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March 31, 2012

Finding Your Roots - Every Sunday

PBS has a new genealogy series called Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. The series runs on Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8/7c  

Finding Your Roots examines the histories and family genealogies of a number of well-known personalities.  I wish I could watch it!

I have a personal request to make. If anyone is on Shaw Direct in Ontario, and knows what package is needed to get this PBS series, please let me know.

March 30, 2012

Understanding Patronymics in the New World


by Lorine McGinnis Schulze 

 Author Note: A longer version of this article was originally published on my website at

The Dutch were much slower than the English in adopting surnames as we know them. The most common Dutch naming custom was that of patronymics, or identification of an individual based on the father's name.

For example, Jan Albertszen is named after his father, Albert.   His patronymic Albertszen is formed from his father's first name. Albertszen means son of a man named Albert. The patronymic was formed by adding -se, -sen, or -szen

Daughters would very often have the ending -x or -dr. added. For example, Geesjie Barentsdr. (Barentsdochter) is named after her father Barent.

An individual could also be known by his place of origin. For example, Cornelis Antoniszen Van Slyke, my 9th great- grandfather, was known in some records as 'van Breuckelen', meaning 'from Breuckelen' (Breuckelen being a town in the Netherlands).   
The place-origin name could be a nationality, as in the case of Albert Andriessen from Norway and my 9th great-grandpa, originator of the Bradt and Vanderzee families - he is entered in many records as Albert Andriessen de Noorman, meaning the Norseman.

In New Netherland (present day New York state) patronymics ended theoretically in 1687 under the new English rule. The English found the Dutch system of patronymics confusing and ordered that every family choose a surname, but not everyone followed the new guidelines. The English wanted one family to have one common surname, but the Dutch decided that each individual should establish his own. Thus members of one family often ended up with more than one surname in use.

We often see naming differences over the generations: Albert's sons and daughters took the surname BRADT except for his son Storm, born on the Atlantic Ocean during the family's sailing to the New World. Storm adopted the surname Van Der Zee (from the sea) and this is the name his descendants carry. 

An individual might be known by a personal characteristic: e.g. Vrooman means a pious or wise man;Krom means bent or crippled; De Witt means the white one. The most fascinating one I've seen is that of Pieter Adrianszen (Peter, s/o Adrian) who was given the nickname of Soo Gemackelyck (so easy-going) but was also known as Pieter Van Waggelen/Van Woggelum - his children adopted the surnames Mackelyck and Woglom

Sometimes an occupation became the surname. Smit=Smith; Schenck= cupbearer, Metsalaer= mason. An individual might be known by many different 'surnames' and entered in official records under these different names, making research difficult unless you're aware of the names in use. For example, my ancestor Cornelis Antoniszen Van Slyke mentioned above, was known and written of under the following names:

  • Cornelis Antoniszen
  • Cornelis Teuniszen (Teunis being the diminuitive of Antony)
  • Cornelis Antoniszen/Teuniszen van Breuckelen
  • Cornelis Antoniszen/Teuniszen Van Slicht (this is how he signed his name and might have been a hereditary family name based on an old place of origin)
  • Broer Cornelis (name given him by Mohawks)
Remember that there were tremendous variations in spelling of these names, and changes from Dutch to to English record keeping in the New World affected the spelling even more. If you are searching for an ancestor in early New Netherland you will need to keep this in mind and note variations carefully for they can be clues to further research.

March 29, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? With Rita Wilson

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by take you all over the world and inside the fascinating family histories of 12 celebrities.

On Friday March 30th we can all join Rita Wilson as she goes on her journey of discovery.   Rita's search into her father's past uncovers a secret life she never knew existed.

The celebrities that WDYTYA will take on a journey to find their ancestors are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

March 28, 2012

Searching for an Ancestor's Siblings - How to Start

Greg sent an email to Olive Tree Genealogy asking for advice on finding his great-great-great grandfather's siblings. Because it's a genealogy question that many of us might face, I thought I'd share my suggestions with readers. Here is Greg's email and a scan he provided of their names and birth details from an old book.

My 3rd great grandfather William Johnson (16 Jun 1823 Holme On Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, England - 10 Oct 1905 Huron, Ontario, Canada) and his spouse Charlotte Colton (16 Feb 1822 [Bardney Lincolnshire?] England - 4 Oct 1888 Huron, Ontario, Canada) immigrated to Canada from Yorkshire, England about 1850.  By the census in 1861 and for the rest of their lives, they lived and farmed in or around Morris or East Wawanosh, Huron county, Ontario.

Among my grandmother Olive's family history records is the back cover of a leather-bound volume on which is recorded the birth dates of William and his 13 siblings.  (If only I were able to "Ask Olive!")  The ex-volume is probably from the mid-19th century.  I base this on the stamp "Watkins Binder" on the cover itself.  Watkins was a bindery in London from the late 18th century to at least 1850.

Family groups often migrate together.  Based on that, my question is this:  Might have any of William's siblings also immigrated to Canada and can they be traced through government or church records?

The first part of this question is fairly easy - the short answer is "Yes" William's siblings could have stayed in England or emigrated to another country. Canada and Australia were often favourite locations for English emigrants.

As for finding William's siblings, I wouldn't advise you start on a random hunt in Canadian records. That would be hit and miss and you're working with some fairly common names.

My advice is to follow the standard genealogy method which is to start with an individual and trace that person. Usually you are searching backwards, finding ancestors of an individual. In your case you want to research forward.

What I mean by this is, you would take each of William's siblings in turn and track their lives in England. Find them in every census year you can. Look for deaths and marriages. Basically you are trying to prove or disprove that they lived and died in England.

So if you are searching them in census and they disappear and you can't find a death record, there's a possibility that they left the country. You might then have a hunt in ships passenger lists for a record of travel.

There is another challenge with a ships passenger lists search. Ships passenger lists arriving in Canada did not have to be kept until 1865.  For help and links to online projects of Ships Passenger Lists before 1865 you may want to refer to Filling in The Gaps.

Other countries like Australia had other regulations and you would have to investigate to find out what ships passenger lists exist and where they can be found.

Another more obscure search would be in local newspapers in England. Let's say for example that a sibling or two disappear from English census records after 1851.  If you could find a local newspaper for the area you might find reference to a family group leaving the community to settle elsewhere. That's a long shot but it is another avenue of research.

The bottom line is that you have a lot of slogging and digging into records ahead of you but it should be a very interesting journey!

March 27, 2012

The Overlooked Abstract Indexes to Deeds - a Useful Genealogy Research Tool

Please note that the following article was written by me (Lorine McGinnis Schulze) and published on my Olive Tree Genealogy website several years ago

Land records are very useful. Originally all land in Ontario belonged to the Crown. Although there were small areas of settlement in 1763 after the British took over, major settlement of Upper Canada began in 1783 and utilized Crown Grants. Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted land petitions to the Governor in order to obtain Crown land.
Abstract Indexes to Deeds
The Abstract Indexes to Deeds are the indexed record of every transaction on a plot of land from Crown ownership to the present day. Abstract Indexes were created 1865-1866 according to new legislation and were retroactive to the patent on a property, meaning they went back to when the land was first owned by the Crown before it was sold or granted to individuals.

Using the Abstract Indexes to Deeds you can check for every instance of your name of interest on that parcel of land. By referring to the date and Instrument Number found with each transaction, you can look up the complete record. You may find a will (Many wills are filed in the Land Records Offices) or other important genealogical information or document.

See the example and explanation of the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for Concession 4, Lot 12, Puslinch Township, Wellington County Ontario. You may click on image for a larger graphic.

Abstract Indexes to Deeds for Concession 4, Lot 12, Puslinch Township, Wellington County OntarioLooking at the second from the bottom entry dated 1904 you can see a list of the children of Frederick Broeckel and a notation that he is deceased. If you did not know when Frederick Broeckel died, or the names of his children, this would be a very nice genealogy find. 

After you have found that enty in the Abstract Index to Deeds, you can order the full record to see what other genealogy details might be found. Simply refer to the Book Number, Instrument Number and date to order the full record.

 In this case it is Book I16, Instrument #8243, 1 May 1904. Notice that there is an earlier entry dated 13 Jan. 1903 for Frederick Broeckel and it is called Probate to Will. Sending for the full record would no doubt include Frederick's will.

Where to Find Abstract Indexes to Deeds

Please refer to for a complete list of where you can obtain these Abstract Indexes to Deeds


March 26, 2012

Cemetery Walk Through St. Mary's Cemetery in Bluffton Alberta

Burial Record Page
Today's Cemetery Walk is St. Mary's Cemetery in Bluffton Alberta. It is online on Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel

You can also see more cemetery photos online at

You may also view scans of the Burial Records from this cemetery

March 24, 2012

A Lot of Chatter About Helen Hunt Episode on Who Do You Think You Are?

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by aired an Episode last night featuring Helen Hunt on her journey of discovery.  

There's been a lot of chatter on Facebook and Twitter about this episode and in general the reaction is pretty negative. It seems many viewers didn't feel engaged by Helen's ancestors or by Helen.

Most comments that I read last night focused on Helen's lack of emotion, on her seemingly cool reaction to seeing photographs of her ancestors, and on the fact that she didn't gush or seem excited about the finds.

Remember Sarah Jessica Parker? Talk about gushing! Watching that episode I quickly grew weary of her constant "Wow" and other expressions of amazement. Thank you Helen Hunt for not subjecting me to that again!

I do admit that Helen's episode was not my favourite but not because of Helen's reserve. For me it was because I didn't get a good sense of her ancestors and I felt the show rather quickly glossed over each one and moved on to the next.

But Helen's reserve is not something any of us should judge with criticism. I got the impression that she was very pleased at what was found. She mentioned her daughter several times and how she wanted to share the stories with her in order to help her daughter grow and become aware of the foundations of their family.

Helen was alert and focused on what each researcher told her. She asked appropriate questions which indicated she was listening and interested.  My perception was that Ms. Hunt is a very reserved woman who does not like to show emotion in public. Why would we judge her for that? 

Just sayin'.......

March 23, 2012

Official Genealogy Bloggers sought for 2012 NGS Conference

The following Press Release was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy.  I've read it and think it's a really great way to set up Official Bloggers. Wish I was going to the conference so I could apply!

(21 March 2012) The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announces the opening of the Official Blogger registration for the 2012 Family History Conference, 9–12 May, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

NGS welcomes bloggers’ participation at its conference and also wants to welcome them as members of the press to the NGS conference. In recognition of the important media role they play in the field of genealogy, NGS invites bloggers to register at its website to request “Official Blogger – NGS 2012 Family History Conference” designation and use of the NGS logo.

NGS recognizes that the genealogical community is gifted with a large number of engaged and talented bloggers who write regularly about the release of new records, upcoming events, research methods, tools, software choices, and other items of interest to the community. The designation of Official Blogger is a way for the National Genealogical Society to give recognition to the daily contributions these bloggers make to keep the field of genealogy current, particularly with news that is not covered in the mainstream media.

Official Bloggers will have a limited license to use an “Official Blogger – NGS 2012 Family History Conference” designation and logo. The NGS Conference blog will link to their blogs. Official bloggers will have access to the Media Center on the exhibit hall floor. For more information on the NGS Social Media Policy, see: .

If you write a blog or micro-blog, and would like to be recognized as an “Official Blogger of the NGS 2012 Family History Conference,” please navigate to to fill out a form letting us know a little bit about you and your blog.

March 22, 2012

Update on A Californian's Wartime Experience: Hidden From the German Army

Henry Taylor, Gloria, Susanne & Natalina
For those who haven't been following this story, please see part 1: A Californian's Wartime Experience: Hidden From the German Army

Part 1 gives the details about Henry (aka Harry) Taylor being hidden by Nick's grandmother and grandfather in Italy during WW2, and that we are looking for Henry's descendants in California. 

Nick  sent me new information and photos from his Italian and Australian relatives which might help us in our search for the family of Henry Taylor.

On the left is a lovely family photo sent to Nick's family in Italy from Henry either while he was living in England or after he immigrated to California.

I believe from other clues that this photo was taken in London England.

From the clothing and hairstyles I put this photo at late 1940s or very early 1950s. So this helps us determine when Susanne and Natalina were born.

Reverse of photo of daughter

 This image on the left is the reverse of a photo of Henry's daughter - the baby you see in the photo above.

It appears to have been taken on the same day as the family group shot above as the daughter (Natalina?) is wearing what looks like the same dress and appears to be the same age.

This reverse image gives the name of the photographer, A. Barrett and an address of 109 Holloway Rd, London UK

A search of Google Maps gives a very good overview of where Holloway Rd is - in Islington Borough of the City of London. So I think we may be able to find Henry and family in the Voter's Registrations for London England.

Henry Taylor's daughter
You may also have noticed that this image has written on it "Harry Taylor's daughter". Harry is a very common nickname for Henry but we may not have searched for him under that name before.

In this photo of Henry's youngest daughter Natalina, her dress has a type of smocking that was typical of the 1940s. 

There may be passenger lists of his arrival when he immigrated from England to California under the name Harry Taylor. And it appears that his entire family came with him or at least came over at some time. So they may appear on passenger lists too either with Henry or arriving separately.

Reverse of photo of Henry Taylor in Part 1
The image on the left gives Henry/Harry's name and adddress in London England. This might be very helpful in finding him on Voter's Registrations or other records.

It reads:

Harry Taylor
11 Road (I can't read this but it's crossed out with a single faint line and written under it is  48 Grove Dale)
Upper Holloway
London England

Upper Holloway is found in Islington Borough of the City of London


Henry aka Harry Taylor was a British soldier in WW2. While in Italy and was hidden from the German army by Nick's grandparents.  He was probably in his 20s.

After WW2 Henry aka Harry lived in London England at least until late 1940s or early 1950s

At some point Henry and family left England for California and were there at least by 1961, possibly earlier.

Henry kept in touch with Nick's Italian grandparents, and their daughter Natalina (Lina) until sometime between 1961 and 1965. Then contact was lost

Henry's wife was Gloria and they had 2 daughters, Susanne and Natalina. Judging by the new family group photo above, it appears the daughters may have been born in England ca 1945-early 1950s


We might find a record of Henry aka Harry's marriage to Gloria in Free BMD  We might find a record of the births of Susanne and Natalina there too

A search of Voters' Registrations in London England and in California might turn up Henry and his wife Gloria

A search of Ships Passenger Lists might find Henry and his family arriving in USA

If anyone has any other ideas please do tell us in the Comments section. If you want to jump in and join in the search for Henry, his wife or daughters, please do! Just type your search results in the Comments section of this blog so that others can benefit from your finds.

Let's reunite Nick's aunt Lina (for whom Henry's daughter Natlina was named) with Henry's family. 

March 21, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are with Helen Hunt

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by take you all over the world and inside the fascinating family histories of 12 celebrities.

On Friady March 23rd we'll be able to watch Helen Hunt as she goes on her journey of discovery.  

The celebrities that WDYTYA will take on a journey to find their ancestors are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

March 20, 2012

Flip-Pal is Helping us Spring Clean with Some New Deals!

The following announcement was sent to Olive Tree Genealogy by Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. And it's a good one! You all know how much I love my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner - if not, you can read about how I have used it for many different projects. For the rest of March Flip-Pal is offering some good deals.

We’re Celebrating New Alliances and the Coming of Spring
We can all feel it—spring is just around the corner, literally. We’ve sprung ahead and adjusted our clocks and feel some spring-cleaning may be in our near future. Perhaps a little bird is harkening a call to action to scan those boxes of precious family photos to pass on to future generations. You can scan while sitting at the car dealer waiting for your vehicle to be serviced, on the couch with your family who are all doing their own thing or at your favorite Aunt’s kitchen table…with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.
MARCHing On—2 Coupon Codes for You to Use!                     
Coupon Code: FP312A Flip-Pal mobile scanner
When you purchase a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner ($149.99), get a Flip-Pal mobile scanner Carry Case FREE (both items must be in your shopping cart)

Coupon Code: CS312A
When you purchase a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner with Creative Suite Craft Edition DVD ($199.99), get a Flip-Pal mobile scanner Carry Case plus a package of Flip-Pal Window Protector Sheets FREE (all three items must be in your shopping cart)

These Coupons are Good from March 19-30, 2012—or While Supplies Last! Just use this link to Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner to order yours today. Be sure to use the coupon code(s) when you have added what you want to your shopping cart.

March 19, 2012

Cemetery Walk: Trinity United Church Cemetery Simcoe County Ontario

This week's Cemetery Walk is through part of Trinity United Church Cemetery Simcoe County Ontario
You can find more Cemetery Walks on Olive Tree Genealogy Channel on YouTube. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the channel for updates.

March 17, 2012

A Genealogical Day in England and Wales (Seminar)

A Genealogical Day in England and Wales (Seminar)
Date       Saturday, March 31, 2012
Time       10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Location   Quebec Family History Society Library, 173 Cartier Av., Pointe-Claire, QC H9S 4H9
Presented by   Gary Schroder
The purpose of this seminar will be to a: examine the basic structures of family history research in England, Civil Registration of B.M.D.'s 1837-2005, Censuses 1841-1911, Wills 1858-2011, etc. and b: examine how to find your ancestors for the period prior to 1837 and how to make the best use of the English databases to found to be found on Ancestry and other commercial web sites.
Reservations necessary, call 514.695.1502 

March 16, 2012

Auntie and I Scan Family Recipes with Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

Auntie and I at Greek Restaurant
A few days ago I visited my 88 year old auntie. That's us sitting in a Greek Restaurant that she wanted to try for lunch.

After a lunch of Greek Salad and Chicken Souvlaki in a Pita, we headed back to auntie's apartment. She continued telling me more stories of growing up with my mom and my grandparents (her parents)

My great-uncle, my grandpa Fuller's brother, turns 100 this summer and we were trying to figure out if we could pay him a visit and get his family stories too!

The problem is he is stone deaf and doesn't like to wear his hearing aid! And he's a bit gruff too so he kind of scares me.

But the stories he could tell me might help me overcome my hesitation

Scanning with Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
Back at auntie's apartment we pulled out the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner as auntie said she had some of her mother's recipes written in her own hand.

I was eager to get copies since I love to cook and want to try some of Grandma's recipes.  I've got two of my grandma's recipes that aren't in her hand as I wrote down what she told me when I was a newly married bride.

Auntie had two recipes from Grandma for Christmas Fruit Cake that my Grandmother wrote out for her so I scanned them and took photos with my iPhone.

The recipes are written on 6 1/2x10 inch paper so couldn't be scanned in one scan but with Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner stitching software I'm not concerned.

I just scanned them in three sections - top, middle and bottom and later I'll stitch them together to make one image.

Grandma's Fruit Cake Recipe

One of the recipes I have from Grandma is for Spotted Dick, and it was actually her mother's (my great-grandmother) recipe.

The other is for Cow's Tongue and a relish-sauce to serve with it.

Spotted Dick might as well be called Heart-Attack-in-a-dish so I've only made it once. We do enjoy Cow's Tongue and I use that recipe frequently.

One of the funny stories auntie told me on this visit was how her grandmother Fuller (my great-grandmother) used to pull humbugs out of her pocket to give to auntie to keep her quiet in church. But the humbugs were unwrapped so were covered in lint and hairs! To this day auntie says she hates humbugs.

March 15, 2012

WWII European Theater Army Records, 1941-1946 on Fold3

New on Fold3: WWII European Theater Army Records, a collection of administrative documents compiled by the U.S. Army's Historical Division, 1941 through 1946. These records, originally marked secret and confidential, are now available on Fold3

Created within the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II, these documents are revealing, and often include personal accounts, as in this report of evacuating Allied prisoners of war. Names of soldiers and support personnel are on many of the records, but nowhere more prolific than in the phonebooks for U.S. Forces in Paris.

Explore the ETO Records on Fold3 to discover more about U.S. operations in World War II and how the Army effectively maintained soldiers' welfare and waged war behind the battle lines.

March 14, 2012

FamilySearch Update - New Genealogy Records Online

FamilySearch added just over 20 million new, free records online this past week for Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, and the U.S.

The 9 million new California death records and 5 million Nevada marriage records should be a boon for those looking for ancestors in the western U.S. Records were also added for 11 other states.

Search these and 2.5 billion other records now for free at FamilySearch.

March 13, 2012

Case #13: A Californian's Wartime Experience: Hidden From the German Army

Henry Taylor
Nick wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy with a very intriguing challenge - help him find the family of a soldier who Nick's grandmother and grandfather hid from the German army during WW2. 

Henry Taylor was a WW2 soldier who Nick's Italian grandparents hid from the Germans who had occupied the town they lived in. This was in or near Sulmona Italy.

Shortly after the war, Henry, who was in the British Army, settled in California. He married but Nick does not know if Henry married in England or in the United States. Henry's wife's name was Gloria and he had two daughters. One was Susanne and the other was named after Nick's aunt, Natalina.

Nick tells me that "My aunt remembers when he came [from California] to my grandparent's house in Sulmona, Italy, one day and in broken Italian he asked for my grandmother, and when my aunt told him she had died, he was very upset. This would have been in the early 1960's because my grandmother died in March 1961 and my aunt emigrated to Australia in September 1965."

Henry made frequent visits from his home in California to Italy to visit the woman who saved his life. 

Letters and cards were exchanged throughout the years but eventually  sometime in the mid to late 1960s contact was lost.

On the right is the second page of a 2-page letter sent from Henry in California to Nick's aunt Natalina (Lina)

Henry's friend wrote the letter in Italian and the names of his family are shown in the signature - Enrico (this is Henry), Susanne and Gloria, his wife. 

This is a good clue as the letter had to be written before 1965 when Lina left Italy to settle in Australia. And since Henry's daughter Natalina is not listed, we can assume she was born after 1965.

This is an inspirational story of two families united by bravery. Can you help Nick find Henry's daughters or grandchildren so that his family can once again unite with Henry's American one?

One further bit of information that might help us to find Henry, Nick tells me that the British army gave Nick's grandmother and grandfather a certificate thanking them for their help in looking after one of their soldiers. The certificate is signed by H.R. Alexander, Field-Marshal, Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theatre, and the date is shown as 1939-1945.

March 12, 2012

Cemetery Walk Saugeen Cemetery Bruce County Ontario

Another Cemetery Walk is online on the OliveTreeGenealogy Channel on YouTube.

Saugeen Cemetery Bruce County Ontario is online now but please note that this is only part of the cemetery. Not all tombstones are in this video

There are many Cemetery Walk Videos online on the OliveTreeGenealogy Channel on You-Tube and lots of tombstone photographs on AncestorsAtRest

March 10, 2012

Lots of Drama and Tragedy in Chronicling America Newspapers online

The Salt Lake Herald.  October 15, 1889
If you haven't visited the Library of Congress website for Chronicling America, you should. You can search historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 for free. It's pretty incredible

In fact I just spent an enjoyable couple of hours finding all kinds of data on my extended Vollick and Follick ancestral lines. The great thing about this website is that the search terms you use are highlighted on the newspaper page so it's easy to find and enlarge to read.

Some of my new finds included a sad story of a 15 year old boy's death - the result of a hunting accident in Utah.

Another was a scandalous story of one of my Follick branches - a married man whose wife just had a baby, they go to live with her Follick parents, she is very ill and her husband seduces her 16 year old sister! He went to prison for 2 years over that affair. It's all very tragic but we all love those little tidbits don't we?

One obituary I found for Nancy Follick nee Parker included a photograph of her. How I wish I could find something like that for my direct ancestors!

So start your search and enjoy!

March 9, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? Don't Miss it Tonight!

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by take you all over the world and inside the fascinating family histories of 12 celebrities.

The celebrities that WDYTYA will take on a journey to find their ancestors are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

I'm making taco dip with cream cheese and salsa, getting ready for tonight's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? for Friday, March 9th 8/7c

Tonight  NFL superstar Jerome Bettis discovers ancestors of courage and determination as they stood up against injustice during the Jim Crow era.

March 8, 2012

RootsTech 2012 Recorded Sessions Online

Great news! RootsTech 2012 recorded sessions are now available on the RootsTech website. I saw Josh Coates' presentation in live streaming. Take my advice - don't miss it! I'm off to start watching the others.

Thursday, 11:00 AM

Do I Trust the Cloud?

By D. Joshua Taylor

Thursday, 1:45 PM

Effective Database Search Tactics

By Kory Meyerink

Thursday, 3:00 PM

Twitter – It’s Not Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Anymore

By Thomas MacEntee

Thursday, 4:15 PM

Eleven Layers of Online Searches

By Barbara Renick

Friday, 8:30 AM

Exabyte Social Clouds and Other Monstrosities

By Josh Coates

Friday, 9:45 AM

Publish Your Genealogy Online

By Laura Prescott

Friday, 11:00 AM

Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines

By Robert Gardner

Friday, 1:45 PM

Genealogists “Go Mobile”

By Sandra Crowley

Friday, 3:00 PM

Google's Toolbar and Genealogy

By David Barney

Saturday, 8:30 AM

Making the Most of Technology to Further the Family History Industry

By Tim Sullivan

Saturday, 9:45 AM

Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101

By Lisa Louise Cooke

Saturday, 1:45 PM

Privacy in a Collaborative Environment

By Noah Tutak

March 7, 2012

Internet Genealogy - Friend or Foe?

The internet has brought us many benefits genealogy-wise. I have been researching for more than 30 years and I remember well having to scroll through screen after screen of microfilmed records looking for that ancestor on a census or in a church register.

Now we're lucky. Data is indexed and brought online at an amazing speed! How wonderful to be able to plug in an ancestor's name and get dozens of "hits". You can find actual records or connect with another descendant.

I can make contact with a "cousin" in another part of the world. Perhaps they put a family tree on a website and I find it and realize we share a common ancestor. How easy to make contact and share data and photographs.

The internet has made the world smaller and easily accessible. And this is good for genealogists.

The internet also levels the playing field. Anyone can participate in genealogy research - those who have strict budgets and might find it too expensive to go out to an archive or library to research can do it for the cost of an internet connection. A bit more money in the budget allows subscriptions to sites with newspapers, census, and other invaluable records. Anyone with physical challenges can much more easily obtain genealogy records with the internet.

Internet genealogy allows a newcomer to easily develop their family tree and this almost instant gratification can lead to the development of a passion for genealogy - always a good thing in my book!

We can use Google Street view to see where an ancestor lived, or visit a far-off archive to read about the history of a country an ancestor lived in.

We can consult online books at Guttenberg or Google Books or Internet Archives. We can attend online classes and conferences with instant streaming and webinars and podcasts.

There are many many good positive outcomes of Internet genealogy.

But the speed and ease of the internet has brought us some negative outcomes too. Bad genealogy and mediocre unsourced research is easily obtained and passed on via the internet.

Myths and incorrect genealogies are perpetuated rapidly and are easily spread through the genealogical community by social media and online forums.

Something I call surface or superficial genealogy seems to be a by-product of the internet. What I mean by this is that people can rather quickly grab names and dates and plug them into their tree without analyzing what they've found. They can gloss over what they are finding without doing an in-depth study to make sure they have the right facts and the correct ancestor!

Another negative outcome of the ease of internet genealogy is that many researchers don't seem to realize that not everything is online. Yes new databases are coming online at an amazing pace, both free and fee-based, but there are many obscure records hidden in dusty basements, archives, museums, libraries, land record offices and churches.  These records may never come online! I sense that some newer genealogists haven't realized that there is an other world of offline research that needs to be tackled too.

Don't get me wrong. I love having the internet and sitting in my comfy chair with millions of facts at my fingertips. But I perceive some negative aspects of internet genealogy and they worry me.

What are your thoughts on this?

March 6, 2012

Develop a Working Theory: A Canadian Case Study Part 3

Continued from Parts 1 and Part 2 of A Canadian Case Study

Looking for John & Bridget in 1851

After I said that there was always the chance that William came to Canada with his parents I decided to search Essex County for John and Bridget Stephens in the 1861 and 1851 census. I believe I may have found them in Malden Township in 1851. That makes good sense as William probably met his first wife Elmira close to her home. She's two pages away from the Stevens family that year.

They are listed as John Stevens [sic] born England, aged either 54 or 34, a Pensioner and his wife Bridget, born England, age 52 or 32. She is Roman Catholic, he is Episcopalian. This clue about their religion might help you to locate church records for the family.

There is a John Stevens age 7 or 1, as well as a William Stevens age 12 on the same page. Just to throw a twist, they are both listed as being born in "Canada". Both boys are listed as Roman Catholic which does make sense if their mother is Bridget. It is very difficult to know if they are living in the same house as John and Bridget because the census page entries are a bit different.

Usually on the second sheet of 1851 you see how many are in each family by checking for an entry for type of house - log, brick, shanty..... whenever there is a new type of house listed, that's a new family unit. On this particular sheet, there is no entry for type of home until the 25th person. So I am not sure who the two boys are living with.

I did find a William Stevens in Malden in 1861. He is age 17, labourer born England living with a family that is not his. He was probably a farm labourer living with a local farmer. He is listed as Roman Catholic. The change in religion from 1861 to 1871 doesn't concern me greatly as that was not uncommon. Perhaps his mother raised him as Catholic but once he married he switched. My own Irish McGinnis ancestor did the same thing.

It may be quite challenging to prove that the John and Bridget I found in 1851 are your William's parents but I would use my find as a working theory. A working genealogy theory simply means you must set about to find evidence that will prove or disprove your  theory.

I suggest you continue researching this John and Bridget and see what you can discover about them. There may be a piece of the puzzle hiding in the records that will link your William to them or put them out of the picture entirely. 

You might also consider hunting for the birth of William in English records. You can use FreeBMD to search the indexes for a birth for the period 1837-1983. 

This has been a fun and challenging query to work on and I hope you can continue to research and find new information. 

March 5, 2012

Everyone Makes Mistakes: Why You Should Review Your Research Notes

A few days ago I decided to have another look at some census records I obtained many years ago for my Peer family in Pennsylvania. I wanted to verify what I had for the 1830 census which I'd obtained when those records first came online.

I headed for to search for Edward P*er (to pick up variants of Peer surname) in Pennsylvania in 1830. A very nice index transcription popped up.

I was quite puzzled because the indexed notes did not match what I had copied a few years ago. But perhaps I'd goofed?

One discrepancy which leapt off the page was that the Ancestry index showed a total of 4 in Edward's household - including free white, slaves and free coloured. But my notes showed that I had more people in Edward's household  which also consisted of slaves and free colored. Here is what I had in my notes:

1 female 56-100
1 female 24-36
Free Coloured:
1 female 56-100
1 female 26-56
1 female 24-36

Not only did I have 9 people total (instead of Ancestry's 4) I also has 5 slaves and free colored while Ancestry had zero.

I decided to check the online image. Edward was listed on line 21 of the image page and sure enough there were only 4 people shown as living in his household. But a check of the column headings top of the image page revealed that I was only viewing the section on White Males and Females! There were no column headings for Slaves or Free Colored.

Clicking on the right facing arrow took me to the second page and sure enough there were the headings for Slaves and Free Colored. I was feeling pretty smug because I saw that indeed there were vertical marks in the columns I'd previously noted. I figured had omitted indexing that second page.

Then I checked for my 3rd great grandfather Levi Peer. I'd noted previously that he owned one male slave but that didn't show up in Ancestry's indexed entry. Checking the image and going to the second page showed that there was indeed a mark in the column Slaves of 100 and upwards. That seemed odd. Who would own a slave that was over 100 years old??!!

And why hadn't that fact jumped out at me the first time I saw it? Warning bells were going off so I took a closer look at that second page. And that's when I noticed that the vertical marks were slanting backwards instead of forward as they were on the page with individual's names.

And others on the page had marks in that column labelled Slaves of 100 and upwards. Something was definitely wrong but I didn't figure it out until I looked closely at the total numbers in each column on page 2. The numbers were backwards. It was a slap my forehead in disbelief moment. I was looking at bleed-through from the next page! The strokes I saw in each column on page 2 had nothing to do with the people on the previous page.

So all these years I was wrong. My ancestor Levi Peer did not own slaves in 1830 in Pennsylvania. I was very happy to learn this but why oh why had I not been more careful when I first saw this record? I pride myself on being detail-oriented and cautious but I goofed that time (and probably other times!)

So remember that it pays to go back and scrutinize your older research. You never know what clue you might have missed or even where you may have erred in interpreting the data.  I'm so happy I decided to review those 1830 census records for my guys in Pennsylvania.

Next I'm off to review my findings for 1820!

March 3, 2012

The Slavery Issue Raised on Who Do You Think You Are? Food for Thought

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by with Reba McEntire last night was exceptionally good. That episode brought many issues to the surface not the least of which was the fact that one of Reba's ancestors owned 10 slaves.  Reba was shown documents detailing the selling and acquisition of a few of his slaves, one of them a 3 year old boy, another a 14 month old toddler. Reba was understandably shocked and dismayed on learning this.

The historian assisting in this phase of the research pointed out that many of us will find that we had an ancestor who did own slaves. It's not something many of us want to admit to, and perhaps we don't even know about it (yet) but we may be faced with that hard fact as we research further. I myself was quite dismayed to learn that one of my ancestors Hendrick Meesen Vrooman owned slaves in Schenectady New York before 1690.

I also found my 3rd great-grandfather Levi Peer with a slave in his household in 1830 in Pennsylvania. His brother Edward also owned slaves, but I had no idea this existed in our family. I understand the historical perspective but I still felt great aversion to accepting that one of my ancestors was involved in human trafficking. 

I'd never thought of the possibility that my family were slave owners. We aren't from the southern United States which is where I naively thought all slave owners resided. Too many "Gone With the Wind" type movies left me unaware of the deeper impact slavery had and the far-reaching consequences.

I was glad that Reba's episode brought this to light.  It's important to remember that slavery existed and it was horrific but it existed. And many of us may be faced with learning that one or more of our ancestors participated in it.

My husband has not found slave owners in his family lines but rather the opposite. He is a descendant of a fugitive slave named Jonathan Butler. We've not yet  discovered where in America Jonathan lived before fleeing to Canada so we have no historical context for his life before 1817.

In what to me shows human nature at its less than best, the fact that my husband has black ancestry was hidden for many years by a generation that made the decision to pass as white. One branch proudly proclaimed their black heritage, one branch deliberately hid it (and still hides it), and my husband's branch simply lost the knowledge over the passage of time. 

All my husband's grandmother knew was that her grandfather Joseph disappeared in 1900 over a "scandal" of some kind. We believe the "scandal" was the fact that Joseph's grandfather was the fugitive slave Jonathan Butler, a fact that was not known to the woman who married him. It may be mind-boggling to us in this day and age but prejudice existed and lay hidden or sometimes blatantly exposed for many of our ancestors.

If you are not yet caught up in watching Who Do You Think You Are? you might want to reconsider. Watch an episode and see how it impacts on you.  Many of the episodes raise questions and any discussion that follows can be very helpful. Raising awareness is always a positive outcome as far as I am concerned.

How about you? If you found out your ancestor was either a slave owner or a runaway slave, would you hide that fact? Or would you accept the fact and learn more about it and about the historical events surrounding it?

March 2, 2012

Wildcards are Your Friend! A Canadian Case Study Part 2

Continued from Part 1 of A Canadian Case Study

Elmira's Death

Using I searched first for Elmira's death. Using wildcards for both first and last name, I typed *lmira Ste*en* into the search engine, with keyword "Essex" and date of death 1873 +/-2

*lm*ra allows for variant spellings of Almira, Almyra and Elmira, Elmyra
Ste*en* allows for variations in the surname such as Stephens, Stephen, Stevens and Steven

And there she was. Almira died 12 Mar 1872 of consumption which she had for 9 months. The informant was William Stephens of Anderdon, so we know it is the right person. I'm already suspecting that little Annie may also have died of the same disease as it was very contagious. But back to Almira. She is listed as having died at age 23 years and 7 months and was born in Malden Township Essex.

Clues: We can look for Almira in the 1861 and 1851 census for Malden Township. But I want to hunt for Elmira's marriage to William first.

Elmira's Marriage to William James Stephens

 When I found Elmira's death record, very nicely gave me some "Suggested Records" for individuals they believed might be Elmira. I've learned not to ignore these but to check them out. The first thing I noticed was that there was an Almira Lane listed in 1851, 1861 census and the Ontario Marriage Records. I've shown you this in the image below.
Suggested Records for Almira
And bingo, what appears to be her marriage to William. He's been transcribed incorrectly as Shephard instead of Stephens but we can be 99.9% certain it is him. There's no image attached so if I were you I would get the original image from the Archives of Ontario or a local FamilySearch centre to verify.

But here is what the transcription showed: William James Shepherd [sic] age 25 born England s/o John and Bridget, Willliam living Anderdon married Almira Lane, age 23 d/o Levi and Patience, living Colchester. They married 10 Nov. 1868 in Amherstburg Township in Essex

To learn more about Elmira you can look at the 1851 and 1861 census for Almira Lane in Malden Township. 

Little Annie's Death?

I may have found little Annie's death. She is recorded in Ontario Death records as Sarah Almeda Stephens but after her first name Sarah, it appears the name Ann has been written and then crossed out with one line. The reason I believe this may be little Annie is because she died of consumption at age 3 years, 6 months in October 1873,  she was born in Anderdon and the informant was William Stephens, farmer

To be absolutely sure this is the correct individual we could hunt for her birth registration under Ann or Sarah or even Almeda. You do need to verify that this is not a different child and a diffferent William Stephens


So what have we learned from these records?

William was in Ontario at least by November 1868 when he married Elmira/Almyra Lane in Essex County.

Elmira died in March 1872.

William & Elmira had one daughter known who was born in 1870 probably in April and who died in October 1873.

William remarried in 1875. At both of his marriages he gave his parents' names as John and Bridget.

William was a farmer and thus a search of land records is warranted. Finding out when/if he purchased land in Essex Co. will provide a better timeline for immigration

Further Research Avenues

William should be found in 1861 Ontario census or in 1861 England. Many of the 1861 census returns for Ontario are missing so we can't conclusively say he was not in Ontario that year. A search of English records for 1841 and 1851 may find him with his parents. I would search under his parents' names, but realize that Delia can be a nickname for Bridget and that Bridget may be an Irish name.

Of course there's always the chance that William's parents also came to Ontario. If so, they might be found in the online records.

I'll continue sharing my research into William pre 1868, and William's parents, John and Bridget Stephens,  in Part 3

March 1, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are? With Reba McEntire

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? sponsored by take you all over the world and inside the fascinating family histories of 12 celebrities.

The celebrities that WDYTYA will take on a journey to find their ancestors are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

I hope you watched Episodes 1, 2 and 3 with Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei and Blair Underwood. Episode 3 with Blair Underwood was my favorite so far.

Next is Episode 4 on March 2nd with Country Music Singer Reba McEntire who embarks on an ancestral journey to discover how her family came to America. I can't wait!