When it comes to Canadian ancestry, I am neither well-traveled nor an expert. I certainly have done more research on my husband’s Franco-American forebears in Quebec and early-early Nova Scotia — Acadia — than on my Steeves line, the German Stief family that came to Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s before joining a group which settled Hillsborough and the Petitcodiac area of New Brunswick.
The Steeves name, handed down through a family of seven sons, is quite prolific, so I frequently use it as a test surname when I’m exploring a resource that is new to me.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed looking at the website for Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics, which can be found at www.novascotiagenealogy.com.
Genealogists can look at the records on the site, but if you want a copy, you need to purchase that. The site boasts 1 million records — 300,304 birth records, 235,854 marriage bonds and records, and 447,916 death records. Keep in mind that marriage bonds are not proof that a marriage took place.
The site lists available records as births for 1864-77 and 1908-13; delayed births, filed later because the person needed to prove birth or age for a pension or something of that sort; marriage records, 1763-1864 and 1864-1938; and deaths for 1864-77 and 1908-63.
Records are turned over to the Archives when they are 100 years old, births; 75 years old, marriages; and 50 years old, deaths.
I entered the surname Steeves without any first name to see what popped up. The site indicated that there were 18 births, 48 marriage records and 51 deaths available for the name.
I found a James Travers Steeves, born in 1902 in Sydney Mines, Cape Breton County. This interested me because my great-grandfather in New Brunswick was Harry James Steeves, my uncle Harry was James Harry and his son also is James.
It goes without saying that a map or atlas is very helpful when tracking your family. Sydney Mines is not near the New Brunswick border, we find, but in the very eastern part of Nova Scotia.
James Travers Steeves was living in Vancouver, British Columbia, when he made an application for a delayed birth record in January 1944.
The application listed him as having been born on Dec. 27, 1902, to George Hartley Steeves, an accountant, and Elizabeth Ann MacKenzie, who was born in Nova Scotia.
He stated that he was born James Travers Truman Steeves, and that his father was born in Petitcodiac, New Brunswick. How about that? Of course, that could be the village, the river or the region known as Petitcodiac.
The person testifying that she was present when he was born was Alice Steeves, an aunt that was listed as “his mother’s sister.” Maybe, but I’d sooner think she was his father’s sister, unless Alice also married a Steeves.
The affidavit also has a space for the person to note the “race” of the child. Some of the records I looked at said that a child was “white.” James Steeves’ affidavit says he was “Dutch Irish.” I’d have to know more to make a judgment on that, but I would offer that settlers who come from Pennsylvania are not necessarily Dutch.
The index for marriage records included George Hartley Steeves and Lizzie McKenzie, a different spelling for her surname, with the date of their marriage as March 5, 1902. George, 22, was a bookkeeper born at Petitcodiac, the son of W.H. Steeves, a farmer, and wife, Annie Jane. Lizzie, age 21 or 27, was born at Port Marion, the daughter of Roderick McKenzie, a carpenter, and a mother not named.
WItnesses to the marriage appear to be Henry McCurdy and a McKenzie, and the minister was the Rev. J.F. Forbes.
Next I might look for these families in Canadian Census records. James Travers Truman Steeves would be only a distant cousin of mine, I’m thinking, but I’m glad to have made his acquaintance.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.