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...

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