Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Canadian connection

Dumb luck strikes again. I was poking around the FamilySearchLabs website plugging various names in and collecting bits and pieces of information. Some I knew some I didn't, I even found a few names I didn't know about. Most of the info was for my father's side, since I have a lot more surnames to research on his side than on my mother's.

But tonight I decided to try some of my maternal lines just to see what would happen. As previously reported, the FamilySearchLabs site has added millions of records and it can sometimes be a goldmine. Well, tonight, I wouldn't say I hit the 'mother' load yet but I gained a possible clue to my great-great grandfather, Edmund L.C. Robinson.

According to his death certificate, he was born in Canada, and because of a book that his mother had inscribed to him, I have been assuming that he was born in Hamilton, Ontario. I know nothing else about his mother since when she inscribed the book she used only initials 'M.E.' which doesn't help me find her name. His father's name is John, at least according to his death certificate but again I know nothing else about him

So I plugged Edmund L C Robinson into the FS website and one of the first two hits was obvious, his death certificate, which I already have. But the second was interesting. It was for the 1871 Canadian census. It gave the right birth year (1848), his age (23), ethnic origin, religion, and more importantly the census PLACE, that being St. Andrew's, Ward C, Hamilton 24 Ontario. It also gave the page, line, house and family numbers.

I could view the matching image at Ancestry (if the library was open tomorrow) and see if he is living with his parents, which would definitely make it a goldmine. At the moment I've got a request into a genealogy group asking any member that has access to Ancestry if they could send me a link to the image. If that doesn't come through I'll wait till Tuesday (tomorrow being Memorial Day) and look it up myself. What I'm most curious about is whether or not Edmund had any siblings, because if (and I know its a BIG if) but if he did then maybe I can track them to America, since I know Edmund came to Chicago eventually as he married my great-great grandmother in 1881. I might also be able to track his parents back to England, but again, that's only IF he was living with them when the 1871 census was taken. It also depends on when he came to Chicago, if it was after 1880, then I'll never find him in the 1880 census (though I always look for him). I can also try that tact again now that I know for sure he was born in Canada.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Genealogy spring cleaning

Genealogy can take on many forms and have a variety of effects on different people. It can be exciting when you find an ancestor you've been search years to find. It can also be frustrating when you know your ancestor is in the census records but they claim different.

Even if you don't think you have that many relatives, say your family was small, don't think that you won't find anything interesting. Even a family that had one or two children can lead to ancestors that had 10 or 12 who had children and well you know how it goes from there. That's the other reason collateral genealogy is so important, because you never know what you'll find out about great-grandpa if you don't dig into information about his siblings, aunts and uncles.

Yesterday, I wanted to find a photo to put on Facebook. Its of my brother (13 years my senior) holding me a few days after I was born. It was taken in front of the Christmas tree and its always been a favorite. I cleaned out the closet in the room I use for an 'office' but haven't found it yet. The room itself has its own history in that it was once my brother's bedroom, before I came along anyway. Then it was my room, once he moved to the room upstairs. Then it was my mother's room for a while. After she passed away and I finally broke down and went through her things, I decided to turn it into an office.

Its been an office where I keep my computer, my genealogy information and for at least a part of it, my Nancy Drew and series book collection. It has my computer desk, a desk my paternal grandfather refinished that holds office supplies, a day bed (that my cat loves to sleep on and under), a bookcase that holds some genealogy and some series books along with a stereo and a 5-shelf bookcase that has most of my paperback series book collection. But the closet, at least until yesterday, had mostly junk in it. It is just right for a genealogist who is accumulating a LOT of paper and let's face it, even though you do most of your research using a computer (or at least I do) and put what you find in a computer program, you are STILL going to collect information on paper, especially when you print things out.

I know you're thinking, what's your point? My point is that even if your family is small now, it probably wasn't this small 100 or even 200 years ago and if you have been thinking about starting to research your family, be prepared to collect lots of information. Even if you don't think you will, BELIEVE ME you will. You can start out using part of a room but if you have the space, like an extra room in your house, take advantage of it and make that your genealogy room. Granted I have split my office between genealogy and Nancy Drew but don't think the teenage sleuth takes up more room than my ancestors, she doesn't.

You may start out with just your four grandparents but remember that they EACH had two parents. One other thing, have FUN doing the research I think that's the most important thing you can gain from starting, even if you only do it on weekends or when the kids are asleep. Remember, you can always search online in your PJs at 3 am. :-)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

FamilySearchLabs does it again

FamilySearchLabs has been on a major updating roll as of late. They recently completed their 'beta' site and have introduced within the last few days dozens of newly indexed records to the site. The majority of the indexes some of which include actual images, have been birth/baptism, marriage and death/burial indexes for various states as well as one for the entire US. This is a plus for researchers because much like I did the other day with Elizabeth (Wear) Hahn's first husband Jacob, they can find bits of information on ancestors and/or relatives where they have some info but need that one missing piece to confirm that they really did find the right person. In other words, take my finding Jacob Hahn. I used the daughter he had with Elizabeth, Lillie because I wanted to find whether or not she did die after the 1880 census. At the same time I was able to find her father's first name.

Just today the site released another database/index that I was pleasantly surprised to see. They have had indexes for both Cook County, Illinois (specifically Chicago) birth and marriage records complete with images and now they have added the third vital record, death certificates. Granted it is only for the years 1878-1922, but much like the other two it is one database that I had been secretly hoping they would index and one day release to the site. As far as this researcher is concerned, FamilySearchLabs is on the right track and if they complete the birth and marriage record databases for Cook County I'll be doing a LOT more research for my maternal lines in the coming days and weeks.

As a matter of fact, when I got my daily digest of messages from the Cook County, IL message board announcing this latest addition to the site I immediately went there and started a search for my great-great grandmother's first husband and the actual father of my great-grandfather, Albert John Ring. His father's name, at least according to his brother's birth record, was Martin Olsen. Dozens came up but I had a bit of an idea when he died. And I actually thought I'd found him but the date is off. This Martin Olsen died in 1887, which is six years or so after Julia, his widow married Fred Ring. The one clue that made me think at first that it was him was where he is buried, Mt. Olive. That happens to be the name of the cemetery where Julia is buried (though she had no headstone). So I am going to continue to look for him and perhaps I can find some other relatives from my mother's side of the family since most if not all lived in and around Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.