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February 28, 2013

Deadline Extended for New Netherland Institute Prize For The Best Published Article

The deadline for this prize has been extended to March 31, 2013
Beginning in 2013, the New Netherland Institute will offer an annual $1000 prize for the best published article relating to the Dutch colonial experience in the Atlantic world, with a special sensitivity to New Netherland or its legacy A committee of scholars will consider entries in the fields of history, archaeology, literature, language, geography, biography, and the arts. Entries must be based upon original research. Articles must be written in English and be published for the first time from 2010 to the present. Chapters from a monograph, works of fiction, and encyclopedia entries will not be considered. Both academic and independent scholars are invited to participate.

Prize-winning articles should make an important contribution to the understanding of New Netherland and its legacy, specifically or broadly defined, exhibit exceptional research and be well written. Submissions may come from self-nomination, an outside nomination, committee members, or in response to invitations to submit articles from committee members.

Four copies of articles for consideration (non returnable) may be submitted by the author, editor, colleague, or other interested party no later than March 31, 2013. Articles may be sent either electronically ( or in hard copy to the Article Prize Committee, New Netherland Institute, P.O. Box 2536, Empire State Plaza Station, Albany, NY 12220-0536. The winner will be notified by August 1, 2013 and the prize will be presented at the New Netherland Seminar in September.

If you have questions or comments about the article prize, please contact James F. Sefcik,  Trustee liaison to the Article Prize Committee at or by phone at 518-374-2747

For more information go to and click on the first item under 'News and Events'

February 27, 2013

Hooper-Squires Photo Archives Treasure No. 6

This is the 6th photo in our collection of rescued photographs of the Hooper and Squires families of St. Mary's Ontario Canada. To view all the photos in this collection as they are published here on Olive Tree Genealogy blog, click on Hooper-Squires Photo Archives link.

This lovely photo taken at Niagara Falls has writing on the back as it was a postcard sent to Mr. Edgar Hooper from his sister who was on her honeymoon at the time. I assume this Edith Hooper and her new husband Joseph Camm, as they married on September 10, 1910
Sept. 19/10
Hello Edgar, How is Ettie? Hope she is better by this time. We are well and having a pretty nice honeymoon.   Will soon be home. Your loving sister

February 26, 2013

Genealogical Research Death Index for New York 1957-1962

The New York State Department of Health has some death records online from 1957 to 1962.
In the drop down menu in the “category” box, choose “Genealogical Research.” There are instructions for downloading the data. 
The Genealogical Research Death Index assists individuals with locating New York State (NYS) death records that fall within defined genealogy years, exclusive of New York City recorded death records. 
The Index contains information on decedents, parents, date of death, gender, age at death and NYS file number that will allow the public to search for individuals on a variety of genealogy criteria; if on file for at least 50 years.  
Thanks to The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society for the heads-up about this online database

February 25, 2013

Family Tree DNA Special - Now is the Time!

Family Tree DNA special until Feb 28, 2013!  $39.00 for a 12-marker Y-DNA test.

This helps make DNA testing affordable so if you've been putting off ordering your DNA kit, now's the time. The beauty of this is that you can wait until you see a sale for an upgrade and then start getting more and more markers tested.

See my other blog posts about testing my brother's Y-DNA and the upgrades (67 markers, Family Finder, etc) I've ordered by going to my posts under DNA JOURNEY

I've had my own mtDNA tested through Family Tree DNA 

And I've ordered my brother's and my DNA tested through 23andMe. It's been an interesting DNA Journey and it's not over yet!

February 24, 2013

Heirlooms - iPhone App for Recording Family Treasures

Olive Tree Genealogy: Preserve Family Treasures with Heirloom App
Heirlooms is a terrific little app for keeping track of family treasures and mementos. It's fast, easy to use and pretty.

You choose an heirloom - I chose my great grandmother's toast rack and my grandfather's gold pocket watch - then you follow the instructions and icons to enter information about that item.

Olive Tree Genealogy: Preserve Family Treasures with Heirloom App
The empty fields include a spot to put the owner's name, the name of who owned the item originally, and a story about how the item came into your hands. Then you either take a photo, direct from the app, or choose one from your camera roll, and add that to your item entry.

Update Allows Sharing

Heirlooms also has an update available from the App Store that's pretty cool. File sharing! Now you can share your heirloom collection entries with family members via email. It's also possible to email your entries to your computer or laptop so you can access your notes on family treasures from there too.

Olive Tree Genealogy: Preserve Family Treasures with Heirloom App
If your relative doesn't have the Heirloom App they can get the free Reader in the App Store. This allows for viewing of the exported entry on any IOS device.

I tried emailing an entry to myself about my grandpa's gold pocket watch. It worked great! The email arrived, I opened and read it on my iPhone, then clicked on the attachment which opened in Heirlooms.

I'm impressed! All we genealogists need to do now is get our family members using this terrific little app. It's a great way to preserve family heirlooms digitally, and to share them with long-distance family.

Olive Tree Genealogy: Preserve Family Treasures with Heirloom App
I enjoyed using this new app and am hoping to convince my brother and my children to download it so I can share my entries with them.

Heirlooms App
Heirlooms Free Reader

Technical Details: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Heirlooms for review purposes

February 23, 2013

Creating a Family Story Book Using Flip-Pal and Shutterfly

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
Yesterday Volume 2 of my McGinnis Family Story Books arrived from Shutterfly. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

First I used my amazing Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner to scan the family photos I wanted to use in my book. I like using the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner because I can sit on my sofa and watch television while I"m scanning the photographs!

After transferring the scanned photos to my computer (easy with the memory card and USB adaptor that comes with the scanner!) I organized them into a directory on my laptop Then I uploaded them to Shutterfly. I created a different size book this time.  Usually I go with the 8x8 books because they are small, easy to pick up and glance through and I just like the look of them. But this time I went with the 8 1/2 x 11 and I'm really glad I chose that size.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
The 8 1/2 x 11 allowed me to insert a census image that was legible but had room around the edges for the page background. I could have added a border around those images or embellished the page with a "sticker" but I like the larger images to be simple and plain.

You can read how I organized my book at Creating Memory Books on Shutterfly  It's important to plan the layout of your book before starting. Decide on how you want to organize the pages and photos - by person? Chronologically? You can always switch pages around once you've created pages in Shutterfly but you need a plan to begin.

Think about how many pages you want. I create mine to be between 20 and 25 pages. If it is going to be bigger, I break the book into separate volumes. As an example, my Story Books on my McGinnis family are in 4 volumes, one for each generation starting with my father. The smaller the book, the more manageable to create and the more likely your recipients will be to pick it up and skim through it. Anything larger than 25 pages is, for me, overwhelming to create and I believe would be too much for most people to want to glance through.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
Shutterfly allows me to create photo pages, or text pages or a combination of both. It's easy to quickly pick a layout for each page using their layout options. So if you want to place two photos and one text box on a page, for example, you choose from their options for 2 photos plus text.

Then by using the "customize" feature found on each page you can resize and rearrange the photo and text boxes. You can add more text boxes if you want. Then you can change the background by choosing from their options for whatever theme you are using.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Creating a Family History Story Book
In this volume of the McGinnis family story, I added scans of newspaper clippings from a family double wedding. I am lucky enough to have the actual wedding invitation so I added that to the page along with photos of the church and of the happy couples. Using my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner this section took less than 10 minutes to scan and upload.

In the end the book is a lovely coffee table book resembling a scrapbook. But it has enough genealogical information and documents to give family members a taste of what I have found on the family. It also allows me to share the wonderful family photos, documents and newspaper clippings in my possession.

I can hardly wait to start on my next family story book project! 

February 22, 2013



The New Netherland Institute in collaboration with the New Netherland Research Center has launched a new web site exploring America’s Dutch heritage at


In History & Heritage, explore Dutch America through documents, artifacts, people and places.  Currently featuring two new exhibits:  “Arent van Curler & the Flatts: How History, Archaeology & Art Illuminate a Life on the Hudson” and “Charting New Netherland: 1597 – 1684.”


In Research, discover original documents through which scholars study the New Netherland era and its ongoing legacy.  Just published online:  A new translation of the memorandum book of Antony de Hooges, business manager of Rensselaerswijck, and an introductory essay by Dirk Mouw.


In Education, find tools for teachers and fun ways for students to explore on their own.  Now introducing lessons plans from the 2012 Summer Institute for teachers held at the New York State Museum – first in the series is “The Fur Trade: Contact and Commerce between Indians and Dutch Settlers.”


In the new Shop, explore, celebrate, educate or just have fun with a basket of products related to New Netherland.  Newest Book: New Netherland in a Nutshell: A Concise History of the Dutch Colony in North America by Firth Haring Fabend.  (The Shop now accepts Mastercard, Visa and American Express.)

February 21, 2013

Ancestry DNA Now Available to USA Residents

AncestryDNA Test Provides An Affordable, Easy Way to Learn About Your Past and Family

Innovative test now available to the general public provides analysis of your genetic ethnicity, living relative matches, and further insight into family history research

(PROVO, Utah) – February 21, 2013 the world’s largest online family history resource today announced the public availability of its Ancestry DNA test to U.S. residents. This easy-to-use, comprehensive test provides consumers with their genetic ethnicity and the unique opportunity to connect DNA results directly to any applicable family trees, matching test takers with other close or distant family members. Combined, these features provide the most complete snapshot of one’s family history that has ever been available.

Interest in using DNA to explore family history is growing. In a 2012 Harris Interactive survey, 56 percent of Americans—more than 110 million people—stated they would be interested in taking a DNA genealogy test. This number is 14 percent higher than the previous year. For many, this interest in family history extends far beyond American soil. Nearly two out of three respondents told Harris that learning about their family’s roots outside the U.S. is one of the most important benefits of researching family history.

AncestryDNA picks up where the paper trail leaves off. Whereas older consumer DNA tests utilized only 46 DNA markers, this new test analyzes more than 700,000 DNA marker locations and cross-references them with its one-of-a-kind comprehensive worldwide catalogue of DNA samples. The combination of an individual’s DNA with more than 40 million family trees and 11 billion records on can help people find specific ancestors as far back as the mid-17th century by connecting with living relatives. Additionally, AncestryDNA gives people their ethnic breakdown by percentage from 20 populations including the British Isles or Native American—automatically tracing their ethnicity and displaying the results in an interactive and simple way.

“AncestryDNA provides consumers with exciting insights into their ethnic background and helps them find relatives who may hold the keys to exciting new family history discoveries,” said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of “As a company, we are committed to helping people connect with their past and we are excited to be able to offer a unique, affordable, and easy way for people to learn even more about their personal history.”

AncestryDNA helps determine geographic and ethnic origins by comparing test-takers’ unique DNA signatures to the DNA of people from across the globe. In the initial beta release, users were matched with a significant number of living relatives, and more than two million fourth-cousin DNA matches have been found for customers potentially sharing an ancestor in the database. As more people take the test, the database will continue to grow, providing a richer experience and more clues. People who have already taken the test receive regular updates with the latest findings. Because these results include the users’ ethnicities, they may produce surprising findings that provide additional curiosities for future research. Since the launch, 7.7 million ancestors are now available to discover through family trees linked to DNA results.

“We believe that the cutting edge of DNA technology used in AncestryDNA will revolutionize the entire family history experience,” said Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA. “We have already seen huge success with our beta launch as users discover new clues and living relatives passed down through DNA. As more people take the test, we look forward to seeing even greater results and more family history connections.” 

Find out where you come from with an Ancestry DNA testYou can learn even more about your family history by visiting and signing up for a free 14-day trial.

Pricing and Availability
AncestryDNA is now available [Lorine's Note: only to those living in USA at this time] and tests start at $129 for subscribers. Order your test at Ancestry DNA

February 20, 2013

Top Ten Characteristics of a Good Genealogist

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: Top 10 Characteristics of a Good Genealogist
What do you think are the top ten characteristics that make for a good genealogist? Here's my list:

1. Attention to detail
2. Accuracy - transcribes records exactly as found
3. Perseverance - doesn't give up when the research gets tough
4. Loves a challenge
5. Methodical
6. Organized
7. Thinks outside the box
8. Good Analytical skills
9. Passionate about family history and knowledge of ancestors
10. Provides sources for all information

There are many other qualities I can think of that make for a top-notch genealogist but I decided to limit my list to ten. Feel free to add your own in the comments section of this blog post!

Image by koratmember on freedigitalphotos

February 19, 2013

Did I Already Talk about That?

This morning I sat down to write my daily Olive Tree Genealogy blog post and after some musing, had what I thought was a good idea for a topic. But as I started to write, I wondered if I'd written about it previously! It seemed familiar and I did find it in  the book I keep where I jot down ideas for blog posts as I think of them. But it wasn't marked "Done" so I wasn't sure if I'd written it or not.

I confess that I'm not as organized as I should be, and just because I didn't mark it as published does not mean it wasn't. So I spent some time going through older blog posts to try to see if I'd talked about the idea previously but didn't spot it. However since I've been blogging on Olive Tree Genealogy blog for 10 years and I've written 1,938 posts, I admit I don't recall every single post I've published!

That brings me to something that I'm sure affects other bloggers too - how do you keep track of what you've written? How can I be sure that if I start to write a post about what attributes a good genealogist has, that I haven't already written about it years ago.

I realize it is always okay to revisit an old blog post and ramp it up with new ideas or a new take on it. But with my luck I'd write a post listing the qualities that I believe a good genealogist needs, only to find that I wrote an almost identical piece in 2004 or 2005 or some other year.

Then came the conundrum - should I write the blog post anyway and hope I wasn't repeating myself? I really can't go through almost 2000 posts to see if I can spot it - ugh! Do I forget about the topic? What would you do?

And how do other bloggers handle this problem of possible duplication of posts? Ten years is a long time to try to think back and remember anything, let alone one blog post!

I'm curious as to how others handle this, and what readers would think if they read a blog post and remembered reading a similar one previously.

I can't decide whether to write a post about what attributes I think a good genealogist needs or just let it go in case I've talked about it before.

February 18, 2013

Official Genealogy Bloggers sought for 2013 NGS Conference

Official Genealogy Bloggers sought for 2013 NGS Conference

ARLINGTON, VA, 18 February 2013: The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announces the opening of the Official Blogger registration for the 2013 Family History Conference, 8-11 May, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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 2013 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 2013 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 2013 Family History Conference,” please navigate to to apply and let us know a little bit about you and your blog.

February 17, 2013

February 16, 2013

More Specials from Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

The following specials on Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner are valid until 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time, Wednesday, February 20, 2013.

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February 15, 2013

Carpe Diem! Missed Genealogy Opportunites

Aunt Mary
Recently I've been thinking about my Uncle Joe. He knew I was interested in our McGinnis family history and origins, and every time I'd visit him he'd offer to phone his Uncle Henry or cousin Dan so I could meet them. I'd have an opportunity to ask questions, look at family photos and gather more information on our family origins. But I refused every time.

I didn't feel like it. I was tired. I was shy. I was in Elora to visit him, not strangers. Those were my excuses. Mind you I was a lot younger then. I was in my 30s and even though I loved genealogy I guess I just didn't have it as my top priority.

They are all dead now. Uncle Joe, his Uncle Henry, his cousin Dan and many others I never met and whose names I've forgotten! A missed opportunity.

My dad used to take us to Guelph every month to visit his mother and brothers. While there we always went to see his Aunt Mary (his father's sister). She was, I suspect, the keeper of the family treasures, knowledge and photographs. She was married but childless and my dad was very fond of her. I was terrified of her and her husband because they seemed so old and dour to me! Even her clothes frightened me.

Then my father died. I was 14 years old. My mother and I continued going to Guelph to visit his mother (my grandmother) but we never visited Aunt Mary again. She lived until I was 20 years old! I've no idea who cleared out her house in Guelph but I sigh now to think of all the photos that no doubt were there tucked away in albums or in boxes. I've never seen a photo of my great-grandfather Alex McGinnis and would love to know more about him.

Mary was his eldest child and was the only one I know of who had anything to do with him after he and her mother separated in the 1890s. Mary erected a tombstone at his grave and paid for his burial. I am convinced she had photos and other memorabilia about Alex. If only my mom had kept in touch! If only I had sought her out as a young adult. If only I could have whispered in my own ear from the future "Ask to see family photos!" "Ask about her father Alex and his parents Joseph and Fanny!" Another missed opportunity.

Pratt pot lid
As much as my maternal grandmother and I talked about her family, I never thought to ask her about her grandparents! I asked about her parents and she told me many stories of her life as a child in Ramsgate England. For that I'm grateful. She also passed on many family treasures to me - her favourite brother's book presented to him in 1908 for perfect attendance at Sunday School, her mother's toast rack, her husband's engraved gold pocket watch given to him on his 21st birthday, her mother's beautifully decorated Prattware pot lids and more. I'm lucky to have them. But... why did I never ask her to tell me what she remembered of her grandparents? Or of her voyage to Canada from England in 1913? I missed many chances to learn more.

Some chances we are entirely accountable for missing. Others were missed because of circumstances beyond our control. But no matter the reason, we lose the opportunity.

Do you have an elderly relative you've been meaning to visit? To ask about their memories? Do it! Don't wait or you may miss a golden opportunity. Remember.... Carpe Diem! Seize the Day.

February 14, 2013

College and University Student Rates for the National Genealogical Society 2013 Family History Conference

College and University Student Rates for the National Genealogical Society 2013 Family History Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada, 8–11 May 2013
Building New Bridges

Arlington, VA, 13 February 2013: The National Genealogical Society announces that effective 13 February 2013 qualifying students may register for discounted rates for the NGS 2013 Family History Conference, Building New Bridges, which will be held 8–11 May 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Student rates for full conference registration with flash-drive syllabus will be $50 (member) and $60 (nonmember), with no price adjustments for late or single-day registrations.
NGS offers the special student price to encourage all interested and qualifying students to see how they might incorporate genealogical methods into their research and how they may, in turn, apply knowledge from their fields to genealogy. These special rates are nearly 75% off regular registration rates.
To qualify, students must submit a letter on college or university letterhead signed by the dean or department chair confirming the student’s current admittance, good standing, and full-time status in an undergraduate or graduate degree-seeking program at a regionally accredited institution of higher learning. Students who are enrolled in diploma or certificate programs, continuing education programs, lifetime learning programs, or at institutions not regionally accredited do not qualify.
At conference check-in qualifying students must also present a current student identification and a current government-issued photo identification. The student ID must be consistent with the letter confirming student status. Qualifying students will have all rights and privileges of full conference registration.
Qualifying students interested in obtaining the student rate should scan the confirmation letter and e-mail it to the NGS conference registrar Courtney Holmes at or fax it to her attention at 703-525-0052. Students may also bring all qualifying documents (the confirmation letter and both identifications) to the conference and register on-site at the LVH—Las Vegas Hotel & Casino for no additional fee.
Students who wish to purchase a print syllabus or meals or social events must pay full price for these items online before 22 April 2013 after consulting with Courtney. Students cannot obtain the special rate if they register directly through the conference website.
Students may view the searchable program at and the PDF brochure at The brochure offers information about sessions, tours, pre-conference events, on-site registration, and details for hotel registration at the LVH. The 2013 Student Registration Form can be downloaded from the NGS website at
Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogy education, high research standards, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, research guidance, and opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

February 13, 2013

Old Spanish document suggests Irish were in America before Columbus

This is a fascinating read! There's certainly much more research that needs doing before drawing conclusions but it's interesting nonetheless

1521 Spanish reports indicates Irish may have settled in Georgia and the Carolinas. While Christopher Columbus is generally credited with having discovered America in 1492, a 1521 Spanish report provides inklings of evidence that there were, in fact, Irish people settled in America prior to Columbus’ journey.

“Researchers feel certain that there was a colony of Irish folk living in what is now South Carolina, when Christopher Columbus “thought” he had discovered the New World,” writes Richard Thornton for The Examiner.

View the 1492 Lists of seamen on board Columbus' ships:  NinaPinta, Santa Maria

February 12, 2013

Consult with a National Archives conservator on how to preserve your family treasures!

Image of letters from Pearl Harbor
via Preservation Programs of the U.S. National Archives.

NARA's upcoming preservation fair “Preservation EXPOsed!” will take place on March 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the McGowan Theater and lobby at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Bring in a document, book, photo, artifact, or motion picture film for a consultation with a conservator on how to preserve it. Appointments are required for individual consultations; contact or Preservation Programs Officer Allison Olson at 301-837-0678 to schedule one.

The fair is free and open to the public! Enter at the Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Street NW.

February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day Specials on Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

The following specials on Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner are valid until 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time, Wednesday, February 20, 2013.

* Free Shipping on all orders of $160 or more in the continental USA!
(Applies to standard USPS Priority Mail Service only. Does not apply to USPS Express Mail Service.)

* Save $15 on the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner + Deluxe Carry Case Bundle!
(Regular Price: $179.98, Sale Price: $164.98)

* Save $20 on the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Rechargeable Bundle!
This bundle includes the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, a Deluxe Flip-Pal mobile scanner Carry Case and an Eneloop AA 4 Pack with AC Charger.
(Regular Price: $209.97, Sale Price: $189.97)

* Save $30 on the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner with Craft Edition DVD and Deluxe Carry Case Bundle!
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* Save $35 on the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner with Digital Creativity Suite 3.0 DVD and Deluxe Carry Case Bundle!
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February 10, 2013

Creating Memory Books on Shutterfly

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Creating Memory Books
Creating one of the McGinnis Memory Books
As you can imagine, I've been researching my McGinnis family for many decades. Part of my ongoing quest is researching all siblings on all generations back to the immigrant ancestor who came to Ontario Canada from Ireland in the 1830s.

The immigrant ancestor John McGinnis had 7 sons and 2 daughters that I've found so far, and most of them left Canada to settle in the USA. I'm sure you get the idea of how much data I have now on each generation of each branch!

Recently I decided it was time to organize and preserve my research - documents, photos and so on. I've wanted to do this for a very long time but keep re-thinking and changing my ideas on how best to accomplish this.

Finally last month I decided it was time. Make a decision and go with it! And I'm pleased to say that I've done that with the help of Shutterfly.

Making Decisions

My first decision was that these books are just for family. So I am comfortable with showing photos, documents and information for living people.

My second decision was that I would create one book (volume) for each generation starting with my father and working backwards.

Normally this is the stage of the process where I start second-guessing myself. I end up with several different ideas on how to best create the book(s) and as a result - I become bogged down in minutia and am unable to forge ahead!

With the encouragement of my husband who simply shrugged his shoulders and repeated (often) "Just set it up how YOU like it and do it!" I was able to minimize the internal "maybe this way is better" agonizing that I usually face.

Creating Different Volumes Within One Surname

My final decision was to create one title that would be used for each volume, and number the volumes starting with my father and working backwards. I know - one would normally number from the immigrant ancestor coming down the generations. But unlike my usual flip-flop over what was best, I simply made the decision and went with it. No looking bad, no second-guessing, no "gee I wish I'd done xxx instead of yyy" It was liberating!

Having one book for each generation worked well for me. I forged ahead quite quickly, gathering my scattered documents and photos, uploading them to Shutterfly into "albums", one album for each volume I planned to create, and then inserting them into the appropriate books.

Using Albums in Shutterfly

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Shutterfly Albums
Once I had my photos and documents that I had uploaded into what I called McGinnis Album Dad inserted into Volume 1 (my father, mother and children) it was easy to write the text and photo captions that I wanted to add to each page. 

A hard lesson I learned after creating dozens of other books in Shutterfly was to carefully and precisely name my albums where my photos and documents were being uploaded.  I had not done this, instead leaving the default name/label which was simply the dates of the upload. That meant that I had to look through dozens of albums every time I wanted to move more photos from the albums to my books!

It took me awhile to figure out how to rename albums in Shutterfly so I urge you to name them with an identifier immediately. You can see in this photo on the right that I have not finished renaming all my original albums.

Organizing Pages Within the Book

I kept it simple. I started with the marriage of my grandparents, then the birth record of my father. The next several pages were devoted to information, photos and documents that pertained to my dad, up to his death. Items were placed chronologically for ease of reading. The nice thing about Shutterfly is that it is easy to rearrange pages if you need to add or move a page.

I allowed 2 pages for some photos of myself and my siblings, but I already have a book I created about us so I didn't need to go into details in this project.

After my dad's section was complete, I created pages for each of his siblings. Some siblings only have one page as I don't have much information on them. Some have many pages.

Consistency & Organization

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Shutterfly Book Backgrounds
Backgrounds for my book theme
Consistency is my downfall. On this project, which incorporates 5 volumes on one family (McGinnis) I knew I could easily slip into a freer less-consistent method of organizing the books. It was important to me that each volume had the same look and feel, so I created a plan on paper ahead of time.

My plan listed what fonts and text colours I wanted to use. I chose one book style (theme) to use for each volume.  I listed my method of organizing within each book - parents, then child who was my direct ancestor, then siblings of direct ancestor.

As I began to create each volume, I listed what records I had, and what I should get if I didn't already have it. This included census records, vital statistics and so on. Then as I added those documents I ticked them off on my list.

This is the most organized I've ever been on a project and it helped me to finish two volumes very quickly.  The photo you see above is the volume for my great-grandparent Alex McGinnis and I'm almost finished! The volume for my dad has been ordered. The volume for my grandfather is done but not ordered.  I'm amazed at how quickly these are coming together, and very excited to carry on with other family surnames.

February 9, 2013

10 Years and 1, 929 Blog Posts Later

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos
February 9, 2003. A momentous day for me! Alms House Admission Records, New York City, NY 1855-1858 was my first blog post 10 years ago.

I'd never heard of a Blog when my buddy Steve Johnson of suggested I start one. Taking me under his wing, he showed me his blog, then encouraged me to take the leap.... and I did.

Now, 10 years and 1, 929 blog posts later - Olive Tree Genealogy blog is still here! I can't believe I've found that much to talk about but my family says I'm a talker.

Sometimes I have writers' block and struggle with trying to find something interesting or unusual or thought-provoking to blog about. 

Speaking of things to write about, I welcome suggestions for topics or links to news stories you have spotted that you think are interesting and appropriate for Olive Tree Genealogy blog. Just send your idea or link to a news story to


My hope is that genealogists and historians enjoy my blog for another ten years, and will continue to read my stories and add your own comments to my posts. Don't be shy! Jump in and have your say.

February 8, 2013

William Massey Goes to Jail in 1863!

1863 Indictment William Massey for Theft
St. Mary's was, and still is, a very small town where my husband's 3rd great-grandfather William Massey lived from 1860 until his death in 1865.  Before 1860 he lived in Quebec with his wife and family.

William, a teamster, worked for the newly formed American Express Company which had an office in St. Mary's in the mid 1800s. In 1862 William was charged with stealing over $800.00 from the Company (approximately $20,000.00 now) and arraigned for trial. One of the jurors at his arraignment was non other than Timothy Eaton, founder of Eaton's Company stores.

Court Records Missing

We have not had any further luck finding out what happened at William's trial, as the court records for that area and time are missing. Likewise the newspaper for the town of St. Mary's is missing all issues from 1862. But we believe that he skipped town before his trial and fled to the USA to enlist in the Civil War. Our reason for thinking this was a newspaper article regarding William's daughter Mary Ann (Massey) Birtch in 1927:

Newspaper Article re Massey
"When the Civil War broke out in the States Mrs. Birtch's father went to Tennessee and joined Grant's Army and after the war he was so broken in health that after spending six months in a Federal Hospital he was discharged and came home to St. Marys where he died. "

Civil War Records Hunt

For years we've searched for a record of a William Massey born in Ireland ca 1820, living Ontario Canada and joining the Union Forces. But nothing was found so we began to wonder if he joined under an assumed name.

Jail Time!

Then the breakthrough! William Massey was sent to trial, found guilty and given 6 months at hard labour in the Stratford Jail. He was found guilty on April 18, 1863. His sentence began December 10, 1863 and he was released June 10, 1864. So William was incarcerated in the Stratford Jail and not in Tennessee fighting for Grant. Sadly William died a year and a half after his release from jail.

Our best guess is that a lie was told to his children (ages 3 to 16) when he was imprisoned. Far better to tell the little ones that Daddy was off being a hero fighting a war, then to say Daddy was a thief and was sent to jail. And note MaryAnn's words in the newspaper article "....after spending 6 months in a Federal Hospital he was discharged..." Wow - 6 months - his sentence in Stratford Jail!" We are just surprised that in such a small town, the gossip didn't make the rounds  for the kids to get wind of! Or did MaryAnn simply make up the story on her own.

We think the jail term may have hastened William's early death. He was 41 when he served his time at hard labour. And it would have been very hard. Conditions at the jail were not good, there was very little ventilation, it was cold in winter and hot in summer. Disease was almost certainly rampant.

So as sad as it is to think of William suffering as he must have, we are delighted to have found yet another bit of detail to help us form our story of this ancestor.

Prison Records Provide the Clues Needed

It was not the non-existent court records suddenly appearing that provided this information. It was the records of the Stratford Jail. They are sparse but they do provide the prisoner's name, age, length of stay in Canada, place of birth, crime and date imprisonment began and ended. The records also provided us with height, colour of eyes and hair, and a few other comments about his character. William has two mentions, the second states that his conduct as a prisoner was good.

The other very welcome bit of information we gleaned from the jail records was that William had lived in Canada for 20 years. This gives us an approximate year of immigration from Ireland. Since ships passenger lists to Canada were not archived before 1865 we had no year of immigration and had previously only known that in 1843 William married Ellen Montgomery in Quebec. But we did not know if he arrived in Quebec as a child (with parents) or as a young man.

Now we know that he was approximately 21 years old when he sailed from Ireland to Canada. Since his wife's family was already in Quebec, and had been for many years, we assume he met her soon after arrival.

February 7, 2013

Don't Miss Early Bird Prices for RootsTech 2013

7 weeks to RootsTech 2013! If you haven't yet booked for this conference, it's not too late. In fact early bird registration ends on February 15 so don't wait!

Early bird registration is $149, a $70 savings of the full, 3-day conference pass.  


February 6, 2013

King Richard's Facial Reconstruction - a Handsome Lad

The reconstruction of the face of King Richard III has taken place and it's fascinating!

For those who haven't been following the story, a skeleton found buried under a car park in Leicester has been proven to be that of the King.  DNA and a Canadian descendant of Richard's sister were the keys to unravelling the mystery.

And now the facial reconstruction based only on the skull, has confirmed that an earlier painting of the King was indeed based on real life and not imagination.

See the story at The National Post's Meet King Richard III

February 5, 2013

All-Day Education Program with Steve Morse

All-Day Education Program with Steve Morse

An Opportunity to Significantly Advance Your Research Skills with Online Expert Steve Morse

Saturday, April 27, 2013, 10:00am- 4:00 pm  

at the New York Public Library, South Court Auditorium

The NYG&B presents Stephen P. Morse, originator of a series of fabulous "One-Step Websites," for a full day of lectures and discussion about getting the quickest and most effective results from online data sources. This is your chance to learn from one of the nation's leading innovators in advanced online genealogical research. This event will be useful to people at all levels of expertise.  Seating is limited, and this program will be sold out; please book a prepaid reservation in advance.

Cost: NYG&B members, $60/Non-members, $90

Register: online or call 212-755-8532, ext. 211.
For additional information email 

February 4, 2013

It's Him!

Skull of King Richard III CREDIT: University of Leicester
University of Leicester researchers say tests on a  skeleton unearthed last year under a parking lot in Leicester prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is King Richard III who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries.

And it was Canadian DNA that provided the proof. Geneticist Turi King said Michael Ibsen, a Canadian carpenter, share with the skeleton a rare strain of mitochondrial DNA.

Ibsen and a cousin who did not wish to be named, both provided DNA samples for comparison. They are proven descendants of King Richard's older sister Anne.

It's quite fascinating to think that DNA was a major factor in solving this mystery. Wouldn't it be great if the DNA companies could get the DNA results to compare the DNA of those of us who have been tested? Maybe there are more of us related to King Richard or his sister.

I've had my DNA tested through Family Tree DNA and have a sample ready to mail off to 23andMe. Have you had your DNA tested yet? You're not guaranteed to find a royal connection or even a distant cousin who can provide you with your family tree back dozens of generations but it's very interesting! 

Read more: University of Leicester

February 3, 2013

Sneak Preview RootsTech Keynote Speakers March 21st

As a Rootstech official blogger, Olive Tree Genealogy was given permission to post this sneak preview of the Thursday morning (March 21, 2013) Keynote Speakers for Rootstech2013. Looks like a great line-up to me! 

Dennis Brimhall is currently the President and CEO of FamilySearch International.  FamilySearch International is a worldwide organization helping individuals find, preserve, catalogue, and search genealogical information. FamilySearch International is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He was formerly the President and Chief Executive Officer of University of Colorado Hospital from 1988 to 2005. A native of Provo, Utah, Mr. Brimhall earned an undergraduate degree in zoology from Brigham Young University in 1972 and a master’s degree in management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 1974.  Mr. Brimhall and his wife Linda have four children and live in Dammeron Valley, Utah.

Syd is a nationally acclaimed storyteller, an author, and an award-winning teacher. Many of his best-loved stories deal with growing up in Chicago and raising a family in Evanston, Illinois. Syd is also known for his original historical pieces. He has received commissions to write stories for some of America’s leading institutions and agencies, including the Smithsonian; Historic Philadelphia, Inc.; NASA; and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.  His work has garnered awards from the American Library Association, Parents' Choice, and Storytelling World. Syd was one of six tellers featured on the television special The Call of Story. He has also performed numerous times at the Timpanogos and National storytelling festivals. 

D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS is the Business Development Manager – North America for brightsolid online publishing, the creator of A nationally known and recognized professional genealogist, lecturer, genealogical author, and researcher, Taylor is the current president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the former Director of Education at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Taylor holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Federation of Genealogical Societies Award of Merit, and the Rubincam Youth Award from the National Genealogical Society. Taylor was also a featured genealogist on NBC's Who Do You Think You Are?.