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November 6, 2013

Clues You Can Find in a Census Record!

Clues You Can Find in a Census Record!
Bonnie recently asked Olive Tree Genealogy this question about her ancestors:

I have recently found my Grandmother listed on the 1901 Ontario Census in the township of Wroxeter in Huron County.  She was born on August 5, 1899.  Her parents were George J Harris and Agnes J Harris born Jan 3, 1875 and Sept 21, 1877 respectively.  I was hoping to find where George and Agnes were born, and when their families emigrated and from where?  We know very little about the Harris side of the family so I was very excited to see this much!
Dear Bonnie - It is easy to overlook clues that are in a record. For instance ONE census record can often provide a great many new facts and clues to work on. 


First let me show you some important facts I think you may have overlooked on that 1901 census. A look at the online image shows that George was born in Ontario and his wife Agnes in the USA. Agnes gives her year of immigration from America to Canada as 1881.

This means you can search the Ontario birth registrations to find who George's parents were. You also know that it is quite likely George and Agnes were married in Ontario so I'd start looking at Ontario marriage records. This should give you both sets of parents' names for the bride and the groom.

Secondly, Wroxeter is not the township where the couple lived. It is a village in Howick Township, Huron County.  The census images clearly indicates Wroxeter Village and a quick search online reveals the township it is in.

Third,  did you note they are Presbyterian? That will be helpful to you in hunting for church and burial records.

Fourth, I am not convinced that George has the middle initial of "J". From the image it is difficult to tell if that is a "J" or "Jr" for Junior. Keep an open mind and try to find more proof that he has a middle name starting with "J" or that he is the son of a man named George.


I've mentioned some of the clues above but here is a list of clues you can work on from facts in that one census record

1. Search Presbyterian church records for baptisms, marriages and even deaths and burials.

 2. Look for Agnes and George marrying in Ontario, I'd guess sometime around 1897-1901.

3. Look for Agnes as a single woman in the 1881 and 1891 Ontario census records. Remember she says she came from USA to Canada in 1881.

4. Look for George and Agnes in 1911 and 1921 Ontario Census. (Hint: Look for them in Saskatchewan records too... try their 1906 and 1916 census)


Find the family in every census record possible. Compile a list of all their children then search for births and marriages of each child. Sometimes you will gather more clues and facts from a sibling's records that you are unable to find from your direct ancestor. For example birth registrations will usually give the mother's maiden name.

Once you have Agnes' maiden name, and hopefully her parents' names from a marriage record, search for her in the American census records before 1881 (1880 would be a good one!) This should give you the state she was born in.

Search for George's birth registration (search 1875 plus/minus 2 years to be safe) and then start looking for him in the 1881 and 1891 census of Ontario. (Hint: George was born in Turnbury, Huron County....)


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