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Monday, March 29, 2010

Clearing up Confusion re Canadian Naturalization Records after 1854

Danielle asked
I tried to access info regarding naturalization in Canada for the 1854-1917 period. I don't seem to understand how to go about that.
Thank you in advance for your help

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Danielle. I'm not sure where you tried to access naturalization information for Canada 1854-1917. Was it on my Canadian Naturalization Records part of website?

I see where the confusion lies. I did not make it clear that you must read the right hand column titled "Finding Naturalization Records". Scroll down in that column to the text which begins "Requests for copies of naturalization/citizenship records should be mailed to: "

Follow the instructions given and you will be on your way to requesting a search of post 1854 records!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Set Those Family Stories Aside For Now!

Sylvia's Question:
I REALLY need help!I have HIT A DEAD END!and DESPERATELY need your guidance and experise. I have been searching for 5yrs now and only found the following info. below. The problem Ive run into is,(BOTHSIDES of males), were Indians/RedMan.It w said that they NEVER SPOKE of that cuz it was voodoo all xcept for this 1 told by my mother Ester Aragon.STORY: my grandfather Pedro, as a young boy living in Tampaulipas,MX w father.At that time there was a war going on there and his father hid him up a tree told him when safe to RUN. He did so, swam across river into texas where he lived in self built cave for several years then was adopted and then met my grandma, Inez.In my Search i have found only 1 census for: MEDINA,Encarnacion EstDOB:1872 MX, Wife: Basilia(Cruz)DOB:4-1887or1885 Mx, DOD:Unkn Both died in TX -AND PedroT. Martinez(DOB:1-25-1910 DOD:5-15-98-MX)UNABLE TO FIND ANY INFO. ON HIM OR? He married Inez(Medina)DOB:5-20-1911 to 11-19-00(TX)mothers side & my father WAS -George F. Aragon-AlbqNM 3-19-1933 to 7-23-1999 died in Sacto,CA-his dad- ARAGON,Jose DOB:UNKN DOD:Unkn born MX,his Wife-Maime(Campos,or Flores,or Kemp)DOB:think- 1903 to 1974 Born:Unkn Died AZ. I have had a few people help with NO LUCK. If you would be so kind and willing to take this challenge, should you find or direct me to where I can, you would SOLEY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS FOUND ANYTHING OUT.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Sylvia - There are two areas I think you may have overlooked in your search. First - you can't believe Family Lore 100%. It is often wrong, or has a grain of fact mixed with a lot of mistaken or mis-remembered details. In your case, if you think about it, the family stories are pretty extreme. If you grandfather Pedro was a young boy, how could he find and live in a cave for several years? How would he eat? Also who would adopt him? Someone stumbling along near the cave spots him? I don't think so. So I suggest you disregard that family story (come back to it later if you want to) and do your genealogy research using the usual methods.

Start with the known and work backwards. Since you have a date of birth (1910) and death for Pedro, you should look for him in census records. Check for a marriage record .

Look for the death record of Jose Aragon in Arizona

Look for the death record of Pedro.

I'd start with the GenWeb sites for the countries you need to search in. Use Google or another search engine and look for "Mexico GenWeb", "Arizona GenWeb" and so on.

Good luck, take your time, be thorough and just keep working your way backwards, finding documents that give you details you need.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Finding Citizenship Records in USA

Ivan's Question:
I am looking for citizenship records for Johann Peter Riege, Dorothea Elizabeth Riege and their five(5) sons, Herman, August, Adolph, John and Wilhelm. They arrived in the United States in 1883 on the ship U.S. Lessig.Any help you can give will be appreciated

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Ivan. You have not said what year you think your ancestor naturalized. Are you sure he did?

Have you checked census records beginning in 1900 for an approximate year of naturalization?

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. What great clues to help narrow the time frame for finding the records!

You may wish to read the previous answers I have given on this blog. Just look in the right side bar for the topic NATURALIZATION. Also I think this blog post will help you in your search.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Copy Genealogy FIndings Accurately!

Bud wrote to say
Thank You, Louise. You were right on target on my Holman search. I need guidance in finding marriage and remarriage records. Are they on line? Assume Calgary Alberta , Canada. After 1914. Surnames sought; Holman to Patterson, Holman to Franklin, Franklin to Frazier. How and where does one go to find such records especially when one know virtually no facts, nor how to search in Canada.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Bud, we all make mistakes. You may have a very good reason for calling me Louise. But I have to take this opportunity to point out one of my very big pet peeves - genealogists who can't copy names down correctly.

Sorry to center you out but my name is not Louise, it's Lorine.

It's on this blog.

It's on the email response I send to everyone who writes to AskOliveTree.

As genealogists one of the most important things we need to do is COPY facts correctly. Copying things exactly as we see them, not how we think they should be, is number one in my genealogy book of unwritten rules!

Phew, climbing off my soapbox and on to your question... (sorry Bud but you hit a hot button with me)

I think you might be surprised at how much Google or other search engines can help you. If you don't know how to search in Canada, try typing that in to Google. I do know how to research in Canada but to demonstrate what I mean, I typed in "How to do genealogy research in Canada" Up popped several helpful websites!

It's always a good idea to go to the country GenWeb site. So for Canada, type in "CANADA GENWEB" and visit the main site, then choose your Province of interest. Researching in any country you are not familiar with is similiar to your own.

You could take a shortcut if you are sure you need Alberta information, and jump right to the Alberta GenWeb pages by typing that into Google.

* You first find out WHAT is available in the location of interest. (You want Vital Stats after 1914)

* Next you find out WHERE those records are held (if they exist)

* Lastly you find out HOW to obtain the records - are they online, do you have to view them on microfilm, etc.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding Out What a Fi.Fas. Is!

Yvonne asked:
I have puzzled over the following land transcription for many years, and hope you can help me understand the terminology.

"Southern Recorder, Aug. 22, 1829 -- page 4. Emanuel Sheriff's Sale.Will be sold on the first Tuesday in September next, at the court house, in the town of Swainsborough, Emanuel County, within the usual hours of sale the following property, viz 250 acres of pine land on the waters of Cannouche, adjoining Stephen Rich and others, levied on as the property of John Scott, to satisfy sundry fi.fas. issued from a Justice's court vs. John Scott, Britain Scott and John Scott, and John Scott and William Horton - property pointed out by the defendant; levied on and returned to me by a constable. Amos Snell, Sh'ff."

Here are things I need clarified:
1. What exactly is a fi. fas.?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Yvonne. You asked several questions, here is my answer to one of the four. A google search shows that fi.fas. is an abbreviation for fieri facias.

There are many websites providing a detailed definition of the phrase but here is a brief answer:

A fieri facias, usually abbreviated fi. fa. (Latin that you cause to be made) is a writ of execution after judgment obtained in a legal action for debt or damages.

Continue reading at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finding a RootsMagic Mapping Program

Tricia's Question:
I am using Rootsmagic and would like to find a compatible mapping program cd that would allow me to track my familes migration.

Olive Tree Answer: Dear Tricia. I'm not a Rootsmagic user but the first thing I would do is go to their RootsMagic Blog Have a look around and see if your question is addressed there.

The blog post about Family Atlas may be just what you are looking for.

To quote from the RootsMagic Blog:

Family Atlas makes creating custom family maps fun and easy! You start with an interactive world globe that you can explore. Family Atlas lets you import your family data directly from RootsMagic or other genealogy software, and then create markers based on relationships, names, event types, and more. You can even hand-enter set of markers such as “Civil War Battles”, “Places Where John Smith Lived”, or “Family Vacations”.

If this isn't what you want write to the contact name given and ask for their advice. They're the experts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Using Alternate Genealogy Resources to find what you want

Beverly asked
How does a person go about finding their ancestors when you have no idea where they came from or what ship they came over on.My g g grandfather was born near Philadelphia Pennsylvania in April 22, 1805 and that is all I know about him. In 1826 he married Mary Ann Trissler in Fayette Co. Pennsylvania. I am trying to find his parents names but haven't a clue as to how to go about finding any thing. Need some clues.

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Beverly. I know it's frustrating to hit a block in your genealogy research. That is when you have to try to find other ways of getting the information you need. In your case, those early (pre 1820) ships Passenger lists are few and far between. So you would normally try to think of other records that might have parents names or birth locations.

Where do we find parents names recorded? Marriage records! Have you found his marriage record?

What about his death record? Often they contain parents names. An obituary might also have that information.

You can also search for every single one of his children - find their death records and marriage records, because even though they will not hold their grandparents' names they may have the location of birth of their father.

Now, having given you ideas of alternate resources for finding the information you want, here's another tip. Remember when I said the early (pre 1820) ships passenger lists are few and far between?

You're in luck, because Pennsylvania Ships Passenger Lists begin in 1800 instead of after the Federal Legislation requiring ships Passenger lists to be kept after 1819. The arrival port of Philadelphia kept lists of names of arriving passengers whose personal luggage was over the limit set for exemption from taxes. This gives genealogists a nice set of ships passenger lists from 1800-1820 when full ships passenger lists began.

Some Philadelphia Baggage Lists can be found online. They include images of the actual manifest and a transcription of the names of the passengers on board

You might want to see Featuring Pennsylvania Ships Passenger Lists - The pre 1820 Baggage Lists

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is This My Father?

Today's AskOliveTree post is a bit different. It's my own question about a photograph. I hope readers will be kind enough to share their own opinions.

My father died Christmas Day many years ago. I had just turned 14 one month before his death. Over time my memory of his face has faded.

There are very few photographs of my dad. Those few (a handful) that exist are grainy out of focus images. Except for one. I have a studio portrait of my father taken during WW2, long before I was born.

At an auction recently I bid on and won a group photo of soldiers who were in training in Guelph Ontario in 1942. My dad lived in Guelph and was in training there when he joined the Army. This is a cropped portion of that group photo.

As soon as I saw the photo, I thought that the soldier seated to the right of the officer with the swagger stick (front row) could be my dad! It looks so much like him to my eyes. He is the 5th man counting from the right side.

I scanned and enlarged that soldier and have placed it below beside the WW2 studio portrait of my father. What do you think? Is it him?

I did notice differences as soon as I enlarged the photo. But my husband pointed out that the unknown man (left) has the sun in his eyes so he has shadows on his face that distort his features. He is also squinting a bit, further causing distortion. His face is turned slightly further to the side than the one I know is my father.

Please take a look and give your opinion. I want this to be a photo of my father so much that I am not sure I can judge objectively! Perhaps someone knows who the men were in No. 1 Platoon Basic Training in Guelph in July 1942. Even if no one knows for sure, your opinions and thoughts would be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Walking Step by Step Through a Census Record to Find Clues

Bud in Missouri asked
I need help! Don't know what I am doing and need guidance. Search is for Holman probably Alberta, Edmonton. First name Levi and Daisy around 1904. A McKinley Holman who may also be Ralph b. 5 July 1906 married a Mary PATTERSON, an Edith Holman married David PATTERSON Edith died 21 Sept
1948, buried where? Also a Cecil Holman b. 25 July 1911, and a Leroy Holman
b. ca 1917 said died 1983.

Daisy divorced Holman before 1914 and she did remarry twice ?? James Franklin, and last Don/Dan Frazier . so she would be buried as Frazier. Questions I have is ,migration from Missouri to Canada. What was going on.Levi is said to have died in Canada 13 May 1933, Where? What happened with Franklin and Frazier?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Bud. This was a really interesting hunt! I decided to do some searching myself instead of pointing you in the right direction. Since you said your Levi went to Canada, possibly Alberta, my first step was to search the 1916 Census for Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba which is online at


1916 census Bow River Alberta shows:

Levi Richmond Holman 38 b USA immigrated 1899 naturalized 1908, farmer
MacKinley Holman 10 b Alberta
Ceicl Holman 5 b Alberta

Address 26, 16, W4, Lone Butte

This is a partial view of the census page with Lev's name

Notice that there is no child named Edith, who would only be about 8 years old. Perhaps she is with her mother Daisy?

This census is really a great find because it gives us all kinds of new information about your Levi. First - his middle name of Richmond. Second we see that he immigrated in 1899. Because the year of immigration is often MISremembered it is a good idea to add a year or two on either side of the date given. So we have an immigration window of 1898-1900.

Border Crossing Records from USA to Canada begin in 1895 so there is a chance you might find Levi in those. They are also available on

Third Levi is a naturalized citizen and says he naturalized in 1908. Citizenship and Immigration Canada holds records of naturalization and citizenship from 1854. The originals of records dated between 1854 and 1917 have been destroyed but a nominal card index survives. It provides information taken at the time of naturalization. You can request a search by going to Canadian Naturalization Records website and following the instructions given.

Fourth Levi is a farmer which means he likely owned land. His exact land location is given on the census so you can now do two things. Check a map to find out where that is in Alberta. You can also head over to the Index to Homestead Records 1870-1930 and search for Levi.

I admit I was so curious I had to look for myself. There are several records found for Levi. Don't miss L.R. Holman (I suspect he is your Levi Richmond). He is also listed as Levi R., Levi Richard and Levi Richmond. You will no doubt want to send for all of the records to obtain full details.

Also see Daisy Emma Holman. She is in Section 24 Township 26 Range 16 Meridian 4 which is where the family is in 1916. She is there twice. For help with land locations in Alberta see the Dominion Land Survey explanation

So from one census record we find four valuable clues and pieces of information!

Next step was to search the 1906 Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba census records online at

There was Levi, age 27 with his wife Daisy age 18. They are living in Calgary in 1906.

You should also check the 1901 and 1911 Canada-wide census to see if you can find Levi. That is available on at and on the Automated Genealogy website.

You might also try Our Future Our Past for Alberta Digitization Projects online - especially Newspapers. I'd hunt for Levi's obituary and other records of the family.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Looking for other ways to prove family relationships

Marian's Question was
I am searching for any record of my g Grandmother. According to her obituary she was was born in Westchester Co., NY May 15, 1818. Her Father died when she was 3 months old and her Mother a short time later. She then was adopted by a Townsend family. According to her childrens church records her birth name was Mary Smith. The obituary states her name as Mary Townsend Collins. She married Patrick Collins {born in Ireland in 1812} and the first record I find is their first sons death certificate which states that he was born in Utica,NY The next records are land records in Wethersfield, Wyoming Co., NY in 1857 and church records for their childrens baptisms,confirmations and marriages in St. Patrick's Catholic church in Java Center, NY, Wyoming Co. I have tried various NYC, Westchester Co, board lists also written to the early churches there and am having no luck. They had 7 children one of whom is my Grandfather. Another tidbit from the obituary is that she rode the first passenger train 7 miles to Fordham in 1836 so if that is correct she was still in NYC then. My main interest is which Townsend family adopted her and when she married my g Grandfather. I would be so grateful for any help you could give me and thank you so much for taking your time to do this wonderful volunteer work

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Marian - Sometimes church records contain the names of witnesses to the event (Baptism, marriage, or burial). It is possible that members of her adoptive Townsend family would have been present at such events. Have you checked for witness names in the records you have found?

You might also want to check census from 1850 on to see who was living near Mary and her family. Look for Townsend names. I use for my census research but there are other sites that also have some of these records.

Finding a Townsend isn't proof that they are the family your Mary was adopted into, but it allows you a working theory of relationships. So if you find Townsends nearby or sponsoring vital events, you can then search them to see what if any, their relationship is to your Mary.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Looking Elsewhere When Your Genealogy Search Comes up Empty

Susan asked
I have been trying to find my ggrandfather's ship on Olive Tree and, with no luck. All I know is his name: Thomas Connors and the year he emigrated - 1854. I don't know the city he sailed to or the name of the ship. I have looked for 10 years on all the lists I could find.

He settled in Illinois which made me think he might have sailed from Ireland to New Orleans and then made his way up the Mississippi to Illinois. However, I am not able to find him on a ship from Ireland to New Orleans. Any suggestions?

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Susan. I bet you know more than you have told me. You say all you know is his name and his year of immigration. I bet you also have a pretty darn good idea of his year of birth (helpful when searching indexes!)

My first question to you is - how do you know his year of immigration so precisely? If you are relying on census details, or naturalization records, be cautious! The year of immigration is one of the most MIS-remembered dates of all. So always allow a few years on either side of a precise year.

You also say you have looked "on all the lists I could find". Since I don't know what lists you have found, I have no idea where you've looked! Have you checked microfilmed ships passenger lists? Have you checked websites such as which have published all of the available ships passenger lists from 1820 on?

I would also be careful assuming he came into New Orleans. Sailing into Canada was much cheaper and you may find that is where you need to look. See Ships Passenger Lists to Canada: Filling In The Gaps for help with Canadian Ships Passenger Lists. He may also have sailed into a different port in the USA and travelled overland to his final destination.

Have you found him in 1860 census? Have you looked for naturalization records? They may show more detail that you need.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Clues Galore in Ships Passenger Lists

Judith's Question:
I am trying to locate any information on my grandmother. Her name was Lucy Williams nee Dance. She married my grandfather who was a Canadian soldier WW1 in 1917. Grandfather name Alfred Williams Military ID 23327 date of birth May 23,1891. My father was born in England Sept 27,1917 record of birth at Somerset House London # P.S.R 7973/46. My grandmother did come to Canada sometime after my father was born. She died in or around Montreal Quebec in November 1919. This is all the information I have on her. My father was only 2 when she passed and had no other information. Everyone who might have had information have also passed

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Judith, Not having your father's name made this a bit difficult but I managed to find him.

The CEF database online shows your grandfather as

Name: Alfred Allen Williams
Residence: Cookshire, Quebec, Canada
Birth Date: 23 May 1891
Birth Location: Rowley, Massachusetts, United States of America
Relative: Mrs W A Williams
Relationship: Mother. same addy
Regiment Number: 23327

He is a steel worker, single man, and transferred to the PPCLI (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, which co-incidentally is the unit my son was first assigned to as an Infantry soldier)

On 25 march 1916 Alfred enlisted Sherbrook Quebec. If you have not sent for his full file you should do so. The online records are only the front and back of the one page Attestation Papers.

Next step was a quick look in Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 found on There I found your father Dudley travelling with his mother, Lucy A. age 20, who was going to Cookshead Quebec with her husband, a returning soldier

Name: Dudley Williams
Age: 1
Date of Arrival: 28 Jan 1919
Vessel: Megantic
Port of Arrival: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Port of Departure: Liverpool, England
Roll: T-14794

So by checking ships passenger lists we have an exact date of arrival for your grandmother - 28 January 1919.

In order to find more information (hopefully a death or burial record) for your grandmother after her arrival in Quebec in January 1919, I suggest you visit Quebec & Eastern Townships Genealogy Research page and search for her. I received 8 "hits" for Lucy and Lucy Ann Williams for census, church and cemetery records.