Success Stories

When All Else Fails

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Written by Juliette Eames

When Tara Flynn posted a request to Ancestor Cloud she was seeking to prove a relationship in her family line that would prove her daughter eligible for the “Daughters of the American Revolution”. In her project description she wrote:

We have everything we need except that we are not able to definitively show the father-son relationship in one of the generations.The son is Paul Schell, born 4 Feb, 1805, in Markham, York, Ontario, Canada; d. 25 Mar. 1890, Stouffville, York, Ontario Canada We have some census documents and narrative accounts that indicate that Paul was Christian’s son, but no official records. If we could get a birth record, baptismal record, or other official document that made this familial collection, we would have the full proof of lineage for the DAR. Thank you. Tara.


Elizabeth Lapointe submitted a request to help on this project because she had done quite a bit of reading on this area of Ontario because it represented emigration from the United States to Canada very early in the 19th century. Because of her understanding an proximity to where the records were located Tara chose Elizabeth to work with.

Tara was very complimentary of the work Elizabeth had done and said she was very personable and asked detailed questions. These women worked very well together but Elizabeth was unable to find the specific records requested. Elizabeth said, “The research question was to find the birthdate of the subject in the records of the York Region, Ontario, so that she could prove the father-son relationship. The archives of the area was contacted, the question was asked as to the records in the archives, and after a time for research, I was told that there were no records concerning birth/baptism.” She did find a marriage certificate listing the father of the subject but not the birth certificate requested. 

Some may consider this a failure but to Tara it was quite a success!

Elizabeth was able to access physical archives that are not available online, so now we know, without having to travel to Canada, that the information we need is not available there.  She searched for several types of documents (birth and marriage certificates; wills) in various locations, which was a great time and legwork saver for us.

Tara was most grateful that she was able to save a trip to Canada and having the peace of mind that the documents were not at the archives she had suspected. Although she was not able to confirm the father-son connection that they had hoped to confirm, Elizabeth found information that suggested their ancestors might have been Quaker, and pointed them to another archive in Toronto as a possible additional resource. Elizabeth still found that Tara was great to work with and summed up the project by saying 

The unsuccessful research is still beneficial because it proves that at this time, the record is not there. It was a negative finding, not a negative search, and as such, is considered a win due to the fact that at this time, the record is not in the file. She is now free to search in other accounts, such as land records estates, to possibly find the son-father relationship.

This account is an example that not all research projects end the way we hope for but we can still find treasures along the way that lead us to other places. And just like Elizabeth said it was a negative finding, not a negative search. 

This piece is in memory of Elizabeth Lapointe whom recently passed away. She was one of our dear writers and top contributors to the AncestorCloud community amongst several other genealogical societies. She was involved in genealogy for over 20 years before her passing and made countless contributions to helping others discover their family members. Our sincerest condolences go to her husband, Mario Lapointe and the family members and friends who knew and loved her.


The AC Team

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