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February 22, 2020

Finding Burial or Death Records Before 1869 in Ontario

Norma asked Olive Tree Genealogy about her 2nd great-grandfather who died in Ontario Canada in 1855.

I have not been able to find death record and/or obituaries for my 2nd great-grandfather and his eldest son, John Bergey.

Henry S Bergey, wife Elizabeth Clemmer, and their first three children moved to Waterloo County around 1848. Three daughters were born between 1849 and 1854 in Waterloo.

My curiosity is about cause of death of both father, Henry S. Bergey, d. 17 Feb. 1855 and eldest son, John Bergey, d. 21 February 1855.
Olive Tree Genealogy answer:

Norma, vital records were not registered in Ontario before 1869. That means that deaths in 1855 should be sought in local church burial records and cemetery records. However, even if found, the cause of death is unlikely to be recorded. 

You might check local newspapers of the time (if there are any to be found) to see if you can find a death notice. 

Here is an example of a death notice published Feb 7, 1855 Globe & Mail

But don't overlook finding out what diseases might have been happening in February 1855. Perhaps there was a cholera or diptheria outbreak, and this would likely have been noted in a newspaper.

Family Bibles or letters might hold clues. Check with older relatives or on E-Bay just in case. You never know what you might find! has many death records online, including coffin plates and funeral cards. You may want to take a look there.

February 19, 2020

Ancestor Most Wanted: Edward MEEKS

I know very little about my 7th great-grandfather Edward Meeks. I have been sent some information (unsourced) from others but have not done in-depth research for myself.

Did he marry Maria Bastianse Kortright??? Or the sister of Mary Merrit wife of Walter Dobbs?? or...??

Below is the extent of the contradictory claims sent to me about Edward's wife

Claims that Edward's wife was Sarah Merrit:

Walter Dobbs lived in New Amsterdam, New York in the 17th Century. He was a mariner involved with trade at a time when all colonies along the Atlantic Ocean were interested in this activity from Bristol, England to West Caucases. Walter Dobbs and Mary Merritt married and lived on Barren Island, on leasehold of 282 acres on Frederick Philipseís Manor at present Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County New York about 1698.

His Brother-in-Law William Merritt and the possible husband of his wife's sister, Edward Meeks, were also Mariners. Walter and Edward Meeks both died in 1689. Mary Merritt, widow of Walter Dobbs was born in England in 1632 and died on Barren Island in March 1737 at the astonishing age of 104 years 9 month.

Col. William Merritt had two sisters, Mary Merritt who  married (1) Walter Dobbs; m. (2) Nathaniel Pittman) and Sara Merritt who may have married Edward Meeks;then secondly Henry Crabbe).

Claims that Edward's wife was Maritje Kortright

Edward Meek is listed in the 1702 Orange County, NY Census. Edward and Maritje Meeks lived on Spuyten Dyuvil Neck, near Fordham Manor, NY. Edward Meeks of Yonkers, Westchester County, NY, appeared before the court at Westchester on 6 Dec. 1721 to record the earmarks of his son John's cattle (John Meeks of the same place).

Edward Meeks purchased 110 acres just north of his own farm on 16 March, 1727-28, jointly with Richard Crabb (his half brother) and Isaac de la Montagne, probably Maria's cousin, son of Isaac de la Montagne and his wife Hester Van Vorst. Both Edward and Maritje were still living at Spuyten Duyvil on 19 May, 1768, when Edward Meeks sold land in Yonkers to Frederick Van Cortland, Gent.

On 19 May 1768 Edward Meeks of Yonkers Neck, yeoman, conveyed to Fredrick Van Cortlandt, Gent., land in Yonkers near the homestead of Joseph Betts, dec'd. (Liber H, p. 45)

The Question

Who was Edward's wife?

February 17, 2020

Finding Ancestors on Tithe Rolls & Plots

Thanks to Twitter frind
@Dave_Lifelines and his explanation of Tithe rolls & maps I've been plotting my ancestors! 
Currently I am working on my Higginson and Bell ancestors in Cheshire England. 
I've begun to notate the map for Elizabeth Higginson in red. Elizabeth had 24 plots in Lower Peover so it's taking me a long time. 
I have not yet plotted my Bell ancestors but one that I found is William Bell. His plot 157 is outlined in blue below.

I also took a peek at the Google street view of what is there now! Below is the Google street view of William Bell on Plot 157 Hulme Lane in Nether Peover.
Dave's explanation is at The Joy of Tithes and should not be overlooked if you have UK ancestors. 

It took me awhile, even with Dave's excellent walk-through, to understand how the Cheshire website worked. But once I played with it a bit, I got the hang of it and now I am super excited to try to find all my Cheshire ancestors.

February 15, 2020

Over 176,000 Cemetery Records Added in January 2020

Over 176,000 Cemetery Records Added in January 2020

Now online with free access at

February 1, 2020, Menifee, CA — published 176,172 cemetery records covering  41 cemeteries across 12 states, 1 province, and 2 countries, in the month of January 2020. They are now available for free viewing to the general public by visiting

These records were acquired genealogists, city and county offices, and cemetery sextons. Most of these records include dates of birth, death, and burial, and many include plot locations and names of funeral homes.

Geographic localities covered in these records…

Quebec, Canada (Brome, Compton, Drummond, Megantic, Richmond, Shefford, Sherbrooke, and Wolfe counties)
Connecticut (Hartford County)
Florida (Broward County)
Illinois (DeKalb County)
Iowa (Boone & Polk counties)
Minnesota (Washington County)
North Carolina (Mecklenburg County)
Ohio (Cuyahoga, Miami, and Tuscarawas counties)
Pennsylvania (Bucks & Dauphin counties)
Texas (Harris County)
Washington (Clark County)
Wisconsin (Columbia & Manitowoc counties)
Wyoming (Johnson County)

All records were left unedited to reflect the same information exactly as appears from their original sources.

Since 1997, has published transcriptions of cemetery records acquired from genealogists, government agencies, churches, and cemetery sextons. To date, more than 25 million records are available online for free, unlimited access.

Genealogists may browse or search the full archive, or contribute their transcriptions, by visiting

February 12, 2020

Genealogy Tip: 1842 Canadian Census Returns

Genealogy Tip: Census records for Canada were taken in 1842. Enumerators visited 17 census districts, divided into sub-districts. These units were made up of cities, towns, parishes, villages and townships. Not all returns survived. The returns for eight districts and 51 sub-districts have been preserved and are accessible at Library and Archives Canada.

1842 Census Headings Columns 1-51

HOWEVER not all pre 1851 census are online! Library and Archives Canada has the census of 1842 for Upper Canada (Ontario) online BUT their database only includes the census returns held by Library and Archives Canada.

The Archives of Ontario holds the census returns that still exist for other places; however, they are not digitized, not available online and not included in LAC's database. So you would have to consult Archives of Ontario if your folks don't show up in the online LAC database
When using LAC online searchable 1842 census, be aware that the 1842 Census for Canada West consists of 2 pages:
  • Columns 1 to 51 appear on the first page.
  • Columns 51 to 89 appear on the second page.
The first page is on the digitized image link to an entry in the database for an individual.  If you want to view the second page, increase by one the last digit of the url address of an image that appears in the navigation box of your browser.

February 10, 2020

Greek Genealogy Records Online

A new website launched January 29th. It is and is for anyone searching their Greek ancestors. As the site says, it is "Your gateway to searchable databases of Greek records"

To begin your search, you first choose one of four areas: Tripoli, Chania, Sparta, Kalamata. The site is in English and Greek so don't worry if you can't read Greek.

Next you search by surname or town or village. If you know a record ID you can search using that. If you find a result of interest you can order the record.

As a fun test, I searched for my friend Louis Poulias by his surname and found one hit. If it were one of his ancestors he could order the record.

February 8, 2020

More Questions Answered re Relationshp Terms

Ann asked about relationship terms:

What is my sons relationship to a) my first cousin and b) to her children. And what is my sons relationship to my nieces children.
I keep coming up with the same answer to each of the questions but surely they cant be the same??
No they aren't the same. First thing you should note is that you have different generations so there will be some times removed (as in 2nd cousin 3 times removed). Times removed refers to the number of generations between each person.

Then you have cousins versus nieces so right away you have different relationships.

For example the child of your first cousin is your son's second cousin. 
Your first cousin is your son's first cousin once removed

You could try Steve Morse's Relationship Calculator.  Read his instructions and start entering your terms. Also try this Relationship chart as it may be easier to use.

February 5, 2020

Olive Tree Genealogy is 25 Years Old!

Guess what? It's Olive Tree Genealogy website's 25th birthday! Yep, I started my site in February1995. I'm not talking about this blog, which turned 16 yesterday. I'm talking about my huge website!

I'd never have thought it would become so popular, or that I would still be working on it 25 years later! It's funny how life takes unexpected twists and turns.

After my husband died, and I was injured at school, and had not worked for a year (due to injuries), one of my good friends encouraged me to start a website on that new-fangled thing called "the internet". 

I had no idea how to do that, but he just kept telling me "You're smart, you'll figure it out!" Well I'm not sure how smart I am, but I'm stubborn.  Back in those days there were no editors, so I had to learn through trial and error, how to code a website using html.

I started small on a lovely battle-ship grey background (anyone else remember those days when all sites were battle-ship grey with no bells or whistles?)

I wrote up name on one ship's passenger list from the early 1600s that I found with my ancestor Cornelis Van Slyke's name on the manifest - and it got such a positive response from folks online that I put up another. And another. And another. I've lost track of how many ships passenger lists I have published on Olive Tree Genealogy's Ship section - hundreds if not thousands!

This is my most recent Olive Tree Genealogy logo. If you're interested, you can see the evolution of my tree image and a few images of the original look of the site over the past 25 years.

And that is how it all began. My project for 2020 is revamping Olive Tree Genealogy with a new look, a new navigation system, and more great (free) content!

Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement, for visiting over the years, for offering ideas -- I appreciate all of you. I'm only 73 so I'm good to go at least another 25 years if you'll let me.

February 3, 2020

Happy 16th Birthday to My Blog!

Wow. I can't believe I started Olive Tree Genealogy blog in February 2003.

I've always had a structured timeline for posting, and for several years I posted every single day! I don't know how I did it.

For the past year or so I've been writing and posting three times a week. And yes, it gets more and more challenging to think of topics to talk about!

I write about lots of things - new databases online, tips for searching specific records, new projects Olive Tree Genealogy is working on, the new books I've completed and published, genealogy wish lists, genealogy discussions, and occasionally my own ancestors. I like to keep this blog more generic than talking about my own ancestry.

But I'm still hanging in and hoping my readers are getting something worthwhile out of my blogging - because believe me, it's not easy. It is truly a labour of love. The only thing that keeps  me going is my hope/belief that I'm adding something of value to online genealogy.

So... cheers! I'll keep blogging as long as I sense a need.

February 1, 2020

FInding a Ships Passenger List in 1852

Recently Billy F. wrote to ask Olive Tree Genealogy about a ships' passenger list. Here is Billy's email:

I can't seem to locate the ship's manifest on-line - but my cousin sent me a copy of the Ships Manifest. ( so I know it exists ) Our family ( Fields  - 5 family members ) came  over from Liverpool on the SS City of Washington in 1852. Pithin Page  was the Master.

My question is that I noticed that you wrote that ships coming to the States before 1855 had no receiving station - what does that exactly mean? Is there anyway to find out the location ( or most likely ) where the ship docked and let off my anscestors??? Or do you think I will never know the answer?

Can you point me to a place I can go that might be able to give me as much information as possible? Ex. - who did all of these ship's manifests filled out by the Masters get turned in to ???  If they all got saved, someone must be holding them  ( correct ??? )
Olive Tree Genealogy's answer:

Billy you haven't told me where your ancestor landed - America? Canada? Or somewhere else?  If it was in Canada, you have a challenge ahead of you. 

Before 1865 ships passenger list to Canada did not have to be archived. There are some lists but the challenge is finding them as they are few and far between. However there are substitute lists such as Shipping Company Records, Immigration Agent Records, St. Lawrence Steamship Records, etc. See Filling in the Gaps at for links to alternate records for pre 1865 immigration AND for details on any that are available only offline.

If your ancestor landed in America you can search passenger lists from 1820 on at They have published indexes and images for all ships landing in USA.  In fact I had a quick look and has published indexes and images for the City of Washington landing in New York in March, July, and October of 1852.

Re your comment that I wrote "ships coming to the States before 1855 had no receiving station" that is not an accurate quote. I assume you are talking about my page online for ships arriving in New York at The accurate quote on my page, which referred only to New York, is "1624-31 July 1855: no receiving station" 

For years after 1855 I provided the name of the receiving station. It is important to understand that a receiving station was an official place that received and processed passengers. That does not mean ships did not land in New York before 1855, it simply means there was no official place to process them.

January 30, 2020

Think Outside the Box When Looking for a Ship's Passenger List

Charlene G. sent Olive Tree Genealogy an email asking about Ships Passenger Lists from Ireland in the 1840s. I think my answer to her question (below) may be of interest to other genealogists

I am specifically looking for Irish passenger ship records from 1845-1847, the probably year(s) that my great-great grandparents immigrated to the United States.  For many years I have been searching  Irish passenger ships arriving at the port of New York.  Because Ellis Island was not yet established, I assume my Irish great-great grandparents entered the U.S. via Castle Garden.  Can you tell me if ALL ship passenger records for the years 1845-1847 have been transcribed? 
Lorine's Answer: First let me clear up some possible confusion. Ellis Island and Castle Garden were processing centers. The port of arrival was New York and that is the arrival port you want to look for if you are positive your ancestor arrived via New York. You will not find ships lists giving a port of arrival as "Ellis Island" or "Castle Garden" since they were simply the processing areas used at different time periods for arrivals in the port of New York.

The short answer to your last question is YES. All known ships passenger lists arriving in New York have been transcribed, indexed and are found on Ancestry . If you are searching the Castle Garden website be aware that it includes arrivals in  ports other than New York and as far as I know, it is not complete for the port of New York.

If you are unable to find your ancestors, be sure you search other ports of arrival. Also you might wish to look for ships arriving in Canada as it was much cheaper to come in that way than go directly to America. Just be aware that before 1865 ships arriving in Canadian ports did not have to keep their passenger lists. But there are alternate lists you can search. See Filling in The Gaps for help.

You should also be sure you are using wildcards if you are searching on Ancestry  . The early ships passenger lists are often difficult to read and your ancestor's surname might be badly mangled or misread. Try widening your search parameters too. Leave out first names. Use only a surname (with wildcards to pick up variant spellings such as SM*TH* which would get results for SMITH, SMYTH, SMYTHE etc. ) and an approximate year of birth.

January 27, 2020

Helping African Americans Find Lost Ancestor

1864 Reciept for Shoes for Slaves
The Names of 1.8 Million Emancipated Slaves Are Now Searchable.

The Freedman’s Bureau Project and FamilySearch allows African Americans to recover their family history in a database that now includes “the names of nearly 1.8 million men, women and children” recorded by Freedman’s Bureau workers and entered by Freedman’s Bureau Project volunteers 150 years later. 

This database will give millions of people descended from both former slaves and white Civil War refugees the ability to find their ancestors.

Read more at Open Culture

January 25, 2020

Online Search Engines are a Genealogist's Friend

Diane wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy with this question

These 2 ancestors [William and Martha Medcalf] emigrated from Ireland to Ontario Canada in 1819 with 10 children we think. They are from Delgany, Country Wicklow but have not been able to access any information about them before coming to Canada. Much appreciated for any suggestions.

Diane - this is where Google is your friend (or any other search engine you prefer). A quick search using search terms "delgany ireland church records" brought several results indicating that these records are online.

I downloaded the PDF files for the transcribed records of THE PARISH REGISTERS OF CHRIST CHURCH, DELGANY VOLUME 2 BAPTISMS 1777-1819, MARRIAGES 1777-1819 & BURIALS 1777-1819, I found the following baptisms for children of William and Martha:

23 Nov 1809 Eliz’th MEDCALF Will’m/Martha, Downs
27 Jun 1805 John MEDCALF Wm/Martha, Downs
9 Feb 1812 Henry MEDCALF Wm/Martha, Downs
16 Oct 1813 Will’m MEDCALF Wm/Martha, Downs

"Downs" is their residence. I am sure you can find much more by downloading and searching more records.

You should also search the Upper Canada Land Petitions to see if the family applied for land once in Canada. Their petitions may reveal more about their lives in Ireland. You may wish to read my tutorials on searching those petitions and finding the actual images onlline once you have completed your search in the index.

Using Land Petitions to Learn about an Ancestor

Finding an Ancestor in the Challenging Upper Canada Land Books

Searching Ontario Canada Land Records, eh? 

 In fact I did a quick search and here are the results for MEDCALF. Using my tutorials to guide you, you can now find the actual petitions online using the index information for any names below that are of interest.


It appears that one of William and Martha's sons (Francis Henry Medcalf) became a mayor in Toronto Ontario. There may be quite a bit of biographical information about him in Toronto archives or libraries.

January 23, 2020

Are You a Taelman/Talma descendant?

If you descend from Douwe Harmanse Taelman & Dirkje Teunise I have good news. A new book on the family has just been published.
The Taelman family in America descends from two sons of Douwe Harmanse and his wife Dirkje Teunise. Douwe was born in Friesland, married in Amsterdam, and emigrated to New Netherland in June 1658. Eventually the family settled in New Jersey. This book follows the first two generations of Douwe and Dirckje in the New World.

Available now on and on
New Netherland Settlers: The Taelman Family is the 14th published book in my New Netherland Settlers project. The complete list is available on my New Netherland page


January 22, 2020

RIP Rootsweb Mailing Lists

As many of my readers most likely already know, the following message was sent from Rootsweb earlier this month.

Beginning March 2nd, 2020 the Mailing Lists functionality on RootsWeb will be discontinued. Users will no longer be able to send outgoing emails or accept incoming emails.  Additionally, administration tools will no longer be available to list administrators and mailing lists will be put into an archival state.

You heard it right. All mailing lists on Rootsweb will be discontinued. It's a shame to lose all the wonderful genealogists sharing and asking questions on these lists so I've started a few replacement lists and groups.

If you are on Facebook be sure to check out the following groups and pages:

Olive Tree Genealogy

Ancestors At Rest

New Netherland Settlers

Van Slyke Genealogy

Van Valkenburg to Vollick

Vrooman Genealogy

Barheit Genealogy

Van Alstyne Genealogy

Goeway Genealogy

Descendants of Adriaen Crijnen Post

Straetsman Genealogy

Peer Genealogy in N. America

Pioneers of Arkell Wellington County

We Are Genealogy Bloggers 

Not on Facebook?

Not to worry I also set up some mailing lists using Google Groups.

New Netherland Settlers
This group is about the history and settlement of New Netherland (present day New York) & the early settlers. In 1624 the first colonists arrived in New Netherland to settle at Fort Orange (present day Albany) & other locations.    
Peer Genealogy
Following the descendants and ancestors of Jacob & Anne Peer and their 8 children from New Jersey to Ontario Canada 1797. Descendants settled in Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ontario & New York.    

For anyone interested in the genealogy of Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke and his nephew Willem Pieterse Van Slyke aka Neef. Both settled in New York in the 1600s.    
Van Valkenburg to Vollick
This group is for descendants of Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick, Loyalist who left New York for Canada during the American Revolution    


January 20, 2020

Beyond 22: Virtual Record Treasury for Irish history

Thanks to Gail Dever of Genealogy a la Carte for reporting on "Beyond 22: Ireland's Virtual Record Treasury"

The Beyond 22 website explains:

June 30th, 2022, marks the centenary of the terrible explosion and fire at the Four Courts, Dublin, which destroyed the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) and, with it, seven centuries of Ireland’s collective memories. While incomparable with the loss of human life, the destruction of the Record Treasury at the PROI was one of the great tragedies of the Civil War.  
Beyond 2022 is an all-island and international collaboration. Working together, we will launch a Virtual Record Treasury for Irish history—an open-access, virtual reconstruction of the Record Treasury destroyed in 1922.
What an exciting new project for those of us with Irish ancestors! According to the organizers, more than seventy repositories world-wide hold substitute materials that can replace the documents destroyed in the Four Courts fire.

The Project has four phases: Discover, Digitize, Reconstruct, Reveal

With the identification of those records, Beyond 22 will digitize and restore what is found, then bring them online for researchers, historians, and genealogists to access.

I am looking forward to searching these records for my McGinnis, Downey, Jamieson, and Greenlees families. What names will you be looking for?

January 18, 2020

Why You Should Check Your Sources Carefully

This email came to Olive Tree Genealogy from Sam:

Hi my name is Sam .. I have a eill [sic] from 1856 for John Calvert... a family chart with that has Obed Calvert 1743-1809 as Father. also refered to as Francis ( Obed ) Calvert. Also Ino Calvert as Obed's father.. I faxed to a Calvert genealogist who told me he had never seen the names Ino or Obed in U.S. Calvert circles. here.. do you see these names over there? I live in Oceanside Ca., near San Diego Ca.
Hi Sam-

I'm guessing that you meant "will" not "eill". Your reference to "Ino" Calvert is almost certainly a misreading of the abbreviation "Jno.". Jno. was often used in place of the first name Jonathan (although some genealogists will argue it stood for the name "John") So the man you are searching is John or Jonathan Calvert, not Ino.

Remember too that Obed could be a shortened version of Obediah. If you are positive the reference to Francis is for the same man, perhaps he used his first and middle names indiscriminately. However they could be different men. Without knowing your sources I cannot comment.  As well, the word "ibid" means the same as "ditto" and I have to wonder if there is confusion there as well. I suggest you study your sources carefully - go over them again and again to make sure you have not missed a clue or misunderstood something. See my article Everyone Makes Mistakes: Why You Should Review YourResearch Notes

Your last question as to whether I have seen the names "over there" is confusing as I live in Canada and I wouldn't call that "over there" from California! In any case your best bet is to continue your search by looking for documents for the men whose names you know to be correct. That will be the best way to find out where the family originated and who the immigrant ancestor was.

January 16, 2020

Finding Meaning in Alphabet Soup

Kevin asked for help reading and understanding a record

My wife's grandfather Carl Gastone Casattas was born 26 Oct 1894 in San Francisco, California, and died 9 Sept 1970 in Santa Cruz, California.  In between he resided for a long time in Oakland, Alameda, California.

Imagine the surprise when we found the attached Index Card in the Civil War Pension file at NARA.  NARA was surprised too!  They said it did not belong and had no idea what it was doing there.

Can you tell us what is says and what it means?  We can find no record of him having military service.

Kevin - All I could find was this reference to C.A.C. being a Common Access Card, the standard identification for active duty uniformed service personnel, Selected Reserve, DoD civilian employees, and eligible contractor personnel.

I see in the 1930 census that Carl was employed by the US Army as a clerk so I suspect the record above has something to do with that. He no doubt needed an Employee ID Card and that may have been the C.A.C. mentioned in the top record. In 1920 he is listed as clerk working for the Government in the Navy Yard in San Francisco.

I think we've solved your mystery. Carl was a civilian employee in a Government/Military organization and as such needed an ID Card. 

January 13, 2020

Don't Let Family Lore Confuse You!

Shannah wrote to ask Olive Tree Genealogy about her Great grandfather William James Twiss
I have been trying to find out where my Grfa., TWISS, William James, had "landed" for over ten years, to no avail, from Cty. Cork, Ireland to New York, USA..  He was a mere 17 year old, at the time.  

The story I was told was that it was my Grfa. who had left Cork, Ireland, from Sept. to December of 1887 (I believe these are the months) on the Barque Julia, from Edinburough to Cork and to New York.  This particular Barque was a ship of supplies and the Captain was a friend of my Gr-Grpars., TWISS, Francis Edward Day, Sr..  It was my Grfa. who had suggested that he, himself, come out to Canada, first and they allowed it but he must go with someone they knew.  It was only a few days' trip and have researched into several ports along the eastern coast to no avail.  When he had landed, he had stayed with friends of his pars., (never knew who they were) Francis Edward Day and Ellen THOMPSON, in New York for a while then travelled up into BINBROOK, Wentworth Cty., Ontario, Canada to stay with our cousins/family there while his own pars. arrived through Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the following springtime.
 Shannah - 

Here is what I found which does not seem to agree with your family lore. That is not unusual as family lore can be family myth and is often incorrect or confused. Don't let it lead you down the wrong path when researching!

Ed Twiss, age 40, farmer, his wife Ellen age 40 and three daughters Sarah
(20) Mildred (17) and Marcella (17) arrived 4 September 1888 at Halifax  on
board the steamer Peruvian. Their destination was noted as "Victoria BC"

Your ancestor is not with them on this journey.

The 1901 Census for British Columbia shows the family as Edward D. Twiss born 1839 Ontario, his wife Ellen born 1842 Ireland and two children - your ancestor William born 1872 Ireland and his sister Marcia born 1877 Ireland. Their year of immigration of Ellen and her children is given as 1889. 

We find Edward Day Twiss dying in July 1925 in British Columbia and his son William James dying in February 1953 in Vancouver British Columbia. His death registration found on FamilySearch indicates his date of birth as 11 November 1869, his father as Edward Day Twiss, his mother as Ellen Thomson and his wife as Sadie Jewell Brenton.

There are several death records on FamilySearch for your siblings of your William James Twiss: Mildred Jemima Twiss born 22 Sep 1868; Sarah Helena Nash Keen born 1866 in Kerry Ireland; Marcella Ellen Moodie born 22 Mar 1875 in Co. Kerry. Also William James Twiss marriage record 05 Jul 1906 shows he was born in Kerry, Ireland too. All these records come with images - how lucky is that!

I did find a few other items that might interest you - namely the marriage of William's father Edward to Ellen Thompson in Killarney Ireland. Her father is recorded as James Thompson. This might give you clues for more research in Killarney for the family.

 I found the birth of another son named Edward born 05 Sept 1872 in Ireland to Edward D. Twiss and his wife Ellen Thompson. Sarah Helena Twiss' birth was also found in the Irish birth records and her place of birth is recorded as Castle Island, Kerry Ireland. 

I am beginning to envy you all the records for your ancestors! And best of all here is your ancestor William James Twiss. A second birth record for William shows his place of birth as Annascall, Kerry Ireland. Now you have an exact date of birth and a location. Armed with this new information you have a lot of clues to help you in your search.

Summary of my findings:
Edward Day Twiss married Ellen Thomson/Thompson daughter of James in 1865 in Killarney, Kerry Ireland.  They immigrated to Canada 1888

* Sarah Helena Twiss  born 1866 in Castle Island, Kerry Ireland md 1 Nash m2 1893 B.C. John Keen, immigrated to Canada 1888
* Mildred Jemima Twiss born 1868 Castle Island, Kerry Ireland immigrated to Canada 1888
* William James Twiss born 1869 Annascall, Kerry Ireland md. 1906 B.C. Sadie Bointon
* Edward Twiss born 1872 Ireland
* Marcella Ellen Twiss  born 22 Mar 1875 in Kerry Ireland md. Walter Moodie
immigrated to Canada 1888

January 11, 2020

Don't Forget Nearby Countries When Searching for a Genealogy Record

Beth sent the following question to Olive Tree Genealogy:

I’m looking for a marriage record John Staehli born in Switzerland 1865, father and mother unknown. Magdalena Gasho born 1863 Canada father Andrew Gascho and mother Lydia Ginerich,  married in 1891-1892 in Canada. (on Ancestry trees someone put Nov 1891, and I’m looking for confirmation) I’ve researched many places and haven’t come across this record. Magdalena was a mennonite.

Beth - first let me correct an error in your family tree information. Magdalena's mother was Lydia GINGERICH/GINGRICH, not GINERICH. I'm also a GINGRICH descendant. You can read about my Gingrich family here

Since this couple's first child, Anna Maria, was born in Michigan (see image) and they continued to reside in Michigan, i would not be so sure they married in Ontario. Have you checked Michigan marriage records?

Notice also that the surname Staehli was badly recorded and then corrected in 1940. Have you used wildcards when searching for this couple?

Their surnames are such that they can easily be incorrectly recorded or indexed on websites.

In summary, I'd check Michigan marriages and I would use wildcards to search for this couple online. See Wildcards are Your Friend! A Canadian Case Study Part 2  for help with using wildcards.

January 9, 2020

New Netherland (NY) Research is Not Simple or Quick

New Netherland Research is Not Simple or Quick

Lois asked a rather convoluted question which does not have a simple answer. Because of the several questions Lois asked, i am going to intersperse my answers with her questions.

Q: After 200 years of historical accounts of the immigrants from the Netherlands, debate is still continuing when the surname Teunise/Teunisen is researched. My ancestor was Teunis Nyssen, who had  7 children based on baptism records, one (Cornelis) from guardianship record after his mother Phoebe Janse died. By 1660, when the 2nd generation started marriage and having children, the names of daughters were Teunis with an “e” added and sons with “en”. Historians and genealogists either made decisions which person had which “Teunis” father, so for the children of Teunis Nyssen, Denyse was added to the name “de Nys, or of Nys, as opposed to child of Teunis Bogaert. 

Is my assumption on the addition of the “e” and “en” correct?
A: The simple answer is "NO". The patronymic was formed by adding -se, -sen, or -szen. Daughters would very often have the ending -x or -dr. added. I suggest that what you are finding ("e" vs "en") is simply the way the name/patronymic was recorded by that specific clerk or individual. See Dutch Patronymics of the 1600s for more help. 

Also, if you have not seen my page on the DAMEN family of New Netherland I urge you to take a look.  As well as a brief expanation of the family origins, you will find several resources for you to use. You will definitely want the 4th one but you may find the others very helpful as well:

Q: The “Teunis” problem seems to have led to the following children  being attributed to Nyssen:   Hillegonde, Geertje, James, Joris and Teunis. So the second question relates to children naming  traditions.    First son after father’s father, 2nd mother’s father and 1st daughter after mother’s mother, 2nd after father’s mother...with exceptions.    A son Teunis for Nyssen is possible, but many records show him by age as 1st son, whereas he would be Dionys (name for Teunis’ father), 2nd son was Jan named for mother’s father.  
A:  You should never take naming traditions or customs as being set in stone. They might be observed by the couple but they might not be. One parent might be honoured by having a grandchild named after him/her but another might be on the "outs" with the family. A rich uncle or someone who could bestow favours on the couple might be the person honoured with a child's name. There may be a missing child which had the name of the missing parent. There are many reasons why naming patterns cannot be relied on!

Q: Is there any way to ID all the men named Teunis who would have been fathers between 1640 and 1670, so the “supposed children” could be linked to the correct parents?  If there is, how can it be communicated to people who have ancestry trees in various websites?  
A: You could certainly devote many years of research and study into an attempt to find all men named Teunis (or Antonis) who could have been fathers in that 30 year time span.  But if you were thinking of the entire area of New Netherland you would have quite a lifetime project ahead of you. Even if you found them all, determing which children belong to which father would quite likely take yet another lifetime, if indeed it could be done. 

Researching the Dutch in New Netherland is not an easy task. It requires years of study to understand naming patterns, customs, patronymics etc *and* to find the records to assist in the research. There are records that Dr. Gehring has been working on translating from the Dutch for over 25 years now! 

Photo credit: Stuart Miles on FreeDigital.Net

January 7, 2020

I Am My Own Worst Genealogy Enemy

Five (5) years ago, in October 2014, I messed up big time.

I'm only now discovering my error and realizing the mess it has created for me, genealogy-wise

In the image on the left you can see many jpg files with names starting with "GBPRS_CANT_" followed by a string of numbers. I discovered them as I was going through my hard drive organizing genealogy files.

Because they do not have identifying file names (surname, date, location at a minimum) I began opening them. They are a mix of baptisms, burials and marriages from somewhere in Kent England. The dates range from 1607 to 1832 so far but I have not checked them all.

One of 47 images that are not identified. Years are 1639 and 1640
Because the images are challenging to read and I don't have all my mother's Kent ancestors memorized, I looked in the meta data for each file for information. Nothing. Nada. It is blank for each one.

That means I was in such a frenzy of finding and gathering the images that I couldn't be bothered stopping for a minute to add the meta data OR at the very least, rename the files with the surname of the ancestor! Any of those would have helped me figure out who each record is for. I could even have simply annotated each one with an arrow pointing to the ancestor found on the page.

Baptism of NIcholas Widlbore in 1611. I have now added an arrow & labelled this one correctly.
Since I didn't do any of that, I am stuck going through each image, and trying to match names with my master list of surnames. I've been at it for hours now and have only managed to properly label 9 of 47 files.

I hope I have learned a lesson. I pray I never repeat this silly mistake in future! What ridiculous mistakes have you made as you've gone along in your genealogy research?