After spending some time researching one of Innisfil’s early pioneering families for an exciting upcoming Our Stories project (more information on that to come later!) I have come to truly appreciate the hours of hard work that go into genealogical research.
Whether you’re researching a small branch of your family tree, or making a comprehensive record of hundreds of names, the struggles are often the same. What was Louise’s maiden name? Who is Alexander and where does he fit in the tree? Was John married more than once, and if so, which of his wives was Mary’s mother? In the past my historical research projects revolved around legal documents, which often leave very little unclarified. Of course, genealogists instead must contend with census records, newspapers, ship manifests, and any other number of directories. These are often incomplete or non-existent, and only the most persistent and dedicated genealogists end up able to piece together the various breadcrumbs to discern the trail.
Innisfil is very lucky to have such a vibrant and involved community of residents who care about the Town’s history as well as their own and, as a result, we all benefit from the efforts of local historians and the Innisfil Historical Society to publish a number of quality books on a variety of subjects. Nevertheless, the work can be taxing.
Happily, there are several fantastic resources available on the internet today that consist of both databases and tools to help organize one’s research. A few of my favourites include:
Find a Grave – www.findagrave.com
Boasting more than 121 million grave records from around the world, this site has been invaluable when trying to determine exact birth or death dates for a number of Innisfil individuals. The site also has a handy feature where it sometimes includes familial links such as parents, spouses, and children. Be cautious when these names have an asterisk as they are calculated relationships and may not be 100% accurate. You are able to search by name as well as by date or cemetery name. A similar site is Billion Graves, which can be found at www.billiongraves.com
Ancestry – www.ancestry.ca
Access to this fantastic resource is free through any computer on the Innisfil Public Library network! Likely the most well-known tool, this site contains everything from marriage records to ship manifests to obituaries.
Family Echo – www.familyecho.com
This site provides an extremely easy to use family tree generator in which you simply choose a name to begin and build the branches of the tree from there. The final tree can be downloaded in several formats to your computer or printed. Be aware that this may take a number of pages and some pasting together when you’re done!
I’ve found this site particularly informative for marriage records as it lists the place of origin of each person getting married and when available lists witnesses and the officiant. Unfortunately, records for Simcoe County are limited to the 19th century.
Do you have any tools you like to use, or tips and tricks that have made your genealogical work easier? Let us know!