Saturday, May 14, 2016

Documenting the Details

It doesn't take a deep examination of newspaper articles to realize that the editorial process is prone to errors. Genealogists are often overjoyed to discover mentionsno matter how fleetingin the daily press of their ancestors' home towns, but that joy can sometimes be short lived if not tempered by a cautious double-check in corresponding official documents.

Take the Find A Grave entry I mentioned yesterday. While I was delighted to find a newspaper reprint of Marshall Jackson's photograph posted on his Find A Grave memorial by a well-meaning volunteer, I couldn't help notice some possible discrepancies.

For one thing, his date of birth was given in the Find A Grave entry only as a year1862meaning we'd have to delve further to sharpen that detail. That, however, is not my main concern, as much as the fact that his place of birth was listed as North Dakota. If you are a history buff focused on the American West, you will know that the state of North Dakota didn't even exist then; lumped in with what eventually became its twin state, South Dakota, the area was then known as the Dakota Territory.

More important than that slight error, though, is the fact that this detail disagreed with the newspaper report back in Winnipeg, the day the news of his murder hit his hometown newspaper. According to the Manitoba Free Press on January 26, 1917, Marshall Jackson was not born in Dakotano matter what one chose to call the placebut was born near Peterborough, Ontario.

Considering such a discrepancy, when his obituary mentioned he was survived by a wife, two sons and two daughters, you know I had to check that one out.

Unlike the census records in the United Statesregularly scheduled for intervals of ten years' durationthe Canadian census from the western provinces provided us a glimpse of the listing of local residents only one year prior to this 1917 tragedy. Thus, it was fairly easy to determine just which household was the right Jackson household.

Thankfully, the Free Press had also provided the Jackson family's address in Winnipeg at the time: 697 Warsaw Avenue. While the 1916 census record showed a different house number, the Jackson family was right there on Warsaw: fifty two year old grain inspector, Marshall Jackson (who was indeed born in Ontario, at least according to this census enumeration), his wife, Hester, plus two daughters, "Gladas" and "Ellan." Both twenty four year old Gladys and twenty one year old Ellen were entered as born in the United States.

Those details seemed to corroborate nicely the newspaper report that, before his fifteen years "in the investigation business," Marshall Jackson "had come to Winnipeg from Fargo, N.D., where he had been sheriff."

If you suspect my next point of inquiry will be to check out that claim that Marsh had once been sheriff, you know me well. Count your tally as having gained bonus points if you also wondered whether I would still pursue the record to discover the names of the two as-yet missing sons' names. We'll trace the family back through the 1911 and 1906 Canadian census records, and then jump the border to the United States census record for 1900, to see what else we can discover about this family. 



  1. I should have caught that 1889 is when ND became a State:)

    1. Sometimes, ya just gotta slow down and catch all those details. They can be slippery if you try to go too fast!

  2. One needs to be careful with house numbers too - periodically, in some places, streets and numbers are re-done. My grandfather's house downtown actually had 3 different addresses in the 20 years he lived there with his parents.


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