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March 31, 2011

Chatting With Jay Verkler, CEO of FamilySearch International

Shortly after the Awards Ceremonies at the end of the 3-day RootsTech Conference, I sat down with Jay Verkler, CEO of FamilySearch, International. I asked Mr. Verkler how he came up with the idea of combining Technology with Genealogy to create RootsTech. "GenTech had the idea first" he said. Almost every idea was a team effort. The key was thinking together with others and as such, the entire team was part of the creative process in developing the conference.

What about the older generation, I asked. Often they are afraid of new technology or they like using it but don't care how it works. How would Mr. Verkler suggest we reassure this group and find ways to engage them? Mr. Verkler's response was a surprise. He pointed out that some people are at a stage in their lives where they don't care about learning anything new. And that's absolutely okay. But said Verkler, they probably care about getting things done. So who can they ask for help? One of their children? A friend? As long as someone is there to help them, do they really need to learn the new technology? Mr. Verkler doesn't think we should drag them, kicking and screaming, into it. But he also pointed out that sometimes it just takes a bit of encouragement to get reluctant users to plunge in because they are often more capable than they realize.

The bottom line is that the new technology tools are much better than doing things manually. FamilySearch has a course on the basics - using a computer, using a mouse and so on. Volunteers at a local Family History Center are always willing to help, as are the staff at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Libraries offer assistance too. All we need to do is encourage the reluctant or fearful users to find someone or some place that will help them.

I moved on to a question about participant feelings about their RootsTech experience. At the time of the interview, the email surveys had not gone out and I asked Mr. Verkler if he had any feedback at this point. He replied that of approximately 500 comments already turned in at that time, about 498 responded that they were having a great time.  Only 2 of the 500 had suggestions for improvement. [Note: These were the numbers a half hour after RootsTech ended]

What did Mr. Verkler hope RootsTech participants would take away with them? Mr. Verkler prefaced his answer with an analogy. RootsTech was like making a cake, he said. You put together the best ingredients but you aren't absolutely sure how it will turn out or how it will taste. However many participants said they learned some practical solutions. Connections were made between vendors, with others and with associations. CEOs said they would return to a future RootsTech Conference just to work with such highly talented people. And there would be another Conference, in fact the dates for RootsTech 2012 are established (February 2-4, 2012).

I asked Mr. Verkler to take out his crystal ball and tell us what technical innovations are forthcoming. He replied that we will see new things at RootsTech 2012 that don't exist in the public domain at the time of this writing. Mr. Verkler could not share specific details at this time but he stated that technology will be moving at a faster rate than seen in the past.  RootsTech 2011, being the first, was an experiment to see what worked and what didn't. You must do more to determine if you have the right mix. If future Conferences are as good or better than 2011 then we can look for it to be a permanent feature. It will always be in Salt Lake City as there are  many good reasons to  hold it there. The Family History Library being nearby is a huge plus. He added that RootsTech will keep its theme and try to be effective not necessarily huge.

Mr. Verkler pointed out that RootsTech is about the community. The people invited to participate (technologists, genealogists, speakers, companies) were some of the best in the world. The notion of participating as part of the community to make it better is extremely important. And RootsTech 2012 will be even better and stronger than RootsTech 2011.

March 30, 2011

Win a 12 month Geni-Pro Account on OliveTreeGenealogy Blog

Have you visited yet? Geni is a website devoted to helping genealogists build their online family tree. Using the basic free service at, users add and invite family members to join their family tree.  Geni then compares it to other trees. Matching trees are  merged into a single world family tree, which currently contains nearly 50 million living users and their ancestors.

Good news!  Geni is running a contest where 3 subscribers to their free service can win a 12 month Pro Account A pro account provides users with many extra services.  

Today's other good news is that readers of Olive Tree Genealogy blog can also win a free 12 month Geni Pro Account! All you need to do to enter for a chance to win is follow these instructions:

1. Share this blog post on Twitter OR Facebook by using the icons at the bottom of this post.

2. Send an email to after you have shared this blog post on Twitter or Facebook and in ONE sentence tell me why you want to win a Geni Pro account

One winner will be chosen from entries received at the email given above. One entry per person.

If you tweet this post more than once you will be disqualified.

If you send your entry to any other email other than it will not be accepted.

1. No purchase necessary.
2. Winner will be chosen from entries received.
3. One winner from readers of Olive Tree Genealogy Blog will be chosen to receive a prize.
4. The contest  ends at 3PM PT April 1st, 2011.
5. You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
6. The winner will be notified via your provided contact information the week following the end of the contest.

March 28, 2011

My Ancestor Wall

My ancestors are hanging on my living room wall. I collect antique picture frames and then I take a photo of an ancestor, have it enlarged and insert it into the frame. Then it gets a place of honour on my wall.

My main Ancestor Wall

There are a few things you might want to do if you are going to have an Ancestor Wall. First you need to choose a photo that is in focus. It doesn't matter how small the photo is, it's the sharpness of the image that counts.

You should choose a photo that suits your frame. You don't want a family group photo in a tiny frame. Likewise you don't want Great grandma's head and shoulders photo in a large one.

After you choose your frame and your photo you need to pick a suitable mat. That's a personal choice but you should think about colour - you want the mat to go with the frame and the photo, you don't want it to clash. You should also think about the size of the mat, the bit you're going to see around the photograph. If you make it too large, it will overpower the photo. If it's too small it won't look balanced.

I had a frame chosen for a family photo of my dad and his siblings and parents in 1916. But none of the mats we looked at seemed just right. The frame was an unusual dull beige-gold. So we chose a cream mat and my husband stained it in blotches with a used tea bag. It looks great - very antique looking and it ties in the frame colour with the photo.

We love our living room. We have a cathedral ceiling so there is a lot of wall space to fill! All three walls are hung with ancestor photos and antique art. We even have an oil painting that my husband's grandmother painted but didn't like. So she nailed it to the wall of her barn! We rescued it, cleaned it, chose a frame to suit it and now it hangs in a place of honour. You can see it in my photo above - it's the bright oil painting with orange flowers hanging top left of the photo.

So be creative and pick what you like, not what someone else tells you is good. After all you are the one who has to live with your Ancestor Wall, so it has to please you. Our Ancestor Wall would not suit everyone. The way we choose to hang our pictures would not suit everyone. But it pleases us and that's what's important. Every morning when  I go through the living room to get to the kitchen I feel a warm glow as I pass the photo of my father, my grandmother and other relatives. The pictures bring me peace and pleasure.

March 26, 2011

Update on the Search for Susan (a Step by Step Analysis part 2)

A few days ago I wrote  A Step By Step Analysis of a Genealogy Search outlining my search for Susan, the grandmother of my aunt Marge Cahoe. 

Several readers commented on that post and thanks to them, new ideas and clues arose.

Taking a Second Look

So I decided to take a closer look at a marriage I had found, but dismissed. The marriage was for Annie Angelina Gavin to John Mason in 1881. Those who have read my first post may recall that there was a 3 year old Angelina Gavin living with a mother Susan in 1871, and a 14 year old Amy or Annie Gavin with mother Susan in 1881. But I could not say with certainty that this was the same Susan with daughter born circa 1868.

Annie's marriage record was found but the record stated she was born in Guelph (location was right) to parents William Gavan and Susan Hambridge. So I dismissed Annie Angelina as being Annie, the daughter of "my" Susan.

But could Angelina the 3 year old in 1871 be Annie the 14 year old in 1881? Were they the same Susan? I was puzzled by the 1871 census since Susan's daughter Elizabeth born circa 1861 should have been there with them. I also thought Susan's maiden name was Cowan (or Gowan) and that she married John Gavan. So John Gavan should also have been with the family in 1871.

Reader to the Rescue!

Then a reader found the birth of an illegitimate daughter named Georgina Lillias (Lillian?) to Susan Gavan in 1873 in Eramosa. Aha! The wheels in my head were turning.. was Susan ever married to anyone called John Gavan??

Another Look at the Death Record Image Leads to a New Theory

I took another closer look at the image for Susan's death in 1926. What I had read as Cowan a reader pointed out was almost certainly Gowan but on a very close inspection I realized the name could actually be (drum roll please) GAVAN! 

So Susan was never married to a Gavan. The births of her first two daughters were too early for Ontario Civil Registrations so I couldn't use that method to verify my new theory. But I'd also found a Susan of the right age living in the right place with parents John Gavan and Martha in 1851. I theorized she was "my" Susan. 

Surprising Findings re Annie Angeline Gavan

I looked again at Annie Angelina Gavan who married John Mason in 1881 in Ottawa. I found her death in Ottawa in 1896. She was listed as Annie A. Gavan (odd that she wasn't listed under her married name of Mason) she died at the age of 29 years and was born in Rockwood Ontario. Rockwood is very near Guelph. Again, the right area for birth, the right age and the right last name. Unfortunately parents' names are not noted on death records for that time period so I really wasn't any further ahead. 

Then I remembered that burial records for Beechwood Cemetery  in Ottawa are online on .  I had a search through them and there she was, listed as Mrs. Annie Angeline Mason. Best of all the burial records give parents' names! Her mother was given as "Susan Gavan" and father's name was left blank. Susan Gavan! That added more weight to my new theory - that Susan never married a Gavan but was a Gavan (not Cowan or Gowan) by birth. 

Questions, Questions and More Questions

Why Annie Angeline Gavin's  mother's name appears as Susan Hambridge in her 1881 marriage, but as Susan Gavan in Annie's 1896 death is a mystery. Perhaps the minister blinked when transcribing the marriage record to the sheet to hand in to the registry? Perhaps he mixed up the surnames and the father is William Hambridge with mother Susan Gavan? Perhaps Annie was too ashamed to admit she didn't know who her father was?  I don't know the answer. But I do know that Annie Angeline is "my" Susan's daughter. 


Here's a summary of what is known  about Susan and what I theorize. You'll see that there are many discrepancies!

1851 Eramosa: Susan Gavan age 14 with parents and siblings

1861 Eramosa (Misindexed as Gueris on Ancestry): Susan Gavin age 23 with what looks like a daughter Mary E. possibly age 3 (hard to read) and parents and sibling.  I suggest that Mary E. is the Elizabeth Gavan who later married James Swindlehurst in Guelph in 1881

1871 Eramosa: Susan Gavan age 28 with daughter Angelina 3. I suggest that missing 10 year old daughter Elizabeth is living with other relatives or as a servant in another home

1873 Eramosa: Susan Gavan has an illegitimate daughter Georgiana Lillias (Lillian?)  born in Eramosa. No father's name given. 

1881 Guelph. Susan is now Susan Kehoe living with husband William Kehoe and 3 Gavan daughters Elizabeth, Annie, Teno [Tina? Gina?]

1881 Guelph. Elizabeth Gavan marries James Swindlehurst. She gives her parents' names as John Gavan and Susan (no maiden name). In reality John Gavan is Susan's father's name. Did Elizabeth think John was her father? Did she know John was her grandfather? Or was she confused, or too ashamed to reveal she didn't know who her father was? 

1891 Guelph. William and Susan Kehoe are found with children Amy/Annie age 22 and Norman age 7. Both children listed with Kehoe surname

1891 Ottawa. Annie Angelina Gavan marries John Mason. Parents' names given as William Gavan and Susan Hambridge. 

1896 Ottawa.  Annie Angeline Mason dies. Mother's name given as Susan Gavan

1900 Detroit Michigan. Sally [sic] age 51 and son Norman Cahoe born 1883 living Detroit. Susan says she bore 4 children but only 2 are alive. This agrees with what we have found so far - 3 illegitimate Cavan daughters named Elizabeth, Annie Angelina and Georgina  and a son Norman Cahoe. Elizabeth and Norman marry and have children. Annie Angelina dies in 1896. I have not discovered what happened to Georgina and do not know if Annie Angelina had children before her death.

1910 Border Crossing Canada to USA: Susan Cahoe age 60 and son Norman age 28 say they have been at Susan's daughter Elizabeth Cahoe Swindlehurst's home in Canada and are going to Detroit Michigan

1911 Guelph. Susan Cahoe age 58 and son Norman age 25

1926 Guelph. Susan dies. Her son Norman is informant. He gives her parents' names as John Gavan and Mary Thompson. I suggest Mary Thompson is the wife Martha recorded in 1851 and 1861 census of Eramosa with her husband John Gavan and  daughter Susan living with them. 

Brainstorming Welcome!   

I've found CAHOE recorded as KEHOE, KEHO and KEOGH. CAVAN has also been found as CAVEN, CAVIN. There may be more varieties in spelling that I haven't yet discovered. 

I neglected to point out that Guelph is a city in Guelph Township, Wellington County. Eramosa is a township in Wellington County (quite close to Guelph) Rockwood is a small town near Guelph. Ottawa is some distance away but finding that John Mason was a carpenter born in Ottawa helped explain why Annie Angelina would move so far away from her home.  

I would love to hear readers thoughts, comments and critiques of my theory and my findings.


March 25, 2011

Episode 6: Steve Buscemi in Who Do You Think You Are?

Tonight's the night! Who Do You Think You Are re-runs are over and tonight's episode is brand new. has once again partnered with NBC in Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are?

Steve Buscemi is featured tonight in Episode 6. All I've heard about this Episode is that Steve is looking for rogues and villains in his ancestry. So tune in at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday March 25th to see what exciting ancestors Steve discovers.

Season 2 consists of 8 episodes featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O'Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd in their search for ancestors.

March 24, 2011

A Step By Step Analysis of a Genealogy Search

A few days ago I spent some time looking over my McGinnis genealogy. I like to do that every once in a while. It helps to attack genealogy challenges with a fresh eye, and often I spot a clue I overlooked the first time around. Sometimes I spot areas where I need to find more to fill in gaps.

This time I realized I'd never gotten around to searching my aunt's family. My Aunt Marge was married to my father's brother. I knew her maiden name was Cahoe, her father was Norman Cahoe, her mother Jessie McMillan, and the Cahoe family were from Guelph Ontario, but that was it. I'd never asked my mother about her, and had not  searched for more details. I don't search back very many generations on collateral spouse lines but I do like to know a little more about each spouse.

Finding Norman Cahoe

I immediately headed to where I found Norman Cahoe easily in the 1911 census for Guelph Ontario. He was 25 years old, born in Ontario in August 1885 according to the census) and living with his 58 year old widowed mother Susan. Susan gave her birthdate as July 1852 and place of birth as Ontario.  This was easy and I was confident the rest of my search would go well. I was wrong.

The next two pieces of information were also found fairly quickly. One was a Border Crossing Record for Susan and Norman dated July 1910. The index on showed they were crossing at Vermont which puzzled me but a look at the image revealed that in fact they crossed at Port Huron Michigan. An interesting and misleading error with Ancestry's indexing!  Susan was said to be a 60 year old widow (which didn't match the 1911 census but as we all know, ages can vary from one record to another). Norman was a single man aged 28 and they were on their way to Detroit. They listed their nearest relative in Canada as Susan's daughter Elizabeth Cahoe Swindlehurst. Exciting - now I had another family member and what looked like her married name.

Finding Susan's Death Record 

Leaving that record for a bit, I continued my search for Susan and Norman in earlier records. I hoped to find Norman's father's name. But no luck. I did however find Susan's death registration and now my quest became more challenging. Susan died in Guelph in 1926. Her son Norman was the informant and she was listed as living in the same home as him. A researcher might assume that Norman would know quite a bit about his mother since he had lived with her for so long. And in fact he'd provided her father's full name (John Cowan born Ireland) as well as her mother's (Mary Thompson born Scotland).

But he'd also given her age as 89 years old and her date of birth as July 31, 1836. That was very different from the census and Border Crossing record, but it was definitely the right Susan Cahoe. But her date of birth in the census was 1852. According to the Border Crossing Record it was circa 1850. And now her death record (with info provided by her son) gave 1836.  That seemed wrong to me because it would make Susan almost 50 when Norman was born. Not impossible but something to keep in mind as I continued my search.

The Quest for Susan Becomes More Intriguing

And now my search became more difficult. Try as I might  I could not find Susan or Norman or Elizabeth (whose age I didn't know) in 1901, 1891, 1881 or earlier census records. I used wildcards. I used Susan* to allow for Susannah or Sussan. I tried Norm* to allow for a shortened name.  I tried C*ho* as the surname. Finally after many hours of searching I decided to use only first names, no surnames, and Norman's birth year plus/minus two. Bingo. There they were in the Guelph 1891 census as Kehoe. Kehoe? My heart skipped a beat. The Kehoe family first intermarried with my McGinnis family in  1831 - almost 100 years earlier.

The Kehoe (also spelled Keogh) family were among the first Irish settlers in Puslinch Township (very near Guelph). They had lived briefly in New York where two Keogh sisters met and married two McGinnis brothers. Then the families settled in Puslinch.  I was, as the British say, gob-smacked. I never realized that Aunt Marge connected to this family. I'm quite sure she had no idea either.

Contradictions Galore

What else did I find? Many more confusing and contradictory details from various records came to light. Taking them all and studying and analyzing them carefully provided me with new clues and leads. I still have more to find but here's a summary of what I've found so far:

1900 Census Detroit Michigan - Sarah [sic] Cahoe, 51 born July 1848 [yet another year of birth!!], widow, had 4 children, 2 are living, father born Ireland, mother Scotland, immigrated 1890, says she is naturalized [note to self - hunt for her naturalization record] living with son Norman born August 1883. He says his father was born New York and mother in Ontario. Another clue revealing father's place of birth

1891 Census Guelph Ontario - William KEHO [sic] age 47 b USA, father born USA, mother born England with wife Susan, 46 [giving estimated year of birth as 1845], daughter Amy (or Anny) age 22 born Ontario and son Norman 7 born Ontario.

So it appears William Kehoe died between 1891and 1901.  I have not been able to find his death in Ontario or Michigan.

Birth Records Ontario revealed several children born in Guelph between 1881 and 1898 to James Swindlehurst and Elizabeth Gaven, with one record showing Elizabeth's surname as (drum roll please!) Keogh in brackets with the surname Gaven written above.  Their first child was named Susannah and was almost certainly in honour of Elizabeth's mother. But why the surname Gaven?

Marriage Records Ontario revealed a marriage in 1881 for James Swindlehurst and Elizabeth Gavin [sic] who said she was 21 years old, born in Eramosa Township to parents John & Susanna Gavin.  Bingo! Susan(nah) was apparently married twice - to John Gavin/Gaven/Gavan and then to William Kehoe/Cahoe/Keogh. And if daughter Elizabeth was born circa 1861 then Susan(nah) was surely at least 16 years old, so I might assign a tentative year of birth of 1845 or earlier. 

I love it when a genealogy search has so many twists and turns you feel like you're in a maze and can't quite figure out which turn to take next!

1881 Census Guelph - William Kehoe age 37, wife Susan 38 with 3 daughters: Elizabeth 21 (yay - she is the Elizabeth who married James Swindlehurst), Annie age 14 (she must be the child Amy/Anny age 22 in 1891) and another daughter age 7 whose first name is very difficult to read. It looks like Teno and I've not yet figured out exactly what the name says.

1871 Census Eramosa - Susan Gavan age 28 with daughter Angelina age 3. Is this the Susan I am looking for? Who is Angelina? Where is Elizabeth who should be 10 years old. Where is her husband John Gavan?

Ontario Death Records - John Gavin died August 1875 in Eramosa Township. He was age 77 and born Ireland. Is this the husband of Susan?

Still Searching

So I am still on the trail of the elusive Susan.

Here is what I have found:

* 1926 Death in Guelph
* 1911 Census Guelph, widow with son Norman
* 1910 Going to Detroit Michigan with son Norman
* 1900 Census Detroit Michigan, widow with son Norman
* 1891 Census Guelph with husband William Kehoe and 2 children (1 son, 1 daughter)
* 1881 Census Guelph with husband William Kehoe and 3 daughters
* 1881 Marriage in Guelph of daughter Elizabeth Gavan to James Swindlehurst

Where oh where is Susan before 1881??!!

Here is what I have not found yet:

* Death of William Kehoe between 1891 and 1901, probably in Ontario or Michigan
* Susan Cowan/Gavan/Kehoe in 1851, 1861 and 1871 census
* Deaths of John Cowan and/or Mary Thompson Cowan (Susan's parents)
* Census records for John Cowan and wife Mary (Susan's parents)
* Census records before 1881 for William Kehoe who was born circa 1846 New York
* Birth record for Norman Cahoe 1883-1885 in Ontario
* Marriage record for William Kehoe/Cahoe/Keogh and Susan Cowan Gavan circa 1875-1883
* Death record for Anny/Amy Gavan born circa 1869 Ontario

March 23, 2011

Success! WW2 Lost Dog Tags Being Returned to American Soldier

Alex in Germany had a WW2 American soldier's dog tags that he wanted to return and I posted the details and a scan of the tag yesterday. I asked for help from our readers and wow, what a great team!

Thanks to Lisa, Sam, Cheri, Tara and Kathy for working so hard to find Donald's descendants. Not everything they found was posted here as much of it referred to individuals who were probably still living. But they found Donald and his wife, both alive and well! Sam phoned Donald and spoke to him then put him in touch with Alex.

I've spoken to Donald's daughter and grandson and they tell me that Donald is very excited to know that his dog tags have been found and are being returned to him. His daughter told me that her dad  is 86 and retired from Hughes Aircraft, Army radar corps.

What a great happy ending! I've asked for details on how, where and when the dog tags were lost and hope to have more information within the next few days

Here are the cases my wonderful readers have worked on (and in several cases - FOUND A DESCENDANT!)

Let's Send a WW2 American Marine's Dog Tags Home!

Help Find a WW2 Soldier from Illinois

American Soldier's Lost WW2 Dog Tags Going Home!

Photo of American Lieutenant MIA, Dog Tags Found

WW2 American Soldier's Dog Tags Found

MIA bracelet for Illinois soldier Vietnam War - can we find a descendant?

Finding Doris - another bracelet needs to be returned to family

March 22, 2011

Send an American WW2 Soldier's Dog Tag Home

Alex from Germany has found another WW2 American Soldier's Dog Tag. You might remember Alex from the Thomas James Lilliard Dog Tag.

With the amazing help of my readers, Thomas Lilliard's family was found and the dog tag returned to them. Now Alex wants our help to find the family of Donald G. Watts whose dog tag photo and information is below. Let's send Donald's dog tag home!

You can comment here on this blog post with information you find, but if concerns individuals who may be living, please send it to me privately at (replace AT with @)

14167381 T43 44

Working as a team, we've had success with other found Dog Tags

Here are the cases my wonderful readers have worked on (and in several cases - FOUND A DESCENDANT!)

Let's Send a WW2 American Marine's Dog Tags Home!

Help Find a WW2 Soldier from Illinois

American Soldier's Lost WW2 Dog Tags Going Home!

Photo of American Lieutenant MIA, Dog Tags Found

WW2 American Soldier's Dog Tags Found

MIA bracelet for Illinois soldier Vietnam War - can we find a descendant?

Finding Doris - another bracelet needs to be returned to family

March 21, 2011

Maine Genealogical Society Spring Conference

Maine Genealogical Society's Spring Conference is to be held April 23rd in Winslow, Maine

The featured speaker is John Philip Colletta who will be discussing how to use Federal Records in your
genealogical research.

More info and registration forms can be found at the workshop's web page:

March 19, 2011

Ready for a Genealogy Survey?

Are you an avid genealogist? If you answered yes, you may want to take this new genealogy survey being conducted by Myles Proudfoot.

Myles wrote to me to say that he attended RootsTech this year

"...and came away feeling very inspired to go discover more about the new generation of genealogists. As a way to give back to the genealogy community I have created a research survey about people's genealogy habits, attitudes and origins..."

Myles went on to say that he

"...will be happy to share the results with helpful bloggers, libraries, family history organizations or societies at no cost. If the results are really interesting I hope to share a paper at the next RootsTech about the new generation of family historians...."

Myles wants  to hear from genealogists  from all over the world. I took the survey and found it quite interesting.

March 18, 2011

Musings About Immigrant Ancestors on a Rainy Friday

I've always wondered why many genealogists tend to say things like
"My ancestor(s) came over to Ellis Island (insert any country/port you want) in 1911 (insert any year)" 
For many (most?) of us this isn't a correct statement! Many of us are descended from different ancestral immigrants who arrived in various ports/countries in different years and from different countries. Of course some are first generation in our country of residence and so ca  correctly make the statement. But those who are not the first generation probably cannot.

Do researchers simply pick a favourite ancestor and not bother mentioning all the other immigrants we descend from?

Or do researchers pick a time frame and a port that appeals to them, ignoring all the other arrivals?

I get the impression  that many people in America want to have an Ellis Island arrival and a Mayflower arrival. I don't  care about having an ancestor that fits into either or both of those two categories and it's always interested me that many genealogists do.

I'm not criticizing, I'm just curious. 

My earliest immigrant ancestor that I know of was Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke, a young Dutch lad who arrived in New Netherland (present day New York) in 1634. My most recent immigrant ancestors were my maternal grandparents who left England and arrived in Quebec Canada in June 1913.  I have many other ancestors who came to N. America at different times, and from different countries.

So what do I tell other genealogists or family or friends if asked? Do I choose my favourite time/port/country? Do I choose my earliest? How about my most recent? I've learned that when asked what I consider an imprecise question such as "when did your ancestors come to this country?" I can't give a detailed precise answer. If I do,  the questioner's eyes glaze over, they fidget, and I see them rapidly losing interest.

So I simply say
"My ancestors came over at different times but my very first ancestor to arrive was in 1634
It's an imprecise response to an imprecise question and being a bit of a nit-picker it bothers me. But it's the best I can come up with.

March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day: Win a Trip for Two to ireland!

Immigration Collection
Do you have Irish ancestors?

If yes, you are definitely going to be interested in the St. Patricks Day promotion ending on Sunday, March 20th.

This promotion includes brand new Irish content just available on, PLUS a sweepstakes for a trip for two to Ireland!

If you use the link "Get Started" in the graphic in this blog post, you will be taken to Ancestry and there you can enter the contest to win the trip for two to Ireland in their "True Irish Roots Sweepstakes"

Good luck in the sweepstakes! 

Shoemaker's Ledger, Lunenburg Nova Scotia

Shoemaker's Ledger, Lunenburg Nova Scotia

March 17, 1897: Josiah Garret, pair boots soled heal 85 cents

March 17, 1898: John Rissor, shoes repaired, 25 cents

March 16, 2011

Mocavo - a NEW Genealogy Search Engine

Mocavo launched yesterday and it's definitely worth a look.

Quoting from the website

The world’s largest free genealogy search engine,, provides genealogists access to the best free genealogy content on the web including billions of names, dates and places worldwide. seeks to index and make searchable all of the world’s free genealogy information.

I took a peek today and it's pretty darn good. The search is fast. Results lead you directly to the website where the genealogical information is found. There's no sneaky trying to keep you in a frame of the original website. Websites that snag the visitor in a frame make it so you never really know where you are or where you found the information. Mocavo doesn't do that and kudos to the creator(s) for keeping it honest!

Mocavo is new so the indexing of genealogy data sites is not complete. There is a link where you can suggest a site you think should be included in the search results so that will speed things up once visitors start utilizing that ability.

I tried a couple of genealogy searches and was impressed with the speed. I'm going to be watching Mocavo closely over the next few weeks to see how it grows. You might want to check it out at

March 15, 2011

Ada Harland's Diary England Mar. 15, 1914

Mar. 15, 1914

Sunday. Morn. Went to S. James to Church with Pa. Aft. stayed in [can't read] to B./S. Martin's [can't read rest]

Finding a Palatine Ancestor

About 18 years ago I discovered I had Palatine ancestors. I had no idea what a Palatine was. This is where research of historical events and peoples comes into play. Finding a new group of ancestors often means you need to research what that group experienced, where they lived, why they immigrated and when, and just about anything you can find out about them.

The Palatinate or German Pfalz was subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. As well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708 and 1709, the harshest in 100 years. 

Spotlight On Palatine Genealogy
Search for Palatine Denizations (Naturalizations) 1708 at

The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4 000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest. 

Palatine Immigrants to New York
Search for Palatine ancestors in Palatine Ships Lists to New York or Palatine Child Apprentices 1710-1714 at

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival. 

Pennsylvania Palatine Ancestors
Start your research with Palatine Ships to Pennsylvania 1727 to 1808 online at

Over the next 100 years, impoverished Palatines fled from Germany to America - many arriving in Pennsylvania. Olive Tree Genealogy has a Pennsylvania German Pioneers Project which includes the list of ships carrying Palatines from Germany to Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 as well as names of passengers, Oaths of Allegiance and Ships Passenger Lists. 

March 14, 2011

So Many Apps, So Little Time!

Do you like to be notified via your iPhone or iPad the minute someone mentions you on Twitter, or sends you a message or comments on something you posted or liked on Facebook? Do you hate the normal push notifications on your iPhone or iPad?

If yes, then you might like this little (free) app I recently installed on my iPhone and iPad. It's called Boxcar and it's been around for awhile. I didn't hear about it until November when I read a review on TechCrunch

I'm always on the lookout for a good app. There are so many that sometimes I feel it's impossible to make a choice! So I like to find reviews by people or companies I trust and then try the app myself.

I downloaded Boxcar from the App Store last month and set it up for my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I really like it. I can't tell you it has a lot of specific genealogical uses but there are so many iPhone and iPad apps that I thought I'd share one I use and like. And no, I don't get paid anything to promote Boxcar, I just like it!

You can set Boxcar up to send you instant notifications on your Email accounts, RSS feeds (so you could get notified when your favourite genealogy blogs are updated), Foursquare and many other services.

There's also a paid upgrade to Boxcar which eliminates ads but they're very unobtrusive in a bar across the bottom of your device - so for me that's not a big deal.

If you try Boxcar and you think of a great way to use it to help with genealogy, please let me know by way of a comment here on my blog. I'm always looking for ways to incorporate my iPhone or iPad apps into my love of genealogy.

March 12, 2011

From Theory to Fact: 30 Years in the Making

For 30 plus years I've searched for a record showing where my McGinnis family came from in Ireland. I don't mean the town or village (although that would be nice), I mean the County.

Lest you think I'm a pretty bad genealogist who can't find what might seem to be a simple little record, let me explain:

My McGinnis roots stem from a large family group that arrived in Puslinch Township, Wellington County Ontario circa 1831. That's early for Ontario. At that time it was a wilderness called Upper Canada and was very sparsely populated.

As anyone who has searched for ancestors in Upper Canada can testify, genealogy records pre 1851 are few and far between. There are no census records (they didn't begin until 1851), no vital registrations (they didn't start until 1869) and church records are sparse.

If, like mine, your ancestors were Catholics in Ontario you're pretty much out of luck for church records as most are in the hands of local priests who have them locked securely away. The public is not allowed access even to older records in the mid 1800s.

There were few newspapers in that time period. Of the few that were published, not many have survived. Those that survive for the area I need are not indexed. So an approximate date of an event is a necessity in order to hunt for an obit or other record.

Ships passenger lists were not archived until 1865. There are substitutes but my McGinnis don't show up on any. Don't get me wrong - there ARE some records for this early time period in Ontario - tax and assessment records, land records, and a few other miscellaneous record sets. But every local area has different records that have survived.  So it's a long process to find out what records exist and where they are kept.

Back to my Irish family who arrived from somewhere in Ireland circa 1831. I have land records for them. I have tax and assessment records back to 1833. I have death records. I have marriage records. I have some Catholic Church records of baptisms in the 1840s. I have  Catholic Church burial records for many of them. In fact with my 30 plus years of research on all branches of the original McGinnis settlers, I've got an entire filing cabinet drawer full of relevant documents.

In order to learn where in Ireland my McGinnis family originated I have searched all 9 children down several generations. I've hunted for obituaries and death records in particular, praying for a mention of a town or county in Ireland.  Nothing.

However there was one son for whom I have not been able to find a death record or obituary. I knew he died between 1881 and 1891. I knew where he lived. But nothing could be found.

Family lore from descendants of his branch claimed Belfast as his place of birth. Family lore from my branch claimed Belfast as the place of birth of my great-grandfather's sister.

I had my brother's DNA done. We linked in with McGinnis families near Belfast. I contacted a descendant of one of the two known sisters from Ireland. She had early photos and on the back of one was written, in period handwriting, "Katesbridge Ireland" Katesbridge is in Co. Down and not far from Belfast.

This was all pretty exciting for me as it definitely gave me enough clues and pieces of circumstantial evidence to hesitantly proclaim that PERHAPS my Joseph McGinnis was from Katesbridge or Belfast in Co. Down. Perhaps.

Still unable to find a death date for the one remaining brother (Hugh) who was born in Ireland, I set my research aside. Then the breakthrough - two amazing women who have written several history books, spent many years going through newspapers to gather obituaries for (drum roll please!) people who had lived in Puslinch Township.  Doesn't sound impressive? It is. "A Celebration of Lives: Obituaries of Puslinch Township Wellington County Ontario" was published recently as a two-volume set consisting of 1,408 pages. There are over 6,500 obituaries. It's impressive.

It had limited printing but I managed to get the last copy. It arrived last week. Of course I skipped right to the "M" pages and unbelievably there it was - an obituary for my Hugh McGinnis of Hespeler. His obit stated he was born in Co. Down Ireland.  I know an obituary is only as reliable as the person giving the information but it is another piece of evidence. I wish I could find his death registration but still no luck, even with now knowing the month and year and location of his death.

This morning I scrolled through every image on for a period of 12 months from his death with no success. His death is not there. But I have the obituary and that thrills me! It adds to the growing weight of clues.

Second wonderful item - Hugh's wife was born in USA circa 1810. Due to finding other bits and pieces of clues, including finding her parents' and siblings' names, I found a record in 1830 in Potsdam New York which I was pretty sure was her family. Pretty sure, but not positively proven, so not good enough for me.

Did I mention that one of Hugh's brothers married one of his wife's sisters? The finding of the Potsdam record was important because I know that Hugh (and probably his siblings) was in America before 1831. This would give me more locations for searching if my theory about Potsdam was correct.

And there it was in my new-found obituary book. The obit for Hugh's wife stating that she was born in Potsdam New York in 1810!

I love it when a theory becomes fact. Proven fact. I don't care how long it takes, I refuse to give up! And the moral of my story is that you should never give up either. You never know when that little tidbit of information will fall into your hands. Maybe it wasn't available when you first began your research. New data is being found and transcribed all the time. Who knows, maybe the piece you need is waiting for you right now.

So stop reading this blog post and go back and look over your earlier research! Is there a clue there? Something you couldn't find 10 or 15 or more years ago, but  maybe now you can? What are you waiting for???!!

March 11, 2011

Six RootsTech Videos Online

And RootsTech just keeps on giving... For those who missed the amazing RootsTech Technology-Genealogy Conference in February, now's your chance to watch a few selected videos

The following Videos are now online for all to enjoy:

* Jay Verkler, February 2011 Presenter: “RootsTech: Turning Roots, Branches, Trees Into Nodes, Links, Graphs”
* Barry Ewell, February 2011 Presenter: “Digitally Preserving Your Family History”
* Curt Witcher, February 2011 Presenter: “The Changing Face of Genealogy”
* Brian Pugh, “Cloud Computing: What It Is and How Its Being Used”
* Thomas MacEntee, February 2011 moderator: “Virtual Presentations Roundtable”
* Brewster Kahle, February 2011 Presenter: “Personal Archiving and Primary Documents”

Quoting from the RootsTech website: "Learn more about how technology is enhancing the world of family history—all from the comfort of your home or office."

I was privileged to interview both Jay Verkler and Curt Witcher during RootsTech. My interview with Mr. Witcher can be found here.

March 10, 2011

Woohoo! I Made it into the Top 40 Genealogy Blogs!

Last night I found out that Olive Tree Genealogy blog was voted one of Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Genealogy Blogs. To put it mildly, I was surprised, shocked and yes - delighted!

After writing about the nominations for Top 40 in a previous blog post To Scramble or Not to Scramble..., you can probably imagine my surprise at actually being voted into a top place! Especially because I didn't scramble.

So thank you to all my loyal readers who voted for my blog! I appreciate your support so much, it makes the hard work of writing a daily blog worthwhile. Knowing that someone (or several someones) out there enjoy or gain knowledge from what I write means the world to me.

I'm one of 5 in the "Everything" Category. I love the description of an "Everything" blog:
"These are the "variety shows" of geneablogs. Find a little (or a lot) of everything here: news releases, product reviews, tips, finds, rants, raves, shout-outs and humor."
I also chuckled over their statement that I've been blogging since "the Middle Ages"! It's true, I started blogging in 2003 before most people had even heard of a blog. Since Feb 9, 2003 to March 9, 2011 I've written 1,141 blog posts (I didn't write very often the first 4 years my blog was online). My family always says I like to talk! And I guess that's the proof.

Being voted in to Top 40 with 39 other amazing blogs has my head spinning and I'm honoured to be in such good company. I hope if you haven't read the rest of those on the list that you'll take a few minutes to have a look at them.

March 9, 2011

Debunking The Post Family Genealogy Myth

Let me DEBUNK THE MYTH of the POST family, and the completely erroneous 'lineage' published in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. X, No. 1. January 1935, under the title "The Post Families of New Jersey" by Dirk P. De Young.

This article sets forth a completely unsourced and non-viable lineage for Adriaen Crijnen Post. To his credit Mr. Young gave more than one disclaimer in his article:
"it [the lineage presented] must be accepted with the usual reservations until documentary proof of the connection is forthcoming"
However, this disclaimer is widely overlooked by researchers, and the suggested lineage has been repeated and sent forth into the genealogical community for so many years that many Post researchers accept it without question.

Let's take a critical look at Mr. Young's theory:

He suggests that Adriaen Crijnen Post was the son of Pieter Adrian's [sic] Post who died in The Hague in 1637. The major flaw in this proposed father for Adriaen is the patronymic of Crijnen which is attached to Adriaen. If he were indeed the son of Peter his patronymic would be Pietersz. (or variations such as Pietersen, Pieterse).

The second flaw is that the author presents no baptismal source to substantiate his proposal. I suspect Young simply found some promising POST names in The Hague area and tried to slot Adriaen into the family.

What we do know is that Adriaen Post, who may have been from The Hague, Netherlands, resided in Brazil in the West India Company's colony with his wife Clara (Claartje) Moockers. Their names are found in the baptism record for Adriaen's daughter Maria who was baptised in Recife Brazil in June 1649. [Source: Doopregister der Hollanders in Brazilie 1633 - 1654] At this baptism Adriaen's patronymic of Crijnen is recorded.

The author of the incorrect lineage, does, in his favour, state very clearly
"That Capt. Adrian Post was a son of Peter Adrian's [sic] Post who died in the Hague in 1637 is inferred only, from circumstances"
This disclaimer is unfortunately overlooked by many Post descendants who continue to use this flawed lineage as if it were fact.

If we look at the author's 'circumstances' for inferring the fatherhood, there are 3 extremely weak arguments:
  1. "Capt. Adrian Post must have been born about 1600"[My question: "What is his source and/or reasoning???"]
  2. ".. and he came to America from The Hague" My comment: That is like saying that all people with the name of xxx who lived in any_city, Netherlands are related].
  3. "Moreover according to Dutch custom he was probably named after his grandfather"[My comment: Adriaen is a very common name]
The most glaring flaw in Young's proposed genealogy is that of his suggested grandfather for Adriaen Crijnen Post. Young gives the line as:
"Adrian Pieter's son [sic] Post b. about 1500 as father of Pieter Adrian's son [sic] Post who died in The Hague 1637"
Some mental math will reveal that a man born in 1500 would be pushing the limits to have a son who died in 1637. Assuming an age of 50 for the birth of Adrian Pieter's son, that would make the supposed son, Pieter Adrianse 87 at his death. Yes it is possible (unlikely in my mind) - but Young gives no baptismal records to substantiate his claim.

The most revealing flaw (and this in itself should be enough to make the entire proposed genealogy suspect!) is Young's outline of Pieter Post, son of Gerrit, b. ca 1300. The next generation is given as
"__ Post. A generation *assumed*, particulars unknown" (starred word is mine and given for emphasis).
Then Young continues with a Pieter Post born about 1360-75 who he gives as the son of  ____ Post. 

Without sources, it is all guesswork. It is mythology. Without sources it is simply bad genealogy and should be discarded as quickly as possible. 

Please continue reading my article on the Post family, which is fully sourced.  I hope descendants will read and search the records for themselves before jumping to conclusions. I hope descendants will use the critical skills of analysis and evaluation to think about *any* family trees they find online or in books before they eagerly merge the data into their own lineage.

March 8, 2011

International Women's Day: Mary Warner, Ancestor Extraordinaire

International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. And that's why today I want to celebrate an amazing ancestor of mine.

Anna Maria (Mary) Warner was 44 years old in 1779 and the mother of 10 children ages 4 to 19. Her husband Isaac Vollick had been imprisoned three times by patriots for his loyalty to the British King. After Isaac joined Butler's Rangers and was forced to flee to Canada, Mary was left with her ten children, six of them small. 

Mary continued to aid the British, and in the summer of 1779 she and the children were taken from their home at North River New York by American patriots. As Mary and the children watched, the patriots torched their log home and it was burned to the ground. With only the clothes on their backs  Mary and the children were marched 80 miles north through the forest and abandoned.

They were left in destitute circumstances, having no food or shelter. Mary's youngest child was only 4 years old. With her children in tow, Mary made her way through the wilderness to Canada and finally reached Montreal. There they received food rations, lodging and blankets and for the next 3 years Mary and her younger children lived in desperate conditions, dependent on the British Government for food, clothing and shelter. Her three oldest sons left - two to join their father in Butler's Rangers, the third boy heading back to New York.

Finally in 1782 Mary was  reunited with her husband and older sons. They settled in the Niagara area as impoverished Loyalists. Niagara was a wilderness and those Loyalists who agreed to settle there were still dependent on the Government. They had nothing - their homes, land and possessions were all left behind in New York and other states.

Mary and her husband carved out a new life in this wilderness. They survived what became known as "the Hungry Year" when food was in short supply, government rations had dried up,  and the settlers ate bark from trees to survive. Many died but Mary and her family were among those who lived.

Mary is my hero. She kept her children alive in the most difficult of times. She carried on each day with strength and determination. And I am privileged  to have some of her DNA, some of her genetic material. It is from other strong women such as Mary that I descend. I salute them all.

March 7, 2011

Finding a Ships Passenger List for an Ancestor Arriving in Canada Before 1865

Before 1865 Ships Passenger lists on ships sailing to ports in Canada did not have to be archived. Thus very few have survived.  It is a challenging time period to find passenger lists! But there ARE alternate records.

Genealogists can consult shipping agent records, emigration agent ledger books, newspaper extracts and more. The following online projects may be of help in finding an ancestor arriving in Canada before 1865. I've talked about these projects before but this is an updated list which I hope will guide genealogists in the right direction.

* Return of Irish Catholic (Counties Wexford & Carlow) families who Sailed from New Ross to Upper Eastern Canada in 1817

* Alms House Admission Foreigners & Nativity Records with Ships Names 1819 - 1840 (New York City, New York) includes individuals who had sailed into Canada first

* Ships passenger lists for Peter Robinson Settlers sailing 1825 Ireland to Canada (includes passenger lists and surgeon's logs of the sick and dying)

* St. Lawrence Steamboat Co. Passenger Records 1819-1836

* The Hawke Papers, letterbooks of Chief Emigrant Agent Anthony B. Hawke are available at the Archives of Ontario from 1831 to 1892. Search the database 1865 - 1883 The 1831-1865 records are not online but can be consulted at the Ontario Archives

* Passenger Books of J & J Cooke, Shipping Agents with sailings from Londonderry Ireland to Quebec and St. John New Brunswick from 1847 to 1871.

* People from the Fitzwilliam estate in Ireland who settled in Ontario, 1847-1855 Settlement in East half of Ontario

*A Story of Emigration: Southwest Wicklow (Ireland) to Ontario 1840s Settlement in West half of Ontario

* Index of Names of Emigrants from the 1845-1847 Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal

* Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal, 1823-1845
* Emigration Agent Returns of Emigrant Orphans, 1847
* Filling in the Gaps: Partial Ships Passenger Lists 1850-1855 Names of Individuals in the New York Almshouse who arrived in Canada before going on to New York (includes name of ship, date of arrival and more)

* Return of Emigrants Landed at the Port of Kingston Ontario, Canada 1861-1882 gives the final destination of the individuals, their date of arrival at Kingston and more.

* Petworth Immigrants 1832-1837

* Emigrants from England in New York City Almshouse 1818-1830 - 254 names of English immigrants to Canada & USA including the name of the ship they sailed on

* Irish Immigrants at Grosse-Île - 33,026 immigrants whose names appear in surviving records of the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937.

* Saint John New Brunswick Customs House Passenger Lists 1815, 1832, 1833-1834 & 1837-1838 - the only known surviving lists from this time period. Most of the Customs House records were lost in 1877 in the Great Fire of Saint John. Famine lists from 1845-1850 appear also to have been lost.

* Colonial Archives Database contains over 70,000 detailed descriptions of documents in the archival collection mainly of the British and French colonial periods. Search Tip from Lorine: Use French keyword "passagers" to virew the 526 entries re passengers to New France, Louisiana etc. Note that the records are NOT duplicated in both English & French. For eg. "passengers" gives 89 hits only

* Index to Miscellaneous Immigrants to Canada Before 1865 A number of lists have been indexed by name in this database. Many of the records relate to immigrants from the British Isles to Quebec and Ontario, but there are also references to settlers in other provinces. The database also includes other types of records such as declarations of aliens and names of some Irish orphans.

March 5, 2011

Finding Ancestors on 1851 Agricultural Census Canada

Recently I talked about the 1861 Agricultural Census for Ontario and the goof that made when bringing it online.

Why search for ancestors in an Agricultural Census? These records provide details of exact location of land, type of farming, house lived in, livestock and more. doesn't appear to have the 1851 or 1871 Agricultural Census schedules(at least they are not easily found!) but there's good news!

You can search for ancestors in the 1851 Agricultural census at Collections Canada. Caveat: This search engine can NOT be searched by name.

It can only be searched by location but I have an Olive Tree Genealogy Tip to get you right to the first page of Schedule B (the Agricultural portion of the census)

First go to 1851 Agricultural census at Collections Canada.

1. Select Canada West (Ontario) from the drop down list for Province/Colony.

2. Tick the radio button beside "B" for Schedule

3. Tick the radio button for "Descriptions with a digitized image" This limits the search to the surviving digitized Agricultural Census returns. To give you an example if you search without ticking this box, you will see 618 results. But many are not online, it is a list only. If you tick the box you see 302 results, and all have images

4. To narrow your search by township or county (or both) simply add them as keywords. I had ancestors in Flamboro Township in Wentworth County in 1851 so I entered keywords "flamboro wentworth" and got 3 hits. Each hit has a list of available images. All I needed to do was start at the first image and begin looking.

Here's an example of what one page of the 1851 Agricultural Census looks like. The graphic used here is blurry but the original is crystal clear.

So don't be afraid to give this a try in your search for more details of an Ontario ancestor.

March 4, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are: Tonight's Episode Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie is tonight's guest on Who Do You Think You Are. has once again partnered with NBC in Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are?

Great music runs deep! Lionel unravels the ancestral mystery of his beloved grandmother, a music teacher. He also finds his grandfather's secret on this episode.

Don't miss this episode tonight at 8/7 Central on NBC. I've got a bag of chips, can of pop (soda) and supper is in the slow cooker. I'm all set! This has become my favourite weekly show on TV

Say What?? Oh Those Confusing Genealogy Terms!

Oh Those Confusing Genealogy Terms!

There seems to be confusion among some genealogists as to the difference between an Abstract, an Extract, a Transcript or Transcription and an Image Copy. Let's first define these  terms:

ABSTRACT or EXTRACT: This is a summary of a document. It is often in point form but can be in complete sentences. It contains all the important details such as names, places and dates.

Added March 5/11:  EXTRACT: This is an exact copy of a portion of a document. Original spelling and grammar are retained

TRANSCRIPT & TRANSCRIPTION: This is an exact copy of a document. The entire document is written out exactly as found. No corrections or changes are made to the original. Punctuation, upper and lower case letters, any errors are kept as is. Misspellings are not corrected.

IMAGE COPY: A microfilm of a document. It could also be a photocopy, camera image or scan. Be careful to note whether the Image Copy is of an original document, transcript or extract.

Is it an exact copy of the original document, typed out or written out by a third party? If so, it's a Transcript or Transcription.

Perhaps you are looking at a microfilm of an original document (for example a church record or a census record). That is an image copy.

You might have found a book which gives summaries of wills. The full details of each will is not provided, but the book gives the main points - name of deceased, date of death, names of those mentioned in the will, date of signing and/or probate and names of witnesses. That is an Extract  Abstract

Added March 5/11: You've consulted a book which includes a quoted paragraph from a lengthy will. You are looking at an Extract. It's probably obvious that the best course of research accuracy is to consult an original. But if you can't find the original, your next best is a Transcript. You must keep in mind though that a transcript is only as accurate as the person who did the transcribing! They may have introduced errors, which is why it is always wise to make the attempt to find the original.

The last choice would be an abstract. Yes it will give you the important points (although it too may have errors or important omissions) but you are not getting complete details and may be missing out on something that will provide you with clues for further research.

The cautious researcher will be careful to note what type of record is being consulted.

Added March 5/11: With thanks to readers who corrected my explanation of EXTRACT and provided sources for their corrections.

March 3, 2011

Ancestry Goof with 1861 Canadian Census

Agricultural Census returns are often overlooked by genealogists. Agricultural returns provide information such as lot and concession number, acreage, livestock and agricultural products.

In the Canadian 1851 and 1861 Census, the agricultural returns are listed by the name of the head-of-household. The agricultural returns for 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 were not kept. has the 1861 Agricultural portion of the census online. That's the good news! You can search for an ancestor in it by including the keyword "AGRICULTURAL" in the search fields.

The bad news is that only half of each page has been scanned. The 1861 Agricultural return consists of 69 columns ranging in data from Lot and Concession Number to number of acres cultivated, planted, woods etc to how many acres and bushels of various crops (wheat, barley, rye, potatoes and so on) your ancestor planted and harvested to questions about his livestock - what he has, how old they are worth.

These columns are listed on two pages in a ledger book - so we have a left side and a right side (two facing pages in the book). But Ancestry has only scanned and put online the questions and answers from the left side! So the questions (and answers) end at #38.

This is  aggravating as the agricultural census allows researchers to add so much interesting detail to an ancestor. You can build a really good image of your ancestor working his farm and tending his crops and animals. I found out that my ancestor Levi Peer, had many hives of bees. I presume he obtained honey for cooking and for his children - perhaps even to sell to neighbours.

Here is the complete list of questions on the 1861 Agricultural Census. Wouldn't it be great to see both pages on If we all report this oversight to Ancestry perhaps they will add the missing pages.

March 2, 2011

More Cool Things About Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner That I Learned at RootsTech

The Flip-Pal booth in the RootsTech Exhibit Hall was humming and packed with crowds every time I went by. For those who’ve been out of touch the past few months, the  Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the latest “must have” for genealogists. Facebook has been buzzing with comments from genealogists such as “this is on my Christmas/Valentine’s Day/Birthday wish list!”

The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is small, lightweight and does a top-notch job scanning photographs, documents and just about anything you can think of. The built in software that installs on your computer allows for simple editing and stitching together of individual scans of larger items.

This little device is a winner! I bought one when it first came on the scene and I love it. You can read my previous raves at Fun With 87 Year Old Auntie & Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and
Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

When I stopped at the Flip-Pal booth I chatted with a member of the Marketing team named Walt, who told me that there are new developments planned for the future. He also informed me that Couragent, Inc. (formerly Rocky Mountain Ventures Company) announced recently that the Flip-Pal™ EasyStitch software is now available for Mac computers. The latest software for both Mac and Windows is available to customers on the company website,, in the Downloads section.

Walt mentioned that "It is fascinating to hear all the different ways people wanted to use a Flip-Pal mobile scanner to collect genealogy information: pictures, documents, personal writings of ancestors and even scanning gravestones."

Diane & I with Flip-Pal
Walt introduced me to Diane, another marketing team member and part of the design team for the user interface and we had a brief chat. The crowds were clamoring for attention so I didn’t take up too much of her time. She did show me something they had brought to RootsTech to get a feel for reaction to it.

It's not a go and they didn't want me to share photos of it  but since 3,000 participants had an opportunity to take a peek, I will tell you what it was - covers or skins for the lid! I loved them and would have bought one immediately if they'd been in production and available. Fingers crossed that FlipPal goes ahead with the idea. If they do, I'll let you know about it here.

Walt sent me an email after I arrived home from RootsTech to tell me that they had 2 shipments of Flip-Pal™ mobile scanners and sold out both times. The booth sold out the first day and after the second shipment arrived the second day, they sold out of that as well. Every day of the show saw customers coming by the booth well before the show officially opened and until after the lights were dimmed in the evening. You can’t ask for more success than that.

Disclaimer: After buying, using and loving the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, I became an affiliate. I don't receive anything for telling you about Flip-Pal or how much I love it, but I do receive compensation if you purchase a unit through one of my links like this one - Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner.

March 1, 2011

ROOTS 2011- An International Conference on Family History Research

ROOTS 2011- An International Conference on Family History Research hosted by the Quebec Family History Society

This event will be the largest English-language genealogical conference ever held in Quebec. There will be numerous well-known speakers discussing all aspects of family history research, computer demonstrations, and a book fair. All lectures and events are in English.

Date:        June 3rd, 4th, & 5th 2011
Place:      McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

For complete program details and registration form visit the QFHS website at:

Or e-mail:

You may also write to:  

ROOTS 2011, Quebec Family History Society,
P.O. Box 1026, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada H9S 4H9
or call:  514-428-0236

The Quebec Family History Society is a federally registered non-profit charitable organization