Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

August 18, 2019

Find Your Palatine Ancestors

The Palatinate or German Pfalz was subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. As well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708 and 1709, the harshest in 100 years.

Spotlight On Palatine Genealogy
Palatine Denizations (Naturalizations) 1708
The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4 000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.

Palatine Immigrants to New York
Search for Palatine ancestors in Palatine Ships Lists to New York or Palatine Child Apprentices 1710-1714

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.

Pennsylvania Palatine Ancestors
Start with Palatine Ships to Pennsylvania 1727 to 1808
Over the next 100 years, impoverished Palatines fled from Germany to America - many arriving in Pennsylvania. Olive Tree Genealogy has a Pennsylvania German Pioneers Project which includes the list of ships carrying Palatines from Germany to Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 as well as names of passengers, Oaths of Allegiance and Ships Passenger Lists.

August 16, 2019

Missing Friends Project

Missing Friends The Missing Friends Project is abstracting the names of those who immigrated from UK to America or Canada and who were inquired about by family in various 19th Century newspapers. 

Missing Friends Project starts with Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, published in London England and their weekly column (1886-1900) called "Long Lost Relatives". We also have begun extracting names of those in the Boston Pilot, published in Boston Massachusetts (1831-1921).

Our Boston Pilot project is only extracting the names of missing Irish individuals who sailed to Canada. It is important to note that many who sailed first to Canada went on to USA and are so noted in the extracts. Many of the relatives and friends seeking them were based in USA and their location is also given. 

We also plan to publish extracts of weekly columns of Missing Friends from The Irish World (1892-1899), published in New York and The Manchester Weekly Times (1891-1893) published in England. We will add other newspapers as we find them and can access them.

The fields being extracted are name of person in America or Canada who is missing, where they lived in the UK, when they left, where they intended going, ship name if known, when they were last heard from, where they were living when last heard from, who is seeking them and any miscellaneous comments.

August 14, 2019

Account Books, Journals and Diaries 1772 ~ 1925

Did you know that has online Account Books, Journals and Diaries 1772 ~ 1925

Over the years Brian has rescued original Ledger Books, Journals and Diaries from stores, schools, and individuals. These old books are a wealth of great genealogy data. The ledgers can act as a census substitute, letting you know if your ancestors were there in the years between census. They also contain the kind of personal Genealogy data that often can not be found any other way by giving you a window into the daily lives of your ancestors. It is often quite amazing what one can find in some of the books. Store owners might record the death of a customer who owes money to the store. A farmer may note the birth of a neighbor's child. You just never know what you will find.

These wonderful Ledger Books are being scanned and published on Each book will be published as a downloadable PDF file on AncestorsAtRest website so that genealogists and historians can access them freely.

Go to the Index to List of available Ledger Books

August 9, 2019

Remains of Canadian Second World War Soldier identified

The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have identified the remains of a Second World War soldier found near the Maas River in the Netherlands, as those of Private Albert Laubenstein from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Pte Laubenstein was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on March 28, 1914, and joined the Canadian Army in 1940. He served with the 102nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Artillery and the 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and the Lincoln and Welland Regiment.

Pte Laubenstein was killed during the Battle of Kapelsche Veer on January 26, 1945, and his body was interred with care in a battlefield grave, which could not be re-located at the end of the war. He was one of 50 fatal casualties suffered by the Lincoln and Welland Regiment during the battle and was 30 years of age at the time of his death.

Continue reading this story

August 7, 2019

Family Search Now Allowing Name Edits

Salt Lake City, Utah (31 July 2019), FamilySearch has added a much-anticipated innovation that now enables users to make name corrections to its indexes. Corrections made by users increase the likelihood of success for researchers to find the records of their ancestors.

If you have ever searched for ancestors online in indexed records, you inevitably find collections where your ancestor’s name was indexed incorrectly. Sometimes it was indexed correctly according to what was written on the source document, but that name may not be an alternative spelling of the name used by your family.

The reasons for incorrect entries of indexed names are many and valid—difficult-to-read handwriting, faded ink, document damage, errors in the original documents, uncommon names, language barriers, and unexpected spellings are among them. When entries are indexed incorrectly from valuable historic records, it is difficult for family researchers to find the ancestor and the accompanying information they are seeking.

People can now correct the spelling on the index and leave a brief explanation. Corrections will appear along with the original index entries—making both searchable online. Only indexes referring to images can be corrected, meaning that not all index entries are editable. A user can check the image and compare it to the index entry. An icon of a page and a camera at the side of the index entry indicate that an image is available.

FamilySearch product manager John Alexander recommends that users take the time to use the new tool as needed when they run across indexed records that they know are in error. “Adding corrections to an index when the information does not match the names as written in the original document or if the document was recorded wrong will increase the quality of the index and usefulness to other searchers,” said Alexander. For example, if “Johnathan”—spelled with an H—was indexed as “Jonathan,” a user who recognizes the error can add to the index to show the actual spelling as written in the document.

Alexander reported that users will soon have the ability to correct additional types of indexing errors besides names. Editing an index entry on FamilySearch is simple. When searching for an ancestor on the site, users can look through the results for a likely record and click the ancestor’s name. A box will pop up with the indexed information on the left and a clickable image on the right. If the index is editable, the word “Edit” will appear in blue to the right of the name.

To enter the desired correction, click Edit, and follow the prompts. A space is included for other comments or explanations. User corrections will not override the information already on FamilySearch but adds an alternative. Multiple corrections can be added to a record. All will be searchable.

August 5, 2019

A 1908 Mystery in Limerick Ireland

Hanora Meaney (aged 14) Sarah King (13) Elizabeth Gleeson (14) Lily O’Dea (13) Frances Storey (13) Mary Kelly (13) Mary Quirke (13) Bridget Donoghue (17) Mary Ryan (14) and Jessie Smart (8) all died within a few days of each other at Mount St. Vincent's orphanage in Limerick Ireland in 1908.

The cause of death was given as food poisoning but it is unusual for so many to die of that, even back in 1908.

What really happened?

Dr. Pope, a lecturer at Mary Immaculate College (MIC), is hoping to find out what was the true cause of the deaths of those ten girls. She asks for help if you are a descendant or a relative of any of the families the girls belonged to. 

If you have information regarding the event, please contact Dr. Pope at

August 3, 2019

Funeral lays 21 Irish Famine victims to rest in Canada

172 years after the Carrick coffin ship from Sligo sank off Cap-des-Rosiers, in Quebec the remains of 21 Irish victims of the Great Hunger, mainly women, and children, were laid to rest

The  Carricks had been transporting 180 people from Sligo in 1847, at the height of Ireland’s Great Hunger, when it sank just off the coast of Canada. Only 48 passengers survived, 87 others were buried in a mass grave.

Irish Memorial to the victims of the shipwreck

The bones of three children washed up on the shore in 2011 after a harsh storm, and the remains of another 18 individuals were unearthed in 2016 before a beach restoration. Bones from 21 individuals found over 5 years suggest rural Irish origins based on diet. tells us that:

We are indebted to Messrs. Pembertons for the following extract of a letter giving the melancholy account of the loss of the brig Carricks, of Whitehaven. R. Thompson, master, from Sligo to this port, with passengers:--
"Cape Rosier, 19th May, 1847.
"I am sorry to inform you that the brig Carricks, was wrecked about four miles to the eastward of this place, and shocking to relate, out of 167 passengers, only 48 reached the shore-the crew, except one boy, were all saved. Little will be saved, but what there is, together with the wreck, will be sold for the benefit of all concerned on Saturday next."-(Exchange Register.)


August 1, 2019

James King, Where Did Your 30 Hour Clock Go?

My 4th great-grandfather James King was from Chediston, Suffolk England. He was born circa 1774, and died in 1838 in Wenhaston, Suffolk. Not much is known of James, although I was lucky enough to find Bastardy Papers for him dated July 1791.

In the Bastardy papers he confessed to being the father of Hannah Blanden's illegitimate daughter. Her name was not given in the documents and I've never found out who she was or what happened to her.

Oddly enough he married Hannah on the same day the Bastardy papers were filed.

His two sons Lewis King and Thomas King, were in the group of settlers who immigrated to Upper Canada and started the village of Arkell (now in Ontario).

Since writing and publishing a book "From England to Arkell" about this settlement, I happened on a newspaper account for James who died in 1838. His estate was being auctioned off so an inventory was done.

I'm intrigued and fascinated by him owning a 30 Hour clock! That was one of the cheaper types of Grandfather (Long Case) clocks, but still.... a farmer in Suffolk owning such a clock indicates he was somewhat well off. And I would love to know where that clock is now!

The inventory gave me an image of James' home, and helped make him more alive to me as a living breathing person who lived, loved, felt pain and sorry, was loved -  in short, no different from you or I. And that is something that is often lacking in our research - that flesh on the bones so to speak.

July 30, 2019

Canadian Military Ancestors & History

Olive Tree Genealogy is very excited to announce a new website for Canadian Military history. The Canadian Military Heritage Project at is dedicated to presenting Canadian military history ~ the wars, uprisings and conflicts in which Canadians participated. Our goal is to preserve the records and memories of Canadians who served their country, and to ensure that their sacrifices are not forgotten. Through the Canadian Military Heritage Project we hope to maintain the tradition of remembrance and to foster pride in our military heritage.
Our pages will provide historical background as well as genealogy records for each conflict, chronological timelines, statistics, battles, weaponry, uniforms & equipment, famous Canadians, biographies of soldiers, heroes and their stories, contributions of women, other countries who participated, muster rolls for conflicts before 1900, Letters Home (from soldiers at the front), music and poetry, guest authors’ submissions, links to other online resources, and Research Libraries.
These pages will be of interest to educators, students, genealogists, military historians and those who are interested in the stories of the participants themselves.

July 22, 2019

Ancestor Photos Can Make You Sad

Ina Burdick
 As many of my readers know, I rescue Civil War era photo albums and after scanning the photos I publish them on my Lost Faces website. These photos fascinate me and whenever I can, I research the names of the individuals.

Some catch my interest more than others, as is the case of this sweet little girl, Ina Burdick, seen on the left. Her chubby pretty little face captivates me! Her gorgeous wavy hair, so nicely kept, must have been a source of delight to her mother, as in the photo on the right, little Ina is seated so her hair in its glory is displayed.

Little Ina captured my interest so much that I wanted to find out all about her although there were some things I didn't want to know, such as when she died! I was afraid she might have died young, and as silly as might seem, that would make me incredibly sad.

And Lillie Burdick, possible sister to Ina, had such a sweet face I wanted to know more about her too. 

My curiousity was too much. I set off to find out what I could about Ina and the other Burdick individuals in the album, pictured below. Were Will and Lillie her siblings? Was Sarah her mother?

Spoiler Alert: After much research I found the Burdick family and the two sisters Ina and Lillie. It is not a happy story but read on if you wish to know what happened to the girls. If you want to see the other photos of their relatives in this rescued album, visit Album #9 on

Ina Burdick

Lillie Burdick

Will Burdick
Will Burdick

Sarah Frank Burdick

I found out quite a bit about the Burdick family by searching Ancestry for various records. For a summary, Sarah Frances (not Frank) Coon married Ira D. Burdick and had several children. Ina Burdick, Lillie Burdick, and Will Burdick pictured above were their children. 

Lillie sadly died at age 9 in Wisconsin. Her tombstone shows 25 Jul 1872 to 8 Mar 1882. She is buried in Milton Junction Cemetery, Milton Wisconsin with her sister Ina. Ina lived a challenging life of physical issues and heart problems which led to her early death at age 47. My fear proved founded - and while it may seem odd, I felt sad after reading her obituary, a portion of which is below:

"Ina D. Burdick....died in Milton, Wis., June 22, 1909, the day following her 47th birthday..... In childhood, for reasons not clearly understood, her bodily growth was arrested, which was followed by rheumatic and other troubles that rendered her practically helpless. In this state of enforced inactivity there came an abnormal accumulation of fatty matter which rendered her a helpless invalid for the latter part of her life, and made her subject to heart trouble from which she died." Source:

Lillie and Ina's mother's obituary also made me sad. She was only 55 when she died of pneumonia. But what bothered me most was the last sentence in her obituary which only mentioned her son Will, not her daughter Ina.

"Mrs. Sarah Frances Burdick .... died at No. 47 Columbia Place, Chicago, April 27, 1893, after an illness of five days with pneumonia.... She leaves her husband and one son to mourn their loss." Source:

Do other genealogists get caught up in these old photos and feel as if they know the individuals? I really wanted those two pretty little girls to grow up happy,  and live long healthy lives.

July 17, 2019

Manhood Franchise: An Interesting Puzzle in an 1890 Voters' List

The 1890 Voter's List for Picton Ontario has a puzzling set of descriptors. The last column on each page does not have a heading. As well the codes used are not listed.

Looking at the first pages of the booklet is no help. Usually short forms are defined but not this time.

So what do the cryptic "m f" and "f--m f" and "t--m f" mean?

"t" is usually "tenant", while "f" could be "farmer" or "freeholder" But what is the "m f"? It isn't "male" or "female" as the letters are always together.

If we look through this booklet we find that the names in alphabetical order are all men in Part I.

Our first clue as to the meaning of "m f" comes with the start of Part II and the title "List of persons entitled to vote at Municipal Elections ONLY". All the names that follow are females and each one has either a "t" or an "f". They never have the puzzling "m f" in the last column..

Since before 1935 Voter's Lists for Municipal Elections were used for Federal Elections as well. So this seems to indicate the women could not vote in Federal elections when the list was taken, but could vote in municipal.

Canada did not give women the vote until 1918 (except for Quebec which did not allow female voters until 1940). In 1884 a law was passed giving single or widowed women who owned property and who lived in Ontario or Quebec the right to vote in Municipal Elections.

Using all these known facts, it seems likely that the women on this list had the right to vote in municipal elections but not federal, and that the men were indicated as being eligible for both by having the mark "m f" after their names. It follows that it is equally likely that "m f" stood for "manhood franchise"

If any of my readers has a source that indicates what "m f" stands for, please share it in the comments. My suggestion is based on evaluating the clues and I do not know with certainty if I am correct. 

July 15, 2019

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online
John Wormald age 11
Reform School 1892 has recently published some fascinating reformatory school and prison records from West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Collection 1779-1914 details the crimes of thousands of boys admitted to Calder Farm Reformatory, East Moor Community Home School and The Shadwell Children’s Centre.
The records are available using these links:  
I spent a very enjoyable afternoon searching these records for my son's Yorkshire ancestors on his father's side.  They are full of details! For example I found the Reform School Record for the 11 year brother of his great-grandmother Kate Wormald. Little John Wormald was sent to Calder Farm Reform School in 1892 after a series of thefts. His records included his photo and details of his misdeeds and the punishment meted out by his parents (6 lashes of a birch rod each time he stole something). Young John was noted as having red hair, blue eyes and freckles.

The records indicate that John was hanging with a bad crowd and so in desperation his parents sent him to live with an uncle. John then stole a substantial sum of money from his uncle's coat pocket and ran off with one of his friends. It was then he was arrested and sent to Reform School for 5 years.

What I also found fascinating was that the Reform School records also had followups of the children after they were discharged. I noted that several of the boys went into the Army after discharge and appeared to have changed their lives. Young John Wormald went into the Army and there are notes for several years about his life after discharge. It seems that England was at that time trending towards actual reform and not punishment of young offenders.

July 12, 2019

Review of Out-of-Style:A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved

Out-of-Style:A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved by Betty Kreisel Shubert is one of the best books I've read about fashions and hairstyles over the ages. I use it to help me date the old photographs I collect. 

The author has filled the book with her own illustrations to provide assistance in understanding what the various terms in fashion and clothing mean.

Her use of her charming illustrations rather then the expected photographs (cartes de visite, cabinet cards, tintypes, ambrotypes & daguerreotypes) adds to the unique appeal of this book.

As well the author illustrates with her sketches, the gradual changes that took place over time with such women's fashions as the bustle. Ms. Shubert originally came up with the idea for her 349 page book as a way to help genealogists and historians who were seeking a reference work to help them date fashions in their own family photographs. Don't overlook this book as an invaluable guide to have on your bookshelves.

July 5, 2019

Finding a Birth Father

Nancy C. asked Olive Tree Genealogy for advice:

My father, who is now 82 years old, has never known who his father was.  The secret died with his Mother.  I so want to help him in this search.  He doesn’t expect or want anything from the man’s family, he just wants to know who the man was. 
Both my father and I did a 23 and me test.  The results seem overwhelming.  I’ve made contact with a few distant cousins, but have found no answers yet.  Can you advise me as to what to do?

I hope you do find your paternal grandfather, but the task will not be easy. It's good that you took DNA tests and all I can tell you is that with any luck you may eventually find a close match to your father. However note that I said "may eventually". It could take days, weeks, months, or even years. You may not find one. So my advice is keep checking your matches, and contact every match that is fairly close.

Meantime, make notes of every detail of your grandmother's life around the time she would have been pregnant with your father. Whoever the father is, he had to have some contact with your grandmother, so would have been somewhere in the area. These are a few of the questions I would want to find the answers to if possible:
  1. What churches did she attend? 
  2. Where did she work? 
  3. Was she still in school? 
  4. Who were her teachers and classmates? 
  5. Where did she live and what social functions were available to her? 
  6. Who were her neighbours?
When your DNA matches come in, perhaps you will see a familiar surname, or you'll find your dad matches to a descendant of a man who was living near your grandmother. It can be that easy if you are lucky.

Other ideas are for you to trace your mother's siblings down to someone you can ask about this. You never know what tidbit of gossip comes down in a side branch of a family. A sibling (a sister perhaps) might have known who the father was and might have whispered it to her daughter....

We had such a rumour come down in my husband's family over the paternity of his grandfather. And that whispered rumour told behind closed doors was overheard by my husband when he was a young teen. He never forgot it. And it turned out to be true. We proved it through DNA.

Meantime, please take a look at how we discovered my husband's biological great-grandfather through DNA testing, in my article DNA Results Leave us Gob-Smacked! 

Good luck in your quest!

July 3, 2019

FInding a Mennonite or Amish Ancestor

Menno Simons
Do you have Mennonite ancestors? I have several, all of who came to Ontario Canada in the early 1800s.

Menno Simons (ca 1496-1561) was a Dutch religious reformer. In 1536 he left the Roman Catholic priesthood because of his disagreement of infant baptism and other Catholic teachings. He organized and led the less aggressive division of Anabaptists in Germany and Holland. The name Mennonites is derived from his name, although he did not actually found the sect. The Mennonites were a Protestant sect which arose from Swiss Anabaptists. They were also called Swiss Brethren.

During the sixteenth century, the Mennonites and other Anabaptists were relentlessly persecuted. By the seventeenth century, some of them joined the state church in Switzerland and persuaded the authorities to relent in their attacks. The Mennonites outside the state church were divided on whether to remain in communion with their brothers within the state church, and this led to a split. Those against remaining in communion with them became known as the Amish, after their founder Jacob Amman. Those who remained in communion with them retained the name Mennonite

A few Dutch Mennonites began the immigration to America in 1683, followed by a larger immigration of Swiss-German Mennonites beginning in 1707. In the 1870s Dutch Mennonites, who had settled in the German Kingdom of Prussia and then Russia, moved to the United States and Canada where they became known as Russian Mennonites.  Many Mennonites settled in Pennsylvania. Large numbers immigrated further into Ontario Canada especially Waterloo County

My Mennonite ancestors who came to Ontario Canada were Burkholder, Gingrich, and Hunsicker
You may find the following links of help in your own research for your Mennonite ancestors

Mennonite Ships Passenger Lists
Mennonites to Canada
Mennonite Family Trees
Historical Mennonite Overview

4th of July Flash Sale Ancestry DNA & Membership!

Don't miss this 4th of July Flash Sale in the US on Ancestry® Memberships and AncestryDNA®.
4th of July Flash Sale:

Ancestry Family History Memberships will be on sale for 50% off. Terms apply.

AncestryDNA® will also be on sale for $59.

The 4th of July Flash Sale will start at 9:00pm PST on Tuesday, July 2nd and will end at 9:00pm PST on Thursday, July 4th.

June 30, 2019

Finding Sydney Phoenix (End)

Writing up a summary for this mystery quest is a challenge. There are many unknowns, mainly due to the various discrepancies in the records found. Due to time limitations I cannot continue with this genealogy research, as much as I'd love to!

Just before I summarize my findings, there are a few miscellaneous records that will no doubt be of interest.

Miscellaneous Records

A search for Olive Rodman (remember her from the 1871 census?) found her in the 1850 Hopewell, Ontario County New York census with daughter Laura (who later married David Phoenix)

Rodman, Isaac, 52, b. Rhode Island
Olive 50, b Massachusetts <--in 1871 living with David and Laura Phoenix
VanRensellaer, 24 b New York
Mary, 8 b New York
Lavina/Lavinia, 21, b New York <--in 1871 living with David and Laura Phoenix
Lydia,18, b New York
Laura, 15, b New York <--married David Phoenix

Marriages in Ontario
  • Hannah Phoenix, age 50, daughter of David Phoenix and Laura Eveline, married 1916 George Fountain
  • Mildred Phoenix, daughter of David Phoenix and Laura Rodman married 1908 Archie William Smith
  • Almeda Phoenix, daughter of David Phoenix and Laura married 1894 Isaac Bird
  • Maud Phoenix, daughter of David Phoenix and Laura Rodney [sic] married 1913 Alfredo Cabrera
  • Mary E. Phoenix, daughter of David Phoenix & Sarah married 1897 Thomas F.R. Logan.
  • Clifford Charles Phoenix,40, son of Sidney Phoenix and Maud Bird married 1937 Mary Florence Miller  <--He claims he is Pearl's brother but they do not name the same parents
  • Pearl Myrtle Phoenix, 23, married 1919 Joseph Edwin Brown. On the Marriage Certificate Pearl's parents are noted in one spot as David Phoenix and Myrtle. In a second spot on the certificate her parents are noted as Archive Smith & Mildred Phoenix <--was Pearl the illegitimate daughter of Mildred Phoenix? But why did she list David Phoenix in a second spot on the cert?

It appears that Sidney Phoenix was the son of David Phoenix who according to various records was born in Missouri (possibly St. Louis) circa 1832. In 1854 (location not known) David married Laura Rodman who was born circa 1835 in New York to Isaac and Olive Rodman.

It is possible, but not proven, that David Phoenix's father was Alex Phoenix born ca 1794 in New York and married in 1834 to an unknown woman.

No record was found of a marriage for Sidney Phoenix. No record was found for his presumed wife Maud Bird but it must be noted that there is only one record that names her, and that is Clifford Phoenix's marriage certificate. Since he provides different names for his mother on other records it is possible he did not know her name.

We do know that Sidney Phoenix appears to have lived most of his life in London Ontario. Although he has not yet been found in the 1891 census we can use the 1891 City Directory as a census substitute to place him in London Ontario with other family members.


Descendants or others who are interested have many new clues and pieces of information to guide further research. Given the confusion as to various family relationships I suggest a DNA test may assist the research into this family.

I suggest any interested descendants take what I have found, and look for more. Try variations of surnames and wide range of each individual's birth years when you search. Analyze each record you find for clues. Go back over my findings and note the clues I found - but check for others as well.

Go slow. Be methodical. Be careful to note names, dates etc exactly as written even if you are positive they are wrong. Come up with theories and hunt for evidence to prove or disprove each one.

If you found it helpful to see my research or the process I used to find information, please consider a donation to support my continuing to bring free genealogy online for all.

This is a 4 part series so to find each article, click on the "Finding Sidney Phoenix" tag at the bottom of each post.

June 28, 2019

Finding Sidney Phoenix Part 3

A more generalized search for various Phoenix individuals took me to Ancestry database for Border Crossings Canada to USA where I found Clifford Phoenix in 1916. What was intriguing about the information in this record was two-fold.

Clifford stated that:
  1. Archie Smith of 749 Grey St was his brother-in-law. We know that in 1908 Archie married Mildred Phoenix, and that she claimed David Phoenix and Laura Rodman were her parents. So we are back to the impossible - that David and Laura were also Clifford's parents.  
  2. Clifford stated he had been arrested previously and spent 1 1/2 years in the Penetanguishene Reformatory on Georgian Bay Ontario. I searched in online newspapers and found that Clifford was sent to jail in 1912 for theft.
SENTENCES DUPLICATED: Four Men Given Terms for Stealing Brass and Lead from G. T. R. 
Special Despatch to The Globe. The Globe (1844-1936);Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]02 Sep 1912: 2

Clifford had also been in trouble with the law in 1911

 TWO ALLEGED BURGLARS Masks and Stolen Goods Found on Two Men--Remanded to Thursday
Special Despatch to The Globe. The Globe (1844-1936); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]27 Dec 1911: 3.
Another lesson in genealogy research is that frequently we find information about an ancestor that may upset or concern us.

CEF Database

The Canadian Expeditionary Force was my next stop. Clifford was the perfect age to enlist in WW1 and I thought it was worth a look. My efforts paid off and a large personnel file was available. I'll touch on a few of the more revealing portions but if you want to read all 58 pages for yourself, you can do so at Library and Archives Canada

Confusion Reigns

Spoiler Alert! There are many confusing and contradictory statements in Clifford's WW1 file. It is actually a good lesson in genealogy because to figure out these contradictions one would have to be patient, persevere and go methodically through all records. The determined genealogist would carefully find and note all records, copying each exactly as found, then determining which could be trusted most. To do this the genealogist has to analyze the record - who made it, who gave the information, when was the information recorded, is it a copy of an original vs an original, etc.

So let's learn what Clifford's file tells us.

He enlisted in London in September 1916 and said he lived at 729 Grey Street. His sister was Pearl Phoenix of 265 Clarence St. He gave his date of birth as 10 April 1884 which contradicts his given ages on census records. It was not unusual for recruits to lie about their ages to make themselves older but it also could be that Clifford did not know his birth year.

He says his father is dead but his mother is alive. In the space for mother's name he puts his sister Pearl.

Later in April 1917 he asks that his pay go to his mother - and provides the name "Mrs. Maud Cabrera" of 238 Clarence St. He says he will be going to live with her when he is discharged. I found from marriage records that Maud Phoenix, daughter of David and Laura Phoenix, married Alfredo Cabrera in 1913. But Maud was born circa 1884 so how could she be his mother?

Clifford's file shows that he was often in trouble and either fined or in military jail for several offenses:
  • 5 days for going AWOL in 1917
  • 20 days for malingering
  • 5 days for... and 3 days for going AWOL
  • 5 days for "committing a nuisance in camp (Urinating)"
  • 28 days for 1. Disobeying orders and being out of bounds without a pass 2. destroying property of 3 comrades (clothing)
  • 10 days for leaving work without permission, disobeying orders, and being found in Montmerrie without a pass. 
A notation on his file states he died June 5, 1959. No location was given.

My summary and a few new research findings are next. This is a 4 part series so to find each article, click on the "Finding Sidney Phoenix" tag at the bottom of each post.

June 26, 2019

Finding Sidney Phoenix Part 2

In Part 1 of Finding Sidney Phoenix, we found Sidney's parents, and possible maternal grandmother. We also discovered 11 siblings that we could research for more clues. But it's time for me to keep going with census records.

More Census Records

As a reminder, the Phoenix family was found in London Ontario area in 1871 and 1881. Checking 1861 census found them living in Ellice Township, Perth County, which is not far from London.

The family consisted of:

Phoenix David, 29 born Missouri, married 1854
Laura 20, born New York
George 3, born Canada West (present day Ontario)
Catherine 2, born Canada West
Alex, 67 born New York married 1834 <-- I suggest Alex could be David's father
Anna, 30 born New York

They are further recorded as 1 widow (Anna?) & 6 coloured

It's always difficult to stay on track and conduct a methodical search when you find exciting clues! For example, we now have Alex Phoenix born circa 1794 in New York, married in 1834, who I suggest is a good possibility to be David Phoenix's father. The urge to go off track, leave the census records, and start looking for Alex is strong!

We also have the find of Olive Rodman born circa 1796 in USA who I suggest is a good possiblity to be Laura Phoenix' s mother. As much as I want to find more about her I know I should stick to going through the census records looking for David Phoenix and wife Laura, as well as the elusive Sidney Phoenix. After all, he is the subject of our quest!

So, to speed things up, below are the various census records I found for the family in my search. Be aware that there are discrepancies and confusion with these records.

1901 Census London Ontario
Phoenix, Liza? (Laura?) A. 63, head <--I suggest this is Laura, widow of David Phoenix
Rodman Lavina? b USA 72, boarder
Phoenix, Hry? L? son 39, widower <--it is difficult to read his name and I do not know how he fits into the family
Phoenix, Mildred, gr-dau, 24 <-- is she listed as a granddaughter in error? David and Laura Phoenix had a daughter Mildred born circa 1876
Phoenix, Maud, gr-dau, 20 <-- is this an error recording her as a granddaughter? Could she be the Almeda found in the 1881 census as a daughter of David and Laura?
Pearl M. , gr-dau, 6
Cliff C. , gr-son,5

1911 Census London Ontario

Phoenix, Laura, widow, 70
Phoenix, Hannah, 34
Phoenix, Maud, 26
Phoenix, Livinia, 25
Phoenix, Clifford, 15 <-- he is marked as Laura's son but this does not seem likely as Laura would have been 55 at his birth

Unfortunately Sidney was not found in the 1891 census. However he is found on 372 Hill street in the 1891 City Directory for London City along with his mother Laura A. and siblings Frederick and Hannah.

This is a 4 part series so to find each article, click on the "Finding Sidney Phoenix" tag at the bottom of each post.

June 24, 2019

Finding Sidney Phoenix Part 1

Who were Sidney Phoenix and Maud Bird's parents? That was the question asked by Mike D. on a Genealogy group. Mike didn't have much information but here is his query:
Looking for the names of the parents for Sidney Phoenix and Maud Bird.I do believe he passed away in 1899 in London Ontario,I looked in Family Search for his birth registration;but did not see anything;also the census for 1891 and could not find anything.
What Mike didn't realize is that Vital Records did not begin in Ontario until 1869 so it is unlikely he would find Sidney's birth online. Church records would be the most likely place to look.This query intrigued me so I began researching to try to find Sidney and Maud.

It didn't take long to find Sidney's death registration which provided a bit more information. He is recorded as Sidney William Phoenix and he died of pneumonia on 6 December 1899 in London, Middlesex Co. Ontario at age 39 years, 6 months. We can then estimate Sidney's birth as circa 1860/1861. His residence was 273 Burwell St. and he was a Baptist. Baptist records are challenging to find so I decided to look for Sidney in the available directories and census records on Ancestry

City Directories

My next step was to check Foster’s London City and Middlesex County Directory, 1897-1898 to see if Sidney could be found. He was listed as a labourer living at 487 Nelson. Also recorded at the same address was Hannah Phoenix. I noted other Phoenix individuals in case they turn out later to be related: Laura, a teacher, at 47 Oak and William at the same address. Sarah A., widow of Matthew was at 589 King

Other City Directories confirmed that Sidney was living in London in 1894, 1897, 1898, 1899 on Nelson and in 1900 at 273 Burwell. Another interesting tidbit found in the Directories is that in 1900 a Mrs. David Phoenix is living with Sidney on Burwell St. 

In the 1888 Voters' List we find Sidney in London. That's a good clue that he may possibly be found in 1881 and 1891 in the census for London.
Census Records

Sidney was easily found in London Ontario in 1881 as 15 year old Sydney Wm. living with parents David and Laura Phoenix. Laura, his mother, could be the Mrs. David Phoenix living with Sidney in 1900 and also the Laura Phoenix found in earlier directories.

Here is Sidney's family in 1881. It was very challenging to read where the family members were born and all their ages.

David, 42, b. USA, porter, African
Laura E. 37 b. USA <-- is this the Laura found at 47 Oak St and the Mrs. David living with Sidney in 1900?
Catherine V., 19
Charlotte A, 17
Hannah A 16? <--is this the Hannah living with Sidney in 1898?
Sydney Wm. 15
Frederick E. 8
Francis Eliza 6
Mildred 5?
Mary 4?
Almeda 2?

Working backwards, I then found Sidney in 1871 living in Westminster (part of London) Middlesex County

The family was recorded as:

Phoenix David, 37 b. USA
Phoenix Laura 36 (or 26?) b USA
Phoenix George 13
Phoenix Catherine 12
Phoenix Charlotte 10
Phoenix Augusta 7 <--I suspect this is Hannah A from the 1881 census
Phoenix Wiliam 5 <-- this is why we should always search under first and middle names, for here is Sidney recorded by his middle name
Phoenix Frederick 3
Phoenix Wilbur 3 months
Rodman, Olive 85 b USA <-- I've been doing genealogy long enough to suspect that Olive could be Laura's mother
Rodman Lavina 40 b USA

Analyzing What We Have Found

1. Sidney William Phoenix date of birth is flexible - from 1860 to 1866. He uses first and middle names interchangeably

2. Sidney's mother Laura was probably living with him in London Ontario in 1900. We should look for her in the 1901 census.

3. I suggest that Laura's maiden name was Rodman and that Olive Rodman born circa 1786 USA was her mother. I need to hunt for Olive in census and death records. I could also try City Directories.

4. Laura's date of birth is circa 1844 while David's is circa 1839. David and Laura are Sidney's parents. I need to hunt for them in census, marriage, and death records. City Directories could also help.

5. I still need to check earlier census records for Sidney and/or his parents David and Laura. Of course I also need to see if I can find Sidney in 1891.

6. It appears little Wilbur, 3 months old in 1871, could have died before 1881 as he is missing from that census. Perhaps we can find more about him or his possible death. Don't assume that he died however. He could be living with relatives. 

7. Lastly we've learned the names of 11 of Sidney's siblings! This is crucial for genealogists as we should always search siblings for more clues. Elder parents could be living with one of the siblings, and finding them could provide more detail. Grandparents could be living with one of the siblings. There may be an obit for a sibling that provides genealogical information.

Part 2 coming soon so stay tuned to find out more about Sidney Phoenix. This is a 4 part series so to find each article, click on the "Finding Sidney Phoenix" tag at the bottom of each post.

June 19, 2019

Have You Found an Ancestor's Coffin Plate?

May 15, 1790 Coffin Plate Manufacturer's Ad

The history of Coffin Plates or casket plates is a long but not very well documented one. Coffin plates are decorative adornments attached to the coffin that contain free genealogical information like the name and death date of the deceased.

Coffin Plate Thomas Dalton 1829
Generally made of a soft metal like lead, pewter, silver, brass, copper, zinc or tin. The different metals reflect the different functions of the plates, or the status and wealth of the deceased. For a basic funeral, a simple lead plate would be lettered with the name, date of death and often the age of the departed, and nailed to the lid of a wooden coffin. But high status people could afford a plate of a more expensive metal and elaborate design.

The oldest coffin plates that I have seen date from the 17th century (1600~1699) and were at that time reserved for people of some stature. As time went on more people were able to afford the luxury of a Coffin Plate and with the coming of the industrial revolution the cost of the plates went down so much that by the middle of the 19th century almost every family could afford to have one put on the coffin of their loved one. FN1

Some of Brian L. Massey's private collection of Coffin Plates
These are just the start of the over 150 coffin plates that are online on Ancestors At Rest.

Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestGeo W Abbott 1860~1879 Found in U.S.A.
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestHenry M Adams 1838~1900 Found in U.S.A.
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestSarah A Adams 1824~1877 Found in U.S.A.
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestSophia Jane Aitcheson 1862~1904 Wellington County Ontario.
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestSamual Adam 1799~1874
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestLucy Andrews 1790~1869
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestRobert Andrews 1786~1870
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestLauuelina Jane Armand 1841~1866 Massachusetts.
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestMary M Atherton Found in New England
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestWilbert Avery 1860~1890 Found in Massachusetts.

Continue searching for your ancestor at Index to Coffin Plates

FN1Important Note: Brian L. Massey wrote this article and more, all of which is published on his website. It was taken without permission and posted verbatim on Wikipedia. Trying to get it taken down has been unsuccessful.