Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Black Hole No Longer - Queens County, New Brunswick, Canada

One of the many challenges faced by genealogy and family history researchers is accessing records for places that are a distance from you. Even with the Internet, this problem still exists since many of the records are still only available in archives and libraries. This has long been the case for me when researching my ancestors that lived in Queens County, New Brunswick, Canada. For many years I considered that region of New Brunswick a genealogical black hole...people may have gone there but, aside from the decennial census, almost no trace could be found of them except in indexes. That is until recently.

NordNordWest. “File:Map of New Brunswick Highlighting Queens County.png.” Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons, January 29, 2010. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_New_Brunswick_highlighting_Queens_County.png.
NordNordWest. “File:Map of New Brunswick Highlighting Queens County.png.” Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons, January 29, 2010. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_New_Brunswick_highlighting_Queens_County.png.

In the past year the New Brunswick Genealogical Society has freely made available to all a number of publications on their web site. This includes two extremely useful books pertaining to Queens County. The first is the often referred to but hard to find History of Queens Co., N.B. by E. Stone Wiggins, LL.D. This work is the copy, made in 1993, by George H. Hayward, of the 1876 history of Queens County that was originally published, starting on 7 Oct 1876 and ending in 17 Feb 1877, in the Saint John, New Brunswick newspaper The Watchman. What makes this book so important for those researching families in Queens County is that there are short biographies of many families that resided in that county at that time.

The second book of particular interest to Queens County family history researchers is the Queens County, New Brunswick, Marriage Records, Registers A, B and C, 1812-1887 found on the New Brunswick Marriage Records page. This compilation by Elizabeth S. Sewell & George H. Hayward had been a challenge for researchers to find in their local libraries and archives. It is a challenge no longer.

However, that extract of the marriage records is just that...an extract. Here is a snippet of one of the families that I am particularly interested in, the Jenkins line.

Elizabeth S. Sewell and George H. Hayward, editors, Queens County, New Brunswick, Marriage Records, Registers A, B and C, 1812-1887  (Fredericton, New Brunswick: Elizabeth S. Sewell and George H. Hayward, August 2002),  51.
Elizabeth S. Sewell and George H. Hayward, editors, Queens County, New Brunswick, Marriage Records, Registers A, B and C, 1812-1887  (Fredericton, New Brunswick: Elizabeth S. Sewell and George H. Hayward, August 2002),  5.
What if you want to see where this information came from? The preface of the book states that the records were transcribed from Provincial Archives of New Brunswick microfilm reels F15491 and F15492. If you have access to a library that participates in the interlibrary loan program then you might be able to arrange to have those microfilms delivered to a local library for you to view.

However, this is another option and that is to visit a hopefully nearby Family History Center. Due to the massive microfilm digitization project undertaken by FamilySearch you can view and download pages from the digitized version of the Marriage registers A-C, 1812-1888, for Queens County, New Brunswick found on film 851191.

Here is the entry in the digitized microfilm of the marriage register for Maria Jenkins and W F Howe.

Queens, New Brunswick, Marriage registers A-C, 1812-1888, W. F. Howe-Maria Jenkins; FHL microfilm 851,191, image 442.
Queens, New Brunswick, Marriage registers A-C, 1812-1888, W. F. Howe-Maria Jenkins; FHL microfilm 851,191, image 442.
However, this isn't the original source of the information. A little bit of searching within the FamilySearch Catalog for "Canada, New Brunswick, Queens" results in finding several additional catalogue entries including Marriage certificates, 1812-1887.

Queens, New Brunswick, Marriage certificates, 1812-1887, W F Howe-Maria Jenkins; FHL microfilm 1,508,597, item 1, image 549.
Queens, New Brunswick, Marriage certificates, 1812-1887, W F Howe-Maria Jenkins; FHL microfilm 1,508,597, item 1, image 549.
Without being there for the marriage or holding the original piece of paper, this is as close as you are going to get to the register entry for Maria Jenkins and W F Howe (William Franklin Howe).

Of course, those aren't the only records available but due to the ravages of time we do get bitten at times when researching Queens County. For the 1851 census of New Brunswick that took place on 11 Jan 1851 the only sub-district where that census enumeration has survived for Queens County is for Wickham found on microfilms C-996 and M-74821. If you had family in the Gagetown area in 1861 you are also out of luck since those records haven't survived2.

We are fortunate that land books for Queens County have been preserved on microfilm and digitized for us. They can be found on FamilySearch in the New Brunswick, Queens County, deed registry books, 1786-1919; index, 1786-1993 collection. Much like the marriage registers above, there is no electronic index to bring you to the right page but with a little bit of practice and patience you can learn to find the right documents fairly quickly. Even better, unlike the digitized marriage registers and certificates, you can do the research from the comfort of your home.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick site also has a number of useful resources that covers Queens County that are easily and freely accessible from the comfort of your home. In no particular order:
  • Vital Statistics from Government Records (RS141): These are the birth, marriage, and death records in the government records that we always hope to find. You will find the images of the actual records. Keep in mind that not all counties started keeping records at the same time and not all records may have survived.
  • Daniel F Johnson's New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics: This is the database created out the work primarily by Daniel F. Johnson and his extracts from newspapers. Whenever possible, try to view the source of the transcription. Sometimes you will find additional information that wasn't transcribed.
  • Index to Marriage Bonds 1810-1932 (RS551A): This is only an index of the marriage bonds. Keep in mind that the bonds do not mean they actually married. To see the microfilmed copy of the original bond you will need to order the applicable microfilm through the interlibrary loan program.
  • Wallace Hale's Early New Brunswick Probate, 1785-1835: This used to be a book that you could either purchase or get at your local library or archive. Now it is available online to search from your home. You will find extracts of the wills of some of the people that lived in Queens County.
  • Queens County Genealogical Guide: This has been put together by the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick to let you know what records and microfilms they have in their collections.
  • Place Names of New Brunswick - Queens County: If you can't quite read the name of a place that is scrawled in a record then maybe this page will be of great help. Along with a bit of information on the location often there is a cadastral map to view showing lots and owners.
  • Index to New Brunswick Land Grants, 1784-1997 (RS686): A searchable index, here you will find details about the size of the grant and the microfilm, volume, and page to view the grant.
For cemeteries there are a few online resources for you to peruse:
  • Find A Grave: Cemeteries in Queens County, New Brunswick: If a marker you are interested in hasn't been photographed you can always place a request. Keep in mind that it may take months (or even years) before some kind hearted person takes the photograph for you and places it on the site.
  • CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project: This project may also have photographs of markers or point you to resources where you can find transcriptions of the markers in a cemetery
  • Queens County GenWeb Cemeteries: This site has sort of survived the great Offlining of Rootsweb. Here you may be able to find images and/or transcriptions for a number of cemeteries. Be forewarned that there are still some issues with the pages with SSL security errors/warning.
  • Canadian Forces Base Gagetown Cemeteries: There are 44 cemeteries on the land occupied by CFB Gagetown including some in Queens County. Most of the markers have been photographed. Make sure you read the "Introduction" page to learn more about this project.
Knowing who might have received property and goods after someone dies can help establish family relationships. The digitized microfilms in the Probate record books, 1788-1941 and Probate records, 1785-1885 collections are available for viewing at your local Family History Center. There are no quick and simple searchable indexes to those films but they have digitized the indexes to the volumes to help you find the right book to review.

Don't forget to check the Queens County Heritage site to view their virtual exhibition or, if you are a descendant of Samuel Tilley UE, read the Some Descendant of Samuel Tilley, UE c1740-1814 genealogy.

I hope that this helps you out if you too have ancestors that lived in Queens County, New Brunswick, Canada.



1. See Districts and Sub-districts: Census of 1851, New Brunswick on the Library and Archives Canada web site to find out what other enumerations didn't survive.
2. See Districts and Sub-district: Census of 1861, New Brunswick.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"An Unexpected Hint Unveils...What?" Continued

In my post "An Unexpected Hint Unveils...What?" I looked at the curious circumstance of William John Gunnee and his second family in Australia while back in England it appeared that he had left his first family. So what happened to his first wife Maud Louisa Mansfield?

But first a quick recap concerning William and Maud.

On 8 May 1904 William John Gunnee married Maud Louisa Mansfield, the daughter of Harry Mansfield, a lighterman.

"London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921," database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012), William John Gunnee and Maud Louisa Mansfield, married 8 May 1904; citing London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Michael And All Angels, Bromley, Register of marriages, P88/MIC, Item 024.
"London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921," database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012), William John Gunnee and Maud Louisa Mansfield, married 8 May 1904; citing London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Michael And All Angels, Bromley, Register of marriages, P88/MIC, Item 024.
On 6 Jan 1906, Maud gave birth to a son, Harold Sheil Gunnee, at 19 Lake Street, Ratcliff in London.

England and Wales, birth certificate for Harold Shiel Gunnee, born 6 Jan 1906; citing 1c/375/201, Mar quarter 1906, Stepney registration district, Shadwell and Ratchiff sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.
England and Wales, birth certificate for Harold Shiel Gunnee, born 6 Jan 1906; citing 1c/375/201, Mar quarter 1906, Stepney registration district, Shadwell and Ratchiff sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.

Sometime between early 1905 and early 1907 he departed England and arrived in Australia where he met and wed Ethel May Millen on 17 Feb 1907.

What about his wife Maud Louisa (nee Mansfield) and his son Harold Sheil Gunnee back in England? What happened to them? This is where it continues to stay interesting. At least from a genealogy and family history perspective.

After 1905 in the record searches I first came across her and her son living in the household of Henry George Pocock in the 1911 census of England that took place on 2 Apr 1911. In that enumeration a Blanche Maud Pocock was also included and it looked like she was the daughter of Henry George Pocock but the relationship column was a bit confusing with pencil and ink notations.

1911 census of England, London, 8 Woollett Street, Poplar, Household of Henry George Pocock; digital images, Ancestry,com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012); citing  RG 78 PN 60, RG 14 PN 1718, registration district (RD) 22, sub district (SD) 3, enumeration district (ED) 2, schedule number (SN) 66.
1911 census of England, London, 8 Woollett Street, Poplar, Household of Henry George Pocock; digital images, Ancestry,com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012); citing RG 78 PN 60, RG 14 PN 1718, registration district (RD) 22, sub district (SD) 3, enumeration district (ED) 2, schedule number (SN) 66.
Possibly Blanche was the daughter of Henry's first wife since his marital status was "widower". So a few pounds and days later I had a PDF of her birth registration from the General Register Office of England and Wales.

England and Wales, birth certificate for Blanche Maude Pocock, born 22 Sep 1909; citing 1c/540/428, Dec quarter 1909, Poplar registration district; General Register Office, Southport.
England and Wales, birth certificate for Blanche Maude Pocock, born 22 Sep 1909; citing 1c/540/428, Dec quarter 1909, Poplar registration district; General Register Office, Southport.
Hmmm, it seems that Maud Louisa has taken the "Pocock" name as her own when she registered the 22 Sep 1909 birth of her daughter Blanche. That means I should be looking for a marriage of Maud Louisa Mansfield/Gunnee sometime between 1905 and 1909. I did find several possible marriages using the FreeBMD indexes but none to a Popock or variation of that name. I reversed the search to find any marriages for a Henry George Pocock in the same time frame. Still no good matches found. So I expanded the time frame to include up to 1912. Lo and behold a marriage for Henry G Pocock and Maud L Gunner appeared in the index for marriages registered in the fourth quarter of 1911.

Screen capture of Marriages Dec 1911 results for a search for Henry Pocock in the FreeBMD index.
Screen capture of Marriages Dec 1911 results for a search for Henry Pocock in the FreeBMD index.

I've seen "Gunner" as a transcription error before and the registration district, Poplar, is the same as their daughter Blanche. Even looking at the image of the index page it said "Gunner" but I took a gamble, paid even more pounds, and waited three weeks to get the marriage registration send to me by postal mail.

England and Wales, marriage certificate for Henry Pocock and Maud Louisa Gunnee, married 17 Oct 1911; citing 1c/1108/85, Dec quarter 1911, Poplar registration district; General Register Office, Southport.
England and Wales, marriage certificate for Henry Pocock and Maud Louisa Gunnee, married 17 Oct 1911; citing 1c/1108/85, Dec quarter 1911, Poplar registration district; General Register Office, Southport.
This definitely appears to be "Gunnee" on the registration and her maiden surname is Mansfield. All the information I know about her matches what is on this document. The address for both Henry George Pocock and Maud Louisa Gunnee matches that recorded for their daughter Blanche's birth. From the document Henry and Maud were married 17 Oct 1911, several months after the 1911 census, and it took place at the Register Office (not included in the image posted) and not in a church. Maud again states that she was a widow and Henry is recorded as a bachelor (not a widower!). That 1911 census enumeration really is an interesting mishmash of confusing details.

They had at least one other child, Gladys Ellen Rose Pocock1 born on 6 Jun 1913 in Barking, Essex, England. Henry, Maud, and Gladys could even be found in the 1939 Register of England and Wales in Barking, Essex. The red stroke through Maud's entry referred to a heavily redacted page providing the exact same information.

1939 Register, Essex, England, RG 101, piece 1057A, image 15, 82 Wedderburn Road, Barking, Essex, household of Henry G Pocock.
1939 Register, Essex, England, RG 101, piece 1057A, image 15, 82 Wedderburn Road, Barking, Essex, household of Henry G Pocock.

What about William John Gunnee and Maud Louisa Manfields' son Harold Shiel Gunnee? From the various records it appears that Harold kept the Gunnee name in his name but used the "Pocock" surname from his step-father. This can be seen in the Principal Probate Registry for the Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

Ancestry.com, "National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Jul 2019), entry for Harold Shiel Gunnee Pocock, died 23 Jan 1978.
Ancestry.com, "National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995," database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Jul 2019), entry for Harold Shiel Gunnee Pocock, died 23 Jan 1978.
Based on the marriage index and also the 1939 Register of England and Wales it appears that Harold married Rosalind Ellen Tyler in 1929 and they had at least four children.

I think a few lessons can be taken from this little bit of exploration into this branch of my family:
  • Census enumerations and other documents can't be taken as gospel, people don't necessarily tell the truth.
  • Always try to corroborate the facts found in the records you find.
  • If there have been corrections or edits to document then following up on the changes can sometimes highlight something "interesting".
  • Always expand your search if you can't find the event in the expected time frame. You might be surprised at what you come across.



1. England and Wales, birth certificate for Gladys Ellen Rose Pocock, born 6 Jun 1913; citing 4a/1168/267, Sep quarter 1913, Romford registration district; General Register Office, Southport.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

An Anglophone's Tips for Searching Ancestry's The Drouin Collection: Quebec Vital & Church Records

Recently I spent a week delving into the "Quebec Vital & Church Records" within The Drouin Church and Vital Records collection on Ancestry. This collection was originally created by the Institut Généalogique Drouin and has been made available to Ancestry subscribers. It can also be found at GenealogyQuébec. Some archives and libraries may have free access to the GenealogyQuébec site. However, owning to the fact that I don't have a subscription to GenealogyQuébec1 and since libraries frown upon you staying until the wee hours of the night I've been using the Ancestry collection since I already have a subscription with them.

This was part of a personal research project to learn more about my late uncle's life partner's family. This paternal branch of her family lines of the Shirlow and Rapple/Rappel/Rappell was my first real deep dive into these records and it has been quite a learning experience. As an Anglophone with just a barely passing knowledge of French it has been interesting, frustrating, and yes, fun. Here are some of the lessons I can pass on to you to hopefully make searching these records a bit less painful.

creen capture from the image presented by Ancestry for Saint Edward Anglican Church (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, "1916 Parish Register,"  marriage of James Shirlow and Sarah Rappell, 22 Feb 1916; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jul 2019).
Screen capture from the image presented by Ancestry for Saint Edward Anglican Church (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, "1916 Parish Register,"  marriage of James Shirlow and Sarah Rappell, 22 Feb 1916; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jul 2019).

The Records

Keep in mind that these are church records. The majority of the records deal with recording church rites such as baptisms, marriages, and burials. In some cases they will also record the date of birth and death but there are no guarantees. In many of the records I've been looking at they also give the name of the parents, the father's occupation, and the mother's maiden surname. Burial records may also provide you with the spouse's name to help you figure out if this is the right person in your tree, and their age at death. Burial records for the women will often be recorded under their maiden surname along with their husband's name.

Language Challenges

Although the Shirlow and Rapple lines are of English speaking Irish descent some of the parish records were in French. As I was reading through some of the records the stuff I learned in my primary and high school French classes slowly came back to me. If your French language skills are as rust as mine (or worse) here are a few tips.
  1. Google Translate is a helpful resource in figuring out some of the words. It is not perfect though and will have some challenges but it will often give you the gist of what is written.
  2. Write down on a piece of paper the numbers 1 through to 31 with the words of their French equivalents. You will be seeing these words often. If possible, write it out in cursive so that you can see how they look.
  3. Write down the names of the months. For me "avril" and "août" kept messing me up when I was looking at some of the writing due to the poor quality of some of the scanned documents.
  4. Learn some of the key words and phrases (and approximate translations) found in the records. There will be other phrases and words that you will come across but this list is a starting point:
    • née: born
    • hier: yesterday
    • la même: the same
    • ce jour: this day
    • courrant: current (often used like "instant" for the current month and year)
    • veuve: widow (sometimes abbreviated as "vve" in the margin index)
    • veuf: widower
    • épouse: wife (sometimes abbreviated as "espe" the margin index)
    • époux: husband
    • fils: son
    • fille: daughter
    • décédés: died
    • cimetière: cemetery
    • cette Paroisse: this Parish
    • mil neuf cent: 1900
    • mil huit cent: 1800
    • nous, Prêtre soussigné: we, the undersigned priest

Church Shopping

OK, this is my own phrase for it but your ancestors may not have stuck with the same church or even religion throughout their lives. If they were of the Presbyterian faith, don't discount the Church of England or Anglican churches in the area when looking for records. You might also find them in the Roman Catholic parish registers in that area.

In Canada we are fortunate in that our census records will indicate which religion the person was practising. If you see someone listed as Roman Catholic but their spouse is Church of England or other Protestant faith you might find the marriage in a Roman Catholic church with a comment along the lines of "...the law of the Church which forbids mixed marriages..."

Cathedrale St-Jacque-le-Mineur (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, "1915 Parish Register,"  marriage of Chester Robert Shirlow and (Dora) Margaret Elvert, 30 Aug 1915; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jul 2019).
Cathedrale St-Jacque-le-Mineur (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, "1915 Parish Register,"  marriage of Chester Robert Shirlow and (Dora) Margaret Elvert, 30 Aug 1915; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jul 2019).

Additionally, there may have only been a few cemeteries in the area so those records may be held in different church than the one your ancestors regularly attended. Since I was dealing with folks that lived in Montreal I would often find their burial register entry in the collection for "Basilique Notre Dame" if they were buried in Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.

If you can find the family either in the Lovell's Montreal Directory or in the later census enumerations that included the street address where they lived then Google Maps might help you figure out what churches they may have attended. However, some churches in large communities like Montreal no longer exist today so you might not be able to find them with today's maps.

Parish Registers

Depending on the community the church served, some of the parish registers for a year may be hundreds of pages in size. Even a parish with a register of 20 pages, depending on the quality of the document and writing, can be a chore to look though. Fortunately, the parish priest also didn't want to have to read every page when looking for an entry in their own register. Often you will find an index of surnames at the end of the register along with the folio number in the register where the entry can be found.

Lost Children

I consider the lost children to be those that were born and died, or in the case of parish records, baptized and buried, between census enumerations. If I find a entry for a known child in the register of a church I will often look up to ten years before and after that date for any additional children of the family.

Document Quality

If you have had any dealing with the scanned images of census documents the same rules apply with these images. Keep in mind that some of the documents you are looking at may be over two hundred years old or even older. That they have survived to this day and you can look at them from the comfort of your home can't be taken for granted. That said, some of them are really hard to read for several reasons:
  • The ink has faded over time
  • The documents have been damaged due to water, fire, and creatures
  • The handwriting may not be the greatest (almost as bad as my own...which is horrible2)
  • Pour quality of the microfilming. The contrast may be great for some parts but not for the remainder.

Transcriptions and Indexes

I really do appreciate the time, effort, and in some cases, money spent by the various commercial companies, churches, and societies to transcribe and index records. However, as any researcher knows, these transcriptions and indexes can also be the bane of our existence. The "Drouin Church and Vital Records" collection is no different. In some cases, it is almost worse than some of the census transcriptions and indexes I've used to locate family members in the digitized records.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not faulting the transcribers and indexers for all of the issues. The quality of the documents and scans they are working from would challenge anyone. So make use of wildcards like "?" and "*" in your searching of last names. I thought "Shirlow" should be easy to find but I was wrong. I had to search using "sh?rl?w" and then just "sh*w" plus restricting the location to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in my search query. I could then quickly scan the list of 100 to 200 returned names for possible matches like "Sherlow", "Sherlaw", and even "Shilow" to help me locate the key baptism, marriage, and burial records.

However, coming across many index entries of burials for people with the forename of "Epse" might throw you for a loop. In these cases the indexers wrote exactly what was written without understanding the context. Here is an example taken from the margin of a record:
Basilique Notre-Dame (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, "1892 Parish Register,"  burial of Mary Margaret Daniels wife of Henry George Tibby, 5 Sep 1892; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jul 2019)
Basilique Notre-Dame (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968, "1892 Parish Register,"  burial of Mary Margaret Daniels wife of Henry George Tibby, 5 Sep 1892; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jul 2019).
The indexer wrote: "Epse Tibby Mary Margaret Daniels" for the name. This loosely translates in the document to be "Mary Margaret Daniels wife of Tibby". Her forenames are not "Epse Tibby Mary Margaret". If you have the time, take a moment to correct a few of these index issues to help out other genealogy and family history researchers in their own journey of documenting their family tree.

Also, the indexers are using the margin index entries created by the parish priest. The spelling there might not be correct for your family name at that time. However, baptism and marriage records will often have the signature, if the people could sign their name, at the end of the register entry. That is how your ancestor thought their name was spelled. Don't be surprised if the spelling is not how you spell it now! Here is an example for Rapple/Rappel/Rappell family and the changes in spelling over time and by family members based on signatures in the registers:

 


I hope that this post helps you navigate "Quebec Vital & Church Records" within "The Drouin Church and Vital Records" collection on Ancestry. I'm next off to look at the Legér branch of this family and they are all French Roman Catholics in Québec so my French language skills will be pretty much stretched to the limit! Wish me luck!



1. 24 hours access is $5 and allows you to look at 75 images. Monthly subscription is $13 and you can view 75 images per day. An annual subscription is $100 with access to 1050 images per week. See https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/subscription for the details.

2. No fault of my primary school teachers, especially Mrs. Currie.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Songs of the Ottawa - A Confluence of History, Sound, and Digitization

A little while back, friend and blogger John D. Reid of Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections, knowing of my interesting in history and music, sent me a link to a site called Songs of the Ottawa. This site is the result of Christina Wood's Master's Research Project at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Screen capture of the SoundCloud representation of "Hearing the River's Flows"
Screen capture of the SoundCloud representation of "Hearing the River's Flows"
 What was posted on the web site got my attention is several ways:
  • Through the use of data sonification she created songs that you could not only hear but also see through the posting of the songs on SoundCloud. You could see the patterns in the SoundCloud representation of the music that she talked about in the pages of two of the songs: "Hearing the River's Flow" and "On the Water"
  • As a IT professional that uses various scripting language to do my work, being able to see the Python code that she used to create the sounds was kind of cool.
  • Finally, seeing historical events presented in a different fashion, other than words on a page, got to me wonder what we might be missing when we, as genealogy and family history researchers, only concentrate on names, dates, and places and births, marriages, and deaths.
The music that was created is definitely not for everyone. However, due to the influence of several members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, I've grown to appreciate music in all of its forms. With their repetitive patterns these works remind me of some of the new compositions I've heard over the past several years.

From a genealogical research point of view, in her essay she highlights the various resources that she used to find the data to sonify. These are many of the same resources that we can also use to delve deeper in the events that shaped our ancestors lives.

So if you have the chance, take the time to listen to the three songs and also read her essay. I hope you find it as intriguing as I did.

If our ancestors are the notes on the page, collectively they make up the symphony that is us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Mere Boy (or is he?) But Dies Like Man

As a new family history researcher or genealogist we often take certain records and bits of information as gospel. We very quickly discover that the spelling of names varies, ages can easily differ by several years, and the locations of events may be called by different places depending on the time.

Yet two sources are still commonly treated as if they must always be correct: grave markers and newspaper articles. In my post from 2013, "Zombie in the census?" I dispelled the notion that grave markers are always correct and that the dates chiselled on them need to be verified through other documents. However, what about newspaper articles? I'm not talking about death notices or obituaries1 but articles written by journalists to highlight a newsworthy event that affected our ancestor.

Let's look into this article about the death of Private Walter J. Hayes from the November 9th, 1916 edition of The Ottawa Citizen:

"Mere Boy But Dies Like Man," The Ottawa Citizen, 9 Nov 1916, p. 10, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 Jul 2019).
"Mere Boy But Dies Like Man," The Ottawa Citizen, 9 Nov 1916, p. 10, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 Jul 2019).
The headline would definitely get a reader's attention, especially the part under the all capital letters, "Sixteen Year Old Walter Hayes Ready to Do Duty. Ottawans in Casualties." The article starts off with:
"Pte. Walter J. Hayes, sixteen years of age, youngest member of his battalion and one of the youngest members of the Canadian forces serving in the ranks overseas, has made the supreme sacrifice on the field of action, "somewhere in France."
That is quite the claim and would mean that Walter was born about 1900 and probably would have lied about his age when he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Not unheard of but we really need to do our due diligence in our research to confirm this very important detail in the article.

For attestation papers from the First World War for those that served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force my go to site is the Library and Archives Canada page "Personnel Record of the First World War". On that site one cannot only see the attestation papers but also download a PDF copy of the surviving service file. Searching for Walter Hayes returns 8 entries but in the article they say his name is "Walter J. Hayes" and there is a Walter Joseph Hayes, regiment number 177799, listed in the search results. A quick check of the other "Walter Hayes" listed show that they either enlisted too late to be our Walter J. Hayes or they lived and enlisted in the wrong place. So seem that Walter Joseph Hayes is the one we want. It helps that the next of kin address on his attestation matches that of his mother, Mrs. Margaret Hayes of 391 Cooper Street, that was provided in the article. Only one "minor" issue...he stated in his attestation that he was born "Aug. 4th.,1896." when he enlisted in Ottawa on November 19th, 1915.

Library and Archives Canada, "Personnel Records of the First World War," database, Library and Archives Canada (www.bac-lac.gc.ca : accessed 29 Jun 2019), Attestation Paper; citing the service file for Walter Joseph Hayes, regimental number 177799, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4188 - 51.
Library and Archives Canada, "Personnel Records of the First World War," database, Library and Archives Canada (www.bac-lac.gc.ca : accessed 29 Jun 2019), Attestation Paper; citing the service file for Walter Joseph Hayes, regimental number 177799, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4188 - 51.

That makes him 19 years and 3 months old when he enlisted. Definitely not the 16 years old when he died between the 21st and 22nd of October, 19162. But did he lie about his age to serve? Where else can we look? How about the census enumerations of Canada? If he was born in 1900 then in the 1901 census he would be recorded as being 0 or 1 years of age. Fortunately the article goes on to list the names of several siblings of Walter: Edward J., John P., and Miss Margaret P., along with his mother Margaret. This can help with our searching.

Using Ancestry.ca we find the family with the surname recorded as "Hays"3 living in the Wellington Ward census sub-district of Ottawa:

1901 census of Canada, Ontario, district 100, sub-district G-4, Ottawa, p. 12, dwelling 106, family 106, Household of John Hays; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Jun 2019); citing Library and Archive Canada microfilm T-6488.
1901 census of Canada, Ontario, district 100, sub-district G-4, Ottawa, p. 12, dwelling 106, family 106, Household of John Hays; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Jun 2019); citing Library and Archive Canada microfilm T-6488.

There in that census it is recorded that he was born on August 5th, 1897 in Ontario. Hmmm...5th instead of the 4th and 1897 and not 1896. Well at least he isn't listed as being born in 1900. That means that he isn't 16 years old when he died or even enlisted. One thing to keep in mind that the birth date listed in the census isn't always right. It all depended on who answered the questions and if they remembered the details correctly. I've personally found that the birthday has been wrong more times than right in the 1901 census of Canada.

Can we find a birth registration or baptism record for Walter James Hayes to clear up the mystery of when he was born since we have two possible birth dates for him?

I couldn't find an Ontario birth registration record for him but I did find a baptism record for him in the records for St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Fallowfield:

Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church (Fallowfield, Ontario, Canada), p. 61, B. 15,  baptism of Walter Joseph Hayes, 22 Aug 1897; FHL microfilm 1,302,152, item 5.
Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church (Fallowfield, Ontario, Canada), p. 61, B. 15,  baptism of Walter Joseph Hayes, 22 Aug 1897; FHL microfilm 1,302,152, item 5.
"On the twenty second day of August in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety seven We the undersigned Parish Priest of this parish baptized Walter Joseph born on the 4th inst of the lawful marriage of John Hayes and Margaret Weathers of this parish. The godfather was James Hayes and the godmother was Ann Wallace who have declared that they cannot sign
   J A Sloan Pt
"
With the baptism taking place on August 22nd, 1897, a few weeks after he was born on the "4th instant4" it means that it is highly likely that he was born in August 4th, 1897. A combination of the dates recorded in the census and his attestation papers.

With all that information now in our possession we now know that he was 18 years and 3 months old when he enlisted in the C.E.F. and 19 years and 2 months old when he died in the Great War. Did someone stretch the truth when writing the article or providing the "facts" to the journalist? We will never know.


This means that even in newspaper articles, like with any document which provides information about our ancestors, we just can't take the "facts" at face value. We need to dig deeper to see if we can confirm what has been recorded.




1. Which can have their own challenges.

2. Library and Archives Canada, "Personnel Records of the First World War," database, Library and Archives Canada (www.bac-lac.gc.ca : accessed 29 Jun 2019), Casualty Form - Active Service; citing the service file for Walter Joseph Hayes, regimental number 177799, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4188 - 51.

3. Remember what I said at the start that the spelling of names can vary?

4. See https://blog.genealogybank.com/understanding-terms-found-in-historical-newspapers.html for a great explanation of terms you may find in newspapers, and in our case a baptism, such as "instant" and "ultimo".

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

An Unexpected Hint Unveils...What?

How many of you have come across a set of record hints from Ancestry for someone in your tree and they just don't make any sense? This was the case for me with a second cousin twice removed by the name of William John Gunnee.

But first I need to set the stage and lay out what I thought I knew about him.

I originally came across him in the 1891 census of England living with his father Samuel I Gunnee, his mother Rosa, and sister Florence R in London.

1891 census of England, London, Civil Parish of St John Zachary, Cripplegate Ward, folio 77, page 5, William J Gunnee; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012); citing PRO RG 12/239.
1891 census of England, London, Civil Parish of St John Zachary, Cripplegate Ward, folio 77, page 5, William J Gunnee; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012); citing PRO RG 12/239.
From various other records I had learned that his father was Samuel Ingmire Gunnee (1850-1897), a carpenter, and his mother was Rosa Cleaver. It appears he was taken on by Robert James Snell according to the transcription from Findmypast in the "Thames Watermen & Lightermen 1688-2010" record set from their "Binding Records 1692-1949"1. It was from those records that I learned that he was most likely born on 28 Jan 1882 in Hammersmith2.

I also learned that on 8 May 1904 he married Maud Louisa Mansfield, the daughter of Harry Mansfield, a lighterman.

"London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921," database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012), William John Gunnee and Maud Louisa Mansfield, married 8 May 1904; citing London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Michael And All Angels, Bromley, Register of marriages, P88/MIC, Item 024.
"London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921," database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012), William John Gunnee and Maud Louisa Mansfield, married 8 May 1904; citing London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Michael And All Angels, Bromley, Register of marriages, P88/MIC, Item 024.
He had a son, Harold Shiel Gunnee, on 6 Jan 19064. At that time William John Gunnee was no longer a lighterman but was a member of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

However, in the 1911 census he is no longer with the family and his wife, "Maude Louise Gunnee" is recorded as a widow and living in the household of Henry George Pocock. Unfortunate there are a number of corrections made in pencil to this page that are very hard to decipher, especially when it comes to the relationships to the head of the household.

1911 census of England, London, 8 Woollett Street, Poplar, Household of Henry George Pocock; digital images, Ancestry,com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012); citing  RG 78 PN 60, RG 14 PN 1718, registration district (RD) 22, sub district (SD) 3, enumeration district (ED) 2, schedule number (SN) 66.
1911 census of England, London, 8 Woollett Street, Poplar, Household of Henry George Pocock; digital images, Ancestry,com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012); citing  RG 78 PN 60, RG 14 PN 1718, registration district (RD) 22, sub district (SD) 3, enumeration district (ED) 2, schedule number (SN) 66.
I had assumed that William John Gunnee had died between 1901 and 1911 but I couldn't find any records of him in the civil registration death index. So I left him in 2012 and continued on working on other family members and branches of my tree. That was until I recently started reviewing the 1939 Register of England and Wales. I was looking for his son Harold in that registration and figured I'd also see if anything had popped up on Ancestry for his father William John.

A hint for a "William J Gunnee" marrying Ethel M Millen in 1907 in New South Wales showed up in the list of possible hints on Ancestry. I really do try to avoid only using indexes since often, as in this case, there just isn't enough information to make an informed decision. Fortunately, with very little effort, I found the marriage registration in the "Sydney, Australia, Anglican Parish Registers, 1814-2011" collection on Ancestry.


What do I find but a William John Gunnee, a bachelor, born in London, England about 1882 working as fireman with the Castlereagh Fire Brigade, and his parents are Samuel Gunnee (deceased), a carpenter, and Rosa Cleaver. This really does look like this is the William John Gunnee that married Maud Louisa Mansfield. So it appears that he left his wife and son in England, moved to Australia, and remarried. I'd hazard a guess that the odds of two distinct William John Gunnees with the exact same parents and other identifying details are pretty darn slim!
 
As I carried on in my research into William John Gunnee I see that he appears to have settled down in New South Wales and had a family of at least five children, three of which survived to adulthood. He outlived his first Australian wife, Ethel May Millen (~1887-1938), and married the widow Caroline Edith (nee Jackson) Ireland in 19395. He and his second (or is that third) wife, Caroline, sailed from Sydney in early 1953 and arrived in Tilbury, Essex, England on 13 Apr 1953 on board the Strathmore6. However, he never made it back to Australia. On 20 May 1953 he died while in England7.

From a family history point of view, this make for one "interesting" story to follow8. As we all should know, there is always more than one perspective on a story. With these events taking place over a century ago, most likely only the immediate family members might actually know what occurred.

The story isn't quite over yet. I'm still researching what happened to his first wife, Maud Louisa Mansfield. Maybe I'll have a follow up post about her.

This just goes to show that you need to follow up on each and every hint that Ancestry provides by viewing the record and not just the transcription or index. Sometimes those unexpected and unusual hints can make the story of your family even more interesting.


1. "Thames watermen and lightermen 1688-2010," database, Findmypast (www.findmypast.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012), William John Gunnee, bound 8 Mar 1898; citing Binding Records 1692-1949, Thames watermen and lightermen.

2. Yes, I have a to-do item to order his birth registration3 but there is only so much money in the budget for genealogy research.

3. FreeBMD, "England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Jul 2012), entry for William John Gunnee, volume 1a, page 245, Mar quarter 1882, Fulham district; citing the General Register Office's England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes.

4. England and Wales, birth certificate for Harold Shiel Gunnee, born 6 Jan 1906; citing 1c/375/201, Mar quarter 1906, Stepney registration district, Shadwell and Ratchiff sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.

5. St. John (Rockdale, New South Wales, Australia), Sydney, Australia, Anglican Parish Registers, 1814-2011, "Rockdale St John 1938-1942,"  marriage of William John Gunnee and Caroline Edith Ireland (nee Jackson), 12 Oct 1939; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Jul 2019).

6. Ancestry.com, "UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Jul 2019), entry for William Gunnee, arriving Tilbury, 13 Apr 1953; citing The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists; Class: BT26; Piece: 1297; Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA). Series BT26, 1,472 pieces.

7. "Death notice for William John Gunnee," The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 1953, p. 14, col. 2; digital images, Trove (trove.nla.gov.au : accessed 7 Jul 2019).

8. Come on, who among you don't like to have a black sheep or two in the family to keep things interesting?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Assumptions and Theories

Often in our own genealogy and family history research we often don't have much to go on once we get back to the time when only church records are typically available for hint and clues as to our family connections. Such is the case for the parents of my 4th great-grandmother Sarah Howell.

Sarah Fraser and Eight of Her Children
Sarah Fraser and Eight of Her Children

As always you need to start with what you know. In terms of documentation for Sarah I've been able to locate her and her family in a number of records in Canada, United States of America, and England but only starting from the time she was married to Alexander Fraser:
  • Transcription of baptism records for St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Perth, Lanark County, Ontario where her surname is transcribed as "Nowell"
  • 1852 census of Canada West in Drummond Township, Lanark County
  • 1861 census of Canada West in Drummond Township, Lanark County
  • 1871 census of Canada in Drummond Township, Lanark County, Ontario
  • Death notice in the Perth Courier (Perth, Lanark County, Ontario)
  • Grave marker in the Old Burying Ground, Perth, Lanark County, Ontario
  • Ontario registration of death for her daughter Mary McIntosh where her mother is recorded as "Sarah Howell" born in London, England
  • Minnesota certificate of death for her daughter Elizabeth McVeety where her mother is recorded as "Sarah Howell" born in England.

What I could piece together or confirm is from those records is:
  • Her name is Sarah Howell
  • She was born about 1795 in England, possibly in or near London
  • She was married to Alexander Fraser, late corporal in the 49th Regiment of Foot, on August 17, 1815 in the parish of St. Pancras, Middlesex, England.
I also had another resource I used as a source of clues and that is the book "Fraser · A Short History of The Fraser Clan and our own Branch of Frasers in Canada and The United States" compiled by L. A. Milne (brown cover). As with any family history compilation there are omissions and errors but they make for a good starting place. In that book it is said that Alexander met his future wife while recruiting for the 49th regiment of Foot in Barnet. In the records of the 49th Regiment of Foot I have found a Corporal Alexander Fraser recruiting in Barnet in 1815 so that tale just might be true. Can you imagine the tall young Alexander in his best red scarlet coat and white breeches, speaking with a Highland accent as he went about Barnet recruiting young, unsuspecting men to serve in the British Army?

Overall, not a bad collection of records but what about her parents?

This is where the assumptions, and theories come into play.

Assuming that Sarah was indeed born in Barnet, also known as Chipping Barnet, then a search of the baptism records might point me in the right direction. Of course, I am assuming that the baptism of my Sarah Howell has been transcribed or even recorded.

On Ancestry in the "England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975" collection a search for Sarah Howell, born or baptized in 1795 ± 2 years, in Barnet, Hertfordshire, England (or nearby counties) returns 102 people. However the first name in the list is a Sarah Howell baptized on December 11, 1796 in Barnet with parents listed as William and Lydia.

Ancestry.com. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Ancestry.com. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

The known children of Alexander and Sarah are: Ann, Lydia, Alexander, Sarah, Mary, Simon, Ellen, Esther, John, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Thomas, and Jane. Since Alexander was Scottish it might be assumed that the traditional Scottish naming pattern was used in his family:

The traditional patterns used when naming boys were as follows:
  • The first son would be named after the father's father (variation is after the mother's father)
  • The second after the mother's father (variation is the father's father)
  • The third son would be named after the father
  • The fourth son would be named after the father's oldest brother (variation is after the father's paternal grandfather)
  • The fifth son would be named after the mother's oldest brother (variation is after the mother's paternal grandfather)
and for girls:
  • First daughter named after the mother's mother (variation is after the father's mother)
  • Second daughter named after the father's mother
  • Third daughter named after the mother
  • Fourth daughter named after the mother's oldest sister (variation is after the mother's maternal grandmother)
  • Fifth daughter named after the father's oldest sister (variation is after the father's maternal grandmother)
I don't see any William listed in the children but I do see a Lydia. Might this be the right person? Maybe viewing the digitized microfilm for the Parish Registers for Barnet available from the local Family History Centre can tell us more.

Parish Church of Barnet (Barnet, Hertfordshire, England), "Baptisms and burials, 1724-1812," baptism of Sarah Howell, 11 Dec 1796; FHL microfilm 991,409.
Parish Church of Barnet (Barnet, Hertfordshire, England), "Baptisms and burials, 1724-1812," baptism of Sarah Howell, 11 Dec 1796; FHL microfilm 991,409.
Unfortunately there isn't any more information in the record book than what was transcribed for the index. But a search for other possible children of William and Lydia baptized in Barnet result in finding Mary (19 Jul 1801), George (1 Apr 1805), and James (29 Mar 1807). I also come across a Lydia Howel baptized 11 Jan 1795 in Shenley, Hertfordshire which is fairly near Barnet. Unfortunately their baptism records don't shed any additional light on the issue either.

For now, I'm going with the theory that this is my Sarah Howell. What about the maiden surname of her mother? For many of us working on our Canadian, American, Irish, and United Kingdom family lines the mother's maiden surname is one of our challenges.

Yet another assumption has to be made and that is William Howell and Lydia were married in or near the county of Hertfordshire. Of course they don't have to be married in that region but it does set a reasonable scope to search at this time. I initially looked through the digitized microfilm of the parish of Barnet for about 10 years before Sarah's baptism and also checked the parish of Shenley for any Lydia getting married but with no positive results. Since I found the baptism of Sarah on Ancestry I decided to start my search for her parents' marriage there. I asked Ancestry to find any marriages for a William Howell to a Lydia in 1793 ± 5 years in Hertfordshire and adjacent counties in England. Why 1793 ± 5 years? This covers the years of their possible daughter Lydia and also Sarah's baptism. I'm assuming that the record I'm looking for has been indexed, and yes this is a big assumption.

What appeared surprised me. An entry for William Howell and Liddy Blackgrove married on 23 Jun 1793 in the Parish of St. Pancras. The same church that my Sarah Howell married her husband Alexander Fraser! I also checked on Findmypast and it looks like it points to the same entry on FamilySearch.

Ancestry.com. England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Ancestry.com. England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
And here is the entry for the parish register of St. Pancras, London from the "Parish registers of St. Pancras Old Church, 1660-1916" collection on FamilySearch.org.

St. Pancras Old Church (London, England), "The Register of Marriages 1787-1793," marriage of William Howell and Liddy Blackgrove, 23 Jun 1793; FHL microfilm 598,178.
St. Pancras Old Church (London, England), "The Register of Marriages 1787-1793," marriage of William Howell and Liddy Blackgrove, 23 Jun 1793; FHL microfilm 598,178. 

Have I proven that William Howell and Lydia "Liddy" Blackgrove are my 5th great-grandparents? No, not really but until I come across additional records to point me in a different direction I'm going to stay with this working theory.