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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FInding out if a ship sailed in a certain year

Marie asked this question:
Did the SS Elbe have a 1881 passenger list to the United States from Bremer. My Grandfather and Grandmother came to America, supposedly on the Elbe, for their Honeymoon in 1881. The only passengers list I can find start in 1882 - 1885.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Marie. This is where I wish you had given me the names of your grandparents. I could have had a bit of a search for them. You also don't say what your source is for their arrival in 1881. If it is family lore or a census record, be cautious in taking it as a correct year. The year of immigration is one of the most MISremembered years of all! So always add a year or two on either side and in this case, search 1880-1882.

As for your question re the Elbe sailing in 1881, you can check this by going to and browsing through their list of ship arrivals that year. Since you didn't tell me what the port of arrival was, I can't check this for you.

However I did go into New York Arrivals and have a quick look for the Elbe in 1881 and it is there with many sailings that year from Bremen, Germany and Southampton, England. I'm not sure where you were looking but it may be time to go back to your search.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Finding out what newspapers exist in different locations

Gini asked
I would like to find out how you find out the name of newspapers in a certain city or state. I would like to search newspapers but do not know the names of them. My Ancestors were from Owensboro and Breckinridge and many other different parts of Kentucky. Many of those newspapers of course are no longer in circulation and I live in California and have just recently learned of Kentucky relatives. One of the cities was a very small city, Patesville. I have put off looking because I am not sure where to start.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Gini, there are different ways to find out if Patesville or other Kentucky areas had a newspaper which has accessible records. One is to go to the various online newspaper sites and check their list of Kentucky newspapers.

You can try, and first.

You can also go to the Kentucky GenWeb site to see if there is a list (by county) of available newspapers. Also try FamilySearch Catalogue to see what they have on microfilm. The University of Kentucky also has a list of newspapers they hold.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Finding Answers in Naturalization Records

Olav asked
Still currently researching my grand uncle, Berger Andrew Martinsen (Social Security No. 451-22-6033), Searching for information regarding a wife or possible descendants of Berger Andrew Martinsen. He was borned in Norway October 29, 1893, was a seaman all his life. He became an US citizent aprox 1942, and he lived on Fulton st,Brooklym and leter on Church Street, Massapequa, Nassau County, New York and died 0ctober 1. 1979. He was the son of Harald and Petra Martinussen of Bergen, Norway. Searching for ANY information regarding his grave and maybe who was mentioned around his funeral We have been looking for descendents and /or caretakers for a long time.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Olav, I know how frustrating it can be to hunt for an ancestor or a relative without much luck. So I'm pleased to tell you there is good news! Both and icon have Berger's Naturalization Petition online. These are the full petition so you will find information on his family - wife and children, when he sailed to USA, what ship he was on, where he sailed from and so on. He petitioned for Naturalization in 1928.

Ancestry has him indexed as Martinson and the image is in their World Archives Project. Footnote has him indexed as Martinsen so be aware of the differences if you use one of their links. You can also check microfilm (details are below) if you prefer.

Name: Berger Andreas Martinson
Age: 34
Naturalization Date: 9 Aug 1928
Former Nationality: Norway
Record Type: Petition for Naturalization
Court Type: District Court
Court: (Rolls 0579-0612) Petition No. 134215 - Petition No. 142460
Court Location: Southern District, New York
Naturalization Record Number: 139457
Roll Description: (Roll 0274) Petition No. 54368 - Petition No. 54646
Archive Series: M1972
State: New York

You will also find Berger in the U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards for 1942 and sailing as a crew member on many ships lists on

You may want to check newspapers for an obituary for Berger, as it may give the location of his burial site. You can search Obituaries on or use to hunt for an obituary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Find War of 1812 Records for an Ancestor

Carol asked
My problem is the origins in Ireland of my 2nd great-grandfather, Richard FERGUSON. Various census records and his land grant for Broken Front 19 on the Grand River in Waterloo County give a birth of 1784-1787 in Ireland. The land grant petition in January 1816 says he was a member of the Flank Company 2d Regiment of the York Militia and fought at the Battle of Queenston. It also says he had been in the country 6 years when he applied for the grant and that he was a native of Ireland.

I would like to find his militia enlistment papers, if possible, to see if they can give me any clue as to where in Ireland he was born. He was C of E on all the census records which is a small help, I am really stupid when it comes to negotiating the Archives of Canada catalog and search engine. I just cannot seem to fathom all those "bundles" and other numbers

Hi Carol, Don't feel stupid about not understanding the Archives system. It can be very confusing! Try to clear your head and remember that their use of such terms as "bundles" is a label. It is simply their way of organizing and labelling the original bits of paper and documents. So even if you don't understand how they have organized or labelled the records, you can just write down exactly what it is you want, then ask an Archivist how to find it.

For the War of 1812, it's a bit tricky. The records are not in one place, and not complete. But there are many assorted records and you will just have to search out each one in hopes of finding something for your ancestor. It is unlikely you will find his enlistment papers but you never know exactly what will turn up!

I think your best bet is to start at War of 1812 pages on my site. Scroll down the page (it's quite far down!) to the chart titled War of 1812 with columns labelled Type of Record - Location of Record - Ordering Information - Comments

Als, Collections Canada website is invaluable! You want War of 1812 - a reader's guide. Have fun and I hope you find more on your War of 1812 ancestor

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Obtain Complete Details from an index-only database

M. R. asked
I am trying to figure out if the birth record that I found on and listed below could be my great uncle's (Morris Yudin/Judin) or one of his brother's (Sam/Shamer, Abraham/Abram, Israel/Yrael) because the year is approximately right. (according to Morris's marriage certificate he was born in 1877) I believe the family was originally from Sharkovshchina (the American pronunciation of the family's original home was "Sharkoytzin" according to my uncle), part of the former Empire of Russia in the late 19th C., but present day in Belarus. I just found out that the father's name for the above men was Yehuda Leib Judin/Yudin (Lewis/Louis in English) and the mother's maiden name was Malka (Mollie) Shapiro (I don't know the Russian equivalent of Shapiro).

I would like to know:

1. Would a child born in one location have a birth registered in a location about 115 miles away at that time?

2. more information about that particular index entry, ie child's first name, parents name's, etc.

3. What is "Yehuda"?? the first name, the patronym or something else? On naturalization records/marriage records the father's name was only listed as Leib, but family just told me about the "yehuda" part, although there was an illegible word on a ship manifest before the word, Leib (you commented on this in a June 3 response, Tips on reading handwriting in old documents)

Thank you again for your help.
Jewish Gem

Belarus: Mogilev Male Birth Index, 1862-1893
about Yudin
Last Name: Yudin
Father: Leiba
Birth Year: 1879
Index: 248

Olive Tree Answer: Hello again! As always you have written a very concise and easy to follow query, so I thank you! I have left your query intact but am only going to answer questions #1 & #2 today.

Re #1 - The short answer is "yes". Anything is possible. The couple may have taken their newborn child to visit family and then decided to register the birth. There could be any number of reasons why a child's birth might be registered some distance from its home.

Re #2 - Whenever you find a database, whether it is online or in a book or on microfilm, always read the Source Information. Sometimes this is in the preface or at the end of the database. You have to look around for it but somewhere there should be an explanation of what the database contains, and how you can obtain full details if it is an index.

In this case if you go to and use their Card Catalogue to get to the specific search page for Belarus: Mogilev Male Birth Index, 1862-1893 you will find your answer. Under the search box, there is a paragraph titled Source Information, then a paragraph titled About Belarus: Mogilev Male Birth Index, 1862-1893 and lastly this statement

Where to go from here:
For more information about this database, please visit the JewishGen website:
Mogilev Birth Index for Boys, 1864-1894
There is a clickable link to the website and a very complete explanation of how to obtain the full birth record. Please keep us informed as to how your search is progressing!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A reader responds to question about Australian Ships Passenger Lists

Followup to Naomi's question about Australian Ships Passenger Lists, kindly sent by Mike. Thank you Mike!

From the National Archives of Australia:

Free passage from England to the Commonwealth - Fiancee of Ex/Lieut W R B Edgar, 13th Battalion Miss Florence Thomas, Miss Marie Cittermann, Mrs H Hawker, Mary Devon and to Sydney Miss Catherine Oliver Heatherleigh, Miss Dallas Katheline Wort, Miss Avice Allyss, Miss Doris Crockett, Miss C M Cooper

There's no more information on line but a copy can be requested of the record - my experience this takes 3 to 4 weeks.


Mike Murray and Lesley Silvester
East Fremantle
Western Australia

Tel 08 9339 8078
Fax 08 9339 0519

British and Australian genealogical and historical research,education, publishing and film-making

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Reader Asks where the Canadian census images on Ancestry come from

David asked about Ancestry Canadian Census Images
I wonder if I might ask whether the noted images are on Ancestry's site or on that of the Government of Canada?

Hi David - That's a good question. If you go to and click on each census year (1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1916) you will find information about each set of records. It is under the specific census search box and is titled "Source Information"

For example under the 1871 Census Canada, the information is given as "Images reproduced by courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada"

1851 and 1861 census says "Data imaged from Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada" That sounds to me like the images are pulled directly from LAC (Library & Archives Canada) website.

1881 census says "Images reproduced by courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada."

So it appears from the statements above that some census years may be housed on Ancestry's serve with permission of LAC and that others are pulled directly from LAC's server. However -- a visit to and their information on the Canadian Census database states "Original images of the Canadian censuses are held at LAC." This statement seems to indicate that all the images are on LAC's server and displayed on Ancestry with LAC's permission.

It's an intriguing question but I think the only way to get a defiinitive answer is to write to and ask them

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finding an Australian Ships Passenger List

Noami asked:
My Mother Dallas Kathleen Wort born 7th February 1897 in Warwick left UK to come to Australia to Marry my Father Evelyn Thomas Pepper who was in the Australian Army. she travelled on the SS Bahia Castillo via Panama Canal. I have a copy of the Christmas Day breakfast menu but cannot find her on any passenger lists. Could you please help.

Hi Naomi, it was not clear to me exactly what you wanted to find about your mother from your first email so I was very glad to see this second one arrive in my inbox a few minutes later!

Here are a few websites that may help you in your search:

Passenger records for South Australian ports prior to 1941 are held by State Records of South Australia. The Adelaide office holds microfilm copies of passenger lists for several Australian ports. If you click on the link in the sentence above you can read what ports or arrival are available.

I would also check Cora Num's Immigration into Australia: Online Indexes and Passenger Lists to find what is available online.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Larry aks:
Where can I search and locate names/dates of ships arriving in Maryland prior to 1800? My 6GF arrived from Ireland/Scotland and landed somewhere in Maryland.

Name: William YOUNG, wife Mary White
Born: About 1715-1720
Married: Prior to 1743

Location: Arrived in Maryland. (First place of known residency is Elkton/Head of Elk, Maryland. I tried this website, internet, and the book, they Came in Ships. Willaim was a Scot and settled on the northern border of Ireland before coming to America. Later the family moved to Franklin County, Lancaster County, and Mercer COunty, PA by 1800-1810.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Larry, Those are early years for ships manifests. Ships Passenger Lists to USA did not have to be archived until 1820 so it is hit and miss as to whether or not you will find one before that date. The book They Came in Ships is very thorough and if there were no ideas there for you, you may have to accept that there simply are no ships lists that have survived for the time and place you need.

You can try Ships Passenger Lists to Maryland Before 1820 for alternate ideas such as using Tax Records, etc. and to see what is available online

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Find a Loyalist Ancestor

Colleen's question:
My husband's grandmother Elizabeth Jane CUNNINGHAM was born in Rainham, Haldimand, Ontario, Canada in 1835. Her father was George B., CUNNIGHAM , b.1802. in Selkirk. His father was George CUNNINGHAM; mother unknown.

1. Is George (the first ) married to Mary SITTS?
2. Were the CUNNINGHAM's loyalists?

I have consulted members of the family; "The Story of Mary Sitts.,"Frontiersmen of New York, Volume 2","the Original Settlers of Haldimand", census sheets, and "United Empire Loyalists". among others. Everyone who writesseems to indicate that Mary Sitts is the ancestoress. That doesn't seem to fit.
Olive Tree Answer: Hello Colleen - Let's tackle Question #2 - where the Cunningham's Loyalists? There is no one list of Loyalists, and it is a
misconception to think that there is.

There were lists of approved Loyalists, but there was more than one, they are all different in varying ways, and no one list is considered the final word.

For example the Crown Lands Department created lists of Loyalists based on various sources. This is the Crown Lands (aka Old UEL List). It contains approximately 6,000 names but only about half are qualified UEL.

The Executive Council devised a different list from various district rolls. This lists is called the Executive Council UE List. This list, considered more accurate than the Old UEL List, contains about 3,000 names but is *not* complete.

*Both* these lists, which were first drawn up in the 1790s, have been altered since they were written. The important thing to remember is that when/if you consult
these lists, a negative result (your ancestor's name doesnot appear) does not necessarily mean he is not a qualified Loyalist!

That is why you must search ALL records. The first place I look for a possible Loyalist ancestor is in the land records, for Loyalists and their families were granted land in accordance with their military rank and dependants.

CLRI (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants from sales of Crown Land, from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants.

UCLP are the actual Petitions for land which were submitted in Upper Canada (Ontario) . They frequently contain information about the petitioner and his or her family. Loyalists and discharged soldiers often mentioned the regiment in which they served.

Land Books are basically a summary of land grants. They
rarely contain more info than name, date and location. Sometimes they have little gems in the comment section. But they're helpful because if you can't find a petition in the UCLP it may be in the Land Book so at least you have some
record of the event.

I took a quick look on your behalf and I see that George Cunningham is recorded in Land Book "C" on June 17, 1797 as living on Lot 10, Concession 1 in Haldimand Township. You can check Abstract Indexes to Deeds to find out how George obtained the land - was it a grant? Did he purchase it?

I always start with the UCLP because it is indexed (UCLP Index) *and* if your ancestor is found, you may be lucky enough to find a wealth of genealogical information in his/her petition(s) for land grants.

After thoroughly searching the UCLP (and being very creative with spellling!!), I move on to the other sources,leaving no stone unturned.

You can also consult the following offline sources

- Haldimand Papers - papers and correspondence of Haldimand, Sir Frederick from 1758-1784

- Loyalist Claims and Conversion List, 1790-1837 - Audit Office 12 and 13

- The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons & Daughters of the American Loyalists (Caveat: Reid's work must not be considered the final say - it isn't.But it's a great place to look for clues, and he does include that all important OC date if there is one )

- District Loyalist Rolls

- United Empire Loyalist Lists

All of these sources are fully explained on Finding a Loyalist Ancestor You will also find the microfilm reel numbers (if applicable) and location of each source.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finding a Ships Passenger List to USA in 1880

Gold asks:
I believe my gf, Christian Rau, b ca Nov. 1861 in Germany, came to USA Aug 1880 on the P Caland. Is the manifest for this ship on the internet?
If not, is there a way for me to obtain a copy of the manifest.Apparently the manifest is available at the FHL Roll 029593 and archives Series M237, Roll 429, but can't get to archives & difficult to get to a FHC.

Olive Tree Answer: Ships Passenger Lists to USA are available online on They are indexed and names of passengers are linked to the actual manifest image.

You can also order a copy of the image from NARA

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finding a Newspaper Article

Katharine writes to ask
I would like to locate a newspaper item from "The Thorold Post" in Canada. The paper's name came from Paul Hutchinson's Niagara Newspaper Index.The article I hope to find is shown on the list as:

tp 1879 05 30 4 1 sad accident {samuel barnes, geo. barnes, death}

Samuel Barnes is my late husband's great grandfather and geo. barnes is
Samuel's 1st child.I would appreciate your help as to where I should research next.

Olive Tree Answer:
Katharine, it's always exciting to find mention of an ancestor in an index isn't it? But the question always arises as to what is the next step. I have not seen the source you mention (Paul Hutchinson's Niagara Newspaper Index) so cannot say for certain, but it is unlikely that Mr. Hutchinson did not also have a section showing how to obtain a full copy of any record found in the index. Usually websites or books have a section at the front or back which explains where the full record is, and how researchers can access it.

Have you looked at LAC's list of available newspapers for Thorold? They may have details on how to access this newspaper for the year you want

You can contact Niagara Falls Public Library to ask about obtaining that specific article, I believe that NFPL or another in the Niagara area has the newspapers on microfilm

Have you written to the Thorold Public Library? Have a peek at their website, their list of collections is online

Archives of Ontario has a section of their website devoted to Newspaper Sources called Inventory L 23 Original and microfilmed newspaper collections in the Archives of Ontario (pdf file, 800K) The microfilm copies are not available on Interloan so if you find the Thorold Post there you will have to visit the Archives in person or have someone obtain the record on your behalf.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Re Swedish Ships to Newfoundland

Arlene asks:
Re Swedish Ships to Newfoundland. I am researching a Nils Nelson , a native of Sweden , born circa 1853. Nils was a sailor. Nils was married in St. John's Newfoundland in 1879 at St. Thomas's Church to an Elizabeth Frampton . Nils died a few years (3-4) after their marriage . How would I go about
searching to find out more about Nils ? I no nothing more than Nils was called Nickloas .

Olive Tree Answer: Arlene, It wasn't clear to me exactly WHAT you want to know about Nils - his arrival on a ship? His life while he was married? More about his death?

Since I'm not sure what you are specifically hoping to find, here are a few general suggestions:

You may want to have a look at Finding Ancestors on Ships Passenger Lists to Newfoundland. If your Nils was a sailor you may find you need crews' lists rather than actual passenger lists.

Have you gone to Newfoundland GenWeb to find out what types of genealogy records exist for Newfoundland in the time period you need?

Those would be the first two places I would try. Best of luck!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How to Find an Early Ontario Ancestor

Janice writes to ask
I am stumped. I cannot find the origin (poss. USA) or father of myancestor John Knapp b. abt 1784 and d. 1851.Kingston twp, ONT
He married Mary Knight d/o Mahlon Knight U.E.L. of Kingston, ON.Marriage date of John and Mary was July 15, 1807 Kingston.Their children were Mahlon, Rachel, Peter, Rhoda, John.

John Knapp Sr. apparently had a sister Mary Knapp b. 1788 who marriedMary Knight's brother Jonathan Knight Feb 22, 1809.DNA testing indicates that these Knapp's are from the Nicholas Knappline, but parentage and place of birth of John has eluded many
searchers for years.Connecting this Ontario Knapp to other Ontario Knapp's has also eluded us.Any suggestions
?Olive Tree Answer:

Janice, My suggestion is you go back to Mary Knight and John Knapp and dig deeply. For example, do you have Mary's OIC (Orders in Council)? Have you looked to see if she submitted a petition for her rightful land claims as DUE (Daughter of a Loyalist)? Petitions often contain a wealth of genealogical information. Have you checked the various Loyalist resources to find out if John was a Loyalist? What about UCLP (Upper Canada Land Petitions) - did John submit a petition for land? Have you looked in the CLRI to see if he was a first time purchaser of Crown Land? Have you checked Abstract Indexes to Deeds for John (or Mary's) land? You need an exact location - Lot, Concession, Township and County to check the AItoD.

What about Township papers? Upper Canada Sundries? I would personally check all these records carefully for both John and Mary. You may also want to have a look at early tax or assessment records for the area.

I'd also check on John's possible sister Mary who married Mary Knight's brother Jonathan. Find out everything you can on them! If Mary is a sister, this is a perfect time to follow the earlier advice on Olive Tree Genealogy blog about searching siblings to find out more information about family and ancestors of a direct ancestor!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Guest Genealogist Brian Massey Answers Question about WW1 records

Jim asked:
I received my great-grandfathers Canadian service records but was disappointed that the records did not tell me anything about what battles he was in. It says he was in the 102nd battalion in 1917 and 1918 but that’s all. I want to know more about his time in the army. Are their more records for me to get.

Guest Genealogist Brian Massey Answers

Hi Jim - The quick answer to your question is - No. There are no more personnel records for you to get. But all is not lost. You may be able to get some idea of what your Great Grandfather would have experienced if you are willing to do a little research.

For the most part the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought closely together or all as one Corps. This is especially true in the last 2 years of World War 1. So what this means is that if the Canadian Army was in a battle and it was after the time your Great Grandfather was taken on strength in the 102nd (meaning when he joined that unit in the field – such as France or Belgium) then you can make the assumption that he was at least close enough to the battle to have seen some interesting sights. However you can’t assume he was in the actual fighting as in battle some units are held in reserve, and units can miss out on the fighting for other reasons.

The next thing to do is find as much as you can about the the 102nd Canadian Battalion for the time period that your ancestor was in it, in this case 1917~1918. The 102nd formed part of the 11th Brigade of the 4th Canadian Division. The 4th Canadian Division was the last Canadian Division formed during the war. There was going to be a Fifth Division but the casualties were so high in the first four Divisions that Canada had to use the men to replace the losses. You can view a list of Battalions at CANADIAN INFANTRY BATTALIONS

What this means to you is that when you consult a book or look on a website you don’t have to just look for the 102nd Battalion. You can look for the 4th Canadian Division or the 11th Brigade and you know that your ancestor was there. For example the 4th Canadian Division fought at the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

The next thing to do is take a look at the War Diaries online. It is unlikely that your ancestor is mentioned by name but it is possible. These diaries will give you a much more detailed look at the day to day activities of the 102nd.

There is also a published history of the 102nd battalion, From B.C. to Baisieux Being the Narrative History of the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion It is available on and you might be able to find it elsewhere. I have not seen it but I am sure it would give you some great insight into what you ancestor would have experienced.

It is also important to look at the service records that you received carefully as they often contain interesting info or clues that people overlook. See if you ancestor was granted any leave. Sometimes soldiers on leave missed exciting events. Also look for hospital visits. This was another reason a soldier might miss a battle.

Hope this helps in your search.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Guest Genealogist & Historian Brian Massey is very honoured to have Brian Massey’s expertise as Guest Genealogist and Historian this week to respond to a submitted question about WW1.

Brian is a WW1 buff and collector and extremely knowledgeable in military history. He has created two military websites – The Canadian Military Heritage Project and The Great War Homepage which focuses on World War 1.

Brian is also an avid genealogist and the creator and webmaster of which specializes in death records. Brian has the largest database of searchable coffin plates online. There are over 400 Coffin plates containing the name of the deceased, as well as birth and death dates, on Brian also has a companion Ancestors At Rest blog

Brian volunteers as host for several Ontario GenWeb sites – Victoria County, Ontario Conty and Norfolk County. He is also a member of the Ireland Genealogical Project (IGP) and is the webmaster and host for the following IGP websites: County Wicklow , County Louth and County Meath

Brian also manages to find time to volunteer as host and webmaster for the USGenWeb Cleburne County Arkansas. He also created and oversees two Facebook Genealogy Groups - Pioneers Of St. Marys, Perth County Ontario 1840~1860 and Descendants of the Massey Family of County Wicklow Ireland

Tomorrow Brian's response to a submitter WW1 question will be posted.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jacques Van Slyke's Death - Murder or Natural Causes?

Don asked:
I'm trying to determine the cause of death of your ancestor Jacques Van Slyke in late 1690. I have reason to believe he might have been murdered. You need not go into a lengthy response as I am an avid student of that time and its Schenectady inhabitants. I have scoured most other sources for this information already. Being a descendant, you may have deeper knowledge of the massacre and any part your ancestors played in it after the fact.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Don, What a fascinating question you have posed!

When I wrote my book 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, the only reference I found to Jacques' death was as follows and is noted in my book:

Jacques Cornelissen Van Slyke was at Albany on May 18, 1690

"lying....sick abed" [Source: Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady New York 1669 - 1710 by Thomas E. Burke Jr. 1991:199]

Jacques may have been sick the previous fall,but he testified against Robert Livingston on 1 April 1690 and was not noted as being in ill health at that time. He also traveled, apparently back to the Netherlands and home to Albany prior to May 1690. However he died soon after, having made his will on the 8th day of May 1690Source: The Van Slyke Family in America....

Yates states that Jacques died of pulmonary disease, but does not give his source for this. Jacques' will begins

"In the name of God, Amen. Know all men whom it may concern, that on this eighteenth of May anno sixteen hundred and ninety, at Albany, being in the second year of the reign of William and Mary, King and Queen of Great Britain, Jaques Comelisse van Slyck, residing at Schennechtady, lying here in the city aforesaid Sick abed....."

I'm very curious about your statement that Jacques may have been murdered and hope you will share whatever you found.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tips on Reading Handwriting on Old Documents

M.R. asked:
I am trying to read information about Abram Judin on the ship manifest of the "Lapland", leaving Antwerp and arriving in N.Y. on Feb. 19, 1912 (line 22), but am having some difficulty.:

1. Abram lists his father's(my gr.grandfather's)name as "________ Leib Judin". I know my gr. grandfather's name was Leib (or some version of that) but evidently there is another name or word in front of "Leib" that I can't read.

2.I also can't read the place of origin (my uncle said Abram and his brothers came from "Sharkoysin" which may be modern day Sharkovshchina, but I'm not positive).

3.Also, is Abram a "sailor" or a "tailor"???

Hello M.R. Reading these old documents can be very challenging! Looking at the 1912 Lapland manifest on it is difficult to read but there are some tricks we can use to help determine words. First, look for letter formations in words you do recognize.

Let's take your question #3 Tailor versus Sailor It is difficult at first glance to tell if this is an upper case "S" or "T".

But if we look further down the manifest page we see the occupation "Seamstress" for several passengers. We can immediately see that the S in Seamstress is not the same as the first letter in your Abram's occupation. The S in Seamstress has a nice full loop. There are other examples of how this person makes his upper case "S" if you wish to have a look at the manifest. The start of Abram's occupation does not have the nice full loop and it has a "squiggle" at the base. It is a very sharp straight line - the lower case "t". You can view several other men on this manifest with the same occupation word. Thus we can say the word is most likely Tailor.

However we can seek more proof by checking his occupation in a census - have you found him in 1920 or 1930? I use but you can also order census in to a local Family History Center, or view it through some libraries. You should look for a familiar word starting with "T" on this manifest - you may have to look on other pages but with any luck you will find one. Compare the "T" to the occupation word for Abram. I suspect you will find they are identical formations

Re Question 1: The word in front of Leib's name is a relationship word. If you check other passengers you can see such words as "wife, Mother, father" in front of the name of the person who was "nearest relative or friend" from the place the passenger left. (This is what is asked for in that column) Most of the relationship words are fairly easy to read - wife, mother, father, brother.

The word father

But the word in front of the name Leib Judin is not easy. I believe it is not the word "father" Compare the two words on the page. Their letter formations are not the same. There are other instances where this word is used on this page but it is a bit of a puzzler.

The unknown word

My suggestion is that you take that one word and save it as a graphic. Trace it on paper so you can see the letter formations clearly. Now look carefully through the manifest for other words that have those letter formations. For example, is the first letter a "P"? If you start with that as a theory I would look for other familiar words that start with the same letter. Compare the letter formations and shapes of the recognizable letter and the first letter of the unknown relationship word.

Do they look the same? Different? This will take you some time but with patience you should be able to figure it out. I followed my own advice and elimated upper case P as the letter - but perhaps it is lower case p? The other relationship words on this page appear to all start with lower case letters so it is most likely that this unknown word also begins with lower case.

As for question #2 I'm not familiar with Russian place names and identifying each letter of the town or village would take some time. I would suggest doing the same comparison as with the occupation and the unknown relationship word. Copy the name as an image. Trace it carefully. Compare one letter at a time with other familiar words on the manifest. In time you will no doubt have a very good idea of what it says.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Help Finding an Ancestor's Death in United Kingdom

Linda asks:
my Great grandmother, Johanna nee Mullins married name Costa, born 1867, in UK , married Samuel Abraham Costa, 1888, had my grandmother 1888 DEC 26Th. Samuel got married in 1893 again, saying he was a widower, but can not find any death dates for Johanna. married in st James church 1888, lived at one time bethnal green, stepney and whitechapel in London UK, can you solve this puzzle thank you for trying too.

Olive Tree Answer Hi Linda, I wonder if you have found your Johanna Costa (nee Mullins) in the 1891 census for England? If you have, then you know she died between 1891 and 1893, which narrows your timeline for hunting quite a bit. If you found Samuel but without Johanna, then you know she died between 1888 and 1891.

Next, I would search the indexes to Vital Statistics for United Kingdom online. has free indexes online for Deaths in the UK after 1839 but you can also use Free BMD. FreeBMD is an ongoing project to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. As they complete their transcriptions they turn them over to There is no charge for using the indexes at either site.

If you find a birth, marriage or death record for an ancestor, you can order the certificates online at General Register Office for England and Wales online ordering service.

Remember too that Johanna is one of those names that can be found in a variety of ways! Ann, Anna,Hannah, Johanne are the most common ways to find it recorded. So don't overlook those spellings when searching for your ancestor. Having said that, there is a Hannah Costa found in the death records indexes during the time period you specified. Take a peek and see if you think she might be your ancestor.

You might also like to read Ancestor Death Record Finder which might help researchers figure out where to find these records, from the rather obvious places to the more obscure.