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September 30, 2008

Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam (New York) - an Explanation

The first Christian religious services in New Netherland (present day New York) were conducted by the Comforters of the Sick. The first known was Bastien Jansen Krol, who arrived in 1624.

After a short stay at Fort Orange (Albany), Krol returned to the Netherlands, asking for a minister. However the Dutch West India Co. felt the settlement was not large enough to warrant a minister, and Krol was empowered to baptise and marry provided he used the liturgy of the church in his services.

From the first beginnings of the settlement of New Amsterdam (now New York City), services were conducted in a loft above the Grist Mill. Dominie Jonas Michaelius arrived in 1628 as an ordained minister but services continued in the Grist Mill until a church was built in 1633. This was the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam, now called The (Collegiate) Reformed Protestant Dutch Church Of the City of New York

The Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam (New York) Baptism Records 1639-1801 are available online. Marriage records 1639-1801 and Church membership lists 1649-1701 are also available. There are no earlier records for this church in existence.

September 29, 2008

A Guide to Searching the Canadian Ships Passenger Lists 1865-1935

The Canadian Ships Passenger Lists 1865-1935 have been online and searchable now for a few weeks. Some genealogists are having trouble finding an ancestor who they know should be there.

I've been playing in the lists since they were published, and thought I would share a few tips for successful searching.

First, be aware that many of the lists are faded and difficult to read. So transcribers may not have been able to read the name of your ancestor. The transcriber may have used ?? to indicate an unreadable entry. You won't have any luck finding your ancestor if you stick stubbornly to "first name" "last name". You must be creative! You must play with the search engine provided and learn how to use it to its full advantage.

* Use wildcards. allows the use of 3 letters plus an asterisk *. So Abigail Johnson for example, can be searched for under first name of Abi* The last name of Johnson can be searched for under John* which will pick up Johnston, Johnson, Johnstone and other variations

* Use only last name, or only first name. This will pick up on any that the transcriber could not read. For example if you search JAMES in the first name field, and nothing else. You get a very long list of "hits" including

James M
Mrs. James P
Inft Wm Jas
?? James
Revd Bro James
?? James
??D James
??Nost James
??Old James

Can you see how you would not find your ancestor if his name was Arnold James and you were typing that full name into the search engine? Since the transcriber has rendered his name as ??Old James, you're out of luck unless you loosen up your search parameters

A search of JAMES in the last name field brings up an entirely different list of "hits" so be sure you try both ways before giving up! Here's a few that came up when I typed JAMES into the last name field

Miss James
Mrs. James
Mr. James
P Hd James

So if you were searching using any first name and the last name James, and one of the above happened to be your ancestor, you're out of luck again! You won't get a "hit" because the first name was not recorded

Don't worry about determining if one of the obscure hits is your ancestor, for the hits also provide you with more detail. See the screen shot above.

* Use other fields such as estimated birth year, estimated year of arrival or birth country If you have searched under variations of first name, last name, and used wildcards and still have not found your ancestor, you may need to try just searching under other fields. But be cautious! For example if you were searching for someone born in England and you typed ENGLAND into the field for birth you will not get a hit if birth country was not recorded! You can see how few names have a birth country in that column in the screen shot above.

There are also Port of Departure and Port of Arrival fields. Try these in combination with other fields. DOn't give up, just try different fields to get different results.

* Be sure to allow a few years on either side of year of birth or immigration year. Even if you know your ancestor was born in 1854, you don't know what was recorded on the passenger list. So give him 5 years on either side. Too many hits? Try 2 years on either side.

Play with the search engine. Use the KEYWORD feature. Try various combinations. A good rule of thumb is to start with a narrow search (first name, last name) then loosen the search paremeters if that does not bring up results you want. I have found an ancestor simply by in desperation searching under an age, and scrolling through every "hit" until I spotted my guy.

You can search the Canadian Passenger Lists by using the Free Trial on this page

The lists include the following ports of arrival (yes, even some Eastern USA ports!)

* Eastern US Ports
* Halifax, Nova Scotia
* Montreal, Quebec
* New York, New York, USA
* North Sydney, Nova Scotia
* Quebec, Quebec
* Saint John, New Brunswick
* Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia and Pacific Ports

For those whose ancestors arrived before 1865 see Filling in the Gaps in Ships Passenger Lists to Canada

September 28, 2008

New Canadian Collection Part of International Newspaper Launch

New Canadian Collection Part of International Newspaper Launch at World Vital Records
The Major Collection for this week is a collection more than 60 Canadian newspapers representing every province and territory except Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

Additional newspapers from Canada will be posted at World Vital Records as part of the International Newspaper Collection scheduled to be released during September, October and November.

Search Canadian Newspapers on World Vital Records

September 27, 2008

Ellis Island Phonetic Matching now possible!

Steve Morse has just informed that he has now added phonetic matching as another search choice for the surname on the Ellis Island gold search form.

Steve says "This type of matching something that Alexander Beider and I have been
experimenting with for some time, and such matching already exists on some of my other forms (e.g., Dachau concentration camp records, Footnote naturalization records, etc). However the Ellis Island database was presenting its own set of problems simply because there were so many records (25 million) and from so many different ethnicities. This is why it has taken all this extra time to add phonetic
matching to the gold form."

The choice for phonetic matching on the form is also a link to a page that describes phonetic matching in two paragraphs.

Don't miss searching for your ancestors using this innovative new search from Steve.

September 26, 2008

GenSoftReviews Site Launched

Now there's a website that allows users of genealogy software to rate and review the programs they've used or tried. This will allow others who are looking for programs to better compare and select software that will help them.

All the genealogy software, reviewed and rated by you.

Winnipeg, Manitoba -- September 24, 2008 -- Now there's a website that allows users of genealogy software to rate and review the programs they've used or tried. This will allow others who are looking for programs to better compare and select software that will help them.

The site is located at:

The site is starting with 355 programs ready for review. You can select between Windows, Mac, Unix, handheld and online programs. Types include full-featured, GEDCOM utilities, website builders and other programs useful for genealogy.

The site collects ratings in five categories: Whether you enjoy using it, if you use it often, if it has easy input, useful output, and an overall rating. Then you can write a short review and list the program's biggest pro and biggest con.

Continue reading GenSoftReviews Site Launched

Records Of The Reformed Dutch Church Of Albany, New York 1683-1809, an Explanation

According to the introduction in Records Of The Reformed Dutch Church Of Albany, New York 1683-1809 the first records preserved from the Albany Reformed Dutch Church are from 1683 when the Rev. Goddefridus Dellius arrived. He wrote a note in the introduction of these earliest records to say that records had not previously been kept. This is even though the first reverend was appointed in 1642. That reverend was "financed entirely by the patroon Kilian Van Rensselaer".

It is very important for researchers to note that in the early years (1683-1691) the name of the mother of the child is not recorded. In fact, until Baptism #484 (in the Holland Society publication) in 1691, the mother's name was not listed. But what confuses many genealogists is that a woman's name is recorded in the spot where one would expect to find the mother's name. It is in fact the name of the woman (or man) who presented the child for baptism. This was often a grandparent.

Thus for all baptisms from 1683 to 1690 inclusive, you will not find the name of the mother of the child being baptised. It is a very unique way of recording baptisms and one that has confused many researchers, leading them to assume (incorrectly) that the presenter of the child for baptism was the mother.

In the online version of Records Of The Reformed Dutch Church Of Albany, New York 1683-1809 you will see that the webmaster and transcriber, Dave Pane-Joyce, has chosen to rearrange the order of the names from the original, and add "by" to the name of the person presenting the child for baptism. While this does not remain faithful to the original, it helps genealogists tremendously so that confusion is cleared up.

Search for ancestors in more Church records for New Netherland and New York

September 25, 2008

Genealogy Workshop Louisiana Oct 25

The Alexandria Genealogical Library, the Central Louisiana Genealogical Society, and the Rapides Parish Library have teamed up to offer Beginning Family History, a workshop for basic genealogy research at 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, at Martin Branch Library, 801 West Shamrock, Pineville Louisiana

Topics will include census records, basic resources, reference books, and courthouse research. To register or for more information, contact Kelly at (318) 445-2411, ext. 241.

September 24, 2008

Finding Ancestors in Passport Records

Some immigrants applied for passports to return home to visit family or friends. These records usually give a place of birth or at least the destination (which is often the home town)

The first passport issued in USA was dated July 1796. However until 1914 American citizens did not require a passport to travel abroad. NARA has passport applications from October 1795-March 1925. The U. S. Department of State has passport applications from April 1925 to the present.

Passports may include the following information:

family/marital status
birth place and date
naturalization year
name of ship, port and date of entry (after 1900)

Online FREE Passport Records on site are:

* Register of Passports from 14 November 1834 to 1843 an Index for all states in USA
* Index to Special Passports 1829-1887 an Index for all states in USA
* Index to Special Passports 1887-1894 an Index for all states in USA
* Register of Passport Applications 1809-1817
* Index to Emergency & Special Passport Applications 1830-1831

Online pay-to-view Passport Records are:

Passports 1795-1905icon shows Citizenship, residence, family, date & place of birth, occupation

U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 includes emergency passport applications 1877-1907, passport application registers for 1810-1817, 1830-1831, & 1834-1906

September 22, 2008

Cherchez la femme! or How to distinguish between men found in 17th Century genealogy records

I've talked about name changes - those frustrating ancestors who changed their names, causing great confusion for descendants. I've talked about Dutch patronymics and diminuitives and how to understand those names if you have 17th Century ancestors in New York.

But how do we know if all the variant names (patronymics, diminuitives etc) we find for an individual are truly for one person?? For example, how do I know that the man I find recorded in various 17th Century records as Cornelis Antonissen, Cornelis van Breuckelen, Broer Cornelis, Cornelis Teunis, and Cornelis Van Slyke is One individual and not several different men? For that matter, how do I know that there are not more than one man named Cornelis Antonissen running around in the same location in the same time period?

As the French say "Cherchez la femme!" (Look for the woman)

Most men who came to New Netherland (present day New York) married. Yes, some remained single but the majority married and had large families. When a spouse died, he or she was quickly replaced (an economic necessity) and families merged.

This means that one of the ways you can determine if Cornelis Antonissen and Cornelis van Breuckelen and Cornelis Van Slyke are the same person is to look for records which also name his wife (or children)

Another way to determine who an individual is, is to search court and land documents. These exist in great quantities for 17th Century New York and are available as published books. So, for example, if you find two men named Jan Albertsen, and are trying to determine if they are one and the same, find out if they lived in two locations at the same time.

Look for church records, especially baptisms. Who sponsored the children of the two Jan Albertsen individuals? Were the sponsors from entirely different families? Usually sponsors were family members or close friends. If you find that sponsors seem divided with one Jan Albertsen using sponsors from one distinct group and the second Jan Albertsen using sponsors from a second group, you probably are looking at two different men.

Check the naming patterns of his children. Usually children were named after each set of grandparents. If you know the man's father (which you determine from his patronymic) and his mother, as well as the wife's parents, you may be able to see a pattern of names that does not fit (because in fact it is two different families and not one). Conversely the naming pattern may fall nicely into place, indicating that you are probably looking at one individual and not two.

By the way, Jan Albertsen is a true example, and is one of the settlers I plan to write a book on for my New Netherland Settlers series. It's the story of two men with the same name who have been confused by genealogists for many years and erroneously merged as one man. The main secret to determing which man was which was to look at his wives, his children (their naming patterns) and baptismal sponsors.

Don't despair, take your time, check your facts carefully and you should be able to prove that your ancestor did indeed use 7 different names during his lifetime.

September 21, 2008

Understanding Diminuitives in 17th Century New York Dutch names

I talked about patronymics in an earlier post. Hopefully it helped clear up any confusion! But research in 17th Century New York is not easy.

You also have to be aware of the diminuitives of regular first names, because the patronymic might be formed from the normal name or its diminuitive. For example:

* Antonis=Theunis/Teunis (patronymic of Antonisz or Theunisz)
* Matthys=Thys/Tice (patronymic of Thyssen)
* Harmanus=Harman or Manus
* Jacobus=Cobus
* Nicolas=Claes (patronymic of Claessen)
* Denys=Nys (patronymic of Dennysen or Nyssen)
* Bartolomeus=Bartol or Meese/Meus (patronymic of Meesen)
* Cornelis=Krelis

There are two kinds of Dutch diminuitives: the shortened Dutch name and the endearing Dutch name.

The shortened name was used by the Dutch for both males and females.

The endearing diminuitive was used exclusively for female names. This diminuitive form attached to female names as an expression of endearment was formed by adding the suffix -je or -tje. As well, -je, -tje, -ie and -ke are also additions to a child's name.

A boy with the Dutch name "Jan" will in his childhood very often be named "Jantje". It is also used to show an age difference in place of Senior [Sr.] and Junior [Jr]. the father will be called "Jan" and the son "Jantje".

Female names are slightly different. If a grandmother is named for example "Sien" or "Sina" the girls Dutch name very often is "Sientje" meaning small or younger Sien, and this will be the name given on the Birth certificate. Thus Sientje is her registered name, not just the diminuitive.

As well, the suffixes -je and -tje, while normally used as a diminuitive, are also used to create the female form of the name (especially in Friesland). For example, "Eelke" is the male name and "Eelkje" is the female form. "Hendrik" is the full male name, "Henk" the short form and "Hendrikje" or "Hendrickje" the female form.

Browse the list of English names and their Dutch equivalents, including both shortened and diminuitive Dutch forms when known.

September 20, 2008

Patronymics - or understanding names that have you so confused you don't know who's who

by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

The Dutch were much slower than the English in adopting surnames as we know them. Patronymics in New Netherland (New York) ended theoretically under English rule in 1687 with the advent of surnames, but not everyone followed the new guidelines.

The most common Dutch naming custom was that of patronymics, or identification of an individual based on the father's name. For example in my Bradt family, Jan Albertszen (who later took the surname Bradt) is named after his father, Albert. Albertszen means son of a man named Albert. So Jan's name is "Jan, the son of Albert"

The patronymic was formed by adding -se, -sen, or -szen. Daughters would very often have the ending -x or -dr. added. For example, Geesjie Barentsdr. (Barentsdochter) is named after her father Barent.

An individual could also be known by his place of origin. Cornelis Antoniszen (who also used the surname Van Slyke), my 9th great- grandfather, was known in some records as 'van Breuckelen', meaning 'from Breuckelen' (Breuckelen being a town in the Netherlands).

The place-origin name could be a nationality, as in the case of Albert Andriessen from Norway and my 9th great-grandpa, originator of the Bradt and Vanderzee families - he is entered in many records as Albert Andriessen de Noorman, meaning the Norseman.

We may also see naming differences over the generations. Albert's sons and daughters took the surname BRADT except for his son Storm, born on the Atlantic Ocean during the family's sailing to the New World. Storm adopted the surname Van Der Zee (from the sea) and this is the name his descendants carry.

An individual might be known by a personal characteristic. Vrooman means a pious or wise man;Krom means bent or crippled; De Witt means the white one. The most fascinating one I've seen is that of Pieter Adrianszen (Peter, son of Adrian) who was given the nickname of Soo Gemackelyck (so easy-going) but was also known as Pieter Van Waggelen/Van Woggelum. And his children adopted the surnames Mackelyck and Woglom.

Sometimes an occupation became the surname. Smit=Smith; Schenck= cupbearer, Metsalaer= mason. An individual might be known by many different 'surnames' and entered in official records under these different names, making research difficult unless you're aware of the names in use.

For example, my Cornelis Antoniszen Van Slyke mentioned above, was known and written of under the following names:

* Cornelis Antoniszen
* Cornelis Teuniszen (Teunis being the diminuitive of Antony)
* Cornelis Antoniszen/Teuniszen van Breuckelen
* Cornelis Antoniszen/Teuniszen Van Slicht (this is how he signed his name and might have been a hereditary family name based on an old place of origin)
* Broer Cornelis (name given him by Mohawks)

Remember that there are tremendous variations in spelling of these names, and changes from Dutch to to English record keeping in the New World affected the spelling even more.

To confuse matters even more, we also have to be aware of diminuitives of regular first names, because the patronymic might be formed from the normal name or its diminuitive! More on diminuitives in another post..

Now that we understand patronymics, how do we record the individual in our genealogy program? A good rule of thumb is to decide what name the individual is found under in official records. Use that name but be sure you record the source for each notation you make and record the name exactly as found in that specific source. It is okay for example to show a man as Cornelis Antonissen in your genealogy program, but show his sons and daughters with their surname of Van Slyke. If the individual never used the surname himself, you should not add it to his name.

September 19, 2008

What's in a Name?

We've probably all experienced it - our ancestor's name badly mispelled on a census record or other document. You know - the one where ROWLAND becomes ROWLIN or ROWLAN. Assuming we know what our ancestor's name was (Rowland) and we can correct that in our genealogy program.

But what if there has been an actual name change? How do we deal with that? How do we record each generation if the surname keeps changing? What if the name changes depending on the mood of the individual? Let me give you some examples.

one of my ancestors was the illegitimate son of Maria Bradt and Isaac Van Valkenburg. He always used the surname Van Valkenburg (with variant spellings including Falkenburg) in New York records. So that solved one problem as to whether he was Isaac Van Valkenburg or Isaac Bradt.

When Isaac was a grown man, the Revolutionary Waricon broke out. He went to Upper Canada (present day Ontario) as a Loyalist, and there he began consistently using the surname Vollick. His sons used both Vollick and Follick. His grandsons did the same - some descended from a son using Vollick, switched to Follick. Some descended from a son using Follick switched to Vollick. Others remained faithful to their father's version (either Follick or Vollick) What do we do in this type of scenario?

I chose to use the surname most frequently found for each individual. However I made careful note of each record and copied the surname exactly as rendered in that record. This allows me to see easily that a man used, for example, the surname Vollick 20 times out of 25 records found, but also was recorded in those other 5 records as Follick, Valck and Valic. You are also being faithful to the original record and not changing it to suit your idea of what is "correct"

If you have ancestors going back to the Dutch settlement of New York (called New Netherland) in the 17th Century, you will eventually end up with the patronymic system of naming.

Then you're in for a lot of fun, as a man might use his patronymic in one record, his occupational surname in another, his commonly used nickname in yet another and after the English took over and ordered everyone to adopt a surname - a name you've never encountered before! This is a very complicated naming era and I will talk about how to handle that in another post.

September 18, 2008

O'Kelly Chapel records, North Carolina, online 1857-1953

O'Kelly Chapel records now available for online research

Two record books from the early years of the Christian Church are now available online through Elon University’s web site for researchers to access anywhere in the world. The dates represented are 1857-1924 and 1941-1953.

PDF files of the record books are available online to anyone, and original photocopies are available for viewing through the library. They are now working on transcribing the original texts to be included in the Web site.

The documents are primarily comprised of congregation member lists, congregation meeting minutes and conference meeting minutes. The books also provide information about the black community by way of member lists, indicating this church was integrated by the early 19th Century

O'Kelly Chapel record book 1857-1901. (PDF)

O'Kelly Chapel record book 1901-1924 and 1941-1953. (PDF)

September 17, 2008

Rensselaer County New York Marriages online

Volume VI and VII of the ten volume set of Rensselaer County Marriages with their 8,014 names, has now been added to the Troy Irish Genealogy website.

You can view these marriage records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website and clicking on TIGS PROJECTS. These records and are not restricted to Irish surnames.

The index provides the name of both bride and groom, as well as the date of marriage. Easy instructions are provided for ordering the full marriage certificate from the Rensselaer County Clerk's Office. The full record provides

1. Name, address, occupation, age, and place of birth of bride and groom.
2. If marriage for each is first, or second. If second, was first ended by death or divorce and when.
3. Names of parents of bride and groom, including maiden name of females, and country/state of birth.
4. Names of witnesses to wedding.
5. Date and place of wedding and name of clergyman, minister, rabbi, etc.
6. Race of bride and groom.

September 16, 2008

Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935

I'm pretty excited about the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 that came online on Ancestry yesterday. You can search the Canadian Passenger Lists by using the Free Trial on this page

The lists include the following ports of arrival (yes, even some Eastern USA ports!)

* Eastern US Ports
* Halifax, Nova Scotia
* Montreal, Quebec
* New York, New York, USA
* North Sydney, Nova Scotia
* Quebec, Quebec
* Saint John, New Brunswick
* Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia and Pacific Ports

I've already found several of my ancestors arriving in Canada in the early 1900s. My grandmother always told me that her Fuller in-laws came to Guelph Ontario in 1920 and settled there but in 1933 they went back to England. Well, I found them on a 1930 passenger list (surprise!) but it said they had lived in Guelph between 1920 and 1929. I have not found them before 1930 - more puzzles to unravel!

My husband has several ancestors who sailed from England to Canada in the late 1800s and so far I've found four of them. One is Samuel Sandercock who was the father of Cecil and Bill who are featured in my Displaying Family Memories articles.

The Canadian Passenger Lists are going to be an incredible bonus to those searching their ancestors' arrival in Canada 1865 to 1935. I can hardly wait to get back to searching today!

For those whose ancestors arrived before 1865 see Filling in the Gaps in Ships Passenger Lists to Canada

September 13, 2008

Displaying Family Heirlooms - WW1 Medals and Photo

This is our framed grouping of military memories of Cecil Sandercock. Cecil was my husband's great grandmother Myrtle's brother and he was killed in WW1, at the age of 20. Myrtle kept all her treasured memorabilia of her brother Cecil and eventually every object was passed down to us. This is one of two framed tributes we have for Cecil.

This grouping, which is in a 15"x24" frame, is Cecil's photo in his Canadian Military WW1 uniform, his medals from the Great War (WW1), his death plaque and the official notice of death which went out, with the plaque, to every next of kin of a soldier killed in that War.

We decided to mount Cec's medals and death plaque directly on to, instead of recessed in, the charcoal grey mat we chose as the contrast mat for the objects were were framing. We chose a lighter grey for the overall mat which would go around the edges. We could have gone with a narrow light grey mat but we felt the framed group was too long and skinny if we did that, so we opted for a fairly wide light grey area around the interior grouping.

The outside frame we chose is a semi-gold frame (although it looks like silver in this photo) with marbled reddish brown flecks. To complement this we chose a reddish brown mat for the death notice and Cec's photo. The outside frame is very large and also raised in two levels, rather than being flat to the wall.

Because the mats change from light grey around the outside to charcoal grey on the inside, we outlined the charcoal grey mat with a detailed gold frame. The interior frame has a raised design which appears sculpted.

Choosing the right spot to hang a framed Family Heirloom or grouping is almost as important as framing it! Because this framed set of family treasures is very large and clunky we wanted it to be above a piece of furniture that was also large and clunky.

This tribute to Cecil Sandercock has a place of honour on our living room, above our Victorian bow-front china cabinet. You may notice another military photograph to the right. That is my grandfather in England circa 1910 in his Kent Buffs uniform, with his rifle and bicycle.

Everyone has their own taste and their own creative ideas, so please remember that my articles on displaying family treasures are only meant to show you what my husband and I have done, and explain why we made certain choices. In the end you must do what pleases you - frame or display your heirlooms in a way that pleases you and display them wherever you like, as long as you display them!


September 11, 2008

9 Million Historic Philadelphia Records Now Searchable Online

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—In conjunction with the Federation of Genealogical Societies' 2008 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, FamilySearch announced the availability of two historic Philadelphia City record sets online—Death Certificates for 1803 to 1915 and Marriage Indexes for 1885 to 1951. The collections provide access to nearly nine million deaths and marriage records. The free databases are available at (go to "Search Records" and then "Record Search pilot").

Before now, researchers interested in searching the Philadelphia Death Certificates for 1803 to 1915 and Philadelphia Marriage Indexes for 1885 to 1951 had to mull over 2,000 reels of microfilm in a local family history center or write to the archive and wait for a response. The new databases and images published online by FamilySearch now place the historic collection at the fingertips of researchers from any computer with Internet access.

Philadelphia Deaths 1803 to 1915 (Index and images)
The Philadelphia Deaths Collection is actually derived from death certificates, registrations of death, and various city and hospital death records, including some prison deaths. In all online volunteers transcribed 1,612,000 images located on 1791 reels of microfilm to create the free online index linked to the original images.

The collection consists of Philadelphia Death Certificates, 1904-1915, (657,000 names), Registration of Deaths, 1803-1903, arranged by year and cemetery (912,600 names) and various city and hospital death records, 1860-1903, (818,900 names). There are some gaps in the years of the hospital death records.

Philadelphia Marriage Indexes 1885 to 1951
This project has two phases—the digital conversion of the original documents and a searchable index linked to the images of the originals. Digital images to the Philadelphia Marriage License Index, 1885-1951, are the first piece of the project published by FamilySearch this week. Next will be to digital publish images of the actual marriage certificates, and then to create a searchable index of the 5,418,000 names online linked to images of the original documents.

The 31,500 digital images of the Philadelphia Marriage License Index are easy to navigate using FamilySearch's online image viewer because they are organized by year and then alphabetically by last name. The index gives the names of the bride and groom with the date of the marriage; so it is useful even without the link to the digital images of the original certificates—which are coming.

Continue reading 9 Million Historic Philadelphia Records Now Searchable Online

Search more Pennsylvania Records

September 10, 2008

Bringing history online, one newspaper at a time

Google just announced an initiative to make more old newspapers accessible and searchable online by partnering with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives.

With this latest project historians and genealogists will be able to find and read an original article from any year available in their partner newspapers. That means articles from before the Internet existed.

Google notes that two of their partners are ProQuest and Heritage. One of their partners, the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, is the oldest newspaper in North America — publishing for more than 244 years.

Readers will be able to access this content with a search of the Google News Archive or by using the timeline feature after searching Google News.

Google's stated goal is "making those billions of pages of newsprint from around the world searchable, discoverable, and accessible online."

Read more about Bringing history online, one newspaper at a time

Update on September Most Wanted Ancestor!

Still Missing Joseph Butler born in Ontario 1852

The reward is still there, just waiting for some eager researcher to grab it. But there are updates as researchers send in clues

Clue #1 from Nelson Denton:

Is there any possibility that this is our man? Could our Joseph have run off with a much younger woman and dropped 10 years off his age? This Joseph claims to
have been born in Ontario but I can't find him in the 1901 census. He is already 21 years older than his new bride.

1911 census Ontario, Bruce South, Walkerton,page 6

Butler Joseph Head Apr 1864 47
Butler Mary Wife Nov 1884 26
Butler Margireet Lodger S Feb 1911 3/12

Lorine's Note:

This is an intriguing find. The age for Joseph is close (and we all know how bad the 1901 and 1911 census are for getting dates of birth correct)

Being RC and German origin is also consistent with previous records. The location is close to his family roots and ties.

I'm unable so far to find a marriage for Joseph and Mary but if it is my Joseph they could not have married legally, so it is possible they were just living together as husband and wife.

The child is also interesting as she is noted as a lodger not a daughter. Her origin is given as Irish, yet both Joseph and Mary give their origin as German.

If anyone has access to births for 1911 perhaps they could hunt for the birth of this child in Bruce Co. in Feb. 1911? Knowing for sure who her parents are would be helpful

Clue #2 from Anonymous

Joseph's brother Jacob Butler with wife Barbara has been found (we are almost certain it is him) in Carlisle, Pembina North Dakota. We have found the births of his first two children in Montcalm Manitoba in 1886 and 1888. Montcalm is in the Pembina area so once again we have a Manitoba and Pembina connection.

I now have Joseph, Barbara and children (either 12 or 14!) in the 1900, 1910, 1915, 1920, 1925 and 1930 census for Carlisle, Pembina, North Dakota and Lincoln Co. North Dakota.

From Lorine:

This ties in with my original thought that Joseph might have gone to Manitoba. It's also possible he went to Pembina North Dakota!


Any sleuths out there want to hunt in North Dakota or Manitoba? I'd sure like to give this Reward away!


September 9, 2008

New! Canadian Armed Forces War Dead Index

New at Library and Archives Canada

Second World War Service Files: Canadian Armed Forces War Dead (index only)

Over 1,159,000 men and women served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War (1939-1945); 44,093 lost their lives. This research tool provides access to references to their service files in the Department of National Defence Fonds

These individuals are also commemorated on the following websites:

Books of Remembrance

Veteran Affairs Canada: Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Debt of Honour Register

For more information and to search for ancestors in Canadian Military Records see The Canadian Military Heritage Project

September 8, 2008

Displaying Family Heirlooms - Making Sure the Handwriting is on the Wall

My husband's great grandmother's younger brother Bill Sandercock was killed in August 1917 during WW1, while standing beside his brother Cecil. Cecil sent a postcard to his parents about Bill's death. Bill was only 20. Sadly, one year later in August 1918 Cecil Sandercock was also killed in France. He too was just 20 years old. Two months before his death, Cecil sent a postcard to his sister (my husband's ancestor).

Their sister Myrtle kept all the postcards Cecil sent, as well as his military medals and Death Plaque. She also had photographs of her brothers and her father (who also enlisted in WW1) in their military uniforms. All of these family treasures were passed on in the family - first to my husband's grandfather, then his father and then my husband. I'm sure some items went missing, for no one knows where Bill's medals or Death plaque are. So we decided we needed to organize all the heirlooms and display them as a group.

This would prevent any more from being lost in future years, and would ensure that future generations know what items belong to what individual - and the meaning behind each one.

After laying out each item, we realized we had too many for one display. So we decided to keep the postcard separate from the rest. The postcard also had an extra small decorated card that went with it so we had two paper items to frame. The original postcard was beautifully decorated on the front with raised ornamentation of embroidered cloth.

The main colours in the embroidery were purple, green and pink with a bit of yellow. Embroidered in purple was the phrase "To my dear Sister" The embroidered flowers were surrounded by a beige frame with embossed lines.

We chose a beige mat and gold frame with black flecks. Then we chose a forest green mat to use as a double mat, which gives a very nice effect of three colours - beige, green and white - when it is bevel cut and placed around the objects. We wanted to show off the feminine beautifully decorated postcard but also bring in some more neutral colours that would also enhance the postcard. Thus the gold flecked with black for the frame and the choice of forest green for the second mat.

But Cecil's hand-written note was on the back. Here was a dilemma - how to frame a postcard when we want to see both front and back?

The solution was actually simple - we used clear glass instead of the usual cardstock mat. Thus the beige frame surrounds both the postcard and the small decorative paper that came with it. For the postacrd, the double mat of forest green was placed under the beige and clear glass under that. For the small decorative paper, the forest green mat is not cut away but is placed under the entire piece.

The result is very effective, we can turn the frame over and read the postcard at any time and whatever wall we hang it on shows through the clear glass mat. And Myrtle's favourite brother will always be remembered.

See our second display of Cecil's War medals, death plaque and military photo.

September 7, 2008

LAC offers FREE 2008 Irish Studies Symposium: November 3 & 4

(Bilingual Message / Message Bilingue)

2008 Irish Studies Symposium: November 3 & 4

Following on the success of the 2006 Symposium and to address growing interest in the field of Irish-Canadian studies, Library and Archives Canada will host an Irish
Studies Symposium in November 2008. The symposium will be open to the general public on November 3 and 4, at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Presented with the support of the National Archives of Ireland, the Irish Studies Symposium brings together historians, students, genealogists, and researchers in an open dialogue to explore Irish and Irish-Canadian documentary heritage.

Doors open to the public at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, November 3rd 395 Wellington Street, Exhibition Room A Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Cost of attendance is FREE (RSVP requested) To RSVP, please contact 613-992-2618 or

There will be six sessions and one roundtable panel covering a variety of topics including:
* The Irish in Québec
* Famine and Commemoration
* Politics: Shifting Attitudes and Political Impact
* The 1911 Census of Ireland
* Irish Culture: Print, Music, Food, and Film
* Irish History and Modern Media
* Directions in Irish Canadian Studies (round table)

All presentations will be simultaneously translated in English and French.

Event details will be made available at Collections Canadastarting September 10, 2008 with regular updates throughout September and

We hope to see you there!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Symposium d'études canado-irlandaises, 2008 : le 3 & 4

Afin de répondre à l'intérêt grandissant pour le domaine
des études canado-irlandaises suite au succès du Symposium
de 2006, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada sera l'hôte d'un
Symposium d'études canado-irlandaises en novembre 2008. Le
symposium sera ouvert au grand public les 3 et 4 novembre
à Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, 395, rue Wellington,
Ottawa, Ontario. Le symposium d'études
canado-irlandaises, présenté avec l'appui des National
Archives of Ireland, rassemble des historiens, des
étudiants, des généalogistes et des chercheurs dans un
dialogue ouvert pour explorer le patrimoine documentaire
irlandais et canado-irlandais.

Les portes seront ouvertes au public à 8 h 30 le lundi 3
novembre 395 rue Wellington, salle d'exposition A
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

L'événement est GRATUIT (R.S.V.P. demandé).
Pour R.S.V.P., s'il vous plaît composez le
613-992-2618 ou par courriel à

Il y aura six séances et une table ronde sous forme de
panel abordant une variété de thèmes tels : * Les
Irlandais au Québec; * La famine et la commémoration; * La
politique : modifier les attitudes et leur impact
politique; * Le recensement irlandais de 1911; * La
culture irlandaise : l'imprimerie, la musique, la
nourriture et le cinéma; * L'histoire irlandaise et
les médias modernes; * Des
orientations en matière d'études canado-irlandaises
(table ronde).

Toutes les présentations seront traduites simultanément en
anglais et en français.

Les détails de l'événement seront rendus disponibles à commençant le 10
septembre 2008 avec les mises à jour régulières pendant
les mois de septembre et octobre.

Nous espérons vous y rencontrer!

September 6, 2008

Displaying Family Heirlooms - Making Sure Keepsakes Aren't Lost

Most of us have them. A sentimental keepsake of a beloved family member. The gold pocket watch given to Grandpa on his 21st birthday. The medals given to a father in the Military. A postcard from Aunt Matilda to Uncle Harry during WW1.

Our treasured mementoes can be anything, from jewellery to letters to medals to the bullet supposedly removed from great great grandpa's leg in the Civil War. But where are they? Chances are they are kicking around in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. Or in a trunk in the attic.

Isn't it time to do something with them? To ensure they are not lost to future generations? To display them in a way that you can enjoy them every day? Have you thought about what happens when you, the keeper of that family treasure, are gone? Does anyone else know who the treasure belonged to? Do they know the story behind it? Chances are you are the only person who has that knowledge. So now is the time to preserve and display that heirloom for posterity.

My father died when I was 13. I was given his WW2 Service Medals, his cap badge and a photo of him in his officer's uniform. The photo went into a photo album. The Service Medals and cap badge went into my jewellery box. For years they were buried amongst rings and bracelets. Occassionally I took them out and looked at them.

One day I realized that no one but me knew that the medals and cap badge were his. No one but me knew his rank in the Army, and the only reason I knew was that I had sent for his military records from Library & Archives Canada. So I decided to take his photo, cap badge and medals and create a grouping which I could have framed. Then I could hang the framed memorabilia on my wall and enjoy it every day. Framing them together would keep the mementoes from being lost or separated.

The first thing I did was to take the three items and figure out how I wanted them arranged. Next came the decision regarding the picture frame and the mat. Because this was my father and his military memorabilia, I wanted a frame that was somewhat masculine and dark coloured. It's important to choose your frame and mat to suit the objects you are displaying so take your time when making this decision.

Because I was having medals and a cap badge mounted, I decided to have a shadow box effect, with the objects recessed. So I kept the cut-out around those objects simple.

I decided that adding my father's name was important to this specific display. So I had a local store engrave in silver his name and military rank on a dark plaque. This was put bottom center of the arrangement.

For my dad's photo I wanted more definition, so I had the framing shop add a second smaller frame which mirrored the larger frame around the entire grouping. Size is important, so be sure you don't choose a frame that is too wide or too narrow. Everything needs to be in balance to create a nice composition for your heirlooms display.

In this grouping I opted for a dark, semi-masculine frame with details, an off-white (ivory) mat and a light grey for the inside mat used under the medals, cap badge and name plaque.

When my display was framed and returned to me I was thrilled. I wrote out the details about my father on paper and fastened it to the back of the framed piece. Then I hung it on my wall where I see it every day. Yes the medals are slowly tarnishing with time. But that is unimportant to the idea behind keeping all the treaures together.

My son knows this will be passed on to him to be the next keeper of this family heirloom. Hopefully he will pass it on to his son and so on, so that future descendants will always have this memento of my father.

Please note: It was difficult to take a good photo of this display as the glass caused reflections. Thus some of my photos which I have uploaded here for illustrative purposes may not show the detail I hoped they would. Also I blacked out in a graphic program parts of my father's name plate, so it looks a little off center in the illustrative photo I took.

September 5, 2008

A Grave Mistake - or Even if it's Written in Stone it Could be Wrong

This is my great-grandfather Alexander McGinnis' tombstone in Crown Cemetery, near Morriston Ontario. You can see that his date of birth is 1844. My uncle took me to this cemetery when I was starting my research into my father's family tree. And so I dutifully entered 1844 into my Family Tree program as Alex's date of birth.

Then I began finding census records for Alex - complete with various ages which of course gave different estimated years of birth.

* In 1861 his age was recorded as 12, giving him a year of birth of circa 1849
* In 1871 his age was recorded as 23, giving him a year of birth of circa 1848
* In 1881 his age was recorded as 30, giving him a year of birth of circa 1851
* In 1891 his age was recorded as 41, giving him a year of birth of circa 1850
* In 1901 his age was recorded as 43, giving him a year of birth of circa 1857
* In 1911 his age was recorded as 62, and the record year of birth was 1848 (no month or day given)

I knew that each census year asked a different question about age - such as what was the individual's age at last birthday, at next birthday, or right now. So there might be small discrepancies over the years.

Alex's years of birth, except for 1901 census, were fairly consistently showing his date of birth to be between 1848 and 1851. But that was nowhere near the 1844 date shown on his tombstone!

My next step was to find his marriage record. But that was no help either. At his marriage in September 1876 he gave his age as 22. That put his year of birth at circa 1854! Surely he knew how old he was... or so I reasoned at the time. So perhaps the 1854 year was most accurate. But what about that tombstone? Well, he didn't put the tombstone up or give the information for it, so perhaps whoever did erect it was wrong.

I eventually discovered that his eldest daughter Mary had paid for his stone and had it engraved. My uncle had also questioned the year of birth on Alex's tombstone but apparently our Aunt Mary had always insisted that she celebrated her father's birthday every year and she certainly knew how old he was.

After puzzling over this for many years, I decided that the marriage certificate was my best and most accurate souce, since the information was given by Alex himself. So I changed his year of birth in my genealogy program to circa 1854.

Then came the revelation. Alex and his family were Roman Catholic. I knew what church the family attended (Church of Our Lady in Guelph) but they were not available to the public nor were they microfilmed. A few years ago the church began offering a research service. For a reasonable fee the church secretary would look through the original church books for a record.

I sent a request for the baptism of Alex. There it was - he was baptised on 3 February 1850 but born on 3 November 1849.

So why the discrepancies? Why did Alex not give his correct age when he married in 1876. He was actually 27 years old that year, so why did he say he was 22? The census years were fairly close to his correct year of birth so obviously he did know his age. It is not uncommon to find that an ancestor might not his or her exact age but Alex appeared to know his (except for the 1901 census)

Then I realized that the marriage registrations are copies of what was sent in by the minister. So the original entry may indeed have read "27" but the "7" could have been misread as a "2" resulting in the incorrect age of 22 for Alex.

So everything can be explained except for the 1901 census record and the tombstone inscription. But can we explain the census record? Yes. We do not know who gave the information to the census taker. In 1901 Alex lived with his sister, her husband and daughter, and his mother who was in her late 70s. Depending who the census taker spoke to, the age given for Alex could be quite incorrect. His brother-in-law probably had no idea how old Alex was! His daughter would not likely know either.

That brings us back to the original culprit - that darned tombstone. Aunt Mary was 60 when her father Alex died. She thought he was 91. In reality he was 87. Was she confused? Had she never known her father's real age? Or did Alex tell his family his wrong age as he reached his 80s?

My own mother does that. She turned 92 this week, but for the past two years she has been adding a year or two on to her real age! In July she told everyone at a family reunion that she was 93 and would be 94 on her birthday in September. So that added 2years to her real age. I'm the only one of my siblings who seems to know her actual age, my brothers and sister believe whatever she tells them. If they were to have a tombstone inscribed for her, it's almost guaranteed it would have the wrong year of birth.

And thus we have the moral of my story of a Grave Mistake - that even if it's written in stone it could be wrong.

September 4, 2008

Rensselaerswijck Seminar of New Netherland Institute

NEW NETHERLAND NEWS CONTACT: Nancy Curran tel. 393-5905

Trustee, New Netherland Institute



31ST Annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar of New Netherland Institute Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, New York State Museum, Empire State Plaza, Albany Registration 9:30 a.m. Reception and dinner 5 p.m. Pre-registration: $50, $30 for students. Registration at the door $60.

Theme: “Neighbors in the New World: New Netherland and New France” Register on line at

For more information, call (518) 486-4815

Speakers and topics:

José António Brandão of Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich.: “An Unreasonable Offer: Iroquois Policy towards their Huron and Mahican Neighbors”

James Bradley of ArchLink, Boston:“In Between Worlds: New Netherland and New France at Mid Century”

Conrad Heidenreich on York University, Ontario, Canada:“The Skirmish with the Mohawk on Lake Champlain”

Willen Frijhoff of the Free University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands:“Jesuits, Calvinists and Natives: Attitudes, Agency, and Encounters in the Early Christian Missions to the North”

September 3, 2008

September Ancestor Most Wanted - $50.00 Reward

September's Ancestor Most Wanted is JOSEPH BUTLER

Joseph was baptised 15 March 1856 in Waterloo Co. Ontario Canada. On 10 May 1880, he married Caroline (Carrie A.) Kirsch in Formosa, Bruce Co. Ontario. He disappears from the records after the 1901 census in Seaforth, Huron Co. Ontario.

*** $50.00 Reward offered for the whereabouts of Joseph Butler after 1901, or for proof of his death (location and date) ***

Background Information

Joseph Butler & Carrie Kirsch had the following known children born in Bruce Co. Ontario:

- William Butler 1880 - 1904
- Alexander (Anthony) Butler 1882 - 1911
- William Henry Harry (Philip?) Butler1884-?
- Margaret S. Butler 1886-1970
- Clara Seraphina Butler 1888-?
- Kathleen (Katie) Butler 1889 - 1950
- Pauline (Lillie) M. Butler 1893 - 1930

Joseph & Carrie are found in the following census records:

* 1881 Census Carrick, Bruce Co. Joseph & Carrie both age 23 with son William
* 1891 Census Teswater Village, Bruce Co. Joseph age 33 with Carrie, 33 and 5 children
* 1901 Census Seaforth, Huron Co. Joseph age 48 (dob given as Sep 9 1852), Carrie 43 and 6 children

Carrie left Ontario for Michigan sometime around 1909. She is found in the following census records

* 1910 Detroit Michigan with daughter Kathleen and son-in-law Lambert Peter Garth
* 1920 Detroit Michigan with daughter Kathleen and son-in-law Lambert Peter Garth

** Note a late Ontario birth registration submitted by Carrie Butler, Detroit Michigan for her son Anthony born Feb 1882 in which Carrie states that her husband "Joseph E. Butler" is dead. The form is dated 29 May 1918.

** Also note that Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957shows Alexander Butler age 29 arriving 12 Jan 1911. He states that he was living in
Detroit for 3 months in 1882 and in Pembina [Co] North Dakota from 1906-August 1909 [Pembina is on the border with Manitoba]. His departure contact is his father Joseph Butler living in Canada, address unknown

This gives us a middle initial "E" for Joseph Butler and death in the time frame between 12 Jan 1911 & 29 May 1918

* Family lore states that Carrie threw Joseph out of the house over a scandal of some kind and that he "went West". It is very possible he went to Manitoba or another western province of Canada.

* Joseph may be found recorded as white, black or mulatto. His grandfather was a black man from USA but each subsequent generation married white women.

Remember, a $50.00 Reward is offered for the whereabouts of Joseph Butler after 1901 or for proof of his death (location and date)

If you need more details, please contact me at - remove the AT and replace with @

Good luck everyone!

PS Thanks to Thomas' question which reminded me that I neglected to state if the Reward was in US or Canadian dollars! It is US $50.00 (which as of today is worth $53.51 Cdn)

ANSWER to Michelle's Question: Joseph's father was Johannes Alexander Allen (Allen) Butler and his mother was Catherine (Betty) Weis

September 2, 2008

5th Edition of Smile For The Camera: Crowning Glory.

Cabinet Card taken ca 1905 St. Mary's Ontario Canada.

Photograph of four Purdue sisters - Margaret born 1875, Louise born 1881, Nellie born 1882 and Carolyn 1877. The sisters were milliners in Toronto Ontario, and these wonderful hats are their own creations.

This photo is my submission for 5th Edition of Smile For The Camera: Crowning Glory.

The submission rules are

"Show us those wonderful photographs of hairdos and maybe even a few don'ts. Don't limit yourself to just hair fashion through the ages, got a great photograph of a hat, helmet, bonnet, or some other interesting headgear?"

The Purdue sisters were 4 of 14 children born to my husband's great-great-great grandfather Frederick Purdue and his wife Margaret Cowans. Below are close-ups of the 3 most elaborate hats.