December 31, 2015

Did You Read the Most Popular Posts of 2015?

Well it's the last day of 2015. It's been a terrific year and I'm sure 2016 will be even better! Let's take a look at Olive Tree Genealogy's most popular blog posts for 2015 and see how many people read them. Now's your chance if you missed reading one of them! 

Most 5 Most Popular Olive Tree Genealogy Blog Posts of 2015

1. The Problem of Family Not Wanting Your Genealogy Research 6,504 reads.

Several years ago I came to the realization that no one in my immediate family wants my 40 plus years of research on our genealogy. A few are mildly interested in hearing the more exciting stories of blacksheep ancestors or famous relatives or an intriguing mystery. No one but me does actual research into our ancestors. 

2. 10 Steps to Searching the Irish Catholic Parish Records When You Only Know a County of Origin 4864 reads.

By now most of us with Irish Catholic ancestors have been to the awesome new database of all Irish Catholic Parish Records published online by the National Library of Ireland. (See If You Have Irish Catholic Ancestors Today's Your Lucky Day)

The records are not indexed or transcribed and thus there is no search engine where you can simply type in a name to see results. Instead you search for your parish of interest and then scroll through the images to hopefully find the record you want. 

But what about those of us who don't know the parish our Irish ancestors were in? What about those, like me, who only know a county of origin? Well, I have developed a plan for methodically and carefully searching the records in a somewhat organized fashion. 

3. FREE 170 Million Wills & Probate Records on Ancestry! 3504 reads. 

Please note that these are no longer free to view.

4. Did Your Ancestor Disappear from the Records? 3460 reads. 

Many of us have had that problem. We're searching for an ancestor and finding him or her in census records, vital records and more. 

Just when we think we're on a roll, that ancestor disappears! That's when you need to expand your search to other records such as orphanages, workhouses or almshouse (poorhouse) records.

5. Where (and Why) Are Canadian Genealogists Hiding? 2639 reads.

In Gail Dever's blog post Some of the great Canadian genealogists we have lost she mentions that since the results of the Rock Star Genealogist contest, many of us in the Genealogy Community have been disappointed that very few Canadian Genealogists were recognized.

Why is this? Are we Canadians not good at self-promotion and getting known? Are Canadians so Americanized by our Television Shows and Movies that we automatically (and subconsciously) assume that if it's from an American Genealogist it's got to be better?

Most Popular Pages on Olive Tree Genealogy Blog

Sharing Memories 22413 reads since the first prompt was posted in 2009. 

Sharing Memories prompts are now published in an ebook Writing Your Memoirs For Descendants: Prompts for Recording & Preserving Your Family Stories and Memories

Many new prompts have been added to this book. My weekly Sharing Memories prompts began in December 2009 and ended last week with a total of almost 200 prompts designed to jog memories of childhood experiences and stories. 

Soldiers' Items Found 13073 reads since Case #1 published in 2010

One of the  missions of Olive Tree Genealogy is to reunite found items such as  Dog ID Tags, Medals, etc of soldiers with their descendants. To date my readers have worked on the following cases and been successful in reuniting soldiers' dog id tags with family members.

We still have more cases coming in and we have old cases that have not yet been solved. If you have a moment would you read through one of the open cases below (marked in green) and help find family?


Cemetery Walks 11869 reads

Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel has many online Cemetery Walk videos for all to view freely.

What are Cemetery Walks? They are photographs of gravestones in cemeteries, converted to a video.

December 30, 2015

Great Sale on AncestryDNA Kits!

Great news! Now you can get 20% off AncestryDNA from January 1 to 6, 2016

There's never been a better time to start your DNA journey. You can discover your long ago ancestral ethnic origins and make connections with cousins. 

You can follow my personal DNA journey and stories here 

I've discovered new cousins, uncovered long-lost secrets, found a new great grandfather for my husband and proven my Native American heritage and my husband's African American heritage.

Why wait? Set your 2016 New Year's Resolutions and make one of them to send for your AncestryDNA Kit to start your journey.

December 29, 2015

Easy Steps to Organizing, Scanning, Preserving & Sharing Family Photos

 In November and December of this year I wrote a 4 part series of articles for Legacy Family Tree on Organizing, Scanning, Preserving and Sharing Family Photos. They may be helpful for any of my readers wanting to create some structure and organization out of a mess of family photographs! 

I've followed my own advice and made giant leaps in my own chaos of shoeboxes of stored family photos and old photo albums tucked into corners of the attic.
 
In "10 Easy Steps to Organizing Family Photos" Part I and  Part II I will walk you step by step through easy ways to sort your family photographs and get them ready for scanning. Graphics such as the one I created below add a visual component to aid in following the steps.

 


In "10 Steps to Scanning, Preserving and Sharing Your Photos" Part 1 and Part 2 I explain resolution, file format, types of scanners and other details you need to know before you begin to scan those treasured photographs.


One of the first steps is  deciding on a file structure on your computer. Screenshots of my own directory setup should help in following my suggestions





You've probably heard of meta data but might not know what it is. That is all explained in my series and screenshots of using meta data will be helpful.




So don't wait - take a bit of time before the New Year and add organizing and scanning your family photographs to your 2016 New Year's Resolutions

December 28, 2015

How Did I Do in 2015 and New Year's Resolutions for 2016

On December 29, ,2014 I wrote a blog post New Year's Genealogy Resolutions for 2014 - Did I Achieve Them?

At the end of reviewing my 2014 resolutions and deciding I was writing too may resolutions and expecting too much of myself, I set one resolution for 2015.

 "So 2015 will be my year of writing - novels, tutorials, family histories - I plan on writing and creating ebooks and paperbacks. It's going to be my fun year."

HOW DID I DO?

 2015 is almost over. So how did I do? I'm pretty happy with my progress. I focused on my writing and am pleased to say I accomplished quite a bit. In March I published the first two volumes of my planned series on the Loyalist Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick and his children.


From Van Valkenburg to Vollick: The Loyalist Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick and his Vollick & Follick Children (Volume 1)  and From Van Valkenburg to Vollick:  Cornelius Vollick and his Follick and Vollick Descendants to 3 Generations (Volume 2) are both for sale on Amazon.com 

A third volume about Isaac's son Storm Follick is almost ready for publication and I feel very good about that.



I also published several private family history books which are not for sale but I distributed to family members. My 4-volume set of books on the McGinnis family (my maiden name) is finished and each of my children has copies.

Work on a book of the Beardmore family is in progress for my nephew's wife. It's almost done and that's another achievement I feel very good about.

BLOG POSTS

I stuck to my commitment to write a daily blog post on Olive Tree Genealogy - another thumbs up because it was not always easy.

Many days I did not feel like writing or I couldn't think of anything to say! But I like the discipline of meeting the commitment and I love writing so I was able to see even the bad days through.

EXPANDING MY WRITING VENTURES

 My writing took off even more when I also began writing articles for Legacy Family Tree in 2015. That has been a wonderful experience and a different style of writing which I am thoroughly enjoying. Then just last week another well-known Genealogy company asked me to write for them. That recognition is very gratifying, and the topic for January is a fun one.

The one area of writing where I failed miserably was in getting my Genealogy Murder Mystery Novel finalized for publication. Life and my health got in the way and I simply could not set aside enough quality time to focus on that task. To be very honest I am a little nervous about publishing it. What if no one likes it? What if it gets panned? What if it's not as good as I think it is? What if.......

I recognize this anxiety. It is the same anxiety I felt at the first (and only!) showing of my artwork. I was very worried that viewers would say it was terrible and not fit to be hung in the show. It's a type of stage fright and I have to work very hard to overcome it. I actually sold a painting at that show so I guess my nerves were not warranted. That is something I need to work on next year - overcoming that anxiety hurdle and finishing my novel. 

SOCIAL MEDIA 

One other quiet goal I had was to focus more on Social Media, in particular Twitter. I set a goal to reach 10,000 followers on my Twitter account (@LorineMS) by the end of 2015. I'm happy to report I now have 9,922 but somehow I doubt I will have 78 more followers in the next 4 days. I also joined some new Social Media channels, namely Instagram and Periscope but I have not been able to devote as much time to them as I'd like to. 

2016 GOALS & RESOLUTIONS

I'll make that one of my goals in 2016 - continue growing my Twitter profile with quality followers, and find time to work on Instagram and Periscope.

But mainly in 2016 I will continue to focus on my writing - both non-fiction and fiction. Of course I will continue my genealogy research as well. I look forward to new challenges and opportunities in the New Year!  What are your goals for the coming year?

December 27, 2015

And a Good Time Was Had by All!

The table was set for a smaller number of guests this year at the annual Christmas Dinner I host. Our usual numbers of family and friends is 30 or more. This year it was only 12! But it was lovely because this year my 93 year old auntie was able to join us.

We used my husband's great-grandmother's china for the table setting. My cousin gave me her grandmother's goblets and dessert bowls which match the china beautifully!

I had to figure out how to cook for 1/3 of my usual number but other than that it was business as usual. It seemed sensible to cook the same dishes but in smaller quantities!



If you are interested this was my Christmas Menu this year. I do all my own cooking so I've included links to any recipes that I have online on my Ollies Yummy in Your Tummy cooking blog
  • Turkey with stuffing and 3 kinds of gravy
  • Ham glazed with Maple Syrup and Mustard
  • Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi in Marinara Sauce
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Balsamic Root Vegetables
  • Asparagus wrapped in Goat's Cheese & Proscuitto
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Kak's Cukes
Dessert was Vanilla Ice Cream with Raspberry Coulis and Wafer cookies




We had a bit of fun between the main course and dessert with a funny game. Everyone has to put a white paper plate on their head and with a coloured pencil, draw a series of items without looking at the plate! At the end you add up points assigned to each item if done properly, and the winner is the person with the most points.



I hope everyone had, or is having, a wonderful holiday no matter what you celebrate!

December 26, 2015

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 51V Christmas 1915


This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.


The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

December 25, 2015

Remembering My Dad Cecil McGinnis Who Died on Christmas Day


Back in November my good friend Gail Dever of Genealogy a la Carte mentioned a blog post by another friend and writer Lisa Alzo called Ten Things I Miss About Dad: Remembering John Alzo 1925-2005 

I read Lisa's touching post and knew I wanted to write about my dad too. My father died Christmas Day 1960. It has been 55 years since he left us at the age of 47. I did not have an opportunity to say goodbye. I remember the last time I saw him on December 23. I was 14 years old and he had been in the Hospital for a few months. 

He hadn't been feeling well all summer. By early Fall he was hospitalized in the Ajax General Hospital but I was not allowed to see him as they had a strict policy of no children under age 16 being allowed to visit. After a few weeks he was moved to a larger city hospital in Oshawa and then I was allowed in for short visits. I only saw him a few times and he was in so much pain he did not seem to know who I was. It is not those moments or last weeks of his life that I want to remember so here are the wonderful memories I have of my dad.

I don't have many photographs of my father. Saddest of all I have none of him with me. But I have my memories.

1. Dad loved to pretend to be a monkey and jump around with us kids. I remember him at my uncle's house in Guelph - my cousins and I screaming and laughing in the front yard as Dad crouched, swung his arms, made monkey sounds and leapt around the yard chasing us.

2. Dad always had time to play catch with me in the driveway.

3. I was the only child of four siblings that got to go fishing with Dad. He said it was because I was able to sit quietly for hours reading a book while he fished in the creek or river. I loved that time together as he often chatted quietly for a bit and taught me how to fish. I used to clean all the fish for him when we got home. When I was 10 he bought me my own fishing rod. How I wish I still had it.

4. Dad tried to teach me to swim but I was terrified of the water. He did start teaching me to skate in the winter by taking me alone to the frozen pond and helping me. He bought me a hockey stick so I had something to lean on as I moved slowly around on the ice.

5. I was definitely Daddy's little princess. In his eyes I could do no wrong. The pride and love in his eyes when he introduced me to his friends was something I have firmly planted in my memory and I can call on anytime I want to remember that feeling of happiness.

I miss you Dad. I miss not having you around to know my children and grandchildren. I miss not having had you at my wedding. I miss all the years I didn't have you in my life. And I treasure the memories I do have. They bring you back to me whenever I want.

December 24, 2015

Invite an Ancestor for Christmas Dinner: #10 Grandma Ruth

I invite all of you to join me in coming up with an ancestor guest list for your Christmas Dinner. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to choose a different holiday. 

This is the last ancestor I am putting on my Guest list in my plan to  invite 10 ancestors to join our family to celebrate with a traditional Turkey Dinner. 

Please think about who you want to invite and tell us why you want to have them at your table. Would you have a gift for them under the tree? What would it be? 

The last ancestor I'm inviting for Christmas dinner is my grandmother Ruth. She was born in 1896 in Ramsgate Kent England and came to Canada at the age of 19 with her fiance. Grandma Ruth meant the world to me. I admired her so much. 

She'd been married three times (no divorces, all her husbands pre-deceased her), always wore red and like to show off her legs whenever she could! I thought she was exciting and dramatic and fun to be with

So I'm inviting Grandma Ruth because I miss her. I want to see her again and talk to her and laugh together. Grandma helped me through some less-than-happy times when I was a teenager and I wish I'd spent more time with her in later years than I did.

For her gift I am first going to give her so many hugs she will not know what to do. Under the tree will be her ruby ring that she loved and which eventually came to me long after her death. I wear it every day but I want her to have it again because I know how happy it made her.

December 23, 2015

Invite an Ancestor for Christmas Dinner: #9 Mary Vollick, Woman of Courage

 I invite all of you to join me in coming up with an ancestor guest list for your Christmas Dinner. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to choose a different holiday. 

Each day between now and December 25 I am going to invite one of my ancestors to join our family to celebrate with a traditional Turkey Dinner. 

Please think about who you want to invite and tell us why you want to have them at your table. Would you have a gift for them under the tree? What would it be? 

I am torn between inviting one of my Loyalist ancestors (Isaac Vollick or Jonas Larroway) and the wife of my Loyalist ancestor Isaac Vollick. Isaac or Jonas would have amazing stories to tell me of the turbulent times in New York during the American Revolution, their decision to remain loyal to the King, time in prison, flight to Canada, the fighting and the impoverished years afterwards. 

Affidavit Describing Mary and children's ordeal in 1779
But I am going to invite Anna Maria Warner, the wife of Isaac Vollick. Anna Maria, called Mary, was from a Palatine family of refugees in New York.  Mary and Isaac married in New York in 1757 and by 1775 had a large family of 11 children ranging in age from newborn to 17 years old. 

Mary's husband, Isaac, was imprisoned three times by the Americans for his loyalty to the British King. After Isaac joined Butler's Rangers and fled to Canada, Mary was left with ten children, six of them small. Mary continued to aid the British, and in 1779 she and the children, the youngest only 4 years old,  were taken from their home at North River, New York, by American patriots. 

Their home was burned, Mary and the children were marched 80 miles north through the forest and abandoned in destitute circumstances. Mary and the children made their way to Canada with the help of Mohawks and eventually reached Montreal. There they received food rations, lodging and blankets until 1782 when they settled in the Niagara area as impoverished Loyalists. Then came the Hungry Years where many died of starvation.

I want to know more about her experiences and I want to tell her how much I admire her for her strength and courage. As for a gift, nothing seems enough to give this woman whose home was burned before her eyes, who gave up everything to start a new life in a wild and unfamiliar land

Because Mary's life was one of hardship and deprivation, I am going to give her a luxury item, something to make her daily life a little easier. So I am gifting her a soft down-filled duvet for the cold nights

December 22, 2015

Invite an Ancestor for Christmas Dinner: #8 Jacques Hertel Interpreter for Samuel de Champlain

 I invite all of you to join me in coming up with an ancestor guest list for your Christmas Dinner. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to choose a different holiday. 

Each day between now and December 25 I am going to invite one of my ancestors to join our family to celebrate with a traditional Turkey Dinner. 

Please think about who you want to invite and tell us why you want to have them at your table. Would you have a gift for them under the tree? What would it be? 

My 8th ancestor I want to invite for Christmas Dinner is Jacques Hertel. Jacques was born in France circa 1603 and was brought to New France (present day Quebec) at age 11 to be one of Samuel de Champlain's interpreters with the native tribes. I have so much I want to ask Jacques about but I'm hoping he speaks English as my French is pretty basic. What was Champlain like? What tribe did you live with until you were 16? How did you meet Ots-Toch's mother? I'm going to have to be careful to not badger him with a zillion questions but imagine actually meeting Champlain, the Father of New France, in person. Wow. 

1651 Burial of Jacques Hertel in Trois Rivieres Quebec

As for a gift that's a tough one! But maybe seeing Ots-Toch at the dinner will be enough of a gift as I suspect he never had any contact with her after her birth. The French and the Mohawks were at war most of the time and since he was in Trois-Rivieres and she was in a Mohawk village in New York it seems unlikely they had any kind of relationship. 

I guess I need a backup though, a gift under the tree. I have an antique Catholic Holy Water font so I think I'll wrap that for him since he was Catholic. 

 

December 21, 2015

Invite an Ancestor for Christmas Dinner: #7 Hendrick Vrooman, Killed at Schenectady

1664 Letter from Hendrick Vrooman
I invite all of you to join me in coming up with an ancestor guest list for your Christmas Dinner. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to choose a different holiday. 

Each day between now and December 25 I am going to invite one of my ancestors to join our family to celebrate with a traditional Turkey Dinner. 

Please think about who you want to invite and tell us why you want to have them at your table. Would you have a gift for them under the tree? What would it be? 

Hendrick Meesen Vrooman is another ancestor I'd like to meet. Hendrick Bartholomeus (Meesen)  and five children ages 15, 13, 11, 7 and 5 years old are on the passenger list of D'Eendracht (The Concord) arriving in New Amsterdam New York in April 1664. 

In the total of 60 people killed at the Schenectady Massacre in 1690 were Hendrick, his son Bartholomew aka Bartol, and two black slaves who were killed by Indians. Hendrick's grandsons Barent and Wouter were taken captive to Canada but later recovered. Hendrick's son Adam escaped with his three children Peter, Christina and Hendrick.

The report of the investigating party sent out from Albany states:

Hend. Meese Vrooman and Bartholomeus Vrooman kild & burnt....Item 2 Negroes of Hend Meese ye same death....Engel the wife of Adam Vrooman shot & burnt, her childe the brains dashed out against ye wall....
It's pretty gruesome but I want to hear what happened that frigid snowy night. Maybe he knows where my ancestor Jacques Van Slyke was that night. He should have been in Schenectady but he wasn't. Did he know ahead of time that an attack was imminent? 

The October 1664 letter Hendrick wrote to his brother Jacob shortly after arriving in the Colony is fascinating and I'd like to chat more about his impressions and experiences.

I can't give Hendrick a modern gun to protect himself and others, as that would change the timeline and too many future lives would be affected.  It was a harsh environment for my early Dutch settlers in New Netherland (present day New York) and I know from the records of another ancestor that candles and other essential items were in short supply. I'm going to give Hendrick a box of candles, several bars of soap and chocolates as a treat. 

Image credit: http://brievenalsbuit.inl.nl/zeebrieven/page/article?doc=883&query=[word%3D%22%28%3Fi%29vrooman%22]
 

December 20, 2015

Invite an Ancestor for Christmas Dinner: #6 on my Guest List

Today I invite all of you to join me in coming up with an ancestor guest list for your Christmas Dinner. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to choose a different holiday. 

Each day between now and December 25 I am going to invite one of my ancestors to join our family to celebrate with a traditional Turkey Dinner. 

Please think about who you want to invite and tell us why you want to have them at your table. Would you have a gift for them under the tree? What would it be? 

My 6th guest will be David Uziele (Usiele), my 9th great-grandfather. David was born in France circa 1635 and fled religious persecution some time after 1660 to come to New York. He died in Poughkeepsie circa 1686. I'd love to know more about his beliefs, what it was like for the Huguenots and Walloons in France during that time and whether or not he found the religious freedom he sought once in New York. 

My gift to David will be a small family Bible which I hope he will treasure as I do. 

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 51R Christmas 1915


This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.

Christmas Dinner 1915, Le Treport

The names below the photo are challenging to read so I've done the best I can:

-- McCartney, Pvt Grey, Pvt Jakes, Pvt Wilkinson, McGinty, Bishop, Alderwick, Bates, McClusky, Brident?, Clarkson, and one illegible
 
The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

December 19, 2015

Invite an Ancestor for Christmas Dinner: #5 on my Guest List

Today I invite all of you to join me in coming up with an ancestor guest list for your Christmas Dinner. If you don't celebrate Christmas, feel free to choose a different holiday. 

Each day between now and December 25 I am going to invite one of my ancestors to join our family to celebrate with a traditional Turkey Dinner. 

Please think about who you want to invite and tell us why you want to have them at your table. Would you have a gift for them under the tree? What would it be? 

So far I have invited 2 male ancestors (Joseph McGinnis and David Simpson) and 2 female (Ots-Toch and Anna Kuhn). I desperately want to chat with my great-grandfather Stephen Peer because he was attacked by an axe-weilding neighbour in 1895 and seems to have been a bit of a scrapper his entire life. 

I'm also curious about Great-Grandpa's brother Harmon P. Peer who became famous for his base-jumping at Niagara and in the USA in the 1870s. To add to my fascination is Great-Grandpa's cousin Stephen Peer who walked Niagara Falls on a tightrope and has the dubious distinction of being the only tightrope walker to die while on his tightrope. Imagine the conversation that we'll have about his daredevil family!

I guess it wouldn't be considered humorous for me to give Great-Grandpa a safety helmet for his Christmas gift? But he sure could use one as that axe fracturing his skull no doubt led to his death not long afterwards.