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52 Ancestors, Week 16: Negatives
52 Ancestors, Week 16: Negatives

The writing prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Negatives, which can mean so many things in genealogy. For me, it brings to mind negative results and negative evidence, and any other relevant negatives.

We always heard that my great-grandmother Mildred Burrell’s first husband, Joseph William St. Onge, was a rum-runner during prohibition. Considering that was in violation of Federal laws, I thought if he was a known criminal, he would have an FBI file. However, when I wrote to the FBI to inquire, I received a response that there was no file under his name. Sometimes, an avenue of research doesn’t yield anything, and it’s important to keep track of those negative responses or results. This doesn’t necessarily disprove that he was a criminal, but perhaps it was on a state level, instead. Or perhaps he was never caught.

Another instance where negatives can be useful in genealogy is in searches. If you take the time to scroll through an entire set of images on Family Search, only to come up empty-handed, remember to record the name of the collection, the call number or microfilm number, the date you searched it, what you were trying to find, and the fact that you didn’t find anything. However, if you find possible connections, note that, as well.

Keeping track of searches that don’t give you any information or collections in which you don’t find what your seeking will keep you from revisiting them and wasting time. However, if a collection is sometimes updated or added to, you will be glad you kept track of the date you originally researched it, in case anything changes.

52 Ancestors - How Do You Spell That | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 15: How Do You Spell That?

It’s time for another 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks post! Since this week’s topic is about spelling, I thought I would talk about the spelling variations for one of my lifelong research projects.

I’ve been researching John Goodwin Hawksley and his sisters – Mary Hawksley, Sarah Brown Hawksley, and Margaret Elizabeth Hawksley – and trying to find their father since 1993. When I married my now ex-husband that year, people thought it was a great last name to have. Kind of unique, memorable, flowed well with my name (Wendy Lee Hawksley), and very British. You might think the name would be exempt from variations except maybe Hoxley, but that turned out not to be the case!

In fact, I’ve never found any of the Hawksleys in this family spelled as Hoxley. However, I’ve found them as Hawkesley and Oxley in marriage records, and Oxla in the 1851 Canadian Census. Surprisingly, I have not found a connection between this family and the Oxley family of Cumberland, Nova Scotia… Yet, anyway! Perhaps there is one back in England at some point.

However, I quickly learned that I should check a minimum of three different places in the alphabet when searching indices for this name – H, O, and, I figure to be safe, A. Though I haven’t found any variations beginning with A, I don’t want to discount the possibility of the name being found as Awksley or something along those lines.

So this week’s 52 Ancestors topic is a good reminder that what you see isn’t always what you get. Even if you think a name is straightforward, consider all the possibilities. Your Smith might be Smyth sometimes!

52 Ancestors - Check it Out | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 14: Check it Out

We’re already 14 weeks into 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I’m late on this one because I was at ConStellation last weekend. Hooray for sci-fi/fantasy conventions and presenting a panel! But boo for catching up on everyday life again; it’s certainly a chore. 🙂

For my post, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite genealogical resources:

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan is such a wonderful service. If not for the ability to borrow books from across the country, I wouldn’t have read Almost Out of the World: Scenes from Washington Territory by James G. Swan to learn more about my third-great grandfather, William W. Winsor. If you’ve never tried it, but know there are books out there you want to check out, talk to one of the librarians at your local public library. They can help you find the titles you want.

The nice thing about interlibrary loan is that you can check out a book for a fraction of the price of buying it, especially if you aren’t entirely sure it will contain the information you seek. At my library, we pay for the postage on the loan. Depending on the originating library, we might be restricted to viewing the book in our public library or we might be permitted to take it home for 30 days. When I receive restricted books, I bring enough money to the library to take copies of the pages I need, instead.

Other Library Materials

Of course, you might already know how wonderful it is to borrow books from other libraries that you couldn’t otherwise visit. However, did you know you can also borrow other materials, not just from libraries, but also archives? The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, for example, participates in interlibrary loan with their microfilms!

Once again, you will probably have to pay postage for the microfilm, but it is well worth it if you can’t drop everything to take a trip to Canada for genealogical research. Their archivists and librarians simply need your librarian to reach out to them with your specific request and call number. Naturally, you should check the PANB website (or other archive) first to ensure that they still participate in interlibrary loan and learn what caveats there are, if any. However, I have had the great pleasure of borrowing a microfilm from PANB to review at my local public library, and it was well worth the price of postage.

So if you haven’t tried interlibrary loan for books, microfilms, or other library or archive materials, I suggest you check it out. You might be surprised at what is available to you!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Sisters | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 13: Sisters

This week’s topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Sisters. Let’s take a look at the relationship between my great-great grandmother, Ernesta Maddalena Pedemonte Bergamasco, and her sister, Angela Spiazzi.

In the family history my great-grandmother and her sisters wrote about their parents, they said that once Ernesta emigrated from Italy to the United States, she never saw her sister again. To me, that implies that Ernesta and Angela had a strong and loving relationship, and not seeing her sister was hard on Ernesta.

Actually, Ernesta had four sisters: Angela Spiazzi, Emilia Spiazzi, Theresa Adelaide Armenia Bergamasco, and Adele Bergamasco.

I’ll start with Ernesta’s younger two sisters. Adele was the youngest, born 9 November 1886 in Moneglia, Genova, Liguria, Italy. I haven’t found a marriage or death record for her.

Theresa Adelaide Armenia was born 2 December 1878 in Moneglia and died 8 October 1881, not quite 3-years-old.

Ernesta’s oldest sisters are from their mother’s first marriage to Giacomo Spiazzi. I think the reason Angela, the second sister is mentioned in the family history, is because Emilia probably passed away before Ernesta. Emilia was born about 1866, perhaps in Sanremo. She married Alessandro Zanetti before 1887, and they had 4 children: Alfredo (abt 1887-1944), Ida Luigia (1889-1969), Arturo Giovanni (1891-????), and Adelina Giulia Maria (1895-????).

Alfredo emigrated to Santiago, Chile where he married Rosa Zúñiga Gonzalez in 1919 and had at least one child, Arturo Alfredo. Adelina married Luogo Giovanni Del Pio in 1924 in Milan. Ida married Bartolomeo Angelo Carlo Bado in 1918 in Genova, and it is her marriage record that specifies that her parents are deceased.

Angela was the only sister to out-live my great-great grandmother. She was born 23 June 1868 in Cogoleto, Genova, Liguria, Italy. She married Natale Giuseppe Chiapponi in 1889 in Moneglia. They had a son, Natale, in 1908. She died 9 January 1936 in Moneglia. I don’t know if Ernesta and her sister ever exchanged letters after Ernesta left Italy, but I sure would love to know if any of the sisters have living grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Italy and Chile!