Tuesday, September 19, 2017

DearMYRTLE's GenDoc Study Group - Wednesdays at Noon Eastern

Tomorrow is the second session of DearMYRTLE's GenDoc Study Group where participants discuss Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Dr. Thomas W. Jones. The sessions are held live on Google Hangouts, Wednesdays at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. If you follow the link above, you will find the schedule of sessions through January 17, 2018.

Dr. Jones' book is not a replacement for Evidence Explained, but sort of a companion. As the author himself says, it is a textbook for citation creation where Evidence Explained is a reference manual.

I am not as far along in Dr. Jones' book as I thought I would be at this point, mostly because I was inspired to go back and reread Genealogical Standards and the first two chapters of Evidence Explained, but I'm actually excited to keep reading and learn more. I'm very hopeful that this textbook will help me to better understand how to create my own citations. It has bothered my for some time that I don't cite my sources here on my blog, but my posts would take four times longer to put together if I did. My goal is that by the time the study group is finished, that I will be able to go back post-by-post and cite any sources that I have shared in my posts.

Screenshot from YouTube

If you are interested in watching the Week 1 session, you can watch it easily on YouTube but you won't be able to see the comments of those who were watching or add to the conversation. To see that, you just have to register either through Google, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. You can find the registration links for all of DearMYRTLE's September hangouts here.

There may be other places as well, but I know that you can buy Dr. Jones' book at the NGS webiste in softcover or at Amazon for Kindle.

I can't believe we'll be almost three weeks into next year when this group wraps-up, but I can't wait to see where the book and group together can take my knowledge of and comfort with creating citations in the next few months.

Tombstone Tuesday - George Robert Smith and Charlotte Codere

George Robert Louis "Bobby" Smith was the eldest child of my great-uncle, Orlando Chauncey Smith and his wife, Rachel (pronounced Rashelle) Frechette, who are also buried in this plot at Elmwood Cemetery in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Bobby was born on June 14, 1919 in Thetford Mines, Quebec.

Bobby married Marie Blandine Charlotte Codère of Sherbrooke on October 17, 1942 at Église de Saint-Charles-Borromée in Beaulac-Garthby, Quebec. Together they had one daughter.

They are buried in the Smith family plot at Elmwood Cemetery in Sherbrooke, Quebec, with Bobby's parents and grandparents and other Smith relatives.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - Orlando Chauncey Smith and Rachel Jeanne Frechette

This week's post should have gone up last week, but I was a bit busy and stressed finalizing the sale (junking) of my old car and purchase of a new one. It was right here in this cemetery last month that it began to be obvious that I was going to have to make a decision about cars, as the steep hills proved to be a challenge for my transmission. My poor mother was worried that we wouldn't make it home to New York. Although I don't think we were in any danger of that, "My Car Died in This Cemetery" would have made a catchy title for a blog post. Anyway, now that's over I can get back to my ancestors.

These photos were taken at Elmwood Cemetery in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Orlando Chauncey Smith was the second son of my great-grandparents, George Robert Smith and Isabella Frances Parker. His older brother Benjamin died at ten months old in 1889. Lannie, as he was known, was born about eighteen months later on July 7, 1891.

Lannie married Rachel Jeanne Frechette in Quebec City on November 5, 1918.  They had three children, two of whom are buried here with their wives.

Lannie died before I was born, but I can remember visiting Tante Rachel (pronounced like Rashelle) at her home down the street from my grandparents.

I don't have any photos of the two of them together. I'll have to remedy that one of these days.

This photo of Lannie and his youngest brother, William John White, was taken about 1914.

This photo was taken at my mother's graduation from Bishops University, also in Sherbrooke, in 1958. Aunt Rachel is in the dark coat.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday - Lucy Hamilton Smith and Frederick Albert Sawer

I recently posted photos from our trip to Quebec and the two cemeteries that we were able to visit, including Elmwood Cemetery in Sherbrooke, Quebec. What you can't see in those photos, because I forgot to take a picture of the entire plot, is that my great-grandparents are buried in a large plot for 12 people.

Buried with George and Isabelle are three of their children, the spouses of two of those children and the two sons of their eldest son, both with their wives, leaving one spot empty.

Lucy Hamilton Smith was the oldest of George and Isabella's children and named for her maternal grandmother, Lucy A.B. Hamilton, who had passed away in 1881. Lucy was born when the family lived in Buckingham, with her maternal grandfather, George Lakin Parker.

Lucy married Frederick Albert Sawer on December 4, 1918 in Thetford Mines, Quebec. They had no children but doted on their nieces and nephews.

Unfortunately for me, I never knew Aunt Lucy and Uncle Fred who died in early and late 1964 before I was born. I wish I had known them though, just from pictures I sense that Aunt Lucy was a very interesting person!

Friday, August 25, 2017

City Directories at BAnQ and the short life of Norman Parker Smith

Finding the burial record of my great-uncle, Norman Parker Smith, brought the events of his short life into focus for me.

Quebec church records don't seem to have any consistency in terms of content. This one is a gift because in a time well before civil death records, the Minister chose to include Norman Parker's cause of death, which is very unusual in my experience. Norman Parker died of infantile debility, his little body was not absorbing the nutrients from his food and he wasted away.

Still perplexed by his baptism in Montreal just eight days before his death and the fact that the witnesses did not include his father, I began to wonder if his illness could explain it. Unlike an illness such as influenza which would strike quickly, infantile debility could have given Norman's family time to seek medical help; specialists, perhaps hospitalization.

But there was one more question to answer, and for that I would need help from city directories. I knew that there was a time that the Smiths were living both in Montreal and Thetford Mines and they were enumerated in Montreal in the 1911 census, so that could have explained the Montreal baptism, but were they there as early as 1903?  Luckily, as I pointed out in my previous post , the digital online collections at BAnQ include the Lovell directories from 1848-2010.

I began my search for George Robert Smith, my great-grandfather, in the 1902 directory but this entry from the 1910-1911 edition was the earliest I could find for him, so the family was very likely not here yet in 1903.

That timeline matched with my current theory which is this: That Norman Parker Smith was born at home in Thetford Mines, Quebec on July 26, 1903 into a growing family of two sisters, and three brothers. At some point it became apparent that he was not physically well and the local doctor was unable to either pinpoint a cause or to offer treatment.

I don't know of any photos of Norman Parker.
Shown here are George Robert Smith and Isabella Frances Parker with their youngest child, William John White Smith.
It may have been on the doctor's recommendation that my great-grandmother boarded the train for Montreal with her baby to seek the help of a specialist. The death of another son, Benjamin, in 1889 could not have been far from her mind.

Whether they were in Montreal for weeks or days I don't know, but at some point the reality of Norman Parker's condition and the probable outcome must have set in. My great-grandmother took him to be baptized at St. Gabriel's Presbyterian church on November 10, 1903 without even her husband by her side and only eight days later, at the age of three months, twenty-two days, little Norman Parker was gone.

Then Isabella Frances, and for some reason I see this as her decision, made the difficult choice to send her baby 250 miles away so that he could be buried, not all alone in a local cemetery, but with his brother Benjamin and their grandmother, Lucy Hamilton Parker.

At the burial service only Norman's father and grandfather, George Lakin Parker, signed the church book. Perhaps Isabella was there, or perhaps she was too grief-stricken to make the long trip and bury another son. She did have a household to run and five other children from 16-4 years old. Maybe it was just time to turn her attention back to them and find comfort in their company and love.

There are still more records to be found to verify Benjamin's birth and burial, but I can't see my great-grandmother burying Norman in Buckingham if Benjamin weren't there already.

Whether or not Benjamin and Norman Parker ever had headstones I don't yet know but I am definitely looking forward to my next trip to Ottawa, and making my way to Buckingham, now Gatineau, to pay my respects to the Parkers and Smiths at St. Andrew's Cemetery. On our recent trip to Quebec, we were able to pay our respects to George and Isabella.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

BMS2000 and BAnQ-Finding Norman Parker Smith Online - Pt II

BMS2000 is a website originally started by five Quebec genealogical societies, for their private use, to make a database of birth, marriage, and burial (Bapteme, Marriage et Sepulture) records. The site has since been made public and now includes contributions from 24 member societies.

BMS2000 is a pay site if you don't belong to a member society and want to see details about the records (though in most cases, not the records themselves), but it is very inexpensive. For me, it was cheap at twice the price.

Anyone can do a search on the site, and without vouchers you'll get a result like this (click to expand for detail):

Searching for Maggie Dean as the Child in a baptism in Waterville, Quebec with no year entered gave me the result above. To see more, I would have to pay. For $20 Canadian (current rate is about 80 cents on the US$ I believe), you get 200 vouchers, so basically ten cents per record viewed. I've searched for many records here now and am still on my first $20.

Once I paid and searched for Maggie again, I was able to see this:

So, could I get an actual record or record image? I think if you can identify the society who is responsible for the record (as circled above) you can contact them. The codes seem to correspond to the societies listed on the site's home page. Except for this one. I had to email twice to find out who that might be. So, in the meantime, I took another route. While I was looking at a search result for the marriage of my Smith great-grandparents in that elusive church in Buckingham, I saw something that wasn't on Maggie's record:

"Complete listing at the ANQ in Qc. The index of licenses on sale at the SGQ."

So what were the ANQ and SGQ? The more accurate acronym for the ANQ is BAnQ, Bibliotheque et Archives Nationals du Quebec, the National Library and Archives of Quebec. The SGQ is the Societe de genealogie de Quebec, the Quebec Genealogical Society. I chose to explore the former.

A few points about this site before we proceed:

Keep in mind that this index is being created by volunteers from twenty-four different local historical societies in Quebec. I think that is why there is more detail on one record, less on another. Just something to keep in mind in terms of accuracy.

Also, make sure to print or otherwise save your search results. If you want to print, from inside the pop-up with the record details, choose "Retain this record".  Then, from the left of your screen you can print individually, by retaining only one record at a time, or from everything you've retained during that session, by waiting to the end. The next time you log on, the records may not be there, so be sure to save your records before logging out. Otherwise you will have to pay again. I may have missed something, but I don't think I saw that spelled out clearly on the site.

So, as I said, my next step was to visit the BAnQ website. This website is in french as you would expect and their translate button won't work for everything, but it isn't too difficult to get past that.

After clicking on the English option in the upper right, the image above is what the BAnQ homepage looks like. From here, click on Explore Our Contents which will give you a large drop-down menu (that I couldn't capture). In the center column is an item "Digital Collection", choosing that will bring you to this page:

The third row has two collections, the "Lovell directories of Montreal and its suburbs" and "Quebec registers of civil status, from the beginnings to 1913" - these are the church records - images from the civil copies of the church books. Choosing that option will bring you here"

This screen illustrates why you may still need or want to visit BMS2000 before coming to BAnQ. There is no index for these records here. In order to use this site effectively you need to know the name of the church, or the region or district, or be willing to dig in for a longer search. I've had luck finding regions and districts for towns in my research on Wikipedia. Searching by parish (paroisse) can be tougher unless you know the name of the church.

Entering Maggie's information from BMS; Waterville Congregational Church and the year 1872, led me right to her record.

And next for the Smiths - would I find records here from St. Andrew's Presbyterian church in Buckingham? My heart was beating out of my chest and I swear I was hardly breathing.

It was disappointing to see that only records from 1900 - 1914 were available since most of the events in my family took place before that and one after, but, oh, Norman Parker, I thought to myself, and clicked on 1903. It seemed to take forever to scroll through to events in November, and then there he was:

I was so grateful to find this record and I'm looking forward to a visit to Montreal and BAnQ (who have suspended digitization efforts for the time being due to budget cuts) to find more records.

Next time, another record collection at BAnQ and my conclusions about Norman Parker's short life.
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