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September 30, 2011

Emigration Presentation: The View From Hamburg

Rebekka Geitner a historian at the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany will be in the Twin Cities area giving three presentations at three locations during the period of 22, 23, 24 October 2011. She will then travel to St. Louis, Missouri to be a presenter at the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International's - Genealogical / Cultural Conference to be held from 26-29 October 2011. This is an outstanding opportunity to meet and learn from this International Historian. Plan now to attend any or all of these important events. Date / Time: Monday, 24 October 2011, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm Presentation Title: Emigration and Public History: The View from Hamburg Location: Room 308 / 311 Elmer L. Anderson Library Univ of Mn. 222 - 21st Ave South, Minneapolis, MN Parking: Host: Immigration History Research Center - University of Minnesota More Information: Cost: Free

September 29, 2011 Releases Family Tree Maker 2012 with TreeSync™, Allowing Family Tree Updates from Anywhere via the Cloud

Update of the No. 1 Selling Family History Software Makes Researching & Sharing Family History More Rewarding Than Ever
PROVO, Utah (Sept. 29, 2011), the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced the release of Family Tree Maker® 2012, an improved and expanded version of the world’s No. 1 selling family history software. Now with its new TreeSync™ capabilities, Family Tree Maker 2012 enables family history enthusiasts to sync their desktop family trees and their trees online at unlike any other desktop software available on the market.
“We have a long-term vision to make family history simple and more accessible to the masses,” said Eric Shoup, Senior Vice President of Product for “Now with the combination of, the Ancestry mobile app and the new Family Tree Maker, users can work on their family tree anywhere, anytime.”
Family Tree Maker 2012 introduces TreeSync, which enables family historians to sync their online tree at and their desktop family trees, including photos and other historical records they have attached. This enables Family Tree Maker users to bring their desktop tree online to share with invited guests and continue their research from wherever they are.
The new software comes with a free membership or free trial to that gives users access to billions of historical records, and millions of memory-making historical photos, stories and family trees. Membership with connects Family Tree Maker 2012 users to the largest family history community in the world, and helps users find other members who might be researching the same ancestors so they can compare notes and discover more together.
Other improvements in Family Tree Maker 2012 include:
·         An easier-than-ever user interface to get users started right away
·         Upgraded help content and video tutorials
·         Improved content-generation and editing options to create engaging “Smart Stories” about family history and family members
·         The ability to combine families into one harmonized tree, bringing step-families and adoptees into the main family tree
·         Simple generation labels and text boxes to make family trees more interesting and informative
Expert users of earlier Family Tree Maker releases will find new power-user tools in Family Tree Maker 2012, including:
·         Upgraded personalization capabilities enabling users to add their own images, adding narrative text and displaying explanatory generation labels to charts
·         Index report of every individual in a family tree with birth, marriage and death dates
·         Chart the line of descendancy between an ancestor and any descendant in your family tree

September 28, 2011

How to Introduce Yourself to Other Genealogists at a Genealogy Conference

My Author Business Card
Whether or not you are attending RootsTech or another Genealogy Conference or Convention, whether you're going as a participant (speaker, presenter, etc.) or as an attendee, you should have a card. Call it what you want - a business card, a calling card, a Genealogy calling card..... but you should have one.

A calling card allows you to connect more easily with other genealogists. You're more accessible with your name and contact details on a card.

My Genealogy Business Card
Do you have a blog? A website? Are you a passionate genealogist? Are you a member of some genealogy societies, a volunteer for a genealogical organization? Are you on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn or other social networking sites? You need a card to let other genealogists know about your interests and how and where they can contact you!

Victorian Calling Card
Perhaps you aren't involved in any of the things I mentioned above. But you love genealogy and you like to meet other genealogists. You could benefit from a genealogy calling card. Think of the 19th Century when visitors handed their calling cards to servants who placed them on a silver tray for the head of the house or his wife to look at later.  I'm not advocating anything as fancy as the Victorian calling card shown here but a simple calling card is a great introduction and a good way to ensure that genealogists you meet will remember you.

Perhaps you've sat through a wonderfully inspiring and informative presentation on a genealogy topic. You managed to introduce yourself to the presenter. She gave you her business card. Wouldn't it be great for you to hand her your calling card too? Now she has a name, an email and any other information you want to put on it, to remind her of your meeting. Who knows, maybe you'll connect in the future.

Or you got chatting to the genealogists sitting on either side of you. Hand them your card if you think you'd like to continue to engage with them. Maybe you went to the Conference alone and you don't know anyone there. You might decide you'd like to meet one of them for a quick supper. If your card doesn't have your cell number, you can scribble it on the back and invite a phone call or text to arrange a meetup.

Kerry Scott, from Clue Wagon blog, wrote a very interesting and timely post called What Do Modern Business Cards for Genealogists Look Like? Since RootsTech is only a few months away, I've been thinking about my own cards and how I might change them.

The business cards that I printed for RootsTech 2011 are too simple.  And I wish I'd done colour for my logo, not just black and white. I like simple. I like uncluttered. But mine don't contain enough details and I have decided to take Kerry's suggestion and remove my cell phone number. If I want someone to have that I can easily add it, because unlike Kerry my cards are not glossy and they aren't double-sided. It's a personal preference re glossy or matte, there's no right or wrong.

I’m a writer-on-business-cards kind of gal! I always always jot a quick note on the back after someone gives me their card – a reminder of why I wanted it, or why I might want to reconnect. It’s faster and easier for me than entering it in my iPhone. I sometimes put notes on the backs of cards I hand out - such as a URL for a site they expressed an interest in or the name of another contact, so glossy doesn't work for me. I can't write on a glossy card so matte wins.

Even though I jot down notes on business cards, one of my favourite apps for my iPhone is a scanner for business cards called WorldCardMobile. It reads any business card and imports it into my contact list. I can’t live without it! I misplaced several of the cards I was given at the last RootsTech Convention and this year I'm prepared.

Business Card Case
So I'm reviewing and re-doing my Business cards this year. I've got a funky case I carry them in (thanks to my 11 year old granddaughter who gave it to me last Christmas) and I need to update my cards. I'm thinking I'll add my Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn information so that folks have other methods of connecting with me.

I'll keep my Olive Tree Genealogy website URL of course, and my email address. If there's room and the card isn't too cluttered, I'll add the URL for my Facebook page for Olive Tree Genealogy but that's probably all I'll have on my card.

Oh and no QR codes on mine. I don't see the point. A lot of people don't know what those codes are for on a business card, and I'm not convinced of their usefulness on a card that already has the information printed. Michael Hait of Planting the Seeds  blog created new cards with QR codes and he presents a good case for including one but I'm not quite ready to jump on the QR bandwagon. You can see an example of his new business cards at 21st Century business card designs

I hope you are going to create calling cards or business cards for your next genealogy convention or think about whether or not it's time to revise old ones. Then think about which you prefer - modern business cards or old-fashioned calling cards.  Or maybe you will surprise everyone with a combination of the two. What are your thoughts?

September 27, 2011

FamilyTreeDNA Sale! Ends Today

 FamilyTreeDNA has a 36-HOUR SALE!

Start: Monday, September 26  at 12:00pm CDT (sorry I didn't know about this until today but you still have time)

End: Tuesday, September 27 at 11:59pm CDT

For Newcomers:
Y-DNA 12 . . . $59 (was $99)
mtDNA . . . $59 (was $99)
Y-DNA 37 . . . $129 (was $149)
Family Finder . . . $199 (was $289)
mtFullSequence (FGS) . . . $229 (was $299)
Y-DNA 12 + mtDNA . . . $118 (was $179)
Family Finder + Y-DNA 12 . . . $248 (was $339)
Family Finder + mtDNA . . . $248 (was $339)
Family Finder + Y-DNA 37 . . . $328 (was $438)
Family Finder + mtFullSequence . . . $398 (was $559)
Comprehensive Genome (Family Finder + mtFullSequence + Y-DNA67) . . . $597 (was $797)

Upgrades & Add-Ons:
mtDNA add-on $59 . . . (was $89)
mtFullSequence upgrade (HVR1 to Mega) . . . $199 (was $269)
mtFullSequence upgrade (HVR2 to Mega) . . . $199 (was $239)
mtFullSequence add-on . . . $219 (was $289)
Family Finder add-on . . . $199 (was $289)

Prices will be automatically adjusted on the FamilyTreeDNA website -- no coupon code needed!

Early Bird Registration Savings for RootsTech 2012

Well it's official. Olive Tree Genealogy is going to Utah in February as an official RootsTech 2012 blogger.

I was there last February as an official blogger for RootsTech 2011 and it was amazing. Combining genealogy and technology - what a great idea. The presentations were very informative and helpful.

If you haven't registered, now's your chance to sign up during the early bird registration period (September 7 to November 30, 2011). This is a savings of $60.00 so well worth signing up now.

September 24, 2011

WW2 Dog Tag Found in Normandy - Help Send it Home!

James F. Courtney Dog ID Tag

I hope readers have their sleuthing hats on because we have another mystery - another American soldier's Dog Tag has been found in Normandy and the finders wish to send it back home to descendants.

Here are the details from Dan:

 I have been contacted by a friend who lives near Saint Mere Eglise in Normandy.  A dog tag has been locate which belongs to James F. Courtney, service number 33196637. Mr Courtney is listed as a resident of DC and enlisted in Ft Meyer Virginia.  His wife is listed as Mary Courtney.   The people of Normandy would like to contact Mr. Courtney or his family to return this lost item.  I have been searching for a year without success.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I had a quick look on and found a military record I suspect is the correct James F. Courtney. Here are some of the details from that record

Name: James F Courtney
Birth Year: 1921
Race: White, Citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Dist of Columbia
State of Residence: District of Columbia
County or City: District of Columbia

Enlistment Date: 8 Sep 1942
Enlistment State: Virginia
Enlistment City: Fort Myer

As usual please do not post details on people who might be living. Instead send private information to me at olivetreegenealogy @ 

If the details are not private, please post in the comment section of this blog. 

Readers of Olive Tree Genealogy blog have a great track record of returning other dog tags to their owners or descendants so I am confident we can find James or his family. See stories of other found Dog Tags we sent home

September 23, 2011

Family Tree Maker 2012 Discount

Family Tree Maker 2012Some good news! If you use FTM, you can get 20% off Family Tree Maker 2012 at

I've got mine on order and am impatiently waiting for it!

Right now I'm using FTM 2011 both for Windows and Mac and although at first I didn't like the huge jump I had to make to upgrade from a very old version, now I love it.

September 22, 2011

Germanic Emigration via Hamburg Presentation

Rebekka Geitner a historian at the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany will be in the Twin Cities area giving three presentations at three locations during the period of 22, 23, 24 October 2011. She will then travel to St. Louis, Missouri to be a presenter at the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International's - Genealogical / Cultural Conference to be held from 26-29 October 2011.

This is an outstanding opportunity to meet and learn from this International Historian. Plan now to attend any or all of these important events.

Date / Time: Sunday, 23 October 2011 12:30 pm - 5 pm (includes a break and ends with a social hour).

Presentation Title: Germanic Emigration via Hamburg

Location: Buenger Education Center - Concordia University, 200 Syndicate St. North (near Hamline Ave and Concordia Ave), St Paul, MN (Free parking on the north-west and west sides of the building on weekends)

Host: Germanic Genealogy Society

More Information: or call Tamara 612-729-6357.

Pre-registration deadline: 15 October 2011 Cost: $25 (those who pre-register will be entered to win some special door-prizes).

September 21, 2011

Volume VII: Final Volume of the Second “Great Migration” Series Now in Print!


Volume VII: Final Volume of the Second “Great Migration” Series Now in Print!

Boston, MA – September, 20, 2011 – The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) announced today the release of the seventh and final volume of The Great Migration Series: Immigrants to New England 1634—1635, which is now available online at

First proposed to NEHGS in 1988 by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, the Great Migration Study Project aims to produce comprehensive biographical and genealogical accounts of all immigrants to New England between the years 1620 and about 1643.

To date, The Great Migration series includes a total of 10 volumes; three for the years 1620—1633, and seven volumes for 1634—1635. This latest volume includes all immigrants whose surnames are “T” through “Y.”

“The two Great Migration book series by Robert Charles Anderson stand as a crowning achievement in the fields of genealogy and New England history and, further, as the most important compendia published by NEHGS in 170 years,” said D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO of NEHGS.

The years between the Mayflower in 1620 and the start of the English Civil War in 1640 saw a tremendous surge of new families to America. New towns were established all across New England and the new immigrants flourished. In 1634 and 1635, immigrant numbers increased dramatically, with as many as 2,500 people coming to New England in each of those years. Today, millions of Americans can claim ancestors who traveled the Atlantic to come to New England during these Great Migration years.

Anderson said that of all New Englanders who are included in the 1790 census, the first federal census taken, it is estimated that as many as 95% of those people can claim ancestry back to the Great Migration period. To learn more or to purchase this book, please visit

September 20, 2011

Grandpa Just Keeps Surprising Me! Thanks to Updates

Recently updated their Ontario Births, Marriages & Deaths by adding a few more years to each database. Now you can search

* Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928
* Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947
* Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913

Personally I was thrilled because the new years for births and deaths allowed me to see my father's birth registration and his father (my grandfather McGinnis) death!

I knew when my dad was born. I knew where. I knew his parents' names. But I didn't know dad was born at home and not in a hospital. That was kind of cool to be able to add that bit of detail. After learning the street name and address I immediately went to GoogleMaps to see where it was, thinking I could make a personal trip to view the home where he was born. Sadly all the houses have been torn down and a shopping mall stands there now.

But the real surprise came with my Grandfather McGinnis' death record. I have his death date and cause of death as written in the family bible. He was not very old when he died - only 58 years of age.

My mom told me that my grandpa was injured at work in the early 1900s, hurt his back and was on Workman's Compensation for many years after that, never being able to work again. Nope. The cause of death was not what is written in our Bible. And I know now why she thought he hurt his back.

The cause of death was uremia and chronic nephritis. It is noted on the death record that he hadn't worked for 9 years because of it. I know that symptoms include back pain and hypertension (which is what is written in our family Bible as cause of death). So it appears Grandpa wasn't injured at work, and the reason he couldn't work was his nephritis not a bad back.

The death record also showed that he had last worked as Foreman at a "Sewerage Company" That must mean he worked for the City of Guelph which was also a surprise.

I had another surprise about Grandpa earlier this year when I found out he was a Fireman in Guelph's first official Fire Department! You can read about that at Museums: A Hidden Genealogical Treasure Trove. As the commercial on television says "Who forgot to mention that?"

If you've got Canadian ancestors now's your chance to take another look in the Vital Records on You may get some surprises too!

September 19, 2011

Cemetery Walk Video 6 of Cochrane Catholic Cemetery

It's time for another Cemetery Walk in Cochrane Catholic Cemetery. This is Video 6 and I have a lot more to go! This Video and many other Cemetery Walk videos are found on Olive Tree Genealogy Channel on Youtube

September 17, 2011

Tech Granny & The Tech Savvy Genealogists' Meme

Over on Geniaus, there's a new Meme called The Tech Savvy Genealogists' Meme. It's kind of intriguing, especially if you read other blogger's responses! So here's mine (my husband calls me Tech Granny hence the name in the title

Jill's 50 items are great but I took the liberty of adding one more... my final count? 45/50 on Jill's Meme, 46/51 on mine

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

Feel free to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Own an Android or Windows tablet or an iPad
  2. Use a tablet or iPad for genealogy related purposes
  3. Have used Skype to for genealogy purposes
  4. Have used a camera to capture images in a library/archives/ancestor's home
  5. Use a genealogy software program on your computer to manage your family tree
  6. Have a Twitter account
  7. Tweet daily
  8. Have a genealogy blog
  9. Have more then one genealogy blog
  10. Have lectured/presented to a genealogy group on a technology topic (I  have done this TWICE in public and many times over the internet. I hate speaking in public so turn down more requests than I accept)
  11. Currently an active member of Genealogy Wise
  12. Have a Facebook Account
  13. Have connected with genealogists via Facebook
  14. Maintain a genealogy related Facebook Page
  15. Maintain a blog or website for a genealogy society
  16. Have submitted text corrections online to Ancestry, Trove or a similar site
  17. Have registered a domain name
  18. Post regularly to Google+
  19. Have a blog listed on Geneabloggers
  20. Have transcribed/indexed records for FamilySearch or a similar project (aha, a trick question! I've transcribed hundreds of old records for website. I guess that counts as a YES?)
  21. Own a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner or hand-held scanner
  22. Can code a webpage in .html
  23. Own a smartphone
  24. Have a personal subscription to one or more paid genealogy databases
  25. Use a digital voice recorder to record genealogy lectures
  26. Have contributed to a genealogy blog carnival
  27. Use Chrome as a Browser (I've used Chrome but prefer Firefox)
  28. Have participated in a genealogy webinar
  29. Have taken a DNA test for genealogy purposes
  30. Have a personal genealogy website
  31. Have found mention of an ancestor in an online newspaper archive
  32. Have tweeted during a genealogy lecture
  33. Have scanned your hardcopy genealogy files  (this would take a lifetime to scan everything! I have scanned documents but not my written work)
  34. Use an RSS Reader to follow genealogy news and blogs
  35. Have uploaded a gedcom file to a site like Geni, MyHeritage or Ancestry (Sorry, I'll never do this. I know how but I won't do it)
  36. Own a netbook (Hmmm since we have 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, a MacBookAir, an HP laptop, and 3 computers in the house I don't think I need a netbook!)
  37. Use a computer/tablet/smartphone to take genealogy lecture notes
  38. Have a profile on LinkedIn that mentions your genealogy habit
  39. Have developed a genealogy software program, app or widget (I wish I knew how!)
  40. Have listened to a genealogy podcast online
  41. Have downloaded genealogy podcasts for later listening
  42. Backup your files to a portable hard drive
  43. Have a copy of your genealogy files stored offsite
  44. Know about Rootstech (yep I was an official blogger for RootsTech2011 and was invited again for 2012)
  45. Have listened to a Blogtalk radio session about genealogy
  46. Use Dropbox, SugarSync or other service to save documents in the cloud
  47. Schedule regular email backups
  48. Have contriibuted to the Familysearch Wiki
  49. Have scanned and tagged your genealogy photographs
  50. Have published a genealogy book in an online/digital format (I've published many genealogy books but not in online or digital format and have no plans to do so in the future)
and adding one more...

51. Have tried and reviewed iPhone or iPad apps at the developers' request

September 16, 2011

The Challenge of Finding Our Black Ancestor's Origins

Francis X. Schumacher & Mary Butler
This is a photo of my husband's 2nd great-grand-aunt Mary Schumacher nee Butler (1852-1924) and her husband.

Mary was the sister of my husband's great-great-grandfather Joseph Butler (1856-between 1911-1918).

Mary and Joseph were the grandchildren of Jonathan Butler, a black man living in the Queen's Bush in what was then called Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario)

The lure of free land attracted Black settlers to the Queen's Bush Settlement. The community developed in the Clergy Reserve known as the Queen's Bush, which extended from Waterloo County to Lake Huron.

The majority settled in the southern half of Peel Township in Wellington County but the Queen's Bush Settlement also included the northern half of Wellesley Township and the western portion of Woolwich Township in Waterloo County. This area, eight by twelve miles in size, had a population of approximately 2,500 by 1840. Of these about 1,500 were Black settlers.

A Challenging Black Ancestor

It has been a challenge to research Jonathan Butler and his family.  Early 1800s Ontario records are sparse. What we have managed to find after searching in many old records and having the help of a very kind gentleman in Waterloo Ontario is that Jonathan was born somewhere in the USA circa 1790.  No specific location in the United States is known.

We know he was black. He is listed on various tax, census and assessment records as "Negro" and "African"  We know his wife's name (Elizabeth Ginkins as per the adult baptism of his son Allen, my husband's 3rd great-grandfather) but do not know her origins.

The first record we found for Jonathan is an 1834 Assessment record where he is recorded as "Negro Butler". He owns 100 acres of uncultivated land west of the Grand River in Woolwich Township, Waterloo County. His livestock consisted of 2 cows and 1 horse. Not much to start a farm but by the time of the 1840 assessment he had managed to cultivate 40 acres.

The last record found of Jonathan is this 1840 "Census" which is really a tax and assessment record. He has not been found after that date - no death records, no burial records, no 1851 census record (although many of the 1851 census for Ontario are missing). We have found no record of his wife Elizabeth in any records of any year.

Jonathan Butler's Children

Jonathan's children are found in census records recorded as "African", "Mulatto" and in later years "White". We know from tax records that Jonathan had at least 5 sons and 3 daughters but we only know the names of two with certainty - Allen and George. Both married German women in the Waterloo area.

* George Butler (1832-1902) married Catherine Krump and had 11 children known.

* Allen Butler (1824-1872) married Caroline (Carrie) Weiss and had 8 children known.

* It is believed that Henry (Harry) Butler (ca 1829-between 1861-1871) who married a German woman named Sarah Susannah Foerch is another son

My husband's 3rd great-grandfather Joanes Alexander Alan (called Allen) Butler was baptized into the Catholic Church January 26,1851 at St Agatha, Wilmot Twp, Waterloo Co. He was recorded as the legitimate son of Jonathan Butler and Elizabetha Ginkens. In his marriage record that same year (February 1851) he stated he was born in Toronto. 

Allen's son Joseph, my husband's great-grandfather, is another mystery. He disappears after the 1901 census where he is found with his wife and children living in Seaforth, Huron County Ontario. His estranged wife Caroline (Carrie) left Ontario for Detroit Michigan circa 1909. Family lore said that she left Joseph after some kind of scandal was discovered and that he "went out west". He was never heard from again although our research indicates he may have settled in Manitoba near the border of North Dakota.  If his wife can be believed, he was deceased by May 1918.

The Genealogy Challenges & Unanswered Questions

We have many challenges and puzzles regarding the Butler family and my husband's black heritage. But our two main objectives at this moment are:

1. How do we find our Jonathan Butler's origins in the United States? There are so few records for pre 1851 in Ontario and we have not been able to find what happened to him after that 1840 assessment record or where he was before the 1834 one. So we only have records of him for a six year time frame. We know he was in Toronto circa 1824 when Allen was born. But where was he before 1824 and where was he from 1824 to 1834 when he acquired land in the Queen's Bush? 

2.  We are hoping to find Joseph Butler from 1901 to 1918. Was he in Manitoba? He had a brother Jacob in Pembina North Dakota but we've not found any record of Joseph there. However this brother Jacob lived for several years in Montcalm, Pembina Valley Region, Manitoba. Did Jacob head there after leaving his family (or being kicked out as family lore states)? We are hoping his death record might have information on the birth place of his father Jonathan or mother Elizabeth.

If you have any suggestions or ideas for us in our search, please post them in the Comment section of this blog post. We definitely need advice on where to look next! 

September 15, 2011

My Memories Suite - Liking it So Far!

Recently I downloaded a copy of MyMemoriesSuite and started playing with it. I haven't had a lot of time to really get into it but so far it looks intriguing! It's easy to download and install and once you open the program it's very intuitive to use.

Basically MyMemoriesSuite is digital scrapbooking software. My Memories Suite is rated #1 by Amazon and TopTen Reviews. Using this software, anyone can create digital scrapbooks, photobooks, cards, calendars and gifts without having to buy expensive and complicated software programs.

I started a scrapbook of my grandchildren's photos using one of the free template designs. You can see one of the pages on the left. It's easy to remove or replace photos using the tool bar on the right.

You can also rotate images easily, add text or video or narration! I haven't tried adding video or narration but that will be my next step.

Now for good news for readers of OliveTreeGenealogy Blog! You can use this special code STMMMS31969 to get  a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store - $20 value!

If you try it out, please do let me know how you liked it in a comment here on my Blog. 

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this software for review purposes.

September 14, 2011

Orphanmasters' Records of New Amsterdam (New York)

"The Minutes of the Orphanmasters of New Amsterdam, 1655 to 1663" translated and edited by Berthold Fernow is one of my most-used reference books for finding details on family groups.

It  is out of print but may be purchased as The Minutes of the Orphanmasters of New Amsterdam, 1655 to 1663 by Berthold Fernow (V.1 ) (1902-1907) from

My copy is an out-of-print version printed in 1902 by Francis P. Harper.  "translated and edited under the auspices of the Committee on History and Tradition of the Colonial Dames of the State of New York"

Quoting from the preface to this book
"Before New Amsterdam received its charter as a city the Director General and Council of the Province were ex-officio bound " to take cognizance of matters pertaining to minor children, widows, orphans, etc.," and under their supervision the Deacons of the Reformed Church acted as Orphan Masters, but with the incorporation of the village as a city the duties of Director and Council devolved upon the newly created municipal rulers—the Burgomasters and Schepens,—who, at their second meeting on February io, 1653, resolved "that it is necessary to appoint Orphanmasters," for which position they submitted to the Director and Council four names to select two."
Under Dutch law, when a person died, and if his or her spouse intended to remarry, the rights of all underage children had to be assured. The Weeskamer (OrphanMasters) were responsible for assuring that children had guardians appointed who would guarantee their rights.

It is easy to be confused by the word ORPHAN in the title, but the orphanmasters dealt with children who had one parent as well as those who had none.

In New Amsterdam, under Dutch law, widowed fathers also had guardians appointed for their minor children. Under the law no one who might benefit from the death of an heir, could be that heir's guardian. Also in New Amsterdam, guardians were appointed no matter whether the surviving spouse intended to remarry or not.

In all the cases I've read through, both in the Amsterdam Weeskamer records and the New Netherland Orphan Masters records, the guardian was a relative of the deceased -- or an impartial and unrelated individual.

If you are looking for an ancestor who may have had reason to be involved with the orphanmasters before 1650 you may be out of luck. According to Howard Swain, who consulted "The Orphan Chamber of New Amsterdam," by Adriana E. van Zwietenin The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series vol LIII, no. 2, pp 320- 340, Zwieten says on p. 321
"The records of new Netherland before 1650 contain few cases concerning the 'unfortunate.' The population was small, and the care of orphans and their estates fell to surviving parents and relatives. If both parents died and there were no relatives, the deacons of the Reformed Church filled the void."
Anyone seeking records of orphans may also want to consult the online list of names of Almshouse children (orphans) sent to New Netherland (New York) from Amsterdam Holland on the ship De Waegh (The Weigh-House), August 1655

For orphanage records for other locations see Orphan & Orphanage Records which also include Almshouse records for New York City.

September 13, 2011

Hamburg, Germany Emigration Museum Historian to Speak in Twin Cities Area

Hamburg, Germany Emigration Museum Historian to Speak in Twin Cities Area (New Ulm, St. Paul, Minneapolis), and then St. Louis, Mo. Rebekka Geitner a historian at the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany will be in the Twin Cities area giving three presentations at three locations during the period of 22, 23, 24 October 2011. She will then travel to St. Louis, Missouri to be a presenter at the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International's - Genealogical / Cultural Conference to be held from 26-29 October 2011. This is an outstanding opportunity to meet and learn from this International Historian. Plan now to attend any or all of these important events. Date / Time: Saturday, 22 October 2011 5:00 pm - Social Hour, 6:00 pm - Dinner, 7:00 pm - Presentation Presentation Title: Via Hamburg to the world: Emigration from the Bohemian Forest to the USA Location: Turner Hall, 102 S. State Street, New Ulm, MN. Host: German-Bohemian Heritage Society More Information: please contact Jenny Eckstein Other event dates to follow

September 10, 2011

1891 Canadian Census FREE on LAC

If you didn't find an ancestor in Library and Archives Canada's 1871 census offerings, you might want to have a search in 1891 census for Canada.

It's online. It's free. It's indexed and there are images attached.


September 9, 2011

Internet Tethering my iPhone to my MacBookAir - Lifesaver!

Yesterday our wireless internet stopped working. We subscribe to Rogers in Ontario Canada and every so often it conks out on us. Because I can’t easily blog or upload files to my websites using my iPhone or iPad, it’s a major inconvenience. I use my main computer (Windows) and my MacBookAir to write blog posts, upload files, check email and so on.

Usually I grumble and moan until the service starts working again but this time it’s been a full 24 hours with no wireless in sight. When I complained about the lack of internet on Facebook, friends jumped in with advice. One friend said I should try creating a personal hotspot with my iPhone so that I could work from my MacBookAir. I had no idea what she meant but I immediately googled it to find out. Boy did I get an awakening!

It seems my iPhone (3GS) has the capability to do internet tethering (aka personal hotspot on other phones). If my service provider allows it, I read that I could jump my iPhone (or iPad) 3G service to my MacBookAir (or even my Windows XP or Windows 7 computer). This sounded very cool!

So I started on my quest. It was super easy. Within 10 minutes I was online via 3G but on my MacBookAir. Phew, sigh of relief although I do have very limited data transfer sizes - only 1GB per month on my iPhone. But it’s better than nothing! I don’t want to go over as each GB extra costs about $40.00. But at least I can work offline, as I am doing for this blog post which I’m writing in Pages. Then I’ll connect via Internet Tethering from my iPhone and upload the post to the blogger platform.

Here’s how I did it:

In my iPhone, open SETTINGS

Go to GENERAL and choose NETWORK then INTERNET TETHERING. Turn Tethering ON

iPhone then provided me with two options  - tether via USB (plug iPhone into USB port of computer) or via Bluetooth.

I could not get the USB option to work. My iPhone tells me to plug my phone into my computer (done) the choose iPhone from the list of network services in my settings. Sound easy but I have no option for “iPhone”. I looked everywhere but no dice. After 15 minutes of frustration I decided to go Bluetooth.

Bluetooth was super easy. I turned on Bluetooth on my phone. When I went to pair my phone with my MacBookAir a security code popped up on my computer and my phone. I then told my MacBookAir that yes, the codes were identical and yes, I did want to pair the two devices together. The two devices were paired and I was able to function on my MacBookAir using my iPhone’s 3G service.

I did have to create a PAN (Personal Area Network) but it was not difficult at all, my computer walked me through it.

If you decide to try this, here’s one more tip. When I shut down and then went back online on my MacBookAir, the two devices could see each other but wouldn’t connect.

I kept getting a notice saying it was taking too long and to be sure both had bluetooth turned ON and that they were in range of each other. I knew that wasn’t the problem so I poked around on my MacBookAir until I finally discovered that inside the little icon for settings below the network choices in my settings,  was an option to join a specified network. In this case it was the PAN I’d previously created. It shows in the graphic as Administrator’s iPhone, right above my Jambox by Jawbone

I have mixed feelings - my wireless internet is still not functioning so that makes me stressed, frustrated and slightly worried. But at least I can connect occasionally via Internet tethering and that reduces some of my stress!

By the way if anyone knows how I can internet tether from my iPhone 3GS to my MacBookAir via USB, please let me in on the secret!

September 8, 2011

Records Added for Canada, England, Mexico, and South Africa Collections

Records Also Added to Canada, England, Mexico, and South Africa Collections 7 September 2011 added millions of new records this week of both Confederate and Union soldiers who served in the American Civil War. Also now available for viewing are newly added notarial records from Canada, church records and civil registrations from Mexico, and miscellaneous records from England. Begin searching now at

September 7, 2011

Cutting-Edge Genealogy Day-Long Program

Press Release: The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Presents a Day-Long Program on Cutting-Edge Genealogy, Saturday, September 24th

Learn from Three of the Field’s Top Experts -- Dick Eastman, Ruth A. Carr, and David Kleiman -- How to use New Technology and Thinking to Move your Research Forward

NEW YORK, NY, August 15, 2011 – On Saturday, September 24th, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society will present Dick Eastman, Ruth A. Carr, and David Kleiman in a full-day program designed to enhance your online genealogical searches. The program will take place in the South Court Auditorium of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY.

Dick Eastman is the publisher of “Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter,” the daily genealogy technology newsletter with more than 60,000 readers worldwide. He will deliver two lectures: Genealogy Searches on Google: Extract the Most Genealogical Information Possible from Everyone's Favorite Search Engine and The Latest Technology for Genealogists: An In-Depth Look at Today's Technology.

Ruth A. Carr retired in 2008 as Chief of the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, New York Public Library where she worked for 20 years. She will present a talk on Other Places Your Ancestors Might Be Hiding: “Non-Genealogy” Databases and Internet Resources to Explore.

A genealogist and family historian for over 35 years, David Kleiman co-founded and chairs the New York Computers and Genealogy Special Interest Group and serves on the executive council of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. and on the Education Committee of the NYG&B. He will deliver two lectures: Rediscovering the Globe: Maps Online, GIS, Google Earth and Technology & Design: Looking Good in Print and on the Screen.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. at the NYPL’s South Court Auditorium and will end at 5:00 pm; there will be a break for lunch on-your-own. Registration for NYG&B members is $60, non-members is $90. Register online at For additional information, contact Lauren Maehrlein, Director of Education, at 212-755-8532, ext. 211, or by e-mailing

About the NYG&B

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has been a primary resource for research on New York families since 1869. The NYG&B seeks to advance genealogical scholarship and enhance the capabilities of both new and experienced researchers of family history through a rich schedule of programs, workshops, and repository tours; through its quarterly scholarly journal The NYG&B Record and its quarterly review The New York Researcher; and through an E-Library of unique digital material on its website

September 6, 2011

1871 Canada Census FREE on LAC

Looking for your Canadian ancestors? The 1871 complete Canadian census is now free to search and view images at Library and Archives Canada

This census provides  the name, age, country or province of birth, ethnic origin, religion and occupation of Canada's residents in this year.

Find links to census records at

September 5, 2011

Cemetery Walk Cochrane Catholic Cemetery: Video 4

Another Cemetery Walk - this one is Video 4 for Cochrane Catholic Cemetery in Ontario Canada.

View other Cemetery Walks on Olive Tree Genealogy Channel on Youtube

September 3, 2011

New U.S. Military Records on Fold3 is excited to announce that they have begun adding the following new titles to the site, covering 5 wars and 130 years of U.S. military history:

War of 1812 Pension FilesFree

Records in the War of 1812 Pension Files reveal details of each soldier’s service and family.

Mexican War Service Records

From 1846 to 1848, the war with Mexico determined the southwest border of the U.S. as we know it today. The Mexican War Service Records launch Fold3's commitment to bringing records of this strategic war to our members.

Confederate Casualty Reports

From skirmishes to major battles, documents within the Confederate Casualty Reports describe a unit's role in the conflict and detail casualties, from killed to missing to "slightly" wounded.

World War I Officer Experience Reports

The World War I Officer Experience Reports reveal intriguing accounts by engineers in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).

WWII "Old Man's Draft" Registration Cards

In 1942, men between the ages of 45 and 64 were required to register for the draft in order to create an inventory of those who could provide essential skills to the home front during World War II. The "Old Man's Draft" Cards are the result, complete with addresses, dates, and physical descriptions of each registrant.
Watch for more to come as these titles continue to grow and others are added to

September 2, 2011

U.S. Census Records on

New Image Viewer is bringing the U.S. Federal Census to it's website. Read the following Notice about this great new addition. the web's most affordable and easy-to-use subscription-based family history site, announces the addition of the U.S. Federal Census, the single most valuable collection of U.S. historical records.

The U.S. Census collections were made available by FamilySearch International, the world's largest genealogy organization, as part of a joint effort to introduce more records to family historians worldwide.

In conjunction with the Census effort, will also embark on a joint project with FamilySearch to digitize tens-of-millions of additional historical records, the majority of which are not currently online. has pledged a minimum of five million dollars to this important project which will positively impact the entire community.

September 1, 2011

Why Connecting With Other Genealogists is Important

A few days ago a correspondent who I've not chatted with for several years wrote to me. He'd been searching for our ancestors, John Greenlees and Elizabeth Johnston and had exciting news to share. Bill found their marriage in Ireland. This is a huge deal.

None of the descendants knew anything except that John and Elizabeth were born in Ireland. No county, no town, no parish, no townland... nothing had been found on any records other than "Ireland". I knew from census records and death registrations that John was born circa 1791 and Elizabeth circa 1783-1787.

Census records for early Ontario (Upper Canada and Canada West) are often missing. Many have not survived. The earliest census which records all persons in the household is 1851 although there is an 1841 which shows heads of household and numbers of family members. John died in 1868 and Elizabeth in 1872 so there are not many records to be found for them. The surviving 1851 census records do not exist for their location and thus the earliest record found is the 1861 census.

I knew from the approximate years and places of birth of their children that they arrived in what is now the province of Ontario circa 1820. But ships passenger lists to Canada before 1865 did not have to be archived and thus they are few and far between. No record of John and Elizabeth's passage has been found.

Searching for death records and obituaries of both John and Elizabeth and their children proved fruitless in providing a more exact location for their origins in Ireland. I even have a copy of a letter written in 1841 by their son-in-law (my 2nd great grandfather) which mentioned that his wife Jane (their daughter) was "Irish to the bone" but sadly gave no indication of her place of birth. The search has been frustrating over the years.

Then Bill found the following church record online:

From the parish register of Galloon in the diocese of Clogher, County Fermanagh: John Greenlees of the parish of Aghalurcher and Elizabeth Johnston of Drumy were married 1st September 1814.
This was pretty exciting and I spent a few hours learning more about Co. Fermanagh, Aghalurcher and Drumy (which I could not find). I also looked for other Greenlees names in the vicinity and found a few which I copied down in case they later prove to be part of John Greenlees' family.

My John Greenlees and Elizabeth Johnston had the following children, the first 3 born in Ireland, the last 4 in Upper Canada (Ontario):

George b 1815
Thomas b ca 1815-1816 (there has been some speculation that George & Thomas were twins)
Jane b ca 1819 (my ancestor)
Margaret b ca 1821
Catherine b 1825
John b ca 1825 (John and Catherine might also be twins)
James b ca 1827

I found a Sally (aka Sarah) Greenlees married to Thomas Liddle of Kilturk baptising children in the Galloon church records. Notice the naming pattern and the twin births:

Thomas b 1807
Margaret b 1809
Elinor b 1813
Elizabeth b 1815
John & Robert (twins) b 1817

If naming patterns were followed that honoured parents, we can see that there's a possibility that Sally and John were siblings and that Thomas and Margaret were their Greenlees parents. Sally gives her first son and first daughter  those names, while John gives his second son and second daughter those names.

IF my speculation proves eventually to be correct then it's also a good possibility that Elizabeth Johnston's parents were George and Jane (the names given to her first son and first daughter).

At this stage it's only speculation but it's a working theory and I'll try to prove or disprove it as I continue researching my elusive Greenlees ancestors. Thanks to Bill, I have a wonderful new lead to follow!