TWO GREAT GIFTS FOR HISTORY BUFFS (November 28/03)

You dabble in your family genealogy and you’ve spent countless hours searching in archives and newspaper files trying to track down your ancestors. It’s been frustrating and the rewards have been few and far between. But you’re not giving up. Somewhere there is important information on a missing uncle, aunt or great grandparent. You tell yourself it’s just a matter of sticking with it and you’ll find it.

There’s some good news for you. The Kings Historical Society has already done some of the research for you. Records of births and deaths for the counties of Kings, Hants, Annapolis and Digby and the census of 1871-1901 and 1786-1861 are available on two computer discs at the Kings County Museum in Kentville. I hope I don’t sound like I’m making a sales pitch but they’re a great buy at only $25 per disc.

These files would make a great stocking stuffer this Christmas for the amateur genealogist and historian in your family. I’ll give you a couple of examples of how useful they can be for anyone looking for family history.

While I was searching for information on my Irish-born great grandfather David Coleman, I came across a list of children from his first and second marriages. I had no way to confirm the of accuracy this list is but I was told it was taken from census records. I found two of David’s daughters in the disc containing births and deaths and this was confirmation that my list was accurate; at least it was accurate concerning these offspring, so I assumed that it was correct in other details.

The information on the disc told me that my great aunt Allice was born in Hall’s Harbour and died there unmarried at age 25, of consumption, in 1868. Another great aunt, Esmorilda, died in 1876 at age 13 in Hall’s Harbour where she was also born. There is a puzzle about her death; the cause is given as “inflammation,” whatever that means.

As I did, you can find information on your ancestors that otherwise wouldn’t be available. Sometimes an ancestor disappears from the records simply because they died as a child or their name changed at marriage. The detailed list of births and deaths also provided information on marriages. In the case of my great aunts, for example, I found confirmation that my great grandfather was married twice.

The various censuses on the discs will also prove invaluable in your genealogical research. Again using my great grandfather David as an example, I found him listed in the 1851 census. At first glance, this may not seem important or of any value. However, this provided a valuable clue as to when David emigrated from Ireland. Oral family history has it that he arrived in Canada in either 1840 or 1850; while the 1851 census doesn’t give me an exact date, at least I know I’m in the neighbourhood.

You’ll find countless uses for the information on these discs. As the covering letter that comes with the discs says, it’s “genealogical information not found anywhere else.” Don’t forget to put them on your Christmas list.

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