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Sunday, October 4, 2015

One Memory, My Best Genealogy Day, Well, One of the Best

Copyright 2015, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

DearMyrt and Randy Seaver are teaming up on me.  LOL  DearMYRTLE asked/begged us yesterday to write something on these blogs at least once a week.  And, last night, Randy, in his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge asked for Your Best Genealogy Day Ever.  OK, you two, I'll give it a shot.  Life has been crazy crazy, so, this surely will not be considered stellar blogging.  We can all live with that. 

Now, I have had a few great genealogy days, like the day that Man and I walked into two of the churches in Devonshire where his Lashbrook ancestors, married and baptized their babies.  Outstanding day.

Research trips where I break through a brick wall, everyone of those days were great.

However, I have decided to share this little story for one of my best genealogy days.

This was back in the dark ages of genealogy, when we actually did the majority of our research IN libraries and archives.  When we spun microfilm to find our ancestors in the census.

So, one day in the dark ages, research friends gathered at the Library of Michigan.  This day, I was on the hunt for one of Man's lines that originated in Canada.  In a previous research day, at the Westland FHC, someone handed me some film from York County, Ontario, Canada, and suggested I scroll/roll through it.  In an act of pure unexpected wonderfulness, I found the marriage record of Charles Clifford and Plutheria (or Phoebe with many spellings) Clifford.  Yes, Clifford to Clifford.  (And, yes, that day is also one of my best genealogical days, a record literally falling off the pages of the microfilm.)

So, at the Library of Michigan, I was going to attempt to find Mr. and Mrs. Clifford on the 1851 census.  When I looked up Whitby in a finding source, I found it is in the Durham area.  I believe what I did was pull the census for that district.  I scrolled and scrolled and found nothing.

At some point, as I was restless, and feeling cold in my research heart (I cannot explain this, it just happens sometimes, you just KNOW you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and you will not find your ancestors), I went back to some finding aids. I bounced around the library, gazetteers and the wonderful huge plat books from early Canada that show households, churches, just fun and wonderful things.  At some point, I realized that Whitby may actually be found in early Ontario County, Ontario, Canada.  You know, the town stays in one place, but the official civil hierarchy changes.

So, back to the plat books.  I literally sat on the floor in front of about 20 or more of these huge plat books.  I started pulling them off the shelves.  Nope, need Ontario County. I pulled several from the pile, not in order, say from left to right, just helter skelter.  When I finally found Ontario County, I started flipping through the book helter skelter, no plan, just this page and that.  But, in fairly quick order the book just literally fell open to the town of Whitby.  My helter skelter research just became a good approach.  It isn't always.  As we all know.  Better to have a plan.  This was no plan, it was just research angels leading me on.

OK now, lets get back to that census, but, let's pull Ontario County.  Back at the film reader, with the Ontario County film loaded I start spinning.  My heart started beating hard, I was getting physically quite warm.  I spun, my heart beat faster.  I spun more, I was starting to literally sweat.  I spun more and told my research friends, if I don't find them soon I may have a heart attack.

Spun 3 more pages.


There they are.  Mr. and Mrs. Charles and  Phebe L. Clifford. And, a Joseph Clifford, age 55, too.  I still all these years later have not figured out who Joseph is.  SIGH.  (Please note this image digitally edited for limited space.  It is not the full page.)

In the 1861 census, they are still living in Ontario County, I recorded in my data base the following:

1861 census for Oshawa, Ontario County, Ontario, Canada shows Charles Clifford (bottom of page 28), finisher, born UC (Upper Canada), Christian, age 32, living in a frame home.  On page 29, at the top, is the rest of his family: Phebe, born US, age 30, Christian; Ada, born US, age 6; Charles born UC, age 4; Letta, born UC, age 2; and Flora, born UC, age 1.

(That little girl Letta, would grow up some day to be Mans' great grandmother.)

After the 1861 census life for the Clifford clan would become confusing.  Those stories for another day.

Yes, that day in the Library of Michigan and the cold and hot feelings and the serendipity of opening books to the right page in a non-logical manner.  One of my best genealogical days.

* You can read a short history of Whitby, here, in Wikipedia.



Unknown said...

Do you supposed Joseph Clifford might be Phoebe's father or uncle? I notice that he also was born in the United States, so chances are good he is from Phoebe's side of the family.

Carol said...

Louise Hanson

That has always been my best educated wild guess. I just never have been able to jump it back to the USA. Some day I need to start that search again, new resources, maybe I'll find him.

Thanks for reading.

Kristin said...

I love finding things willy nilly like you describe.

Carol said...

It sure is fun Kristin, thanks for reading.