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December 7, 2019

1945 Rescued Photo & Ration Card Ralph A. Hamilton Jr.




Annette P. has kindly sent Olive Tree Genealogy more wonderful ephemera that she rescues.

This is a photo of Ralph A. Hamilton Jr. circa 1945.

Annette also sent his copy of a Male Officers' Uniform, Clothing and Accessory Ration Card  dated 14 August 1945

His rank in the U.S. Army is given as 1st Lt.




 

I did a search for Ralph in the online military records but there is more than one so I cannot be certain which is this Ralph. If anyone recognizes his photo please leave a comment on this blog post! 

December 5, 2019

A Challenging Upper Canada (Ontario) Puzzle

Bob S. asked about a challenging ancestor named John Smith. Since Bob's query was very long, I took bits and pieces to respond to.

I have hit a brick wall with with my 2nd great-grandfather John Smith. Based on information that I have been able to find he was born between 1817 and 1826. Most information said that he was born in Canada, but his sons death registration said that he was English. He was a widower when he married my 2nd great-grandmother, Susannah Powles(s), on Jan. 13, 1856 at Christ Church, Tyendinaga, Hastings
Bob - First let me say what terrific research you have done already on this elusive ancestor. I am sorry I can't include everything you sent me here in this blog post.

Searching Land Records
I found a property owned by John M Smith but it said it was Lot 37 in Concession III.  Think that it is the same Lot/person because of proximity but am not familiar with these records.. I also tried looking for property that John Smith indicated on 1851Census.  I think that this is my John Smith but am not positive.  He listed in column "Residence if out of Limits" as "4th Con Richm"  which I interpreted as IV Concession in Richmond, Lennox County which is adjacent to Tyendinaga.  Searching the map for Richmond, Lennox at http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/.../fro-m-richmond.jpg.  I found a J Smith listed as owning property in Concession III Lots 13 and 14 on the 1880 map.  I am not sure if we would have retained that property (if it was his).
The first thing I want to suggest re this land confusion is that you consult land records. I have written extensively about searching for land records in Ontario and you may wish to familiarize yourself with what is available for Ontario Land Records. I suggest you start with the CLRI and also the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for all these properties you have found.

The Computerized Land Record Index (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants of Crown Land, sales of land from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. If your ancestor settled anywhere in Ontario and he was the first time owner of Crown Land, he should be on these lists.

The Abstract Indexes to Deeds are the indexed record of every transaction on a plot of land from Crown ownership to the present day. Using the Abstract Indexes to Deeds you can check for every instance of your name of interest on that parcel of land.

There was a property dispute between Susannah's children and grandmother and Indian Department has file that mentions the property description (part of Lot 38 Con 2).  I think that I have found this on the maps linked to the OliveTree website but the location appears to be off somewhat (lot 37 Con III).  Are these the same lots just different descriptions? 
No those are not the same lot but they were close, perhaps even bordering on each other. Each farm could be quite large so conceivably the lots could touch even though they are on different concessions.  

Formulate a Working Theory

Next - I took a look at that 1851/52 census for John who was visiting other Smiths. I suggest you formulate a theory (which you will work to prove or disprove) that they are his relatives, and quite possibly close relatives such as a father (or mother) and siblings. Research each of the Smith individuals found there and try to find something that links them to John. The following articles may be of help to you.

From Theory to Fact: 30 Years in the Making

Turn a Genealogy Guess Into a Working Theory

Assumptions vs Working Theories - The Good and the Bad

Also, you no doubt noticed the "F" in the column for Place of Birth for those Smith individuals in that 1851/52 census. You didn't ask what it meant so you may already know this, but for those who do not know, here is the official explanation in instructions to census takers in 1851:

"The BIRTH PLACE of each person: you will here note that those born of Canadian Parents are to be marked with an F." [Source: http://www.prdh.umontreal.ca/census/en/uguide/enum_1852.aspx] 

Coffin Plates & Other Death Records

  [I] have what appears to be a plate from a casket or box that indicated he died on Dec. 16th, 1888, aged 71 yrs 5 months.

This is a coffin plate. These were engraved with the deceased's name and death date and sometimes with more information, then placed on top of the coffin during the funeral. After the funeral, the plate was given to the family as a memento. You can read more about coffin plates on the AncestorsAtRest website where over 450 are shown with photos.  It is very possible that John's death was not registered. Even though it was mandatory to register a death, many people did not comply as it cost money and sometimes the trip to the Registry office was too difficult to make in the winter.

I suggest you try church records for the burial information. Check the census records to find out what religion John was, then look to see what church he might have used. Then check Ontario Archives to find out if that church has any surviving records.

Summary

I feel that your best bet is to trace those other Smiths John is visiting in 1851. It will be a lot of work but I believe well worth it. Check and compare every record you can find for them, including John. Are their similarities in the names of their children? In their places of birth? These are just a few of the questions you might ask yourself.


The land records should also help - often sons received land from fathers.

Best of luck!

December 3, 2019

Archiving a Large Genealogy Collection

2 of 15 boxes. Overflow in front seat
As some of you know, Olive Tree Genealogy recently received a very large collection of genealogy documents and books. My husband and I are slowly going through the 15 boxes of material, and sorting them into groups.

We are not studying the material or taking an inventory at this point. We simply want to organize the documents so we can choose our first set of records for inventory while storing the rest.

Then we plan to methodically go through each "group" or set of documents, taking a careful inventory and deciding how/if we can make the records accessible to genealogists and historians.



I neglected to take a photo of all our groups but here is how we organized the materials as we went through each box:

  • Published genealogy books
  • Published genealogy booklets
  • Family genealogies 
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Genealogy research notes
  • Garbage
Start of the "Groups" That's me in the chair

Garbage? Did Someone Say GARBAGE????

Yes there was garbage. This collection has obviously been underway for many dozens of years. There were binders of printouts from Ancestral File (Remember that?) and other assorted printouts that had no current genealogical value. We spotted printouts dating back to the early 1980s. Most pages were in plastic sleeves in binders, so we spent some time (several hours) removing pages from binders, then removing the paper from the sleeves. We shredded the paper, kept the sleeves for the hundreds of loose documents we spotted, and will be tossing the binders if we find we do not need them for other loose documents in this collection.

We'll move on to more of the groups in the next blog post. If you want to follow along on our progress on this journey, just click on one of the tags or keywords at the bottom of this post.

December 1, 2019

Receiving a Large Collection of Genealogy Documents!

Dunnville Genealogy Boxes Arrive
A few months back the Dunnville District Heritage Association offered to send Olive Tree Genealogy some newspaper clippings from a donation they had received. I was very excited to be asked and of course I agreed. A very large package soon arrived by mail consisting of hundreds of loose obituaries from newspapers.

As I was planning on how best to organize and inventory the clippings, another surprise came my way. I was told there were about a dozen large filing boxes full of miscellaneous genealogy items from the same donated materials.

We learned that these materials were from Betty Coldwell, the former chair of the now defunct Haldimand County branch of the OGS (Ontario Genealogical Society). This was too good an opportunity to save important historical records to pass up even though the thought of dealing with so many boxes was somewhat overwhelming.

My husband kindly offered to drive to Dunnville, some 3 hours distance from our home, to pick up the boxes. To my astonishment, there were over 15 large boxes full of genealogy binders, genealogy books, loose newspaper clippings, and more.  Here they are arriving at our home.

What To Do with So Many Boxes?

My husband and I are planners. We like to be organized. So we took a breath and decided we needed to sort the collection. First we needed a place to put the boxes where they would not be in the way but would be accessible. Then we could slowly and methodically "triage" the contents into organized groups of items.

Step One - Move & Triage!

So we moved to step one - moving the incoming boxes into our living room. Some had gotten wet in the journey in the rain from Dunnville to our home so removing the contents from wet boxes was our first priority.

My dogs helping me start the process

We took a break at this point but we plan to triage the contents ASAP. We saw at a glance that there are various items - hardcover genealogy books, genealogy booklets, binders of newspaper clippings, binders of research notes, family genealogies, and more. This next step will be a fun sort to organize into groups that we can either move to our basement until we have time to work on the contents, or keep in my office for starting an inventory.

The Journey Begins

Please follow along on our journey to inventory and preserve these documents. We aren't archivists but we plan to do our best. We also hope to figure out a way to make the documents accessible to genealogists and historians. If you have ideas or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments on this blog post.