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April 30, 2009

Black Sheep Canadian Ancestors Submissions

The topic for the last Canadian Genealogy Carnival was Black Sheep Canadian Ancestors

The prompt was
"Do you have a blacksheep ancestor in your family tree? Maybe one of your ancestors was a rogue, a scoundrel, a cad or just someone who done Grandma wrong...

Did great-grandma spend time in prison? Was Grandpa a bigamist? Did Great-Uncle Harry try to set fire to his neighbour's house? Most of us have one or two rebellious ancestors who didn't quite fit the mold. Even if you haven't got a blacksheep Canadian ancestor, tell us about any blacksheep Canadian.

The carnival has ended and we have some very intriguing posts about some very interesting Black Sheep in the family!

Kathryn Lake presents The Lone Axe Murderess posted at LOOKING4ANCESTORS. Kathryn tells a gripping tale of Phoebe and her lover Thomas. Don't miss this Blacksheep story!

Evelyn Yvonne Theriault presents Black Sheep and Moonshine posted at A Canadian Family. Black Sheep and Moonshine - not all Evelyn's ancestors were farmers!

Janet Iles presents Janet the researcher: Black Sheep Canadian Ancestors posted at Janet the researcher. Is someone who took part in a riot before coming to Canada, a "black sheep"? If yes, then Janet's 4th great grandfather could be called one. This is a very interesting post with lots of historical data about Berczy Settlers.

Linda Hurtrubise presents Reprobate Ancestor posted at Linda Blake Hurtubise. Linda tells us she doesn'tt have much information about this ancestor but his Ontario death record listed much more information than usual. The cause of death: "partly old age; but also the effects of bad conduct in early life" There is much more on this unusual death record. We'd all love to have an ancestor record that is so colourful. He must have made a deep impression on the registrar to rate such a detailed death record!

Earline Bradt presents Blacksheep Canadian Ancestor: The Quaker Loyalist Turncoats posted at Ancestral Notes. An intriguiging story of Loyalities and choosing sides during the 1837 Rebellion. A tragic story, occuring in a black period of our history.

Derek Green presents My Canadian Black Sheep - Daniel Norman Williams posted at The Big Ol' Green Tree. Derek's Great-Grand Uncle, Daniel Norman Williams, born in Sombra, Ontario, was hanged for murder in Oregon in 1905. The case went to the Oregon Supreme Court and established some legal precedents that are still cited in cases today.

Brian presents William Massey Paid A Heavy Price posted at Ancestors At Rest. Brian gives us very brief glimpses of his MANY Blacksheep Ancestors! But the main topic is his ancestor William Massey who stole from American Express in 1863 when it was just emerging from the Wells Fargo Company. Fascinating!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze presents Baa baa blacksheep, have you any cows? posted at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Lorine's great-grandmother's brothers spent time in jail for stealing a cow! Imagine going to jail in 1901 for a year and a half just for stealing a cow.

Well done to all the submitters! Thanks for participating in this month's Canadian Genealogy Carnival

April 29, 2009

Skeletons in The Closet

Many of us have Genealogical Skeletons in our Closets. Not our own, but an ancestor's closet. Some we know about or have heard whispers about. Others are quite a surprise when we accidentally stumble on them in our research.

My 8th. great grandmother Anna Kuhn was born about 1659, and in 1674, at the age of 15, she was married to Jorg Bruning. Jorg was an older man, and the marriage was a most unhappy one for Anna. While living at Huttengesas with her husband, she fell in love with Nicholaus Bellinger.

Ann and Nicholaus ran off together and had a son (my 7th Great-grandfather), Marcus Bellinger in 1682. Nicholaus Bellinger and Anna finally received church permission to marry, and were wed on 25 November 1685.

How do I know this? The minister of their church wrote about it in his church register book. Imagine my surprise (and delight!) when I read this entry:

"Nicolaus Bellinger and Anna, daughter of Hans Kuhn, were married 25 Nov. 1685 as per the order of the noble government. She had married some years ago Jorg Bruning at Huttengesab, but she was not compatable with him, so Bruning went from her and she from him. She went away with this Nicolaus Bellinger and had an illegitimate child - a little son, so that the aforementioned Jorg Bruning has contracted another marriage. After all this however, the above mentioned Bellinger has remained as a stranger. She sent a request to the honourable government to let them stay in the country, and this finally has been permitted by the aforementioned honourable government which ordered me to marry them with prior published penitence and to avoid further trouble and also to legitimize the rearing of this blameless child"

Nicolaus and Anna fled Germany for America with the Palatine immigration of 1709, settling in New York. Rumours persist that after a few years, the apparently perpetually unhappy Anna ran off with Nicolaus' nephew!

April 28, 2009

Finding a Removal Order for an English Ancestor

In an earlier post I talked about How to Use the National Archives United Kingdom Website to Obtain Ancestor Documents. One of the items I found, and ordered, was the Removal Order seen below:

On 18 MAY 1778, a Removal Order was served on my 5th Great Grandfather THOMAS BLANDON, DRUMMER in the Western Battalion Militia of Suffolk. Thomas, Mary, his wife, and their children Mary, Elizabeth, Ann, Thomas & Susannah were ordered removed from St. James, Bury St. Edmunds and sent to Wenhaston. Source: Removal Order FC189/G4/14. Suffolk, Ipswich Branch, WENHASTON PARISH RECORDS Date: 1778.

I wasn't sure why a Removal Order would be issued and what the circumstances were surrounding one. So I did some research and found out that inn 1662 England an Act of Settlement was passed to define which parish had responsibility for a poor person. A child's birthplace was its place of settlement, unless its mother had a settlement certificate from somewhere else stating that the unborn child was included on the certificate. From the age of 7 the child could have been apprenticed and gained a settlement for himself or he could have obtained settlement for himself by service by the time he was 16.

After 1697, the poor were allowed to enter any parish in search of work, as long as they had a Settlement Certificate signed by the church wardens and overseers of their place of settlement and two magistrates guaranteeing to receive them back should they become chargeable. No one was allowed to move from town to town without the appropriate documentation.

If a person entered a parish in which he did not have official settlement, and if it seemed likely he might become chargeable to the new parish, then an examination would be made by the justices or parish overseers. From this examination on oath, the justices would determine if that person had the means to sustain himself and, if not, which was that person's parish of settlement. As a result of the examination the intruder would then either be allowed to stay, or would be removed by means of what was known as a Removal Order.

A Removal Order was sometimes accompanied by a written pass to the parish of settlement showing the route to be taken. This would apply even within a city or town which consisted of more than one parish. Your parish of settlement was obliged to take you back.

Removal Orders would often take a person or a family back to a place of settlement miles across the country, sometimes to a parish they had only known briefly as a small child. It was not uncommon for a husband and wife to have their children taken from them, each being removed to separate scattered parishes.

Apparently a Settlement Certificate would have far more genealogical information but I wanted to see that Removal Order so I sent off for a copy. The documents I ordered just arrived this week (pretty quick service!) and I'm pleased that the Removal Order gave the ages of each of Thomas & Mary's children.

I also ordered two Bastardy orders and one Bastardy Examination for my ancestors, and will talk about those and the genealogical information in them in another post.

The Removal Order is a form document with blanks to fill in, which indicates to me that there must have been a lot of them served! What a wonderful item to find. If you have English ancestors, why not have a look online? You might be surprised at what is there.

April 26, 2009

My Missing Grandmother Found!

Recently I posted about my grandmother's missing ashes. Grandma died in Owen Sound in 1985 and was supposed to be interred with my grandfather in Guelph, and a marker attached to his tombstone. But there was no marker and the Cemetery has no record of a burial anywhere in their cemetery for her.

My parents were to be interred in the same plot. Their marker was completed and added last week. So earlier in the week I took my mother and father's ashes to Guelph for their interment. I decided that on my return home I would start phoning funeral homes in Owen Sound and look for an obituary for Grandma (thanks to readers for helpful suggestions on how to find my grandmother!)

Much to our surprise, when the plot was opened for my parents' ashes, the gravedigger found an unexpected urn. A label read "Ruth Bates" - my grandmother! But the urn was not buried at the depth the Cemetery requires and their conclusion is that someone (my uncle no doubt) surreptiously interred Grandma without notifying the cemetery. That would explain the lack of a marker, which my auntie (Grandma's daughter) swore she and her husband ordered. It seems my uncle did some digging on his own, then fibbed to my aunt about the marker.

The cemetery assured me they would not remove Grandma's urn with ashes, nor would they bill me for her interment. They have added her name to their records and suggested I have either a bronze marker added to the reverse of the tombstone, or have her name and years of birth and death carved on the front below my grandfather's.

Apparently interring a loved one without going through the cemetery is becoming more prevalent! As a genealogist I don't like this - it leaves no record for future generations, and there is no marker to note that this person ever lived. I have to be honest and say that I also think it's unethical to try to bypass paying the cemetery their fee for interment. But in this case, I'm glad that Uncle didn't just toss Grandma out the car window rather than pay the fee! At least we know where she is and my siblings and I can have her name added to the stone.

Now my mother, her parents and my father are all interred together and can finally rest in peace.

April 25, 2009

Ancestry's new search and hot keys option

Yesterday while using website, I saw a notice at the top of the main Search Page "Try out the New Ancestry Search". There was a small arrow labelled "Try it" and another labelled "Tour".

Since I am on dialup I know that the Tour is probably too bandwidth intensive for me, so I clicked on Try It.

There was an explanation of the new Search features including the following:

* Type-ahead tools

As you type information into a search field, Ancestry will forecast what you’re typing and fill in the remaining fields based on information already in your tree.

* Image snapshots

View sections of newspaper and journal images highlighting your search terms to see whether a match is relevant.

* Site-wide search

Search all of Ancestry at once without sacrificing a thing. Then narrow down to new and improved categories of information.

* Contextual search tips

We’ll give you ideas to help you enter the best information possible.

I immediately got a choice of searching all of Ancestry's records or a nice list of topics and specific records I could search. That was a nice touch!

I decided to search all of Ancestry's genealogy databases. As soon as I put my cursor in the field for first name, a little comment box appeared with tips to help me. When I started to type in the Location Field for birth, a drop down list appeared (the same as the Pilot Family Search website) from which I chose the location I was about to type. I didn't ever get the Type Ahead Tools Ancestry mentioned.

Then I chose from the options of what country's collections I wanted to have as priority matches. I chose Canadian Collections, expecting that any matches would be shown with Canadian Collections first, then others. When I searched all of Ancestry's website I only got hits in Canadian collections! That's not prioritized, that's an exclusive search of one Country! Ancestry missed any matches for my ancestor (who was born in Ontario) living in the USA. I expected "priority" to mean just that - a list of matches from all databases, with the prioritized country at the top. Had the option been to search ONLY in Canadian Collections I could understand the only matches showing being from those collections.

Refining my search to PRIORITY ALL COLLECTIONS brought up the same matches as PRIORITY CANADIAN COLLECTIONS. Not good as I know from using the "old" search engine yesterday that this particular ancestor appears in several Virginia City Directories and the 1920 census for Michigan.

When I narrowed my search to search only in BDM databases, Canadian Collections as priority, I got 2 sets of England records first, then an Australian one, then American and finally at the bottom matches in Ontario Canada.

On the left of the page was a REFINE SEARCH box, where the researcher can click the fields already filled in, and quickly change them or refine them. Yesterday this feature would not work for me. Today it does. Probably just glitches so I'm not going to get too excited that it didn't work yesterday. It's quite a nice feature, very similar to the Refine Search uses.

As I scrolled down the Refine Search options, I saw, at the very bottom left of the page, a list of Hot Keys:

Hot Keys

* n - New search
* r - Refine search
* p - Preview current record
* > - Highlight next record
* < - Highlight previous record

This I really liked! I only used "r" for Refine Search and it was quick and reliable. Using hot keys meant I could look for an ancestor and if I didn't like the results I got, I could just hit "r" on my keyboard and bingo, up popped the spot where I could refine my fields. However my complaint about the Hot Keys is that the list is too far down the page! Not many people will see it, so it may have been better had Ancestry moved it up nearer the top.

That's all I've played with so far but I'll keep you posted on other discoveries, good and bad, as I make them

April 24, 2009

Border Crossings From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 online

Border Crossings From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 are now online at

This database contains records of immigrants crossing into Canada from the United States between 1908 and 1935. These records consist of border entry lists and Form 30 (individual entry forms). Information recorded in these records may include: name of immigratn, port of arrival, date of arrival, age, gender, country of citizenship, birthplace, marital status, and last permanent address.

On average, the border entry lists recorded 10-20 people per page. Form 30 was an individual form and therefore was able to record more significant genealogical information about each individual. Although the use of Form 30 officially ended in 1924, there are some records of this form that date to later years.

The amount of information recorded in these records varies according to form type and year. Form 30 consists of two images – a front and a back side. The majority of the information is recorded on the front side, but there is also important information recorded on the back. Use the previous and next buttons in the image viewer to navigate between these images. The back side may sometimes appear before, instead of after, the front.

I played around there yesterday and found quite a few documents, including some Form 30! This is a terrific addition to their existing Border Crossings: Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1956 and Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957

While I was searching the new Border Crossing records, I had a chance to try out the new Search Engine which Ancestry is bringing online soon, plus their Hot Keys. More on my experiences with that, tomorrow!

April 21, 2009

My Missing Grandmother

My Grandmother died in January 1985. She was cremated and then interred in Guelph Ontario (or so I thought until yesterday). I had actually thought she was buried in Owen Sound which is where she died. I know - as a genealogist you'd think I would have known for sure but I made an assumption.

In early 1985 I was quite ill and eventually had an operation, so when my grandmother died I was, to say the least, distracted. My mother and her older sister (Grandma's two eldest daughters) were in Florida and so their youngest sister, who lived in Owen Sound, handled all the arrangements. She (the youngest sister, my aunt) told me just last month that Grandma was actually buried with her first husband in Guelph, in the plot where my mother and father's ashes are being interred this week. Auntie said that she and her husband had a bronze plaque made for Grandma and it was attached to the tombstone.

I had a plaque made for my mom and dad and the cemetery placed it on the tombstone so my brother drove up to see it on the weekend. I asked him to have a look at Grandma's plaque and take a picture for me. On Saturday he phoned me from the cemetery to say "There's no plaque here except the one for mom and dad!" I was dumfounded but thought perhaps Auntie hadn't had a plaque done at all, or maybe Grandma was buried with one of her other husbands (she was married three times). So I phoned the cemetery but to my dismay they said Grandma was not in that plot with Grandpa. Nor was she anywhere in the cemetery under any name.

This was quite upsetting, as Auntie, although she is 86, is sharp as a tack. I doubted she would be confused over where her mother's ashes were placed! I phoned my older sister to ask what she remembered of Grandma's death, and had she gone to a service for her. I figured a service would have been held wherever Grandma was interred. But sis had moved that year to another province and so she knew very little. So I phoned my older brother but all he could recall was that yes, a service had been held but for some reason he'd been unable to go so didn't know where it took place.

After some thought, I called auntie and casually asked her if I was mixed up about Grandma's resting place, as there was no plaque on Grandpa's tombstone. No, she said, Grandma was laid to rest with her father (Grandma's first husband) and the family had gone to a graveside service. I was not going to tell her that her mother was missing so I tried to casually get more details from her. What emerged is very puzzling and I am hoping by writing about it here, readers might have some ideas for me on what I should or could do next.

Auntie said that when Grandma died, she and her husband (my uncle) were in Cuba and so their oldest son had to take care of things until they returned in March. Auntie said the ashes were kept by the Funeral Home (she couldn't recall the name) until March - but very unwillingly. Apparently the Funeral Home wanted to be paid for the cremation and storage of ashes as they said they didn't normally keep ashes and they wanted them out. But Auntie said Uncle couldn't pay until they came back in March and please be patient.

After their return home in March, Auntie said arrangements were made to have Grandma interred in Guelph and a plaque made. This is where it gets fuzzy as I could not ask WHO made the arrangements and HOW the ashes got to Guelph, without arousing Auntie's suspicions.

My next call was to her oldest son, my cousin. He said that all he was responsible for was clearing out Grandma's room in the Old Age Home where she was living. He had no money to pay the Funeral Home and knew his father would pay in March so he had no dealings with them (the Funeral Home) He did not know about a service, for some reason he had not attended. But he supported my belief that his mother (my aunt) is not confused, she's sharp as a tack and if she says her mother was to be buried in Guelph with her first husband, then that is what she was told.

I can't think of anyone else in the family I can ask. My mother and her sister are gone now, and they were not home from Florida in time for a service held in March/April anyway. My other cousins (Grandma's grandchildren) are either estranged from the family, in nursing homes themselves, or simply unavailable. My uncle, who would have paid the Funeral Home, is also deceased.

My plan is to phone every Funeral Home in Owen Sound and ask if they handled arrangements for my grandmother in January 1985. But that's a slim hope, the Funeral Home may not even be in existence any more. However I don't know what to do next.

I have to wonder if Uncle simply disposed of the ashes and told his wife (my aunt) that he'd had her mother interred in Guelph. If Auntie didn't actually witness the interment, she would have had no way of knowing that the ashes were not there when they held the service. And yes, that is something that Uncle might very well have done.

My second thought is that Uncle paid the Funeral Home bill, refused to take the ashes, and the Funeral Home disposed of them. Is that legal? I suspose a Funeral Home has to have some way of properly disposing of ashes that family members don't pick up. Or would the Funeral Home simply have kept the ashes for these past 24 years?? I kind of doubt it but I'm hoping that is what happened

My third thought is that the Funeral Home pulled a fast one, and told the family that they had arranged interment in Guelph, but never did. That's a tough one to swallow as there could be huge legal problems for them if they had been found out so I'm not really sold on that scenario!

Auntie did say that the Funeral Home manager was "quite horrible" and that he kept after them in February and first of March for his money and for someone to pick up Grandma's ashes, even though Uncle kept saying that he had no way to get the money to them while he was in Cuba.

So this is my question to readers of my blog - what do I do now? How do I find out what happened to my beloved Grandmother? And what do I tell Auntie? I don't want to tell her that her mother is missing. I also don't want to tell her that there's a chance her husband lied to her about her mother's interment! She knows there is no plaque (I knew she would see there wasn't one at the Memorial for my mom and dad in May, and I didn't want her to have that upset as well as just the normal emotions around burying her sister!) and while she's puzzled, she's not too upset (yet).

My sister thinks we should have a new plaque made and installed on the tombstone even though Grandma is not there, but I have a feeling the Cemetery won't allow that, as we just had mom and dad's plaque installed on that tombstone.

Any ideas for me? I'm very distressed by Grandma's disappearance as she always talked about how she would be laid to rest "With Charlie" her first husband, and how much that meant to her.

April 19, 2009

Questions on Ask Olive Tree

Next week I've got these questions answered so far on on Ask Olive Tree

* reese asked about an ancestor's arrival in virginia in 1652
* Ray asked about his father's Merchant Marine Records
* Anna asked nformation on the ship Empire State in 1852
* Brenda sent some information that may help M.R. with the question answered last week on Finding an Immigrant Russia to America

I'll work on more as the week progresses. If you have a challenging puzzle, send
it to me at and I'll do my best to answer it

These are some of the questions asked and answered over the past 2 weeks on AskOliveTree

Search the Canadian Census Records for an Ancestor

Answer to Question: When did Surnames Begin in New York?

How to Obtain a Canadian Ships Passenger List after 1936

FInding an Ancestor Who Disappears from the Records

Where to Find Handmarks

How to Find an Ancestor's Birth Location

Help Finding an Immigrant Russia to America

HINT: Use the Ethnic Name of Your Ancestor and NOT his Americanized Name when Researching!

Finding an English Indentured Servant in 17th Century America

Help to Find a Biological Grandfather

Finding Ira Totten in New Jersey

April 16, 2009

COMPLETE Canadian Census 1851-1916 Coming Online in June!

On Wednesday the 10th of June, 2009, in partnership with the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is holding a media event in Toronto to launch online the
complete Canadian Censuses from 1851 to 1916.

This collection represents a significant and historic first for Canadians. It is the first time that all available national Censuses will be searchable online, fully indexed in their entirety in one place, making it possible for people all over the country and the world to research their Canadian roots faster and easier than ever before from the comfort of their computers.

Olive Tree Genealogy will be posting more details as I get them. will also no doubt have the census records available for searching as well.

Stay tuned!

April 14, 2009

How to Use the National Archives UK Website to Obtain Ancestor Documents

Using the National Archives UK website to find information on an ancestor is fairly straightforward. However, as I learned recently, the results you obtain using a search on their website are not always held at the National Archives but at a local English Archives. And the local English Archives websites can be confusing and frustrating to use, and are often very wordy!

Based on my own recent adventure finding and ordering records for my English ancestors James King & Hannah Blandon, I thought I'd share with you what I experienced and what the final outcome was.

Step 1: Go the National Archives UK Home Page Use the search engine at the top right of the page and type in your terms. I searched for my ancestor Hannah Blandon

Step 2: Two results showing, both for a Bastardy Case involving my ancestor James King and Hannah (who later married and had more children)

Step 3: I click on the top result and see the next screen showing that the examination took place in 1791 and the documents are not held at the National Archives. They are at the SUffolk Record Office, Ipswhich Branch

Step 4: I clicked on the link to the SUffolk Record Office, Ipswhich Branch and see a screen (still on National Archives site) providing details on their location and a website link.

Step 5: I click on the link to the Suffolk Co. Archives and am taken to their home page

Step 6: It isn't really very clear what I should do next but I opt for FAMILY HISTORY link (3rd choice down on the left) and am taken to a page that shows me more options. Again it is not clear what I should do next but I decide on COPYING SERVICES

Step 7: I'm at a very lengthy page full of information on their copying services, including several links to download pdf files for forms to fill out to request copies. Again it is not clear what form(s) I need, and although the website notes that payment must be made in advance, I cannot find a form that allows me to provide credit card details. I spend quite a bit of time searching, but end up more confused than ever. I think I need the form for copying a document but it is very long, lots of legal mumbo jumbo and still nowhere to put my credit card details! It also asks for a total I am paying but although I can find a price list, I have no idea how many pages or what size pages I am going to get so cannot calculate a final cost.

Step 8: After more than an hour of hunting around the website I decide the best course is to contact them and ask what I should do. So I click on the contact address at the bottom left and carefully compose a brief email. In my email I list the documents I want (I have actually found 3). I give their official looking number, their title and brief description plus date. I then ask which form I should use to request copies and I add that I live in Canada and must order these long-distance.

Step 9: About 10 days leater I receive a very polite email informing me that yes, the documents I want, can be copied and that my total cost plus shipping is xx pounds. The woman who writes also includes the 2 forms I need to fill out and mail to them. One is the request for copies of documents, the second is a credit card form for payment (which is not available online!)

I downloaded both forms to my computer and opened the first one, but a popup window came up telling me that I needed a password as the file is protected by the Suffolk Co. Archives. Great. The second form for my credit card information opened with no problem. Then I decided to try viewing the first document as an html file in my gmail account. That worked and although it wasn't pretty, I could see that the form they sent is the form online that I thought I needed when I first started this adventure! So all I needed do was go back to the website and download that form, no need to write back to the Suffolk Co. Archives and explain that I cannot open their password protected file.

It was at that point that I realized I actually had one more document I wanted copied. So I wrote back to the Suffolk Co. Archives (directly to the woman who replied to my first email) and asked for a recalculation based on my ordering one more document. Because the English are invariably so polite (and as a Canadian I've been acccused of being that way too) I made sure I thanked her for her time and trouble and apologized for requesting another document, thereby making more work for her.

She very kindly replied within a day with my new totals. I filled out the forms and mailed them off and now I am simply waiting with eager anticipation for the records of my ancestors to arrive.

In summary, it was confusing and time-consuming to figure out how to use the websites, but after I wandered around the site aimlessly for over an hour, I had no hesitation in writing to ask for help. Although it took quite a long time for a response the staff were very kind and helpful. So if you try this, remember the 3 "P's" and you won't go wrong - perserverance, patience and politeness

April 10, 2009

Easter Bunny's Family Tree Found!

Breaking news - yesterday a little girl named Alice was playing in the garden of an old house in England when she fell down a large rabbit hole. Before climbing out she made a unique discovery. In a small wooden box under a pile of rabbit fur hats Alice spotted a yellowed letter. The letter was addressed to "Dear Easter" and signed "Uncle Wiggily", and it provided details of an interesting family tree!

The complete letter has been transcribed below:

Dear Easter,
I'm glad you asked about your family. Time is getting short for me and I think I'm the only one left who knows the stories of our family.

Your great-grandfather, Bugs, was one of three brothers (Bugs, Peter and Brer). The brothers left their home and sailed for America in the late 1800s. The ship they were on was caught up in a terrible storm and the brothers had to tie themselves to the mast. The ship sank but Bugs, Peter and Brer were lucky enough to find a plank and they climbed up on it and drifted for several days until they were rescued by the SS Lollipop.

When they got to Ellis Island, the customs officials changed the brothers' last names before allowing them to leave the ship, and so the three branches of our family began.

Bugs, Your great-grandpa, kept his Bunny name. Peter's was changed to Cottontail and all his descendants have kept that name. Brer's name was changed to Rabbit and it is from his line that our famous cousins White and Velveteen descend.

Great grandpa Bugs later met and married your great-grandmother Bunny Fufu. I don't know anything about her parents. My cousin Willy Bunny has photos and her family bible but he is stingy with the family information and refuses to share. Apparently Bunny Fufu's family bible was tossed into a fire by Indians when they attacked the settlement where she and her parents lived, but Bunny's father leapt into the flames and saved the bible. I wish Willy would not be so secretive with the information!

It gets a bit confusing, but Velveteen Rabbit, your mother, was your father Energizer's second wife and his third cousin once removed. It wasn't unusual for cousins to marry each other, but it does get confusing as we all seem to have large families.

Velveteen's father (your maternal grandfather) was Peter but I don't know too much about your mom's side of the family. I did hear there was an Angora in there somewhere way back. Some say she was a Princess and Peter rescued her from pirates!

Of course you know your grandparents - Buster and Trix. One day you should ask your grandma Trix why she calls your grandpa Buster by his nickname "Hassenfeffer" whenever she is mad at him, it's a cute story.

I've done some research on our family but am stuck on your great-great-grandmother. That would be your Great-Grandpa Bugs' mother. Great-Grandpa Bugs' father (your great-great-grandpa) was named Cadbury but I think your great-great-grandma was left by aliens. She is my brick wall. I know Cadbury called her Flopsy and they had 54 children but even though I've searched everywhere, I can't find what her SIRname was.

I guess I should tell you about the family scandal involving your Great great grandpa Cadbury Bunny. My Aunt Babbity told me she heard the grownups whispering about this when she was little. It seems that Cadbury's father fell in love with a chicken and Cadbury was the result of that love match! This might explain Cadbury's strange behaviour....

Well Easter, I think I've given you enough details to confuse you, but I hope I've gotten you interested in learning more! I know where some of the graves are of your ancestors and will take you there one day if you want to go. It's just a hop, skip and jump away.

Give my best to all the little children when you make your rounds this year,

As ever,
Uncle Wiggily

April 8, 2009

Canada 150 Project

Join Canada’s largest history project ever...
Imagine Parliament Hill, July 1, 2017 – our country’s 150th birthday.

Imagine helping 150,000 Canadians hand over their life and family stories to the Governor General for deposit in Library and Archives Canada in perpetuity.

That is what Canada 150 is determined to do. You can join in and help lead our greatest historical project ever.

You, together with many others from across Canada, can create a national legacy.

This is a project of collaboration and common vision to help Canadians understand that their stories need to be recorded and deposited safely in our Library and Archives Canada for their descendants and for researchers.

The last 60 years has primarily gone unrecorded at the family level. Letters, diaries and journals were replaced by telephone calls and now email and texting. Our history will be lost forever unless we do something to encourage Canadians to record their stories in their own book, DVD, website or multimedia collection.

We have the knowledge and skills to help them. Professionals and volunteers can get people started and help them complete their projects if necessary. There is work enough for everyone.

While helping Canadians, we can also raise funds for our not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and provide 7 years of work for: writers, editors, publishers/producers, printers, genealogical and historical society staff and volunteers, and many others.

Canada 150 can be a government and sponsor’s dream come true. A collaboration of this magnitude will touch all Canadians and enrich our heritage and collective memories while celebrating our 150th birthday as a nation and providing work during a recession. It will be a media extravaganza during the last 5 years of the project as they help celebrate our 150th birthday.

Join us at the Toronto Convention Centre on April 8, 2009 from 9:00 to 12:00 as we lay the foundation for a national, collaborative campaign to achieve this dream.

Bring your creativity, your vision and passion for our country to develop Canada’s largest historical project to date. You can be at the forefront of leading this project to its successful conclusion on July 1, 2017.

Sincerely yours,

Harry van Bommel

Executive Director

NOTE: Canada 150 is further explained on the website:

April 7, 2009

Ancestor Handmarks Revisited

I talked about Handmarks - stylized marks which represented an individual's signature - in an earlier blog post Hand Marks - Elaborate Symbols that Replace an Ancestor's Signature

As promised, I've added the handmarks of 26 early Dutch settlers who used these handmarks in 1648 in New Netherland. The handmarks are on my New Netherland Genealogy section of Olive Tree Genealogy.

For a bit of fun, I've also created my own handmark! I find the handmarks quite fascinating and suspect the symbols some of our ancestors created had meaning beyond a simple line drawing. I'm sure some individuals just drew some lines, added a loop here and a swirl there and there was a handmark. But I'm equally sure that others created a symbol that had meaning. Perhaps it represented where they lived or their status in society or a physical characteristic.

In any case my handmark has an arch which represents the bridge in Katesbridge Northern Ireland where my McGinnis ancestors originated. The cross with ^ touching the top of the arch represents a female figure - me! Under the arch is a stylized "S" for my surname Schulze.

I'd love to see what handmarks readers of this blog can come up with! Why not take a few minutes and design your own handmark (have a look first at the variety of handmarks found in those 26 settlers in 1648). Pretend you are just arriving in the Dutch colony of New Netherland (now New York state) in the 1600s. How do you sign your name to legal documents when you can't read or write?

After you create your handmark, scan it and post about it on your blog if you have one. Send me the link to your post so I can link to from my blog.

If you don't have a blog, send your handmark to me and I'll post it here. Be sure to describe what it represents. It was fun to design my own handmark even though I can read and write.

April 6, 2009

25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog is honoured to be Number 12 in the list of the 25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs as of April 3, 2009, determined by Technorati.

1 Genealogy (Kimberly Powell)
2 Eastman Online Newsletter (Dick Eastman)
3 Genea-Musings (Randy Seaver) 
4 Creative Gene (Jasia)
5 DearMYRTLE (Pat Richely)
6 AnceStories (Miriam Midkiff)
7 Genealogue (Chris Dunham)
8 footnoteMaven (Anonymous)
9 Genetic Genealogist (Blaine Bettinger)
10 Tracing The Tribe: Jewish Genealogy Blog (Schelly Talalay Dardashti)
11 GenaBlogie (Craig Manson)
12 Olive Tree Genealogy Blog (Lorine McGinnis Schulze)
13 Steve’s Genealogy Blog (Stephen J. Danko)
14 24-7 Family History Circle (Juliana Smith)
15 TransylvanianDutch (John Newmark)
16 GenDisasters (Stu Beitler)
17 Genealogy Insider @ FamilyTree (Diane Haddad)
18 Think Genealogy (Mark Tucker)
19 California Genealogical Society and Library Blog (California Genealogical Society)
20 The Genealogy Guys (George G. Morgan and Drew Smith) 
21 CanadaGenealogy, or, 'Jane's Your Aunt' (Diane Rogers)
22 Ancestry Insider (Anonymous)
23 GenealogyBlog (Leland Meitzler)
24 Ancestor Search Blog (Kathi)
25 Genealoge (Hugh Watkins) & Legacy News (Legacy Tree Software)

April 5, 2009

Petworth Project on Facebook

The Petworth Project has produced books, an archive, and a website dealing with English emigrants who came to Canada with the help of the Petworth Emigration Committee 1832-1837 and up to 1850 ( Some 2000 men, women, and children came to Canada mainly from Sussex, but also in some numbers from Surrey, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, and Cambridgeshire. They travelled through Quebec City and Montreal to Ontario, and from there they and their descendants have spread across North America and beyond.

And now Petworth has a group on Facebook-as an extension of the website. Both were developed in response to continuing interest from genealogists.

Our website form "Sharing Petworth Family History" is for new, or corrected, information about the first generation emigrants who are the subject of our books. The response showed us that family historians also appreciate a more informal forum-the Facebook group provides just that. It's a place to ask about possible Petworth connections or make contacts with other descendants of these families. It's also
a great way to share photographs of Petworth emigrants or the places associated with them.

You will find us at
Petworth Emigrants. To share your Petworth interests and join discussions you will need to register at Facebook. Registration is free and quick, requiring nothing more than a name (you can use a nickname) and an e-mail address.

Brenda Dougall Merriman, CG

April 4, 2009

April 3, 2009

Hand Marks - Elaborate Symbols that Replace an Ancestor's Signature

Many of you know that I conduct extensive research into the Dutch who settled in New Netherland (present day New York) in the early 1600s. One of the very interesting items found about these Dutch ancestors is that they used handmarks, or signatory marks.

A handmark is a representation of a signature (an individual's name).

Handmarks range from a very simple X to a stylized letter (often the first letter of the first or last name of the individual) to very elaborate designs.

The handmarks you see in the graphic in this post are just a few from "Papers Relating to the Condition of New Netherland" dating from 1643-1647 as found in Vol. 1 of Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York

The list of men making their marks on a letter sent to is as follows. I will be adding graphics to illustrate each man's handmark on my website under the New Netherland section for those who are interested or have an ancestor listed below.

Wolphert Gerrits
Barent Dircksen
Louis Crain (possibly Theunis Cray)
Cornelis Lambertsen Cool
Cornelis Jacobsen Stille
Abraham Jacobse(n)
Claes Caerlessen (Carstersen)
Claes Montelaar
Gerrit Wolpherts
George Hans (Holmes)
Hans Hansen
Thomas Sandersen
Ambrosius Loman (Lonnan)
Jan Picces
Pieter Adriaensen
Ritchert Colfeck
Heyndrick Heyndricksen
Lawrens Pietersen
Cornelis Souleman
Cornelis Swilwan
Laurens Pietersen (a different mark from Lawrens Pietersen above)
Jan Haer
Isack de Forest
Jacob Stoffelsen
Wolfert Gerritsen (a different mark than Wolfert Gerrits above)
Goris Bastelaer
Egbert Woutersen

There were men who could write their own names and did not use a hand mark.They were Jan Snedeker, Sibert Claesen, Abram Planck, Cornelis Wiletnsen, Pieter Colet, Abraham Pietersen, Jan Jansen Damen, Heindrick Heindricksen Kype, Cornelis Volckers, Govert Loockemans, Isack de Forest, Isack Allerton, Barent Jansen, Willem Adriaensen, Thomas Hall, Claes Jansen Ruter, Wilheim Gaulders, Jan Verbauge, Cornelis Dircksen Hoochlant, Benjamin Pawley, Richard ____, Cornelis Twits (probably meant for Swit), Jan Pathaway, P.R. Gichhous, Phlipe Grave, Albert Jansen, Cornelis Willemsen, Pieter Linde, Ritchert Gebbers, Jacob Couwenhoven, Reiner Jansen and
Jan Verbrugh

Thanks to Ted Snedeker for spotting these handmarks and passing the information on.

April 2, 2009

Immigration Explorer - an Interactive Map

"Select a foreign-born group to see how they settled across the United States."

That's what the heading says on this page I was exploring late last night. It's an interactive map and I found it really interesting.

The map is online at The New York Times. There's a sliding scale for time period 1880 - 2000.

Basically the map shows us immigration patterns since 1880. We can see at a glance where immigrants from various countries settled, and how much of the state they inhabit. You can use the sliding scale for the time period you want, this allows you to see changes in settlement patterns. You can choose a foreign-born group (Canadian, English, etc) and see where they tended to settle.

Very interesting! One caveat - don't try this if you are on dialup as I am. I had to go to my sister-in-law's house (in civilization) to use this map!

April 1, 2009

Finding English ancestors in the National Archives UK

I've been enjoying searching the National Archives website The National Archives is the official archive of the UK Government and they hold over 10 million records.

I've discovered that you can search the archives, then order records of interest if an ancestor's name appears. For example I searched for my King and Dawson ancestors who lived in Suffolk England in the late 1700s, early 1800s. Lo and behold I found 6 very interesting records, including a Bastardy maintenance order served on my 4th great grandfather James King in 1792. The order was for the maintance of a child of Hannah Blandon, single woman - who later married James and became my 4th great grandmother.

Depending on the record you find, you can order it online through the National Archives or you order it from whatever archives has it in their possession. In my case the Bastardy order is housed in the Ipswich Record office, and a clickable link was provided to their website. I wrote to the email address provided and asked for the records. It took several days but I received a reply quoting me a cost (very reasonable) and two forms to fill out and mail back.

I spent several hours last week searching this amazing resource and plan to go back tonight to search for more English ancestors.