Viewing Tip

If you see a large "X" at the top right of Ask Olive Tree Genealogy blog, click on the "X" to close it. Closing the "X" will give you the best viewing experience and allow you to leave a comment on a blog post

Monday, August 31, 2009

Finding a Ships Passenger List circa 1640s to New Netherland (New York)

Carolyn's Question:
How do I access info regarding my early Dutch ancestor in New Amsterdam 1642, specifically what ship he came on from Holland? His name was Sybout Syboutszen, later changed to Krankeit/Kronkheit/etc. then to Cronkhite /Conk /Cronk /Conkwright etc.

Olive Tree Answer: Carolyn, I'm glad you asked this question! It gives me an opportunity to explain about ships passenger lists to New Netherland (present day New York) before 1664. Briefly, the known names of passengers on board ships to New Netherland before 1664 are taken from the DEBIT side of the WIC (West Indies Company) account book. . That is, the lists that are known to exist only contain the names of passengers who OWED money for the voyage. The names from the CREDIT side, that is, those who paid before the ship sailed, are not known. These lists are published online at Ships to New Netherland

This is a favourite subject of mine and a few years ago I began a project to reconstruct the names of passengers on board the known ships that sailed from Holland to New Netherland. There are several sources that can be used to determine the names of other passengers - namely

  1. Abstracts from Notarial Documents in the Amsterdam Archives by Pim Nieuwenhuis published in New Netherland Connections in series Vol. 4:3,4; Vol. 5:1-3

  2. Early Immigrants to New Netherland 1657-1664 from The Documentary History of New York

  3. Settlers of Rensselaerswyck 1630-1658 in Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts

  4. E. B. O'Callaghan's Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany NY

  5. New World Immigrants: List of Passengers 1654 to 1664 edited by Michael Tepper

  6. Emigrants to New Netherland by Rosalie Fellows Bailey, , NYGBR; vol 94 no 4 pp 193-200

  7. De Scheepvaart en handel van de Nederlandse Republiek op Nieuw-Nederland 1609-1675 unpublished thesis by Jaap Jacobs

  8. The records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674

The first ship with names of passengers that is known to exist is the Eendracht in 1624. My project to reconstruct passenger names is found here It includes the prevoiusly published lists of names from the DEBIT side of the WIC Account books. If your ancestor's name is not found there, it is not available. There may be other Notarial documents in the Amsterdam Archives that will still turn up bearing more names, but at the present time, no new names have been discovered.

For records of New Amsterdam specifically, you can consult the online records of the New Amsterdam (New York City) Reformed Dutch Church. You will find Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam/New York -- Baptisms 1639 to 1801 and Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam/New York -- Marriages 1639 to 1801 online. Also freely available are the Membership Lists of the Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam (New York) 1649-1701

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Voter's Lists Abbreviations

Nat asked this question on a mailing list and I responded. Hoping my answer helps others, I am posting the Q and A here as well:

I'm hoping someone can decode the acronyms I'm encountering on the 1891 North Crosby Voter's list. Most make sense other then the column for "Qualification". I'm presuming it relates to the property ownership.

I have one relative listed as "M.F. and Tenant" and the other listed as "M.F. and F.S." These relatives were brothers and living on the same property. Most of the
other people on the page are listed as "M.F. and Owner"

Olive Tree Answer: That's a great question Nat.

Books and other resources almost always have an explanation either in the front, or the back, of the abbreviations used. Unfortunately Ancestry has not included the first pages of the Voters Lists which would provide abbreviations and their meanings.

I took a look at the Internet Archives and searched their texts for VOTERS LIST ONTARIO. I chose a list for London Ontario for 1895 and on the first page is a list of abbreviations used.

m f = manhood franchise

Here is the page where that is found

f s is not given that year so it would mean searching another voters list to find out what that means. One Voter's List from an earlier year provided a meaning of "Farmer's Son" but I cannot say if this is correct for the year you want.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Obtaining a Copy of Social Security Card Application when SSN is not known

Carolyn's Questions:
My grandfather, who emigrated from Ireland in 1900 disappeared from the family, but undoubtedly remained living in Bronx, NY. So far, I’ve been unable to locate his death record in NYC and family history indicates he is probably buried on Hart’s Island (Potter’s Field). I always thought he probably did not have a social security account and I’m pretty sure he was never naturalized, but recently discovered (draft registration record in 1942 at age 60) he was employed in 1942 in NYC and guess he DID have to be enrolled. Can you suggest how I can find those records? I know the SSDI only goes back to the 1960’s.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Carolyn, you say you are "pretty sure" your grandfather didn't naturalize. Since you know he was alive in 1942, you should be able to find him on census records for 1930, 1920, and 1910 (after you say he disappeared from the family) The 1900, 1910 ,1920 and 1930 census identify citizenship status, with notations showing the individual was an Alien, or had started the Naturalization process or had his final papers.

I use for Census Records but has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

To find your grandfather's Social Security details, you may want to request a copy of his Original Application for Social Security Card (Form SS-5). There is a fee and when the SSN is not known, the fee is slightly more ($29.00 at the present time). There is an online form at Guide to FOIA Requests

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Finding an ancestor on a Ships Passenger List in 1906

Arnold's Question:
My Great-Uncle Ralph Marovitch traveled to Quebec, Canada from Latvia allegedly in 1906. I have a document, that my great-uncle received from the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1923, that someone has hand written on the side that my great-uncle arrived in Quebec in October of 1906 on a ship of the Allen Line. There are at least 11 different variations of the surname that my great-uncle could have used on his passenger-ship manifest; Maerovitz, Mairowitz, marovitch, Marovitz, Meirovitch, Meyeroniz, Meyerovitch, Meyerovitz, Mayrowitch, Meyerowitz and Myerovitz. There are at least two other variations of his given name that he could have used; Ralf and Raphael.

I have already used the databases for both the LAC and with no luck! I even tried searching through the passenger ship manifest, from the LAC database, for many of the ship's of the Allen Line that arrived in Quebec in 1906. However, many of these passenger-ship manifest are damaged and very difficult to read!

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Arnold. You have quite a challenge given the variety of spellings for your great uncle's names. However you can use wildcards to help or you can eliminate his names and use other details - year of birth (which you did not provide in your email), birth location and so on. I do not know where he settled in Canada as you did not provide that detail but you may want to find Ralph in the 1911 census.

I had a scurry around the 'net to find more details on him (luckily you posted information on anothre site) and I am sure that he is the man found as "M. R. Marowitz" born August 1885 in Russia, occupation Chef with wife Minnie and daughter Sarah in the 1911 census for Montreal Quebec. He does state that he immigrated in 1906 but you can't trust that completely, as immigration years are often mis-remembered. So it's wise to add a couple of years on either side when searching.

I used for the census record for 1911 but you can also seach AutomatedGenealogy

Did Ralph naturalize? If he did, you mght want to search the online Naturalization Records at LAC Be sure to use their wildcard feature to search for the names.

These may all help you find Ralph on a Ships Passenger List. You may also want to extend your search to the American ports of arrival if you cannot find him on a Canadian list.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finding an ancestor when you have very little information

Margaret's Questions:
How does one find an ancestor when you don't have much to go on. eg... Fernande Pradier, emmigrated from France, 1911-1920. Born in the Southern part of France, to a white mother and a black father. Only know there was one brother, (don't even know name). She put an add in La Press, a French newspaper, stating, "looking to come to Canada, and get married". My ancestor noticed the add, contacted her, paid her way to Canada, met her in Edmonton, got married the same day, and went back to Legal Alberta. The Person she married in Edmonton was Emile Jaques Rochat The only thing I find on Ancestry, is what I put on my private file. I've looked on Canadaian Archives, to no avail..What am I not doing that I should be.?? This really is mind boggeling

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Margaret. You didn't give me years of birth (even approximate years is helpful) and I'm not sure from your email if you want to find information on Fernande in France, or in Alberta.

However, here is what I would do if I were you - you should be able to narrow that timeline for Fernande's arrival in Canada. You haven't told me what year she and Emile married but you will want to search the 1916 Census for Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. If Emile is still single, then likely Fernande had not yet arrived. If he's married to her, even better as that will give you more clues (years of birth etc)

Have you searched Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 for Emile and Fernande? I had a quick look but without some years of birth I have no way of knowing if this is the right person. There is an Emil Rochat age 28 arriving with his family (looks like mother, brother and brother's wife and children) in 1910 on Corinthian. They are heading to Edmonton Alberta. He is also found in Swiss Overseas Emigration 1910-1953 database found on This database gives precise locations of the emigrating individual's home village.

If this is your Emile then you should find him the 1911 Canadian Census. Check to see if Fernande is with him.

A good census substitute is The National Registration File of 1940. This was the registration of all people 16 years of age or olde, from 1940 to 1946. There is a great deal of information on this Registration. This is another way to find an ancestor in that time period.

Statistics Canada holds these records and for a fee they will search on your behalf. See the explanation and an online order form at the URL above. Also, have you checked to see if Emile or Fernande naturalized? A new Version of the Canadian Naturalization 1915-1932 Database is available as of July 22, 2009 at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Being curious I had a quick look and Emile is there naturalizing as are many members of his family.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Finding Private Grimes

Denise's question:
I am looking for a Private H Grimes who was a part of the 79th Cameron Highlandes of Canada in WW1. He wrote to his cousin (my g aunt) in 1915 stating that he was about to be shipped to the front. I would like to find his war records. Can you suggest where I might look.

Olive Tree Answer: Denise you are in luck. The CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) database is searchable online. There you can search for your Private Grimes, and view his Attestation Papers.

These are only the tip of the iceberg however! To see his full file, you must send for the records from LAC (Library & Archives Canada) for a very reasonable fee. You do this right on the website where you search. Just choose SEARCH HELP and then How to order a copy of a complete service file

To search other WW1 databases, see The Canadian Military Heritage Project and click on World War One.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Newcomer Asks Question about Immigration Inconsistencies

Genevieve asked:
Based on info from the 1930 census, I've searched's access to immigration records for my grandparents. When I find one that matches year of arrival, age doesn't match. If I find one for age, marital status might not match. Is there anyway to check complete birth date or spouses name (if they traveled separately) to ensure I have the right person? Thanks for considering my questions. I'm new at this, but having so much fun learning.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Genevieve, I know you had 3 questions but I"m only going to deal with one in this post. Your questions are very good, and it's really nice to see a newcomer thinking about the records and what the data means.

First, don't pin too much weight on an immigration year given in a census record. It is one of the most MIS-remembered years of all, and you should always look a couple of years on either side of any date given. The same is true for birth years - these can be off by several years on either side, and you will find inconsistencies even from one census year to the next.

You might want to also check naturalization records if your grandparents naturalized. Depending when they arrived in the country, their naturalization papers may have been verified and matched to an actual ships passenger list. See for more help understanding (and finding) naturalization records as they are a very good source of information to help you find that immigration record. Also has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

You can also find more immigration and citizenship dates in other census years. The 1900, 1910 ,1920 and 1930 census identify citizenship
status, with notations showing the individual was an Alien, or had started the Naturalization process or had his final papers. These are great clues to help narrow the time frame for finding the records! I like for census records, but you may have another favourite place to search those records.

As for checking other facts from the ship manifest, that is not possible. Whatever is recorded on the manifest is all that there is. Depending when the individual(s) arrived, the data on will differ, with some years being far more detailed than others. You didn't give me your grandparents' names or ethnic origin or approximate year of arrival so I can't be very specific in trying to help you but I hope this answer will lead you to other clues.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Finding an Elusive Ancestor in Census Records

Barbara asked
Lorine, you were the first first person who helped me years ago when all this send me your Burkholder ancestral info and that got me started. When I teach my "internet research" classes, I always include your site, as I consider among the "experts" in this field.Thank you for all you do for all of us.

I have a great grandmother who was born in Newcastle, England. Her mother died in the 1840s and she lived with her father and his new wife. Then her father died and she lived with her stepmother and is found with them in the 1851 in England. She is no longer there in the 1861 of England

Then she married my great grandfather Morris Collins in Cooksville, Ontario in 1863. I desperately want to find her in the 1861 of that area and been unable to do that. Her birth surname is found on the marriage record, so I don't think she took on a different surname when she came over. I even transcribed the entire 1861 Census of Toronto Township for the Ontario Census project...hoping to find her there somewhere. There is no Elizabeth Hays/Hayes, single, born England in the that census, nor can I find her in the transcription done by Ancestry, but as a transcriber, I had a number of pages that had unreadable entries. Perhaps the 1861 done by the Archives had better luck.

I wondered if there might be some other kind of record there in Ontario that I could search to find her. I have written up her story and just want so much to add where and when she came over into Ontario and with whom....or am I being unrealistic. Several years ago I found the number of a microfilm that contained the marriages from the Methodist Church there where they were married and got it on loan from my library through the inter-library loan service. There was no info on that film. I would be so grateful if you would give this some consideration and advise me if there is another available record that might be available.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Barbara, it's clear you have done a lot of good research on your ancestor! Sadly the 1861 census for Ontario has problems, including missing areas, and it is possible your Elizabeth was living where there is no existing census. Have you tried using wildcards and using only her first name (no last name), approximate year of birth and location of birth in the census search? The problem with the last name HAY(E)S is that the letter H can be misread for M or other incorrect letters. So you can't use wildcards for the surname if you are searching on

Also I see that Morris is in Emily, Victoria Co., Ontario in the 1861 census so you may want to look there page by page to see if your Elizabeth is hiding in that area :-)

It's also possible she was still in England in 1861 and didn't arrive in Ontario until after the 1861 Ontario census was taken. She may even conceivably have missed both the England and the Ontario census that year, perhaps she was in transit - have you checked for the exact dates when each country's census was taken?

I think your best bet is to search forward from her marriage - if Elizabeth was alive in 1901 and is on the census, she should give the number of years she was in Canada. That can't be taken as absolutely correct but it will help you narrow the timeline for her immigration. Also her death record should show how many years she lived in Ontario.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding Relationship between 2 Families

Marcia asked
I've tried finding the realtionship of Alfred Feinberg to my husband's family. Alfred was a well known artist and medical illustrator. We aren't sure if he is a great uncle or a cousin. I have contacted the Guggenheim Museum in NY City and they directed me to an article about him in the NY Times. I ddin't find any info that would show the link to our family. My mother-in-law was a Feinberg by birth. Her father was Louis Feinberg.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Marcia. You didn't give me any dates or locations for your family but I can advise you re steps you should take.

First, you must research each family - that of your mother-in-law, and that of Alfred Feinberg. Search all siblings and keep going backwards. With each new generation you find, be sure you find out complete family groups (siblings etc).

I don't know when Alfred lived so perhaps you will have to come down his line to meet up with your mother-in-law's? Or perhaps you will have to further back to find a common ancestor. But there is no shortcut other than researching each family completely in order to see if there is a connection, and how they connect.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Guest Genealogist Kathryn Lake Answers a Query

Bernadette asked
Hello folks, I need some "real" help.. I've searched several years, for my g g grandfather, Cornelius Mastin (masten) Born in NY in the late 1700's ... There are many,, but the one I need to find, is the one who
came to Canada before 1818. His wife was Caroline - or similar,, no surname.. His son Ichabod, was born in Ontario 1818. He had a brother - Minard. (younger) There must have been a Cornelius, and a Rebecca, I have Ichabod's family,, and wife etc. It's just the one section I need."Cornelius and Caroline "and their children .

Guest Genealogist Kathryn Lake of LOOKING4ANCESTORS responds:

Greetings Bernadette,

Researching ancestors in the early 1800’s in Ontario can be very tricky. Ontario at that time was known as Upper Canada. This time period can be quite challenging for family history researchers as records are few and far between. This will require you as a researcher to do some hard work. I would recommend you start at the Archives of Ontario website. Go to the website and read the on-line research guides and tools. Land records, petitions for land, as well as wills and probate records may provide the information you are looking for.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Guest Genealogist Kathryn Lake

Kathryn Lake is the founder and owner of LOOKING4ANCESTORS, the genealogical speaking and research company she founded in 2007 to assist others with their family histories.

Known for her dynamic, humorous and informative presentations, Kathryn is a Canadian and English research specialist in both the on-line and real world genealogy communities

Kathryn has graciously agreed to respond to a query on tomorrow's AskOliveTree blog. Thank you Kathryn for giving your time and epertise to us!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Preserving a Paper Genealogy Document

Dear Olive Tree:

I have the birth certificate from my grandmother dated 1900. It had been folded for years and when I opened it the paper came apart at the folds.

What could I use to piece it back together? I thought of Scotch tape but wanted to ask before I did anything.

Thank you,
Claudia S

Olive Tree Answer: Claudia, how wonderful that you have such a precious document! I guess you've realized that these papers should never be folded, because they will eventually come apart.

One school of thought is that to repair a torn or ripped document, you should use an archival, transparent document mending tape. Do not use cellophane (scotch) tape.

However, the Library of Congress disagrees and states "If a paper item becomes damaged, place it in a folder and contact a paper conservator, who can provide the treatment needed. Avoid using pressure-sensitive tapes (including those called "archival") as they can cause irreversible disfigurement, embrittlement of paper and alteration of inks.."

Personally I would immediately scan the document even though it is torn. Place it
gently together as best you can and scan it as a .tif file. That way you have at least preserved the important facts! Depending how important the document is to you, and how irreplaceable, only you can decide if you want to try the archival tape method or hire a conservator.

The Library of Congress has information on paper preservation

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Understanding a Ships Passenger List

Ruth asked

As suggested by you, in a July email, I went onto ANCESTRY & found some of my ALLISON Family. However, the copy is of poor quality, & so far I have gleaned:

(R ) L ALLISON joiner ......?.. County Antrim Vancouver .?...
John ALLISON labourer " " "
Elizabeth ALLISON nil " "

3 Irish listed. NO sign of Joseph? Ship: Lake Erie 18 Oct. Montreal Quebec T 481 from Liverpool aka BEAVER

I am puzzled re the top left ...?...ed States Steerage.Looks like most were going to the US on a Norwegian ship? Wonder who paid the passage for my unemployed family?I wonder if you are able to clear a few queries up re the blanks or illegible parts?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Ruth, I appreciate your sending me the image you were asking about but I went to and had a look at the full passenger list for Steamer Lake Erie. You may have noticed that your page of interest is listed as Image 6 of 14. It's always a good idea to look at the first page of any manifest (ships passenger list) for more detail. A check of page one reveals some interesting notes about the non-Canadians who had no family or friends meeting them.

It also shows that the first 5 pages are the lists of Canadians who were returning to Canada. So your names apparently are on the list of non-Canadians who are arriving.

I am not sure where you found the "aka Beaver" but a look through the entire manifest reveals the ship had only one name - the Steamer Lake Erie sailing from Liverpool to Montreal and Quebec. It was part of the Beaver Line, is that where the confusion lies? The Beaver Line was originally part of the Canadian Steamship Line so I am not sure where you saw that it was a Norwegian ship. It was Canadian! In March 1903 it was taken over by the Canadian Pacific line of ships.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Using Circumstantial Evidence to Support a Genealogy Theory

Bob asked
Ancestry. Com has on all the Colgate and Welsh sites that Nancy Welsh is the Daughter of Asaph Colegate. She was born in Huntingdon County Pa. as was her husband. Asaph was living there Both families came to the same area in WV. In the 1850 census Nancy Welsh 60 and Asaph Colegate 85 were in the same household. Nancy names one of her children Rosanna. Asaph's wife's name was Rosanna. Where can I find her name anywhere that shows she is his daughter? The 1800, 1810 census do not show the children's names. He was in the Revolution. Have documentation of that.

Olive Tree Answer: Bob, it sounds like you've done quite a bit of research on your ancestors. You haven't mentioned though if you have looked for documents such as wills, obituaries and other items that might name Nancy as a relative.

Also, have you looked for known children of Asaph? If you can find Nancy sponsoring one of their children at a baptism, or living near them, or witnessing a marriage, you will have more evidence to support the notion that Nancy was Asaph's daughter.

You already have some good circumstantial evidence pointing to a relationship - the naming pattern of Nancy's children; Asaph living with her in his old age... Sometimes we hit a point in our research where all we can do is outline all the documentation we have that supports a theory. It is okay to suggest that Nancy was Asaph's daughter, and present the proof (circumstantial but strong!) that supports your suggestion.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finding an ancestor's employment history

Laurel asked
My ancestor worked for the CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) in the early part of the 1900s. Is there any way I can find out more about him during that time?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Laurel. You may be in luck because the CIBC website has an Archives section for their employees who served in World War 1 and World War 11.

In 1920, The Canadian Bank of Commerce published Letters From the Front, Being a Record of the Part Played by Officers of the Bank in the Great War, 1914 - 1919. This two-volume commemorative set began as a series of eleven pamphlets, published between August 1915 and January 1919, which included letters from bank employees on active duty. There are a few names you can view online but you can write to the Archives at to ask about your ancestor. You will receive all the information that the bank has on file.

The Canadian Bank of Commerce also published a book after World War II to commemorate those who served. The War Service Records, 1939 - 1945 was published in 1947. It included staff profiles and anecdotes of banking life during wartime.

There are also staff profiles as well as letters sent from the front.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Response to Question: What Does CWF Mean in 1851 Canada Census

Posted by Lisa in Ontario Canada Genealogy I set up on GenealogyWise. I answered Lisa and decided to publish my response here too as I think it may help others

In the 1851 Census of Ontario, my ggg father is listed being born in CW which I know is Canada West. But what does CWF mean?

Reply by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
There is an "F" used in the 1851 census in the birth place column but it refers to the person being born of Canadian parents. So if you see CW F it means born in Canada West of Canadian parents.

See Questions Asked on 1851 Canadian Census for more help

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to Prove an Inherited Family Tree That Has No Sources

Greg asked:
Does anyone know of the VanSicle family starting with Andrew D, who married Elizabeth Kirts? He was born 11-6-1865, and Elizabeth June 24, 1879. Most lived in Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota. I am working from a typed family tree starting with the Keartz/Kirtz families in Luxembourg. It was started by Father F.X. Miller from Knox ND, and must have been finished by someone else, as it does his date of birth.
I have this from my Mother, daughter of Annnie Kirz and Robert Kendall.I welcome any help.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Greg. Since you are working from a completed tree without sources you may want to start at square one. That is, start with yourself (if you are the last person on the tree) or your parents or grandparents and work backwards. Prove each generation through birth, marriage, death. obituaries and census records.

You can search Obituaries on You may find it helpful to use the free Ancestor Birth Record Finder, Ancestor Marriage Record Finder and Ancestor Death Record Finder. I like for census searches.

When (or if) you finally get to Andrew, you should be able to find him in quite a few census records, including 1870 with his parents and 1880 (probably still with his family). By using census you will have places of birth and you may even find other relatives in the same household.