Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

August 31, 2011

Close Encounters of the Fourth or Maybe Fifth or Sixth Kind

Last night I watched about 10 minutes of a Wayne and Shuster comedy show from 1964. Wayne and Shuster were a popular Canadian comedy act of Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show dozens of times. And I knew them.

Deer Park Library
They didn't know me, except as the young gal in Deer Park Library in Toronto Ontario who checked their library books in and out in the early 1970s. They never came in with their families, or with each other, but always alone. I'd smile and greet them. One would return my smile and a reciprocal hello. The other (and I'm not about to reveal which one did what) would remain stony faced and simply nod.

I mentioned all this to hubs as we watched a few minutes of this old black and white comedy, and he asked "What other famous people did you know?" My rather hasty response was "Oh gee, no one, I don't know any famous people" But he persisted,  saying that I didn't have to be best buddies with them, but had I ever had any encounter of any kind with anyone well-known. That got me thinking and I realized that over the years my path had indeed crossed the paths of several famous individuals.

So indulge me this morning and let me list my encounters with celebrities, politicians and other famous people. I'd love to know about yours!

Ovide Mercredi. Ovide was an Aboriginal Canadian politician, very well known in Canada. He travelled far afield, speaking at the United Nations in Geneva and New York. Around 1993/1994 he went to Mexico as head of a Canadian delegation to the troubled Mexican state of Chiapas. I had a chance meeting with him there in Ixtapa. I was on a holiday with my sister and we went to a new restaurant for dinner one night. The staff did not speak English very well. I speak a little Spanish, just enough to get by on, and was enjoying using what Spanish I know with the restaurant staff.

At the table next to us was a  distinguished-looking man about our age with a woman. The stranger at the next table was listening and finally he spoke, telling me that the staff thought he was Indian from Mexico and so they insisted on speaking Spanish to him. But he did not understand them, and would I mind translating for him. So I did, and we began chatting. He introduced himself when I told him he looked familiar. It was Ovide Mercredi and he was taking a break from the talks in Chiapas. We had a very pleasant conversation for a few hours as we enjoyed our meals.

Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian songwriter and singer. For many years Gord had a home near Penetanguishene which is a few miles from where I live. He also sailed on Georgian Bay in his sailboat Golden Goose. I also sailed in those days (both for pleasure and competively) as crew on a 30 foot sailboat called Bobby Shaftoe. Georgian Bay is a tricky Bay to sail in with lots of shoals and vast stretches of open water. If you are crossing from Penetanguishene or Midland heading to Tobermory on the other side, you need to watch the weather as strong gales and huge waves can come up suddenly. One beautiful day four of us decided to take a run to Tobermory for a weekend away. I can't recall the year but it was in the 70s.

Golden Goose
We saw Gord's boat in the distance, making the same run. A gale came up and things got very bad. Two of our 4-person crew were seasick and not able to help take sails down or man the tiller in the storm. Gord's boat, piloted by Vic Carpenter, drew near ours and Gord yelled out to say that their crew was also seasick and we should sail together for safety reasons.

We had several hours of fighting the storm, wind and waves together as we yelled back and forth to each other. Finally we made Tobermory Bay and we anchored, as did Gord. I immediately pulled out my tape recorder (remember those?) and began playing my Gordon Lightfoot songs at full volume. Gord came out on deck and I yelled out "Hey Gord, do you like my music?" (Now so embarrassing to think about but at the time I thought I was quite clever). His response was a grumbled "It's interfering with my playing!" And he disappeared below deck. I don't think I impressed Gord very much that day.

John Dieffenbaker, 13th Prime Minister of Canada. I happened to pass him in a deserted hallway of the old Pearson Airport in Toronto in the early 1970s. He was within an arm's length from me, surrounded by 3 or 4 staff aka bodyguards. I did something something out of character - smiled and said "Hello Mr. Dieffenbaker!" He looked up and nodded his head, then kept on walking. That counts as a semi-encounter I think.

Lincoln Alexander & Lorine
Lincoln Alexander, 24th Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. I met Mr. Alexander in April 1990 at Victoria Harbour Public School where I was teaching.  He spent some time in our classroom of special needs children and we talked for a short time. This is a photograph taken of us standing together with another teacher. That's me on the right (his left) in the polka dot skirt and short-sleeve blouse.

Guy Lombardo,  bandleader. I happened to be on an elevator with him in my hotel in Forida in the late 1960s or very early 1970s.  I think it was in Fort Lauderdale but it was so long ago I'm not sure. We were the only two on the elevator but I was too shy to speak up.

I couldn't think of anyone else but hubs seemed to think  my list was pretty good. He couldn't recall anyone famous with whom he was ever in any kind of encounter, but maybe you have an encounter or two or several that you can share with us?  It was a fun exercise and brought up a lot of old memories. I plan to add this blog post to my Genealogy Journal for my children to enjoy reading one day.

August 30, 2011

Find Ancestors in FREE Immigration & Naturalization Records on Ancestry Aug 29-Sept 5 OFFERS FREE ACCESS TO IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION RECORDS
Week of Free Access Enables Families to Discover Stories of Ancestors’ International Travels and Passage
PRESS RELEASE PROVO, UTAH – (August 29, 2011) –, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced an entire week of free access to its popular U.S. and International Immigration and Naturalization records. The free access week begins August 29th and runs through the Labor Day holiday ending September 5th. During this time, all visitors to will be able to search for free the indices and images of new and updated U.S. immigration records as well as selected international immigration records from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Mexico. Millions of Americans can trace their family history to other countries, and these collections provide valuable information about the travels and journeys that brought them to America or other countries around the world.’s extensive collection of immigration, naturalization and travel records offer an important resource for discovering and celebrating family history. As part of this promotion, the company is adding to its collection of U.S. and international records for tracing relatives from their homeland to other countries around the world. These records include ships passenger and crew lists, declarations of intent, petitions for naturalization, witness affidavits, border crossings, certificates and other records generated by the naturalization process, which is the act and procedure of becoming a new citizen of a country. Because the process has changed significantly over time and varies from country to country, different records are available from a wide variety of state, federal and international sources.

Newly added U.S. collections include Florida Petitions for Naturalization, 1913-1991; Delaware Naturalization Records, 1796-1959 and Utah Naturalization and Citizenship Records, 1850-1960. Noteworthy updated U.S. and international collections include U.S. Naturalization and Passport applications, 1795-1972; UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960; Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956; New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922; Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1957; New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1973; Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873 and 1893-1959.

“One of the most common elements of the American experience is our respect and interest in our native heritage.  Almost all Americans have international roots, and many take great pride and even feel patriotic toward the countries from which their ancestors originated,” said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President. That’s why we continue to build and enrich our collection of immigration and naturalization records and why we are providing free access to anyone who wants to search these records to discover their family’s international history.”

Many families have already made important discoveries in’s immigration and naturalization collection. Each of the following stories offers an example of the exciting and often emotional discoveries made by some users.

August 27, 2011

Sometimes You Get Lucky and Sometimes You Don't

My husband's Aunt Evvie got him started in genealogy and family history at a young age. Aunt Evvie was his grandfather's sister and she was the keeper of the family photos and treasures. When hubs was a teenager, she gave him many of the Massey and Sandercock photos.

Aunt Evvie is long gone but her husband Mac is still alive. A few months ago my husband went to visit Mac.While visiting, Mac showed him items that had once belonged to hubs' ancestors - among them an antique Carriage clock from the Massey house and a set of dishes that belonged to hubs' great-grandfather Sam Sandercock. During the visit Mac gave my husband a few small items including Sam's mustache cup.

Hubs' planned to return but soon after the visit Mac fell ill and was taken to the hospital. He did not recover enough to go back to his home and was sent to a nursing home. Mac called an auctioneer and gave instructions to put everything in his house up for sale. Unfortunately no one in the family, including my husband, knew about the auction. Mac's very elderly and also blind so letting family know would not have occurred to him.

And so it is all gone - everything was sold and my husband found out when it was too late. He would have been the first one there to buy some of the family items. It seems such a shame that these items have now passed out of family hands into the hands of strangers who know nothing of the people that once owned and treasured them. Hubs doesn't blame Mac, but he is saddened to think he missed out on keeping the items in the Massey family.

August 26, 2011

Apostle Spoons, Another Family Treasure Comes My Way

Set of Apostle Spoons
These are a set of 6 Apostle Spoons given by my Grandmother to her daughter (my Aunt) many years ago. They were in Grandma's family and it seems likely they were given to her mother as a christening gift when Grandma was born in 1894.

Apostle spoons were popular in England and usually given as a Christening gift by a godparent. If the godparent was poor, they gave one spoon. If they had money, they gave a complete set.

 We have not yet figured out which Apostle this is. You can tell from looking at what he is carrying but this set is a bit worn and it is difficult to be sure.

Apostle Spoon
Sometimes the set consisted of all the apostles, but often it was a matching set of one apostle, which is what Grandma's spoons were.

When I went to visit my aunt a few days ago she gave me the spoons to add to my other family heirlooms and treasures.  We haven't cleaned them or decided how to display them but I'm overjoyed to have another reminder of my beloved grandmother.

Grandma Ruth was born in Ramsgate England in March 1894. Her father, who suffered from epileptic seizures, was a coal driver. He and his horse delivered coal to homes in Ramsgate. His wife, my great-grandmother, ran a boarding house and Grandma Ruth told me many stories of her mother's wonderful cooking and loving personality.

Grandma often told me the story of how her father frequently had a seizure while making his daily rounds with coal. His horse would simply carry on the route and folks would come out, take their portion of coal and send the horse and cart with great-grandfather in it, on its way. Eventually the horse would return home and great-grandmother would come out to tend to her husband.

Great-Grandfather Simpson
Grandma Ruth

August 25, 2011

Capturing Memories Told By My 88 Year Old Aunt

Eileen September 1941
This is a portrait of my Aunt Eileen in 1941. She was 18 years old and performing tap dances with a group of minstrels.

Yesterday I had a nice long visit with her in her apartment. I encouraged her to tell me stories of her childhood and about my grandparents, my mother (her sister), and my great-grandparents.

Auntie "I" as we call her, has a fabulous memory and knowing from past visits that she would talk faster than I could write, this time I was prepared. I took my Echo Smart Pen with me.

With the Smart Pen I was able to make jot notes (point form) as my aunt shared her wonderful stories. My Pen recorded her words so all I had to do was make the occasional notation in my notebook.  It is easy to transfer the recorded audio to a computer to work with it.  I could even touch my pen to the brief notes I made and hear the recording at that point of the story.

In an hour I learned more than I'd ever known about my mom's family life as a young girl in Guelph Ontario. Why didn't anyone tell me that my Grandfather was an accomplished singer? That he sang in church choirs as well as performed in Vaudeville and Minstrel Shows? That he woke up singing and sang as he worked throughout the day? That every Saturday evening the whole family gathered around the player piano and sang songs so loudly that the neighbours would come and join them. My mom never mentioned a word about growing up in such a musical home. 

Auntie "I" tells stories and my Smart Pen records them
Auntie "I" had so many memories and stories they came tumbling out. I was thrilled! I heard about the Christmas her grandfather (my great-grandfather) had a little too much brandy on his rounds of St. Joseph's Hospital in Guelph. It seems that every Christmas he visited all children in the Hospital to dispense gifts.

The Nuns would give him a bit of brandy to warm him up before he made his way home, but one Christmas he got a bit tipsy and fell into a snowbank on his way home. Unable to get out he lay there giggling until my grandfather found him. What a great story! I love to be able to form a picture in my head of what was just a name and dates of an ancestor. Now great-grandpa is a real person to me.

I spent several hours happily listening to Auntie "I"'s stories and she enjoyed telling them. I can hardly wait to go back and hear more. 

When I got home I transferred the recording of Auntie "I" to my computer and now I have the fun of transcribing her words. If you want to record family memories you can buy the Livescribe 8 GB Echo Smartpen  from

August 24, 2011

25,000 U.S. Yearbooks Added to


PROVO, UTAH – August 24, 2011 – , the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced a massive expansion of the world’s most extensive searchable collection of U.S. school yearbooks online.  The company has added nearly 25,000 new yearbooks to the collection, which now totals over 35,000 and carries 155 million records encompassing the years 1884 to 2009. The U.S. Yearbook Collection includes close to seven million images from thousands of U.S. high schools, junior highs, academies, colleges and universities.

The U.S. Yearbook Collection provides candid photos and insight into a relative’s appearance and extracurricular activities during their formative school years. The information and images contained in the collection also reveal insightful historical and cultural trends about fashion, style, politics, sports and social beliefs over the past 125 years of U.S. history. With the addition of the new records, family historians can more easily find what their current family members and ancestors looked like as youngsters and discover the types of activities in which they were involved. This collection can help tell a more complete story by offering rich details and providing context about the time their family members were in school.

"Our school years are often some of the most memorable times of our lives,” said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President. With the additions we’ve made to our U.S. School Yearbook collection, millions of Americans can experience their family members’ school years vicariously through the photos and records contained in this important collection. The details they include are often difficult to find, and while you’re searching, you might just find a famous classmate.”

August 23, 2011

Please Don't Expect to be My Friend if You Won't Tell me Your Name!

One of my pet peeves is when someone on Facebook sends a friend request but they are using a pseudonym (usually something like "GraveSeeker" or "GenieGal" or....) and I have no idea who they are. 

They could send a personal message at the same time as the friend request, something along the lines of "Hey Lorine we met at the Genealogy Conference in Boston. I'm Janis of AncestorsRUs" or "Hi Lorine, we've never met but I'm the webmaster on AncestorsRUs website"  But they don't.

So off I go to GraveSeeker or GenieGal's Profile page, only to find that's no help either. They have no identifying information on their profile page, no indication of who they really are, what their interests are or how they know me. 

It truly puzzles me. But an interesting thing happened recently on Facebook. I got one of those anonymous friend requests. Facebook kindly informed me we had 57 mutual friends. A look showed me that they were genealogy people I know and who my anonymous requester was also friends with.

So I asked around - who is this person? And guess what - no one I asked had a clue who she/he was! It seems everyone I asked was accepting his/her friend request based on the fact that so many other friends were accepting. Now maybe someone in that friend list knows who this person really is. But why is GraveSeeker (or GenieGal or whover) making us work that hard to find out?

I dunno, maybe it's just me but I feel uneasy about letting a complete stranger who won't even use his/her real name see my personal family photos or read my status updates and have a glimpse into my life.

Sorry Ms./Mr. Anonymous but I won't be accepting that friend request.

August 22, 2011

Cemetery Walk on a Monday Morning: Cochrane Catholic Cemetery

Another Cemetery Walk - this one is Video 2 for Cochrane Catholic Cemetery in Ontario Canada. View other Cemetery Walks on Olive Tree Genealogy Channel on Youtube

August 20, 2011

Finding More Details From Y-DNA Test Results

12 Marker Matches
Family Tree DNA has a new Map section. It's really very cool and very interesting.

As many of my readers know I tested my brother's Y-DNA a year or two ago. I'm always learning and finding out something new and this morning I found these  Maps in Family Tree DNA reports section.

The map on the left shows location matches at the 12 marker level. There are 71 for my brother's Y-DNA. There are 8 colours of pushpins showing exact matches, 1-step matches, 2-step matches and so on to 7-step matches. You can see that my brother has a lot of red (exact) and orange (1-step) matches at this level.
25 Marker Matches

At the 25 Marker Level the  matches are mostly further removed, being 2-steps and higher. But there is one exact match hiding behind the yellow pushpins. I can click on that red pin to see the match and can email the person whose DNA gave that match.

My brother's most distant ancestor is showing as a white pushpin which represents our Joseph McGinnis born ca 1827 in Co. Down Ireland.

37 Marker Matches

At the 37 Marker level our matches are even more removed. This doesn't always happen, you may be lucky enough to have a good match with someone else at this level. I'm just showing you my brother's results.

67 Marker Matches
I recently upgraded to the 67 Marker test so we also have results for this level. My brother had 18 matches, but a lot of steps removed.

However there was one match that was yellow (2 steps removed) and that piqued my interest so I chose the "View Name List" tab to see all the matches at this level, but in particular that orange one. It looked like it was in Ireland which is where our most distant McGinnis ancestor was from.

2-step Match at 67 Marker Level

Now I saw that the surname matched (McGinnis = Guinessey and other variants) and it was indeed in Ireland and someone born around the same time as my most distant ancestor's father.

I'll write to the person whose DNA this was and see if we can find a shared ancestor. Even if we can't, it was really fun to see the matches and their geographic location.

One thing that threw me were two matches in the area of China and Mongolia! But a click on the pushpins revealed people whose most distant ancestors were born and died in the USA. Apparently they weren't very careful when submitting their most distant ancestor and pinpointing his location on the maps provided. So if you are submitting yours and updating your personal map, be sure that the correct location is displaying before you click to update it!

If you haven't taken a DNA test yet, check out Family Tree DNA You might be surprised at all the new testing available.

August 19, 2011

Foundling Swatches: Bits of Cloth Tell a Sad Story

The Foundling Hospital in London England was founded in 1741 by the Thomas Coram for the education and care of deserted children. 

The first children were admitted to the Foundling Hospital on 25 March 1741. Often mothers or fathers placed a distinguishing token on their child in hopes of reuniting with their child one day. These were often marked coins, trinkets, pieces of cotton or ribbon, verses written on scraps of paper. The child's clothes were carefully recorded in notebooks by hospital staff and many of the swatches of cloth were carefully pinned to the page for that child.

Foundling Swatches has  published photos of some of the poignant cloth tokens and scraps of paper attached to different children. Please take a look. The photos include:

An embroidered sampler left with a boy named William Porter, admitted 1759 and died 1760.

 Patchwork  embroidered with a heart and cut in half. Left with a boy admitted in 1767. He was named Benjamin Twirl by the Foundling Hospital. His mother Sara Bender reclaimed him in 1775.

Threadbare linen ‘flowered all over with playing cards’ left with a boy in 1759. He was named Joseph Floyd by the Foundling Hospital. He was apprenticed in 1769.

A boy  admitted 1759 wearing ‘checkt stuff’  named Mentor Lesange by the Foundling Hospital. In 1770, he was apprenticed to a farmer named Hercules Durham. 

A girl 14 days old wearing ‘yellow satten flowered’  admitted in 1759 and given the name Lucy Locket.

A girl  admitted  in 1758 with heart cut from red woolen cloth pinned to her cap. She was named Isabel Crane

A flowered silver ribbon with a paper note sewn into it attached to a boy admitted in  1756

You can search for records of Orphanages and Almshouses on Olive Tree Genealogy. They are a treasure trove of information for genealogists.

August 18, 2011

Press Release about Changes

Even though almost every genealogy blogger I know was already posting and talking about this change, the official press release did not arrive until 10 am today. We bloggers were under an embargo to not release it until 2pm ET today.

So here is the official press release for those who haven't been reading the buzz about this on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and oh yes - the Blog! 

Press Release Announces New Focus on Historical U.S. Military Records and Changes Name to Fold3
New Brand will Honor and Remember those who have Served
LINDON, UTAH -- (August 18, 2011) –, a premier destination for discovering family history records, today announced it will now focus primarily on offering the finest and most comprehensive collection of U.S. Military records available on the internet.  The site gathers the most valuable U.S. military records, photos and stories to help family historians and others discover and share the memories of those who served.

As part of this new focus, the name of the site will change from Footnote to Fold3.  The Fold3 name is derived from the third fold in a traditional military flag folding ceremony which “is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.” 

Fold3 is the web’s premier collection and destination for original U.S. military records, helping people find and share more than 74 million images of historical documents and photos. These records include valuable collections from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars I and II and America’s more recent engagements in Vietnam and elsewhere.  Specializing in digitization of paper, microfilm and microfiche collections, Fold3 brings many never-before-seen historic documents to the web through patented processes and unique partnerships with The National Archives and other institutions. This combination of innovative technology and access to strategic partners provides subscribers with an easy way to search original documents and discover stories about the people, places and events in the conflicts that shaped America and the world.

“We have already begun expanding Fold3’s robust military collection to include new pension application files and draft cards,” said Brian Hansen, General Manager of Fold3.  “It’s truly gratifying to help researchers easily discover at home what they previously could find only by traveling to an archive.”

Fold3’s significant collections illuminate history that was once hidden. For example, Fold3’s World War II photos, Missing Air Crew Reports and JAG case files include detailed information about the ordeal of Louis Zamperini, subject of the New York Times Best Seller, Unbroken.  Similar stories about millions of service men and women lie undiscovered within the records available on Fold3.

Fold3 will continue to operate as a subsidiary of, the world's largest online family history resource, which acquired Fold3 as part of its purchase of iArchives in 2010. In addition to connecting more closely to its military collection, the rebranding helps distinguish Fold3’s value as a highly complementary brand to Many family historians and genealogists may use to find an ancestor who served in the military and then use Fold3 to discover the details of their service.

Small World Experiment (6 Degrees of Separation)

 Yahoo  and Facebook are joining forces to test a social experiment that showed there are just six degrees of separation between most people on the planet.

The current Small World experiment -- anyone with a Facebook account can participate by going to -- could help determine that. The study is intended as academic social research and will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, said Watts, a widely recognized authority on social networks.

From the Small World Experiment website:

The Small World Experiment is designed to test the hypothesis that anyone in the world can get a message to anyone else in just "six degrees of separation" by passing it from friend to friend. Sociologists have tried to prove (or disprove) this claim for decades, but it is still unresolved.
Basically you sign up as a sender. You are given a target somewhere in the world, and a message to send. Using your Facebook account you send the message to one person. That person sends it on and so it goes until it reaches the intended target. Sounds like a bit of fun and you'll be helping social research.

August 17, 2011

Interview With Hudson Gunn of Legacy Markers

Recently I spoke with Hudson Gunn, creator of Legacy Markers. I published a Press Release about this product a few days ago on my Olive Tree Genealogy blog called "Legacy Markers: Barcoding Your Ancestors?"

I'm very intrigued by the concept and can see ways we genealogists could utilize Legacy Markers in our genealogy pursuit. Basically a Legacy Marker is a barcode plaque which you place on a tombstone. When the barcode is scanned with a smartphone, the viewer is directed to a website with information (a memorial) of that deceased person.

I love this idea. Since Legacy Markers can be linked together online, we genealogists could create family trees simply by creating memorial pages for each ancestor tombstone we can physically visit, then linking them together as one family unit.

Imagine finding your great grandfather's resting place and noticing a barcode plaque affixed to his tombstone. You scan it with your smartphone and bingo, you are taken to a page on the internet which has information and documents you have never seen. Perhaps it has newspaper articles or personal stories. What a great way to share our research with other descendants!

I approached Hudson and asked him a few questions about this innovative product. He very kindly took the time to respond and I think you will find his answers below quite interesting.

1. Please tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea of Legacy Markers

The idea for Legacy came from the passing of my grandmother a month ago to complications from a stroke.  I was wandering the cemetery with my wife and brother before her interment looking at other relatives that were buried close by.  My wife was asking questions about who these people were and I found I was having a hard time remembering how each person was related to my grandmother. I could recall pieces of stories that I remembered from my childhood, but I couldn't remember the details.

My grandfather finally joined us and was able to tell us stories about each relative and how they were related. It bothered me that I couldn't remember those stories and even more knowing that most of those stories will be gone when my grandfather passes away. If I couldn't remember those stories now, how will I remember them 15 years from now as I'm trying to tell me kids about their grandparents?It got me thinking about how to preserve those memories so I could share them with my family.

My brother and I started thinking of ways to incorporate this idea with my other business that specializes in QR barcodes for businesses to use in advertisements.  This led to the idea of placing a plaque on the headstone with a QR barcode that links to a memorial of all of the stories, pictures, and videos we could find about my grandma.  After the incredible response from extended relatives and friends we decided it was something that others could benefit from.  So we put our heads together and created Code_IT Legacy.

2. Does the fee for the Marker include the website space for the memorial or is there an annual fee for archive space?

There is only a one-time fee for your Legacy Marker. It comes with a life-time subscription to the memorial service and unlimited amounts of space. Our biggest objective was to create a one-time cost instead of a monthly subscription. We didn't want to restrict people from viewing their family information just because someone didn't pay their bill.  Legacy is about preserving memories, not about collecting a monthly fee.

3. Can anyone other than the purchaser of the marker change the information in the archive?

When purchasing your Legacy Marker, you will create a password (Alpha or Numeric) that identifies the owner of each marker.  This password is required to add or make changes to the information on each memorial. This will protect the information from being changed by someone who does not have permission.  You may give that password to other family members so they may add their contributions to the memorial.

4. What happens to the uploaded information in each person's archived memorial if your website ever disappears?

Of course we do not foresee a reason to close our website, but if the event does occur we will provide an option for each user to download their memorial to preserve in their own database.

5. What is the estimated lifespan of the barcode marker?

Each marker has been hand crafted from a specially treated stainless steel and etched with a high intensity laser. These techniques were specifically chosen to resist corrosion and weather the elements. Even the programming of each barcode was taken into consideration to make sure that every mobile device could easily scan each code every time.

We are so confident that our markers will last that we guarantee every marker for life!

6. You mention on your website that special glue and cleaning solution come with the barcode marker. Is there any danger that these chemicals might damage tombstones, especially older ones?
 To preserve the integrity of each headstone we do not use a liquid based glue to adhere the marker. Each marker is affixed with a self-sealing adhesive tape from 3m. It is already applied to the marker, so all you have to do it peel the protective tape off the back and adhere it to the memorial.  We found that cleaning the surface with a simple alcohol prep pad (included with every marker) creates a clean surface to adhere to. These materials will not harm your headstone or memorial. Older headstones may be brittle, so caution should be used when placing your Legacy Marker on deteriorating headstones.

7. Is a smooth surface necessary to affix the barcode marker to a stone? I'm wondering about attaching one to a rough or crumbling older stone.

A smooth surface is definitely the best place for your marker. However, they will still affix to rough or deteriorating headstones. Regardless of the headstone, installation is easy enough for anyone to do in less than 2 minutes. Simple instructions are provided with each marker to help with the installation process. If you marker falls off or does not stick, we will provide replacement adhesive to make sure it adheres properly.

8. What happens if a marker is lost, damaged or stolen?

Hopefully this will never happen, but in the event that your Legacy Marker is damaged or stolen, contact us for replacement instructions so we can evaluate your individual needs!

9. I see that you can link Legacy Markers together to form a family chain. This could be very appealing to genealogists who might like to purchase several markers to create a memorial for various ancestors. Will you be offering a "Genealogy Special" or a discount for volume purchases?

Yes, we offer discounted rates for multiple purchases! Right now we have a special going on that gives new users a life-time subscription and one Legacy Marker for only $49. If you would purchase multiple markers they are $45 for 2 or $39 for 4. Contact us for multiple orders! If you have special needs or want higher quanties, contact us so we can meet any needs you may have!

10. Is there anything else you wish to tell us about Legacy Markers?

Each Memorial can be accessed from any computer in the world.  We provide a Legacy Marker to affix to a headstone or memorial to allow visitors a direct link to this information with their mobile device.

We know that technology will change. As this technology changes, so will we. It's our highest priority to make sure your information is safe and easy to access no matter what technology is prevalent.

August 16, 2011

Webinar: Google+ the Next Big Thing

Did you miss yesterday's Webinar "Google+ The Next Big Thing"? Paul Allen, Dan Lynch and Mark Olsen gave a very good overview and explanation of Google+ :  streams, circles, hangouts, sparks and more.

Olive Tree Genealogy was one of the guests invited by Mark Olsen to appear in his segment about Hangouts on Google+.  It was an interesting experience. Mark's an expert at Hangouts and while I've been to many (including some of  his) this one was different.

If you missed the Webinar you can watch it for the next 10 days at

Google+ the Next Big Thing. Join these three leaders in Google technology as they get together to put on what we think will be one of the best webinars ever. Learn about Circles, Hangouts, Streams, Sparks and more.

Paul Allen, the Founder of and has quickly become known as the unofficial Google+ Statistician. His expert use of posting in Google+ features, stats and using his own insider tricks have helped to make a huge impact on the initial success of Google+. Those who are part of Paul's Circles have already benefited from his expertise. Paul's fame has quickly grown and he currently has more than 22,000 followers on Google+.

Dan Lynch, a.k.a. "Mr. Google" is a technology marketing consultant, professional genealogist, and popular international speaker. One of the first to recognize Google's strengths for family history research, Dan authored the award-winning book Google Your Family Tree Unlock the Hidden Power of Google , and is already helping the genealogical community understand the benefit of Google+ (see his blog at

Mark Olsen, is the Marketing Manager for and holds a degree in genealogy. Mark is another famous name on Google+ as he is currently hosting the longest ever Google Hangout, nearly one month of a continual hangout. Mark is one of the leading experts on Google+ Hangouts and has been learning how to better connect families and genealogists around the world. His current Hangout has been receiving a lot of positive press and has had visits from many well-known industry leaders.

August 15, 2011

Cemetery Walk: Cochrane Catholic Cemetery

Today's Cemetery Walk comes courtesy of Jim Rye who submitted 1,400 photos of tombstones in Cochrane Catholic Cemetery, Cochrane Ontario to Olive Tree Genealogy. I will be adding these to the Cemetery Walk videos on Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel Part 1: Video 1 is now online

August 13, 2011

Featured Photo: CDV of Mrs. Joseph Curtis 1862

Mrs. Joseph Curtis 1862 

This is one of my favourite CDVs (Cartes de Visite). It's  #4 in the Fobes Civil War Album on Lost Faces. Her beautiful dress has full Pagoda sleeves drop from her shoulder. Added to that a ruffled undersleeve and gives the illusion of a tiny waist which was every woman's dream during the Civil War fashion period. The extreme fullness of her skirt also adds to the illusion of a very tiny waist.

Her hair is typical of this time period - parted in the middle, pulled over her ears and ending in a roll at the nape of her neck. 

Learn more about early photographs and how to date them on Lost Faces.

August 12, 2011

Digitalkoot: Digitizing Records Through Video Games

Yesterday a Twitter account called Digitalkoot started following me on Twitter. I check all profiles of anyone who follows me before I decide whether or not to block them, follow them back, or do nothing.

To my surprise, Digitalkoot's Twitter Profile indicated they are based in Helsinki Finland and their Twitter profile description read

Digitizing the Finnish cultural heritage through video games. Join the effort now at!
Digitizing through Video Games? I was intrigued so off I went to the website. Wow. I am  impressed!

To quote a bit from the website

Digitalkoot is a joint project run by the National Library of Finland and Microtask. Our goal is to index the library's enormous archives so that they are searchable on the Internet. This will enable everyone to easily access our cultural heritage
You can help us by playing games. Playing games in Digitalkoot fixes mistakes in our index of old Finnish newspapers. This greatly increases the accuracy of text-based searches of the newspaper archives.
Basically you play one of two games -

* Mole Bridge where you are given words that the computer did not recognize. Getting a word correct adds parts to the bridge so that the moles can cross the river.

* Mole Hunt where you identify words the computer has misread

The National Library of Finland takes scanned newspaper images, converts them using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and then needs to clean up the text. Doing this manually would require a great deal of time, money and labour. So creating games and calling on a volunteer force to play the games (playing the games = correcting the OCR'd text) was their solution. A rather clever and creative solution in my opinion.

Being curious, I logged in (you can log in via email or using your Facebook account) and started playing Mole Bridge. I don't read Finnish but I had fun anyway trying to copy the letters I saw on the screen. Digitalkoot takes all user responses and compares them but it certainly helps if you know what Finnish words are. I didn't want to waste their time inputting incorrect data so I only played for a few mintues but it was actually lots of fun. I did okay with the easy words or the numbers. Some of my moles even made it across the river!

I think this is an amazingly innovative idea and I hope other digitization projects will take note and think about creating their own fun way to encourage volunteers to help get documents transcribed and saved in digital format.

You can read more about Digitalkoot at Digitalkoot: crowdsourcing Finnish Cultural Heritage on
the Microtask blog .

August 11, 2011

Echo Smart Pen: Handy Tool for Genealogists

Echo Smart Pen
This is my new Livescribe 8 GB Echo Smartpen which I bought from

I've been looking at them for over a year and finally took the plunge to buy one last month.

The Echo Smart Pen allows me to record anything I want from my pen to special notebooks, and then transfer the recordings to my computer.

Special Noteboo
How great would that be at a family reunion? I could go from person to person and record a few minutes of their thoughts on the reunion, or their memories of past reunions, or I could ask them to give one memory of their childhood.  Then it would be a simple matter to transfer the recordings to my computer, turn them into text and create booklets for the next family reunion!

I can also visit my 88 year old auntie and have her reminisce about the past while my pen is recording and I make quick jot notes in the special notebooks.

The notebooks have controls at the bottom of the pages. You press on Start with your pen to begin recording and Stop when you are done. There are other controls - pause, rewind, scroll ahead for example. You can fast forward and do other functions directly in the notebook.

The jot notes are great because while you are recording the person, you make point form or jot notes. Then you can touch your pen to any point in your jot notes to replay just that portion of the recording.

I bought a set of 4 notebooks and my SmartPen came with one so I'm pretty set for recording family histories. For a limited time a purchase of the 8GB SmartPen also includes a one year premium subscription to Evernote  I already use the free version daily so I'm a happy camper)

Next week I will be visiting my auntie to start recording her memories. I'm really excited! 

Here's what came in the box:
  • The Echo smartpen with 8GB of memory
  • Livescribe Connect Premium: Includes Connect Basic (Facebook, Evernote, MyLivescribe, your mobile device, and your computer) plus additional connectors for Email and Google Docs
  • Livescribe Desktop software for Mac or Windows (download)
  • 500 MB of personal online storage
  • Starter dot paper notebook
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Interactive Getting Started Guide
  • Smartpen Tips and Tricks
  • 2 smartpen caps
  • 2 ink cartridges
 If you don't think you need anything as big as the 8GB, there is also the Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack or the Livescribe 4 GB Echo Smartpen  available.

    August 10, 2011

    Records of the Old Dutch Church Totowa New Jersey 1756-1822

    Today's featured database includes the records of the Old Dutch Church in Totowa New Jersey, baptisms 1756-1822 online in the New Jersey section of Olive Tree Genealogy.

    These early church records include Father, mother; child, birthdate, baptism date; Wits: male witness, female witness, additional witnesses. Sometimes more information is provided.

    The 1958 bulletin of the Passaic County Historical Society provides information on the history of this church:

    From 1755 until about the year 1762, the Reverend David Marinus served as minister and pastor.  After Dominie Marinus left about 1762, the church was supplied by the pastor of the Fairfield Reformed Church for about five years; then until 1772, it appears that there was no one to minister to the congregation.  But in November 1772, the Rev. Dr. Hermanus Meyer came and remained the pastor until his death in 1791.  The Totowa Church now severed its connections with the Pompton Church but remained in close relations with the Church at Acquackanonk and shared in the pastorate of the Rev. Henricus Schoonmaker who gave one-third of his time to Totowa.  He preached at Totowa from 1791 until his retirement in 1816 and for a time lived in Paterson.  After March 1816, services were held every other Sunday and they were conducted by the Rev. William Eltinge, the Pastor at Paramus from 1816 until 1827 when on March 26 a fire on the roof completely consumed the building.

    August 9, 2011

    Confessions of a Genealogy Hoarder

    I've always been keenly interested in New Netherland (present day New York) - its history and settlement and most of all, its 17th century settlers. My interest began when I discovered I was descended from several of those early Dutch and Walloon immigrants - Van Slyke, Vrooman, Bradt, Ryckman, Damen, Van Valkenburg.... to name only a few.

    As I began researching my own New Netherland family lines in depth I also became interested in others. Because it was so difficult accessing the early records I needed for my research I began to build my own personal research library. I bought out-of-print books and reprints of previously published books. I sought out (and found) all the original court record books for New Amsterdam (now New York City), Beverwyck and Fort Orange (now Albany).

    Crumbling NYGBR
    Eventually after acquiring dozens of books of 17th century church records, court records and orphanmasters records, I realized there were no more to be had. But the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (NYGBR) had published many church records and other primary source records that were not found in other formats. I'd been working on an article (The European Origins of the Boelen Family: Boele Roeloffson and His Wife Bayken Arents in Amsterdam ) for the NYGBR which was later published in that journal in April 2000 so I was familiar with the types of articles they  published and those also held appeal for me.

    And so I contacted the NYGBR and explained what I wanted - every single issue of the journal since its first publication.  I think they were shocked. They explained they were missing some of the earlier issues but they would ship what they had. I don't want to tell you what this cost (the journals + shipping + border crossing fees + Ontario taxes = gulp) because I'm afraid putting it in print means I've slipped into the realm of those who spend more than they can afford on something they don't really truly need. Or being a hoarder.

    When my boxes of journals arrived months later, whoever packed them had done an inventory by hand of every volume and every number and every year. I was the proud, and I admit overwhelmed, owner of 374 yellow journals dating from January 1870 to January 1999.

    374 NYGBR journals spanning 129 years. Some of the earlier ones were crumbling. The covers were crumbling with pieces falling off every time they were handled. I made room on all my bookcases in my office. They filled every space and that meant all my carefully sought out-of-print or reprinted books on New Netherland had to go. But where? I wanted everything at my fingertips not in different rooms.

    One of my tubs of NYGBR
    I struggled with this for several months. My husband complained about the bits and pieces of crumbling covers. It was difficult to do the research I needed to do for my planned series of books on New Netherland Settlers. I started photocopying the sets of primary records I wanted, and put them in binders so I could use them easily. But that was a horrendous job and it never was completed.

    And then the NYGBR came out with the entire set on CD ROM a few years later. So I ordered it too. And I packed up my 374 journals, put them in waterproof tubs and had my husband store them in one of our barns.

    And there they lie. It bothers me. I don't like using the CD-ROM versions. I know they will not always be accessible as books/journals are.  I want to be able to access every single set of church or miscellaneous records in those journals. But the photocopying project that entails overwhelms me.

    Tubs of NYGBR Journals
    So I have a dilemma which I've been mulling over for 11 years - what to do with my 374 NYGBR journals?

    * Should I find room for them somewhere in my house? That's not physically possible

    * Should I destroy the journals by cutting out the pages I want and putting those pages in binders? That idea makes me shudder, there seems something so inherently wrong about that!

    * Should I suck it up and start the photocopying project? That seems the best solution of the three I have thought of but then what do I do with the journals? Donate them? Where? No library near me would want them (I live in Ontario Canada, not much call for 17th century New York records) To ship them somewhere would cost a fortune.

    And can I give them up? Maybe that's the true test of whether or not I'm a genealogy hoarder. I don't think I can part with them!

    I could really use some input and suggestions!

    August 8, 2011

    Legacy Marker - Barcoding Your Ancestors?

    The following Press Release came out a few days ago. I had a look at the website (Code_IT Barcodes) and it looks like a very interesting concept. My one concern would be that the information is only available as long as the website where it is uploaded remains online. But I'm intrigued.....

    Legacy Marker is a method of attaching a barcode to a gravestone. When scanned with a mobile phone, the barcode directs the user to a website with information, stories, photographs, videos, audio recordings and more, all of which tell the story of the deceased person.

    OREM, UT, July 29, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Code_IT Barcodes, based in Orem, Utah takes an innovative approach to a long-held tradition. Its new branch, Code_IT Legacy, offers miniature QR barcode plaques that can be affixed to a gravestone, new or old, to tell the stories of the person buried there. When scanned with a smartphone, these barcodes connect the living with the dead in a way never before seen.

    Family members choose favorite memories, pictures and videos of their loved ones who have died, and then they have Code_IT Legacy connect these memories with a completely unique barcode. The barcode can then be updated and changed by the family as often as desired.

    Inspired by the recent passing of his own grandmother, Hudson Gunn, President and owner of Code_IT Barcodes, explains it in his own words. "I wanted people to know who my grandmother was and the great things she did and stood for. She isn't just another headstone in the cemetery. With the videos and pictures we uploaded, my kids can now see and hear her voice instead of just seeing a headstone. We are preserving her legacy."

    These new Legacy Markers are being used to honor military heroes, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. Gone are the days when the dead no longer have a voice. Now mourning families have an outlet for their grief. They find a sense of closure in this new ability to make the lives of the dead known to the living.

    Code_IT, Legacy is working with genealogy archives to provide important genealogy information on every marker, creating a chain of families for others to follow. "Adding this link to genealogy is very important to us at Code_IT, says Hudson. Knowing more about our past is the only way to sculpt a successful future."

    Legacy Markers are also helping to facilitate much needed research to conquer many of the diseases that carved these names into granite. The markers are being used to link scanners with donation pages for organizations like the National Stroke Association as well as links to donation funds for families who are struggling financially with the loss of a loved one. It's a great way for people to perpetuate the cause and help local families.

    Those who would like to honor family members who have passed away need only visit to order the distinctive and timeless Legacy Marker for their loved one.

    Code_IT Barcodes is a growing company leading the industry in QR Barcodes. For more information, please contact us at or visit us at

    August 6, 2011

    Interview With Coffin Plate Collector

    Coffin Plate
    Nicole of MyGraveAddiction,com just published an interview she conducted with my husband about his coffin plate collection.

    Brian has been collecting coffin plates for many years and has put over 400 online at AncestorsAtRest

    Coffin plates are a unique source of genealogical information but many researchers are not aware of their existence as a genealogy resource.

    August 5, 2011

    Canadian Genealogy Survey Now Available Across the Country

    The following Press Release was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy by Professor Neilson of Carleton University. I just spent some time filling it out, and it was very interesting. I suggest taking a few moments to participate:

    August 5, 2011
    Canadian Genealogy Survey Now Available Across the Country

    (Ottawa, ON) – Carleton University researchers are seeking family historians to complete an online survey detailing how they conduct their genealogy research. Originally pilot-tested in Nova Scotia, the Canadian Genealogy Survey is now looking to attract a wider audience. Canadians researching their family’s history in Canada or abroad are invited the complete the survey, available at The researchers are also inviting family historians who are researching their Canadian ancestry from outside the country to take part.

    Associate Professor of Marketing, Leighann Neilson revealed that over 400 people completed the survey during the first 10 days after it became available. “We’ve had a wonderful response from the genealogy community in Nova Scotia,” Neilson said, “Now we are trying to get the message out across the country.” While the majority of people completing the survey have been from Canada, responses have also come in from across the United States, the UK and as far away as South Africa.

    Del Muise, Emeritus Professor of History at Carleton, is collaborating with Neilson on the survey. “In addition to completing the survey, we’ve had a number of people send us their comments and suggestions via email or leave comments on our blog. It’s the chance to have this kind of interaction with people taking the survey that makes it really interesting for us.”

    As the survey moves across the country, the public can follow its progress at Family historians, librarians, archivists and others interested in genealogy are able to comment and offer their opinions. “As results become available, we’ll be posting them on the site and inviting the community to react,” Muise said.

    For more information:
    Del Muise                                               Leighann Neilson
    Emeritus Professor of History                Associate Professor, Marketing
    Carleton University                                Carleton University
    902-235-2583                                         613-520-2600 x8511                  

    August 4, 2011

    A Sad Passing of a Genealogist's Husband

    My very dear friend, Sue Swiggum of, lost her husband  Gery on July 27, 2011.  His obituary can be viewed here.I never met Gery but I have known Sue for many years and my heart goes out to her at this time.

    Sue wrote to me when Gery's illness was first diagnosed, and after he passed away she asked me to let others know but she had one request -  that no one contact her at this time. Gery's Celebration of Life is being held today.

    August 3, 2011

    Update: FamilySearch YouTube Channel

    Olive Tree Genealogy received an intriguing email early this morning from FamilySearch. Here's what they said

    We're pleased to announce the launch of our updated FamilySearch YouTube channel, Thursday, Aug. 4th. Over the past few months, we have been creating video content to reach a variety of audiences throughout the genealogy world.

    The playlists includes:

    Genealogy in 5 Minutes – a 24-episode series offering an overview of how-to’s, best practices, and helpful hints for doing genealogy.
    Woven Generations – an inspirational series about the benefits and success stories of genealogy work.
    Genealogy Fun – a fun video series highlighting the lighter side of genealogy.
    Societies and Archives – a video series highlighting genealogical societies & archives.
    Genealogy News & Events – What’s going on the genealogy world?
    Family History: Getting Started – a training video series for using FamilySearch.
    “How-to’s” from the Experts – a series of interview clips with best practices for finding your ancestors.
    It sounded interesting so I watched Episode One of Genealogy in 5 Minutes. I was impressed. The video was well done and explained clearly how a person can take the first step in beginning their genealogy search.

    I'm subscribed to this YouTube Channel and look forward to watching more of the videos and any new ones that are put online.

    August 2, 2011

    My Y-DNA & mtDNA Surnames & Haplogroups

    I've had my Mitochondrial DNA tested (mtDNA) and my brother's Y-DNA tested at Family Tree DNA . Here is a summary and our ancestor surnames in each category. I am only listing the surnames that belong in the direct lineage tested.

    Perhaps someone will spot a connection.

    My Paternal Lineage: Surname McGINNIS. Y-DNA Haplogroup is  I1b2a. Apparently my brother has a rare mutation called M284. 

    McGINNIS (DOWNEY spouse) - Co. Down Ireland to Ontario Canada 1847
    McGINNIS (KING spouse) - Wellington Co. Ontario Canada
    McGINNIS (PEER spouse)  - Wellington Co. Ontario Canada

    My Maternal Lineage: mtDNA Haplogroup is J

    This follows the female lineage only from me, my mother, her mother, her mother's mother and so on.

    ANSELL- England (married in Kent England 1792)
    ELVERY - Kent, England
    ELVERY- Kent England
    STEAD- Kent England
    SIMPSON - Kent England

    Do you match any of these surnames and locations? I am going to start including this list in any emails I send to connections from Family Tree DNA . So far I've not heard back from anyone regarding my mtDNA and several email addresses bounce. I'm not sure why anyone would register with a DNA site, have their DNA tested and then not keep their contact information up to date. But they do.

    August 1, 2011

    Cemetery Walk in Trinity United Church Cemetery

    Watch Cemetery Walk 4 for Trinity United Church Cemetery in Beeton Ontario Canada, This is the last video of four of the tombstones in this cemetery taken in April 2011.

    See more Cemetery Walks on Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel