Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Extra Children or a Bigger Mystery? - Part 1

When I first started looking into my family history, much like many of you, I received a packet of hand written notes and family tree diagrams. I thought these were the greatest things for a beginner . At that time I thought they could be treated as gospel and I wouldn't have to do anything else on that line except record the information in my genealogy software. Fortunately I quickly realized that wasn't the truth and so, more than 15 years ago, off I went on my merry journey of discovery.

Well, those notes and trees still haunt me to this day.

Recently I learned of the passing of a distant cousin (2nd cousin twice removed) yet I didn't have her listed in my database. Fortunately whoever wrote her obituary included the names of her parents, John and Margaret (Smith) Murphy. The Murphy name is a branch I was semi-familiar with so I pulled out some of those scraps of paper from my archives to use as possible clues and starting points. Off I went on the familiar path of looking for documentation through my usual sources. It was relatively easy to reconstruct the tree. I was able to find her parents' death registrations in the "BC Archives - Genealogy" collection hosted by the Royal BC Museum web site and also the "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986" collection on FamilySearch. Working backwards in time I could connect my distant cousin back to Sarah McKinnon (born about 1857 in Canada West, died 31 Jan 1937 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) McKinnon, the daughter of Alexander McKinnon and Ann McDonald.

With the exception of the Cassie and Joe Martin branch (my own connection to this tree) I hadn't added the various branches of the family of Alexander McKinnon and Ann McDonald so I figured this would be as good as time as ever to correct this omission not knowing I would be spending many hours on a little problem.

Below is the hand-drawn tree that was drawn up in January 1990. It actually includes about four more generations for some of the lines but I've cropped those later generations for privacy reasons.

Hand-drawn Family Tree for Alistair MacKinnon and a MacDonald (created Jan 1990)

There are some important little details you need to realize about this tree. The first is that nicknames were commonly used. So someone like Cassie is actually Catherine and Nain is Charlotte. It took me some time to realize that Phoeme is really Euphemia. This can cause all sorts of confusion since many documents from government agencies won't have the nicknames listed. Fortunately sometimes you will find those nicknames in the census records. Also, most of the surnames are accurate but Pryov seems to actually be "Ryan" based on my research. Yet the most important piece of information to keep in mind is that this tree was created based on recollections of one or more people and there will be errors and omissions. And those errors and omissions will be the cause of hours of research.

Using publicly available records and various indexes I slowly and carefully rebuilt the tree until I came to Louisa and Marjory. According to what I was finding they just didn't fit anywhere under  Maggie (AKA Margaret Hannah McKinnon) who married a Bailey (Joseph Alexander Bailey). Along with finding Margaret Hannah McKinnon in the Canadian decennial censuses from 1881 to 1921 and also the 1906 and 1916 censuses of the Western Provinces of Canada I had a copy of Margaret Hannah McKinnon's obituary. Her surviving children were listed and each of them I found in the census records along with Margaret and Joseph. All the kids were accounted for. I was even able to fill in some of the blanks with descendants of those children.

Since the family lived in Manitoba I made use of the "Genealogy Searches for Unrestricted Records" site to search the publicly available birth indexes for any Baileys. The nice thing about the Manitoba birth registration indexes is that the mother's maiden name is included. Since Ancestry also has that same database in their "Web: Manitoba, Birth Index, 1866-1912" collection I was able to use the advanced search features to look for any child with a mother of Margaret McKinnon (and various of that name). I also made use of the "US & World newspapers" collection on Findmypast. That collection includes the Winnipeg newspapers so I was able to find marriage and death notices that contained additional details on the family. It seems that I already had all the recorded ones.

Now I was just a bit baffled and confused. It was time to get serious in my search ...

To be continued

1 comment:

  1. My Irish lines seem to have the bad habit of raising grandchildren as if they were their own children. Then add in a child from a previous (unknown) marriage and it can result in much hair pulling.