Re­search­ing old fam­ily friends

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - COMMUNITY - Diane Tib­ert Roots to the Past Diane Lynn McGyver Tib­ert, au­thor of Scat­tered Stones, is a free­lance writer based in Central Nova Sco­tia. Visit her Roots to the Past blog (https://root­stothep­ast.word­ to learn more about her ge­neal­ogy writ­ing.

Dur­ing my reg­u­lar read­ing of on­line ge­neal­ogy col­umns, newslet­ters and blogs, I came across an in­ter­est­ing read by ge­neal­o­gist and au­thor Lorine McGin­nis Schulze. She is the host for the Olive Tree Ge­neal­ogy blog, and she re­cently wrote, “Own­ing a Piece of Some­one’s Life” (http://olive­tree­ge­neal­ogy.­ing­piece-of-some­ones-life.html).

In her post, she talked about sev­eral ar­ti­cles she pos­sessed that were once owned by Mil­li­cent Lynn and Mil­li­cent’s hus­band Ge­orge. They in­cluded a book with a hand-writ­ten ge­neal­ogy for Mil­li­cent’s fam­ily, an an­tique cup­board, a First World War hel­met and a top hat.

“With all these con­nec­tions and trea­sured ob­jects in our home, I be­gan to feel that we owned a lit­tle piece of Mil­li­cent and Ge­orge’s lives, and that to com­plete the cir­cle we needed to find out more about their lives and an­ces­tors,” Schulze wrote. She went on to write that she dis­cov­ered Mil­li­cent had ar­rived in Saint John, N.B., from Eng­land on Feb. 17, 1919, on her way to Pene­tan­guishene, Ont., where her mother-in-law lived. She also found in­for­ma­tion on the cou­ple through cen­sus and mil­i­tary records.

This re­minded me of re­search I had com­pleted last year on a cou­ple that lived in our small com­mu­nity when I was young. My fam­ily had moved to the prop­erty in 1963 and, shortly af­ter­ward, they dis­cov­ered the well was con­tam­i­nated. When our neigh­bour learned of this, he of­fered wa­ter from his well. At this time, it was only him and his wife, a horse, a dog and a few chick­ens.

He didn’t have a huge de­mand for wa­ter, yet he had an abun­dance be­cause he chose an ex­cel­lent site with a nat­u­ral un­der­ground spring.

Our fam­i­lies be­came great friends and through the years, as I oc­ca­sion­ally helped out with the horse, re­turned their dog when it got lost and shared my pick­ings of blue­ber­ries, they gave me things they no longer de­sired. One was a 45mm cam­era from the ’60s be­cause they knew I loved pho­tog­ra­phy. Por­ta­ble ra­dios and Christ­mas or­na­ments dat­ing back to the ’50s were a few other items gifted.

Time passed and age over­ran both of them, and they’ve been gone for decades. I was told many sto­ries about them but as a child grow­ing up in the ’70s, I didn’t pay much at­ten­tion. I had never done any re­search to dis­cover where they came from. I knew only their names (Lil­lian and Carl Hoff­man), in­clud­ing maiden name (Philips) and their eth­nic origin (Ger­man and Mi’kmaq). I won­dered if I could learn more, armed with only this scant in­for­ma­tion.

To my sur­prise, I was able to con­struct their fam­i­lies back to when they were born. Co­in­ci­den­tally, Lil­lian May Philips (1905–1991) was born only five min­utes from where I live now. She mar­ried Carl Ed­ward Hoff­man (1903–1981) on Jan. 19, 1928, at Scars­dale, N.Y. From their mar­riage record, I learned Carl had not come di­rectly from Ger­many as I had thought. He was born in Ap­ple­ton, Wis., where his fa­ther was also born.

I was able to find ex­ten­sive in­for­ma­tion on the cou­ple through birth, mar­riage and cen­sus records. Since they lived in New York for a few years be­fore mov­ing to Canada, I also learned their only child was born in 1929, as he was one year old in the 1930 cen­sus.

Al­though these in­di­vid­u­als are not re­lated, it’s an in­ter­est­ing piece of his­tory I can add to my fam­ily’s story.

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