Using a Timeline to Direct Your Family History Research


I have often mentioned in my blog posts and other articles that I use timelines for analysis of a family and to find hints of what records I should check next. The following timeline is a work in progress. I have added notes which explain other sources I need to access or explain my thought process in the analysis of the records found:


Edward and Ann (Lennox) Campbell Timeline

1814      Edward’s birth/baptism, circa 1814, Ireland

1814      Ann’s birth/baptism, circa 1814, Ireland

1836      Marriage of Edward and Ann Lennox, circa 1838, Ireland

1837      Birth of son Robert Campbell, circa 1827, Ireland

1840      Birth of daughter Martha Campbell, circa 1840, Ireland

1841      Birth of son Joseph Campbell, circa 1841, Ireland

1843      Birth of Simon Campbell, circa 1843, Ireland

1844      Birth of daughter Frances Campbell circa 1844, Ireland

1847      Birth of son William Campbell, circa 1847, Ireland
Note that the locations of birth for the above members of the family were taken from the 1861 census. The instructions for the enumerators of the 1861 census of the Province of Canada was “…give the Country in which each person was born. (not the particular town or city) and distinguish between Lower Canada and Upper Canada, and Prussia and the German States.”[1]

1848      Birth of daughter Sarah Ann Campbell at Ireland or at Hamilton, Canada West, circa 1848

Note: Places of birth noted on birth records, marriage records and death records can help track a family that moved a lot between censuses. The information could be considered more reliable if it comes from a birth registration or baptismal record than from the latter two sources. The above comment is made in the context of having found some inaccurate birth registrations in my research.

Re Sarah Ann Campbell’s two places of births, Ireland came from the 1861 Canada West Census, Hamilton came from her marriage registration. 

1850      Edward Campbell record of lease with Canada Company for lot 25 concession 7, Canada Company, 10 October 1850. B-3, Vol. 31, p. 221, Archives of Ontario, microfilm reel series MS 729, reel 4.
Note: On the previous page of the Canada Company records Pratt Campbell was recorded as leasing lot 24, concession 7. He stopped payments and Edward took over the payments 9 April 1852 at which time Pratt was in London Township, Middlesex County. Pratt is my great grandfather and I think there may be family connections between him and Edward Campbell. I have completed YDNA testing at FamilyTreeDNA to see if my hypothesis has any merit. While waiting for potential YDNA matches  I am building out Edward’s family tree.

Note: A section of Bosanquet Township was part of the land allotted to the Canada Company to sell. No information was found in the Township Papers about Edward’s property. Information was found was unrelated to these properties. Finding any records at all was still unusual as information about Canada Company sales are seldom found in the Township Papers.

1852      Note: No 1852 Canada West Census records exist for Bosanquet Township. Early assessment records do exist for Bosanquet Township and are held on microfiche at the Lambton County Library.

1855      Birth of Martha Campbell daughter [?], Ireland [1861 Canada West Census], Ontario from her marriage registration

Note: The 1861 Canada West Census does not specify that whether children are sons and daughters rather the schedule reads “member of the family” perhaps to distinguish between hired men and the like. Does “member of the family” mean that they are sons and daughters or could they have been integrated into the “family” for some reason? I wondered about a second Martha when the first one was still alive. See my notes about Edward’s will.

1859      Bosanquet Township Assessment record for Edward Campbell concession 7, lots 23 and 24
Note: Assessment records can provide information about the year that an ancestor moved into or out of an area which helps to fill in the “history” between censuses.

1859      Marriage of daughter Martha to Oswald Foster, 28 December 1859 at Bosanquet Township. County Marriage Registers, Lambton County, Archives of Ontario microfilm series MS 248, reel 8, p. 8.
Note: In this case early marriage records identified children who were not enumerated on the 1861 Canada West Census.

1860      Bill of Sale for lot 24, concession 7, Bosanquet Township, to Edward from George J. Goodhue, 4 April 1860, 100 acres

1860      Bill of Sale for lot 25, concession 7, Bosanquet Township, to Edward from George J. Goodhue, 4 April 1860, 100 acres

1860      Marriage of Joseph Campbell to Mary E. Foster, daughter of John and Isabella Foster, 20 September 1860 at Bosanquet Township. County Marriage Registers, Lambton County, Archives of Ontario microfilm series MS 248, reel 8, p. 16.
Note: Joseph was not enumerated with his parents in 1861 because he had married and moved on.

1861      Edward Campbell family entry, 1861 Canada West Census, enumeration district no. 2, Township of Bosanquet, County of Lambton, p. 46, lines 34-41. Edward Campbell age 48, farmer; Robert Campbell age 24, labourer; Simon Campbell, age 18, labourer; William Campbell age 14, labourer; Ann Campbell age 48, married; Frances Campbell age 17, single; Sarah Ann Campbell age 13, single and Martha Campbell age 7, single, Library and Archives microfilm C-1040.

1862      Marriage of son Robert Campbell and Margaret Sherrit, 12 March 1862 at Bayfield, Canada West, County Marriage Registers, Huron County, 1858-1869, Archives of Ontario microfilm series MS 248, reel 8, Vol. 20, p. 13.

1867      Marriage of daughter Frances Campbell to Daniel McIntyre, son of John and Emaline McIntyre. County Marriage Registers, Vol. 24, Lambton County 1858-1869, AO microfilm series MS 248, reel 8, p. 78.

1872      Marriage of Martha Campbell to Elijah Clark 18 July 1872 at Bosanquet Township. Her parents are identified as Edward and Ann Campbell.  Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, County, p. 28, AO microfilm [digitized], downloaded from

1874      Marriage of son Simon Campbell to Margaret Ross, daughter of Robert Ross and Jane Greenlees, 1 October 1874 at Bosanquet Township, Lambton County. AO microfilm series MS 932 reel no. 14, registration no. 6035.

1875      Death of Ann (Lennox) Campbell, 22 February 1875, as per cemetery stone in Ward Cemetery, Bosanquet Township
Note: An obituary could provide more information about Ann’s origins. The only newspapers to access for that time period in Lambton County are:
Watford Guide Advocate, index of BMD starting 1875 and the Sarnia Observer, index of BMD starting 16 Nov. 1853.
Neither index lists Ann’s death. Each newspaper’s relevant issues need to be checked in case the indexer missed a death notice for her or that her death was noted in a community column.

1875      Marriage of daughter Sarah Ann Campbell to Robert Ross, son of Robert and Jane Ross, 28 September 1875 at Bosanquet Township, Lambton County. AO microfilm series MS 932, reel 17, registration no. 4230.

1876      Marriage of William Campbell to Martha Fitzgerald, daughter of Frederick and Margaret (Weir) Fitzgerald, AO microfilm series MS 932, reel 24, registration no. 6257.

1878      Edward married Margaret Emeline Talbot, daughter of William and Mary Talbot, 15 May 1878 at Petersville, Middlesex County, Ontario Canada Marriages, 1826-1936, MS 932, reel 27, registration no. 6472

1880      Anna Catherine Clark born 17 July 1880 at Bosanquet Township, Ontario Canada Births, Lambton County, registration no. 14937 also birth registration no. 14524. The second registration gives her middle name.
Note: I added this entry after finding Edward’s will which listed Anna.

1881      Edward Campbell entry, 1881 Canada Census, Ontario, district M2, sub district Bosanquet Township, p. 57, lines 6 and 7. Edward Campbell age 64, married, farmer, born Ireland and Margaret Campbell age 45, married, born Ontario. Library and Archives microfilm C-13278.

1891      Edward Campbell entry, 1891 Canada Census for Ontario, district 81, East Lambton, sub district 1, Bosanquet Township, p. 57, lines 12 and 13. Edward age 76, gentleman; Margaret age 55, born Ontario and Susan Saunders age 10, born Manitoba were enumerated.

1895      Last will and testament of Edward Campbell, dated 27 November 1895. Specific provisions were made for the following people:
Margaret Emeline Campbell his wife
Robert Ross his son in law
Susie S. Saunders his adopted step granddaughter [“…not get married until 21 years of age and she is to keep decent respectable company…”
Joseph Campbell his son
Annie Foster his granddaughter
Bell Foster his granddaughter
Margaret Clark his niece and her daughter Annie
Note: Some censuses DO NOT identify the children listed under a husband and wife as their sons and daughters. Even though Margaret’s marriage record identifies Edward and Ann as her parents, Edward noted her as a niece in his will.
Annie Ross his granddaughter
Edward Campbell his grandson, son of Simon
Annie L. Campbell sister of Edward
Annie Campbell his granddaughter, daughter of his son Robert Campbell
William Campbell his son
Fanny (Campbell) McIntyre his daughter
Bruce McIntyre his grandson

1896      Edward’s death information, Bosanquet local news column, The Forest Standard, 12 March 1896, p. 4. Also on page 4 was a brief notice of death for Edward.

1896      Edward’s death information Bosanquet local news column, Watford Guide Advocate, 20 March 1896, p. 1.
Note: It is a good idea to track down all obituaries as one may contain more information than others. I have not found a death registration to date for Edward in online searches or via checking the microfilmed index of Ontario deaths at the Lambton County Archives.

1896      Edward’s will probated 28 March 1896, Surrogate Court records

1920      Margaret E. Campbell death date as per tombstone in St. Mary’s Anglican Church Cemetery, Warwick Township, Lambton County, 26 December 1920

1920      Death of Margaret E. Campbell death registration no. 18287, downloaded from  19 September 2006

1920      Death of Mrs. Margaret E. Campbell, Watford Guide Advocate, 1 January 1920.

I hope that time lining your “difficult” ancestors helps you break down at least one of your brickwalls.

Alan Campbell
The Ontario Genealogical Society
© 2019

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