Archival Collections and Restarting Genealogical Research

Getting back into the research mode after being out of country for a month was a struggle. Where was I to start? Fortunately I had my genealogical goals for 2019 to hand and read them for direction. I had a couple of outstanding items that could be done easily-always a good way to start back into research.

Preparing for Research at Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives
I had checked the PAMA [Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives] website and found that the Archives held a Brett family file but had not got around to contacting the archivist to see if the file contained information about my Brett ancestors. I emailed a brief outline of my family to the archivist with my request for information about the Brett file:

“I noted that you have a BRETT family file in your collection. Before scheduling a visit to PAMA, I figured that I should find out if the file relates to the family in which I am interested. My 2X great grandmother Mary Brett, daughter of Thomas C. and Martha Mary (Hampton) Brett, married William Bolton circa 1847. Her parents lived in Caledon Township.  I located William and Mary in the 1851/2 Canada West Census in Albion Township.

I am interested in information about both families.
Thank you in advance,”

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from the archivist within hours after my emailed request. He indicated that my family members were included in the Brett family file but I would have to see the file myself to see what value it held. Now that I know the file could be of value I will contact him a few days prior to making the road trip to PAMA.

Although the response to my request was speedy, do allow an archives sufficient time to respond to your query.

Cherokee Intermarriage
The second research item that I tackled was the family of my great aunt Ellen Bolton who probably married a Cherokee in Indian Territory, Oklahoma. I say probably as I have not accessed any church or government records of a marriage or births of children to create a solid paper trail. I do have a FamilyTreeDNA match with a member of this family and two matches via my Ancestry DNA test. I am building a “draft” tree using information provided by one of my DNA matches and information from original documents found on www.Ancestry.ca [world edition]. I am becoming more knowledgeable about records that recorded Indian families and documented orphaned children’s attempt to get enrolled as blood Cherokees. That is the key to good research no matter where you are conducting it geographically. It pays dividends in your research when you better understand why records were created and in what format they were created.

I have been systematically working through the sources provided by Myra Vanderpool Gormley in her book, Cherokee Connections. Myra’s book was published in 1995 so it was interesting to search to see if some of the printed items she mentioned were now digitized. I found a list of more than 450 persons who obtained marriage licenses issued by the Cherokee Nation in an article, “Intermarried-Whites in the Cherokee Nation between the Years 1865 and 1887,” by A. H. Murchison, published in an issue of Chronicles of Oklahoma. Unfortunately the list was primarily for Caucasian men who married Cherokee women so it didn’t help me. In the process of searching for the article I found a website, Access Genealogy, which linked me to the second website, Digital Collections, OK State Library [Oklahoma State University] where I could search the specific issue of Chronicles of Oklahoma. I will continue to check out the sources in Myra’s book to see if I can find some more productive leads.

I check the footnotes, endnotes and bibliography of articles and books, especially those in our own OGS journal, Families, in order to see if there are sources of information that I have missed. The sources themselves may not be exactly what I want but they may hint at similar sources for the records in which I am interested. This is a good habit to develop.

May your spring be filled with genealogical research success!

Alan Campbell
Ambassador
The Ontario Genealogical Society
alan.campbell@ogs.on.ca
© 2019

Note: PAMA is located at 9 Wellington St. E., Brampton, Peel County, ON, L6W 1Y1.  Tel: 905-791-4055

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