We’re on the hunt for the family and birthplace of Jonathan M. Clark. For background, start here. You’ll notice that we have conflicting claims for Jonathan M. Clark’s birthplace, namely:
• Derby, Orleans County, Vermont, USA and, across the border to the north,
• Stanstead County, Lower Canada (now Province of Quebec, Canada)
There is a lot to learn and discuss about both places. The histories of Vermont and of Lower Canada are complex and interesting and it’s easy to get distracted by background documents and a multitude of historical events of all kinds.
I want to break things down into smaller bits, and take one topic at a time. We will have much to say about Vermont in upcoming posts. Today, I’d like to steer you to one of the earliest and still most comprehensive published histories and genealogies of Stanstead County, Province of Quebec:
Forests and Clearings 
Hubbard, B F, and John Lawrence. Forests and Clearings: The History of Stanstead County, Province of Quebec, with Sketches of More Than Five Hundred Families. Montreal: Printed for the publisher by Lovell Print. & Pub. Co, 1874. Title Page (GoogleBooks)
It’s been almost 150 years since Benjamin F. Hubbard and John Lawrence compiled and published this early attempt at the genealogy and history of an important—but remote—part of English-speaking Quebec. Since then, there may have been other works of this kind, but I’m not aware of one this ambitious in scope and details. So Forests and Clearings remains the starting place for researchers interested in the development of this early-1800s wilderness and the families that, at least for a while, called it home. To whet your appetite, here is the table of contents:
Hubbard, B F, and John Lawrence. Forests and Clearings […] 1874. Table of Contents. (GoogleBooks)
Free, “safer at home” research!
Even better, the book is available as a free, searchable, downloadable PDF. There are at least two versions of the book available online.
The free GoogleBooks edition is a scan of a copy in the British Museum (now British Library) and is the source for the above illustrations. The GoogleBooks scanning quality is very good, the pages are properly aligned and easy to read, and the search function works well. Click this link to go to the GoogleBooks copy and download if you like.
There is also a free pdf copy of Forests and Clearings available at the Internet Archive. This appears to be a copy of the same book, but scanned from a Canadian libraries microfilm reproduction of a tired copy of the book, with a broken spine and loose pages. Reading and quick flipping through these digital pages is more difficult than with the GoogleBooks version.
So why bother with the Internet Archive version? For some reason, this version of the 1874 book has many more illustrations, all but two of which are lacking from the GoogleBooks edition. So if you’re interested in the illustrations, you need to use the Internet Archive version, at this link.
Hubbard, B F, and John Lawrence. Forests and Clearings […] 1874. List of Illustrations.
Just to be complete, Hathi Trust has what looks like the same edition as the one at Internet Archive. Follow this Hathi Trust link (click “Full View” to access the images of the book and the download options).
Don’t forget to Search
Remember, one of the great features of these downloadable PDF books is the Search feature. Use it! Enter a term, such as Clark or Wisconsin or a fragment of a word, like Wis. With every tap of the Return key you’ll skip from one hit to the next, often skipping over page after page of turgid 19th-century prose. By the way, you can search the online scan of a book, but this is often very slow; search is almost always much faster on a downloaded PDF.
That said, PDF Search is not infallible. The automated text-recognition process is often full or errors and omissions. Sometimes you just have to read the book. And that’s not a bad thing; I often find some of the most unusual and interesting things while hunting for something else.
Have fun getting to know Stanstead county. It’s an interesting area, and its history is deeply intertwined with that of adjacent northern Vermont and New Hampshire, the home of innumerable Clark families, among others.
See you next time for a relevant and very interesting Monday: Map Day! (though I still need to pick just one interesting and relevant map for the post).
2 thoughts on “Your Weekend Reading…”
On searching, Reed, do wild*ards work on most or all genealogical platforms?
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Good question. The short answer is “they should,” and they often do. Though it’s not unusual for different websites to have different “acceptable” wildcards.
For example, at Ancestry.com and GenealogyBank.com, I was able to use the * wildcard (i.e., one to several missing letters/symbols, or none) when searching for variations on your family surname. Thus Van*slyke would produce hits for Van Slyke and VanSlyke.
A search for *Slyke would be useful, too, though an initial wildcard like this will not work on all sites.
Many sites also use the ? as a wildcard for a single letter or number (more constrained than the multi-character * )
Usually most sites will have some kind of page that explains how wildcards work on the site. It’s usually worth your time to find that info. Wildcards can often be the difference between success or failure in searching.
On the other hand, the Search function here on the blog is powerful and fast, but does not seem to tolerate wildcards. Go figure.
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