The fifth in an eight part series to help people with potential UE Loyalist lines access the wealth of documentation available online for free, as well as offline sources that can provide further evidence linking generations.
Step 4. Take stock, seek advice as needed
After Step 3, you will either have a candidate Loyalist ancestor or you won't:
- Your Canadian ancestor may have left Canada before 1851 (or 1861 if from a township missing on the 1851 census) and Googling has not turned up a connection to their pre-census origins
- You now know your Canadian ancestors immigrated to Canada from places other than the US well after the Revolution. Or before, don't forget those 125,000 Canadians kicking around in 1770 -- many of those are Quebecers, in which case the record bounty does continue but your focus would shift to Quebec records unrelated to Loyalists. If your ancestors immigrated from the US at the beginning of the 19th century, there is also a chance you have Patriots in your tree; while they won't show in Loyalist land records, their origins may show up in the county histories.
As soon as you have a province, or ideally a county or township, seek out advice on the Internet from people who have specialized knowledge of the records for that location. This could involve joining a Facebook group for a regional branch of the provincial Genealogical Society as well as reviewing branch websites (these organizations have active research support functions and branches may have very robust indexing projects), check the municipal library websites for historical records online -- particularly directories -- as well as specialized indexes for things like obituaries (this is highly variable by municipality, some have done a superb job at placing this information online), check for county and township historical societies which may also have a research function.
If your research leads to a family in the Kingston, Ontario area (a region known as "The Bay of Quinte" for the body of water that intersects with Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox & Addington, and Frontenac counties), you should probably also check out the files of a renowned 20th century historian, Dr. H.C. Burleigh. He researched over a thousand families and Queen's University and his descendants have ensured his notes and records are viewable online, for free.
If you have identified a likely UEL ancestor, the time has come to ensure generational links are solid, as well as locate and review all the primary documentation available for that person online.
Continue to Step 5...