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September 23, 2013

Finding a Black Ancestor Using Circumstantial Evidence Part 4

Upper Canada Land Petition
Jonathan Butler

You may recall that the goal I started with in my search for Jonathan Butler, a man of colour, was to create a timeline of his whereabouts before 1824 and after 1840.

And thus I come to my timeline and summary of the new documents and clues I have found in my research:

ca 1808 Jonathan arrives in Upper Canada (present day Ontario), possibly coming directly from Pennsylvania (as per his land petition) Whether he came as an adult or a child with parents is not known.

March 1816. Jonathan is found in Etobicoke (just west of the city of Toronto), possibly leasing land from Col. Samuel Smith (as per Character Certificate). Jonathan was almost probably at least 21 years of age at this time, thus a very rough estimate of his year of birth would be 1795 or earlier.

March 1819. Jonathan is a farmer with 50 acres in Toronto Township (as per his land petition). Toronto Township has the Etobicoke River on its eastern boundary. I believe this is possibly land he leased from Col. Smith. 

April 1819. Jonathan is granted 100 acres of land in the Wilberforce Settlement (black settlement area) in Oro Township. (as per Land books) It does not appear he actually settled there (as per Gary French)

ca 1822-1838. 2 sons and 3 daughters are born in this time period. Names are not known (as per Assessment records)

1824. A son Allen is born in Toronto Township to Jonathan and wife Elizabeth Jenkins or Ginkins (as per 1851 adult baptism in Waterloo)

ca 1829 A son Harry aka Henry is born, location unknown

1832. A son George is born in Toronto Township. 

1834, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840: Jonathan is found with 100 acres in Woolwich Township, Gore District which was part of the Queen's Bush settlement area for blacks. He lives "west of the Grand River" and may be on Lot 88 (as per Assessment Records) 

Miscellaneous Details

I find no trace of Jonathan after 1840. It is not known when his wife Elizabeth died and the only record of her is the mention in the 1851 baptism of their son Allen. 

The only children found in the 1851 census (which is incomplete with many missing areas) are Allen, George and Harry/Henry Butler.  

In the 1839 Assessment they are listed as belonging to "other religion" which may mean they were attending a black church. They are also listed as "unbaptised or not belonging to any denomination"

The 1881 Atlas for Floradale, Woolwich Township, Waterloo Co. provides details of their son George Butler as follows: born 1832 Toronto Township, settled near Floradale in 1835,  residing Concession GCT Lot 120. My research indicates that GCT stands for German Company Tract

1891 Census for George Butler records his mother as Irish


There is much research still to do and hopefully many more clues and facts to uncover. I urge others facing their own challenging ancestral searches to develop a timeline as I've done. Record your facts and your clues, being careful to note whether something is proven, a theory or supported by circumstantial evidence. 

Then sit back and study and analyze your findings. You will be amazed at what sudden "aha" moments occur! Organizing your findings will more easily guide you to where you might look as your next step in solving the ancestral puzzle.


Celia Lewis said...

Excellent! Although I had hoped you had managed to actually find more specific details of his life - still, this is a fantastic timeline in a difficult period of settlement. Love the envelope with all the notations, as well. Many little bits of info about who/what/when.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Thanks Celia,that is why I thought readers might be disappointed - that I found very little.

But that's how genealogy works and in reality I know SO much more than I did 6 months ago!

BarnsleyHistorian said...

I have found the process of pulling together a blog post on a person or particular problem to be very helpful in concentrating the mind.

I even used some time line software to try to workout how long my Mariner 2x great grandfather was around for each of his children's births.

Logging as many facts as possible, as you have done, in my family tree software (Family Historian) has often helped cast a new light on an event before or after. I have often compared family history to a logic problem!

William Graham said...

Great work with the signature. you are a step ahead of me as I received the Upper Canada Sundries item from Library and Archives Canada this week. You may already know this, but both George and Allen had farms in Woolwich township northwest of Elmira along the border with Wilmot township. Source: Tremaine 1861 map of Woolwich. I suspect that one of these farms may have been inherited from Jonathan.
Bill Graham