Sunday, March 1, 2009

Surerus, Sarerus, Sareras, Sererus, Surarus ...Yikes! It’s all becoming a blur!

So many surname variations! Surerus, Sarerus, Sareras, Sererus, Surarus, Sararas, Sararus, Sereres, Serraras, Sarranis, Sayrers, Sarraras, Serares, Sarraris, Sarararas, Sierers, Seraras, Siroirs, Suraras, Surrarus, Seranus, and Suranus. How do you deal with so many surname spellings in your research?

You need to be organized and diligent. First, organize all the variants alphabetically and then make yourself a checklist. On the checklist you should keep track of which surnames you have checked and on which index. Be sure to check every name and add any new variations to your list that you find during the research process.

Some good news ... just a couple of weeks ago the 1891 Canadian Census index and digital images became available on the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website!

Searching for Mrs. Andrew Surerus and her children (Dave, Cyrus, Issac, Jacob, Andrew, Leah, Hannah, Rebecca, Maggie, and Mary) using all the surname variations and available indexes for the 1871, 1881, and 1891 Canadian Census revealed the following:

[From the Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario Index) on the LAC website:]
Name / Given Name / Age / Place of Birth / District / Sub-district
Sararas / Andrew / 63 / Ontario / Waterloo South / Wilmot
Surrars / David / 60 / Ontario / Waterloo North / Waterloo North
Surerus / Jacob D / 59 / Ontario / Wentworth North / Flamborough West
Surerus / Mary / 57 / Ontario / Wentworth North / Flamborough West
(Note: The entry for Mary is on Schedule Two: deaths in the preceding twelve months ending 2 April 1871)
Surrarus / David / 29 / Ontario / Huron South / Hay

[From the 1881 Canadian Census Index on the Family History Library website:]
Sararas / Andrew / 72 / Ontario / Waterloo South / Wilmot
Surerus / Andrew / 33 / Ontario / Wentworth North / Flamborough West

[From the Census of Canada, 1891 Index on the LAC website:]
Sararas / Andrew / 82 / Waterloo South (Ont) / Wilmot
Sararas / Cyrus / 47 / Waterloo South (Ont) / Wilmot
Sararas / David / 12 / Selkirk (Manitoba) / Wallace
Sararas / Issac / 20 / Selkirk (Manitoba) / Wallace
Sararas / Jacob / 78 / Selkirk (Manitoba) / Wallace
Sararas / Jacob / 42 / Huron South / Hay
Sararas / Leah / 50 / Selkirk (Manitoba) / Wallace
Sararas / Mary A / 9 / Huron South / Hay
Surerus / David / 49 / Huron South / Hay
Surerus / Leah / 40 / Huron South / Hay
Surerus / Mary / 40 / Huron South / Hay

It is interesting to note that there are no results for Moulton Township, Haldimand County where Dunnville is located. (Remember Dunnville was where the photographer was from.) There is an Andrew Sararas in Wilmot Township, Waterloo County that could be of interest; the last name is spelled differently than what is on the back of the photo. And there is an Andrew Surerus in Flamborough West, Wentworth County. Both of these individuals and their families will have to be checked in the original or microfilmed records to determine if either one is the family we are searching for.

Examining the index search results more closely shows some of the children’s names. These should be noted in our research notes for future reference because we may want to look at them in further on in our search.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Searching Census Indexes

It’s time to get back to identifying Mrs. Andrew Surerus. Two or three years ago when I did the Canadian census research there was only a few that had been indexed. The 1881 Canadian Census had been indexed by FamilySearch with no images and for the 1871 Canadian Census the head of households for the Province of Ontario had been indexed by the Ontario Genealogical Society. This latter index is available on Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website (see right side bar for web link). There were some Canadian Census images available for 1851, 1901 and 1911, but these are not indexed and would not be useful until a location could be found for Mrs. Andrew Surerus and her family.

Throughout 2009 we will see indexes and images for all the Canadian census years (1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911 and 1916) become available online thanks to FamilySearch and

In the meantime, you need to do your homework and know where and how to best search the various Canadian census years. Library and Archives Canada, Automated Genealogy, FamilySearch, and (for fee) are the best places to start you census research. (All web links are provided in the right side bar.)

An index search for Andrew Surerus in the 1881 Canadian Census on FamilySearch reveals one living in Flamborough West, Wentworth County with a wife Charlotte and two daughters, Ellen and Ethel. The 1871 Ontario Index on the LAC website has no listing for Andrew Surerus.

Hmmm ... perhaps the surname is spelled incorrectly. What about ... Sarerus, Sareras, Sererus, Surarus, Sararas, Sararus, Sereres, Serraras ... there are probably more possibilities. Time to get back to the indexes and search the alternatives surnames.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Start With What You Know

To start any genealogical research project we must start with what we know. From the known facts or information we work towards the unknown. The known details are used as identifiers when searching various records and will help us establish that we are indeed researching the correct individual or family. If we do not use the identifiers we can be led astray and research the wrong individual. It is not uncommon to find two individuals with the same name in close proximity geographically.

Equally important in genealogical research is background research on the geographical location. It is helpful in the research process to be familiar with the location including dates of establishment and place name changes. As with same name individuals, it is also not unusual the find locations with the same name; geographically they may be close together or far apart. An example of same name locations is York—would that be the Town of York (1793-1834; currently Toronto), York Township or York County (all located in Ontario, Canada)? Or, would it be York in Great Britain?

Another essential part of genealogical research is to record all the sources we consult (websites, books, documents, etc.), whether we find positive or negative results. Genealogy is time consuming and we spend a lot of our time searching records for our ancestors. The last thing you want to do is waste time searching records you have previously searched. In our initial research efforts we may spend hours searching census records and then five years down the road we will unlikely remember which census records we had already spent time searching. What a waste of time going over the same records to find the same results which were not recorded!

Recording our sources helps us save time when we need to consult a record a second time. Knowing exactly where to find the document eliminates unnecessary steps.

In the effort to locate Mrs. Andrew Surerus, we start by listing the known information :

1. Married name: Mrs. Andrew Surerus
2. Children’s names: Dave, Cyrus, Isaac, Jacob, Andrew, Leah, Hannah, Rebecca, Maggie and Mary
(Note: The manner in which the children are listed on the reverse side of the photo, there could be seven or ten children—see “The Unclaimed Photo”, 11 December 2008 blog posting.)
3. Photographer’s Stamp: F.A. Borel, Dunnville, Ont.

The geographical location background information will assist with our initial search of records. A good place to start to find information regarding Dunnville is the Ontario Locator website (see Ontario Links in the right side bar). Entering “Dunnville” into the Search box produces results that tell us it currently exists, is located in Moulton Township, Haldimand County, was established 1829, became a village in 1860 and then a town in 1900.

Next, it needs to be determined what records to start the search in, as well as the time period. The best source to identify a family group during a specific time and location would be census records. It is known that photography began to become more popular during the 1880s. Therefore, the search for Mrs. Andrew Surerus and her children will begin in the 1881 Canadian Census.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Unclaimed Photo

On a flea market table, amongst other neglected photographs of someone’s ancestors, was the abandoned black and white image of an elderly woman. Disregarded and forgotten; to be sold to a stranger.

The woman does not look at the camera, but off to the side. She does not smile and has a serious look about her. White/grayish hair is visible under her white cap that is tied beneath the chin. She appears to be sixty to eighty years of age. There is a man standing behind her, but his face is not revealed. The photographer’s mark, “F.A. Borel, Dunnville, Ont.” hints the woman may have lived in somewhere in the area.

Who was this woman? Was she someone’s mother, sister, aunt or grandmother? What was her real name? The reverse side of the photograph, handwritten in ballpoint pen, reveals that she is:

“Mrs. Andrew Surerus
mother of Dave, Cyrus
Isaac, Jacob, Andrew
Leah Hannah, Rebecca
Maggie & Mary”

So she was someone’s mother! The mother to possibly seven children; or is that, ten children. And, she was the wife of Andrew Surerus! But what is her real name? Surerus is not a common name. Perhaps it will be easy to locate more information. After all, her husband’s name is known, as well as the first names of her children.