Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Canada Company

Throughout history, private companies have always been interesting in settling people on colonized lands and large tracts of lands acquired from national governments and monarchs. It was no different in parts of modern-day Canada. One interesting example was The Canada Company. It was formed in the 1820s to sell and settle land in Ontario, of which its southern parts was known as Upper Canada from 1791 to 1841.

After settling the first generation of arrivals, it was in the interest of such companies to facilitate the settlers to write back to family members in their place of origin and send remittances. Both acts would encourage more settlers to come to the company's lands. The Canada Company settled a considerable number of Irish immigrants and compiled a large amount of documentation in the process.

The company's records were acquired by a Canadian archive after it ceased operation in 1951. Among the records were four volumes that reported on the company's efforts to assist settlers with their remittance payments.  Relevant genealogical information from these volumes was included in Genealogical extraction and index of the Canada Company remittance books, 1843-1847, published in 1990.[1] About half of those immigrants  were from Ireland. The records detail the residence of the settler and, crucially, the residence of person receiving the remittance in Ireland. These people are most likely to have been family members or those from the settler's place of origin in Ireland.

This publication is not universally available.  Copies can be found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, Toronto Public Library, and elsewhere . The original records are at the Archives of Ontario.

[1] Dwight D. Radford and Kyle J. Betit. A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors. Betterway Books: 2003, p.67.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Waltham Savings Bank Records

The Waltham Savings Bank was founded in Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1853. The bank kept a wide range of records and those from 1853 to 1987 were donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) in 1994.

MHS has cataloged and condensed the records into three series. Among the collection are Deposits (1853-1891) located in Series II, Customer Records (1853-1935). The catalog description for the deposits outlines that "although much of the information contained in the deposit records is duplicated in the customer account balances, the records were kept because they also contain personal information on the customer, including signatures of new account holders, place of residence, age, place of birth, and parents' and spouse's name."[1]

I have not viewed records from this collection but there seems to be tremendous potential for these records to provide place of origin information for any Irish immigrants that banked with the Waltham Savings Bank. From 1860 to 1900, the percentage of the Irish-born population in Waltham was approx. 18-20%.[2] Therefore, it is quite likely that a sizeable number of the bank's customers were from Ireland.

You can read the Waltham Savings Bank's collection description and how to access its records on the Massachusetts Historical Society website.

My thanks to the @Catholicgeneal twitter account for bringing this collection to my attention.

[1] Kristen A. Farmelant and Brenda M. Lawson. Waltham Savings Bank Records, 1853-1987 Guide to the Collection. September 2014. Massachusetts Historical Society. Available online: http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0132 : accessed 8 January 2017.
[2] Based on my own calculation from the 1860, 1870, 1880 & 1900 U.S. Federal Censuses on Ancestry.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) was founded in 1994. The organization encourages "family history research and its dissemination by people with ancestry in the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands)."[1] BIFHSGO is one of the largest Canadian genealogy organizations and has a library, online databases, and multiple monthly meetings. Each year they host a very highly regarded conference.

The organization works in collaboration with the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society to run an Irish Research Group. The group meets every fourth Tuesday of the month (except June, July, August and December) at 7.30 pm at the McNabb Community Centre, Craft Room, 180 Percy Street, Ottawa. BIFHSGO's Brian O'Regan Memorial Library has a large selection of publications concerning Irish genealogy and they have a full catalog online.

BIFHSGO has published Anglo-Celtic Roots since 1995. Editions from 1995 to 2015 are available to read on their website. Below you will find a table of articles that focus on Irish related genealogy research in Canada. Anglo-Celtic Roots contains many interesting articles about Canadian records, resources and personal testimonies about family history research. I encourage you to peruse the article titles to see if any can help with your research.

Article Title
Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial Historic Site
An Irish Fling: Delightful Discoveries! Part II
An Irish Fling: Delightful Discoveries! Part I
Unravelling the Mystery of the Mathews of Sligo
The Irish in Osgoode Township
Southeastern Ireland Names in Canada
Monaghan, Cavan and Louth Names in Canada
I Found My Irish Ancestry in Canada

In the internet age, joining a genealogy society or organization is often overlooked as a way to help further your research, particularly by those who come to genealogy via online records and DNA tests. If you're tracing ancestors in Canada, and particularly the Ottawa region or in Ontario, then BIFHSGO seems like an organization worth being a member of.

EDIT 17 January 2016
Barbara Tose, President of BIFHSGO, was in touch to offer a correction and helpful updates.

In 2015 we found ourselves without a librarian and, after much deliberation, decided to give our library to the Ontario Genealogical Society-Ottawa Branch (OGS-OB). They are currently in the process of amalgamating our collection with theirs. So the Brian O'Regan Memorial Library no longer exists but the resources are still available at the City of Ottawa Archives under the Ottawa Branch's library. We continue to work with OGS-OB and support the library through donations of books and other resources as well as providing volunteers to assist the OGS-OB librarian, Grace Lewis. For the moment our catalogue, as it was in December 2015, is still available online. However, once the amalgamation is complete this will be removed as it will no longer be accurate for locating resources. However, the OGS-OB has their catalogue online and it can be searched using keywords (http://ogsottawa.on.ca/libsearch/).
I would also like to mention that we do hold monthly meetings for anyone in the area on the second Saturday of every month between September and June. A short educational program runs from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. followed by a half hour break when people can socialize and peruse a variety of "Discovery Tables". The main meeting with a lecture of about an hour starts at 10:00 a.m. These meetings are open to the public and we welcome visitors from out of town. The program for these meetings can be found on our webpage (http://www.bifhsgo.ca/eventListings.php?nm=127).
And finally, our conference this year will be taking place Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and will focus on English and Welsh family history and Methodology/Evidence Analysis. Next year's focus will be Scotland and Ireland will be the focus for 2019.

[1] British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa. About our Society. 2017. British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (http://www.bifhsgo.ca/about.php): accessed 8 January 2017.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Newfoundland's Grand Banks

The Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data website was founded by Bill Crant and Don Tate in the 1990s. Their mission statement is succinct and direct: "The purpose of this site is to provide original genealogical and historical data in the form of census information, Provincial wide directory publications, church, parish, and cemetery records, and many other original source documents. It has been created for those desiring to do research in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador."[1]

The site is obviously a treasure trove for those who had ancestors that lived in or immigrated to this part of Canada. Of particular interest to this blog is the information contained in the transcribed Roman Catholic parish registers from the city of St. John's. After selecting 'Parish Records' on the home page, you are provided with a list of place names from throughout the province. Selecting your place of interest presents you with transcribed parish records from various denominations. The St. John's Roman Catholic baptismal and marriage records provide a lot of useful information, with many of the marriage entries providing a 'last permanent residence' for Irish immigrants.

Immigration to this part of the world from Ireland was mostly made up of people from the southeast of Ireland—Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, south Tipperary, east Cork—who were attracted to work in the fishing industry. This is reflected in the registers - John Neil of Mothel Parish [County Waterford] married Mary Keating of Cashel Parish [County Tipperary] in St. John's Parish, St. John's on 22 June 1800.[2]

A fascinating section of the website is Parish Records of Newfoundlanders located in Other Countries. There are examples of Newfoundlanders recorded in the Roman Catholic Parish of St. Patrick, Waterford City, Ireland in the 1750s; Roman Catholic church records in Montreal, Quebec; and  in various denomination in Nova Scotia. Early Catholic marriage records from Halifax, Nova Scotia are a delight, with names of parents and places of birth provided for both parties. For example, James Dowling of County Carlow, Ireland, and son of Michael Dowling and Winifred Phelan, married Margaret McDonald of Newfoundland, daughter of John McDonald and Alice Corcoran, on 18 April 1833 in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Parish.[3]

Digital images of church records from Newfoundland are also available to browse for free on the Familysearch database Newfoundland Church Records, 1793-1945. Therefore, using both websites can give you the best of both worlds - a transcribed, searchable list of entries and digital images.

[1] Craig Peterman. Mission Statement. Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data, August 2015. (http://ngb.chebucto.org/mission.shtml), accessed 3 October 2016.
[2] St. John's Roman Catholic Parish (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada), marriage register, p. 22, 2 June 1800, John Neil and Mary Keating; transcription, "1799 - 1811 Marriages - St. John's RC Basilica Parish," St. John's City, Parish Records, Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data (http://ngb.chebucto.org), accessed 7 January 2017.
[3] St. Mary's Roman Catholic Parish (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), marriage register, 18 April 183, James Dowling and Margaret McDonald; transcription, "Marriages 1830 - 1900 St Mary's Basilica RC," Other Countries, Parish Records, Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data (http://ngb.chebucto.org), accessed 7 January 2017.