Sunday, February 5, 2017

More Digitized Mecklenburg Records — Positive and Negatives for this “Hidden” Resource Mecklenburg-Schwerin & Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche Original Church Books

My View

This post is the one that goes with my prior post Online Resources for Finding & Seeing the Parish for Villages in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. As I started this post I realized I had to write the other to explain how to get to this point.

I have had to wait quite a while to talk about a resource I found back in October 2016 bedside after a family member's planned hip-replacement surgery. The wait was partly because recovery and rehab were the priority and partly because I had to figure out the resource in order to use it myself.

What did I find?

Late last year I discovered that the Family History Library microfilms of the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche original church books were digitized, indexed and online at the website.

These are not the duplicate church books (which were created starting about 1876) that were digitized and placed online at several years ago. These are the original church books created at the time of the actual events that were microfilmed by the Family History Library (FHL) many years ago for use in Salt Lake City, Utah, or for rental use at local Family History Centers.

I have been waiting years for this to happen! Over the years I have rented over one hundred reels of Mecklenburg-Schwerin church records and my numerous paper copies sit in a file cabinet. I was not looking forward to scanning all those records so I could attach record images to the information already in my genealogy program. I have done a few so I know how long this would take to do them all. (Yes, these were found before microfilm scanners were invented.)

But my excitement back in October was dimmed that very night when it appeared the first parish I wanted to work with was not digitized. I say appeared because when I finally got some time a little over a month later to work with the collection holding these records I discovered the parish was there but finding it took some effort.

Family History Library Catalog entry
for Neukirchen.
For the last couple months, I have done a lot of exploring in the collection where these records sit. Because of the way handled parish location naming and the indexing, I realized that to find what I was looking for I had to compare the collection to what was recorded in the Family History Library Catalog – the keeper of the descriptive details for many years. Why? Because FHL Catalog descriptions are how most people who have used these records, know these records. And besides these are digital images of FHL microfilm. Doing this comparison allowed me to figure out exactly which microfilms reels were digitized and which parish I was looking at when dealing with some of the odd parish location names used in the collection.

So I surveyed each and every one of the 317 parishes listed for the region in the collection. I did this by looking at each digitized microfilm reel – the records type and year range listed under each parish as description. Viewing every 50 or 100 images in that online “reel” looking to see if that image was indexed and how it was indexed. Then keeping track of that information in a chart. Comparing and compiling this information has taken quite a while to do.

Here are my positive and negative thoughts regarding what I have found with this resource.

Digitized record images and a searchable index make up this resource.

The digitized record images (from Family History Library microfilm) are of the original Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche parish church books created at the time of the recorded events. This is the strongest POSITIVE I can find and say. They are digitized and online! That there is a searchable index is a POSITIVE BUT at the same time it is a NEGATIVE. Continue reading below.

An Ancestry World Explorer subscription (or whatever the all world access has been/is currently being called) or access to a library offering Ancestry Library Edition to its patrons is needed to see the actual record images.

Mecklenburg church records "hiding" in plain view.
Locating the whole Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche church book grouping is not so easy. First, it is not in its own "collection" as one would expect. It appears has decided to lump all the evangelical/protestant parish records no matter the state/province location into one massive collection. That collection is currently called Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1519-1969.

For the accessible German church records being acquired, now seems to be putting them into overall collections based on religion type rather than location/province as was previously done. This could be a POSITIVE with one stop searching BUT without the ability to limit a search’s results definitively to one specific province the idea fails and becomes a NEGATIVE for those that know which state/province the person they are seeking originated. If you know where someone is you want to focus your search just on that location instead of having to deal with extemporaneous static of where he or she is not.

The collection's organization.
Personally, I think too many inexperienced researchers will likely make bad assumptions because they are not familiar with the localities that make up Germany of the past and attach themselves to the wrong ancestor. For example, a Karl Kruger born in one province, married in a second province and having children in multiple provinces in short time-period is more likely two or more different Karl Krugers rather than one guy. I have seen trees like this out there, they are not pretty. This massive collection may likely lead to more of these types of trees.

Organization of the Online Records
The collection's organization.
The Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1519-1969 collection is organized first by the records being from protestant churches, usually Evangelische churches. Secondly, this collection is organized by “Historic Region” which are the historical states/provinces in Germany or areas of former Germany. Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche parishes are listed together under Mecklenburg. (Other historical regions in the collection are: Baden, Bayern, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Hannover, Hessen, Lübeck, Military, Not Stated, Oldenburg, OstPreussen, Pommern, Posen, Reuss Linie, Sachsen, Schlesien, Schleswig-Holstein, Schwarzburg, West Preussen, Westfalen, and Württemberg. Each region varies in completeness of parishes included.)

The third level of organization, under each Historic Region, is “City or District” which is most often the location name that is the village/city where a parish/church was located. Lastly, under each “City or District” is the “Description” which gives a general description of what type and what time frame the records cover. Those description divisions are actually based on Family History Library microfilm reels. Though no mention of the microfilm number is given you can actually see them once you click on a description to move to the image viewer. That seven digit number captured at the beginning of each description’s record images in the FHL microfilm reel number.

The FHL microfilm reel number, 0069388,
with the two leading zeros missing.
For the Mecklenburg region, “City or District” is where failed. Of the 317 parish locations listed in the Mecklenburg region, 146 of them have what I would call wrong or misleading names. A NEGATIVE in my view. This is digitized FHL microfilm and the established description of each microfilm comes from the Family History Library Catalog which clearly identifies what parish each microfilm covers and failed to follow/use it. It doesn’t look like they tried to establish a new naming system instead it looks like no one had familiarity with the records.

For example, lists a City or District of Zachow but in reality the three digitized microfilms (descriptions) for that “City or District” of Zachow are of the church books for the Evangelische Kirche Ballwitz parish. Zachow is just one of several villages that the parish of Ballwitz serves. In fact Zachow is also served by another parish in Wanzka which itself is hidden under another misleading “City or District” location labeled “Mecklenburg” which seems to contain digitized records of several separate parishes under it. In my view if they followed the FHL descriptions, Ballwitz and Wanzka would be “City or District” locations not Zachow. Yes, Zachow does have a physical church in the village but it’s church books, if it had its own set, were not microfilmed by the FHL.

A view of Zachow in my Comparison Chart which is still in progress.
Red type is wrong/misleading and orange type see this item.
Remember I said I was disappointed that night I discovered the original Mecklenburg-Schwerin church books were digitized? That parish I wanted to start with but could not initially find was Neukirchen. I eventually found it listed as “Bützow u Neukirchen” which was not what I was expecting. Bützow is just the Amtsgericht (AG) or local court jurisdiction to which Neukirchen belongs. The church that these particular microfilmed records belong to is physically in Neukirchen – I know because I have been there. A novice researcher is likely not going to figure out this misleading naming situation.

A view of Neukirchen in my Comparison Chart which is still in progress.
Red type is wrong/misleading and green type is my notes/comments.
To better aid everyone, my view is that should check the organization structure of this grouping in the Germany,Lutheran collection and then rename and reorganize where needed.

Search Field Setup
I hope everyone realizes that if you perform a search from the homepage or main Search All Collections page that the search fields are just generic meaning they are the ones you will likely find in most of the database collections. But if you search each specific database collection individually you gain access to search fields specific to, or specialized for, that database collection.
Search from the home page.

The database specific search.
For the Germany, Lutheran collection the specialized search fields available are: Parish as it Appears, Page Number, Legitimacy, Event Type (Beerdigung, Geburt, Heirat, Sterbefall, Taufe), and Author. At least a few of the specialized fields should help you narrow your search results.

Of the choices, Parish as it Appears, Author and the generic Location search fields have a chance to usefully narrow your search results to a specific parish/location.

As I pointed out above, one specialized search field that should be there, is not there. With a massive collection like Germany, Lutheran collection, a “Historic Region” search field should really be there to help you focus your search to just one region like Mecklenburg. Without it the “static” can weaken your search results and just waste your time.

Another specialized search field that would have been helpful is FHL microfilm reel number. The vast majority of FHL microfilm containing the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche church records only contain record images from one parish. There may be multiple books on that microfilm but they are all from the same parish. This would have been a pretty helpful search field option, especially for experienced researchers of German ancestors.

For more about the usability of these specialized search fields read more below.

Image Quality
One POSITIVE is that I failed to find a poorly digitized record image. I know some of these actual FHL microfilms had film exposures that were very dark or very light (at least the ones rented out to local Family History Centers) so I am happy to see that someone was paying attention to how the film scanners were performing. If you are downloading record images to your computer/device be aware that most church books were microfilmed two pages up (left/right) in one image so you will get a downloaded image containing both the left and right pages. If you want only the page where your record sits, then you will have to use image editing software to crop the record image.

Searchable Index
So what about the usability of the searchable index? This is where the NEGATIVE comes into play that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You need to be aware of several caveats when you are using the searchable index. Here are my caveats:

1. Not every record is indexed. If you are unaware of this, then you will assume your people are not in the collection when they actually might be there – just not indexed. I am not sure what were the indexing guidelines for this historical region of Mecklenburg. Most of what was skipped seems to be confirmation records but then I have seen some indexed. Also, more very, early records are indexed than what I expected to find considering the penmanship at the time. And as you can guess if the Schrift/handwriting was really bad that section was not indexed.

2. The records are not indexed the same way from parish to parish. For example, there is a search field called “Parish as it Appears” which one would think would be an excellent field to use to limit search results to just one specific parish. But nothing was indexed into this field for a lot of parishes even when there could have been. In some cases, this field is filled in for only some of a specific parish’s indexed records. Also for those parishes that do have entries in Parish as it Appears, what was entered can vary for a specific parish eliminating the ability to use the field to narrow your search to a specific parish. But some of the entries just do not make sense because they refer to the book type or something else altogether rather than which parish it is. For example, for the Badendiek parish the following various entries were made in the “Parish as it Appears” field: “Badendiecker” or “Sippenkanzlei” or “Kirch” or “Band” or “Bndendiek.” Thus there is no way to use the field for narrowing to a specific parish in one search. Some other oddities to be found in this particular field are: “Register,” “Evangelical Lutheran,” “Salt Lake,” and “Auffgerinptet von Gabrid Brand” none of which describe which parish.
A view of Badendiek in my Comparison Chart which is still in progress.

3. The quality of the index is of grade C or B- grade work in my opinion. The indexers either did not know the language or were for a large part unfamiliar with the old style of German writing called Schrift. (It is a very angular writing because it was done with a cut quill or fountain pen on rough paper/vellum.) Some of this might have been smoothed out with a quality check by those experienced with the language and the Schrift but that apparently was not done. (I know it is hard to find persons who can read Schrift.) Some record entries have no name entered or just a first name. Some records were not read correctly by indexers so I have seen capital O read as capital D, the long s read as an f, a capital P read as a capital G, etc.

Some recorded surnames have an extra –in ending which actually just means this is a female. That extra -in was indexed when that part of the name should have been ignored. For example, if you see Anna Sophia Zimmermannin in a record, it should be indexed or transcribed as Anna Sophia Zimmermann. The -in at the end is not part of the surname it just points out this is a female. Yes, sometimes a surname does end with -in but an experienced or informed person has learned about this ending possibility and knows to keep an eye out for it.

Additionally, Schrift handwriting has a other shorthand features. It appears many indexers were unaware of this. So if the surname you seek ends with –er, such has Schumacher, you are also going to want to search for Schumach to catch those entries that were written with shorthand that indexers failed to catch. Or perform a wild card search – Schumach* – to catch both at the same time. A similar search process will have to be done for surnames ending with -en.

4. The location search field is problematic. As far as locations, this collection was not indexed using’s “standardized” location wordings. So the exact search on an event location seems to not work every time. (Even when you know the specific wording that was used.) For example, in this collection one location is indexed as “Behren u Lübchin, Mecklenburg, Deutschland (Germany)” while the standardized form is “Behren-Lubchin, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany” so entering the one with exact search won’t find the other. That can be frustrating. At least in this case, Lubchin is unique and can be used to narrow results.

Also with locations, some indexers must have got lost, confused or bored. There are numerous parishes that have “Salt Lake, Mecklenburg, Deutschland” entered as the event location instead of the correct event location. For a few parishes this Salt Lake location is the only location given while other parishes have a mixture of the proper location and this made-up location. Other location oddities I have seen are: “Mecklenburg, Mecklenburg, Deutschland” for locations that are not the village of Mecklenburg; and “Landeskirche, Mecklenburg, Deutschland.” If a researcher does a search using the expected parish location those records in that parish with the mis-identified event locations are not going to show up in the results.

5. Actual birth and death locations were not extracted. We have all hopefully learned the importance of finding an ancestor’s village of origin. Unfortunately with this collection that is not going to help find your ancestor if you already know the village. When indexing the baptism (Taufe) records where birth location can be found (the parent’s place of residence) in the record that information was skipped in most cases. What was indexed, besides the names of the child, mother and father, is the birth date if given, baptism date, and baptism location which is usually is the location of the church. (See caveat number 4.) Because there are no search fields for baptism date and location, you will have to try using the date and location for Any Event or the Keyword search field. I can tell you I have had problems using both Any Event Location and Keyword because the standardized location wordings were not used.
Bottom of image: What is indexed for the first baptism
on the left-hand page. (Left side of extracted text.)

Bottom of image: What is indexed for the first baptism
on the left-hand page. (Right side of extracted text.)
A related item to point out is that the Sterbefall (death) events also are recorded with the parish location rather than the place of residence which was skipped in indexing. I really think people are more likely to have died in the village of residence not the church location unless they lived there.

Just to review the type of events: Beerdigung (burial) events have the burial date and location indexed but not usually the death information. The Sterbefall (death) events have the death date and location indexed but usually not the burial information. The Geburt (birth) events that are in the searchable index have the birth date and location indexed but usually not the baptism information. The Taufe (baptism) have the baptism date and location but usually not the birth location information. The Heirat (marriage) have the marriage date and location indexed. Remember these locations given are still usually the parish location not the place of residence.

6. The Author search field is problematic. Despite having numerous wrong or misleading parish locations for the “City or District” hierarchy, the entries for the Author search field were usually entered correctly meaning they match the FHL catalog entry names for the parishes. So for that “City or District” misleadingly labeled “Bützow u Neukirchen” when you look at a search result detail from there you find the Author is given as “Evangelische Kirche Neukirchen (AG Bützow)” in the field which does match the FHL Catalog entry.

While exact search works on “Evangelische Kirche Neukirchen (AG Bützow) bringing back 35,358 matches, if you to simply put in “Neukirchen” or “Evangelische Kirche Neukirchen” and do exact search these entries bring back 51,705 matches. Why? There is a parish of that name in Schleswig-Holstein but it’s AG carries a different name. (And remember these matches are only to records that have been indexed and not all records have been indexed yet.)

In another case putting in the Author entry exactly how it appears when viewing details of a match, “Evangelische Kirche. Stiftskirche Bützow (Mecklenburg-Schwerin)” and using exact search actually brings back zero matches. Doing an exact search on just “Evangelische Kirche. Stiftskirche Bützow” results in 51,525 matches. Go figure.

If the parish location name is unique you may be able to do an exact match just on that location name in either the Author field or appropriate Location field. But if that location name is also in the name of an Amtsgericht (AG) the search results will come back with all parishes in the AG not just the single parish you sought.

As you can probably see, it is going to take some finagling to get the search results you desire to appear.

Source Citations
While having the Mecklenburg church records grouped into a larger collection might benefit a few researchers while searching, one NEGATIVE trade-off is that the source citation created during web search records merge in Family Tree Maker is very, very generic. Yes it cites the specific database collection but source citations for other database collections (like the U.S. Federal Census) also go on to cite (… citing …) the record collection that the database was created from thereby recording for the researcher and future researchers a more thorough source citation.

Result: a generic source citation.

No citation specifics given.
To rectify the automatic source citation, you will have to go into each source citation detail and manually enter additional information (citing …) using the information in the FHL catalog for the particular parish a record originated. Of course, for those records that are not indexed yet you will have to manually add all the source citation information. (Hopefully you can find one record that is indexed and then build the citations for your manually added records off of the one source automatically made by Family Tree Maker.)

Manually added citation details.

U.S. Federal Census source info.

A detailed web search merge citation.

In Summary …
Searching for your ancestor in this Germany, Lutheran collection is going to be problematic with the limitations of the search fields themselves and the incomplete and not so great indexing. If you are not finding your ancestor but you know which parish they should be in (see my earlier post on finding and seeing the village and parish) then manually browse the digitized records for that parish. And do compare what is currently digitized and listed in the description level with the FHL’s catalog entry for that parish to confirm if all available microfilm reels for that parish are currently digitized or not.

Though I have pointed out there are a lot of negatives to deal with, I really am very happy these records were finally digitized from the FHL microfilm. The only thing better would have been full-color digital images of the actual original church books which sit in the Evangelische Archives.

POSITIVES: the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche parish church records have been digitized and are online!

NEGATIVES: Researcher beware of the faulty organization and incomplete/not so good searchable index.

Good Luck finding your ancestors!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Online Resources for Finding & Seeing the Parish for Villages in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany

Amazingly I have not written much of anything about German research on this blog despite a conservative estimate that over 75 percent of my ancestry is made up of ancestors from the old province of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. This post and the next post (which prompted this post) will resolve that omission.

We descendants of ancestors from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and to some extent Mecklenburg-Strelitz, have had it pretty easy when it comes to researching German ancestors. The key genealogy resource for German research — church records — are pretty much complete with little record loss for this area compared to other provinces/states of Germany. These wonderful records were also microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS/Mormons) and have been available for rental at local LDS Family History Centers for many, many years. Another key genealogy resource — census — also exists for Mecklenburg-Schwerin (numerous years) and has been available through Family History Library (FHL) microfilm rental too.

The only down side we have had is that they are not universally indexed and they were written in chicken-scratch … er, I mean, Schrift which is that angular writing form done by quill and ink.

Because of this availability I am blessed to say I have most of my Mecklenburg-Schwerin lines back to the early 1700s or 1600s when the Evangelisch church books begin.

But how did I get to that point?

Well back then the internet was just a baby and nothing like it is now so the steps I took had to be done at a library with a good genealogy collection or onsite at a needed location like a church. Flash forward to today and quite a few of these steps can now be done online but not necessarily all of them.

Before you begin researching a new-to-you area/topic, read up on that area/topic. You can learn quite a bit online but sometimes a book on the subject helps too. With German research you have to understand a few things. Germany did not exist as Germany until 1871; before getting together it was a bunch of localities operating in a variety of ways. The Germany of today is much smaller so much of yesterday’s Germany is now part of neighboring countries. Because of all this I think you can guess that records are not centralized. Most records are kept locally or regionally not nationally so that is what makes the first step so important.

1. Determine the village from which your ancestor originated.

Because records are not centralized and not every village has a church, you need to know the village and the province/state of Germany/former Germany to find the church parish your ancestor attended — I call this The Gold Key Information.

Where do you find the Gold Key? It may be in your or your extended family’s papers/photos, in an older relative’s memory, in the church records your ancestor attended, in later naturalization records, on a tombstone, in an obituary or anniversary item in the newspaper, in civil vital records, in published genealogies/local histories, in military records, in homestead papers, in club/organization memberships, etc. Do not just search your direct ancestor. Sometimes the collateral relatives are the ones with the answer you seek rather than your direct ancestors. And don't forget to check out those "family friends" because a lot of times they turn out to be some sort of relatives.

But sometimes you don’t find the Gold Key on this side of the ocean. In that case gather up what I call The Silver Key Information. It is the very least you need to know to find your ancestor in emigration/immigration records which may lead to the Gold Key.

The Silver Key Information is:
  • Original name(s) of ancestor(s)
    • As much as possible even nicknames
  • Approximate age at arrival/departure
    • As much of the birth date possible
  • State/Province of "Germany"
    • It’s a big place and it helps to be looking in the right state; and sometimes there is more than one place with the same name
  • Approximate date of arrival
    • A year or range of years from your clues

This Silver Key Information will help you identify your ancestor(s) in the passenger ship lists. With the passenger lists you work backwards starting with the arrival list and ending with the departure list if one still exists. And in most cases you are going to want to cross your fingers that your ancestor departed Germany using the port of Hamburg. Why? It is the port where the most records have survived and the Hamburg Passenger Departure Lists asked where did you last reside. While this isn’t always the birth place, it more often than not leads you in that direction.

This is the step that can sometimes be done online but not always. Not everything is digitized and not everything is on the internet. You may still need to visit a location in person or write a letter requesting information if you can not visit in person.

If you don't find the Gold key directly or by using the Silver Key information in passenger lists, depending on the area and time frame you are dealing with you might be able to use the Silver Key information (and the family dynamics you have figured out) to find your ancestors in other types of records from Germany/former Germany that have been digitized and indexed. (For example census or permission to emigrate documents.)

So assuming you have your Gold Key — the village and state/province your ancestor came from — it is time to move to the next step.

2. Use a parish/church guide to determine the correct location of the parish for your ancestor's village.

Mecklenburg Parish Guide

This step involves using a church parish guide or gazetteer that lists the parish locations for the village in the province/state your ancestor originated. I’m going to use Mecklenburg-Schwerin for the following examples. For other areas of Germany/former Germany the resources will be similar but carry different names.

Mecklenburg Parish Guide Detail
Belitz, Groß
 — Neukirchen
Back before the internet, the resource to use for Mecklenburg-Schwerin was on FHL microfiche # 60000834 which contains The Mecklenburgs familiengeschichtliche Quellen, by C.A. Engler and Edm. Albrecht, (Hamburg: 1936.) It is part of the grouping of microfiche that all Family History Centers start with so the plus was that you did not have to rent it. But the book is printed in Blackletter font/type making it a challenge to read for some and you have to visit a local FHC to view the microfiche. Essentially you would look up the name of your village and the parish location for that village was listed after the dash. If there was no dash and other location then that village had the church. So for Gross Belitz you would find it listed as "Belitz, Gross" and the Quellen indicates that the parish for the village is Neukirchen.

For many years now, that same information has been on the internet in various forms on various websites. The one place it has not disappeared from is the website of the Verein fur mecklenburgische Familien- und Personen-geschichte e. V. which is the association for Mecklenburg family and personal history. The group has taken the information from the Mecklenburgs Quellen, made additions and corrections to it and then put the information into a free searchable database called Orte in Mecklenburg or Ortsdatenback. While the site is in German there is a translate button for the pages but I suggest switching back to German so when you do a search you see the location name untranslated rather than translated into English. For example “Gross Belitz” which appears as “Belitz, Gross” in the database will appear as “Belitz, United” when the page is viewed with the English translation on.

To find similar guides for other areas of Germany look in the FamilySearch catalog for that state/province under the “church records — Inventories, registers, catalogs.”

Sometimes the guides will simply tell you the parish, like above, but other times the book will be more of a gazetteer. For the various provinces making up the Kingdom of Prussia, the main resource to find the parish is a gazetteer called Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen, 1905. The multi-volume set is on FHL microfilm but has since been digitized and can be viewed at the website. The latest Ancestry title for the collection is Prussia, Municipality Gazetteer, 1905. While you can perform a search, I find it easier to manually view the volume you need. About five pages/images in is a Contents page listing the various Kreis (like a county) for that volume's province/state with the page number that Kreis starts on. At the back of each volume is an alphabetical listing of the villages which refer you to a Kreis number and location list number rather than a page number. The volumes are printed in Blackletter font/type as is the usual case with German printed material.

In more recent years, a new series of books has come out called Map Guide to German Parish Registers. There is a volume (sometimes more than one) for each province in Germany. There is an index in each book which tells you what page to look at for Evangelical and Catholic parishes for each village/location. This information is presented by Amtsgericht with an outline area map (no location dots) and the beginning/first FHL microfilm number for the parish if the church books were microfilmed by the LDS. There are currently 56 volumes published so far with more planned covering the free cities. You may find this book series at libraries with large/good genealogy collections, more likely in areas that had a lot of early German immigrants settle there.

3. View your village and parish location on a map.

The Mecklenburg
Genealogical Handbook

Usually once you know the village and the parish you want to see these places on a map. That was not so easy a while back. One printed resource, The Mecklenburg Genealogical Handbook by Charles Hall, contains detailed maps and a list of parishes on FHL microfilm. Hall wrote similar guides for other provinces of Germany under the Bridge Across the Atlantic series. The format of the volumes varied. Some listed Family History Library microfilm available for parishes, some just the villages in the provinces and some had detailed maps but not all.

List of microfilmed Parishes
in Mecklenburg Handbook
Detailed map in Mecklenburg Handbook
for area around Gross Belitz

Detailed Road Atlases of Germany
Finding a detailed map (the older the better) took some effort. For a very detailed modern map there is the ADAC driving atlas for Germany or a similar driving atlas by Hammond, or Michelen folded-maps covering Germany by regions. For areas of former Germany you would seek a map for the present-day country but the map will list locations in the country's current language.
Detail of ADAC road atlas
for area aroundGross Belitz
Detail of Hammond road atlas
for area around Gross Belitz

Google Map of same example area.
Note: Gross Belitz does not appear.

In this internet age, we are more likely to turn to Google Maps or similar website with detailed maps. A lot of times this may work but not all very small villages will show up. And since these are modern maps, locations may have altered their names. A lot of communities in Germany are coming together to share services and sometimes the communities are altering their names a bit so they may show up differently on a map now.

My favorite maps are still my ADAC driving atlas picked up in Schwerin in 2000 and a Hammond Atlas of Germany from 2010 picked up by chance at Barnes and Noble bookstore.

But I really like seeing the topographical and extremely detailed, older maps of Germany – the ones where you can see and count the buildings in a village.

German Maps at BYU Library
My favorite place to locate these is the Brigham Young University Library’s digitized German Maps (Togographische Karte 1:25,000) collection. The 3,000 plus maps cover all of Germany with some of Poland and were printed between the 1930s and 1950s. Though you can do an online search for a location only the locations used to label each map sheet are indexed. So there is a four volume gazetteer (actually located on Internet Archive) divided by former West Germany and East Germany which will help you locate on which map sheet your village/parish sits. Then take that map sheet number and do a search for that sheet number in the German Maps collection. Some maps are color and some are black and white but all are detailed … and free.
Topographical detailed map of same example area

4. Knowing the parish location, see if church records are available.

After you know the parish for your village then you have to figure out if the church books were microfilmed; microfilmed and now digitized online; or just digitized and online.

Years ago that meant visiting a local Family History Center to view the Family History Library catalog and then renting microfilm when available for a parish. (When I began there was a computer database catalog but it originally was on microfiche I believe.) Now you just have to search a few places online to learn if records are accessible. Some may be digitized and accessed for free or for a fee. Some may still need to be rented on microfilm.

Look for German parish church books at the:

  • website
    free online, cost to rent microfilm/microfiche
    Under Records, search the catalog using your found parish location and look under church records to see if any were microfilmed. If the microfilm has been digitized by the LDS, the catalog should tell you and have a link to the digitized film. If the microfilm is not digitized at FamilySearch you might have to rent it if it is not digitized on another website. You can also look under Records, browse the record collection by location to see for yourself if church records for your parish location have been digitized
  • website
    pay subscription website, many libraries have Ancestry Library Edition subscriptions for patrons to use
    Search the various collections under Germany overall and under the province you need to see if any church records were digitized. has other agreements besides the one with FamilySearch to digitize records. If your location is in former Germany, also search under the modern-day country for your location. (Keep an eye out for my next post. It is about something I found on back in October 2016.)
  • (the Evangelical Church Book portal website)
    pay/subscription site started in 2015 which went live in 2016
    Browse by participating church archive to see if any church books have been digitized or will be digitized for your location. The website is mainly in German with some English translated pages. Parish locations (or individual books) that are currently digitized are shaded in green. They are not necessarily all indexed yet. 

For areas of former Germany that are now Poland, some Polish Archives are digitizing the church records they hold and are putting them on their websites.

If the church books for your location are not available, you will likely have to write a letter (or sometimes an email) in German to the pastor of that parish asking if your ancestor appears in the church books, or you may have to hire a local researcher in Germany. Depending on the area of Germany, the church books could still be with the church or at a regional archive. But there is a chance the records may be lost/destroyed.

There are so many other details that I could cover but my goal with this post was to cover how to find a church parish and see it on a map so that I could simply cover the topic I wanted to write in the first place.  And that will be the next blog post.

©2017 All Rights Reserved, GoneResearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

“Blaine Day” at Archives of Michigan

For over a month I have been helping a family member prepare and recover from a hip replacement surgery so genealogy time has been almost null. But an opportunity arose which I am thankful I was able to attend thanks to a family member covering for me.

Blaine Bettinger at the Fall Family History Event
Yesterday was the Michigan Genealogical Council and Archives of Michigan's Fall Family History Event in Lansing. It was titled, "A Day with Blaine Bettinger."

Or in my words, "Blaine Day." A day packed with four — yes four! — presentations by Blaine Bettinger on various DNA topics.

With a start time of 9:15 a.m., this meant getting up before the chickens, scraping the first frost off the windshield, and driving "an hour and a half" to arrive in time for the 8:30 a.m. start of registration. Thankfully the weather other than a bit cold was great for driving and traffic was strangely light despite game day while the sun raced up in the rear-view mirror. I arrived with plenty of time to spare.

The event seemed to be well organized (even with a good couple handfuls of early arrivals) and from the morning announcements this was the largest attendance they had in the 12 years of hosting this event.

The Archives of Michigan
(and Library of Michigan) in Lansing, Michigan.
Another morning announcement was regarding the digitization and indexing of the naturalization records for the 70 Michigan counties that the Archives of Michigan has in its collection. The images will eventually be at the AOM's website. There will also be an index to the collection on the SeekingMichigan website and at the website. They are not announcing a timeline for the project. (Remember Michigan Death Certificate anticipation?) And since the index will be done by volunteers aka us the genealogy public, when it gets done depends on our participation. The Archives of Michigan staff is working on obtaining the naturalization records from the remaining Michigan counties that have not turned their records over to the archives.

Now as for "Blaine Day" which ran from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., the Forum auditorium was pretty much packed all day with a bit less attendance at the last of the four presentations. Bettinger's presentations were:
  • Using Y-DNA and mtDNA to Explore Your Ancestry
  • Using Autosomal DNA to Explore Your Ancestry
  • Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA
  • DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard

I thought each presentation was really good. Bettinger covered enough of the basics that the DNA uninitiated could understand the concepts but also enough of the technical end that intermediates had something too. The handouts, which were sent out via email a day before the event, were informative following the main points of each presentation but not every detail. One handout was not in the order of how it was presented but it was easy enough to follow along. Bettinger also made time to answer questions after each presentation which was great because there were a lot of questions.

Couldn't make it to yesterday's Family History Event? Much of the content in the presentations also seems to be covered in Bettinger's new book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. I bought a copy (along with another copy for a cousin too) about a month or so ago and I'm slowly reading it. It's not a hard read, it actually explains concepts very clearly, I have just been so busy and tired it is taking me longer than normal to read things.

So if you get a chance to see Bettinger speak or hear him via a webinar, do try to do so. I don't think you will be disappointed.

The drive home was just as pleasant. Towards the end the big moon was visible ahead of me as the sun was going down behind me. I arrived home in the driveway just as darkness fell.

Blaine Day aka a DNA Day for me was a good day. And as I learned upon getting on the internet after dinner, November 12th was also the day Family Tree DNA released its Ancient European Origins feature on it Family Finder tests. It was interesting seeing FTDNA's estimates of how much Metal Age Invader, Farmer, Hunter-Gatherer and Non-European DNA we are still carrying in our DNA. I don't think it will be of much use, but it is interesting.

©2016 All Rights Reserved, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Couple Birthdays Simply Remembered

October 7, 2016

Happy Birthday (164th) second great grandmother Sarah Eliza Vincent and (81st) D.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Library and Archives Canada Website to be Down/Unavailable Sept. 30 to Oct. 1

I just noticed late tonight (Sept. 23) that the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has announced that there will be "an interruption of computing services" from Friday, Sept. 30, at about 9 p.m. to Saturday, Oct. 1, at about 5 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Saturday, October 1, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (EDT) the following services will be unavailable:

  • Searches in the Theses Collection
  • Canadian ISBN Service System - CISS
  • Electronic Publication Pilot Project - EPPP
  • Public Opinion Research Reports - PORR
  • Images display services for specialized collections
  • The LAC Electronic Library Collection affecting access to these digital collections:
  • E-Collection (electronic documents collected under Legal Deposit)
  • Royal Commissions
  • Commissions of Inquiry
  • Weekly Checklist of Canadian Government Publications
  • PS8000

I am not sure how this will exactly impact us as genealogists so just be aware that you may run into an outage if you use the website during this time period.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

LAC Websites to be Down/Unavailable Sept. 9 to 11

I just noticed late last night (Aug. 30) that the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) has announced that there will be "a major interruption of computing services" from Friday, Sept. 9, at about 11 p.m. to Sunday, Sept. 11, at about 12 p.m. (Eastern Time)

LAC websites will be down and unavailable during that time.

I have noticed that the sites have been really slow for the past few weeks. Hopefully they have identified the problem and will be able to implement a smooth fix that weekend.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Part Four (the Last): Searching for Land Patents in Upper Canada ... It's Not All Online Yet

After the last post on Upper Canada land records (April 30th) we had a family emergency. Thankfully it is resolving itself but it has been very slow. As a result this post took a lot longer than expected. I have written and re-written, organized and reorganized trying to decide the best way I want to present this look at the process of searching for Upper Canada Land Patents.

This is long, and maybe I should have split it up, but I wanted the information all in one place.

First, let's take a look at a few background facts that can be found in various sources.

  • 1763  New France (Quebec) including present-day Ontario becomes a colony of Britain (Treaty of Paris of 1763) 
  • 1775 – 1783  American Revolutionary War 
  • 1783  The Treaty of Separation (Treaty of Paris of 1783, signed 3 Sept. 1783 and effective 12 May 1784) officially ends the Revolutionary War between Great Britain and its former colony, The United States of America. Loyalist refugees and British soldiers migrate to Nova Scotia and Quebec 
  • 1783 – 1784  Loyalists and soldiers migrate to and spread into western Quebec (now Ontario) 
  • 1788  Western Quebec (now Ontario) is divided into four land districts and the land boards were formed 
  • 1789  Unity of Empire (UE) designation and privileges for Loyalist settlers created by Lord Dorchester. (The Treaty of Separation is an important time point for who qualifies as UEL.) 
  • 1791  Quebec is divided into Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Quebec) 
  • 1792  The four land districts are renamed 
  • 1798  By now there are eight land districts 
  • 1802  Col. Thomas Talbot petitions for land grant and becomes a land promotor establishing The Talbot Tract (in present-day counties of Norfolk, Elgin, Middlesex, Kent and Essex) 
  • 1803  Clergy Reserve land leasing finally occurs 
  • 1812 – 1814  Britain and the United States go to war (War of 1812) 
  • 1819  Grants to 1812 War veterans authorized 
  • 1819  Clergy Corporation formed to manage Clergy Reserves 
  • 1823  Peter Robinson emigrants from Ireland begin to settle Lanark and Peterborough counties 
  • 1824  The Canada Land Company incorporates to colonize the Huron Tract and Crown Reserve Lands 
  • 1826  By now there are eleven land districts 
  • 1827  Free land grants stopped to all but military and loyalist claimants; open land market begins 
  • 1837  Upper Canada Rebellion 
  • 1838  By now there are twenty-six land districts 
  • 1841  Name change again -- Upper Canada becomes Canada West and Lower Canada becomes Canada East 
  • 1849  The district system (in what is now Southern Ontario) is abolished for county administration 
  • 1867  Canada West becomes Ontario

This timeline is far from complete but I hope it illustrates that when doing land research it is necessary to understand the history of the land you are researching. Knowing some history and using old maps/diagrams are essential to understanding where your ancestor settled (and sometimes why) and keeping places straight (maybe Grandpa didn't move but the place name changed.)

So now let's look at the process of seeking a land patent and the documents that exist for us to search.

Did you only do a simple check of an index, such as the Ontario Land Record Index or the Upper Canada Land Index? Stopping at an index match does not guarantee that match is your ancestor. Stopping when you find no index match does not mean your ancestor did not try to get land. Are you aware of which record collections are included in a particular index? A rejected petition leaves a smaller paper trail (no entries further in the process -- no patent) but a rejected petition likely contains similar information to those that were recommended to receive land.

Did you just look at a Land Patent Plan? Finding a name and a year on a "map" does not tell you the details.

Did you only look for a Land Petition? A petition was just the first step in the process and even though it may contain a lot of the "goodies" we seek, we may not know for sure if that individual received a recommendation/order for a land grant (and where); if fees/obligations were needed and completed to receive the patent (ownership) of the land; or if the petition was later dismissed. Additionally, if a petition has been lost in time evidence may exist in other documents that a patent was obtained.

As you can see there are lots of details that can be missed if you do not do thorough research.

Let us be clear, we are looking at the process of an individual obtaining land from the Crown government not land transactions from person to person that happened later. For detailed explanations of the process of obtaining a land patent read the various help guides and resources listed at the end of this post. Though I've structured this post to follow the petition process, my goal is to organize online (and offline) record collections that I know of in one hopefully useful place.

Normal research usually starts with an index and moves to a record. But with multiple steps there can be multiple indexes and associated records. Stopping too soon or not realizing there is more can leave you with less of your ancestor's story.

As with many records where you begin in the process often is dependent on what you know of your ancestor, what you know of where he/she settled, and what resources are accessible to you. With some of these particular steps going online, especially with electronic indexes, I think the research flow will alter/shift to doing the steps available online first and then hopefully the "offline" steps will be tackled. And hopefully more of these documents are digitized and put online.

Here's my simplified look at the multi-step process of obtaining a land patent in Upper Canada and the documents created that we now seek out. As you can see some of these steps can be done online and some must still be done onsite.

The process started with an individual making a request for land in writing stating who they are and why they deserve land. Known as a Land Petition.

These individuals were not just Loyalists and Military men. Different regulations were passed over the years to entice a variety of people to settle this wilderness. Petitions most often are for grants of land for a Land Patent but you will also see requests for leases of land. Also, there were land sales/leases by private entities like the Canada Company, Peter Robinson, Thomas Talbot which may have resulted in other records in other collections.

The main collection known for land petitions is the Upper Canada Land Petitions which has been digitized and electronically indexed by the Library and Archives of Canada. But petitions can be found in a variety of collections like the Upper Canada Sundries which are included in that online index to the Upper Canada Land Petitions.

Before the online index, there were two main indexes to look at for land petitions. The first is Finding Aid MSS1802 commonly called the Upper Canada Land Index. It consists to two card index sets which not only indexes the petitions but also the Land Books (to be mentioned below.) The microfilms of this finding aid have been digitized and can be searched manually.

The second index is the Ontario Land Record Index (OLRI) by the Archives of Ontario on microfiche. The OLRI only indexes part of the land petitions but also indexes some land related material in the Canada Company and Peter Robinson fonds. There are two versions: alphabetical index by settler's surname and alphabetical index by township. The OLRI is available at the Archives of Ontario and can be rented through the FamilySearch for viewing at a local Family History Center. It has not been digitized.

I also recently learned to check the Land Petitions of Lower Canada 1764-1841 too. This collection is digitized and has an online index. From description at the LAC website, "it includes petitions for part of the colony that later became Upper Canada up to and including 1791." So if you have early, early Upper Canada ancestors be sure to check out this collection.

Most petitions are held by the Library and Archives of Canada but some are held by the Archives of Ontario. See my previous post on Indexed and Non-Indexed Items Related to Upper Canada Land Petitions for some other collections that hold petitions and the details of where to find them online. A few of these are the Heir and Devisee "First Commission," Heir and Devisee "Second Commission," Thomas Talbot fonds, to name but a few. Also, read the resources at the end of this post for other collections not currently online.

Do you have to check every collection if you've found your ancestor's petition in one of the above collections? Probably not. But if you have proof that your ancestor received a patent but have not found a petition, there are other collections to check before you decide his/her petition was lost at some point in time. So if needed give them a try.

Here is a listing of the various collections mentioned with some additional ones containing land petitions:

Upper Canada Land Petitions, 1763-1865
Online Index: Yes, at LAC website (info and search)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at archived LAC website
Land Submissions to Executive Council 1783-1865, predominant 1783-1841 (formerly RG1 L3 and RG1 L6B now R10875-4-5-E), MIKAN 205131
For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper post.

Upper Canada Sundries
Online Index: Yes, at LAC website (info and search)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Civil Secretary’s Correspondence, Upper Canada, Upper Canada Sundries, 1766-1841 (formerly RG5 A1 now R10875-2-1-E), MIKAN 125539
For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper post.

Upper Canada Land Index (Finding Aid MSS1802)
Online Index: No (has digitized microfilm of an index)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Finding Aid MSS1802 also known as the Index to the Upper Canada Land Petitions (RG1 L3) is part of a digitized microfilm collection labeled Upper Canada Land Books. The finding aid consists of microfilm reels of two index card sets which not only index the Upper Canada Land Petitions (RG1 L3) but also the Executive Council Minute Books on Land Matters (formerly RG1 L1 now R10875-2-1-E) to be mentioned below. This index (the digital microfilm) has not been electronically indexed so it must be searched manually.

For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper and Cheat Sheet posts.

Ontario Land Record Index (OLRI)
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: No
Compiled by the Archives of Ontario, the OLRI indexes part of the Crown Land papers, Canada Company papers and Peter Robinson papers. There are several pathfinders and research guides by the Archives of Ontario (see below) that explain how to use the index (on microfiche) and its various codes. The OLRI is organized in two ways (pathways) by Name of a Person and by Name of a Place (township, town, city). The OLRI can be rented through FamilySearch from the Family History Library; there are 129 microfiche total.

Lower Canada Land Petitions, 1764-1841
Online Index: Yes, at LAC website (info and search)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes (linked to search results)
Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada (RG 1 L3L) 1637-1842 predominant 1792-1843 (formerly RG1 E17, RG1 E14, RG1 E13, RG1 E11, RG1 E12, RG1 E15A, RG1 L7, RG1 E6B, , RG1 E1 and RG1 E2 now R10870-0-1-E), MIKAN 204826
Petitions and related records accumulated and created by the Executive Council in the administration of its land disposal functions. Commonly referred to as the "Lower Canada Land Petitions" the records are more varied. Microfilm reels C-2504 to C-2571 containing volumes 29 to 210 have been digitized. The images are linked to the search results. Records in volumes 10 to 28 were not indexed see next listing.

Land Petitions and Related Records of the Executive Council
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: Yes (at Héritage website)
Also part of the Lower Canada Land Petitions is Executive Council Office of the Province of Lower Canada (RG 1 L3L) 1637-1843 predominant 1792-1843 (formerly RG1 L3L, RG1 L7 and RG1 E2 now R10870-6-2-E), MIKAN 204929
Petitions and related records accumulated and created by the Executive Council in the administration of its land disposal functions. Commonly referred to as the "Lower Canada Land Petitions" the records are more varied. 25 digitized reels: Reels C-2494, C-2498 to C-2503 contain volumes 10 to 28 which were not indexed in the above Lower Canada Land Petitions collection but a link to the contents of the volumes on these reels is included in that collection's "about this database" information. (This list is not included with this collection's About information though it really should be.) Finding Aid MSS1801 is microfilmed (and digitized) on reels H-1155 to H-1172 and is an alphabetical card index to volumes 1 to 10 and volumes 29 to 209. These microfilmed index cards must be searched manually.

Heir and Devisee "First Commission"
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Records of the Heir and Devisee Commission Accumulated by the Executive Council, 1777-1854 (formerly RG1 L5 now R10875-8-2-E), MIKAN 205142.
Consists of records of the Heir and Devisee Commission forwarded to the Executive Council Office in the course of business, as well as records accumulated by the Executive Council Office after the demise of the first commission in 1805. For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper post.

There are other various collections by the "First Commission" at the Archives of Ontario find them by doing an Advanced Search using Record Creators in the Archives Descriptive Database with key words "Upper Canada. Heir and Devisee Commission" and selecting the 1797-1805 commission.

Upper Canada, Heir and Devisee Commission "Second Commission"
Online Index: No, except for one collection of case files at Archives of Ontario
Digitized Microfilm: No
There are a variety of record collections by the Upper Canada, Heir and Devisee Commission, 1805-1911, at the Archives of Ontario. The "Second Commission" was responsible for hearing and determining claims by heirs, devisees or assignees of original nominees. These various collections can be found by doing an Advanced Search using Record Creators in the Archives Descriptive Database with key words "Upper Canada. Heir and Devisee Commission" and selecting the 1805-1911 commission.

Though none of these various collections have been digitized, there is an online index to the just the Second Heir and Devisee Commission Case Files, RG 40-5. More information on the database can be found here.

Thomas Talbot Fonds
Online Index: Partial
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Elgin County Archives
The Thomas Talbot Fonds, F 501 at the Archives of Ontario were digitized by the Elgin County Archives as part of the Archives of Ontario's Digitization Loan Program. It includes 45 large-format plans and one lease settlement register. Col. Thomas Talbot became a land promoter in about 1802 establishing The Talbot Tract in the present-day counties of Norfolk, Elgin, Middlesex, Kent and Essex.

For more information, see my Thomas Talbot Fonds post.

Township Papers, ca. 1783 to ca. 1870
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: No
Township Papers, ca. 1783 to ca 1870. Series RG 1-58 was formerly Series RG 1 C-IV. Miscellaneous group of land-related records, which have been arranged by township name then by concession and lot, or by town name and lot number. Not all lots have documents and what documents exist for a lot vary. Types of documents include copies of orders-in--council; copies of location certificates and location tickets; copies of assignments; certificates verifying the completion of settlement duties; copies of receipt; copies of descriptions; copies of patents; copies of incoming correspondence. A Finding Aid (microfilm listing) for RG 1-58 is available online through the Archives Descriptive Database or in the Archives of Ontario Reading Room. This microfilm collection also can be rented through the Family History Library.

Additional collections at the Archives of Ontario to consider searching are: RG 53-3 (Cancelled Land Patents) covering 1868-1944; RG 53-9 (Mining Leases and Patents) covering 1891-1984; RG 53-52 (Land Patents - Free Grants) covering 1867-1970; RG 53-53 (Land Patents - School Land Sales) covering 1867-1870; and RG 53-54 (Land Patents - Militia Grants) covering 1905-1928. These collections at the Archives of Ontario are not digitized.

Do check the Library and Archives of Canada online catalog for other additional non-digitized Upper Canada land-related collections. But at the Library and Archives of Canada there are other digitized microfilm collections related to land though the vast majority are not indexed. Here are two examples.

Index to Grants, Deeds, Leases and Licenses of Occupation Unclaimed or Impounded in the Executive Council Office
Online Index: No (this digitized microfilm is a card index)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Finding Aid MSS1803 (card index) to Grants, Deeds, Leases and Licenses of Occupation, Unclaimed or Impounded in the Executive Council Office, 1791-1897, predominant 1791-1848 (formerly RG1 L2 now R10875-6-9-E), MIKAN 205137

For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper post.

Land Documents Concerning Quebec, Upper and Lower Canada, Canada East and Canada West and Canada
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Registrar General, Land Documents, 1763-1952 (formerly RG68 now R1002-147-2-E), MIKAN 787982

For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper post.

The Land Petitions were sent to the land granting authority at the time (Land Board, Executive Council, etc.) which meet, read the petitions, and made decisions which were recorded in a Minute Book/Land Book.

The Minute Books/Land Books of the Land Board (or later the Land Committee of the Executive Council) are where you look to see if a petition was approved (ordered by the Lt. Governor or recommended by the board/committee when the Lt. Gov. was not present) or dismissed. You also may learn if a grant/patent was surrendered.

The Minutes and Records of the Land Boards Accumulated by the Executive Council Office, 1765-1804 (formerly RG1 L4 now RG10875-7-0-E) have been digitized and put online. There is an online index at the Library and Archives of Canada website.

The Land Minutes Books of the Executive Council, 1787-1841 (formerly RG1 L1 now R10875-2-1-E) have been digitized and put online. Though there is no online electronic index, Finding Aid MSS1802 has been digitized. This finding aid consists of two card index sets that index this land minute book collection and the Upper Canada Land Petitions.

The Archives of Ontario also holds a couple other Land Board Minutes related collections which have not been digitized. Use the Archives Description Database to find these collections using "Land Board Minutes" as the keywords.

Here is a listing of the various collections mentioned regarding Minute Books/Land Books.

Minutes and Records of the Land Boards Accumulated by the Executive Council Office
Online Index: Yes, at LAC website (info and search)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Minutes and Records of the Land Boards Accumulated by the Executive Council Office, 1765-1804 (formerly RG1 L4 now R10875-7-0-E), MIKAN 205141

For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper post.

Upper Canada Land Books
Online Index: No (has digitized microfilm of an index)
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Héritage website
Land Minute Books of the Executive Council, 1787 – 1841 (formerly RG1 L1 now R10875-2-1-E), MIKAN 205068 is part of a digitized microfilm collection labeled Upper Canada Land Books. Besides the digitized microfilm for the Land Minute Books, this collection includes the digitized microfilm of Finding Aid MSS1802 Index to the Upper Canada Land Petitions (RG1 L3) and the Executive Council Minute Books on Land Matters (formerly RG1 L1 now R10875-2-1-E) commonly called the Upper Canada Land Index. This index has not been electronically indexed so it must be searched manually.

For more information, see my earlier Digging Deeper and Cheat Sheet posts.

If approved (ordered/recommended) an order-in-council, warrant or certificate was issued approving a grant of land for a certain quantity. It was presented to a surveyor for assignment. It was recorded in a Land Patent Book.

Depending on which regulation under which an individual received his/her grant there may have been fees and/or obligations (improvements) that had to be completed before the actual receipt of a Land Patent by a settler.

Land Patent Books are what tell you where that awarded land grant was located. But because the microfilm of the books and associated indexes have not been digitized and put online, a researcher is left hanging until a research trip can be made or a researcher can be hired to go to the Archives of Ontario to use the microfilms.

Here is a listing of the various collections for Land Patent Books.

Land Patent Books, 1793-1984
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: No
Ontario Government Series RG 53-1 Land Patent Books, 1793-1984. To use these volumes, you first need to consult one of three patent indexes: Index of Land Patents by Name RG 53-56; Index of Land Patents by Township RG 53-55; or Index of Land Patents by District RG 53-2. See below for more information. There is an online finding aid listing the volume descriptions and associated self-serve reels of microfilm for patents issued before 1867.

Index of Land Patents by Name
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: No
Ontario Government Series RG 53-56 Index of Land Patents by Name. An index to the Land Patent Books, 1793-1984 RG 53-1 arranged by name for land patents dating from 1826-1967. The index provides the name of the patentee; date of patent; lot, concession, township; type of transaction; liber (book) and folio (page) where the patent is located in the original patent books; and the number of acres. The index consists of two formats: bound volumes containing the index of names from 1826-1953 and index cards containing the index of names from 1954-1967. There is a microfilm and volumes list at the Archives of Ontario and a microfilm and volumes list for up to the year 1912 online through the Microfilm Interloan Service.

Index of Land Patents by Township
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: No
Ontario Government Series RG 53-55 Index of Land Patents by Township. An index to the Land Patent Books, 1793-1984 RG 53-1 arranged by township for land patents dating from 1793-1852. Each volume contains a list of contents and provides the name of the patentee; lot, concession; date of patent; type of transaction; number of acres; liber (book) and folio (page) numbers for the location of the patent in the original patent books. Patentee names are arranged within each township in chronological order by patent date. There is a microfilm and volumes list online through the Microfilm Interloan Service.

Index of Land Patents by District
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: No
Ontario Government Series RG 53-2 Index of Land Patents by District. An index to the Land Patent Books, 1793-1984 RG 53-1 arranged by district for land patents dating from 1793-1825. Each volume provides the name of the patentee; date of the patent; number of acres; and lot, concession, township, and district; liber (book) and folio (page) numbers for the location of the patent in the original patent books. There is a microfilm and volumes list online through the Microfilm Interloan Service.

Once inspected that fees/obligations were completed (if necessary) a Land Patent was issued transferring ownership to the settler.

Besides being recorded in a Land Patent Book, a settler's grant/patent location was also recorded on a land patent plan (map) created for each township in each county. Since space was limited on these plans you will simply find a name with perhaps the date of the year received. Remember to read the description of the collection to learn more details.

Upper Canada Land Patent Plans
Online Index: No
Digitized Microfilm: Yes, at Archives of Ontario website (info and search)
These images (high-res jpegs that are zoom-able and downloadable) are of the plans in the Ontario Government Record Series RG 1-100 Patent Plans. Patent Plans are essentially maps showing the status of Crown Lands (patented, leased, licensed) by indicating the name of the individual who first received the patent/lease/license for a particular plot of land and often the year received. There is no surname index for these images. Use the Archives of Ontario Visual Database using just the keyword search, or use the Advanced search option using a keyword and RG 1-100 in the Reference Code filter to limit the results to just the patent plans. I suggest using just the name of the township as the keyword. Spelling counts, some townships have various spellings or mis-spellings so check all possibilities.

For more information, see my earlier Patent Plans post.

Occasionally, you will see a petitioner request a specific parcel of land. If a note on the outside of the petition (when it was folded) indicates approval rather than rejection, then check the patent plan for that township to see if your ancestor's name is indeed written on that parcel of land indicating he/she was awarded that patent.

With a copy of the land patent and the land patent plan you have traced your ancestor's acquiring of land from the Crown. Beyond this point, the next question would be when did my ancestor sell the land that he/she got/bought from the Crown?

That answer would sit in the county land registry offices. Each county has a Land Abstract Index organized by township, concession and lot that tracks the ownership of a particular parcel of land from the Crown to the first owner who received the grant and then on and on. It indexes the copy books that hold copies of the individual deeds, instruments, memorials, etc. Usually there is not a surname index (grantor or grantee) for Canadian county land records like there is for land in the United States. But by having the patent information you have the legal description (county, township, concession and lot) which is what you need to search these later land records. These land abstract indexes are available at the Archives of Ontario and many can be rented through FamilySearch from the Family History Library.

Can a patent be found without taking all these steps? Yes, but as I pointed out at the beginning you may risk losing some of the story.

What if you are not back that far to know if an ancestor was here in the time of Upper Canada Land Petitions? As you are working your way back in time, there are other types of sources that can provide you the legal land description (county, township, concession, lot) of where you ancestor was living. From there you would search the appropriate county land abstract index page for that legal description to see if your ancestor is listed as owning it, particularly listed as the first owner receiving it from the Crown. (If your ancestor is not listed for that property, he/she may have likely rented the land from the noted owner at the time or was living with them.)

The following are some of the sources where a legal land description can be found associated with a person. Remember this does not mean they got a patent for the land but that they lived there.

  • County Atlases: If your ancestor lived until the 1870s/1880s and still owned the land, his/her name will likely appear on a county historical atlas. Many have been digitized and are on the The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project
  • County Directories: Some can be found digitized online at various places like Internet Archive. has a large collection of county directories for Canada. 
  • Census Agricultural Schedules 1851-1871 and 1901: Though not available for every locality besides giving the concession and lot in the township you also learn what your ancestor was producing. 
  • Local Histories: Often the earliest settlers are noted and where they located. Many of these county and local histories have been digitized and can be found online. 
  • Assessment Rolls: When they exist they can be helpful. You might find abstracts/transcriptions online or in books. Some may even be microfilmed. 

Finally, I put together in one spot a list of resources regarding Ontario land records, in particular those dealing with the earlier times of Upper Canada.

Resources for Upper Canada Land Research

Archives of Ontario Research Guides and Tools
Research Guide 215 From Grant to Patent: A Guide to Early Land Settlement Records, ca. 1790-ca. 1850
Research Guide 225 Researching Crown Land Records
Research Guide 231 Finding Land Registration Records
Archives of Ontario Pathfinder to Petitions for Land
Pathfinder to Land Patents at the Archives of Ontario
Research Guide 205 Using the Ontario Land Records Index ca. 1790-1920
Archives of Ontario Pathfinder to the Ontario Land Records Index (OLRI)
Understanding the Archival References Code in the Ontario Land Records Index

FamilySearch Research Wiki's Ontario Land Records
FamilySearch Research Wiki's Ontario Land and Property

My Previous Posts on Upper Canada Land Research

1. Ontario Land Settlement Surveys from the Thomas Talbot Fonds Digitized by the Elgin County Archives
2. Digitized Land Patent Plans at Archives of Ontario
3. First Article Two Tips for Searching the Holdings of Two Canadian Archives from their Websites
4. Second Article Digging Deeper into the Digitized Microfilm at the Library and Archives of Canada: Indexed and Non-Indexed Items Related to Upper Canada Land Petitions
5. Third Article Third Tip for Searching: Reel Content Specifics for Some LAC Digitized Microfilm Collections
6. Fourth Article Part Four (the Last): Searching for Land Patents in Upper Canada ... It's Not All Online Yet

Please note: It is possible some links in this post may not work; in particular those to the Archives of Ontario Archives Descriptive Database due to session time outs. In those cases use the RG, F or MIKAN numbers in the appropriate catalog search to bring up the desired record group description.

Good luck with your research!