Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's all in the translation

At some point a goodly number of us run into languages other than our native one when we are researching. What to do, what to do?
It does not hurt to learn some of the basic words like, birth, marriage, death, family, mother, father, daughter, son, etc. The internet to the rescue aka GOOGLE. You can copy and paste words, phrases etc. and get fairly good translations. Some web sites will let you translate sentences and paragraphs.
The photograph shows my late-father-in-law's genealogy ("Etterkommere etter Ole Eriksen Trones - Familiene Busch, Trones og Lindgaard" by Hermund Pederson). Both of his parents were from Norway and the book tracks 3 descendent lines of a common ancestor (1671 to 1996). There is a very interesting potted history at the beginning of the book. I have a basic idea of what it says (I learned some written Norwegian in high school) but plan on translating it properly, using on-line resources.
Other alternatives if you don't have access to a computer.
1. Talk with the language departments at your local university or high school and find out if anyone would be interested in translating for you. You may have to pay for the service or do some kind of trade.  2. Your local LDS Family History Centers might have people proficient in other languages.
3. Learn the language yourself. In our part of the world Spanish is useful, all my children are learning it and I am trying :)
4. Find out if the paperwork you are looking at has already been translated.
5. Buy a language dictionary.
6. Advertise for help in your local newspaper.
7. Ask at your local library if they know anyone fluent in the language you are researching.
8. Do any native immigrants live near you?
9. Ask at any of your group, school or church activities.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

J.J.Elbert M.B.E., M.B, CH.B, D.T.M.&H. - the missing link uncovered

British Medical Journal 16 December 1972 Obituary Notices. page 677

Dr. J.J. Elbert, who was in general practice in the City of London, died on 9 November after a short illness. He was 58.
John Jacob Elbert was born at Worcester, Massachusetts, on 12 September 1914 and educated at Rothesay Academy, where he won the dux gold medal, and at Glasgow University, where he graduated in medicine in 1937. After a house appointment at Altrincham Hospital he joined the R.A.M.C. on the outbreak of the second world war and was posted to West Africa as regimental medical officer to the 6th Battalion of the Nigeria Regiment, Royal West African Frontier Force. On arrival in India his battalion was detached to form part of General Wingate's force, the Chindits, and Dr. Elbert served with distinction in the 1944 Chindit operations behind the enemy lines in north Burma. He was mentioned in dispatches and appointed M.B.E. for his part in organizing the reception and evacuation of sick and wounded Chindits from the jungle airstrip at "Aberdeen" (Mawlu). After the war he joined the Colonial Medical Service as a Government medical officer in Nigeria and served for more than ten years in the Eastern Region, attaining the rank of senior medical officer. When the region was granted self-government in 1957 he retired from Government service and went into private practice at Port Harcourt. at the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war in 1967 he had to abandon his practice, and when at last he was able to return to Port Harcourt it was to find his house in ruins and his property pillaged. After a period of service with the International Red Cross in the war-stricken areas he returned to England and in 1969 joined a practice as third partner.
In jocular allusion to his unconcealed delight in the good things of life John Elbert used to say that for him the best was barely enough. Whatever he undertook, in work or play, he tackled with energy and the resolution never to accept any standard but the best. He prided himself on being a good doctor; any patient could be sure of his undivided attention, but for his African patients he had a special affection and was rewarded in turn with their liking and trust. The news of his early death will be received with deep sorrow both in Britain and in Nigeria.
He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

I did not know he existed until today. I was researching other members of his family, specifically his sister Laura Serepta Elbert and his mother Sarah Leitch. His great grandmother was my great great grandmother's sister and it has bothered me for quite a while that this family was being "elusive". I found a family tree on Ancestry.com which turned out to be wrong but I did a bit of digging and got everything sorted out via census records, ships manifests, marriage records, newspaper articles, BMD records and a few other odds and ends :)
All of this because I wanted to know what had happened to his dad and what his first name was. His dad's  name was also John Jacob and he died in 1920, Sarah had emigrated to the USA in 1913 after marrying him then returned to Rothesay at some point after John sr's death where she died in 1965.
All of John jr's sisters died in Scotland (which I already knew).
It was Sarah's application for a passport in 1921 that "sealed the deal" so to speak because it confirmed a lot of information I had already run across but had not quite connected all the dots yet.
As for the unknown wife and children in the obituary they showed up in a ship's manifest.
What was the big link for everyone? A house address in Rothesay that covered 4 generations of the family and showed up in numerous pieces of paperwork.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Census records

If you have read some of my previous posts or know me personally then you already know that I love census records. Great place to start if you are looking for information. You still have to follow up on all the information contained therein but what a slice of history to peruse.
The census records for Great Britain, and yes Scotland is part of that entity, were taken on the following dates (Sunday/Monday except for 1939).
1801 thru 1831 - statistical information only. Usually households were not broken down or names etc. given. There is some debate as to the dates for the 1801 census but the other 3 were taken on the last weekend of May.
1841 - 06/07 June
1851 - 30/31 March
1861 - 07/08 April
1871 - 02/03 April
1881 - 03/04 April
1891 - 05/06 April
1901 - 31 March/01 April
1911 - 02/03 April
1921 - 19/20 June (will be available next year at some point. Still covered by 100 year privacy law)

For other dates and some concise information about what was included in each census visit http://www.talkingscot.com/censuses/census-dates.htm

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Busy little beaver - Lindsay genealogy Newfoundland

If you are researching Newfoundland families this is THE site to go to http://ngb.chebucto.org. aka Newfoundlands Grand Banks Genealogical & Historical Data.
I've visited the site a few times over the past 3 or 4 years but this time round I ploughed my way through almost everything and came up with a bucketful of information :)
Found links to birth, marriage, death, burial, census, obituary records for a number of family members.

Almost none of the information can be found at Ancestry.com or Familysearch.org, by the way, but they did prove useful when I had to look in England.

So now I know when my great uncle William Lindsay moved to Newfoundland, where he lived, when and where he got married, information about his wife and her family in England, and that he might have been married twice (or he had a child with exactly the same name as his wife, or there was another person with exactly the same name as his wife). I also looked further into the spouses of his children and that was very interesting. One ancestor had the names of her parents, paternal grandparents and g-grandparents on her marriage record and there is a tie in to the very first family that settled Indian Burying Ground.

So to all the volunteers who run the NGBGHD site - THANK YOU - you are doing fabulous work. I will be back to hunt some more :) Now I just have to confirm some of the information with one of my cousins.
Overlooking the mill, Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.

If you are interested in finding out more about the history of Newfoundland http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/NFLDHistory/index.html has some good short articles and photographs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Miners of Wabana, Bell Island

I was looking up some information and as usual I got sidetracked when an obituary popped up for one of my Lindsay cousins in Canada. This led me to information about his wife and some of her family members which got me to thinking some more about my great -uncle William Lindsay (my grandpa's older brother). He emigrated to Canada and spent most of his life in Newfoundland. I already knew he worked on Bell Island so I thought I'd find out more. My dad told me that when his grandfather died most of his engineering tools went to William and some to my grandfather.
The "Bell Island Submarine Miner" (1954-1959) is a fund of information about the people that worked there - their births, marriages, deaths, anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, club activities, mining activities, photographs etc. The cartoons for the regular safety features are hilarious.
I came away with a feeling of community after reading the articles and was impressed with the references to retired workers and their families. Whoever wrote the articles paid a great deal of attention to details and as such has left a good set of historical documents.
So what info did I find -
reference to a visit from the former Superintendent William Lindsay Sr. and Mrs. Lindsay October 1954 and where they were currently living (Cornerbrook) and a birthday greeting for him. (Nov 1954 edition).
An article about his promotion to "Foreman in charge of all Surface Mechanical Equipment & Compressors" effective Aug. 10th 1954 (Sept. 1954 edition)with reference to his previous position "Compressor Foreman".
A reference to Mrs. William Lindsay of Cornerbrook deceased April 25th 1959.
There is also a book available "The Miners of Wabana - The Story of the Iron Ore Miners of Bell Island" by Gail Weir which is from the Canada's Atlantic Folklore ~ Folklife series.
Personally I have a great deal of respect for anyone who mined for ore 3 miles under the ocean. Tough job. The first mine shaft opened in 1895 and the last mine shaft closed in 1966.
Based on some other information I have William was associated directly with Bell Island for about 40+ years.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking after your records

Living in one of the southern states subjects us to humidity, pollution, mold, and dust (amongst other icky things). Here's a really good concise article about looking after your records. http://www.proni.gov.uk/index/your_records/looking_after_your_records.htm
I'm off to a lecture about libraries and Andrew Carnegie :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Malta Family History - Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial (Floriana)

I had a cousin, James Ford Billett,  that I knew died during WWII but I did not know where. I was researching some of his family members today and ran across this site which gives a list of all the names inscribed on the memorial. How did I know it was the right person? It also listed his parents and his uncle and where they were from.
James Ford Billett, 1051615, Sergeant, Royal Air Force (V.R.) 18 Squadron, died 26th December 1941, age 22 years. Son of Albert and Marion Billet, and nephew of Mr. D. McEwan of Drymen, Stirlingshire.
2,301 names are on the memorial from RAF, RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF, SAAF and BOAC.