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June 22, 2018

That Genealogy Moment!

That moment when your heart skips a beat, your hands tremble and you breathe just a little faster. Sounds like love doesn't it? But I'm talking about the most exciting, thrilling moment you experienced in your genealogy research.

Have you had one of those moments? Mine was when I held the original document from 1808 for my 4th great uncle John Peer. I had hunted for this document for over 20 years. It was listed in an index to wills but was not found on the microfilm reel for those wills. The wills were in alphabetical order but John Peer was not there under any variant spelling. I double-checked, triple-checked - could it be Beer? Leer? Pierre? Pear? Peare? Bier? Biere? and on and on it went.

After a few years of mulling over this, repeatedly asking Archive staff for help but finding they were as puzzled as I was, I decided I would search the entire microfilm one document at a time. That took me a few years to finish as I could only periodically get to the city where the Archive was.

Finally one year I finished the entire film without finding the entry. I reported this to Archive staff and asked if I could search the original documents in storage. That wasn't an idea that staff liked, and they insisted I must have overlooked the will in the microfilm.

A few years passed and finally I talked to a sympathetic archivist who helped me fill out a request for the original wills in Box 23 (which contained original "P" wills).  Two days later I was given the box and I carefully looked through it.

There it was. John Pierre. A document (not a will) dated February 9, 1808. As I gently lifted it out of the box, my hands shook. I could hardly breathe.

And there was the proof I had been looking for - that John was my ancestor Levi Peer's brother.

9 Feb. 1808:  Petition of Levi Pierre [sic] "..that John Pierre, your Petitioner's brother, died as your petitioner believes, without a last will and testament, your petitioner being the older brother and next of kin to the deceased..."

Anyone who is not a genealogist will likely never understand the excitement and anticipation I felt holding that document.

What was your most exciting genealogy find? And how did you feel when you found it?

June 20, 2018

Primary Records Can Be WRONG!

We all want our genealogy to be accurate.

We search and search for that primary record, the one that we've been told is "THE" record to find -- a death certificate, a church baptismal record, marriage record....

But - beware! Not all primary records are accurate. As good genealogists we must consider that there can be errors. The informant (person giving the information) may not know the answers and may thus provide incorrect details. The clerk recording the information may not hear the response correctly and may enter it incorrectly. The person giving the information may lie, especially about their age.

In my own family tree, my great-grandmother's official government death registration is incorrect. Her parents' names are wrong. Since I already knew who her parents were (Isaac Vollick & Lydia Jamieson) from other genealogy sources, I was completely bewildered at first by seeing her parents given as Stephen Vollick and Mary.

Then it dawned on me - Stephen was my great grandmother's husband's first name (Stephen Peer). Mary was my great grandmother's own name. (Mary Vollick)

So I looked at the informant's name. AHA! The informant was Mary's 17 year old son. Her husband having died long before Mary, and her older children married and gone, the task of answering the official questions fell to her 17 year old son who had cared for her in her final days.

It is easy to see how the young boy, when asked by a government clerk "Father's name?" (meaning father of the deceased), would have replied "Stephen", for in fact Stephen WAS his own father's name.

The question "Mother's name?" referring to the mother of the deceased, would be answered by the boy "Mary" which was HIS mother's name.

And thus the official death registration for parents of Mary (Peer) Vollick daughter of Isaac and Lydia Vollick, is forever rendered as Stephen and Mary Vollick.

So be cautious when you encounter a primary source that simply doesn't match other reliable sources. Investigate! Think! Don't just accept the new "facts" without further legwork to prove or disprove them.

June 18, 2018

Naming Patterns - Use Them With Caution

I've been following some genealogy discussions on mailing lists recently and noticed that many genealogists fall into the trap of taking sides on a question - sides that are emphatically one way or another, with no middle ground or room for a "Maybe...."

One of the discussions started over a seemingly simple question -- were there naming patterns for children in the 1800s in [fill in blank with any country].

Subscribers began to jump in with their opinions - all either YES or NO with reasons or rationale or examples to support their YES or NO stance.

But no one jumped in with "MAYBE.... SOMETIMES... YES BUT...."

Let's get real! Naming patterns existed.

Were they identical in all cultures? No

Were they identical in all centuries? No.

Were they always used? No.

It's easy to forget that our ancestors were living breathing people, just as we are. They fought, they loved, they cried, they laughed, they had good days, they had bad days, and so on.

Even if there are established naming patterns that are used 99.9% of the time (as is the case with the Dutch who settled New Netherland, now New York in 1600s) --- as researchers we must keep an open mind as to whether or not the customs might not have been followed

Maybe *your* ancestor fought with his father or mother and vowed to never name a child after him or her.

Maybe *your* ancestor was a free spirit and loved the name Lancelot even though the first born male in her family had been called James for the last 10 generations

Maybe your ancestor wanted to cozy up to his rich great uncle so he named his first born son after that person instead of his father.... and gave his second born his father's name.

If you find 7 children in a family and 6 are named after known family members (paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles...) then there is a good chance that the 7th was also named after a family member - but it's not guaranteed, they might have named that child after a good friend - or an important contemporary person or a benefector.

On the opposite side of the fence, you may be trying to find parents' names. You spot what looks like a naming pattern of children which fits with the parents you are fairly confident are the correct parents. But one parent's name is missing from the pattern... That's not the time to toss out your theory! There may be a missing child, one whose existence you aren't aware of, or who died. And that child may be the missing link, named after that one parent who is missing from the pattern.

So, use Naming Patterns as a guide. That's all it is, it is not a set of rules set in stone

June 17, 2018

Who was Annie Barton?

Who was Annie Barton? All we know of her is that she was born in 1866 and died in 1958, presumably in Hamilton Ontario Canada.

Recently a local Hamilton woman was digging in her garden when she stumbled on a tombstone buried in the dirt.

The word "MOTHER" was carved in red, granite stone. A cross and leaf design fills out the marker's top left corner. The stone reads:

"In loving memory of
Annie Barton
 Till we meet again"
This story intrigued me. I began to wonder about Annie. Could I find out more about her? One thing that is mentioned in the original story is that Annie was originally buried in Woodland Cemetery. A search found this burial in that cemetery:

George Barton
His wife Annie Barton

Could this be Annie? Why are the dates of death different? Did the stone engraver goof and that meant a new stone had to be made?

According to a family tree online, George married Annie White and had 3 sons, and yes, they lived in Hamilton.

Read more at Is there a body in my backyard? Woman unearths 60-year-old gravestone while gardening

June 15, 2018

Find Ancestors Immigration in Almshouse Records

In the early 1800's 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. At first the citizens of the city asked the Mayors for funds to support the poor. Eventually they asked the states, and by mid-century some states (Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts) set up State agencies to deal with the issue. Eventually, beginning in the 1880's, the Federal Government nationalized the programs.

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.

These Almshouse records often contain immigration details, such as name of ship, date of arrival in USA and port of arrival.

Olive Tree Genealogy has an ongoing project to transcribed and publish New York Almshouse Records. The first set is for the years 1819-1840 and includes Ship Captain's Name, Date of Bond, Sureties, Date Discharged, Death Date, Remarks, etc.

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

Researchers can use the clues in the Almshouse records (admission date, ship captain's name, owner's name, etc) as well as census records, to narrow the time frame of arrival. Families with children born in one country, such as England, and then in New York will find it much easier to narrow the time frame of immigration.

June 13, 2018

Search Those Siblings!

Why search siblings? You're only interested in YOUR ancestor, right? WRONG!

Researching and tracking siblings, finding their marriages, children, deaths etc can provide you with answers to questions about your own ancestor.

Let's assume you have not been able to find your great great grandfather's mother's surname before marriage. You know her first name is Mary but that's it. You find great great grandpa's death record and view it in anticipation. But sadly the informant (great great grandpa's second wife) didn't provide a surname for her mother-in-law.

You can't find great great grandpa's marriage record so no help there. But - what about a sibling? Hunt for great great grandpa's youngest sister's marriage record. Look for one of his brothers' death records. Don't overlook turning any stone available to you in your hunt for your own ancestor - remember your ancestor and his siblings shared the same parents, and those parents are your next generation back.

June 11, 2018

Ancestor Letters on Past Voices: Letters Home

Ancestor Letters on Past Voices: Letters Home

These letters are so wonderful to read -- they speak of illness in the family, deaths, births, crops, weather,family and friends. I uploaded Canadian and American letters, but still have dozens to put online.

Here's what's new:

Letter to James A. McChesney, Esq., Port Ontario, New York,from A. C. Dickinson, Smith Town, July 13, 1844; postmarked Peterboro, U. C., July 22, 1844, and Kingston, U. C., July 24, 1844

Letter from Albert Bertram Mudge during WW1 to his mother in Guelph Ontario, 1915

Letter to William Robertson McGillivray in Ontatio, Canada from his brother James McGillivray in Egilsay, Orkney Islands, Scotland, 1857

Search the index to all Canadian letters

Letter to Alvah Bush, Albany New York, from her sister, M.M. Bush, Cooperstown, New York 1843

Letter to Mrs. S. C. Hoskins, Sheffield, Massachusetts, from her daughter Helen, Hampton, Virginia 1849

Letter to Mr. John H. and Anna Northrop, Hebron, Washington County, New York, from Lydia Wells, Lisbon 1829

Letter to Jacob Sharpless, care of Dr. Parrish, Philadelphia Pennsylvania from Blakey Sharpless, Weston

Letter from John McCoy, Captain of the Augusta Co. Militia during the Revolutionary War from Staunton, Augusta Co.Virginia to Thomas Jefferson, 1781 (yes, THE Thomas

Letter to unidentified person from Simeon Baldwin, New Haven, [Connecticut], January 4, 1808

Letter to Mrs. Mary Bradford and sister Sarah Jane, Northumberland,Pennsylvania, from Louisa, York Pennsylvania, 1839

Letter to Miss Charlotte H. Ladd, Boston Massachusetts, from her mother, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1830

Letter to Miss Mary C. Cook, Great Falls, New Hampshire,from Fanny, Concord, New Hampshire, 1847

Mr. S. Newton Dexter, Whitesborough, New York, from Miss Mary Dexter, Providence, Rhode Island, 1823

Letter to Mr. Franklin Hoskins, Sheffield, Berkshire County,Massachusetts, from Wm. Gleason, Jr., Moresville, New York 1840

Letter to Mr. Samuel V. King, China Grove, Georgetown, South Carolina, from M. L. Wilkins, Springfield, 1842

Search the index to all USA letters

June 10, 2018

Bringing Your Ancestor to Life

Daily Witness, Montreal. Monday June 9, 1913
One of the genealogists I follow on Twitter (Dan Ford) recently tweeted something I thought was genius. Here's what Dan said:

"I looked up the weather on the exact date that my Irish ancestor arrived at Ellis Island to better imagine what her arrival was like. Turns out record-setting heat wave, poor Irish lass. I used an online local newspaper to get the weather report."

I love that Dan did this. What a super idea to put more personality into our ancestor's lives. When we add a tidbit of detail to an event that affected an ancestor, we take that ancestor from being a cardboard cutout of a name and date, to a living breathing person just like us. 

What are some tidbits you might look for, and add, to the story of your ancestor during a specific event? Here are some ideas based on an ancestor's immigration:

  • the weather that day
  • the season
  • what type of clothing he or she might have been wearing
  • a historical fact (was there a war going on, a political event, or anything of historical importance?)
  • a description of the ship he/she sailed on
  • find a description of the port of arrival and the port of departure
  • find out how your ancestor would have gone on from the port of arrival to the final destination 
  • look for an ad in the newspapers in the origin country for the ship your ancestor took - there may be ticket prices noted
  • how long was the voyage - check the first page of the ship manifest as that information is usually noted there
  • how old was the ship - often you can find details of when and where it was buiilt, and more
These are only a few quick ideas and based on an immigration event. Let your imagination run wild and try to come up with more, especially surrounding different events such as the birth or baptism of a child, a wedding, a funeral, a move to a different location.

Of course after reading Dan's tweet, I rushed off to try to find out what the weather was the day my maternal grandparents arrived in Quebec on 9 June 1913 at 8:10 p.m.  I had previously found an ad for their journey, information on the ship, and so on, but had never thought to find out what the weather was that day. It's not always easy to access Canadian newspapers but I managed to find one for Montreal on that date. Granddad and Grandma's ship landed first in Montreal then went on to Quebec so I added the weather report (Fair and Cool) to their story.

There was even a report on the front page that snow had fallen in Montreal that day! My poor grandmother must have been horrified. 

Have fun! It's your opportunity to make your ancestor come alive.

June 8, 2018

Identifying a WW1 Uniform of a UK or Canadian Ancestor

Traditionally it was very common for soldiers to have their photos taken in uniform before leaving for overseas (England). Usually a soldier was given leave to go home before being shipped overseas and that is often when these photos were taken.

If he had brothers, or a father or son who also enlisted, they would try to have a group photo taken. This was not always possible, as leaves for individual soldiers might not be in the same time period.

Many portrait studios such as Eatons, had template mats to enclose the photo. These mats were pre-printed had spaces to fill in the soldier's name, sometimes his unit plus other details.

These mats were often brightly coloured with the words "For King & Country" or "For Service in the Great War" (it varied). Ornate frames could be purchased which had the same wording. Sometimes there would be a Canadian Maple Leaf at the top which 'stuck up' beyond the edge of the frame

If there is no photographer mark on the photo (back or front) there are clues that might help you determine a date and place.

First Clue

Determine whether or not the soldier is in a Canadian or British uniform. Both Canadian and British uniforms were used by the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force). Men were usually issued a Canadian uniform when they enlisted, and they kept this for everything done in Canada. After they arrived in England the Canadian uniform would almost always be switched for a British one. (The reason for this switch was that the British uniforms were better quality and lasted longer)

Here are a few of the differences that might help you determine if the uniform is Canadian or British:

1. Canadian uniforms had 9 buttons on front (7 on the actual front and 1 on each front pocket) but the British one had fewer, and they were larger. There is an exception to this - if the soldier was in a Canadian Highland Regiment, his top sometimes just had 7 large buttons

2. Canadian uniforms had pointed cuffs, the British had straight (horizontal)

3. Canadian uniforms (except for the Highland ones) had stand-up collars, British uniforms did not.

So, if the soldier was in a Canadian uniform for this photo, there is a very good chance it was taken in Canada. It could also have been taken soon after arrival in England (before he was given his British uniform)

If he was in a British uniform it was almost certainly taken in England or in France. There were studios in France, behind the lines, where men could have their pictures taken to send home.

There is also a chance that the photo could have been taken on his return home from the war but this is not likely because the norm was for these photos to be taken before war's end and generally before going overseas.

Second Clue

Back to clues for determining when the photo was taken -- look for the badges on his cap and collar. Often on first joining, a soldier was issued with a badge that was a maple leaf with the word "Canada". It took time before he was issued with his unit's badge. You can go beyond this simple comparison (Canada badge versus Unit badge) by finding out about the unit's history -- and what badges they had in what years. This change in badges varied unit to unit so you would have to check for your soldier's unit.

More Clues

There are many more clues such as weapon versus no weapon; type of weapon; type of kit (belt, canteen etc); helmet verus hat, and so on. These are very detailed minute differences that would be hard to spot and also require a detailed explanation/description


One caveat - soldiers from Newfoundland never had Canadian uniforms so everything they were issued (kit, weapon, badges etc) was different. So basically none of the clues I've given apply to a Newfoundland soldier.


June 6, 2018

When the Dead Come Back to Life

Sylvia Kewer from Viriginia, grew up as an only child, adopted by a loving couple. At 66 she learned she actually had 5 other siblings, all of whom thought she had died as a child.

Her discovery was the result of DNA testing on is where DNA gets so exciting - imagine finding longlost siblings. Imagine those siblings thinking a sister was dead, actually meeting her for the first time since she was a toddler.

Read the rest of this amazing story at Adopted woman whose birth family thought she had died finally meets them at 66 years old

June 4, 2018

Montgomery's inn and My Husband's 4th Great Grandpa

There is a historical site run by the Etobicoke Historical Board on Islington Ave. in Toronto known as Montgomery's Inn. The Inn was owned by our William Montgomery's brother Thomas.  A great stroke of luck has meant that the Inn has quite a bit of correspondence between the different members of the Montgomery family. 

The inn has a letter from William Montgomery,in Durham Quebec, to his brother Thomas, in York, concerning his children.  It isn't dated but would probably be around 1860.  It was invaluable in terms of knowing who is daughters married and where those that left Durham ended up. It is interesting to note how the two brothers, living some distance apart, wanted to make an effort that their two families know about each other. 

This letter is displayed at the Montgomery Inn at the corner of Dundas St.and Islington Avenue

From a blurb on the Inn, "Thomas Montgomery was a young man when he emigrated from County Fermanagh, Ireland early in the 19th century. He brought with him, however, a good head for business.  ... Thomas' account books show that whiskey was the most popular drink, but that he also sold peppermint an shrub (mixed drinks), beer, rum, brandy, white wine, port, gin, 'sider', and, one one ocassion, a hot brandy sling. ... During the surge of patriotism that followed the Rebellion of 1837, Thomas obtained an officer's commission in the local militia, eventually rising to the rank of Captain".

The letter:

"Dear Brother if God spares, nothing will be wanting on my part in making our offsprings, ? acquainted, that they may know to cherish and feel for each other where ever they meet on this earth, happy you are the first to  introduce this most natural introduction of everlasting knowledge of friendship and unity handed down by your  proposition, and suggestion, which I with heart felt pleasure acquiese, and I know brother Johnston say he will also.    I will give you a copy of Journal, of all my childrens names and age of births.

  1. J. Mary, born at QuÈbec, August 4th 1813.  Married Brickley.
  2. Raechel born Auguest 28 1814.  Married Andrew Bothwell
  3. Jane born April 18th 1816 at Drummondville.  Married Charles Bothwell. Died Feby 14th 1837, left 7 children.
  4. Elisabeth born May 17th 1818.  Married James McCullogh.
  5. Charlotte born May 23rd 1820.  Married John McCullogh.  (Both Charlotte and Elisabeth in Blanchard.)
  6. Ellenor born Sept. 23rd 1822.  Married Wm. Mafser [Note: for Mafser read Massey], native near Dublin.
  7. Margret born Nov. 14, 1825.  Married Samuel Ployart.
  8. Ann born Feby. 9th, 1828.  Married Dr. Wm. White of England.
  9. Lucinda born April 13th, 1830.  Died 1849, no family.
  10. James born 1833 and William Thomas Joseph born Feby 14th 1835.
Brother in next I will try and give you an account of my grandchildren.
Samuel Ployarts father died last fall, his  uncle in Germany died previously and left a great legacy to his father, brother and sisters two old maids, there is to  come Sam 440 and some pounds.  I know you and Mrs. will be glad to hear Margrets welfare, they have 3 children.  Sam and brother Fredrick is now the Sensus of the township.  I have pleasure in the connection."

June 1, 2018

The Prize Papers Projects

Prize Papers Project launches at Oldenburg Castle

This is a very cool database project that is beginning. The Prize Papers Project, consists of approximately 160,000 undelivered letters seized from ships captured by the British in the wars of the 17th to the 19th centuries. The letters, many unopened, were still in their mail bags headed for delivery.

Most of the collection consists of items (letters, jewellry, locks of hair etc) tucked into envelopes and sent from 1652 to 1815.

What Do the Prize Papers Consist of?

Professor Dagmar Freist of The University of Oldenburg in Germany will work with The National Archives in opening up the HCA 30 (This series consists of miscellaneous Admiralty papers from the High Court of Admiralty, and the Supreme Court of Judicature, High Court of Justice, Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division) and HCA 32 series (This series consists of papers relating to cases concerning ships captured as prize in time of war. Although the papers cover the period 1592 to 1855, the core dates of the bulk of the papers are 1655 to 1817) for further research and discovery.

Length of Project

But don't get too excited just yet - this is a 20 year project set to begin May 2018! I'm kind of hoping for a letter from or to my husband's ancestor Thomas Montgomery who was sailing on a ship from England to New York when the ship was captured. The vessel he was on reached the coast of Newfoundland, where it was taken in charge by a British man-of-war, and all on board were made prisoners of war and taken to St. Johns, where they were detained four weeks. Perhaps there were letters - I can always hope.

May 30, 2018

Another Cold Case Solved Using DNA

GEDmatch, the free site that provides DNA and genealogical analysis tools for amateur and professional researchers and genealogists, has come to the rescue once again, helping to crack another very old double murder.

In 1987 a young Canadian couple, Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook, were on their way to take the ferry from British Columbia to Seattle Washington. Their bodies were found several days later.

Their killer was never found, but his DNA was gathered from a blanket wrapped around Tanya's body. Hundreds of tips came in over the years but nothing panned out and the case grew cold.

Intrigued by the recent finding of the Golden State Killer using the DNA matching website GEDmatch, the killer's DNA was run through the public sharing site and his DNA was matched to two second cousins.

55-year-old Earl Talbott was charged with murder, as his DNA profile matched to those cousins matches the DNA left behind at the crime scene 31 years ago.

“It’s the genetic genealogy that was the key tool that got this case resolved,” Detective Jim Scharf of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, who sought out the DNA technology and has spent 13 years studying this case, said at a Friday news conference. 

Read the full story at A genealogy website helps crack another cold case, police say, this one a 1987 double homicide

Newspaper Clipping:  Morning Olympian, Friday, Nov 27, 1987, Olympia, WA, Page: 15

May 28, 2018

Military Naturalization Records - Finding a Soldier Ancestor

An 1862 law allowed honorably discharged Army veterans of any war to petition for naturalization, without having filed a declaration of intent, after only 1 year of residence in the United States.

Variations of this special treatment continued throughout the years.

The wording of the 1862 Act stated that any alien, age 21 or up "...who has enlisted, or may enlist in the armies of the United States...."

It was designed to encourage enlistment during the Civil War. Aliens serving in the US military did not gain citizenship through service alone.

The naturalization of soldiers was performed under certain provisions of nationality law facilitating the naturalization of members of the US armed forces. These provisions waived the Declaration of Intention requirement and waived or reduced the residency requirement. Many soldiers filed petitions and were naturalized the same day.

See SPECIAL CASES: Military for more details

Instead of naturalization "first papers", some courts filed military discharges. Sometimes you will have to consult separate military indexes but you should start looking in the usual places first. Military naturalizations were included in the WPA Project indexes (You can read about the WPA Project and naturalization indexes, and view an online one for all of Arkansas for 1809-1906

If the naturalization took place in a Federal court, naturalization indexes, declarations of intent, and petitions will usually be in the NARA regional facility serving the State in which the Federal court is located. Some of these indexes and records have been microfilmed.

Naturalization records from county courts may be at the county court, in a county or State archives, or at a regional archives serving several counties within a State.

Some county court naturalization records have been donated to the National Archives and are available as National Archives microfilm publications. These are listed under the state in which they occurred, at
Scroll down to the state list at the bottom of the page.

May 25, 2018

Revist Life in New York City 1911

This restored black and white film is a joy to watch. It's been carefully repaired, and acts like a personal Time Machine. New York City 1911. How many of us have not wished we could be transported back to an earlier time to watch our ancestors?

I went to New York (my first time on an airplane!) after my dad's death. I was 14 years old and it was incredibly exciting to see the big city, formerly called New Amsterdam, where so many of my Dutch ancestors settled in the 17th Century.

Little did I know as I rode in the elevator up the Empire State Building, that my 9th great-grandfather Lambert Van Valkenburg once owned the land where that building now sits.

May 23, 2018

Update of Pennsylvania Baggage Lists Online

Early arrival to Philadelphia Pennsylvania were documented in Baggage Lists from 1800 to 1819. These are called The Pennsylvania Baggage Lists.

The names of passengers are taken from FHL film 419589. These are Pennsylvania Baggage Lists from 2 Jan 1809 to 29 Dec. 1809. These lists contain the names of passengers who had to pay taxes on excess baggage. It does not contain the names of passengers who were exempt because their luggage was not over the limit.

I decided to index all names, not just passenger names, but also the names of those shipping luggage or goods, and the names of those being shipped to. Passengers whose names are found also have a list of luggage, so interested descendants should obtain the original film to view the full manifest details.

Olive Tree Genealogy has indexed all names from the microfilm, not just passenger names, but also the names of those shipping luggage or goods, and the names of those being shipped to. Passengers whose names are found also have a list of luggage, so interested descendants should obtain the original film to view the full manifest details or check the online database Philadelphia, Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1800-1850

 | Brig Lamprey from Kingston Jamaica
 | Schooner Wanton from Jamaica
 | Schooner Swift from Puerto Rico
 | Ship Cordelia from Martinique
 | Ship Union from Plymouth & Lorient
 | Schooner Archibald from Puerto Rico
 | Swedish Ship Abo from St. Bartholomews & Turks Island
 | Brig Jean from Liverpool
 | Ship Mary from London
 | Swedish Schooner Maria from St. Thomas
 | Ship Live Oak from Liverpool
 | Brig Lovely Lass from Batavia
 | Ship Ann & Hannah from Turks Island
 | Brig Gustaf Ekerman from St. Bartholomew
 | Ship Edward & Charles from London
 | Schooner George & Susan from Nassau
 | Ship Recovery from Liverpool
 | Ship Diana from Liverpool
 | Brig Reindeer from Havana
 | Brig Palafos from Havana
 | Schooner Ranger from Puerto Rico
 | Schooner Five Sisters from Puerto Rico
 | Schooner Blaneke from St. Bartholomew
 | Brig Ann from Liverpool 

May 22, 2018

Calling all Boelen Descendants!

Yep - Volume 12 published in my New Netherland Settlers series! This book  offers new details beyond my original article The European Origins of the Boelen Family: Boele Roeloffson and His Wife Bayken Arents in Amsterdam, published in the April 2000 issue of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. It also revises and expands on the 2010 book I published on Boele and Bayken. 

New Netherland Settlers: The Boelen Family: Ancestry of the Boelen Family & their Connection to the Ten Eyck, Clock, Coert, Roos, and Hellaken Families (Volume 12) Paperback May 7, 2018 by Lorine McGinnis Schulze (Author) 

Available on and

Boele Roeloffsen, the immigrant ancestor of the Boelen family, arrived in New Netherland in 1659. His wife Bayken Arents, their three children, and Bayken’s sister Tryntie Arents sailed with him on board the ship Otter. Two more children were born to Boele and Bayken after they settled in New Amsterdam. 

One of the Boelen records I found dated 1610 - translated and in the book
New Amsterdam was a young town in 1659 but it was growing rapidly. New Amsterdam’s gabled homes, the Dutch language being spoken, and Dutch laws in place would have offered comfort to the newly arrived settlers. 

May 21, 2018

Why a Genealogy Lookup Request Might Not Pan Out

At some point every genealogist will no doubt request a lookup in a database for an ancestor. The database might be in an Archive, a Library, a Museum or it might be in another genealogist's privately held collection of records.

Sometimes a fee is charged for lookup services. Occasionally it is free.

Sometimes your ancestor is found. Often he or she is not. Sometimes what is found is not what you were hoping for.

There Are Different Reactions to a Not-Found Response

As someone who offers a lookup service in that challenging period known as pre-1865 immigration records to Canada, I have experienced different reactions from those customers informed the search was not successful and their ancestor was not found. I have also had negative reactions when their ancestor is found in the record but it is not what they were expecting. I have had a few send angry emails complaining about the fee charged ($16.00 for a lookup in 5 books) I have had a few complain that they wanted more details. Obviously these researchers did not read the description of the databases. It struck me that this is something we genealogists need to talk about.

First and foremost, any institution or person offering lookup services for a fee has spent their time doing the lookup. It is not their fault if your ancestor wasn't there and yes, the fee is still due to them for their time spent. I'm pretty confident that no one expects their doctor to not charge for his/her time even if you aren't cured or their findings are that nothing is medically wrong with you. Has anyone ever had a plumber waive his/her fee if the leak can't be fixed, or found? Should your child's teacher give up part of their salary if your child hasn't learned how to work with fractions?

Why Wasn't My Ancestor Found?

So let's think about why your ancestor may not have shown up in that database.

The simplest and likely most correct answer is that he or she wasn't recorded or wasn't in that spot when you think he/she was, or the database has some missing portions. But the bottom line is that you can't expect your ancestor to be in every single database just because you think (hope) he/she should be.

However there could be other reasons your ancestor wasn't found:

1. You didn't provide enough information to assist the individual doing the lookup. At a minimum you should provide a full name, dates (birth, death, etc) and a location.

2. You misunderstood what the parameters of the database. For example if the record set states it is a database of impoverished immigrants from Ireland between 1834 and 1836, but you are looking for an ancestor who immigrated from Scotland circa 1840, you are looking in the wrong database.

3. You didn't provide alternate or unusual spellings of your ancestor's name. For example my husband's great-grandfather was known as Archie. But his actual name was Achillus. You cannot expect whoever is doing the lookup to know that Archie might be a nickname for Achillus. They will be looking for Archie or the more common root name of Archibald!

4. You didn't read the description of what was in the database. For example I offer a lookup service in a book which I clearly state is an index only containing first and last name and year of immigration as well as details on where the full record can be found, you really should not complain that you expected the full date of immigration, the birthplace of your ancestor and the name of the ship he/she sailed on. (Yes that has happened)

5. Perhaps the database is only a partial database, something rescued when the bulk of the records were lost or destroyed. Perhaps the database has been reconstructed from other sources. An example of this is my Olive Tree Genealogy project to reconstruct missing ships' passenger lists from Holland to New Netherland (New York) 1624-1664. Alternate sources such as court records, notarial records, etc, are being used to find names of individuals leaving Holland for New Netherland on specific ships. But genealogists cannot expect that the names of every single passenger on those ships will be found.

Can I Learn Anything From a Not-Found Response?

Yes! You can note that the specific set of records was searched with no sign of your ancestor. In other words, cross that off your To-Do list!

You can then re-evaluate your thought processes - should you look for more alternate sources for what you are hoping to find, or should you set that aside and make a note that you might not be successful in finding the specific fact you want. Perhaps it simply does not exist. Sometimes it's good to take a break from a challenging ancestor search and move on to something different. Then go back to it at another time.

May 18, 2018

More Immigrant Ancestors 1812-1913

After writing about my immigrant ancestors in a 300 year span (27 of them!) on an earlier blog post "Who Were Your Immigrant Ancestors", I thought it only fair to write about my husband's.

His most recent immigrant ancestor was Elsie Markham from England to Canada in 1913

His earliest that we have found so far was Thomas Montgomery from Fermanagh Ireland to Quebec in 1812. Thomas and his family were heading to New York but their ship was captured by the British in the War of 1812. The passengers were taken as prisoners and sent to Newfoundland and then Quebec

Below are other known dates of arrival for more of my husband's immigrant ancestors in that 101 year timeline from earliest arrival to most recent:

  • William Massey from Ireland to Quebec in 1842
  • John Cooper from England to New Jersey 1842
  • James Hogan from Ireland to Canada in 1843 
  • George Jickling from England to Canada 1844
  • John Cowan(s) from Scotland or England in 1851
  • Frederick Purdue from England to Canada in 1856
  • William Jackson from Tipperary Ireland to Canada in 1857
  • Sam Sandercock from England to Canada in 1887
  • Achillus Camillus (Archie) De Meulenaere from Belgium to America then to Canada in 1900
Let's hear your stories! Who were your immigrant ancestors?

May 16, 2018

WW1 Canadian Military Records Being Digitized

Did you know...... It took 18 months to remove pins, clips and staples (260 kg of metal!), as well as adhesive, to get the 640,000 files of the Canadian Expeditionary Force ready for digitization.

All records should be digitized and online by the end of 2018. Kudos to Library and Archives Canada for making this wonderful database freely available!

Read more in the article "For the Duration" at

May 15, 2018

Are you a Sippe or Sipken Descendant?

I'm excited to announce my new book on the family is available!   

Jan Sipkens was a Dutch soldier who settled in New Netherland sometime before October 1674. His marriage intentions were recorded in the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church that month, and they revealed his origins were in Amsterdam Holland.

A search of the Amsterdam church records found his baptism in 1656 to parents Sipke (aka Zipke) Auckus and Baefje Jans. The surname in North America eventually became Sippe as well as Sipkens.

A search of available Amsterdam records revealed baptisms of Jan Sipken’s siblings and the marriage of his parents. This book details the family in Amsterdam Holland, and New Amsterdam in New Netherland (present day New York).
One of the records I found and added to the Sipken book
New Netherland Settlers:: Jan Sipken, W.I.C. Soldier, and His Sipken and Sippe Ancestors & Descendants

8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
50 pages. Available on and

See all my New Netherland Settlers series of books.

May 14, 2018

Don't Disturb - Author at Work!

This is what an author does at the cottage in the spring. Bundle up, sit outside and let the waves and wind be your muse.

Working on the second draft of my new genealogical mystery novel "A Grave Secret" Hoping to have it published this year as a second in the Janie Riley series.

My first book featuring Janie was "Death Finds a Way" where Janie was lucky enough to be in Salt Lake City on a research trip.  But being Janie, many more adventures awaited her beyond just looking for her 3rd great-grandmother.

This time Janie flies to the most haunted village in Kent England to search for her 4th great grandparents, John and Susanna Philpott. What will she stumble on this time? Ghosts? Murders?

Sorry but you'll have to read the book to find out!

Be sure to bookmark my author site for updates.

May 13, 2018

6 Generations of Mothers!

Six Generations of Strong Females on International Women's Day 
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers past and present. The collage above shows 6 unbroken generations of my female lineage - from one mother to the next.

Starting from the left we have Sarah Stead, my great-great grandmother. Next is Sarah's daughter Sarah Simpson, my great grandmother. Then we have Sarah Simpson's daughter Ruth Fuller, my grandmother. Then comes Ruth's daughter Joan, my mother. Then me and then my daughter Judy. Then our direct maternal line is done as my daughter had sons but no daughters.

These 6 mothers had a total of 24 children. Sarah Elvery Stead died at the age of 31 and of her 6 children, only 4 lived to be raised by step-mothers. Sarah Jane Stead Simpson lived to a good age of 89 and raised 6 children. My grandmother always spoke of her mother with love and affection. My grandmother Ruth Simpson Fuller had 3 children and lived to be 90 years old. Then my mother Joan had 4 children and lived to ripe old age of 93!

My mother was an interesting character with an adventurous spirit. So to all the mothers who went before me  thank you to all of them.

May 11, 2018

Crime and Punishment in 17th Century New Netherland

Seal of New Netherland
In 17th century New Netherland (New York) the punishment for adultery was harsh, as Lauren Duyt's wife Ytie Jansen found out in November 1658 in New Amsterdam (present day New York City). This young Dutch woman had been sold to an Englishman, Jan Parcel, at the request of her husband. Laurens himself was accused of having had illicit intercourse with Geesje Jansen who he apparently preferred over his wife Ytie. Despite the mitigating circumstances of being sold the court sentenced Ytie to be whipped and banished.

In New Netherland -- unlike New England -- this sentence of whipping seldom got further than a symbolic flogging in the case of women, which meant that the offender was led to the stake, partly stripped, and given two rods on her hands, after which she was untied and banished." Source: "Sweet and Alien Land," by Van der Zee [New York.The Viking Press, 1978], Chapter, 'Law and Disorder,' p. 356.

The records reveal a great deal about this episode in Council Minutes Vol. VIII, Dutch Manuscripts (1658):

18 Nov. Order for the examination of Geesje Jansen, accused of having had illicit intercourse with Laurens Duyts  [ p. 1038 vol. VIII]

25 Nov. Sentence of whipping and banishment pronounced against Ytie Janse for living in adultery with Jan Parcel, alias Botcher [ p. 1049 vol. VIII]

25 Nov. Sentence. Laurens Duyts of Holstein, for selling his wife Ytie Jansen, and forcing her to live in adultery with another man, and for living himself also in adultery, to have a rope tied around his neck then to be severely flogged, to have his right ear cut off and to be banished for 50 years   [p. 1051 vol. VIII]

25 Nov. Sentence John Parcell, alias Botcher, of Huntingdonshire, England for living in adultery with Ytie Jans, to be placed at the whipping post with two rods in his arm, to be banished for 20 years, and pay a fine of 100 guilders with costs  [ p. 1053 vol. VIII]

When Ytie and Jan --"two sorrowful sinners" -- appeared two weeks later in court to ask for permission to marry, the magistrates were unrelenting and gave them three months to pack, telling them to "separate from each other at once."  

25 Nov. Sentence Geesie Jansen, for living in adultery with Laurens Duyts, to be conducted to the whipping post, and fastened thereto, the upper part of her body being stripped naked, and two rods placed in her hand, to be afterwards conducted, in that wise, outside the city gates, and banished from the province the term of 30 years, with costs [ p. 1055 vol. VIII]

30 Nov. Sentence. Iva Dircksen, for adultery, to be conducted to the place where justice is executed, and there to witness the punishments inflicted this day, and then be banished for the term of 50 years [p. 1057 vol. VIII]

May 9, 2018

12 Ways To Become a Better Genealogist

We all want to be good at our jobs, right? Whether it's our paid career, or raising children, washing dishes, mowing the lawn, or yes - researching our ancestors. We should want to put forth the best effort possible, and strive constantly to improve.

Here are ten ways we can all use to become a better genealogist.

  1. Copy all documents carefully, word for word, exactly as written. Do not correct spelling or make guesses. Accuracy is one of the most important characteristics of a good genealogy researcher.
  2. Analyze new material carefully - think about what the document tells you. What clues are found in the document? Where should you look next?
  3. Be methodical. Don't jump around. Focus on one ancestor at a time. Note everything you find.
  4. Don't make assumptions. For example not everyone knew when they were born or how old they were in any given year, so those census records might not agree but don't assume you've got the wrong ancestor. It's okay to theorize but note that you are working on a theory, not a fact backed up with sources.
  5. Gather all documents and records on one ancestor, and study them carefully for clues. Note your sources carefully.
  6. Don't grab online trees and add to your own without verifying every single "fact". Use online trees for clues, but remember you do not know how good or how bad a genealogist the person who did them. 
  7. Put together a chronological timeline for each ancestor. This will help you see what you are missing and what else you need. 
  8. Review old research. You will be amazed at what you may have missed the first time around.
  9. Write a report on what you have found for an ancestor. This will help you place your ancestor in history and add detail to the bare facts.
  10. Remember that your ancestors were people just like you. They loved, they hated, they cried, they laughed, they had good days, they had bad days. Think about this when you are trying to figure out how your great-great grandfather met and married your great-great grandmother. Apply your own life experiences to each ancestor you find.
  11. Research the area where your ancestor lived and find out what records were made during his/her lifetime, what has survived, and where they are held. 
  12. Cite your sources! If you aren't up to citing them in the current approved scholarly way, at the very least write them down in a way that will allow others to find what you used. Yes, some of us still like to verify for ourselves

May 7, 2018

Who Were Your Immigrant Ancestors?

There's been a great deal of talk over the past year about immigration and immigrants to America and Canada. Perhaps it's a good time to look back and recall our own immigrant ancestors.

My earliest immigrant ancestor that I have found so far is Jacques Hertel, a 10 year old lad from France who was brought to New France (present day Quebec) in 1613. He came as one of Samuel de Champlain's (The Father of Canada) interpreters to the Indian tribes. Of course my Mohawk ancestors (proven through DNA and contemporaneous documents) were here much earlier than Jacques!

My most recent immigrant ancestors were my maternal grandparents who came from England to Canada in 1913. That is 300 years of dozens of my ancestors coming to North America from their home countries! Here's a few of my ancestors who arrived in that 300 year time span. I'm sure most of us have similar multiple immigrant arrivals.
  1. Cornelis Van Slyke from Holland to New Netherland (New York) in 1634
  2. Albert Andriessen de Noorman (Bradt family) from Norway to New Netherland (New York) in 1637
  3. Leendert de Grauw from Holland  to New Netherland (New York) in 1637
  4. Cornelis Van Schaik  to New Netherland (New York) in1640
  5. Jan Snediker from Germany to New Netherland (New York) in 1641
  6. Lambert Van Valkenburg from Holland  to New Netherland (New York) in 1643
  7. Adriaen Crijnen Post from Brazil  to New Netherland (New York) in 1650
  8. Christian Van Horn from ?  to New Netherland (New York) in 1653
  9. Jan Van Alystyne from Holland to New Netherland (New York) in 1655
  10. Willem Pieterse Van Slyke from Holland to New Netherland (New York) in 1655
  11. Herman Coerts from Holland  to New Netherland (New York) in 1659
  12. Simon de Ruine  to New Netherland (New York) in 1659
  13. David Usille from Calais to New Netherland in 1660
  14. Soert Olferts (Shuart family) from Holland to New Netherland (New York) in 1663
  15. Georg Wilhelm Kehl from Germany to New York 1709
  16. Johann Frederich Marical from Germany to New York 1710
  17. Harmanus Hommel from Germany to New York 1710 
  18. Nicholas Bieri from Germany to Holland then New York 1727
  19. Hartmann Hunsaker from Switzerland to Pennsylvania in 1731
  20. Ulrich Gingerich from Alsace to Pennsylvania in 1747
  21. Jacob Burkholder from Switzerland to Pennsylvania in 1765 
  22. Sophia de Roche from France to Pennsylvania in 1765
  23. Thomas King from England to Canada 1831 
  24. Betty Bell (nee Higginson) from England to Canada 1831
  25. Joseph McGinnis & Fanny Downey from Ireland to Canada in 1846
 So there you have just a few of my many immigrant ancestors to North America in that 300 years between 1613 and 1913. Who were your immigrant ancestors? Who was your earliest?

Image Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-518V Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana. Copyright: Expired

May 4, 2018

Salden Heath, Top Hat and All, on Lost Faces


This is one of the photographs I have rescued and published online on my Lost Faces website.

The Civil War era photo album was in rough shape but most of the photos were identified on the album pages. The Album is online on Lost Faces along with 81 other rescued photo albums from the 19th century.

 Here is what the photo above looked like while still in the album

The name is challenging to read but I make it out as Salden Heath. Other names in the album are Ells, Smith, Turner, Harley, Stanley, Ennis, Knowlton, Phelps, Comstock, Gaylord, Watrus, Rush, Rust, Rogers, Heath, Andress, davis, Boughton, Palmer, Spratt, Morse

May 3, 2018

New Netherland Settlers: The Goeway Family now available!

The story of the Goeway family in New Netherland begins with Salomon Abelse who was baptised in Amsterdam Holland in 1617, and his wife Barber (Barbara) Phillipse who was baptised in 1619 in Amsterdam. Salomon and Barber left Holland for New Netherland with their children circa 1652, settling in New Amsterdam (present day New York City)

This book provides details of Salomon and Barber's ancestry as well as their siblings and descendants in Holland and New Netherland. Salomon's Freisland origins are also included.
New Netherland Settlers: The Goeway Family: Ancestors & Descendants of Salomon Abbelse & Barber Philippse (Volume 7) 72 pages. Available on

Check out the full list of New Netherland Settlers books available!

May 2, 2018

A New Logo is Coming!

When I created Olive Tree Genealogy in 1995, I didn't have a site logo.When I moved my site to rootsweb I designed a tree to use as a logo of sorts. This tree was very important to me. It represented life - a new beginning. My husband of 16 years had just died and my oldest son had left for University.

First Olive Tree Genealogy logo 1996

I was a young widow with a 13 year old son to raise. Everything was different. My world was upside-down. But the tree I sketched one day made me feel rooted and gave me some sense of permanency in the chaos that had become my life. Looking at my tree encouraged me to stay strong, stay rooted to the earth, be independent, and take joy in all phases of my life.

When I decided to create a genealogy website on this new-fangled internet idea, my little tree seemed a perfect fit to symbolize my new baby - Olive Tree Genealogy.

When larger banner logos became the new sensation, I  designed one for Olive Tree Genealogy in 1997.

Second Olive Tree Genealogy logo 1997
I didn't use the banner above for many years. It was too dark and somewhat depressing to be honest! In 2001 I left rootsweb as a host to establish my own domain for Olive Tree Genealogy. It was a perfect time for me to design a new banner logo. Of course my little tree came with me and I incorporated it into my new design.
Third Olive Tree Genealogy logo 2001
The logo above was in use for 14 years then in 2015 I decided it was time for something fresh, something new, and something without my personal name on it!. So I hired a designer to create several new banners for me. Yes - still with my beloved tree.

Fourth Logo Trial 1

Fourth Logo Trial 2
Fourth Logo Trial 3
I'm sure many of my readers will recognize Number 3 as that is the one I choose for my site. I was still stuck on having my original tree from 1998. But now I've gone rogue!

Yep, I've had my logo designed again and will be introducing it soon. Spoiler alert: I gave up my beloved tree that I designed so many years ago (23 years!!) when I first started with Olive Tree Genealogy. I'm okay now. I have learned I can function without my tree. Life is good. My tree helped me through a very difficult time of my life and it was a stead-fast comfort to me. But I don't need it now. I'm letting it go and thanking it for being such a good companion.

So stay tuned for the reveal. I'm pretty excited and can't wait to show you!

April 30, 2018

A Short Life Remembered


The sisters Catherine and Mary Ann King lie buried together in a double grave in Arkell Cemetery.

Catherine was 5 years old when she died in December 1870. Her little sister Mary, aged 14 months, followed her in death 4 days later.

Their mother Mary Ann Kemble, died in childbirth in 1869 when little Mary was born. When Mary died, her husband Thomas King a 28 year old  widower with two young children. I don't think we can imagine how challenging and difficult the next year was for him.

One year almost to the day after little Catherine and Mary Ann were buried, Thomas remarried - another Mary - and their son Joseph was born in December 1872. Sadly baby Joseph died when he was only 9 months old. Another grave was dug in the Arkell cemetery.

Arkell Pioneer Cemetery Gravestones
Next came baby Mary born in October 1876, but this child too was fated to have only a short time on earth. 7 month old baby Mary died and she too joined her brother and half-sisters in the Arkell cemetery.

Thomas and his second wife Mary Ann did go on to have 3 more children, one of whom lived to adulthood. The only reminder of the little King children is their graves in Arkell.

April 27, 2018

Co-Lab: Crowdsourcing at the Archives of Ontario

Letter from Sir Wilfred Laurier
This is very cool! Crowdsourcing has arrived at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). We genealogists, historians, and anyone interested in our Canadian past  can now transcribe, add keywords and image tags, translate content from an image or document and add descriptions to digitized images using Co-Lab and the new Collection SearchBETA.

LAC is offering challenges, which are theme-based, to make this opportunity even more interesting.  One of their current challenges involves transcribing Correspondence between Sir Robert Borden and Sir Sam Hughes in 1916. A second is to transcribe the 61 pages of love letters from Wilfred Laurier, the 7th Prime Minister of Canada, to his sweetheart and future wife between 1863 and 1890.

Now's your chance to contribute to preserving the past and helping to make these historical records available to all.

Read more about this venture at Introducing Co-Lab: your tool to collaborate on historical records

April 25, 2018

DNA Specials! Discover Who You Are!

Don't wait! Discover your history, culture - what made you, with a DNA test.

Get a DNA kit at the lowest price of the year! AncestryDNA for $59 U.S.

Sale Ends: April 29th, 2018 at 9:00PM PDT

Canadians - purchase your sale kit at AncestryDNA Day in Canada 

Lowest Price of the Year! $89.00 Canadian
Sale Ends: April 30th, 2018 at 9:00PM PDT