Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh! Susannah Has Been Found!

It can be frustrating when you have an ancestor's name, year of death plus the location and, the civil registration records for the area are fully indexed with links to the digitized record images but the death record can't be found. Experience teaches us to try variations of the surname - still no luck.

I typically start broadening my search parameters. Maybe I didn't have the right year after all so I search the year I believed the event occurred plus or minus some years (I will usually use two years for this purpose). If I'm convinced about the year of the event, I will broaden my location criteria from searching in a specific town to searching in a province or state - or in desperation, I will 'ask' for the records of everyone by a certain name who died anywhere in the year I think is correct. The 'desperate act', by the way, usually returns more results than can possibly help so its not recommended!

Susannah Horton's death fell into this category. Susannah was born in 1808 in Sydney Township, Canada West (now the Province of Ontario), the daughter of Jonathan and Hannah Horton. Susannah married Archibald Guffin likely around 1827. Between 1828 and 1849, Archibald and Susannah had six children - two boys and four girls.

Family information indicated that Susannah (Horton) Guffin died in January 1876 in Hastings County, Ontario, Canada. As civil registration commenced in Ontario in 1869 and as Ancestry.ca has the Ontario death records indexed with the original images, obtaining a copy of Susannah's death record image was going to be easy. Unfortunately, even when searching for any Guffin who died in 1876, the closest result offered is for Elizabeth Giffin who died in another part of the province.

Well, fortunately, Alaric (Ric) Faulkner has come to the rescue. Ric along with John Carew are co-Faulkner family researchers (Faulkner is my wife Ellen's paternal grandmother's family). Ric found Susannah's death record - indexed under "Griffin." Susannah died in December 1876 - so the family information was cutting her life by almost a full year - in Belleville, Ontario.

Below is part of the death record image and its easy to see how someone might have misread the Guffin surname (indexers are human!) as Griffin. It's also easy to see the importance of checking all or 'as many as you can think of' surname variations as sometimes the one you least expect to be helpful may be the one that finds that 'missing' record. Excuse me now while I go and update my source citations for Susannah!

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