Writing a Query

Writing an Effective Genealogical Query

There are some key items that need to be in a query if a quick or accurate response is wished:
Name of person about whom information is being sought
The complete name should be given as well as spelling variations if any. If the names of the spouse, siblings or children are known, providing that information narrows the potential matches to your person of interest.

Time Period
Place the person for whom information is being sought in a time period. This narrows the search and also keys responses to the query to the records that existed for that time period. For example, civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in Ontario in 1869. District and County marriage record keeping preceded that era, but births prior to that time may have been recorded with church baptismal records, and burial records would have been kept by the officiating clergyman.

Geographic Location
Knowledge of a geographic location more precise than “in Ontario” will help key responses to the post to records in that area.

Some other items of information that can help make your query better are:
Religion
Add the religion of the person of interest. Depending upon the time period, some religions kept better records than others or their records survived over the years.

 Occupation
Add the occupation of the person of interest. There are some record sets that exist for particular occupations or comparisons can be made to occupations of parents noted in vital statistic records and census records.

The above recommendations presume that you have this kind of information about the ancestor you are researching. If you do not have much of this information but do have some older relatives who might be able to provide it, reach out to them before you post.

Facebook Strategies
If you are asking a question about records and how to find them or use them, I would suggest posting on The Ontario Genealogical Society Facebook group. A larger pool of researchers can then respond to your post.

Posting queries on a Branch Facebook group or page works better if you are fairly sure that the person or persons noted in your query came from that specific geographical area. You also may wish to post your query on Branch Facebook groups or pages that border on the county in which you believe your ancestor resided. Sometimes residents close to county borders worshiped in churches not in their home county and may have worked in another county as well.

Since Facebook posts “disappear” quickly, you may wish to repost occasionally if you have not been successful in getting a response. I know that I am less likely to check Facebook postings if I am busy with a project or I am on a trip that includes a lot of touring and activities.

A sample query:
John Campbell
Seeking further information about John Campbell, son of David Campbell and Frances “Fanny” Campbell. He was born circa 1850, possibly in Cavan County, Ireland. He was enumerated on the 1861 Census for Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, with his father David and siblings Alexander, David and James. In 1871 it appears that he was enumerated with the Robert and Margaret (Sheritt) Campbell family in Bosanquet Township as his father David had died in 1861. I have found no known records for him post the 1871 Canadian Census.

After posting a query, sometimes you will get a timely response, sometimes a slow response and sometimes no response. My longest wait for a response was 10 years but the respondent opened up his line to the present, information which was well worth the wait.

May your queries bring you a wealth of information!