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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Canadian First World War Resources - A Recap


Many of us in Canada have a connection to a relative or ancestor that fought or served in the First World War. With this year's Remembrance Day also commemorating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice I thought it was important to look at some of the resources available to us when doing our genealogy and family history research for those that fought or served during the Great War.

Library and Archives Canada

The first place I always recommend is the First World War landing page at the Library and Archives Canada web site. Take the time to look through the various resources available either online or onsite. Some of the resources include:
Don't forget to look at the "Published Sources"since those books can shed some light on the lives of those that served. Some of the online record collections at Library and Archives Canada might only be indices. However, often the digitized documents may be found elsewhere.

Do you have a War Bride in the family? If so, review the War Brides page at Library and Archives Canada for possible collections that you might want to check out.

The War Diaries of the First World War are not the diaries of the individual service member but daily accounts of the CEF units. Searching for the diaries for a specific unit is not a straight forward task but the results can be worth while. There you will find that serving could be days of boring routine followed by hell in the trenches. If you know the unit of your soldier and when they were injured or killed, the war diaries can often help pinpoint where the unit and quite possibly the soldier was on that date.

Maps

Once you have the service file and know where your soldier was on the group through reading the War Diaries then being able to find them on the ground during the fighting is often the next step. McMaster University has an amazing Digital Archive in their Maps Collection for the First World War. You can even look at the Trench Maps for the Western Front.

Newfoundland


FamilySearch has the digitized collection "Newfoundland military service records for the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Newfoundland Forestry Corps, 1913-1918" available online. You will need to review the digitized index first to determine the volume and file number. Then you can go to the appropriate digitized microfilm roll to review the service records. You will also find military records and other information about Newfoundlanders in the First World War at the Newfoundland's Grand Banks site.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission helps you find where a service member that died during the Great War is buried or memorialized. You will often find the Grave Registration Report included on the page. If no body was recovered the name may be found on one of several memorials. A photo of the panel when the name is written may also be included on the page.

Memorials

Those Canadians in uniform that died during the First World War (and other wars), you can find their name inscribed in the Books of Remembrance housed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Town in Ottawa. You can search the books and view the page from the specific Book of Remembrance.

Veterans Affairs Canada houses the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. The CVWM is a registry to honour and remember the sacrifices of the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who have given their lives serving in uniform.

Ancestry


If you have a paid Ancestry subscription or you are accessing Ancestry from a library or archive then you will find a number of collections including:




Other Collections

There is also the Military History Research Centre at the Canadian War Museum. You can search their online catalogue or make an appointment to review the onsite resources.

Was your relative or ancestor a prisoner of war during the First World War? If so, search the Prisoners of the First World War collection at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A number of the Nominal Rolls for the Canadian Expeditionary Force have been digitized and made available on the Internet Archive by searching for "nominal roll canadian expeditionary force".

Do you have a picture of the service member and you can't figure out the badge on the uniform? Check out the "Badge Registry: The Canadian Expeditionary Force" pages.

The Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group is a group of enthusiasts with an interest in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. They have amassed a large collection of files and information concerning the CEF and are a great research when digging into the lives of service members and history of the units.

If your ancestor or relative did something particularly brave during the war they might have been "gazetted" with a mention in the Canada Gazette or London Gazette. Remember that some of the awards, honours, and medals were done post-war.

Don't forget to check the newspapers in the villages, towns, and cities that your relative or ancestor lived. Often there will be a mention of them heading off to war, returning, getting injured or killed, and also in memory post-war.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Easy Backups to USB Flash Drive

Backup Reminder


USB Flash Drive
USB Flash Drive

I periodically get asked how I do my backups on my Microsoft Windows 10 based system1. Besides doing a monthly backup of my computer to an externally connected hard drive I also do a periodic backup of only my genealogy information to a USB memory stick/thumb drive/flash drive. Today's post will cover just how I do that copying to the USB flash drive.

Now I could easily just copy and paste the contents of my genealogy folder to the flash drive. I actually used to do that when I only had a small amount of information to copy. However, I now have over 57 GB2 of various images, digitized books, and other related files in my genealogy folder. Some of that information I don't need or want to have backed up since it can be very easily recreated from the original sources3. That still leaves about 49 GB of information to be backed up. If I manually copied all the files I want backed up it would take several hours. Instead I use a free program called SyncBackFree by 2BrightSparks to handle my backups to the USB flash drive.

Why SyncBackFree? First of all, it is free. When on a tight budget, free is often a good thing. Secondly, it doesn't use some fancy proprietary format for storing the backup in. The files on my USB flash drive can be accessed from any modern Windows (maybe even Mac) computer just like any other file. This is a great benefit when it comes to recovering the files after a disaster since all I have to do is copy the genealogy folder on my USB flash drive to my computer's hard disk.

Screen capture of SyncBackFree profiles
Screen capture of SyncBackFree profiles

As you can see I have two profiles created to do my backups. I have two profiles since I have two USB flash drives that I use to hold the backups and I rotate between the drives. Each USB flash drive has been assigned a specific drive letter4. That way I have two different backups available that were taken at different times.

So what does one of these profiles look like?

Screen capture of SyncBackFree profile for creating a mirror backup
Screen capture of SyncBackFree profile for creating a mirror backup
As you might have noticed in the screen capture of my profile list, I actually am not making a backup of my genealogy folder but I am mirroring the contents of the folder to my USB flash drive.

Mirroring? What the heck is that?

In a backup, you often have a copy of all the files that you ever had starting from a specific point in time. In a mirror, it is only what exists when you make the copy. For the purposes of my genealogy only backup to the USB flash drive, I just want a snapshot of what I have now. Since I have two USB flash drives that I rotate through, I do have one older copy I can easily access if need be.

I have also only specific sub-folders selected when it does the mirror copy of my genealogy folder. These are often folders that don't change very often or can be recreated from other sources. These excluded folders are backed up when I do my full backup of my computer each month.

Screen capture of SyncBackFree profile File & Folder Selection screen
Screen capture of SyncBackFree profile File & Folder Selection screen

With how I've defined my profile in SyncBackFree it usually only takes minutes to make a mirror copy of my genealogy folder since only changes are sent to the USB flash drive.

I don't have this kind of backup running automatically. However, anytime I make a large number of changes or additions to my master database I make a backup of my genealogy directory. Sometimes I make a copy of my genealogy folder just because I haven't run a backup for several days. For me, it is as simple as connecting the USB flash drive to my computer, checking to see which drive letter it is, selecting the correct profile, and clicking Run. SyncBackFree will even tell me it there were problems doing the backup.

Remember, this isn't the only way to backup your information. Find the tools and methods that work for you. Just make sure that you do your backups on a regular basis!




1. Sorry Mac users, I don't have a solution for you. I've been a Windows user for way too many years.
2. Yes, 57 gigabytes of information.
3. My Family Tree Maker sub-folder is my backup of my Ancestry data. I don't use Family Tree Maker to enter information into my tree since I use Legacy Family Tree as my master database but I want to backup the information I have put onto my Ancestry cousin-bait tree.
4. See https://www.howtogeek.com/96298/assign-a-static-drive-letter-to-a-usb-drive-in-windows-7/ for how to do this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Endnotes and Footnotes

When you come across a book that mentions your ancestor or relative do you ever check the end-notes or footnotes1?

In my post The Challenge of Finding the "Truth" I wrote about Robert Sommerville and his death. As part of my discoveries I wrote:
Search for him [Robert Sommerville] on Google turns up an interesting find, the book "Covenanters in Canada: Reformed Presbyterianism from 1820 to 2012" by Eldon Hay. That book has been digitized by Google Books and parts of it are online to be viewed. Once again providence shone on me and on page 104 of that book it states, "Sommerville's active life ended in 1912, following an accident. In failing health, Robert Sommerville died in New York City on 3 February 1920."
I wondered if there was a copy of that book available for me to read since throughout the pages available via Google Books there were indications of end-notes including one about his accident.

My go to site for locating where books might be found is Worldcat. A search for "Covenanters in Canada: Reformed Presbyterianism from 1820 to 2012" by Eldon Hay returned three places within 10 kilometres and one of those places is Library and Archives Canada. Since I was going there soon to do other research I added the task of requesting that book to my to do list. A check on AMICUS for that book gave me this result so I knew I could request a copy for reading at LAC.

Extract from AMICUS from a search for "Covenanters in Canada: Reformed Presbyterianism from 1820 to 2012"
Extract from AMICUS from a search for "Covenanters in Canada: Reformed Presbyterianism from 1820 to 2012"
Once the book was in my hands I checked the end-notes for the chapter on Robert Sommerville. The end-note about his accident referred me to "RCPNA Synod Minutes, 1920, 151". I couldn't easily locate the first mention in the book of what RCPNA stood for but that is where Google can help. The first hit for RCPNA returned "Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America". I knew Robert Sommerville was a minister with the Reformed Presbyterian Church so I am pretty sure that is what RCPNA stood for in the book about Reformed Presbyterianism.

Since the end-note referred to the Synod Minutes for the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America the 1920 probably was for the year and the 151 was for the page number. So my next question (and hope) is, are the Synod Minutes for 1920 available? Back to Google search with the query "RCPNA Synod 1920" (without the quotes) and to my surprise I found that the minutes are indeed available online and for free via the Reformed Presbyterian History Archives. The Synod Minutes are available from 1809 up to 2016. Clicking on the link for the Reformed Presbyterian Minutes of Synod 1920 brought up a PDF of the Minutes of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Session XCI held in Greely, Colorado, June 3 to 9, 1920. Scrolling through the PDF I came to page 151 and there was "Rev. Robert McGowan Sommerville, D. D." as a section title. It was his obituary.
"Rev. Robert McGowan Sommerville, D. D.," Minutes of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Session XCI, Greely, Colorado, June 3 to 9, 1920, minutes of the 1920 synod, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, p. 151.
"Rev. Robert McGowan Sommerville, D. D.," Minutes of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Session XCI, Greely, Colorado, June 3 to 9, 1920, minutes of the 1920 synod, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, p. 151.


There was a bit about his history with the church but what caught my attention was the statement, "...made ineffective by an express team running him down on the street of New York, he retired..." I'm surmising that the "express team" mentioned would be a delivery wagon either motor driven or pulled by horses. This corroborates part of the story that was passed down as a tale to family members. Except he hadn't died from that accident (details, details, details...it's always those pesky details).

One other curious note in the end-notes was the one, and I am paraphrasing, that said "Tombstone of Elizabeth (nee Chipman) Sommerville has her death as 12 Mar 1923. She actually died 19 Mar 1924." I had never even noticed that error on her grave marker in the cemetery in Bronxville, New York, USA but looking closer at the pictures I took, the error is there.

It just goes to show how important it is to review the citations and sources used in books about your relatives and ancestors for those useful facts to clear up a mystery. Also, you really shouldn't have blind faith in what is written on those tombstones2.



1. I really hope the answer is yes.
2. See my post "Zombies in the census?