Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Finding "Unknown" Children in Findmypast Parish Records

One of the challenges we often face is locating the siblings of children we already know about. That was the case with a recent post in the Yorkshire Genealogy group on Facebook:
"A question about how to search on FindmyPast.com for baptismal records without knowing the child's name. (For those who don't know findmypast is giving free access to records from Sept 7-10.) I am interested in finding all the siblings of someone born in Wakefield, Yorkshire around 1820. Because I do not know the names of all the siblings I cannot search using their own names. If I search on the names of one of the parents, however, I don't seem to find baptismal records for their children. Is there a way to search for the parents and get their kids' baptismal or birth records? Thank you!"
The first challenge was to get a little more information so that I could better help out and to create a usable search. With a bit of prompting this is what was next posted:
"...the father is George Armitage. Mother is listed as Mary Rayner (both in first name field) Armitage. Her full maiden name was Mary Rayner Haigh. Two known children are John Armitage born 25 Oct 1819, baptized 4 Sep 1820 at Wakefield, All Saints. Their other known child is Henrietta Armitage, born 13 Apr 1813, also baptized 04 Sept 1820. There was also a daughter, Jane baptized the same day as the other two, according to the West Yorkshire, Church of England records on ancestry, but I am most interested in finding out whether George and Mary Rayner had other children. George and Mary Rayner were married in Leeds but known children were baptized in Wakefield."
So what do we know now?
  • George Armitage is the father
  • Mary Rayner Haigh is the mother
  • George Armitage and Mary Rayner Haigh were marred in Leeds, Yorkshire, England
  • Two children were born between 1813 (Henrietta) and 1819 (John)
  • Those two children plus another daughter were baptized in 1920 at All Saints Church in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
That should be enough information to give us a nice starting point to build a search query using Findmypast.

Here is the starting page I typically get once I am logged into Findmypast.com:

Findmypast.com starting page
Findmypast.com starting page

We could start at the Findmypast starting page by filling in the boxes in the 'Search our records" section but I'm going to take a different tack by clicking on the "Search" tab on the top banner and selecting "Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers)". This brings me to this page:

Findmypast,com Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers) search page
Findmypast,com Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers) search page
Since I know where in the world the family was I'm going to click on the "World" drop down menu found on the left side of the screen and select "England".

Also, since the records are all probably in the years before civil registration took place in England and Wales, I'm going to click on the "Parish Baptisms" text within the "Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers)" section on the left side of the screen.


As you can see, there are a few more really useful additional search boxes we can fill in. Each of those specific collections within the "Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers)" have unique search boxes so if you know what type of record you want to look for, select that collection.

Now to fill in the blanks in the search form. As you do so, the floating "Search Parish Baptism" button at the bottom of the screen will change to show how many records match your search criteria. I will put in square brackets the number that appeared on my screen to show the effect of the filters I am using.

  1. For the "Last name" type in Armitage. [34,388]
  2. Check the "Name variants" box under the Last name since we don't know how the parish clerk or vicar might have written the name. [47,637]
  3. For the "Year of Birth" type in 1820 and change the "Give or take" to -+ 10yrs [7,844]
  4. For "Where", for the list of counties, just start typing "Yorkshire" and select that county from the drop down list that appeared. [4,203]
  5. For the "Locations" type in Wakefield. [82]
  6. For the "Mother's first name(s)" type in Mary and leave the "Name variants" box checked. I could add her second first name but the person recording the details in the record book will only put in the first forename [27].
  7. Leave the "Mother's last name" box empty since often the last name isn't recorded. [27]
  8. For the "Father's first name(s)" type in George and leave the "Name variants" box checked. this will catch any "Geo" or other variations including just initials. [12]
  9. Leave the "Father's last name" box empty since we have already put that in our search form above. [12]
So we have gone from 34,388 records down to just 12. Not too shabby! Clicking on the "View 12 Results" button will bring up what was found.

Partial search results from Findmypast for the Armitage Parish Baptism query
Partial search results from Findmypast for the Armitage Parish Baptism query

Here is a snippet of the results from the search. You will notice a few duplicates. That is due to the information being duplicated in the collections from the various original searches.

Also, these are only transcriptions as can be seen by the piece of paper icon. If there were images then there would be a camera icon.

If you look at one of those records and scroll down the page you will see some text stating:
Index (c) IRI. Used by permission of FamilySearch Intl.

So we know that this is an index and it is under copyright by IRI. Just who is IRI and can we find what this index was created from? Well, IRI is the "Intellectual Reserve, Inc." and it was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints1. This means, at least for my purposes, that I should probably go to FamilySearch to see if I can find the images, or at least the microfilms, so that I can view the scanned in original documents.

Let us pop over to FamilySearch to see if we can replicate the search.

First we need to sign in to FamilySearch. If you don't have an account at FamilySearch it is easy to do so and it is free.

Once I signed in I hovered my mouse over the "Search" text at the top menu and click on "Records" to bring up the search page. Below is my reconstruction of the search I used on Findmypast.

FamilySearch search screen for Armitage
FamilySearch search screen for Armitage

There are many more records return, 36,353 results to be exact, but that is because I didn't do any filtering of the collections. Like in the Findmypast search we there are duplicates, but that is to be expected since it appears that Findmypast used these records for their index.

FamilySearch search results for Armitage query
FamilySearch search results for Armitage query
Hmmm, it looks like there are no images here also. Yet if we click on one of the search results we get the details records and "Citing this Record" text.

FamilySearch Armitage search results details for Edward Haigh Armitage
FamilySearch Armitage search results details for Edward Haigh Armitage
In the "Citing this Record" we can see that the microfilms used were 0990773 to 990775. A quick search of the catalog for Film/Fiche Number tells us that these are from the "Bishop's transcripts for the parish church, Wakefield, 1600-1857". Those specific microfilms cover a range of dates.

FamilySearch Catalog search results for microfilm 990773
FamilySearch Catalog search results for microfilm 990773

You can see that there is a key symbol above the camera icon. This indicates that we will need to visit a Family History Center to view digitized copies of the microfilm scans of the original documents. Also, since we are interested in the christening/baptisms from 1810 to 1830 we will need to look at the digitized microfilms 990773, 990774, and 990775 to find all the family members.

Could we improve our search in Findmypast and FamilySearch? I think so. If we know the date of the marriage for George and Mary Rayner Armitage I would be tempted to set the starting year as 2 years before that time (just in case the first child was out of wedlock) and 25 years after the marriage. Sometimes the census can help us with a "cut-off" date for the last known child to survive. but even then I would add an additional 5 years to find those "lost" children.



1. See the Wikipedia article Intellectual Reserve for details of why you will find "(c) IRI" on the indexes from FamilySearch that are used on genealogy research sites.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

RCAF Graves in Guyana?

A little while ago a friend posted several pictures on Facebook of grave markers that he had seen in the British Military Cemetery in Georgetown, Guyana with the comment:
"Here is a mystery for you Ken..
Walking through the British Military Cemetery in Guyana, and saw these Canadian memorials
What happened to the crews on April 11th 1944 and May 20th 1943"

F. A. R. Milbury, R113616
F. A. R. Milbury, R113616
H. D. G. Ward, R117558
H. D. G. Ward, R117558
K. F. Probert
K. F. Probert
R. F. Stubner
R. F. Stubner
"Ian Mackenzie", Facebook (www.facebook.com/madmack66 : accessed 5 Sep 2018), post from 23 Aug 2018 at 20:49.

Here are the steps I took to answer his question.

I first went to the Library and Archives Canada page for the "Service Files of the Second World War - War Dwad, 1939-1947" and started my search via the "Search: Database" link  using their last names, or in the case of H. D. G. Ward, the service number. Why use the service number just for him? There are 184 names containing the word "ward"! Even after adding "H" for the Given Name(s) there were 81 service members found.

Since each of the grave markers also gave the date of death I could quickly verify that I had found the right person for those markers without a service number.

SurnameGiven Names (s)Date of BirthDate of DeathService Number
MilburyFrancis Arthur Robert21 Sep 192120 May 1943R113616
WardHugh Dennis George11 Feb 192320 May 1943R117558
ProbertK F16 Nov 191911 Apr 1944J29636
StubnerR F23 Sep 191411 Apr 1944J29635


In each case I clicked on the associated Item Number for the person to see if there was a PDF file available from Library and Archives Canada. Unfortunately  the pages for each of the service members stated "No PDF file available". I could physically visit the Library and Archives Canada building in Ottawa but that will take a bit of time to request the files and I wouldn't be able to get there until the next day anyway. So I will continue my online search for information about what happened to these people.

Since these service members were from the Commonwealth the next site I went to was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Using what I had learned from the LAC search I was able to quickly locate the same service members here. The CWGC site even told me the name of the cemetery, "Georgetown (Rabbit Walk) Cemetery".

Within each page for the service members there were town tables in the CWGC Archives section: "Grave Registration" and "Headstone". The Headstone document provides was what actually inscribed on the headstone. In this case, all four of the personnel we are interested in were recorded on the same sheet.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "War Dead Records", database on-line, CWGC (www.cwgc.org : accessed 5 Sep 2018), Headstone document for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury, service number R/113616.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "War Dead Records", database on-line, CWGC (www.cwgc.org : accessed 5 Sep 2018), Headstone document for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury, service number R/113616.

The Grave Registration document has these four service members listed plus two others from the R.A.F. that died on the same dates. Could these all be related to aircraft crashes and what were they doing in Guyana?
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "War Dead Records", database on-line, CWGC (www.cwgc.org : accessed 5 Sep 2018), Grave Registration document for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury, service number R/113616.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "War Dead Records", database on-line, CWGC (www.cwgc.org : accessed 5 Sep 2018), Grave Registration document for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury, service number R/113616.

My next stop was to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial where I did yet another search for these R.C.A.F. service members. In each case there was a link to the image of the page from the Second World War Book of Remembrance that lies within the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. For Flying Officer Richard Frank Stubner (another fact we didn't have until now: his forenames) there was even a newspaper clipping from the Winnipeg Evening Tribune announcing his death. Pilot Officer Francis Arthur Robert Milbury had a picture with a short biography submitted under the Digital Collection section for him.

My final stop in this brief research adventure was to Ancestry since they have a collection called "Canada, WWII Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947". This is a free collection that should be searchable and viewable as long as you have an account (not a paid subscription) with Ancestry.ca. For example, using my paid Ancestry subscription, when I did a search for Milbury and selected "View Record" for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury I saw this:
Ancestry search results page for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury
Ancestry search results page for Francis Arthur Robert Milbury
The initial inclination is to click the "View" button. Don't do that! Instead click on the "View File Start" link. This will take you to the very beginning of the digitized paper file. Use the right arrow button to work your way though the file. There is often much more than the attestation forms such as the service book (with entries written in the service member's own hand), notification of death forms, and even hand written correspondence from family members pertaining to the death.

So what did happen on 20 May 1943 to Francis Arthur Robert Milbury and Hugh Denis George Ward1. Form 551, "Royal Air Force. Officer or Airman-Report on Accidental or Self-inflicted Injuries or Immediate Death Therefrom." for F. A. R. Milbury states that he was:
Deceased (Killed outright)
Baltimore FA/520. Ran off runway in landing. Aircraft Crashed and burnt.
Deceased was Captain of Aircraft
Later on another form in his file states "Killed when aircraft FA.250, of which he was pilot, crashed at Georgetown, British Guiana while on ferry flight." He was with No. 45 (AT) Group at the time of the accident.

In H. D. G. Ward's service file the "Clinical Record Brief" form states that the wounds from 20 May 1943 were "...accidentally incurred in an airplane crash at Atkinson Field, British Guiana at approximately 1:15PM, May 20, 1943. Type of plane A-30." Another form states that he was the navigator on that ferry flight.

The No. 45 (AT) Group was a based at Dorval, Quebec, Canada and was part of the R.A.F. Transport Command and ferried aircraft from factories to the operational units. For this flight they were ferrying a Martin Baltimore light attack bomber. The A-30 designation was for those aircraft part of the United States Lend-Lease Act.

For the incident involving Kenneth Frederick Probert and Richard Frank Stubner, their service files also provided quite a bit of information. They were ferrying a Martin B-26 Marauder aircraft, HD.149, from Nassau to Accra when it crash at Atkinson Field in British Guiana. In a letter in R. F. Stubner's file to Miss Laura Taylor of Clandeboye, Manitoba, dated 6 Feb 1946 it states:
Dear Miss Taylor,
Further to our letter of December 20th,
1945, the names of the crew members of Pilot Officer
Richard Frank Stubner are as follows:-
Pilot: Howard WEIBEN, American Civilian
2nd Pilot: P/O Stanley BLACKBURN, (65124).
Navigator: P/O Kenneth PROBART, (J.29636).
I trust this is the information you desired.


So in both cases these servicemen were ferrying aircraft from North America to operational bases overseas via the South Atlantic ferry route.

From just a bit of information on the headstones we were able to learn a bit more about the people and the part they were playing in the effort of the Allies to fight in the Second World War.



1. Note that he wrote his name as "Hugh Denis George Ward" and not "Hugh Dennis George Ward" in his Royal Canadian Air Force Service Book.

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.