When doing genealogy research, whether your own or for someone else, it is important to start with what you know. In this example I will be talking a query that was sent to me due to my participation in the Facebook "Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness - RAOGK International" group.
I consider this a good query since it asked a relatively straightforward question and provided enough clues to easily search for the information requested. Below is what was sent to me:
I am searching for a birth record for a Victor(e) Berube most likely the son of Jean Baptist Berube and Marie Modest Oulelet. Most records state he was born in 1824-25 but I see a baptism in 1821. Here is the accurate household in 1871 02, St-Nicholas d, Lévis 154, Quebec
Household Gender Age Birthplace
Victor Bérubé M 46 Q
Caroline Bérubé F 42 Q
Jules Bérubé M 19 Q
Lactitia Bérubé F 7 Q
Odina Bérubé M 4 Q
Much of the family still lives in Desraele Quebec, and Michigan.. I think there are links to New Hampshire as well but if we could find a birth record for Victor or a death of the father that would clear up many a family tree and the misinformation that he must have a different father because of the birthdate, Note that the wife and husband in most trees have the same exact birth and death dates.
The census record is from the 1871 census of Canada. My first step was to locate the image of that census record to verify what had been sent to me (part of my "trust no one, verify everything" philosophy of research). I found the record plus additional family members. The next step was to confirm the maiden surname of Victor's wife. For that I searched the Drouin collection on Ancestry for a baptism record for one of the possible children. There I found the baptism entry for Maria Latitia Berube, the daughter of Victor Berube and Caroline Trepaunier.
Next was the marriage registration for Victor and Caroline. Again the Drouin collection was searched and the very first record that appeared in the list was the 25 Nov 1845 marriage for that couple. Fortunately, Victor's parents were listed as Jean Baptiste Berube and Maria Modeste Ouilet. I've now confirmed the information provided concerning Victor's parents but the question still hasn't been answered ... when was he born?
To hopefully resolve the quandary of when Victor was born a search of the Drouin collection on Ancestry resulted in finding an 1821 baptism record for a Victor Berube. But is it the right Victor Berube? Reviewing the record and a bit of typing into Google Translate helped me with the French. From the looks of it it is the right record:
"The eight of September one thousand eight hundred twenty one, we the undersigned priest by the parish priest of St. Boch, was named Victor was born the same day of the legitimate marriage of Jean Baptiste Berubé farmer and Modeste Ouellet Jean Dionne godfather, godmother Marie Faucasse. The father is absent, the sponsor alone ___ sign with us."The reason for doing all the work above now becomes evident. The parents in the baptism registration matches those in Victor's marriage record. From this record we now know that on 8 Sep 1821 he was born. But the question lingers, is this truly the same person as listed in the census? The Victor in the marriage record could be the second child named Victor if the first Victor died between 1821 and 1824. However, no burial records or additional baptisms were found.
Ancestry.com. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
So it is my belief that the Victor Berube in the query was born on 8 Sep 1821. As usual, all dates recorded on census records need to be taken with a grain of salt (or a whole mine's worth of salt!)