Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ancestry and the Canadian Voters Lists

Ancestry has recently released the Canadian Voters Lists, 1935-1980.  Voters lists, though not as comprehensive as a census, do allow the researcher to figure out where people lived until relatively recently, and gives researchers a chance to contact living individuals to further a search.  Ancestry is justifiably proud of their accomplishment, but there is one major problem.

The biggest problem is that not everyone in the voters list has actually made it to the transcription of the voters list.  Something I have noticed is that the wives are often excluded, eg Mr. John Halls shows up in the transcription, but his wife, Mrs. John Halls does not.  I can only conclude that whatever analyzed the OCR results was programmed to skip duplicates, with terrible results in the voters lists.  Not that every wife was dropped, but enough were to make it difficult.  Worse still, Ancestry has no way to add an entry that has been skipped.  All one can do is correct existing entries.

So to Ancestry, kudos for making the voters lists available, jeers for using an analysis program that considers Mrs and Mr to be the same.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Samuel P Halls

I recently came across an item about old stocks sold on eBay.  In this particular case it was a certificate from the Huron Gold Mining Company, and it was signed by SP Halls in the role of Secretary.  The certificate was dated May 8th, 1900, and must have been one of the last official duties that SP Halls ever performed.

His obituary notes that he left the local school at Easter of 1900, which was April 15th, and that less than a month later had a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, and, at least to the observers of the time, less than fully capable mentally.

You can read a short article about the certificate here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Clarence Halls 1909-1936

Clarence Halls was the adopted son of John Halls and his sister Annie Halls.  He lived in North Dakota until the late 20's or early 30's and then moved to Butte, Montana.  At some point he met Jean Belgarde, and as far as I can tell, they married.  I have found various references to both Clarence and Jean in both North Dakota and Montana newspapers.

A few days ago I found Clarence's death certificate on FamilySearch.org and while I found out a few things, he is listed as divorced (Surprise!), the informant was listed as Elizabeth Halls of Helena, Montana, and he died from TB.  He was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in Butte.  Mostly the death certificate just left me with other questions.

Questions like, who was Elizabeth Halls? Why (and when) did he divorce Jean?

Sadly there comes a time when you either need to go to a place in person, or hire a researcher.  I am fast approaching the point of hiring a researcher, or giving up.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Dominion Day

A few days later than I wanted to post, but here goes...

This July 1st was the 145th anniversary of the founding of Canada in 1867.  In 1982 the holiday, known as Dominion Day, had its name changed to Canada Day.  I decided that I would check the Huron Expositor, a local Huron County newspaper, to see what sorts of activities happened 120 years ago on Dominion Day, 1892, in Huron County.

A fair range of items were reported.  Two laws came into effect in Ontario on Dominion Day of 1892.  The first was a law that prohibited the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.  The second was the inheritance tax.  Some things never change.

News reports came from Bruce and Peterborough Counties.  In Peterborough County on July 1st, a boy was attacked and mauled by a bear, but was able to successfully escape with the help of a friend.  In Wiarton, Bruce County, the Reverend George Yeomans made the mistake of displaying an American flag over his residence.  The reeve of Wiarton sent three constables to remove the flag, and after reaching the ground, the crowd took the flag from the constables, tore it to ribbons, and then paraded the ribbons through the streets on poles.  The report goes on to state, "It would appear that the matter is not going to stop there.  Legal proceedings are threatened, and justly so, against those who destroyed the flag."  Hopefully the vandals were charged, and Rev. Yeomans learned his lesson.

There were of course many events.  In Hamilton the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipe and Drum Band took part in the festivities.

In Huron County proper the following happened.  In Howick there was a "Pic-Nic" gathering held "in the bush" that included dancing for the adults and teenagers, a playground for the children, and food and refreshment stands.  It was so successful that all concerned decided to do it again in 1893.  Bayfield reported many visitors including a large pic-nic from Zurich.

In Exeter, only a few miles from where most of the Halls family lived, there were many different events reported, mostly Exeter residents doing things out of town.  One individual, A.J. McTavish, took first prize in the 100 and 220 yard race, and second prize in the 110 yard hurdles.  The Exeter cricket team played in London, Ontario.  A local harness racer was injured on Dominion day when his sulky was upset during a race.  The Exeter running races on Dominion Day were not a financial success.

Many localities had football games on Dominion Day, though the Blyth match was apparently notable for the bad conduct and obscene language of the boys on the Blyth team.

Finally in Seaforth, where the Huron Expositor was (and still is) published, it sounds as if half the town left to go somewhere else, as nearly 550 people left town, mostly to go to Goderich.

Dominion Day 130 years ago sounds much like ours.  People having fun by going out to celebrate their country by getting together with family and friends.

You can read the July 8th, 1892 issue of the Huron Expositor in the Google News Archive.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Ongoing Story of Samuel Halls Jr.

Slowly the veil draws away on Samuel Halls Jr.  I have written about Sam before in this blog.  That he was a high flier amongst Chicago society and builders.  That he married Drucilla Brisco, and that sometime around 1912 his life began to come apart, so much so that by 1920 he is living in Chicago, and widowed according to the Census.  Meanwhile his wife Drucilla is alive and well in Portland, Oregon, and she's widowed too!!

A few days ago I received a picture of Sam, and what a picture.  It was taken at New Year, 1928.  Sam is dressed to the nines, and hanging over his shoulder (literally) is a sweet young thing, who is pretty well dressed herself.  Sam looks, for lack of a better word, smug.  He is obviously a pretty happy man, and so is his companion.

Th inscription at the bottom reads, "From Unice and Cousin Sam to J.P.H."  J.P.H. was John Philip Halls, who lived in Beloit, Wisconsin.  So the question became, who was Unice.  So I did some searching and came up with a newspaper article from the Appleton Post Crescent, dated March 29, 1929.  It read, "Sam Halls and Miss Eunice Eisentraut of Chicago ... arrived here [Sugar Bush, Wisconsin] Saturday to spend the weekend in the AA Eisentraut home."  It seems vastly unlikely that Unice/Eunice could be anyone else other than Miss Eisentraut.  A little more digging indicated that Anson A. Eisentraut did have a daughter Eunice, who had been born in 1905.

Almost exactly one year after the article was written in the Post Crescent, Sam was dead (April 1, 1930).  One expects that Eunice was upset, she and Sam had been together from at least New Year's 1928, probably longer judging by the inscription.

But Sam still has more in store for us.  His death certificate indicated that his place of death was Crystal Lake, McHenry County, Illinois - and that the name of his wife was Becky.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Illegitimate Children

While researching the Halls family that settled in Wellington County, I discovered that one of William Halls daughters had a child out of wedlock.

The scandal must have been terrible.

The mother's name was Agnes Halls, the child's name was William Thomas, and the father's name was "Illegitimate" (from the perspective of 140 years later I have to wonder what the father did not to have his name scandalized too).  William Thomas was born in on Nov 25th, 1876 somewhere near Eden Grove, in Brant township, Bruce county at the residence of his uncle Alexander Clark and aunt Eliza Clark (Agnes' sister). The birth was registered in Jun of 1877. The township registrar added the note, "Mother from the neighbourhood of Elora, Ontario.  Child born at Alexander Clarks".  In the 1881 Census of Canada, there is a four year old Thomas Halls living with Eliza and Alexander Clark.

As of the writing of this blog entry there is a gap in the records of 68 years.  I have been unable to find census records, marriage records, or anything else about the family Clark family, much less William Thomas Halls, though I know from other sources that the Clark family stayed in the area of Eden Grove.

Then, in 1949, a Statement of Birth was filed for a Thomas Clark, son of Alexander and Eliza Clark, born on Nov 25th, 1876.  The document was witnessed by Emma Clark Willoughby, who was born in 1880 at least three years after William Thomas was born.  The Statement of Birth also indicates that as of Aug 29th, 1949, only one of Alexander and Eliza's children were still alive (presumably Emma, above, who was the youngest).  The doctor who was present, wasn't.  The 1877 record indicates Dr McLaren Paisley was present, and the 1949 record indicates that Dr Baird was present.  The Statement was certified on May 15th, 1950.

As for Agnes Halls, she married John Allan in November of 1882 (a suitable length of time one supposes), in Elora, Ontario.  They had at least two children.  She died in 1926, and he died several years later in 1932.  They are buried together in the Elora Municipal Cemetery.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another Halls Family from Devon

I recently decided that I should track another Halls family in Ontario that came from Devon.  I am not quite sure what part of Devon this family is from , or if they are related to my branch (though I suspect not).  This branch of the family settled in Wellington County, Ontario.  The start of this line is William Halls and Ann Hopgood, who were, along with some of their children, born in Devon, and died in Canada.

The main reason I decided to track it was to see if there were any connections in Canada between my branch, centered on Middlesex and Huron Counties, with this branch.  So far not, but much remains to be discovered.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

World Historical Maps

I recently came across a link in the Geneanet newsletter to a site that has zoomable historical maps for a number of locations worldwide.  It is the Old Maps Online resource, and it allows one to search the maps of five different collection.  I have already spent some time looking at historic maps of Ontario, Canada, and Devon, England.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where are the Pictures

Once again Samuel Halls Jnr. is on my mind.

He is listed every year in the Chicago Blue Book between roughly 1890 and 1905.  His name and biography appear in Industrial Chicago published in 1891.  He regularly has classified ads in the Chicago Tribune listing houses he has for sale.  He was president of the Thistle Cycling Club for at least one year, and was involved in lobbying for a cycling track in another year.  He was involved in local politics.  He was arrested for fraud about 1912, and that story appeared in papers in both Chicago and California!!

So why can't I find any pictures?  Somewhere, someone, some court, or some newspaper archive, must have pictures.

And one day, I'll find them.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thinking About the Cold

I started this post back in November, and only just got back to it today.  It is not terribly cold in London, Ontario today, only -3C, but they are expecting 10-15cm of snow over the next 48 hours.  Enjoy.

Winter has started to roll in.  This year is a bit later than most, but it is inching in.
My post from last summer about the heat got me to thinking about its opposite, the cold.  Both are dangerous, though in different ways.  Personally, my vote is that cold is more dangerous then heat.
My Canadian ancestors would have come from dealing with English "winter" to dealing with the winters of southern Ontario.  Frankly there is very little comparison.  Canadian winters are significantly colder, snowier, and longer.

For Thomas and his brothers, arriving in Canada would have been a race against time.  Even if they had left England in March, it would have taken at least a month, and possibly two, just to cross the Atlantic.  Then they would have had to get from where they landed to what is now Toronto.  Where would they have landed?  One of them appears to have come through New York.  That trip would have involved another boat trip along the rivers and canals of New York state to Lake Ontario, and then across the lake to Toronto.  Following the trip to Toronto comes the voyage on foot on the very poor roads to get to London.  The fastest any of the Halls family could have gotten to London, after leaving England at the beginning of March is the beginning of May.  More likely they would not have left until the end of March, and not arrived in the London area until the beginning of July.

Still they would be racing the cold.  They would want at least some food, which would mean clearing and planting at least a small area to grow root crops like turnip, carrot, or potato that would resist at least a light frost, and then they would need to build some shelter, most likely a log cabin with some sort of loft.  If they had sufficient money and had some horses, ox, or cows, they would also have had to build some sort of shelter for the animals.  Most likely the holes between the logs would have been chinked with moss, and then clay or mud depending on the land.

Once they had finished all the building and clearing, it would almost certainly have been the tail end of fall, with winter just around the corner.  Any additional time they might have had before the snow would have been spent clearing more land for pasture and crops for the following spring, or perhaps harvesting such root vegetable as they had been able to plant.  The women would have been busy too.  I suspect that they would have been the ones planting and tending the gardens after the men had cleared the land, not too mention harvesting the crops.  All while taking care of the children, cooking, cleaning, and dealing with all the other household chores that a pioneer wife would have needed to do.

As fall wound down the one major advantage that my Halls ancestors would have had was that the men were all skilled masons, and literate, so they could have found some work building houses, barns, stores, etc. during the winter, as well as that old Canadian winter standby, logging.  Whether or not they did, I do not know, but at least they would have had the choice to be able to earn cash over the winter to support themselves.

And then it would be winter.

Back on the Document Trail - Part II

So, the results are in and the winner is....  Nobody.

The birth record that I ordered from the GRO ended up being for the wrong William Halls.  This William was the son of John Avery Halls.  The will information that I ordered didn't have much more than was available on the website, evidently any copies of the will for Philip Halls have been lost over time.  Oh well, win a few lose a few.

Among other sources I used the indices created by the Devon Wills Project run by the Devon Family History Society.  You can find an excellent report on the project here on the Devon Family History Society website.