March 27, 2015

Almost Time for Who Do You Think You Are? on Sunday

Sean Hayes’ estranged father has a troubled past, so Sean goes on a journey to discover the root of the problem on Who Do You Think You Are?, airing this Sunday, March 29 at 10/9c on TLC.

Sean’s journey takes him to Chicago where he uncovers the sad details of his grandfather’s early death on skid row. Sean then follows his ancestral trail to Ireland, where court documents reveal the chaos in the Hayes family runs generations deep. Through Sean’s search, he is able to deepen his understanding of his father and appreciate that he’s broken a turbulent family pattern on his own.

Who Do You Think You Are? is sponsored by

Image credit: TLC

March 26, 2015

Heritage Designation for Black Cemetery

The Smith Cemetery on Banwell Road, which dates back to 1850, was designated a historical site in September by the Town of Tecumseh, Ontario. It will receive a provincial designation in a ceremony planned for the summer and will be renamed the Historic Banwell Road Black Cemetery.

One of those buried is James Ross. Ross was murdered at the age of 80 in July 1899. On 06 February 1900 his killer 30 year old Levi Stewart was hung for the crime in Sandwich, Ontario (currently part of Windsor). 

There are only 5 surviving headstones in the cemetery but more than 100 black Canadians are believed to be buried there.17 known burials can be viewed on Find-A-Grave

Continue reading at the CBC article Black cemetery in Tecumseh receiving heritage designation  

Caveat: the date of death given in the article on CBC for James Ross is incorrect. His death certificate clearly shows the year of death to be 1899.

March 25, 2015

Using Evernote for Genealogy

I thought this was an interesting blog post about using Evernote "12 Surprising Ways to Use Evernote You Might Not Have Considered" 

While it is not genealogy-specific the author has some intriguing ideas that might be useful to researchers. 

Of course if you are just getting started with Evernote, or considering using it, you might want to grab a copy of the e-book I wrote called "Organize Your Genealogy in Evernote in 10 Easy Steps" 

The book costs less than a cup of coffee and is easy to follow with lots of screenshots.

Organize Your Genealogy in Evernote in 10 Easy Steps available as an Ebook on Amazon

March 24, 2015

Organizational Project Part 5: The Domino Effect in an Organization Project

In January I began my plan to sort, organize and digitize my family photos.  I ended up ordering archival boxes and sleeves from a company called GetSmartProducts

My Alcove for Binding Books
I've previously shared how I am organizing, sorting and purging these photos and if you missed those earlier posts, you can view them by clicking on the lable "Organization Project" at the bottom of this post or in the right side bar.

If you're also organizing I am willing to bet you have run into what I call "The Domino Effect". That's when you realize that in order to sort items "A" you have to make room somewhere in your house to store them, and that means rearranging/organizing a closet in Room "B". But the closet is full so you have to make room for those items (after you sort and purge of course!) somewhere else - perhaps in cupboard or closet "C" but closet "C" is also full.... and on and on it goes.

That happened to us yesterday. My husband needed more room for a project he is working on so I agreed to give up a small room in the basement that we use for binding my coil-bound books and doing lookups on microfiche. 

That meant the unbound books and the equipment (binding machine, laminator etc) had to be stored elsewhere and it had to be somewhere easily accessible. Okay my office in our loft would do nicely....IF I made some room on the big table for the equipment, and room in the closet for the unbound books.

Making room on the table meant sorting, organizing, purging and filing 3 large cardboard boxes of miscellaneous papers - business papers, personal papers, genealogy papers - it was all a big mess of unsorted "stuff". 

Because I really didn't want to start on that task, I made a decision that was unusual for me. I would be ruthless. Any old scraps of paper that I scribbled on with vague references or notes, would be tossed in the garbage. Any old research would be likewise dumped in the trash. I would only keep documents (business, personal and genealogy) that absolutely needed to be kept. That's not easy for me. I have good intentions - one day I will read through all the notes I made in 2002 and see what, if anything, needs to go into my files. But I realize that now, at this stage of my life, it is unlikely I will ever get to that. So --- decision made, no turning back and I began sorting. 

After 3 hours I had a garbage bag full of papers that my husband will dump into our burning barrel and destroy. The bag weighs over 25 pounds. I tossed old fan-fold genealogy (and you know how old that must have been). I found, and discarded, an old leather wallet that had sentimental value. I even found unopened mail from 2012!

And so the project continues. My husband has removed all his "junk" from my office credenza (yes he kind of took over my lovely office in our loft) which provides room for all the unbound books and the ones he is busy binding today.

The large table is ready for the bookbinding equipment. As difficult (and scary) as it was for me to throw out all those papers, it feels really good to have done so!

My hoarding tendencies have to be overcome at times. I hate throwing out paper because maybe, just maybe, I will need it one day.... but after yesterday I feel I'm on the right track and can't wait to get at my 3 drawer lateral filing cabinet that is crammed full of genealogy papers!

March 23, 2015

Virginia Slaves' Identities Discovered and Online

Virginia Slaves' Identities Discovered and Online
Recently the Virginia Historical Society found the names and occupations of 3,200 slaves listed in private documents. These documents came from basements, attics and stuffed in drawers of old papers. 

These papers had been donated to the Virginia Historical Society long ago but had never been sorted or read. They consisted of letters, diaries, ledgers, books and farm documents from Virginians dating to the 1600s.

Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names  is their free online resource listing slaves' names. It is fully searchable. Search results include images of the original record, as seen from the image above.

Read more at Long-lost identities of slaves uncovered in old Virginia papers

March 22, 2015

Help Blaine Bettinger with a DNA Study

Fellow genealogist and DNA expert gathering data about the ranges of DNA shared by known relatives. While it is possible to predict approximately how much DNA you share with a close relative, the actual numbers vary greatly.

All Blaine needs is a known relationship (for example brother/sister; father/child; cousins) and two numbers from your DNA results.  Blaine explains where to find these numbers if you have a kit from FamilyTreeDNA at 

The submission form is also found there. If you are using 23andMe, you will probably need
 this explanation on how to get those two numbers. See

Please note that using Kitty's method above you will still need the largest number in the list as that is your second number to submit. 

If you submit before April 1, 2015 you will be eligible for a draw to win a Family Finder DNA kit. 

Olive Tree Genealogy submitted 3 sets of relationships for Blaine's study and have a few more to do. Let's all help Blaine with this study! 

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Photo Album 9 R Pte. W. Coldron Letter

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

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

Letter from Private W. Coldron

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

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

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos" in the vertical menu bar on the right side of your screen. You can also click on that phrase at the bottom of this post.

March 21, 2015

Almost Time for Who Do You Think You Are? With Angie Harmon

Angie Harmon sets out to discover the roots of her beloved father, whose heritage is relatively vague, on Who Do You Think You Are?, airing this Sunday, March 22 at 10/9c on TLC.

On her journey, Angie uncovers the dramatic story of her 5X great grandfather, who endured hardship and danger as an immigrant coming to America. She discovers that he fought in the American Revolution and risked death for standing his ground. She makes modern connections with some of her own values that appear to have been in the family for generations.

Key details discovered in Angie’s episode include:

·         Angie traces all the way up to her 5x great grandfather Michael Harmon. She discovers that Michael was the first immigrant ancestor on the Harmon side, and to her surprise, from Germany.

·         Angie discovers Michael Harmon gave up his freedom to come to America, fought for his new country’s independence, and risked everything at a pivotal point in America’s history.

·         Angie finds out that Michael Harmon as an indentured servant once arriving in the US.

·         Michael Harmon was released from servitude right in the middle of the Revolutionary War, and enlisted with the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment on May 10, 1777.

·         Angie discovers that Michael Harmon camped at Valley Forge under the command of George Washington.

·         However, Michael and his entire Pennsylvania line mutinied due to horrible conditions. Eventually the U.S. army met their terms, and the soldiers were able to leave service if they chose – Michael’s war service ended after the mutiny.

·         Michael owned multiple plantations and finally got married and had 7 children, perhaps starting the tradition of big Harmon families.

·         Angie finds her ancestors land on an old map, and heads out to see her ancestral land.

Image Credit: TLC

March 20, 2015

ArkivDigital Free Weekend Access

Saturday March 21 is Genealogy Day in Sweden and many of the genealogy societies, libraries and archives throughout the country are hosting exhibits and lectures.

ArkivDigital, your online digital archive with nearly 53 million images, will be hosting an “open house” this week-end. We invite all who are interested in their Swedish history free access to our entire online historical archive on Saturday and Sunday (March 21-22, 2015). Take the opportunity to research your Swedish heritage and discover the wealth of records in our online archive.

All current subscriptions will be extended two days because of the two free days (March 21-22). 

Each month approximately 600,000 new color images are added to ArkivDigital. During February, the following records were added:

  • More estate inventories (bouppteckningar) for the period 1901-1940.
  • Collection “Krigshandlingar Stora nordiska kriget: Krigsfångar” or “War Documents of the Great Northern War: War Prisoners” which includes information about the soldiers who were imprisoned in connection with Karl XII’s war or the Great Northern War.
  • Selected parts of the Poor Relief Board in Malmö (Fattigvårdsstyrelsen i Malmö) archive. In these volumes you will find not only information about paupers but information about foster children and much more.
  • Beginning to add material from The Public Orphanage of Stockholm (Allmänna barnhusets) archive.