Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Confusing Census...or A New Branch of My Howe Line

Hopefully you periodically go through your primary lines looking to see what you might have missed in what the records you already have found or to see what records you might be missing. In my case I was looking at my Howe line for possible new hints from the public tree I have on Ancestry. I had the usual completely incorrect hints (e.g. in a census years after they had died) but one of the hints for George B. Howe pointed to another public tree.

Just to put your mind at ease, I don't link to other trees since they are often (although not always) poorly documented or just plain wrong. However, I always look at those trees to see what they might have in terms of records or other clues that can advance my research. I have discovered many unknown to me branches of my primary lines through reviewing these other public trees on Ancestry.

This other tree in addition to the names I had included a son Charles Wallace Howe. I only had the daughter Carra G. Howe in my tree. Could I have missed a complete branch of the family? This wouldn't be the first time this has happened to me and I actually enjoy making the connections since it means I need to re-examine what I've missed in the first case.

In looking at my master database1 I had George listed as absent in the 1851 census of New Brunswick with him next appearing in the 1900 Federal census of the United States. Looks like I missed finding him in the years between those dates. But now I have several names to help me find him in the census enumerations: George (born about 1833), his wife Margaret [nee Lawson] (born about 1844), daughter Carra (born 1864), and possibly a son Charles.

I started my usual search on Ancestry focusing on the 1871 census of Canada and only one search result stood out and that was for a George V. Howe born in England about 1833.
Top search result from Ancestry for George B. Howe, born 1833 in New Brunswick, with wife Margaret, son Charles, and daughter Carra.
Top search result from Ancestry for George B. Howe, born 1833 in New Brunswick, with wife Margaret, son Charles, and daughter Carra.
I took a look at the image of the census as provided by Ancestry and this is what I saw:
1871 census of Canada, New Brunswick, district 174, sub-district A-1, Saint John, p. 2, dwelling 4, family 5, George V Howe family; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 10 Apr 2018); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm C-10372.
1871 census of Canada, New Brunswick, district 174, sub-district A-1, Saint John, p. 2, dwelling 4, family 5, George V Howe family; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 10 Apr 2018); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm C-10372.
It looks like the right family but it is "George V" not "George B". The wife is "Marget A" but I have seen on numerous occasions Margaret written as "Marget" or many other variations in census and other records. As for that first "English" that is in the column for "Country or Province of Birth". This is where looking at the page as a whole becomes important. It seems that the enumerator was a bit confused when filling out his form since other families have "Scotch" or "Irish" written then crossed out and corrected to state "N/S", "Scotland", and "Ireland".

This definitely looks like the right family. The ages are a bit off but that is not a big surprise. As for the "V" instead of a "B", that could be attributed to the enumerator not hearing the letter correctly.So what can I use to make sure this is the correct family? I already have Carra documented in my tree same with George's wife Margaret Lawson. What about the possible children Charles W. and Laura A.?

On the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick site I searched for civil records using the name Charles Howe with a middle initial of W. I came across two records of particular interest:
  • marriage of Charles Wallace Howe, son of George Baxter and Margaret Ann Howe, to Phoebe Jane Beers, daughter of Annie Beers.
  • death of Charles W. Howe, son of George R Howe and Annie Lawson, husband of Phoebe J. Howe.
This looks very promising. What about Laura A.? This gets even more interesting. I don't find a Laura A. Howe in the New Brunswick in a search of the New Brunswick Vital Statistic from Government Records. I do see a Laura Sophia Howe listed as a mother for Harold Ottis Hinch, born 1880, in the Late Registration of Births database. In 1942 Laura Sophia Hinch is residing in Trail, British Columbia, Canada. But is this "my" Laura?

In the Daniel F. Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics I do come across his extract from the Watchman newpaper published on 14 Apr 1877 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada for a marriage for Laura S. Howe:

m. (St. John) city, 11th inst., by Rev. F.H. Almon, William E. HINCH / Laura S. HOWE both of St. John.

I still can't say Laura S. Howe and Laura A. Howe are the same person. However, if Laura S. Hinch lived in British Columbia in 1942 maybe she also died in British Columbia.

A search of the BC Archives Genealogy database brings up the death of Laura Sophia Hinch in 1947 in Vancouver. Even better, there is an image of her registration of death. Note who are listed as her parents. Apparently the same married couple as found in the 1871 census where Laura S. Howe is found.

British Columbia, Canada B.C. Archives,  (Death Certificates, British Columbia Archives, Victoria),  1947-09-002837 (1947), Laura Sophia Hinch; B.C. Archives B13193.
British Columbia, Canada B.C. Archives,  (Death Certificates, British Columbia Archives, Victoria),  1947-09-002837 (1947), Laura Sophia Hinch; B.C. Archives B13193.
From the death registration it does seem that the Laura Sophia Howe in the marriage notice and the late registration of birth of her son Harold Ottis Hinch is the same person as the Laura A. Howe in the 1871 census.

It looks like the 1871 census had a few interesting errors in it from a genealogical point of view but there were enough details that I could confirm it was the right family with a bit of genealogy research. Time to research and document a new (to me) branch of my Howe family tree.


1. The tree on Ancestry isn't my master tree, it is a "cousin-bait" tree. My master database is held in my Legacy Family Tree database on my computer and is backed up several different ways.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay of New Zealand, part 2

In Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay of New Zealand, part 1 I described what I had found concerning the reason why someone on Ancestry had listed "Panama in route to New Zealand" as the location for his death. In my search I had added a few to do items:
  1. who is this F. B. Thomas that his mother married?
  2. find details about his marriage to Isabella
  3. find a notice of death in the newspapers
  4. what else can I find?
I started with #3, seeing if I could find a notice of Charles' death in a newspaper. So I turned to Papers Past which is a digitized archives of not just newspapers but of magazines, journals, letters, diaries, and parliamentary papers for New Zealand. I was hoping to find the Auckland Weekly listed for 1918 but no such luck so I did a focused search in the hopes of finding another article about Charles.

Search results from Papers Past for "McKinlay", in the Otago region between 22 Apr 1918 and 31 Dec 1918.
Search results from Papers Past for "McKinlay", in the Otago region between 22 Apr 1918 and 31 Dec 1918.
Note the circled article, "Late Private C. McKinlay" from the 24 May 1918 edition of The Clutha Leader. A quick click on the link brought up the following article found on page 5 of The Clutha Leader:

"Late Private C. McKinlay," The Clutha Leader, 24 May 1918, p. 5, col. 5; digital images, Papers Past - National Library of New Zealand (https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 21 Jan 2018), Newspapers.
"Late Private C. McKinlay," The Clutha Leader, 24 May 1918, p. 5, col. 5; digital images, Papers Past - National Library of New Zealand (https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 21 Jan 2018), Newspapers.
The above clipping provided more details about his death and his funeral that were not found in his service file. The same article was repeated in the Bruce Herald on 27 May 1918.

What about Charles' marriage to Isabella? For that I went to the New Zealand Births, Deaths & Marriages Online Search and Order Historical Records site. There I did a search for a bride with the forename of "Isabella", a groom with the surname of "McKinlay" and a date range starting at 1 Jan 1902.

[Why 1902 you ask? Charles would have been 14 years old that year. Although English Common Law allowed girls to marry at age 12 and boys at age 14 it was rare but you want to take in account those rare cases in your searches. The ages weren't changed in New Zealand until the Marriage Amendment Act 1933.]

Search results from New Zealand Births, Deaths & Marriages Online Search and Order Historical Records for bride's forename "Isabella", groom's surname "McKinlay", starting 1 Jan 1902.
Search results from New Zealand Births, Deaths & Marriages Online Search and Order Historical Records for bride's forename "Isabella", groom's surname "McKinlay", starting 1 Jan 1902.
ND$ 25 later for a "Marriage printout from 1 Jan 1875" and waiting a week resulted in the digitized copy ending up in my inbox of the "Copy of Register of Marriage" for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay, son of James McKinlay and Johan McKinlay Thomas (m/s Riddell) and Isabella Margaret Emily Smith, daughter of Alexander Thomson Smith and Mary Maria Smith (m/s Williams) that took place on 25 Oct 1915 in the Congregational Church on Great King Street, Dunedin.

As for what else I found? I dropped by Findmypast.com but nothing new appeared for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay that I hadn't found in Archive New Zealand, the Historical BMD site, or on Ancestry. However, on FamilySearch.org a record was listed in the "New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Probate Records, 1843-1998" collection. After downloading the 10 pages from that file [You do save documents you find on the Internet to your own computer, right?] I read the file. No surprises were found in the file but it is always good to gather all the documents and details you can find when doing your research.

You might have noticed I still haven't answered the question concerning who Charles' mother, Johan Riddell, marry after the death of her husband James McKinlay...that is for another day since I'm still working through the various records to untangle that particular mess. However, as a teaser to a future blog post, the only New Zealand marriage recorded between 1888 and 1906 for a "Thomas" with the initials of "F. B." is Frederick Blanchard Thomas to Annie McKinery. The ordered marriage registration unfortunately only clouds the issue since many recorded facts in the document don't match the details previously recorded for Johan Riddell. Such is the life of a genealogy and family history researcher!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay of New Zealand, part 1

I'm continuing my research into the New Zealand branch of my line descended from Charles McKinlay and Jane(t) Finlay by looking at Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay.
Ancestors of Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay
Ancestors of Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay
The reason I got interested in him was that one of the public trees on Ancestry had the following location for his death, "Panama in route to New Zealand" in 1918. That got me curious. What was he doing going to New Zealand by way Panama? So I took a look at that tree and noticed that there was record pointing to the "UK, Commonwealth War Graves, 1914-1921 and 1939-1947" collection on Ancestry. The image of the record had the following text:

REPUBLIC OF PANAMA
COROZAL AMERICAN MILITARY CEMETERY

McKINLAY, Pte. Charles Thomas Walter, 63390. Wellington Regt., N.Z.E.F. Died at sea en route to New Zealand 22nd April, 1918. Age 30. Son of Mrs. F. B. Thomas (formerly McKinlay), of Cumberland St., Dunedin; husband of Isabella McKinlay, of 54, Murray St., Caversham, Dunedin. Sect C. Row 2. Grave 14.
Hmmm, some very interesting details in that record. I knew that Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay's father, James, had died shortly after Charles birth. I hadn't realized that Johan Riddell (or Riddle as she signed it in the marriage register) had remarried. Looks like I might need to look for an F. B. Thomas and a possible marriage in New Zealand or even Australia for him to a Riddel/Riddle/McKinlay [added to my to-do list].

I now also know that he married an Isabella. I need to keep focused so I add another to-do item and that is to search for marriages to an Isabella by Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay.

Yet this record states that he died at sea not Panama but he wasn't buried at sea. Curiouser and curiouser.

So I turned to an old friend of mine for assistance, Google. I typed in Charles' full name and asked Google to search for him in the hopes something of interest might pop up. And did it as can be seen below:
Google search results for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay
Google search results for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay
So I clicked on the Auckland Museum link for the online cenotaph for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay. A treasure trove of information was displayed including a picture of Charles in uniform from the Auckland Weekly News in 1918. I wonder if I could find any mention of his death in a New Zealand newspaper. Yet another item in my to-do list, this time to search in Papers Past courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

But continuing with the Online Cenotaph page (keep focused!) I see all kinds of additional information about Charles and towards the bottom I see something I was least expecting. A list of the sources used to create the page:
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • Military Personnel File
  • FamNet: The Family History Network record page
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission site and information I knew about and the FamNet site search didn't find anything in their search engine. But that middle one, Military Personnel File, that pointed to the Archive New Zealand web site. Have they done what Library and Archives Canada is still working on? Digitizing the service files from World War I?

Screen capture of Archives New Zealand search results for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay, 63390
Screen capture of Archives New Zealand search results for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay, 63390
Clicking on the "record online" tab on the screen and then Charles' name brought up his services file and I could download each page to my computer. Can you say a happy researcher?
Screen capture of Archive New Zealand military service file for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay
Screen capture of Archive New Zealand military service file for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay


Much downloading and reading was then started. Page 2 of his file had the answer to the question of "Where did he really die?"

New Zealand, "WW1 Army Service file for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay, 63390," History Sheet; digital images, Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand, Archives New Zealand (http://archives.govt.nz/ : accessed 21 Jan 2018).
New Zealand, "WW1 Army Service file for Charles Thomas Walter McKinlay, 63390," History Sheet; digital images, Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand, Archives New Zealand (http://archives.govt.nz/ : accessed 21 Jan 2018). 

"He died on board the H.S. [Hospital Ship] Marama during the passage through the Panama Canal at Pedro Miguel of Carcinoma Rectum 22 April 1918."
and
"Died 11 am. 22.4.16 during passage through Canal. Buried at Balboa Cem by Chap. Read with full Mil Honours. The U.S. Army supplying firing party."
So that question has been answered but what else can be found about him? That's for part 2!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A McKinlay in New Zealand

One of my many challenges in my personal research is tracking down the various descendants of James McKinlay and Margaret Orr, my 3rd great grandparents. A little while ago one of those leaf hints you see on the Ancestry commercials appeared beside James McKinlay, son of Charles McKinlay and Jane Finlay, born 27 Jan 1862 in Thornliebank, Renfrewshire, Scotland. The hint was for a record in the " New Zealand, Cemetery Records, 1800-2007" collection.

New Zealand Society of Genealogists, "Northern Cemetery Burial Register, vol. 2" (typescript, Ancestry.com Inc., Provo), p. 414.
New Zealand Society of Genealogists, "Northern Cemetery Burial Register, vol. 2" (typescript, Ancestry.com Inc., Provo), p. 414.

He is about the right age and he was born in Scotland but there are probably a number of other James McKinlays of that age and birth location in existence. What are the odds that this is my missing James? Also, why was this a hint? I've been trying to kick start my research again so this, I felt, was as good as any mystery to follow.

When looking at a record page there is the "Make a Connection" section often after "Suggested Records" block on the right. So I clicked the Find Others link to see who else is doing the research. Two very interesting member trees appeared at the top of the list, both with the same birth date as my James McKinlay.

Screenshot of Ancestry "Make a Connection" results
Screenshot of Ancestry "Make a Connection" results


Clicking on the first tree, "Toomey Family Tree", indicated that this just might be the right McKinlay since the owner of that tree had the same parents of James that I had in my database. But was that just wishful thinking on their part or was it backed up by evidence? So I dashed off the following message in Ancestry hoping I might get a response:

"Ancestry has indicated that the James McKinlay, son of Charles and Jane(t) (Finlay) McKinlay, in my tree might be the same person in your Toomey Family Tree. I am wondering if you might have any documentation such as his marriage or death registration in New Zealand that does state that your James McKinlay is the son of Charles and Jane. I would love to be able to confirm that this is one of my missing branches that is ultimately descended from James McKinlay and Margaret Orr."

Within three days I had a response that included additional details in New Zealand and an offer to share information with me. I immediately replied back with my own lineage and details of what I have plus I returned the offer of information by offering to provide a report from my master Legacy Family tree database once I had her e-mail address. That same day, she e-mailed me (I always provide my e-mail address in any Ancestry messages) and I sent her the detailed descendants report, all 194 pages since it includes the citations. The next thing was I had an e-mail in hand with pictures taken of the various records she held confirming James' parents. These included the extract from the "Dunedin New Zealand - Presbyterian Church Marriage Registers, Knox Church, Corner George & Pitt Streets. Register 24 - Mar.1887-Dec.1887." There the extract stated:

"...James aged 26 years a mariner bachelor born Glasgow Scotland presently & usually of Dunedin; the son of Charles - a slater - and Jane, nee Findlay;..."

Except for the variation of the spelling of his mother's surname, not an uncommon issue, this was my James!

What is even better is that I am now in contact with my fourth cousin that resides in New Zealand.

The lesson to learned from this is to always reach out to those researching the same family branches that you are researching. Periodically they will have documents and other clues to point you in the right direction. And sometimes, if you are very lucky, you will connect with a distant cousin!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Talk Announcement - OPL: Managing Your Genealogy Research Project

Ottawa Public Library 


I will be presenting an education session titled "Managing Your Genealogy Research Project" in the Auditorium of the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library (120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa) starting at 7 p.m. on March 27, 2017. This will be a repeat of the well received session I presented at the Carlingwood branch of the Ottawa Public Library in May 2016.

I hope to see you there!

Summary

When we first start delving into our family tree research we often do it in a haphazard way. I will discuss tips and tricks to approach your genealogy research in a methodical manner. The session will touch upon using software or websites to record information, categorizing the information found, and alternate resources to fill in blanks in our research. Using real world examples, I will walk through some of the possible challenges you may encounter and ways to overcome them.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Talk Announcement - BIFHSGO: Searching Findmypast's Newspaper Archives

BIFHSGO


As part of the Before BIFHSGO Education Talks I will be giving a short education talk starting at 9 a.m. titled "Searching Findmypast's Newspaper Archives" before the main monthly meeting at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa meeting being held on March 11, 2017 at The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

After my talk, Gillian Leitch will be presenting "From Famine to Prosperity to the Longue Pointe Asylum: the Varied Life of John Patrick Cuddy" starting at 10 a.m.

Overview

Newspapers can be a treasure trove of details about families and events that aren't often found in the usual birth, marriage, death, and census records. The Findmypast world subscription includes newspapers from the UK, Ireland, Canada, US, and other countries. I will provide some tips for searching these often overlooked resources in our genealogy and family history research.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Backing Up What is Important

It is the first of the month and I wonder, have you backed up your valuable genealogy (and also personal) information?

PHOTO CREDIT: Roman Czarny ,"White Kettle Droping Water on Silver Laptop Computer"; posted at Pexels ("https://www.pexels.com/photo/laptop-guide-computer-levitation-74039/ : downloaded 3 Feb 2017); used under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License.

PHOTO CREDIT: Roman Czarny ,"White Kettle Droping Water on Silver Laptop Computer"; posted at Pexels ("https://www.pexels.com/photo/laptop-guide-computer-levitation-74039/ : downloaded 3 Feb 2017); used under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License.

I'm not just talking about the information on your computer where you might have pictures and electronic copies of documents that you have spent numerous hours finding and saving.

If you are someone that prefers keeping all your information in binders on shelves (or on the floor) of your home what is your backup strategy? Keep in mind that natural and human created disasters can happen at any time. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes happen all the time around the world.
  • Have you recently, like in the past year, made photocopies of the pages in those binders and sent those copies to another family member for safe keeping?
  • Have you digitized those one-of-a-kind photographs and saved the resulting image files somewhere other than your home computer?
At least with using binders, computer viruses and other malicious software can't destroy your years of research work. If you are someone like me that saves their almost exclusively in the computer, when was the last time you backed up those files? Are those backups kept in the same house as the computer?

Here is the strategy I try to use for backing up my computer files:
  • Any time I make a large number of updates to my tree or at the end of a day of research:
    • I backup the changes to a 64 GB USB memory stick1 using the free version of 2BrightSparks' SyncBackFree. With a few clicks any changes are updated on the memory stick and it only takes a few minutes. I have two USB memory sticks are rotate between for my quick backups.
    • I also use the backup option in my genealogy software, in my case Legacy Family Tree, to create a backup of my database. This automatically is saved in my free Dropbox account.
  • Once a month I backup all the personal information on my computer to an external hard disk. That drive is not connected to my computer unless I am doing a backup.
  • Periodically, but never often enough, I take one of my USB memory sticks to the bank and store it in my safety deposit box.
Since I also use Ancestry for cousin bait and automated searching I backup my trees stored on Ancestry just in case. Even though I use Legacy Family Tree for my primary database I have purchased Family Tree Maker so I can synchronize the Ancestry copy of my family tree and related documents to my home computer.



1. Yes I have over 32 GB of genealogy related files including digital copies of out of copyright books.