Report on the 2011 November Reunion

Well, look what I found among my drafts for posts …

Haha .. Never managed to post it! But as with most things genealogy .. “Better late than never!”

Our reunion was a great success! With all that has been going on since, I haven’t had a chance to talk about the day.

It was a great chance to meet relatives who didn’t know one another! And we did bring together quite a crew of descendants of Matthew O’Connor and Mary Doyle. And yes, we had a birthday cake in their honor, thanks to cousin Sharon!

My sister Margo (who was unable to come) was hoping that we could find some relatives from the Cadieux side. And we did! Our cousin Neal (his grandmother was Belle Cadieux) joined us and we were thrilled that he brought along some photos to share too.

I had been doing some research at the Arnprior & McNab Braeside archives and came upon a host of photos from our Frood ancestors. Maybe our 2012 reunion will have someone representing the Frood or Watt families.

Turns out that we still have some cousins from my father’s generation in the Ottawa area, which was a great and happy surprise  Matthew O’Connor and Mary Doyle’s next to last child was Emmett (my grandfather’s brother). His daughter Marion, who coincidentally lives not far from the site of the reunion, joined us! What a thrill to catch up with her and that part of the family. Her sister Rita lives in Oklahoma and brother Desmond in the Ottawa area. When I visited with her on the Sunday following, she showed me a letter to our grand uncle Msgr. O’Connor from FDR, asking his advice.

Family of another of my grandfather’s brothers, Stephen, were represented, too! Richard wasn’t able to join us, but his brother stopped by, and was interested in the details of the tree. He got to meet some new cousins, too!

Connie, representing the Delaney branch, was also with us. Her grandmother was Mary “Minnie” O’Connor (my grandfather’s sister; daughter of Matthew & Mary) who married George Delaney.

Gary Allen has been doing research on the Irish in the Ottawa Valley. He joined us for the family names, and discovered a connection to the family through Isidore Cadieux, brother of my great grandfather David!

Cousin John is very knowledgeable on the O’Connor tree, having done most of his research before we had internet sources, so he knows the original sources and details well. He was a great resource for those with questions about the O’Connor and Dolan lines.

Cousin Sharon is also well versed in the O’Connors and Dolans. She too was a go-to person for questions. …and she helped with the cake and refreshments.

We had a really great morning together. It was a great chance to connect to family we had only seen as names on the family tree, but have now had a chance to meet and enjoy. So many commented that it would be nice to do this each year, that we are working on the dates for 2012.

I’m hoping to find some representatives of the Wilson and McEwan lines who could join us.

The Value of Obituaries

WilliamWilsonObitSometimes, when you’re wondering where that ancestor disappeared, an obituary will provide the answer. But not their obituary!

Relatives doing family history have asked why I have spent time researching branches of the family tree that are not my direct ancestors.

The answer is a bit convoluted .. just like the route to finding my direct ancestors.

Sometimes the trail for my family tree goes nowhere. But tracking the siblings of my ancestors may be a route around the roadblock that will lead right to my ancestor .. or to a cousin who may know other details I’m looking for about our common ancestors.

Case in point: the Wilsons of Aylwin, QC.

That’s the family of my great grandmother, Eliza Wilson. They are from Scotland, all the earliest records show this. But where in Scotland?

Her father, Robert Wilson, first appears in Huntley (near Carp, where Eliza is born), then Nepean, and finally Aylwin QC. Robert was a tanner, the likely reason for his early death.

When his wife, Annie Graham, remarries and ends up in Gloucester with her younger children and new husband, Eliza meets a next door neighbour .. and eventually marries John ‘Jake’ McEwan.

Some of her siblings seems to disappear. An obituary finally puts her brother William Wilson in Eastview (Ottawa). And her brother Robert?

Listed among the survivors is Robert .. of “Hokim, Wash.” That would explain why Robert disappeared completely. He was among those who headed to the United States during the logging boom of the early 1900s. US Census records subsequently show him first living in Wisconsin (where he marries) and then in Washington State, near Seattle. Thanks to a Google search, it was easy to find that he had lived in Hoquiam, Washington.

Obituaries prove the point that much of what appears in historic newspapers was really hearsay .. it was what the reporter heard them say! Important then not to get hung up on the mistakes, like Eliza McEwan becoming L (for Liza) McEwan .. but at the right address!

Are we a little closer to finding someone who knows the family origins in Scotland? Hopefully! I’m working on a Hoquiam Family Reunion for the Wilson descendants of Robert in May 2016 .. along with another group of Wilsons in the Hoquiam area .. possibly Robert’s uncle’s family?

To be continued.

Enjoyable Family Réunion

We had a great get together again this year! A big “Thank You” to everyone who took part.

Once again we discovered new connections. Last year Emmett O’Connor’s daughter Marion joined us. She was back with us this year. And we were joined by Ambrose O’Connor’s daughter Mary, age 91.

Ottawa Citizen adOren Frood’s great grandson Jonathan brought along some wonderful photos. Possible Wilson and O’Callaghan relatives searched family trees to find connections.

Sharon (O’Connor Line) helped us sort through Killeen connections.

Garry A. is interested in Irish families of the Valley and has joined us each year and is a great resource.

Bruce and Gerry Mc came to Kanata from Pembroke, and shared with everyone photos of the day.

Local and area archives

Thanks to the internet, it is easy to discover local and area archives collections. As I’ve suggested before, doing an internet search for the area you are interested in joined with the term “history,” for example “Pontiac County Quebec history” can lead to a treasure trove of information. Sometimes a similar search with the term “museum” is also helpful.

Today, many local history groups have websites, and most will tell you in detail about their collection. And if they don’t, there is most often an email address you can use to inquire. I’ve found that, despite the abundance of material on the internet both free and pay-per-view, there is nothing quite like the trip to the archives or museum.

In May, I took the hour and a half trip from Ottawa to Shawville QC, to the Pontiac County Archives, looking for ancestors in my Cadieux and Wilson families.

The highlights of the Pontiac collection include:

  • The Crown Land Grant Book, 1763-1890 for Pontiac County;
  • Pontiac County census records, 1842-1901;
  • Papers of Pontiac County government and its municipalities;
  • Township valuation rolls from the various townships;
  • Papers of the Pontiac Pacific Junction Railroad;
  • An extensive collection of photographs, drawings and maps;
  • Papers of the Pontiac Women’s Institute;
  • Information on the Orange Order and other Pontiac societies.

Frequently it is the unexpected that you encounter that is also helpful for further research. I discovered in the clippings file for Quyon, an article on businesses in Quyon that reported details taken from the 1857 “Canada Directory” published by the predecessor company of Dun & Bradstreet. (You can download a pdf version from one of my favourite sites — archive.org — using the link.)

When I went hunting through it later, I found it a valuable resource. For most towns and villages in Upper and Lower Canada, it provides a listing of the principal business owners and local citizens. I found there a record of my ancestor David Cadieux, listed as owner of a wagon-making business in Quyon QC. In a later edition I found the Renfrew ON business he worked for later on. Before this trip, I was unaware of the Canada Directory.

I found the valuation rolls helpful too. Pontiac Archives has the original handwritten documents. They were invaluable in locating my ancestors and their relatives. This is a good example of documentary evidence not available in  BanQ — the Quebec National Library and Archives (they actually offered these items to Pontiac Archives when they were ‘cleaning out’ their shelves! Lucky they were around to accept them!) and unlikely to ever be digitized and placed online. Only a visit would make their valuable information available. One more argument for the importance of local archives and history societies!

Venetia Crawford, Pontiac ArchivesMy invaluable guide and helper was Venetia Crawford (pictured). Turns out she was one of the founders of the archives back in 1985! She explained the collection and assisted me in finding various items, sharing along the way some of her own researches and interests.

This is another reason why the trip to the local archives is invaluable: the living resources found in the dedicated volunteers who know the collection and the local history, and can save you from wasting time and direct you to the most helpful resources. Always a wonderful thing to find someone who is as interested in your research as you are!

“Bravo!” to Venetia, Pearl McCleary, Annie Gamble, Elsie Sparrow and all involved in founding the Pontiac Archives, which is presently run entirely by volunteers.