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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lots of New York Genealogy Info Found With Wide-spread Search

Tracy asked a question about finding her husband's grandfather
My husband’s grandfather died in Brooklyn NY in approx. 1942 and his grandmother grew up in a catholic orphanage. I have his grandmothers name and DOB and DOD. I am trying to find her information and his too if possible. They are not coming up on census from that time. Where would you suggest I go next?

I had to write and ask Tracy for more details such as names and dates of birth and death. She then sent the following:
His name was Frank or Francis Cannon I do not know his DOB but he died in Brooklyn NY area around 1942

Her name was Elizabeth Veronica McCarthy Cannon Fitzpatrick. DOB 4.27.1903 in Brooklyn NY

Her parents passed away from TB and she and her sister who was appox. 5 years older were placed in a Catholic orphanage. Never found her sister again, parents believed to have come from Ireland.

They had one son, Francis Harold Cannon
Ask Olive Tree Genealogy reply:

Tracy, I am not sure where you have checked but has many New York vitals on line. A quick check there found the marriage of Francis P. Cannon and Elizabeth McCarthy on 2 Feb. 1926 in Manhattan.

Now you can send for their marriage certificate and find out their ages, their fathers' names (perhaps their mothers' too, I am not familiar with what info is on a 1926 New York Certificate)

You should check birth records there too as there is a good possibility for the birth of your Elizabeth. 

Because I was intrigued by your query, I also had a quick look in census records on and found a gal I am pretty sure is your Elizabeth McCarthy in the New York Catholic Protectory in 1910. It was in  the Bronx. Little Elizabeth is 7 years old.

The New York Catholic Protectory for females was run by the Sisters of Charity and apparently its records survive. A google search for this agency led me to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

You will need to visit the site personally as they like you to read their list of requirements before making a request. Then go to the New York section, then look for BRONX and then "New York Catholic Protectory and Lincolndale-how to locate the children's records of 1880-1938." The volunteer attached to this lookup is listed and her email address is available. Simply write to her and ask how you can access these records.

The records have been microfilmed and are available but you will need the instructions on how to obtain them. 

I think you are going to have a lot of fun now! Please do keep us informed here on the Ask Olive Tree Blog - just write a comment when the Marriage Certificate arrives, I know I am curious now!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A great great great grandpa by any other name...

Eleanor asked about standard listing for relationships that are greats:

Can you help me with what to call a great, great, great, great, great grandfather without listing all the greats? Would he be my 4th great grandfather or 5th grandfather? Or neither?

Normally you count the number of "greats" in the relationship and change that to a number. So your great great great-grandfather would be your 3rd great-grandfather. Or 3rd great grandfather (no hyphen) Some people write it as 3x great-grandfather.

Sometimes I cheat and write g-g-g-grandfather. :-)

No matter what convention you choose you must leave the "great" in before "Grandfather" or others reading will not know what you mean.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daniel asked about church records in 18th Century England
Where are birth death and marriage records from the 17th century from
Sundridge Parish Kent or any Kentish parish for that matter kept? The churchis St. Mary's in Sundridge near Seven Oaks and they simply will or cannot not answer my question.
ASK OLIVE TREE GENEALOGY ANSWER: Daniel, in my research in English records, I've found church records back to the 1500s. Many have been filmed by the Mormon Church so you might want to check their online catalogue at They may also have the records you want online.

Those that have not been filmed are usually still kept by the local parish or church. My mother went to Kent to search in Lenham church records which have not been microfilmed but are at the local church.

You can also check Bishop's Transcripts for the church you need. Have you consulted the National Archives for the UK? Or the Centre for Kentish Studies? The Centre for Kentish Studies is the Headquarters for the Kent Archives service. It holds manuscript and printed records for the county of Kent. I am pretty sure it holds the original parish records for Sundridge churches, but I can't search the site right now as it is temporarily unavailable.

A quick check of FamilySearch online catalogue shows they have 26 sets of records for Sundridge Kent. One is a set of microfiche "The parish registers of Sundridge, Kent, 1562-1812: Baptisms, marriages and burials, 1562-1812"

Another is the Bishop's transcripts "Baptisms, 1813-1839, 1888-1904; Burials, 1813-1839, 1888-1903; Marriages, 1813-1837" on microfilm

And more...  the actual parish records for "Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1562-1655 (Includes list of churchwardens, 1689-1704.) Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1653-1710 Baptisms, burials, marriages, 1710-1753 Baptisms, burials, 1754-1808; marriage, 1754 Births and baptisms, burials, 1809-1812. Baptisms, 1813-1893. Marriages, 1754-1921. Burials, 1813-1903. Banns, 1814-1901." I think that should keep you busy for awhile. Just go their catalogue and search, then copy the full information regarding film numbers etc.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Always Check a Dictionary!

Brian asked about a "Champion of England"
In my family research I have come across some family lore that states that one of my ancestors was a "champion of England". I have not been able to find a reference to this anywhere on the internet and was wondering if anyone has heard of it or would know where I can look. I had been told it is several different things, but feel like until I see it in writing I cannot fully believe it. Some place that lists a description and registry would be ideal.

OLIVE TREE GENEALOGY ANSWER: Brian, a quick search on Google for the phrase "Champion of England" turned up the following definitions:

a hereditary official at British coronations, representing the king (King's Champion) or the queen (Queen's Champion) who is being crowned, and having originally the function of challenging to mortal combat any person disputing the right of the new sovereign to rule.

Source: Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

Read more: Champion of England: meaning and definitions —


A person whose office it is to ride up Westminster Hall on a Coronation Day, and challenge any one who disputes the right of succession. The office was established by William the Conqueror

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Resolving Census Discrepancies

Cathy asked about an ancestor in early Ontario and how to figure out which family different individuals belong to

I am really stumped. My brick wall is James Cumming b. Jan 15/18 1830 Ontario, according to censuses. He died May 22, 901 in Norwood, Asphodel, Peterborouigh Co., Ontario, CAN. He was married to Joyce Reynolds on Dec 26 1853 in Asphodel. Joyce's family lived next to James in 1861 Census of Asphodel. [Email edited for brevity]

1861 Census of is hard to tell, but at either James house or Jesse's house, is an Elizabeth Cumming b.1838. She seems to be the key. In 1851 Brighton, Northumberland, there is a James and Mary Cumming. They have a number of children, including a James(1831) and an Elizabeth(1837). This seems great. But in 1861, patriarch James also has daughter Elizabeth with him. So, she would have been enumerated twice? Once in Brighton with her father, once in Norwood, Asphodel with her brother? [Email edited for brevity]

The problem that I have is that James lists his father as having been born in Scotland in 1891, whereas the James Cumming Brighton 1851 has himself born in the USA. [Email edited for brevity]

ASK OLIVE TREE GENEALOGY RESPONSE: Dear Cathy: Thank you for sending a nice detailed email query. It always helps me to have names, dates, locations and some idea of what you've already done to solve your genealogical puzzle.

I must confess that I did get a bit overwhelmed half-way through your email as it was quite lengthy and I think you got excited as you were writing it. :-) It started out with a very clear explanation of the confusion but at the half-way mark it did get a wee bit jumbled. I know it's not easy to write a query like that!

This is not meant as a criticism; I hope you will take it as a bit of advice to perhaps read over any query and make sure that you've clearly identified each person to whom you refer. Remind your reader who you are talking about and how they fit into the family you are researching.

In any case I was very intrigued with your query and I can see that you've done a good analysis of the records you found. My apologies for editing your query and leaving off the last several paragraphs but I decided to respond to the questions I can answer without further scratching of my head.

Let's go back to your statement "1861 Census of is hard to tell, but at either James house or Jesse's house, is an Elizabeth Cumming b.1838." Here is how you determine which individuals belong to which family groups in the 1861 census. If you look at the image you will see that columns 14 and 15 have numbers beside some of the names of individuals.

These columns show
Col 14. Residents: Members of Family, M
Col 15. Residents: Members of Family, F

Beside the name of the head of the household are the numbers of individuals living in the home. If you check that image for Jesse (by the way this is where I'd have liked it if you had included Jesse's surname of Reynolds so that I didn't have to keep looking back to see who Jesse was) you'll see that the numbers of residents who are family members is 5 males and 3 females for a total of 8. Counting Jesse as 1, and continuing down the page to 8 you can see that Elizabeth Cummings is #8. That means she lives with Jesse Reynolds and is considered a family member. Columns 16 and 17 are for numbers of non-family members.

Your first question is answered - Elizabeth Cummings is living with Jesse Reynolds.

If you visit you will find a helpful list of questions asked on all Canadian census records.

Your next question was "But in 1861, patriarch James also has daughter Elizabeth with him. So, she would have been enumerated twice? Once in Brighton with her father, once in Norwood, Asphodel with her brother?"

Again, it would have really helped me to have the surnames added so that I didn't have to look back in your email to figure out who "patriarch James" was. When you used the phrase "her father" and "her brother" it would have been really helpful if you'd added their names "her father James Cumming" and "her brother James Cumming Jr" Anything to help me distinguish the family members. Remember the person you're asking for help isn't familiar with the family.

Please note I'm using "Jr" to distinguish between the two James Cummings even though you have not definitively proven they are father and son.

But let's clear up some of the confusion - first, Elizabeth Cumming was not with her brother James Cumming in 1861. She was with Jesse Reynolds who was her brother James Cumming's father-in-law by virtue of his wife Joyce Reynolds.

Why would she be enumerated twice? If Elizabeth was a servant in Jesse Reynolds' home it is quite possible her parents gave her name to the census taker as a family member. Remember the census takers didn't count heads. They didn't verify that everyone named was actually physically in the house. We don't know who talked to the census taker the day the census was taken. Perhaps James Cumming's wife didn't understand the question. Perhaps James himself gave the information and wasn't in the mood to waste time.

So yes, James and his wife could understandably tell the census taker that daughter Elizabeth lived there. In fact we don't know if Elizabeth was a servant in Jesse Reynold's house. Perhaps she was just visiting her brother James Cumming Jr and there was more room in Jesse's house than in James. Bottom line: It is not unusual to find a person enumerated twice.

The last question is about places of birth given in census records. You say that James Cumming Jr says his dad was born in Scotland, but in an earlier census James Cumming Sr says he was born in USA. So this makes you question if you have the right father for your James Cumming Jr.

Census records are notorious for being wrong. Ages can be out by 10 or more years in different census years. Individuals give the wrong place of birth for their parents or even themselves. We have to remember that we don't know who gave the details to the census taker. Was it even a family member? Was it the next door neighbour? A young child? Because we don't know the original source we shouldn't accept the census as absolute truth nor should we use it to prove or disprove an individual's fit into a specific family without more proof.

I hope these answers help you in your genealogy challenge and I hope you don't mind that I used your email to illustrate how confusing a query can be for the person trying to assist. Your email was very well written and had lots of needed details so my harping about suggested additions are just small details that I hope did not offend you in any way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Write a Good Query and Check All Genealogy Resources!

Carney asked about genealogical information in various Upper Canada records:
i have an ancestor, hill carney, yeoman, from, oxford , sussex county, new jersey, he was a member of upper hardwick presbyterian church, and a loyalist, he arrived upper canada, 1794, was granted E.U. L., status, 1797, and acrown land patent of 400 acres. hill carney was a family member of john rosbrugh's family, but may have preceeded him to upper canada. i wish to know if any genealogical information is usually contained in these records, as i believe he died in upper canada.
ASK OLIVE TREE GENEALOGY RESPONSE: Hello Carney - Before I answer your question, I hope you will take a couple of suggestions about writing a query. You've used commas extensively in your query but they aren't necessary and they interfere with reading your question. It's a good idea to proof-read your query before you send it and make sure it's easy on the eyes of the person you are asking for help. You also neglected to put any spaces after all your periods and commas. That made reading your query more difficult.

Now for your question. I'm a believer in "leave no genealogical stone unturned" That means I find and read every single genealogical record I can get my hands on. I urge you to do the same. You have no way of knowing what genealogical information might be found in one record. For example the Upper Canada Land Petitions can hold a wealth of genealogical detail, or they can hold very little. Since your ancestor was a Loyalist he is almost sure to be found in these records.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has an online database, Index to Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865). Why not have a look to see if your ancestor is found, then check the full record. Before you search this index, how sure are you that your ancestor's name was Hill Carney? I ask because there is a record for a Will Carney in the UCLP Index. Perhaps the index is incorrect? I suspect these are the same individual.

There are many genealogy records for Upper Canada and Loyalists that you can (and should!) check.