Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Tale of Two Collingwoods

As a child, I was told that my great-great grandfather was born in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. Since I was born in the United States as was my mother, her father and her grandfather, Collingwood, Canada was just a name. I had no idea where Collingwood was except that it was in the Province of Ontario.
When I first started the research on my ancestors, I found some death records of descendants of some of my great-great grandfather's siblings in Collingwood, Simcoe County. I assumed that he was born in Collingwood, Simcoe County. Later I discovered via census images that his parents had settled in Collingwood Township. Grey County, Ontario.
It doesn't surprise me when I come across family trees that have him and some of his siblings born in the wrong Collingwood. However, last week I came across a record that did surprise me because the record was made about a cousin by herself.
In 1958, at age 65, Edith Victoria Schnack filled out a statement of birth form. She was living in Edmonton, Alberta at that time. I found voter registrations that place her in Edmonton by 1945. And I found information about a son, Keith Schnack, who born in Edmonton in 1929.
From the information that she wrote, it appears that she knew very little about her parents or of her own birth. I am a bit surprised that she didn't know more about her parents because she was 21 years old when her mother died and 20 when her father died.
She responded to many of the questions on the form with "no knowledge." I am not surprised that she didn't know how much she weighed at birth or how many weeks in duration her mother's pregnancy was before her mother gave birth to her. The thing that did surprise me was that she did not know how old her parents were when she was born.
Edith gave her birth name as Edith Victoria Weldric (sic), her father's name as George Weldric and her mother's name as Caroline Gardiner. I have no idea why she would record her mother’s name as Caroline because I found no records in which Ann Caroline Gardiner Weldrick is identified as Caroline. In the census records, she is found as Ann or Anna. The name on her gravestone and death register is Ann Caroline Gardiner.
Edith believes that she was born in Collingwood, Collingwood Twp., Simcoe County, Ontario at Collingwood Hospital. I think that she confused Collingwood Township with the town. The Collingwood in Simcoe County is in Nottawasaga Township. Collingwood Township is in Grey County. Collingwood the town and Collingwood the township are proximate to each other with Grey to the west of Simcoe. Grey County was established in 1852, taken from Simcoe County. Collingwood Township borders the Georgian Bay and the town of Collingwood sits on the bay.
Edith’s parents were living at Concession 9, Lot 11 in Collingwood Township, Grey County, Ontario in 1901. Between an 1880 map of Collingwood Township and a Google map of the Town of Blue Mountain (current name of Collingwood Twp.), I was able to find where the family lived in 1901. The farm was located between the village of Ravenna and the Red Wing post office. The town of Collingwood is a little more than 8 miles east of their farm.
Her parents were living in Collingwood Township in 1891, 1901 and 1911. According to the Death Register, George Weldrick died on May 4, 1915 at his home at Concession 9, Lot 11 in Collingwood Twp., Grey Co. Ann Caroline Gardiner Weldrick died in Ravenna. Both are buried in the Thornbury-Clarksburg Union Cemetery in Collingwood Twp. Since it appears that George and Ann lived their married life near Ravenna, I suspect that Edith has confused Collingwood Township with the town.
But I would normally assume that a person would know where he/she was born so I decided to see if I could find a birth record of her birth in Simcoe County. I simply did a search at for a female born on October 9, 1893 in Simcoe County. I found 3 names but none matched with her. Because the 1901 census recorded the date of her birth as October 9, 1894, I looked for her on that date. Again a few females were born in Simcoe County on that date but none matched her. Repeating the search, I looked for a female born in October of 1893 and in October of 1894. The searches returned more names but no matches.
Since Edith wrote on her statement of birth that she was born in Simcoe County, I wondered if she had tried to get a record of her birth from the wrong place and assumed that no record of her birth existed. At that point, I decided to look for a record around those dates in Grey County. Again, nothing matched. The next tactic I took was to look at each image in the birth register for Grey County in 1893 and 1894. A curious result occurred. Many of the images of the birth records were either a delayed birth record or a statement of birth.
I wonder what happened at that time that so many births were either not recorded in Grey County? Perhaps, the records were lost.

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