Monday, August 23, 2010

Family Search Gold!

Inspired by somebody's blog post about the number of records that have been indexed on the Family Search website (unlike most of you, I was not organized enough to remember who posted the article), I went surfing on over the other day.  From the Pilot Family Search home,  I clicked on Search or Browse our record collection.  From there I chose North America to see what databases were available.  One that caught my eye, marked by a red star indicating that it was New or updated, was the New Brunswick, Canada, Death Certificates.

Quite a few members of my father's family were originally immigrants to the US but were loyalists to the British Crown during the Revolutionary War and consequently moved on to Canada when the war ended.  I have found the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick to be quite helpful for searching out these ancestors.  However, in the Family Search collection were actual copies of the death certificates for two time periods, 1920-1934 and 1935-1938.  No index is yet available but I was unable to resist just searching the whole database.

I was lucky in that for the 1920-1934 time frame, for Queens County, there were only 1,086 records to peruse.  In no time at all (well it did take some time, but it flew by!), I had located three ancestors death records. One that I found quite exciting was for my great-grandfather George Byron McKiel.

Byron, as he was known, was born on March 31, 1868 to Eliza Eva McKiel.  He died on November 25, 1925 in Wickham, Queens, New Brunswick, Canada.  The death certificate told me that he had been sick for only 3 days when he died from Lobar Pneumonia.  (Lobar meaning of, or pertaining to, one or more of the lobes of the lungs)

Although at least three of his children were still alive and living in the area, the informant for the death certificate information was a non-relative.  Why does this matter?  Byron was born to Eliza, along with another son, while she was still single.  She later married Jacob Van Wart and went on to have more children.  However, Byron and his brother Melvin, retained the McKiel surname.  One of my aunts who had done lots of genealogy work and visited and talked with many of our canadian ancestors, has not been able to determine who Byron's father was.  Although she believes that some of the older relatives know the answer, no one has been willing to tell.  The death certificate lists the father as John McKiel.  Could this be the one?  Eliza did have a brother John who was 7 or 8 years older than she.  Could he have been the father?

It would be a shame if those who know the answer to this question, however shameful they feel the information to be, were to let the answer stay hidden now when Eliza, Bryon and Melvin have all died.  I hope that by writing about it here, someone, somewhere, who knows the truth will be inspired to tell.

In any case, I found Byron's death certificate.  It was a good day!!

I have indexed records for the Family Search project for quite some time.  Now I am inspired to continue and hope that some of you may be as well.  Just go to the FamilySearch Indexing home page to learn how.


  1. I love it when those good days come along! Does Byron have male descendants so that a DNA test could be done?

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE Family Search!

    (I hope whomever is doing Georgia marriages gets to 1944 REAL soon! LOL)

    Congrats on a terrific find!

  3. Hooray for you! It's so exciting to find a document for an ancestor. I hope someone who knows will give you the information you need, even if he/she does it anonymously. It would be a place to start, at least. Congratulations!

  4. It is amazing how many people died of pneumonia. Including my Great Grandfather, Great Grandmother and my husbands Great Great Grandfather.

    This was way before antibiotics and immunizations. Actually they used to call pneumonia "The old man's friend"