Sunday, January 15, 2012

One person's bad handwriting, 100 years later

One of my great-grand-aunts and uncles lived in Aurora from about 1875 to at least 1911.  They had six children before that, when they lived in Dundas, and three children in Aurora.

All three children's births were written down by the same clerk, and that clerk had atrocious handwriting.  Often when my husband sees me looking at original records, he shakes his head over what looks like bad handwriting to him, but is really just old.  I've gotten used to old handwriting, though, and this particular person's handwriting was not just sloppy, but his attention to detail was sadly lacking and his approximations of names are totally off the wall.  I'll give you the three examples, and how they were transcribed by volunteers.  You can guess what the names were actually supposed to be.  (Answers are below the pictures.)

I salute the volunteers who transcribe these records without knowing the families.  I know what the names are supposed to be because I see them in other records, such as censuses.  They don't have that context to help them.
 Transcribed as "Dennl Wellington Nelson", father "Dennel Henry Nelson", mother "Jane Hughey".  For extra credit, notice that Wellington is noted as Female.  Also, the clerk got two cracks at the father's name for the first two records, because the father reported the birth (the last row).  The informant's address is the last piece of info there - does that scrawl look like "Aurora" to you?
 Transcribed as "Josephine Snour Nelson", father "Dennel Heny Nelson", mother "Jane Hughey".
Transcribed as "Sarah Jam Holedydelan Nelson", father "Daml H Nelson", mother "Jenni Nelson".  Notice that he abbreviates December to "Dembr".

Answers: The three children's names are Daniel Wellington Nelson, Josephine Lavina Nelson, and Sarah Jane Holladay Nelson.  In all three cases the father's name should be Daniel Henry Nelson and the mother's should be Jane Hughey.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Eating Locally

I know I'm at least five years behind the times, but over the last couple of days I've been enthusiastic about the idea of an island-only diet for some period of time, ideally a year.  I'd start in the spring when the community-supported agriculture garden shares start, and I'd get at least two shares so I could be freezing and preserving two-thirds of the fruit and veggies for the winter.  Extra potatoes, turnips, cabbages and carrots can be gotten from the farmer's market just before it closes in the fall.

As I eat my lunch today - a spinach and cheese concoction that started out as an omelet, but ended up more like scrambled eggs - I can't help but think about how it would be modified.  The eggs are no problem, because many people on the island sell home-raised eggs.  Spinach will come from my garden, of course.  There's no longer a dairy on the island, unfortunately, but I'm not supposed to eat cow's milk anyway. I've heard a rumour about goat shares, so I might be able to make my own goat cheese.

There's a farm on the island growing Red Fife wheat and oats and milling it themselves, so I will become an expert at baking with that heritage wheat, no doubt.  So I expect my toast will be hearty and delicious.  Hm.... butter from goat milk, anyone?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

More fun of the chase (less frustration today)

Here's an example of a family tree puzzle I've been trying to figure out for about a week.
 A family including son Samuel Errett, age 17, in 1861.
 Samuel Errett, on his marriage record in 1869.
 Samuel Erriott and family in 1871.
 Samuel Ernett and family in 1881.
 Samuel Escott and family in 1891.
 Samuel Errett and family in 1901.
 Samuel Gowrette and family in 1911.
Death of Samuel Errett in 1923.

Okay, so perhaps when I lay it out like this, it's obvious that it's the same man from 1861 to 1923.  But do you have any idea how difficult it was to find Ernett, Elliott, Escott, and to top it off, GOWRETTE as alternate spellings?  I had to resort to looking for any Samuel married to a Catherine in Ontario in the various census listings, then scroll through for anything that looked it might possible be transcribed wrong.

However, all is forgiven now that I can close the book on this case!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The thrill - and frustration - of the chase

I've been doing a bunch of family history research over the holidays, since I have time, and one of my gifts to myself was a month of paid subscription on

I should have written about my triumph yesterday on finally finding a missing Mitchell family, which turned out to have been transcribed as "Matchett" in a census.  However, that's done and gone, and I'll tell you instead about my current sticking point.  (Perhaps in doing so I will find the answer.)

My great-grand-aunt Margaret Ann Mitchell married a John Clark.  All I know about him is the birthdate he stated on the 1911 census - November 1869 - and the information from their marriage certificate, which says he was born in Tecumseh, Ontario to Timothy and Elizabeth Clark.  John and Margaret were married in 1894 in Muskoka, so I have them married and located in the 1901 and 1911 census, which was no problem.  (Well, other than their last name being spelled "Clarke", and the site doesn't handle spelling variations gracefully).

It's finding John before their marriage that's difficult.  His father's name, Timothy, is an unusual name for that time period.  I don't think I've seen another Timothy at all in my tree before 1950.  That should make it easier to pin them down, wouldn't you think?  And, in 1891 just three years before John's marriage, when he was 22, there is just one Timothy Clark enumerated in Ontario.  He's even married to an Elizabeth.  There are two big immediate problems here, though; they have no son John living with them, and they were married two years after his birth.  That's not impossible, of course, but when I look closer there are other problems; Elizabeth would have to have been 16 when John was born, and both Timothy and Elizabeth both give their "racial origin" as English, where John quite definitely states his as "Irish" in 1901 and 1911.  If I back up ten years to 1881, the trail goes completely cold; there is no Timothy Clark anywhere in Ontario, but there are 558 John Clark(e)s - too many to sort through by hand.

Finding John Clark's death certificate would be helpful, because they are supposed to show the deceased person's parents names.  Although I can find Margaret's in 1933 in Englehart, so far I am stumped there too for John!

Ah well, I enjoy the hunt.  Sometimes I wake up days later and have an inspiration that leads to a new clue, and I'm off and running again.  In the meantime I will declare this case closed and move on to Margaret's younger brother Daniel...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Knitting for the Armed Forces, circa 1940s

I was recently given a stack of knitting magazines, including some great vintage patterns.  I thought I would share a few.  They start with a vest and pullover, with the caption "Both the above garments are suitable for Men and Women".  Don't you love their jaunty helmets and tin cups, and the cartoon pictures of tanks?  (Click on each of the four images for a bigger version that you should be able to print to a normal page size.)

These two patterns knit up at a gauge of 13 stitches to 2 inches and 9 rows to 1 inch; the modern equivalent of 26 stitches and 36 rows to 10cm.  They recommend needle sizes 10 and 12 (for the ribbing), which is US size 2 and 3, or metric 2.75mm and 3.25mm.  A fingering-weight yarn should be about right, but of course, check the ball band.  Knitting at this tension should make a very fine, thin fabric that isn't too bulky under a coat, but still provides a nice warm layer.

Two sizes are given for each; size 36, which is 36" around at the underarm, and size 40, which is 40" around at the underarm.