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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.