A Research Error

I made a critical error in my newspaper search for an obituary for John Young, my 3 great grandfather.  Going from memory, I confused John’s death date and place with that of his son-in-law, John McIntosh who lived in Lucknow, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. John Young died intestate or without a will in Goderich Township, Huron County, Ontario. The land indenture created because of his death stated he died on the 18 March 1875. The indenture, a legal document registered on March 23, 1875 – quite soon after his death – most likely has his correct death date.  

By 1879 the land previously owned by John Young – Lot 35 9th Concession of Goderich Township was sold to Arthur Churchill. https://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/Images/Maps/TownshipMaps/hur-m-goderich.jpg

Running late, I wanted to begin researching immediately. Instead of checking the facts before starting, I jumped into looking at the Lucknow Sentinel newspaper for January 1890 but John Young died in March 1875. It was John McIntosh who died sometime in 1890 or later in Lucknow.

Not realizing my mistake, I searched the paper for 2 hours. There was some interesting gossip, social history and some amusing stories. Two hours of searching gave me a feel for what was happening in Lucknow. There was a new fire truck, runaway horses on main street and a distinct bias from the editor toward prohibition but no mention of Goderich township. Hmm, something was wrong.

The Lucknow Sentinel newspaper is still published. https://www.lucknowsentinel.com/

I realized my error at lunch. I was looking at newspapers in the wrong place! I needed the Huron Signal, not the Lucknow Sentinel. That was two hours of wasted researching. Not a total waste because I have relatives who settled in Lucknow but my goal for the day was to find John Young’s obituary. Less than 30 minutes later, looking in the correct newspaper, I found it – there was a short story under the Clinton and Vicinity Local News,

“On Thursday last Goderich township lost one of her oldest pioneers, in the person of John Young, of the Tipperary line, he having emigrated to the township, which was then a howling wilderness, in the year 1833, where he resided till his death. His funeral was attended by a very large circle of sorrowing friends.”

The Huron Signal, 31 March 1875, page 3 “Death of John Young”

This is a great find! It was worth the search? Here is what I discovered. The newspaper was dated March 31, 1875. My calculations showed “Thursday last” was March 25 but because the land indenture was dated March 23, he could not have died on the 25th. The Thursday prior to March 25 is March 18, 1875 – the same date as the given on the indenture. It’s not a reliable source but now there are 2 records that give the same death date.  

The article says he came to Goderich Township in 1833, sooner than I expected. Once the Family History Centre opens, I can check the Ontario Land Record Index to see when he purchased land in the area. Another thing that is interesting is that he lived on Tipperary line, supposedly named that because people from Tipperary lived in the area. Tipperary is where I believe John is from, but the proof is minimal. I can do some research on the “Tipperary line” to see what it refers to. Searching for this was worth it.

Back to my critical error. There were steps I could have taken to avoid this mistake. Here are suggestions on how to avoid making research mistakes:

  • Write down your goal – having it in front of you is a reminder to stick to your search.
  • Double check your facts before you begin researching – this ensures you look in the right place and the right dates
  • Write down the facts so they are easily accessible – it’s easy for facts to get jumbled in your mind when you research many ancestors.

How do you make sure you search the correct records? Let me know in the comments and happy searching.


Canada.Ontario; Land records of Huron County, 1847-1956; Goderich Township, v. 8 (1076-1450) 1874-1876; FamilySearch film 8344106 online image 226-228; microfilm of originals in Goderich, Huron, Ontario, Canada

The Huron Signal, March 1875, https://pubdocs.huroncounty.ca/WebLink/Browse.aspx?id=293342&dbid=0&repo=CoH

The Lucknow Sentinel, 1890 – 1992, https://pubdocs.huroncounty.ca/WebLink/Browse.aspx?id=970561&dbid=0&repo=CoH

Ontario County Atlas Project, McGill University, https://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/

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