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  1. #21
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    One other thing - when it comes to family history research, you are never done. Beware of getting involved if you're not prepared for a long-term project
    Can't skate but love to watch

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan1 View Post
    I was looking at their census records. I do know what year my dad was born in. They had it wrong by a year. And my mom's mom was born on July 4, 1900 - absolutely positively. They had it as 1901. (Her son was born on her 38th birthday!!) But they had her date of death right. Oh, and my dad's place of death was listed in a county in Ohio about 4 counties north of here. Uh, I was there. The hospital about five minutes from where I am sitting right this minute. How could they get that wrong? And that was just in 2008 - not way back in history when people were illiterate or couldn't read something. I have the death certificate and it is correct. p.s. - Impatient is my middle name :-) Which brings me to - "what's the point" if all this wrong information is not going to lead me anywhere. If they can't get stuff in 2008 right, or 1930, how in the world could I find anything earlier than that.
    As someone has already stated when looking at census records you need to accept that there are going to be discrepencies of 1 or so year each way around the true birth year due to when the census was taken in the year, when a persons birthdate was and how the question of age was asked. The fact that the 2 birth dates you have noted were one year out is pretty good IMHO. Trust me the further back you go the more leyway you have to give to birth years to find your ancestors on census records. Many women may have lied because they were under age when they got married and as no proof of age was required then it was easier to lie back then. And some people didn't know how old they were - if it was a large working class family birthdays may not have been celebrated. One of my ancestors has ages that really don't tally when going from one census to the next - i.e. she was 24 on one, 37 on the next one and 45 on the following - but we know it is her as the family lived at the same house and the rest if the family tally.

    You sound angry that what you know as solid data is incorrect but on truth all that really sounds off to me is the place of death for your father and if it really irks you then contact them with the correct data. Rememeber much of the data is input by people like you and me so slight descrepencies are always going to happen - and I believe they state that and are always looking for confirmation/correction if it can be documented.

    Patience and yet more patience is required when you start on this path as you are going to come across many incidents when data seems incorrect and can push you in several different directions. It can be frustrating but also fun.
    Last edited by Lorac; 03-15-2012 at 10:15 AM. Reason: typos

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan1 View Post
    Or, I know my grandfather's name, which has listings all over the country, how do I know which one it is if I don't know what city his name would have been in at the time. How in the world can I go further back if I don't know which one to follow? I guess I'm just dumb! (My mom's dad was one of 11 - he was born in Indiana, grew up in Alabama and moved to Miamisburg, Ohio when he got out of the service.) That is what I know already. I don't see a birth certificate for him. How do I find his parents, and their parents, and their parents......?
    Well, it'll help if you know when your grandpa got married, or the name of at least one of his siblings. Who the person lived with is a great help when you have multiple people you're looking at.

    For instance, if you know that one of your grandpa's sisters' name was Ethel, then there is a possibility that she could show up on a census in the same household as your grandpa. And once you positively ID the right person on a census, it'll probably be easy to find his parents, as they'd probably be listed as Head and Wife. Likewise, your grandma should show up in the same household at some point. In both cases, you have a city of residence to go off of.

    As for your mom's dad, since you mention him being in the service (I'm assuming WWI?), try looking to see if he had a WWI enlistment card. They give some good information, including a full birth date, birth place, occupation and address. They even list a "person of contact"... often a wife or parent.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by victorskid View Post
    One other thing - when it comes to family history research, you are never done. Beware of getting involved if you're not prepared for a long-term project
    VERY true! My plan was - a 3 month Ancestry subscription and I'd be done

    But it can be so rewarding, especially when your hard work solves a mystery or when you make contact with relatives from around the world. Through my research, this past summer I was able to meet a great-aunt I didn't know I have, in England. She is my grand-father's 91 year old sister. My grandfather came to Canada in 1924 and he never returned to England. He died when I was a baby, and there was very little contact with his family after his death. It was an incredible experience! In a very special way, I felt like I was connecting with my grandfather too! I was able to see where he lived as a child, the school he went too, where his mother is buried. Words cannot express what an amazing experience it was!

    Not to tell my story, but to share the rewards!

  5. #25
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    The thing that perplexes me is always the why of it all, particularly when it comes to movement.

    I care less about formal records and dates, but I would love to know why one of my mother's European uncles moved to colonial Africa when he was a teenager - all anyone alive today remembers is that he was some kind of black sheep, but that he remained part of the family, coming back to visit often.

    Another 19th century relative is listed as "moving to NY" when he was a young man, and no one knows why he left home, why he went there (or he might have been passing through on the way somewhere else), and what became of him. I discovered this while I myself was living in NY, and I often wondered if he had built a life there.

    One mystery I was able to solve was that of some sort of break in one branch of the family - literally I had them off on their own in Family TreeMaker, knowing they were relatives but not how to attach them. By piecing together a few vague ideas and anecdotes with the huge bonus of finding the history of a business once owned by my ancestors, I was able to sort out the generations and make a pretty good guess at why there were issues that seemed to last generations. Again, there's no way to know for sure as everyone involved is long dead, but as far as I'm concerned, mystery solved.

  6. #26
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    A couple of the lessons learned when I formally began researching my family history:
    • I should have started much earlier, especially by asking questions of those who were living
    • I should have paid more attention to the family "stories" and, did I mention, should have asked questions
    • as much as the official records can help, there will always be mysteries that cannot be resolved through those sources
    • never assume/presume and keep digging


    A case in point - my paternal grandparents came to Canada from England in 1913 (immediately following their marriage), originally settling in Ontario and then moving to Nova Scotia in 1923. I knew that my great-grandmother and great aunt also came to Canada, settling in Ontario, because my father talked about taking the train from NS to ON to visit them one summer. Eventually I found the passenger lists confirming all of the arrivals in Canada. I presumed that my paternal great-grandfather must have died before his wife & daughter left England and looked for his death in the English records in the preceding years. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he actually died several years after his wife & daughter left. There doesn't appear to have been a family break-up since his wife's sister was the informant on his death registration. There is no one living who knows anything about this situation and no official records that will answer the questions that arise.
    Can't skate but love to watch

  7. #27
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    That's interesting victorskid. I think it was quite common for families to split for economic reasons, and possibly political. If the wife and daughter left England in 1913 (if I'm following you correctly), it's possible they were sent away for safety reasons during the war, or that the father/husband had commitments related to the war, or taking care of another family member, or a family business, that caused him to stay behind. He might have intended to join his family after the war, but died before he could.

    It's usually a man that came first, to establish a home and earn money to bring the rest of the family over - that still happens quite commonly today among immigrants to Canada - so I'm also wondering if the wife and daughter tagged along with some male family or community members who travelled together, or were already there. Then the husband/father would have felt safe in sending them, and would follow later when he could.

    I have one really good personal memoir of an ancestor, and you really see how important these relationships could be. Neighbours that marry, in-laws that go into business together, cousins that go to live with relatives, community members who immigrate together. Understanding these relationships - and possibly following up on records of these "known associates" - can often solve a lot of mysteries.

  8. #28

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    Many of the websites have background information for each census. I was wondering about some ages listed in the 1841 English census until I found some documentation that said the ages of adults were rounded down to the nearest 5. So someone 29 would show as 25.

    Also it helps to know which census asked the right question. My grandfather's first wife's age didn't make sense in some of the census records. Finally I figured out that if they asked "how old are you" she couldn't do math so the answer varied. But in the Canadian 1901 census they asked "what was your birthdate" and bingo, she knew that spot on and it agreed with the birth record I had found in Scotland. So, when looking in Canada I try to find the 1901 record and work backwards and forward.

    I have also found it pays to look for all the siblings in the census records. When I found one of my great grandmother's brothers, he was living with an Uncle, and that was the link to finding about 3 more generations back.

    I love the research/dectective aspect of this hobby. It can be very satisfying when you find a piece of the puzzle. But very addictive!

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElizabethAnne View Post
    I have also found it pays to look for all the siblings in the census records. When I found one of my great grandmother's brothers, he was living with an Uncle, and that was the link to finding about 3 more generations back.
    This is a good point. I have found many family connections this very way. My maternal grandfather grew up during the Depression. His father died suddenly right as it was starting, leaving behind 5 children and a wife. My great-grandmother was forced to send her eldest 3 children to live with different relatives, and all 3 show up in different households in the 1930 census. And in 2 out of the 3, it filled in branches I had hit a brick wall in. In my case, it was lucky that they all lived in the same small town, so going through all the pages of the census wasn't a huge task. So it's worth it to comb through a good portion of the district's records, as families often lived near each other.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    That's interesting victorskid. I think it was quite common for families to split for economic reasons, and possibly political. If the wife and daughter left England in 1913 (if I'm following you correctly), it's possible they were sent away for safety reasons during the war, or that the father/husband had commitments related to the war, or taking care of another family member, or a family business, that caused him to stay behind. He might have intended to join his family after the war, but died before he could.
    Actually, my great-grandmother and great aunt came to Canada in 1919 (leaving the east end of London), just after the war was over. Despite the fact that my grandfather, grandmother (who had arrived in 1913) and father left Ontario in 1923 and moved to Nova Scotia, they remained in Ontario until my great-grandmother died, then my great aunt returned to England (in 1936).

    I actually met my great aunt once - on my first trip to England in 1967 - but knew none of these things at the time so asked no questions during our all-too-brief visit.

    One small clue that I've discovered - my grandfather came to Canada first on his own (as a single man) and worked for a few years in Ontario in the fruit growing/processing industry before returning to marry the "girl he left behind". When he arrived the first time it appears that his father came with him on the ship but was rejected on their arrival in Halifax. Having been rejected once, I presume he would not have tried to come again. But.... why did his wife and daughter come????
    Can't skate but love to watch

  11. #31
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    With regards to siblings, census records help a lot, but not just census records, but wills and obituaries, etc. Solved a huge family mystery by getting the will/letters adminstration of one brother which included letters from another brother. The obituary of yet another brother included details of the family migration from the Niagara region of Ontario to Trafalgar Township to Essex County - again helping piece together another mystery.

    Church archives can be very helpful as well. The United Church of Canada archives in Toronto include records from many of the churches that amalgamated to become the United Church, such as the Weslyan Methodists. There are journals written by some of the old circuit preachers which include details of what life was like in some of the earliest communities. There are old tithe records, church meeting minutes, as well as a few birth/baptism records.
    Last edited by Marilou; 03-15-2012 at 06:27 PM.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by victorskid View Post
    I actually met my great aunt once - on my first trip to England in 1967 - but knew none of these things at the time so asked no questions during our all-too-brief visit.
    When I was 10, I went to Europe with my grandmother and met many relatives. Of course, being the only kid and having grownups speak a foreign language around me wasn't that interesting. At one place, I had to go say goodnight to my ancient great grandmother every evening, and she would keep me in her sitting room for an hour going through albums and boxes of old photos.

    I couldn't get out of there fast enough as you might imagine, but what I wouldn't give now for just a few minutes with her. Her brothers and sisters are among the most interesting in the family tree to me now!

  13. #33

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    And when you start looking at death records, remember a death record is essentially a secondary source. The person answering the questions may or may not know all the information being asked. Or may only "sort of" know it. That individual (the informant) may or may not be a blood relative, even.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenlyon60 View Post
    And when you start looking at death records, remember a death record is essentially a secondary source. The person answering the questions may or may not know all the information being asked. Or may only "sort of" know it. That individual (the informant) may or may not be a blood relative, even.
    Very true! And once again it often depends on how the questions are posed by the person completing the death registration document or heard by the person responding. If, for example, they are talking to Johnny Doe about the death of his father Burton Doe and among the items required is the parentage of Burton, i.e. his father and his mother. I have seen any number of death registrations where Johnny has dutifully provided his grandfather's name but instead of his grandmother's name he has submitted the name of his own mother, i.e. the wife of the deceased.
    Can't skate but love to watch

  15. #35

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    My great grandfather's death certificate has his parents listed as "unknown" Since his parents lived with them until he died (he died young), I'm not sure who the heck filled it out! And the birth date on his gravestone is off by a couple of years. I guess that sort of thing just wasn't as important to them.
    "Me, cutie/chicken, the egg cup, I am the hammer of my spoon!"--Jen_Faith translation

  16. #36
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    I heard a story just today about a couple whose birth dates on their headstone were deliberately erroneous. He was made a couple of years younger than he actually was and she was made a couple of years older. This was done by family members to hide the fact that they married (in 1907) when she was only 15 & 1/2 and he was a widower of 32.

    Apparently their marriage is still considered a "scandal" by some of their descendants more than 100 years later! Perhaps they should consider the fact that if they had not married there would be no descendants!
    Can't skate but love to watch

  17. #37

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    I just reviewed my family tree on geneology.com. There is a lot of miss-information even among the living.

    The keeper is my cousin who is a generation older than I, and whom I don't think I've ever met. He has added an extra child to my immediate family (apparently he doesn't know that Ricky and Frederick are the same person), there are not only numerous spelling errors, but the spellings are not consistent throughout. He also has a note that my sister-in-law was killed in a car accident so my brother must have remarried. My brother has been married to the same woman, and she was never in a car accident, so I don't know where that came from!

    The lesson is you have to review multiple records and go with the most consistent information.

  18. #38

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    I ran across a family tree that had some really interesting goofs. There were two women with the same name in the area, my grandma and someone else--who was 80 years older than my grandma. This guy combined the two of them, even though the dates were an obvious give away, and then added some weird story that my grandma turned a hobo away from the house without food, the hobo cursed her and she had some strange thing happen to her. Yes, I contacted the person who had put up the tree (turned out this was the guy's sister) but I don't know if it was ever fixed. I was more amused than upset. And grandma always fed the hobos.

    She also ended up with more kids on his tree.
    "Me, cutie/chicken, the egg cup, I am the hammer of my spoon!"--Jen_Faith translation

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by suep1963 View Post

    She also ended up with more kids on his tree.
    Naughty grandma...
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

  20. #40

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    Oh yeah!

    She was a fab lady--my uncle still says that he lucked out in the mil sweepstakes.
    "Me, cutie/chicken, the egg cup, I am the hammer of my spoon!"--Jen_Faith translation

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