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March 30, 2009

Randy's Choice of BEST new genealogy blog for 2009

Randy Seaver, blogger extraordinaire of starts his blog post today with

I'm going to start highlighting genealogy blogs that add significant value to the genea-blogosphere. This may be a regular weekly feature at Genea-Musings!

I want to start the series by mentioning the absolute BEST new genealogy blog for 2009, in my humble opinion. There are quite a few new blogs, but this one, in my book, is number one.
Read Randy's post to find out what Blog he has chosen as Best New Genealogy Blog of 2009

At the risk of spoiling Randy's article, I have to add that I am very honoured and delighted by Randy's pick! (That was a huge hint but please read Randy's blog post)

March 28, 2009

March 27, 2009

Using Medical Records to Find an Ancestor

Medical records are an often-overlooked genealogy resource. If you want to hunt for your ancestor in medical records you will need to investigate what records were kept for your area of interest, where they are archived and if you can access them.

Medical Records in Ontario are held in various places - some are at the Ontario Archives, others are with the original institution.

To obtain these records, you should begin with the Ontario Archives. Find out what they have, and then how to request it. For example, Queen Street Hospital in Toronto has records that go back to 1839. There are nineteenth century records for institutions in London, Hamilton, and Kingston and from Penetanguishene from 1904.

Files less than 100 years old are restricted under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Requests for access must be submitted in writing to the
Access Unit of the Archives of Ontario.

Files created in whole or in part on or after 6 April 1954 are restricted under the Mental Health Act. Requests for access to records in Archives' custody must be submitted in writing to the Administrator of the appropriate psychiatric

Here's a partial list of the Ontario Archives psychiatric files and holdings

My husband and I were able to obtain almost 100 pages of one of his great-aunt's medical files from the Insane Asylum in London Ontario for 1912, by applying to the Ontario Archives under the Freedom of Information Act. Some of the information in her files was blacked out by the Chief Archivist because it was not felt those notations should be read by us, but overall, the information found in the notes was amazing and very detailed.

March 26, 2009 Releases Great Depression collection

Lindon, Utah - March 26, 2009 – Footnote.comicon, the premier history website for original content, announced today the launch of its Great Depression Collection, which provides unique insights into life’s struggles and the financial challenges Americans faced during the 1930s.

The Great Depression Collection includes millions of digitized and indexed documents including historical newspapers. Visitors to can view original pages featuring articles and advertisements that reveal fascinating details about what was happening in Washington, D.C., as well as in mainstream America. Visitors can also read articles about Roosevelt’s New Deal or see how much groceries cost during the time of the Depression.

As part of this collection, is pleased to introduce the first ever Interactive 1930 US Census. has combined innovative technology with the 1930 Census to create an interactive experience allowing members to contribute their own family photos, documents and stories by attaching them to the names on the census.

“On, the 1930 Census is taking on a new role: a gathering place for the American story,” said Russ Wilding, CEO of “Now all those stories that our parents and grandparents told us about the Depression have a place to come together and be preserved for future generations.”

In addition to contributing to the census documents, members can automatically create Footnote Pages for any individual found in the census. Footnote Pages allow users to create:

Photo galleries
Links to other Footnote Pages

These pages can serve as memorial pages, research pages, or simply a starting place where individual shoeboxes of memories and memorabilia can be uploaded. has successfully created a social framework around historical documents. Numerous people have already made hundreds of thousands of contributions on the site. “If you had family in America in 1930, you will most likely find them in the census,” continues Wilding. “We encourage all to come to and add your family story and preserve our nation’s heritage.”

To view the Great Depression Collection, including the Interactive 1930 US Census, please visit Footnote.comicon

March 24, 2009

From England to Arkell - a Genealogy Book

From England to Arkell: The story of two pioneer settlers, Lewis & Thomas King who left Suffolk England for the Wilds of Upper Canada in 1831

A Genealogy to 4 Generations following their descendants in Ontario, Alberta, Australia & Michigan by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

My book on this family is ready for the printer. It is 87 pages (8 12/x11, coil bound) of documents, photos and stories. The will of Lewis King and the estate papers for Thomas King filed by his widow are among the orignal documents scanned and added to the book. Also included is a Genealogy Report of the Descendants of Lewis & Elizabeth King as well as descendants of Thomas and his first wife Harriet King, to 4 Generations.

Read more about this book on the King family of Arkell Ontario and their descendants

March 21, 2009

Ten People All Genealogists Should Follow On Twitter

In the confusing and often cluttered world of Genealogy enthusiasts, Genealogy bloggers, Facebook users and Twitter lovers, it's often difficult to know whose blog you should read, which Twitter user you should follow, or what Facebook personality to be friends with. Most of us have too few hours in the day to read every blog or follow every Twitter update out there.

How can we glean the best of the pack?

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers group on Facebook has helped us out in one area with his blog list of Ten People All Genealogists Should Follow On Twitter

Personally I'd add Thomas' blog to the list! Don't forget to bookmark it when you read the list of Top Ten.

For those who didn't know, I'm on Twitter and you can follow my Genealogy updates and tweets at

You can also become a Fan of Olive Tree Genealogy interactive page on Facebook at

March 20, 2009

Monmouth New Jersey Workshop on Colonial Records

Monmouth County Genealogy Society will presents the workshop, "Colonial Records, 1607-1800," 8:50 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 21 at Eatontown Community Center, 68 Broad St.

Workshop topics will include colonial handwriting, church records, land records, military records, tax records and Census substitutes and New England Research. Cost is $40 for nonmembers, and $30 for members (membership is $20). Attendees should bring your lunch and beverages, and desserts will be provided.

For more information, e-mail jborchardt@comcastDOTnet

Don't miss the online Colonial New Jersey Genealogy Records

March 19, 2009

Genealogy Today Releases Live Roots Gadget for Second Life

Genealogy Today ( announced the release of a software gadget for residents in the Second Life (SL) virtual world. This new tool, called the Genealogy HUD, allows SL residents (also known as avatars) to seamlessly access many of the resources at from within the virtual reality environment. HUD stands for Heads up display, and is type of object that can be worn, functions like a control panel, but cannot seen by other residents.

"Many people think Second Life is all about games and role playing, which there is plenty of," commented Illya D'Addezio, owner of Genealogy Today. "But, there are also an increasing number of genealogists joining, dozens of genealogy content areas developing, and numerous voice chats taking place on a regular basis. The Genealogy HUD is a free tool that will allow more dynamic interaction between genealogists in Second Life."

The Genealogy HUD functions in parallel to the website; SL residents may Search, Navigate and Discover genealogy resources in a similar manner. Using the HUD, they may also preview search results from many of the Live Roots database partners. As new features are added to, they are also available through the HUD (without requiring any software upgrades).

Aside from accessing the website for real-time information, the Genealogy HUD allows residents to compile a list of the surnames they are researching and compare them with any other residents wearing the HUD. This feature is optional, and the SL resident has complete control over whether their information many be shared.

The Genealogy HUD also makes it easy to locate and visit genealogy related areas within Second Life, including new areas as they are developed. Information entered into the HUD may be backed up and restored, avoiding having to reenter it whenever a new HUD version is released.

"Second Life takes social networking to another level," added Illya. "Hanging out with some friends around a campfire for a genealogy chat (either text, voice or both) is so much more enjoyable than the traditional 'chat rooms' that offered a generic text-only interface with no visual interaction. More and more genealogists are showing up each week to the scheduled chats that are hosted by experienced genealogists."

To obtain a copy of the Genealogy HUD, SL residents should visit the club house in the Live Roots Genealogy Zone (building with the Live Roots logo above the door). The HUD (when not worn) is a small rectangular cube with the Live Roots logo on all sides. It's currently located inside, and to the right of the entrance.

Live Roots Genealogy Zone (to obtain the HUD)

For a complete list of the HUD commands, visit

The Live Roots ambassador in Second Life is Constantine Kyomoon.

About Second Life

Linden Lab launched Second Life, an acclaimed 3D online world, in 2003. Inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe, the Second Life virtual world has a fully functioning economy and empowers its users to create content, interact with others, launch businesses, collaborate and educate.

A single Basic account is FREE. You must be 18 years or older to join the Second Life virtual world. When you register and become a Resident of Second Life, you choose a unique name for your new digital persona (i.e. avatar). Other Residents will only know your real identity if you choose to tell them. To get started, you will need to download the Second Life viewer (see system requirements link below).

To join Second Life, visit:

Second Life System Requirements

March 18, 2009

Michigan Death Records Online

The Seeking Michigan site is a growing collection of unique historical information that - through digitized source documents, maps, films, images, oral histories and artifacts - creatively tells the stories of Michigan’s families, homes, businesses, communities and landscapes.

Seeking Michigan’s first major project is the digitization of roughly 1 million death records covering the years 1897 through 1920. These records - never before available electronically - are indexed for easy searching by name, death date, location and age, and hold tremendous research opportunities for genealogists, historians and students.

With plans in place to add much more material, Seeking Michigan currently includes:

More than 100,000 pages of Civil War documents;
Approximately 10,000 photographs;
A variety of Michigan sheet music;
Roughly 1 million death records;
A rich section about Michigan’s 44 past governors;
Works Progress Administration data (circa 1936-1942) about land and buildings throughout rural Michigan; and
Oral histories with notable Michigan residents.

NOTE FROM LORINE: The launch of the Michigan Death Records yesterday caused overload on the website servers. Seeking Michigan is moving to a new server and until that happens, the death records are not available. From my searches yesterday before the crash, I found several ancestors so am looking forward to them being back up and running!

March 16, 2009

WW1 Records Found in Red Cross Archives

Detective work by a British historian has unearthed information that could enable thousands to piece together their family histories.

Peter Barton had been commissioned by the Australian government to carry out research, following the discovery of a mass grave on World War I battlefield at Fromelles in France.

That trail led him to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva, and to the card indexes and registers compiled between 1914 and 1918. Details include whereabouts of prisoners, their condition or injuries at the time of capture, and the location of field burials.

Some of the records refer to other mass graves, with exact directions as to where they were dug, and the identities of the soldiers who were buried. Where possible, the registers include home addresses and next of kin.

The Red Cross is working to bring the archive to digitise the records and they hope to have the archive online by 2014. Read more about WW1 Records Found in Red Cross Archives

For more Military Records see The Canadian Military Heritage Project

March 15, 2009

CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project updated

CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project has been updated!

Photos of Rolla Community Cemetery, Peace River

Photos and partial transcripts have been posted for

Kings County:
- Southfield Cemetery
- Trinity Anglican Cemetery , Sussex Corner
- Pioneer Cemetery, Penobsquis
- Bayview Cemetery
- Cardwell Baptist Cemetery
- Newtown Baptist Cemetery

Westmorland County:
- Steeves' Mountain Cemetery
- Elmwood Cemetery, Moncton
- Boundary Creek Cemetery

Photos and partial transcripts have now been updated for Mount Olivet Cemetery, Halifax and Pleasant Hill Cemetery,Sackville.

Photos of

Dundas County:
- Morewood Presbyterian Cemetery
- Morewood United Cemetery

Frontenac County:- Milton Cemetery

Hastings County:
- Belleville Cemetery
- Gilead St Andrew's Presbyterian Cemetery
- Longwell Cemetery
- Victoria Cemetery

Lennox & Addington County:- Morven Cemetery

Middlesex County:- Siddall Cemetery

Parry Sound District:- Christie Cemetery

Perth County:- McIntyre Cemetery

Russell County:
- St Andrew's & St Paul's Cemetery
- St Mary's Anglican Cemetery

Stormont County: - St John's Anglican Cemetery

Victoria County:- Riverside Cemetery

York County:- St John's on the Humber / Dennison Family Cemetery


Photos and partial transcript added for St. Anne's Cemetery,Emyvale and St. James Cemetery, Summerfield.


Photos of Humboldt Cemetery, RM of Humboldt

March 13, 2009

Death Or Canada (Irish Famine Immigration to Canada)

The History Channel is showing the film Death or Canada on Monday, March 16 at 8 PM. If your ancestors came to Canada during the time of the Irish Famine, you will want to see this production.

Death or Canada is the compelling tale of how in 1847, the British Colony of Canada gave refuge to tens of thousands of Irish famine victims, who in turn were responsible for the building of North America as we know it today.

Set in 1847, the darkest year of the Irish Famine, it follows the true life story of the protestant family, John and Mary Willis who, along with their five children, abandoned their home in the west of Ireland and gambled everything on finding new lives in North America. They flee Ireland on a coffin ship and together with over 100,000 other Irish in 1847, they make their way to Canada.

Penetanguishene's Discovery Harbour was used as background in a movie. Some of the
scenes were shot there and local people were used as extras during the filming. Look for Tim Mallon, Museum Board Chairman, in the part of "Mr Pearce", an immigration
officer. He makes his appearance in the second hour and should be easy to spot in his "train conductor" costume.

March 12, 2009

Irish Canadian Emigration Records, 1823-1849 online!

New on Ancestry!
Irish Canadian Emigration Records, 1823-1849 This database contains various records and reports of Canadian emigration agents James Allison and A.J. Buchanan. Among the various records are some emigration and orphan lists. These lists are searchable by name.

The collections in this database are:
* Emigration Agent Returns of Emigrant Orphans, 1847
* Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent At Montreal, 1823-1845
* Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent At Montreal, 1846-1849

Also see the Request Form for a search for your ancestor in the following Books of Immigration and Ships Passenger Lists Records

*[BOOK 1] Names of Emigrants 1845-1847. Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal (Quebec Canada)
*[BOOKS 2-4] Canada Company Remittance Books 1843-1847 in 3 Volumes.
*[BOOK 5] Index of Passengers Who Emigrated to Canada between 1817 and 1849.

You can also consult the free Index of Names of Emigrants from the 1845-1847 Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal

DNA Genealogy - First Test Results on 12 Markers!

One month after my Y-DNA test kit was received by Family Tree DNA, they sent an email titled "New DNA Test Results Posted" It explained that "New Y-DNA1-12 results have been posted for your Family Tree DNA Kit" That was pretty exciting! The email explained that if I had ordered a Y-DNA 25 or 37 marker test, those results would be posted within a few weeks, as testing was done in sections.

The email went on to encourage me to join a Surname Project "Since genealogy is all about matching to people with your surname..."

Mention was made of joining a subsequent Geographic Project, and I was advised to add my DNA test results at, the FTDNA sponsored public database.

Off I went. Adding my test results to YSearch was easy. Understanding my test results and matches was not. A second email had arrived the same day. Here is what it said
An exact 12 marker match has been found between you and another person in the Family Tree DNA database.

You and the other person match in all 12 loci. If you share the same surname or variant, this means that there is a 99% likelihood that you share a common ancestor in a genealogical time frame. If you match another person without the same surname or variant, you still probably share a common ancestor, but this ancestor most likely lived in the time before surnames were adopted.

I was so excited that I made what I assume is a beginner's mistake. I began writing to every single "match" shown on my test results page. This was a bit foolish on my part, and the answers I received from others demonstrated that they were as confused as I was!

I didn't wait for all my markers to be tested and I didn't stop to think that I needed to match with others carrying the same surname! (McGINNIS). I also manually entered all my markers from Family Tree DNA to DNA pages
. That was mind-boggling and took quite awhile although I am glad I did it, as I found additional connections that way.

In my excitement I also rushed to pay an extra $15.00 to join the Genographic Project on the National Geographic website. In hindsight I wish I had waited until all my markers were tested and my complete DNA results in.

Because I did not understand what my matches on the 12-Marker results meant, I started reading every article and website I could find which explained DNA testing. By the end of the day I was more confused than ever. My husband was also reading up on DNA testing and seemed to grasp the concepts much quicker.

I did enjoy the National Geographic explanations and their charts and maps for my brother's Y DNA results. The website provided me with a Ancestral Journay map, a Genetic history of my lineage from Africa to the present and a Genetic Certificate. These were all printable and customizable with your own name. My brother's Y chromosomes were identified as haplogroup I1c (that sent me off to google that term to find out more!). My genetic history went on to say that members of haplogroup I1c carry these Y chromosome markers M168 > M89 > M170 > M223, and that this haplogroup is most common in Germany. There was also a nice little explanation of markers and haplogroup.

But what really confused me was that many websites noted that "I1c is now considered I2b-M223" What the heck did that mean?? I am still not sure I understand, so if anyone reading this story can explain it to me, please do.

The Geneographic Project had a very nice, easy-to-read Genetics Glossary. My husband and I read a great many articles and explanations. If you decided to test your DNA you must be prepared to read, and in many cases, struggle through an overwhelming amount of technical and scientific information. DNA pages, where I manually entered my brother's DNA test results, were very interesting. They referred to haplogroup I as "The Stonemasons" further adding that "The I1c haplogroup is found at its highest frequency in the German and Dutch populations as well as in Great Britain" Ancestry also provided an easy-to-use interface for me to see my test results compared with others.

I liked that they showed the matches as a chart with coloured squares. At the bottom of the chart was a legend explaining that the orange squares meant a match for a common ancestor within 1-6 generations, lighter orange meant 7-15 generations and so on. My top matches were with people who did not share my surname of McGinnis so that confused the heck out of me! But I was intrigued to see that one of my "matches within 7-15 generations" was for the Ontario McGinn family, who have long believed that their surname was originally McGinnis. Further explanations predicted that our common ancestor was within the last 200 years. Okay I'd have liked something closer but I'd start with anything at this point! be continued

March 11, 2009

Play nice with your computer. Part Three: Steps 6 & 7

Olive Tree Genealogy is pleased to present the last of a three part series on Cleaning your computer by guest author Barbara Brown. This is something all genealogists need to do, including me!

Play nice with your computer. Part Three: Steps 6 & 7
© copyright Barbara A. Browm 2009.

Step Six
Germs reside on both the mouse and the keyboard; cleaning them is good for you as well as for the computer. Once more, remove the ball from the mouse. Put it where it will not roll, and where you will easily find it again.

Run an alcohol-soaked (rubbing alcohol, not single-malt Laphraoig) around the outside of the mouse. Pay particular attention to the bottom of the mouse. Get all the sticky stuff off the bottom; you will be surprised how much easier it glides when clean. And the key you use the most, probably the left one. Dry with a soft cloth. Do not attempt to clean the mouse ball with alcohol. If it is dirty and has bits of unidentfiable material attached, try rubbing with a soft cloth. (If still grotty, buy a new mouse. ) Replace the mouse ball.

Using the antibacterial wipes (or q-tips and rubbing alcohol) clean the edges of the keyboard and the tops of the keys.
If you have a sticky key or two, gently pry off the key with the screwdriver, turn the keyboard upside down over the disposal bag, thump. If stickiness is stubborn, use an alcohol-moistened q-tip, or one of your snazzy special purpose foam swabs.

Caution ! before you remove any keys, write down exactly where they came from. Otherwise, your next email message mojht ;ook ;oke thos.

Using only a damp lint-free cloth (or that special Monitor Cleaner you bought), wipe the screen clean. Do not let water DRIP. When the screen is clean, use that same damp cloth to wipe off the outside of the monitor, especially where there are "air holes." Do not wipe the back of the monitor with a damp cloth or anything else wet. If you insist upon doing so, first go to the kitchen and stick a fork into your toaster. At least you will save the computer. USA, LLCNow is the time for those specialized CD and floppy kits if you purchased them. And now that you have seen what lives within the computer case, you will surely remember to buy them next time. If you have earphones or microphones, you might want to disinfect them with one of those anti-bacterial wipes. And if the surface can take it, spray your desk with Lysol or use those handy-dandy wipes again. Put the computer back into its accustomed spot.

Step Seven

Reattach the keyboard and mouse. Reattach the plug into the computer. Plug in the surge protector. Turn on the surge protector. Release the relations and household pets. Praise them for their help. Enjoy your new cool-running computer.

This article may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, email, messaging system, or mailing lists, without the written permission of the author.

March 10, 2009

Play nice with your computer. Part Two: Steps 3, 4, 5

Olive Tree Genealogy is pleased to present the second of a three part series on Cleaning your computer by guest author Barbara Brown. This is something all genealogists need to do, including me!

Play nice with your computer. Part Two: Steps 3, 4, 5

© copyright Barbara A. Browm 2009.

Step Three

Detach the keyboard from the computer. Remember where it was connected. If you do not trust your memory, write it down (e.g. 'blue round connector, left side, third from top'). Move away from the now-clean computer area. Hold the keyboard upside down over the paper bag. Run a finger across the rows of keys to release large bits caught between the keys. Now thump gently. Thump again. When no more more cracker crumbs, cigarette ashes, dog hair, matches, or toothpicks fall out, start vacuuming. Continue to hold the keyboard upside down, carefully bring the vacuum brush closer. We do not want to suck the key covers off, merely remove the dust, dirt and debris. Set the now pristine keyboard aside for a while.

Step Four

Go and get the mouse. Again, note where it was attached. Open the back of the mouse (a slight twist on the central round cover will usually suffice). Do not lose the ball. Vacuum the inside. If there is gunk on the rollers, pry off with your fingernail. Vacuum again. Put the ball back in, the cover on, and leave the mouse by the keyboard.

Step Five

Place the computer away from your clean desk upon some sheets of newspaper. Read your manual, or if you have discarded it, try to figure out how to get the cover off. Next time, save the manual. Remove the side panel. If you do not see dust, dog hair, cat hair, cookie crumbs, suspicious clumps, or anything else which looks like it does not belong there, congratulate yourself, replace the cover, and go to Step Six

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.If, however, the inside is murky, carefully vacuum NEAR the computer. You do not want to pull out ribbon connectors or wires or boards. (The replacement of loose connections is a topic which requires much more detail than can be provided here). Do NOT put the vacuum nozzle INTO the computer. Vacuuming thusly might cause static electricity, which is a definte no-no around computers. Put a large sheet of newspaper behind the computer tower. Ensure that nothing precious is behind the computer.

Remove the (usually plastic) cover from the fan. Carefully insert the screwdriver just far enough in to prevent the fan from turning. Take your can of compressed air and blow from inside to outside. When most of the gunk is gone, reverse and clean from outside to inside. Look around for another fan, and repeat the process. When the can of compressed air gets cold, put it aside and start using a new one. Spray carefully around the inside of the computer. Chase the dust and hair out of corners, off the cards, off the connectors.

Now carefully fold up that sheet of newspaper, discard it into the paper bag, and vacuum up whatever stray grit and dust came from the fan cleaning.

Coming next Play nice with your computer. Part Three: Steps 6 & 7
This article may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, email, messaging system, or mailing lists, without the written permission of the author.

March 9, 2009

Play nice with your computer. Part One: Steps 1 & 2

Olive Tree Genealogy is pleased to present a three part series on Cleaning your computer by guest author Barbara Brown. This is something all genealogists need to do, including me!

Play nice with your computer

© copyright Barbara A. Browm 2009.

I know you have access to a computer, because you are reading this. And I know that you occasionally snack whilst at the computer, because you are human. And therefore, I know that the inside of your computer is a mess. Pet hair, bug dander, crumbs, loose mattress stuffing, lint, dust, flakes, and other unspecified particles have taken up residence within your computer. Messy computers become overheated computers which become short-lived computers.

Computers are expensive. Cleaning them is not. Computers should be cleaned at least twice a year for Compulsively Neat People and every other month for Average Discriminating Folks. And if your computer's fan is whining, whirring, snuffling or creaking loudly, it is definitely time for PC Grooming.

Go to the store, and get a couple of cans of compressed air. You will need more than one can. Compressed air is sold in office supply stores, computer and department stores, club or discount stores. Buy a new mouse pad. If you are in the mood, also purchase special-purpose cleaners ( foam swabs, a screen cleaner cloth, floppy drive or cd/dvd-drive cleaning kit, cleaning kits for the mouse, printer, scanner, what-have-you).) Set aside an hour for this.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.Gather up your compressed air, a duster, a large paper bag for discards, newspaper, a soft lint-free cloth, a slender screwdriver, the portable battery-operated vacuum ( rated 'ESD-safe' ), q-tips and rubbing alcohol or antibacterial wipes, your new computer cleaning kits, pencil and paper. You might want a dust mask, and you might want to move to the back porch for this process. Arrange a Play Date for your children, spouses, in-laws and pets or sequester them in another location. Bribe them with a toothsome snack. Otherwise they will want to help and they will want to explore the inner workings of the computer. Such curiosity is cute but antithetical to Proper PC Hygiene.

Step One

First, before you turn off the computer, make backup copies of anything you hold dear. Tidying the computer innards should not affect any of your data, but Murphy's Law reigns. And you needed to back up anyway. OK. Turn off the computer. Completely off. Turn off the surge protector too. Remove the surge protector plug from the wall outlet. Remove the plug from the computer. (What? You don't have a surge protector??? Go back to the store and get one before you go any further).

Step Two

Remove the assembled pens, pencils, forks, spoons, papers, gum wrappers, paper clips, Milk-Bones, credit cards, junk mail catalogues, take-out containers, and that long-lost spare key. Put this stuff someplace far away from the computer for later sorting and disposal. Carefully vacuum around the computer; the desk, the wall behind, the floor nearby. Dust the outside of the computer with your duster paying particular attention to the air vents.

Now using the brush attachment, carefully vacuum the outside of the computer but not the back connection panel. Lift the computer carefully, move to a nearby clean spot, and vacuum the spot where the computer was. Vacuum the outside of the computer fans (behind a grille) by carefully inserting the screwdriver just far enough into the grate to prevent the fan from turning, and then hold the vacuum brush away from the grate..

Coming Next: Play nice with your computer. Part Two: Steps 3, 4, 5
This article may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, email, messaging system, or mailing lists, without the written permission of the author.

March 8, 2009

Follow that Genealogy Hunch!

Sometimes you should follow your genealogy hunches. My definition of a genealogy hunch is when many of the facts don't fit your ancestor trail, although a few do, but you just have that funny feeling this might be your family tree.

I'm not saying you automatically claim the family as yours. The trick is to do more research on that specific person or family you found, and see if you can prove or disprove your genealogy hunch about them.

As an example, recently I took up a hunt for a branch of my King family that I had put on hold several years ago. The family in question consisted of father Thomas born circa 1835 in Upper Canada (present day Ontario), a wife born in England and seven children all born in Ontario between circa 1859 and 1869. The last sighting of this ancestral branch of my family tree was in 1871.

I had never been able to find them in the 1881 Canadian census or the 1880 American census, or any later genealogy records. I searched land records, vital statistics (births, marriages, deaths) and census records. The problem of finding them was made even more challenging due to the common surname KING and the common first names of the children - James, Elizabeth, Thomas and so on. Often there were several individuals who might or might not be the correct ancestor.

This weekend I pulled out the old genealogy notes and went back at it. This time I determined that I would find them in 1880/1881 census, that I would stick to that census until something turned up. Hours later and still nothing. I was becoming increasingly frustrated.

I used both and to hunt in the USA 1880 census and only for the 1881 Canadian census. I used both because each website has a different type of search engine. I used wildcards. I used soundex. I broadened my search and tried various methods - no first name, just an approximate year of birth and birth location. I tried each child (no parents). I tried a child with a father's name. A child with only a mother's name. I used approximate dates of birth and locations of birth with no first or last name. No search trick that I know turned up the family.

But I had noticed a family living in Michigan which was very tantalizing. The names of husband and wife and all the children fit with my missing family. The years of birth were also correct. But the problem was the birth locations! The father Thomas King gave his place of birth as New York instead of Ontario. He also said his parents were both born in New York where my Thomas' parents were both born in England. His wife said she was born in Ohio not England and the children's births were given as Ohio and Michigan. I checked the image in case the transcript was in error. It clearly showed the locations transcribed. But I kept coming back to that family, and was unable to discard them.

Finally I took my own advice and began tracking that family, following them forward in the Michigan census for 1900, and having a hunt on the Pilot website in the Michigan Vital Statistics. Bingo!

The 1900 Michigan census showed Thomas as being born in "Canada Eng" (which is English speaking Canada, generally Ontario), father and mother born England but with a different wife. That threw me but I turned to the Michigan Vital Statistics on and quickly found the marriages of several of the children of Thomas and his wife. Since her maiden name (Daville) was given in those records, I knew I had the right family. The next piece of the puzzle was the find of Thomas marrying to a second wife just before that 1900 census was taken. In his marriage record his father's and mother's names were given and they were the correct parents.

I spent an enjoyable evening tracing Thomas and his family in Michigan, and was even able to find some obituaries of some of his grand-children. What a lucky break but it may not have happened had I not ignored the glaring inconsistencies in those birth locations in the 1880 census. Following my genealogy hunch, and tracing the family I thought might be the right one proved to be the key. Finding those primary source records that proved the family to be the family branch of my ancestor tree was what was required and with a few more hours of research it all fell into place.

March 6, 2009

Dnyastree launches Surname Map for Canada

The following press release was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy by Dnyastree. I took a look and really enjoyed their new Surname Map for Canada. There's also one for USA and other locations.

New York, March 5, 2009 – Family network dynastree just launched the Canadian version of its famous Surname Maps. The free tool that shows the surname distribution of more than 600,000 Canadian last names is the perfect companion for surname research.

The Canadian surnames, mostly of English and French origin, can be searched for under The distribution among the provinces is shown in a coloured map,the user can choose from relative or absolute distribution. With the help of dynastree’s tool,the origin of surnames can be researched quickly and easily.

Dynastree is a fast-growing family network to build a family tree. Once the family tree is started, relatives can be invited directly to add knowledge and help to extend its reach.Together, family members can enter information on other relatives and ancestors. The communication with relatives and friends can be established and carried on even if the connection had been lost or if they live far away.

March 4, 2009

Ancestor Name Changes

I still remember the frustration I felt many years ago trying to find the origins and ancestry of my Loyalist ancestor Isaac Vollick.

I had diligently followed all the standard genealogy research procedures. I had traced backwards (with much trial and tribulation but that's another story) along my father's lines until I reached Isaac, a Loyalist with Butler's Rangers.

I had census records, land records, Upper Canada land petitions and other documented facts. I knew Isaac had been a private in Butler's Rangers 1777-1782. With much slogging through various microfilm I had found records of his enlistment years. The Loyalist and early Ontario records are sparse so it was a challenging process but over the course of 3 years I learned quite a bit about Isaac.

He settled in the Niagara area of Upper Canada (Ontario) with his wife Mary and at least 10 children. His petitions for land grants as a Loyalist contained much detail. Mary's husband, Isaac, was imprisoned three times by the Americans for his loyalty to the British King. After Isaac joined Butler's Rangers and fled to Canada, Mary was left with ten children, six of them small.

Mary continued to aid the British, and in 1779 she and the children were taken from their home at North River, by American patriots. Their home was burned, Mary and the children were marched 80 miles north through the forest and left in destitute circumstances. Mary and family made their way to Canada and reached Montreal by July of 1779. They received food rations, lodging and blankets until 1782 when they settled in the Niagara area as impoverished Loyalists.

All of this wonderful information was important as I then knew that Isaac and family had lived in New York. But I could not find any evidence of anyone with the surname Vollick in New York before or during the American Revolution!

I knew that one of Isaac's sons used the surname Follick but that was just a slightly different spelling, the phonetic representation of the name Vollick. I knew there were alternate spellings - Volk, Vollic, Valick etc. But still no luck finding Isaac or even any evidence of his last name.

Then one tiny clue jumped out - on the pay list of Captain William Caldwell's Company of Butler's Rangers 24 Dec. 1777 to 24 Oct. 1778 I found a listing for Isaac Volkenburg But no Isaac Volkenburg was found on the roster of Captain Caldwell's company, only Isaac Vollick. It suddenly occured to me that Volkenburg could be abbreviated to Volk (which was one of the alternate spellings for Isaac Vollick's surname that I had found)

Then serendipity lent a hand. This was back in the days before the Internet made our genealogy lives so much easier and faster, and I had been sending in queries to various genealogical publications in hopes of connecting with someone else searching the same family. Bingo! A letter from a woman in the Niagara Falls area changed everything.

She explained that my Isaac Vollick had in fact been born in Schoharie New York as the illegitimate son of Isaac Van Valkenburg and Maria Bradt. The Van Valkenbug family was a well researched Dutch line who had settled in New Amsterdam (New York City) and Albany area in the early 1600s. Apparently my Isaac had shortened his name while in Butler's Rangers to Valk which became recorded as Vollick and other spellings.

Further research confirmed this story and his baptismal record was soon found. Sponsors at Isaac's 1732 baptism in the High and Low Dutch Church in Schoharie were Isaac and Lydia Falkenburg [sic. should be Van Valkenburg] his paternal grandparents.

These two seemingly small acts (finding the pay list for a man with a similar name to Isaac Vollick the Loyalist, and connnecting with another researcher) proved to be huge, as confirming that Vollick had been Van Valkenburg led me down many other research paths and finding my ancestors back several more generations to the early 1600s. It also led to the discovery that I had a Mohawk ancestor and of course that led to even more exciting genealogy finds, as well as writing a book called The Van Slyke Family in America.....

So if you have a brick wall ancestor my advice is to think outside the box and don't dismiss the possibility that the surname you are looking for might have been something entirely different!

March 3, 2009

DNA Genealogy - Choosing DNA Groups to Join

When my husband and I sent for our Y-DNA Kits from and Family Tree DNA, we knew we had to choose DNA groups to join.

My Y-DNA kit was to be taken by my brother so that we could find out about our McGinnis male ancestors, while my husband's was for himself for his Massey male lineage.

So what groups should we join? The obvious choice seemed to be a surname group - McGinnis for me, Massey for my husband. But the Surname Project for McGinnis on FamilyTreeDNA only had 22 members and the description stated it was for "McGinnis from No. Ireland (Ulster)who settled in America. This project was started by testing two men whose ancestors came from Ulster to Eastern Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War .."

That didn't fit what I wanted. My McGinnis ancestors were Catholics from Northern Ireland but they settled in Canada during the Famine Years (1840s). So after some thought and further research into what was available, I opted to join Ireland Heritage My McGinnis surname was listed, and the group numbers were high. I felt there was more chance of a match with others who were related in this group.

My husband wanted to join the Massey Surname Group on but it only had one member. His decision was to join the Ireland Scotland Wales England British Isles Group which had 121 members.

We honestly had no idea how to make our choices, DNA testing was new to us both so we just decided that a criteria would be the numbers in the group, the geographic location the group was focused on had to match our known ancestral origins, and if possible, our surnames would be included in the group list.

So - our Groups were chosen, we had sent in our DNA sample kits and now we had time to do more reading in our struggle to understand what we would see when our results arrived.

March 2, 2009

Archives of Ontario UPDATE

The Archives of Ontario will be closing the doors of their 77 Grenville St location at 5:00 pm on Thursday March 26, 2009. The Archives will re-open with full service at their new facility on Thursday April 2, 2009 at 8:30 am.

The Archives' new address is:
134 Ian Macdonald Blvd
Toronto Ontario M7A 2C5

Phone numbers and email addresses will remain the same.

Visit the Archives of Ontario website for more information.

For those planning on attending the OGS Conference 2009, a Tour and Research
Day at the new Archives is planned for Friday May 29. Complete information
is available on the OGS Conference website.