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July 23, 2021

Creating a Family Photo Memory Book

 

As unofficial keeper of the family documents and photographs, I am entrusted with such treasures whenever someone dies. After years of accumulation of these items,including an old photo album from my grandmother's brother's family, I decided I needed to organize and preserve them. 

Scanning was my first step. Once I had all one family treasures scanned, I began scanning various documents I'd gathered in my genealogical research on that family. Scanning complete, I began editing the scans - cropping, resizing, correcting darkness and light problems and so on. 

As soon as I had everything complete for one family I decided to create what I call a Family Memory Book. I eventually want to do one for each family line I have photos and documents for, but for now I worked on my English side - my mother and her parents going back as far as I have photographs. I have a page for each family member for whom I have a photo. Some individuals have many pages as I have a lot of photos and documents for them. Some have only 1 page, others share a page with other family members. It isn't a family tree so does not have to be in any particular order. As long as I labelled each photo, everyone can be identified by comparing names to a chart of the family tree which is included as one of the first pages of the book. 

The photo at left is an example of one page from this 40 page booklet on my mother's English lines. This page holds a photo of my mother and her sister at very young ages, my mother's original birth certificate and a group photo of her at a young age with her parents and older sister. The group photo is actually a photocopy of an original and had to be seriously edited after scanning as photocopies are never a good solution. Sadly it was all I had to work with as no one knows who had the original or where it is now. (As an interesting aside, the young boy standing in the group photo was the son of family friends. The family lost touch but he became my mother's second husband some 65 years after this photo was taken.)

In this Family Memory Book I have scanned and placed photos, birth records, death records, newspaper obituaries, postcards of the ship my grandparents sailed on from England to canada in 1914, copies of ships passenger lists and any other documents I found when researching the lineage. 

Because I have many family heirlooms passed on to me by my English grandmother, I also took pictures of them and included those in the Memory Book. This page is my Grandfather Charles in the Kent Buffs, and his gold pocket watch and initialed signet ring which my Grandmother gave me. 

Each photo in the book has a caption or explanation with it. The progam I am using allows me to stack the photos as if I were creating a scrapbook. I can overlap. I can resize the photos right on the page so that I am able to immediately see how the finished page will look

Once I’m happy with my pages I made copies for my children, printed them on good quality paper, created a cover, and coil bound them.  They make wonderful Christmas gifts 

July 13, 2021

Finding an Ancestor on Canadian Ships Passenger Lists

 There are no comprehensive ships passenger lists of immigrants arriving in Canada prior to 1865. Until that year, shipping companies were not required by the government to keep their passenger manifests.  

However there are individual Immigration projects and databases online that may be of help in your search for ancestors. You will find  a comprehensive list of all known pre-1865 substitute passenger lists at Filling in the Gaps


Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds immigration records from 1865 to 1935. These are searchable online but from 1865-1922 are not searchable by passenger name. From 1922-1935 the images are searchable by passenger name.

To obtain a copy of your own landing record, you must submit an Application for a Certified True Copy, Correction, or Replacement of an Immigration Document to Citizenship and Immigration Canada Alternatively, you can apply for a Permanent Resident Card

July 9, 2021

Ideas For a Genealogy Time Capsule

 When my husband and I were building our home in the country 24 years ago, we filled a 1-Litre plastic pop bottle with odds and ends of items for a make-shift Time Capsule. We tossed in coins, a note explaining who we were, and other small items that we thought would be fun for someone to find whenever our house is torn down. We sealed the bottle and dropped it between the walls of the basement. 

Several years later we created a Genealogy Time Capsule to be found and opened in 100, 200 or even more years from now. So let me share with you our ideas for what we could put in our Genealogy Time Capsule

1. Our Family Trees. Print a chart or create your own on a pre-printed blank tree. 
2. Photographs of us, our family and other loved ones - all labelled on the reverse
3. Dated and signed letters that we write to whoever finds the Time Capsule
4. Newspaper Clippings - news, obituaries, anything of interest genealogically speaking
5. Copies of documents such as birth certificates, marriage records, family bible pages

We plan to add such items as digital cameras (a non working one of course!), an old pair of glasses, an old watch, a couple of old keys - anything that we ourselves would love to find that belonged to someone 100 years ago. Think how much fun it would be to find a pair of glasses that your great great grandmother wore... Think in terms of artifacts that you'd like to find. What you use today will be an artifact in the future! 

Burn a CD ROM with photos or other genealogical information. How about including a video? Sure it might not be able to be read in the future but then again, some information might be gleaned from it and a CD doesn't cost very much to include

Put in something you made - a doil that you crocheted, a scarf you knit, a needlepoint (does anyone do these anymore?), a picture you drew, a tiny figurine you carved from wood or soapstone. How about a favourite recipe? That would give future generations an idea of the kinds of food their ancestor made and ate. Even better if it's an old family recipe.

A child's toy, doll or stuffed animal would be nice to include, especially if you involve your children or grand-children in the project. Let them choose an item or two that says something about them. Perhaps they can write or print a little note to go with the item. Date it, put their name and draw a picture of themselves playing with it. Or take a photo of them playing with the toy.

You can add anything you want but our plan was to keep it as genealogy-related as possible. I  put in coins from the current year. What fun it would be to find coins that someone had put in a Genealogy Time Capsule 100 years ago! 

Put all your items in ziplock plastic bags to help protect from water. Go crazy, let your imagination run wild. Involve your entire family and make this a way and time to spend some quality time together, quality time that involves genealogy. 

July 6, 2021

Clues You Can Find in a Census Record

 


Bonnie recently asked Olive Tree Genealogy this question about her ancestors:

I have recently found my Grandmother listed on the 1901 Ontario Census in the township of Wroxeter in Huron County.  She was born on August 5, 1899.  Her parents were George J Harris and Agnes J Harris born Jan 3, 1875 and Sept 21, 1877 respectively.  I was hoping to find where George and Agnes were born, and when their families emigrated and from where?  We know very little about the Harris side of the family so I was very excited to see this much!
Olive Tree Genealogy Responds

Dear Bonnie - It is easy to overlook clues that are in a record. For instance ONE census record can often provide a great many new facts and clues to work on.  

FACTS FROM THE CENSUS IMAGE

First let me show you some important facts I think you may have overlooked on that 1901 census. A look at the online image shows that George was born in Ontario and his wife Agnes in the USA. Agnes gives her year of immigration from America to Canada as 1881.

This means you can search the Ontario birth registrations to find who George's parents were. You also know that it is quite likely George and Agnes were married in Ontario so I'd start looking at Ontario marriage records. This should give you both sets of parents' names for the bride and the groom.

Secondly, Wroxeter is not the township where the couple lived. It is a village in Howick Township, Huron County.  The census images clearly indicates Wroxeter Village and a quick search online reveals the township it is in.

Third,  did you note they are Presbyterian? That will be helpful to you in hunting for church and burial records.

Fourth, I am not convinced that George has the middle initial of "J". From the image it is difficult to tell if that is a "J" or "Jr" for Junior. Keep an open mind and try to find more proof that he has a middle name starting with "J" or that he is the son of a man named George. 

CLUES FROM THE CENSUS IMAGE

I've mentioned some of the clues above but here is a list of clues you can work on from facts in that one census record 

1. Search Presbyterian church records for baptisms, marriages and even deaths and burials. 

 2. Look for Agnes and George marrying in Ontario, I'd guess sometime around 1897-1901.

3. Look for Agnes as a single woman in the 1881 and 1891 Ontario census records. Remember she says she came from USA to Canada in 1881. 

4. Look for George and Agnes in 1911 and 1921 Ontario Census. (Hint: Look for them in Saskatchewan records too... try their 1906 and 1916 census)

MORE RESEARCH TIPS

Find the family in every census record possible. Compile a list of all their children then search for births and marriages of each child. Sometimes you will gather more clues and facts from a sibling's records that you are unable to find from your direct ancestor. For example birth registrations will usually give the mother's maiden name.

Once you have Agnes' maiden name, and hopefully her parents' names from a marriage record, search for her in the American census records before 1881 (1880 would be a good one!) This should give you the state she was born in.

Search for George's birth registration (search 1875 plus/minus 2 years to be safe) and then start looking for him in the 1881 and 1891 census of Ontario. (Hint: George was born in Turnbury, Huron County....)

You can find census records on Ancestry.com,  Ancestry.ca or FamilySearch

July 2, 2021

Was Your Ancestor in Debtors’ Prison?


This is a database I stumbled on for Yorkshire England. It is the website for York Castle which housed a debtor's prison. There is a brief history of the prison, the environment of the prison, a few prisoner biographies, and a few turnkey (guard) biographies.


By going to York Castle Family History Section you can search for an ancestor who was in the prison, either for debt or for criminal actions. Not all prisoners are listed as the database currently has prisoners from the 18th Century. I'm looking for William Elgie who I know was there in 1818 so am out of luck this time but it's a fascinating database with over 5000 names!

There is a very nice factsheet for tips on how to track down any missing prisoners and I am planning to use it find more on William if possible. I was able to find that York Castle Museum holds miscellaneous records from York Castle prison, including "Notebook with notes on various prisoners in York Castle, extracted from 1803-1868". 

Speaking of prisons, have you checked out my son’s website, Blacksheep Ancestors? He is in Famiky Tree Magazine’s 101 Top Genealogy Websites for 2021

June 30, 2021

Ten Tips For a Successful Family Reunion


Your Family Reunion day has arrived. You're hosting it. Are you ready? Or are you starting to panic? I host Family Reunions (we call them Family Fun Days) every year and I've learned a lot from my earlier mistakes.

Here are ten tips and guidelines that might help you survive.  Just remember that the key is organization! And everyone attending wants to have fun. So relax but stay organized. 

1. Create a guest list, send out invites well ahead of the actual date of your reunion and keep track of who is coming and who isn't. Contact guests a week ahead to remind them.

2. Plan your food and decide who is bringing what - is it a potluck? Are you providing everything? Be specific in your invitations so that guests know what is expected of them.

3. Plan your activities and games. Keep  children in mind. Perhaps you want to provide games and goody bags specifically for  youngsters.  

4.  Create a Timeline for your Family Reunion.  Set a start and end time, then assign blocks of time to certain activities such as eating, organized games, free time, cleanup etc. These are flexible but as the host or hostess you need to keep things moving so you need a timeline.

Your timeline can be as detailed or as basic as you want but having one will help keep you on track.

5. Create a master plan for your reunion. This is the list of all games, activities and food you are providing. I also like to have sketches of where things go.

For example for our Family Fun Day this year I'm organizing an Ancestor Race and there are several events that have to be set up that morning. So I made a rough sketch of our house and property with the location of each event shown.  I also have pails labelled with the name of the event and filled with whatever items are needed for that event. That will make it easy for whoever might be helping me set the events up to grab a pail, check my sketch, and get things ready without asking me questions. 

6. Make a TO DO list for the week before your reunion. This is where you will note what foods you need to buy, what food prep you have to do (if any) and when, when you are going to tidy and clean your bathrooms and have extra toilet paper and hand towels ready, and all other miscellaneous tasks that might get forgotten or left to the last minute.

7. Keep the little details in mind. For example are you having name tags? If yes, you need pens for your guests to fill those name tags out. Hosting a reunion is hectic and the last thing you need is to be running around hunting for pens or some other item you suddenly realize is needed. 

8.  Make a detailed shopping list. What food items do you need? What about plates and cutlery? Write it all down. For example I will need hot dogs,  buns, pop, bottled water, chips, pretzels, relish, mustard, ketchup, serviettes (napkins), plastic cutlery, butter for corn,  coffee and coffee cream. I usually write out everything I need for the reunion then tick it off if I have it on hand. 

9.  Organize your games. Let's say you are having a Scavenger Hunt. What items do you need for it? Write them down! You'll need bags for family to put their items in as they find them. You'll need clues so bettter get those written and printed off. Do you need to hide items? Make a note of what you are going to hide and how many and where. 

10. Last but not least, have a backup plan in case of rain. Our Family Reunions seem to always get rained out. I learned the hard way that I need a plan for what to do with 35 or more people trying to fit into my house and how to set up the buffet meal that I planned to have outside until it started raining. Perhaps you will want to rent a tent in case of rain. Or maybe you have a big family room and can easily accommodate all your family if rain forces everyone inside. 

Remember that no matter how organized you are, something is bound to go wrong. We’ve had bee and wasp stings and broken ankles! But family still love coming to one. 

June 28, 2021

Finding a British Home Child 1869-1939

Part of the file Barnardo's sent us

 During the years of the Child Emigration Scheme (British Home Children), between 1869 and 1939 (some up to 1948), over 100,000 children ages 1 - 18 were sent to Canada from Great Britain to work as farm labourers and domestics by over 50 Agents - Barnardo, Middlemore, Macpherson, Fegans, to name a few.

Descendants make up 12%, over 4 million of the Canadian population. If you think your ancestor was one of these children, there are ways to learn more:

You can search the British Home Children ships passenger lists from 1865 to 1935 on Library & Archives Canada website.

If your ancestor was a part of the Dr. Barnardo's homes, you can contact Barnardo's for the records. They can be reached at Trace Your Family History on Barnardo's Homes website. 

My husband has a British Home Child in his ancestry and sending to Barnardo's for his records provided a wealth of informative genealogical detail plus photographs of the child when he was admitted to Barnardo's Homes in 1897. 

Descendants can also check the British Home Children Registry for a name of interest.