Using the New York City Police Census 1890

Well it has been a long, long time since I have posted here. It’s certainly not that I haven’t been researching! This past year of pandemic isolation has given many of us an abundance of time to explore our roots. I have had many other researchers leave comments and questions. It has been a pleasure to share information with distant cousins and learn from them.

I’ve also spent some time researching for other people, relatives and friends. This post has nothing to do with my Hogue and Girardin ancestors. However, it does involve a useful tip that I felt was worthwhile posting.

As researchers know, most of the population schedules of 1890 Census of the United States were damaged in a fire in 1921. They were stored and then inexplicably destroyed. It pains me greatly to admit a librarian was involved. Sigh. Only fragments remain.

So what to do if you are searching for people who lived in New York City in 1890? Now it is true that the New York City Directories can be used to find people in 1889 and 1891, but they don’t record children unless they are employed. While searching for a friend I came upon the New York City Police Census of 1890. Despite the title it is not a census of the police department, or a census of criminals!

Let me explain. It turns out that the Mayor of New York felt that the Federal Census conducted in June, and which showed a decrease in population, was wrong! He therefore authorized a new census to be conducted by Police Officers in October. It resulted in about 200,000 more people being counted. See the article at for a fuller discussion.

The good news is that most of the 1890 Police Census has been preserved. Microfilm is available at 3 locations: the City of New York Municipal Archives, the New York Public Library Central Branch, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Since most researchers may not be able to travel to these locations, it’s wonderful that FamilySearch has also digitized the microfilm, but these images can only be accessed at your local FamilySearch Family History Center, many of which are closed indefinitely due to the pandemic.

All is not lost however. FamilySearch also has an index to the Police Census at And this is where my tip comes in. If you search for a person and find them you will get a result that looks like this.

At first glance this doesn’t give you much information, just a name and age and a direction to which book/volume of the original census contains this record. No address, no marital status, no family relationship. How can I be sure this is the right person?

If you look closely you will notice that this information is on line 4 of image 00281 on Film # 001309969. By searching for other Hooley names, and comparing the Document Information, I was able to confirm that 3 other people (that I knew belonged to the family I was looking for) were in fact on lines 1, 2, and 3 of that same image!

On the off chance that I may someday be able to get to the local Family History Centre here in Winnipeg, I can go to FamilySearch at and scroll down to the correct Film # and find the original record.

So with this method I was able to confirm which children were still in the family household in 1890.

Never stop looking and always thoroughly examine your sources.

Happy researching!

Update to Riel in Massachusetts!

I found it! I found the location for the St. Jean Baptiste Society in Worcester on the 18th of July, 1874.

Although I had checked city directories and newspaper articles during my research, I hadn’t been able to determine exactly where Louis Riel had spoken that day…until I decided to check French language newspapers.

GenealogyBank has digitized records of some of the 1873/74 issues of Foyer Canadien. I was able to find in the July 28, 1874 issue, a long article by Frederic Houde describing the occasion of Riel’s speech to the Society. It included the fact that Riel’s appearance occurred:

“dans la salle de la Société St. Jean Baptiste; sur la rue Mechanic”

Mechanic Street!

Searching other issues of Foyer Canadien I found a recurring notice advertising the meetings of the Society:

My translation:

St. Jean Baptiste Society. – Meeting room, Bliss Block, 24 Mechanic street; regular meetings the first and third Wednesday of each month, at 7:30 p.m.

Back to Google Maps and Sanborn Insurance maps to discover that Mechanic Street was a very short street, only a block away from Notre Dame des Canadiens!

So there we have it. Certainly the meeting was close enough that the Girardins could have attended. Whether they would have had the time or inclination to do so is not something I can prove. However, it seems to me that they definitely would have heard about his speech and his words about Manitoba.

And that just may be one of the reasons I live in Manitoba today!

Louis Riel in Massachusetts

I have recently finished reading The Audacity of His Enterprise: Louis Riel and the Metis Nation That Canada Never Was, 1840-1875 by M. Max Hamon.  As usually happens, this book, via content and footnotes, led me to more research. One of the things I learned from it, that I hadn’t know before, was that Louis Riel spent time in the 1870s visiting Franco-American communities in New England. This was while he was awaiting the amnesty promised by Sir John A. MacDonald at the time of the Red River Resistance.

Louis Riel was the dynamic Metis leader who was instrumental in the creation of the Province of Manitoba. If you don’t know about Riel you can read about him here.

One of the places Louis Riel spoke was Worcester, Massachusetts!  Why does this matter?  Because in the 1870s my great-great-grandparents Paul Girardin and Louise Bernardin, as well as my great-grandparents Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard lived there. (I wrote about them here and here.)

I immediately knew I would have to research and discover if my ancestors could have been among the people listening to Riel speak!  My task would be to see if I could find out why Riel went to Worcester,  who would have been his contacts, what did he talk about, and where did he give his speeches.

In the Journal of Canadian Studies Volume 51 • Number 3 • Fall 2017, there is an article by Mark Paul Richard titled “Riel … vivra dans notre histoire”: The Response of French Canadians in the United States to Louis Riel’s Execution. From that article I learned that:

When the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal celebrated
its fortieth anniversary in June 1874, more than 10,000 French Canadians from the United States joined in the festivities.

There was discussion about whether to issue a document supporting amnesty for Riel, but it was not adopted by the delegates. One of the participants who most strongly defended Riel was Frédéric Houde, co-owner of the Worcester newspaper Foyer Canadien.  In July of 1874 Riel went to visit Houde in Worcester to thank him for his support. Okay…that’s the why.

According to Thomas Flanagan, author of Louis ‘David’ Riel: Prophet of the New World, Riel stayed with Abbé Jean-Baptiste Primeau, pastor of Notre Dame des Canadiens, a parish that served as the centre of spiritual and cultural identify for Franco-American Catholics.  Okay…Houde and Primeau were his contacts.

Hmm…although I have never seen the church record for Napoleon and Onesime’s marriage on 29 September 1873, the civil registration states the ceremony was performed by none other than  J.B. Primeau!  Notre Dame des Canadiens was very likely their parish!

In 1874 this church was located on Park Street across from the Common (a public park space). I knew from city directories that the Girardin family was living on Bloomingdale Street.  Using Google Maps I discovered there is no Bloomingdale Street anymore.  Comparing the Google map to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Worcester in 1892 (see here), I determined that Bloomingdale Street was now called Franklin.  Park Street where the church was is also called Franklin.  It’s a long street, but it looks as if my ancestors would have been about a 20 minute walk to Notre Dame. There’s a wonderful article about the church’s history in The Catholic Free Press here.

L'eglise des Canadiens a Worcester

Picture from 1870 accessed at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

But I don’t know if Riel gave his talk at the church.  Hamon states that Riel usually spoke at meetings of the St. Jean Baptiste Association. I found another blog post, by David Vermette,  titled Louis Riel: A Franco-American?  here. It also mentions the St. Jean Baptiste Society.

I have not yet discovered where the Society held its meetings.  Were they in the basement of the church?  A nearby hall? At the moment the question of where remains unsolved.

Next question…what exactly did Riel talk about? Richard states:

Several days later, [18 July] about 400 French Canadians from Worcester and surrounding towns gathered to hear the Métis leader, greeting him with thunderous applause. “Quand on est Canadien-Français catholique, on aime toujours à serrer la main des patriotes qui se font les zélés défenseurs de nos droits nationaux et religieux, ainsi que l’a été M. Riel,” wrote Houde.

Google Translation:

“When you’re French-Canadian Catholic, you always love to shake hands with patriots who are zealous defenders of our rights national and religious, as was Mr. Riel, “

Richard continues:

Riel…spoke to the French-Canadian immigrants in his audience about the climate, soils, and francophone establishments of Manitoba, and he expressed his hope that the Canadiens might remigrate there,a province where he felt they might prosper more than in the United States.

Wow! By 1878 Paul and Louise had moved to Manitoba, and by 1880 Napoleon and Onesime had followed. I wrote about the move here.  I understood the background surrounding the move…the availability of land, the efforts of La Société de Colonisation du Manitoba, and perhaps the desire for a rural lifestyle again.  But now I wonder if  hearing Louis Riel speak in person, or at least hearing about this charismatic leader, would have had any bearing on the Girardins subsequent emigration to Manitoba?

Just another one of those social history moments that is so entwined with genealogical research!

Manitoba Archives and the 1846 Census

To celebrate Manitoba’s 150th Birthday, the Archives of Manitoba initiated a project called Your Archives: The Histories We Share.  They are asking patrons to write about something in the Archives of special interest.  I made a submission which has been accepted and is now on their blog here.

Part of the project was to include these items in a physical display at the Archives.  Due to COVID-19 that is temporarily on hold.


Cousin bait provides a missing obituary

I’ve written about “cousin bait” before.  It refers to posting information that results in another researcher contacting you with details they are willing to share about ancestors.  Such an occurrence just happened to me when a  reader left a note on the post I had written about Mémère’s sister Maria Maximillian Girardin. You can read that post here.

Turns out this lady was the stepdaughter of Maximillian’s son!  Although I knew the date of death I had never found an obituary for her.  This lady generously shared the obituary as well as some personal remembrances of Maximillian (which she allowed me to share).

Girardin Maximillian b1885 obit

“I remember meeting her. She lived in an apartment on the 2nd floor of an old house. Right at the top of the stairs was a door leading to her kitchen and living room. You then had to go back out into the hallway and walk down to the end of the hallway to find the door to her bedroom and the same for the bathroom. She was an interesting lady who really didn’t have time for anyone but her son Arnold. She was really attached to him and called him several times a day. Arnold took her passing very hard.”

You can read this “genealogy angel’s” post about her stepfather at



Christmas decorations

We’re fortunate to still have a few tree decorations from my childhood.  Slightly worn, but still they hold the power of memory.


White plastic reindeer.  I have two.



A red Cardinal, also plastic, but with only 1 leg now.  Must be carefully placed on a branch!




A single, simple blue bell.  Quite the worse for wear, with less shine and colour every year.



I got this china bell when Mom and I went to Breakfast with Santa at the Bay.  Probably around 1956 or so. Some of the lettering has worn off.  It used to say “Your Christmas Wishing Bell from the Bay”, now it is just a “Bel”.  Obvious nick in the china, the circumstances of which I’ve forgotten, but I’m going to blame it on my brother!

Wishing all readers a very joyous Christmas!

Museum donation

It’s been a very busy time in our household since my last blog post.   Of greatest  importance was the birth of our fourth grandchild, a beautiful, healthy baby girl! (And she has my name as a middle name ♥).

Of less importance, but  MUCH more stressful was the fact that we sold our home and “right-sized” into a condo.  Needless to say, we had a very busy time sorting, selling and donating. Some decisions were quick and easy to make, but in terms of genealogy “stuff” I still have a great deal of organizing to do!

One donation I made was to the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada here in Winnipeg. I have blogged previously about Dad’s service with the R.C.A.F. during World War II (here) as a welder working on airplanes at #8 Repair Depot.

I donated some manuals, pictures of Dad and planes, as well as the pennant for the Repair Depot.



The staff at the museum was pleased to receive my donations, and I’m happy knowing these small items have found a good and useful home.

An update on the 1926 Census of the Prairie Provinces

After waiting 5 years to have another Canadian census to “dig into” it’s no surprise that I have been busy trying to trace my people!  The digitized images are now available to search on FamilySearch and Library Archives Canada.

The images are indexed, which means they are searchable BUT of course there are some issues I have encountered. Some names have been incorrectly indexed, either due to illegible handwriting on the original document, or careless work by the indexer.  (Please note I VERY much appreciate the work of the genealogists who volunteer their time, as I have, to index records.) Unfortunately, there is no mechanism, at this time, to submit corrections to the index on either FamilySearch or Library Archives Canada.

So far I have found Girardin indexed as Givardni and Dumas as Duman.

The most surprising error so far has been the fact that I found a page that was digitized, but not indexed!  I couldn’t find my husband’s family with a search, no matter how creatively I tried to vary my search terms.  I found them by browsing, and lo and behold, that whole page of the census was not indexed!

A great bit of news…Library Archives Canada now has a listing of the 1926 census districts and a street index as well!  Go here.

Happy searching!