Genealogical Riches in Provincial Archives

Reference archivist Christine Charmbury gave the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society a great start to our year.  She presented “Demystifying Archival Research: Introduction to Archives and the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan” on September 12, 2017.

Charmbury explained how archives are organized, how to find and access archival records, and how researchers can best prepare to conduct research at the Provincial Archives.  She also detailed the various types of records available in the Permanent Collection, many of which are valuable sources of information for genealogical research.

Archival collections are made up of records of enduring administrative or historical value.  They are unique primary sources.  The text, photos, maps, audio/visual, financial records, newspapers, pamphlets, etc. remain in the archive’s controlled environment.

After an initial registration and reference interview, researchers may then sign in at either the Saskatoon or Regina Archive.  With direction form the archivist, researchers complete retrieval slips to request records, and originals or copies are delivered to the reading room.  Charmbury recommends researchers diligently record the reference codes and file numbers and take notes.  Photocopying and digital scans can be made of records in the collection for a fee, and for in person researchers scanning from microfilm records to a personal USB key is free.  Also, flash free photos are permitted in the reading rooms for no charge.  Their fee schedule is online at http://saskarchives.com/using-archives/fee-schedule.

Researchers benefit from preparing specific research questions.  Return to the archivists as you find and refine your questions or don’t find answers.  Questions can also be answered from a distance by submitting an enquiry through the Provincial Archives website at https://saskarchives.com/emr/website-enquiry-form.

Charmbury also cautions that progress is typically slow because the resources can be “dense,” “elusive,” the Archives have limited hours and resources might have to be brought in from the other office or an off-site location.

Archives are not organized by subjects like libraries.  They are organized by creators and creator organizations.  For example, one of Charmbury’s favourite creator organizations is the Department of Natural Resources.  Both offices of the Provincial Archives will have guides to their collections (also called finding aids) and a master index to all of the guides to help researchers find records.

The Saskatoon Archive has central to northern creators plus early government records.  The Regina Archive has central to southern creators plus recent governments, court records, and more audio/visual.  It is always best to check at which office records are located in advance of your visit.  The hours, location and contact information is available here: http://saskarchives.com/locations.

For genealogists, Charmbury recommends exploring http://saskarchives.com/ first.  Particularly the Family History Research page, in the Using the Archives section. Look for the link below at http://saskarchives.com/using-archives/family-history-research.

PAGene20170912Archive

Descriptions of many of their records can also be searched on the webpage here:  http://sab.minisisinc.com/sabmin/scripts/mwimain.dll/144/DESCRIPTION_COLL?DIRECTSEARCH.

Charmbury expanded on some of the types of resources available:

  • Census records on microfilm shared out by the National Archives (Library and Archives Canada)
  • United and Anglican Church records, other than births, deaths, and marriages.
  • Prince Albert had 14 including a French language newspaper.
  • Personal papers.
  • Government records, mostly provincial but including some municipalities like the city of Prince Albert.
  • Organizations and businesses.  CCF is often researched but please prepared a specific question.
  • Pioneer Questionnaires.  Done in 1955, the questionnaires have different topics and are searchable by name or location on the website here: http://saskarchives.com/using-archives/family-history-research/pioneer-questionnaires.
  • Local history books.
  • One shows the river lots in Prince Albert.
  • Photographs are searchable.

After thanking Charmbury for her first class presentation, there were many excited discussions while members and guests enjoyed coffee and homemade puffed wheat cake.

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Letters to Santa

After sharing our traditional Christmas supper, members of the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical society shared their “Letters to Santa.”  The top item was time.  Time to:

  • trace new questions from military medals
  • demolish a brick wall for Irish ancestor who joined the British army at age 21
  • create a multi-generational wall chart
  • genealogy and a kick-in-the-butt.

Time also played big in the next item on our list to Santa, a time machine to talk to ancestors. The final common item was money for DNA kits and online subscriptions.

The laugh of the evening was someone who asked Santa that she not be related to Donald Trump.

One member made time to write this thoughtful and amusing letter to Santa and generously gave permission to share it.

2017asantaletterpagene

Dear Santa;

My Genealogical Society has asked me to write a letter to you, asking for something relevant for you to give me for my Christmas gift this year.  I think that I have been a good person and that I am deserving of a gift from you.  I have been attentive to the needs of my family members and to the needs of other people who have reached out to me, plus, I have made small cash donations to many of the charities that contact me for their various causes. 

After giving it some thought, I am asking for a calendar with 365 free days.  I will use some of those days for my own personal needs and for home and yard maintenance.  I will also use some for special family events.  There are always birthdays to celebrate and there may even be a new baby next year that I will have to knit a new Christmas stocking for.  There are young children in school who invite me to various things that they are involved in, like concerts and end of year celebrations.  Then there are all of the special holidays throughout the year that we usually manage to get the whole family together for.

That should still leave enough free days to spend on my genealogy projects.  I had intended to do a multi generation pedigree wall chart some time ago, but never got beyond my own name.  It would be nice to finish that.  I would also like to do more work on my Legacy Family Tree program.  I succeeded in transferring my family tree to Legacy from Ancestry.com a long time ago, but there is so much more that one can do.  And beyond that, I have for a long time wanted to write some kind of history, focusing on my life from birth, but going beyond that to include as much as I can about the people that I descended from.  I had originally thought that I would have had that done by 2017, in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary.

And one more thought; I would like to record living family in genealogy format.  I have a brother and sister with children and grandchildren.  I would have to consult them directly to get the information and I am hoping that there will be someone among them who will be prepared to take over my records when I pass on.  I might need more than a year to do all of that.  But I would really appreciate it, Santa, if you could put a calendar with 365 free days under my Christmas tree on December 25th.

Sincerely,  Carol

What items would your list to Santa have?  Whether Santa delivers or not, we can all use this wish list to set goals and priorities for genealogical success in 2017.

Genes for Genealogy

Audrey Boyko gave an informative DNA presentation to the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society (PASGS) on November 8.  Boyko shared how she is using DNA testing to extend the branches of family trees.

Boyko explained the different types of tests; mitochondrial (mtDNA) for the maternal line, Y-chromosomal (Y-DNA) for the paternal line, X-chromosomal (X-DNA) for inheritance patterns, and autosomal-DNA (atDNA) for both paternal and maternal lines.

“The older the better,” Boyko said.  She encouraged people to reach out to their oldest living relatives asking them to have their DNA tested before it is too late.  Boyko’s mother agreed to do the tests and Boyko used her mother’s results during the presentation.  DNA testing is like keeping a part of your ancestors.

Boyko detailed the cost, the advantages, and disadvantages for different companies.  For example, DNA tests range from $149 to $320.  As well as looking at matches, the results show shared matches.  Boyko warns, “It is so annoying when instead of having a public tree, your match has no tree, the tree is locked, and/or your match is not responding to your email request.  Say yes to linking your DNA to your family tree and please make it public.”

Ancestry and some other companies produce an ethnicity estimate with a map.  This can prove or disprove who you thought you were. A pleasant surprise was when testing two cousins who are extended family and both showed that there is small percentage of Jewish DNA far back in their line, this was totally unknown to their family. The map can give you a visual representation of your different ethnicity percentages in the appropriate country.

Currently Ancestry has the largest DNA database but Boyko found Family Tree worthwhile because it has a different set people.  23andMe offers health results as well as genealogy.  DNA Land is new and while it is not a large database, like Family Tree, it has a different set of people.  Boyko suggested that MyHeritage database might be worthwhile for people with European ancestry.  It is recommended to start with Ancestry; which you can download for free to MyHeritage and soon to Family Tree.

It is wise to keep the DNA raw data file on your computer and this file can be uploaded to GEDmatch which is a free tool for DNA and genealogy research.  GEDmatch gathers DNA from almost all testing companies.

Finally, Boyko said, “Getting test results will not help much without doing research.”  She recommends joining an online DNA group and reading books like The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Trace Your Roots with DNA. If you use this press release, please add this as the last sentence in the final paragraph.  “To watch a video of Boyko and her DNA research visit http://tinyurl.com/PAGeneDNA.”

Lost in Translation?

A member who does not read Dutch but has family documents in Dutch gave us a serendipitous opportunity to apply optical character recognition (OCR) discussed in a previous blog plus experiment with a free online translation tool.

Below is an example of a family document. Knowing it is a family document probably means you can figure out some words. Thinking of kindergarten, you might guess “kinderen” is children.

ScanDutchTextPAGene

The OCR text was then taken into Google with the search terms “translator Dutch to English.” Below is a screen grab of the results:

ScanDutchTranslationPAGene

There was a valuable lesson learned because this is a double conversion; image to text characters and then Dutch to English. The translation of another text passage read “She weeps in Vries” and “He weeps in Eutingewelde” which was puzzling. Tracing it back, the OCR had erred in its conversion of “woont” as “weent.” When this error was corrected, the translation read “She lives” and “He lives”.

While far from perfect, it is perfectly free and a great starting point. The OCR digitizes the text which saves typing and while the translator does not always reveal sentences like “The other children were already long out of the house,” it can provide valuable contextual clues. Over time, our member would probably find herself gaining fluency in reading Dutch and recognizing the common errors that occur because it is OCR and then translation.

Do You Have Typed Papers You Want as Text?

Do you have genealogy letters and documents that are typed on paper that you would like to have as digital text for word processing documents, genealogy programs, or other uses?  Optical character recognition, OCR, might save you typing them out.

Let’s start with this example of a response from Veteran Affairs.

OCROriginalScan

The first option, and one I can’t show, is to see if your scanner offers OCR.  As the image below suggests, my scanner references this feature but it is grayed out and not available.

OCRScannerTextConverting

So I took the scanned jpg image and opened it with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

OCRAdobePro

It did an excellent job of converting the picture to text as shown here but Adobe Acrobat Pro is not free.

In reply to your recent inquiry, a review of your late father’s service documents indicates that he was awarded the following service medals:
The British War Medal
The Victory Medal
The Military Medal
Enclosed is a copy of the only Citation Card we have in our possession concerning the award of the Military Medal. Further information could possibly be obtained from the following address:
Ministry of Defence
The Army Medal Office
Government Building
Worcester Road
Droitwich, Worcestershire
England
WR9 SAU
I trust the foregoing satisfies your requirements.

Something that is free is onlineocr.net.  The results are similar with less formatting.

OCROnlineOCR

In reply to your recent inquiry, a review of your late father’s service documents indicates that he was awarded the following service medals:
The British War Medal The Victory Medal The Military Medal
Enclosed is a copy of the only Citation Card we have in our possession concerning the award of the Military Medal. Further information could possibly be obtained from the following address:
Ministry of Defence The Army Medal Office Government Building Worcester Road Droitwich, Worcestershire England WR9 8AU
I trust the foregoing satisfies your requirements.

To summarize, you might save yourself typing out typed letters and documents by using optical character recognition, OCR, to recognize the letter shapes in an image file and converting them to characters.  Your scanner might do it directly, Adobe Acrobat Pro will do it (newer versions might even offer OCR if you try to open an image in Pro), and then there are free online services like onlineocr.net.

Our example was an original with high contrast that scanned well so our OCR results were good.  If your scan is poor, your results may be poor and you may decide that typing is faster after all.

Gene 101: Ancestry Library Edition (Part 3 of 3)

PrinceAlbertGenealogyWordpress-Genea101IntroALE

Ancestry.com Inc. is a private company owned by Permira and co-investors. Saskatchewan’s Wapiti Regional Library subscribes to the Ancestry Library Edition.
Ancestry Library Edition does NOT let you create a personal family tree like you can when you personally subscribe to the website. It only lets you search and view the records in its databases but you can take the records home by download them to a flashdrive or emailing them to yourselves.

Ancestry has over 32,000+ databases online and billions of records. There are some access limits depending on your subscription type. For example, a Canada subscription lets you view Canadian records only and a World subscription lets you view world-wide records.

We’re going to explore Ancestry Library Edition with a case study that begins with a single piece of data from the Wild Rose North Cemetery. The cemetery is in the Wild Rose District of the RM of Shellbrook and in the cemetery is this tombstone that only reads: “Mrs Risedorf.”

Gene101ALE01Risedorf

Who is Mrs. Risedorf? From the tombstone we can infer only three things…

  • her gender,
  • that she was married,
  • and that her surname at one time was Risedorf.

So, to find answers to our questions we begin with…

A research log. Research logs are used to record your research. This is an example and you can find many more online by searching “genealogy research logs.”

A research log records WHERE you looked. So the name of the online database or library, archive, or museum you visited.

It records WHY you looked. That is, what question are you trying to answer? For example, where is my great-granduncle buried?

It records HOW to find what you looked at again. This is your source citation. Attaching a record in an online genealogy program generates the source citation for you, but when you enter the event in your desktop genealogical program you will need to write the source citation yourself.

And your research log records the results of your search. Did you find an answer to your question? Even if you find nothing, write that down so you don’t repeat that same search in that same database or book later on. It’s a good idea to also record the date your were searching too. Databases can be updated and years that might not have been available before, may become available to search.

The best practice of genealogical research is to start with yourself and then ask other family members. The Footprints of Our Pioneers community history book is going to play the role of another family member and we’re going to go ask Aunt Dot about the Risedorfs.

In summary, this is what Aunt Dot said. Orson Risedorf was born about 1850 in Wisconsin.

  • He married Evelyn Tritton and they had 6 children: son Frank, son Wayne, daughter Leona, daughter Maime, daughter Florence, and son Robert.
  • Evelyn died about 1896 in the United States.
  • Orson remarried to a 2nd Wife in the United States.
  • Orson filed homestead in Canada in 1907 on section 30 township 50 range 2 and West of the 3rd meridian.
  • Orson’s 2nd Wife died in 1907 in the United States while he was in Canada.
  • Orson remarried to a 3rd Wife, a “Mrs. Twigg,” in Canada
  • Orson died in the 1920s in Holbein.

Now, Aunt Dot seems to have some memory problems and told us mostly about Mr Risedorf but her interview does give us some information to help us identify Orson out of the many possible Orsons—and importantly, the idea to interview a Twigge relative who may know more.

So we’re going to go ask Cousin Freda about the Twigges.

In summary, this is what Cousin Freda has to say about her husband Harold Cecil Twigge who was born 6 Feb 1897 in Ontario, the youngest of 11 children.

  • He had a brother named Russell, and a sister name Ena.
  • Harold’s family moved to Redvers, SK when he was young.
  • Harold’s father died in Redvers.
  • Harold did two important things in 1926:
    • He visited his mother, “Mrs. Risedorf,” in Holbein
    • And he married Reda Wason and they had 3 childrenAnd lastly, Harold died on 25 Feb 1972 in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Well, Cousin Freda had quite a bit to say about her husband Harold and nothing really about his parents. Not even their names. So now we turn to questioning the records that people create throughout their lives. We know that Mrs. Risedorf, formerly Twigge, was alive in 1926, so we are going to try and locate her, or Orson Risedorf, in the 1921 Canada census and then work our way back though the censuses.

To Ancestry Library Ancestry Edition We Go

Here are some wildcard tips before we dive in. These tips apply not just to Ancestry Library Edition, but most search engines.

  • A question mark is equal to one character, either vowel or constantan. So replacing the vowel in “Smith” will return the results for Smith spelled with either an I or Y.
  • An asterisk is equal to multiple characters. A search for John* might return, John, Johnson, Johnsen, Johnathon, Johns, and more.

Caution, we are approaching the “transcription zone” when dealing with indices.

Interpreting handwriting can be tricky and when people are unfamiliar with person’s handwriting, or simply unfamiliar with the handwritten form of a letter, transcription errors occur when making indices. This example is taken from the 1916 prairie census and is the same name for the same municipality.

Blog02bTranscriptionZone

The various indexers transcribed the handwriting variously as “Royile, Rogiles, Rayilee, Rouiler, and Royilce.” Can you guess the real name of the municipality in question? Here’s a hint, it’s the historical name of the RM of Shellbrook. Rozilee!

Now we log in on the library computer. On the Wapiti Regional Library website, the log-in button is in the top right-hand corner. We’re going to navigate to the “e-Resources” menu option. Click on “Genealogy” from the list of topics. And a little pop-down menu will appear under the word Genealogy and you now click on the blue “Ancestry Library Edition” link.

This is the homepage of Ancestry Library Edition. To begin our research on Mrs. Risedorf we’re going to use the homepage quick link to the 1921 Canada census.

When visiting a record set for the first time, always remember to scroll down and…

Gene101ALE03Down

Visit the record set description! It will tell you important information about what information is in the record set or if bits are missing. Like in a record set for births, the year 1876 is missing. It is very frustrating when querying a record set and not getting any results when you KNOW your ancestor should be in it, so save yourself some frustration and always check the description first.

We have some basic information from Aunt Dot about Orson Risedorf. So we’re going to make an assumption that he’s alive in 1921, and search for him. We’re going to search using his given name, surname, his approximate year of birth, his birth country, and the province where he was living. One reason I chose to enter just his country of birth, is that all the census asked for is the country if the person is born outside Canada.

We only get two results, for a Daniel and Sarah Risedorf. The man’s name isn’t right, but they are both living in the correct place. So we’re going to check it out.

This page is Ancestry’s index to the record. You could send this index home by clicking on the “Send Document” home button.

It will load a “Send record to email” window where you fill out you email and then confirm it. Don’t worry, Ancestry does not then add the email you just provided to an email list. Click on “Send email.”

By the time you get home from the library, in your inbox you should find this message. Click on “View your discoveries.”

And you’ll be taken to a generated list of your finds and you can download the record images directly onto your computer. As you can see, the last thing I was researching before taking this screencap was “Jack” Haney, the first man to drive across Canada in 1912.

Now, never stop at just looking at the index when you have an image of the original document to view.

Here is the 1921 Canada Census. We’re going to zoom in a bit.

So we have Daniel and Sarah Risedorf living in the right area as boarders with another man, but the immigration date does not match Orson’s known immigration so who knows if this is the correct person even though it is the correct location. Now, if you wanted to save this image you would click on “Save” in the top right hand corner.

It gives you the option to email the image home to yourself or save to this computer, which will let you save it the image to a flashdrive. Down at the bottom of the screen, you can page through the census to see the neighbours of the Risedorf and get a feel for the community and clicking on the filmstrip icon loads a flimstrip.

Gene101ALE03FilmstripViewer

The filmstrip viewer is useful for giving you thumbnail previews. And in most census, Ancestry provides the index on the page. Very useful when you’re way to the right side of the page looking at the education columns and don’t know your line numbers anymore. Now, to return to the homepage at any time, just click on the Ancestry logo in the top left hand corner.

And it will take us back home. The quick links on the homepage to the Canadian censuses are only for the Federal censuses that cover the entire country. The next census for the province of Saskatchewan is actually the 1916 prairie census. Because the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta were experiencing such rapid agricultural development and population growth in the early 1900s the country wanted to track that growth, so it commissioned a special prairies census that occurred every 10 years in between the 10 year cycle of the Federal census. This means, that if you have ancestors living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or Alberta in the early 1900s, we’re the lucky ones to have census records for them for every 5 years.

We could search all the Canadian census from here, but we’re going to scroll down.

To the list of all the Canadian censuses on Ancestry. Third one from the bottom, is the 1916 census of the prairie provinces.

Here we are, the 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

We’re going to look for Orson Risedof with the exact same information we did before. His given name, surname, approximate birth year, country of birth, and the province he was living in.

No results. So, we’re going to edit our search.

And we’re going to take out Orson’s last name. Last names tend to be the most mangled in indices so searching with the given name of a husband and wife pair, can often give you more accurate search results.

60 results is really not bad, but you may notice that the top results are for individuals living in Alberta. We know they were in Saskatchewan, so we’re going to edit that search option.

Taking it from “broad” to “exact.” And update the search results.

We now have 41 results and they’re all living in Saskatchewan. We cruise down the page looking at the names.

Get to the bottom and click on the next page of results.

Cruise down the second page looking at the names.

Get to the bottom, and go to the last page.

Last page and nothing that matched or could be a match. So, we’re going to page through the census enumeration for the RM where they were living.

Back on the 1916 prairie census home page we’re going to “Browse this collection” to page through the images.

Set the province to Saskatchewan.

Set the enumeration district to North Battleford. Enumeration districts change from census to census so you may need to research that.

We’re going to scroll through the enumeration sub-districts and locate the area where Orson Risedorf homestead which was NE 30-50-2 W3. That is sub-district number 19. The description reads “Township, 48, 49, and 50, whole of fractional, ranges 1,2, and 3 W. 3. M., north and west of the North Saskatchewan River, including the Village of Shellbrook.”

There are 38 images to view in sub-district 19. And paging through them I find… nothing. Zilch. Not a very satisfying results for the research log for the effort put into it. But we’ve only looked at 2 censuses so far, and we have more to check.

The 1911 Federal census of Canada.

We’re going to search Orson’s given name, his surname, his approximate birth year, birth country, and province of residence. FIX!

29 results is very good if you have to search them individual, but most of the top results for non-Saskatchewan residents. So we’re going to edit the precision of the “Living in” search field.

From “Broad” to “Exact.”

Only 10 results, but no close matches so we’re going to edit our search.

And take out Orson’s surname from the search fields.

Well, that is an interesting first result. Especially the “dorf” ending of the “Mardorf.” Especially as I know the 1911 census images were microfilmed in poor condition and even resulted in times in truncated surnames. Some pages were so badly faded they are completely illegible. So remember, at times the indexers do the best they can with at times impossible to read records!

So, to see if the indexer correctly transcribed the entry or had trouble reading something we, as always, check the original image.

The original microfilmed image from the 1911 census.

Zooming in we see that in this case for “Risedorf”, it was letter interpretation error on the indexer’s part. Particularly when we compare the enumerator’s R in Risedorf against the R in Rachel on the same page. Often, reading the other entries on the page will help you figure out how a writer forms their letters.

Gene101ALE04Handwriting.jpg

So, we’ve found Orson Risedorf in the 1911 census and his wife’s name is Margaret, and she was born in 1854 in England. Unfortunately, we don’t know who provided the information so it’s just guiding information for right now. Onto the next census.

The 1906 census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Now, we know that Orson Risedorf did not file homestead in Saskatchewan until 1907 so he’s unlikely to be in this census. So I’m going to make some assumptions for my next search.

My assumption is that Orson’s wife Margaret in 1911, is the given name of Mrs Twigge. I am going to search for Margaret Twigge, born about 1854 in England and living in Saskatchewan.

I get one result for a Sophia Oatwag living in Manitoba. Not who we’re looking for so let’s edit our search.

And remove again, Margaret’s surname.

377 results but the second result on the page is very interesting keeping in mind that some handwritten letters are often confused by indexers for other letters. L and S are really bad for that. So, who is this Margaret Swiggue?

She does have a son named Harold so let us view the original record.

The 1906 prairie census.

Zooming in we find that Swiggue is indeed Twiggue. And this Twiggue family is living in Redvers! This family also has a son named Harold C. and a daughter likely named Ena. So far, the bits of information we have are matching very well.

To the 1901 census of Canada.

We’re going to look for Margaret Twigge again, born about 1854 in England but we’re not sure where the family is living. Margaret’s last known residence was in Ontario for the 1897 birth of her son Harold but the family was in Redver Saskatchewan in the 1906 census, so who knows where they are now.

Three results, and none are close. So we edit our search.

We take out that limiting surname, and add two more pieces of information. The name of her husband Fred from the 1906 census and the name of her son Harold.

782 results, but the fourth result is for a Margaret Lingg with husband Fredrick living in Ontario. Hum. Lingg. Twigge. My transcription error sense is tingling.

To the index we go. Scrolling down to quickly view the family we see…

Margaret Lingg has three children named Russell, Eva, and Harold. Viewing the original record shows us…

That Lingg is again, Twigg with a most unhelpful dot-of-an-I placement, and Eva is actually Ena. So we have Fredrick and Margaret, both from England and 7 children all born in Ontario. Speaking of Ena, she was apparently born in Ontario in 1891 which is the next census enumeration so that’s were we’re going to look next.

The 1891 census of Canada.

Searching for Margaret Twigge, born about 1854 in England, and living in Ontario.

7 results with no Margaret married to a Fred, so we’re going to edit our search.

We’re going to remove the surname field, add Fred as the name of a spouse, and add Russell as a child in the family group. Ena’s birth year was given as 1891 in the previous census, but we don’t know when in the year she was born or if the information was precise or rounded off so that is why Russell is the search choice.

We have 11,749 results! And not a single one of them on the first page is born in England! So, we’re going to adjust the precision of Margaret’s birth country and province of residence.

From “Broad” to “Exact.”

372 results is still a bit much to browse through, so I’m going to adjust the precision of her birth year.

From broad, to within plus or minus 2 years of 1854.

We have now 155 results, which is much more manageable to browse through. Clicking on the next page.

There is a result that catches my eye. Margaret Larigge with husband Fredrick. Can’t hurt to check.

Margaret does have a son named Russell, so let’s view the original record and check that surname.

Move the image around a bit and…

We find them and find that we have our second instance of a T being transcribed as an L. And Russell is 5/12 months old and look at this, he’s a twin of Fredrick.

We found Orson and wife Margaret in the 1911 federal census. And from the 1906, 1901, and 1891 census we can reconstruct a general guide to the Twigge family. All 11 recorded children were born in Ontario so Ontario birth records is where we can look next, starting with Harold who we were told by Cousin Freda was born 6 Feb 1897.

From the homepage click on “Search” of the menu option, not any of it’s drop down options.

Click on the “Canada” tab over the map of the United States.

And then on the map of Canada, chose Ontario on the map or the text link for Ontario.

Ancestry will show us the record sets that are specific to Ontario vs. the census which are country wide. Click on “Ontario, Canada Births, 1868-1913.”

The search page for the Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913 records. And they cover the time span that Margaret’s children were all born, which is excellent.

Our first search is going to be for Harold, searching with his given name, surname, and year of birth.

No results. So we edit our search.

We take out the Twigge surname and as we know Harold’s precise birth date of 6 Feb from his wife, we’re going to add that.

Again no results. Time to try a new search.

Russell Twigge born about 1891.

A result! For a Russel Lee Twiggs.

We view the original images to see if there is any more information besides what’s provided on the index.

And we find the record of Russell’s birth for 8 Jan 1891. Father is F. B. Twigge, mother is Magaret S. (that is an S, not a J as indexed) Mon…something. And, right next to Russell’s entry is the birth entry of his twin, Fredrick Albers. And with Fredrick’s entry, we can see his mother’s birth name in full. Margaret was born Margaret Monson. So we now knowing the Twigge family parent’s full names we can…

Search the Ontario birth records with just the parent’s names. Fred Twigge and Margaret Monson.

And we have 2 results, with the first one being for Allen.

Allen Twigge was born on 4 Feb 1882 to Fred. (shorthand for Fredrick) Bosworth Twigge and Margaret S. Monson.

Unfortunately, searching the Ontario birth records turns up no other Twigge children born to Fred and Margaret. Something important to know about Ontario vital statistic registrations is that people had to pay for registration. So if it a vital event like a birth or death is not recorded at the provincial level, it generally means that the family did not pay for the registration, not that the vital event did not occur.

So of our research questions, what have we answered? We discovered that Mrs. Risedorf, formerly Mrs. Twigge, was born Margaret Monson in about 1854 in England. We also identified her husbands and her children. So, for fun, I think it’s time for a new tombstone.

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We didn’t answer all our research questions with examining just census and Ontario birth records, but we did answer enough to give Mrs. Risedorf a name. And, to reassure you that too many great leaps of logical assumption were NOT made, further research in other areas and in other databases provided more evidence that Mrs. Risedorf, was Mrs. Twigge, was born Margaret Susanna Monson. For example, direct evidence was provided for Margaret and family by her late husband Fred Twigg’s probate file.

If you don’t have access to something free like Ancestry Library Edition, here are four online database tips if you are paying for a subscription.

  1. Know your subscription terms. – If you are signing on for a month, does the website bill you automatically for the next month which means you have to cancel after you are done you month?
  2. Before you pay, check their coverage. – Do they cover the location you are researching? Do they have the record set you want to look in? Do they have the newspaper you want
  3. Choose your subscription time wisely. – Don’t subscribe when you THINK you have time, subscribe when you have MADE time.
  4. Leverage your research log. – Use your research log and make your subscription worth while by having a lot of questions to solve for purposeful research.

Gene 101: Family Search (Part 2 of 3)

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Part two of three in a series for the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, this presentation focuses on researching at FamilySearch.org. Before any research, make sure you have entered and sourced all the data from your family and extended family. While Aunt Maud may outlive you, it would be wise to talk to her now, not later.
Surprisingly, the best approach is to go “specific” before going “global.” Slide 19/20 notes “So far, we’ve been searching in specific record sets. Now we’re going to do a global search and ask FamilySearch’s search engine to find anything that matches the search terms we’re going to provide.”
Slide 1
Welcome to “Intro to FamilySearch.” We will be covering the online database FamilySearch which is a free online website with a searchable database.
Slide 2
FamilySearch is a private company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It has 2,000+ collections and billions of records. The records are free to access, all you have to do is create a free account with the website.
Something to keep in mind with FamilySearch is that not all the record collections been indexed by volunteers and are just images only. So if they have a record set pertinent to your ancestor, like Saskatchewan homesteading files, be sure to page though those images.
FamilySearch’s OUR family tree can be edited by anyone in the world. There are no personal trees that one person can control. Data of living persons that you enter is kept private to you and if you mark that person’s profile as deceased, then the data becomes publicly available to everyone.
Slide 3
We’re going to explore FamilySearch with a case study that comes from a cemetery. This is a private burial ground on a family homestead that today, is only a farmer’s field. The cemetery with its 2 tombstones marking 4 people is in the Sturgeon Valley/Three Creeks District of the RM of Shellbrook. John F. Lycan – Died 25 June 1907 aged 53 yrs. Wynn C. Lycan – Died 30 March 1911 aged 20 yrs. Florence M. Lycan – Died 12 May 1908 aged 24 yrs. Gertrude G Lycan – Died 30 April 1910 aged 2 yrs 4 mons.

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Slide 4
Who were the Lycans? So, to find answers to our questions we begin with…Slide 5
A research log. Research logs are used to record your research. This is an example and you can find many more online by searching “genealogy research logs.”
Slide 6
A research log records the question of WHERE you looked. So the name of the online database or library, archive, or museum you visited.
Slide 7
The log records the question of WHY. Why did you look where you were looking? That is, what question are you trying to answer, like where your great-granduncle was buried.
Slide 8
It records the answer of HOW to find what you looked at again. This is your source citation. Attaching a record in an online genealogy program generates the source citation for you, but when you record the event in your desktop genealogical program you will need to write the source citation yourself.
Slide 9
And your research log records the results of your search. Did you find an answer to your question? Even if you found nothing, write that down so you don’t repeat that same search in that same database or book later on.
Slide 10/11
The best practice of genealogical research is to start with yourself and then ask other family members. The Our Harvest of Memories community history book is going to play the role of another family member and we’re going to go ask Aunt Maud about the Lycans.
Slide 12
This is what Aunt Maud has to say and I’m not going to give you time to read it all, so to the summary.
Slide 13
John and Flora Lycan had 4 children: son Frank, son Roy, daughter Bessie, and son Wynn.
The Lycan family came to Canada in the early 1900s. John filed onto the homestead property where he is now buried, in 1906.
John died in 1907 of cancer
Florence, wife of son Frank, died in 1908 of tuberculosis
Gertrude, daughter of Frank and Florence, died in 1910 of tuberculosis
Wynn, son of John and Flora, died in 1911 of tuberculosis as well
Slide 14/15
But first here are some wildcard tips before we dive in. These tips apply not just to FamilySearch, but most search engines.
A question mark is equal to one character, either vowel or constantan. So replacing the vowel in “Smith” will return the results for Smith spelled with either an I or Y.
An asterisk is equal to multiple characters. A search for John* might return, John, Johnson, Johnsen, Johnathon, Johns, and more.
Slide 16
Caution, we are approaching the “transcription zone” when dealing with indices.
Slide 17
Interpreting handwriting can be tricky and when people are unfamiliar with person’s handwriting, or simply unfamiliar with the handwritten form of a letter, transcription errors occur when making indices. This example is taken from the 1916 prairie census and is the same name for the same municipality.
Slide 18
The various indexers transcribed the handwriting variously as “Royile, Rogiles, Rayilee, Rouiler, and Royilce.” Can you guess the real name of the municipality in question? Here’s a hint, it’s the historical name of the RM of Shellbrook. It is Rozilee– a version not even offered.

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Slide 19/20
1916 prairie census “Flora Lycan”
1911 Canada Federal census
“Flora Lycan” no results
Search Flora – US – SK = “Flora Lyean”
Search “Lyean”
1900 US Federal census “John Lycan”
1890 US Federal census – destroyed
1880 US Federal census
“John Lycan” too many results – add “Flora” to spouse
In Canada since 1907
In US for 1900, 1890, and 1880 census
Minnesota state census 1905, 1895, and 1885
1905 “John Lycan” “Flora Lycan” – no results
1895 “John Lycan”
1885 “John Lycan”
So far, we’ve been searching in specific record sets. Now we’re going to do a global search and ask FamilySearch’s search engine to find anything that matches the search terms we’re going to provide. You can do this with Ancestry Library Edition too.
John F. Lycan b. 1854
Marriage index
SK Probate Estate files
Flora Lycan b. 1858
SK Probate Estate files
Saskatchewan cemetery transcription
Frank Lycan b. 1886
British Columbia Death Registrations
John Lycan b. 1888
United States World War I Draft Registration Cards
Saskatchewan cemetery transcription
Slide 21
From the tombstones on the family homestead and what Aunt Maud said the Lycan family looks like this.
Slide 22
Using the Canadian and American census records we further reconstructed the family of John and Flora. One big discovery is that Frank is not the first child, but another son named Willie.
Slide 23
From John and Flora’s marriage index we approximately learned the names of their parents. The original record would have to be viewed for more information and more research done to see if the names were correct.
Slide 24
And as always, additional research of each person revealed more information.
Slide 25
In conclusion, harvest data from specific searches before going global.  As a bonus here are 4 online database tips:

  1. Know your subscription terms. – If you are signing on for a month, does the website bill you automatically for the next month which means you have to cancel after you’re done you month?
  2. Before you pay, check their coverage. – Do they cover the location you are researching? Do they have the record set you want to look in? Do they have the newspaper you want?
  3. Choose your subscription time wisely. – Don’t subscribe when you THINK you have time, subscribe when you have MADE time.
  4. Leverage your research log. – Use your research log and make your subscription worth while by having a lot of questions to solve for purposeful research.