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February 27, 2020

Don't Let Assumptions Mislead you in Your Genealogy Research

Lisa asked:

I have my Grandfather’s birth certificate which was issued in 1965 (he was born in 1917), his name on the certificate is Leo John Roy.  All his Military ID is listed as Leo Napoleon Roy.  His Father’s name was Pierre and his Mother, Cecile.  I found them on the 1921 census,  however,  the names are listed as Pete and Elvina.  Childrens names (Leo, Bertha and Albert) are correct.  I cannot find any info apart from that census on anyone in the Roy family.  My Great Grandmother, Cecile is listed on a tomb in Manitoba as she later married a William McNabb.  I believe her maiden name was also McNabb but am unsure.  Her death date is not listed on the tomb.  I believe she was born on June 26, 1893. Pierre,  I believe was 1 year older.  My Grandparents (Leo and Minnie May) lived in Thunder Bay, ON but came from Manitoba.  I believe Cecile came from Manitoba also,  not too sure on Pierre (Pete).  Cecile also looks native in the few pictures I have.  Leo was born in Stonewall,  Manitoba and later lived in The Pas, Manitoba.  He joined the military in the early 1940’s and was based out of Winnipeg.  He was born on June 20, 1917 and died on January 12, 1967.  He was a hoisting engineer after his Military time.  

1921 Census Manitoba
Lisa - Let's go through your query one question at a time. First, in the 1921 census we do see Elvina. I suggest that is likely Cecile's middle name. You will want to look for records to verify this - her marriage, birth or death record perhaps.

Next, seeing Pierre listed as Pete in 1921 is not unusual since the French name Pierre is the English name Peter.

The tomb with Cecile's name on it but no death date suggests to me that the stone was erected before she died but she was never buried there.

As for Pierre and Cecile's ages, you can estimate their years of birth from the 1921 census but of course you will want to find them in earlier census records too. He is listed as 27 born Quebec and she is recorded as 26 born Manitoba. While Census records can be wrong, you do have a starting point for years of birth and locations. (which answers your question about where Cecile and Pierre were from). So you will want to search Manitoba birth and census records for Cecile, and Quebec records for Pierre.  You may want to visit the Manitoba Vital Registration site where you can search the online indexes.

A good clue may turn out to be the recording of little Albert's birth location as USA. I would try to find more on Albert.

Don't be misled by photos where an ancestor "looks native". She may very well be but in the 20th century and earlier, lives were difficult and women especially often had an aged appearance which could lead to an assumption of native heritage.

February 22, 2020

Finding Burial or Death Records Before 1869 in Ontario

Norma asked Olive Tree Genealogy about her 2nd great-grandfather who died in Ontario Canada in 1855.

I have not been able to find death record and/or obituaries for my 2nd great-grandfather and his eldest son, John Bergey.

Henry S Bergey, wife Elizabeth Clemmer, and their first three children moved to Waterloo County around 1848. Three daughters were born between 1849 and 1854 in Waterloo.

My curiosity is about cause of death of both father, Henry S. Bergey, d. 17 Feb. 1855 and eldest son, John Bergey, d. 21 February 1855.
Olive Tree Genealogy answer:

Norma, vital records were not registered in Ontario before 1869. That means that deaths in 1855 should be sought in local church burial records and cemetery records. However, even if found, the cause of death is unlikely to be recorded. 

You might check local newspapers of the time (if there are any to be found) to see if you can find a death notice. 

Here is an example of a death notice published Feb 7, 1855 Globe & Mail

But don't overlook finding out what diseases might have been happening in February 1855. Perhaps there was a cholera or diptheria outbreak, and this would likely have been noted in a newspaper.

Family Bibles or letters might hold clues. Check with older relatives or on E-Bay just in case. You never know what you might find! has many death records online, including coffin plates and funeral cards. You may want to take a look there.

February 19, 2020

Ancestor Most Wanted: Edward MEEKS

I know very little about my 7th great-grandfather Edward Meeks. I have been sent some information (unsourced) from others but have not done in-depth research for myself.

Did he marry Maria Bastianse Kortright??? Or the sister of Mary Merrit wife of Walter Dobbs?? or...??

Below is the extent of the contradictory claims sent to me about Edward's wife

Claims that Edward's wife was Sarah Merrit:

Walter Dobbs lived in New Amsterdam, New York in the 17th Century. He was a mariner involved with trade at a time when all colonies along the Atlantic Ocean were interested in this activity from Bristol, England to West Caucases. Walter Dobbs and Mary Merritt married and lived on Barren Island, on leasehold of 282 acres on Frederick Philipseís Manor at present Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County New York about 1698.

His Brother-in-Law William Merritt and the possible husband of his wife's sister, Edward Meeks, were also Mariners. Walter and Edward Meeks both died in 1689. Mary Merritt, widow of Walter Dobbs was born in England in 1632 and died on Barren Island in March 1737 at the astonishing age of 104 years 9 month.

Col. William Merritt had two sisters, Mary Merritt who  married (1) Walter Dobbs; m. (2) Nathaniel Pittman) and Sara Merritt who may have married Edward Meeks;then secondly Henry Crabbe).

Claims that Edward's wife was Maritje Kortright

Edward Meek is listed in the 1702 Orange County, NY Census. Edward and Maritje Meeks lived on Spuyten Dyuvil Neck, near Fordham Manor, NY. Edward Meeks of Yonkers, Westchester County, NY, appeared before the court at Westchester on 6 Dec. 1721 to record the earmarks of his son John's cattle (John Meeks of the same place).

Edward Meeks purchased 110 acres just north of his own farm on 16 March, 1727-28, jointly with Richard Crabb (his half brother) and Isaac de la Montagne, probably Maria's cousin, son of Isaac de la Montagne and his wife Hester Van Vorst. Both Edward and Maritje were still living at Spuyten Duyvil on 19 May, 1768, when Edward Meeks sold land in Yonkers to Frederick Van Cortland, Gent.

On 19 May 1768 Edward Meeks of Yonkers Neck, yeoman, conveyed to Fredrick Van Cortlandt, Gent., land in Yonkers near the homestead of Joseph Betts, dec'd. (Liber H, p. 45)

The Question

Who was Edward's wife?

February 17, 2020

Finding Ancestors on Tithe Rolls & Plots

Thanks to Twitter frind
@Dave_Lifelines and his explanation of Tithe rolls & maps I've been plotting my ancestors! 
Currently I am working on my Higginson and Bell ancestors in Cheshire England. 
I've begun to notate the map for Elizabeth Higginson in red. Elizabeth had 24 plots in Lower Peover so it's taking me a long time. 
I have not yet plotted my Bell ancestors but one that I found is William Bell. His plot 157 is outlined in blue below.

I also took a peek at the Google street view of what is there now! Below is the Google street view of William Bell on Plot 157 Hulme Lane in Nether Peover.
Dave's explanation is at The Joy of Tithes and should not be overlooked if you have UK ancestors. 

It took me awhile, even with Dave's excellent walk-through, to understand how the Cheshire website worked. But once I played with it a bit, I got the hang of it and now I am super excited to try to find all my Cheshire ancestors.

February 15, 2020

Over 176,000 Cemetery Records Added in January 2020

Over 176,000 Cemetery Records Added in January 2020

Now online with free access at

February 1, 2020, Menifee, CA — published 176,172 cemetery records covering  41 cemeteries across 12 states, 1 province, and 2 countries, in the month of January 2020. They are now available for free viewing to the general public by visiting

These records were acquired genealogists, city and county offices, and cemetery sextons. Most of these records include dates of birth, death, and burial, and many include plot locations and names of funeral homes.

Geographic localities covered in these records…

Quebec, Canada (Brome, Compton, Drummond, Megantic, Richmond, Shefford, Sherbrooke, and Wolfe counties)
Connecticut (Hartford County)
Florida (Broward County)
Illinois (DeKalb County)
Iowa (Boone & Polk counties)
Minnesota (Washington County)
North Carolina (Mecklenburg County)
Ohio (Cuyahoga, Miami, and Tuscarawas counties)
Pennsylvania (Bucks & Dauphin counties)
Texas (Harris County)
Washington (Clark County)
Wisconsin (Columbia & Manitowoc counties)
Wyoming (Johnson County)

All records were left unedited to reflect the same information exactly as appears from their original sources.

Since 1997, has published transcriptions of cemetery records acquired from genealogists, government agencies, churches, and cemetery sextons. To date, more than 25 million records are available online for free, unlimited access.

Genealogists may browse or search the full archive, or contribute their transcriptions, by visiting

February 12, 2020

Genealogy Tip: 1842 Canadian Census Returns

Genealogy Tip: Census records for Canada were taken in 1842. Enumerators visited 17 census districts, divided into sub-districts. These units were made up of cities, towns, parishes, villages and townships. Not all returns survived. The returns for eight districts and 51 sub-districts have been preserved and are accessible at Library and Archives Canada.

1842 Census Headings Columns 1-51

HOWEVER not all pre 1851 census are online! Library and Archives Canada has the census of 1842 for Upper Canada (Ontario) online BUT their database only includes the census returns held by Library and Archives Canada.

The Archives of Ontario holds the census returns that still exist for other places; however, they are not digitized, not available online and not included in LAC's database. So you would have to consult Archives of Ontario if your folks don't show up in the online LAC database
When using LAC online searchable 1842 census, be aware that the 1842 Census for Canada West consists of 2 pages:
  • Columns 1 to 51 appear on the first page.
  • Columns 51 to 89 appear on the second page.
The first page is on the digitized image link to an entry in the database for an individual.  If you want to view the second page, increase by one the last digit of the url address of an image that appears in the navigation box of your browser.

February 10, 2020

Greek Genealogy Records Online

A new website launched January 29th. It is and is for anyone searching their Greek ancestors. As the site says, it is "Your gateway to searchable databases of Greek records"

To begin your search, you first choose one of four areas: Tripoli, Chania, Sparta, Kalamata. The site is in English and Greek so don't worry if you can't read Greek.

Next you search by surname or town or village. If you know a record ID you can search using that. If you find a result of interest you can order the record.

As a fun test, I searched for my friend Louis Poulias by his surname and found one hit. If it were one of his ancestors he could order the record.

Bones found in home renovation may be Revolutionary soldiers

Human skeletal remains possibly belonging to Revolutionary War soldiers have been discovered under an 18th-century house being renovated in Danbury Connecticut.

Three skeletons have been discovered of adult males lying in an east-west orientation, and several Revolutionary War buttons were found nearby.

The town is the site of the Battle of Ridgefield in April 1777.

Continue reading 

Photo credit: By Bernard Romans; User:Magicpiano - This map is available from the United States Library of Congress's Geography & Map Division under the digital ID g3780.ar102300.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., CC BY-SA 4.0,

February 8, 2020

More Questions Answered re Relationshp Terms

Ann asked about relationship terms:

What is my sons relationship to a) my first cousin and b) to her children. And what is my sons relationship to my nieces children.
I keep coming up with the same answer to each of the questions but surely they cant be the same??
No they aren't the same. First thing you should note is that you have different generations so there will be some times removed (as in 2nd cousin 3 times removed). Times removed refers to the number of generations between each person.

Then you have cousins versus nieces so right away you have different relationships.

For example the child of your first cousin is your son's second cousin. 
Your first cousin is your son's first cousin once removed

You could try Steve Morse's Relationship Calculator.  Read his instructions and start entering your terms. Also try this Relationship chart as it may be easier to use.

February 5, 2020

Olive Tree Genealogy is 25 Years Old!

Guess what? It's Olive Tree Genealogy website's 25th birthday! Yep, I started my site in February1995. I'm not talking about this blog, which turned 16 yesterday. I'm talking about my huge website!

I'd never have thought it would become so popular, or that I would still be working on it 25 years later! It's funny how life takes unexpected twists and turns.

After my husband died, and I was injured at school, and had not worked for a year (due to injuries), one of my good friends encouraged me to start a website on that new-fangled thing called "the internet". 

I had no idea how to do that, but he just kept telling me "You're smart, you'll figure it out!" Well I'm not sure how smart I am, but I'm stubborn.  Back in those days there were no editors, so I had to learn through trial and error, how to code a website using html.

I started small on a lovely battle-ship grey background (anyone else remember those days when all sites were battle-ship grey with no bells or whistles?)

I wrote up name on one ship's passenger list from the early 1600s that I found with my ancestor Cornelis Van Slyke's name on the manifest - and it got such a positive response from folks online that I put up another. And another. And another. I've lost track of how many ships passenger lists I have published on Olive Tree Genealogy's Ship section - hundreds if not thousands!

This is my most recent Olive Tree Genealogy logo. If you're interested, you can see the evolution of my tree image and a few images of the original look of the site over the past 25 years.

And that is how it all began. My project for 2020 is revamping Olive Tree Genealogy with a new look, a new navigation system, and more great (free) content!

Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement, for visiting over the years, for offering ideas -- I appreciate all of you. I'm only 73 so I'm good to go at least another 25 years if you'll let me.

February 3, 2020

Happy 16th Birthday to My Blog!

Wow. I can't believe I started Olive Tree Genealogy blog in February 2003.

I've always had a structured timeline for posting, and for several years I posted every single day! I don't know how I did it.

For the past year or so I've been writing and posting three times a week. And yes, it gets more and more challenging to think of topics to talk about!

I write about lots of things - new databases online, tips for searching specific records, new projects Olive Tree Genealogy is working on, the new books I've completed and published, genealogy wish lists, genealogy discussions, and occasionally my own ancestors. I like to keep this blog more generic than talking about my own ancestry.

But I'm still hanging in and hoping my readers are getting something worthwhile out of my blogging - because believe me, it's not easy. It is truly a labour of love. The only thing that keeps  me going is my hope/belief that I'm adding something of value to online genealogy.

So... cheers! I'll keep blogging as long as I sense a need.

February 1, 2020

FInding a Ships Passenger List in 1852

Recently Billy F. wrote to ask Olive Tree Genealogy about a ships' passenger list. Here is Billy's email:

I can't seem to locate the ship's manifest on-line - but my cousin sent me a copy of the Ships Manifest. ( so I know it exists ) Our family ( Fields  - 5 family members ) came  over from Liverpool on the SS City of Washington in 1852. Pithin Page  was the Master.

My question is that I noticed that you wrote that ships coming to the States before 1855 had no receiving station - what does that exactly mean? Is there anyway to find out the location ( or most likely ) where the ship docked and let off my anscestors??? Or do you think I will never know the answer?

Can you point me to a place I can go that might be able to give me as much information as possible? Ex. - who did all of these ship's manifests filled out by the Masters get turned in to ???  If they all got saved, someone must be holding them  ( correct ??? )
Olive Tree Genealogy's answer:

Billy you haven't told me where your ancestor landed - America? Canada? Or somewhere else?  If it was in Canada, you have a challenge ahead of you. 

Before 1865 ships passenger list to Canada did not have to be archived. There are some lists but the challenge is finding them as they are few and far between. However there are substitute lists such as Shipping Company Records, Immigration Agent Records, St. Lawrence Steamship Records, etc. See Filling in the Gaps at for links to alternate records for pre 1865 immigration AND for details on any that are available only offline.

If your ancestor landed in America you can search passenger lists from 1820 on at They have published indexes and images for all ships landing in USA.  In fact I had a quick look and has published indexes and images for the City of Washington landing in New York in March, July, and October of 1852.

Re your comment that I wrote "ships coming to the States before 1855 had no receiving station" that is not an accurate quote. I assume you are talking about my page online for ships arriving in New York at The accurate quote on my page, which referred only to New York, is "1624-31 July 1855: no receiving station" 

For years after 1855 I provided the name of the receiving station. It is important to understand that a receiving station was an official place that received and processed passengers. That does not mean ships did not land in New York before 1855, it simply means there was no official place to process them.