Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Mystery of Mary Ewart

Since I reside in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada I try to keep my genealogy "to do" list for records, books, and documents that are possibly held at Library and Archives Canada to a minimum. I usually set aside time to visit LAC when I have between 8 and 10 tasks to research. This week I had nine items I wanted to investigate and almost all of them were obituaries in newspapers that may (or may not) be held in microfilm format at LAC. One of them, the death of Mary Ewart, the wife of John Alvin "Jack" McMullen, is what I'm going to cover in this post.

What I had before finding her obituary was not extensive and primarily came from the Manitoba marriage registration document for her marriage to John Alvin McMullen:
  • She is born in Aryshire, Scotland about 1896
  • Her father is John Ewart
  • Her mother is Margaret Kelly
Manitoba Vital Statistics, Marriages,   1914-130051, John Alvin McMullen-Mary Ewart; Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, Winnipeg.
Manitoba Vital Statistics, Marriages,   1914-130051, John Alvin McMullen-Mary Ewart; Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, Winnipeg.

On Ancestry, as a hint, I came across the tree of another person also researching Jack McMullen and Mary Ewart. Even better, that tree had a specific date for the birth and death of Mary. Now the hint was a bit confusing since it had Mary's son, William John (1919-1961), listed under three spouses with two of the spouses being Jack McMullen. Yet I've seen this before when trees or people are combined so it wasn't too much of a concern especially since I am not merging this tree with my own on Ancestry.

Ancestry Family Tree hint for Mary Ewart, retrieved 18 Oct 2018
Ancestry Family Tree hint for Mary Ewart, retrieved 18 Oct 2018
What I am more interested in is that this tree has Mary's death occurring 25 Sep 1984 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

A check of the "Microform Holdings: Geographical List" at Library and Archives Canada for Saskatchewan seems to indicate that LAC had a microfilm copy of the Prince Albert Daily Herald for the year I was interested in so I was in luck.

Screen capture from Library and Archives Canada web site search for Prince Albert Daily Herald Newspaper, retrieved 18 Oct 2018
Screen capture from Library and Archives Canada web site search for Prince Albert Daily Herald Newspaper, retrieved 18 Oct 2018
After requesting the microfilm and a few minutes reading through the newspaper starting from 25 Sep 1984 I found Mary's obituary in the 27 Sep 1984 edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. The first surprise was that it wasn't Mary McMullen but Mary Henry. It seems that John Alvin McMullen had passed away and she had married Alexander Henry. But all the other facts about her lined up, especially those of her children that I had already recorded in my master database.
"Deaths - Henry," (Prince Albert) Prince Albert Daily Herald, 27 Sep 1984, p. 13, col. 5.
"Deaths - Henry," (Prince Albert) Prince Albert Daily Herald, 27 Sep 1984, p. 13, col. 5.
At least I now know where that tree on Ancestry found the details about Mary's birth.

Even though Mary isn't blood she did marry into my extended McMullen family and I like to make sure that the details I do have recorded are as accurate as possible. So off I went to ScotlandsPeople to see if I could find Mary's birth registration. It should be a straight forward process since I've found that the civil records held in Scotland have been easy to search.

Only one problem. There was no Mary Ewart born in 1896 in the County of Ayr. There was one born in 1890 and another born in 1899. But none in 1896 or a year or two on either side of that date. I even tried using the possible variations that ScotlandsPeople can use for searching names but still nothing really matched. I opened up the possible matches by searching in Irvine for the period between 1895 and 1897 for females with the forename of Mary. A total of 96 names were displayed in the index but no Ewart or Kelly or variations got my attention.

Another tree on Ancestry had Mary Ewart listed with her being born in Dundonald, Ayrshire about 1896. Just how many females with the forename of Mary were born between 1895 and 1897 in the Dundonald registration district? Only seven popped up and there was a Mary Gray Kelly born in 1896.

Before getting too excited and paying the credits to see the record I wanted to check to see just how far Dundonald is from Irvine. A quick check with Google Maps showed that those two places were only about 4.6 miles apart. So it was very possible that this is the Mary I am looking for.

Google Maps walking route between Irvine, UK and Dundonald, UK, retrieved 18 Oct 2018
Google Maps walking route between Irvine, UK and Dundonald, UK, retrieved 18 Oct 2018

After paying my 6 credits to view the image it really does seem that this is the Mary I am looking for. Her birth date matches that from the obituary, the 12th of January, 1896. What it more interesting is that Mary is listed as illegitimate and her mother, Maggie Kelly, is a farm servant, and no father is recorded.
Ayrshire, Scotland, "Statutory Births 1855-2009," 1896 births in the District of Dundonald, p. 2, Mary Gray Kelly; digital image, General Register Office for Scotland, "Statutory registers Births 590/1 5," ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/).
Ayrshire, Scotland, "Statutory Births 1855-2009," 1896 births in the District of Dundonald, p. 2, Mary Gray Kelly; digital image, General Register Office for Scotland, "Statutory registers Births 590/1 5," ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/).

So how did John Ewart come into the picture?

Another search of ScotlandsPeople, this time for marriages between 1890 and 1899 for John Ewart and a spouse with the last name of Kelly, returns only one entry. That of John Ewart, son of John and Margaret (Brown), a ploughman, and Maggie Kelly, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Gray), a domestic servant, married on 2 Jun 1899 in Dundonald.

So with three hours of research and writing I was able to solve one mystery and get a blog entry done. Not a bad morning. Of course, I still have to go through the rest of the results from my Library and Archives Canada visit.

So don't completely discount those trees on Ancestry. There may be interesting errors and goofs but often there are clues to be found and followed up on.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Reminder - Backups and Disasters

Backup
Backup
Backup

Power Outage map for part of Ottawa retrieved 23 Sep 2018 14h45.
Power Outage map for part of Ottawa retrieved 23 Sep 2018 14h45.

As some of you might be aware, on Friday, September 21st, 2018, the Ottawa region was hit with not just one but two tornadoes so this post really hits home for me. I was lucky enough to not be on the path of the twisters but the winds and rains around me were intense. However, I live in one of the areas in Ottawa that were the hardest hit by the power outage and without electricity or running water (no power, no working pumps in my building to get the water up 20+ floors) I had to leave my place and take shelter with family.

I know we all make backups of our important digital information1 but have you ever thought about if you can get to that information after a disaster whether it be flood, fire, power outage, or a combination thereof?

Here are a few suggestions...

1. Backup and backup often.

2. Store at least one backup some distance from where you live. Some possible ideas include:
- Give it to a fellow genealogist to hold for you
- Give it to a family member
- Put it in a safety deposit box
- Save it to an Internet cloud service

3. Test your backups. Do you know how to get the information back on to your old or new computer?


I do #1 and #3 often but I seem to constantly fail on #2. However, over the next week or so I plan to rectify that situation!


This reminder just doesn't apply to copies of your digital data. For those with binders of genealogical and family history information have you thought about how to protect and preserve your information when disaster strikes?

Backup
Backup
Backup



1. You do, don't you? If not, stop reading this right now and make a backup! Really, do it now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Challenge of Finding the "Truth"

When we are doing research for ourselves or for a client, one of the challenges that we must tease out of a story is the truth of what happened rather than what was told to us. Here is part of a story that was told within my own family:
"My Aunt Libby had married a Baptist minister and gone to live with him in China to convert the heathen. He must have been one stern man for he had his wife completely cowed. She never made a move without his express orders. So accustomed was she to obeying his every wish, that when they returned after many years to serve a church community in New York city, she was rocked right out of her sense, because he was struck and killed by an auto while crossing a busy New York street. I suppose that after his lengthy China mission, he had not adapted to the great difference in living speeds."
McMullen, Frances Mary Howe (Chipman). "Fran McMullen's Correspondence - Aunt Libby." MS. Mississauga, Ontario, 1936-1987. Privately held by Ken McKinlay, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Ottawa, Ontario, 2018.

There are a few other facts included in the rest of story about Aunt Libby:
  • Her name is Elizabeth Chipman
  • She was born in 1837
  • She was the daughter of Wm Henry Chipman and Sophia Cogswell
  • She married Robert Somerville in 1865
  • Robert Somerville was a Baptist minister

I wanted to know if the story about Aunt Libby's, my 2nd great-grandaunt, husband was accurate and he was killed while crossing the street.

I first needed to check some of the basic facts so I started with the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics site to see if they had a copy of parish register marriage entry. I was very fortunate that the Kings County register had survived and was digitized. However, the second page of the entry has been damaged and lost. But enough of the fragment survived to confirm that the marriage took place in 1865.

Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Archives, Marriage Registrations ~ 1763-1939, 1866: 7, 20, R M Somerville-Elizabeth Chipman; digital images, Nova Scotia Archives, "1866 Marriages in Kings County," Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (https://novascotiagenealogy.com/ : accessed 26 Jan 2013).
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Archives, Marriage Registrations ~ 1763-1939, 1866: 7, 20, R M Somerville-Elizabeth Chipman; digital images, Nova Scotia Archives, "1866 Marriages in Kings County," Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (https://novascotiagenealogy.com/ : accessed 26 Jan 2013).

As you can see, the marriage took place on 13 Sep 1865 in Cornwallis (Kings County, Nova Scotia) between Rt M Somerville and Elisabeth Chipman. With an age of 27 years at the time of the marriage, her birth year is about 1838. Elizabeth's death registration in 1924 in Nova Scotia listed her parents as Wm Henry Chipman and Miss Cogswell according to the informant, her brother Ross Chipman. So far, so good.

The next step was to find out when Robert died.

According to the story, he died in New York City. I know that Ancestry has the "New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948" collection available but Ancestry states that the indices were prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group. I know that the Italian Genealogical Group has a web site and a number of freely available databases. So let's go to where Ancestry got the index.

As search for Robert Somerville with a death range from 1865 to 1924 returns two matches but the ages don't quite line up. I searched again but this time looking for last names that "sounds like" Somerville. Four names come back this time including a "Robert M Sommerville", age 83 years, dying 3 Feb 1920 in Manhattan and recorded on certificate 5023. This might be the person we are looking for.

Since the 1920 Federal census of the United States took place on 1 Jan 1920, I should be able to find him there along with his wife Elizabeth.

1920 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, New York City - Manhatten Borough, enumeration district (ED) 445, sheet 1A, dwelling 1, family 5, Robert Sommerville; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 Jan 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1194.
1920 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, New York City - Manhatten Borough, enumeration district (ED) 445, sheet 1A, dwelling 1, family 5, Robert Sommerville; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 Jan 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1194.
There he appears to be with his wife living at 327 West 56th Street in Manhattan.

Let us proceed with the assumption this is the right Robert M Sommerville/Somerville. Can we get a copy of his death certificate without having to write a check? A check of the catalog on FamilySearch shows that they have a "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949" collection. Since he died in 1920 we should be able to find him there.


Screenshot of FamilySearch results for Robert Sommerville, retrieved 23 Sep 2018
Screenshot of FamilySearch results for Robert Sommerville, retrieved 23 Sep 2018

And we do but no image is available from home so I will need to visit my local Family History Center to see the image but which microfilm and is it digitized? The "Citing this Record" section states "...FHL microfilm 2,021,133" and a check of the catalog for that film tells me that the "Death certificates (Manhattan, New York), 1919-1948" microfilms have been digitized.

A little while later and after a bit of looking through the images I finally found his death registration. Only one problem...according to the certificate he didn't die due to an automobile accident but from lobar pneumonia.

New York, New York County, New York,  "Death certificates (Manhattan, New York), 1919-1948," (Municipal Archives, New York), 1920, p. 5023, Robert McGowen Sommmerville; FHL microfilm 2,021,133. Cit. Date: 18 May 2018.
New York, New York County, New York,  "Death certificates (Manhattan, New York), 1919-1948," (Municipal Archives, New York), 1920, p. 5023, Robert McGowen Sommmerville; FHL microfilm 2,021,133. Cit. Date: 18 May 2018.

I'm not finished yet. Search for him 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."

So it appears there is some truth to the story but not exactly as told.

Recently, while on the way to a friend's wedding (don't all genealogists do that - drop by a cemetery on the way to a wedding?) I was able to visit the Bronxville Cemetery where Robert and Elizabeth are buried.
Photograph of gravemaker of Robert and Elizabeth Sommerville, Bronxville Cemetery, Bronxville, New York, USA
Photograph of gravemaker of Robert and Elizabeth Sommerville, Bronxville Cemetery, Bronxville, New York, USA


As they say on the TV show "The X-Files", the truth is out there. The challenge we face is to find it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Would the real William Jones please stand up?

Just recently I completed a research project as a present for my brother-in-law where I explored his maternal grandmother's lines. That is also one of the reasons I haven't been posting any blog items these past months. Since my posts are based on the genealogy research I am doing I didn't want any chance of him learning about what I was finding until I presented it to him on his birthday1.

Almost all of the research for my brother-in-law involved families residing in England and that meant I had the challenge of figuring out if I had the right records or not since some of the people included the dreaded "Smith" and "Jones" surnames. In today's post I'm going to focus on William Jones.

The first William Jones in this project that I came across was the father of Laura Jones and he was mentioned in the parish marriage registration for James Thomas Morris and Laura Jones. I was very happy to learn that via Ancestry the following digitized parish record collections, courtesy of the Library of Birmingham, have been made available:
  • Birmingham, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937
  • Birmingham, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912
  • Birmingham, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1964

This saved me time and money when it came to requesting various records as part of this project.

So here in 23 Mar 1891 William Jones, the father of Laura, is recorded as having a profession of a Boot Maker.

"Birmingham, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937," database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 Jun 2018), marriage for James Thomas Morris and Laura Jones, 23 Mar 1891, Parish of Bishop Ryder; citing Reference Number: DRO 30; Archive Roll: 580; Anglican Parish Records. Birmingham, England: Library of Birmingham.
"Birmingham, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937," database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 Jun 2018), marriage for James Thomas Morris and Laura Jones, 23 Mar 1891, Parish of Bishop Ryder; citing Reference Number: DRO 30; Archive Roll: 580; Anglican Parish Records. Birmingham, England: Library of Birmingham.

It is always a good thing when you come across someone having an occupation that is not an "Ag Lab" or just "labourer" since that provides a unique trait for the person that you can use to rule out other people of that same name. So just how many William Jones are residing in England in the 1891 census? According to Findmypast2 there are 14,852 results. We need to get a bit more information first to narrow it down. Under the "Advanced options" in the Findmypast search screen I typed in different occupations that are directly related to making shoes or boots such as:
  • bootmaker - 11
  • cordwainer - 4
  • shoemaker - 51
  • shoe maker - 43
  • boot maker - 28

There are only 137 William Jones in all of England recorded in the 1891 census with those occupations. Still, that is a number of records and people to look at. Let's try a different tack. How about we look at the 1881 census for households where there is a William Jones and a Laura Jones? There we find 92 households. Still quite a few. What if we look for the reverse, households with Laura Jones (including forename variations) with a William Jones in it but adding in her approximate birth year of 1869 that we gathered from her marriage registration? We now find 34 1881 census entries. Of course we are making an assumption that she is living with her father at that time so we need to keep that in mind. I still need to narrow it down to make sure I have the "right" family.

The 1901 census of the household of James T Morris states that she was born in Erdington, Warwickshire. Can I use that information to help me out?
1901 census of England, Warwickshire, Civil parish of Erdington, Ecclesiastical parish of Erdington St Barnabas, folio 33, page 24, Laura Morris; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Jun 2018); citing PRO RG 13/2875.
1901 census of England, Warwickshire, Civil parish of Erdington, Ecclesiastical parish of Erdington St Barnabas, folio 33, page 24, Laura Morris; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Jun 2018); citing PRO RG 13/2875.
In the Findmypast advanced search I added "Erdington" to the keyword and three people were left:

Findmypast search rules for Laura Jones in 1881 census of England
Findmypast search rules for Laura Jones in 1881 census of England
That first one really looks promising since, up to this time in my research, she didn't have any other first names recorded. Looking at the record image3 and not just the transcription seems to confirm that this is the right family. But just to be sure, I looked at Mary L Jones and her father, William, is an Accountant Clerk. Emily L Jones' father is Geo[rge] and it is her brother Wm [William] that is the match in my search.
1881 census of England, Warwickshire, Civil Parish of Aston, Hamlet of Erdington, Ecclesiastical Parish of St. Barnabas, folio 125, page 33, Laura Jones; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Jun 2018); citing PRO RG 11/3046.
1881 census of England, Warwickshire, Civil Parish of Aston, Hamlet of Erdington, Ecclesiastical Parish of St. Barnabas, folio 125, page 33, Laura Jones; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Jun 2018); citing PRO RG 11/3046.
We can see that in addition to being a boot maker William is also an Insurance Agent. He is 39 years old, thus born about 1842, and was born in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire.

Checking the 1871 census for that same family we find that William Jones is a "Letter Carrier & Librarian". I wonder if times were tough in the boot making field in 1871?
1871 census of England, Warwickshire, Civil Parish of Aston, Hamlet of Erdington, Ecclesiastical of Erdington, folio 97, page 4, Laura Jones; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 Jun 2018); citing PRO RG 10/3159.
1871 census of England, Warwickshire, Civil Parish of Aston, Hamlet of Erdington, Ecclesiastical of Erdington, folio 97, page 4, Laura Jones; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 Jun 2018); citing PRO RG 10/3159.
From the 1881 census and 1871 census there is another clue to find more records, do you see it? A John Coton in that same household is listed as a father-in-law. Making yet another assumption, that means that Ellen, William Jones' wife, is a "Coton". With both William and Ellen born in Warwickshire and Ellen being born in Erdington (1881) or Aston (1871) there is a pretty good chance I might be able to find the marriage record on Ancestry for the two of them since those places are in the Birmingham area. However, I had no such luck using the parish collections from Ancestry so it was off to FreeBMD.

There was only one William Jones recorded as marrying an Ellen Coton in the civil marriage registrations. Even better, the marriage took place in the Birmingham registration district and recorded in the second quarter (April-June) 1865. That is just a few years before the birth of Charles, their eldest son, as recorded in the 1871 census. So I spent my money, £9.25, and waited three weeks for the document to arrive in my postal mail box. It was money well spent.

England and Wales, marriage certificate for William Jones and Ellen Coton, married 7 May 1865; citing 6d/93/462, Jun quarter 1865, Birmingham registration district; General Register Office, Southport.
England and Wales, marriage certificate for William Jones and Ellen Coton, married 7 May 1865; citing 6d/93/462, Jun quarter 1865, Birmingham registration district; General Register Office, Southport.

There is William Jones, a boot maker, the son of...really? William Jones?? You have got to be kidding me?

Fortunately William Jones the Senior also has a relatively unique occupation, that of a wheelwright. I guess I'll just have to repeat the process all over for him.


As you can see, it just isn't a name that is needed when find anyone in the records. You need a unique combination of other details about that person. It might be where they resided, who they were living with, when they were born, where they were born, a medical condition, or occupation to help you winnow them out from all the other people with the same name.


1. Yes, he did appreciate the gift. He then spent the next hour reading the report and asking questions.
2. Why use Findmypast in this case? I don't have any family tree recorded there so there is less bias when it comes to searching and the results that are provided.
3. I am citing the images from Ancestry since that is where I originally retrieved them. The Findmypast images, in this case, are the same. 

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.