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Friday, November 30, 2012

Finding an Ancestor's Arrival in Canada in 1842

Jim asked Olive Tree Genealogy a question about transportation from Quebec to Montreal in 1842

My great grand parents (John & Mary Anne White), and their family (6 children) arrived in Quebec City, in June 1842, from Sligo, Ireland.  They were granted their Land in Albion, Ont.,  in Oct 1842. 
What is the most likely method of travel, and route,  from Quebec to Montreal, and then on to York? 
Olive Tree Genealogy Answer:

Jim - Most immigrants traveled up the St. Lawrence by boat to reach Montreal and then often continued on by boat to get to York (present day Toronto). From there they might have taken a stagecoach or wagon or walked to their inland destination. 

Sometimes the original ship carried on from Quebec to Montreal but sometimes they had to transfer to another boat. 

Sue Swiggum of The Ships List website has been busy for a few years transcribing the steamship passenger lists for boats carrying immigrants to Canada West (aka Upper Canada aka Ontario) from Quebec and Montreal.   Ship arrivals in 1842 from May to July are found here.  If you know the ship name you will find more details on Sue's page. There are some ships that have passenger names attached to letters or special notations made by the Captain.

The St. Lawrence steamship records start in 1819 and are found here

You can also search the Immigrant Agents' Records. There is much detail to be found here. See Filling in the Gaps for a comprehensive list of all available Immigrant Agent Records and other resources for your time period of interest.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Can't Find Ancestor's Death Record - Now What?

Cliff asked Olive Tree Genealogy for help finding an ancestor's death:

I've been looking for my great great grandfather's death date for the past 20 years, and I have been noteably unsuccessful :-(
- Robert "Red Robin" Johnston, b. ca. 1807-1808, Ireland,
- came to Upper Canada ca. 1822-1832, married Mary Francis McQueen in 1833 - marriage bond issued on July 22, 1833,
- farmed just NW of Pendleton, N. Plantagenet Twp., Prescott Co., Ontario, CANADA, died ca. 1895-96 - estimated by the activity on the land record of the farm. [large portions of email edited by Lorine]
Any help that you can give me before I die - I will appreciate it very much :-)  I would like to place a tombstone on his grave site - there is none there currently.  The cemetery has no record of his death date - just where he is buried among family.
Olive Tree Genealogy's Answer

Clff  - Since you know where your great-great-grandfather is buried, you might want to think about  erecting a tombstone that  simply bears his name, place of birth and death and perhaps that he was the husband of Mary Francis. I would add her years of birth and death if you know them just to give some idea of Robert's time period for future historians and genealogists.

The sad fact is that not all deaths were registered! If he died in the winter and it was a difficult trip to the registry office, the family might not have bothered. And if it were registered in the Church records (which you noted burned) they could have felt they'd done enough.

Have you seen the Ancestor Death Record Finder? You may want to have a look as it gives many other sources for finding an ancestor's death date.

You provided me with a nice list of where you've searched - thank you! But you didn't tell me what names you searched under. His surname can be recorded as Johnstone, Johnston, and Johnson and it can be mis-recorded many ways! If you didn't use wildcards in your searching, you should. Also his first name and nickname. Perhaps he was record as Rob, Robbie or Robert. Perhaps as Robin or Red. Hopefully you checked under all variants including just initals (R. Johnstone)

A little caveat - be careful narrowing that estimate of his death only based on the land record activity unless it states the land was going to his heirs! Otherwise you might want to stick to 1891 census (if you found him there) as the last record for him and note that he does not appear in the 1901 census (if that is the case)

I think it's wonderful that you want to erect a tombstone to honour him. I'd do that right away and put as much information on it as you know. You can always add to it later if you find an exact date of death.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Searching for an ancestor born 1925 in Ontario Canada

Jodie asked Olive Tree Genealogy a question about her grandfather:

would there be any way possible that you might know of a William Bulger born June of 1925 in Toronto Canada? it is my grandfather and I am trying to track down ancestry information, sadly his parents died when he was young and there is little information on them, I don't even have a name and my grandfather passed in 1994, can you help or advise me on where to look?
Jodie - Births in Ontario after 1914 are available by contacting the Registrar General. Here  is the address

Office of the Registrar General
Box 4600
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 6L8
1-800-461-2156 (toll-free, Ontario only)

Provide them with the date of birth, parents' names if known and any other details you have. That will provide you with his parents' names and other information. From there you can start going backwards. 

Presumably if he was born in 1925 his parents were likely born 1909 or earlier so you should be able to find them in census records (the most recent is 1911), marriage records (these are online up to 1928) and so on. Deaths are available online to 1938 so if his parents died before that year you should be able to find them too - and that may give you more information on their parents.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Finding Asylum Records in Ontario Canada

Pierre asked Olive Tree Genealogy about insane asylum files in Ontario.
I have reason to believe that a great aunt of mine ended up in the Penetanguishene Asylum for the criminally insane and died there in December 1968.

I would like to verify this fact first before looking into why she was there in the first place.Her name was xxx [Lorine's note: I have removed her name for privacy reasons]. Any guidance would be much appreciated.
Hi Pierre,

You would be better to request your aunt's complete medical file from Penetanguishene. If she died while an inmate her death information will be found there. The cemetery does not have marked graves, instead there are numbers which relate to the number assigned to each patient.

You can request her file at Ontario Archives or check if the microfilmed records are available to the public. See the page on available Medical Records of Ontario at Olive Tree Genealogy website. There is a complete list of what files for different institutions have survived. Penetanguishene has many.

The files do not generally cost much to obtain. I submitted my request for my husband's grandfather's sister's files directly to Ontario Archives with a FOI (Freedom of Information) form. It was very easy and I received almost 100 pages of her records. Some was redacted by the Archivist as it was considered sensitive information. But most of it was intact.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

FIguring Out Where an Ancestor Arrived and Settled in Canada Before 1865

Gail wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy with a challenge.

Since you say you love a challenge, I have one for you. Franz Alois Frankenberger was born in Monchberg, Germany in 1833. He came to Canada before moving on to Buffalo, N.Y.  My challenge is to find the port they came into, and where they actually settled. The first 4 children were born in Canada before 1865. The other 3 were born in Buffalo. Can you help find them?

Gail - Here are some ideas and suggestions for your research.

The first important thing you need to know is that ships passenger lists arriving in Canada did not have to be archived until 1865. So your chances of finding your ancestors on a ship manifest IF they came in directly to a Canadian port are slim. However - and here is the second important thing for you to note - there are scattered substitutes. There are shipping agent records, immigration agent records and records of steamship passage along the Great Lakes carrying immigrants further inland.

There is a comprehensive list of *all* available substitute records, and links if they are online, at Filling in the Gaps in Ships Passenger Lists to Canada 

Third important fact - Ontario vital records were not registered until 1869 so if Franz' children were born in Ontario before that year you will need to locate church records IF they still exist. Remember that these are early years for Ontario as it was not settled until after the American Revolution. So records are sparse and scattered. It takes time, energy and patience to find what might be relevant to your ancestral search. 

You may have noticed my assumption that Ontario was where Franz settled. I only suggest that due to your noting that he ended up in Buffalo. Had he settled in Quebec he would likely have gone to Vermont. If an eastern Maritime province, Maine or another eastern seaboard state is more likely. That doesn't mean he couldn't have gone to Buffalo from another province, I'm just suggesting the most likely candidate.

Other things you can look for: 

* Try to find a more precise location of settlement in Canada. Here's a few ideas:

1. Check USA census records for each of the Canadian born children as well as their parents. Do they say those four children were born in Canada or do they say Canada Eng (usually refers to Ontario), Canada East, Canada West or some other designation. Canada East = Quebec. Canada West = Ontario. 
2. Look for death records and obituaries of the four Canadian born children.
3. Look for the death record and obituary of Franz and his wife.
4. Look for marriage records of the Canadian-born children as they might contain more precise birth locations

I like for Canadian census records and GenealogyBank for American newspaper records. You can also consult Fulton Postcards for New York newspapers.

* Did you look for the family in available Canadian census records for 1861? You haven't told me when his four children were born so I don't know if they were in Canada in that year. 

These are just a few of the next steps you might want to take in your search.