Monday, March 16, 2015

The Database Continues To Grow...

I am pleased to say that the “Charlotte County Interment/Burial Index” that I started compiling back in 2006 has now surpassed 27,000 entries! I have made great strides over the winter in completing cemeteries in St. Andrews and Campobello. At this point, I feel that I am close to 25% complete with St. Stephen Rural Cemetery. The St. Stephen Rural Cemetery is the last of the mainland cemeteries to be entered and with a reported 15,000 interments in this cemetery alone, I am not sure if I will ever be fully completed in adding to it. This summer, I hope to start adding burials for cemeteries on the island of Grand Manan. Once completed, all cemeteries for Charlotte County will completed in the database. And what a resource that will be!!
As the database grows, entries seems to be slowing down. This is happening namely due to one reason: when searching for a specific death certificate, I tend to search death certificates for all those that had that specific surname. Since the database is so large, I can quickly add possible “strays” and also check my work on previous entries. And since St. Stephen Rural Cemetery is the last “mainland” cemetery, why not just search common mainland names to ensure that I “have everyone”. With a large cemetery such as St. Stephen Rural Cemetery, there are plenty of straws that are not listed with some of my sources, particularly the book “St. Stephen Rural Cemetery: Tombstone Inscriptions, Volume 1". This book was published in 1996 by the New Brunswick Genealogical (Charlotte Branch) and is a limited print by Picton Press. This book has been a huge reference for adding in burials but as mentioned, sometime as surname search on death certificates tends to uncover deaths/burials not listed in the book, particularly in the case of many infant deaths.
It is amazing to see how some large families spread out in Charlotte County. While added burials for St. Stephen, I notice a few entries above, the parents of the said deceased and that they buried in another area. A few items that make this project interesting is the change in spelling in some surnames or the errors that happen when surnames are spell similarity. Such is the case with “Johnson” and “Johnston” but also with many of the “Mc” and “Mac” prefix in surnames. But the database itself has already helped to correct some of the confusion but it still doesn’t clear up entries where a son has decided to spell is surname different than his father’s or siblings surname. And don’t get me started on the confusion when you realize that an adoption has taken place. Thankfully between using census, birth certificates and marriage records, one can start to make sense of the life of a stranger long departed. Such is life, right?
However head scratches are not reserved to understanding the lives of the departed Charlotte County residents. Try adding entries for burials of those that are not even from New Brunswick (or Nova Scotia, or Maine). This was very common when entering data for cemeteries in St. Andrews, particularly the St. Andrews Rural Cemetery. There was one section of this cemetery that I tend to call “the penthouse”. Many of the burials in this area where once affluent, wealth people who had retired in St. Andrews from Ontario, Quebec or the New England states. St. Andrews, still a resort town for those of us living, certainly had its share of “outsiders” that came to the town late in their life and are buried here for eternity. As with each and every entry I tend to spend some time research data on the deceased. In the case of “the penthouse” section, I discovered lives of once well connect people. In one case, I found a newspaper article of one, now deceased, couple that once hosted a glamorous party at their home in Florida for fellow high society Canadians in the area. And there they were, a photograph showed the couple sharply dress. Now, some 40 years later, a lonely guy in New Brunswick reads their story and adds their life data to entry on their burial in a now cold cemetery in January. Was that a little too morbid? Perhaps, but one thing that I have learned from this project is this: regardless of your place in life, your place in the cemetery means very little. Regardless of the society elite planning and buy plots in a “penthouse” section in the “locals” cemetery, it makes little difference in the end. In this database, there is no spot for data on your net worth.