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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Land Records Can Be Very Helpful in Genealogy Research

Stanley asked for help with his Vrooman ancestry

I am looking for information on Vroomans that do not go through New York, My history says that my ancestors were 7 brothers that came over from Holland to Canada (not a lot to go on)

However I have traced my 2nd Great Grandfather back to Charles Vrooman b 26 Dec 1804 in Canada West, d 2 Jun 1894 in Fremont, Sanilac, Michigan; married to Esther Hoyt b 1823 New Brunswick, Canada, d 1883 Fremont, Sanilac, Michigan

I also know that Charles; mother, Elizabeth was living with him and Esther in 1961 [sic] census, and that Elizabeth's birthplace is noted as New Brunswick, and that she was born around 1789

However, I am not convinced by the argument that this is the same Elizabeth that is married to Adam Vrooman Jr and that her last name is McCowan with the sons David and James as has been put forth by various genealogist and on various forms.

My main reason for not thinking Adam is my Charles father is that the Michigan death index
for Charles Vroman states that Charles parents are William and Eliza.

I however have not been able to get past my 2 brick walls of William's father, mother and decedents, or Eliza's maiden name and parents
1851 Census Nissouri West, Middlesex Co. Ontario
Stanley - the first question that comes to  my mind is how you are so certain your Vrooman ancestors did not go through New York to arrive in Canada? Your family lore of 7 brothers arriving may be quite wrong or slightly confused. Family lore is often incorrect, memories fade over time and it's like the childhood game of "Telephone". By the time the last person gets the message started by the first person, it is jumbled. So I would keep an open mind. Go with the known and methodically dig backwards.

Re Charles' death certificate, remember that death certificates can also be incorrect. The information on them was not given by the deceased and may have been given by a family member who didn't know the answer (but thought they did) or by a family doctor. You do not know how accurate that information is. 

I took a quick look and found the following information:

1851 Census Nissouri West, Middlesex Ontario shows Charles Vrooman, 44 born Canada, a farmer with wife Ester born New Brunswick, age 29 and son Isaac Hoyt Vrooman age 1 born Canada. Also living with them are Benjamin Hoyt, 71 born USA and wife Elenor 63 born Nova Scotia. Going to the second page of this census page, we see that this is one family living in one home (a log home). I suggest you will find that Benjamin and Elenor Hoyt are the parents of Ester.

1861 Census Nissouri West, Middlesex Ontario shows Charles, 53 born Canada West (present day Ontario), his wife Ester, 37 and children Alexander 10, Hoyt 8, John 8, Arthur 6, Elenor 4, Gertrude 2 and 72 year old Elizabeth born New Brunswick, a widow.

1881 Census Caradoc, Middlesex Ontario shows Charles age 73 and Ester 57 living with their son Hoyt

Looking for Elizabeth Vrooman born New Brunswick in earlier census records (1851) does lead to Adam and Elizabeth Vrooman in Haldimand County but you have no way of knowing if this is your Elizabeth or not. My suggestion is you search more obscure records such as Upper Canada Land Petitions, Land Board Records and CLRI. I note that Charles is listed as a farmer in the census records so finding his land records may prove very helpful as you may find he was given land by a parent.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Getting Through the Confusing Maze of Variant Names and Spelling

Christine has confusion with the varied spelling of her ancestor's name - recorded variously as Grumbley, Grambley, Grumley, Grimley, Bromley, Grumly

I have been searching for my 2nd great grandfather Philip Richard Grumbley b: abt 1823 in Ireland.  My great grandfather’s obituary spelled his last name as Grambley but survived by a brother named Grumbley.  I can document the wife Rosa with Philip Richard Grumley and their children in  the 1880 Harmony Township, Clark County, Ohio census.  I found the family listed in 1870 as Grimley in Harmony Township, Clark County, Ohio.  In the 1860 census they are listed as Bromley in Green Township, Clark County, Ohio.  The church marriage records from the diocese list them in 1853 as Philipium Grumly and Rosea Hockett and shows them married in Springfield, Ohio at St Raphael’s Church.  I found marriage records for two of the daughters as late as 1887 in South Charleston, Ohio at St Charles Borromeo Parish.  Try as I might, I can not find a death record for either Rosa nor Philip Grumbley.  I have not found anything that tells me other than Ireland and I am not at all sure how their name was really spelled!  I have been a member of ancestry since it’s beginning and I have used, findagrave and the Clark County Heritage Center Library.  No luck……… Can you help?

Christine - Normally when there is such a jump from a surname starting with "G" to "B" as in that 1860 census, the usual reason is that the original record has been mis-transcribed. In this case, it has not. The image clearly shows Brumley. So how does this happen? Say the two names out loud. They sound rather similar, especially if mumbled, said with an accent or by a child. Remember we do not know who gave information when the census taker came around - was it a neighbour, a child? Did the person giving the information have a strong accent? This family was from Ireland and I can well imagine a clerk could easily confuse the sound of Grumley for Brumley. I'd discard that as a variant of the surname.

As for the other variations, remember that spelling was not standardized in the 19th century. People spelled words as they sounded (phonetically) and many individuals could not read or write. You can get more help with an article I wrote called  5 Tips to Help You Navigate the Confusing Maze of Surname Variations

Finding a place of origin in Ireland can be a challenge. One of the tricks I use is to trace the children and find their marriage and death records. Sometimes you get lucky and a county of origin is given. Also look for obituaries of the parents and all the children. Since you found church records for the family you know what religion they were. This can help you narrow the search in Ireland. I see they were Catholic so you might want to search the new online Catholic Parish Registers for Ireland. You might first want to read my blog post 10 Steps to Searching the Irish Catholic Parish Records When You Only Know a County of Origin. 

The tips will work even without you knowing a county of origin but hopefully you can narrow that down by finding those all-important death records.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Search all the Children not just your Direct Ancestor!

Pamela asked about naturalization records for her ancestor William Galbraith.

I’m wondering if you would help me locate naturalization records for William Galbraith. We have reason to believe that he came from Northern Ireland in 1830, that he was a resident of Rochester, New York in 1841, that he resided in Ohio between 1843-1852 and became a naturalized citizen in Ohio, that he died in Portage, Wisconsin.  He was married to Eliza Woods and had 7 children. Samuel is my husband's descendent. I’m looking to find out where he came from in Ireland and thought his naturalization record might show this info.
Olive Tree Genealogy responds: 


It is unlikely that this early Naturalization will show anything more than William being from Ireland.  

Before September 27, 1906, there was no US Naturalization Service, and the BCIS has no naturalization records dated before September 1906. Before the 1906 act, declarations of intention had no expiration date. 

Before 1906, the declaration of intent generally contains more genealogically useful information than the petition. Petitions before 1906 usually show only a name, former allegiance, and date of naturalization. The declaration may include the alien's exact date of immigration into the United States. 

To search Ohio records see

Since you hope to find his Irish origins, I'd hunt for the marriages and deaths of all his children. Sometimes a county in Ireland is provided on these documents. Also look for his marriage and death records.