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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.


Anonymous said...

"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."
There is another possibility: I have seen tombstones without a death date before but the person was definitely buried there. As you suggest, the stone was erected before they died, but in these cases there was no death date because no one in the family initiated having it added-- either they lived elsewhere or "just didn't get around to it."

Anonymous said...

Agree with the alternative suggestion of no death date. Don't overlook cemetery records. Perhaps there is a burial record which list the death date or at least the burial date which can help locate a death date. It may even list the funeral director and/or the funeral home in charge of the burial.

Jackie Corrigan said...

The family is also in the 1926 census