Monday, June 5, 2017

The Hunt

There are many reasons to love genealogy, but for me, the addictive part, the part that keeps me up way too late on occasion, gives my dust bunnies the upper hand and makes Donald a genealogy widower, is the hunt. That is what really got me hooked, I think, researching my family history. That is what turned it from an interest into an obsession passion.

And my first hunt ever, beginning nine years ago when I knew nothing about anything, was for the burials of two of my maternal grandfather's brothers who died in infancy. I knew where my grandfather was buried and his six other siblings, but I could not find little Benjamin or little Norman. Although I had a strong suspicion that I knew the answer, I had no proof at all.

Benjamin and Norman Parker died in Quebec in 1889 and 1903 respectively. From my home on Long Island, NY I searched whatever records I could find. I contacted family, I looked through family records, I manually combed the Quebec Vital and Church records (Drouin Collection) on Ancestry, I searched online cemetery listings and online newspapers.

Nine years and many hours of research later, yesterday I finally found my answer. In the online collections of the National Library and Archives of Quebec, I found the burial record of Norman Parker Smith. Reading the record breaks my heart but finding the record made me want to shout from the rooftops!



Norman Parker was the 7th live-born child of George Robert Smith and Isabella Frances Parker. He died at three months and twenty-two days and was the second of George and Isabella's nine children to die in infancy. The births and deaths of both babies were listed in the family bible, the only record I had of their existence when I began my genealogy journey.

A few years ago, Ancestry matched me with Norman's baptismal record. I never would have found it on my own in a manual search; he was baptized somewhere unexpected and only eight days before his death. I hoped that it would lead me to his burial record, but a manual search of the same church's records came up empty as did related cemetery and newspaper searches.

I strongly suspected that Norman was buried with his brother, Benjamin and that both brothers were buried in a cemetery in Buckingham (now merged into Ville de Gatineau), Quebec. George and Isabella began their married life and family there with Isabella's father and very early in my research I found an index of burials in a Presbyterian cemetery there that included members of Isabella's family, including her parents, but not the babies.

The Drouin collection on Ancestry is wonderful, but incomplete. The fact that it holds no records from the Presbyterian Church in Buckingham is one example but there are others in my Quebec families. Those records do exist in other places however, and yesterday's find was one of them. Unfortunately this record set did not include anything before 1900 which is the majority of the Smith and Parker records, but at least I know I'm headed in the right direction.

Baby Norman was baptized in Montreal just eight days before his death, and was buried in Buckingham two days later. The fact that in 1903 he was taken 125 miles away from Montreal or 272 miles from their home in Thetford Mines for burial leads me to strongly suspect that both he and Benjamin are buried in this cemetery with their maternal grandmother who died in 1881. Of course I will continue to search for records, but I think at last I have my answer.

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