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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Trying to Link Two Family Trees

Question from Rachel:
My 2nd grand great uncle was George B Burland b 23 May 1829 Loggan Wexford Ireland d 22 May 1907 Los Angeles California m Clarissa Cochrane b 29 Aug 1827 Ireland d 24 Dec 1890 Emmanuel, Montreal Quebec Canada. I bought a copy of A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography edited by Geo Maclean Rose 1888 pg 441-443. In the paragraph or two about George B Burland the article states that George B is related to Sir John Burland and through him to the de Burlands of Steying 1335. I did find a tree of the 1335 de Burland's but cannot get past Sir John and his family. Do you know how I could link the two families? My Canadian Burland cousins have been trying to do this for years...but to no avail. If you have even a hint of what next. The Burland that ends our tree for now and many years is John I Burland b 1720 Ireland d 1801 Ireland m Martha Sherwood b1719 Ireland d 1795 Wexford Ireland.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Rachel - the only way to link two family trees is to independently verify them and then research either UP or DOWN.

In other words, if you are stuck on your ancestor John Burland born 1720 Ireland, switch over to the other family tree and start searching DOWN the generations.

Be sure you search siblings on every generation line of each family. One sibling may provide you with genealogical information on another generation, while your own direct ancestor has drawn blanks. See Searching Siblings in Family Tree Researchfor more help with this.

Do not believe everything you are told, or that you read in a book. You must use sources to verify what you hear or read. Remember, Genealogy Without Sources is Mythology!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

FInding English Court & Adoption Records

Diane asked
Is there any way to access English court records and adoption records for the 1880s ?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Diane - Unfortunately you haven't given me enough details to hone in on a specific answer to your question. Details would be location, location, location! English records are sometimes kept country-wide, other times they are county specific, town specific or even parish specific.

You've also not told me what kind of court records you want (other than adoption)

So, since I don't know where in England you are looking, here's the best advice I can give you. First, go to FamilySearch catalogue and search for court/adoption records in the locatio of interest to you. You will see immediately what, if anything, is available on microfilm or in book form.

Next, go to the National Archives UK tutorials on Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. If you have not explored the Archives you are in for a treat! You can search their catalogue to see what is available in English records or use the tutorials on Olive Tree Genealogy to search for a specific ancestor.

Good luck!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Citizenship Records - How to Find out if your ancestor naturalized

Mary asked

Olive Tree Answer Hello Mary. Did you know that writing an email in all CAPS is the same as shouting? You should write your emails in regular fonts to avoid any problems in future.

You have not told me when your Henry Ruff was born so I will give you a answer that covers many years.

The 1900, 1910 ,1920 and 1930 USA census identify citizenship status, with notations showing the individual was an Alien,or had started the Naturalization process or had his final papers.

You can read more about the value of census records in your search for an immigrant ancestor at

There are great clues in the 1870 census too! If your ancestor has a check mark in the column "Male Citizens of the United States of twenty-one years of age and upwards" you have a clue that naturalization took place before 1870

For a list of questions asked on American census years, see USA Census Records

You indicate that you cannot find Henry in 1930. Sometimes genealogists forget to try other methods of searching, such as search only by last name. Use wildcards. Search only by first name and an approximate year/place of birth. Search a child instead of the parents. There are many ways to work around problems of indexing, transcribing and illegible names that have been badly mangled!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't Trust Family Lore Blindly!

Janice's Question:



My search brings me to a halt as I can"t find MAIDEN NAME for JULIA nor DATE of BIRTH for Julia or GGG HENRY.

Most of information was from relative chatting. and off the head stone at cemetary. there is a family plot where it goes back from my grandparents,HENRY STILLWAGON & FLORENCE RENEE STILLWAGON Great grandparents CHARLES & SARAH JANE VAN DYKE - STILLWAGON_BRADHURST Great Great Grandparents HENRY & JULIA( No maiden name) STILLWAGGON Their daughter LOTTIE STILLWAGGON. Henry Vogt married Abby stillwagon (NOT sure who her parents are as family said GGG had only one child.) These are all in the family plot. at MT Olivet Cemetary. Maspeth NY

Any ideas where I should go next??? Or any answers to these questions

OLIVE TREE ANSWER Dear Janice - You have some information on your ancestors and yet you seem to be missing some that should be quite easy for you to find. I wonder if you relied only on what your family told you?

One of the first things you should do is search census records for your ancestors. For example you say you don't know when Henry (who died 1886) was born, but finding him in census would give you an approximate year of birth, as well as a location.

Census records will also help solve the mystery of family groups - meaning how many children did each couple have, and what were their names.

Here's an example: you have a stray Abby who married a Henry Vogt but you say that your family said Henry and Julia only had one child presumably named Lottie. But had you looked at the census records you'd have seen that is not correct!

Perhaps you don't have a membership to online sites that charge for subscriptioins but you can always take an Free Trial That would allow you to search census for 1880, 1870, 1860 and so on for your ancestors Henry and Julia. The 1880 census is also freely available (as are other years) at

A quick look in 1880 shows Henry with his wife Julia and (drum roll please!) their daughter Abigail age 24. Abby is of course the nickname for Abigail....

Henry's birth year is circa 1824 in Prussia. Daughter Abigail is cira 1856 in New York so right away you know that Henry arrived in New York sometime before 1856. You've got a birth year (approximate) and location for both Henry and his wife.

A word of caution - since your Henry is from Germany (Prussia) you must also search under his German name, not his Americanized name of Henry! Henry = Heinrich

As well, Stillwagon can be spelled in a variety of ways (Stellwaggon, Stellwagen, Stilwagon, etc) so be sure you use wildcards when searching online sites

Following Henry and family backwards from 1880 in each census year, you are going to find some very interesting information! It will be a great lesson in why genealogists should not rely on family lore as fact, but instead, use it for clues to help you find your family.

The 1870 census shows us that Henry was an American citizen so he naturalized at some point before that year. Have you looked for naturalization records?

I found Henry and his family in 1850, 1860 (a challenge as his surname is indexed as Stellwagen), 1870 and 1880. Each census gave new clues including Julia's full first names, and that he had several children including Emma, Charles H., Abbie and Babethe. German ancestors often had two names such as Johann Heinrich but used the second name as their given name. So finding Julia listed as such in 1850 and 1870 but listed with a different first name in 1860 doesn't surprise me. It does give you another name to use when searching.

Henry's occupation is given in early census as a baker. In later years he is a tollgatherer and a ferry master. Do you see why you need to find ALL census entries for Henry?

You should also be able to narrow the timeline for Henry's immigration to the USA. has very complete ships passenger lists for you to search

So my advice is to go slow. Gather the information from all the census years possible. Don't worry about small discrepencies, keep an open mind and be creative when searching! Lastly do NOT believe everything you are told, find supporting evidence by doing your research in census, cemetery, vital records and so on.

Finding an Ancestor Who Immigrated to Canada 1911

David asked:
Three questions for you. I am trying to trace two ancestors of my wife's who arrived in Quebec, Canada on the Scotian on August 6th, 1911 from Glasgow. Is access available to any later Census than 1911 which might give me some information on the pair? The couple in question are 1. William Bruce ROBERTSON, born about 1858 at Ardrossan, Scotland and 2. Miss. Agnes Orr ROBERTSON his relation - Housekeeper / Niece - born about 1889, probably in Scotland.

William died on 7th July 1921 in Hamilton, Ontario and Hamilton Cemetery have been very helpful in providing information on his Burial. Assuming that Agnes did not marry, are there any Death Records On-line to see if I can trace her Death in Ontario?

Lastly, after arriving in Canada in 1911 would they have had to apply for Naturalization Papers?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear David. William's Death Certificate is online on and Agnes, his niece is the informant. So you know that in 1921 she was not married.

Death Records for Ontario are freely searchable at They start in 1869 and go to 1934 with a few military deaths up to 1947. has the same deaths but they include the images.

The last census which is available to the public is the 1911 one so you are out of luck there. There is a National Registration File of 1940 which can be searched. You must request a search conducted by Stats Canada. See Naturalization Records in Canada for help with this. Here is a copy of the questions asked and answered on the National Registration File

As for naturalization, the Canadian Citizenship Act began on 1 January 1947. From 1763 to that date, people born in the provinces and colonies of British North America were all British subjects. Taking the oath of allegiance meant becoming a British subject. Thus immigrants from Great Britain and the Commonwealth (England, Ireland, Wales or Scotland) did not have to be naturalized. Also naturalization is an option, not a mandate and there is no guarantee that a foreign born ancestor naturalized

Monday, February 22, 2010

Continuing the Quest to Find American WW2 Soldier

Well, through group effort we have found a lot of information on Stanley Thompson, whose WW2 ID (dog) tag, Jill found in Australia. Please join us, I'd really like to find a descendant!

Here is a timeline of what we have found through our group effort so far. I'm not listing who found each item in this blog post, as you can read the comments on the two previous posts. You can also read yesterday's post recapping our findings with the listing of what was found and by whom. The first post showing Stanley's Dog Tag is here

Timeline for Stanley Plummer Thompson

10 May 1896. Stanley Plummer Thompson born Nelsonville Ohio (as per census and WW1 Draft Registration)

1900 Census Nelsonville Village, Athens, Ohio. 4 year old Stanley with his parents Douglas Thompson born Oct. 1874 Ohio and Leota born Feb. 1877 Ohio. Douglas and Leota were married ca 1896

1910 Census Fairfield Ohio. 13 year old Stanley with his parents Douglas and Leota M. as well as brothers Darryl W, 8 years old and Frank W. 6 years old

June 5, 1917 WW 1 Draft Registraion. Stanley Plummer Thompson of Fairfield Ohio. He is a shoe clerk and has a wife (unfortunately her name is not given! If he told the truth then he had a wife before Sydney and before Mable Chambers as per census and marriage records)

1920 Census Fairfield Ohio. Douglas and Leota with sons Darryl and Frank, but Stanley is not with them (WHERE IS STANLEY IN 1920??)

circa 1921. Stanley marries Sydney (surname not known)

circa 1923. daughter Betty born to Stanley and Sydney

1930 census Seattle Washington. Stanley P. Thompson age 34 born Ohio, Window Trimmer (married at age 25, thus circa 1921), wife Syd[ney?] age 27 born Tennessee (her parents also born Tennessee) and daughter Betty E(?) age 7 born Kentucky

1930 census Seattle Washington. Jennie Chambers, 56, widow and her daughter Mabel M. Reynolds age 34 married, born Ohio (she later married Stanley Thompson), grandson Richard Reynolds age 7 born Washington.

1936. Seattle Washington Marriage Certificate for Stanley P. Thompson and Mabel M. Reynolds

1944. Stanley P. Thompson a 1st Lieutenant in 321 Squadron (Bombs Away) Residence 205 W. Lee St. agrees with Dog Tag found by Jill in Australia

May 12, 1946. Seattle Washington Death Certificate for Stanley Thompson age 50 wife Mabel Chambers, parents Douglas Thompson and Leota Sheridan.

May 14, 1946. Obituary for Stanley Thompson. Survivors wife Mabel, daughter Mrs. Jeanne Zetterlund of California, brothers Frank of California, Darrell of Ohio and mother Leota of California.

Please join in and contribute if you think you can find Stanley's children or grandchildren or more details about his life

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finding an American WW2 Soldier - What We've Found So Far

To recap what teamwork has found out about Stanley Thompson (see Help Find a WW2 American Soldier ) there have been many responses!

Many generous and helpful genealogists have been sleuthing and here's what we have all come up with so far:

Death Record for Stanley Thompson found by Larry of Hesch History Blog: Stanley age 50, son of Douglas Thompson & Leota Sheridan, wife Mabel Chambers died Seattle Washington 12 May 1946

Obituary for Stanley found by Barbara Cummings in May 14, 1946 issue of The Seattle Times, p. 26: Stanley, 50 years old living 4138 Midvale Ave. He was born in Ohio and lived in Seattle for 20 years. He was a window display artist and a member of Ballard Lodge # 827 Elks, and Retail Clerks Union #1404. Left a widow Mabel, a daugter Mrs Jeanne Zetterlund, his mother Mrs. Leota Thompson (Jeanne and Leota living Long Beach California) and 2 brothers Frank T Thompson of Long Beach and Darrell T. Thompson of Lancaster Ohio

1900 Census Nelsonville Village, Athens Ohio found by Lorine: Stanley born May 1896 Ohio with his mother Letoa born Feb 1877 Ohio and father Douglas born Oct 1874 Ohio

1910 Census Fairfield Ohio found by Lorine: Douglas and Leota M. married 13 years with 3 children: Stanley P, 13, Darryl W, 8 and Frank W 6

1930 Census Long Beach Los Angeles California found by Lorine: Douglas 54, born Ohio owner of Grocery Store, wife Leota M, 53 and brother Charles H. Thompson 63

Military record found by an anonymous reader:
Thompson, Stanley P.
1st Lt., 321 Squadron (Bombs Away)
Home of record in 1944:
205 W Lee St.
Seattle, Washington

Jack Coffee had previously indicated that the serial number indicated that Stanley was an officer. The military record provides an address of 205 W. Lee St and Jill read the Dog Tag address as “205 W__RE St” So we can see that it can be read as W. LEE

So we have confirmation of several facts – Stanley whose dog tag was found, had the middle initial “P”, he was born in Ohio in 1896 to Douglas and Leota, he married Mabel Chambers and had one daughter Jeanne. Since Jeanne was married by 1946 (per Stanley’s obituary), we might assume she was born at least by 1930. She may or may not show up in the 1930 census, but we should be able to find Stanley and Mabel!

I think we can find more – what happened to Stanley’s daughter Jeanne? Did she have children? Does Stanley have grandchildren who might like to know that Grandpa’s dog tags have been found?

Sam found a marriage certificate for a Stanley P. Thompson and Mabel M. Reynolds in Seattle Washington in April 1936 but no ages or parents’ names are provided. Is this Soldier Stanley’s second wife?

I’d like to find Stanley in 1920 and 1930 census records but so far all I’ve come up with is a Stanley Thompson born Ohio circa 1896 also married to a woman named Mabel. This Stanley had sons Judson born ca 1914, Warren 1916, Howard 1918, Ford 1922 and Dick 1925. This family lived in Pleasant Hill, Miami Ohio in 1920 and 1930 but Stanley the soldier’s 1946 obit states he lived in Seattle Washington for 20 years (since 1926).

It seems our Soldier Stanley and this Stanley are two different individuals and in fact an online family tree shows this individual as Stanley Mike Thompson married to Mable Mae Engle. I just want everyone who is joining in on the search for Soldier Stanley to know that this family exists.

And so the quest continues! Everyone has done an amazing job, without this kind of teamwork we'd be struggling!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Help Find a WW2 American Soldier

Jill wrote to ask my help finding a WW2 American soldier. I am hoping that someone reading this query will be able to offer ideas or find Stanley! There are several men with this soldier's name in the WW2 database on, and I cannot determine with certainty which might be the right one.

This soldier (Stanley Thompson) lost his Dog Tag in Australia. We know his next of kin was Mabel, but we don't know if she was his wife or mother or.... This will take a team effort I think to find information on him!

Here is Jill's information and a photo of the dog tag (ID tag) she found

I found one dog tag while fossicking around a WW11 site in the Northern Territory Australia. It is obviously in poor condition actually in two is for a Stanley Thompson

075022_ 14_ 8
Mabel Thompson
205 W__RE St
Seattle Wash P

I was wondering if there is any way I can find out any information about this soldier?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rescuing old photo albums that are not my family heirlooms

Sally asked
I found a photo on your website under the Fowler-Merchant Family Photo Album. It is identified as "#11 F Maloney Hewitt". Can you tell me any more about this person? My great-grandmother was Mary Jane Hewitt and she married Stephen Maloney. The time frame is about right. I have a photo of her as an older woman, and it looks like it could be a younger version of her.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Sally, I guess I didn't make it clear on Lost Faces that I know nothing of the individuals in the photo albums I collect other than what is written on the photos. They are not my families, I simply try to rescue these albums and put them online in hopes a descendant will find them.

I research the families to try to establish relationships between identified indviduals, but I have no further details about each person other then what you see online. I hope you can determine if photo #11 is the woman you seek!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Figuring Out Titles after an Ancestor's Name

Vickie asked
I have looked on the Internet and have exhausted every avenue, but have been unable to find this information. My grandfather x5 was a land surveyor, amount other things. I have found several wills and deeds with him listed as witness. He signed his name Absalom Weathersbee, D.S. Would you happen to know what D.S. represents? Also, other witnesses used the title C.S. They were in North Carolina and South Carolina. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Vickie, I actually do not know the answer to your question. But I'm going to make a guess.

DS could very well stand for "District Surveyor" and CS could mean "County Surveyor"

My hope is that other readers will be able to provide the right answer OR validate my guess! I'd like to know the answer to this question too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Using Alternate Sources to Find Parents of an Ancestor

Jon's Question (edited):
My 3rd. great grandparents were Wesley H. Van Ausdeln; born 1815 in Goshen, Belmont County, Ohio and died in Van Buren County, Iowa; and Mary Bishop, born in December 1815 in Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia and died in 1853 in Iowa. Wesley and Mary were married on March 16, 1838 in Goshen by Asa Hoge.

They had 5 children. Their 3rd. child was John Luke Van Ausdeln, my 2ed. great grandfather. John Luke was born March 1, 1843 in Belmont County, Ohio. John Luke was in the 30th. Iowa, 'D' Co. Infantry Volunteers during the Civil War. My 3rd. gteat grandmother, Mary Bishop Van Ausdeln died in 1853, I subspect giving birth to their 5th. child Mary.

After Mary died in 1853, Wesley married Lydia Ann Sawville. Lydia was born in 1830 in Ohio. Wesley and Lydid had 6 children between 1854 and 1872.
This is all I have on Wesley Van Ausdeln, Mary Bishop Van Ausdeln, and Lydia Ann Sawville Van Ausdeln.

My 13 year brick wall is, who were Wesley's parents? I have tried everything I can think of and have come up aginst a brick wall. Any help finding my lost Van Ausdeln, generation will be greatly appreciated. By the way did I mention that from Sijmon forward ther are 75 to 125 different spelling varations of Van Arsdalen. My Van Ausdeln spelling is one of the more common spellings.
Olive Tree Answer: Dear Jon,

It sounds as though you have already done a lot of work.But it also sounds as though it is time to do some generalized slogging.

If you have not already done so, the LDS have available several hundred reels of microfilm for Belmont County.

Probate records from 1802, an 1833 census, Friends church records, cemeteries, deed abstracts, deeds 1800 - 1942, marriages abstracted from court records, etc. The early (1810 - 1830) census indicate a couple of Van Ausdeln men in Belmont County, notably William and Lucas. I used the census records on but Footnote,comicon also has many online.

You did not mention when Wesley died. Do you have a copy of his will? Perhaps he mentioned a niece or nephew. The LDS do have probate records for Van Buren County from 1853 and probates from 1841.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Finding an ancestor between Census Years

Arlene's Question:
My paternal grandmother was born in Mainz, Germany in Sept. 1865 +/-2 years. In 1900 census she lived at 226 East 4th Street in Manhattan, New York. She and her first cousin William Billau were married in Bridgeport, Fairfield Co., CT on 24 Dec 1901. On 20 Oct.1902 my father, Lawrence Billau was born in Bridgeport. On 13 May 1903 William died and was buried in Park Cemetery, Bridgeport Otillia then put Lawrence in Wartburg Orphan Farm School in Mt. Vernon, New York. She moved back to New York City and from there I can not find anything. I heard that she remarried and then died of breast cancer in 1908 or 1909. She was fluent in French and German and was a teacher for Singer Sewing Machine company for the immigrant women. Can you help?

Olive Tree Answer:
Hello Arlene - If Otilia remarried and died within a few years, (and in between federal census reports) it may impossible to find her. I briefly checked the New York City marriage records 1902 - 1910 and did not find her. She may have married in Connecticut or perhaps in Mount Vernon. Or elsewhere.

Look at New York City (and Bridgeport and Mt Vernon ) city directories. You can use an Free Trial to hunt for census and City Directories.

Check the 1905 NYC census You may be fortunate to find her still as Billau. Look at the LDS catalog for New York state census records for Manhattan Borough and Bronx, 1905. (e.g. Reel 10 FHL microfilm 1433086) 10/7

If you know that they were first cousins, then you must know their parents (and hence siblings). Follow the parents and siblings. Look for obituaries and probate records. There may be a mention of "Mrs X" who is unknown to you, and who might be Otilia's new surname. Where are the rest of the families buried? Check those cemeteries for an "Otilia".

Otillia may be found in a census with one of her siblings or in-laws, but indexed under that surname and not her own.

Why Mt Vernon? Were other family members living there?

The Wartburg orphange building still exists (It is now an eldercare facility). And they do maintain records from the orphanage. I would certainly write them; there may have been recorded visits from Otillia (and perhaps her new last name).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Obtaining a Recent Birth Certificate

Carole asked:
Is there a way to get a birth record on a more "recent" ancestor who was born in Illinois? I am helping my granddaughter prepare paperwork to join the D.A.R. Records from the 1700's are fairly easy to find, compared to a more recent inquiry!

My former husband was born in Illinois in 1941. I need some sort of documentation (not necessarily a birth certificate) to prove his birth date and parents' names. However, state authorities there tell us that only he or his parents can make such a request. His parents are both deceased and I haven't seen him for nearly ten years and have no idea how to get in touch with him. Authorities tell me that I, as a former spouse) cannot request them, and my granddaughter cannot request them either.

Is there some source we are overlooking for this record? Does Illinois have some source of documentation of birth records other than an actual birth certificate?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Carole, Do you have your marriage certificate? Can you send for a copy? A Marriage Certificate almost always gives parents names and the groom's age

Have you looked for a newspaper announcement of your ex-husband's's birth?

Did you check to see if one of your children can make the request? You may want to check Ancestor Birth Record Finder for other ideas of alternate places to find a person's birth information

A quick look at the Illinois Vital Records website states that Uncertified copies of birth records for genealogical purposes are available to individuals who may not otherwise be entitled to receive a certified copy if the person's date of birth precedes the current date by 75 years or more. You may request this special application, only for birth records after 1916, form at or by writing to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
605 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62702-5097

I would try requesting his birth information under those special conditions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Finding an Ancestor in Ontario before 1864

Nelly asked: I'm looking for James SIMPSON. He was born about 1814 and died in 1864. He was of Irish descent and came to Whitby Ontario about 1835. I'm seeking his marriage record in particular but I'm new to Canadian research and don't know where to start. Are there census records? What about other records?
OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Nelly: You may want to join two lists specifically for Ontario research. One is (for Ontario after 1867). The second is (for Ontario before 1867) You can subscribe to either by sending a subscribe request to and Put SUBSCRIBE in the message body and nothing else.

Since Vital Stats did not begin until 1869, you must consult church records. That means you need to know James' religion. This link should help you with church records

Next, find the family on the available census or assessment records. There is an online 1851 census you search but be aware that not all locations have survived.

you'll have to find out what early census or tax assessment records Whitby has. To do that you need to know the township and county it was/is in. For help with that, see Canada GeoNames or Ontario Locator

That will give you a county and township names now. Then you need to see what District Whitby was in before 1846 because when searching for early records you need to search in the District records as well as the County and/or Township.

There are many more routes you can go in your research of your Ontario family but I'll leave you to start with these

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Finding Land Records for an Ancestor

Archie asked
For the purpose of filling a blank in the ancestry record of now deceased, Robert Leonard Wallace Archibald, my genetic dad and previous, decades-long owner of Lot 18, Con. 13, Brock Twp. where most of my growing-up years were spent and attended Sproule's public school only 7 tenths of a mile West of there, under the tutilage of Mrs. Webster firstly and conclusively, Mrs. Hughes, , I request to know the recorded date of he and/or he and his wife Marion's purchase of that 65 acres of land that Con.13 divided the house and barn areas of and also, if not asking too much, whatever dates you could provide additionally as pertains to its eventual subdividing and sale, would add to my record as an addendum brevity.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Archie. Wow! Your query is the longest sentence I've ever read. But I think I understand what you want.

You are in luck because you can consult the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for Conc 13 Lot 18 Brock Township to see every transaction on that piece of property since it left Crown ownership. Each transaction gives (at a minimum) the name of the owner, the buyer, the date, and what kind of transaction it was. You can then obtain the full detailed record if you wish.

I hope you have read my earlier blog response "Those Wonderful Abstract Indexes to Deeds!" You may also wish to take a peek at the explanation and examples of Abstract Indexes to Deeds at my CLRI (Ontario Land Record Index) page on OliveTreeGenealogy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finding an Ancestor in the Canadian Merchant Navy

Leo asked:
I am trying to locate a picture of my uncle martin burke who served in the merchant navy in ww2. he was lost on his return voyage to halifax in feb 1942 when his tanker was sunk by u-boat 109. i understand there may be a picture of him in his merchant seaman's records but i do not get a reply from veterans affairs. please help me as the family does not have a photo of uncle martin.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Leo: Library & Archives of Canada website gives an address to send for Merchant Seamen Records

Wartime records for the Merchant Navy, 1939-1947 and 1951-1953, are held by:

Merchant Navy Registry
Veterans Affairs Canada
PO Box 7700
Charlottetown, PEI
C1A 8M9
Tel.: 1-888-289-8512
Fax: 1-902-368-0564

I do not know if this is the address you already contacted.

Did you know that your uncle is listed on The Canadian Merchant Navy War Dead Database?

Sailor's Name: BURKE, Martin Bernard
Rank of sailor: Engineer
Nationality: Newfoundland
Date of Death: 02/04/42
Name of Ship: Montrolite
Registration of ship: Montreal

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Those Wonderful Abstract Indexes to Deeds!

Joan asked:
Lorine, can you please tell me if the Abstract Indexes are available on microfilm that I can order and view at my library? I want to research the history of a piece of property in Dundas County and do not live near the Registry Office, or near a Family HIstory Library. Thank you.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Joan - You haven't told me where you live but if you are near the Archives of Ontario, you are in luck. The Abstract Indexes to Deeds are available in their Reading Room. You may be able to have your local library request an ILL from the Archives of Ontario.

You could also check the County Archives for your location of interest (in your case, Dundas County) to see if they hold those land records. For example, I found the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for my Wellington County ancestors at the Wellington County Museum & Archives near Guelph. A pleasant day trip resulted in some terrific genealogy finds!

For those who might not be familiar with these Abstract Indexes to Deeds, they were created in 1865 and 1866 for each parcel of land back to the Patent from the Crown. Armed with the Abstract Indexes to Deeds you can check for every instance of your name of interest on that parcel of land. By referring to the date and Instrument Number found with each transaction, you can look up the complete record. You may find a will (Many wills are filed in the Land Records Offices) or other important document.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Creating Timelines and Listing Clues in Census Records

Cindy asked
I have been looking for the ship passenger list, birth and marriage records for my great great grandfather
Sebastian Steltzlen, without any luck. He was born in Alsace, France in 1842 and he arrived in America in 1873...I think. (All of the census records that asked "how long have you been in this country" corroborate this year.) I also found a New York arrival of a Sebastian "Steltzner" in 1873. His Surname is spelled wrong, and I think his birth year is incorrect. I would like to look at the actual document but, haven't been able to find the P. William Filby
"Passenger and Immigration ships lists 1500's-1900's" book, that I'm able to actually look at. Also, I haven't been able to find his birth or marriage records.

The 1880 US census in Iowa lists him as "L. Steltzlen" (The last name is spelled correctly but, this is the census I'm not sure is his!)
The Nebraska State census collection 1860-1885, has him listed in 1885 as "Sylvest Steltzer" birth ABT 1838. The1900 US census in Arkansas lists him as "Sebastain Stellzlen" and the 1910 US census in Arkansas lists him as "Sebastian Stillzlen."The only photo I have of Sebastian, Hannah and their children Mary Elizabeth, William Whitney, Maud Mae, and Manley Sebastian Is of them standing in front of their sod house in Nebraska. The 1880 census I mentioned above, lists a "L. And Elizabeth Steltzner" from Nebraska that looks like It could be Sebastian and his wife Hannah Elizabeth Whitney-Steltzlen but... I'm not sure. Their birth dates and birth places (France and Ohio), ages, all 4 parents birth places (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and France) , Their daughters' name and age ALL match. So...could Sebastian's first name actually start with the initial "L" and his middle name be Sebastian?

I also found land grants in Nebraska belonging to "L. Steltzner". (Sebastian was a farmer.)Problem is, they were issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and Ulysses S. Grant in 1884 (?) . If Sebastian didn't arrive until 1873 this couldn't be him. Right? So would that mean the 1880 census mentioned above for "L. Steltzner" is for a different person with lots of coincidental facts? I'm really stumped now.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Cindy, you have a challenge with this surname. You will have to be very creative and remember that spelling was not exact back in Sebastian's time. Also his is a foreign name and you may find it recorded in an Anglized version. As well, old handwriting can be very difficult to read! It is very common for upper case S to be confused with upper case L. So if you are finding records that say "L" instead of "S" and if those records are not the originals, you need to seek out the original document to see for yourself. In other words, you can NOT trust an index or a transcription to be 100% accurate. There is always the chance of error.

The surname Steltzlen could have a dizzying variety of alternate spellings! Steltzier (misread of "n" for "r"), Steltsen, Steltzen, Steltsien, and so on.

Taking this in chronological order, you need to find Sebastian in census for 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910 and so on. I had quick look just to see if there were clues you may have overlooked in those census records where you found your ancestor. I like to make a timeline too, and list in point form what I have found in the various records. I always check the images for myself, I don't list what is in the index or transcribed version unless the image is not available.

1880 census Scott, Henry, Iowa. I assume this is where you saw "L" and Elizabeth Steltzlen? This is the index, so you must look to the image to see what you make of his name. Before you do though, note that their daughter Mary is the right age and born in the right location to be the same Mary shown in the 1885 census. Plus the father is born France, the mother Elizabeth in Ohio, all of which fits your man. I feel quite confident that this is your ancestor Sebastian.

1885 Census Custer Nebraska. As you noted, Sebastian is recorded as Sylvester, as is his son Manley Sebastian. But it is definitely your ancestor as the places of birth and ages as well as names agree with later records. The first 3 children were born in Iowa, the eldest being age 9 so born circa 1876. It may be that Sylvester is a middle name for your Sebastian, you should just keep this in mind as you search for him.

This census says Sebastian/Sylvester is a farmer so you would expect to find land records for him. I suspect the records you found for "L" Steltzner is a matter of that upper case letter S being misread as an L.

1900 census Morris, Arkansas, Arkansas. Sebastian is recorded as born in France in 1842 and married for 22 years. This gives him a marriage year of circa 1878. You can see there is a discrepancy with the birth year of his daughter Mary shown in that 1885 census, so you will have to be very careful to search a few years on either side of the year of marriage given here. Also don't overlook the possibility that Sebastian may have been married more than once. In fact, given his age (approximately 36) for that marriage to Hannah Elizabeth circa 1878, it would not surprise me to learn he had a previous wife, and perhaps another child or two.

Since his wife, Hannah E. is recorded as born Ohio, we might assume they married in America, so we know he immigrated before 1878. The census indicates that he is naturalized (wow, have you looked for his naturalization records??), and that he immigrated in 1873. She says she is the mother of 5 children. Daughter Maude was born in 1884 in Nebraska and Lizzie 1885 same state.

1910 Vaugine, Jefferson, Arkansas shows Sebastian as a widower (have you looked for his wife Hannah E's death record? You know she died between 1900 and 1910 from the census records) living with his son Manly who was born about 1882 in Iowa.

I see that Manly's death took place 21 Nov 1948 in Searcy Arkansas. I would order his death certificate if I were you. It may contain his father's exact place of birth.

Regarding that passenger list entry you found for Sebastian arriving 1873, it says that he came in to New York. That means you can look for the actual passenger list online. has those ships passenger lists to New York so I would check there first. If you want to consult Filby's book Passenger and Immigration ships lists 1500's-1900, a large library should have this. Have you checked The Library of Congress website?

I hope that my outline of how I approached your genealogy puzzle has helped, and that new clues have been found that will aid you in your continuing search. I think you have done a very good job of gathering facts, and thinking about what they are telling you. You have been diligent in not dismissing a find simply because the names are not quite identical. I am sure you will find more records for Sebastian as you continue.