Tag Archives: hints

7 Big Things Genealogists Must Know to Succeed

15 Jun

Why are some family memories remembered through the ages and not other events?

How will your genealogical research introduce your ancestral family?

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Genealogy Research, family ancestry. (Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com)

  1. Start with what is known and work towards the unknown!  It is very easy to begin genealogical research interviewing family members with a well thought out questionnaire seeking names, places, dates and any ancedotes or history.  Further research into primary and secondary source documents provides further direction, filling out the outline started in the family interviews.  As the genealogist delves deep into the past, it is still mandatory to look at what is known, and seek the documentation about that which is known, hoping that a birth certificate provides the heretofore unknown parental names, birth place, and time of birth, an interment record provides the previously unknown relationship and next of kin arranging the burial, or perhaps a marriage certificate besides providing the names of both spouse and groom, the date and place of marriage also registers the parent names.  As each document is located, another opening is made in the brick wall, and research continues.
  2. Organize your data very well, including what paths, and sources you have already had communication with, both successfully and unsuccessfully finding fruit in the research.  Using the Saskatchewan Gen Web internet resources or the assistance of a genealogy society will prove very fruitful if the genealogy researcher can provide a good synopsis of the branch of the family tree.  For example, if your oral interviews or an historic letter have placed your grandfather as a teacher in a one room school in Saskatchewan, pass on all the relevant information pertinent to Saskatchewan to enable your contact to make further progress.  Include with the ancestor name any known nick names, before and after marriage name changes, or spelling differences found thus far in the surname.  Providing a date of birth helps to determine the era of teaching, and saves time not searching records for a teacher who would have only been five years old at the time.  Any historic place names, whether one room school house district names, village, towns or Rural Municipality names help to locate further sources and references which may offer up clues.
  3. Think outside the box.  Not all early pioneers registered births, deaths and marriages, particularly before 1920.  Obituaries, so very handy in contemporary times, were also not as popularly used when pioneers were proving up homesteads, or hunters were chasing down buffalo.  Would other records have further clues to work on?  Family bible records, church records, land records, school yearbooks, funeral home registers, naturalization records may also present the genealogist with more information.
  4. Focus in on the date and era your ancestor would have been living. Research the history of the place they were living at the time.  Pay attention to correlations between historical events which happened in the lifespan of your ancestor.  For example, would they have been the right age to serve in World War I (1914 –1918), World War II (1939 –1945) or any other miliitary event?  Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior for the Dominion of Canada started a massive immigration programme to the “Last Best West” encouraging over three million people to arrive in Canada between 1891–1914.  Would have your ancestor been part of this immigration scheme? And have immigration, naturalization, land settlement records been searched?  Metis/Half Breed families were offered Scrip as compensation for aboriginal rights which were the catalyst of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.  Have the National Archives records been investigated?
  5. Where did your ancestor set down roots when starting their family?   If the family lived in one locale for an extended period of time earning a living, attending school, and partaking in social events, there may be a plethora of records to investigate.  1955 school Jubilee record books may list the pupils of the school and their family. 75th provincial anniversary local history books compiled in 1981 may show the involvement of the family as they settled in Saskatchewan.  Church groups, legions and ethnic societies are other potential sources of information.  Universities have archives holding records about those in attendance, municipalities likewise retain holdings of persons in office for towns, villages and rural municipalites.
  6. Consider the accent of your ancestor.  Before 1920, many of those enumerated on the census could not read or write English.  The enumerator entered the name phonetically as best they could from what they heard spoken before them.  Consider how you would spell the name. Search the entire census district if family was sure the ancestor lived in that area, but the name is not coming up.  Perhaps the given names of the entire family and their ages will help to determine if a surname spelling variation is a match for your records and information thus far.
  7. Contemplate the current occupation of family members and ancestral occupations.  Quite often sons will follow in the occupations undertaken by their fathers.  The Henderson’s directories record resident names, addresses and their occupations in a specific location.  Brand books are other directories of cattle owners who registered their cattle brands in the province.  Both the early Hendersons’ directories and historic brand books are coming online.  Homesteaders who proved up their land successfully, may still have ancestors farming on the “century farm”.  Land records can be searched for those immigrants who applied for a land patent through the Saskatchewan land titles office, and letters of patent are land records for the successful farmer who proved up their land.  Letters of patent for land ownership were issued by the Dominion government of Canada.

Good luck with your family research!  The internet can indeed prove to be a help in locating long lost cousins, and transcribed, scanned or photographed documentation.  If you have found fruitful information document your source, in case it may be handy in tracing another family member at a later date in your family research.  A great way to document information from the internet is in a bibliographic style.  Author name Last, F. M. (Year, Month Date Published). Article title.  Web site name. Retrieved from URL.  Date retrieved.  Please don’t assume that if an historic document is scanned online, that makes the digital copy in the public domain.  The original paper document may have been published years ago placing the paper document in the public domain, however the digital documentation starts its date of publication when the digital version came online unless the publishers expressly state otherwise.  If you place public domain information online yourself, include supporting documentation and corresponding bibliographies for both copyright and paraphrased source materials.  Protect the rights of the living, and don’t break privacy laws when sharing your family tree information.

Be willing to think creatively, and discover the history, heritage, and ethnic background of your ancestors beyond their name, dates, and place of living.  Your family tree has the capability to develop into an exciting and rewarding experience with a preservation of the constitution and character of your family with rich ancedotes and colour.  Genealogists have different motivations to get started in family tree research. Ofttimes the family historian takes on the preparation of a family tree for a reunion, or perhaps to preserve the story before the family legacy is gone and forgotten about.  The genealogist is not just a data entry clerk focusing solely on those all important facts -names, years, places-, a genealogist also understands history, and the interactions of family members and the society where they lived, worked and played.  By asking the right questions, the genealogist provides the ancestral family with achievements, milestones, and a unique character and identity.

Note The new provincial Saskatchewan Region Gen Web is online at https://saskgenweb.site123.me the original Saskatchewan Region Gen Web site is under maintenance by Ancestry/Rootsweb.com. Check periodically for progress on the historical site http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk in the meanwhile please check out https://saskgenweb.site123.me/

Locating Saskatchewan Ancestors together

15 Jun

Genealogy in Saskatchewan

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Family tree research hints and tips for the province of Saskatchewan

The primary purpose and function of RootsWeb.com is to connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research. A common genweb goal is the collection and distribution of genealogical data on the Web. The role of the Saskatchewan GenWeb Project is to assist researchers in locating this information, as well as to add to the existing online data. SaskGenWeb is the gateway linking to the provincial resources & regional GenWeb’s.
If you are researching your family tree in Saskatchewan check out the new https://saskgenweb.site123.me/ Sask Gen Web  Genealogy frequently asked questions regarding Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouse Project, Saskatchewan Cemetery Project, Saskatchewan Genealogy resources, look ups, and much more,

Saskatchewan Genealogy Services

Saskatchewan mailing lists, query boards, Saskatchewan regional maps, look up volunteers, genealogy in Saskatchewan research guidance, Saskatchewan Genealogy Resources, hints, tips, and how tos.

What we believe in

Preserving and celebrating the rich history of the province of Saskatchewan for genealogists and historians.
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Connecting to cousins in Saskatchewan, how to get past genealogy brick walls.

Cemeteries, the silent historian

20 Dec

Graceful Delight

Cemeteries, the silent historian

This is part 2 of a 7 part series

Cemeteries do indeed, silently document the past local histories and biographies. As William Dollarhide, notes, genealogists do make ancestral discoveries at cemeteries, and are not “obsessed with death, burials, or other ghoulish activities.” It is from the cemetery records or tombstone inscriptions that an ancestor can be located with certainty, unless there are no records, no tombstone erected or if the cemetery is unkempt. In Saskatchewan, it is invaluable to learn legal land nomenclature, the township, range and meridian survey system, to augment Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and view historical placenames in the vicinity of the cemetery. These placenames lead to compiled family histories published mainly for the 75th anniversary of the province (1980), however some books went to print in 1955 (50th provincial birthday) and others in 2005 (the 100th anniversary). These local history, family biography books contain a variety of records, cemetery history and occasionally the cemetery transcription as well. The imperative of keeping proper citations, digital records, differentiating between primary source and secondary source records is noted the book Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian written by Elizabeth Shown Mills for genealogists.

Locating homestead locations will help to ascertain the locale, city or rural municipality. Then the cemetery, funeral home, newspaper used for an obituary and death certificate fall into place. However cemetery and probate records may fall short if the ancestor decided upon cremation or drawing up a personal will. Sharon Debartolo Carmack  delves into additional records of death such as “autopsy and coroners’ records, death certificates, obituaries, death notices, wills and probate, prayer and memorial cards and funeral home records, and mortality schedules.”

The practice of erecting a grave marker made of wood in the shape of a cross was erected to commemorate a grave site may have succumbed to one of the numerous prairie fires which historically ravaged the prairie grasslands in blazing sweeps hundreds of miles across. The lack of stone or permanent grave markers, erosion, surface land cultivation, landscaping, prairie fires, exodus of local families and the subsequent deterioration of community and services contribute to the neglect of a grave site, the location unknown to future generations. As John P. Nickel notes, “in the early days when there were no cemeteries, many burials were done in school yards, gardens or fields.” ” “When people died, they would essentially bury them there, wherever it happened, everywhere. There were no cemeteries,” said Germann in a CBC news report, “With settlement and erosion, these things get exposed.”

“Ever wonder what happens when a church closes, members move away, and a cemetery is left uncared for?” asks the Heritage Cemeteries Project. Unmarked cemeteries are particularly hard to find, and derelict abandoned cemeteries quite often have no burial register, cemetery plot map, death certificates, grave markers or other markers such as the case for Efremovka and Spasovoka Doukhovor Cemeteries. “In some cases, a burial spot may be an abandoned cemetery,” reports Colorado Cemeteries, “when the owners of the property have left the area, and the property is no longer the responsibility of anyone.”

Typically there are family cemeteries, church owned, private, national, city, town and municipal cemeteries. Cemeteries may have undefined property boundaries, no signage or access roadways creating difficulty when locating graveyards.

The dates of cemeteries can be reflected by the types of monuments demarking the grave sites. Tombstone markers have evolved from wooden markers, stone mounds or circles, sandstone slabs, marble stone work, granite tombstones and the contemporary polished granite and marble. Additionally, in a cemetery, there may be headstone, footstone, ground tablet, basal table grave, ruin, cross, pedestal obelisk, pedestal column, Funeral home plaque, or bedstead set in an urban, country, family, private, isolated or rural setting. Mausoleum architecture, be it Romanesque, Gothic Revial, or Art Deco, they, too, reflect time periods in history, social values and chronological trends.

From the inscriptions, the names and dates are vital to the genealogist assembling a family tree. Additionally, symbols, backgrounds, art, Religious iconography, accomplishments, commemorative items, epitaphs, carvings, and sentiments are recorded by those remembering their dearly departed. These symbols may indicate a social identity such as membership in organizations giving way to additional information and further genealogical research. Family burial plots show groupings or symbols indicated they are related in some way.

According to Robert Redfield, “acculturation” is the “phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups.” The adaptions of ethnic bloc settlements is evident in their burial customs, cemetery tombstone styles and the language chosen for the tombstone inscriptions.

Young pupils do not have to wait till University, they can be exposed to archaeological studies by visiting a cemetery and studying the culture of the community and the changes it its culture. Cemeteries tell the story of the deceased, those who mourned them, their views of death, and the society in which they lived.

Trends and customs in burial customs of ethnic, cultural and spiritual communities demark cemetery sections or complete graveyard styles of internment and tombstone design. Such was the case for Verna Elinor Gallén who detailed “variations in the expressions of social identity provided by the different Saskatchewan Finnish cemeteries” in Silence We Remember: The Historical Archaeology of Finnish Cemeteries in Saskatchewan. Noting the details of both tombstone and grave yard tells a story of communities in Saskatchewan, their growth and development, in times of sickness, war, and health.

Note: This program (Saskatchewan Genealogy Society ~ Saskatchewan Cemetery Care and Maintenance Program SCCMP ) has been discontinued, however it ws intriguing, so the information is left here in this blog online

Additional Resources:

Links

Canada Gen Web Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project

Network Canadian Cemetery Management September 2010 Vol 24 No 10

Saskatchewan Gen Web Cemetery Resources and Organisations

Saskatchewan Genealogy Society Cemetery Index

Saskatchewan Historic Cemetery Manual

 SCCMP “The Saskatchewan Cemetery Care and Maintenance Program”

Books

Victorian cemetery art by Edmund Vincent Gillon

Bibliography:

Links to sources are embedded in text above.

Additionally:

Redfield, Robert, Ralph Linton and Melville J. Herkovits

1936 Memorandum for the Study of Acculturation. American Anthropologist 38(1):149- 152.

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