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Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding an Ancestor's Civil War Service Record

Claire's Question:
My great-grandfather's (Jeremiah McCarthy) death certificate notes that he was a Civil War army veteran. A letter from my aunt (his granddaughter) many years ago related that as a young man Jeremiah was paid to be a substitute soldier. However, I can find no official proof of his service. I believe he was born (1847 approx) and resided in Bucks County, Pennsylvania prior to the war and in (Hampden County)
Massachusetts thereafter until his death (1920). Some censuses show his place of birth as New Hampshire, but I can find no proof of that
and most of his siblings were born in Pennsylvania. I have been unable to locate any official record of his service, which is needed
in order to have the VA issue a headstone for his gravesite.

Ask Olive Answer
You do not mention whether you have checked for a Civil War pension for Jeremiah. I would try to look it up for you but you did not include his wife's name.

Check the 1890 veterans schedule, if one exists for Jeremiah's location at that time.

Who supplied the information for the death certificate? Was it a knowledgeable family member, or perhaps a neighbor? Does his obituary or those of his children indicate Civil War service?

Look for records of the Hampden County GAR; and in local newspapers in Massachusetts for a mention of Jeremiah as a GAR member. Online newspapers you can check are , or

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting around a Genealogy Roadblock in England

Donna's Question:
In searching my husband's family tree, I've hit a road block at his great-great-great-greatgrandfather, William Jackson. William came here from England, according to the DAR, to fight as a patriot in the Revolutionary War and was born in the early 1750's. They have no other information that would help me trace the tree back in England. No town, or county, or any place to even start, and with a common name like William Jackson, it won't be easy to latch on to the right Jackson roots. What would you suggest I do to get started?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Donna, If you are very fortunate, the English Jackson family was comfortably well off. And William's parent or sibling or Great Uncle Chauncey left a will which bequeathed half the family silver to William. Or perhaps William did right for himself in the Colonies, and he left a little something to his nephew Percival back in England.

There are several hundred years' worth of wills tucked away at the National Archives. Some of them are indexed and available online. There are also very nice Research Guides to help you. Just remember that you will have to search for odd spellings of where William lived, in addition to "America" or "Virginia". You may want to read my article explaining how to use the National Archives website Ordering Documents Online from National Archives in Kew England - a Comedy of Errors Part 1

The newspaper (and patience) is your friend. William's attorney may have sent to England to have a notice appear in the local papers that might have gone something like this.... "William Jackson, late of Little Tripworth by the Sea, having died in Tappahannock Virginia on the 14th ult....." Newspapers here may contain legal notices, or reports of passengers recently arrived. You can try href="" > or for online newspapers.

You say William was born "early 1750s." It would help if you had a more precise birthdate (as well as an exact death date). There are a wealth of English parish records. Some of them are available online. Armed with a birthdate and some idea of location, you can do a credible job of finding suitable candidates for further research.

You did not mention William's wife. Were they married here? Or in England? Where is her family?

Look also to pupil lists at English schools. Men who succeeded in the Colonies sometimes sent their sons to England to be educated. And check incoming passengerlists for William's sons or grandsons returning from England.

Follow the male heirs. In later documents, perhaps obituaries, you might find a mention of "educated at Oxford" or something similar.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finding a Belgium Ancestor

Jane's Question:
My grandmother who we always knew of as Lucie Stiren from Hondelange,Belgium came to the US in 1915 according to census records. I had gotten some information on birth from a relative in Belgium which had her name as Suzanne Lucie. She married Paul Paquet in the US (Michigan) and am told they met here.

I have been unable to find Lucie coming in on any ship and would really like to. He sister came with a gentleman and was listed under his name and her
last name wasn't listed. So I am thinking Lucie could have come with a family or something and I'll never find her? If her last name wasn't listed
was this a common thing or did it just happen that way with her sister.

Anyhow any suggestions as to finding the ship Lucie or Suzanne-Lucie Stiren came on would be appreciated.

Hello Jane,

In the past, I have had some success locating European passengers to Michigan on Canadian passenger lists on I did a quick look for you, but did not find anything evident. You may want to spend some time looking further at Canadian (and Great Lakes) passenger lists.

Escanaba, Delta County, is where Paul and Lucie lived 1915/1930; Escanaba is the county seat for Delta County.Paul states that he has been naturalized. The LDS have films for Delta County Naturalization records, 1867-1955;you may be fortunate and find that Paul included his wife's information. also has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

LDS (and the Delta County Genealogy Society) have newspaper indices from 1909. I did find a number of Belgians in Escanaba; there may have been social notes published in local newspapers (e/g/ "Miss Lucie Stiren was the guest of Mr and Mrs Joseph Bintz this weekend; Miss Stiren is the sister of Mrs. Bintz and she has just arrived here from Belgium.")

I found these census records on
1910 census, delta escanaba Joe Mary Bintz (census taken 14 april) mrried 0 yr mother 1/1 Mary 0 years old

1920 census, Delta Co, Bark River: Joe, Mary, Anna 14, Emil 5, Helen 3, Leona 11 mos

I also found this marriage record:

Groom name: Paul Paquet
Groom age: 36 years
Groom birth year: 1881
Groom birth place: Luxemburg
Bride name: Lucie Stiren
Bride age: 27 years
Bride birth year: 1890
Bride birth place: Belgium
Marriage date: 28 Apr 1917
Marriage place: Escanaba, Delta, Michigan
Father of groom name: Nicholas Poquet
Mother of groom name: Margaret Lieber
Father of bride name: Nick Stiren
Mother of bride name: Madaline Horwick
Film number: 2342720
Digital GS number: 4210010
Image number: 195
Reference number: v 2 p 39 rn 6486
Collection: Michigan Marriages 1868-1925

and this appears to be Lucie's sister:

Groom's name: Joseph Bintz
Groom's age: 37 years
Groom's birth year: 1873
Groom's birthplace: Belgium
Bride's name: Marie Stiren
Bride's age: 27 years
Bride's birth year: 1883
Bride's birthplace: Belgium
Marriage date: 08 Apr 1910
Marriage place: Escanaba, Delta, Michigan
Groom's father's name: Nicholas Bintz
Groom's mother's name: Annie Heisen
Father of bride's name: Nicholas Stiren
Mother of bride's name: Helene Harnich
Film number: 2342688
Digital GS number: 4209131
Image number: 579
Reference number: v 2 p 5 rn 3773
Collection: Michigan Marriages 1868-1925

1917 draft: Paul Paquet May 7 1879 in Lux. wife lucie which I found on

1920 census, Delta Co, Escanaba
Paul (arr 1905)(Naturalized 1906??)
Lucie (arr 1915) ,
Henry 1+

1930 also escanaba
Paul (arr 1916 Naturalized)
Lucie arr 1915
Paul H 11
Nicholas 7
M. Rodolph 5

Friday, November 27, 2009

Looking for Virginia Ancestors

Joan's Question: I am looking for John and Sarah Bennett/ Bennit that had a son named Jehu/ John born in Virginia about 1766.

The 1832 publish date of the family Bible says Jehu was born in 1772, son of John and Sarah. The 1850 census for Baltimore Hundred, Delaware states Jehu was born in 1766 in Virginia. He is in the 1800 census for Baltimore Hundred, Delaware. He got land in 1794 in Baltimore Hundred, Delaware.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Joan - The Virginia Library and the Maryland Archives should be your favorite websites for the next few months. A wealth of material is available online at both locations.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finding out if Balamonte is a Jewish name

Peter's Question:
My dad is Jacob Baiamonte who was born in Palermo, Sicily. My grandmother contends we are Jewish but my father says she
nuts...because we are all Catholics.

I have been DNA tested by FamilyTreeDna (Dr. Bennett Greenspan) in response to my grandmother's allegations...and the results show that grandma was correct...because I have all the genetic markers of the Cohanin and Jewish people.

My question: Where do I go from here? None of the names of my family are typically Jewish names and we have deep roots in Italy. I have the family records back to the late 1600's and all the name are Italian and Catholic. How can I have someone go into the archives of the Cathedral in Palermo and dig farther back...and also check the tax and notary records. I don't know any genealogists there.

Ask Olive Answer Hello Peter - That's an interesting bit of family lore. There are quite a large number of Jewish families in Italy who have been required by circumstances to outwardly adopt other religions.

As you have family records "back to the 1600s" you should be able to find evidence of this, if it exists: adult baptisms, or civil registrations for births and marriages. If your information indicates Catholic records all the way back, then your quest for your Jewish origins will be a difficult one. Many records were destroyed during World War II; those few Jewish records which survived are now held in Israel.

The JewishGen organization has many resources which might help you, including the Jewish Family Finder. There you will be able to search by surname and by location.

The LDS has films of civil registrations for the Palermo area from 1820 to 1908 for births, marriages and deaths; some years are indexed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Question about Children of Peace

Beverly's Question:
My husband's family were Children of Peace. Both from the Willson and Doane families. I was looking for a list of those imprisoned during the rebellions. Is there such a thing

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Beverly, I must point out that your query would have been better had you explained what "Children of the Peace" was or is. It would also have been very helpful to know the country (USA? Canada? Europe?) where the Children of Peace were found. Last but not least, not being familiar with this group or the time frame when they were active, I've no idea of what rebellions you are referring to, nor the time period you want.

Normally I would not go on a hunt to find out details which could (should) have been included in the original query. But this is a good time to remind readers of how to write a good query - remember the Ws! Who, Where, When (Names, Locations, Dates) . That is the minimum information that should be present in every query sent out.

For my readers, Children of the Peace were former Quakers who established a community in the village of Hope (now called Sharon) in York, Upper Canada (present day Ontario Canada) about a hundred and eighty years ago.

As it turns out, there is still a museum and the museum has a number of publications for sale. You can find more at this archive site.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Death Records can help prove relationships

George & Jenny's Question:
My gggranfather eLemuel Dawson b. abt 1827 OH, d. 20 May 1890 buried Maple Grove Cemetery Berrien Co., MI.
Quit claim deeds with the following names.
Starting with the 1850 census of Sarah Dawson 47 PA widow, in
Kankaee,La Porte Co IN

Group #5
Enoch & Permelia Dawson—Richland, Richland Co Wis.
Daniel & Elizabeth Dawson—Berrien Co Mich

Group # 6
Elemuel & Matilda Dawson—Berrien Co Mich
Milly A & Greenburg King—Berrien Co Mich
Mathias & Elizabeth Dawson—Clinton Co IN
By their attorney in fact of Berrien Co Mich--Daniel Dawson
All the people who purchased this land have Dawson connections
Sold by group 5 to George Dawson Feb 17 1884 Book 10 54/116
Sold by group 6 to Mary Ann Miller Feb 26 1884 Book 10 54/118
Sold by group 6 to Ella G Dawson Feb 26 1884 Book 10 54/119
Ones that was a bit different
Sold by Dawson (Benjamin, Lemuel, Ewell, Millie) to Ella Dawson 5 April 1884
stating they were heirs of Ewell Dawson Book 10 54/115
And going back to 1851 when there is another quit claim deed that involves
most of the Dawson siblings… there is this one…
Sold by Enoch Dawson, Uel Dawson Lemuel & Angeline Dawson, to James C
Cunningham on June 16 1851 Book2W/467-468

I beleive Sarah was eLemuel's mother, but have NO idea who her husband was?

Ask Olive Answer George & Jenny - You know that Lemuel (or is it Elemuel?) Dawson was buried in Michigan in 1890. Have you located the relevant census records for him? It is difficult for me to tell if you have.

It appears very tempting to assign Enoch, Daniel, Matthias, etc as siblings based on those quit claims, but further proof is required. There are a number of historical newspapers online which may have carried an obituary for Lemuel; and for his wife, if you know who she is and when she died. I suggest you try Newspaper Archives or GenealogyBank for their newspapers. Search Obituaries in or

The Berrien County Genealogical Society may also be able to assist. Tracing Lemuel and his wife through census and marriage records may lead to other connections with the individuals listed in those deeds. Have you looked for obituaries, death records or burial records for those potential siblings?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to do when searching online records fails

Cornelia's Question (one of several):
Jonathan L. Hudson b. 1814-1816 Reading, Berks, PA m. 12 Oct 1848 Wayne Co., Michigan Charlotte Ransom d. 7 Jan 1876 Trenton, Wayne, MI. I know he was a chaplain in the civil war, but his claim to have been in Andersonville cannot be proved from online indexes.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello again Cornelia - Not all genealogy records are online and that means not all genealogy research can be done online. You must be prepared to slog through OFFline resources - microfilm, books, etc. Since you have not found your ancestor in online records of Andersonville Prison, it's time to do your research the old-fashioned way - offline.

NARA holds records for Civil War Prisioners of War. They are called Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners. The records found in Record Group 249 include records relating to the parole of Federal prisoners, records of prisoners held in Confederate prisons including Andersonville, records of Confederate prisoners of war held in Union prisons, and records of claims filed by Union prisoners of war.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finding an ancestor who was MIA

Roberta's Question:
Hi, hoping you can help. My great aunt's husband was in WW2 and was killed. She got a telegram saying he was dead. But I can't find his death and she said no one ever told her where he was buried. Can you help? His name was Jimmy Cunningham

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Roberta. I think your best bet is to check the online World War two MIA (Service Personnel Not Recovered Following World War II) and Service Personnel Buried at Sea During World War II for your great uncle. Be sure to check under the name James, as Jimmy would be your family's nickname for him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding a Scotland Location

Jamie's Question:
My grandmother always said that her father was from Eagerness and that he came to USA from Scotland. I can't find Eagerness on any maps. What do I do now?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Jamie - is it possible that Eagerness is really Eggerness in Wigtownshire?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Looking for a town in Germany

Sally's Question:
My 4great grandmother came to America in 1876 as a young girl from Bohemia or Prussia. The country of origin on one census is Bohemia, and on the other census I have for her she says she is from Prussia. We have a letter in the family which says that "Emil has gone back to Nicholasburg" I have looked all over Germany and Bohemia and cant find anything that sounds like Nicholasburg. Where can I look?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Sally, The best way to find a town in Eastern Europe is through the JewishGen Town Finder. This is not just for Jewish families. Being curious I had a look and my search there turned up Mikulov in Moravia, German name Nikolsburg. Moravia (Morven, Moldau) was part of Czecholaovakia (Bohemia) and of the Austro Hungarian Empire.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Looking for a Civil War Soldier's Death

Elizabeth's Question:
Perhaps you could help me. My great-great-grandfather was George Backman a Civil War soldier. The family farm was in Palmer in Pennsylvania but I can't find him there. I know that he was living after 1880 but I loose [sic] track of him after that. His daughter married a Wilson (my line)

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Elizabeth - There is an obituary in the AccessPA necrology database for a George Bachman of Easton Pennsylvania, which mentions a daughter Mrs James Wilson.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown Answer Part 2

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown Response, Part 2. See Part 1 of Barbara's answer (published Nov. 13/09) to Marcia's challenging question

You state that you do not know James' first wife's name. That should be among the first goals for your research. You know the names of his children by that first wife, we know that Elizabeth lived until 1847. Find the death information for Elizabeth, and perhaps you will discover her mother's name. Do the same for her siblings. See the Ancestor Death Record Finder for help with finding death records.

Armed with a name for James' first wife, you can then look for their marriage. Church records may have parents' names or the names of witnesses. Witnesses are often (but not always) related and offer another avenue of research for you. Marriage bonds are usually good pointers to older male relatives (but of course, not always). Of significant help in finding early parents are, surprisingly, brothers-in-law. For example, there may be several James Baggotts, but only one has a sister Hermione who is married to a Saul Leffingwell.

When you find [e.g.] Saul and Hermione Leffingwell selling a piece of land to James Beggit of Ohio as "distribution of estate" you have a probable winner....And once you have collected the in-law names, you can look through Virginia wills & estates records and find like-named devisees to point the way to earlier generations. You may want to see Ancestor Marriage Record Finder for help finding marriage records.

You have James' date and location of death. Have you looked for probate records? Or obituaries? From the 1850 / 1860 census, it looks as though the children of the second marriage were all born in Ohio. I used the census records on but these are now coming online on Footnote,comicon too.

When did James and Mary marry? Are there cemetery indices for that county James lived in at the time of his 2nd marriage? Are there female Baggots buried there who died before James' second marriage (and after the birth of Martha the youngest child of the first marriage)?

You have so many opportunities for new knowledge about this family. I hope that you enjoy the process.

And I know that you will be successful. While I was writing this response to your query, I did a bit of looking about. I followed William and George and Martha and James P Baggott. And there is quite a bit to be found, and a large number of descendants for your James Baggott. And a little gift: write Lorine at (replace AT with @) and she will give you the details. Martha Baggott married quite well; she was still living in 1900 in New York, replete with many servants. As she was active in the social scene there, I am sure that you will be able to find a glowing obituary for her, as well as very extensive estate papers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown Answer Part 1

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown tackles this challenging query, in a 2-part response.

Marcia's Question:
I would be very grateful if you could give me an idea as to how to find information on my great-great grandfather's father/mother, and even further back, if possible.

James was born in Fredericksburg, VA, in 1791. He was a participant in the War of 1812. He died in Osborn (now Fairborn) Ohio in January of 1863. He had three brothers:

1. William, born in Fredericksburg, VA, December 25, 1798
2. George
3. John

I don't know his first wife's name, but you printed a letter from his daughter, Elizabeth, entitled, "Letter to Mrs. Eliza Thornton, Alamucha P.O., Lauderdale County, Mississippi, form Elizabeth Baggott, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, March 14, 1847." Thanks for that!

James and his first wife had four children:

1. Elizabeth, born April 6, 1826.
2. William
3. George
4. Martha Ann

In the letter, Elizabeth says, "Father is married again." His second wife was Mary Caylor who died in May of 1877. They had six children:

Oliver Perry (my great-grandfather, who fought in the Civil War. I have a copy of his diaries). He was born in Montgomery County (near Dayton), Ohio on September 1, 1840, and died on October 14, 1906, in Anna, IL.

Josephine Boneparte

Charles L. who died March 02, 1898. He is buried in Murphysboro, IL.

Martin VanBuren, born January 30, 1837, died in Cobden, IL.

James K. Polk Baggott

Virginia Helen Baggott

There is this Spotslylania County, VA, will of 1773 with the same names as my ancestors (John, James, George). I suspect they're relatives, but how do I make the connection?

Will: John Baggott, Spotsylvania Co, VA (1773) [Edited]Names wife Margarett Baggot, daughter Ellinor Baggott , four sons as follows: John Baggott, James Baggott, Thomas Bagott, & George Baggott wife Margarett Baggott & James Went Executors
third day of April 1773. John Baggott (seal)
Thomas Ruseley
William Hopson
Nicholas Smyth
Source: Library of Virginia,Spotsylvania Co, VA Will Book E 1772-1798Reel 28, pages 185-186

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown responds: Dear Marcia,

It is tempting to jump upon a surname associated with familiar family forenames in the hopes that you have made a multi-generational leap in your quest. And the James Baggot who left a will in 1773 may indeed be one of your forebears. But proving it will take a bit more buttressing of facts before we can declare it to be true.

I have a number of Virginia resources to hand and I can tell you that there are quite a few Baggott families in the area at the time your James would have been there.

In order to move confidently from one generation to the next, we need to build a framework. That frame holds every fact we know about an individual, and if something or someone looks promising, we can know at a glance if we are on the right track. The structure gives us an orientation in place and time.

The letter from Elizabeth Baggott to her aunt Eliza Thornton which Lorine posted on her website Past Voices: Letters Home gave you a wonderful starting point. Rarely do genealogists come across such a valuable document.

Elizabeth listed her siblings and their ages, named her father's second wife, named other relatives in Mississippi and Virginia. And there is an implied bit of information as well: Elizabeth complains that she has not ever heard from her grandmother. Which means that one of Elizabeth's grandmother's lived to at least 1830s, when Elizabeth would have been old enough to be aware of such a deprivation.

Before you can confidently look for James' ancestors, you need to fill in all the details for James, his wives and children.

For example, fill in the details on James' children, when each of them were born. Follow the children from the first marriage: they may well have clues to offer about James and his first wife. They may be found living with or near other relatives; they may have left a will naming cousins or aunts; they may have a long a detailed obituary. You can Search Obituaries in or

Where is James in 1820, 1830, 1840?

You state that James participated in the War of 1812. Did he draw a pension?

You do not mention how you know that James had siblings William, George and John, so I will accept for the moment that you have family documents which state that. Have you followed those brothers? They might have lived longer than James, may have left a will or (if you are most fortunate) lived in a locale which had informative death records, and a fully-informed supplier of information who reported their deaths.
The wills may mention "My nephew Oliver" or "My niece Mary Smith nee Baggott, daughter of my eldest brother James." Those death records, if you are lucky may give parents names. And they may have lived in an area where newspapers dutifully reported every social event, and spent much time researching and composing fitting tributes in the form of obituaries.

Every day, more and more early newspapers are brought online, indexed and presented in convenient fashion. But we must have pinned down the relevant locales first. be continued tomorrow

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown

Ask Olive Tree is very honoured to have Guest Genealogist Barbara Brown this month. Barbara started researching her own family more than thirty years ago, while she pursued a corporate career in data processing. Eventually, this hobby became a full-time calling.

She has taught at LDS wards and stake conferences, and at local libraries, and she has taken on a number of private students. While researching for others, she discovered the NGS Bulletin Board system in 1990, which soon led to other online genealogy societies.

Her articles have appeared in a number of e-zines including Olive Tree Genealogy. You can count on Barbara to find the most elusive ancestors even when you are sure that you have hit the proverbial brick-wall!

Barbara tackles a very intriguing and challenging question for Ask Olive Tree, so please check back tomorrow for her response to Marcia's Question.

From Canada to Australia - Finding a Ships Passenger List

Fred's Question:
I am trying to find how my Gfather Charles Hayes came to Australia form Canada in 1906 ,we have been told a lot different stories,it appears he married in Newcastle sometime in 1906.His death papers stated that in 1915 when he died he had been in Australia 9 years,he had 3 children in Australia as my gmother was born Newcastle area. my Gfathers date of birth according to his death papers was 1880 and born in Toronto, papers stated that his father was William Hayes and mother May A Cleary. Any help or direction would be greatly appreceated by all 11 of us and our offspring.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Fred - It seems you have some good clues to go on, although you have to remember that the death papers may not be accurate. The information in them was not given by your grandfather (the deceased) and depending who the informant was, and how much they knew about your grandfather, will indicate how valid the details might be.

Having said that, you will want to use the 1906 year as a starting point for your search for immigration records. Allow a few years either side to be safe. Of course if you could find his marriage to your grandmother, you could narrow the timeframe! Have you searched the Index to Births, Marriages & Deaths for New South Wales for marriages resources? You didn't provide me with Charles' wife's name so I can't say if any of the 3 hits I got are for your grandfather.

I should also point out that it is easy to forget that the person you are asking for help may not be familiar with the local geography, but it's very important to provided all location details. For example I have no idea where Newcastle Australia is, but I needed to know to direct you to the correct area for BDM. I wasn't going to go hunting but decided this was a good opportunity to give readers a little reminder that you should never make the person helping you work harder than necessary! A search online provided me with the fact that Newcastle is in New South Wales District but it would have saved me time if that information were provided to me.

But back to finding a ships passenger list - you will either need to find a ship outbound from Canada or inbound to Australia from 1904-1908. The online UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 on Ancestry also show ship arrivals in Australia so they may be worth a search. There is also the New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 I also like Cora's Web for finding what is available in online ships passenger lists to Australia.

There are also the online Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954 which might help indicate when your grandfather arrived in Australia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding Catholic Records in Ontario

RMC asked:
Cameron: Albert Alexander, b. 1837 in "Ontario," likely. Married 1869 in Catholic service to Minnie O'Toole in Guelph. Moved to SLC, Utah, prior to 1875. Any idea how one might find his parents' names. They both immigrated from Scotland, according to census records. Thank you!

Olive Tree Answer: Hello RMC. You provided your private email and requested a response to it, but the purpose of the AskOliveTree Blog is to publish queries and my answers on it for all genealogists to read. It is my hope that the Q & A will help more than one researcher!

Since your family were Catholic in Guelph, you may wish to write to Church of Our Lady (in Guelph) and request a lookup of Albert and Minnie's marriage. The research fee used to be $15.00 per hour. Just address your letter to the Secretary, Church of Our Lady, 28 Norfolk St. Guelph, ON N1H 4H8, Canada

You can also contact them using their online email form

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New York to Canada - Finding the Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Genealogist Kathryn Lake of LOOKING4ANCESTORS responds: Greetings Myra,

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

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

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

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

Good luck in your research.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Using Wildcards to Find an Ancestor in Online Search Engines

Peter's Question:
I am the archivist at Marlborough School in Los Angeles. For some research I am doing, I am interested in an 1874 and an 1875 passenger list.

Mary Deering sailed from Quebec to Londonderry (Liverpool) aboard the Sarmatian on June 24 (?) of 1874. Mary Deering returned to Quebec in June of 1875; however I do not know the name of the ship; I do know that the return voyage was several days (June 5, 1875?) after the Vicksburg was hit by icebergs, so I suspect that the date was early June in 1975. [sic]

I have searched the internet, but cannot find a passenger list for the June 1874 Sarmatian nor for the June 1875 return date above. I am interested in receiving a copy of passenger lists for both.

Mary Deering was not an immigrant; she was an American citizen from Maine. Thanks for any help or suggestions you can provide.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Peter, You have not said how you know that Mary Deering was on board a ship named Sarmation which sailed in June 1874. I would advise against looking for a ship with that name and sailing on that date unless you have absolute proof. Even if you have something like a diary that Mary wrote, it would not be absolute proof, as people mix up ship names or get dates wrong. If you have something written long after the event, remember that memories are often hazy. If someone other than Mary provided the details, then you are getting even further from a reliable source.

In any case, I had a quick look in Canadian Passenger Lists on and I see that there is a Miss Deering arriving in Quebec on 8 June 1875 on board the Nova Scotian. This passenger was born ca 1851 but since you did not provide a date of birth for your Mary Deering, I've no way of knowing if this is a possibility.

In any case I suggest you search for your Miss Deering using wildcards to allow for deviant spellings and without a first name. Use other facts such as her age, year of arrival and so on. Ancestry, for example, allows the use of a wildcard (*) after the first 3 letters of a name. That wildcard will replace up to 5 following letters.

It also allows the use of a wildcard (?) to replace one specific letter, so searching for DE?RING would bring up Deering and Dearing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Finding a Ships Passenger List arriving New York 1871

Jan's Question:
I am looking for a ships' record for my G-Grandfather, Frederick Quitzo (Friedrich Quitzow), DOB abt. 1862 in Mecklenberg, Germany. He apparently arrived New York, 1871. His father was also Friedrich. I believe his mother's name was Elizabeth (nee Schuldt), who may have been a widow. She later remarried in America, a Ludwig Ziesch (or Wesch). Can you help?
Olive Tree Answer:

Hello Jan - Incoming Ships Passenger Lists for New York arrivals are online at You can also use Steve Morse's One Step Search Engine to search for ships in this time period and location.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Problems with early New York Ships Passenger Lists

Cornelia's Question (one of several she asked)
Johannes Weyrauch b. abt 1785 of Scheichen, Rhine Pfalz (old Bavaria) or Alsace m. bef 1814 Germany/Alsace Mary (surname unknown) d. 1848 of Centre Co., Pennsylvania said to arrive in America on 15 May 1831 in New York (naturalization online at USGenWeb Centre Co., PA) not found in Passengers Arriving in New York 1830-1835. unless his surname's been severely mistranscribed

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Cornelia - One of the problems you are having is that the 1830s New York arrivals are missing many records. It is not that they have been missed in transcribing and indexing, it is that they are lost. There are very few that have been found and thus very few are online. My own English ancestors fell into this time and location. I have documents stating that they arrrived in New York in 1831 but they are not on any of the available lists. What I did (and I suggest you do this too) is to browse page by page every single surviving ships passenger list. I used but you can order microfilm or check other online resources.

Another way to make sure you have not missed anything is to use wildcards in your search. Wildcards allow you to replace letters and thus ensure that you have checked variant spellings of a surname. So if you are looking for Johannes Weyrauch on, you can search for Joh* (which will pick up John as well as Johannes) and Wey* which will find all surnames starting with those 3 letters. Then try Way* to cover all your bases.