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Monday, March 30, 2009

How to find a Roll Number for Native American Ancestry

Mike G. asked:
There is Native American members of both my paternal and maternal sides, but I am having the hardest time finding Indian Roll Numbers. I live about equal distance between Houston and Dallas. I have heard that the genealogy library outside of Dallas would be a better research location. Any suggestions?
Olive Tree Answer: Have you searched the Dawes Roll Index at or the other Rolls listed on that site? I'm afraid that I don't know what library you mean by "the genealogy library outside of Dallas" aand I don't live in the area so I can't advise you on that, why not just call or visit the library and see what you think of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finding an ancestor's arrival in American or Canadian ships passenger lists

Ken asked:
Joseph and Elizabeth Maidens emigrated to the US after July 1849 and with brother William were in Nepeuskin and Rushford areas of Winnebago, Wisconsin, confirmed reference the 1850 US Census. William living with the Slingsby family. My question is how did they get there? I'm looking for ports of departure and arrival, passenger list and ship information related to these ancestors aged 27 - 35, who left their Revesby, Lincolnshire, England homes.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Ken. It is possible that your Maidens family came in to the USA via Canada. Fares to Canadian ports of arrival were much cheaper than to America. However that presents a challenge as before 1865, Canadian ships passenger lists did not have to be kept. However, some were and there are alternate resources. You may want to consider checking these out by using the 2 column chart of links at Filling in the Gaps in Ships Passenger Lists to Canada for PRE-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada and POST-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finding Records for Grosse Ile in 1832

Jim asked:
Thomas Brooks (1776-1851) appear to have come over from England with the Petworth Emigrants. They arrived at Grosse Ile on June 8, 1832. Thomas and his family were taken off the ship and kept there because he was a cabinetmaker and they needed him build coffins as people died from the cholera epidemic. Does Grosse Ile have any records regarding people who may have been employed there? The Canadian government must have fed and housed the family during their stay. They may even have paid Thomas Brooks some wages.

Olive Tree Answer: Jim, I'm wondering how you know that Thomas was "taken off the ship and kept there" to build coffins. Did you find some record of this? Or is this family lore? As for Grosse Ile, their surviving records are online, and you can follow the link found at Filling in the Gaps The records are the names of 33,026 immigrants whose names appear in surviving records of the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937.

You might also want to check the various Emigrant Agent records that have survived such as the Records of James Allison or Anthony Hawke. The Hawke Papers, letterbooks of Chief Emigrant Agent Anthony B. Hawke are available at the Archives of Ontario from 1831 to 1892. You cannot search the Hawke records pre 1865 online, for those earlier years you must view the microfilm through the Archives of Ontario. Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal, 1823-1845 are searchable at

If you are lucky you may find some brief notation for your ancestor in one of the Emigrant Agent papers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

FInding immigration record from Ireland to Australia

Faye asked
I have tried for years to find out how my husbands grandmother came to Australia from Ireland. I have her birth certificate, her in the 1901 Irish census BUT not in the 1911 cencus. I have her only childs (that we are aware of) birth certificate born in Sydney Australia. With this all I cannot find the ship, the dates, etc. where she travelled from and to. The info I have is as follows.

Jane O'Dea born November 1881 Baunmore, Kilkee, Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland. Father, Thomas O'Dea, mother Bridget, nee Bourke. Jane was 4th of 8 children. Jane was also known as Jennie or nana Jean to my hubby. She was informant at her fathers death in 1898 and was in the 1901 census with her mother and siblings. She was not in the 1911 cencus that I could find. She gave birth to my mother in law, Veronica May on 14th January 1915 at Crown St Womens Hospital Sydney, NSW Australia. Jane registered Veronicas birth and stated she was married to "William Sanders Hart", b. Canada in 1870's and a general labourer in New Zealand in 1906. No one can find the marriage but can find a "William Sanders Hart" marrying someone else in New Zealand in 1906. [rest of email edited for brevity]

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Faye, thank you so much for providing me with details and a very nicely compiled, easy to understand email outling what you know about Jane, where you've looked and what you want to find. The only reason I edited your email was for space here on AskOliveTree blog, but everything you sent was relevant and welcomed.

I am afraid I have not had much luck either but I did find one tiny item that may or may not be helpful. There is a Miss Jane O'Dea listed as arriving on the ship OMRAH on 30 April 1904 on the Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923 on the Public Record Office Victoria website. It might be worth sending for the full passenger list to see what other information is provided.

Best of luck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Figuring out the proper name of a female ancestor

Karen asked
How do I find the names of my great grandmother? Her maiden name was Minnie Miller, Minnie could have been short for Wilhelmina? She was from Denmark, the Chicago census says she came from Denmark in about 1888 and settled in Chicago and married Walter Ambler. Her death record lists no parents and neither does her obituary. What other source could I use?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Karen, your genealogy problem is a bit of a challenge isn't it? Yes, Minnie could be short for Wilhelmina but it could also be a nickname that has no relationship to her "real" name. For example my husband's grandfather was born and baptised "Thomas Leon" as his first and middle name. His entire life he was called "Charlie" and on his driver's licence and all official records he is recorded as "Charlie"

But here are some ideas I had for you to perhaps track down Minnie. First, have you found her marriage record? What about birth records for any children? You might find the Ancestor Marriage Record Finder and the Ancestor Birth Record Finder helpful. They offer ideas for finding obscure marriage and birth records.

Next, a look in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 Chicago Illinois census on shows that Minnie gives the years 1885, 1886 and 1887 for her immigration. So be sure you are allowing a year or two on either side when you search. I would search for her from 1884-1888. Have you tried the Danish Emigration Archives for Minnie's arrival? Minnie also states she was naturalized by 1920 so I'd also look for those naturalization records. You can try Footnote's naturalization Records database too with a Footnote Free Trial

Please let us know here on AskOliveTree how you make out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gleaning information from an old family letter

Carrie sent a graphic with an explanation
I am attaching a note written by a cousin perhaps or someone closely related to my Grandma Alice, it may be one of her sisters or a cousin (child of one of her parents's siblings?) Not sure. the hand-written "mess" that was confusing me even worse was on my grandmothers side which Yes...she is a Babinec but I neglected to mention that the mix-up that she wrote about is on HER side of the family which is PAUZA.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Carrie, I've been working on your family tree questions, and hope you have seen my previous two answers Sorting Out Family Information on Ancestors and Separating Family Lore from Facts I've now tackled your family note which appears to be part of a letter and believe I have some answers for you.

If we look at the signature of the sender of this letter, we can see that it is "Gust. & Berthe Pauza" The note provides information on the recipient's father, mother, uncle and aunt. We don't know the recipient but you feel it may have been addressed to your Grandmother Alice who was the daughter of Vaclav Pauza and Antonia Vochner. It is obviously written to a child of Vaclav's as it states "your father's brother..."

The first thing you need to do is find out who the writer was. How closely was he related? When was he born? That will give you some idea when he may have written the note. Finding all this will give you a better feeling for how reliable the note is.

I found a Gustave Charles Pauza in Ancestry's U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 applying for a passport on 6 Aug 1921. He states he was born July 19, 1882 He and his wife Berthe were living in Cleveland Ohio. I believe this is the man who signed your note "Gust. [short for Gustave] & Berthe Pauza". He gives his father's name as Jehe (hard to read) Domenic Pauza. He also states he arrived in USA on 12 August 1903 on Ship Augustus, that he naturalized in Missouri in 1916 and is a barber.

Since the name of his father is not the same name as the father given for Vaclav Pauza, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that Vaclav and Gustave are brothers. It is more likely they were cousins but this is something you will have to research further. Gustave can also be found in the Wisconsin WW1 Draft Registrations on Ancestry and other records. With a bit of time you should be able to gather some good details on him and this should help you with your direct ancestry.

As an aside, in case you have not seen this, your Vaclav Pauza is found as James Pauza in the 1910 census for Cleveland Ohio so be careful to use alternate Americanized names and wildcards when using search engines. Remember too that a "u" can be misread as "n" when records are being transcribed or indexed.

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

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.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finding a Family that left Canada for America

Diane asked:
The family of John W. Heck appears in the the 1901 Census for Middlesex South, district d-8. It includes his son John and daughter Charlotte, and daughter Bertha Boyd and her husband Robert and children Myrtle and Francis.

Another daughter,Sarah Jane, and her husband Richard Weir, who were married in 1887 in North Oxford County, Ont., appear in the 1910 census for San Bernardino, California, ward 3. In the 1920 census they say that they moved to California in 1887 and were naturalized in 1894. Richard seems to have been in California since 1883.

I can't locate Bertha and Robert Boyd again until the 1920 California census for Los Angeles, where the naturalisation date for Robert is 1875.Also in 1920, the younger John Heck is living with his sister Charlotte and her husband Benjamin Uglow in Long Beach, California. Charlotte and John say they came to the US in 1906.I'm wondering if everyone else in the family, other than the Weirs, came at the same time.

Also, when did John Heck Senior die in Ontario? Did the Boyds and Charlotte wait until his death to emigrate? I have not found his death record on I found the American census info on Heritage Quest on-line.
Olive Tree Answer: Diane, it sounds like you've done a lot of good research on your Heck family. Thank you for providing such a detailed account so that I could try to help.

I see you have some naturalization years for some of the family. Have you looked for naturalization records? They may provide you with more clues. Be cautious though, because the year of naturalization was one of the most MIS-remembered dates of all! So allow a year or two on either side of any dates given in the American census.

It looks like some of your family left Canada for USA before the Border Crossing records began in 1895 but if Charlotte and John arrived in 1906 they might be on the lists. However, before 1906 Canadians were not noted, so they may have missed being recorded! It is worth a look if you have not checked those border crossings.

I would also track every branch of the families - search for obituaries of every descendant in hopes of finding a little clue. Did you consider the possibility that they may have used various names? What I mean by that is that quite often an individual might use his first or his middle name interchangeably. So you will want to search by middle names as well as first.

The death record of Robert Grant Heck in 1926 found online in Family Search's Ontario Deaths 1869-1947 shows that his father's name was John Wesley Heck (mother Elizabeth Purdy). Perhaps he sometimes went by Wesley rather than John. Or by his initials J.W. You will want to search under all possible variations of the name(s).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where would I start my search for a ship list leaving France 1830

Gloria's Question:
Where would I start my search for the ship list leaving France 1830. I have names but have arrived at a dead end.
Alsace could have been under German rule at the time, would I then search Germany rather than France? Tisserand-Michel and Catherine-name changed to English translation upon arrival=Weaver or Wever. Arrived, possibly Quebec 1830

Hi Gloria - You have a challenge ahead of you! As far as I know, neither Germany nor France kept outbound ships passenger lists for that time period. And Canada did not have to archive (keep) their ships passenger lists until 1865. So you must seek alternate records, such as Shipping Company Records, records from newspapers, travel by land, emigration agent records and so on.

There is a chart online which gives links to all known online projects for all ships passenger lists and substitutes for immigration to Canada before 1865. You may find this helpful if you have not used it. Please note that the link for The Hawke Papers, letterbooks of Chief Emigrant Agent Anthony B. Hawke available at the Archives of Ontario from 1831 to 1892, has on online searchable database ONLY for the years 1865 - 1883. So for earlier years before 1865, these records must be searched on microfilm.

If I were you, I'd first check the Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal, 1823-1845 which is a new database just brought online by

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to find an obituary or Death Record

Gloria asked:
How can I find a death record and/or obituary for Ida Jane Pell in October 1946 in Edmondton.

I know she lived there as I have a street address.

Olive Tree Answer: Gloria, the first thing you will have to do to find an obituary is find out what newspapers were published for Edmonton in that year. To find a death record you need to know if Alberta Vital Registrations are available to the public for 1946. Have you tried the Alberta GenWeb? They should have the information you need re newspapers and vital statistics.

I think you should also read the Ancestor Death Record Finder for more help. There are ideas and links to guide you.

Last but not least you might also try the Canadian Births or Baptism, Deaths and Marraiges Exchange

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Finding an Outbound Ships Passenger List from America or Canada

B.G. Asked:
During the mass emigration to America (1880-1930), hundreds of my relatives passed through Ellis Island and other ports. Many made multiple trips of longer or shorter duration back home, as evidenced by marriages and births in the old country and subsequent re-arrivals in the USA or Canada. Available databases focus on the outward trip.

What are missing are the manifests of the return trip to Europe, which would define the duration of visits. These would also help find people who seem to have dropped from the records, leaving me wondering which continent to look on.

Can you tell me what resources might be available for departures from USA and Canada and where they would be accessible? Outward-bound, my relatives used many different ports, so returns (arrivals in Europe) would be similarly diverse.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi B.G. Neither America nor Canada kept their outbound ships passenger lists. However all ships carrying passengers in or out of any British port were required by law to deposit an official passenger list with the relevant port authorities

The records for all these ship passengers travelling between 1890 and 1960 survives within the collection of original British Board of Trade passenger lists. Until recently the only place they could be searched (there was no index) was in person at the Public Record Office in Kew, England. The good news is that brought these lists (and more) online and indexed them.

Search for an ancestor in the UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 These new passenger lists include OUTBOUND lists from Canada and America as well as other countries such as Australia. There are some problems with these passenger lists and you can read about the problems and how to work around them at Caveat Part 1: re the new Inbound UK and Inbound Canada Ships Passenger Lists and Caveat Part 2: re the new Inbound UK and Inbound Canada Ships Passenger Lists posted on my Olive Tree Genealogy Blog in October.

You could also try Outbound Ships Passenger Lists, an ongoing Project at The Genealogy Spot

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finding a Native American Ancestor

Mildred asked:
I am doing my family tree and as I understand it there is Indian blood in the family. How do you tell on a census report if the person is of Indian descent. I have been told most people back in the 1800’s most Indians did not admit they were of Indian descent.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Mildred, In order to prove native heritage or descent, you must find a record that indicates native ancestry or origins. If you have found your family in all available census records and nothing indicates native ancestry then you either accept that as truth, or you look elsewhere.

If your family lore includes a tribal name, you may be able to check Tribal Rolls to see if your family can be found.

If you only have a vague "We have Indian blood" as your family lore, then another possible option might be to have your DNA tested. DNA DNA testing has a special offer on right now, so it is a very reasonable cost to order a DNA kit

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finding an Ancestor on Ships Passenger Lists to New York

Margaret's question was:
How can I find the ships list for JOSEPH MAYER, B: 1826 Bavaria Germany? I think the ship left LE HARVE middle of Jly 1852 to New York..He Married VICTORIA SAYWICK, B: Germany.later part of Jly 1852, in Cleveland Ohio, He D: 1878 Pettis County Mo.. His name has variations:: MAYER, MAYR,MYERS, MAYR; CIVIL WAR,, 1880 census,, MAYR,, 1860 Iowa Census,, MYERS. VICTORIA, has variations: SAYWICK, PAWICK, PAVICK. . Looking for this families ship list is next to impossible. I can't even find anything on their son JOHN WILLIAM,, B: Iowa, 1856, he dissapeard 1878 , no one heard from him.. It,s like he didn't exist...Iv'e looked every where for months, with no luck... I'm at a dead end

Olive Tree Answer: Margaret, you have some good details on your ancestor. It's not clear what your source is for thinking your ancestor sailed from Le Havre in 1852 for New York, but we'll go with that. You can get New York ships passenger lists on microfilm or online on Both NARA & LDS have films with the New York passenger lists.

Ships are on the reels in order of date of arrival, so all you need to do is find the film number that has your arrival date on it. Then order it in to a nearby Family History Centre, or request a lookup from NARA.

When you get the film, scroll through to find your date but if your ship isn't there, be sure to check more thoroughly on the film - the lists aren't always exactly in chronological order. Here is a complete list of film numbers for ships (and passenger lists) going to New York after 1820 has indexed those New York Ships Passenger Lists and that will be much easier for you. But remember that you have to be creative in your search. You have listed several varations of the surname, so use those. But also make use of wildcards in the search engine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Searching Upper Canada Sundries & Land Records

Neil asked:
My 3rd great-grandfather John Percy (Piercy) was born in 1753 according to a muster roll of the Loyal rangers, a Loyalist regiment. This roll was dated at Vercheres, Quebec, January 1, 1782, and states John was 28 years of age, born in Ireland, and five feet nine inches in height. He had previously served in Col. Hazen's Regiment in 1778.He was at the two blockhouses on the Yamaska River, Quebec, in January 1783 to April 1784. He ascended the St. Lawrence River to become one of the first settlers of Ernesttown Township in the summer of 1784 on the property described as the West Half of Lot 3. 2nd Concession, and was given a Crown Deed to Lot 10, 7th Concession about 1802. He lived in Camden at Lot 29, 3rd Concession when he died in 1811. I have been trying to find when and how he came from Ireland and if he went to America or Canada. Any information about him would be gratefully accepted.

Olive Tree Answer: Neil, you have done a lot of research and found some very good information on your great great grandfather. What I don't see is any mention of land petitions for him. Since he was a Loyalist there should be land petitions, perhaps in both the Upper Canada Land Petitions and the Lower Canada Land Petitions (the index is searchable online). Land petitions often contain a great deal of genealogical information such as where an individual lived, the hardships he endured, time in prison for his Loyalist sympathies and so on. Also look for land petitions for any of his children for they were entitled to free grants on the basis of being SUE (Son of a United Empire Loyalist) or DUE (Daughter of a United Empire Loyalist)

Have you checked the Township Papers to see what is filed for the precise locations where your ancestor lived? These are a miscellaneous collection of documents relating to early transactions and correspondence about specific lots of land.

How about the Upper Canada Sundries? These are miscellaneous genealogy documents about individuals in Upper Canada (present day Ontario). They may contain absolutely nothing or they may hold a valuable genealogical clue. A quick peek at the online index shows John Piercy listed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hiring a Professional Genealogist

Michael asked
How would you suggest locating a professional genealogist to assist. We are of Irish descent. One of the problems is that the oral history that has been passed down has the family from Dublin and also from Mayo.

Olive Tree Answer: I would try The Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How can an Ancestor be in England and Canada census in 1871?

Bill asked:
I am searching for the date,port and ship that my ancestor: ARSCOTT, Jane arrived in Canada from Devon England in the period 1861-1871. I have found Jane Arscott on both 1871 England Census, at South Molton Devon and 1871 Canadian Census at Caledon Township, Peel County Ontario.

Jane also is listed on the 1881 census as well but not on any further census, based on my research I feel that she died here in the period after 1881 but before 1886? Applicable cemetery records and death registration are non existent.

Why she is listed on both 1871 Census I have no idea but I am absolutely certain that she was physically here for both 1871 and 1881 census.

Olive Tree Answer:

Hello Bill, You have an interesting challenge with your Jane Arscott being found on the 1871 census in two countries. The first thing you should do is find out when each census was actually taken. Was there time for Jane to physically be present on the England census and then sail to Canada for the 1871 census? If yes, that would certainly help narrow your timeframe for her immigration.

It is also important to find out what questions were asked on the England and the Canadian 1871 census returns. If, for example the England one asked who was present in the household IN THAT YEAR, then Jane may not have been physically there when the census taker came around BUT that would be proof she was there in 1871. This would narrow her timeline for immigration.

I had a look online and found that the 1871 census for England was taken on the night of 2 April 1871. Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a few days before the census night and the household members were required to complete the forms themselves. The next day, the enumerators collected the completed forms. All of the details from the individual forms were copied into enumerators’ books. One of the questions asked was the name of each person who spent the night of 2 April in the house. So presumably your Jane Arscott was physically in Devon England in April 1871. The only problem I have with accepting this is that the original census schedules that were completed by household members were destroyed and only the copied Enumerator's books survived. Mistakes happen. So - was Jane there or not?

If you have the original page for the
1871 Canada Census with Jane's name, you can look at the top of the sheet to see the exact date it was taken. The dates will vary depending on when the census taker got around to various locations.

One other thing to think about is that if she arrived after 1865, which it appears she did, then you may be able to find her in the online Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 on Ancestry.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hunting for great uncle from England living in British Columbia

Gayna asked:
I am hoping you can help me - in fact you are my last hope in finding my great uncle. His name was MAURICE DENIS WILSON and he was born May 1895 in Stockport, Cheshire, England. His parents were MARY BRADWELL & WILLIAM NOAH WILSON.

My last known piece of data is the 1911c for Cheshire when he was at an orphanage for warehousemen and clerks age 15. I know he went to live in Kelowna, BC, Canada and I remember him visiting England with big boxes of apples! I don't know the name of his first wife but when she died he married her nurse D'arcy (I don't know if that was a first name or surname) There was also an adopted daughter.

I think he died late 50s/early60s. Is there anyway you can help me, please?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Gayna, I'm glad you gave me details, it makes it so much easier for me to figure out how I can help. I have good news! The Indexes to vital Records for British Columbia can be searched online at the British Columbia Archives. If you find Maurice, you can send for his full record (certified copy) from the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency. You could also order a paper copy of the microfilm page with your ancestor's details from the British Columbia Archives.

Out of curiousity I had a quick look and found a marriage for a Maurice Dennis Wilson in 1929. Of course it might not be your man, the only way you would know for sure is to send for the full record which no doubt would give his parents' names

Vital Event Marriage Registration
Groom Name: Maurice Dennis Wilson
Bride Name: Lenna Nellie Ayliffe
Event Date: 1929 5 18 (Yr/Mo/Day)
Event Place: Glenmore
Reg. Number: 1929-09-361612
B.C. Archives Microfilm Number: B13758
GSU Microfilm Number: 2074554

But here is the really good news - I found Maurice's death

Vital Event Death Registration
Name: Maurice Dennis Wilson
Event Date: 1984 7 10 (Yr/Mo/Day)
Age: 89
Gender: male
Event Place: Kelowna
Reg. Number: 1984-09-011820
B.C. Archives Microfilm Number: B13640
GSU Microfilm Number: 2073193

Now you have some clues to use for your next step - I personally would hunt for an obituary for Maurice next. Good luck!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Looking for an Ancestor who disappeared after 1911 Canada Census

Diane's Question:
I am looking for my great uncle: Miles Colson Rowe. He was born to Thomas and Jane Ann (Conn) Rowe August 14, 1887 in Prescott Ontario Canada. He married Clara McNaughton December 5, 1907. I have found Miles and Clara in the 1911 Saskatchewan Census records. In 1916 they had a daughter Grace.

I have been told that Miles moved to the states leaving Clara and Grace in Saskatchewan. I was told he moved to California but have not been able to find any record of that. I was also told he died in 1939 possibly in Pennsylvania which I have not been able to verify either.

Would you have any suggestions where I should try looking. I have looked in the US Census records on Ancestry but have not hand any success.

Ask Olive Tree Answer: Diane, It sounds like you used verified facts for your hunt for your ancestor up to 1906 and after that you're forced to try to verify family lore. That's a tough challenge because often family lore is completely in error or mixed up. Sometimes lore about one ancestor will turn out to be true for someone in another branch.

If you've searched for Miles in the census records using wildcards and various spellings of the name, and come up empty-handed it may be time to turn to another research tactic.

Have you tried to find Clara or Grace after 1906? Look for their deaths, their obituaries, anything that might reference a lost father or husband. From my own personal research I was able to find a trace of a missing great grandfather (who went missing after 1901) by following all of his children. One son was found in the Border Crossing Records Canada to USA 1895-1956 in 1911 and he stated that he was coming from his father's house in Canada! So at least I now know that his father was alive in 1911 and living somewhere in Canada.

I had a quick look around online and found this reference to your family in Knight's Cemetery, Inkerman:
G. Bernard Mulloy 1917-1979
his wife Grace Rowe 1916-1999
mother Clara MacNaughton Rowe 1887-1971
[Editor's note: obit - Clara Wilhelmina MacNaughton died 6 Feb 1971 in 83rd yr, widow of Miles "Colson" Rowe. Leaves 1 girl Grace Mulloy.George Bernard "Bud" born 27 Augt 1917 to James Thomas Mulloy & Frances Bernadette Daniels died 5 Mch 1979. Leaves wife Helen Rowe]

This little death record provides some nice clues. Miles apparently used his middle name of Colson (that is why it is quotes in the Editor's Note) so you should be looking not only for Miles Rowe but also Colson Rowe. Use wildcards when you search. Be creative in spelling - Miles=Myles. Rowe=Row. Colson=Coulson etc. With death dates for Grace and Clara you may be able to find obituaries. It appears the "Editor" had access to an obituary for Clara but there may be more. I'd also get in touch with this "Editor" to see if he/she has more information or knows where you can find more.

Have you checked the 1916 Canada Census that just went online recently? Perhaps Miles/Colson will be found there. The 1916 Census for Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan is available at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Finding an Ancestor in Ships Passenger Lists to Canada Before 1865

Sharon asked me:
How can I find a passenger ship with German emigrants that settled in Wentworth county from 1852 to 1859 they landed in Quebec I had thought it was the Prince Arthur but my Michael Koch was not listed in the Passenger list with him was his wife Hannah, Charlotte, William Kaul & a baby Joseph.I have tried all kind of resources but so far have no luck.

Olive Tree Answer:Sharon, You've got a very challenging hunt ahead of you. There are no comprehensive 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. So you may not ever find the ship your ancestor came on but there are some avenues of research you may not know about.

It helps me to help you if I know exactly what resources you've checked but I'll go ahead and list the available ones in case you have not tried them.

* There are a few surviving passenger lists which were kept by shipping agents in the originating country. The Passenger Books of J & J Cooke, Shipping Agents gives sailings from Londonderry to Quebec and St. John New Brunswick from 1847 to 1871.(Also to Pennsylvania and New Orleans) These are online and can be freely searched.

* The Hawke Papers, letterbooks of Chief Emigrant Agent Anthony B. Hawke are also available at the Archives of Ontario. They cover the years 1831 to 1892. See the
Hawke Papers searchable database for years 1865 - 1883

* TheShipsList website has Quebec ship arrivals extracted from contemporary newspapers.

You should also check the Ships Passenger Lists to Canada chart for Ships Passenger Lists BEFORE 1865 and Ships Passenger Lists AFTER 1865. It has links to all known online projects with ships passenger lists

One last tip - don't forget that the name you are searching for may be quite different than what you think it should be. Often the name used daily by German ancestors was their middle name, not their formal first baptismal name. But on a ships passenger list, that individual often gave his or her first baptismal name. Also the name you have may be the anglicized name so you will have to find out what the same name is in German. Look for various spellings as well. Remember a clerk might write what he heard (phonetic) and not use what we consider the correct spelling.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sorting Out Family Information on Ancestors

Carrie had previously written about her Babinec ancestor, and I found her genealogy puzzle such an interesting challenge that I asked her for more details. Carrie sent an image of a third hand-written note which I am going to talk about in another blog post as it proved very interesting to puzzle over. This is Part 2 of Carrie's question, heavily edited by me for publication on AskOliveTree. :
I was mixing information. Where I made the mistake was that the hand-written "mess" that was confusing me even worse was on my grandmothers side ...she is a Babinec but the mix-up that she wrote about is on HER side of the family which is PAUZA. I think that I am trying to tackle too much at one time but I keep going back in forth between my grandmothers side and my grandfathers side when I get stuck on one. I believe My grandmother: Alice Babinec wrote these words:

On My Mother's side:
* Great Grandfather Vochner lived in Vine, Austria, 1820 Married Marie Vlcek
On my fathers side:
* Great Grandfather named Pauza married to Smidt.
* My grandmother, Marie Vlcek was of Bohemian descent. Married to Frank Vochner of German descent. He was born in 1850, he was a wagonmaker and cabinet maker. At 65 he went to Germany lived on pension. He died in 1930 at the age of 80 after a short illness.
* My grandfather Frank Pauza, lived in Czechoslovakia. He was Married to Marie Prebel of Bohemian descent.
* My mother was born in Kopicie, May 6th 1880 near the big city of Brix in Czechoslovakia. Came to America in 1905.
* My father was born April 16, 1887 Neudorf-Herlich, Czechoslovakia at age of 12 was apprentice to butcher. At 17, went to Military school in Prague. Stayed 3 years and then went back to Butcher. He came to America in 1904, worked in big meat company in Akron. Worked for Pavelka Bros. co. in Cleveland for many years.

Carrie had a second hand-written note which differed slightly from the one above. She is not sure who wrote it:
* My (the word "Great"was scratched out in pencil) grandfather on mothers side whose name was Vochner lived in Vine, Austria born in 1820. He married Marie Vlchek
* On fathers side, my great grandfathers name was Pauza and great grandmother was named Smidt. They all lived in Czechoslovakia.
* Grandmother Marie Vlchek was of Bohemian descent. She married Frank Vochner of German descent. He was born in 1856 a wagon or cabinet maker when 65 yrs old he went to Germany where he lived on a pension till he died in 1930 at the age of 74. * Grandfather Frank Pauza lived in Czechoslovakia
* Grandmother Pauza was Marie Prebel of Bohemian descent.
* Mother was born in Kogpice on May 6, 1880. she came to America in 1905. Dad was born on April 16, 1877 in Neudorf, Herlich, Czechoslovakia. At the age of 17, he went to military school in Prague trained to be soldier. He came to America in 1904.

Olive Tree Answer: Carrie, how lucky you are to have such a wealth of hand-written details on your family! The notes were obviously written some time ago, and it makes sense that your Grandmother Alice was the writer. I think you've done a good job of trying to make sense of all the genealogy notes handed down in your family.

What I would do is take each of the notes you have, and make separate charts. Don't worry about who wrote each one, just record the information as given, using squares or horizontal lines for each person named. Give them labels (grandparent, great-grandparent) as given in each note.

Then use those charts you have made to research and verify the facts given by the writer(s) of each note. Look for the individuals in census records, ships passenger lists, military records and vital statistics.

After you've done all the research, try combining the notes. Where do they differ? Where are they the same? Again, you're not worrying about who the writer was, just about getting the relationships and details straight.

Be very cautious when hunting for these individuals that you don't leap to a conclusion too soon. I noticed that you were looking on Footnote.comicon for your Pauza ancestors. You left comments on certain records, but I think in your excitement over your finds you overlooked facts that don't fit. I left you a comment on Footnote about one of your notes, as you mistakenly assigned a man as father to one of your Pauza ancestors whose births were only a few years apart.

So go slow, verify each person in the hand-written notes you have on your ancestors. You may be correct when you say that you are mixing yourself up by jumping back and forth from one line to the other. Your genealogy puzzle is very challenging, it will require you to be methodical and force yourself to not get too excited and lose your concentration.

I would also try to verify the place names that are in these family notes. The spelling of course can be incorrect but you should be able to find where these towns/cities/villages are by using Google Earth or a good atlas.

You have some wonderful clues and facts in your notes and I think you're doing a very good job of trying to make sense of them. I will talk later this week about the image you sent me of yet another note about your ancestors which was signed by the person who wrote it. I found it very interesting and hope that what I found will help you in your genealogy search.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Searching for an Ancestor with a common name

Brenda R asked this question:
I have been doing my Irish/English family history for more than 12 years and have got back to my great-grandmother's branch in County Durham England. Her father's name was JOHN JONES (natch) and it has been really a challenge to find out the true JOHN JONES!!!!

The facts I have I got from censii and RC Parish records in Blackhill @ St Mary's Chapel in Co Durham.I don't know his parents names or middle name or Catherine Clark's background. Ok here is my info.Would really appreciate any other facts on John Jones!!

JOHN JONES b. 1830 (circa) in England (I think) possibly in Middlesbrough. abt. 1850 he married: CATHERINE CLARK b. 1833 (circa) in Ireland or England

2 children - ALICE JONES b. 1858 abt, England and MARGARET ANN JONES b.1860 abt England (MY Great grandmother)

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Brenda, I sympathize with your challenge of a commmon name to research. You have checked a lot of sources but have you looked at Free BMD online? Free BMD contains indexes to England's Birth, Marriages and Deaths from 1837 on.

If John and Catherine married in England they should be found there. Finding them in an index means you can then send for their Marriage certificate from GRO (General Register Office). It will have both their father's names and occupations.

You mention you have information on the family from the census records but you don't say what years or locations you have found. If I were you I would systematically hunt for John and Catherine after their marriage in UK Census Records for 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881 at least. Those will give you birth locations and other details.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sometimes We Need to Slow Down and Gather more Facts

Dona wrote:
Sure hope you can help. G-G-grandfather disappeared!! Georg Buechner was born Oct. 3, 1851 in Schondra, Germany. (I have his birth cert.)
He arrived in NY on Jun 21, 1873 (ships list says 1857 but I think this is wrong) from Bremen, Germany aboard the Rhein.(I think this info is true).

He married Mary Ott before 1875 in either NJ or NY. They had four children: George b.4-24-1875, James b.?, Boniface b.abt.1878, and Mary b.? I think they were all born in NJ. About 1889 Georg took off never to be heard from again. Can you help. I'm at my wit's end.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Donna, It looks like you have gathered some information on your ancestor but it's not clear what parts are verified with sources and which parts are not verified (perhaps they are family lore or from contact with other descendants?)

If I were you the first thing I would do is to verify your details. You have your ancestor's birth certificate so start from there.

Find out where he was in each census year available. Finding them in census records should give you places of birth, which is another fact you are not sure of (you say New Jersey or New York)

Verify his arrival on that ships passenger list. I'm not clear what you mean by "...ships list says 1857 but I think this is wrong..." What ships list? Have you found Georg on a ship named Rhein arriving in 1873? Or did you get this immigration information from his naturalization records?

I had a peek in the Ships Passenger Lists online on and I think this is the entry you are referring to:

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
Name: Georg Beckler
Arrival Date: 21 Jun 1873
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1857
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Port of Departure: Bremen, Germany
Destination: United States of America
Place of Origin: Germany
Ethnicity/Race­/Nationality: German
Ship Name: Rhein
Port of Arrival: New York
Line: 8
Microfilm Serial: M237
Microfilm Roll: M237_377
List Number: 608
Port Arrival State: New York
Port Arrival Country: United States

Although his name is indexed as Beckler, it looks to me like Bokler (it is difficult to read). He is shown with Johan, age 57. So if it is your Georg, you may have a father's name. However I would not say this is positively your man without more research.

Because you have so many questions about your ancestors I really think you need to take your research one step at a time. Go slowly and gather the records, think about what clues they are giving you and don't overlook tracing all Georg's children or his wife or his siblings if you find any. Tracing one of them may lead to Georg in later years!

Having given you my advice for further research, I can tell you that I had a very quick look at the databases online on Boniface Buechner is found in the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 so you really need to have a look there. He gives an exact date of birth (11 Jul 1877), a location and other details including his wife's name.

Boniface is also found in later census records in New York. My big question for you would be where is the family in 1880, 1900 and later? I'd start with that, then I'd look for marriages of the children, follow them in later census years. Remember, tracking them down may lead you to Georg.

Don't forget to use wildcards when searching and be creative in spelling of names! For help with this see Using Search Engines to Find Ancestors.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Separating Family Lore from Facts

Carrie asked:
I am having trouble linking my Great Grandfather to His father and further on. I know my grandpa's name is Stephen Babinec (alternate spelling is Babinecz), and that his father is Andrew Babinecz and I also know they came over from Hungary on the Pretoria ship. But for some reason, no matter how hard I try I cannot figure out beyond them. ...the main problem stems from a hand-written note my grandmother (or my great aunt) wrote and the information does not match what I have found. The information that I have found has been taken from official documentation. So, either I am reading the letter/note as being from the wrong person or just completely misunderstanding it. It is possible too that the person who wrote it may have also made a mistake.What is your opinion as to how I can obtain this information?

Olive Tree Answer: Carrie - It's very challenging to try to sort out family lore. Sometimes when we research we discover that family "facts" are actually myth OR they are slightly off OR they refer to some other branch of the family entirely! So if your hand-written note from your grandmother or great-aunt does not contain any sources, I would trust your own research.

For example, my uncle always swore his grandmother Vollick was "born in Elmvale Ontario". He said that was what he overheard as a boy listening to his mother and aunts talk. However my research found that his grandmother was born in Seaforth Ontario (in an entirely different county than Elmvale) BUT the family moved to Elmvale when she was young. So sometimes that family lore has a grain of truth to it and you should never discount it completely without checking further.

If your hand-written note has sources to back up what it says, then I'd track those sources down to verify or disprove what is written.

As for other avenues of research, I see that in the 1920 census on your Stephen's father Andrew says he has his first papers (PA is noted, which means First Papers). Then in 1930 he says he is naturalized (NA is noted) The 1900, 1910 ,1920 and 1930 census identify citizenship status, with notations showing the individual was an Alien (AL), or had started the Naturalization process (PA) or had his final papers (NA).

You may want to hunt for his naturalization records as they may provide an exact birth location and other details. has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

Also since he naturalized after 1906 you should see a notation on the passenger list beside his name, which may guide you to the court where he naturalized. An immigrant who arrived after June 29, 1906 could not naturalize until the government located their immigration record (a passenger list). Petitions (not the Declarations) after 1906 have information that has been verified and matched to an immigration record. A certification of the immigrant's arrival record was a required part of the process and this should be noted beside his name on the passenger manifest.

For a Resource Guide to naturalization records, what you can expect to find, where to find them, and alternate sources of finding those important years (immigration and naturalization) at