Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Research on the Currie Family

I first began researching the Currie's when I was 13 years old in 1994, but not having the resources to travel to Michigan, a lack of online digitized resources at the time, and a lack of money to do long-distance research, my search did not go too far beyond asking my grandmother questions about her dad, Archie Currie, and any relatives she could remember. All she could remember in regards to Archie's siblings were two brothers, Alex and William, and a sister, possibly named Rose. She said that William had run off as a hobo with the railroad and left a trunk of his things at her dad's house. She did not know of William ever being married or having children. Alex had lived in Melvin in Sanilac County on a farm and had a wife named Minnie and a son named Donald. Alex was the only sibling my grandmother really knew very well. My grandmother had never met Rose, but she knew Rose's daughter lived somewhere near Detroit and was married to a Polish man. They visited Archie frequently when my grandmother was a child to use his land for hunting, but she couldn't quite remember the name of Rose's daughter, and she wasn't entirely sure about Rose's name. My grandmother had never known her grandparents.

My grandmother had a copy of Archie's birth, death, and marriage records, but that was about all we had pertaining to documentation of the family. All I knew about Archie's parents from the birth record was that they were Alexander and Mary Currie, with no maiden name for Mary, and that they were both born in Ontario. The marriage record was not helpful b/c it was not the official one from the Ontario Registrar General. It looked like it was from the minister who performed the marriage, and it did not list parents' names. The death record did not help because my grandmother was the informant, and she did not know the names of her grandparents. My grandmother did have a picture of Alexander and Mary Currie that she inherited from her dad. On the back it said "Grandma and Grandpa Currie - Taken in studio in Lapeer, Michigan." Here is the pic below:

So this is where my research stagnated for over 10 years.

In August 2005, a kind person with access to census records looked up Archie and his parents in the 1900 U.S. Census in Sanilac Co, Michigan. Of course, this still did not give me a maiden name for Mary, but it did give the name of a sibling of Archie's that my grandmother had never met nor heard of: Archie's older brother, Ervin Currie, born Oct 1883 in Michigan. It also gave me possible birth dates for Alexander (Nov 1837) and Mary (Sep 1852) and a possible year of immigration from Canada (1882). In addition, it stated that Alexander's parents were both born in Scotland, and that Mary's parents were born in Vermont and England. It confirmed both Alexander and Mary's birthplaces as Canada, and stated that Mary had given birth to 6 children, 4 of whom were still living.

Using this info, I decided to search the 1881 Canadian census at FamilySearch. I found an Alexander and Mary E. Currie living in South Dorchester, Elgin, Ontario, but wasn't sure if this was them. They were close to the same ages as my Alex and Mary from the 1900 U.S. census. Archie was not born until 1889, so he wouldn't have been in this 1881 census. Their children were May G. (8), William E. (6), Nancy A. (5), and Alexander (2). Hmmm...Alexander and William were the names of the brothers that my grandmother remembered, though I didn't have ages or birth dates yet to corroborate with. And my grandmother's middle name was Mae, so maybe she was named after her aunt. We knew her first name, Violet, was after her maternal aunt, so maybe her middle name, Mae, was after her paternal aunt.

Then came Christmas 2005 when my parents bought me a copy of FamilyTreeMaker, which came with a free 1-year subscription to This is when I found Archie in 1910 working as a farm laborer in Sanilac County, Michigan, as was his brother, Ervin. They were both boarding with other families, probably their employers. I also found Archie's brother, Alex, living with his wife, Minnie, and their son, Donald, in Sanilac County in 1910. I still did not find Archie's parents, Alexander and Mary, in 1910. In 1920, I found Archie living with his widowed mother, Mary, in Sanilac County, so at least I could now narrow down his father's death date. In April 1930, I found Archie and my great-grandmother, Jennie, living in Flynn, Sanilac, Michigan, which is where my grandmother was born 6 months later in October 1930. I also found brother Alex with Minnie and Donald in 1920 and 1930 in Sanilac County. Mother Mary was not found in 1930, giving me a possible range of dates for her death.

In July 2006, a lookup volunteer looked up Alex and Minnie's marriage record in Sanilac County and found that Alex's mother was listed as Mary Brown and his father as Sandy Currie. Great...a name like Mary Brown! Alexander Currie was already a common name in Ontario, so I had been hoping that Mary's name was a little more unusual. But nonetheless, I was so excited that I had found a maiden name for Mary...or so I thought! Also, Alex's age on the marriage record matched the age of the Alexander found in Elgin County, Ontario, on the 1881 Canadian census with Alexander and Mary E. Currie. Hmmm.....

A year later in July 2007, the Ontario Vital Statistics Project transcribed marriage records from 1924 onto their site. Lo and behold, there was Archie Currie and Jennie "Jean" Plaine's marriage record from Lambton County, Ontario!! Archie's parents were listed as Alex Currie, born in Middlesex County, and Mary Raymond!!! Soon after this, uploaded the images of the marriage records from 1924 into their "Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1857-1924" database, so I was able to confirm the transcription was correct. So now I had another possible maiden name for Mary. Which was correct? I also had a possible birth county for Alexander.

Between July 2007 and December 2008, I looked for a marriage record for Alexander Currie and Mary Brown and Mary Raymond on's marriage database for Ontario but had no luck. I even searched in the Ontario births database at to see if I could find anymore siblings of Archie's, but again I had no luck.

In the spring of 2008, I found a birth record and marriage record for Archie's brother, Ervin, on the new FamilySearchLabs site in their Michigan births and marriages databases. As I was focusing on the Pemberton family at the time, I took note of them and filed them away for later investigation.

Then my grandmother passed away in December 2008, which inspired me to keep looking for the origins of her grandparents, Alexander and Mary. I posted a tribute for her on this blog, which caught the attention of Dianne, a fellow genealogist who was doing research on Currie's in nearby Huron County, Michigan. Fueled by my grandmother's passing and by Dianne's interest, I decided to switch my focus to the Currie family for the time being.

The first thing I did was revisit all the records I had on Archie, searching for more clues. Inside the marriage record I had for Archie and Jennie was a list of wedding guests! The only Curries in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. James A. Currie of Dresden. I found that Dresden was in Kent County, Ontario. Could James have been an uncle or cousin or even a brother of Archie's?

I also revisited the "Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909" database at in February 2009. This time I tried searching for all children named "Curry" (not just "Currie") with a mother named "Raymond." I was so shocked when I found four birth records, including one for Archie's brother, Alex! Here are transcriptions of the records I found below:

Record #: 4883
When born: 10 Oct 1872
Name: Geneva May
Sex: F
Father: Alex Curry
Mother: Mary Raymond
Occupation of father: Farmer
Informant: Mary Curry, Farmer's Wife, S. Dorchester
When registered: 4 Dec 1872
Physician: Oliver Smith
Registrar: Matthew Fullerton
Division: South Dorchester
County: Elgin

Record #: 4423
When born: 13 Apr 1876
Name: Nancy Alberta
Sex: F
Father: Alexeander Curry
Mother: Mary Ramond
Occupation of father: Farmer
Informant: M?? Margaret Curry, South Dorchester
When registered: 20 Apr 1876
Physician: No Doctor
Registrar: M. Fullerton
Remarks: Informant is Curry's sister
Division: South Dorchester
County: Elgin

Record #: 4710
When born: 11 Sep 1879
Name: Alexander
Sex: M
Father: Alexander Curry
Mother: Mary Raymond
Occupation of father: Farmer
Informant: Alexander Curry, Farmer, South Dorchester
When registered: 15 Oct 1879
Physician: Oliver Smith
Registrar: Matthew Fullerton
Division: South Dorchester
District: East Elgin

Record #: 5447
When born: 18 Sep 1881
Name: Mary Ellen
Sex: F
Father: Alexander Curry
Mother: Mary Raymond
Occupation of father: Farmer
Informant: James Curry, Farmer, South Dorchester
When registered: 8 Oct 1881
Physician: No Doctor
Registrar: M. Fullerton
Division: South Dorchester
District: East Elgin

I now had 3 previously unknown sisters and a a birth date of known brother Alex! I even had a new county (Elgin) for further research endeavors! There was even a sister or sister-in-law of Alexander's mentioned named Margaret Curry, as well as a probable relative named James Curry. To think I had missed these because I hadn't spelled "Curry/Currie" correctly. My fiance thinks it was my grandmother guiding me this time around, and maybe it was, but regardless, I was very excited for this find!!!! And now I could match the Alexander and Mary E. Currie on the 1881 Canadian census with my Alexander and Mary!

I then started doing in depth research on all of Archie's known siblings and posting individual posts about them on my blog throughout February and March. I did posts on Ervin, Alexander, and Bertha (formerly known as Rose). I am still looking for info on Nancy Alberta, Geneva May, Mary Ellen, and William. I suspect William will be the hardest since he ran away on the trains and never came back; not to mention that he has a very common name, and I have no birth date for him (just an approximate one based on the 1881 Canadian census).

Once I found the birth records and all the info I had on the siblings, I thought that was the most exciting part. But it wasn't! I found a message posted by a woman named Doris on an Elgin County message board looking for descendants of James Currie and Margaret McGill of South Dorchester, who had several children, including a son named Alexander, a daughter named Margaret, and a son named James. Could this Alexander be my great-great-grandfather Alexander and could James Currie and Margaret McGill be my great-great-great-grandparents?? As much as I had found on Alexander's other children besides Archie, I still had no clue who his parents were, only that they were possibly born in Scotland. Luckily, Doris' message was only about a year old, so I figured she would probably still have the same email address.

I did not have to wait very long. Doris emailed me back and said that the Mr. and Mrs. James A. Currie of Dresden who had attended my great-grandfather Archie's wedding in 1924 were her great-uncle James Alexander "Jim" Currie and his wife Maggie Estella Stevens. Jim was Archie's first cousin. Below is a picture of Jim Currie and Maggie Stevens.

James Alexander "Jim" Currie was the son of William Currie and Catherine Campbell. William and my great-great-grandfather, Alexander Currie, were brothers. Their parents were James Currie and Margaret McGill, both born in Scotland. This was definitely one of my most memorable genealogy happy dances of all time!! Of course, this does not signify an end to my research on the Curries, but rather a new beginning!

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer,
    I am not sure if these are your Curries or not but my family also settled Flynn Township, Sanilac County and are buried at Omard and Zion Cemetery in Watertown, Michigan. My source is The Grahams of Gartmore by Dr. Angus Graham. I have a copy in electronic format if you are interested. It was printed in 1948 and is currently out of print. Although it primarily is focused around the Graham families it also lists many of the families that they married into.
    John GRAHAM and his wife Nancy LIVINGSTONE reached Beauharnois Quebec in 1831 and reached Lobo in 1837. They settled on Concession 4. They were known as he Greenshutter GRAHAMS because their house had shutters of that color. Their son Alexander J. GRAHAM and his wife Janet McLELLAN moved to Kansas where they had eleven children, who figured prominently in the history of that state.
    The two sisters were cousins of David LIVINGSTONE the famous African Missionary.

    John Greenshutter GRAHAM is the son of Alexander GRAHAM and Flora McEWAN? Doubtful dates aren't accurate.

    John Greenshutter GRAHAM married Nancy Ann LIVINGSTONE had 4 children:

    1) "Katie" Catharine GRAHAM born abt 1813, North Knapdale Argyllshire
    2) Flora GRAHAM born abt 1815, North Knapdale Argyllshire
    3) Duncan GRAHAM born abt 1817, North Knapdale, Argyllshire, Scotland death in C4 Lot 5, Lobo Twp, Middlesex County, Ontario ID I319133
    4) Alexander J. GRAHAM born abt 1814 death 1901 Strawberry Twp, Washington County, Kansas ID I313934

    1) Catharine GRAHAM married Michael BOLAND of Middlesex in 1858
    i. Michael BOLAND
    ii. Duncan BOLAND
    iii. Christine BOLAND
    iv. Ann BOLAND b. 1836 married David McDUGALL aged 25 b. abt 1833 son of Donald McDUGALL and Martha Brown in Chateguay, Lobo, on 21 April 1858 by Reverend James FERGUSON and witnessed by Alexander J. GRAHAM of Lobo. (reference Middlesex 1854 page 4 return 10).
    2) Flora GRAHAM married John CLARK. This is the Flora GRAHAM that Duncan GRAHAM son of John GRAHAM and Catharine McCORMICK (MCCORMAIG?) stayed with. They lived in Fingal during the Spring of 1833. (see page 11 of The Grahams of Gartmore)
    i. Catherine CLARK
    ii. Mary CLARK
    iii. Annie CLARK
    iv. Flora CLARK b. 1839, Dunwich twp, Elgin d. 29 January 1880 Aldborough twp, Elgin
    IV. Flora CLARK married 14 March 1857 Dunwich twp Robert CURRIE b. 31 May 1839 d. 17 November 1902 Southwold twp, Elgin
    1) Donald CURRIE b. 1 October 1857, Elgin
    2) Walter CURRIE b. 9 April 1861, Dunwich twp, Elgin married Elizabeth GARBUTT b. 26 April 1863 d. 1943 Elgin.
    i) Florence Annie CURRIE b. 3 December 1887 on 26 July 1913 married Richard J. SAXBY b. 1888 child: Hilton Saxby.
    ii) Georgina May CURRIE b. 10 September 1891 Elgin on 28 October 1918 married Robert George WILSON b. 1867 d. 1938
    3) Florence Ann CURRIE b. 1866 and married Edward WALKER had children: Berth WALKER b. abt 1888 and Belva WALKER abt 1888 (twins)
    4) Robert CURRIE b. 1873 married Mabel WATERFALL.

    3) Duncan GRAHAM married Mary Campbell FERGUSON (born 1817) their children:born C4 Lot 5 Lobo Twp, Middlesex Count, Ontario.
    Heather Daniels