Saturday, May 21, 2016

Searching Ontario Marriages Work-Around: Ancestry has the Index, FamilySearch the Images

I have not forgotten about the promised post about the Process of Searching for Land Patents. It's a long post and I want to format it better so it is not so hard to read. Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, I hope you find this post useful.

Finding records in early Ontario (aka Upper Canada and Canada West) can be a challenge but with the digitization of microfilm it is becoming a little easier if you know where to look. And sometimes that "knowing where to look" involves more than one place at the same time. Get your multiple browser tabs ready!

Ontario Collections at FamilySearch
Did you see that two weeks ago on May 6, 2016, added digitized images of the Ontario, District Marriage Registers, 1801-1858? And did you know that digitized images of the Ontario, County Marriage Registers, 1858-1869 have been on FamilySearch since at least April 27, 2016*?

If you did, then you know that both digitized collections of these early Ontario records are browse only collections meaning neither have been electronically indexed so you have to click through the images to find the record you seek.

But did you know there is an index elsewhere to help you out?
About this database ...

Now it may not give you a specific image number or page number but you can at least figure out that a marriage was recorded and when and where it occurred. Knowing this can cut down on the amount of your searching through "digital film" with no index.

What and where is that index? It's the Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 collection at the website. (Use Ancestry Library Edition at a local library if you do not have a home subscription.) Now this database collection is actually an index to records from a variety of sources. Reading the "about this database" clarifies and tells you what sources the indexed records originate from and which ones are indexed with images and which ones indexed without images.

Full List of Sources from the "About this database"
For those record entries you find without images, look at the entry's "view record" information. Make note of the microfilm series in that entry's source citation and then compare it to the source list in the "about this database." Records originating from the County Marriage Registers are from microfilm series M248, reels 5-18. These have no images at Ancestry, but FamilySearch now has the images and has divided them by county. You just have to estimate where to start in the group images for that county for the year of your record.

Ontario Marriages database entry for Johannah Arnold
Here's an example that I found for one of my cousins. Now she has one less item for her To-Do List for a visit to the Archives of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, or Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From the Ontario Marriages collection at, we found what we thought was the marriage of her ancestors Henry Zuelch and Juliana Arnold. (Note: Zuelch has various spellings.) As you see from the image here, Ancestry's indexing leaves a lot to be desired because the record was indexed as Henry Fullich and Johannah Arnold. (In this case, Ancestry used an index from another group so it is just repeating an error. Read that "about this database" for details.)

Until recently there was no record image online to confirm this suspicion for ourselves. My cousin would have to wait to visit a library/archive with the Ontario County Marriage Registers collection. Why did we suspect this was the marriage record we sought? We knew her ancestors were in a certain place (the Waterloo area) and in a certain time period based on their children's birthplaces and census entries. And we have experience knowing what letters can be mistaken for other letters.

Detail of Source Citation from the Johannah Arnold entry
So looking at that index entry's "view record" we see the source of the entry came from MS248, reel 16 which is the Ontario, County Marriage Registers.

Using the date and location (18 Feb 1862 in Waterloo County) of the marriage, now we can open another browser tab and search through the new Ontario County Marriage Registers collection over at FamilySearch for the actual record image. (Using multiple browser tabs or windows allows me to keep my place in the first database while searching the second database so I can return to verify information or bring up the next record entry to investigate without having to find that entry or results list again.)

In this case under the County Marriage Registers, under Waterloo county there are three volumes (books) digitized. The first volume covers 1858 to 1862 and contains 91 images.  So I searched that volume and since I was looking for an 1862 marriage, I jumped to the last image by typing 91 in the currently viewing box of the image viewer. I proceeded backwards until I found the page/image I needed.
The Ontario County Marriage
record image from FamilySearch

Seeing the actual image now for ourselves, we can confirm with our own eyes that the indexer read the record entry incorrectly. This is the marriage record for Henry Zuellich and Juliana Arnold. (If you find something at incorrectly indexed, do submit an alternative when there is the option to do so. I did in this case.)
Henry Zuellich not Henry Fullich
Juliana Arnold not Johannah Arnold
For the Ontario District Marriage Registers, it appears the database collection at does have the record images linked to the index entries. But if you find an index entry from MS248, reels 1-4 that does not have a linked record image, you now know that there is an alternative location at FamilySearch to find the record image.

I suspect that in time Ancestry will add links to the record images for those entries in its Ontario, Canada, Marriages collection that are from the Ontario County Marriage Registers.

Now when I get a chance, I will need to go back through my tree's sourcing to create a list of Ontario marriages where I only have an index entry to document the event rather than a digital image of the original record. This list will get added to my overall To-Do List so when I finally get to that To-Do task I can easily go back and get the original record images that were not there at the time I did the original search.

But before I make that list I have another post to finish.

* Note: The late April 2016 listing of "New FamilySearch Collections Update" appears to have been skipped. I believe I have the right "newly added" date for both collections. But some are reporting that the County Marriage Registers was the collection added May 6th instead of the District Marriage Registers. I included a screen capture of all of the Ontario collections listed under Canada at the FamilySearch website with their add/update dates as of May 20, 2016.

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