Achieving My Genealogical Goals in 2020- Research in English, American, and Australian Records


As much as I try to return to talking about research in Ontario for the benefit of researchers with that interest, I am frequently foiled. What started out as research of a Petrolia, Ontario couple, John and Jeanie (Shaw) McMillan, led me to Alberta for one daughter, Jennie Primrose (McMillan) Dawson, and to Michigan for another, Victoria Alexandria (McMillan) Clark. The former had a son who enlisted in the army in 1917 at Brisbane, Australia as per service records that I found on [world edition]. The latter daughter had a son who died in the State of Washington. So much for research in Ontario!

The sons George Patton McMillan and John Primrose McMillan lived with their sister Jennie for a while after her marriage. George became a broker in Petrolia but died in Toronto. By 1911 John was living at Edmonton, Alberta with his sister Jennie. He enlisted in the Canadian army and served with the 43rd regiment as a Major.

I did have to be careful when researching John and Jeanie because searching on their names brought up a family in Port Perry, Ontario. Fortunately only one child’s name was similar so that helped eliminate them. A number of other McMillans lived in and around Petrolia so that made for interesting research as well.

I decided in early January to pinpoint specific research to-dos from my genealogical goals in order to try to be even more successful in 2020:

-I paid a visit to my local Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Family History Center in order to get scans of John and Hannah (Bush) Grapes’ marriage registration from Brixton, Hampshire, England and of Isaac and Ann (Yelf) Atkey’s marriage registration from Newport, Isle of Wight, England. I couldn’t access these images from the website because of restrictions, instead I had to go to the JCLDS FHC to do so. You may have run into a similar situation when using the website. If you are not close to a FHC, see if a public library in your geographical area is an affiliate library with You can access restricted items at one of these affiliate libraries as well.

-This week I received notice that a pdf of the death certificate for Christiana Yelf ordered through the General Register Office of the United Kingdom was available. Unfortunately it contains less information than a report about a coroner’s inquest in the Hampshire Telegraph contained. The latter record was  accessed through the website of the Isle of Wight Family History Society. My hypothesis that Anne (Yelf) Atkey, my 4X great grandmother, and Christiana are sisters will need more documents to prove or disprove it. Never thought the process would be easy!

-Did I finally win? I found a death record for a Mary Olive Dowling who was living in a Daughters of America home in Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio.1 My hypothesis is that Mary Olive is the daughter of my great aunt Ellen Bolton. The death record provides a date of birth of 5 July 1868 at Kankakee, Illinois. Checking a map I found Kankakee is about 28 kilometres [roughly 17 miles] from Peotone, Illinois, where William Bolton, Ellen’s father, died and she arranged probate of his estate in 1867. The birth date given in the death registration matches the one for “my” Mary Olive, daughter of Ellen (Bolton) Bolton, provided for the 1901 Canada Census of Quebec.2 I now need to request a copy of the obituary for the Mary Olive Dowling who died in Tiffin, Ohio. No I did not abbreviate the name of the organization, Daughters of America. When I researched the organization I found that it was a secret one-more on that topic later!

An Organizational Research Strategy
I am trying a new approach to my research this year. I created a paper file for my current research which has a copy of the spreadsheet of my genealogical goals for 2012 taped on the inside of the file folder. That way my goals are in front of me every time I open the file folder. Once I am done with a research task and have recorded the information I then file the items I feel that I need to keep in my master file for the family. This filing could be in a cardboard file folder or an electronic file. I am moving to the latter style of filing in order to reduce the paper that I have in my office.

Best wishes for productive genealogical research in 2012. Do share your stories with me at the 2020 Ontario Ancestors Conference in Hamilton, Ontario, June 5-7, 2020. You will find me spending some of my time at the Lambton County Branch of Ontario Ancestors table in Marketplace.

1. Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death for Mary Olive Dowling, state file no. 71383, registrar’s no. 267, Seneca County,Tiffin, death date 26 October 1950, registration date 11 November 1950, downloaded from[world edition] 17 January 2020.

2.William and Mary O. Dowling entries, 1901 Canada Census, Quebec, District 176, Montreal & St. Jacques, Sub-District B, Polling Sub-Division 65, Montreal, St. James Ward, p. 9, lines 29 and 30, downloaded from 3 November 2019.

Alan Campbell
Ontario Ancestors
© 2020
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