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July 19, 2018

Research team uncovers lost images from the 19th century

As many of my readers know, I'm an avid collector of 19th century photographs. My website Lost Faces has published images of my collection of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, as well as the cartes de visite and cabinet cards that I rescue from antique stores and flea markets.

Many times I pass on purchasing an old photo because it is so badly damaged it is almost unrecognizable. But that might change!

A team of scientists led by Western University in London Ontario learned how to use light to see through degradation in daguerreotypes, a form of photography popular in the early 1800s. Daguerreotypes came into being in 1839 and were the earliest type of photography.

The team of scientists used two daguerreotypes from the 1850s that were damaged beyond recognition of the subjects. They could see one was a woman, the other a man but no details were visible.

The original Daguerreotype

The Daguerreotype after the process
Read more at Research team uncovers lost images from the 19th century

July 17, 2018

Looking For a Good Summer Read?

Look no further! My genealogy mystery novel "Death Finds a Way: A Janie Riley Mystery" is exactly what you need.

Janie Riley is an avid genealogist with a habit of stumbling on to dead bodies. With her husband Steven, Janie heads to Salt Lake City Utah to track down her elusive fourth great-grandmother. But her search into the past leads her to more than she bargained for. Her discovery of a dark secret brings her closer to danger. Can she solve the mysteries of the past and the present, and untangle a web of lies before disaster strikes?

Don't wait, order your copy now while the sun is hot and the beach beckons. 

July 4, 2018

TaDa! Olive Tree Genealogy New Logo!

As promised, I have a brand new logo for my website Olive Tree Genealogy. I am very happy with it!

Now to make all the changes to my websites, blogs and Social Media sites!

Read about the evolution of logos on Olive Tree Genealogy since 1995 at A New Logo is Coming!

July 2, 2018

The Confusing Maze of Genealogy Mixups in Names

Several years ago I spotted this Q & A online and I tucked it away thinking one day I wanted to write about names and the perils of genealogy research if you are not open minded enough ....

Question: What do Sean Gough, Jean Lefevre, Giovanni Ferrari, Juan Herrero, Ivan Kowalski, Hans Schmidt, Jan Kowalski and Janos Kovacs have in common?

 Answer: In Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, respectively, all are John Smith.

What a great reinforcer of the idea that as genealogists we need to look beyond what we are familiar with. We need to think outside the box. Coming from a North American culture we might assume if we find an ancestor named Janos Kovacs that it's an unusual name. Not so!

What about spelling? How often have you found a name in a census or other genealogy record, that was close but not exactly the name you were looking for? Don't discard it! Look at other clues - spouse, children, ages, occupation, location - could it be your ancestor? Remember spelling didn't "count". Census takers and other clerks wrote what they heard (phonetically). Accents confused the ears.

My own ancestor's surname was Vollick. Sometimes it was rendered as Follick. Other variations I have found in documents are Valck, Volk, Valic, Falic, Folic. Why "V" and "F" interchangeably? Because the Dutch-German "V" can sound like "F" to English speaker's ears.

My immigrant ancestor's 'real' name was Van Valkenburg! How would I ever have found my ancestor if I hadn't kept an open mind and looked at other clues? And much to my initial surprise, Van Valkenburg is not an unusual name.

Another true example from my own ancestry - when Leonard-Tremi Le Roy left Quebec for New York, his name was misinterpreted by Dutch recorders as "Jonar" and then "Jonas". His surname Le Roy (pronounced Le Raw) was misinterpreted as Larrowa which evolved into Larroway.

So be aware that bad handwriting, inability to spell, accents, and other events can change an ancestor's name - and don't be so quick to assume, for example, that Leonard-Tremi Le Roy is not your 5x great grandfather Jonas Larroway. If both men have the same wives and children, same birth year, same place of birth, and name siblings who are identical, you can be pretty sure that you've just stumbled into the confusing maze of names in genealogy research.

June 29, 2018

What Was Your Ancestor's Unusual Occupation?

Wooden rattles such as this one produced
a loud clacking sound by holding the handle
and twisting the top section around and around
in a circular pattern.
Recently on Twitter, David Allen Lambert (@DLGenealogist) tweeted an interesting question. David asked what was the most unusual Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors.

My response was about my ancestor Lambert Van Valkenburg. He was appointed to the rattle watch of Fort Orange (present day Albany) in July 1659.

The Ratttle Watch was a combination of police officer, firefighter & hourly time caller.

Here's the actual 1659 Fort Orange court record about the Rattle Watch:

First, the said rattle watch shall be held to appear at the burghers' guard house after the ringing of the nine o'clock bell and together at ten o'clock shall begin making their rounds, giving notice of their presence in all the streets of the village of Beverwyck by sounding their rattle and calling [out the hour], and this every hour of the night, until 4 o'clock in the morning.
"Secondly, they shall pay especial attention to fire and upon the first sign of smoke, extraordinary light or otherwise warn the people by knocking at their houses. And if they see any liklihood of fire, they shall give warning by rattling and calling, and run to the church, of which they are to have a key, and ring the bell.

"Thirdly, in case they find any thieves breaking into any houses or gardens, they shall to the best of their ability try to prevent it, arrest the thieves and bring them into the fort. And in case they are not strong enough to do so, they are to call the burghers of the vicinity to thier aid, who are in duty bound to lend the helping hand, as this is tending to the common welfare.

"Fourthly, in case of opposition, they are hereby authorized to offer resistance, the honorable commissary and magistrates declaring that they release them from all liability for any accident which may happen or result from such resistance if offered in the rightful performance of their official duties.

What is the most interesting Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors?

June 28, 2018

New Jersey Death Records 1848-1878 Online

Do you have New Jersey ancestors?  You can now search New Jersey death records from May 1848-May 1878 on the State Archives' website! Over 300,000 entries. See Searchable Databases and Records Request Forms on the New Jersey Archives website.

Search for an ancestor or a surname, select any of interest and they are put into your shopping cart. You can then pay for the full record. 


The Peer family left New Jersey for Upper Canada (present day Ontario) after the American Revolution. I was excited to see that the New Jersey Archives has earlier records pre 1800 and hope to have time to search them all next week!

June 27, 2018

New Book Adriaen Vincent, New Netherland Settler

Are you a descendant of Adriaen Vincent and his wife Magdaleen Eloy? Asking because I just published the 2nd edition of this book on this New Netherland Settler.

Adriaen Vincent, a Walloon from Belgium, made the perilous journey to New Netherland with his wife Magdaleen and their young family in the early 1640s. A former West Indies Company soldier, Adriaen was embarking on a new life.

The family settled in the village of New Amsterdam, which would one day become the city of New York. Life could not have been easy for the couple, faced with a different culture and language. But settlers were pouring in and New Amsterdam was flourishing. Within a few years Adriaen and Magdaleen opened a tavern which catered to sailors and new arrivals. Their fortunes soon took a turn for the better and the family settled into their new life. 

This edition contains new information on the family in the Netherlands and New Netherland, as well as details on descendants of Adriaen and Magdaleen. See