Toronto Necropolis in February

Toronto Necropolis © Jane E. MacNamara

As we sit comfortably in front of our home computers indexing the burial registers of the Toronto Necropolis, I thought you might like to see what the actual cemetery looked like on a rainy February 27, 2010. The photos also help to explain the reason for all the complicated burial location descriptions like “gore next to”.

In the first two months of 2010, we have indexed well over 10,000 names. But there are many, many more to go!

Guarded by Necropolis lions © Jane E. MacNamara

If you’d like to help, we’d be very glad of your assistance. Please see the Toronto Trust Indexing page to find out how to sign up.

Moving eastward to the Toronto Necropolis!

Necropolis entrance

Necropolis entrance and chapel (courtesy David Reed)

We’re making great progress on the York General Burying Ground, and we’ll soon be moving on to the Toronto Necropolis records. We’ll be moving east to the edge of the Don River valley, and forward in time—with a bit of an overlap with the York General Burying Ground. I’m sure we’ll recognize lots of families.

When you download your first batch of the Necropolis, you’ll want to reorganize the indexing fields to make the job easier. Here are the instructions:

When you have the indexing page open, you’ll see a “View” menu at the top left. Choose “Organize fields” and you can easily hide the fields you don’t need for the Necropolis, and drag the others into the correct order using the arrows between the columns. Just highlight the field name on the left, and use the second arrow button to move it to the box on the right, or use the third and fourth buttons to shuffle it up or down.

Here’s a screen shot of what the “Organize fields” should look like for the Necropolis.

Necropolis fields

"Organize Fields" settings for the Toronto Necropolis

How to record relatives’ addresses in the York General Burying Ground records

As we move into more recent records at the York General Burying Ground, the clerk occasionally notes a location (usually a street name) for some individuals in the “relationship” column.

Three occurrences of addresses—March Street, Front Street and Yorkville

Please record that location information in the “Nearest Relation: Address” field. If you followed my instructions for reorganizing the fields, the “Nearest Relation: Address” field will be hidden. You’ll need to retrieve it using the same “Organize Fields” tool under the File menu. Just highlight it and click on the arrow to bring it back to the active left side.

Don’t worry if you already bypassed some of these addresses, we’ll likely catch them in arbitration!

Reorganize fields for the York General Burying Ground

Some of you may have already downloaded a batch from the York General Burying Ground—the earliest cemetery in our project. I’ll write more later, but you should consider reorganizing fields to make indexing easier.

You’ll find instructions in my November 5 blog entry. Here’s what the re-organized fields should look like:

York General Burying Ground-fields

Mount Pleasant Cemetery—a little history

Globe, November 6, 1876, page 4, column 4.

Globe, November 6, 1876, page 4, column 4.

As we approach turn-of-the-century records at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, I thought you might be interested in a little of the cemetery’s history.

Mount Pleasant’s official opening was on Saturday, November 6, 1876—133 years ago, almost to the day. This article appeared in the Globe newspaper on the following Monday (page 4, column 4).

This online article by Toronto historian and journalist Mike Filey on the Mount Pleasant Group’s site, tells the story of Mount Pleasant and its predecessors Toronto General Burying Grounds and the Toronto Necropolis.

Today, Mount Pleasant is a splendid green space in mid-town Toronto, an arboretum of native and exotic species, and home to an sometimes surprising array of urban wildlife. It connects to Toronto’s network of ravine trails and is very popular spot to stroll, run, rollerblade, etc.

A little consistency in grave locations

While we were beta testing the Toronto Trust Cemeteries indexing pages, one of the biggest changes we made was to consolidate the three “Where interred” fields into one, because we realized that the way locations were described was wildly variable—and the variations wouldn’t fit neatly into the fields.

So, now we can type what we see—but it would make the arbitration step go much faster if we can introduce a few standard formats for locations that we run across frequently. (There will be lots that don’t fit these formats. That’s OK. Continue to type what you see.)

  • Letter/number/number: For example, M 45 20. Let’s leave off any extra bits like s, n, e, w (for south, north, etc.).
  • Letter/Fancy/number: For example, Q Fancy 12. “Fancy” is frequently abbreviated. Please spell it out.
  • Adult Single Grave: Let’s use this order, singular form, no apostrophe.
  • Child Single Grave: Let’s use this order, singular form, no apostrophe.
  • Pauper Adult Grave: Let’s use this order, singular form, no apostrophe.
  • Pauper Child Grave: Let’s use this order, singular form, no apostrophe.

We’re now seeing more institutions or organizations as the owners of graves, for example: Masonic Fraternity, and St Andrew’s Society. The name of the organization should go in the “Property of: Surname” field.

Tricks for deciphering that careless handwriting!

L to R: Reduce, Enlarge, Invert (negative), Brightness/contrast

L to R: Reduce, Enlarge, Invert (switch to negative), Brightness/contrast

Don’t you sometimes wish you could ask that clerk why he didn’t use better ink, or a sharper pen, or at least why he didn’t take his time? Did he not realize that we’d be trying to read his writing 100 years later!

Here are a few tricks you can try:

  • Enlarging and reducing the size. You’ll find the enlarging controls at the top left of the indexing screen, just above the image (the plus and minus buttons.) It is not always the case that bigger is better. Sometimes seeing a letter or word in context  will help.
  • Darkening the page to make very faint ink look denser. You can also change the contrast. Use the “sun” button at the top left to get sliders for brightness and contrast. It may take a few seconds for your screen to show the change.
  • Strange, but true, that sometimes switching to a negative image make fine lines stand out really well. This technique slows the computer down a little, so be patient. The button to “invert” the image, also at the top left, is black and white split diagonally.
  • Share a batch with another transcriber. Sometimes what you need is a second opinion. Go to the “File” menu at the top left and select “share batch”. You will get a number that you can e-mail to another project member, who will be able to open the same batch and be that other pair of eyes.

We’re all working with different computers and screens, and yes,—EYES. If you come upon a batch that you are finding really difficult, and you think it may be either your equipment or your eyesight that is the problem, the best route might be for you to send the batch back for someone else to do. Look for “Return batch” under the “File” menu.

No problem. There are lots of other batches to go around. Don’t feel you have to struggle!

Recording additional property owners

Quite frequently, we’ve been coming across plots with multiple owners–likely siblings in most cases. We have been recording only the first owner which meant that we might be missing the opportunity to index additional family surnames .

NEW: If there are two or more owners, record all the first names, separated with the word “or” in the “Property of: Given Name” field. For instance, “John or Peter or Susan”. Record all the surnames in the “Property of: Surname” field, again, separated with “or”. For instance, ” Cooper or Smith or Brown”.

If the given names have been abbreviated, do not expand them. If you can’t decipher a name, use ctrl+u to mark it unreadable.

Using the “Relationship” columns to record the missing name of a relative of the deceased

In the case of an un-named infant or child, or the occasional “wife of”, the rule is to mark the “deceased’s given name” blank with ctrl+b and to use the surname of the relative mentioned.

The Mount Pleasant indexing fields offer no obvious way to record the forename of the relative. Here’s the solution:

NEW: Use the “Relationship: Given Name” and “Relationship: Surname” fields to record the relative’s name. For example, in “Infant son of Nathaniel Fox”, record “Nathaniel” in “Relationship: Given Name” and “Fox” in Relationship: Surname”.

If you have hidden the unused fields for Mount Pleasant Cemetery as I suggested in a previous post, you will need to show them again when you come across an entry like the above. (Go to the View menu, and select “Organize Fields”.)

You will only need these field occasionally, so hide them again.

Alternatively, you could move the “relationship fields” to the end of the indexing fields so they’re handy if you need them—but you won’t inadvertently enter data.

How do I deal with two names on one line?

Indexer Pat Jeffs has brought forward a anomaly in the Mount Pleasant registers for which we now have an answer. Pat noted that, in a couple of cases, there were two individuals listed on a single line in the register–one set of twin infants, and a husband and wife.

Each individual should have a separate line entry. Do them in the order written. The line numbers increase automatically, but you can change them. The second number will be a duplicate, but that’s OK.

Remember that if there’s not an actual name the line should be marked as a blank; don’t be tempted to use “wife” or “child”, etc.

Instructions for this problem have now been added to the field help screens. Thank you to Pat (from England) for asking, and Rose (from Utah) for providing the answer.