Although we have done everything we could to make this online version of the 1842 Huron District Assessment Rolls as accurate as possible, when working with old records such as these it is impossible to completely eliminate all sources of error. Listed below are some of the steps we have taken to increase the accuracy of this project as well as some of the major sources of error we encountered.
Checking uncertain names against:
The Canada Company by Thelma Coleman,
Sutherland's County of Huron Gazetteer & Directory 1863-64 by the Sutherland Bros.,
Early Canada Company Maps 1829, 1835-1839 Huron Tract Alphabetical Name Index compiled by Lynn Manktelow,
Index to the 1871 Census of Ontario: Perth County by the Ontario Genealogical Society,
Index to the 1871 Census of Ontario: London and Middlesex by the Ontario Genealogical Society.
Three complete name-by-name checks of every Township in the online version.
BAD HANDWRITING. This was the single largest source of error: although a few assessors had decent penmanship, most of them had sloppy, blotted and/or tiny writing. Visit the Picture Gallery if you would like to see some samples of the original document.
Different style of handwriting. The way we form the different letters of the English alphabet has changed significantly through the years: even if a particular assessor had beautiful, clear handwriting, many letters simply looked different in 1842 than they do now. Particularly troublesome were the uppercase letters (or "capital letters") as they tended to be written with a flourish and also tended to look very similar to each other. This was a fairly big problem, because a mistake in the first letter of the name would place the entire entry in a completely different place in our alphabetical listings. Letters that were often confused were:
T, F, J and I;
K, R and B;
H, N, M;
S and D;
O and P;
G and Y;
M, N and W.
And in lowercase letters:
w, u, v, m, n, r and i;
a, o, e and i
Although in the modern typed form these letters look quite distinct, one should also realize that the assessor was writing with a quill pen.
Microfilm. Another source of error was the fact that we were working from an often low-quality black and white microfilm copy of the original assessment rolls. This increased the difficulty of deciphering already ambiguous hand writing; but more significantly, because the microfilm was black and white, corrections that had been written by the assessor or someone else at a later date onto the original assessment rolls in a different colour appeared to us just like the original assessment.
Individual assessors' quirks and short forms. For example, some assessors used the "ditto" mark ("), in the traditional manner to mean "same as above", but others used it to mean "empty column".
Spelling. The assessments were done orally, with the assessor recording the name as he heard it. In the 1840s everyone had the accent of his or her homeland. This created opportunities for misinterpretation if the name spoken was not familiar to the assessor's ear. Allowances should be made for this factor: try the sound of the name; think of possible different spellings that approximate that sound. Example: Mr. "Asket" turns out to be, in fact, Mr. Haskett, which places him in a rather different spot in the alphabetical listing.
Human Error! Despite our best efforts, this online version of the 1842 Huron District Assessment Rolls is still only our interpretation of the information contained in the original documents.
Back to top