‘Fresh Eyes’ Could Be a Genealogy Theme Song

The 1926 census in Canada covered the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. I was very excited and counted down to its release. Other than my husband’s family my mother’s grandparents were living in Saskatchewan in 1926. We all know that census is a wonderful resource, adding context and details to our ancestor’s lives.

I easily located my mother’s paternal family when the census was released but locating her maternal line had me stymied. Her mother’s name Margaret Wilma Harrop who would have been 14 years old and my mother’s grandfather William Harrop would have been 76. I had searched using every variation of the surname Harrop I could think of, nothing. I also tried browsing through the census records for Balcarres where I know the family resided. Again, no luck.

Sometimes, a person needs to walk away and leave the research and then come back for a second look with ‘fresh eyes’. So this is what I did. Recently I again did a search for the surname Harrop at Library and Archives Canada website in their census returns, I even tried searching Harr* but with so many results I was quickly discouraged.

And here is where the fresh eyes come in. Every record, every news article has the family living in Balcarres but I decided to check where they were living in the 1921 census. The location of their farm at 1-21-12-W2 was listed in the census in the Twp. of Abernethy in the District of Melville…WHAT?? I have never heard of this place, the family went to church in Balcarres, the kids attended school in Balcarres, but the census located the family in the District of Abernethy.

Ok, so obviously this is something I had completely overlooked but that can happen. I went back to the Library and Archives website, looked found that Abernethy was district 39 and after scrolling through this town I found them! They had been transcribed as having the surname HARROF.

Harrop family 1926 census, Abernathy, Melville district sub dist 39

William & Rachel Harrop with their children Walter, Dorothy, Wilma and hired hands Anthony Nicholson & Trassey Spool. Living in the Twp. of Abernethy in Saskatchewan, 1926

I hope this gives you hope and hints on locating your family in the sometimes tricky census records!

 

Why I Follow Genealogy News Bloggers

I have three genealogy bloggers I follow for the most up to date information in the Genealogy world; Gail Dever, John Reid, and Dick Eastman. The benefit of following these bloggers is that I hear what is new in the world of genealogy. They share new databases, database updates, news stories, and general genealogy news. There are other bloggers worth following but these three are amoung my favorites.

My latest discovery was thanks to Dick Eastman’s newsletter. He recently shared in his newsletter that more North Carolina newspapers had been added to DigitalNC AND I found a news article about my great grandfather’s first marriage. I really would have never found out about this update otherwise.

My great grandfather, William Harrop was born in Etobicoke, Ontario in 1854 to parents Lewis Harrop and Anna Eliza Stickle. William was the last of their five children, his father passed away when he was seven, which was followed by the family relocating to Orangeville. William apprenticed as a butcher and volunteered with the 36th Regiment for Peel County and 1891 he was farming in East Assiniboia (Saskatchewan). William was quite a successful farmer and eventually owned a full Section of land. The remoteness of the location meant finding a wife pretty challenging. In 1897 he replied to a newspaper ad posted by a widow living in North Carolina, she was seeking a husband. I am not sure how common this was back in the day and if it was frowned upon? I guess it would be a version of todays dating apps.

Dick Eastman’s mention of North Carolina’s newspaper and instantly my curiosity was sparked. And sure enough, the details of their courtship was revealed.

The Goldsboro Headlight ran the story:

Mrs. Belle Cornelius, of Iredell county, was married at Newton Monday to Mr. William Harrop, of Ontario, Canada, and she and her husband arrived there on the noon train. It seems that there is a bit of romance connected with it, says a correspondent to the Statesville Landmark. Some months ago Mrs. Cornelius advertised in a matrimonial paper for correspondents on the subject of matrimony. The gentleman above referred to answered the “ad” and a correspondence was kept up which soon led to their engagement. A place of meeting was named with the understanding that if they were pleased with each other they were to be married. They met at Hickory, Monday, and I suppose the “looks” were satisfactory, as they drove to Newton and were married. Mrs. C. was to meet and marry another gentleman on the 15th inst., but after her marriage on Monday she telegraphed lover No. 2 that he need not come. I learn that they will make their home in Canada.

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The Goldsboro Headlight, Aug 12, 1897 describes the meeting of Belle (Sherill) Cornelius and William Harrop

I love this story! I knew bits about this story thanks to other newspapers, but I did not know that Belle was the one who put in the ad, about them meeting face-to-face 1 day before they married, and that he was not her only suitor!

After the marriage, Belle and her daughter Flora Belle came to the Harrop farm and called Balcarres, Saskatchewan home for the next seven years. In 1904, the love-seeking Belle passed away, her daughter Flora Cornelius moved back to North Carolina where many of her siblings resided.

Harrop, Isabelle headstone

Sacred to the memory of Isabella M. Beloved Wife of William Harrop died Sept 6, 1904 Aged 50 years and 2 months. Indian Head Cemetery, Saskatchewan

William was widowed for three more years until he married Rachel Hodgins in 1907. I think it fairly likely that they also met through a newspaper ad.

William Harrop & Rachel Hodgins 2

William Harrop with his 2nd wife Rachel Hodgins c1907

Thanks to ALL the genealogy news bloggers and all the work they put in! You are consistently helping me to make new discoveries in my family tree.

 

 

 

1926 Prairie Province Census Index Released by Family Search

Breaking news, Family Search has added the index for the 1926 Canadian Prairie Province Census.

Some of the indexes are linked to the images, but not all. If the image is there it will appear on the right side if no image appears, there are a couple of steps to take to find it.

  1. Use this link to get to the index Canada, Prairie Provinces Census, 1926
  2. Once you find a record you would like to view click the icon circled belowScreen_Shot_2019-02-25_at_6_19_44_PM

The next screen is this

3. click the tab and it will give you this information

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The information below will appear

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4. Record the above number is the film number you will need to find and the image number, you will need to record this down as you will need this information. Here is the link you will need to use to get to the list of the films for the 1926 Canadian Prairie Census.

Enjoy people!

Browse the 1926 Canadian Prairie Census NOW

The number of people that are interested in the release of the 1926 Prairie census is telling by the amount of people that look at my posts about it.

I had to let you know, we now have access to the census. They have added the Canadian 1926 Prairie census to their catalog at Family Search. (Thanks for the heads up and thorough post by Gail Dever).

The index is coming but for the time being, you can have a look and see if you can find the people you have been waiting for.

Here are the first few lines for Saskatchewan, as you can see the census is easy to read.

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The weather is so cold I guess it is great timing as there is little else I can do other than look through a census page by page.

As I work my way through the census I decided to create a sharable doc on Google Sheets that people can add to. This doc with help us to share the locations in the census of communities.

 

 

You Can Help Index the 1926 Canadian Census

I have been a little focused (alright obsessed) with the potential release of the 1926 Canadian prairie census. After writing some posts about it I have realized that I (and you) can index the census!

It is available as an indexing project at Family Search, I just was on their site and checked.

How do you find it? Log into your Family Search account and select the ‘Indexing‘ tab at the top of the page.Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 10.21.21 AM.png

Under Project Name select Canada and BINGO you are there!

I know what I will be spending my nights doing. The sooner it is indexed it is likely the sooner we will have access!

I do wonder why this has not been announced by Library and Archives Canada to encourage people to get involved?

Hold On To Your Hats, The Census is Coming

I have written two previous blog posts about the release of the 1926 Canadian census that covers the western prairie Provinces.

1926 Census to be Released this Year & 1926 Census When – No One Knows

The information on Library and Archives Canada website about the ’26 census has not changed but we are not completely in the dark as to what is going on.

I am happy to report that someone does know. A comment on my blog indicates that the census has been passed to Family Search and their transcribers are working their magic to get the census in our hands.

Nancy states they are indexing

“Name, land description, relationship to head, sex, marital condition, age, place of birth (province if Canada, or Country) ethnicity and year of immigration. Not being indexed is Father’s place of birth and Mother’s place of birth, year of naturalization, mother tongue, and education.”

This is amazing news and thankfully Nancy took the time to give us an update. Hopefully, we will have access to this soon!

A big Canadian thank you to Nancy and all the indexers at Family Search!

 

1926 Canadian Census to be Released this Year

Update: Hold on To Your Hats, The Census is Coming

92 years ago there was a census taken in Western Canada, and it is due to be released this year. The 1926 census covered the Western Provinces of Canada; Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The census was taken on June 1, 1926, more information on the census can be found on the Government of Canada website. 

Wikipedia reports the population of Canada in 1926 was 9,451,000, but it doesn’t state what the population was in those three provinces.

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I am still looking for the information that was asked in this census. I also have not been able to uncover the release date for the census.

In preparation, I am creating a list of surnames and places that will be of interest for my family history.

My search will include the following surnames:

Harrop – Balcarres, Saskatchewan, Alberta & Manitoba
Stewart – Yorkton, Saskatchewan
McRae – Alberta

My husband’s family –

Greber – Saskatchewan
Hawkesworth – Alberta
Hodgson – Saskatchewan
Schinkle – Manitoba
Schielke – Manitoba & Saskatchewan
Whitman – Saskatchewan & Alberta
Wiesner – Saskatchewan & Manitoba

And who knows who else will show up once I begin hunting!

Do you think it will be indexed upon release or shortly thereafter? I checked the Library and Archives website but I didn’t find any mention of the release date or if there is an indexing project in place.

I would recommend in preparation for the census release creating your own list, and share it!

Who will you be searching for?

Did Your Ancestor Leave You A Clue at the Cemetery?

Did your ancestor leave you a clue at the cemetery? Mine did.

Sites like Find-A-Grave and Canadian Headstones are great tools to use in helping us research our family but a trip to your ancestors grave could lead to more discoveries. What you don’t see in the pictures posted on those sites is the headstones surrounding an ancestor. I found the clues my ancestor left on a visit to a cemetery which I wouldn’t have found without being there.

The trip took place in 1998 when my mother and I drove to Saskatchewan to discover more about her grandparents whom she had never met. They were all deceased so the trip would be to the cemeteries to pay our respects.

Up until that point, I had done most of my research on my mother’s family by making phone calls, sending emails, applying for b/m/d certificates and visiting my local library & LDS Centre looking at census records. I was on a limited budget and working with next to no information (my mother knew very little about her family history).

My husband agreed to watch our kids and my mother and I set off, loaded with maps and hope in our hearts. On our list was Indian Head, Saskatchewan (where her mother was from) and Yorkton, Saskatchewan for her paternal side. We hit up numerous antique shops along the way and enjoyed our mother-daughter time.

In Yorkton, we visited King Cemetery armed with the knowledge that this was the final resting place of David Stewart & his wife Bridget McMahon, her grandparents. After locating her grandparent’s headstone and getting a photo, I noticed that beside was a matching headstone but the names were unfamiliar. It read –

In Memory of Margaret McGowan
Beloved wife of John McGowan
Born Nov. 27, 1848 Died Dec. 27. 1916.
RIP
Also the above named
John McGowan
Born April 1842 Died March 28, 1920

This was puzzling, further investigation around the stones showed that there was a cement border enveloping the stones and a third stone that was David & Bridget Stewart’s daughter Violet. But who were these McGowans?

Finding The Connection

Once we returned from our trip, I checked the Rootsweb mailing list for a surname mailing list for the McGowan name. These mailing lists were a great way for genealogists to be in touch before the advent of Facebook and more modern communications. So I joined the list and sent a query asking if anyone knew why the McGowan stone was close to the Stewart’s and if anyone knew of the connection. About an hour later I zipped back down to the basement to check and see if I had received a response, after waiting for the dial-up of our internet I saw that there was a reply from Dani Lee McGowan. Dani Lee had been to the same cemetery two years previous and took nearly identical photographs.

David Stewart stone King Cemetery

The Stewart stone, photo by Patricia Greber

McGowan stone, King Cemetery

McGowan stone, photo by Dani Lee

Stewart, Violet stone, King Cemetery

My mother Mary (Stewart) Dever is holding back the bush so we can read the inscription on Violet Stewart’s stone. This is the third stone enclosed in the cement border which you can see on the right.

Dani Lee knew the families were connected, but she also questioned how. This began the start of a friendship and collaboration that continues to this day. I started researching the McGowan family and eventually found that we share a common relative, Mary Loftus.

Mary Loftus McGowan Stewart

Mary was born about 1822 in Sligo, Ireland (not proven) and married Felix McGowan, either in Ireland or in New York. In 1839 their first child Bridget was born, and two sons John (1842) and Thomas (1844) arrived after the family moved to West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario. In about 1845 Felix passed away, the following year Mary who was a devout Catholic marries a Scotch Presbyterian in 1846. Enter my ancestor William Stewart who becomes a father to Mary’s children and together they have six more, James, Margaret, Alexander, David, William all born in West Flamboro. Mary Ann, their last child, was born in 1857 after the family moved to Ayton, Normanby Twp., Grey Co., Ontario.

The flurry of emails between Dani Lee and I during this research period and discovery was almost daily. Every new discovery was celebrated, we were thrilled to have found our connection.

Evidently, our great-grandfathers David Stewart and John McGowan were close. They traveled from Normanby, Ontario settling in Manannah, Meeker Co., Minnesota for about 30 years, and later they both moved back to Canada and finally chose to rest side by side in death.

The Trip was Worth It

Would I have ever discovered this without a visit to the cemetery? I may have, but I think it would have taken me a lot longer to figure out the connection and I would have missed out on years of collaboration with my cousin!

Seeing the stones side by side was a big clue that these families were connected. The cement border indicating the shared plot drove home that I needed to spend time researching this family.

My advice to you, take the time to visit your ancestors final resting spot and keep your eyes open for any clues the left you.

Meet Up?

Dani Lee and I have never met face-to-face but she has plans to travel to Canada this summer and I hope that we will be able to have a reunion that is 20 years in the making!

Still to Discover 

We still have yet to find when our common ancestress Mary Loftus died. We know she was in Minnesota in 1888 according to “Illustrated Album of Biography of Meeker and McLeod Counties Minnesota” where she is mentioned in the write up for John McIntee, her son-in-law.

Her next and last appearance is in the 1891 Canadian census where she is living with her oldest son James Stewart in Ayton, Ontario. That is the last record we have been able to find for her, someday we hope to find where she is buried so we can journey to her resting place and pay our respects.

 

Where Are the Marriage Records for Saskatchewan?

Yesterday I went to the Saskatchewan Vital Records website to see if they had finally added the marriage index, and I was sad to see that nothing had changed.

The website still indicates that they will work on the Marriage index when they have completed the Death index.

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Don’t get me wrong the site is great and I have been able to find numerous people in the Birth and Death index, but what is the hold-up on the marriage records?

Maybe we need to copy what they are doing in the US with Reclaim the Records. This is a group that is going after institutions that are making it difficult to access certain records.

I decided to go ahead and make a guess for the marriage year, filled out the forms, uploaded my picture ID and that was then I realized the price. They are charging me a whopping $55.00 for a marriage record. This has to be the most expensive genealogical record in Canada!

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C’mon on Saskatchewan, follow Alberta’s lead, get those marriage indexes online and lets drop that price! You can do better than this.

*Featured image – St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan   found on Wikimedia Commons.

William Lewis Harrop

I wanted to do a post in celebration of my great grandfather William Lewis Harrop’s birthday. William was the fifth and last child born to parents Lewis Harrop and Anna Eliza Stickle. William was born in the 25 of September in 1854, in Etobicoke, Ontario. The Harrop family had moved from New York sometime between 1843-1849, where their first three children were born.

In Etobicoke, the Harrop’s were farmers on land they rented. The father Lewis died in 1860 and was buried at St.-George’s-on-the-Hill Cemetery which is now located in the city of Toronto.

Anna Eliza along with her youngest children, William, Robert, Elizabeth and Mary relocated to Orangeville. Her oldest child Benjamin was married in 1856, and had moved to Chinguacousy, Peel Co., Ontario where he farmed.

In 1871, according to the Canadian census, my great grandfather William Lewis Harrop is living with the McKim family and working as a butcher’s apprentice. With land opening up in the west William makes a move to the Qu’ Appelle District of Assiniboine which later becomes the province of Saskatchewan.

About 1895 he took out an ad with a matrimonial agency and he struck up a correspondence with his future wife Isabella (Sherrill) Cornelius a widow from North Carolina. They were married about 1896 and Isabella moved with her daughter Flora Bell to rural Saskatchewan. The marriage was not long-lasting, William was widowed by 1904. Isabelle’s daughter Flora went back to North Carolina, leaving her mother behind in the Indian Head Cemetery.

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The Harrop home in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. c1915

William may have used the same agency to find his second wife, Rachel Hodgins who was from Huntley, Carleton Co., Ontario. They were married in Balcarres, Saskatchewan in 1907 and settled into life on William’s already well-established farm located on Sec 1 – 21-12-W2 in Balcarres. Three children were born to them over the next five years and the farm continued to prosper.

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Rachel Hodgins & William Harrop c1907

The start of the depression hit the farm hard, coupled with the death of William in 1932, the Harrop family lost the farm that William had worked so hard to establish. Rachel his wife moved to Binscarth, Mantiboa where she died in 1950. The children all moved to different locations, son Walter to Whitewood in Saskatchewan, Dorothy also to Binscarth and Wilma moved to Alberta.

harrop-family

The Harrop family with unknown people. Back row ?, Walter & William Harrop. Front row Dorothy, ?, Wilma & Rachel c. 1920 probably taken at Balcarres, Saskatchewan.