Straying Back to Genealogical Research in Ontario


Just as I was approaching the end of my research for my revised Campbell family book I had the urge to temporarily abandon it and begin work again on my Bolton family history book. I know that a researcher shouldn’t jump around when researching and recording but…

Restarting work on my Bolton family book meant that I would be working through it to fill in the missing information. After working on two individuals and their families I remembered why I had previously stopped my research and recording. All of the people needing additional information were the ones for whom information had been elusive the first time around. This meant slogging through records and going back to previously written Bolton family histories seeking clues to follow.

Ontario Ancestors [The Ontario Genealogical Society] has, in their deposit collection at the Toronto Reference Library, a book by Marjorie Bolton, A Family Named Bolton. I was fortunate to get access to a copy of it and scoured it for clues to additional family. Merle, a fellow Bolton family researcher, had sent me some family trees that she had found while researching. I did find some clues in these books which helped me then move to and to fill in gaps in my information. I discovered that I would still need to make a trip to my local archives, the Lambton County Archives, in order to see the microfilmed copy of some County Marriage registers. Not all were accessible on the online websites. I logged these items as I went in order to create my research plan for my future visit.

My biggest challenge was not in finding records. It was, I am embarrassed to say, in my creation of various research files for individuals which had not been combined after the research had been done. I had my files for each family but I had also created an ongoing research binder whose contents did not always mirror what was in my family files. What ensued was two weeks of meshing the files, sorting them into some kind of order and recording the information that I found. I discovered that I had records that I could have used on the first time through the building of my book such as a county marriage registration for a couple who married in Peel County in 1862.

Since I am also in the process of preparing my paper files for scanning, I sorted each family file after my recording was done and kept only the prime documents. All other “through the process of research” items and notes on sources that I now had copies of in my possession were discarded in the recycle bin. I made sure all items that I kept had sufficient source citation material and when I could I found the original version of transcribed material. I am a “doubting Thomas’ when it comes to transcriptions and I do wonder if something was left out or incorrectly transcribed. I also scanned research documents that could be of help to me in future research and saved them in a file specific to the county in Ontario to which they were related- backed up of course.

In the course of going from disorganized chaos to better organized files I discovered that it helps to come at a family from two directions. When I was chasing my great aunt Ellen Bolton I found a marriage between a Perry W. Bolton and an Ellen Bolton in Illinois in Will County 7 August 1869. My Ellen had definitely spent time in Illinois because her father William Bolton died there at Peotone, Will County in 1867, so the marriage document was worth considering. Unfortunately it was not available on-line. I made contact with the institution that held the document but did not have any success reaching someone who could help me get a copy of it. I continued my research and found an Ellen Bolton living with a Mary Stevens who I believe is her sister in the 1870 Census for Cherry Township, Montgomery County, Kansas, United States. A two year old female, M.O. Bolton, born Illinois, was enumerated with her. Searches using M.O. as givens did not result in any hits. About that time I had a DNA match which led me to a marriage between my Ellen Bolton and Jefferson Eldridge a Cherokee. Needless to say, my research went off on another tangent!

Back to my filling in the holes in my Bolton history. I had forgotten that I had a Perry W. Bolton who was a son of Charles and Sophronia Bolton in a collateral line. Charles was the brother of my 2X great grandfather William Bolton, father of my Ellen Bolton. When researching Perry I was able to get a copy of probate records for his estate. As I began to piece together his family, I noticed that he had a daughter, Olive Dowling, listed last on the payout sheet for the estate even though she was the oldest one of the children. In checking the age of Perry’s wife at the time, Nancy, and doing some subtraction I found that she would have only been 10 years old at the time of Olive’s birth. Now I was looking for a previous marriage. In my search for earlier information about Olive, I found that Perry had been enumerated twice in 1880, once in Wyoming, United States where he was working as a railroad engineer and a second time with his family in Iowa. The Iowa Census for Lincoln Township, Union County caught Minnie, age 11, as his oldest child. The ah-ha moment! Was Minnie Olive Bolton, daughter of Perry W. Bolton, the M.O. Bolton enumerated with my Ellen Bolton? Needless to say my next research hypothesis is created – is Minnie Olive Bolton the M.O. Bolton living with who I think is my Ellen Bolton in Kansas? I have sent a paper request for the marriage registration noted before and am prepared to hire a professional genealogist if needed to get a copy.

I checked the other Bolton family histories/trees that I have and found a notation that Perry had married a daughter of a William George Bolton. According to the source of this information, a L. R. Bolton, family lore holds that the daughter ran off with a Creole after her marriage to Perry. Perhaps family lore is somewhat accurate. Stay tuned as I continue my research.

Post Script
Ontario Ancestors Deposit Library Collection at the Toronto Reference Library
Although this collection is not circulating [cannot be borrowed at this time] Toronto Branch researchers could access the collection for someone at a distance. Send an email to to make contact with the committee who find someone to do the research for you. Some of the researchers work on the basis of donations, some will require payment for services rendered. I also use Worldcat to

see if a copy of the book is in a collection closer to my home. I also check on an online access to many bookstores who deal in used books. I also check to see what geographical locations the family history covers and contact Branches of Ontario Ancestors who “cover” that area. In some cases they have had copies of the books for sale.

Library and Archives Collection Search
I dabbled with the new Collection Search that Library and Archives Canada has instituted on its website.

I need to explore the use of search terms more as I found that I was “wading” through 39 pages of hits in some cases. Probably my reaction is muted because I like to directly search individual collections on a regular basis much like I do on with the card catalogue function.

Alan Campbell
Ontario Ancestors [The Ontario Genealogical Society]
© 2019


One thought on “Straying Back to Genealogical Research in Ontario

  1. Interesting post, Alan, about the exercise of merging all your research documents, notes, etc. on the Bolton family.

    I’ve had good success using Better World Books for obtaining books pertinent to my Lunan and Swanton family research Possibly in the future this site will be helpful to you, too!

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