Fun with City Directories

Directory City of Hamilton 1884
1884 Hamilton, Ontario Directory

You might be forgiven for not realizing that the second entry is for Ellen, widow of Patrick Basquill. I mean, how could you even guess such a thing might be possible?

I’ve spent (or maybe wasted) the entire day tracking this family through the Hamilton directories. Manually. City directories are awesome for tracking people. It’s tedious to do so, though, because the image quality is not great and the OCR is therefore really, really, really bad. Relying on even a smartypants search of the index only returned five entries for Ellen. By looking at each year’s directory, I was able to find a bunch more entries for her. Why would a sane person do such a thing? Because it gives me an idea of when her husband, Patrick, died. He was present in the 1853 Hamilton directory (under the name Patrick Bassfield), but by 1858 Ellen was being described as his widow. So now I know he died sometime between 1853-1858.

This family group had a daughter, Bridget, who allegedly moved to Chicago and married a man named Thomas Raycroft (I have doubts about that). But the exciting thing to me is that one of the sons was described in a Jackson County, Ohio newspaper entry as a visiting nephew to one of the two Basquill families living there (brothers Nicholas and John). And? I am pretty sure, when I take a closer look, that one of those brothers’ children went to the east coast to visit a Basquill relative that I have proved is one of “my” Basquills. So by fitting all these weird pieces together, I think I can finally connect the Hamilton Basquills with my own family.

But holy crap is it ever tedious.

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