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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.


Anonymous said...


You were able to learn quite a lot! And given the number of children in this family, you've proven the value of collateral research here, researching all the siblings. Who knows where the threads might lead and what you'll learn that way?

I love city directories and census data, including 5 year state censuses for states that had them. One of my grandfathers and his three brothers each married a woman with the same last name. Family lore said two of them were sisters. All of them are gone now, even all their children. Using the censuses and and city directories, I was able to prove family lore was correct, and which two brothers married which two women who were sisters. Very satisfying.


Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Thanks Doris. I can just imagine the good feeling you had when you proved who was who!


Unknown said...

Thanks for the information! mike