January 20, 2010

Shaking the Tree - Adding zest to the names

Recently I did some genealogy research for a friend. She has Newfoundland and Nova Scotia ancestry, and I'm not very familiar with either location re what genealogy resources are available. It's been fun finding out what records each Province has, and where they are kept.

I already knew about the wonderful Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics online but had no idea what genealogy is available online for Newfoundland.

To my delight, I stumbled on Newfoundland Grand Banks website. Many happy hours later, I had a pretty good outline of my friend's ancestry back several generations, proven with census, parish records, burials and other online records.

But I had no meat! All I had were names and dates. I really wasn't sure how I would find more detail to flesh out the lives of even one of her distant ancestors, but decided to have a quick look at Ancestry.com I really didn't expect to find much since it was Newfoundland I was focusing on (and it didn't become a province of Canada until the 1940s). To my surprise I found my friend's great grandfather in 1927 on board a schooner sailing from Port Aux Basques Newfoundland to the harbour in New York. He was listed as one of a 6 man crew on the Schooner General Byng.

Of course I googled the schooner name and was excited to find photos of its construction in 1918 and of it sinking on the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. Even more amazing was a photo of the 6-man crew in the lifeboat being rescued when the schooner sank!

Then I found a small notice that the crew from the General Byng went on to another schooner which later was lost at sea on a return journey from Portugal to Newfoundland. The entire crew, including my friend's ancestor, were never found.

That little excerpt on a website led me to NewspaperARCHIVE.com where I spent some time searching for any instances of the General Byng or General Gough. To my surprise (and delight!) there were several stories over the years, including the story of the sinking of the General Byng and the loss of the General Gough.

I have put together everything I found for my friend's ancestors, including printouts of the newspaper pages. It's bound and ready for her to pick up and enjoy! I hope she likes the zest along with the names and dates, for me it's like icing on the cake.

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