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Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Find an Ancestor Who Disappears in Canada after 1861

Alexa Genealogy has a challenging question about an ancestor's cousin who disappeared after leaving England for Canada circa 1867. I  edited her question to provide readers with the basic facts and assumptions of the individuals she asked about.

Elizabeth Young was my Great Grandma's lst Cousin. She was documented as born in Bretby, Derbyshire abt June, 1845, and definitely christened there on 15 JUL 1845 - with parents PHOEBE AND ABRAM YOUNG; probably 6 weeks old -because she was 5 in the next census ( n 1851 they guessed born in 1846 - but we know she was born in 1845).

 She was living there, age 5, in the English 1851 census with her parents and family, living on Hoofy Farm, Hartshorne.

 She was boarding at school, as a Trainee Teacher  age 15, in the 1861 English census, in Stapenhill, Derbyshire;

Elizabeth Young left for Canada to marry her sweetheart, JOHN BOND!  (the year?) (1870 +-5).He was also from Derbyshire, England

John Bond and Elizabeth Young were married, for sure, on the quayside, beside the emigrant ship. (Date?) I suspect about 1867. Or a bit later.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT SHIP. I DONT KNOW WHAT DATE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT SHORE. It could have been Nova Scotia, or it could have been Quebec

She married, I'm sure whe would have had children. Why can't I find her on the Passenger Lists? Why can't I find a Marriage Certificate? Why can't I even find them in a census after?

In my searches, I found one John Bond, age 29, born in England, C of E, a widower, with 2 tiny girls, living in central Montreal, Quebec, in the 1871 census. A merchant. This could be him.
Hello Alexa - That is indeed a challenging research question!

First: You will want to consult the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec (National Archives of Quebec), specifically the Montreal Centre. There the indexes of births, marriages and deaths of non-Catholics in the Québec City area (1790-1875) and in the Montréal area (1760-1899), available on microfiche and microfilm, and the index of births, marriages and deaths of Catholics in the city of Montréal (1642-1899), available on microfilm.

If you are correct that your Elizabeth married in the arrival port then the marriage might be found here. Of course if the ship landed in Nova Scotia you will have to consult records for that province. You're in luck because Marriage Registrations for Nova Scotia 1864-1935 are indexed online at NovaScotiaGenealogy

Second: Look for a death for your Elizabeth in Quebec and Ontario. The problem is that Ontario did not require vital registrations until 1869 so if she died before that year you will have a challenge to find her. Before 1869 you must look for church records so that means knowing where she lived and what religion she was.

Third: Ships passenger lists to Canada did not have to be kept before 1865. So if your Elizabeth sailed before that date it is very possible that there is no surviving passenger list for her. There are passenger lists online from 1865 on both and at Library & Archives Canada However The early ships lists are very difficult to read and it may be that your Elizabeth's name is badly mangled and misindexed. It may be that it is entirely unreadable so you may have to scroll page by page reading the passenger lists for yourself. You might be able to spot her name by recognizing some other fact such as her age or place of origin.

For alternate ships passenger lists in these early years see Filling in the Gaps  There are shipping company records, emigration officer records, Poor Law Union correspondence and many other records that provide information on an immigrant arriving in Canada in those years.

Fourth: Many early census records for Canada are missing or incomplete. Since you seem to have no information about John Bond (his date of birth etc) *and* you are not sure if Elizabeth died before 1871, it will be difficult for you to determine which, if any, are the correct man.

The only advice I can give you here is to use the search engines and use wildcards. Be creative in your searches. For example perhaps the family is listed under BUND, BAND, BONDD, BONDE or any other variant spelling and misspelling of the surname. Perhaps John is listed only under his initial J. or perhaps he used his middle name or a nickname. Try other possibilities!

Fifth: You mention a possibility for John in the 1871 Quebec census. My advice is to follow this family - look for the marriages for the two daughters and see who they say their mother is. Look for a death in Quebec of John. You have some good clues and avenues of research left to explore.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Using Wildcards to Break Down a Brick Wall

Roxanne asked about her great grandfather's arrival in Canada and naturalization date:
I am looking for informationon my great grandfather.  He came over to Canada about* 1913 on a ship.  I'm not sure from which port but he came from Sweden to Ontario.  He started out in Kenora, Ont.  On the ship were two or three of his children and his wife:
Albin Franz Danielson (my great-grandfather)and Charlotte (Wohlin), along with Sonia, Siren and Donald their children. (All the children are under 5).  I can not seem to locate a passenger's list anywhere to find out where in Sweden they came from.  Or when they became citizens of Canada.  I do know that Charlotte his wife died in Kenora, Ontario in 1917 and my great-grandfather died in Eagle River, Ontario 1970.  I've looked at many different passenger lists but still could not find them.
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Hi Roxanne. I don't usually do lookups or research on this blog. Instead I try to direct genealogists towards locations to find the records they want or to offer ideas on where/how they might search next.

However your question intrigued me! I wondered why you had not found Albin on a ships passenger lists, since passenger lists to Canada after 1865 are online on and at Library & Archives Canada. So I headed to to have a look.

They have the complete set of ships passenger lists to Canada from 1865. I figured it might be the spelling of the names and that perhaps you weren't aware you could use wildcards. That brings me to another point I wanted to make - when you are struggling with a brick wall ancestor, find out WHAT records are available for your needs and WHERE they are kept!

Tip #1: Use Wildcards!

So I started with wildcards and did a search for DANIELS*N. That allows for e, o, i or any number of other substitutions for the *

With this method I found  someone I thought was your Albin travelling to Kenora Ontario in May 1911 on board the Lake Manitoba. I wasn't 100% sure it was the right man but then I found Albin's wife and children arriving later with the notation that Charlotte was headed to her husband in Kenora. Bingo. Albin came first and Charlotte and the children followed in August 1911 on board Empress of Ireland. You can find the passenger lists online and enjoy reading all the details.

Charlotte,  28, was with two children (not 3) named Sonya age 3 and Albin aged 1 1/2. Could Albin Jr be Sorin? Albin was with a man named Axel Adolph Danielson but I can't read his age with certainty. I'm wondering if he was related - a brother perhaps? There is a notation beside Albin's name which you will want to follow up "Continental Bonus Allowed"

It didn't take long and that is why it's important to use wildcards in searches to allow for mis-spellings, mangled readings of surnames and other errors.

Tip #2: Be prepared for errors and inconsistencies when comparing records to family lore/memories

Also you're going to have to be very creative with the wildcard searches because I found the marriage of your Albin to Olga Anderson in 1918 in Kenora. But he is recorded as "DONALDSON". He's a farmer, widower, living in Eagle River born in Sweden and with parents "D. Danielson"  and "Brita Crautch" This also was found on Ancestry.

Interestingly a birth registration for his son Carl Donald in Kenora in 1912 shows Albin as "Frans Albin Danielson" but a death registration for another son (unnamed) who was born and died in Dec 1916 records him as "Albin Donaldson" We know it is your ancestor from his wife's name in that record - "Charlotte Wallis" So either he called himself Donaldson/Danielson interchangeably or the clerks doing the recording misunderstood what he was saying.

Tip #3: Finding Naturalization Records

Remember you want to find out WHAT records are available and WHERE they are kept. So for naturalization records I went to, clicked on Canada and then used the link there to go to the LAC (Library &Archives Canada) searchable index for Naturalization records 1915-1936.

Another bingo! Your great grandfather is found there as Frans Albin Danielson. His two minor children Sonya and Soren are also naturalizing with him so you will want to send for the full record. You can do so by reading how to do this on the LAC website.

And that's all there was to it. If I were you I would now search Swedish records for Frans Albin/Albin Frans and his parents, as well as the Axel Adolph Danielson he was travelling with in 1911. I'd also search records after 1911 for Axel to see if there's a family connection to your Albin.