Friday, April 5, 2019

Upcoming Genealogy Presentations in 2019

I have a number of upcoming occasions where I will be giving presentations on the subject of genealogy research methodologies. So if you are in the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada area and you have an interest in learning how to better research your family tree please drop by and say hello.


Yours Truly at the Dec 8, 2018 meeting of BIFHSGO. Photographer: Dena Palamedes

Date Event/Location Talk Cost
Apr 6 OGS Ottawa Gene-O-Rama Genealogical Miracles $42 for the day
Apr 11 Ottawa Public Library: Nepean Centrepointe Doing Family Tree Research in Your Pajamas Free
May 11 Voices From the Dust Top Ten Tips and Tricks for Finding Your Ancestors Free
May 23 Ottawa Public Library: Nepean Centrepointe Chipping Away at the Brickwall Free
Jun 1 Ottawa Public Library: Nepean Centrepointe So you want to start researching your family tree? Free
Sep 27 BIFHSGO Annual Conference Exploring your past with Findmypast TBD


You can also usually find me helping out at the Ottawa Public Library - Nepean Centrepointe branch every second Tuesday at their Local History & Genealogy Drop-In Club.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Don't Be That Fool!

Backup Reminder


A Laughing Fool. Netherlandish oil painting (possibly Jacob Cornelisz. van Oostsanen) ca. 1500. [Public Domain Image.]
A Laughing Fool. Netherlandish oil painting
(possibly Jacob Cornelisz. van Oostsanen) ca. 1500.
[Public Domain Image.]



Even though it is April Fools' Day, don't you be that fool. Take the time today to back up all your valuable, and in some cases, irreplaceable genealogy and family history data.

A few possible ways to make copies of your electronic information include:
  • copying to cloud storage such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iDrive, Dropbox, etc.
  • synchronizing to an offsite backup provider like Carbonite, Backblaze, CrashPlan, Mozy, etc.
  • backing up to an external hard disk
  • copying to USB Memory sticks

If possible, ensure that one of your backup processes1 includes sending the information to someone outside of your home just in case the disaster that leads you to need to recover the data also damaged your home or place of business. This could be as simple as making a copy on a USB stick and giving it to a friend or family member.

Don't forget to make sure that you test out the process you use to restore that information from your backup. It doesn't help you if you have a backup and no way to get the data back to your computer.

As for those that do all their work on paper, what is your backup plan? Have you photocopied all of your work and given it to someone outside of your home?



1. Yes, processes. You should be using at least 2 different types of backups with preferably at least one stored offsite.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

But Everyone's Tree Uses That Date!

Since I only rely on the various family trees on Ancestry and other sites as potential clues I often come across "challenges" where the information that I uncover in my research when reviewing the records conflicts with those trees. Such is the case for Theresa Schoenberger.

My own connection to the Schoenberger line is via a marriage to a 1st cousin once removed. I'm researching this branch for two reasons. The first is that my cousin asked me to look into the line of her father, and second, to expand my own research knowledge and skills. This means I really don't have any information on the family so I really need to rely on the records to guide me in my research. I also don't have a large budget (OK, any budget) to work from since it is my personal research. This means that I will have to depend on indexes1 for information when I can't locate digitized records online.

This is an example of one of the more comprehensive tree hints from Ancestry for the family of Theresa Schoenberger.

Screen capture of an Ancestry.com tree hint for Theresa Schoenberger.
Screen capture of an Ancestry.com tree hint for Theresa Schoenberger.
This hint looks OK. The use of "Bohemia, Czeckoslovakia" is not quite right since in 1850 there was no Czechoslovakia but instead Bohemia was a kingdom within the Austria-Hungarian empire.

However, as I started looking at this person and the family I came across some very interesting discrepancies all due to reviewing the digitized records from New York City that are available for viewing at your local Family History Center.

The first difference that threw me for a loop was found in the marriage registration for Nathan Weil and Theresa Schoenberger.

Manhatten, New York County, Manhattan (New York City) marriage records, 1866-1937; index to all boroughs, 1866-1937, Certificates no. 3607-4600 1872: 3630, extract from Nathan L. Weil-Theresia Schönberger marriage registration; FHL microfilm 1,561,851.
Manhatten, New York County, Manhattan (New York City) marriage records, 1866-1937; index to all boroughs, 1866-1937, Certificates no. 3607-4600 1872: 3630, extract from Nathan L. Weil-Theresia Schönberger marriage registration; FHL microfilm 1,561,851.

As you can see, Theresa didn't believe that her mother was Pauline Pessel but Kotreuya Schok. This is a very similar name to the one that her brother Emil stated on his marriage registration. Could this mean that Moshe's first wife died and he remarried? That is a mystery I'm currently working on.

As for her father's forename, I was able to find his Connecticut probate file on Ancestry and there he wrote his name as "Moshe" and witnesses state his name was "Moses". Plus in census and city directories I've seen it written as "Morris" and "Moritz" So this variation of his forename on the marriage registration for Nathan Weil and Theresa Schoenberger is not unexpected.

Of course, just to make things interesting, she doesn't appear to sign her name as "Theresa". But since my expertise is not great in deciphering handwriting I'm not quite sure what she wrote.

Manhatten, New York County, Manhattan (New York City) marriage records, 1866-1937; index to all boroughs, 1866-1937, Certificates no. 3607-4600 1872: 3630, extract from Nathan L. Weil-Theresia Schönberger marriage registration, signature of the bride; FHL microfilm 1,561,851.
Manhatten, New York County, Manhattan (New York City) marriage records, 1866-1937; index to all boroughs, 1866-1937, Certificates no. 3607-4600 1872: 3630, extract from Nathan L. Weil-Theresia Schönberger marriage registration, signature of the bride; FHL microfilm 1,561,851.

The next bit of confusion is the date of death for Theresa. In all the trees shown as hints on Ancestry they all state 27 Aug 1931. If all the trees say that then they must be right, correct?

Well, no. And the clue can be found in the picture used for the profile image for Theresa. It is a grave marker for Theresa Weil and it states that she died "Dec. 9, 1927". So either everyone's tree is wrong or the grave marker used as a profile image is for the wrong person.

Ancestry.com, digital images (www.ancestry.com  : accessed 28 Mar 2019), image of grave marker for Theresa Weil, died 9 Dec 1927, originally shared by JeffB on 11 Nov 2018.
Ancestry.com, digital images (www.ancestry.com  : accessed 28 Mar 2019), image of grave marker for Theresa Weil, died 9 Dec 1927, originally shared by JeffB on 11 Nov 2018.
We need to dig a bit deeper into this mystery of the discrepancy between the death dates.

It seems that the trees given as hints on Ancestry all point to each other or they point to the "New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948" for a Theresa H Weil that died 27 Aug 1931.

"New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Mar 2019), entry for Theresa h Weil, died 27 Aug 1931; citing the Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group.
"New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Mar 2019), entry for Theresa H Weil, died 27 Aug 1931; citing the Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group.
However, if you search that same database on Ancestry for a death of a Theresa Weil that happened in 1927 you will come across this record.
"New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Mar 2019), entry for Theresa Weil, died 9 Dec 1927; citing the Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group.
"New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Mar 2019), entry for Theresa Weil, died 9 Dec 1927; citing the Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group.
Do you think that this might be the right index record for our Theresa Weil?

A search on FamilySearch for a "Theresa Weil" that died in 1927 doesn't bring up anyone that seems to match the information but a search for "Theresa W??l"

"New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W1T-1FG : 10 February 2018), Theresa Woil, 09 Dec 1927; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,056,150.
"New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W1T-1FG : 10 February 2018), Theresa Woil, 09 Dec 1927; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,056,150.

Hmmm, this mother's and father's names look kind of similar to that recorded on the marriage registration. Even better, the GS film number, 2056150, is provided. I can use that number to search the FamilySearch catalogue to determine if I can view the image from which this index entry was created.
Screen capture from FamilySearch,org for GS Film Number 2056150 in the catalogue.
Screen capture from FamilySearch,org for GS Film Number 2056150 in the catalogue.

We are fortunately that a number of the death records for New York City have been digitized and made available through FamilySearch. Unfortunately, as you can see from the screen capture above with the key above the camera icon, you can't access those images from home. However, if you have a Family History Center nearby like I do then you can see and download those images from there. Here is part of the death record for the Theresa Weil that died on 9 Dec 1927:

New York, New York County, New York,  "Death certificates (Manhattan, New York), 1919-1948," (Municipal Archives, New York), [Vol. 55-56], cert. no. 27001, Maria Cannon, Dec. 3, 1927 - cert. no. 28000, Anna Markowitz, Dec. 17, 1927, Theresa Weil, cert no. 27474; FHL microfilm 2,056,150.
New York, New York County, New York,  "Death certificates (Manhattan, New York), 1919-1948," (Municipal Archives, New York), [Vol. 55-56], cert. no. 27001, Maria Cannon, Dec. 3, 1927 - cert. no. 28000, Anna Markowitz, Dec. 17, 1927, Theresa Weil, cert no. 27474; FHL microfilm 2,056,150.
But how do we know that this is our Theresa? Keep in mind that Theresa didn't provide the details but one of her children probably gave the information to the registrar. From my perspective the father's name looks right, same with the mother's name. Her age is wrong based on census and marriage records but that isn't too unusual. Without looking up my own mother's record in my database, I don't know how old she is! As for the address of 242 East 69th Street, her son Theodore was living there in the 1920 census so it is not unlikely that she might have been living with her son at that place in 1927 since her husband had died in 1893 and she was a widow.

I did check the other death registration for the Theresa H Weil that died in 1931 and that person didn't match the details I had for my Theresa (nee Schoenberger) Weil.

After all that here are today's lessons:
  1. Don't ignore what is on an image of a grave marker since it may provide a valuable clue2.
  2. Always make an effort to view the document pointed to by an index.
  3. Online trees are a source of clues but not gospel when it comes to accuracy. Always verify what is stated.



1. I know, I know. Indexes are only pointers to records so I really should be purchasing the records or visiting the town record halls and archives but with no budget the index information gets added to an ever lengthening to-do list. When I can afford it, I can use the to-do list to determine which records I need to purchase to verify the details recorded in the indexes.
2. See my post "Zombies in the census?" for why you can't necessarily trust grave markers either.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Which Record is More Trustworthy?

Lately I've been researching the family line of Emil Schoenberger who settled in the town of New Haven, Connecticut, USA in the late 1800s. It has been a challenge since it seems that I'm finding information that conflicts with what everyone else on Ancestry has recorded. But that is for another post.

Here are six images taken from the hints provided by Ancestry for Emil's death. Each record contains the same information concerning his death. Some include more information than just his date of death. Are these actually six different sources or are they the same?
1
2
3
4
5
6
Numbers 1 and 2 both point to different Family History Library film numbers. That must mean that they are created from different sources, right?

To answer that question we need to pop over to FamilySearch and use the Catalog search function. Here is what we can learn:

  • FHL 3197: Hale Collection - Surname index, Death and Inscriptions SAV - SCOC
  • FHL 3337: Hale Collection - Cemetery inscriptions of Guilford, Haddam, Hamden, Hampton and Hartford

That's interesting. Record number 1 actually points to an index that, in all likelihood, was created from record number 2.

Both record number 1 and 2 came from the Ancestry "Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934" record collection. If you hadn't checked the Source Information box on Ancestry or verified for yourself by going to FamilySearch you might have assumed that the information was from different documents.

How about number 3? It looks like there is an image we can view. There it is written:
Schoenberger, Emil, Father, born Feb. 14, 1850, died June 24, 1902.

Guess what? That is actually the page of the Hale Collection that the "Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934" source points to FHL 3337 in record number 2. Record number 3 is listed as "Connecticut, Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934" in the Ancestry catalogue.

So just what is this Hale Collection? Here is the description from the FamilySearch catalogue:
"Charles R. Hale Collection of vital records (newspaper notices and cemetery inscriptions) with surname index to cemetery inscriptions referring to places and newspapers; index to death notices from newspapers (not included above); index, marriages by newspapers; general index to marriage notices arranged alphabetically; cemeteries by localities; newspapers."
A good guess is that the information for Emil Schoenberger might have been transcribed from his grave marker.


Record 4 is interesting since it gives a burial plot and a few other bits of information about the cemetery. Record 4 is found in the Ancestry catalogue as "JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR)". This was created from the information in the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry hosted by JewishGen. Their description of this database is it:

"...is a database of names and other identifying information from Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present.  It is a compilation of two linked databases: a database of burial records, and a database of information about each particular cemetery."
So this information might have either been taken from the burial register of the B'Nai Shalom cemetery or transcribed from the grave marker by someone that recorded the burial plot number in additional to what is one the stone. We just don't know.

What about Record number 5? That comes from the "Web: Connecticut, Find A Grave Index, 1636-2013" collection on Ancestry. We can easily click on the URL or the "Go to website" button to visit the Find A Grave memorial for Emil Schoenberger.

But guess what? Record number 6 is from the generic "U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current" record collection on Ancestry. The exact same place that record number 5 points to. We are fortunate enough that for this Find A Grave memorial, someone has provided a picture for us to view.

But can we trust what is on that memorial. It is important to note that Find A Grave allows contributors to add additional information that isn't recorded on the stone. For me, I only use what is on the stone and use any additional details as possible clues to chase down.

Even though Ancestry has presented us with six difference records out of five different collections they all seem to point to one single source...the grave stone for Emil Schoenberger. And who provided the information for the stone? We just don't know!

What have we hopefully learned from this little exercise? It is important to know the original sources of where the various indexes and record collections come from so that we can make an informed decision as to the trustworthiness of the records presented to us online, in libraries (public and private), and archives. In Emil's case I would suggest checking for newspaper articles about his death7 and possible see if you can find a probate file that might shed additional information. If he took trips abroad could passport applications or passenger lists have his birth date mentioned?



1. Ancestry.com, "Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934," database on-line, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 Jun 2013), entry for Emil Schoenberger, died 24 Jun 1902, citing FHL Film 3197
2. Ancestry.com, "Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934," database on-line, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 Jun 2013), entry for Emil Schoenberger, died 24 Jun 1902, citing FHL Film 3337
3. Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. 
4. JewishGen, "JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR)," database on-line, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 27 Jun 2013), entry for Emil Schoenberger, died 24 Jun 1902
5. Ancestry.com. Web: Connecticut, Find A Grave Index, 1636-2013 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. 
6. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com/  : accessed 11 Feb 2019), memorial page for Emil Schoenberger (14 Feb 1850–24 Jun 1902), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11330689, citing Temple Beth Sholom Cemetery, Hamden, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA; Maintained by Mona Rhone (contributor 46795703).
7. "Newspaper Archives," database, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 22 Feb 2019), Death of Emil Schoenberger, Head of Schoenberger & Sons; citing the Morning Journal and Courier (New Haven, Connecticut), 25 Jun 1902, p 7, col 1. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

A lost marriage?

Since the new year I've been doing a bit of research on the line pertaining to the husband of one of my cousins. As with any of my personal family research I don't just follow the direct line down through the generations but I also try to research the various siblings. The records of those siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins will often have clues that can help solve other mysteries.

Let's take a look at Catherine Martyn as an example.

She was born to Donald Martyn and Margaret Ann MacDonald on 17 Sep 1908 in Goderich, Ontario, Canada1. In my research I've seen her father, Donald, referred to as Daniel and also as "Black Dan"2. The MacDonald surname can also be recorded as McDonald in the various civil registrations. But this branch of the Goderich MacDonalds spell their own name with "Mac".

In her Michigan marriage license and certificate of marriage for her marriage to Harold W. Ellswood something got my attention but I initially put it aside.

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, "Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Jan 2019), entry for Harold W Ellswood and Catherine Martyn, married 17 Nov 1934; citing Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 271; Film Description: Wayne (Dates TBD); County File Number 447360; State File number 133576.
Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, "Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Jan 2019), entry for Harold W Ellswood and Catherine Martyn, married 17 Nov 1934; citing Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 271; Film Description: Wayne (Dates TBD); County File Number 447360; State File Number 133576.
For Harold W. Ellswood and Catherine Martyn it seems that they both have been previously married one time before. For Margaret her maiden name is recorded as "Div."

Can we discover if that was case and to whom was Catherine married?

I had Catherine arriving in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan on 31 Dec 1925 to attend school and to permanently reside in the United States of America.

Ancestry.com, "Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Catharine Martyn, 31 Dec 1925; citing The National Archives at Washington, D.C; Washington, D.C; Series Title: Card Manifests (Alphabetical) of Individuals Entering through the Port of Detroit, Michigan, 1906-1954; NAI: 4527226; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004.
Ancestry.com, "Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Catharine Martyn, 31 Dec 1925; citing The National Archives at Washington, D.C; Washington, D.C; Series Title: Card Manifests (Alphabetical) of Individuals Entering through the Port of Detroit, Michigan, 1906-1954; NAI: 4527226; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004.
In the 1930 federal census of the USA I found her living as a roomer at 2992 Seyburn Street in Detroit. At that time she was listed as being single and working as an elevator operator in an office building3. By 1940 she was married to Harold, had an almost one year old baby boy, and was living in Akron, Summit County, Ohio, USA4. This would suggest that sometime between 1 Apr 1930, the date of the census, and 17 Nov 1934 when her marriage license with Harold Ellswood was completed she was previously married.

This is where her sister Christena comes into the picture, to help possibly muddle the picture and add to the confusion.

In Christina5 Martyn's 22 Aug 1928 arrival in Detroit she lists her sister Catherine Smale living at 8080 Ruedidale Street as the person she is going to join in the USA.

Ancestry.com, "Michigan Passenger and Crew Lists, 1903-1965," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Christine Martyn, arriving 22 Aug 1928; citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Port Huron, Michigan, February 1902-December 1954; Record Group: 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Microfilm Serial: A3441; Microfilm Roll: 6
Ancestry.com, "Michigan Passenger and Crew Lists, 1903-1965," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Christine Martyn, arriving 22 Aug 1928; citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Port Huron, Michigan, February 1902-December 1954; Record Group: 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Microfilm Serial: A3441; Microfilm Roll: 6
So it looks like Catherine was married to a "Smale" by 1928. I've guessing that whoever answered the questions in the 1930 census didn't know that Catherine had been married. With Catherine's arrival in the USA at the end of 1925 and the mid 1928 arrival of her sister she was probably married.

There are two possible approaches I could take to find Catherine's first husband.
  1. Look for a first marriage in both Ontario, her birth province, or in Michigan, her new home, or
  2. See if I can find her and her husband in the city directory of Detroit.
This time I decided to use the Detroit city directory that is available on Ancestry for 1928 to see if I could find her and her possible husband.


There she is with an Albert E Smale. He is a machinist and she is a clerk. There is no 1929 city directory for Detroit available on Ancestry but in the 1930 city directory I no longer see Catherine living with Albert at that address even though Albert is still there.

Can I find a marriage for Albert Smale and Catherine Martyn in Michigan in the "Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952" collection on Ancestry? Well, here is it, their 10 Dec 1925 marriage.

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, "Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Albert Smale and Catherine Martyn, married 5 Dec 1925; citing Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 186; Film Description: 1925 Wayne; Record Number 303245.
Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, "Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Albert Smale and Catherine Martyn, married 5 Dec 1925; citing Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 186; Film Description: 1925 Wayne; Record Number 303245. 

I'm guess that Catherine had a bit of explaining to do to the authorities and possibly her parents since on her 31 Dec 1925 entry she stated she was single and was planning to attend school. The attending school part might have been true but the single definitely wasn't!

About the "Div." found on the license application for the second marriage, the one to Harold, once I put her marriage to Albert into my cousin-bait tree on Ancestry I did a manual search for additional possible records and up popped a divorce for her from Albert that was granted on 29 Jan 1930.

"Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Catherine Smale, decree 29 Jan 1930, granted; citing Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Michigan. Divorce records
"Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019), entry for Catherine Smale, decree 29 Jan 1930, granted; citing Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan; Michigan. Divorce records.

When I look at the various suggested Ancestry member trees that match the family only one other tree has a marriage to someone other than Harold Elmswood and in that tree they only has a surname of "Sanale" listed.

So always read the full record for those little details that can shine a light on a hidden corner of an ancestor's life.



1. Ancestry.com, "Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Jan 2019), entry for Catherine Martyn, born 17 Sep 1908; citing Archives of Ontario; Series: MS929; Reel: 8.

2. CanadaGenWeb, CanadaGenWeb Cemetery Project, digital images (cemetery.canadagenweb.org  : accessed 6 Jan 2019), entry for Black Dan Martyn. died 5 Jan 1919, Maitland Cemetery, Huron County, Ontario. 

3. 1930 U.S. census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Detroit, enumeration district (ED) 563, sheet 7B, dwelling 71, family 14, Catherine Martyn; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 1056; Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls. 

4. 1940 U.S. census, Summit County, Ohio, population schedule, Akron, enumeration district (ED) 89-181, sheet 12A, household 229, Harry W Ellswood; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 Jan 2019); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T627, roll 3179. 

5. Based on other research it seems that her name is "Christena". This name had been seen in previous generations of the family.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hints for Dealing With Ancestry Hints - Member Trees

In my post Hints for Dealing With Ancestry Hints I sort of glossed over how I handle the Member Trees hints from Ancestry when I stated:
"The Member Trees are a special challenge for me since I don't trust anyone's trees (sometimes I even doubt my own work). My usually approach for the member trees on Ancestry is to do a quick glance at what they have posted to see if there is anything of particular interest and then review those documents. Sometimes I will add to my to do list an action to search for a document to confirm what someone added to their tree."

For me, the Member Trees hints fall under my first rule of my genealogy research of "Trust no one"1

As I start to write this post I have 739 Member Trees hints. That is down from 846 from last week when I decided I really needed to clean up the non-record hints in my Ancestry tree. By reviewing those hints I've created 10 to do items from information I gleaned from the various member page hints. I've also sent to a message to two Ancestry members concerning a possible incorrect marriage fact in their respective trees.

First of all, when going through the Member Trees hints I would recommend starting at the oldest hint. Why? A few reasons:
  • The oldest hints are usually about the people you first added to your tree. These are often the people of most interest to you.
  • It also can give you a sense of accomplishment as you go to the next page of hints and it isn't a never ending list.
Screen capture from Ancestry Member Trees hints for McKinlay/McMullen tree
Screen capture from Ancestry Member Trees hints for McKinlay/McMullen tree


As you can see by the screen capture I have 37 pages of hints with 20 people per page. To quickly go to the last page I just type in 37 in the page number box and press the Enter key.

Next I Ignore the hints of people that, according to Ancestry, are not a spouse of a blood related family member or someone not related to me through blood. Back when I started working on my third version3 of documenting my family tree I was still in the "name collecting phase" that most of us go through when we start researching. In the current iteration of my tree I am a bit more focused on the connections I record.  So when I see a Member Trees hint for someone like Jean Brannan that states she is the "mother-in-law of wife of 2nd cousin 3x removed" that is usually a quick decision to ignore the hint. However, even then I might click on the Review button.

Screen capture from Ancestry Member Trees hints for Jean Brannan
Screen capture from Ancestry Member Trees hints for Jean Brannan
When I do come across a Member Trees hint of interest I click on the Review button to see what other trees might have information that I don't. Here is an example of a hint for Daniel Beverly Hatfield, my 2nd cousin 5 times removed. I've blanked out the name of the tree and owner for privacy sake.

Screen capture from a specific Ancestry Member Tree hint for Daniel Beverly Hatfield
Screen capture from a specific Ancestry Member Tree hint for Daniel Beverly Hatfield

As you can see, there is much more information for his family than what I have including a possible first marriage and a list of children. There is even a death date in that suggested tree.

Notice that there is a difference in the date for the marriage to Annie Somerville. This raises a flag for me. Is my information incorrect? Since my master database is not on Ancestry but stored in my offline Legacy Family Tree I need to consult the source or sources I've used. If it is only single source I need to see if I can find a corroborating source for what I have. Of course, I might be in error4.

In this case, my source of the date of the marriage to Annie Somerville is from "The Records of The Reverend James Gray, Kings County, New Brunswick 1857-1898" compiled by Graeme F. Somerville.
Date of Marriage: 1893 Feby 8
No of License: 10875 (house of J Gray)
Parties Married and Residence: D. Beverly Hatfield, age 55 Ch. of England Farmer, Norton / Annie Somerville, 19, Baptist, Norton
Names of their Parents: Daniel Hatfield, Mary Lannen / John Somerville, Gertrude Belding
Witnesses and their address: Jane Gray, Sussex / Bella M. Patterson, Sussex

However that book is an extract from the original records. Might there be another set of records I can check to verify the date?

The first place I went to is the "Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics" collection at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick site. There, in volume 85 number 1421, from the 3 Mar 1893 edition of the Kings County Record of Sussex in Kings County Daniel has extracted:
"Norton (Kings Co.) March 1 - D.B. HATFIELD, our police magistrate, took to himself a wife about two weeks ago, in the person of Miss Annie SOMERVILLE, eldest d/o John SOMERVILLE, section foreman."

But that is still an extract. Can we find an image of a civil or parish record?

In the Vital Statistics from Government Records (RS141) at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick site there can be found the 8 Feb 1893 marriage record for D. Beverley Hatfield5 and Annie Sommerville. So it seems like my information is correct.

What about that possible first marriage? Can we confirm that information?

With that marriage taking place prior to civil registration a search of the Vital Statistics from Government Records is probably futile but since it takes just a minute to do I did it anyways just in case. Nothing was returned using the following criteria:
  • Family Name exactly hatfield
  • Given Names begins with d
  • Years 1850-1860
  • County All Counties
A search of the Daniel F Johnson's (DFJ) New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics collection has two entries:
21 Aug 1858 New Brunswick Courier (Saint John, New Brunswick): "m. 26th July, by Rev. W. Alves, D.B. HATFIELD, Norton parish (Kings Co.) / H.A. Hamilton DOANE fourth d/o Capt. Isaac DOANE of (St. John) city."
and
27 Aug 1858 Religious Intelligencer (Saint John, New Brunswick): "m. 26th July, by Rev. W. Alves, D.B. HATFIELD, Norton parish (Kings Co.) / H.A. Hamilton fourth s/o Capt. Isaac DOANE (St. John)"

Hmmm...it appears that her last name isn't Hamilton but is Doane.

What about her death? Is that correct? Back to the DFJ collection and a search for the last name of Hatfield and a forename starting with "D" (the husband is often mentioned in notices of that time). I do find two notices for Adelaide Hatfield for a death taking place in Norton, Kings County, New Brunswick on 5 March 1887. She is recorded as the wife of D. Beverley Hatfield and daughter of the late Captain J.W. Doane.
d. Norton (Kings Co.) 5th inst., Adelaide HATFIELD w/o D. Beverley HATFIELD, Esq. and d/o late Capt. J.W. DOANE, age 53 (Boston, New York and Chicago papers please copy)
J.W. Doane and not Isaac Doane. Sigh, yet another mystery for another day. Also with a request for other newspapers to copy I wonder if there might be family members in those other places.

However, it appears that the information presented for the family of Daniel Beverly Hatfield from this specific public tree on Ancestry is suspect. But I did find clues to work from and records to confirm.

As an aside, just verifying these details took under 30 minutes since I knew where to search. It will take me about an hour to record the details in my master offline family tree database and to make the additions to my Ancestry tree.



The one thing I will never do is just blindly accept those hints from another tree into my own tree.



Keep in mind that an ignored hint can always been viewed by selecting Hints and clicking on "Ignored".

Screen capture from Ancestry for Ignored hints of Jean Brannan in McKinlay/McMullen tree
Screen capture from Ancestry for Ignored hints of Jean Brannan in McKinlay/McMullen tree
Those ignored hints are never really lost and can be reviewed if you find that this person is really of interest to you in your family history research.

When doing the hint clean ups from the Ancestry Member Trees, keep in mind that it will take some time. It isn't a simple process and you will always end up with to do items and a lot of data entry. But it is worth it in the end.



1. I try to follow three basic rules in my research:
1. Trust no one
2. Verify everything
3. Even if written in stone it might be wrong2
2. See my posts Zombie in the census? about Robert Howe and also Endnotes and Footnotes concerning the grave maker for Elizabeth (nee Chipman) Sommerville.

3. I'm currently on my fifth version of the tree as part of my long term "do over" project.

4. Yes, I make mistakes. Sometimes they are whoppers but often they are simple transcription errors.

5. The marriage registration states "D. Beverley Hatfield" but the marriage certificate has his signature written as "D. Beverly Hatfield".

Friday, November 16, 2018

Hints for Dealing With Ancestry Hints

There are times in my genealogy research I find that I need to let the computer do some of the work for me. This is where the hint system in the various online family tree sites such as MyHeritage, Findmypast, and Ancestry can help out.

I have tree on Ancestry that serves two purposes: "easy" record finding and as cousin bait. So I often get hints for the over 10,000 people in my tree. Most of these people were connected to my tree in my name collecting phase on my research and have relationships to me such as "paternal grandfather of wife of 1st cousin of husband of 1st cousin 3x removed". However, I don't want to prune those folks from my tree just in case a closer relationship appears. This means that I have 16,400 hints broken down as:
  • Records: 14992
  • Photos: 443
  • Stories: 119
  • Member Trees: 846

I will admit that it makes for a nearly impossible task to review each of those hints for validity. Especially since if a hint is valid for a person it can often lead to several hours of additional research. So this is my approach for whittling down at least some of those hints.

First of all I try to only pay attention to those hints for my cousins, grandparents, and others of "blood" in my direct family lines. I will periodically to go the oldest person of a specific direct line branch and display their tree to see what leaves in Ancestry appear.

Screen capture from Ancestry.ca for a portion of William Bell Little's tree
Screen capture from Ancestry.ca for a portion of William Bell Little's tree
Keep in mind that often these hints are not from all of the collections but from a select group of commonly used sets such as those found in census, birth, marriage, death, immigration, and military collections.

Of course, by doing this, even more hints might be found and thus your count of hints will go up. But you might find additional clues to break through your brick walls. In my case, with almost 15,000 record hints the number seems to never really go down.

I will often turn to reviewing the photo and story hints since that list is much, much shorter! Here is where I get some of my best clues to investigate.
Screen capture from Ancestry for Story Hints for the McKinlay/McMullen tree
Screen capture from Ancestry for Story Hints for the McKinlay/McMullen tree
As you can see, someone has posted the possible obituary for Alfred Boller Stanford. It is critical that you review the hint to make sure it really does apply to the person in your tree. Even then, I rarely link another person's document to someone in my tree. Instead I will see if I can find the original document the hint came from. In the case of the "obit for alfred stanford", the person that posted that story stated "By United Press International | February 14, 1985". I can now search newspaper sites like GenealogyBank, Newspapers.com, and NewspaperArchive to find the specific newspaper the obituary was from. Other times you will come across research notes that can help you analyze the information in a tree.

For the photo hints, I will go through the list to see if there is photo or image of a document that adds value to what I have already found concerning a person in my tree. Pictures of headstones can be a particular interest, especially if the poster has indicated the cemetery in which the marker may be found. If I don't have a bith or death date, or even a spouse listed, then the grave marker can possibly give me a clue to hunt down. In the photo hints I've come across not only are there the usual pictures of people and grave markers but also hard to find birth, marriage, and death registrations, clippings from newspapers announcing important events in a person's life, and pages from books that I wasn't aware even existed.

The story and photo hints can also lead you to finding new cousins. Take a look at who that story or photo is linked to. Maybe even drop a note to the tree owner asking them how they are connected to the person. You never know what connection you will make.

The Member Trees are a special challenge for me since I don't trust anyone's trees (sometimes I even doubt my own work). My usually approach for the member trees on Ancestry is to do a quick glance at what they have posted to see if there is anything of particular interest and then review those documents. Sometimes I will add to my to do list an action to search for a document to confirm what someone added to their tree.

Remember, at least on Ancestry, if you ignore the hint it isn't gone forever. It is still available to view in the "Ignored Hints" for a person in your tree.

As for going through my own hints as I was writing this post the results are:
  • Records: 15066
  • Photos: 285
  • Stories: 44
  • Member Trees: 846
A net decrease of 159 hints but even more record hints appeared!

Looks like I still have my work cut out for me on Ancestry. However, I did discover a transcription of an obituary I've been trying to locate. I also came across a detailed explanation concerning the parentage of Nancy, daughter of Handley Chipman and Nancy Post, and her date of birth that I need think about and also to examine the source documents mention.