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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Searching for Ships Passenger List leads to Passport Records

Jane asked about a ships passenger list for an ancestor but her question led to some interesting details in passport applications:

Found naturalization papers for my grandfather, Harry Belmont (b 1868), indicating he came to New York in 1880 aboard the ship Earnwell orErnwell from the port of Marseille. Can find no record of this ship arriving. does have the ship listing with a few dates, but not 1880.


You have to be cautious with immigration years. They are
very often misremembered. When your grandfather naturalized,
it was not required that there be a check (verification) of
the dates he gave. So he could be in error.

See for more info on
naturalization records in the USA

I did a little looking for you and found some interesting data. If I have the right Harry Belmont, in one census year he claims to have immigrated in 1883 so you can see how the years can differ. in the census he says he is a waiter, born France.

Your grandfather also applied for Emergency passports in
both 1892 and 1897. These are found on

On 6 May 1892 he stated that he was currently living in Vienna and needed a passport. He further states he arrived from Marseilles in Ny in 1880 (no name of ship given) and lived for 10 years in NY. He says he was naturalized 5 Sept 1890 in NY and that he left the USA on 6 Feb 1891 on board the Earnwell (?) and landed in Marseilles 17 April 1891. So here we have evidence that the ship was leaving New York for Marseilles, not the other way around, UNLESS he happened to sail on the same ship first time over to USA.

I say first time bcause he goes on to say that he lived in France and Russia since Apr 17 /91 and is currently in Vienna but intends to return to USA within 2 years to take up permanent residence

There is more, you should access this to see the whole document (it's on ). It gives a precise place of birth, his occupation (steward) and a physical description

He applied again on 14 Sept 1897 stating he is living temporarily in Vienna. It is basically the same immigration info - again, there is no ship name, just arriving in NY in 1880. He references his leaving NY on the Earnwill/Ernwell in 1891 landing in Marseilles in April that year. Now he says he is a clerk. You can access the complete document on

I hope this helps a bit, I am not convinced he arrived in 1880 on the Ship Earnwell or Ernwill, so if I were you I'd search under his name for any ship arriving that year (and perhaps a year on either side)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Question About the Upper Canada Land Petitions

Jill left a new comment on my blog post *NEW* Upper Canada Land Petitions Index available online and it contains a very good question so I"m going to answer it here

This is very exciting. I've had a look through the index and cannot find my ancestor who received land by Crown Patent in 1792 (I have a copy of the patent; there's not a lot of information there).
I might not understand the process, but I thought there had to be a petition before a patent was granted. Is that not correct? Any suggestions why a patent exists but a petition doesn't?
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Jill, great question. It can be rather confusing as one would think that a petition *had* to be submitted before a patent was granted. But that was not always the case. Your ancestor might not have submitted a petition OR he might have submitted one but it has not survived.

Procedures for granting Crown Land changed constantly but could involve:

* The settler's initial Petition to the Crown for land

* An Order-in-Council from a federal Land Board granting their request

* A Warrant from Ontario's Attorney General ordering the surveying of a lot

* The Fiat from Ontario Surveyor General authorizing a grant of the surveyed lot

* A Location Ticket permitting the settler to reside on the lot

* The Patent transferring ownership of the lot from the Crown to the settler.
If you cannot find your ancestor in the Land Petitions, you may find his or her name in the Land Books. Upper Canada Land Books do not usually contain much more information than the names of petioners for land but at the least you will know if a petition existed at one time. Sometimes you will be lucky and find more detail in the comments section of the Land Book reference, but not often.

Be careful to check variant spellings in the Index to Upper Canada Land Petitions. Now that the index is online, you can use wildcards to be sure you're getting all variations.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Finding an Upper Canada (Ontario) Marriage Bond Before 1867

Walter asked about Protestant marriages in Ontario in the early 1860s.
My ancestor married in Ontario around 1861. How can I find his marriage when there aren't any Marriage Registrations online before 1869? They were Protestant.
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Hi Walter - That's a challenge. It can be difficult to find a marriage that took place in a Protestant church in Quebec (Lower Canada) or Ontario (Upper Canada) before 1867.

Marriage bonds were prepared for Protestant marriages by licence. After obtaining the bond, a licence was issued and the marriage took place a few days later. The good news is that Library and Archives Canada holds the following:

* 2960 marriage bonds for Lower Canada (Quebec) issued between 1779 and 1858

* 7899 marriage bonds for Upper Canada (Ontario) issued between 1803 and 1865

A typical bond has the following information:

* Name of the future husband
* Name of the future wife
* Their place of residence
* Names of the sureties (people who knew the groom and would
guarantee that no legal reasons existed why the couple could not marry)
* Date and place where the bond was issued

These bonds are freely available online at Library & Archives Canada

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's all in the Name!

Bill asked about a ship's name:
I have an ancestor of the American Virginia Colony late 17th early 18th Century who was co-owner of a ship noted as "Loyall Judith" of London - sometimes mentioned as "Pink Loyal Judith." Why is the ship referred to with two different names?

Ask Olive Tree Responds: A "pink" is a type of ship. The pink Loyal Judith just means the Loyal Judith was a pink - which is a small ship with a narrow stern.

So the ship's name was LOYAL JUDITH and she was a pink (type of vessel, not name of ship)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finding More Details on a Canadian WW1 Military Ancestor

John asked about Canadian Military records:

I'm looking for information on how to determine where my Great Uncle  fought in the 1st World War.  His Attestation papers for Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force state that he was part of the 1st Battallion C.O.B., C.E.F.for 8 weeks then transferred to R.C.R. for 4 months as listed under "former  Naval or Military service". I have his regimental number .  Where do I go from here to get more information on where he fought and what he did?  Do these records exist?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Hi Jim -  what you have is just a small part of the whole file. The attestation papers are only the front and back of the man's signup sheet.

You want to order the full record from LAC (Library & Archives Canada). Just go to
the site and read how to order them, or go to The Canadian Military Heritage Project and click on FIND YOUR MILITARY ANCESTOR

The full file will give his movements on specific dates and often much more. There is no consistency though. You may get one page of information or you may get dozens. It depends what has survived.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Was Your Ancestor a Loyalist?

Diane asked a question about possible Loyalist ancestors

James Wheeler, born in Upper Canada c.1782. He married Mary Slingerland (Daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Slingerland) born c. 1790, bapt. 24 Apr 1803. On 28 Jun 1820, Mary Wheeler of Charlotteville Twp., Norfolk Co. received an Order in Council for a grant of 200 acres of land as the daughter of Richard Slingerland, UE. In 1822, they lived at Grantham Twp., Lincoln Co. In 1844, they lived at Rainham Twp., Haldimand Co. then returned to Norfolk County and settled on Lot 12, Concession 2, Walsingham Twp., northwest of Port Rowan. In the 1852 Census of Walsingham Twp. p.7 , James Wheeler was listed aged 74 with his wife Mary 60, and son Isaac 20. All were born in Upper Canada, Wesleyan Methodist. This information is from Robert Mutrie of A Long Point Settlers Genealogy.

We are trying to find out who James Wheeler's parents were. It says that Richard's father was reported born in France (sic) and his mother in Canada. It says in this information though, that James Wheeler, was born in Upper Canada. Whether the France means New France in Quebec, we do not know.

Someone suggested and I saw a list, that a Samuel Wheeler could possibly be James father, as their names were both listed together as being in the Butler's Rangers of the British Infantry. But I don't know if that is so or not. Is there any help you can give me in this?
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Dear Diane - Let's tackle the question of your James being a Loyalist. With a birth year of circa 1782 he was not old enough to be one. The American Revolution ended in 1783 when he was one year old.

Second problem - James does not appear on any lists of Butler's Rangers that I have found. I have 3 ancestors who fought in Butler's Rangers and was able to have a look on your behalf in my resources.

I checked "Early Settlers in Niagara including the First "Census" 1782,1783, 1784, 1786, 1787" published in 1992 by the Niagara Peninsula Branch of the OGS. This is basically a list of disbanded Butler's Rangers, their units, the victualling lists (for rations to the men and their families) and other assorted census substitutes. There is *no* James Wheeler or Weeler listed. There is a Samuel Wheeler on a list of those disbanded rangers receiving rations and willing to settle on Crown Lands at Niagara. The date is 20 July 1784 and he is alone - no wife, no children. He received 1 ration for one person daily.

He appears on a second list as Samuel Weeler as being in Cpt Lewis Genevay's Co. of the Corps of Rangers (Butler's) dated 30 Nov. 1783 - no family of any kind listed with him.

I checked the Old UEL List (there is a James Wheeler listed there but he was a Treasury Loyalist who settled in New Brunswick) Samuel Wheeler is on the Old UEL list and it is noted he was a soldier in the Kings Rangers.

Samuel does not appear in Reid's book "The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons & Daughters of the American Loyalists...." but don't be misled! Reid's book on Loyalists was never intended to be the Bible of Loyalist families. Reid simply organized index cards into what he thought were family groups. *Many* if not most families are incomplete. Some individuals are incorrectly placed.

Reid's book is a wonderful resource, and a great starting point for your Loyalist research, but you should verify independently that a child he places in a family group does belong there (by looking up ALL petitions for that family),and never never assume that because an individual isn't in the family group he/she doesn't exist or isn't a Loyalist.

No one list of Loyalists can be considered "the" List. There is no simple definitive and accurate list. You must consult them all, from the Old UEL list to Reid's book to all the variant lists made.

After 1796 the Executive Council kept a list of Loyalists based on District Rolls. This became the Executive Council UE List and contains about 3,500 names. It is not considered a complete list, but it is considered more accurate than the Crown Lands (Old UEL) list.

The Crown Lands Dept. created a second list, based on other records. This became the Old UEL List and contains approximately 6,000 names, but not all qualified.

When searching Loyalists you also need to consult pay lists, muster rolls, and the land records. For a good reference to what is
available, see Brenda Dougall Merriman's book Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the records Look under Brenda's chapter on Loyalists.

You would be wise to consult the Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) because Loyalists and their families petitioned in order to receive their allowed land grants. One thing that isvery important is to recognize that the Petitions of Loyalists for land are not uniform. You may find one small petition, giving just enough facts to
persuade the Crown to give that person a free grant as a Loyalist. You may find page after page of affidavits,testimonies, and so on, all documentation to prove the petitioner's claim.

Also see this article on steps to take researching a Loyalist

So the bottom line is that your James could not be a Loyalist but he could have been the son of Loyalist. However Samuel Wheeler in Butler's Rangers does not appear to have been married or have children. Having said that my recommendation is that you start from scratch. Begin with James. Note every fact and every source.

Search the sources you have not yet looked at. Don't jump to conclusions that Man A might be his father unless you have some solid evidence to support that theory. Don't rely on others checking sources and giving you information unless they copy it accurately from the resource and provide the full source notation.

Once someone paraphrases what is found, there is tremendous opportunity for error. Sometimes other researchers, trying to be helpful, will give you their interpretation of a record, not the exact wording. That can be very wrong and lead you down an incorrect path.

Be prepared to find out that your James wasn't the son of a Loyalist. If he was, he should have filed a petition for his land claim (a free grant). But keep searching all the records so that you can eliminate possibilities and correct any errors you might have in your previous research

Friday, September 17, 2010

Answering a Question about the Van Slyke Family and their Mohawk Heritage

Diane asked three very interesting questions. I'm going to respond to them all, one at a time. The first one involves our shared ancestor Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke and his Mohawk wife Ots-Toch.

Am also interested in Och-Toch, the Mohawk wife of Antonissen Van Slyke 1604-1676. I know her father is Jacques Hertel 1603-1651 but was wondering, if any information was ever found on Och-Toch's mother, her grandparents on the Mohawk side?
Diane - I loved reading your questions and am going to spend some time working on your first two about Loyalists. I've chosen your third question to answer because it's about my ancestors too - Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke (you mistakenly called him "Antonissen") and his Mohawk wife Ots-Toch.

Cornelis Van Slyke's story which is fully documented is of a Dutchman who came to the New World as a carpenter at the age of 30, who became an interpreter for the Mohawk nation,was adopted into the tribe, and who met and married a French-Mohawk woman who never left her native village. Their children, all raised at Canajoharie, one of the Mohawk castles or villages, became well-known and respected in the Dutch community. All except one left the village and married Dutch settlers.

I am going to assume that you don't know about my books on the Van Slyke family. My most recent is The Van Slyke Family in America: A Genealogy of Cornelise Antonissen Van Slyke, 1604-1676 and his Mohawk Wife Ots-Toch, including the story of Jacques Hertel, 1603-1651, Father of Ots-Toch and Interpreter to Samuel de Champlain REVISED EDITION published May 2010. Coil bound 8.5x11. 287 p. ISBN: 978-0-9680744-5-9 Here is a link to an Order Form or Paypal Orders

It will answer all your questions! It's 287 pages are chock full of detail on Jacques Hertel, Cornelis Van Slyke, Ots-Toch and their descendants.

I stress in my book that we do not know with 100% certainty that Cornelis' wife used the name Ots-Toch but it has passed on down via family lore and fairly early writings that this was her name. Nothing is known of her maternal side, although there is some supposition that her mother's father may be known. I am not convinced so do not wish to suggest this theory.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Let Research Flaws Multiply!

Carrol asked an intriguing question about her great-grandmother from Ireland to Boston and on to Ontario Canada in 1847. My interest was piqued so I decided to do some research on her behalf. That led me down some very interesting paths and sadly (for Carrol), the conclusion that her original research is flawed!

Having errors creep into our genealogy research is not unusual. It's not always easy to keep on an accurate path in the excitement (and desperation) of the search for ancestors.

Carrol, let me show you what I found versus what you presented to me below. I'm going to go step by step through your email and insert my comments, sources and details.

I'm trying to find any information on my great grandmother, Ann Whelan. Apparently from Cork.

She came to Canada in 1849, according to the 1901 Census.

Ask Olive Tree: Carrol, the year of immigration is the most MIS-remembered of all years, so be cautious taking one source (the 1901 census) and using the immigration year as set in stone. Always allow a few years on either side, and better still, try to find another source which provides an immigration date.

I have a FTM disk listing passengers from Ireland. There is an Ann Whelan from Cork arriving at the port of Boston in 1847. She is 14 yrs. of age (which corresponds with previously found information) & is accompanied by her brother, Thomas Whelan. At least I assume Thomas is her brother. Ann is a spinster, Thomas a bachelor. This ships list is for the Brig Mary. On OliveTree ships list for this ship & date there is no Ann or Thomas Whelan listed.

Ask Olive Tree: Carrol where do I start? You sent me to my Ships Passenger Lists on my Olive Tree Genealogy site

I don't see a passenger list for a ship MARY from Ireland to Boston in 1847 on my site.  I do have a list for a ship called CATHERINE MARY sailing from Bermuda to Boston in 1847, but no other lists to Boston that year.

Next problem - your statement that Thomas and Ann are travelling *together* on *the Brig Mary Ann* and that Ann is *from Cork* (or are saying that the ship sailed from Cork??)

Those statements are all incorrect. I first checked FTM's CD #256 "Passenger and Immigration Lists Boston 1821-1850" because to help researchers I need to be able to DUPLICATE their findings! In other words I need to find what they found so I can see if there are clues that might have been missed.

What I found was that the index shows an Ann WHALAN (note the spelling. A little friendly tip is to quote your source exactly as recorded, as this helps the person you are writing to), age 14 arriving in Boston 24 May 1847.

No ship name is given but the orginal source microfilm is noted as M277 Roll 22. This is the correct film for those Boston Passenger Lists. So far so good except remember that NO SHIP'S NAME is given. A Thomas WHALAN is also noted (as you mentioned) but again - no ships name is given.

I next went to Boston Ships Passenger Lists via Steve Morse's One Step Search Engine. I found Ann, and also Thomas listed in the online index search. Both arrived in Boston on 24 May 1847. But they were NOT on the same ship!

14 year old Ann Whalan is noted as sailing on the ship OMEGA (not Brig Mary !) Her place of origin is Ireland. She is not travelling with Thomas WHALAN. 17 year old Thomas is sailing on MINSTREL. Both ships left Liverpool (not Cork) and sailed to Boston. Thomas is listed as being of English origin, not Irish.

So your assumption that they are brother and sister may be correct, but it's not looking very likely. Your statement that they were on board the same ship (the Brig Mary) is not correct.

There *was* a ship Mary that sailed to Boston from Cork Ireland but it arrived May 17, 1847 and was refused entry so sailed on to Halifax Nova Scotia.

In 1856 Ann Whelan is at Clarence Creek, Ontario where she is married to my ggrandfather, Jean Baptiste (John) Payie (PayƩ, Paille, Payet, Payette, etc.!!). In September of that year she has given birth to her first child, under the name Payette. I know nothing else about Ann except that she undoubtedly was one of the Famine Irish.

Ask Olive Tree: Another gentle piece of advice - please give locations in full when asking for help. I have no idea where Clarence Creek is so I had to scramble around to find it.

On the 1901 Census for Nipissing there is a Thomas Whelan listed along with his two sons, Stephen & James. Their names have been scratched off with the notation "they had already left the area"
Ask Olive Tree: You sent me scrambling again. does not have these three names. I used wildcards. I used date of birth only for Thomas. I tried every trick I could think of and nothing.

So I went to and found them. But here is the interesting part - and I must add that I consulted the actual image of the census page - there are no ages given for Thomas, James or Stephen. There are no locations of birth. So how can you (and why would you?) assume that Thomas is the father?

It might be more likely to theorize that they are three brothers, possibly the sons I found for a Thomas Whelan and wife Sarah living in Admaston, Renfrew Ontario. (found in 1871 and 1881 census) The point is that we do not know their relationship to each other!

Also, several names are crossed out before getting to the Payette individual. The notation does not read "they had already left the area" A check of the image shows it to read " Left before the arrival of [illegible]"

Am I being too nit-picky? NO! Please read my blog post called "The Importance of Being a Copy-Cat" which is about copying original records EXACTLY as we see them, not as we interpret them, not as we want them to read but as they were written. It's important to realize that this notation might mean that the 3 men (and note it refers to all 3, not just Stephen and James) simply were not home when the census taker came around. It might also mean that they had moved away. We don't know the meaning, and thus it is important to copy it accurately.

Along with this Thomas Whelan & his 2 sons, is James Payette, a Shanty Man. There is no question that this James Payette is my great uncle, the son of Ann Whelan & John Pay(ie).
Ask Olive Tree:  The Census image does not show "James Payette" as you stated. It reads "William J. Payette" He states he was born Dec 22, 1860, and is married. I have no way of knowing if this is your great-uncle. But it would have been helpful to have known this was the name on that 1901 census. No wonder I could not find him on when I tried to duplicate what you had found.

The name James strikes me as being a "family" given name for the family of Ann. My reasoning being that all the other children of Ann & John appear to have French names.

Ask Olive Tree: I wondered what you meant by "French names" so I had a look for the family in census records. In 1871 they were in Clarence, Russell District Ontario. The children's names are given as: Julia, James, Ellen, Alexander, John and Nelson. Those are not French names. They are very common N. American or English or Irish names! My own great grandfather (Irish) was named Alexander. So your conclusion that James was a family name may be based on incorrect reasoning.

My question is:How do I find out what happened to the Ann & Thomas Whelan after they arrived in Boston in 1847?

Ask Olive Tree: Carrol, I don't think that's what you need to do. I hope I've shown you to your satisfaction that your original research is flawed. There is no shame in that, but it does mean that you need to start over.

My suggestions follow:

* Document your Ann Whelan very carefully.

* Don't jump to conclusions without having accurate sources to support them.

* Don't theorize without some evidence to support your theory.

* Go slowly and be careful that you are marking down your information accurately.

* Assess what you've found and go from there working backwards as you go.

Be prepared that if your great grandmother sailed directly from Ireland to Canada, you may not ever find her on a ships' passenger list. Those are challenging years, as Canada did not require that passenger manifests be archived before 1865. I've provided a URL ("challenging years") which will give you a list of all available ships passenger lists to Canada in the time period you want. Any that are online are clickable links.

It was much cheaper to sail to Canada and if she fled Ireland during the famine, it is unlikely she had much money. Just something to keep in mind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding an Ancestor's Origin and Immigration to S. Carolina

Susan asked about early immigration records

I would like to know when, where my family of Gilliard, Gillyards or any other spelling of the name name arrived in America

It is stated by all family researchers I have spoken with that they arrived in Charleston, SC. But dumb me I want to have a document that shows me they arrived in Charleston or any other port if possible. I believe the name is French so how/why the families were in Spain is another mystery.

* Joseph Marion Gilliard b. 1770 Spain d.1850 Lowndes or Brooks County GA
* Joseph Jasper Gilliard b. 1789 Spain d. 23 July 1865 Alachua County

No one has absolute proof of the birth places; it's all so far just hear say.
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Susan. It's very wise of you to want documentation of family stories! Family stories are often wrong, or have a bit of truth but are mixed up. So a good researcher will never rely on them absolutely, but will use a family story as a clue, then find documents to support it or prove it incorrect.

You haven't told me what sources you have already searched or found but your first item should be census records. Then I'd look for land records. Try to find some type of document that provides information on their land of origin - is it France or Spain? What does the 1860 census give for place of birth?

Also sometimes individuals from Portugal or Spain were listed as black or mulatto - have any records that you found for your family given this as ethnic origin?

Just because they settled in S. Carolina does not mean much in terms of immigration. They may have arrived elsewhere. You need to first develop some kind of time frame for their immigration. You haven't told me what year you first find documentation of them being in USA so it's difficult for me to help you with specific ideas of where to look for ships passenger lists.

Step 2: find out what ports of arrival were in use during the time frame of their arrival. Then find out what records have survived for those ports. Here is a starting point for ships arriving in South Carolina but they could have arrived via any port that was in use at the time, and then gone on to S. Carolina

Have you looked for obituaries of the two men you listed, and their wives and children? An obituary or death record might list the country of origin.

I would gather all the records you can on the family. Sometimes it is wiser to completely fill out ALL details of your ancestors in their new country before you attempt to find their immigration.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finding Ships Passenger Lists to Virginia before 1756

Vickie asked about immigration
I am very new to your web site, and I'm not sure how to get around. I am looking for James Stedman jr & sr than came from scotland and is residing in va . I know he was born in 1729 and came over before 1756. Can you advise me how to look up his immigration date and the ship that he came over on. Any help would be much appreciated.
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Vickie. I'm not sure if you are referring to my Olive Tree Genealogy website in your question but I'll assume you are.

To see all ships passenger lists to Virginia you will want to start at Ships to USA then look down the page for the link to ships to Virginia. It is under STEP 2 of the 5-Step Search for Your Immigrant Ancestor in North America

Be forewarned that before 1820 ships passenger lists to America were not required to be archived. That means you may or may not find a surviving manifest for your ancestor.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Narrowing the Time Frame for an Ancestor's Immigration

Nancy is trying to narrow the timeline for an ancestor's arrival in Upper Canada (Ontario) from New York before 1861

I understand that the 1851 Humberstone Twp., Welland Co. Census records no longer exist. Can you direct me to any additional Humberstone records in the early 1850's. Was there such an item as an Ag Census at that time? My Humberstone ancestor, Conrad Robert is found in the 1861 census and his land ownership was identified through the 1862 Tremaine Map of Lincoln/Welland Counties. I'm trying to place his arrival in Ontario from New York a bit more accurately
ASK OLIVE TREE REPLY: Hi Nancy. I'm really glad you told me where Conrad was in 1861. I often like to have a look at what has been found so I can see if maybe there's another clue that was missed. Two sets of eyes are often better than one!

In this case, I notice that on the 1861 census, Conrad's children are listed as being born in Germany up to ca 1851 then the next child born ca 1853 is born in U.C. (Upper Canada)

That narrows your timeframe for immigration to ca 1850 to 1854 (allowing a year on either side of the ages given in that census)

Another help is that the 1861 census has an Agricultural Section. This page has a list of all questions asked on this 1861 Agricultural Census. You should also look at Agricultural Returns - an overlooked genealogical treasure trove!

Agricultural returns provide information such as lot and concession number, acreage, livestock and agricultural products. For the 1851 and 1861 Census, the agricultural returns are listed by the name of the head-of-household. The agricultural returns for 1881, 1891 and 1901 were not retained.

You say you found Conrad's land location listed elsewhere, which is a terrific clue but I'd verify it from the 1861. Also the Agricultural census will provide you with interesting details about your family such as numbers of farm animals by type of animal, how much acreage he has cleared, what he's planted, etc.

But the best part of having an exact Lot, Concession number and a township and county is that you can now search the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for that piece of land. This will tell you the exact date when Conrad bought the land (and when it passed from his hands to the next owner).

Because most settlers, especially farmers, bought their land as soon after arrival as possible, and Conrad was a farmer, you may find that this was the case with Conrad. Even if he didn't purchase the land immediately on arrival in Upper Canada, it will help narrow that timeline even further. I've included a link to a page explaining how to obtain the Abstract Indexes to Deeds.

As for finding earlier (pre 1861) assessment or tax records, the best course of action is always to check with the Ontario Archives or the County GenWeb to see what is available for your specific area of interest.

There are Municipal records available (nothing standardized, you must search for your specific township and county of interest). Primarily created between 1845 and 1900, these records include assessment and collector's rolls; local census records (pre-1851); voters lists and poll books; and local Town and Township council records.

The Niagara District has Census & Assessment Rolls, 1828-1849 which may be too early for your needs. In fact a quick check of the Archives of Ontario website shows that Humberstone Township only has one surviving record for 1828 - an early census.

I believe your best plan of attack is the land records.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finding a Missing English Ancestor in Canada after 1910

Rod's question was very intriguing
I am looking for Charles Stanley Morris (known as Stanley) . He was born in March, Cambridgeshire, England in 1877 and apparently disappeared in 1910-11 leaving his wife with two sons. He is the great "family secret". There is some thought amongst the English relatives I've found that he may have come to Canada.

I found the attached marriage record. It says nothing about this particular Stanley Morris nor his wife Mae Felker except their names which is very odd. I traced her. She died a just a few years after they were married. Her death record says nothing about Stanley. Maybe he left her (too).

The only other clue I have is the marriage license number - 19535. Do you know of any way I can find a record of that license? Were copies made at the time of issuance? If so, have those copies been stored anywhere you know of?

Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Rod attached a copy of the marriage record he found. It was most unusual, having only the names of the bride and groom and the date of marriage - no other information re their ages, places of residence, parents' names, etc. So I had a look on and found the original registration under the name STANLY MORRIS. Since I'd used wildcars and searched for STAN*, this variant spelling popped up in the search results.

Unfortunately Rod did not tell me the names of his ancestor's parents so I couldn't eliminate or confirm this as his Stanley. Given the age of this Stanley Morris, I suspect it is not the right man.

But here is the information contained on the full marriage registration on

Name: Stanly Morris
Age: 20
Estimated birth year: abt 1891
Father Name: Joseph Morris
Mother Name: Ellen Howe

Spouse Name: Mae Felker
Spouse's Age: 21
Spouse Father Name: William Felker
Spouse Mother Name: Margory Nunn
Marriage Date: 13 Dec 1911
Marriage Location: Wellington
Marriage County: Wellington
Archives of Ontario Microfilm: MS932_182

You said your Stanley disappeared ca 1910 and was born ca 1877. There is a Stanley Morris living in Hamilton in the 1911 census. He's the right age, born England and immigrated in 1910. You would need to narrow your field of suspects by checking on this Stanley's occupation - does it match your man?

Perhaps you know the month of your Stanley's birth - does it match the 1911 census?

It looks like your Stanley married Mabel Martha Tibbett in 1902 in North Witchford Cambridgeshire? That marriage is found on FreeBMD. His birth was registered in Cambridgeshire between October and December 1876 so your 1877 birth year is incorrect. This is also found on FreeBMD or on the free version on

You should be able to find Stanley on a Ships Passenger List to either USA or Canada. Have you checked Their immigration records are free this Labour Day Weekend.

Also, try to compare the men you find in Canada that fit your Stanley, with the real Stanley. That seems to me the most logical way to approach your puzzle.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Finding a Catholic Death Record in Ontario in 1861

Julia asked about a death in Ontario Canada in 1861
I am researching regarding the untimely death of my ancestor John Coughlin at age 29. He resided in Biddulph Township in 1861, when he died. His family resided in Stephen Township and he is buried at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church in Mount Carmel. Can you direct me as to where I should look?
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hello Julia - unfortunately Vital Registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths did not begin in Ontario Canada until 1869.

You will have to find the local church (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) and ask to consult their records if they exist. Many Catholic churches do not allow the church books to be consulted so be prepared.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Abbreviated Names in Genealogy Records

Mitch asked about a set of early ships passenger lists to Virginia found on my website at

Contained in the the following link on your site are a number of names beginning with "Tho:" Are you able to explain what that means, please? For that matter, "Jo:"? I hope you are able to help, as I am stumped!

ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Hi Mitch. "Tho." refers to the given name Thomas. No doubt the original record had the small superscript "s" added, which is the common method of denoting this abbreviated name.

As for "Jo" you will find two schools of thought on this - that it refers to the given name John or the given name Jonathan. Usually you see it as "Jno" so perhaps "Jo" is a transcription error.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Copies of Your Own Naturalization Records

Sandra wrote asking for help with her own naturalization records

 I am looking for my naturalization form.   I have contacted the Immigration Office, but need the certificate number from the document I am trying to replace in order to apply for  a new one... catch 22 - need help...

 Naturalized: May 12, 1994
 Washington County, Maine

My understanding is that for naturalization records after 1956, Freedom of Information requests must be sent to the appropriate BCIS District Office

I would simply do that - send in an FoI request and ask for a copy of your records. That should give you the numbers you need to request any specialized forms you might need.