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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is This MY Great Great Grandma?

Richard's genealogy question is about a discrepancy for his great-great grandmother:
My great great grandma was born in Sept 1854, she came to the US in 1860. She was married in 1873. Up to that point there is no problem, after that period there is. From the 1880 census onward she has a completely different middle name from her birth record. She even named her children this name, and I am extremely confused. I have been doing genealogy for a long time but never encountered this and it concerns me. Is this possible and what would be the reason why she doesn't use her real middle name? Could someone have told her the wrong middle name? She came here as child and she probably never saw her birth record from England, why would she need to if she was here as a child? So I am thinking that her stepmother told her wrong (her mother died or they were divorced, and I can't find her...that is a mystery for another day!). Her dad was there so why wouldn't he get it right? Do you think I need to ask myself if I have the right person (everything fits except that middle name!)? Thank you very much for your kind assistance, it is greatly appreciated!
ASK OLIVE TREE GENEALOGY response: Hi Richard. You have quite a challenge and interesting discrepancy on your hands. You haven't told me what steps you've taken to prove this is the right ancestor. So I need to ask you but first let me call the woman whose birth record you have "A" and the woman in the census from 1880 on "B"

1. Have you found a marriage record for Great Great Grandmother "A" whose birth record you have?

2. Have you checked to be sure that great great grandpa didn't marry TWO women with the same first name but different middle names? In other words perhaps "A" is NOT the same woman as "B" who you say gave her children that different middle name... Perhaps "A" died between 1873 and 1880, and grandpa remarried to "B"

3. Have you looked for an obit for "B"? Perhaps her maiden name is given and that will prove or DISprove if she is the same woman as "A"

4. Have you checked the marriages of all the children of great great grandpa? They should give their mother's maiden name and again that will allow you to see if "A" and "B" are the same person

You asked me why a woman would not use her "real" middle name - assuming that "A" and "B" are the same person and that she decided to use a different middle name, what could be the reasons? (by the way what ARE the two names she used??)

- perhaps she didn't like her middle name
- perhaps she didn't know it and as you suggested, perhaps her step mom told her it was something else
- don't get too hung up on "why didn't her father set her straight" because sometimes men do not know their children's birth dates and it would not surprise me if a middle name wasn't known.
- since you didn't tell me the two different names (I am extremely curious!!) is it possible that one is a nickname or variaton of the other? For example Delia and Bridget are the same name. Helena/Magdelena/Lena are interchangeable too. There are many names like that.

So please do comment or write to me privately and tell me the middle names used, maybe I can help further.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When Asking for Help, Provide Needed Information

Ching asked a question about his (her?) grandfather

Hi, I wonder if you could help me find my grandfather in my father's side, I don't know how to start because my father didn't got a chance to meet him since birth, No one even wants to tell my grandpa's name. I don't know what to do now. Can you give me some solutions? thank you! response:

Dear Ching - You've given me a generic question so I can only give you a brief generic answer.

You have not told me a location (where did your father or grandfather live? USA? Canada? China? Australia? Germany? .... or.....)

You have not given me a year or approximate year (or even century!). Since I have no idea how old YOU are, I can't being to estimate a year of birth for your grandfather. For example, if you are 20, and your dad was 20 when you were born, and your grandpa 20 when your dad was born, that takes us back to an estimated birth year of 1950 or so. So, one necessary fact in any query is LOCATION

Provide a continent, a state, a province, a parish, a city or town name - something to allow the person to guide you. All countries hold different genealogy records at different times and in different repositories

But if you are 50 and your dad was 30 and your grandpa 30 we start getting estimated birth years for grandpa of circa 1900! See the difference? And of course I have no way of knowing anyone's ages when their son/daughter was born. Another necessary fact in a query is YEAR

Always give some kind of estimate in a query, such as "My grandfather was born around 1910"

So jumping back to your question. You will have to start looking for birth and marriage records. Find your dad's birth record or his marriage record. That should give his father's name (depending what country you are searching in, and the time period!)

Perhaps there are available census records, depending on your dad's year of birth. And where he was born and lived.

Talk to family members - aunts, uncles, cousins, anyone you can find, and ask questions.

One other suggestion when asking for help - it's best to follow instructions on the website as to where to write for the help you want. You posted your query as a comment on another blog post. But at the top of every page on my blog it explains that you must send your query to ASKOLIVE@GMAIL.COM

Normally I delete queries that are posted as comments. I made an exception with yours because I hope you will take my suggestions, rewrite your query with the needed details, and resubmit to the correct email address.

I'd love to help you if I can

Monday, May 23, 2011

Looking For a Scottish Ancestor

Judy asked about James Galloway from Scotland
am looking for immigration records on James H Galloway. The middle name is either Herbert or Hubbard. According to the 1880 US census it states he immigrated in 1898 and was naturalized in 1904. We know thes may or may notbe accurate. I do know in 1907 he married Laura Hanfelder in Madison County, Granite City, IL and they lived there until 1920 where he shows up in Decatur, Macon Co., IL and lived there until his death in 1942. I have not been able to find him in 1900. The story is he immigrated from Glasgow, Scotland; that his parents died when he was a baby and his grandfather adopted him. The grandfather was a ships's captain and took James with him and tutored him on the ships. This is just a story. We do know that his mother's name was Mary White (maiden name I presume).James was approximately age 23 when he came to US. Can you help?

ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Dear Judy, I'm going to assume you made a typo when you said that the 1880 census gave James' immigration as 1898 and naturalization in 1904. Obviously if he immigrated in 1898 he isn't on the 1880 census, nor could that census predict his future years of immigration and naturalization.

But in any case, if you pop over to FamilySearch and search their Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, you'll find James' death in 1942.

The image is not available but here is the search result information

Name: James H. Galloway
Death Date: 06 Oct 1942
Death Place: Decatur, Macon County, Illinois
Age: 68
Birth Date: 13 Jul 1874
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Father: James Galloway
Father's Birth Place: Scotland
Mother: Mary White
Mother's Birth Place: Scotland
Occupation: Plant Supt.-Staley bMfg.Co.
Residence: Decatur, Macon County, Illinois
Spouse: Laura Hanfelder
Burial Date: 09 Oct 1942
Burial Place: Decatur, Macon County, Illinois
Cemetery: Fairlawn
Digital Folder Number: 4008600
Image Number: 1357
Film Number: 1851787
Volume/Page/Certificate Number: 3956

Now you have his exact date of birth and parents' names. Scottish records are very good and I'm quite sure a search of Scotland's People would turn up much more on this family.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Missing Person Means a Missing PIece of the Genealogy Puzzle

Michelle asked about her father
I have searched and searched and searched and searched till im all out of ability and resources to look. father, yes...THAT close to me, is a man I cant seem to find any (if any) inforation on ANYWHERE. I come close, but because the middle name is spelled different, I don’t think its him.

his name:Robert Alan Manning (the one I find is: Robert Allen Manning)

born: sometime in the 1930s ? the other: 1931. my mom was born in 1935, and he was older than her, so hed be 1934 or before that.

married? I don’t know when to my mother (if ever)? the other: has no family so-to-speak of listed beyond mothers name when married: Gay Joanne Suiter

now, heres the tricky part:
my dad was married to at least 3 women and divorced from none of them

1 was in utah, they had 3 sons
2 was in california and had a daughter/moms name was either linda or cheryl, daughter was the oppsite name cheryl or linda
3 my mom, and me

and that’s ALL the wives I know up to me, pretty sure there were others beyond me.

on my birth certificate he lists his birthplace as: Hong Kong. my mom said he was born in San Francisco. he also listed his job as: Movie Director, he was some kind of maintenance man/janitor person

so, knowing he has a lying past...has made it hard. he supposedly has a half brother named: jesse/Jessie/jessy. his mother was supposed to have married allot of men during my fahters growing up years.his father was supposed to have killed himself in texas (date unknown)

he was in the guessing after 1938-1952? if he entered at 18.

how can I even know anything about this family tree when I cant even complete the 1st leaf? id be so appreciative if you could help me and find some resolve or a small clue even..

ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Michelle, you have a lot to figure out and I am sure it's been very frustrating for you. I don't usually give advice for finding a person who might still be living (as your dad might be) because people who disappear usually don't want to be found. But your query captured my interest so I'd like to try to give you some ideas for more reesarch.

I saw another post you made online and it gave a bit more detail so I'll be referring to that as well as what you wrote to me. You mentioned that your parents were together for 2 years but you don't seem sure if they were legally married.

My first step would be to talk to your mother if she is still alive and if it won't upset her. If they were married you may be able to get a copy of the licence which should give your father's name and hopefully his parents' names. Pay close attention to any witness names as they may be relatives. Ask her who came to the wedding.

Also, ask your mom what she remembers during the time they were together - who did they hang around with? His friends? His family? Ask for names, even if they are not related. You may have better luck tracking a friend than trying to immediately find your dad.

Where did he work while they were together? Ask your mom. You might be able to find out more about him through his workplace.

Find out if he ever got mail from a relative - maybe your mother can remember who it was from or what city it was mailed from. Basically you are trying to get clues and details from anything your mom can remember from that time period.

What about your father's parents? Did your grandparents know about you? Did they ever visit? The more you talk to your mom the more she is probably going to remember.

Have you talked to your mom's family - sisters, brothers, cousins? They may know something, some little detail that will help you in your search.

If he told the truth on your birth certificate about being born in Hong Kong, then there should be a ships passenger list for his arrival in the USA. It would be interesting to know why your mom is so sure he was born in San Francisco. Perhaps he told her something of his childhood or teen years which would help you trace him.

Have you checked newspapers to see if there is anything for Robert Allan Manning? You may want to try I would not be concerned with the spelling of Allan. It could be Alan, or Allen and still be the same man.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finding an Ancestor in Ontario before 1858

Susan asked a question about ancestors in St. Mary's Perth County Ontario

My family is the John Edmondson and Mary Ann Oddy. They lived in St Mary's, Blanchard twp. Perth County from 1837'ish. Had 9 children Sarah 1842,Alice 1844, Elizabeth 1845, Annie 1848, William 1849,Thomas 1851, Ruth 1854, James 1857 and John 1858. I am looking for info of any kind.
Susan, I hope you saw my response to another St. Mary's ancestor query. The information about the St. Mary's Museum, the CLRI which is an index to early land records, and early tax and assessment records may be helpful

Also, you should check the online 1851 census for your names. I had a quick look and I see that they lived in a log shanty. That's a very poor and very temporary home, so either they had not been in that location very long or they were quite impoverished. You can see this information on the second page of the 1851 census. Don't overlook that facing page as it tells you things such as who was in school, who was absent when the census was taken, and more. I see that their eldest child is listed as being in school but also noted as being absent.

Interestingly the names recorded in 1851 don't quite agree with your list above. John and Mary Ann are the parents but children in order of birth are William? R., Margaret, Sarah J., Alice, Elizabeth, Ann and what looks like Willin (possibly William which would mean the first child has a different first name than I was able to decipher)

Lucky you, your John is also on the 1851 Agricultural Census for St. Mary's. This will show you his exact land location, how many acres he owned, how many were cultivated, what he had planted, livestock he owned and so on. For more details on the 1851 Agricultural Census see my blog post Finding Ancestors on 1851 Agricultural Census Canada

There is a second adult Edmonson living with him or right next door but I am unable to easily decipher the first name. I'll leave it to you to have that fun! Another fun fact for you to consider is that a William Oddy shows as living very near your ancestor in the Agricultural Census.

I see that a Leonard Edmonson, age 66 is living beside (or possibly in the same house) as your John Edmonson in 1861 census. It may be Leonard whose name I could not decipher in the 1851 Agricultural Census. No doubt he is a relative, perhaps a father or uncle. Again, the Gods of Genealogy are on your side, as your John is found online in the 1861 Agricultural Census

Back to Leonard - he's in the 1851 Personal Census for St. Mary's with his wife Elizabeth. And nearby is William Oddy with family. You'll definitely want to check those individuals out.

I neglected to suggest to Sharon (the other St Mary's query) that she should have a look in the Church Records for St. Mary's but this is something you may want to do. The Edmonson's religion is noted in all the census records so you can have a hunt for the church in St. Mary's that they might have attended.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ancestor Enlists with Two Names in CEF

Debbie asked a question about an ancestor in the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) in WW1

i found a record for a olvar william david bates..except he is listed as muxlow instead of bates.. muxlow is his mothers maiden name and the year of birth is off by two years which makes him 16 when enlisted. My question is how was it possible for him to enlist in 1915 under his mothers maiden name was he was registered in the birth records and on the 1901 census as bates plus he would have been 16. I am baffled

Debbie - I'm pretty sure you meant Orval, not Olvar as your ancestor's first name.

Your first step would be to compare the two sets of attestion papers which you can do on or on the LAC website.

MUXLOW Orval William. Regimental Number 136227 (on
Name: Orval William Muxlow
Birth: Petrolia Ontario
Father: Lazarus Muxlow
Next of Kin Residence: Calgary Alberta
Date of birth: Dec. 12, 1896
Occupation: Teamster
Marital Status: Single
Date: Sept. 8, 1915
Place where Signed Up: Toronto Ontario

Muxlow - back
Age 18 years 9 months
Height: 5' 7 1/4 inches
Scar under left eye, tip of 3rd finger left hand missing
Blue eyes, brown hair
Church of England

In the MUXLOW attestation papers there is a note at the top "Struck off - illegally absent" "Struck off" usually means the soldier has gone AWOL and so has been removed from (struck off) the regiment rolls. You would probably learn more if you order the full file for him. He may have run off when he realized he was going to be sent to the Young Soldier's Battalion for underage boys who lied on their enlistment papers.

BATES, Orval William David. Regimental Number 802072 (not found on but indexed on LAC website) 

You will have to send for BOTH files as the Attestation Papers are one page only. The full file if it has survived will have more information and will allow you to compare the two men.

I suggest that your Orval enlisted under his real name of MUXLOW and lied about his age. He was found out and may have run off (AWOL). If he waited 2 more years until he was of age, he may have been afraid to give his real name as he'd gone AWOL under it. So he used his mom's maiden name of BATES.

Please keep us informed as I'm very curious now!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Finding the Connection to an Established Family Line

Matthew wrote to ask about the Van Slyke family

My moms side of the family is related to Cornelise Antonissen Van Slyke. I can't seem to find out where they marry into that part of the family. My great grandmother would talk about Mohican ancestry and this part of our family. Her maiden name was Lois May Cox and became Lois Snow. Her husband was Harry E. Snow. Her fathers name was George W. Cox and it is hard to find out who her mother was. I believe her mothers maiden name was Baxter. It was in Erie, Pennsylvania and she was born about 1912. I was just wondering if you have any info on the cox family marrying into the Van Slyke side.

ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONDS: Hi Matthew - As you know, the Van Slyke family is near and dear to me. In fact I've written three books on the family. Two are about Cornelis Van Slyke and his Mohawk wife Ots-Toch, as well as their descendants, while the third is about Cornelis' nephew Willem and his descendants.

However I find no mention of COX marrying into the family in my records. So you will have to go about this the old-fashioned way. That means starting with Lois Cox and going back one generation at a time until you either find the link or you prove it didn't happen.

Since it's a Van Slyke query I was really interested in helping you link to the family so I checked census records on It wasn't too difficult to find Lois and her parents in 1920, and to keep going back every ten years to 1910, 1900, etc. tracing her COX lineage.

The problem is finding the maiden names of spouses. To do that you will need to look for marriage records. Some may be online but many will have to be looked for offline, meaning repositories, libraries, archives and state or county government offices.

You could also look for maiden names of spouses in the birth records of children but again you may have to extend your search to offline resources.

Let me give you a brief outline of what I found:

1920 Census Girard, Erie Pennsylvania: 7 year old Lois M. Cox with parents George W. 46 born Pennsylvania, both parents born Pennsylvania. Wife Ida M. 36 born Pennsylvania, both parents born Pennsylvania

1910 Census Girard, Erie Pennsylvania. 36 year old George W. Cox born PA now says his dad born New York and mother PA with wife Ida M. 28 birth and parents birth locaation same as 1920

1900 Census Girard, Erie Pennsylvania. George Cox born June 1874 Pennsylvania with parents William Cox 52, born New York. father born England, mother born Wales. NOTE that if this is correct for William's parents, this is not the Van Slyke link. Wife Nancy born New York, father Connecticut, mother New York. NOTE that Nancy could be the Van Slyke link - you need to find her maiden name or her mother's maiden name.

1880 Census Girard, Erie Pennsylvania confirms the birth places of William Cox and his wife Nancy as well as their parents

I would look for the birth of George Cox in June 1874 in Pennsylvania. You need to know his mother's maiden name. A search of the WW1 Draft Cards on reveals George's full date of birth as 30 June 1874. Pennsylvania birth certificates prior to 1906 can be accessed through the courthouse in the county where the person was born.

You could also hunt for the marriage of William and Nancy. The 1900 census reveals they married in 1874. Of course each census that I listed above has more detail such as occupation and other children's names so you could look for George's siblings' birth records if his fails to turn up. Don't overlook tracing George's wife Ida to find her surname - for she may be the Van Slyke connection your family spoke of.

This may not help you figure out your Van Slyke connection, but your George W. Cox is found enlisting in the Pennsylvania National Guard 27 November 1899. You'll want to have a look as the card provides a nice description of him plus his unit.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Scotland to Ontario to Michigan - Finding an Elusive Ancestor

Sharon asked about an ancestor from St. Mary's Ontario which is where my husband's ancestors are from:

My 3 great grandfather, Andrew Ross, has been a brick wall for as long as I have been addicted to genealogy. I know he was born 9 Nov 1807 in Scotland,"came to Canada" before he ended up in Macomb Co, Michigan by 1843.

I had found a book source saying he "he came from Inverness";the writer was NOT a genealogist. I found several errors in the book. Recently, I found another source (family Bible) saying Andrew had been born in Edinburgh; his wife, Jane Mac Donald in Glasgow.

They had several children "born in Canada"(1834,36,38). The Bible has a record of one son,Andrew ,Jr as being "Born in St. Mary's, Ontario 1 Dec 1840."

The next child was my 3 great grandfather George Alexander Ross born in Macomb Co, Michigan 23 Apr 1843.Do you have ANY suggestion as to where I could begin to look for this family?
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Sharon, I noted with interest your reference to St. Mary's Ontario. My husband's paternal and maternal ancestry is from this town. It was settled in 1841 and originally called Little Falls.

Since your ancestors were not there for long, your best bet is most likely the St. Mary's Museum. Contact them and ask for any information they have on your ancestors.

There may be early tax or assessment records for your ancestors. There may be land records. The Museum may not have these specific records so you will also want to consult the Archives of Ontario website to see what genealogy records exist pre 1843 for St. Mary's.

Don't overlook the Perth County GenWeb in your search. I see that Andrew was a farmer in Michigan. I'd check the CLRI for his name. If he was the first owner of land owned by the Crown it will be listed.

Have you checked Michigan death records on FamilySearch? There is an Andrew Ross born ca 1808 in Scotland who died in 1884 in Macomb Michigan. His parents names are given so if that is your ancestor you have another lead. Did his wife Jane die and did Andrew remarry? I ask because there is an Andrew Ross, widower, marrying in Macomb in 1868.

I'd also check Scotlands People if I were you. It's a fee based website but well worth the money if you have Scottish ancestry!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

NARA Fire of 1973?

Sue asked a very good question about a fire at NARA in 1973.  I do not know the answer, but am doing something a little different today on AskOliveTree by posting Sue's question anyway! I'm hoping one of my readers might have some advice for Sue. Please post any suggestions or advice in the comment section for Sue to read.

We are searching for information on a deceased relative who served in the Army in the 40s. First in WW2, then in peace time. We've submitted paperwork to the NARA to do a military records search. We were able to find his army serial number and submitted that with our request. Sadly, the response today saying that the records were lost in the fire of 1973. Right now this appears to be a brick wall. Wondering if you've encountered this problem and have any suggestions of where to look next. We're interested in trying to piece together his military history.