Monday, 28 January 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 4 - I'd Like to Meet John Wellington McDonald

John McDonald and his daughter Marion

This week's 52 Ancestors prompt is "I'd like to Meet". I have more than one ancestor I'd love to sit down with:

  • My 6x great grandfather Michael BASTARCHE DIT BASQUE. His and his brother Pierre were deported by the British from Acadia to South Carolina in 1755. They fled and went on an incredible journey through the American colonies, Quebec and New Brunswick to finally be reunited with his wife and children in Prince Edward Island. You can find his story in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  • Any of my Foreign Protestant ancestors, who came over from what is now Switzerland, Germany and France. They founded Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It would be incredible to hear what their lives were like before they came, and to hear why they came.
  • My grey sheep 2x great grandfather Honore GOVEREAU. Originally born Germain DEVEAU in Quebec, he migrated to the Boston area with his wife and child. He left them to find work in New Brunswick and never returned. He changed his name and married 2 more times. I descend from his marriage to his last wife, Appoline Savoie. My recent DNA matches to DENEAU descendants has confirmed for me his original name. I call him my grey sheep ancestor because life is not black or white, and neither are people. I would really like to know why he made the choices he did.
  • My great grandfather James Henry DOUGLAS. His birthplace is a mystery. Somehow around the end of WWI he ended up in Glasgow, Scotland. There he met my great grandmother Mary Black MACARTHUR, had 2 children, and then brought her to Canada. There they had 4 more children. He also informally adopted Mary's children from her first marriage.
The person I'd like most to meet though is my great grandfather John Wellington MCDONALD. He's been my biggest brick wall, and I'd love to find out more about him. It frustrates me to no end that the man who my surname comes from is the one I know the least about. Every bit of information I've got on him was hard won. All records I have about him state he was born in Ontario. Somehow between 1922 and 1925 he went to Nova Scotia and met my great grandmother, and ran off with her to Ontario. My sadly short time line pertaining to John is as follows. 

14 June 1894?
John's marriage and death registrations give birth calculations of 1894 and 1896. I have not been able to find a definitive birth registration for him. 

27 June 1922
Edna marries her second husband Adolphus FREDERICKS in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Record obtained from Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics.
26 January 1925
Jack and Edna are in Ontario. My grandfather Edward James MCDONALD is born in Cochrane, Ontario. Information obtained from family.

6 November 1927
My great aunt Beulah Gertrude Marion MCDONALD is born in Cochrane, Ontario. Information obtained from family.

19 April 1929
My great uncle Hector Martin MCDONALD is born in North Bay, Ontario. Information obtained from family.

1 August 1932
My great aunt Pauline MCDONALD is born somewhere in Ontario. The date of birth came from her death registration.

14 November 1934
Pauline dies of the flu in Toronto, Ontario. John is in the informant on the death certificate and stated he was born in Ontario.

25 June 1935
John and Edna have a still born baby boy in Toronto, Ontario. Jack stated he was born in Kingston, Ontario.

John is a plastics worker living on 34 McMurrich Street, St. Paul's, Ontario. Obtained from Ancestry's Canada Voter's Lists collection.

John is a taxi driver, and still living on McMurrich Street. Obtained from Ancestry's Canada Voter's Lists collection.

19 March 1956
John and Edna finally decide to get married. I'm not sure if the late wedding had to do with pension concerns, or if it was because of Edna's second husband. A death certificate for Adolphus FREDERICKS has never been found. John states he was born in Ontario, and the son of John Angus MCDONALD and Mildred MURPHY. He states they are immigrants from Ireland. John also states he is a bachelor.  Information obtained from their marriage registration.

John is a taxi driver, and the family has moved to 415 Christie Street in Toronto, Ontario. Obtained from Ancestry's Canada Voter's Lists collection.

5 February 1964
John dies in Greenacres Nursing Home in Newmarket, Ontario.  Information obtained from John's death certificate. Edna was the informant, and stated that she did not know his parents' names, only that they were born in Ireland. Which says to me she never met them.

Unfortunately his obituary in the Toronto Star does not give any information either.

In summary, this is what I have about John:

  • Born in Kingston, Ontario about 1894
  • Son of Irish immigrants John Angus McDonald and Mildred Murphy
  • Lived in Cochrane and North Bay Ontario, before settling in Toronto
  • Married Edna in 1956 in Toronto, Ontario.
  • Died in 1964 in Newmarket Ontario

The information I have about John was obtained from the following record sets:

What I am still looking for is a record of John's birth in Ontario. I also have yet to locate him before 1925. I have found no definitive record of him with either of his parents. In fact, I have found no definitive records of his parents in Canada. 

Interestingly enough, there is a John Wellington McDonald born in Nova Scotia in the 1870's. He is NOT my John however. Firstly, this John was born about 20 years before my great grandfather. Secondly, once I "killed him off" Nova Scotia John, I found that he married someone else, and is buried with her in Nova Scotia.

My next steps to find out more about my tight lipped ancestor John:
  • Obtain birth registrations for Edward, Marion, Hector and Pauline. Because they were all born less than 104 years ago, I will have to apply to the Ontario Registrar General for these. As I am not the nearest next of kin, I will have to ask older members of my family to give me a hand. 

  • Contact or visit the Presbyterian Church Archives in Toronto. John and Edna were married in St. John's Presbyterian church, and I'm hoping the church register might have some information.

  • The family thinks John may have served in World War I. I am wading through all the MCDONALD soldiers to try and find a connection to John, John Angus, or Mildred. As you can imagine, it's slow going. Library and Archives Canada recently completed their massive digitization project of services records for WWI Canadians soldiers. You can access the collection on the LAC website under the collection title Personnel Records of the First World War.

  • Send away for the 1940 National Registration Record for John. These records are not publicly available, but you can apply to get a copy of them from Statistics Canada. You can see an explanation of the record set here. The link to order the records is here.

  • I have over a thousand 4th cousin or closer DNA matches, thanks to my French Canadian/ Acadian maternal side. I have 1st cousins and an aunt on my maternal side who've also tested. By looking at who they DON'T match to, I've managed to isolate a group of matches that look to come from my paternal side. I'm hoping to exchange information with these matches to see if I can determine where and how we match.

If your family tree has a John MCDONALD that you think might be my great grandfather, I would love to hear from you. My contact information can be found on the Contact Page tab.

Monday, 21 January 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 3 - Unusual Names

This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt is Unusual Name. I have not been blessed in my own research with many unusual names. My maternal French Canadian side has a fondness for the names  Joseph and Mary/Marie that borders on the ridiculous. My paternal side has heavily favoured the names James and  John. My recently discovered Scottish MacArthurs are starting to look like they feel strongly about the name Dougald.

In the course of researching other people's trees and blog posts, I have come across some fabulously unusual names. They've made me a little jealous that I don't have names like these in my tree. Here are some of the unusual names from my own and other people's trees I have come across:

My Family Tree

  • Great aunt Beulah Gertrude Marion McDonald. Born 1927 Ontario, Canada, died 2010 Toronto, Ontario.
  • 2x Great uncle Freeman Elias Johnson. Born 1899 Nova Scotia, Canada, died 1959 Nova Scotia, Ontario.
  • 4x Great grandfather Joseph Savoie. His given names were not unusual, but he seems to have been known as Rooster. Born about 1750 in Acadia, Canada, died 1810 in New Brunswick.
  • 6x Great grandmother Magdeline Schwineheimer. Magdaline and her parents were part of the Foreign Protestant settlers of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
  • 6x Great grandfather Ulrich Hubley. Born about 1719 in what is now Germany, died 1802 Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
  • 8x Great grandfather Jean Bastarache dit Le Basque. Born about 1658 in the Basque region of southern France, died 1733 in Acadia. Those familiar with the French Canadian "dit" names know that these are names that can best be described as nicknames to distinguish men or families with similar names.

My Inlaws' Family Tree
  • Hamlet Wood. Born 1870 in Halifax, England. Died 1944 Ontario, Canda
  • Francis Parnel Gladwish. Born about 1837 Kent, England. Died 1886 Kent, England
  • Hannah Maria Horsfield. Born 1850 Halifax, England. Death Unknown
  • Sarah Tooby. Born 1809 Derbyshire, England. Died 1855 Derbyshire, England

Unusual Names I've Comes Across
  • Willoughby Nicolson Noble Norrie. Born 1869 Angus, Scotland. Died 1944 Ontario, Canada. My favourite name I've discovered by far.
  • Reuben Cardinell. Born 1845 Ontario, Canada. Death unknown.
  • Fanny Jane Oldfield. Born England. Death unknown. What is unusual is that Fanny was her legal given name, and not a nickname.
  • Almilda Sager. Born 1851 Ontario, Canada. Died 1915 Ontario, Canada.
  • North Clark. Born 1815 Durham, England. Died 1899 Durham England.
  • Charles Longmuir King. Born 1902 Aberdeen, Scotland. Died 1972 British Columbia, Canada
  • Commodore Conley Cowger. Born 1909 West Virginia, USA. Died 1999 West Virginia, USA.

Monday, 14 January 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 2 - The Challenge of Organization: Forms and Charts

This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt is "Challenge". I have two great grandfathers by the names of John MCDONALD and James DOUGLAS that are challenges. I have yet to find which cabbage patches they came from. My biggest challenge however, is organization. I'm sure I'm not alone on that one, so I've decided to make my challenge post about forms and charts.

Once you start getting deeper in your family tree, being able to keep track of what you've looked at, what you have, and what you need to find becomes essential. Especially if you're like me and do the old school paper thing for at least some of your ancestors. I keep paper files of my direct lines. Collateral lines are kept on my Ancestry tree. I've built a little collection of links that I like to use to to find my forms.

Ancestry has a form for just about anything you might need for your research files.

Family Tree
This great site has a ton of varieties of forms. They are free to use, though if you want fillable PDF versions for some of the forms, you'll have to pay a small fee.

Family Search
Family Tree Magazine
I cannot remember where I first found these. Global Genealogy is in the main URL, but I could not find a way to find it on their main site now.

Bailey's Free Genealogy Forms
Click here to access their free research forms:
  • Pedigree charts
  • Family Record Sheet
  • Cemetery Logs
  • Time Lines Forms
  • Research Log
  • Correspondence Log
  • Relationship Chart

Monday, 7 January 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 1 - First Nominal Census in Canada

Amy Johnson Crow has started a new year of her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompts. Each week for 52 weeks, Amy gives a theme for participants to write about your family history. You don't have to be a blogger to join in. The point is to get yourself writing abut your ancestors. My blog focuses on more on record sets than on my personal family history. Because of that, my blog posts will try and feature Canadian record sets tying into the prompts, rather than strictly on my personal research.

This week's prompt is "First", so I'm going to look at the first census taken in Canada. The first major census in Canada was in 1851/1852, but that's not the first census taken. There was several small censuses done in the 2 centuries before the 1851/1852 census. Library and Archives Canada's finding aid on early Census records states they have records going back to 1640 onsite, and is described as "notes on Montreal neighbourhoods". The earliest nominal census return is from 1666. Many of my ancestors appear in this census, as I am the 11x great granddaughter of Louis Gaston Hebert, who came to New France first in 1606. He went back to France, and came back with his wife, Marie Rollet, and their 3 children to settle permanently in 1617. Thanks to a small population, and intermarrying, I also descend from several of the first few waves of settlers in New France. For simplicity's sake, I'm just going to look for the direct descendants of Louis.

You can find the digitized 882 images of the 1666 census here on Hèritage. This census is almost a work of art. The handwriting is beautiful, and you can read each page clearly. It is in French of course. However, you will not need an advanced knowledge of French to be able to read it. The first few pages comprise of the names of the men and women who lived and worked in the seminary and hospital. After that they list those families in the surrounding area. The wonderful and unusual thing about this early census is that it lists all members of the household. As well, married women are listed with their maiden names, a common practice that French Canadian researchers benefit from. Unmarried, or those with spouses still in France, are listed under a special heading. Take a look at this sample page:

The areas covered are:

  • Quebec
  • Beaupre
  • Beauport
  • Ile d'Orleans
  • St. Jean, St. Francois and St. Michel
  • Sillery (Cap Rouge and St Francois Xavier)
  • Notre Dame des Anges, La Rivere St. Charles and Charlesbourg
  • Coste de Lauuzon
  • Montreal
  • Trois Riveres

If you are finding things hard to decipher, don't despair. There are two published transcriptions of the census on Internet Archive here and here. The nice thing besides the clarity on Internet Archive is the fact than you also use their search bar at the top right to search for specific names. A word of advice though if you try the search function: Use as many variations on spelling as you can think of.

Louis and Marie have passed by the time of this census, and so has my 10x great grandfather Guillaume Herbert. My 10x great grandmother, Helen Des Portes, has remarried to Noel Morin. They can be found in St. Jean, St. Francois and St. Michel:

What I find really interesting is how many of these surnames are still in existence 350-ish years later. Not only still in existence, but well known and common. In my non genealogy job I see some of these surnames quite often in northern British Columbia, some 5,000 or so kilometers away. Some have been anglicized in pronunciation, but you can still see the French surname they originated from.

If you would like to explore more of the pre-1851 census records, be sure to check out the LAC Finding Aid on early census records.