As a teenager I became interested in my family history and purchased a Family Tree Kit. There was no Internet then to help, only stories passed down from relatives.
Life then got busy with university, marriage and children. Several years later, I found that Family Tree Kit and decided to start again. During an interview with my eldest aunt, stories were told and a rough family tree was presented, but I wanted proof.
Living in Uxbridge at that time, I went to the library and ordered microfilm on loan from the Ontario Archives. What a frustrating process, going through reels of microfilm, looking for grandma’s birth or the marriage of her parents and then finding nothing. Remembering that grandma had an older sister, Ellen, I tried again and Bingo! There was my great grandmother’s name as the mother, but alas, no father was listed. In fact, the word “illegitimate” was written in the register. After calling my parents to tell them of my discovery, I was told “Don’t tell Auntie Helen. It would upset her.”
Now Ellen’s birth was over 100 years ago, and no one knows the circumstances surrounding her birth, but I do know that illegitimacy was not rare in those times and for various reasons. It was not talked about, except perhaps in whispers. No Internet, TV, radio or phones to communicate information.
I never told Auntie Helen, but I wonder if she would have been happy to learn all that I have discovered since that day or if she would have been content with family stories. Although genealogists want to know the truth, we have to respect the feelings of others.
when you’ll need something. My husband doesn’t like to throw things out for the reason that after you dismiss something or throw it out, you’ll need it.
Several years ago I went to a meeting where Dorothy Shier was talking about British Home Children, specifically, Barnardo children. I went to the meeting knowing that I didn’t have any Home Children in our family.
I had been looking for my great grandmother for months. The family story was that she came from Cornwall with her family when she was 4 years old and was born in 1877, according to her death certificate. I could find nothing about her previous to her children’s births. I had uncovered some stretches in some family stories so I wondered if there was some elastic in this story as well. I thought back to that Uxbridge Genealogy meeting and thought, I wonder…
I decided to look for her on the then Library and Archives Canada site. There was a search for Home Children. When I typed in her first name, middle initial and surname, there she was. The age was 5 years off, but not out of the ordinary for researching genealogy. And yes, I did do more research to prove she was my great grandmother and I had my father send away to Barnardo’s for information (another story perhaps).
If I had not gone to that meeting where I knew the information would not be useful to me (hah), I would never had found the piece to this puzzle.
You never know when you’ll need something.
Uxbridge has a great public library, supported by various groups and individuals. Today I want to talk about Family Histories in the Genealogy Room. These binders, books, and duotangs with local family histories provide a wealth of information and were donated by the families.
Here are a few of the family history binders/books and some other names mentioned within them:
REID – Falconer, Vicars, Walker, Relly, Garnet
LEASK – Noble, Annis, Dickinson, Anderson, Smith
KYDD- Johnston, Brethour
ST. JOHN – Bacon, Doble, Baker, Evans, Brethour
GREGG – Cox, Doble, Brandon, St. John, Shier
There are over 100 different family histories in the Family History Cabinet. It located to the left as you enter the Genealogy Room. Check the library’s website for hours.