Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Just When Did He Die?

As part of my research into my own family tree I also look at the descendants of the siblings off of my direct line. In order to help me and others in their research I post my tree on Ancestry (and other sites). It isn't often that I get contacted by another researcher but just a couple of days ago I received this comment attached to Wharton Dunwood Barton, my 1st cousin 4 times removed:
"Wharton D. barton was married to my Great Aunt--Mary Curren. Mary was born at the English settlement on the Queens/King county line. She came from a large family. The 1901 Census has the couple living in Saint john but theres no further records. Mary died as a widow in early March 1945 and was buried on 3-13-1945 at Fernhill Cemetery.. Can`t determine when Wharton died and for some mysterious reason-no record shows up at the provincial Archives. He obviously died some time after 1901 and sometime before 1945. Let me know if you have an answer."
Up until that time I had only recorded details up to the 1881 census of Canada of Wharton and his siblings since I have been trying to focus on my direct lines. But with this query I figured I should look into what happened to Wharton.

The first step for me was to confirm the details that were provided. A check of the death registration index of New Brunswick, Canada found at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick web site confirmed that she is a widow and her husband is listed as "Wharton D. Barton". Additionally the informant is listed as "Mrs. Mabel Hayes" of Torryburn, a sister of Mary Barton (this will be important later).

I did a search for any "W Barton" that died between 1901 and 1945. A record for a "W Dunwood Barton", 48 year old male born at The Narrows, of Torryburn that died on 19 Jan 1906 in Torryburn was one of those listed in the search results. It looked very promising but I wanted to make sure. So the next step was to fill in the blanks for both Wharton and Mary.

I checked the Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics but no mention was made of either of them. A search of the Brenan's Funeral Home [MC793] collection only returned a result for Mary. Checking the New Brunswick Cemeteries index resulted in nothing found for either of them. So it was off to Ancestry to find the census records I had not yet recorded. I found Wharton and Mary in 1891 living next to Wharton's brothers and sisters and then in 1901 in Prince Ward of Saint John, New Brunswick. But then the trail for Wharton goes cold. I still had one more basic fact to locate and that was their marriage. I had previously purchased the "Queens County, New Brunswick, Marriage Registers, Books B and C, 1861-1887" from the Associates of the Provincial Archives to help me in my research of the various families connected to my lines from Queens County. In that book was the entry for Wharton's and Mary's marriage on 29 Jan 1885.

But I still had that cold trail for Wharton. So it was back to Ancestry to look for Mary Barton in the 1911 and 1921 census for Canada. I first found Mary in the 1921 census of Canada listed as a sister in law of H. P. Hayes living in Torryburn. H. P. Hayes had his wife listed as Mable Hayes. This was probably the same Mabel Hayes listed as the informant on Mary's death registration. But I couldn't find Mary in the 1911 census using the Ancestry transcription/index. So I looked for Mabel Hayes and there listed as a lodger was a "Mary Porton". Could this by Mary Barton? Since I don't trust transcriptions, even my own at times, I checked the image of the census page. It was the Mary Barton I was looking for ... sigh, yet another bad transcription. She is listed as a widow so we know now that Wharton had died between 1901 and 1911. It seems to be that the 1906 registration of death for W Dunwood Barton is the right one.

One thing I did for this bit of research was to keep a log of what I had found (or not found). It did really help to keep track of where I looked and what I looked for. Below is what I recorded in Evernote as I did my research.

2013 Nov 22:
  • Searched PANB online for Mary Barton death. Found and recorded details. Maiden surname, as written, is Curran
  • Searched PANB online for W Barton death. Found possible for W Dunwood Barton. Date lines up but still need to verify
  • Searched DFJ for mention of either person. No hits
  • Searched PANB Brennan Funeral Home. Found reference to Mary Barton with no additional details, no mention of W Barton
  • Searched PANB cemetery index, no mentions found for either
  • Search on Ancestry for records
    • Found 1891 census for Warton Dunwood Barton and wife Mary. Living next to his siblings in Queens County.
    • Found 1901 census for Wharton Barton and Mary living in Saint John, Prince Ward.
  • Checked Queens County Marriage Register Books B & C. Found marriage on 29 Jan 1885.
  • found grave marker for W Dunwood Barton at Listed as having died 18 Jan 1906.
  • Search on Ancestry for records
    • found in city directories up to 1900
    • found Mary Barton in 1921 census living in Simonds Parish with sister Mabel's family (Hayes), listed as sister-in-law, widowed
    • 1911 census: Searched on sister Mabel Hayes and found mis-transcribed name of Mary Barton, lodger, widowed, living in the same household
Based on these results, the PANB death registration for W Dunwood Barton is believed to be the correct record for Wharton Dunwood Barton.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Finding Places in New Brunswick, Canada

One of the challenges you can run into when doing your research is finding out the "correct" spelling of a place and where it is actually located in the province. In my case I have a number of the family lines that settled in New Brunswick area in the late 1700 and early 1800s.

Buried within the web site of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick is a very interesting page called "Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present" found at On that page you will come across the listing of the counties of New Brunswick and an ability to search for places. When you bring up the details on a community you will find a description of the place, several maps, and distances to near by villages and towns.

One of those maps of particular interest to those researching ancestors in early New Brunswick is the cadastral map. The cadastral maps show the basic features of the area along with boundaries, lot number, and grantee's name for land granted. For example, the cadastral map below is for the portion of Kings County that includes Norton.
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick []

Friday, November 22, 2013

Call For Speakers: 20th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference

20th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa is seeking proposals for presentations at its annual conference, September 19 - 21, 2014, to be held in Ottawa at Library and Archives Canada.

Conference Theme

The conference will focus on three main topics:
  • English family history
  • Immigration from the British Isles, including Home Children
  • Genetic genealogy
Proposals are also invited for other conference presentations likely to be of interest to BIFHSGO members and for pre-conference workshops or seminars.


Please send proposals to before January 31, 2014.

Proposal Submission

  • Each proposal should be written on one page and include:
  • Your full name, postal address, telephone number, and email address;
  • Whether the proposal is for:
    • a lecture (or several lectures) during the conference, and/or
    • a seminar or hands-on workshop on the Friday. Please indicate if the workshop will be a half day (3 hours) or a full day (6 hours);
  • Presentation title(s);
  • An abstract of up to 200 words describing each presentation;
  • A one or two-sentence description of your talk(s) for the conference brochure;
  • A 100-150 word biography;
  • Your audiovisual requirements;
  • Whether your presentation(s) would be aimed at those working at the beginner (general), intermediate, or advanced (specialist) level;
  • Whether you will provide a two to four-page summary of your talk, including references and website addresses, as a handout;
  • Whether you would be prepared to present remotely.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Coming To Your Census

With the advent of the digitization and indexing of the census pages from Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and United States we have been spoiled in comparison to what researchers even ten years ago had to go through to find ancestors and relatives. Now we can visit many online sites that have made available those images and indexes. Some of those sites are free while others may require paying a monthly or annual fee to access the records. Even some of those pay sites may be freely available at your local archive, library or Family History Center.

Yet even with the indexes that are available some family members seem to be impossible to find in a census. There are many possible reasons they can't be found. Some of them are:
  • the hand writing by the enumerator is atrocious
  • the original microfilm was of poor quality
  • the original pages were damaged
  • the enumerator had no clue on how the name was spelled by the family
  • the person of interest has left the country or has died
  • the person's name may have changed due to marriage or due to "legal" issues
So what can you do to find them?

Some possible suggestions are:
  • Search for the household as a group but leave off their surname. 
  • Search for the youngest member of the household at the time of the census. Usually their age will be the most accurate.
  • Don't include the age or birth year of the person. For some reason it is not uncommon for women to not be exactly truthful when answering questions about their age.
  • Restrict the search to only a specific district, sub-district or town where they are believed to be living at the time of the census. This may reduce the number of possible names to look at to a manageable size.
  • If all else fails a page by page examination of the digitized images of an area may be necessary. Sort of an old school/new school approach.
For example, I was looking for the family of Arthur Finnie and his wife Elizabeth Ann (nee McMullen) yet I couldn't initially find them in the 1921 Census of Canada that has been made available on Ancestry. In this case I knew that they probably lived in Windsor and most likely had their 3 year old daughter Margaret living with them. So for the search parameters on Ancestry I specified the following details:
First & Middle Name: Elizabeth Ann
Birth Year: 1881
Birth Location: Ontario, Canada
Spouse: Arthur
Child: Margaret
Keyword: Windsor  [Exact match checked]
Gender: Female
Note that in this case I left off the surname for Elizabeth Ann Finnie but I did include her known birth year. The first match returned was a transcription for the household of Arthur Francise with wife Elizabeth, daughter Margaret and lodger Thompson Officer.

This is why being able to examine the image of the census record in question is so important.

1921 Census of Canada, Ontario, district 77, sub-district 41, Windsor, p. 17, dwelling 182, family 193, household of Arthur Finnie; RG 31; digital images,, ( : accessed 17 Nov 2013); citing Library and Archives Canada.

Looking at the image, at least to my eyes, the surname isn't "Francise" but is "Finnie", the family I am looking for.

So don't give up when searching for those family members apparently missing from the census. You may just need to be a little creative in your searches.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Stop, Pause, and Think

We've all heard of the expression "Stop, drop, and roll" to help put out flames if your clothing is on fire. I think there should be a saying "Stop, pause, and think" for genealogists that rely on other peoples work to fill in the blanks about their ancestors.

Recently I discover the name of my 6th great-grandfather, Jedidiah Fairweather, in the oath attesting to the marriage of his daughter Esther to Lt. Caleb Howe. You may want to see my recent posting for details of this discovery. Whenever I come across a new person on my direct line I usually search various online resources for other references to this "new" family member.

In addition to Google searches and checking for other online trees, articles and books I also check Ancestry for their record collections and public trees. Now I don't link to any of those public trees (part one of my genealogy research motto ... "Trust no one"). Instead I review what others have found for possible clues regarding potential records and other family members. Yet I often come across records and family members in those public trees that make me stop and wonder, "What were they thinking?

Here is one of the Ancestry tree hint records for Jedediah Fairweather. Can you see at least one possible problem with his family?

A hint for you ... Look at the date of death for his spouse and then look at the date of birth of the youngest child listed.

Do you see it now?

In this tree Benjamin, the son of Jedediah and Deborah, was born after the date of death of his mother. Yet this isn't the only tree for Jedediah Fairweather that this error occurs in. Several other trees have this same Benjamin being born in 1762 which makes a bit more sense. The "1792" could be from a simple typo when the first person entered in the information but this mistake has now been propagated on Ancestry and who knows where else. All because the people with this error didn't pause and take a moment to think about the information they were blindly adding to their family tree.

I'm not picking on this tree or on Ancestry since I've seen this problem occur many times in other online trees. And if truth be told, when I was first starting in my adventures in my own family tree I did this too. Yet if you just click to add a record or details about a family member without thinking about what you are adding then you might just be compounding and propagating a mistake.

So in the future, when consulting work compiled by others:

Stop, pause, and think!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Never Forgotten - Ronald "Red" McGregor Warrener

Ronald "Red" McGregor Warrener
"Dog" Company, 48th Highlanders of Canada
11 Jun 1913 - 25 Jul 1943

Died in the hills near Nissoria, Sicily, Italy

"The most gallant fight by 48th Highlanders on a day that was to be recalled with grimness, was the inspiring charge on a pinnacle on the ridge-top by 4 men of Dog Company. Only 8 Germans were holding it, and if there was room to deploy and flank it, this was not tried. The 4 Highlanders attempted to capture the hump of high ground in a gallant, but hopeless straight dash. L/Cpl. Dan (D.J.) Murray was killed on the lip of the first slit trench; he had almost reached the Germans. The body of Pte. Red (R.M. ) Warriner was found three feet away."
"Dileas: History of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1929-1956
", Kim Beattie, published by 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1957

Never Forgotten - Samuel McKinlay

Samuel McKinlay

'A' Company, 2nd Infantry Battalion, C.E.F.
2 Mar 1891 - 22 April 1915

A casualty of the Second Battle of Ypres

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Widow's Pension Application = One Less Brick Wall

On June 11th, 2013 Ancestry included in their collections for Canada a set of documents they titled "Canada, Pension Applications For Widows and Family of British Military Officers, 1776-1881". This collection is from The National Archives in Kew, Surrey, England and is described in the TNA database as "WO 42 - War Office: Officers' Birth Certificates, Wills and Personal Papers". So why am I so happy to find this collection? This is set of papers includes the applications by widows of men that served in His Majesty's military during the time of the American Rebellion and subsequently settled in that part of North America that remained loyal to the Crown (what later became known as the country of Canada).

Now I am a proud descendant of the Loyalist Lt. Caleb Howe of the Queens Rangers and one of my brickwalls has been "What is Esther's, his wife, maiden surname and also when and where were they married?" This questions has stumped experienced researchers that have been looking into this family for far longer than I've been doing my research. There were guesses as to Esther's maiden surname but no proof to back them up.

A search of this collection revealed that Esther had in fact applied for a widow's pension since Caleb died in 1810. Ancestry only took me to the first page where Caleb was mentioned so I brought up the web page for The National Archives and looked for the WO 42 collection. From the page displayed on Ancestry I knew the documents were in the WO42/61 set. A quick search revealed that I could freely download (I like free) the complete WO42/61 collection of documents. Now I could have just moved forward in the Ancestry collection page by page to find all the documents preserved pertaining to Caleb and Esther but it was just going to be easier to download it all in one bundle as a PDF. I started reading through those pages for any additional clues and then it was in front of me ... that document we have all been looking for ... my Howe Holy Grail ... an oath by someone stating Esther's maiden surname AND the month, year and town they were married.

WO/42/61 document 182, p. 1
Transcribed it appears to reads:

Jedediah Fairweather and Samuel Fairweather at present
of the Parish of ____ in the County of Kings and Province of
New Brunswick - make oath - that they were present at the
marriage of Caleb Howe, - who was a Lieutenant (during the Amer
ican Rebellion) in His Majestys Service in the Provincial Regiment
called the Queens Rangers, and who at the close of the Rebellion - placed
on the Half Pay of _ Regiment, - with Esther Fairweather - Daughter of 
Jedediah, - and that the Marriage was performed & solemnized - between
the said Caleb Howe and the said Esther Howe in the then town of 
Parr, now the City of St John, in the Month of January 1784 by the
Reverend John Beardsley a Missionary of the Church of England.

One mystery after many years of searching as been resolved. All due to keeping an eye out for new collections and constantly revisiting those problem ancestors.

Tip for today: Keep your eye out for new collections and sources of information. You just never know where you will find that next clue.

Update 1: Correction to the date when the collection was released on Ancestry
Update 2: Minor corrections to transcription