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January 14, 2019

Dancing on the Dead

According to The Lady's Newspaper, by 1849 there were 52,000 deaths each year in London, yet the total space set aside for burial only allowed for 100,000 bodies.

Body-snatchers ran rampant and churches offered more secure burial sites in their basements and in tight spaces between buildings. Some churches showed between 1000 to almost 3500 burials per acre of land.

One man was convinced that the overflowing burial grounds were responsible for diseases such as cholera and maleria. The dead were buried in layers, on top of each other, in order to save space. Dances were held over top of burials - sometimes advertised as "Dancing on the Dead"
The new and improved 1852 burial act changed burials in England. Read the full story in The Disgusting Victorian Cemetery That Helped Change Burials in London Forever

January 11, 2019

Caveat: Transcripts Can be Wrong!

Janice Mann posted this query: I'm having trouble finding any information on a baby in my family tree. He's found in the 1871 census in McKillop Township as a 2 month old, illegitimate child - living with the McCallum family. There are 3 sisters in the family (aged 15, 20 and 24) and I presume one of them is his mother. I'm struggling to determine his name (it's transcribed as Morrison Rone) and I cannot find him after the 1871 census.

Transcripts Can Be Wrong
First let's clear up the misreading of this census image. The name of the child on that 1871 census is given as "Born Morrison" (not Morrison Rone) meaning that he was born a Morrison. Apparently he had not been given a first name when the census was taken.

The family in 1871 is given as
Name     Age
Zachery Mc Callum     54
Elisabeth Mc Callum     52
Margary Mc Callum     24 
Susanna Mc Callum     20
John Mc Callum     18
Elisabeth Mc Callum     15
Born Morrison     2/12

Birth Records

Since we know that the baby was born with the surname Morrison we might theorize that his biological father was a Morrison. We know from the census the child was a boy so we might look for a birth of a child in late 1870 or early 1871. The 1871 census was started on April 2, 1871 so we know the child was born before February of that year. If we could find out when the census taker was in McKillop we could narrow the child's date of birth.

We can look under the surname Morrison and McCallum but those are the only clues we have.

March 11, 1871 Birth: Anthony illegitimate son of Catherine Bellon McCallum in Renfrew found on Ancestry

I recommend searching local church records for a baptism record for this child.

Search the Siblings

I only took a few minutes to research all the children of Zachery and Elizabeth, but Janice would be wise to investigate the family thoroughly. Here is a start to the family:

  • Margary Mc Callum  married Joseph Samme
  • Susanna Mc Callum  married John Galbraith
  • Elisabeth Mc Callum  baptised as Lydia Elizabeth married William George McSpadden
It's an interesting puzzle and I wish I had more time to investigate! 

January 9, 2019

Be Cautious Even When Your Ancestor Has an Unusual Name

Olive Tree Genealogy did some research to try to help a researcher who posted the following query on Facebook:

I am researching Wilsons of Irish descent in Goulboum , Torbolton, and Fitzroy Townships in Carleton County and Wilsons of English/Scotch descent in the same three townships. I am especially interested to find someone who might know the father of Charles Broughton Wilson who came to Canada about 1834 . He possibly came on the ship "John Stamp". Samuel Sumner Tripp and his wife, Sarah Storey may have been on the same ship. He married Mary Ann Tripp in Bytown in Feb. 1839 and purchased a homestead in Fitzroy Township in 1841. Information from the 1851 census indicates C. Broughton (pronounced Broten) was born in London about 1817. There is fairly substantial evidence that Charles' father was Henry Wilson,
The first thing I can tell this researcher is that ship John Stamp sailed from London and arrived in Quebec on June 17, 1835. Unfortunately no passenger list survives but we do know that "Mr and Mrs Newman and family, Mr Johnston, and Mr Marshall and 170 settlers" were on board. (Source:

Census Records

The second thing I did was look for Charles in census records on I wanted to confirm that he was indeed born in England. I found him in 1851 under the name Brougton Wilson. He is recorded as being born in London England but of course we do not know who gave that birth information the census taker, so we should still treat it as not definite.

Church Records

A search online brought up the baptism of Broughton Wilson in Lambeth, Surrey, England (Source: England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975) That sounds exciting except .... further searching finds a Broughton Wilson dying in 1846 in London England. Is it the same man? We do not know and more research would need to be done to try to prove or disprove that the baby baptised in Surrey is the same man who died in London.

Hopefully the descendant who is seeking information will be cautious and do more checking on what I found, and not assume this is the right ancestor.

January 8, 2019

Great News! NYG&B Obtains over 300 Kinship publications!

The (NYG&B) announced today that Arthur C.M. and Nancy V. Kelly, co-founders and owners of Kinship Books, have donated the assets of their business, Kinship Books, to the NYG&B. 

This generous gift includes rights to more than 300 publications, including transcribed and indexed materials from more than 50 New York counties.

 Continue reading at

NYG&B Welcomes 150th Anniversary Year with Landmark Gift from Kinship Books



January 7, 2019

Ads for Irish Immigrants in Boston Globe

Boston College has a free online database of Advertisements for Irish Immigrants. These ads were published in the Boston Globe in the 19th century and sometimes contain the name of the ship the immigrant travelled on.

I've put together an index, with links, of the names of passengers on ships arriving in Canada, since before 1865 the ships passenger lists were not kept. It is a challenging time period to find passenger lists! However there ARE alternate records - shipping agent records, emigration agent ledger books, newspaper extracts to name but a few. 

My book Filling in the Gaps: Finding Pre-1865 Ships Passenger Lists to Canada is available on Amazon and is another resource for these early years. There is a  Paperback version and an e-book version available.

Mary Buttler (nee Slatterly) and husband William Buttler, from Clare, on Ship Maria, Limerick to Quebec June 1847

John Hogan, from Limerick, 1849 to Quebec on Ship Anna Maria

Mary Keanes, nee Monaghan, from Mayo on Sarah Maria, Kilalla to Quebec 1846

Mary Reaney born ca 1824, from Mayo, on Ship Sarah Maria from  Kilalla to quebec 1844

Patrick Cahill from Tipperary, son of Patrick, July 1847 on board Admiral, Waterford to Quebec

John Mullin from Tipperary, April 1844 on board Admiral, Waterford to Quebec

John Quillan from Tipperary, Waterford to Quebec on Admiral, before 1856

Michael Quillan from Tipperary, Waterford to Quebec on Admiral, before 1856

If you want to see more listings for immigrants arriving in USA and Canada go to Missing Friends on Olive Tree Genealogy

January 3, 2019

What or Who Inspired You to Start Your Genealogy

A few months ago I tweeted a brief genealogy question on Twitter on my Twitter feed ‏@LorineMS

Genealogy Peeps: what, or who, inspired you to start looking for your ancestors? I was 14, my father had just died, and I started my hunt because he always wondered about our Irish McGinnis heritage

I loved the responses I received, and with permission, and posting a few of them here. You can read all 27 responses by using the link to the genealogy question on Twitter 

Megan Smolenyak @megansmolenyak

I was about 10 - 6th grade homework assignment. Had to put our surnames on a world map, and I - slightly misinformed by my parents - had the whole of the then-Soviet Union to myself. Remember feeling sorry for all the kids crowded around the British Isles. Sparked my curiosity

Genealogy Jenn @Genealogy_Jenn

Learning that my future father-in-law was orphaned by 8 years old and didn't know much about his family. My interest was renewed when my father died when I was 27 years old.

Annette Fulford @avidgenie

My aunt. She did a short history of our family in 1989 but had little details about the family past her father. Also included with the history was my grandmother's war bride letter written in 1919. I was fascinated and still am. (can use her full name)

Kevin Huigens @Kevinho57

In my 30s, I started entering the info my mom had gathered into PAF and my curiosity got the better of me.

Annie @abearella

Before my dad died when I was 10, we went to my grandma's (his mom) almost every weekend. Her sister, my great Aunt Cora, would often drive up from Palm Springs. She always told family stories & sent me old pics in the mail.

Ruth Blair @PassionateGenea

I was 11 and it was a school project. My parents are the immigrants so it was a lot letter writing and then waiting for the return post. My parents didn’t know much but they knew who I should contact.

Yvette Hoitink @yhoitink

I was 15, my grandpa had just died, when I heard a rumor that he might have had a twin. Freaked me out so I took the train across the country to the archives to find out the truth. He turned out to be my first family scandal, hooked ever since.

Kapalm @kapalm728

I wish I had a profound answer, In reality, I was recovering from surgery and was bored. I always loved history and puzzles so I gave genealogy a try. I was hooked when I discovered the vastness of the never talked about paternal grandfathers family

Sean Vanderfluit @Vanderfluit

I can't recall a signature moment, I've been interested since I was 10. I even got this awesome book on genealogy for kids at the time. A pity it's likely long out of print, I'd love to get it for my 7-year-old who now expresses an interest in genealogy.

In grade 8, I discovered my grandma and great grandma knew German. I thought they were British. Why on Earth did they speak German? My mom said, "because Great Grandma was born in Russia". You're not helping, mom. Then again, it did, as it stoked my curiousity.

Sean Vanderfluit added: I was pretty sure I still had this, and found it today. My first genealogy book, from when I was 10. I significantly updated it when I was 12.

Lorine's Note: I found this book for sale and purchased it. Then I sent it to Sean V. to give to his son. 

Mining the Past @Mining the Past

I was always fascinated by the story that my gg-grandfather ran away to sea and gave a false name and age, so everybody with that name is related to me in some way. I love puzzles and have tried for many years to track him down. Now looking at DNA :-)

It's not too late for my blog readers to jump in with your responses on Twitter if you have a Twitter account. Just click on this link to the genealogy question and send your comment.

January 1, 2019

Let's Talk About Our Own Obituaries and Tombstones!

Have you thought about your own demise? Yes, as genealogists we know that it happens to all of us. And as genealogists we're usually fairly comfortable talking about it. When my brother and sister-in-law visited us a few days ago, we got talking about our own deaths, our funerals, did we want to be cremated or not, and where we might want to be interred. When I told the story of my husband and I wanting to buy our burial plots now, my sister-in-law shuddered. She was visibly upset by the conversation.

So let's talk about it here!  While I haven't gone so far as to plan my funeral or write my own obit (although the thought of doing so is tempting!), last year I have put together a copy of what I want done after my demise. Yes, really. I jotted notes on items such as burial versus cremation, what cemetery I wish to be buried in - and what inscription I want on a headstone.

I've been married three times (divorce then death brought me to my third husband) - should I put all three of my husbands' names on my stone? Do I want to have number one's name immortalized for eternity on MY stone??

My thoughts began to stray to having inscriptions like the following: "beloved wife of husbands two and three" and "long-suffering and not-so-beloved wife of husband number one aka he-who-shall-not-be-named"


What about my parents' names and places of birth? As a genealogist I want it all! I found myself fantasizing about having a 4-generation pedigree chart engraved on a huge headstone. Has it been done before? Is there room on a headstone?

As a genealogist, I'm also concerned about my own obituary! After reading through hundreds of my ancestors' obits, I know exactly what I wish had been in each. Why oh why were women's maiden names so infrequently mentioned? Why does my great grandmother's obit simply say "she came with her parents from Ireland when she was a young girl"

Acck! Could they not have written something a bit more detailed, such as "she came with her parents John Smith and Lucy McGillicuddy from Ballyhoogan Co. Down Ireland in 1843 on the ship Rosemary which sailed from Belfast Ireland to Quebec on 23 May..."

My children never seem to remember that I was born in Oshawa, not Ajax (which is where I grew up). Neither my kids nor my husband seem to remember how my maiden name McGinnis is spelled!

So I've written down all the facts that I want included in my obit. My maiden name McGinnis (spelled correctly of course). My parents' names and where they were from. Where and when I was born. My husbands' names (yes, even he-who-shall-not-be-named). Where I lived until the age of 17. Where I went to University. A little bit about my interests and hobbies. My children's names. I've even included my 11 grandchildren's names although I doubt anyone will want to pay enough to have them all mentioned.

By the way, I will NOT have hubby number one's name on my tombstone and prefer it not to be in my obituary ... I managed to get him out of my life, why on earth would I want him around in my death? I won't even be bothered to come back and haunt him. It's not that I wish any harm to befall him - he simply doesn't exist for me. Gone. Done.

I'm doing this for future generations who will (hopefully) be looking for me 200 years from now. It was a bit disconcerting when I first began, but as I went along I really became quite interested in the task! After writing down all my notes for my tombstone inscription and obituary, I placed them in a large manilla envelope labelled "For my executor" and put it in an antique blanket box. Family members know where to find these papers.

I didn't make copies and send them to my children because I may want to add or remove items. When you come right down to it, I'm planning on sticking around a very long time! Who knows how many things I might want to change in the future.

What are your plans?