Sunday, September 15, 2013

When Asking for Help ... Part 2

In "When Asking for Help ... Part 1" I wrote about how not to ask for help in the many genealogy related groups on Facebook. Here is an example of a query that caught my attention and with a little bit of research I was able to answer some of her questions:
"Hoping someone might be able to help me understand as I don't know much at all about the military. Why would the 1st Battalion of the 15th Foot. (The Yorkshire East Riding) have been in Fredericton, York County, New Brunswick back in 1967 [sic]? My 2x great grandfather who was from Calne, Wiltshire, England married on 26 March 1867 in Fredericton. I found them on the 1871 UK census back in Calne. I'm searching out for someone to do a lookup for me in England for his Muster Roll and Military record. Emily Caroline Witham was born 8 April 1846 in Fredericton but I've not found out much about her at all other than the 1851 census. This is a big brick wall on my tree."

This query caught my attention for a number of reasons. The first is that when I was growing up I lived near Fredericton for several years. The posting also contained specific information related to the queries. There were also clearly started questions and requests for information being made. Finally, the original poster of the questions provided some additional information shortly after the first query was posted:

"This is all I have that I'm trying to figure out: "Quoted Text: Morning News (St John), 1 April 1867 "m. 26th ult., by Rev. Wm Armstrong, James BREWER, Bandsman of 15th Regt. / Emily WITHAM, Fredericton (York Co.)" I'm guessing on the 1st Battalion of the 15th Foot."

Now it got interesting. There are a couple of names, a couple of dates, and regimental detail from the original newspaper article. Since I do a lot of my research using the Internet I had a few places I could start with. But first I needed some background information. What was the 15th Regiment? Was it the 15th Regiment of Foot? So off to Google with the search "15th regiment new brunswick". That pointed me to a blog posting by the York Sunbury Historical Society titled "15th Regiment of Foot in Fredericton in the 1860s".

First question had been answered. That was almost too easy. The look up of James Brewer's service record was the next challenge. Since the 15th Regiment of Foot is a British regiment I went to and started searching the British military records for James Brewer with a keyword of "15th". Only 3 James Brewers were listed and one of them really fit the profile: James Brewer of the 1st Battalion of the 15th Regiment of Foot was medically discharged in St. George, Bermuda on 5 May 1870. Five pages of his discharge papers had been digitized. On page 2 was a listing of where he served including New Brunswick and on page 4 was where he was born, what he looked like, and where he was planning on living after his discharge. All the details matched.

Finally, to confirm all the dates related to the regiment and marriage I checked the digitized British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, "C" Series) collection at the Library and Archives Canada web site. This is a great resource for pre-Confederation military files in Canada but it is really buried on their site. If you want to use this resource, as a starting point, click on the Help link on the page to figure out which digitized microfilm you need to look though. There was no mention of James Brewer  on the index cards but there were letters back and forth concerning the delay of movement for the 15th Regiment of Foot to Bermuda.

So with a "good question" and about 3 hours of research the poster of the query was very happy.

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