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March 31, 2010

Weekly Featured Database: Arkansas Naturalization Records Index 1809-1906

In the 1930s and 1940s a statewide project was begun by the WPA (Work Projects Administration). This project was to find and photograph Naturalization Records before 27 September 1906. All copies were to be deposited with INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) but when the WPA was disbanded in 1942, only a few states and districts were complete.

NaturalizationRecords.com has compiled and published an index (Surnames A to M) to Arkansas Naturalization Records 1809 to 1906. These are Orders Granting Citizenship.

If you find a name of interest in the online index, instructions are given for obtaining the full record.

March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandma Ruth!

Happy Birthday Grandma Ruth. You would be 116 years old today if you were still with us.

My grandmother Ruth Ethel Simpson was born March 30, 1894 in Ramsgate England. She was called Dolly by her family because she looked like a little procelain doll.
When Ruth was 19 years old she left England for Ontario Canada with her fiance Charles Fuller, also 19. In May 1913 Charles and Ruth sailed on the Cunard Line ship AUSONIA from Southampton to Montreal then on to Quebec, Canada. They made their way to Toronto to Ruth's brother, and one year later in August 1914 they were married.

Charles and Ruth moved to Guelph Ontario where they raised three daughters but in 1941 after 27 years of a happy marriage, Charles died. Two years later in February 1943 Grandma Ruth married again to Sam Richardson who we called Daddy Sam. Another 12 years went by but Sam died in 1955. This time Grandma remained a widow less than a year before she married for the third time to Alfred (Fred) Bates a widower who worked in the same store as Grandma.

Grandma and Fred had 14 years together before he also died. Grandma was 76 years old and much to my surprise she did not marry again! I fully expected her to marry a fourth time. Grandma went to live with my mom and aunt after Fred died and then embarked on an adventure. The three ladies, all widows, sold their belongings, bought a motor home (a Winnebago) and began to travel. Mother drove, Lily (her sister) did the cooking and housework and Grandma Ruth knit, crocheted and watched the scenery.

In January 1985 Grandma Ruth passed away at the age of 91. She was fun, vivacious, loved the colour red and almost always wore a red pantsuit in later years. She was a terrific grandmother and I miss her a lot.

March 29, 2010

Lost & Found: Warren E. Reid 1902-1988

Recently I rescued The Memorial Book for Warren E. Reid who died in 1988 at the age of 86. Mr. Reid's Memorial Book contained many loose cards signed by friends and family, most likely taken from flowers sent to his loved ones. It also contained his obituary from the local paper, some hand-written notes, signatures of those who attended his funeral and other miscellaneous ephemera.

Warren's wife was Mabel Hawthorne and his children are also named. I am not naming them here for privacy reasons. Warren's parents' names were given as Isaac Reid and Wilhelmina Robinson, one deceased sister was also named - Mrs. Eveline Morrow; also a deceased brother Elmer Reid.

I thought it would be interesting to do some research on Warren. The Memorial Book was obviously kept by someone who loved him, and I wondered why it had now been discarded.

Warren's funeral was in Listowel Ontario (Canada) and since I know he was born circa 1902 I figured I could find him in the 1911 Canadian Census. Sure enough, a hunt on Ancestry.com turned up 9 year old Warren (born Jan 1902) living in Mornington, Perth North with his mother Mina (Wilhelmina no doubt), a 32 year old widow born Feb 1879 in Ontario, and siblings Elmer and Eveline, 6 year old twins, born November 1904.

My next find was Warren's birth registration. He was registered as Edwinn Warren Reid born 10 Jan 1902 in Perth County to parents Isaac Reid & Mina Robinson

His twin siblings were registered as Lylya Eveline & Aylmer, both born 11 Oct 1904

To find Warren's grandparents I looked for the marriage of Isaac Reid & Mina Robinson and there it was on 28 Nov 1900. Isaac was 36 years old and the son of John Reid & Charlotte Robinson. Mina was 10 years younger and the daughter of Alexander Robinson &Elizabeth Warren. Both Isaac and Mina were born in Ontario

Because Mina was left a widow at such a young age, I wondered what happened to Isaac. When did he die and what was the cause? This time I used Pilot Family Search to look for Isaac's death. There it was on 4 April 1910 in Perth. His date of birth was given as June 1, 1861 and the cause of death Pernicious Anemia. Poor Isaac, he was only 48 years old. His death certificate further revealed that both his parents were born in Ireland.

I was actually surprised to find Isaac with his parents in the 1861 census for Mornington Perth County! I thought given his date of birth he would not show up until 1871. However there he is, little one year old Isaac with John Reid a blacksmith from Ireland, age 41 and mother Charlotte age 30. Other siblings listed in 1861 were Hannah Reid 13 born Ireland, John Reid 11 born Upper Canada (present day Ontario), William, Margaret, David and little Isaac - all born Upper Canada. What a nice find! Knowing that Hannah was born circa 1848 in Ireland and John born circa 1850 in Ontario, gives a nice timeframe for the family leaving Ireland for Ontario. The Irish Famine was in full force so presumably the family fled out of necessity.

No doubt there is much more that could be fairly easily found on Warren Reid's family tree but I just wanted to show what a researcher can do with a few hours and a lost and found item such as Warren's Memorial Book.

March 28, 2010

Sharing Memories (Week 18): Your Favorite Teacher

This is Week 18 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Journal. It's not too late to join in! Your memories can be private, you write them in a journal at home, or they can be shared publicly here on OliveTreeGenealogy Blog or on your own Blog.

Genealogists love nothing better than finding an ancestor's journal or diary or letter. Just imagine how excited your grandchildren or great grandchildren will be to read your stories in the future.

This week's topic is Favorite Teachers. Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it? Why did you like or admire them? Did they make a difference in your life or did you just enjoy their classes?

My absolute favorite teacher was my Grade 9 homeroom teacher, Fred Parrott. This is a Yearbook Photo of Mr. Parrott


Mr. Parrott taught English which I loved. But I was extremely shy and would never answer questions in class unless called on. I never volunteered an answer. He very gently brought me out of my shell with patience and words of encouragement. My father died when I was in Grade 9 and Mr. Parrott was very kind and thoughtful, one of the few teachers who tried to help me with my sadness. By the end of Grade 9 I was happily participating in all classes, not just Mr. Parrott's. He eventually went on to become principal, long after I left school.

Mr. Parrott helped me to believe in myself and for that I thank him!

March 26, 2010

Featured Foto from Lost Faces Photo Album of the Derr Family


This is a tintype of Eva, Ada & Ida Bushnell

It is part of my private collection of 1800s Photo Albums

This tintype was with the Derr Family Photo Album which is a Civil War Era Derr Family Album with CDVs (Cartes de Visites), circa 1860s.

Inscription inside cover reads: -- and Richard -- Cleveland

Inscription front page reads Mr. & Mrs. R. Derr, Ney Defiance Co. Ohio

Surnames in the identified photos: Derr, Prehn, Bartholomew, Stahl, Bushnell, Austen, Ward, Beavis, Brownlee, Garman, Gray, Green, Carter, Furst, Newcomb, Mott, Beck, Field, Wilson

Locations of photographers: Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania

March 25, 2010

Reminder! WDYTYA is on Friday with Matthew Broderick

A reminder that the TV genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are? at 8:00 Eastern/7:00 Central Time is on NBC every Friday.

Episode 4 is tomorrow and features Matthew Broderick, who sets out to discover more about his father's side of the family, whom he never knew. As he learns about his ancestors' heroic military service and sacrifice, Matthew gets closer than he ever imagined to Captain Robert Shaw, who he portrayed in the epic Civil War movie Glory. Watch for Matthew's visit to the National Archives in New York City, the Connecticut State Archives, and the Marietta National Cemetery in Georgia.

This is a terrific genealogy series, so you want to be sure you don't miss it! If you missed the first three they are available online at NBC.com

My thoughts and critiques of the first two episodes are available at

* Episode 1

* Episode 2

There is also a companion book written by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak which may be of interest.

March 24, 2010

Weakly Featured Database: New York Almshouse Records 1819-1840

This week's featured free database is the New York Almshouse Records 1819 to 1840

This set of records is extracted from a Ledger Book containing residents of the Almshouse, the names of the ship each person sailed on, plus dates of arrival. This database includes arrivals in Canadian ports.

In the early 1800s port cities in the USA bore the burden of immigration. By the time they arrived, so many immigrants were tired, hungry and poor they ended up in the City Almshouse. This meant the citizens had to take care of them.

Dating back to the colonial era, New York City assumed responsibility for its citizens who were destitute, sick, homeless, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The city maintained an almshouse, various hospitals, and a workhouse on Blackwell's Island (now called Roosevelt Island) for the poor.

There are 2 pages for each name in this ledger. Only portions of the left hand page have been extracted. There is more information in the Ledger, including Captain's Name, Owner's Name, Date of Bond, Sureties, Date Discharged, Death Date, Remarks, Bonded, Commuted & Total.

For example, under date 1820 March 11 the full record shows Elizabeth Kennedy age 34 is listed as having died June 14, 1820; her daughter Mary Ann died Nov. 5, 1820

The extracted portions are

Date of Admission; Foreigner (Surname); Foreigner (First Name); Age; Place of Birth; Vessel Name; Where From

Thus Elizabeth Kennedy's extracted record online shows

1820 Mar. 11 Kennedy Elizabeth 34 ; Ireland; Grey Hound ; Halifax

The suggested way to use this online set of extracted records is to search for your ancestor then consult the microfilmed Ledger Book for the full details.

March 21, 2010

Sharing Memories (Week 17): Here Comes High School!

It is Week 17 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Journal?

I hope everyone is getting those memories down on paper and will join me this week to share more! It's not too late, you can easily catch up by choosing SHARING MEMORIES from the right side bar. The list of the past 16 Topics is found there.

You know how happy we are to find an ancestor's diary or journal. Just imagine how excited your grandchildren or great grandchildren will be to read your stories in the future. Don't let those memories be lost - preserve them now!

This week we're talking about High School. Was it scary for you starting Grade 9? How did your High School years go - easy? Difficult? Fun? I was nervous at the start of Grade 9. I'd heard terrible stories of Initiation Day (remember those?) and how horrible the Seniors were to the little Grade Niners. Being a shy introverted kid didn't help! Our one and only High School was quite a walk from where I lived. You know the old exaggerated stories "I had to walk 2 miles to school every day through raging blizzards!" Well, that was true!

I lived in the old area of town in the northern part, divided by a railroad track and a super highway (now 8 lane Highway 401 in Ontario) from the newer area and the High School which was on the extreme furthest southern edge of town possible. To get to the school you had to walk East for quite a hike until you got to the one and only bridge which crossed the tracks and the highway. Our parents threatened us with severe punishments if we ever dared climb the fence that ran parallel to the railroad tracks and crossed them to take the much shorter route to school. I did it a few times but boy was it scary!

Initiation Day was worse than I imagined. We had to dress in togas (white bed sheets) and do the bidding of the Seniors all day. I had shaving cream sprayed in my face constantly, had to carry books from one class to the next as the Senior's "slave' and never got to eat lunch. Why not? I spent it on my hands and knees under a table in the cafeteria, acting as a footstool for a group of senior boys!

I also spent a lot of time (as did other Grade Niners) pushing marbles up the steep cement walkway to the front door of the school. My nose was sore for many days afterwards!

What are your memories?

March 20, 2010

What About Georgiana's Illegitimate Birth?

On March 8, I wrote a post called "What About The Women" One of my goals for March was to find my ancestor Georgiana Fuller's death and figure out more about her illegitimate birth to the widow Hannah Golding nee Philpot

There were several comments on that post and I thank everyone for their contributions. I want to answer two of the comments:

Michelle Goodrum said...
I am curious about Georgiana's father George Norris. What happened to him and why did Georgiana not use his surname?

Michelle, I don't know. I was not aware of his name until I found Georgiana's marriage to Charles Fuller in Lenham Kent England. On the marriage certificate Georgiana names her father as "George Norris"

A search of census records for Lenham turned up only one George Norris - a neighbour to Hannah Golding and her family. In the earlier 1841 census his parents and siblings are living a few houses from Hannah Golding and her family. In 1851 his parents and a few brothers and sisters live next door to Hannah and her children. In the 1861 census for Lenham, I found George, age 50, living with his mother and unmarried.

I do not know what happened to George and have no absolute proof that he is the George Norris named on Georgiana's marriage record. But Lenham was a tiny village and it seems most plausible that Georgiana's father would be someone who Hannah knew from her daily life in the village. I've not yet found George in any other census other than 1861 but searching for him is on my To-Do list.

I also plan to send for the birth certificate of Hannah's illegitimate son Edward John Golding born 05 Mar 1843 in Lenham to see if his father is listed, and if he and Georgiana shared the same father. I may need his marriage record, as Georgiana's birth record did not have a father's name.

Brett Payne said...

FreeBMD shows the death of a Georgina FULLER, aged 44, in Hollingbourn Registration District, Kent in the 4th quarter of 1882. Despite the ages not quite matching up with what you say is shown on the 1881 Census, I wonder if that is her? Perhaps it would be worth sending off for the death certificate if it's in the right area.

Brett was absolutely correct. A cousin informed me that he had sent for that death record and it was indeed our Georgiana. She is listed as 44 years of age, the wife of Charles Fuller, a farm labourer. Georgiana died on 19th December 1882 of complications from pregnancy, aggravated by heart disease.

So now I know what happened to Georgiana. After 10 children in a 23 year time period, her 11th pregancy was her breaking point.

Georgiana's oldest child was 23 when his mother died, her youngest was 2 years old.

March 19, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are: Episode 3 Lisa Kudrow tonight

Tune into NBC Friday 8/7c tonight March 19th for Episode 3 of Who Do You Think You Are with Lisa Kudrow exploring her Jewish ancestry.

The website for “Who Do You Think You Are?” can be accessed here http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/. The website features bios of the celebrities featured in the show, photos, and several video clips as well as articles on how to get started in family history.

Ancestry.com is a partner with NBC on the show.

The family history-focused series will lead seven celebrities on a journey back in time as they discover more about the ancestors who came before them. Lisa Kudrow, who executive produced the show, will be featured in the episodes, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, and Brooke Shields.

March 18, 2010

Caveat re Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1930 on Ancestry!

Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1930 on Ancestry.com has recently been updated. I was pretty happy to see that as my family lines are Ontario back to 1800. I immediately began searching for some of my earlier ancestors.

At first I didn't notice anything unusual. Then I realized that ever index result I obtained had the SAME MOTHER for both the bride and groom. Uh-oh!

Here's a few examples to show what I found:

Name: Charlotte Peer
Birth Place: Nelson
Age: 53
Estimated birth year: abt 1824
Father Name: John Thomas
Mother Name: Mary Thomas <==
Spouse Name: George Hardbottle
Spouse's Age: 73
Spouse Birth Place: Yorkshire England
Spouse Father Name: John Hardbottle
Spouse Mother Name: Mary Thomas <==

Name: Denzalo J Peer
Birth Place: United States
Age: 41
Estimated birth year: abt 1831
Father Name: Abraham Peer
Mother Name: Mary Peer <==
Spouse Name: Amelia Taylor
Spouse's Age: 18
Spouse Birth Place: England
Spouse Father Name: Henry Taylor
Spouse Mother Name: Mary Peer <==

I began to click on random results that were not mine. Same thing - same name for both mothers. I checked the images where images were available. Nope, the mothers' names were not the same on any of the images.

For example, the image shows that George Hardbottle's mother's name is recorded as Mary Hardbottle and Charlotte's is Mary Thomas. The image shows that Denzalo Peer's parents were Abraham and Mary while Amelia's were Henry and Eliza.

I checked over 30 marriage registrations. All had the same error.

Then I realized that I could not check the ones that did not have images attached. That's a huge problem! However eventually through trial and error I stumbled on the way around this.

Here's an example of a marriage index entry with NO IMAGE attached to verify parents' names:

I searched for STEPHEN PEER (His name is first in the index results)

Name: Stephen Peer
Birth Place: Canada
Residence: Ancaster Township
Age: 21
Estimated birth year: abt 1842
Father Name: John Peer
Mother Name: Nancy Peer <==
Spouse Name: Mary Newton
Spouse's Age: 22
Spouse Birth Place: England
Spouse residence: Nelson Township
Spouse Father Name: Thomas Newton
Spouse Mother Name: Nancy Peer <==

Notice that both mothers are given as Nancy Peer. Which one is correct? All you do is reverse your search order. You've searched for Stephen, now search under his wife's name (Mary Newton)

Now you get the indexed results with Mary's name first:

Name: Mary Newton
Birth Place: England
Residence: Nelson Township
Age: 22
Estimated birth year: abt 1841
Father Name: Thomas Newton
Mother Name: Sarah Newton <==
Spouse Name: Stephen Peer
Spouse's Age: 21
Spouse Birth Place: Canada
Spouse residence: Ancaster Township
Spouse Father Name: John Peer
Spouse Mother Name: Sarah Newton <==

Now you get Sarah Newton as the mother of both. In this example it is easy to figure out which mother (Sarah Newton or Nancy Peer) goes with the bride and which goes with the groom. The mothers are recorded under their married names (not their maiden names) so Stephen Peer's mother is Mary, and Mary Newton's mother is Sarah.

The problem that is hard to work around is when the mother's maiden names are given - which mom goes with the bride and which with the groom? The only way then is to check census records and hope you can find the parents.

This is a serious flaw that Ancestry.com has managed to introduce in the database search results. The data has been indexed correctly but the search results fields are not being pulled into the results as they should be.

Please be cautious using this database until it is corrected!

March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day to my Irish Ancestors!

In honour of St Patrick's Day, when tradition has it that we all want to be Irish, I shout out THANK YOU to my Irish ancestors who came from Ireland to N. America.

John Greenlees and his wife Elizabeth Johnston came from Ireland to the wilds of Upper Canada (present day Ontario) with three children - George about 5 years old, Thomas about 3 years old and my 2nd great grandmother Jane who was under 2 years old. The year was some time between Jane's birth in 1819 and the birth of their next child in Upper Canada in 1821. What a perilous journey that must have been!

I wish I knew where in Ireland they came from but I don't. They made it possible for me to exist though so for that I thank them!

Joseph McGinnis and his wife Frances (Fanny) Downey made the journey from famine stricken Ireland with their year old daughter Bridget (Delia) in 1846. They were both barely 20 years old.

It must have been a nightmare voyage and I am sure that like most of the Irish who left Ireland during the Famine Years, they and their loved ones suffered greatly at home. Joseph and Fanny arrived in Ontario and settled near family who had arrived much earlier. They were my 2nd great grandparents and sadly I know nothing of their parents or origins other than learning last year that they came from the area of Katesbridge, Co. Down Ireland. They were very poor Catholics and the land they settled on was more swamp than anything else.

So - I have three Irish great-great grandparents (Joseph, Fanny and Jane) and two Irish Great great great grandparents (John & Elizabeth). Out of that mix I get four Irish surnames: Greenlees, Johnstone, McGinnis & Downey.

I hope this Irish blessing worked for them! "May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you're dead."

Weekly Featured Database: Missouri Newspapers

There are a couple of links for Missouri newspapers (free) online that you might want to add to your list of favorites!

Missouri Newspapers

Jefferson Leader 1866-1868
Jefferson Democrat 1870-1888
Jefferson Watchman 1883-1884
De Soto Weekly Facts 1895-1899

More Missouri Newspapers

Jefferson Democrat 1890
Jefferson County Record 1911

These are ongoing projects and more newspaper transcripts are being added as they become available

March 16, 2010

Schedule for Who Do You Think You Are

The TV genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are? at 8:00 Eastern/7:00 Central Time is on NBC every Friday. Here is the current schedule according to NBC:

* March 5 – Sarah Jessica Parker
* March 12 – Emmitt Smith
* March 19 – Lisa Kudrow
* March 26 – Matthew Broderick
* April 2 – Brooke Shields
* April 9 – Susan Sarandon
* April 23 – Spike Lee

This is a terrific genealogy series, so you want to be sure you don't miss it! If you missed the first two they are available online at NBC.com My thoughts and critiques of the last two episodes are available at

* Episode 1

* Episode 2

There is also a companion book written by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak which may be of interest.

March 15, 2010

Is This My Father?

My father died Christmas Day many years ago. I had just turned 14 one month before his death. Over time my memory of his face has faded.

There are very few photographs of my dad. Those few (a handful) that exist are grainy badly taken images. Except for one. I have a studio portrait of my father taken during WW2, long before I was born.

At an auction recently I bid on and won a group photo of soldiers who were in training in Guelph Ontario in 1942. My dad lived in Guelph and was in training there when he joined the Army. This is a cropped portion of that group photo.



As soon as I saw the photo, I thought that the soldier seated to the right of the officer with the swagger stick (front row) could be my dad! It looks so much like him to my eyes. He is the 5th man counting from the right side.

I scanned and enlarged that soldier and have placed it below beside the WW2 studio portrait of my father. What do you think? Is it him?

I did notice differences as soon as I enlarged the photo. But my husband pointed out that the unknown man (left) has the sun in his eyes so he has shadows on his face that distort his features. He is also squinting a bit, further causing distortion. His face is turned slightly further to the side than the one I know is my father.



Please take a look and give your opinion. I want this to be a photo of my father so much that I am not sure I can judge objectively! Perhaps someone knows who the men were in No. 1 Platoon Basic Training in Guelph in July 1942. Even if no one knows for sure, your opinions and thoughts would be appreciated.

March 14, 2010

Sharing Memories (Week 16): March Break Here We Come!

Can you believe it is Week 16 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Journal?

I hope everyone is getting those memories down on paper and will join me this week to share more! You know how happy we are to find an ancestor's diary or journal. Just imagine how excited your grandchildren or great grandchildren will be to read your stories in the future.

This week, in honour of March Break, I'm going to talk about my March Break memories. I actually have no memory of ever having a March break as a kid! Did we? Have I just forgotten? Or is that a fairly recent holiday? I did get Spring Break aka Reading Week when I was in University. That was a time meant for studying and catching up on assignments but generally it was party time. Florida was a very popular Spring Break for University and College students!

Once I was married with children and in the educational field, March Break was a time of semi-relaxation, keeping the kids entertained and catching up on housework! We never went on holidays with our children over March Break as it was expensive and crowded. Instead we stayed home and enjoyed a few less pressure-filled days.

What are your memories of March or Spring Break? Share them here in the comment section or on your own blog or privately in your Journal. I'd love to hear them if you want to share publicly. Maybe you had more fun than I did!

March 13, 2010

Episode 2 Who Do You Think You Are: Emmitt Smith

Episode 2 of Who Do You Think You Are aired last night. Emmitt Smith was able to embark on a journey to trace his African American ancestry back to his slave roots. On his journey (both physical and emotional) he found his white ancestry and uncovered dark parts of the past. You could see how it disturbed him but made him think too - think about who he was and where he came from, the ancestors who had struggled and suffered to help make him who he is today.

During the show Emmitt made personal connections with people, used courthouses, online census records on Ancestry.com and other genealogy record sources to hunt for his ancestors.

I have nothing negative to say about Episode 2. I loved it. It was very well done and I especially liked Emmitt's comment that in order to know who you are, you need to know where you come from. He was absolutely right!

During the course of the show we learned that Emmitt took a Ancestry.com DNA test to find out more about his ethnic origins and facts were uncovered which pointed to a specific area of Africa as his homeland. If you have not yet taken a DNA test I urge you to do so. I had my brother take one last year to learn more about our McGinnis roots and the results were very exciting and worthwhile.

March 12, 2010

Carnival of African-American Genealogy: Slaves & Slave Owners

Restore My Name – Slave Records and Genealogy Research, will kick-off this African-American themed carnival intended to be a gathering place for the community to share and learn about African-American genealogy.

As a descendant of slave owners, have you ever been pressured by family not to discuss or post about records containing slave names?

As a descendant of slaves, have you been able to work with or even meet other researchers who are descendants of slave owners?


I wanted to join in this first Carnival for African-American genealogy for two reasons. First, I am the descendant of slave owners. My husband is almost certainly the descendant of slaves. It's an uncomfortable position for me even though I know logically and intellectually that I am not responsible for my ancestors actions.

My husband’s ancestor Jonathan Butler and two of his sons are noted in early (pre 1851) Ontario census and tax assessment records as “negro”, “African”, “black” and “mulatto”. We know that Jonathan arrived in Upper Canada (present day Ontario) as early as 1812, and that he was from America, and that he settled in an area provided by the government for fugitve slaves, - but we do not know his ancestry. It is almost certain he was either a fugitive slave or a free black man. But almost certainly if not Jonathan himself, somewhere in his ancestry there is a slave.

How does this affect our research? In my own research I have found several ancestors who owned slaves, which was a shock to me. These ancestors were living in New York - several were the early Dutch who settled New Netherland (present day New York) in the early and mid 1600s. Sadly the names of their slaves are not recorded in any records I have found. I say sadly because finding and recording those slave names to share with others would have been a small effort on my part to help ease my discomfort over that aspect of my ancestry.

I also have ancestors who owned slaves in New York in the 1820s but again the slave names were not recorded.

While we've not found any resistance among other descendants of slave owners to discuss that time in history, we have found reluctance and even outright refusal in some branches of the descendants of Jonathan Butler to accept and embrace their black heritage. They do not want us to continue our research into his ancestry and so refuse to share information with us.

However my husband and I are united in our attempts to find slave records and share them with other researchers.

US Census Records Free on Footnote for Limited Time

Press Release Lindon, UT - March 11, 2010 – In order to encourage more people to find their ancestors and connect with family, Footnote.com, the web’s premier interactive history site, is opening all of their U.S. census documents for free to the public for a limited time.

Unlike any other historical collection on the web, the Interactive Census Collection has the unique ability to connect people related to ancestors found on the historical documents. Simply by clicking the “I’m Related” button for a name on the document will identify you as a descendent and also list others that have done the same. Never before has it been as easy to connect with distant relatives through historical documents. To learn how to get started with the Interactive Census, visit: http://go.footnote.com/discover.

Finding a record featuring an ancestor’s name provides not only an emotional experience but also a connection with the past. On Footnote.com it’s more than just finding a name on a census record. Interactive tools allow people to enhance the documents by adding their own contributions including:

Photos
Stories
Comments
Other related documents
Each contribution is linked to a Footnote member and provides a means for people to find each other and exchange more information about their ancestors.

“TV programs including ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ on NBC and ‘Faces of America’ on PBS will surely increase the interest in family history in the United States,” explains Russell Wilding, CEO of Footnote.com. “We believe that using our Interactive Census Collection is a great way for those who are new to genealogy to get started.”

In addition to providing the basic information about ancestors with the census documents, Footnote.com has been working with the National Archives and other institutions to digitize and index over 63 million historical records that include:

Military documents
Historical newspapers
City directories
Naturalization records


“Using the records on Footnote to go beyond the names and dates is like adding color to your tree,” says Roger Bell, Footnote’s Senior Vice President of Content and Product. “The more details you add, the more colorful your family tree becomes.”

To search for an ancestor and experience family history like never before, visit: http://go.footnote.com/discover.

March 11, 2010

Don't Miss WDYTYA this Friday with Emmit Smith!

The tune-in numbers for the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are? are in, and they look promising! More than 6.85 million viewers tuned in to watch the show making it the No. 2-rated show that hour.

This Friday ? Emmitt Smith This week's episode is one you don't want to miss. Tune into NBC this Friday at 8/7c as former NFL football player Emmitt Smith sets out to discover his slavery roots. In this episode, look for the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroe County, Alabama, and the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Lisa Kudrow calls Emmitt's episode "unbelievable" and the most compelling of the seven.

Last Week's Episode featured Sarah Jessica Parker, who learns that her 4th great-grandfather John S. Hodge was among the hundreds of thousands who tried to strike it rich by heading West during the 1849 California Gold Rush. Unfortunately, Sarah discovers John S. died soon after settling in El Dorado County, California. Sarah also pays a visit to Massachusetts and meets with researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Massachusetts Historical Society, who reveal that one of her ancestors was accused of witchcraft in 1692 during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Luckily, Sarah finds out that the court surrounding the trials was dissolved just before her ancestor was accused, so she was never tried.

Check out the teaser to the episode featuring Emmitt or last week's episode with Sarah Jessica Parker at NBC unless you live in Canada in which case you cannot view these online NBC videos.

March 10, 2010

New Family Search Indexing Projects

FamilySearch Indexers have a wide variety of records to choose from this week. Civil and church records are available from Argentina, Canada, France, Peru, and the United Kingdom. Six different groups of U.S. census records are also ready to be indexed.

New Projects

· Argentina, Cordoba—Registros Parroquiales, 1722–1924 [Parte B]
· Canada, British Columbia—Deaths, 1872–1986 [Part 4]
· Canada, New Brunswick—Births, 1810–1906
· France, Quimper et Leon, St. Louis—Registres Paroissiaux, 1722–1909
(In partnership with Cercle Généalogique du Finistere)
· Perú, Lima—Registros Civiles, 1887–1921 [Parte A]
· U.K., Bristol—Non-Conformist Registers, Pre-1900 [Part A]
· U.K., Warwickshire—Parish Registers, 1754–1900 [Part 1C]
· U.S., Indiana, Clay County—Marriages, 1811–1959
· U.S., Michigan—1910 Federal Census
· U.S., Military—1920 Federal Census
· U.S., Minnesota—1910 Federal Census
· U.S., Montana—1910 Federal Census
· U.S., Puerto Rico—1920 Censo Federal
· U.S., South Dakota—1945 State Census [Part A]

March 9, 2010

Giving Maggie a Face & Place

The word prompt for the 21st Edition of Smile For The Camera is "Give Their Face A Place." March is Women's History month and you are asked to picture women back into history. The unknown, known and unsung women who are often the foundation of our family history. Give their face a place. The interpretation is yours.



I've chosen this beautiful woman in her gorgeous clothes. This CDV (Carte de Visite) was taken circa 1864-1865 in Ohio.

The writing on the verso (reverse) of the photo reads "The Compliments of W T C to Mrs. M R R" I know that WTC is William T. Cunningham.

The inscription in the album which contained this beautiful photo reads "Mrs. Maggie R Remley’s Album. Presented Sept 17th. 1864 by Captn. J R R"

And so I suspect that the Mrs MRR of this photo is Mrs. Maggie R. Remley. I believe her husband was Capt. Joseph R Remley who served in the Civil War.

I know nothing else of Maggie. What did she think about when this photo was taken? What was her daily life like? She wore such beautiful clothing and her hair is done so nicely with a lovely bonnet on top that I suspect she and her husband had a bit of money behind them!

But who was Maggie and what were her dreams and hopes? I hope she lived a long and happy life but I suspect it was, like most women in that time period, fraught with hardship and hard work.

March 8, 2010

What About the Women?

Today (March 8) is International Women's Day. Pam Tessier gave me the idea for this blog post in her email to one of the genealogy mailing lists I look after. Super idea Pam - thanks!

In honour of the unsung and unknown female ancestors in our family tree, take some time today, this week and this month to pick one and find out more about her.

How often do we give up on a female ancestor? We find their first name and it becomes difficult to find a surname or her parents so we shrug our shoulders and set her aside "for now". But do we ever get back to her and dig deeper?

Your female ancestors had every bit as much to do with who you are as your male ancestors so let's give those women a place.

Look over your pedigree chart. How many of your female ancestors have complete details of their birth or death? Choose one of them and set a goal to find at least one fact about her that you didn't previously know.

Women had hard lives. They often bore children a year apart. They toiled over woodstoves or open hearths to prepare meals for large families. They tended sick babies when there was little or no medical help or medications such as what we take for granted today. They buried many of their children but they carried on.

Let's honour them by not neglecting them in our genealogy research. They deserve to be known so let's find them!

In a 5-generation pedigree chart for my ancestry, I find three women for whom I have only partial information. They are

* Fanny McGinnis nee Downey born circa 1820-1830 somewhere in Ireland, died 1904 in Morriston Ontario. I have no idea who her parents were.

* Jane Peer nee Greenlees born circa 1819 somewhere in Ireland, died 1899 in Guelph Ontario. I know who her parents were

* Georgiana Fuller nee Golding born 1840 Lenham England. I know who her parents were

I've chosen Georgiana Fuller nee Golding. She was my great great grandmother. I know a little bit about Georgiana and she certainly intrigues me! Georgiana's baptism record is in St Marys Church in Lenham and it states that she was born to "the widow Golding". Her mother's name is given as Hannah Golding whose husband had been Edward. However Edward Golding died in 1837 in Lenham so unless the widow Hannah had the longest pregnancy in history, Edward Golding was not my Georgiana's father.

A lot of searching found nothing more except that the Widow Hannah had another child born in 1843 in Lenham. I do not know who his father was either.

Eventually I did find Georgiana's father because luckily her marriage certificate to Charles Fuller in 1858 provides his name - George Norris. However Georgiana used the Golding surname from her birth to her marriage.

It sounds like I know a lot about Georgiana! I know her parents - George Norris and the widow Hannah Golding. I have Georgiana's baptism and marriage record. I have the names of her ten children born between 1859 and 1880. Poor Georgiana was pregnant for most of those 20 years. It horrifies me to see how close together some of those pregnancies were! For example Georgiana bore her 5th child - my ancestor Charles in August 1867. In October 1868, a little over one year later, she gave birth to another son Alfred. She must have been exhausted.

I have her in various census records - 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881. In 1881 she is 41 years old and some time between that census and the 1891 census Georgiana died. Her husband Charles is listed in 1891 as a widower.

My goal during March is to find Georgiana's death and figure out what happened to her.

March 7, 2010

Sharing Memories (Week 15): Grandfathers

We are on Week 15 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey Journal. I hope everyone will join me this week to share more memories! You know how happy we are to find an ancestor's diary or journal. Just imagine how excited your grandchildren or great grandchildren will be to read your stories in the future.

Last week we talked about our grandmothers and what we remembered of them. I thought it would be nice to remember grandfathers this week even though I never knew mine. Both my grandfathers died before I was born.

My mother (that's her on the far right) often told me stories of her dad and so did my grandmother (my mother's mother). So I felt like I knew him just from listening to their fond memories. Apparently he was quite a jokester and often played tricks on his three daughters. He sang in a church choir and was active in vaudeville performances.

Apparently he was just a great guy who everyone loved. Sadly he died at age 48.

My other grandfather (my dad's father) was never discussed. My dad never talked of him, nor did anyone else that I knew growing up. The only thing I knew about him was that he was injured on the job when he was a young man and was never able to work again. By the few things I overheard it seems he was a very strict father. I was always told that when he died at age 57, his family threw a huge Irish wake for him and kept his coffin in the living room while they partied around him.

I hope you have memories of a grandfather and will join us this week in putting those memories down on paper. Even though my writing this week will be other's memories of my grandfathers, it will still be nice for my descendants to read what others remembered of their ancestors.

March 6, 2010

Answers to Genealogists' Questions about Episode 1 of Who Do You Think You Are

This informative email just in from Ancestry.com is NBC's official partner on the series Who Do You Think You Are and is a recommended website for genealogists.

An hour doesn’t offer much time to delve into the research processes that genealogists used as they traced the family history of actress Sarah Jessica Parker for this week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? We sat down with the research team who worked on Sarah Jessica’s family tree to talk about what it took to find her elusive gold miner ancestor. I’ve recapped that conversation here:

First Steps First
Similar to Sarah Jessica Parker’s own assumptions at the beginning of the show, research on the tree began with vague ideas that her family was comprised of recent immigrants. The team first developed a skeleton of Sarah Jessica’s family history. “We documented every connection and every life event for her ancestors,” says Natalie Cottrill of ProGenealogists, who appeared with Sarah Jessica in the episode, “finding information about Sarah Jessica’s family in court records, newspaper articles, books, and personal letters published in books.” And that’s how they found John S. Hodge.

The First Nugget
The first clue about John S. Hodge’s life came from his son’s obituary, which stated that John S. Hodge died in 1849 on his way to California from Ohio. Since the death date came from an obituary written decades after John S. Hodge died, the team looked for primary sources recorded during or around the anticipated lifespan for John S. Hodge. For starters, the team wanted to determine why the ancestral John S. Hodge was going to California, as the son’s obituary stated. Considering the time period – 1849 – it seemed probable that John S. Hodge could have been heading to the California gold fields.

The Right John?
The search led to a John Hodge, who was the right age to be Sarah Jessica’s ancestor, listed as a miner in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for El Dorado County, California. This record shifted research to determining whether the California John Hodge was the ancestral John S. Hodge, and the researchers turned to records associated with the 49ers. “We found a letter written by someone in Ohio to John S. Hodge, which had been published in a book,” says Natalie. “One of my colleagues tracked down the original set of letters, which provided more details, including information about John S. Hodge’s 1950 [sic. Read "1850"] death.” Estate and other documents further confirmed that the ancestral John S. Hodge and the California miner John Hodge was the same individual.

If you missed the Sarah Jessica Parker episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, you can watch full episodes online at NBC.com. And you won't want to miss former NFL football player Emmitt Smith set out to discover his slavery roots this Friday, March 12, at 8/7c on NBC. Lisa Kudrow said his episode is the most compelling of the seven (and, personally, I have to agree). Check out the teaser to the episode featuring Emmitt.

March 5, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are, Episode 1 Sarah Jessica Parker

"Who Do You Think You Are?" premiered tonight Friday, March 5 (8-9 p.m. ET)

Ancestry.com is NBC's official partner on the series and is a recommended website for genealogists.

The show gave viewers an up-close and personal look inside the family history of Sarah Jessica Parker

I watched with great interest and made a list of what I loved and what I didn't like about Who Do You Think You Are (Episode 1). I'm interested in your thoughts - did you watch the show? What did you think of it? How would you compare it to Faces of America (if you watched that show)

I enjoyed Who Do You Think You Are first episode much more than Faces of America. I liked how it focused on one person's journey and didn't jump around from person to person showing us bits and pieces from each, as Faces of America did. I also liked seeing Sarah Jessica Parker physically on the journey, not just sitting and waiting to be told to turn a page in a book as in Faces of America. I liked the connection that Sarah Jessica Parker began to feel with America as she journeyed to places her ancestors had lived.

The show gave historical context to Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestors. It helped Sarah Jessica Parker connect to them as real people living real lives. She not only saw them as part of history, she connected to them as people not just names and dats.

I liked how Sarah Jessica Parker did some of her own research rather than rely exclusively on help from historians, librarians and genealogists. They did do a lot of research for her and helped her a great deal which showed just how knowledgeable and helpful such professionals are, but I was glad to see Sarah Jessica at a microfilm reader and engaging in the task.

I really liked how the show captured the excitement of researching one's family and making a find such as an ancestor on a census record. Genealogy is exciting. It's fun and it's a wonderful mystery waiting to be solved! Who Do You Think You Are captured that and for that I give it a huge tip of my hat!

What didn't I like? I'm going to nitpick now because I didn't find any major fault with the show BUT I found Sarah Jessica Parker's responses to details of her ancestors overly dramatic. That detracted from my overall enjoyment of the show.

One event actually made me cringe. When an original 1692 document was handed to Sarah Jessica Parker no one wore gloves. The librarian taking it out of the folder did not wear gloves and Sarah Jessica was not given any. As well Sarah Jessica Parker had a pencil which she used to point to the words as she read the document. I cringed every time her pencil jabbed towards a word and just barely escaped touching the paper.

I chuckled seeing Sarah Jessica Parker in those empty libraries and archives, consulting with genealogists and historians. Oh to find an empty library where every book and microfilm and every staff member is just waiting for ME to come along! I know, I know, it's a tv show and Sarah Jessica Parker is a celebrity so obviously they had to film it when no one was there. But still, it made me chuckle.

Overall I really enjoyed Episode 1 and look forward to Episode 2!

My Rating for Episode 1 is A-

Amsterdam Burial Registers Online

This just in from Amsterdam Archives! What great news for those searching their Dutch roots.

Amsterdam, March 4, 2010

History at the click of a mouse

Amsterdam City Archives presents its award-winning Archives Database: a wealth of digitized archival material, directly available online. The easy-to-use website provides quick access to Amsterdam’s historical documents. Find your Dutch ancestors with just the click of a mouse, with the help of a straightforward search system and instructions in English. Now, the Amsterdam burial registers, another indispensable source for genealogical research, have been added to the Archives Database, bringing the total number of scans to more than seven million.

Easy to use

Finding the document you need is easy. Simply enter a name in the indexes that give access to the genealogical sources, and the documents will appear on your screen. Or search the Amsterdam City Archives’ inventories, accessible in full on the website. These contain treasures such as letters written by Charles Darwin; an eighteenth-century trade agreement with the newly founded United States of America; the archives of the Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue, containing the excommunication of seventeenth-century philosopher Spinoza; and the archives of institutions such as the Heineken brewery and the renowned Concertgebouw.

Opening up 20 miles of archives
The number of scans available for direct download is growing day by day. Cannot download the document you are looking for yet? The Amsterdam City Archives will scan it at your request, and it will be online within three weeks. Together, the Amsterdam City Archives and its visitors are opening up all 20 miles of Amsterdam’s archives online, making research easy, no matter where you are.

Quality scans, low costs
The quality of the scans is perfect for research. Every original detail is legible. Yet the standard is such that the costs are low. What’s more: to celebrate the addition of the burial registers to the Database, the Amsterdam City Archives now offers five scans free of charge to every newly registered user of the Archives Database. Just send your login name to fifescansforfree@gaa.nl

Best Archives on the Web
After first attaining a national award, the Archives Database has now found international acclaim, securing the Best Archives on the Web Award 2009.

About the Amsterdam City Archives
The Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) is the largest municipal archives in the world. It preserves documents pertaining to the history of Amsterdam and provides information about the city and its inhabitants, now and in the past. The Amsterdam City Archives is a pioneer in the field of digitizing archival material. Apart from the Archives Database, the website of the Amsterdam City Archives features an Image Bank, containing more than 260.000 photos, drawings, and prints related to the city.

March 4, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are? Book Release

This just in from Megan

Who Do You Think You Are? Book Release

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak of Honouring Our Ancestors has a new book out which I am sure will interest many.

Her press release follows:

March 3, 2010

I am thrilled to announce that my new book, Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History

is being released tomorrow! The book is a companion piece to NBC's ground-breaking new genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are?, which premiers on Friday.

Who Do You Think You Are

P.S. Amazon is currently selling Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History
for $16.47 (list price is $24.95). A great bargain!

March 3, 2010

Free 1930 USA Census on Internet Archives

Internet Archives now has the microfilm copy of the original 1930 census as collected by the Census Bureau available for download.

This could prove to be very helpful for finding an elusive ancestor that you just can't find on the indexed census records on other sites such as
Ancestry.com