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How the Right Genealogical Plan can Lead To the Joy of Discovery

13 Jul

The Joys of Research

The Enthusiasm of Discovery

photo of a woman holding an ipad

Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Every family tree has a root, a home, a person a starting point. From this starting point, the tree fans out with all its branches back into time. Does it not follow “inevitably that every father had a father, and so on. In fact,” said Michael Shaara in Man of Distinction, “when you considered the matter rightly, everyone alive was the direct descendant of untold numbers of fathers, down through the ages, all descending, one after another, father to son. And so backward, unquestionably, into the unrecognizable and perhaps simian fathers of the past.”

“It will not require much space to indicate the main sources of information in genealogical research. Having decided to trace back our own lines, we naturally turn first to the living members of our family. If we have parents living and accessible,—grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, cousins, or others who are likely to know more about the family than we do,—let us consult them, personally if we may, by letter if we must,” begins Frank Allaban when introducing “Concerning Genealogy” and ancestral hunting.

“Special attention is also called to the radically different plans for genealogical works, one tracing the many descendants of a common ancestor, the other tracing the many ancestors of a common descendant. There is a general drift toward the latter, many having discovered the fascination of exploring their direct lines of descent.”

“The moment of first hearing the facts, when the joy of discovery and the satisfaction of making progress are upon us, is the psychological moment for making our notes. It is a positive delight while the fever of enthusiasm is high. As our informant begins his story, let us interrupt with the cry of the enthusiast, “I must jot that down!” Out comes our notebook, conveying to our friend a very distinct impression of the importance of being accurate. He collects himself, and proceeds to give his facts and traditions with the greatest care. As we stop him with questions, or take time to write the facts, his memory is stimulated. With skillful questions the genealogical worker can draw out all the information, taking care to cover every point which may come up later.”

“Furthermore, while we may be able to find our way back from generation to generation with almost ridiculous ease in some cases, such luck is usually too good to last. It is a rare vein which yields family connections at every stroke of the genealogical spade, and one such line may have to console us for a number which we mine slowly and painfully, and for some others which yield no results whatever beyond a certain point.”

“We will suppose that at last the task of investigation has come to an end. We have run our family lines back as far as our plan contemplated, or as far as we were able to do with a reasonable amount of research. Perhaps most of them go back to the original emigrants, but it may be that in a case or two we have had the good fortune to make connection with an old family stem in Europe. In any case, the work is now done. We have made our discoveries, and scored triumphs not a few. But though the excitement of the chase is over, its pleasures are by no means spent. Is there no story to tell, no tale of our difficulties and exploits? Next to the exhilaration of the hunt itself, what can compare with the mellow joy of going over it with a comrade! Least of all can the “inevitable narrative” be spared in a case of ancestry-hunting. It is the logical issue of the search, and failure to weave our facts into a readable story, after having collected them, is almost unthinkable,”

“A truly interesting genealogical work is not a dry compilation of family statistics, but contains striking biographical pen pictures. Let these be made as complete as possible, and the story told with all the interest we can throw into it. We believe that the ideal genealogy is yet to be written, and that it will present facts with the accuracy of a Bancroft, but clothe them with the charm of an Irving. What possibilities there are” are these not the Joys of Research as expounded by Frank Allaban

However to set down the story for future generations the work must contain the proofs of the statements made. An imperative sorting in any historical biography contained in the family tree must need quote the authorities and provide systematic footnotes, and also citations of authorities in the text. The result is that there is no guess as to the opinion or motivation of compiler in giving us the fruit of original research, it is quite well established whether the biography, then, is an extract from another compilation, a part of oral tradition, or a mere conjecture put forward by the collective family memory.

Every leaf in the family tree begins with a name, it is with this moniker that the individual is thus introduced and thus their legend also starts. What whisper, what expression, what libretto will the name reveal? The name is thus a beginning of who they are, like the title of a new adventure story. The family historian has a bird’s eye view from his vantage point in the future to see why this ancestor existed. What role this ancestor played in the family, within the community by their words and by their deeds. The genealogist presenting the family tree to the world at a family reunion or compiled book is tasked with a considerable and significant responsibility. Like the title of a book, the narrative behind the name of each ancestor within the family tree is dependent upon the account and testimony of the genealogist and the validity of the sources relied upon.

We inherit from our ancestors gifts so often taken for granted. Each of us contains within this inheritance of soul. We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise. – Edward Sellner

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/

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Boost your research!

29 Jun

How does the genealogist go about locating historical information?

 How do they conduct their research?

The genealogist can, indeed, provide the family with a sense of identity, purpose, and understanding of how their family and ancestors grew shaped their community.  Genealogists may wish to record the family’s evolution and record their achievements.

The genealogist will receive both written and unwritten stories and sources.  They will necessarily be part historian and part biographer, since they must be able to explain how the family set down roots, developed their character, and chose the roads and trails which they did.  The genealogist must explore how the ancestral family earned their livelihood, while at the same time explore how the family played, learned, developed, changed and grew through their art, education, religion, ethnic society, etc.  The genealogist needs to embrace the historical aspect of the era, the impact of the rail line on a local community, or the force of the industrial revolution with cars, combines, trucks and roads.  Finally the genealogist must also be a sociologist as they reconstruct the life and society in the local community of the ancestral family.

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall
Revitalize your genealogical fieldwork.  (Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com)  Invigorate your ancestral tree inquiry

Exploring these factors will allow available sources to systematically unfold before the genealogist,  The family member origins, growth, and decisions all play a vital role during the evolution of a family in the context of the past, and similarly help the genealogist complete a family tree with unique aspects.

As the genealogist compiles a timeline of the ancestral family, various events occur to shape the character of each individual in history.  By contemplating this timeline decisions can be made as to whether to pursue a census record for further clarification, or perhaps a military record might show light on another individual.  By delving into the personality of the individual it can be ascertained if their achievements may have been recorded in the local newspaper, or archived in municipal or court records.

Thus, genealogical research receives a boost when the researcher supports the birth, marriage and death certificates with a picture of the ancestor and their personal sense of purpose, and desires.  The ancestor comes to light when their decision to immigrate shows up in passenger lists.  Delving into travel on that particular passenger ship they travelled upon gives further clarification of the kind of trip they experienced.  Exploring the weather in various seasons helps to understand how travel may have been enhanced or been a challenge if the trip was taken in a winter or summer month.  Use your own imagination and Imagine how they felt, and it may provide a stepping stone to another direction in the genealogical quest.  Would it be perhaps fortuitous to explore hospital records if the trip was taken to remediate an illness?  When the passenger ship arrived, how did the next leg of the journey begin to arrive at the set destination?  How did they cross North America if the passenger ship arrived in New York?  Would ancestors arriving Pier 21 Halifax, Nova Scotia have a different journey to arrive at their destination?  If they arrived in winter time to the “Last Best West” where did they live?  Were there hotels in that era?

Ask questions about the ancestral life apart from when and where your great great uncle was born, and died.  Contemplate the role of your great great great grandmother, look up the history of the land, the weather patterns, local events that happened the year she got married.  Continue to ask questions which will lead to more answers and more sources of information.  What facilities and support did she have to give birth?  Describe what you have learned to fellow researchers and explore information in archives, libraries, museums, local history books, and newspapers.  By growing the biographical timeline of your ancestral, you will boost your genealogical research capability.

Note The new 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 at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansk while waiting please check out https://saskgenweb.site123.me/

Maps and the lost Placename

5 Nov
Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map depicting Port Arthur / Fort William and Churchill to Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario Larry Walton

Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map depicting Port Arthur / Fort William and Churchill to Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario Larry Walton

“In cartography, as in medicine, art and science are inseparable. The perfect map blends art and science into an effective tool of visual communication.” ~ Dr. Keith Harries

How to travel to a homestead or unofficial placename in Saskatchewan or Western Canada.

How to determine distances between contemporary placenames and ghost towns.

Do you have an historic document or correspondence which has a placename that you have not heard of previously?

The homestead or locality which does not appear on a modern map are an enigma to the traveller trying to find the ancestral home. The genealogical researcher may wish to locate a local history book, or cemetery to glean more information about their family tree, however where would one locate the Saskatchewan place name “End Lake” or “Roderickville” for instance?

One very excellent resource is Geographical names in Canada | Natural Resources Canada Looking up a placename for any locale in Canada will produce the latitude and longitude along with a map, legal land description along with nearby placenames and the distance from the longitude / latitude supplied or the distance from the placename searched.

Another is the Online Historical Map Digitization Project showing maps, atlases and gazetteers from 1862 to the mid 1950s, genealogists and historians can find a variety of maps are a valuable reference tool for information about places, place names and their locations.

Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Ontario.  By Larry Walton

Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Ontario. By Larry Walton

In Saskatchewan, take the initiative to also check the two Atlas of Saskatchewan books along with Bill Barry’s Geographic Names of Saskatchewan for placenames and their locations book ISBN1-897020-19-2. Saskatchewan local history directory : a locality guide to community and church histories in the Prairie History Room, Our Towns: Saskatchewan Communities from Abbey to Zenon Park By David McLennan and Saskatchewan Ghost Towns are other major resources to help you on your way with your preliminary research online. Search Saskatchewan Placenames amalgmates placenames from the National Archives resources, various books and atlases, and historical maps.

An historical location may be defined by the legal land location. How easy is it to locate Roderickville located at section 20 township 15 range 10 West of the third meridian?

“A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams.” ~ Gilbert H. Grosvenor

Roderickville appears on Larry Walton’s Canadian National Railways Western Lines Map a part of the Online Historical Map Digitization Project and Roderickville also shows up in Geographic Names of Saskatchewan. It then becomes apparent that Roderickville is located just west and south of Swift Current near Rush Lake on the Canadian National Railway. Travelling to Roderickville, now becomes much easier with such bearings.

Obtaining a modern Rural Municipality map then provides current roads for the area. The determination of which Rural Municipality needs to be contacted can be derived from one of these maps which will help locate the legal land description, in this case section 20 township 15 range 10 West of the third meridian for Roderickville. This legal land location can be identified by

Rural Municipality Coulee No. 136
Latitude Longitude
50.273554 -107.345313
50° 16.413′ N 107° 20.719′ W
50° 16′ 24.79″ N 107° 20′ 43.13″ W
Township Road 154 Range Road 3105
MGRS/USNG UTM NTS
13U CR 32882 71677
13N 332882 5571678 C-28-C/72-J-6

So by entering in the degrees longitude and latitude into Geographical Names of Canada, the determination is made that:

Neighbouring placenames to Roderickville are

  • Braddock 24-13-11-W3 is a nearby Locality 19 kilometers
  • Burnham 16-15-11-W3 is a nearby Locality 9 kilometers
  • Coulee No. 136 is a nearby Rural Municipality 13 kilometers
  • Fauna 16-11-W3 is a nearby Railway Point 16 kilometers
  • Hallonquist 25-13-10-W3 is a nearby Hamlet 19 kilometers
  • Herbert 17-9-W3 is a nearby Town 19 kilometers
  • Neidpath 1-15-10-W3 is a nearby Hamlet l 9 kilometers
  • Rush Lake 1-17-11-W3 is a nearby Village 15 kilometers

By contacting the individual Rural Municipality for their map, driving on township and range grid (gravel) roads becomes very easy to arrive at your destination. Saskatchewan Geographic Perspectives

Do you wish to discover how to travel to an unincorporated hamlet? Pay attention to the road signs as you travel along the country gravel road. There is a pattern to the township and range Roads in Saskatchewan as are assigned by the Saskatchewan Provincial  Standard System of Rural Addressing.

“I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The other method to arrive at Roderickville section 20 township 15 range 10 West of the third meridian would be to use an online legal land converter which determines the latitude and longitude and the GPS bearing for any legal land location. Then plug this number into any GPS system.

Ascertaining which localities are close to Roderickville and which Rural Municipality Roderickville is located within, also helps to know which cemeteries are nearby and which local history books are written for the area. Use any library catalogue and type in the rural municipality or larger municipality name. Genealogists may be interested in neighbouring cemeteries to locate an ancestor. In Saskatchewan, a number of the cemeteries are online by a variety of groups, as they are for many countries and provinces across Canada. The Saskatchewan Genealogy Society, for example lists cemeteries by rural municipality.

  • Village population of at least 100
  • Town population of 500 or more
  • City 5,000 residents.

Ghost towns are communities that no longer exist or former Villages/Towns that have become unincorporated hamlets. Delve into some historic maps and placenames which have disappeared from contemporary maps. Before the motorized vehicle was in common use, pioneers and homesteaders relied on horse and cart or ox and buggy for transport to take grain to market, or to drive into town for mail, groceries and supplies. So how far could a horse travel for example? How far a horse travels in one day – Cartographers’ Guild suggests;

Horse / Horse and Cart Travel Distances
Geographic surface
Level or rolling terrain: Without a cart With a loaded cart
On Roads / trails 40 miles/day 64 kilometers/day 20 miles/day 32 kilometers/day
Off-Road (or unkempt trails etc)
Hilly terrain: 30 / 51 15 / 24
Mountainous terrain: 20 / 32 10 / 16
Level/rolling grasslands: 30 / 51 15 / 24
Hilly grasslands: 25 / 40 12 / 19
Level/rolling forest/thick scrub: 20 / 32 10 / 16
Very hilly forest/thick scrub: 15 / 24 7 / 11
Un-blazed Mountain passes: 10 / 16 5 / 8
Marshland: 10 / 16 5 / 8

According to Chapter 7 Settlement Evolution since the Late Nineteenth Century. Saskatchewan Geographic Perspectives by Hansgeorg Schlichtmann and M.L. Lewry, towns “were usually spaced 12 to 15 km apart along a railway line so that, in the age of horse-and-cart traffic, a farmer could make a round trip to town and back in one day. Along GTP lines (e.g. the Regina-Fort Qu’Appelle-Melville line) they were rather more closely spaced and, subsequently, more of them have declined or even disappeared more than towns on other trunk lines.”. Local Improvement Districts (LID’s) and, Statute Labour and Fire (SLF) Districts improve the local community, establishing cemeteries, honouring war dead, providing health care, roads, bridges. The horse and cart were greatly assisted by the work of the early precursors to the RM and to the Department of Highways and the ensuing Rural Municipality formation. LIDs and SLFs were replaced by Rural Municipalites (RM) following the Spencer Commission findings. Roads were straightened in the 1960s following World War II as more families had access to motorized transport with improved technologies from World War II. When the veterans returned home, society made further improvements. These improvements phased out the need for travel by horse, horse and cart, and ox and buggy. Gradually the extensive railway system saw branch lines closing due to the same phenomena. The one room school house gave way to the consolidated school in town. Families shifted away from the rural farm following the drought and depression in the 1930s seeking economic recovery in the urban centres. The consolidated school also attracted younger families to urban centres and away from living a rural existence.

“First, farms became larger and the rural population declined, so that the sales volume of small-town stores decreased and many businesses ceased to be viable. Second, motor vehicles became more affordable and highways were improved, thereby increasing mobility. Third, this mobility, along with greater disposable income, enabled rural people to purchase goods and services available in higher-order, more distant central places. Fourth, to achieve costs savings, many smaller grain elevators, and public service facilities such as schools and hospitals were replaced by larger ones, at fewer locations. …A number of small settlements have disappeared.” Schlichtmann

Good luck on your journey, and have a lot of fun discovering where once there was a thriving and active community of settlers, which may no longer exist. What can be found today? Does the foundation of a store, or a school district flag pole still remain? Here is another mystery; McMichael near Melfort on Larry Walton’s Canadian National Railways Western Lines Map. This placename of McMichael does not appear on contemporary maps, and is not discovered by Bill Barry in his book, so what is known of this placename that has disappeared? Are there any other placenames on historic maps which are not listed at Search Saskatchewan Placenames? Lost places collect placenames without a location, and the Search Saskatchewan Placenames seeks to update its listing with new additions as they are submitted.

Have fun on your genealogical journey discovering what are the neighbouring communities of an ancestral ghost town. By locating a historic settlement it is easier to find resources such as local history books, libraries, museums, historical societies, cemeteries and perhaps a descendant still farming on the “Century Farm” to help discover further information for the family tree. If you are tracking down a historic placename in correspondence or a treasured historic letter, please bear in mind, that pioneers and settlers often referred to their placename where they lived as the name which may be indeed the one rom schoolhouse district as it was an integral part of the new community, and settlers gathered together at the school house for meetings, dances, rallies, the Christmas play etc.

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Related Posts:

Country Roads Leading Home

Where were Saskatchewan homesteads located?

How do I locate my Ancestors Home Town in Saskatchewan?

Locate Your Saskatchewan Place-name

How did pioneers travel to their prairie homesteads?

Maybe the Ghosts Will Live Again! Saskatchewan Ghost Towns… Do you have oral history about a Saskatchewan placename not on a current map? How do you find those communities which were once dotted around the prairie every six miles or so?

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All rights reserved. Copyright © Julia Adamson All my images and text are protected under international authors copyright laws and Canadian photography laws and may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without my written explicit permission. They may be licensed through Getty images. .. Peace and love be with you.
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Prairie History Blog Review

25 May

Regina Public Library Prairie History Blog Review

In this day of age with genealogical sites coming online, it is hard to determine which way to turn amidst the plethora of sites appearing from a search engine investigation.

The Regina Public Library has come up with a wonderful solution with their Prairie History Blog The blog originated with the purpose of informing their visitors about the new items added to their collection; recommending some of the best online genealogy resources; and notifications of any upcoming genealogy and heritage-related workshops and events in the Regina community or around province.

RPL, Regina Public Library, Card Catalog, Library Card Catalog

Regina Public Library Prairie History Blog Card Catalogue

Not only does the Prairie History Blog provide updates about new magazines, and books available in the Prairie History Room, Regina Public Library, but they also have information about recommended websites, their updates and new features. Website with early postcards of Prairie towns is one of these articles.

Enhancing the value of the New Magazines now available, the blog is replete with the article titles in each issue, in a milieu of magazines be it Folklore by the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Alberta History, Families, Your Genealogy Today, Manitoba History, Internet Genealogy, Relatively Speaking, Revue Historique, or the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society Bulletin.

Books

New books available for research

An informative category is New Saskatchewan Records added to FamilySearch. The digitisation process of the Regina Public Library has made them keenly aware of their own growth and expansion and in this realization they have also been able to keep abreast of exciting new digital additions appearing on the internet.

As the Regina Public Library system has subscribed to Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) and access is provided in each of their nine branches. The Prairie History Blog provides updates at regular intervals to newly digitised projects which have become available on ALE.

Genealogy presentations are provided in house at the Regina Public Library, but for distance learning or in case you missed it, the many and varied slide shows and transcripts of their presentations are preserved online. A few of these presentations are entitled Revised and Updated Version of Best Genealogy Websites and Tools of 2014 , Tracing your Canadian World War I Ancestors, Best Genealogy Websites 2012 part 2, Researching Military Records. and Chinese footprints across Canada 2014 version.

The Regina Public Library has made their blog a pleasure to use highlighting articles with images, and an easily accessible style providing excellent categories to find similar articles for further research and information. In their passion to provide digital information, they have started the Prairie History Room’s New Virtual Scrapbook on the Regina Public Library Flickr page which was launched with over 200 historical photographs. St. Andrew’s Thistle Football Club is represented with 22 photos, 18 images provide the scene of the historic Regina Tornado and the Nurses’ Training at Regina General Hospital feature amongst historical images of Regina,  Regina library events and branches.

The Regina Public History Blog is a wonderful Genealogy and Heritage Newsletter. If you cannot make it into the Regina Public Library in person, please do take time to peruse their virtual presence, where you can be introduced to the Prairie History Collection, find useful information in their Research Guides, view their photo albums, and indulge in the current blog articles and archives

The Regina Public Library blog and Flickr page are also supported by the facebook page and Web Site.

Online Family History Tree Research

Online Family History Tree Research
enhanced by the Regina Prairie History Blog

Embracing the new millennium, the Regina Public Library has established an informative and insightful virtual presence. Experience their social networking sites and venues the Regina Public Library offers a fantastic online presence.  They  provide information about new additions to the Prairie History Room Collection, allow genealogists to become aware of the better online genealogy resources available, and on top of this they provide genealogy workshops, and notifications of upcoming genealogical related events in Saskatchewan.

It is not often that one finds a blog as useful and as informative as the Regina Public Library’s Prairie History Blog. The Blog shows us just how rich and vibrant the history of Saskatchewan is, and how much the pioneers of this prairie province are treasured in our genealogical research.

 

 

 

 

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