My great-grandmother Margaret Johnson (r) and her sister Anna (l). They would have been about 5 and 8 in this picture, which was taken in 1888.

As I stated in a previous post, when I set out my genealogy goals for 2011, I thought it would be relatively simple to write up the biographies for the two people I had significant information about in my Ansted line. In December, I had information on my great-great-great grandmother Dionysia Ansted and her father John. It was limited information in both cases so I thought it would be an easy task to get things written up and move on to the next branch in my list.

My original plan in starting this blog was to fairly quickly work my way through the various branches of my family tree. I didn’t intend to be comprehensive but to simply get enough information ‘out there’ that any distant relations could find me. The plan was to then go back and keep digging for additional information and update branches as necessary.

That’s not how it is working out, however. When I found my great-great-great-grandfather John’s marriage notice in the Times of London I didn’t realize it would lead me in all sorts of different directions. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it is slowing my overall progress down somewhat!

In the course of digging up information on John, I have found information on both his wives - Jane Anne Mary Sharpe and Dionysia Northeast. John was visiting Dionysia’s brother, Thomas Barnes Northeast, at the time of one census following her death and that interested me. So I now have a considerable amount of information on him.  And I just turned up a lead on Dionysia’s father so I’m not done with the Northeasts yet!

I now also have enough information to write a brief biography on John’s father, Thomas Ansted. Until recently all I had on Thomas was his name and the fact he had married an Esther Barrass. I had found her death and burial record but not much else. I managed to find Thomas’ will at the United Kingdom’s National Archives and then I located his and Esther’s marriage record. In his will, he mentioned his daughter-in-law Elizabeth Silvester. I found that confusing until I noted that the marriage document stated that Esther was a widow. A little more digging turned up Esther Carruthers’ marriage to John Barrass. And their daugher Elizabeth Barrass’ birth. And John Barrass’ death. (But I still haven’t found Esther’s birth information.)

I couldn’t initially find a record for Elizabeth Barrass’ marriage and was about to give up when Thomas Ansted’s death certificate arrived in the mail. The informant was listed as Robert Silvester. I guessed that might be Elizabeth’s husband so I searched for him and found a record of his marriage to Sarah Ansted, Thomas’ daughter, a year after Thomas’ death. That was curious. A little more digging turned up his prior marriage to Elizabeth Gillespie – with Sarah Ansted listed as a witness. I dug further and finally found Elizabeth Barrass’ marriage to Henry Gillespie in1808.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sort everything out and write it all up! (And don’t get me started on how my great-great-great grandmother Dionysia Ansted married Thomas Burton, while her brother, John, married Thomas’ sister Harriet! That’s a story for another day entirely!)

I am also working on a very brief history of the family’s fruit brokerage, Clark, Ansted & Co. Consequently, I have about four different posts on the go and I feel like I’m never going to get everything written up.

It amazes me how one little three line notice in a newspaper can set off such as cascade of discovery! It also amazes me that it’s only February and I’ve already fallen behind in my goals for the year. The best laid plans…

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver over at Geneamusings is all about the date you were born. Randy writes:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1) What day of the week were you born? Tell us how you found out.
2) What has happened in recorded history on your birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.
3)  What famous people have been born on your birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.
4)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

I’m a little paranoid about putting my birth date out on the internet so I’ve chosen the birthday of one of my grandfathers so I can still play along.

1) My grandfather was born on a Sunday. I searched in Google for ‘perpetual calendar’ and the www.timeanddate.com website let me create a calendar for the year of his birth.

2) He was born on December 3. A quick visit to www.wikipedia.com turned up the following on their December 3 page:

Modern neon lighting is first demonstrated by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.(1910)
After nearly 20 years of planning and construction, including two collapses causing 89 deaths, the Quebec Bridge opens to traffic. (1917)
October Crisis: In Montreal, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross is released by the Front de libération du Québec terrorist group after being held hostage for 60 days.(1970)
An assassination attempt is made on Bob Marley. He is shot twice, but plays a concert two days later. (1976)
Bhopal Disaster: A methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, kills more than 3,800 people outright and injures 150,000–600,000 others. (1984)

3) And five people who share his date of birth are:

Anna Freud, Austrian-born British psychoanalyst (1895)
Andy Williams, American singer (1927)
Ozzy Osbourne, English singer (1948)
Daryl Hannah, American actress (1960)
Katarina Witt, German figure skater (1965)

Another photo of my great-grandmother, Margaret Johnson Fee. This was taken in 1912, the year before her marriage.

Happy Australia Day from snowy Canada!

In honour of Australia Day – January 26 for those non-Australians - Shelley at Twigs of Yore recently invited all genealogy bloggers with Australian ancestry to find the earliest piece of documentation they have about an ancestor in Australia. Those of use without Australian ancestors were to choose the earliest piece of documentation for a relative in Australia. 

On Australia Day we were to post our answers to these questions:

  1. What is the document?
  2. Do you remember the research process that lead you to it? How and where did you find it?
  3. Tell us the story(ies) of the document. You may like to consider the nature of the document, the people mentioned, the place and the time. Be as long or short, broad or narrow in your story telling as you like!

I don’t have any Australian ancestors. I don’t really have any connection to Australia at all. Well, no connection besides a desire to visit! But when I saw Shelley’s challenge for some reason I really wished I could participate. I didn’t see how that would be possible as I had no Australian documentation of any sort on any ancestor.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, it suddenly became possible. It’s a very tenuous connection, but I’m going to make the most of it and I hope no one minds me crashing the party!

I just recently discovered that my Ansted ancestors were fruit brokers based in London, England, from the late 1700s until the early 1900s. They were the Ansted part of Clark, Ansted & Co. The brokerage dealt in dried fruit – much better to make long ocean-going voyages than fresh, one would think.

The Australian documentation I recently discovered relates to this business. I had had some luck in tracking down newspaper clippings on the company in the Times of London. For some reason, I decided I would see whether they ever had any business dealings in Australia.

And, wouldn’t you know it, they did. It’s not much to work with but in a few issues of  The Southern Australian Advertiser (Adelaide) from 1858 and 1860, Clark, Ansted & Co. is mentioned (amongst others such as Colman and Co. and Lea and Perrin’s!) as having fruit for auction. I have no evidence any of the Ansteds ever actually made the trek to Australia – but their fruit apparently did.

From The Southern Australian Advertiser, November 1, 1858:

So, it’s possible that some of the ancestors of other genealogy bloggers writing today ate the raisins and currants that my ancestors’ company sent to Australia!

Thanks for letting me join the party!

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogical Fun prompt from Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings blog is to follow Chris Staats’ rules (from Freaky Friday: Random Research Reports)  for picking a random person’s name and then doing some online research about that person.  Here are Chris’ rules:

1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen

2. Go to Ancestry.com and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page.

3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.

4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?

5. Post about it on your blog or wherever you wish, and link here to tell Chris about it.  Tell Randy about it too as a comment here or a comment on Facebook or Twitter.

The name I got from the Random Name Generator was Eugenia Louie Sullivan.

The first census record I found (for Eugenia L Sullivan) was the 1910 US Census. Eugenie was 16 and living with her uncle Michael Malone (50) and her sisters Jospehine (21) and Drue E (18)  in Mobile, Alabama. Eugenia was born in Alabama and at the time of the census is a sales lady at a dry goods store. (Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Mobile Ward 6, Mobile, Alabama; Roll: T624_27; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 96; Image: 504.)

I decided my next step would be to go back in time and see if I could find her in the 1900 US Census. I found her, age 6, living in Mobile, AL. At that time she was living with her parents Patrick (40) and Elizabeth (33) Sullivan. They had been married 13 years and had had five children, of whom three were living. In addition to Eugenia, there were her sisters Josephine (10) and Drusilla (8). Also living with the family are Elizabeth’s father Patrick Malone (70) and her brother John Malone (37). It is now obvious that the Michael Malone the girls are living with by 1910 is their mother’s brother. (Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Mobile Ward 6, Mobile, Alabama; Roll: T623_31; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 103.)

Next, I found Eugenia in the 1920 census. That year, Eugenia (25) and Josephine (30) are living with their uncle Michael Malone (63) in Mobile, AL. Eugenia is a seamstress in a dry goods store. (Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: Mobile Ward 6, Mobile, Alabama; Roll: T625_35; Page: 29B; Enumeration District: 107; Image: 661.)

In the 1930 census, Eugenia (31) is living with her uncle Michael (73) in Mobile, AL. She is a saleswoman in a department store. And somehow she has lost four years in age. (I wouldn’t mind trying that!)  (Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Mobile, Mobile, Alabama; Roll: 41; Page: 32B; Enumeration District: 57; Image: 716.0.)

Next, I thought I’d try to find a record for Eugenia’s death. On www.familysearch.org I found a Social Security Death Index record for a Eugenia Sullivan born on November 17, 1892. That’s a little off the 1894 I was expecting, but close enough (given the vagaries of census records) that I’m fairly certain it is her. Given more time, I would continue searching for additional information. In any event, Eugenia died in February 1986 at about 94 years of age in Mobile, AL. (From familysearch.org US Social Security Death Index)  

I also found death records for her sisters – Josephine S. Crolich died on December 17, 1974 at 85 years of age and Drusella Hilderbrand died on December 31, 1968 at 78 years of age. (Both from familysearch.org Alabama Deaths, 1908-1974)

I also found her uncle’s death record. He died on August 24, 1938 at 81 years of age. (From familysearch.org Alabama Deaths, 1908-1974) He had been married to Josephine Fourment, but was widowed prior to the 1900 census. The 1900 census shows him living with his father-in-law Zephran Fourment (72) and his daughter Clothilde (10). What I didn’t notice until I pulled up the census record again, was that the Malone/Fourments were living right next door to the Sullivans. This serves to highlight the importance of looking at a record in its entirety rather than just finding the only facts you think you need. (Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Mobile Ward 6, Mobile, Alabama; Roll: T623_31; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 103.)

Given unlimited time, I would continue to try to find her parents’ death records, since it appears that they passed away somewhere between the 1900 and 1910 censuses. I was not able to quickly find those records. For now I’ll leave Eugenia here. She lived a long life – I hope it was a happy one.

As a librarian – and as one who specializes in media-tracking and news monitoring – I am well aware of the value of newspapers as sources of information both past and present. Over the last couple of weeks I have been using online newspapers to fill in gaps in my knowledge about ancestors and to enhance my understanding of the times and places they lived.

I have spent time searching through the Times of London to find more information on my Ansted ancestors. Within its (virtual) pages, I have found auction details as far back as 1793 for my ancestors’ fruit brokerage (Clark & Ansted). I have found birth, marriage and death notices for a variety of Ansted and Northeast ancestors. Most of those notices simply confirmed details I already knew, but it is still impressive to see your ancestor’s name in print (particularly in such a venerable publication!) You can access the Times of London archives for a fee here or check your local library. Many of them, including mine, provide access to this and other historical newspapers. I was able to search through the Times from the comfort of my own home!

I also recently discovered the Plattsburgh (NY) Sentinel has online archives. These and other New York State newspapers are available as part of the Northern New York Library Network. My Fee family spent some time in Plattsburgh and I have been trying to figure out when exactly they returned to Canada. A quick search of the Sentinel turned up the answer. 

It turns out that May 1st was annual moving day in Plattsburgh, as it was in other parts of New York. (For more information on Moving Day, check out Wikipedia’s article here. Interestingly, although New York’s Moving Day moved into history after World War II, Quebec continues a similiar tradition today. Moving Day in that province is July 1.)  In any event, the May 1, 1885 edition of the Sentinel had a column detailing all the various moves people were making around the town. Towards the bottom of the column I found this:

John Fee and family removed to Montreal on Monday of this week and the house formerly occupied by him on Peru street, is now occupied by J. V. Howe, who moved from the Orvis house, on Hamilton street, and William Rivers will move to the Orvis house.

It’s a comparatively minor detail, but I’m pleased to have found it.

I found some other interesting items in the Sentinel, including one from November 2, 1928, titled “King’s Case is Adjourned to November 7.” The story deals with one Howard J. King of Glen Elm, Quebec, who was charged with smuggling aliens into the United States. King testified that on the night of September 13, he stepped from the porch in front of Joseph Ouimet’s store on the border near Chateauguay. He said he was on Canadian soil when a Canadian officer approached. Then three American officers arrived and, through a sequence of events, forced him off Canadian soil, arrested him and charged him with alien smuggling. While a clerk in Ouimet’s store corroborated King’s story, an engineer and surveyor testified that only a small portion of the store’s porch was in Canada.

The most interesting part of the story for me is that King’s attorneys, L.M. Kalle and John A. Sullivan, K.C. of Montreal, said that another witness, John Fee of Canada, was to appear at court but he was forced to turn back at the US border by immigration officers at Trout River.

Not only does this story read like it was ripped from today’s headlines, but “John Fee of Canada” was my great-grandfather!

The main piece of knowledge I am going to take away from these findings is to always search the newspapers that are local to my ancestors. Who knows what else I will find!

My great-grandmother Margaret (Johnson) Fee. This picture was likely taken somewhere around 1893.

Each week, Randy Seaver over at GeneaMusings posts Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week I decided to play along. The challenge is outlined below:

1) How old is one of your grandfathers now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”
2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an “ahnentafel”). Who is that person?
3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the “roulette number.”

And here are my results:

1) I have chosen my maternal grandfather who was born in 1902. Today he would be 108 as his birthday wasn’t until April. 108/4=27.

2) The person on my list with the ahnenfatel (1) number 27 is Rebecca Lusty, my great-great grandmother.

3) a. Rebecca Lusty was born in February 1866 in Croydon, Surrey, England. She was married on November 26, 1882 to William John Richardson in Bromley, Kent. She died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 26, 1922.

b. By the 1881 census, her family had moved from Croyden and was living at 3 Maybank Cottages in Lewisham, Kent. Rebecca is listed as a domestic servant. (The Richardsons, incidentally, lived at 4 Maybank Cottages!) While the actual cottages no longer exist, when my husband and I were in England a few years ago we thought it would be interesting to find the general area. Unfortunately, the railway was undertaking some repairs that day and we couldn’t get close enough to investigate. Maybe next time!

c. In the mid-1880s, Rebecca and John moved from England and settled in Ontario. Of their ten children, three were born in England – Rebecca Alice (my great-grandmother), William and Alfred. The other seven – Rose, John, Albert, Martha, Charles, Edward and Ellen - were born in Ontario.

(1) From Ancestry.com: Ahnentafel is a German word that literally translates as “ancestor table”. It is a list of all known ancestors of an individual and includes the full name of each ancestor as well as dates and places of birth, marriage, and death whenever possible. It also has a strict numbering scheme. (for more info, click here)

My great-grandmother, Margaret (Johnson) Fee, at Niagara Falls in 1912.

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