A Toronto Trust Cemeteries Indexing Project Milestone

We’ve had exciting news from our partners in Salt Lake City today (August 29). Another installment of the index we’ve made with the help of our partners at FamilySearch.org will become live and searchable on FamilySearch.org overnight. (It may take a little longer to update the intro page.)

The new records will be:

  • York General Burying Ground (Potter’s Field) 1826 to 1855
  • Toronto Necropolis 1877 to 1935 (1850 to 1877 were already available)
  • Mount Pleasant Cemetery 1876 to 1903

This is exciting stuff. The more recent records include plot owners and next of kin names and full addresses. All indexed.

You can also search by year or place of birth or death. Just as a test tonight, I found 26 people born in Chicago, 210 born in Montreal, and 8 born in Todmorden. Think of the possibilities this type of access opens up!

Congratulations to all the volunteers who help make these records available to researchers around the world.

There are more records in progress: Mount Pleasant Cemetery 1904 to 1935, and Prospect Cemetery 1890 to 1935. A lot of names. We would welcome your help. Please contact Jane MacNamara at fsi@torontofamilyhistory.org if you’d like to participate.

January’s Indexing Efforts

Our Toronto Trust Cemeteries project volunteers pushed well past the target of 6,000 records for the month to index more than 7,500 records in January. Each of those 7,500 records—all for Mount Pleasant Cemetery—represent two or three names: the deceased, the plot owner, and the next of kin. What an amazing boost this will be for genealogists with ancestors in Toronto!

As we work chronologically through the records, we’re also seeing Toronto grow and develop. In the records we’re working on now, street addresses are included. We’re also seeing the rise of elegantly named apartment residences. Indexer Gwyneth Pearce has discovered some interesting information about one of them.

After a bit of a struggle, Gwyneth deciphered the nearest relation address for an entry as “St George Mansions Cor Harbord & St George St”. She writes, “Looking this up, I found out that this has been described as Toronto’s ‘first official apartment building’. See this Citytv News story,  and p. 13 of this paper from the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre. I think it’s the building on the right at the back of this City of Toronto Archives photo.”

The index we’re creating will provide opportunities for historical research well beyond genealogy. I can’t wait to see what happens.

About indexing place names

As volunteers on the Toronto Trust Cemeteries project, we’re creating an index to some wonderful records. Generally, we transcribe words exactly as we see them, including abbreviations—so Wm or Eliz don’t become William and Elizabeth.

But in indexing the places of birth, death, and addresses of the nearest relative, we have the opportunity to use our local knowledge to expand and correct the place names. This can be really helpful to a researcher who isn’t familiar with Toronto and Ontario. However, we never add a place designation that is not in the original record.

Here are some examples:

  • Port Hope Ont should be expanded to Port Hope Ontario
  • Tor Gen Hosp should be expanded to Toronto General Hospital
  • Gen Hosp should be expanded to General Hospital (don’t add Toronto)
  • Eglington should be changed to Eglinton
  • York Tp or Twp should be expanded to York Township
  • London should never have either Ontario or England added unless in the original record

If we’re not absolutely sure that there is an error or the meaning of an abbreviation, we’ll always transcribe the record exactly as it appears. With luck, the researcher who finds the entry in our index will recognize the place—and we won’t have led them astray by guessing.

We’ve also collected a list of many of the places we’ve found in the records as a reference for indexing volunteers to refer to for puzzling entries.

The FSI program has some wonderful tools to aid in reading the handwritten registers by enlarging the image, adjusting the contrast, etc. I’ve written more about that here. But sometimes the best thing is another set of eyes, and we can let another indexer have a look. More about “sharing a batch” here.

One more thing. We’ve discovered that many of these dearly departed were moved one or more times. For example, in a page of 46 burials in Mount Pleasant Cemetery from January 4 to 27, 1887, folks were moved to Lakefield, Ontario and Trois Rivières, Quebec, as well as to Prospect Cemetery and St. James Cemetery in Toronto.

If a person was moved within the same cemetery, it is likely they were reunited with other family members, so we record only the more recent burial location but the original burial date. If the person was moved to another cemetery, we don’t include that new location, but rather retain only the burial location in the Toronto Trust cemetery and the original burial date.

The details of any reburials will be available to researchers when they look at the digitized image of the register page, as well as officiating minister, undertaker, cause of death, etc.

Some family historians will be amazed at how mobile their ancestors were—even after death!