Announcements of newly digitized archival materials are always a pleasant surprise. In November 2020 genealogy blogs active in Ontario publicized that Family Search had loaded the Township Papers ca 1783-1870 for the Province of Ontario held on reels of microfilm at the Archives of Ontario. These reels consist of a mélange of land-related documents not filed elsewhere. Archives of Ontario described them as follows:
… copies of orders-in-council; copies of location certificates and location tickets; copies of assignments; certificates verifying the completion of settlement duties; copies of receipt; copies of descriptions; and copies of patents; and copies of incoming correspondence.Township Papers – Archives of Ontario
My objective was to see what can be found about the Fleming families who pioneered in Derby Township, Grey County in the 1850s.
The papers are organized alphabetically by township. Access at Family Search is through these two links.
- https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/185567?availability=Family%20History%20Library (Abinger to Haldimand)
- https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/2759321?availability=Family%20History%20Library (Hallowell to Zorra)
We begin with Derby Township, identified on two lines on the image below. Click on the camera icon to view a gallery of images for the letters of that township organized by concession and lot.
UPDATE 12 April 2021 – I explored the Derby Township papers in late March. On preparing this blog post I found that townships from D to Haldimand had been dropped. This is probably a temporary glitch. Hopefully, your interest will be in one of the other townships.
The scanned-microfilm images are in order of Concession and Lot. After that you are on your own to eyeball the often indistinct images for a lot of interest and any names you recognize. The interface takes some time to sort out. Helpfully, there are separator pages marking Lot and Concession. Do your best with a gallery view of all images to guess where you want to jump to – then open that unreadable square as a single view and page sequentially for more.
Abraham Finch is on record with a letter dated 2 September 1850 to Andrew Geddes Esq, the Crown Land agent for Wellington County, requesting a list of vacant lots in Derby Township and expressing a decided desire for north half of lot 8 in concession 7. Four years later he paid the five pounds deposit.
Alexander Fleming, the patriarch of the family, and father-in-law to Abraham Finch, also wrote Geddes on 19 February 1851 asking when lot 6 in Concession 9 would be on the market and whether he could pay with land scrip. The letter was written in two hands – Alexander’s signature is wobbly due to his age and the contents were written in a flowing hand – perhaps a son or other scribe.
Checking these documents could be worth a long shot. Dwight Radford at Journey Home Genealogy said “I never do a rural Ontario case without looking at the Township Papers.” (http://www.thejourneyhomegenealogy.com/ontario-township-papers/)
Also see John Reid at Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections about Ontario Township Papers Online. https://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.com/2020/11/ontario-township-papers-online.html
Michael Stephenson is more precise in his description of the papers and provides a partial index of notable township items. https://www.ontariogenealogy.com/uppercanadatownshippapers.html
Ontario Land and Property – Family Search Wiki – briefly describes the Township Papers collection as one of many resources about Ontario Land Records https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Ontario_Land_and_Property