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July 4, 2018

TaDa! Olive Tree Genealogy New Logo!

As promised, I have a brand new logo for my website Olive Tree Genealogy. I am very happy with it!

Now to make all the changes to my websites, blogs and Social Media sites!

Read about the evolution of logos on Olive Tree Genealogy since 1995 at A New Logo is Coming!

July 2, 2018

The Confusing Maze of Genealogy Mixups in Names

Several years ago I spotted this Q & A online and I tucked it away thinking one day I wanted to write about names and the perils of genealogy research if you are not open minded enough ....

Question: What do Sean Gough, Jean Lefevre, Giovanni Ferrari, Juan Herrero, Ivan Kowalski, Hans Schmidt, Jan Kowalski and Janos Kovacs have in common?

 Answer: In Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, respectively, all are John Smith.

What a great reinforcer of the idea that as genealogists we need to look beyond what we are familiar with. We need to think outside the box. Coming from a North American culture we might assume if we find an ancestor named Janos Kovacs that it's an unusual name. Not so!

What about spelling? How often have you found a name in a census or other genealogy record, that was close but not exactly the name you were looking for? Don't discard it! Look at other clues - spouse, children, ages, occupation, location - could it be your ancestor? Remember spelling didn't "count". Census takers and other clerks wrote what they heard (phonetically). Accents confused the ears.

My own ancestor's surname was Vollick. Sometimes it was rendered as Follick. Other variations I have found in documents are Valck, Volk, Valic, Falic, Folic. Why "V" and "F" interchangeably? Because the Dutch-German "V" can sound like "F" to English speaker's ears.

My immigrant ancestor's 'real' name was Van Valkenburg! How would I ever have found my ancestor if I hadn't kept an open mind and looked at other clues? And much to my initial surprise, Van Valkenburg is not an unusual name.

Another true example from my own ancestry - when Leonard-Tremi Le Roy left Quebec for New York, his name was misinterpreted by Dutch recorders as "Jonar" and then "Jonas". His surname Le Roy (pronounced Le Raw) was misinterpreted as Larrowa which evolved into Larroway.

So be aware that bad handwriting, inability to spell, accents, and other events can change an ancestor's name - and don't be so quick to assume, for example, that Leonard-Tremi Le Roy is not your 5x great grandfather Jonas Larroway. If both men have the same wives and children, same birth year, same place of birth, and name siblings who are identical, you can be pretty sure that you've just stumbled into the confusing maze of names in genealogy research.

June 29, 2018

What Was Your Ancestor's Unusual Occupation?

Wooden rattles such as this one produced
a loud clacking sound by holding the handle
and twisting the top section around and around
in a circular pattern.
Recently on Twitter, David Allen Lambert (@DLGenealogist) tweeted an interesting question. David asked what was the most unusual Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors.

My response was about my ancestor Lambert Van Valkenburg. He was appointed to the rattle watch of Fort Orange (present day Albany) in July 1659.

The Ratttle Watch was a combination of police officer, firefighter & hourly time caller.

Here's the actual 1659 Fort Orange court record about the Rattle Watch:

First, the said rattle watch shall be held to appear at the burghers' guard house after the ringing of the nine o'clock bell and together at ten o'clock shall begin making their rounds, giving notice of their presence in all the streets of the village of Beverwyck by sounding their rattle and calling [out the hour], and this every hour of the night, until 4 o'clock in the morning.
"Secondly, they shall pay especial attention to fire and upon the first sign of smoke, extraordinary light or otherwise warn the people by knocking at their houses. And if they see any liklihood of fire, they shall give warning by rattling and calling, and run to the church, of which they are to have a key, and ring the bell.

"Thirdly, in case they find any thieves breaking into any houses or gardens, they shall to the best of their ability try to prevent it, arrest the thieves and bring them into the fort. And in case they are not strong enough to do so, they are to call the burghers of the vicinity to thier aid, who are in duty bound to lend the helping hand, as this is tending to the common welfare.

"Fourthly, in case of opposition, they are hereby authorized to offer resistance, the honorable commissary and magistrates declaring that they release them from all liability for any accident which may happen or result from such resistance if offered in the rightful performance of their official duties.

What is the most interesting Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors?

June 28, 2018

New Jersey Death Records 1848-1878 Online

Do you have New Jersey ancestors?  You can now search New Jersey death records from May 1848-May 1878 on the State Archives' website! Over 300,000 entries. See Searchable Databases and Records Request Forms on the New Jersey Archives website.

Search for an ancestor or a surname, select any of interest and they are put into your shopping cart. You can then pay for the full record. 


The Peer family left New Jersey for Upper Canada (present day Ontario) after the American Revolution. I was excited to see that the New Jersey Archives has earlier records pre 1800 and hope to have time to search them all next week!

June 27, 2018

New Book Adriaen Vincent, New Netherland Settler

Are you a descendant of Adriaen Vincent and his wife Magdaleen Eloy? Asking because I just published the 2nd edition of this book on this New Netherland Settler.

Adriaen Vincent, a Walloon from Belgium, made the perilous journey to New Netherland with his wife Magdaleen and their young family in the early 1640s. A former West Indies Company soldier, Adriaen was embarking on a new life.

The family settled in the village of New Amsterdam, which would one day become the city of New York. Life could not have been easy for the couple, faced with a different culture and language. But settlers were pouring in and New Amsterdam was flourishing. Within a few years Adriaen and Magdaleen opened a tavern which catered to sailors and new arrivals. Their fortunes soon took a turn for the better and the family settled into their new life. 

This edition contains new information on the family in the Netherlands and New Netherland, as well as details on descendants of Adriaen and Magdaleen. See

June 26, 2018

Privacy, What Privacy?

Most of you will have heard of the fuss over the information from User Profiles on Facebook being shared and then sold to Cambridge Analytica. If this is new to you, you may want to read Zuckerberg confesses ‘huge mistake’ as Cambridge toll hits 87M to come up to speed.

Basically reports emerged in March 2018 that Facebook had known since 2015 that Cambridge Analytica, which did work for Trump's 2016 campaign, obtained information on some 50 million users via an academic researcher. (this has been upgraded to 87 million users). Many Facebook users are understandably upset.

Take Responsibility for Your Privacy

My take on this is that it's time we users of internet services took responsibility for our own privacy and stopped depending on large corporations to do it for us.

Facebook Settings Options
First of all, users can control their own privacy settings on Facebook. It's easy to go in to your settings (using the gear icon) for PRIVACY and tighten them up. Stop letting others post on your timeline. Stop showing the world your friends' list. Limit who can see your posts and also who can see your past posts. There are several options available and you can restrict your account as much as you want.

Secondly, are you participating in those memes that ask you (often in a convoluted way) for personal details such as your middle name, your year of birth, your mother's maiden name. Even innocent-seeming memes such as "What is your Santa's Elf name" where you have to select your first name, the last digit (or 2 digits) of your year of birth, and so on, should be avoided!

Third, are you posting personal information? Are you linking to obituaries of a close relative such as a mother, father, or sibling? Anyone mining your page for data can now easily obtain more personal details about you!

Fourth, do you reveal your  home address? First names of your children? I could go on but I think you get the idea.

How about those fun little quizzes you like to take? The ones that say you have to allow the app to access your profile, photos, etc - hopefully you don't give that permission! Because if you do, you only have yourself to blame for giving up your privacy. 

It Isn't Just Facebook

Let's not blame Facebook for all our woes. Google "reads" your outgoing and incoming emails using bots in order to deliver relevant ads to you. You can now limit what ads you see, but it doesn't appear you can force Google to stop scanning your emails. But there's a good side to that! Scanning allows Google to stop spam quite effectively.

Anything you post on the internet is almost certainly going to be publicly available at some point to total strangers. So why are you not protecting yourself online?

Think of it this way - would you walk up to a stranger, and immediately say "Hi there. My name's Mary Smith and I have 3 children - Tommy, Bobby and Jimmy. They're 6, 4 and 2. Tommy and Bobby are in Little Angels Public School over on Wilmott Street. My mom Sally died 3 years ago, and her obituary is online. Dad's still with us and he lives in Winnertown. My husband Danny works at the Auto Shoppe in Friendlyville. I'm 49, Danny's 53"   But that is what you are doing when you join memes, take online quizzes, and don't restrict who can see your information.

Take Sensible Precautions

There's no need to be terrified. Just take sensible precautions. When you join a new group or social media site, check out their privacy and security options. Think before you post and before you fill out forms asking for personal information. 

My husband's rule of thumb is to not reveal anything online that you don't want the world to know. I'm not quite that strict but I do check my settings in all social media sites I'm on. Don't wait - check yours now and set them as most suits you.

June 24, 2018

The Thrill of the Hunt is Gone... or Is It

When I started researching my genealogy back in my teens, it was sporadic, with years of non-genealogy in between spurts of frantic searching. But then I began researching in earnest in the days I refer to as B.I. (Before the Internet)

I was thinking about it this week. Do you remember B.I.? Before Windows. Before Cyndis List. Before Before Olive Tree Genealogy!
Before this wonderful cyber world we know now.

I worked on my computer in DOS (remember, this was also B.W. - Before Windows), and joined a few BBS (Bulletin Board Services). I had to dial long distance from my home to the nearest big city of Toronto to pick up the BBS.

It cost me a fortune in long-distance charges so I would dial in, download the BBS "mail" and log off. Then I'd read the messages offline, respond offline and dial in again to upload (post) my responses. There was a 4 to 5 day lag time between sending my messages and seeing responses. That seemed pretty speedy back in those days.

Snail mail was important, I would pore over queries in all the genealogy newsletters I received. Then I'd write to anyone who seemed to be looking for the same ancestors I was. I waited in anticipation day after day, anxious to see what the next day's mail would bring.

I look back on that as a very satisfying genealogy experience, there was something quite wonderful about the feeling you got when that huge package of material arrived in the mail from another researcher.

I miss that. Now I do most of my research online for two reasons - my health issues and convenience. I love the convenience of online research. I love the speed of finding ancestors online. But I do miss going to libraries, archives, and museums and scrolling through page after page of microfilm.

It's kind of like buying from E-Bay instead of going out to the antique store or junk store or flea market and experiencing that "aha!" moment when you spot a treasure buried under a pile of junk... There's a great deal of satisfaction in slogging through reel after reel of microfilm - unindexed microfilm - and finally spotting your ancestor's name!

Now when I get a package in the mail (which is infrequent as most items are scanned and sent via email), it is for material I already know is coming. I'm not complaining, it's all good and it's genealogy information I want and need BUT I don't have that same sense of wonderment or anticipation as I did back in the days of B.I.

I love the Internet. I would never want to return to B.I. But I would love to have the awe and excitement of snail mail anticipation back again. I think I can be forgiven for feeling a bit discouraged - after all I've been researching for almost 60 years! But I love every minute of it and I still do my genealogy happy dance with every new find. And meantime I'm busy compiling and writing my family history books to ensure my years of research are not lost.