier

This question about WW2 English records came from Hannah, age 14

Hello, me name is Hannah and I am 14 years old, I live in the UK. I am looking to find out, if possible, how my relative died or any more information about him, this is his record from the Commonwealth Grave Commissions website. Please please help, any more information would be greatly appriciated. Many thanks, Hannah

1TULLOCK , THOMAS PATTISONPrivate439286111/06/194427Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment)United KingdomXI. K. 21.BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY

Hello Hannah - It's wonderful that you want to learn more about your relative.

To find out more about his death your best bet would be his service records from WW2. You can do this by going to Veterans UK and downloading the forms you need to fill out.

The following address should be used for family members wishing to access records of deceased soldiers

Army Personnel Centre,
Historical Disclosures,
Mail Point 555,
Kentigern House,
65 Brown Street,
G2 8EX

I had a look online and found a bit more about Thomas. I hope this helps you in your search.

Source: UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
Name:Thomas Tullock
Given Initials:T P
Death Date:11 Jun 1944
Birth Place:Middlesborough
Branch at Enlistment:Infantry
Theatre of War:Western Europe Campaign, 1944/45
Regiment at Death:Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales' Own Yorkshire Regiment)
Branch at Death:Infantry

and also this:

Initials: T P,
Nationality: United Kingdom,
Rank: Private,
Extra Info: Son Of John E. And Lily Tullock, Of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.,
Regiment: Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment), Unit Text: 6th Bn.,
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead,
Grave Reference: XI. K. 21.,

Also has an entry with a photo of the cemetery.

Pvt Thomas Pattison Tullock
Birth: unknown
Death: Jun. 11, 1944

Note: Private, Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment). Age: 27.

Burial:Bayeux War Cemetery
Basse-Normandie Region, France
Plot: XI. K. 21.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding an Airline Passenger Manifest

Herman asked about passenger manifests on airlines

I am trying to find out the airline, flight # or anything at all about our family's immigration to Canada in 1960. We flew from Amsterdam on sept. 22, 1960 and arrived in Montreal on sept. 23, 1960.

We think the airline was KLM but are not sure. If you have any information or leads on how to find this out, I would be very grateful.

Hello Herman - To the best of my knowledge, airline passenger manifests to Canada were not archived (saved) and thus no such manifest exists.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dutch Age of Majority in New Netherland

Barbara asked about the legal age in New Netherland (New York) when the Dutch first settled

The original Dutch Roman law gave the legal age as 25.But many people in New Netherland even without evident parental permission married around age 21, now the question is it feasible that a young man said to be born 1639 would be able to buy his own land in 1660 being about age 21---

----or is it more feasible (my believe) that if he is recorded buying land in 1660 he was closer to age 25, being born (a likely date for this young man named Gerrit Lubberts) around 1635.?

Hello Barbara - The Dutch age of majority was 21 so it is possible that your man was indeed purchasing land at that age. I certainly would not eliminate the possibility that he was anywhere from 21 and older.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Oath of Allegiance Taken by Palatine Refugees in 1727

Carl asked about the 1732 Oath of Allegiance that all Palatine males had to take on arrival in Pennsylvania.

Hello Carl, Great question! I don't know if the Oath was standardized (although I suspect it was) and I also don't know how/if it changed over the years! But here is one Oath that Palatine males over the age of 16 had to swear to on their arrival in 1727

" We subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine and places adjacent, having transported ourselves and families into this Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat and peaceable settlement therein, Do solemnly promise and engage... "  Continue reading the Oath

I would like to know exactly what the Oath of Allegiance said that all the Palatines agreed to when they off-loaded at Philadelphia on October 17 or 19, 1732.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Don't Overlook FamilySearch Genealogy Records online

I don't usually accept anonymous queries. I figure if you want me to help, you should tell me your name. But... I broke my rule with this one only because it was easy to answer and it might help others.

An anonymous reader asked

Frederick Martin born 1912 in Cleveland Ohio to Earnest and Gertrude Martin. I cannot find anything in the state of Ohio that indicates when he died. I was told that he froze to death after an Aunt put him out in the dead of winter. The most recent story I heard was he was put out in Dayton Oh and was walking back to Cleveland. I have no idea of how old he was when this happened. He was never married and never served in military. He does show up on the 1920/1930 census. Nothing after that. All siblings are deceased so there is nobody to ask. Where do I go from here.
Ask Olive Tree answer: Dear Anonymous - I would have spent more time on this if you'd signed your email. But here is my quick answer for you: has Ohio deaths

Friday, November 5, 2010

Finding a Ships Passsenger List to California in 1935

Joan asked about a ships passenger list from New Jersey to California in 1935:
Can you suggest where I might be able to find a passenger list in 1935 ... sometime from the date my Grandmother died (28 Jan, 1935) ... through July.

I'm looking for my Grandfather, Ernest C. Hinck. He traveled from California to NJ in February (probably by train with my Grandmother's body). On the return trip by boat, he met a woman whom he subsequently married in July 1935. It was a short marriage since he died in May of 1936.

My sister and I are trying to confirm a family story about this woman.


If I understand your query correctly, you are looking for a ships passenger list for a voyage from New Jersey to California ca 1935.

As far as I know, it was not a requirement to keep lists of ship travel within the USA, meaning from one state to another. However, to be certain, I suggest you go to TheGenealogySpot to find out exactly what passenger lists NARA holds for California arrival ports

Another place to try is the list of sites with passenger lists arriving in California.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finding a Marriage Record in Quebec early 1800s

Leslie asked about Quebec Marriage Records

My GG grandparents, Charles Church and Adelia Sweet, were supposedly married in Quebec. They were born around 1800. Adelia's obit says Vermont and I am not sure if Charles was born in Vermont or the Brome area of Quebec. They ended up in Huron Co., Ontario. I have also seen Adelia's named spelled Delia on a census and Adelaide.

Charles may be the son of Nathaniel Church and Calista Wells who had three sons named Charles, Nathaniel and Dudley.These three Church names show up in Huron County in the early 1840s. A book about the Wells family states one of the brothers was in this area.

I am trying to find proof of Charles' and Adelia's parents. I was hoping to find proof of a marriage and maybe their parents names. Do you have any other suggestions? I have pretty much exhausted all of the resources that I have been able to find.
Hi Leslie - First, thank you for such a well written query. You gave me names, dates and locations and summed up your challenging question very well. I appreciate that!

My first thought is that you may want to check Quebec church records. Do you know what religion Charles and Adelia were?

Sources in Quebec can be divided into three categories:

1608-1763: French Regime. Certain books include Detroit and other French forts that are outside the present borders of Quebec.

1763-1901: British Regime. Vital statistics are preserved at the Archives Nationales du Québec.

1900-today: This period covers the vital statistics that are not archived.

So you will want to start with the Archives Nationales du Quebec. Most original records for the Province of Quebec before 1900 are at the nine branches of the Archives Nationales du Quebec. Although microfilm copies of some records are held by all branches, there is no one central repository. Each specializes in a region, and regional boundaries do not match county boundaries exactly.
There is a bit more information and links to online sites at the Quebec section of OliveTreeGenealogy so you may want to have a quick look there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finding Ships Passenger Lists 1870s

Brett asked about an immigration record circa 1872 to USA.
im looking for immigration records for one of my relatives. Iver Frank Olson was born June 1850 in Norway and emigrated to Chicago Illinois in 1872. i would like to find these records as it may say his 3 siblings on there. i think he came across alone as his dad died in 1854 and his mom in 1871. any help would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Brett - The fastest easiest way for you to find Iver is to search the complete ships passenger lists on Even if he came in via a Canadian port, you should be able to find him since they also have Canadian records after 1865.

There are other free sites where you can have a hunt for a passenger, but no one has the complete passenger lists except

Be creative in your search and use the wildcard feature to search for names such as ive* ols*n, iv*r *ls*n and so on. That will pick up mis-spellings and variations in the name

Here are some free websites you might want to start with:

Olive Tree Genealogy Ships Passenger Lists

The Ships List

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Abstract Indexes to Deeds Sometimes Have Blank Pages

A reader who remained anonymous posted a comment on my blog post Abstract Index to Deeds: An Explanation

Dear Anonymous - I think I can explain but welcome other readers who have more knowledge of this complicated process to offer their comments.
I took your advice and secured a FHC film to research my Humberstone twp family. I was so disappointed to find the page blank - (correct concession #, lot #, county, etc.) In fact the next page was also blank, and the following page had one entry regarding a Sheriff's sale of 4 acres. Can you explain?

The Abstract Indexes are indexes to land transactions that took place after a patent was granted on a specific piece of land, and which were registered at the County Land Registry Office. Sadly not all transactions in the early part of the 1800s were registered. As well if an individual leased rather than owned their land, it might not be found because only leases longer than 21 years had to be registered.

Your question is an excellent one and I hope readers who have more knowledge of the early Ontario Land Records will jump in and either confirm what I've told you or offer their own explanation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ships Passenger Lists - How Many Per Voyage?

Richard asked about finding ships manifests for a ship which his ancestor was supposedly on.

I need help finding a manifest from the port of disembarkation because my great great grandfather's name is not on the one for the port of arrival. The ship arrived in New York from England in 1854. How do I find that manifest taken when the ship left England?

Perhaps your ancestor travelled on a different ship, or on that ship but on a different voyage.

Ask Olive Tree Response: Hi Richard - Unfortunately for your needs, there is only one manifest taken for a ship. It is made at the port of departure and turned in at the port of arrival.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Looking for a Palatine Ancestor

Barry asked about Palatine ancestors:

Ask Olive Tree response: Barry - As far as I know, the only lists that have survived have been published in Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke, published in 1934 by the Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, Pennsylvania

This publication gives all available lists for each ship - the Captain's list, the list of signers of the Oaths of Allegiance and a third list which is supposedly a duplicate of the signers of the Oath but really isn't. It is signatures of those who signed a *different* oath.

To quote from the Strassburger book

"The order relating to the duty of the captains had three points. First, they were to make a list of all the people they imported. .... Not even the first point, that they should hand in lists of the names of the people they imported, was interpreted alike by all the captains. Most of them thought that to give the names of the male adults was all that was required. Only twenty-five captains have given complete lists of all the men, women and children. Three captains have given the names of the men and women, but omitted the children, while sixty-four captains atoned somewhat for their remissness in carrying out the orders by giving the ages of the passengers, an item that they had not been asked to give, but which we are glad to insert, wherever they are found. Sometimes the captains give the total number of freights, children being
counted as "half freights." In two instances (Nos. 1-2) the totals in each family are given. Looking at the captains' lists as a whole, we must say, that they are of all sorts and descriptions. Each one made his list to suit himself, without any reference to the orders of the Council. "

The list of all known ships plus the names of passengers and oaths taken, can be found at Palatine Ships Passenger Lists

Also see Palatine Denizations (Naturalizations) for 1708

Does anyone know of the location of information on the
alleged passports, or embarkation lists, that were
supposed to have been made by the masters of the early
Palatine ships and others of that time. Do you know
where the early English records are and/of if they are
available... they would been made at Cowes at the time of
Oath Saying?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Finding an Early Ancestor to the New World

Carol asked about an early ancestor to the New World:

I have trouble in spelling surname on ships. my name now is GARRISON, Garret Jansen von Oldenburg was my ancestor. He came to New York in the 1600s. what spelling should I use in tracing him on the ships.
Ask Olive Tree Response: Carol that's a great question. It can be very confusing for researchers trying to find an early Dutch ancestor.

It depends whether or not your Garret used his patronymic of Jansen (with variant spellings), or an established surname, or some other identifying name.

You will have to search all variations or possible names, or
start browsing through each ships passenger list in the years you think he came over. Remember too that passenger lists as we know them did not exist for those early Dutch ships. All we have are the lists of who owed for their voyage, not the list of those who paid before sailing.

Also, remember that if he was Dutch he didn't use "von", he was a "van". "von" is German. Even if he was German, the Dutch may have applied "van" to indicate where he came from. Van Oldenburg might be his 'surname' or it might be a location name.

Using search engines when looking for these early Dutch lines is challenging as the names can vary so much in spelling and even in what name was used by the individual.

For example you write his name as Garret but you must try Gerret and Gerrit and Gerritt. For his patronymic of Jansen, try Jansz, Janse and even Janszen.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creative Searching is a Must for Finding More on Early Ancestors!

Cindy asked about an ancestor born in 1808. Ask Olive Tree Response: Hi Cindy. There are several alternate resources you might want to try to find to discover who your ancestor's parents were.
My brickwall is my great-great-grandmother Mary Harriet Jackson born on 8-22-1808 in Greenville, South Carolina. To continue with my family tree I need the name of at least her father. I have all kinds of information about her after she married my great-great-grandfather Daniel Ballew. Her childrens births and deaths , where she lived in North Georgia and even the fact that she died in 1885 and is buried not one mile from where I live. How does a person find information on someone born before they were listed on the census. I believe hers would be 1810. I know about checking church records and the Historical Society but all ot these things have not panned out. My best bet is the 1810 census and the finding of her father. I have tried matching male Jackson names to hers and have gotten 0 infromation. Any help would be appreciated.

1. Look for her obituary

2. Look for her children's obituaries. Any one might mention their grandparents

3. Look for a marriage record - often parents' names are included

4. Look for other Jackson individuals near her in census records after she was married. They may be relatives

5. Carefully note her children's names. Compare them to the names of her husband's parents. Did she follow a naming pattern by naming any children after her in-laws? If so she may very well have given names in honour of her own parents. Did she use a surname as a middle name for any of her children? That surname might be her own mother's maiden name.

6. Since you have an exact date of birth for your ancestor, you must have a source. Was it a church record? That will have her parents' names. Was it a family bible? If you can find her birth or baptism you will find her parents' names

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding out what P.L.A. means on a Canadian Census Record

Catherine asked a very good question on one of the mailing lists I administer. I thought it would be helpful to other genealogists to see the answer given by J. Brian Gilchrist to her question, so am publishing it here.

Catherine asked about someone committed to the Kingston Insane Asylum (Rockwood) in 1855. Under "Previous place of abode" was "Lennox & Addington, P.L.A. Toronto". She wanted to know what P.L.A. stood for.

Brian's response was that P.L.A. stood for "Provincial Lunatic Asylum" So if anyone else finds this abbreviation on a Canadian Census record, you now know what it means.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Understanding the CLRI and its Value in Finding an Ancestor's Land Records

Holly asked about land records for an early Upper Canada (Ontario) ancestor:
Calvin Wheeler b circa 1789/90 US is the ancestor who had land. What I know is; supposedly c 1812 he left Vermont/NY to Canada and first settled in Strathcona, and had a farm there-I have nothing to substantiate this. He married ELIZABETH CARSCALLEN UEL c 1810/12 in this or the Fredericksburg area- Lennox and Addington County-was there for awhile. He then went into Sheffield Twp L & A Co. c1820 and at some point 'acquired' abt 300/400a in what is now Tamworth, L & A County. Supposedly the town/area was originally called- Wheeler's Mills.

The first known child to be baptized in Fredericksburg was in 1819 Found:in Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) - Elizabeth Carscallen. Elizabeth's first 'petition' is dated in 1817, there are two. Her whole family siblings, father are listed in the petition list and are found residing in the Fredericksburg area- L & A. They still had children being born in Camden L&A by 1826. Last child born 1828 but I don't know the location.

Looking for: Calvin Wheeler re: land. (never have found his parents/birth place either!)

Ask Olive Tree Response: Holly, you've got some good information so I had a look in the CLRI (Ontario Land Record Index) on your behalf. If Calvin filed a petition for land, it should be noted there. Sometimes Petitions are not found in the Upper Canada Land Petitions index but mention of them can be found elsewhere (CLRI or Land Books for example)

The headings (fields) in the CLRI are:

Surname; First Names; Residence; Location; Lot; Conc.; Date ID ;Issued; Date ID; Issued; Trans. Type; FG Type; Type Sale /Lease; Archives RG Series; Reference Volume Page
Here is the entry I found:
Calvin; Wheeler; Murray; Murray; FR 1/2 28; 1; 8; 1816-05-25; FG; M; 01 C13; 123 027
I'll translate for you: Calvin Wheeler living in Murray received a Free Grant of land in right of his Militia claim, on 25 May 1815 by Order in Council. His land was in Murray, the front half of lot 28 Concession 1. The Archival Reference is 01 C13 and it is on Vol. 123 page 027.
This record appears in Record Group 1 (Crown Land Records), Series C-I-3 (Fiats and Warrants), Vol. 123 (Register for Military Fiats), Page 27, which has been microfilmed on MS 693, Reel 138.
There should be a petition on file which was heard in Council. No doubt his Military service was during the War of 1812 so you might find more in War of 1812 records (although they are sparse). The microfilmed fiat and warrant mentioned above will give the petitioner's rank and regiment. 
I'd also check Township papers for that lot and concession number, just in case there is something of note there. While I cannot be sure that the entry I found is for *your* Calvin, I urge you to look further, and check the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for the specific land location entered.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Searching for Ships Passenger List leads to Passport Records

Jane asked about a ships passenger list for an ancestor but her question led to some interesting details in passport applications:

Found naturalization papers for my grandfather, Harry Belmont (b 1868), indicating he came to New York in 1880 aboard the ship Earnwell orErnwell from the port of Marseille. Can find no record of this ship arriving. does have the ship listing with a few dates, but not 1880.


You have to be cautious with immigration years. They are
very often misremembered. When your grandfather naturalized,
it was not required that there be a check (verification) of
the dates he gave. So he could be in error.

See for more info on
naturalization records in the USA

I did a little looking for you and found some interesting data. If I have the right Harry Belmont, in one census year he claims to have immigrated in 1883 so you can see how the years can differ. in the census he says he is a waiter, born France.

Your grandfather also applied for Emergency passports in
both 1892 and 1897. These are found on

On 6 May 1892 he stated that he was currently living in Vienna and needed a passport. He further states he arrived from Marseilles in Ny in 1880 (no name of ship given) and lived for 10 years in NY. He says he was naturalized 5 Sept 1890 in NY and that he left the USA on 6 Feb 1891 on board the Earnwell (?) and landed in Marseilles 17 April 1891. So here we have evidence that the ship was leaving New York for Marseilles, not the other way around, UNLESS he happened to sail on the same ship first time over to USA.

I say first time bcause he goes on to say that he lived in France and Russia since Apr 17 /91 and is currently in Vienna but intends to return to USA within 2 years to take up permanent residence

There is more, you should access this to see the whole document (it's on ). It gives a precise place of birth, his occupation (steward) and a physical description

He applied again on 14 Sept 1897 stating he is living temporarily in Vienna. It is basically the same immigration info - again, there is no ship name, just arriving in NY in 1880. He references his leaving NY on the Earnwill/Ernwell in 1891 landing in Marseilles in April that year. Now he says he is a clerk. You can access the complete document on

I hope this helps a bit, I am not convinced he arrived in 1880 on the Ship Earnwell or Ernwill, so if I were you I'd search under his name for any ship arriving that year (and perhaps a year on either side)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Question About the Upper Canada Land Petitions

Jill left a new comment on my blog post *NEW* Upper Canada Land Petitions Index available online and it contains a very good question so I"m going to answer it here

This is very exciting. I've had a look through the index and cannot find my ancestor who received land by Crown Patent in 1792 (I have a copy of the patent; there's not a lot of information there).
I might not understand the process, but I thought there had to be a petition before a patent was granted. Is that not correct? Any suggestions why a patent exists but a petition doesn't?
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Jill, great question. It can be rather confusing as one would think that a petition *had* to be submitted before a patent was granted. But that was not always the case. Your ancestor might not have submitted a petition OR he might have submitted one but it has not survived.

Procedures for granting Crown Land changed constantly but could involve:

* The settler's initial Petition to the Crown for land

* An Order-in-Council from a federal Land Board granting their request

* A Warrant from Ontario's Attorney General ordering the surveying of a lot

* The Fiat from Ontario Surveyor General authorizing a grant of the surveyed lot

* A Location Ticket permitting the settler to reside on the lot

* The Patent transferring ownership of the lot from the Crown to the settler.
If you cannot find your ancestor in the Land Petitions, you may find his or her name in the Land Books. Upper Canada Land Books do not usually contain much more information than the names of petioners for land but at the least you will know if a petition existed at one time. Sometimes you will be lucky and find more detail in the comments section of the Land Book reference, but not often.

Be careful to check variant spellings in the Index to Upper Canada Land Petitions. Now that the index is online, you can use wildcards to be sure you're getting all variations.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Finding an Upper Canada (Ontario) Marriage Bond Before 1867

Walter asked about Protestant marriages in Ontario in the early 1860s.
My ancestor married in Ontario around 1861. How can I find his marriage when there aren't any Marriage Registrations online before 1869? They were Protestant.
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Hi Walter - That's a challenge. It can be difficult to find a marriage that took place in a Protestant church in Quebec (Lower Canada) or Ontario (Upper Canada) before 1867.

Marriage bonds were prepared for Protestant marriages by licence. After obtaining the bond, a licence was issued and the marriage took place a few days later. The good news is that Library and Archives Canada holds the following:

* 2960 marriage bonds for Lower Canada (Quebec) issued between 1779 and 1858

* 7899 marriage bonds for Upper Canada (Ontario) issued between 1803 and 1865

A typical bond has the following information:

* Name of the future husband
* Name of the future wife
* Their place of residence
* Names of the sureties (people who knew the groom and would
guarantee that no legal reasons existed why the couple could not marry)
* Date and place where the bond was issued

These bonds are freely available online at Library & Archives Canada

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's all in the Name!

Bill asked about a ship's name:
I have an ancestor of the American Virginia Colony late 17th early 18th Century who was co-owner of a ship noted as "Loyall Judith" of London - sometimes mentioned as "Pink Loyal Judith." Why is the ship referred to with two different names?

Ask Olive Tree Responds: A "pink" is a type of ship. The pink Loyal Judith just means the Loyal Judith was a pink - which is a small ship with a narrow stern.

So the ship's name was LOYAL JUDITH and she was a pink (type of vessel, not name of ship)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finding More Details on a Canadian WW1 Military Ancestor

John asked about Canadian Military records:

I'm looking for information on how to determine where my Great Uncle  fought in the 1st World War.  His Attestation papers for Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force state that he was part of the 1st Battallion C.O.B., C.E.F.for 8 weeks then transferred to R.C.R. for 4 months as listed under "former  Naval or Military service". I have his regimental number .  Where do I go from here to get more information on where he fought and what he did?  Do these records exist?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Hi Jim -  what you have is just a small part of the whole file. The attestation papers are only the front and back of the man's signup sheet.

You want to order the full record from LAC (Library & Archives Canada). Just go to
the site and read how to order them, or go to The Canadian Military Heritage Project and click on FIND YOUR MILITARY ANCESTOR

The full file will give his movements on specific dates and often much more. There is no consistency though. You may get one page of information or you may get dozens. It depends what has survived.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Was Your Ancestor a Loyalist?

Diane asked a question about possible Loyalist ancestors

James Wheeler, born in Upper Canada c.1782. He married Mary Slingerland (Daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Slingerland) born c. 1790, bapt. 24 Apr 1803. On 28 Jun 1820, Mary Wheeler of Charlotteville Twp., Norfolk Co. received an Order in Council for a grant of 200 acres of land as the daughter of Richard Slingerland, UE. In 1822, they lived at Grantham Twp., Lincoln Co. In 1844, they lived at Rainham Twp., Haldimand Co. then returned to Norfolk County and settled on Lot 12, Concession 2, Walsingham Twp., northwest of Port Rowan. In the 1852 Census of Walsingham Twp. p.7 , James Wheeler was listed aged 74 with his wife Mary 60, and son Isaac 20. All were born in Upper Canada, Wesleyan Methodist. This information is from Robert Mutrie of A Long Point Settlers Genealogy.

We are trying to find out who James Wheeler's parents were. It says that Richard's father was reported born in France (sic) and his mother in Canada. It says in this information though, that James Wheeler, was born in Upper Canada. Whether the France means New France in Quebec, we do not know.

Someone suggested and I saw a list, that a Samuel Wheeler could possibly be James father, as their names were both listed together as being in the Butler's Rangers of the British Infantry. But I don't know if that is so or not. Is there any help you can give me in this?
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Dear Diane - Let's tackle the question of your James being a Loyalist. With a birth year of circa 1782 he was not old enough to be one. The American Revolution ended in 1783 when he was one year old.

Second problem - James does not appear on any lists of Butler's Rangers that I have found. I have 3 ancestors who fought in Butler's Rangers and was able to have a look on your behalf in my resources.

I checked "Early Settlers in Niagara including the First "Census" 1782,1783, 1784, 1786, 1787" published in 1992 by the Niagara Peninsula Branch of the OGS. This is basically a list of disbanded Butler's Rangers, their units, the victualling lists (for rations to the men and their families) and other assorted census substitutes. There is *no* James Wheeler or Weeler listed. There is a Samuel Wheeler on a list of those disbanded rangers receiving rations and willing to settle on Crown Lands at Niagara. The date is 20 July 1784 and he is alone - no wife, no children. He received 1 ration for one person daily.

He appears on a second list as Samuel Weeler as being in Cpt Lewis Genevay's Co. of the Corps of Rangers (Butler's) dated 30 Nov. 1783 - no family of any kind listed with him.

I checked the Old UEL List (there is a James Wheeler listed there but he was a Treasury Loyalist who settled in New Brunswick) Samuel Wheeler is on the Old UEL list and it is noted he was a soldier in the Kings Rangers.

Samuel does not appear in Reid's book "The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons & Daughters of the American Loyalists...." but don't be misled! Reid's book on Loyalists was never intended to be the Bible of Loyalist families. Reid simply organized index cards into what he thought were family groups. *Many* if not most families are incomplete. Some individuals are incorrectly placed.

Reid's book is a wonderful resource, and a great starting point for your Loyalist research, but you should verify independently that a child he places in a family group does belong there (by looking up ALL petitions for that family),and never never assume that because an individual isn't in the family group he/she doesn't exist or isn't a Loyalist.

No one list of Loyalists can be considered "the" List. There is no simple definitive and accurate list. You must consult them all, from the Old UEL list to Reid's book to all the variant lists made.

After 1796 the Executive Council kept a list of Loyalists based on District Rolls. This became the Executive Council UE List and contains about 3,500 names. It is not considered a complete list, but it is considered more accurate than the Crown Lands (Old UEL) list.

The Crown Lands Dept. created a second list, based on other records. This became the Old UEL List and contains approximately 6,000 names, but not all qualified.

When searching Loyalists you also need to consult pay lists, muster rolls, and the land records. For a good reference to what is
available, see Brenda Dougall Merriman's book Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the records Look under Brenda's chapter on Loyalists.

You would be wise to consult the Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) because Loyalists and their families petitioned in order to receive their allowed land grants. One thing that isvery important is to recognize that the Petitions of Loyalists for land are not uniform. You may find one small petition, giving just enough facts to
persuade the Crown to give that person a free grant as a Loyalist. You may find page after page of affidavits,testimonies, and so on, all documentation to prove the petitioner's claim.

Also see this article on steps to take researching a Loyalist

So the bottom line is that your James could not be a Loyalist but he could have been the son of Loyalist. However Samuel Wheeler in Butler's Rangers does not appear to have been married or have children. Having said that my recommendation is that you start from scratch. Begin with James. Note every fact and every source.

Search the sources you have not yet looked at. Don't jump to conclusions that Man A might be his father unless you have some solid evidence to support that theory. Don't rely on others checking sources and giving you information unless they copy it accurately from the resource and provide the full source notation.

Once someone paraphrases what is found, there is tremendous opportunity for error. Sometimes other researchers, trying to be helpful, will give you their interpretation of a record, not the exact wording. That can be very wrong and lead you down an incorrect path.

Be prepared to find out that your James wasn't the son of a Loyalist. If he was, he should have filed a petition for his land claim (a free grant). But keep searching all the records so that you can eliminate possibilities and correct any errors you might have in your previous research

Friday, September 17, 2010

Answering a Question about the Van Slyke Family and their Mohawk Heritage

Diane asked three very interesting questions. I'm going to respond to them all, one at a time. The first one involves our shared ancestor Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke and his Mohawk wife Ots-Toch.

Am also interested in Och-Toch, the Mohawk wife of Antonissen Van Slyke 1604-1676. I know her father is Jacques Hertel 1603-1651 but was wondering, if any information was ever found on Och-Toch's mother, her grandparents on the Mohawk side?
Diane - I loved reading your questions and am going to spend some time working on your first two about Loyalists. I've chosen your third question to answer because it's about my ancestors too - Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke (you mistakenly called him "Antonissen") and his Mohawk wife Ots-Toch.

Cornelis Van Slyke's story which is fully documented is of a Dutchman who came to the New World as a carpenter at the age of 30, who became an interpreter for the Mohawk nation,was adopted into the tribe, and who met and married a French-Mohawk woman who never left her native village. Their children, all raised at Canajoharie, one of the Mohawk castles or villages, became well-known and respected in the Dutch community. All except one left the village and married Dutch settlers.

I am going to assume that you don't know about my books on the Van Slyke family. My most recent is The Van Slyke Family in America: A Genealogy of Cornelise Antonissen Van Slyke, 1604-1676 and his Mohawk Wife Ots-Toch, including the story of Jacques Hertel, 1603-1651, Father of Ots-Toch and Interpreter to Samuel de Champlain REVISED EDITION published May 2010. Coil bound 8.5x11. 287 p. ISBN: 978-0-9680744-5-9 Here is a link to an Order Form or Paypal Orders

It will answer all your questions! It's 287 pages are chock full of detail on Jacques Hertel, Cornelis Van Slyke, Ots-Toch and their descendants.

I stress in my book that we do not know with 100% certainty that Cornelis' wife used the name Ots-Toch but it has passed on down via family lore and fairly early writings that this was her name. Nothing is known of her maternal side, although there is some supposition that her mother's father may be known. I am not convinced so do not wish to suggest this theory.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Let Research Flaws Multiply!

Carrol asked an intriguing question about her great-grandmother from Ireland to Boston and on to Ontario Canada in 1847. My interest was piqued so I decided to do some research on her behalf. That led me down some very interesting paths and sadly (for Carrol), the conclusion that her original research is flawed!

Having errors creep into our genealogy research is not unusual. It's not always easy to keep on an accurate path in the excitement (and desperation) of the search for ancestors.

Carrol, let me show you what I found versus what you presented to me below. I'm going to go step by step through your email and insert my comments, sources and details.

I'm trying to find any information on my great grandmother, Ann Whelan. Apparently from Cork.

She came to Canada in 1849, according to the 1901 Census.

Ask Olive Tree: Carrol, the year of immigration is the most MIS-remembered of all years, so be cautious taking one source (the 1901 census) and using the immigration year as set in stone. Always allow a few years on either side, and better still, try to find another source which provides an immigration date.

I have a FTM disk listing passengers from Ireland. There is an Ann Whelan from Cork arriving at the port of Boston in 1847. She is 14 yrs. of age (which corresponds with previously found information) & is accompanied by her brother, Thomas Whelan. At least I assume Thomas is her brother. Ann is a spinster, Thomas a bachelor. This ships list is for the Brig Mary. On OliveTree ships list for this ship & date there is no Ann or Thomas Whelan listed.

Ask Olive Tree: Carrol where do I start? You sent me to my Ships Passenger Lists on my Olive Tree Genealogy site

I don't see a passenger list for a ship MARY from Ireland to Boston in 1847 on my site.  I do have a list for a ship called CATHERINE MARY sailing from Bermuda to Boston in 1847, but no other lists to Boston that year.

Next problem - your statement that Thomas and Ann are travelling *together* on *the Brig Mary Ann* and that Ann is *from Cork* (or are saying that the ship sailed from Cork??)

Those statements are all incorrect. I first checked FTM's CD #256 "Passenger and Immigration Lists Boston 1821-1850" because to help researchers I need to be able to DUPLICATE their findings! In other words I need to find what they found so I can see if there are clues that might have been missed.

What I found was that the index shows an Ann WHALAN (note the spelling. A little friendly tip is to quote your source exactly as recorded, as this helps the person you are writing to), age 14 arriving in Boston 24 May 1847.

No ship name is given but the orginal source microfilm is noted as M277 Roll 22. This is the correct film for those Boston Passenger Lists. So far so good except remember that NO SHIP'S NAME is given. A Thomas WHALAN is also noted (as you mentioned) but again - no ships name is given.

I next went to Boston Ships Passenger Lists via Steve Morse's One Step Search Engine. I found Ann, and also Thomas listed in the online index search. Both arrived in Boston on 24 May 1847. But they were NOT on the same ship!

14 year old Ann Whalan is noted as sailing on the ship OMEGA (not Brig Mary !) Her place of origin is Ireland. She is not travelling with Thomas WHALAN. 17 year old Thomas is sailing on MINSTREL. Both ships left Liverpool (not Cork) and sailed to Boston. Thomas is listed as being of English origin, not Irish.

So your assumption that they are brother and sister may be correct, but it's not looking very likely. Your statement that they were on board the same ship (the Brig Mary) is not correct.

There *was* a ship Mary that sailed to Boston from Cork Ireland but it arrived May 17, 1847 and was refused entry so sailed on to Halifax Nova Scotia.

In 1856 Ann Whelan is at Clarence Creek, Ontario where she is married to my ggrandfather, Jean Baptiste (John) Payie (Payé, Paille, Payet, Payette, etc.!!). In September of that year she has given birth to her first child, under the name Payette. I know nothing else about Ann except that she undoubtedly was one of the Famine Irish.

Ask Olive Tree: Another gentle piece of advice - please give locations in full when asking for help. I have no idea where Clarence Creek is so I had to scramble around to find it.

On the 1901 Census for Nipissing there is a Thomas Whelan listed along with his two sons, Stephen & James. Their names have been scratched off with the notation "they had already left the area"
Ask Olive Tree: You sent me scrambling again. does not have these three names. I used wildcards. I used date of birth only for Thomas. I tried every trick I could think of and nothing.

So I went to and found them. But here is the interesting part - and I must add that I consulted the actual image of the census page - there are no ages given for Thomas, James or Stephen. There are no locations of birth. So how can you (and why would you?) assume that Thomas is the father?

It might be more likely to theorize that they are three brothers, possibly the sons I found for a Thomas Whelan and wife Sarah living in Admaston, Renfrew Ontario. (found in 1871 and 1881 census) The point is that we do not know their relationship to each other!

Also, several names are crossed out before getting to the Payette individual. The notation does not read "they had already left the area" A check of the image shows it to read " Left before the arrival of [illegible]"

Am I being too nit-picky? NO! Please read my blog post called "The Importance of Being a Copy-Cat" which is about copying original records EXACTLY as we see them, not as we interpret them, not as we want them to read but as they were written. It's important to realize that this notation might mean that the 3 men (and note it refers to all 3, not just Stephen and James) simply were not home when the census taker came around. It might also mean that they had moved away. We don't know the meaning, and thus it is important to copy it accurately.

Along with this Thomas Whelan & his 2 sons, is James Payette, a Shanty Man. There is no question that this James Payette is my great uncle, the son of Ann Whelan & John Pay(ie).
Ask Olive Tree:  The Census image does not show "James Payette" as you stated. It reads "William J. Payette" He states he was born Dec 22, 1860, and is married. I have no way of knowing if this is your great-uncle. But it would have been helpful to have known this was the name on that 1901 census. No wonder I could not find him on when I tried to duplicate what you had found.

The name James strikes me as being a "family" given name for the family of Ann. My reasoning being that all the other children of Ann & John appear to have French names.

Ask Olive Tree: I wondered what you meant by "French names" so I had a look for the family in census records. In 1871 they were in Clarence, Russell District Ontario. The children's names are given as: Julia, James, Ellen, Alexander, John and Nelson. Those are not French names. They are very common N. American or English or Irish names! My own great grandfather (Irish) was named Alexander. So your conclusion that James was a family name may be based on incorrect reasoning.

My question is:How do I find out what happened to the Ann & Thomas Whelan after they arrived in Boston in 1847?

Ask Olive Tree: Carrol, I don't think that's what you need to do. I hope I've shown you to your satisfaction that your original research is flawed. There is no shame in that, but it does mean that you need to start over.

My suggestions follow:

* Document your Ann Whelan very carefully.

* Don't jump to conclusions without having accurate sources to support them.

* Don't theorize without some evidence to support your theory.

* Go slowly and be careful that you are marking down your information accurately.

* Assess what you've found and go from there working backwards as you go.

Be prepared that if your great grandmother sailed directly from Ireland to Canada, you may not ever find her on a ships' passenger list. Those are challenging years, as Canada did not require that passenger manifests be archived before 1865. I've provided a URL ("challenging years") which will give you a list of all available ships passenger lists to Canada in the time period you want. Any that are online are clickable links.

It was much cheaper to sail to Canada and if she fled Ireland during the famine, it is unlikely she had much money. Just something to keep in mind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding an Ancestor's Origin and Immigration to S. Carolina

Susan asked about early immigration records

I would like to know when, where my family of Gilliard, Gillyards or any other spelling of the name name arrived in America

It is stated by all family researchers I have spoken with that they arrived in Charleston, SC. But dumb me I want to have a document that shows me they arrived in Charleston or any other port if possible. I believe the name is French so how/why the families were in Spain is another mystery.

* Joseph Marion Gilliard b. 1770 Spain d.1850 Lowndes or Brooks County GA
* Joseph Jasper Gilliard b. 1789 Spain d. 23 July 1865 Alachua County

No one has absolute proof of the birth places; it's all so far just hear say.
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Susan. It's very wise of you to want documentation of family stories! Family stories are often wrong, or have a bit of truth but are mixed up. So a good researcher will never rely on them absolutely, but will use a family story as a clue, then find documents to support it or prove it incorrect.

You haven't told me what sources you have already searched or found but your first item should be census records. Then I'd look for land records. Try to find some type of document that provides information on their land of origin - is it France or Spain? What does the 1860 census give for place of birth?

Also sometimes individuals from Portugal or Spain were listed as black or mulatto - have any records that you found for your family given this as ethnic origin?

Just because they settled in S. Carolina does not mean much in terms of immigration. They may have arrived elsewhere. You need to first develop some kind of time frame for their immigration. You haven't told me what year you first find documentation of them being in USA so it's difficult for me to help you with specific ideas of where to look for ships passenger lists.

Step 2: find out what ports of arrival were in use during the time frame of their arrival. Then find out what records have survived for those ports. Here is a starting point for ships arriving in South Carolina but they could have arrived via any port that was in use at the time, and then gone on to S. Carolina

Have you looked for obituaries of the two men you listed, and their wives and children? An obituary or death record might list the country of origin.

I would gather all the records you can on the family. Sometimes it is wiser to completely fill out ALL details of your ancestors in their new country before you attempt to find their immigration.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finding Ships Passenger Lists to Virginia before 1756

Vickie asked about immigration
I am very new to your web site, and I'm not sure how to get around. I am looking for James Stedman jr & sr than came from scotland and is residing in va . I know he was born in 1729 and came over before 1756. Can you advise me how to look up his immigration date and the ship that he came over on. Any help would be much appreciated.
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Vickie. I'm not sure if you are referring to my Olive Tree Genealogy website in your question but I'll assume you are.

To see all ships passenger lists to Virginia you will want to start at Ships to USA then look down the page for the link to ships to Virginia. It is under STEP 2 of the 5-Step Search for Your Immigrant Ancestor in North America

Be forewarned that before 1820 ships passenger lists to America were not required to be archived. That means you may or may not find a surviving manifest for your ancestor.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Narrowing the Time Frame for an Ancestor's Immigration

Nancy is trying to narrow the timeline for an ancestor's arrival in Upper Canada (Ontario) from New York before 1861

I understand that the 1851 Humberstone Twp., Welland Co. Census records no longer exist. Can you direct me to any additional Humberstone records in the early 1850's. Was there such an item as an Ag Census at that time? My Humberstone ancestor, Conrad Robert is found in the 1861 census and his land ownership was identified through the 1862 Tremaine Map of Lincoln/Welland Counties. I'm trying to place his arrival in Ontario from New York a bit more accurately
ASK OLIVE TREE REPLY: Hi Nancy. I'm really glad you told me where Conrad was in 1861. I often like to have a look at what has been found so I can see if maybe there's another clue that was missed. Two sets of eyes are often better than one!

In this case, I notice that on the 1861 census, Conrad's children are listed as being born in Germany up to ca 1851 then the next child born ca 1853 is born in U.C. (Upper Canada)

That narrows your timeframe for immigration to ca 1850 to 1854 (allowing a year on either side of the ages given in that census)

Another help is that the 1861 census has an Agricultural Section. This page has a list of all questions asked on this 1861 Agricultural Census. You should also look at Agricultural Returns - an overlooked genealogical treasure trove!

Agricultural returns provide information such as lot and concession number, acreage, livestock and agricultural products. For the 1851 and 1861 Census, the agricultural returns are listed by the name of the head-of-household. The agricultural returns for 1881, 1891 and 1901 were not retained.

You say you found Conrad's land location listed elsewhere, which is a terrific clue but I'd verify it from the 1861. Also the Agricultural census will provide you with interesting details about your family such as numbers of farm animals by type of animal, how much acreage he has cleared, what he's planted, etc.

But the best part of having an exact Lot, Concession number and a township and county is that you can now search the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for that piece of land. This will tell you the exact date when Conrad bought the land (and when it passed from his hands to the next owner).

Because most settlers, especially farmers, bought their land as soon after arrival as possible, and Conrad was a farmer, you may find that this was the case with Conrad. Even if he didn't purchase the land immediately on arrival in Upper Canada, it will help narrow that timeline even further. I've included a link to a page explaining how to obtain the Abstract Indexes to Deeds.

As for finding earlier (pre 1861) assessment or tax records, the best course of action is always to check with the Ontario Archives or the County GenWeb to see what is available for your specific area of interest.

There are Municipal records available (nothing standardized, you must search for your specific township and county of interest). Primarily created between 1845 and 1900, these records include assessment and collector's rolls; local census records (pre-1851); voters lists and poll books; and local Town and Township council records.

The Niagara District has Census & Assessment Rolls, 1828-1849 which may be too early for your needs. In fact a quick check of the Archives of Ontario website shows that Humberstone Township only has one surviving record for 1828 - an early census.

I believe your best plan of attack is the land records.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finding a Missing English Ancestor in Canada after 1910

Rod's question was very intriguing
I am looking for Charles Stanley Morris (known as Stanley) . He was born in March, Cambridgeshire, England in 1877 and apparently disappeared in 1910-11 leaving his wife with two sons. He is the great "family secret". There is some thought amongst the English relatives I've found that he may have come to Canada.

I found the attached marriage record. It says nothing about this particular Stanley Morris nor his wife Mae Felker except their names which is very odd. I traced her. She died a just a few years after they were married. Her death record says nothing about Stanley. Maybe he left her (too).

The only other clue I have is the marriage license number - 19535. Do you know of any way I can find a record of that license? Were copies made at the time of issuance? If so, have those copies been stored anywhere you know of?

Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Rod attached a copy of the marriage record he found. It was most unusual, having only the names of the bride and groom and the date of marriage - no other information re their ages, places of residence, parents' names, etc. So I had a look on and found the original registration under the name STANLY MORRIS. Since I'd used wildcars and searched for STAN*, this variant spelling popped up in the search results.

Unfortunately Rod did not tell me the names of his ancestor's parents so I couldn't eliminate or confirm this as his Stanley. Given the age of this Stanley Morris, I suspect it is not the right man.

But here is the information contained on the full marriage registration on

Name: Stanly Morris
Age: 20
Estimated birth year: abt 1891
Father Name: Joseph Morris
Mother Name: Ellen Howe

Spouse Name: Mae Felker
Spouse's Age: 21
Spouse Father Name: William Felker
Spouse Mother Name: Margory Nunn
Marriage Date: 13 Dec 1911
Marriage Location: Wellington
Marriage County: Wellington
Archives of Ontario Microfilm: MS932_182

You said your Stanley disappeared ca 1910 and was born ca 1877. There is a Stanley Morris living in Hamilton in the 1911 census. He's the right age, born England and immigrated in 1910. You would need to narrow your field of suspects by checking on this Stanley's occupation - does it match your man?

Perhaps you know the month of your Stanley's birth - does it match the 1911 census?

It looks like your Stanley married Mabel Martha Tibbett in 1902 in North Witchford Cambridgeshire? That marriage is found on FreeBMD. His birth was registered in Cambridgeshire between October and December 1876 so your 1877 birth year is incorrect. This is also found on FreeBMD or on the free version on

You should be able to find Stanley on a Ships Passenger List to either USA or Canada. Have you checked Their immigration records are free this Labour Day Weekend.

Also, try to compare the men you find in Canada that fit your Stanley, with the real Stanley. That seems to me the most logical way to approach your puzzle.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Finding a Catholic Death Record in Ontario in 1861

Julia asked about a death in Ontario Canada in 1861
I am researching regarding the untimely death of my ancestor John Coughlin at age 29. He resided in Biddulph Township in 1861, when he died. His family resided in Stephen Township and he is buried at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church in Mount Carmel. Can you direct me as to where I should look?
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Julia - unfortunately Vital Registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths did not begin in Ontario Canada until 1869.

You will have to find the local church (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) and ask to consult their records if they exist. Many Catholic churches do not allow the church books to be consulted so be prepared.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Abbreviated Names in Genealogy Records

Mitch asked about a set of early ships passenger lists to Virginia found on my website at

Contained in the the following link on your site are a number of names beginning with "Tho:" Are you able to explain what that means, please? For that matter, "Jo:"? I hope you are able to help, as I am stumped!

ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Mitch. "Tho." refers to the given name Thomas. No doubt the original record had the small superscript "s" added, which is the common method of denoting this abbreviated name.

As for "Jo" you will find two schools of thought on this - that it refers to the given name John or the given name Jonathan. Usually you see it as "Jno" so perhaps "Jo" is a transcription error.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Copies of Your Own Naturalization Records

Sandra wrote asking for help with her own naturalization records

 I am looking for my naturalization form.   I have contacted the Immigration Office, but need the certificate number from the document I am trying to replace in order to apply for  a new one... catch 22 - need help...

 Naturalized: May 12, 1994
 Washington County, Maine

My understanding is that for naturalization records after 1956, Freedom of Information requests must be sent to the appropriate BCIS District Office

I would simply do that - send in an FoI request and ask for a copy of your records. That should give you the numbers you need to request any specialized forms you might need.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Missing 1st and 2nd Class Passenger Names 1897-1903

Debbi asked about an ancestor on a ship arriving in New York
Hi. I  searched the New York arrival for the October 14 1899 Palatia ship passenger list and didn't find my family. I know they were on board this ship, why are they not listed?

and have not survived

That means that the names of passengers in 1st or 2nd class will not be on microfilmed ships passenger lists, or in the Ellis Island online database.

There are some exceptions but if you can't find an ancestor and you have proof he/she was on board a certain ship, this anomoly during this brief time period may explain those missing names.

Please see Ellis Island Missing (Cabin) Manifests, 1897-1903  for more information.

ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Debbi - From  about June 15th 1897 until approximately March or April 1903, the lists for first class and second class passengers were not collected at Ellis Island

Monday, August 30, 2010

Certificate of Legation

David's question is one of three he submitted about his grandfather (whose name David did not share)

In March of 1891, he was issued a "Certificate of Legation from the United States, to the German Empire" (I have this document) My take on this, is this document guaranteed his safe travel BACK to Germany and return as a United States citizen. Is this a correct assumption on this document?.
ASK OLIVE TREE response: Dear David - I personally have never seen such a Certificate. I would have to see the original document to provide a response. What agency issued it? What exactly does the document say?

It would also help to know where you obtained this document - that is, what set of records? Or is it an original document in your possession?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Immigration Years on Documents Can Be Wrong!

Gina's question is a challenging one:
I am an Australian with a grandfather who came here in 1922 from USA. I have been searching for over 15 years (before computers)for his birth certificate. The only details I have are his alien registration in 1939, his marriage certificate in 1929 - and that's it.

Through these documents I have searched, and searched and found nothing. It seems what he stated may not have been fact.
His name was "Russell McDonald Cartwright" ? born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1906. He stated his fathers name was Russell Cartwright & mothers name was Anita McDonald. I haven't found these 2 names together anywhere. Russell does not appear to be in the Texas archives. The 2nd name McDonald, doesn't appear anywhere with his 1st and last name. He came on a ship called the "Canadian Highland" in 1922. I don't find a trace of that ship docking in Australia at all? I have no clue where it originated as I was hoping backtracking could help.

I am floundering - I don't know where to turn - Can you help??
 ASK OLIVE TREE response: Dear Gina, Have you seen this record for your ancestor which is on the Australian National Archives website?

Russell Cartwright (Includes Photograph of Subject) - Nationality:American - Arrived Brisbane per Canadian Highlander, 14 May 1922 Born 14 june 1906 Ft Worth TX

The scanned document is online if you have not seen it.

However, the date of immigration is often mis-remembered, and it may not be accurately given by Russell. I would search a year or two on either side of 1922. The same is true of the ship name. Russell may have mis-remembered it.

You should search the 1910 and 1920 census records for USA. I like for census records but you may be able to find them elsewhere.

I think you need to widen your search, keeping in mind the point you made that Russell may not have told the truth OR that he may not have known! It is also possible that he was an illegitimate birth or that he did not grow up with his parents.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recording Name Changes in a Genealogy Program

Barbara's question concerns listing names properly
How do you list birth name changed to Legal name? My birth name was Riley but Bradford was the name of my stepfather and the name I have used all of my life.
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Dear Barbara, Can I assume you are talking about how to enter your name information in your genealogy program?

If so, then you have a few options. You can enter yourself with your birth name and list an AKA (also known as). You can enter the details in the notes section that applies to you.

If you prefer you could enter yourself with the name you've commonly used, and explain your birth name and details around your name changes in the Notes section.

It's really up to you!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Searching for a Loyalist Ancestor

Rosemary asked about her Loyalist ancestor:

I am looking for the connection in the US for William Osterhout, who was my 4th ggfather. He was a private in Butler's Rangers. When he arrived in Niagara after the Revolutionary war, he married Elizabeth Pickard, whose father and uncle were also in Butler's Rangers. They had 10 children! I have found lots of info on the Pickards, but I am not sure where William came from. I am assuming New York State but there are many Osterhouts and many Williams or Wilhelms.

I'm happy you sent this to me because three of my ancestors were Loyalists who fought in Butler's Rangers. So I have a pretty good idea of how I can direct you to find out more details about William Osterhout.

Searching for more on a Loyalist ancestor is complicated and can be a lengthy process. The early Ontario records are held in different locations and are sparse. But don't despair, just keep digging!

The very first thing you should do is obtain all the Upper Canada Land Petitions for William. Be careful to search under spellings such as OOSTERHOUT, OOSTERHAUT and so on.Obtain them all, because you have no way of knowing what tidbits of information will be found in those petitions.

For example my Isaac Vollick's petition contained an affidavit from his commanding officer in Butler's Rangers telling how Isaac's wife Mary and 10 small chldren had been forced from their home in northern New York by those opposed to the British. The detail was of course fascinating to me but best of all it gave a precise location for where the family lived before 1796! I also found mention that Isaac had been jailed in Albany several times during the first years of the American Revolution - another plus having that location which led me to his baptism record

For help with the UCLP (Upper Canada Land Petitions) have a look at the information and instructions found at this link.

Something to keep in mind is that Loyalist units were almost always mustered in one geographic location and the men in them knew each other well, being friends and neighbours. Butler's Rangers was mustered by Col. John Butler in New York and consisting of Mohawk Indians and men from New York. So almost certainly your William was originally from New York.

You should also have a look at the advice and information on Loyalists found at this link. When seeking details of a loyalist ancestor it's very important to understand the process they went through to become a Loyalist and find all records that might exist documenting their hardships. These records often contain gems of genealogical information such as origins.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Available Census Records Question

Shirley's question was about census records

Why do the available census records stop in 1930?

ASK OLIVE TREE answer: Different countries have different privacy laws and these dictate when census records can be viewed by the general public.

I assume you are asking about American census records. Because of a 72-year privacy law, the 1940 USA census will not be available for public inspection until April 1, 2012.