Thursday, December 31, 2009

technorati Loves GenTips!

It looks like the website technorati is about to include Gentips and requests that a code be included: A9GQCYFPPWQB in order for the site to be "crawled".

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dollarhide's Book Required Reading For Census Research In New York State

New York State Censuses & Substitutes by William Dollarhide is an excellent guide to the state censuses of New York, that provides guidance to genealogists trying to locate and do research on the census records and census substitutes available for New York State and its 62 counties. As an added bonus, Dollarhide's book includes county boundary maps and census extraction forms for New York State.

If you are doing family history work on ancestors who lived in the state of New York, "New York State Censuses & Substitutes" is a 'must-have' book!

Census records and name lists for New York are found mostly at the county level, and this book shows which census records or census substitutes exist for each of New York’s sixty-two counties and where they can be found.

In addition to the many statewide official censuses taken by New York, this book references census substitutes and name lists for time periods in which the state did not take an official census. It also shows the location of copies of federal census records and provides county boundary maps and numerous state census facsimiles and extraction forms.
  • Identifies 448 state census originals for New York’s 62 counties, located at 68 different New York depositories, plus transcripts, extracts, and indexes in print.
  • Identifies 120 statewide and regional name lists, including tax lists, land records, military lists, newspaper indexes, CD-ROM publications, and online resources.
  • Identifies 105 original 1850–1880 federal censuses held by 30 New York counties.
  • Identifies over 1,200 census substitutes and selected name lists. Substitutes include tax lists, voter registrations, military lists, and deed indexes. Selected lists include county histories, city directories, naturalization indexes, and vital records indexes.
  • Identifies over 1,500 online town references to find direct links to census extracts, indexes, or other name lists online.
  • Identifies over 3,700 bibliographic citations in total, each with detailed descriptions and notes, library call numbers, and FHL film numbers.
  • Includes 19 county boundary maps for the period 1683–1915, showing the evolution of all New York counties and adjoining jurisdictions in bordering states and Canada.
  • Includes 26 New York State Census Extraction Forms, 1825–1925, with all population, military, agriculture, industry, birth, death, and marriage schedules; plus the 1890 New York Police Census and the 1880 Short Form; as well as 26 facsimilies showing the actual state census schedules, tables, pages, and columns.

The federal census of the United States has been taken every ten years from 1790 to the present day to provide the government with a look at the condition and growth of the nation. There is a restriction of 72 years on the use of the names and personal information, however the statistical data was usually available within the following year. For example you will find data about the year 2000 census, but the names will not be available until 2073. The 1930 census is the latest available census and the 1940 will be made available in 2013.

Some states took their own census at various time periods, and on various schedules. New York State implemented a state census that was done just about every ten years, however it was created usually on the “5” year in between the federal census. Here is the list of known state census that you will find: 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, “1892,” 1905, 1915, and 1925. No state census was taken in 1885.

There was a fire at the state library in Albany in 1911 that was devastating to many of the original manuscript documents, and copies that the state had for the census were pretty much all destroyed.

There are still a great many partial census returns that do exist, and all that have been located were microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) microfilming program. Copies of those microfilms were deposited with the NYS Library and may be viewed there but are not available for inter-library loan.

Luckily the microfilm can be viewed at any LDS Family History Center, but you will need to have it sent to that Center which will take a couple of weeks and costs around $5.00. Here's an article outlining where you can locate a Family History Center near you.

A good idea if you are looking for ALL information about a specific location, like Albany County, New York for example, is by checking the LDS Family History Library’s on-line library catalog and clicking a “PLACE SEARCH”. By inputing "New York, Albany", all the information available through the LDS Family History Center will be displayed. All you need to do is go to your local Family History Center and request it be borrowed and in a few weeks you will be able to review anything listed on the online catalog.

The 1825, 1835, 1845 returns offer very good for agricultural information and will give you a picture of your family’s net worth. But they as they are heads of household returns, the rest of the residents are enumerated in age groupings, but no names. It isn't until the 1855 census that the names of each person in the household and their relationship to the head of the household is given, and they were asked what county in New York State the person had been born, or which other state or country they had been born. Another helpful fact provided was that they were asked how many years they were resident in this specific town. The 1865 gives information on the men who served in the military. 1875 continues with the very detailed questions, but unfortunately, no census was taken in 1885. The next census taken was for 1892.

The 1892 census is not quite as good, because it just shows a list of names of people and does not show each the household, but it will give you the name of each person, their age and country of birth.

Then 1905, 1915, and 1925 census were taken and the families are again grouped as a household.

Here is an excellent website provided by Joe Biene that will describe in further detail New York State census information:
New York State Census Records 1825-1925

The New York State Library has a very useful webpage:
New York State Census Records

Family Tree Basics

Let's say you are interested in beginning your family tree but you are unsure where to start. You know something about the family, maybe have some old photographs, an old newspaper clipping about your grandparents' marriage, but where do you turn? There are a number of basic steps that you can take.

1. Gather everything you can about your family. Old papers, letters, photographs and documents. Check with relatives to see if they have anything to share. You can always photocopy papers and photographs and return them later. Having copies ensures the survival of those old records. You might ask if there is a family bible. Maybe an old family bible will contain the dates of birth, marriage and death for several generations of family members. Review all this information, trying to find the vital information about where and when each member of the family was born, married or died, as well as information regarding their occupations, whether there are any surviving photographs of them, and basically any clues that could help you move further back in time.

2. Discuss what you are doing with your family members. If you are lucky, some older family members are still alive that can provide information about their early lives, where they lived as children, who their siblings were named and what became of them. Ask them about where the family was from, what their parents' names were (including middle names if possible), and anything that can fill in the gaps you have about the family. And don't forget to ask if anyone in the family is tracing the family tree! We are everywhere and if you have a cousin or uncle who has already done a lot of the legwork for you, then you are in luck. Just make sure you check their information for accuracy.

3. Organize the information you now have. You can learn more about downloading various family tree charts and family group sheets in another article at GenTips. Basically they allow you to see the information about each individual or family group and what needs to be found. Maybe you have the date of your great-grandfather's death, but you notice that you haven't got anything about when or where he was born, or you don't have the date of your grandparents' marriage. These forms are a handy way to see where you are in your research and where you want to proceed. As well, having the vital information in one place will lessen the amount of loose paperwork you will have to tote around. One thing about this hobby is that it can generate a lot of paperwork.

4. One thing you might want to do if you are just starting out in genealogy is to concentrate on pursuing one family line at a time. Of course when we begin tracing our family tree we can begin trying to trace the ancestry of both of our parents and all four of our grandparents. The problem is that if you try to trace them all at the same time, it can get very confusing, especially for someone new to family history research. What you should do is work one line at a time. Maybe find information about your father's family, and then his father. Then move back to his father, and so on. As you gather more and more information and become more familiar with the various types and locations of information available to you, you can branch out into other lines.

5. Now it's time to start checking around the Internet. The amount of information you will need to wade through is incredible so take your time and check and re-check the information you turn up. Make sure you cite your sources. You need to know where the information came from and others will want to confirm your information as well. There are numerous message boards and databases that you can check from your own home. Ask questions and read up on this fascinating hobby.

6. Look for your ancestors' birth, marriage and death records. These records are usually kept at the state and county level, making searching for these vital records both easier and in some cases, extremely difficult. Recording of this information may not have been required at the time of the event. Your great-grandfather might have been born a year or two before births started to be recorded in the state he was born, so you might need to look for alternate birth information like a baptism record.

7. Review census records for the place your ancestor lived ~ and write down everything. See if there are indexes and read those too. Check for cemetery transcriptions for where they were buried and always look for others buried nearby with the same last name. You will be surprised when something you wrote on a scrap of paper turns out to be an important clue. Look for land deeds and records, wills, immigration and naturalization records, newspaper obituaries and articles. And check the Internet again. More and more records come online daily.

8. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Now go back and try to find more on your mother's side. But by this time you will probably be just as addicted to researching your family tree as the rest of us and won't need to be told to continue with your search.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Essential Genealogy Books For Family Historians

For every family history buff, a well-stocked bookshelf is vitally important to help your research. Most of the following genealogy books can be found at your local library, but having them on hand can benefit you when you feel you need help locating a type of record or figuring out where to look next.

Ancestral Trails The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, Volume ll by Mark Herber.

Likely the definative book for those doing English research, Herber's book has been a part of my own personal collection since it first appeared. The book is the sequel to Herber's previous edition and is described as "bigger and better with the new and expanded edition" and it is also available in paperback (as shown to the left). The book includes advice and guidance for those researching the often overwhelming British archives, and digging into various records such as personal recollections, photographs and other memorabilia to civil, legal and religious records, newspapers and directories.

The book helps the beginner genealogist as well as being invaluable to the more advanced researcher.

The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th edition, by George B. Everton.

Exactly as described, Everton's Handybook is a primary resource for anyone doing research in the United States.

The book is broken down state by state, with numerous helpful maps outlining state and county boundary changes through the years, as well as useful information about everthing from the availablity of census records, to local libraries and genealogical sources. One of the first places any beginner should look as well as seasoned family historians.

The Source - A Guidebook to American Genealogy Published by Edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking's excellent guide to both online and offline sources of genealogical records.

Each chapter covers one area of research such as census records, church records, court records, city and other directories, immigration records, land records, military records, newspapers, and vital records. Special guides include: African American research, colonial English, colonial Spanish (for Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas), Hispanic, Jewish American and Native American.

Obviously these three books only scratch the surface of what is available to genealogists and you should keep an eye out for other family history books that can help you trace your ancestry.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ontario Census Records Online: 1901-1911 And More

If you are tracing your family in the province of Ontario, Canada, you should check a website called Automated Genealogy which has several searchable databases of Ontario census records from 1901 to 1911. The website shows that they are also in the midst of transcribing the 1851 census for Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and reportedly two-thirds completed.

Both the 1901 and 1911 censuses are complete, although the 1901 transcriptions are still being proof-read, but are fully searchable. As an added bonus, the 1906 census of the three prairie provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are available.

The 1901 Census database contains over 5.6 million lines transcribed for the following Canadian provinces:

British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, The Territories (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and unorganized territories).

The 1906 Census database contains over 800,000 lines transcribed for the following Canadian provinces:

Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

The 1911 Census database contains over 7.5 million lines transcribed for the following Canadian provinces:

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory.

The 1851 Census (actually not taken until early 1852), was for the then provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, although the Nova Scotia census was a head-of-household only census and indexing has not yet begun. At the time, the province of Ontario was called Canada West, and the province of Quebec was known as Canada East. The total population of these two provinces at that time was about 1.8 million, with approximately 952,000 living in Canada West (Ontario) and 890,000 living in Canada East (Quebec).

Here is the link to the 1851 Census of New Brunswick.

As a side note, there is a lively forum for this website with over 43,000 registered users. It is free to join and you can ask inquire for assistance where needed or read helpful information others have posted.

Another feature visitors to the website should be aware of that can prove helpful is the ability to connect records to individuals. If you locate the family or individual you are searching for in the census records, there is a handy link to other census records on the site for that family or individual. What the folks behind the website would like to do if this linking project becomes fully realized, is to be able to find all the details of an individual, their birth, marriage, death, census records, photographs, newspaper articles and other online data. By linking your information, you may be able to assist others also searching your family tree and hopefully they will be able to return the favor.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1857 BIBLE Wrights, Barkers, Hodgkins ~ Families Record from 1776 to 1889

This particular family bible was published by Robert Sears of New York in 1857 and contains over 1,000 illustrations. But of more importance to genealogists are the five pages of births, marriages and deaths recorded dating back to 1776 and ending in 1889.

The first name appears to be Hezekiah Hodgkins, born July 9th, 1776, who married Hannah Barker July 12th, 1801. Familysearch shows that Hodgkins was the son of Thomas Hodgkins, and he died 5 Jan 1837 (also noted in the family bible).

There are several notes shown in the pictures mentioning the parents (and grandparents!) of Hezekiah and Hannah, and their childrens' births, marriages and deaths as well as spouses and grandchildren. A lot of information for someone trying to track down this family.

If you want to look at this family bible in more detail, the eBay Item Number is 300380107983.

On Sale At eBay ~ 1899 Family Bible ~ Marsh, Sarjant, Walsh, Bretsch

Another old family bible for sale at eBay. This bible was published in 1899 by Butler Bros., and according to the seller has genealogy information as shown to the right of the Marsh, Sarjant, Walsh and Bretsch families covering two pages.

Taking a quick look on for the first few names, shows that the "Benjamin B. Marsh" and "Mary Martha Sarjant" are noted as follows:

Benjamin Blue Marsh, born: 03 FEB 1831 Schuylers, Herkimer, New York died: 05 JUN 1912, with his parents named as Jonah Marsh and Mary Polly Simmons. It shows Mr Marsh married Mary Martha Sargent on 31 JAN 1855 of Orleans, Jefferson, New York - note the marriage shows as 1865 in the family bible. She is noted as born 26 AUG 1839 Orleans, Jefferson, New York and died 10 NOV 1908, and her parents as Simeon William Sargent and Elizabeth. The bible shows the same birth information for both.

The 1880 census shows:

Orleans, Jefferson, New York
B.B. Marsh, married, self, 49, born NY, Farmer, Father born CT, Mother born NY
Mary Marsh, married, wife, 40, born NY, keeping house, Father born England, Mother born NY
William Marsh, single, 19, born NY, Farmer, both parents born NY
Kate Marsh, single, 7, born NY, At School, both parents born NY

If you would like a closer look at this bible, the eBay Item Number is 300380110638. As always, I am not associated with any sellers of bibles on eBay or elsewhere and just provide this information to help others locate their family bibles.

How To Contact GenTips

To reach GenTips by email:

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Also of course, there is the option of leaving comments on whichever post had raised the question. Any comments, suggestions or queries are, of course, most welcome. Spam will not be accepted or forwarded, and any email address received by GenTips will not be kept for re-sale, or collection. No spam will be sent by GenTips, EVER. The only time an email will be received from GenTips will be in reply to an email.

If in the future, a decision is made to provide readers of this genealogy blog with any sort of an email newsletter, that newsletter would be entirely voluntary on the part of anyone choosing to receive such an email, along with a simple, easy choice for an immediate opt-out option. Presently, there are no plans for any such newsletter.

That said, please feel free to ask any genealogical questions or make any suggestions for improvement of the site. The whole point of this family history blog is to try to provide information that genealogists will find helpful.

Two Videos: 5 Simple First Steps to Researching Your Family Tree

This family history researcher gives a simple guide explaining how to begin tracing your family tree. She begins with an explaination of what a pedigree sheet is and how they are used in genealogy.

If you are interested in finding out where you can download pedigree sheets, family group charts, research aids, or census forms, you can find that in the following article Where Can I Download Genealogy Forms And Charts?.

Here are the steps as outlined in the video:
  1. Write Everything Down! Include maiden names and all dates and places that you have
  2. Interview Older Family Members! They won't always be there to answer your questions. Discuss your family with them and videotape them as well.
  3. Put The Info About Each Couple On A Family Group Sheet. By using Family Group Sheets, you will be able to keep better track of what needs to found, as well citing your sources.
  4. Concentrate on locating Birth, Marriage and Death Records. When starting your family tree, you should attempt to gather the vital information for immediate family - parents, and grandparents.
  5. Search Google and Other Search Engines. By simply searching on Google you can find out if others have already completed a lot of the work.

This is the second part of the video. She continues by suggesting you focus on one particular surname to research. By concentrating on a single line you can ensure that you can keep your information about that one family up-to-date and on track. She also gives a number of genealogy websites such as Familysearch which I also recommend. And of course, there's also Cyndi's List.

Finally, there's the wise advise to Cite Your Source! Too many times information is put online with little or no information as to where your family tree data was located or where others who will need to review those same records will be able to look.

Searchable Database For Manitoba Birth, Marriage and Death Records

For those with ancestors who lived in the Province of Manitoba, Canada, you can search for vitals statistics at Manitoba BMD. This website allows visitors unrestricted access to births, marriages and deaths registered in Manitoba for the following:

Births more than 100 years ago
Marriages more than 80 years ago
Deaths more than 70 years ago

One thing any family history researcher needs to realize is that the information requested on Manitoba BMD records changed over the years, with earlier records requiring less information. Some of the earliest birth records may not contain the father's name! If you want all of the information included on the record (and trust me, you do) you will need to get a certified copy of the record. Currently the cost of a certified copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate is $12.00CDN. If they have to do the actual search for you it will cost $25.00CDN. But, if you do a simple search on the website linked above, it will cost you half.

Here's an example of a search on the site. Let's say you are looking for the death certificate of your great-grandfather, John Smith, who was a farmer who died around 1896. You would open up the webpage and scroll down to the search area and input "Smith" in the box labeled Last Name. In the box labeled Given Name, you would put in "John". You could enter a location, but unless you know for sure where your great-grandfather died, just leave it blank. You could also leave the Date (Year) blank or put in 1896, but if you have the wrong year, you will have to either keep changing the year, or open the "Match Year" menu and select "or Earlier" or "or Later". I usually change the option "Please select the number of records per page" to 100 from the default that is set at 10. Anyone researching a name like John Smith knows that there will be a ton of results. So I then click "Search".

The results show one result:
DATE OF DEATH: 22/05/1896
AGE: 16


Most likely this is not your John Smith because it shows that this John Overet Smith died at age 16, so you would either remove the 1896 date and go through each of the results or use 1895 or 1897.

This could be also be used for birth and marriage records as well.

If you do find the record that you want, there is an option to "add it to your shopping cart". You can print an order form from the site and complete the form to be mailed or faxed to the Dept responsible for Vital Statistics. If your request is faxed, you will need to include credit card information as well as an authorizing signature.

Searching For Obituaries Of The United States And Canada

One of the sources of genealogical information that most family history buffs should consider when researching your ancestors is notifications of their passings that have been published in newspapers and magazines. In many cases, I've seen that information not found elsewhere can be discovered that will assist genealogists with their efforts to track down the families.

Many newspaper obituaries have been microfilmed and in many cases, indexed, which helps make searching these invaluable records that much easier. Not all funeral notices have been indexed, but this is usually one of many ongoing projects of local genealogical societies in their efforts to make records more open and accessable.

Information contained in a simple newspaper obit might be something simple such as "Mrs. Smith died last saturday" or could include much, much more detail about the deceased and their position in the area.

Examples such as this would be considered a goldmine for most researchers and even if you believe you are aware of all the details surrounding the death of one of the individuals you are searching for, always be sure to look for an obituary in the local newspaper where they lived and you might want to check to see if an obituary appeared in the newspaper where the person had lived as a child or where their family had originally resided. There are many examples of notices of the passing of those who lived in an area for some time but had recently moved.

There are many websites that offer searchable databases of obituaries from both the US and Canada, as well as for countries around the world. One obvious choice is, which has links to hundreds of newspapers throughout the United States and Canada, but primarily these obituaries are more recent, usually within the past two or three weeks at the most, which will not help if you need to look farther back in time.

Another choice for those looking for obituaries up to about ten years ago might be to search whether the local funeral home or the cemetery where they were buried has set up a website. The cemetery website could also provide information about any cemetery transcriptions available either on the site or being kept by the local genealogical society. An option you could look into is to contact the local library, or genealogical society as they would likely have access to old newspapers on microfilm or indexes that they could consult. Using the inter-library loan program is another choice that may be available, either through your own local library or Family History Center. Searching for published indexes either online or in book form may be a solution as well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Guide To The US State Archives

One of the most important resources that a family historian can access in the United States is the State Archives. Below are links to each state's archives, as well as the National Archives. The individual archives are the repositories for most, if not all of the millions of records generated by the mucicipal, county and state governments, as well as those relating to the history of the state.

Records and collections will usually include birth, marriage, death and probate records, as well as county and local histories, states census records, diaries, letters, directories, tax rolls, county deeds, maps, military records and pension files, estate papers, mortgages, assessment books, land grants, voter registration rolls, photographs and sometimes rather unusual materials. One of the most popular collections held by many local archives include newspapers (usually on microfilm), as well as indexes to births, marriages and deaths that were reported in those publications.

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Many of the individual state archives are also members of the inter-library loan program, which allows certain materials such as microfilm or books to be lent out for short periods, but of course, many older original items are in such fragile condition, that they either must be consulted onsite or on microfilm. If you have the opportunity to visit your local archive in person, you should find many of the records that relate to your research if your ancestors spent time in the state.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Neal/Neel And Moddy Family Bible Starts In 1810

This family bible was published in 1830 by McCarty & Davis of Philadelphia, PA and is listed as "having a lot of condition issues." There are tears and stains throughout the book, but is stated that it could be considered as priceless to a family researcher attempting to complete their family tree as it contains information going back to 1810. The bible came from an estate sale in West Texas, and contains information about marriages, births and deaths of the Neal or "Neel" family, as well the surname Moddy. The bible has four pages of such family information, and it states that this is "Sarah F. Neel's bible" and that she and David L. Neel were married on January 8th, 1839. The final entry is the record of the death of their only son, John Dupree Neel, "who was killed at the Battle of Chicamauga on the 20th day of September A.D. 1863."

There is an entry for the 1860 Census in Upshur, Texas showing a D.L. Neel, age 47 (born c1813 in Virginia), Sarah Neel, age 50 (born c1810 -- the first entry in the family bible??) as well as a 17-year-old named John Neel. Obviously, more research would be needed to see if this family was the same as the previous owners of the family bible.

The 1880 Census shows this family still in Upshur:
D.L. Neel, age 67, born Va
S.F. Neel, age 70, born WV - born in West Virginia
Their daughter was living with them:
S. J. Faulkner, Dau, age 39 and having been born in Mississippi and widowed
3 Faulkner grandchildren and several laborers also lived with the family.

If you want to take a look at this family bible, the Item Number is 390128156428.

Burgess Family Of Central NY ~ Family Bible On eBay

This family bible was published in the early to mid-1800s, and contains the birth, marriages and deaths of the State. The earliest date is given as 1840, but the seller mentions that there are many dates given as you can see from the picture to the right. Also, the seller says that there is a "Ulysses Grant Weatherly" mentioned and he wonders if this man was named after the famous Civil War general and US President, Ulysses S. Grant. The bible is reported to be in good condition with normal wear over the years.

I believe I found the Ulysses Grant Weatherly (1865-1940) mentioned (with a quick search on Google) along with a photograph and it looks like he was "professor emeritus of economics and sociology at Indiana University". Apparently he married an Alice May Burgess, of Cortland, New York, so her family is likely to have been the Burgess family mentioned in the family bible.

The eBay Item Number so you can locate this family bible is 250551105560.

Antique 1856 Family Bible ~ Robinson-Taylor Families of Delaware & Penn.

This old family bible was published in 1856 and contains many beautiful engravings. The seller obtained the bible from an estate sale in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, and contains family history of both the Robinson and Taylor familes. The Birth sheet records the earliest entry, the birth of William Franklin Robinson, son of Edward P and Hannah Ann Robinson on the 29th day of May, 1834. There are many more births recorded and also deaths. This would be a wonderful heirloom for either family.

According to the seller, an friend who studies family genealogy has provided the following about the family in this Bible:

Edward Robinson born 1809 of Wilmington, Delaware.
Hannah Robinson born 1810 of Wilmington, Delaware.

The eBay Item Number for this family bible is 290349724627.

1857 Bourne-Staples Family Bible

This family bible was published in 1857 by Jesper Harding & Son, Philadelphia and has lots of ornate illustrations. Previous owners recorded their genealogy on those pages. This Bible contains marriage and birth information for the family of James Bourne of New Bedford.
The marriage shows James' wife as Isabella Staples. There is record of the marriage of Henry and Anne, Edward and Annie. There also is birth dates for James, Isabella, Edward, Henry, Richard and Margaret. There are dates of death for Richard, James and Edward. The eBay Item Number is 400087793523

Family Bible ~ Shoemaker-Kilpatrick Family From Ohio

This Family Bible is from the 1890s and comes complete with records of the Shoemaker and Kilpatrick families of Ohio.

The real value is to the the family historian as it contains entires for the names Shoemaker, Kilpatrick and Grants and has information dating back to 1819. There are also a few newspaper clippings.

These families were from Ohio towns such as Peebles (Kilpatrick), and Locust Grove (Shoemaker). The bible has a birth certificate from 1924 for a John Grant Kilpatrick and baptism certificates from 1927 for Anna Pearl Shoemaker and Mary Margaret Kilpatrick. The Shoemaker family apparently ran a Funeral Home in Columbus, Ohio for a number of years.

The eBay Item Number is 350294750099.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

1835 Land Claims In The State Of Florida

For those interested in family tree research in Florida, one book you may be interested in purchasing is Spanish Claims to Land in Florida: 1835. In 1835, Florida wanted to establish land title to approximately 1,108,390 acres of land in the state and most of the claims were made for land in the eastern part of Florida.
Claims were files by private parties as well as Seminole and Creek Indians.

This book contains:

  1. The complete transcript for this act

  2. The name of claimant, quantity of land, date submitted, and name of grantor

  3. Affidavits

  4. Testimony regarding the claims

An example:

Documents in the case of Burgos Higginbottom, referred to be the witness, Antonio Alvarez, in the foregoing testimony.

"Don George Clarke, lieutenant of militia of St. Augustine of Florida, and surveyor general appointed by the government of the same city and province:

I certify that I have measured and bounded five hundred acres of land to Donna Isabella Higginbottom, upon the St. Mary's river, at a place named Higginbottom's Bluff, in part of seven hundred acres that were granted to her deceased husband, Burras Higginbottom, upon the said river, on the 24th of September, 1803, with the name of Reading Blunt; but this resulted to be claimed by another person, in consequence of which he took possession of these five hundred acres, which he has cultivated ever since, and the remaining two hundred, at a place named Sondag's Bluff; which five hundred acres are represented in the following plat (see plate I., fig. 1), and its original, which I preserve in the books of surveys in my charge.

Fernandina, January 10, 1816. George J.F. Clarke"

Surnames Listed in This Publication

If the surname has more than five DIFFERENT first names listed, the surname is marked with a "*". Those surnames with more than ten DIFFERENT first names are marked with "**".

























Land records can be a vital resource to your genealogy research and can provide details not found elsewhere. If it appears that your ancestor has owned (or rented) land in the past, always check to see what land records, deeds or contracts were drawn up to complete land transactions. They may point you in the direction of wills and other important records that can assist you as you make your way up your family tree. These Florida Land Claims are just a small portion of the voluminous land records at your disposal.

Hollenbeck Family Bible ~ Handwritten Genealogy

This family bible, originally published in 1897 by the F.A. Hutchinson & Co - Valley Publishing Co., was once owned by the Hollenbeck family and is available on the eBay auction site.

Family history information included in the bible is for the family of Luther Hollenbeck and Estella M. Curtis who married November 13, 1873 at Waverly, Iowa.

Births listed as:
Henry Hollenbeck, Mar 26, 1814
Eva Zimmer, B) Oct 13, 1818

Other Births:
Catherine Hollenbeck
Catherine Hollenbeck
Minor J Hollenbeck
Sylvester Hollenbeck
John Hollenbeck
Elijah Hollenbeck
Mary E Hollenbeck
Angaline Hollenbek
Millard Hollenbeck

W.H., Ed W., Lillie May, Flora Ellen, Clyde, Carl Henry (These names appear to also be all Hollenbecks)

Seventeen deaths are written, as well as other names:
Powell (son of Angee ?)

The eBay Item Number is 310074754980. For further information about this family bible, you will need to contact the seller.

Morgan And Wagner Family Bible of Waterloo NY

This family bible was originally published in 1824, and has four engraved plates, as well as family information for the family of a Charlotte Morgan, containing dates from 1824 until 1888. The genealogy section is filled out with genealogy information about both the Morgan and later, the Wagner families of Waterloo, New York.

The eBay Item Number is 370308803680.

Old Family Bible On eBay ~ Allen Taylor Negro Slave Genealogy

The family bible published in 1837 once belonged to Evelyn Allen Wood of Buchanan, Virginia and appears to include an important genealogy of the former slaves of Judge Allen and the Allen family at Beaver Dam, Virginia. Evelyn's father was Judge J. J. Allen, was the former president of the Virginia State Court of Appeals, and one of the chief advisers to the state government during the American Civil War.

Bound in between the old and new testaments are 8 blue ruled pages, (4 sheets, 2 sides each sheet), containing the "Names and ages of servants (slaves)"! The first date of a birth is for a Malinda in 1792, with the last date of birth being for a Moses in 1865. Also in 1865 shows an entry for a Bob, with a note that he was "the runaway son of Penn". The 6th and 7th pages contain entries for Deaths, starting in 1853 and ending in 1871. These pages form the genealogy for this family of slaves.

The family bible is being auctioned on eBay and the eBay item number is 370306749084.

Climbing George Bush's Family Tree

According to this video, former President George W. Bush is a distant cousin of Barack Obama as well as Marilyn Monroe, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt among others. One wonders if Bush would also be a relation of Warren Buffet who was recently discovered to be a distant cousin of Obama - see Obama And Buffett Cousins.

Discovering your own connection to a famous person living today or one who lived in the distant past is one of the perks of family history. I've discovered that I have a connection to the infamous Benedict Arnold, but only through marriage, not as a blood relation. Most people find their genealogy does not include the famous (or infamous), but by tracing your own family tree you can sometimes discover some surprising results. With the number of descendants living in the United States of the earliest ancestors who came to this country, it is actually somewhat likely that with enough research you will find a connection to many who have been, or are currently in the spotlight.

Old Clanton Family Bible Found ~ Contains Deeds, Obituaries, Pictures

One area you may be unaware of is the family bible. When a couple married, usually one of the gifts would be a family bible and many important records and family history would be stored in the book for safekeeping. The video above shows the Clanton family bible that was sent to Terry Ike Clanton who does a weekly Internet TV Western show called "The Haunted Saloon". Mr Clanton's cousin sent him an old family bible that was found among his mother's estate that is packed with family history and genealogy items such as newspaper clippings, land deeds and pictures.

Many very old family bibles have survived both in the hands of descendants and elsewhere, and some occasionally will come up for auction on websites like eBay. When those are spotted on auction sites, GenTips will provide a link to those family bibles that are for sale.

The reason that family bibles can have such a direct bearing on your family research is that many important events such as births, christenings, marriages, deaths and burial information was usually handwritten inside the bible and may contain important items such as newspaper clippings such as the 50th wedding anniversary announcement as shown in the video. The accuracy is usually pretty good, because the information would have been added at the time of the event, but if the information is, for example, births or marriages that took place prior to the actual publication of the bible, then it is considered as second or third-hand. It could still be accurate, but not if written down as the event occurred.

If no one in your family has any idea if there was an old family bible or whether it has survived, don't give up all hope in locating this precious piece of family history. It could be in the hands of a distant cousin, and sometimes they have been deposited with libraries, historical and genealogical societies in the area where the family had previously made their home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Researching English Census Records Online

One of the best sites available for those who are tracing there family tree in England is 1901 Census of England and Wales Online which allows you to view original census images for almost 400 million census records from 1841-1901.

The reason the website deserves such high praise, is that it allows you to search all of the English census returns from 1841 to 1901. To actually see the digital image of the original census document you are interested in will cost you some money, but even if you don't want to spend money, you can still make great use of the information available.

If you do wish to view census images and transcriptions, you will need to purchase credits. You can buy 500 credits for only £5.00 (approximately $8.25US) and you will need to use up your credits as they are valid for 7 days. Searching the index is FREE. If you choose to view transcribed data, that costs 50 credits for an individual and then 50 credits for a list of all other people in that person's household. Viewing a digital image of the actual census page will cost 75 credits.
Users are expected to pay by credit card, but there is the option of using PayPal. If you already have a PayPal account, all you have to do is log in, but if you don't, you will need to set up an account if you want to use PayPal to purchase credits.

The information you should find on the census return should list the following:

The family's address: Road, street, town or village, number or name of house
Whether the house is inhabited or not
Name and surname of each person
Relation to Head of Family
Condition as to marriage
Age last birthday
Profession or occupation
Whether employed or not
Where born (usually listing parish of birth)
Whether deaf and dumb, blind, lunatic, imbecile or feeble-minded

One good aspect is that you can search EACH census either individually or all at once. At the top of the main page, click "Search Census" which allows you to fill in the search terms to narrow down the results, which is important if the name of the person you are looking for is somewhat common. Also, along the right hand side you can choose WHICH Census year you want to search. Personally, I usually allow more than the 10 results per page. You can change the number to up to 300 results per page.

Barack Obama And Warren Buffett Are Cousins?!

According to a team of genealogists who had researched Barack Obama's family tree, the US President might just be related to influential stock market investor Warren Buffett. The discovery was accidentally made because the same group who had researched Obama's ancestry had moved on to a new project, that of putting together the family tree of Buffett, known as "The Oracle of Omaha", who has made billions of dollars investing in the stock market.

According to an announcement from, both Obama and Buffett are descended from Mareen Duvall, who immigrated from France to Maryland in the 1650s. Duvall, it turns out, is the 9th-great-grandfather of Barack Obama as well as the 6th-great-grandfather of Warren Buffett. Technically that would make the men 7th cousins, 3 times removed.

The family tree shows that Barack Obama's maternal line connects to Duvall, through his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, while Buffett's father, Howard Buffett also shows descent from Duvall. Interestingly, Mareen Duvall came to America as many did in the early days of the colonies as an indentured servant. By 1659 Duvall had purchased land in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, eventually becoming a planter and a merchant, and being considered a "country gentleman."

Previously it had been found that Obama was also distantly related to actor Brad Pitt, with the two being confirmed as 9th cousins. Other interesting aspects of Obama's ancestry shows that his 6th-great-grandfather, Johann Conrad Wolfley, was from Besigheim, Wuerttemberg, Germany, and his 3rd-great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, landed at New York harbor in the year 1850 from his hometown of Moneygall, Ireland.

During the 2008 presidential election, the wife of then Vice President Dick Cheney stated that she had discovered that Cheney was a distant cousin of Obama, a fact she had uncovered while doing family history research on her husband's family tree.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid: Locating Cemetery Transcriptions

Let's say you have the name of your ancestor who was buried in Ontario, Canada and you are wondering if there are any cemetery transcriptions for the area.

Luckily, there is a great database that you can check to locate where your ancestor has been buried called the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid which currently has a searchable database of over 3 million names of people who were buried in cemeteries all across the Province of Ontario.

Using the results from your search, you will be able to determine where you can purchase cemetery transcriptions for the cemetery where your ancestor was interred as well as see if others with the same surname are located nearby.

First, you go to the search page of the Finding Aid, which will show the following search fields:

Surname, Given Name, Cemetery, County, and Township

If you do not have all of that information, you can still use the search engine and later narrow down the parameters. If you have just the name of the individual that you are looking for and the name is somewhat common, be prepared for a long list. Let's say you want to find a John Smith, buried somewhere in Ontario and input just the surname Smith and the given name John, you will get 1,608 matches for John Smith, with many of the results giving poor matches on the first pages. The example above shows the very first result as:

Name: SMITH, - (i/d/o John & Janet)
Cemetery: Rocky Saugeen
County: Grey
Township: Bentinck
Reference: BG-G-025

This result shows that this result is for an unnamed infant daughter of John and Janet Smith who was buried at Rocky Saugeen Cemetery, Bentinck Township, Grey County Ontario. The reference number will be discussed later in this article.

Obviously, this not the burial of a John Smith, so it is not a helpful record, unless of course, you know that your John Smith was from Bentinck Township in Grey County and even if that was the case, you don't know if the father of this child was the same person as the John Smith you are tracing. It could be someone completely unrelated to your family. That is one of the limitations of this particular search: a very common name could pull many results that you have no use for.

You might have realized one of the benefits of this search. Many of the records have extra information included in the search results that could help narrow down the person you are actually searching for. Results can include parents' names or the name of a spouse which can be very helpful.

Let's narrow our search for John Smith a bit in this example. Let's say you know that your John Smith was living in London, Ontario and you are pretty sure that he died in that city. London is located in Middlesex County, Ontario, so by adding that to our search and clicking search, we get a much better result.

"Matched 120 records out of 3,316,949 in the database" with only 4 pages to go through. Although the first 16 or so results are for names other than John Smith, you may want to note that the 3rd result says "SMITH, Ann (w/o John Smith)" meaning this Ann Smith was the wife of John Smith and shows she was buried at Pond Mills Cemetery, London. She may or may not be the spouse of the John Smith we are looking for, but because we don't know when she died, this could be the wife of another John Smith somehow related to our John Smith - or she may just have been the wife of an unrelated John Smith. It's always wise to keep an eye out for possible clues like this when doing your research.

If you check the 2nd page of our results you will find these two John Smiths:

Name: SMITH, John (-1944)
Cemetery: Pond Mills, London
County: Middlesex
Township: London
Reference: MX-LC-758

Name: SMITH, John (h/o Ann Smith)
Cemetery: Pond Mills, London
County: Middlesex
Township: London
Reference: MX-LC-758

Both were buried at Pond Mills Cemetery and the 2nd is probably the husband of the Ann Smith shown above, but we cannot assume that is the case without further information. If you know that the John Smith you are interested in died in the 1800s, then the first John Smith shown above would not be the one you are looking for, but as always, it is a good idea to take note of anyone in the same cemetery bearing the surname of the person you are searching for. It may be an important clue further on down the line in your research.

Finding Others With The Same Surname

One search you should do if you find a name you are searching for is to do a search of the SURNAME and the CEMETERY and the COUNTY. Let's say you want to take a peek at all the Smith burials at Pond Mills Cemetery. Your search would be as follows:

Surname: Smith
Given Name: (left blank)
Cemetery: Ponds Mills
County: Middlesex
Township: (left blank)

Searching with this pulls up 28 Smiths buried at Ponds Mills (including a 3rd possible John Smith, named John Roy Smith - Always thoroughly check your results when searching records!)

What Is The Significance Of The Reference Number?

Each name has a reference number displayed on the right side of the results page. That is what you need if you decide you simply must have more information about an individual. Let's say that you are convinced that the John Smith buried at Ponds Mills Cemetery is the one you are looking for and that you want to find out what his gravestone has inscribed.

Cemetery transcriptions have been done on just about all of the various cemeteries in Ontario - with many online, so be sure to check to see if the cemetery information is published on the Internet. Taking a look on Google shows a map to Ponds Mill Cemetery, so if you want to go there and check the cemetery in person you can, but what if you cannot travel to London, Ontario?

Another website, available through Rootsweb has an actual picture of the gravestone of John and Ann Smith at Ponds Mill Cemetery! Just scroll down to John Smith and the gravestone will pop up in another window. Note: the page mentions the following - (Photos will appear via Pop-Up Window using Javascript, if the photos don't appear check your browser settings). In this case, we were lucky as many cemeteries haven't been photographed. That is why you will need the reference number from the search results in order to get a copy of the transcriptions for the cemetery you are interested in.

The Reference Number for John Smith in Ponds Mill Cemetery is MX-LC-758, which you will need in order to find out where the cemetery transcriptions are held.

You will need to return to the search page for the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid (OCFA). Above the search area there is a sentence "For information on the Database Fields, see the OCFA Field Information page" and you will need to click the Field Information link and scroll down the resulting page to the heading: Reference. Click the link "Addresses", which will give a list of those organizations holding the transcriptions for cemeteries in Ontario. You will need to scroll down to find the organization holding the transcriptions for Ponds Mill Cemetery, in this case, the London-Middlesex Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Clicking on the link takes you to their webpage, and you will need to click again, this time on Branch Publications with the price and contact information for purchasing the Ponds Mill Cemetery transcriptions.

This example can be applied for any name listed in the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid database. If the cemetery is not already online, the transcriptions can be purchased through the local branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society using the Reference Number associated with the search result. Also, there are many kind individuals willing to do lookups for those unable to travel to Ontario.

The Guild Of One-Name Studies

One group that may be able to assist in your research may be those who are tracing their own ancestors with the same surname as yours. There are many people who are looking for all instances of a certain surname, especially if it is a somewhat rare or unique last name, or that occur in a geographical area. Myself, my interest is peaked if I find out that someone else is looking for my own last name, Bradshaw, in Scotland, specifically in Renfrewshire, as that is where my ancestors came from and the name is limited to pretty much my line in that area of Scotland. If you are tracing the Bradshaw surname in Renfrew, contact me - maybe we are related and can possibly compare research.

To assist family history buffs that have information to share with others or who who need some help with their genealogical research, should take a look at the Guild Of One-Name Studies. Personally, I am not a member and have no affiliation with the group, but they may be of some assistance if you find they have members tracing the same surname that you are pursuing.

The Guild states on it's website that they currently have over 2,300 members who are doing research on 7,850 different surnames. The last names that are currently being worked on are listed alphabetically, so if you discover that a member is looking into your surname, click on the name which will take you to the member's contact information. Likely there will be an email address so you can drop the member a line.

Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register

An important source for information on baptisms in Ontario is Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register, which is a searchable database for many of the residents of Ontario, Canada in the 19th century. The Register is a record of Ontario baptisms in the period 1825-1910, predominantly in the years 1840-1873.

In 1996, a dedicated family historian, Ida Reed, took 2 years and began transcribing over 100,000 baptismal records for Wesleyan Methodists of Ontario from four reels of microfilm that are housed at The United Church of Canada - Victoria University Archives. With the help of Bill Martin, she made these records available to researchers online.

The names are listed alphabetically, with approximately 55 entries per page, organized by the district and/or county that the baptism took place, the township, the parents' names when given, the child's name, the place of birth, the minister's name, the date of the baptism and in some cases, the date of the child's birth. Of course, not all parents had their child's baptism recorded and records have been misplaced or lost over the years, but this is a very good place to check. Many of my own ancestors are listed as children and parents as well as their aunts and uncles and associated families.

One point is to watch for misspellings of names and surnames, as is a good suggestion when researching any through records. I've seen common surnames such as Webster listed as "Wepster" and Smith listed as Smyth, Smythe, Smithe or even as Smit. That Smit surname could be Schmidt, or Smidt or Scmit. As literacy was not as common as it is today, many names could easily be missed, so a thorough study of the Register may be required.

Also, even though you own ancestors may not have been Methodists, it would be a good idea to check any way. Many areas of 19th century Ontario were poorly served by other religions and Methodism grew quickly among the pioneers in these somewhat isolated areas. Methodism is a Protestant denomination which started in 18th century England and was based on the teachings of evangelical Anglican priest John Wesley, and focused on a methodical approach to Bible study and Christian living.

Methodism eventually split into two different branches: followers of John Wesley, and Calvinistic Methodists. Wesleyan Methodists eventually spread throughout the British Empire, with followers located in Britain, Canada, and the United States as well as Australia, New Zealand, and India.

There was a merger of the British Wesleyans with the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada in 1833, resulting in the formation of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. In 1925, the Methodists, Congregationalists and many Presbyterians combined in The United Church of Canada.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Using US Census Records

When you are searching for your ancestors in US census records, the best method is to start with the most recent information available to you and continue working back in time, relying on clues you've found in the census to guide your research. That is one of the primary rules of family history work, you work from the known to the unknown.

You shouldn't skip any census information because you think you may know what you will find in the record. Many times you might discover an elderly relative, like a mother-in-law, or father or other relatives may have been living with the family in the year you skipped, thereby missing new names and new clues for your search. I've found several entries showing a cousin or grandchildren living with the families I have been researching and I wouldn't have found the connection if I had not looked up that family in that particular census year.

I found on one line I was tracing that both parents of a family of five had died and I found all five children parcelled out between the father and mother's siblings, and the children were usually listed as "boarders." Someone tracing the families of their aunts and uncles may not have realized the relationship of these "boarders", or their circumstances.

The problem is that census records are prone to a many errors. The enumerator does not say who he spoke with when he knocked on your ancestors’ doors. It could be that a neighbor or a family member who was unsure when supplying the names, ages or birthplaces of the family members. Consider yourself and imagine what answers your neighbors might provide a census enumerator about your present family. Even if the census taker received correct information, they might have written it down incorrectly. You should accept what you find in the census records with a grain of salt, but record the information just as you found it — copy it exactly as you found it, mistakes and all without trying to correct the record. And remember to cite your source.

Researching US Census Records From 1880 To 1930

The censuses from 1880 til 1930 provide an increasingly more detailed level of information about families than the previous census records. For example, the relationships between family members are are given. As mentioned earlier, a person in the household may be listed as a “boarder,” but keep an eye out for clues, because that “boarder” may actually be a relative. Always record EVERYONE in the household, and it is also a good idea to look at the families living on either side of your family. They may have some connection to your family. And it is always a good idea to check for families of the same name as your family nearby as families tended to live in near each other.

Also, be sure to take a look at the reported birthplaces of the the children as well as the parents — as they obviously can provide valuable clues not the just to where the father or mother were born, but where you may need to look when trying to locate their parents. The birthplace of the children will give you an idea where to look for the family in previous census years if the family has moved around.

The same can be said for the parents - if the father or mother was born in a different state, you would need to check the records of that state to find their family. If the mother or father was born outside of the USA, these later census records may give the year that he or she came to this country, or give the year they became naturalized citizens which could help find those records.

Researching US Census Records From 1850 To 1880

The census records for 1850, 1860 and 1870 list the names of everyone in the household and other valuable information, but their relationship to the head of the household is not stated. You will need to prove the family's relationships with other records.

Researching US Census Records From 1790 To 1840

Census records for 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 only provide the name of the head of the household, and columns for others in the household grouped together by their approximate ages and their sex.

Let's use an example from let's say the 1800 census. They may show a name like "Moses Thompson" age 45 and show that he had 7 others living in his home, but the record would not reveal their names. It may show that 1 male under 10 years of age, 2 males between 10-16 years of age, 1 female, 10-16, another female, 26-45, and one older female listed as "over age 45". What would you deduce from this information? I would look at it like this:

1800 Census entry
Moses Thompson, Head of the Household
male, 26-45 (most likely Moses)
female, 26-45 (presumably the wife of Moses)
male, 10-16
male, 10-16
female, 10-16
male, under 10
female, over 45 (may be mother or sister of Moses or his wife?)

From this, it appears that Moses was born between 1755-1774 as was the unnamed female who may or may not be Moses' wife. The 4 children seem to have been born about 1784-1790, with the youngest male between 1790-1800. The older woman who was born pre-1755 could be the mother or sister of Moses or his wife, but without more information about her, we cannot make that determination.

I would look for Moses and his family in the 1810 Census for more information. Let's say you're lucky and the family stays in the same area for a long time and you find this Thompson family in subsequent census returns.

1810 Census entry
Moses Thompson, Head of the Household
male, over 45 (most likely Moses)
female, over 45 (presumably the wife of Moses)
male, 26-45
female, 26-45
male, 10-26

This 1810 census record narrows down the dates of birth for most of the family. According to this, Moses was born before 1765 and combined with the 1800 Census information, we can figure that Moses and the over 45 female we think may be Moses' wife were born between 1755 and 1765. The two older children would have been born about Also, one of the older sons was not listed, which may indicate he may have moved away, married or possibly died. I would check nearby for any other Thompson families in the area. Let's say you do find one, with the Head of Household listed as Moses Thompson with the following information:

1810 Census entry
Moses Thompson, Head of the Household
male, 26-45 (possibly Moses junior)
female, 26-45 (presumably the wife of Moses junior)
male, under 10
female, under 10

Although you cannot state that this is definitely the family of the elder Moses that we are tracing, it definitely looks like this may be the oldest son who may have married and started his own family. He could be a nephew or he may not be related at all, so more research would need to be done before concluding this is the son of our Moses, but I would suggest hanging on to this Thompson family's information for future study. But let's go back to Moses Thompson senior.

If you look at the example, you will see that the female over 45 shown in the 1800 census was missing from the 1810 return. This could indicate several things: she may have died, or married or simply moved elsewhere. Like the Moses junior problem, more work would need to done to find out her identity and what happened to her.

1820 Census entry
Moses Thompson, Head of the Household
male, over 45 (most likely Moses)
female, over 45 (presumably the wife of Moses)
female, 26-45
male, 26-45

This 1820 Census return doesn't really help us, but it does show another son missing, so I would look for him as well as the suspected Moses junior nearby. The two young adults are most likely the children of Moses and his wife. We cannot narrow Moses' (or his possible wife's) age, and the two children can now be deduced as having been born about 1784-1794.

1830 Census entry
Mary Thompson, Head of the Household
female, 70-80
female, 40-50 (presumably the daughter of Mary)

In this last example, it looks like Moses senior may have died, leaving his widow Mary (is this Moses' wife's name?) and the one unnamed daughter. The problem is that we don't know if this Mary Thompson is actually the widow of Moses so we would need more proof, maybe by finding a will by Moses Thompson mentioning his wife, Mary, and hopefully also mentioning his children's names.

Also, looking for death information could help, such as a newspaper obituary or death notice. You could try to track down the children's marriage or death records which may say that their mother was indeed named Mary (and providing a clue to HER maiden name). There are many, many avenues you would need to check before you have conclusive proof about just who the family of this Moses Thompson actually were.

The Origin Of Surnames

Surnames originated in several ways. Some are derived from the Christian or proper name of the father, from the places they lived, from offices and professions, from personal peculiarities, from the performance of certain actions, and from accidental circumstances of every varied character.

Soon after Christianity took hold in Europe, people began taking names from the bible like John, James, Matthew, David, Peter, Mark, Aaron, Luke, Moses, and Malachi. As the families grew and the general population increased, the Johns, the Jameses, and the Peters became numerous. The need grew to differentiate between John who was the blacksmith and John who lived at the nearby woods and John, the father of the blacksmith. Other people would likely refer to John "the smith" or John "John's son", while the father might be called John the smith's father. The John residing near the woods, might be called John "of the woods". Or, if one might be referred to as "John the red" or "John the blond" if their hair color warranted. Names denoting complexion, color of hair and dress were somewhat common, such as Black, Blond, Brown, Gray, Grissel, Red, Rufus, Rous, Russel, Rothman, Ruddiman, Blacket or Blackhead, Whitelock, and Whitehead.

Surnames were generally derived from one of four sources:

  1. Patronymic (from the first name of father). Examples:

    • Johnson - son of John

    • Peterson - son of Peter (Swedish)

    • Petersen - son of Peter (Danish)

    • O'Brien - grandson of Brian (Ireland)

    • Mc- /Mac- - son of (Scottish)

    • d'- / di- - son of (Italian)

    • -ez / -es - son of (Spanish / Portuguese)

    • -wicz - son of (Poland)

    • Fitz- - son of (Old English - sometimes mistakenly associated with being an illegitimate)

  2. Lives near locality or place. Examples:

    • Mandeville - From Latin De Magna villa, of or from the great town.

    • Atwood - lived at the wood

    • Gates - Gate, in Scotland, means a road or way.

    • Ashley - field surrounded by ash trees

    • Ireland - someone who had previously lived in Ireland

    • Scott - someone who had previously lived in Scotland

  3. Occupation or social status. Examples:

    • Cooper - barrel maker

    • Baxter - baker

    • Webb or Webster - weaver, webster meaning a female weaver

    • Smith - blacksmith

    • Sumner - a summoner

    • Chamberlain - a steward

  4. Nicknames describing person or personality. Examples:

    • Reid - red, ruddy complexion or red hair

    • Hardy - of good health

    • Small - small stature

    • Armstrong - strong arms

    • Lowry - a crafty person, one who lowers contracts his brow; hence a 'lowry day'--cloudy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Video: Irish Family Name Spellings

Have you been wondering about the spelling of your name? This short video shows some of the surprising variants of common surnames from Ireland and how they become changed over the years. One example I read about several years ago was of the surname "Canada", which it turned out was just "Kennedy".

Ontario Land Registry Records

The records of the Ontario Land Registry Offices (LROs) document transactions relating to privately owned land and these offices are responsible for maintaining a complete set of land registry records. In cases where the LRO has transferred their original records to the Archives of Ontario, the LRO should have received copies of those records on microfilm.

When a resident of the Province of Ontario died, their land was usually sold, or the title was transferred to an heir or creditor. In order to make a land transfer official in 19th century Ontario, a person’s last will and testament may have been copied into a deed book at the local land registry office, or into a probate record at the probate court, or surrogate court. Copies of the will or probate papers were rarely filed in both the land registry office and with the court, but keep in mind that if you find probate papers in the land registry, you may find some additional related papers in court records.

The LROs are open to be searched, but there will be a fee involved. You may want to either go to the Archives of Ontario to search the microfilmed records at no charge, or have your local library request the microfilm through inter-library loan from the Archives of Ontario.

Also, if land records show the person’s estate was “proved” or probated before a court, you should look for his name in one of the following sources:

Court of Probate Probate Registers and Estate Files

Surrogate Court Records Index

The Archives holds the following Land Registry Office records:

  • Original Records

    • instruments and deeds up to 1867

    • books up to 1955 (many have been placed on term loan with local repositories)

    • some post-1867 instruments and deeds, where the copybooks are missing

  • Microfilm Copies

    • copybooks, abstract indexes, and alphabetical indexes, ca.1795-ca.1960, predominantly to ca.1880

The original records are closed for conservation reasons. The microfilm copies of the original records are available for research.

This is a list of the Ontario Land Registry Offices:

Land Registry Office No. 1
420 Queen Street East
Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A 1Z7
Tel: (705) 253-8887
Fax: (705) 253-9245

Land Registry Office No. 2
Court House
80 Wellington Street
Brantford ON N3T 2L9
Tel: (519) 752-8321
Fax: (519) 752-0273

Land Registry Office No. 3
203 Cayley Street PO Box 1690
Walkerton ON N0G 2V0
Tel: (519) 881-2259
Fax: (519) 881-2322

Land Registry Office No. 4
Court House
161 Elgin Street 4th Floor
Ottawa ON K2P 2K1
Tel: (613) 239-1230
Fax: (613) 239-1422

Land Registry Office No. 6
143-4th Avenue (Court House)
PO Box 580
Cochrane ON P0L 1C0
Tel: (705) 272-5791
Fax: (705) 272-2951

Land Registry Office No. 7
41 Broadway Avenue, Unit #7
Orangeville ON L9W 1J7
Tel: (519) 941-1481
Fax: (519) 941-6444

Land Registry Office No.8
8 - 5th Street West, PO Box 645
Morrisburg ON K0C 1X0
Tel: (613) 543-2583
Fax: (613) 543-4541

Land Registry Office No. 11
1010 Talbot Street, Unit 36
St. Thomas, ON N5P 4N2
Tel: (519) 631-3015
Fax: (519) 631-8182

Land Registry Office No. 12
949 McDougall St., Suite 100
Windsor ON N9A 1L9
Tel: (519) 971-9980
Fax: (519) 971-9937

Land Registry Office No. 13
1 Court Street Kingston ON K7L 2N4
Tel: (613) 548-6767
Fax: (613) 548-6766

Land Registry Office No. 14
63 Kenyon Street West
PO Box 668
Alexandria ON K0C 1A0
Tel: (613) 525-1315
Fax: (613) 525-0509

Land Registry Office No. 15
499 Centre Street
P.O. Box 1660
Prescott ON K0E 1T0
Tel: (613) 925-3177
Fax: (613) 925-0302

Land Registry Office No. 16
1555 - 16th Street East, Suites 1 and 2
Owen Sound ON N4K 5N3
Tel: (519) 376-1637
Fax: (519) 376 1639

Land Registry Office No. 18
10 Echo Street West
PO Box 310
Cayuga ON N0A 1E0
Tel: (905) 772-3531
Fax: (905) 772-0105

Land Registry Office No. 19
12 Newcastle Street
Box 270
Minden ON K0M 2K0
Tel: (705) 286-1391
Fax: (705) 286-4324

Land Registry Office No. 20
2800 Highpoint Drive, 2nd Floor
Milton ON L9T 6P4
Tel: (905) 864-3500
Fax: (905) 864-3549

Land Registry Office No. 21
199 Front Street, Suite 109 Century Place
Belleville ON K8N 5H5
Tel: (613) 968-4597
Fax: (613) 968-3606

Land Registry Office No. 22
38 North Street
Goderich ON N7A 2T4
Tel: (519) 524-9562
Fax: (519) 524-2482

Land Registry Office No. 23
220 Main Street South
Kenora ON P9N 1T2
Tel: (807) 468-2794
Fax: (807) 468-2796

Land Registry Office No. 24
40 William Street North
Chatham ON N7M 4L2
Tel: (519) 352-5520
Fax: (519) 352-3222

Land Registry Office No. 25
Court House
700 Christina Street North, Suite 102
Sarnia ON N7V 3C2
Tel: (519) 337-2393
Fax: (519) 337-8371

Land Registry Office No. 27
2 Industrial Drive
P.O. Box 1180
Almonte ON K0A 1A0
Tel: (613) 256-1577
Fax: (613) 256-0940

Land Registry Office No. 28
7 King St. West
Brockville ON K6V 3P7
Tel: (613) 345-5751
Fax: (613) 345-7390

Land Registry Office No. 29
7 Snow Road, Unit #2
Napanee ON K7R OA2
Tel: (613) 354-3751
Fax: (613) 354-1474

Niagara North & South
Land Registry Office No. 30 (North) and No. 59 (South)
59 Church Street
St. Catharines ON L2R 3C3
Tel: (905) 684-6351
Fax: (905) 684-5874

Land Registry Office No. 31
27 Phipps Street
P.O. Box 619
Gore Bay ON P0P 1H0
Tel: (705) 282-2442
Fax: (705) 282-2131

Land Registry Office No. 33
100 Dundas Street, Ground Floor,
London ON N6A 5B6
Tel: (519) 675-7600
Fax: (519) 675-7611

Land Registry Office No. 35
15 Dominion Street, Bracebridge ON P1L 2E7
Tel: (705) 645-4415
Fax: (705) 645-7826

Land Registry Office No. 36
Court House
360 Plouffe Street, North Bay ON P1B 9L5
Tel: (705) 474-2270
Fax: (705) 495-8511

Land Registry Office No. 37
Court House
50 Frederick Hobson VC Drive, Suite 201
Simcoe ON N3Y 4K8
Tel: (519) 426-2216
Fax: (519) 426-9627

Land Registry Office No. 39
1005 Elgin St. West, Suite 105 Cobourg ON K9A 5J4
Tel: (905) 372-3813
Fax: (905) 372-4758

Land Registry Office No. 40
590 Rossland Road East Whitby ON L1N 9G5
Tel: (905) 665-4007
Fax: (905) 665-5247

Land Registry Office No. 41
75 Graham Street Woodstock ON N4S 6J8
Tel: (519) 537-6287
Fax: (519) 537-3107

Parry Sound
Land Registry Office No. 42
28 Miller Street Parry Sound ON P2A 1T1
Tel: (705) 746-5816
Fax: (705) 746-6517

Land Registry Office No. 43
7765 Hurontario Street Brampton ON L6W 4S8
Tel: (905) 874-4008
Fax: (905) 874-4012

Land Registry Office No. 44
5 Huron Street Stratford ON N5A 5S4
Tel: (519) 271-3343
Fax: (519) 271-2550

Land Registry Office No. 45
300 Water Street, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 7000
Peterborough ON K9J 8M5
Tel: (705) 755-1342
Fax: (705) 755 1343

Land Registry Office No. 46
179 Main Street East Hawkesbury ON K6A 1A1
Tel: (613) 636-0314
Fax: (613) 636-0772

Prince Edward
Land Registry Office No. 47
1 Pitt Street
PO Box 1310
Picton ON K0K 2T0
Tel: (613) 476-3219
Fax: (613) 476-7908

Rainy River
Land Registry Office No. 48
353 Church Street Fort Frances ON P9A 1C9
Tel: (807) 274-5451
Fax: (807) 274-1704

Land Registry Office No. 49
400 Pembroke Street East Pembroke ON K8A 3K8
Tel: (613) 732-8331
Fax: (613) 732-0297

Land Registry Office No. 50
1122 Concession Street
PO Box 10
Russell ON K4R 1C8
Tel: (613) 445-2138
Fax: (613) 445-0614

Land Registry Office No. 51
Court House
114 Worsley Street Barrie ON L4M 1M1
Tel: (705) 725-7232
Fax: (705) 725-7246

Land Registry Office No. 52
127 Sydney Street Cornwall ON K6H 3H1
Tel: (613) 932-4522
Fax: (613) 932-4524

Land Registry Office No. 53
199 Larch, Street Suite 301 Sudbury ON P3E 5P9
Tel: (705) 564-4300
Fax: (705) 564-4148

Land Registry Office No.54
375 Main Street
PO Box 159
Haileybury ON P0J 1K0
Tel: (705) 672-3332
Fax: (705) 672-3906

Thunder Bay
Land Registry Office No. 55
189 Red River Road, Suite 201 Thunder Bay ON P7B 1A2
Tel: (807) 343-7436
Fax: (807) 343-7439

Land Registry Office No. 57
Provincial Court Building
440 Kent Street West Lindsay ON K9V 6G8
Tel: (705) 324-4912
Fax: (705) 324-6290

Land Registry Office No. 58
30 Duke Street West, 2nd Floor Kitchener ON N2H 3W5
Tel: (519) 571-6043
Fax: (519) 571-6067

Land Registry Office No. 61
1 Stone Road West Guelph ON N1G 4Y2
Tel: (519) 826-3372
Fax: (519) 826-3373

Land Registry Office No. 62
119 King Street West 4th Floor
Hamilton ON L8P 4Y7
Tel: (905) 521-7561
Fax: (905) 521-7505

York Region
Land Registry Office No. 65
50 Bloomington Road, 3rd Floor
Aurora, ON L4G 0L8
Tel: 905-713-7798
Fax: 905-713-7799

Land Registry Office No. 64 & 66
20 Dundas Street West, Suite 420
Toronto ON M5G 2C2
Tel: (416) 314-4430
Fax: (416)314-4453

For information about birth, marriage and death records available though the Archives of Ontario, check this article Civil Registration Records Held By The Archives Of Ontario.