Lanark County Genealogy Society

Hidden Treasures at Archives Lanark

At a recent general meeting of the LCGS, Archives Lanark was asked to show some “Hidden Treasures at the Archives” since there are some collections that are quite specific and so only pertain to a few researchers.

The first one chosen was the Ellen Foster collection which was one of the very first we received and is still in the metal bookcase it arrived in. It is in the back room used for documents from the Land Records. Ellen worked for years collecting family records in a group sheet format in 3 ring binders covering such families as Foster and Dillabaugh. A surprise is the Index for the Wills in Leeds and Grenville from 1821 to 1985 which she must have had photocopied.

Then there is the Delmar Dunlop fondsan eclectic collection of everything from photos in early Glasgow, Lanark Village and Carleton Place to family histories. Of special interest is the Cummins Rural Directory map that lists the landowners in 1920 in Ramsay and adjoining townships.

There are 18 large binders of documentation from the research of Scott Shane who lives in Seattle WA but traveled to the Pakenham Township area to find his Shane, Bayne and Ellis ancestors. He published a large book on the family which he donated to us but the next year he brought all the binders containing copied pages from records from North Dakota and other states as well as Lanark County since his family wasn’t interested and there was a better chance someone here might be. Due to lack of space the binders are stored off site but can be retrieved if someone finds their family in the published book.

A unique set of photos is found in the Ed Carbonell collection. He was a well-known musician all over the Ottawa Valley who hoped to publish a book of photos of people he’d played with -Ward Allen, Mac Beattie and Joe Brown. However he gave up on the idea and gave us the books of photos which we indexed after grouping them under fiddlers, step dancers, etc.

The Tweedsmuir Histories of the Women’s Institutes form a major part of our collection. For half a century, the curators of each branch wrote up histories of the farms and villages in their area and kept scrap books of the community activities. There used to be 17 branches in South Lanark and 11 in North Lanark but so many have disbanded that now there are 4 and 2 respectively. There is so much information available now online and so many women working full time with children to care for that a social group of neighbours is not a priority any more.  We have collected all minute books and histories available so early photos and stories are often found there. Wendy Roberts, a volunteer, has spent hours indexing the names in the books.

As part of the Land Records, there are 2 books listing the sale of land to the B&O Railway as it passed from Carleton Place, north through Ramsay & Pakenham in 1861 & 62.

The Poll Books of the North Riding of Lanark for elections in 1863 (Bell & Shaw) and all of Lanark in 1872(Rosamond & Caldwell) arrived as part of the Land Records. They are useful because they list the street name or lot & Concession of each voter. This was before the secret ballot since every vote was recorded.

The Viola Reid and Hilda Geddes collections represent decades of work by dedicated women when everything was hand written but they recorded amazing amounts of records before we were restricted by privacy concerns. Viola’s work was mostly in the Pakenham Township area and Hilda lived in Snow Road so hers covers the far west of Lanark County and into Frontenac. She also published the book “The Canadian Mississippi River” after she was 80 years old.

Barbara Griffith is a more modern researcher who has volumes of work in North & South Sherbrooke Townships as well as some family histories.

So there is still some luck as to whether someone else has worked on your family but visitors coming to Archives Lanark usually find something of interest when they visit.

Submitted by Marilyn Snedden    2015 Chair of Archives Lanark Board of Directors