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Genealogy Miracles

I love it when miracles happen in research. The latest one occurred while searching for the children of William and Fanny Atkins. Fanny died in 1902 leaving 7 children ranging in age from 3 to 14 years old. Of course, there were 5 girls who would have changed their names when they married. I had information on one of them, my great grandmother, Kate Atkins Harrison. I asked my cousin Ken if he knew where the children ended up. The story he heard was that Kate ended up in Canada because her sister had lifted her hand up when someone asked “who wants to go to Canada”.

In the 1911 census, William Atkins and his son, Jesse, were enumerated in the Amersham workhouse. Jesse was going to school, most likely run by the workhouse. The workhouse had 119 male and 74 female inmates (yes, that’s what they were called). The workhouse consisted of a new and old infirmary, vagrants ward, porter’s lodge, and the body of the house.

Jesse was in the workhouse but where were Elizabeth Beatrice, Edith Emily, Rosa, Kate, Alice Minnie, and Horace. I checked the 1911 census for these children but found nothing conclusive. That’s when the first miracle happened.

Left to right Bea Atkins, Kate Harrison, Horace Atkins, Jesse Atkins

After playing around for a while trying to find these children, I decided to go back and start with the youngest child, Jesse. An Ancestry Tree had him living in New Jersey so I searched for Jesse Atkins born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England and living in New Jersey. You know how when you are looking at records on Ancestry, on the right hand side Ancestry gives suggestions for other records. I checked them all and one of them, New York Passenger and Crew lists was my miracle. There was a Jesse Atkins who arrived in New York in 1916. He was asked the name and full address of his relative in the country of origin. His response was Mrs. Edith Sackett of Putney, London, England…could this be the Edith Emily I was looking for? Another question asked the name and address of where he was going. He answered, Mrs. Frank Conway of 432 W 204 Street, New York City. Who was Mrs Frank Conway? I discovered, in 1913 Frank Thomas Conway married Rosa Atkins whose father is William Atkins and mother is Fannie, not Green but some other name. Is this the Rosa Atkins I want?

I was pretty sure this was my family but needed more information, I found Frank and Rosa in census records, and the US Social Security Applications and Claim indexes. Once the death date was found, I was going to stop but something prompted me to look for final closure. To make sure this actually was the Rosa Atkins I was searching for I wanted an obituary for her.

This is when the second miracle happened. I know nothing about newspapers in Elbridge, New York so decided to ask for help. I joined a facebook group called The Genealogy Squad and the people there seemed to be pretty helpful. My post was brief. I gave the name and date of death for Rosa and asked what newspaper an obituary would be in and where could I find the newspaper. Within 5 minutes I had this response,

 I found her here. It’s a newspaper archive for my area – Syracuse Post Standard. It you can’t pull it up, message me. http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html

https://www.facebook.com/groups/genealogysquad

The respondent included a copy of the actual obituary. I was so excited. The obituary contained a listing of her husband and children’s names but it also said “She is survived by….a brother, Horace Atkins of Thorton Heath, England and two sisters, Mrs Alice Plested of Brower, Ontario, Canada and Mrs Kate Harrison of Cochrane, Ontario, Canada. Who is my Great Grandmother? Mrs Kate Harrison of Cochrane, Ontario, Canada. This is the right family. Now I know where Alice Minnie, Horace, Rosa, Edith, and Jesse lived. Research flood gates are opening and I’m starting to fill in the blanks of what happened to the children after their mother died.

Two miracles , a passenger list and obituary gave me the the married names of the girls and where each child, except Elizabeth Beatrice, ended up. I never thought I’d find this information. The lessons learned here are never give up, look for every document possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Oh, and sometimes miracles do happen.

Sources
New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]; Year: 1916; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2504; Line: 1; Page Number: 176; Ancestry.com. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010; Citing: Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

The Post Standard, Syracuse, New York, February 10 1960, page 9; citing Fulton History http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.htmlSources

The Rhythm of Research

There is a meditative rhythm to genealogy research. First is a family story, hopefully with names and dates, a birth certificate found stuffed in an envelope, or a grandfather’s name in a census. Second is reading the record to discover the information it reveals, third is keeping track of what is found and fourth is locating records using the new information. And so the process goes; research, analysis, data entry,research, analysis, data entry. There are momentary distractions that lead away from the goal. Gently, focus returns; research and analysis begins again. It goes smoothly until the crash, a brick wall! The next generation is silent. Then research goes everywhere and nowhere. Look everywhere the experts advise. The cadence returns as family and neighbours are searched. Eventually, the end is reached. There is nowhere left to search, for now.

You found a record and gathered all the facts from it. That analysis leads to another record, more analysis and entering the information into your database…and so on. For example let’s look at the Atkins family. Kathleen Atkins is my biological great-grandmother. Her marriage record in Toronto, Ontario, Canada lists the names of her parents, her age and birth place. Kathleen was born in, approximately, 1894 to William Elbourne Atkins and Francis Alice Green in Buckingham, Buckinghamshire.

Pictures of Kathleen Atkins (married name is Harrison). Left to right – on her wedding day – on the wedding day of Henrietta Harrison – at her home near Cochrane, Ontario.

I search the General Register Office (GRO) for Kathleen Atkins with a mother last name Green but nothing comes up. What to do next? Well, if Kathleen was born in 1894 she must be on the 1901 census. Sure enough, there is one William E Atkins with a wife Fanny in Buckinghamshire in 1901 and they have a daughter Kate age 7 which puts her birth in 1894. She is born in Chesham Bois according to the census but this mus be the family!

Here is the basic information from the William Atkins household of 1901
William E Atkins 39
Fanny Atkins 31
Elizabeth B Atkins 12
Edith E Atkins 10
Rosa Atkins 8
Kate Atkins 7
Horace Atkins 5
Alice M Atkins 3
Edward J Atkins

1901 England Census; William Atkins Household; Class: RG13; Piece: 1334; Folio: 6; Page: 4; Ancestry.com. 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 1901.

A search in the GRO index reveals one Kate Atkins with mother’s surname Green. A copy of the birth registration ordered from the GRO shows this is the correct Kate Atkins. Kate, not Kathleen, is born the 23 February 1894 in Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire. Her parents are William Elbourne Atkins and Fanny, not Francis, Green

Birth Registration of Kate Atkins
Birth: 23 February 1894
Place: Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire, England
Name: Kate
Father: William Elbourne Atkins; occupation: worker in woodenware
Mother: Fanny Atkins, formerly Green
Informant was Fanny Atkins, her mother

England Birth Registration; Subdistrict Chesham; Registration District Amersham; Buckingham; Certified copy of Birth; Volume 3a, Page 665; General Registrars Office, Kew, England

The information, along with the source information, is then entered into a preferred database. It may be Ancestry, FamilySearch, a cloud based tree, or desktop software. Entering the information ensures the research is organized and accessible.

Continuing the rhythm of research would mean finding the marriage of William Elbourne Atkins and Fanny Green using FreeBMD and the GRO indexes. Using the information from the marriage records census records would be viewed, looking for William and Fanny as parents and as children living with their parents.

Thus goes the rhythm of genealogy research, usually looking at vital statistics and census records at first, sometimes veering off to other sources to find stories. Then comes the brick wall. There is nowhere left to search. Except for that new family that just turned up on your tree.

More DNA success

 DNA has connected me with a few distant relatives who have generously shared documents, and photos of relatives I knew. It’s so exciting to receive this information. In my last post I mentioned meeting a descendant of my great-grandfather Searle’s oldest sister, Bessie. This week I received pictures from her of my Great Grandparents and my Gramma Dunn when they were younger. How cool is that!

 The upper left picture is my great grandfather and great grandmother, William Searles and Elizabeth Searles (nee John); Edward John Drake and Elizabeth “Bessie” Drake (nee Searles), she is Grandad Searles oldest sister; my grandmother Gwen Dunn (nee Searles)

The lower left picture is another one of my Grandma Dunn when she was younger, with Reg Drake. Reg is Bessie’s youngest son and Grandma Dunn with Ken McLeod, son of Bessie’s daughter.

Thank you Joan for sending the pictures to me. I love seeing pictures of my grandmother when she was a child.

Alberta Genealogy Society Conference

I spent last weekend at a conference in Edmonton hosted by the Alberta Genealogy Society. What fun it was. I reconnected with Lesley Anderson. She and I met in Qualicum Beach last April and then again in Kelowna. As the ancestry representative for Canada she speaks everywhere. Her enthusiasm and passion for genealogy are evident when she speaks. I also had the fun of hearing Kristy Grey whose presentations will have you laughing as well as learning and Sylvia Valentine whose knowledge of English records is incredible.The latter two are from England and I was envious of their ability zip into the records offices in various counties and see the actual documents. Another speaker I listened to was Ruth Blair, whose depth of knowledge in incredible and of course Lynn Palermo who is passionate bout writing her family history and is currently working on creative non-fiction. Talk to her about it. She has me convinced that it’s one way to tell the story of your family. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hear all the speakers as I was busy.

I’ve said this before but genealogy conferences are a great way to learn how to do all things related to family history. They are also an amazing place to meet people, learn their stories and what they know. Who knows, by talking to someone you may discover a record or method that will help you get back one more generation. Kudos to the organizing committee. They worked hard to host an educational opportunity for us to enjoy.

Speaking of finding people…..yahoo! I met two more DNA cousins. Both are descendants of my great great grandfather Samuel Searles and his wife Elizabeth Atkins. How great is that!

Special thanks to Kimberly, who volunteered to take pictures of me.

The Statue

There is a statue in downtown Edmonton, Alberta of a railway worker lounging on a bench. Beside him is a lunch pail and open thermos. Each time I glimpse it, a memory startles me; it’s my Granddad Dunn! It must be the overalls and cap that remind me of him. It’s not him, of course. It’s a statue, sculpted and forged by American artist, Seward Johnson, called “Lunchbreak”.

Photo by Michael Kuby for Avenue Magazine, July 4, 2017

David Walter Dunn was born the 18 June 1906 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was the third child of John Dunn and Christina Clayton. His older sister, Jessie was born in 1902 and Clayton was born in 1904 both in Hamilton, Ontario.

In the fall of 1907, when Granddad was just a year old, his parents moved to a remote area of British Columbia near Procter, a small village on Kootenay Lake. The BC Archives has a picture of Procter in 1911. The family lived in the area less than year when his father, John Edward Dunn, drowned. Christina, with 3 children under the age of 6, moved back home to Hamilton.

Walter Dunn with his older brother, Clayton

After their dad’s death it was decided that Walter and his older brother Clayton would live in Hamilton with their mother, Grandmother Clayton, Aunt Jane and Uncle Edward Cutriss while Jessie was sent to Hudson Township, just north of New Liskeard, Ontario to live with the Dunn side of the family.

His mother, Christina, remarried 10 years after the death of her husband to a widower, James Richardson. The 1921 census has Walter and Clay living with their mother and step-father in Hudson Township, Ontario. Jessie is a teacher, lodging with a family, in the same township.

Granddad Dunn’s obituary says he started working for the railway in 1924. He would have been 18 years old. He started in Porcupine (now part of Timmins), Ontario. He was promoted to foreman in 1940. Voter’s lists, 1945 in Cochrane, 1957 in Timmins, and 1962 in Cannaught all list his occupation as section foreman.

“Baldy and his Buick” is written on first picture. Granddad looks quite dapper. The second picture could be of Granddad at work. It looks like he is the second from the right.

After his retirement from the railway in 1966, he and Grandma moved to Yellowknife, North West Territories where he worked in one of the mines. In 1972 they were back in Cochrane. They then moved to Moosonee, Ontario, a community on James Bay, where Grandma Dunn worked as a teacher.

I don’t have many memories of my grandfather. When they lived in Northern Ontario we visited my grandparents once a year at the most. One summer they were living in Cobourg, Ontario. I must have been older because I remember him teaching my brother how to make a rose out of a deck of cards.

Walter ended up in the nursing home in Cochrane where he died in November 1987.

Sources

Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935–1980. R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B). Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

1911 Canada Census; Emily Clayton Household; Hamilton, Ontario; District 78 West Hamilton; Subdistrict 14, Ward 4; page 13; Microfilm T20376; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

1911 Canada Census; David Dunn Household; Hudson and Lundy, Ontario; District 99; Subdistrict 65; page 5; Microfilm T-20386; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.

1921 Canada Census; James Richardson Household; Hudson, Temiskaming, Ontario; District 129; Subdistrict 24; Ancestry,com [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Original data: Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada.

1921 Canada Census; Andrew Young Household; Dymond Township; Temiskaming, Ontario; District 129; Subdistrict 25; Ancestry,com [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Original data: Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada: Library and Archives Canada.

Family Tree of D. Roger Timms; Temiskaming Speaker Newspaper; May 8, 1908, page 1; http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gibsondunn/news/dunnmisc.html; accessed 1 October 2013; article on death of John Edward Dunn

Obituary; David Walter Dunn; Joan Miller Collection; probably from the Cochrane newspaper shortly after November 8, 1987




Images through Time

AGS Genealogy Conference
April 26-28, 2019

I listened to a webinar with Sylvia Valentine, one of the speakers at the AGS conference. She is terrific! She has a great depth of knowledge about English records and so good at presenting it in a logical way. She’s going to be in Edmonton speaking at the Alberta Genealogy Conference. I highly recommend you come to hear her.
https://www.abgenealogy.ca/2019-ags-conference-images-through-time

They came for land

A new tractor to work the land

I love land records! I’m not sure why; maybe because most of my ancestors came to Canada for the land, or maybe because when I was young my dad advised me to buy land as an investment. “You can’t go wrong with land”, he said.

Many people immigrated to Canada for the land. The Canadian government advertised the dream of owning land in many countries. Much of the advertising took place in the late 1800’s. However, in the late 1700’s, many settlers who were persecuted for remaining loyal to the British cause during the American Revolution, fled to Upper Canada. They were promised land and were quite persistent in their requests for that land. Some of my favourite documents are from the Upper Canada Land Petitions found on the Library and Archives Canada website.

Thomas Pettit, my 5 great-grandfather, was born in 1770, probably in New York or New Jersey. He came with his father, John, and brother, Charles, and other Pettit relatives in 1788.  The area they moved to was the Nassau District of the Province of Quebec. Soon after, it was called Saltfleet Township an area very close to Hamilton, Ontario. By 1807, Thomas had 7 children. The oldest  was nearly 13 years old.

I learned these facts about Thomas from the Upper Canada Land Petitions. People who came to Canada wanted land and to get it they had to petition the government. Many of the petitions contain personal information about the petitioner and his family.

Thomas Pettit Land Petition  page 1

Thomas petitioned for land twice. The first time was in 1791. Since he had to be 21 to acquire his 200 acres, it is inferred that he was born around 1770.  In 1791 he was granted land in the 1 and 2 Concessions on Lot 20 and a broken front lot. The land he received fronted on Lake Ontario for a bit and then went away from the lake.

Thomas petitioned for more land in 1807. It is from this petition I learned that his father is John Pettit of Saltfleet, a United Empire Loyalist. An affidavit signed by Mr. Swazey who “knows the petitioner” stated the number of children he had and the age of the eldest child. From the oldest child’s age we can extrapolate that Thomas married around 1795.

Another petition was submitted by Charles Pettit who also states his father is John Pettit of Saltfleet. so Thomas had at least 1 brother, named Charles.

Early settlers had to prove to government officials that they met the criteria for receiving the land and, because the rules were modified over time, they had to prove who their fathers were. This resulted in petitions with genealogical information. It isn’t precise but can lead you to where and when they were born, who their father was, and how many children they had. The latter was to prove their need for more land.

Finding the petitions isn’t difficult but it can take a bit of time. It’s a 2 step process. First go to the Database of Land Petitions of Upper Canada to see if your ancestor has a petition(s). Take down all the information, the microfilm number, year, volume, bundle, petition, and reference. The second step is to go under the digitized microforms at the same url as above and find the Upper Canada Land Petitions. Once you have correct microfilm number, you have to manually search the microfilm, looking for the year, volume, bundle, petition, and reference numbers to help you find your ancestor

I highly recommend using the Land Petitions of Upper Canada to search for your family. The records go from 1763 – 1865. You can also check out the records for Lower Canada that are also digitized; although many of them are in French.

Sources or where I got the information

Upper Canada Land Petitions; Thomas Pettit; 1807; “P” Bundle 8, 1806-1808; RG 1, L3, Vol. 402; microfilm C2490; Image 112 – 115; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Township Papers (ca 1783 – 1870); Thomas Pettit; 1791; Land Certificate; MS 658 Reel 430; Series RG 1 – 58; Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Upper Canada Land Petitions; Charles Pettit; 1819; “P” Bundle 12, 1819 -1808; RG 1, L3, Vol. 404; microfilm C2491; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.