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Tracking down Spouses

Sometimes tracking down a spouse  information is hard if you only have little information to go on. I have quite often come across this, trying to tracking a spouse name or other information. I have found some of the following methods useful.

If you only have a last name, I have frequently come across this, where I will found a death record that listed the married name, but not the spouse name.

For example, Death record of Sarah Jones listed her married name as Peters but no spouse first name.

This is where if you have grave information, you can sometimes track down the spouse by searching the cemetery records for that last name.

For example, Sarah Peters Nee Jones was buried at Headman’s Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Then  I would search the cemetery for Peters and then narrow down the field by focusing on those born in and around Sarah’s birth date. I then try searching for marriage between Sarah and the possible matches. If found I have found the spouse.

Another option is, if pictures are available, is comparing graves pictures for similarities. IE-similar stones or similar colors.

Also if you know for example that Sarah died in Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario in 1918 and was born in  1845. You could try searching for Peters that died in Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario born in around the same time as Sarah.

These methods are very much a  trial and error but I have had quite a bit of success with them.

As Always, Thanks for Reading




Finding Jewish ancestry in my family


I have been recently trying to find more information about my maternal grandfather’s side of the family, in particular about his mother. Background information can be found in this post and is this post. I have a small path that I think is right but not 100% positive at this point.  Here some quick background information:

Sarah Barnett is my 1st Great Grandmother

Her mother was a Ellen Coleman.  I find out her maiden name from ordering Sarah’s birth certificate and I know that she died from tuberculosis according to one of her son military records. I got a hint on Ancestry and decided to take a further look into this family to see. I also knew from censuses that she was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.

This family that I think is correct is the following:

(abt means about)


Moses Coleman  born abt 1830 in Middlesex,London, England

Frances(Fanny)Coster born  abt 1831 in Birmingham,Warwickshire,England


Maria Coleman born abt 1848 in Birmingham or London, England

Benjamin Coleman born abt 1852 in Birmingham, England

Jane Coleman born abt 1858 in Birmingham, England

Jacob(John) Coleman born abt 1860 in Birmingham, England

I have Ellen living  with the family in 1861 and next census she is an orphanage for Jewish children with her sister Jane in the Whitechapel area of London.  In 1881 she appear working as a servant in the Whitechapel area.

It was never known that my great-grandmother was maybe part Jewish, certain things make me believe this the right path. One it was believed that Sarah was in an orphanage at some point, I haven’t come across any records etc of this. I believe this mention may have been about her mother.

I am continuing to work on this family and hoping to eventually get a confirmed birth or marriage information for Ellen. I have no evidence at this time to believe that John her husband was Jewish as well.

As Always, Thanks for reading


Fustration,Fustration,Fustration…with the Scots and Ancestry

I have recently been frustrated with Ancestry and searching my Scottish ancestry. In particular with the censuses. I have noticed that transcribing for these censuses is lacking somewhat in the correct or close correct surnames. I know that it’s usually volunteers doing this work which I really do appreciate but sometimes the names are just way out of whack.

Ones such example is Medougert for McDougall. This is almost no way there with wildcard searching etc that I would come across this name. I happened to find this by using a different site.  On the plus side this lead to me to the following site which is quite useful for early Scottish censuses.  This site is Scottish Indexes and I honestly can’t remember how I stumble across this site but I did. It is run by couple who have a genealogy company called Maxwell Ancestry.  Its focus is mainly south Scotland but they do have records from all over Scotland.

I have used their site for searching their census indexes. You can either do a basic or advanced search. I will say those in my searching wild cards are a good option as for example when searching McDougall if the spelling was McDougal the result didn’t come up. The information that they give for census is more detailed than ancestry and some additional information is provided sometimes. One such example is for one ancestor they actually had provided who the ancestor had married. They also seem to be more accurate with the surnames then ancestry.

If you’re having trouble or you want search Scottish censuses for free, give the site a try.

As Always, Thanks for reading


ScotlandsPeople Review


I finally decided to give ScotlandPeople website a try.  For those who don’t the site is a genealogy record site  for Scottish records. It is run by the Scottish Government as well as the people who fun FindMyPast. This site is strictly a pay for record site, meaning you pay to view the search results as well as the record. This of course has pluses and minuses.


You aren’t paying a monthly or yearly etc access fee.

It is more cost-effective that you are only paying for select records.

It give more details and information to records then Ancestry.

It is good to use to get more information then some other sites provide.


You can end up paying money for incorrect records.

You have to use credits to view the search results and then a credits to see the actual record.

I don’t find it a good site to use it stand alone, it is better to use in with another site.

Overall I found the site easy to navigate, there is different search options. They do also provide  help for searching. I do recommend looking this over first as will help with searching and also explains what is in the various collections. They do also offer searching for military collections for free. Overall, the help section is quite extensive and worth taking the time to read though to help with navigating the site.

Option 1

Basic Search- this a free surname search that can be done on the site by searching for name and select years. It give you a list of the possible matches in each collection on the site. This is really only good if you want to see if there is a possible chance your ancestor is on the site but again you do have to pay to actual see the results.

Option 2

Searching a specific collection-This does require you to have account to search. It does vary slightly from collection to collection. The basics are you search by names, dates, sex, dates. You also have the option to narrow down by county or major cities and then by districts in those areas. I do recommend narrowing the results if you just clarifying information. If you are trying to find new, then I would recommend not narrowing too much to give you the chance of getting the best result.

Overall, I would recommend using the site in conjunction with another site such as Ancestry personally. I used to clarify or expand on information from Ancestry. I found stand alone it wouldn’t be as useful as the access is more limited to specific records. I will say however that it provides more information for birth, marriage and censuses then Ancestry which is providing the basic information.

As Always, Thanks for reading




2016 and Breaking down James Alexander Smith’s brick wall

I have been for ages working on finding out were my great grandfather James Alexander Smith come from. I was able to quickly trace his life after his moved from Ontario to Manitoba in the late 1870s and his life in Manitoba till he died. Little to nothing was known about his life prior to his move to Manitoba.

I knew that he was born in Port Elgin Ontario according to one of his daughters birth certificate and from 1921 census he stated that his father was born in Scotland and his mother in England. It also stated on his obit that two siblings a brother named John and a unmarried sister named Mary were still living and in Southampton, Ontario.

I was recently contacted by someone on ancestry who thought that James’s was a brother of his ancestors and that he had a picture of him. Upon providing my picture of James as well it turned out to be a matching picture.

I myself decided to see what information I could glean from James’s sister Mary as I knew she was still alive in 1949 at time of his death and was unmarried, therefore no name changes to deal with it. I was able to trace her down to a voters list and her brother as well. From there it kept coming and coming with more information and people and I now have fairly comprehensive idea of James Alexander’s Smith life before his move to Manitoba.

I soon will be doing a further post on this family soon

As always, thanks for reading


Scottish Probate records on Ancestry

I am trying to get as many confirmed death information in my family tree as I can, Scotland was one of the countries were it was proving hard. I know that one can find information on the Scotland Peoples website, but I don’t like to join sites were its a pay for credit system as I find it can cost you money then for the wrong records.

When doing some searching on Ancestry, I stumbled upon the Scottish Probate records-full name of the collection  here- Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936.

This collection is found on Ancestry under the wills, probates, land, tax & criminal as opposed to the British version which is under deaths. I am surprised that Ancestry didn’t do the same with this one as it seems that is were more people would be looking.

The information that this collection holds is very similar to the British one. You will at least get the following:

Death date, who the estate went to, value of estate

Previously to this, the options for finding Scottish death records on Ancestry were limited. You could find some in the British records as well as some grave or index records but generally not alot of options.

I know that the options may still be limited with this new collection added but I am hopeful to find at least some ancestors and maybe more records will be coming soon.

As always,thanks for reading







New Ancestry Review

Ancestry has recently switched over to a new version, I have found pluses and minuses which I am going to talk about here.

The homepage is pretty much the same, no changes as far as I can tell.  The tree itself has stayed pretty much the same, minus some color changes.

Now when you view a ancestor in your tree that’s were the changes have occurred. Now ancestors have what is called a life story, which is a more descriptive timeline then there was before.  The changes include a short bio about your ancestor at the top, then a family connection chart, a map and then the actual timeline starts.

I do like the plotting on the map of were your ancestor lived, events happened etc.

The timeline is now more detailed as then before, so as from before, you had the basics such as the life events of your ancestors and now is included births and deaths of family members and historical insights. You can decide to hide the birth/deaths of family and the historical insights. I think the historical insights are useful if you are looking to understand the world that your ancestors was living in but may not be for those who don’t have that interest. The family member birth and deaths,I could honestly take it or leave it, not something I find particular adding any value.

Hints have stay the same except for the adding of undecided option. This option is allowing one to place a hint there they can review again to see if it correct. I do think that is a value added option, instead of  one disregarding a hint or ignoring it. You could always go back and review your ignored hints but undecided is much more of reminder or way of not losing a possible lead.

Overall I wasn’t sure at first if I like the new Ancestry, I think that is a case dealing with the change over and having to figuring things out again.  It did take me some getting use to  the new Ancestry at first. Besides the above changes  and some small changes, I would say that Ancestry has done a good job with the new update.

One option I would like to see added in future updates, is the ability to add a grandchild whose parents are unknown, I have come across this multiple times in my family tree and find it frustrating when you can’t add the child to the family without knowing the parents.

As always, thanks for reading