A Small Distinction
We have all had those small distinctions which make a big difference in our research. Perhaps only a middle initial distinguishes two people with nearly the same name. In this story, the letter A was misread as W, and that led me to the Yukon Gold Rush
THE GOLD MINER WHO WAS A WIFE
My grandfather's uncle, Henry Cartier, had once been a gold miner. He told my father, "I won and lost two fortunes." When I entered his information in FamilySearch, the helpful computer suggested a possible source: the 1901 Canada Census. The original image was not available, only the summary: Place: Unorganized Territories, Canada Household: Robert Peterson, head/ Henry Cartier, wife
Uncle Henry was a wife?? I kept thinking of the scene in Paint Your Wagon where the miners, for lack of any women, are dancing with each other. I really needed to see the original image for this one. I went to the library and consulted Ancestry.com. The summary there also told me that he was a wife, but at least I could look at the original image. And now I see that the W which indicates "relation to head of household" is actually an A. I still don't know what A is, but certainly not Wife.
I nearly overlooked another small symbol. An arrow pointing right took me to the next page, full of interesting information about Henry and his fellow miners. Henry was between fortunes in 1901; all he owns is $25 of personal possessions. Other men own more: a cabin ($25), a claim ($10,000), 2 dogs, 2/3 of a horse (yes!). Nobody has a cow. Unlike the census taker in the city, who went systematically from house to house, this census taker must have interviewed people as he met them. A separate column gives their residence: Yukon Hotel, Adams Hill, #1 Mine Field, Island #2.
A left-pointing arrow took me back through several other interesting images. Someone owns 1-1/2 dogs., but there are still no cows. Almost everyone is a White Male. The one Black Male is Walter Crindon, from Virginia. The one Yellow Male is Shi Kobaria, from Japan. And, yes, finally, I found a woman! 18-year-old Ane Swandsen, from Denmark, is the wife of 39-year-old Lars Swandsen, also from Denmark. Lars has been in the Yukon for 11 years. Ane has been there ONE DAY!
I discovered this trove of interesting information only because a transcriber had interpreted the letter A as W. What, I wondered, did A stand for? Wilbur Ellis, listed just below Henry, is an A; when I asked Ancestry for his record, I was told that Wilbur Ellis was an Aunt.