Friday, 20 April 2007

Improve your genealogy research skills

Mary Poppins sang "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." That's true of the task of improving your research skills. Here's how.

Archive CD Books Canada have just added to their catalogue "A Rideau Jaunt in 1872". It's timely as 2007 is the 175th anniversary of the Rideau Canal, the development that made Ottawa. The CD contains the first hand description of an adventure on a steam paddle-wheeler from Ottawa to Kingston down the Rideau Canal made in 1872. The story has never before been published, this is a reproduction of the originally handsomely hand-written document. There's a sample for download from this page.

How is this useful to improve your research skills? The author was
Ottawa public servant William Mills. According to additional information on the download page, draw from other Archives CD Books Canada publications, he was born on 17 July, 1824, and first became a Civil Servant on 10th August 1858 (at the age of 34). Some Ottawa addresses where he lived were also given.

This was an opportunity to hone my research skills by finding out more about him. In genealogy research the three ways to improve are: practice, practice, practice. You make a few mistake and learn, Attaching that practice to an event can be a challenge .. fun .. snap, the jobs' a game. It can even provide material for a presentation, article -- or a blog.

How did I research William Mills? From the 1881 census, he was English-born, his wife was Mary Ann and daughter Nellie. There is a tempting
IGI entry for the birth of William Peter Mills on the same exact date, 17 July, 1824, son of William Mills and Sarah , with baptism the following year in Stepney, London.

There is an
Ontario registration for a death of a William Mills in Ottawa on 25 February 1895.

Checking the Ottawa Journal for the next few days reveals notices that he was long time Treasurer of the St George Society, and a Mason.


He is listed amongst burials at Beechwood cemetery, with his wife buried in 1913 in the same plot.

She is in the 1901 census living in the home of a son-in-law. The entry gives her birth date, 21 Apr 1834, and year of immigration, 1858. Note, that's the year William started working for the government.

The 1901 census also helps link her to others buried in the plot at Beechwood Cemetery which takes the family forward four generations.