How do I find my family- Proper ethics with limited information? Newbie

+9 votes
I've been trying to find information on my maternal grandfather for years- for the longest time I looked in the wrong places, went after the wrong stories. he was an enigma. I started with what I believe to be very limited personal information, few family stories (and fables) and few details he let out. My mother has no photos of him as a boy, photos before/during ww11, nor photos of any of his family or any real concrete information about his family. My MIL is into genealogy and started me on the right direction (using where I found a few papers relating to him)

I do know my grandfathers name, birthdate, place of birth and the date he passed. His middle name is french- he would not let someone calling him "Lee-Roy" slide- it's Le Roi. His birth certificate was replaced, there is no original. I never had either of his parents full legal names. The surname Luckwell is uncommon enough in the Edmonton area that I think I may have found his family- without proof though, I still don't know for sure. It was my hope that I could possibly find old photographs, see what his parents and siblings looked like, where he lived. Perhaps my mom has cousins? I just don't know.

Some of the verbal info my mom gave me when I started looking-
He had multiple siblings
They lived in(around?) the Edmonton Alberta area in the 20's-30's
His sister's name was Betty-Jean Marion
His mothers maiden name was Rempel. she had German heritage.
My mom heard a little about his sister and mother, mom was bullied for being the tallest girl in the class, so he did let out a few details around then, telling her that his mother was taller then average too and her height came from her german heritage too.

I found passenger lists with him that follow what he told us he did during the war. The only old document I found that directly connects him with anyone is a US border paper where he listed his mother (I finally got him linked to someone!).

If anyone could possibly point me in the right direction for getting proper information, what documents I should ask my mom for, how to go about it correctly I will be eternally grateful. My MIL told me all about something called name collectors when trying to figure out a family tree, pasting in people were they don't really belong. I don't want to do that.
asked in Genealogy Help by M Torma G2G Crew (410 points)
What is a MIL?
my apologies, I usually try my best to avoid internet abbreviations. MIL is My mother in law.
Oh no!  Now I know why I didn't know that abbreviation.  :D

You mentioned you had found Granddad's delayed birth entry from 1948 which I imagine is this item. This entry gives both of his parents names, John Luckwell and Mary Jane Wright. The affidavit was signed by your Granddad's father, so the information is most likely correct.

Agnes Rempel was your Grandfather's wife or partner, although I couldn't find a marriage entry. This information was on the marriage entry for Mr Turner.

Family Search has two Census records (1901 & 1911) for John and Mary Luckwell which suggest the birth date for your Grandfather is fairly accurate. The 1901 census is "Canada Census, 1901," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 6 September 2015), John Luckwell, Z, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada; citing p. 46, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa. The 1911 census is "Recensement du Canada de 1911," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 6 September 2015), John Luckwell, 1911; citing Census, Calgary Sub-Districts 1-59, Alberta, Canada, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 2,417,651.


Oh how we love mysteries around here!  Welcome to WikiTree Simon. Have fun adding your limbs to our great big ole shared tree!  Mags
Great work, Simon. Consider this your star.

Thank you for the detailed response!
Yes! I have this document. This is the man I believe to be my grandfather's father, he did marry a Agnes Rempel and they did have a daughter named Betty Jean Marion (the two word of mouth names we ever got about his family). I found a wedding record where Betty Jean listed both of her parents, Agnes Rempel is one and Albert Le Roi is the other. My grandfather also lost his original birth certificate at some point and had it replaced. mom said the birth certificate she has for him was printed in the 60's.

I forgot to include his name - Vernon Le Roi Luckwell, born in Edmonton June 29 1923
I found passenger and crew lists for him, but the only document I found that connected him to any of his family is this.
My starting point was my grandfathers full name, birthdate, birthplace. And the very few pieces he told my mother decades ago- "Rempel" his mothers maiden name, and that his sister was a Betty Jean Marion. He told us grandkids he had other siblings, but was always very vague and avoided any conversation when it came to anything in the 30's or during ww11.

Thank you ken, so it appears I will be able to find the original entry then. :)
Just a couple of bits more that might help pinpoint whether this is your Grandfather's family.

Another couple of possible siblings appear to be John George Bruce and Clayton Ray Luckwell. No additional details on John, but this link contains some details about Clayton.

The maritime records indicate that your Grandfather left home for sea when he was about 16 years old and by 1944 he was 6 foot tall and 160-168lbs. These records also seem to indicate that he was living in Liverpool during this time period.

I would check with your Mum whether Uncle John (or Jack), Uncle Clay or Auntie Pat ring any bells.
Thank you Simon!
As far as those names go no. He did say he had brothers, and did specifically mention a sister Betty Jean.
I've been tearing my house apart trying to find the original piece of paper of notes I got slowly from mom when I started looking years ago. She's working from limited memories from decades ago. It would be a tidbit here or there as she would remember things I would jot them down. There might be another name on that paper of my original notes I jotted, I don't know. Mostly it was random details about him. We've been renovating and it's in storage in the house somewhere, I've made quite the mess trying to find it. hah. I did ask her if she had anymore names (those were the only other luckwell children I found too - right now I don't want to plant names in her head) and she'll tell me more if she thinks of them. She never had aunts or uncles on his side growing up. Just the odd moment over 40 or so years he'd mention something about his childhood family.

Last week was when I started to find stuff. Her birthday is coming up and we were talking about her dad, and I asked her if she ever had the feeling that we never did get the true story, parts seemed so tidy, constructed to stop more questions. She said she had that feeling too. so I started looking for his people outside the parts I always questioned. The lore was he was orphaned in the 30's, siblings passed away too, and he had overheard his uncle and aunt saying they really couldn't afford to feed him so he ran away and left Alberta. Learned to cook in a logging camp, was on merchant ships in the war, was in liverpool, couldn't join the cdn troops as he was rejected because of his eyes. but also told his very inquisitive child when she did ask questions about his family members to not worry and that the women in his family all lived into their 90's. (comforting thing to tell his daughter) Soooo originally I had kept looking for any record in the edmonton journal of a luckwell family who died in a car wreak, or multiple death notices at the same time etc. or the names I did have from my mother as having died in the 30's. I know there are some truths hidden within the whole story.
This indicates that Clayton and Pat have already passed away.

It would be worth while seeing if you could trace some of the individuals mentioned to find out about their family history as they may hold the key, or part of it, that could unlock your family mystery.

In my own research a first cousin twice removed (our common ancestor was my GG Grandparents) knew the name of our immigrant ship and also had a photo of my GG Grandmother. So each family line seems to have small snippets of information about our ancestors that can help build a bigger picture.
Thanks for the "Star" Betty. Much appreciated!

1 Answer

+2 votes

First, I would complete as much of your tree as you know on Wikitree. In the text section of the profiles, add the comments you made here and any other notes you would keep, including links to your references. This way you have a central place to point to in the future, and allows other genealogists, who may have specific knowledge in this area to do some specific research on your behalf.

Second, I would think about getting an autosomal DNA test, in this particular case, for your mother. I would also include your father if he is available, of his side of the tree. This way you might find a cousin that might have some more information.

You say, "His birth certificate was replaced, there is no original". I want to be sure I understand this.  Certificates are notarized documents that certify the information contained on the document is an accurate copy of the original entry. This is usually a log in a book. Unless the original log book was lost, the information should still exist.  

Good Luck!

answered by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 5 (56.6k points)
You are correct. Grandfather lost HIS original copy somewhere, so there must be a log still present for reference as he had it replaced in the 60's sometime.

I never thought about genealogy before, it was mostly this part that really bothered me that I had no answers. My grandfather was a special guy, and it's all due to that emotional connection that I wanted to hunt for information. building a complete tree like some of my friends parents have done. I thought that was only for people who knew already and can go back, had stories, letters, photographs etc. The one branch I can do that belonged to my maternal grandmother who didn't particularly care about our family, and was never close to any of us.

This shared wiki community could prove to be the way to go though when it comes to my dad's side. I know a little more, but with a language barrier in the way it would be far too complicated for me to accomplish with any accuracy on something like ancestry. Shared wiki, I'm sure there are Hungarians who are looking for lost branches that fled Hungary during the revolution. So if I understand the format correctly, if I upload his parents (both now deceased) others can see my contribution and link them if they belong to their family as well?

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