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January 31, 2014

52 Ancestors: Jacob Burkholder and the Haunted Family Cemetery

Amy Johnson Crow has a new challenge for geneabloggers called Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy challenges genealogists to write about one ancestor once a week. I'm having fun with this and I hope you are too!

Jacob Burkholder, my 5th great-grandfather, was born in Switzerland in 1747, but his father moved the family north to Mannheim, Germany on the lower Rhine River to escape persecution. Here, they joined other Palatines and Jacob learned weaving. 

Jacob and his two brothers John and Christian sailed for America in 1765 on the ship Myrtilla. They landed at Philadelphia, 21 September 1765.

Several French Huguenot refugees were among the Myrtilla's 81 passengers, including Abraham and Sophia De Roche. Sophia was a French girl, supposedly of Huguenot descent. Jacob married Sophia De Roche in 1765 in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. Their signatures may be seen in Pennsylvania, where they took the oath of allegiance to the British Crown in 1765. 

Following the American Revolution, Jacob Burkholder wished to remain under British rule. After his eldest sons made an exploratory trip to the head of Lake Ontario, Jacob, Sophia and family left Pennsylvania for Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario). With their son Christian as their guide, they came by Conestoga wagon drawn by oxen, crossing at Buffalo and arriving at Niagara in present day Ontario province, in October 1794. They obtained 800 acres on the Hamilton mountain and were the first family to settle east of the Caledonia highway. 

A family cemetery was established by 1800, the earliest interment being Jacob Burkholder's son Joseph, who died of a broken back after falling from a shed roof. This cemetery is said to be haunted with a spectral light that appears every time someone nearby dies. No one has ever figured out what the light is or why it appears every so often on top of the church.

The family gave its name to a small community, the Burkholder settlement, which developed at the intersection of what is now Mohawk Road and Sherman Avenue in Hamilton, Ontario. 

 In 1839, a small log building was erected to serve as both church and school. It was replaced by the Mountain Chapel in 1850. This was renamed Burkholder Methodist Church in 1886 and after 1925, became known as Burkholder United Church.  In 1947 a monument was erected to honour Jacob and his wife Sophia.

I have found Jacob recorded under many spellings, including Borghonder. My Burkholder name daughters out with Jacob's granddaughter Elizabeth (born ca 1816 in Hamilton to David Burkholder and Elizabeth Gingrich) who married Richard Vollick. It is kind of interesting to note that Elizabeth was one of 16 children and that 4 of the Burkholder siblings married Vollick siblings.

January 30, 2014

RootsTech Conference Announces Free Online Broadcast Schedule

RootsTech Conference Announces Free Online Broadcast Schedule
Great news for those of us who will not be able to attend the RootsTech Conference this year from February 6 to 8.

RootsTech announced yesterday that they will live stream fifteen of the workshops for free. The live broadcasts will give those unable to attend in-person worldwide a sample of this year's conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at The fourth-year conference has attracted over 10,000 registered attendees in-person, and leaders expect over 20,000 additional viewers online.
The streamed sessions include a sampling of technology and family history presentations. Following are the broadcasted sessions and speakers. All times are in mountain standard time (MST): 
Thursday, February 6
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family from My Couch by Tammy Hepps
1 p.m. to 2 p.m., FamilySearch Family Tree: What's New and What's Next by Ron Tanner

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Intro to DNA for Genealogists by James Rader

4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Genealogy in the Cloud by Randy Hoffman
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sharing Your Family with Multimedia by Michael LeClerc
Friday, February 7
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Storytelling Super Powers: How to Come Off as Your Family's Genealogy Hero by David Adelman
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Tweets, Links, Pins, and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media by Lisa Alzo
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Getting the Most Out of by Crista Cowen
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies by Daniel Horowitz
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Do It Yourself Photo Restoration by Ancestry Insider
Saturday, February 8
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Become an iPad Power User by Lisa Louise Cooke
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results by Josh Taylor
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., A Beginner's Guide to Going Paperless by Randy Whited
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., How to Interview Yourself for a Personal History by Tom Taylor
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Five Ways to Do Genealogy in Your Sleep by Deborah Gamble

January 29, 2014

LAC to Digitize WW 1 Military Records But Is it All Good?

LAC to Digitize WW 1 Military Records But Is it All Good?
From personal collection of Lorine McGinnis Schulze
This year, 2014, is the commemorative 100 year anniversary of the start of World War 1. Library and Archives Canada recently announced it plans to digitize 640,000 First World War Service Files. These are the stored files for soldiers and nurses in the First World War’s Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)

This all sounds wonderful! And it is. It will be a tremendous boon to genealogists to have access to these military files. However there are a few drawbacks. LAC will temporarily close portions of the service files while they are being digitized. The first quarter, beginning with the letter A through D, will be closed as of March 2014 and will be available on-line as of Summer 2014.

Quoting from the Library and Archives Canada Blog 

"The files to be digitized will complement the approximately 13,500 service files and the more than 620,000 attestation papers already available on LAC’s website. At the end of the project, expected in 2015, Canadians will be able to research high-quality digital copies of the 640,000 newly digitized service files from the comfort of their own home and will no longer have to pay reprography fees."
LAC to Digitize WW 1 Military Records But Is it All Good?
From personal collection
Lorine McGinnis Schulze
Do you spot anything in this quote that doesn't seem quite right? It is the fact that the project is due for completion in 2015. This means that for much of 2014, the commemorative year, the service files of soldiers will not be accessible! Since 2014 is the 100 year commemorative year, it instantly leaps to mind to question as to why LAC did not start this project much sooner so it would be completed in time for the 100 year anniversary. 

It seems to me that 2014 is the year that many new genealogists, authors and historians will be wanting to access the records of their military ancestors and heroes. I am quite sure there will be a lot of publicity over this 100 year anniversary and can only imagine the disappointment that will arise with the record access restricted or curtailed. 

Read the full story at Library and Archives Canada to Digitize 640,000 First World War Service Files

January 28, 2014

The Great Famine - Emigration out of Ireland

The Great Famine - Emigraton out of Ireland
Between 1845 and 1855 almost  2.1 million people fled Ireland. Most sailed across the Atlantic for North American on what came to be known as "coffin ships". It is estimated that over 80,000 Irish emigrants died en route to a new home in Canada and America.

Dr Ciarán Ó Murchadha writes about the Irish Famine and emigration in his book, Great Famine: Ireland's Agony 1845-1852 available in both Kindle and hardcover on

[Source: New facts about Great Famine emigration out of Ireland revealed]

Do you have Irish ancestors who left Ireland in this time period? I do. My 2nd great grandfather Joseph McGinnis left Co. Down with his wife Fanny Downey and their one year old daughter Bridget (aka Delia) in 1846. They arrived in Ontario Canada sometime that summer and joined a large McGinnis family who had left Ireland in the 1830s. 

It must have been an unbearably difficult journey for all the poor Irish families who left, and incredibly torturous for those left behind.  If you are looking for your Irish ancestors arriving in Canada, the following databases may be of some help.

Irish Canadian Emigration Records, 1823-1849 This database on contains various records and reports of Canadian emigration agents James Allison and A.J. Buchanan. Among the various records are some emigration and orphan lists. These lists are searchable by name. The two collections in this database are: Neilson collection [Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal, 1823-1845 Vol. 21 and 1846-1849 Vol. 22] & Emigration Agent Returns of Emigrant Orphans, 1847  

You can also request a search for your ancestor in the following Books of Immigration and Ships Passenger Lists Records from the following books.
  • [BOOK 1] Names of Emigrants 1845-1847. Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal (Quebec Canada)
  • [BOOKS 2-4] Canada Company Remittance Books 1843-1847 in 3 Volumes.
  • [BOOK 5] Index of Passengers Who Emigrated to Canada between 1817 and 1849.

Also see the free Index of Names of Irish Emigrants from the 1845-1847 Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal 

January 27, 2014

Success! Grandson Found for Sam Gentile WW2 Letters

Success! Grandson Found for Sam Gentile WW2 Letters
Readers may recall my previous post WW2 Soldier's Letters Found - Need Help Returning Them to Family about letters from Canadian soldier Sam Gentile to his family in 1945.

I was able to track down various obituaries for the family of Sam and Mary Gentile who came from Italy to Canada in the early 1900s. 

From these records as well as census records online on , and burial records on FindAGrave, we could put together a family group for the children of Sam and Mary.

  • Winnifred Gentile d. pre 2003 married Andy Venier
  • Sam Gentile Jr. 1913-1983 married Margaret
  • Josephine Gentile d. pre 2003 married Sam Peckett
  • Rose Gentile d. pre 2003 married Harold Lott
  • Vince Gentile1930-1984
  • John Joseph Dominic Gentile 1925-2009 married Dorothy O'Keefe 1925-1993
  • Peter C. Gentile 1919-2003
Jared and I determined that it was almost certainly Sam Jr who wrote the letters in 1945. And the hunt was on. Canada 411 provided us with contact names and addresses of some of the grandchildren of Sam and Mary Gentile.

On Sunday I received an email from Kevin Gentile, a firefighter living in Kitchener Ontario. Kevin informed me that his grandfather Salvatore (Sam) Gentile was the writer of the letters! It seems Sam sent them to his parents during his time stationed in England in WW2. 

Kevin graciously provided me with a detailed family outline from Sam down and gave me permission to post an update here on Olive Tree Genealogy blog. But for privacy reasons I will not divulge names of Kevin's siblings. Kevin has 3 young children and is excited to connect with his grandfather's letters. 

I have put Jared and Kevin in touch and am waiting to hear the result of their phone conversation! Thanks again to readers who jumped in to help reunite these WW2 letters with a descendant.

January 26, 2014

Sharing Memories: Playing Hooky in Grade 2 and 3

Sharing Memores: Playing Hooky in Grade 2 and 3
My personal journal
Here is a Challenge for all genealogy bloggers. Keep a weekly journal called Sharing Memories. Some of you may recall that in 2010, 2011 and 2012 I provided weekly prompts to help with writing up memories of ancestors and ourselves. 

Think how excited one of your descendants will be to read about YOU - your memories and your stories.

If you write your own blog and you are participating in this challenge, please use the hashtag #52SharingMemories if you are posting on Twitter or Google+  That way I can provide links to your blog posts at the end of the week. You can of course post your stories as comments on this blog post or in a private journal. It's your choice! The important thing is to WRITE! 

This week I'm writing about my experiences in Grades 2 and 3. I'm combining them because I have very mixed memories of those years and can't actually recall very much! But my descendants might chuckle to think of the entire class sitting in nice neat little rows, one wooden desk behind the other. We raised our hands to ask questions, did not speak unless given permission and politely stood at the side of our desks when talking.

 What I do remember vividly is that I was bored and decided to liven things up. First I locked all the stall doors in the girls' bathroom. It's easy to do - you lock them from the inside then crawl out underneath the doors. Yep. I thought it would be fun. Of course I was caught. Someone saw me and told my teacher. I decided to lie my way out of it with a "it's my word against hers" stance, but since I had convinced another student to help me lock the doors, and she caved when questioned, it became my word against two other kids. I lost. It makes me chuckle now to think how brazen I was! And honestly I didn't grow up to be a habitual liar.

But that didn't stop me. i was so bored that I decided I wasn't going to school anymore. I enlisted a friend's help in this caper too. I would head off to school every morning but take a detour to my friend's house. Her parents worked so no one was home. She'd let me in, then off she'd go to school. I would hide out in her bedroom reading comic books and eating chocolates! No wonder I detest chocolate now. 

I managed to play hooky for almost 2 weeks. Then the school phoned my parents to find out what illness I had and when I might be returning. Oops. I hadn't thought that far ahead! Believe it or not I didn't get into too much trouble. My parents were pretty good about sitting down and finding out WHY I played hooky at such a young age. When the truth came out - that I was bored silly - the school arranged for me to have my own reading program. I was so excited and happy, and after that I was a model student. 

Every day when the class took turns reading aloud from a very boring Dick and Jane reader, I was allowed to go to the back of the classroom and read stories from some reading series (wish I could remember what it was called), then answer questions about each story. My teacher would check to be sure I was understanding and remembering what I read, and I'd carry on. So I could read at my own speed and my own level. By the end of Grade 3 I was reading at a Grade 7 level.

My days of being bored in school were over!

January 25, 2014

Sharing Memories Update WIth Blogger Posts

Sharing Memories Update WIth Blogger Posts
I've really enjoyed reading comments and other blog posts of those genealogists participating in my Sharing Memories 52 week challenge. 

On the left is a photo of some of my own personal journal entries I've published as hard or soft cover books on Shutterfly. 

Here is a summary of blog posts I am aware of taking part in Sharing Memories Weekly Challenge. If you write your own blog and you are participating in this challenge, please use the hashtag #52SharingMemories if you are posting on Twitter or Google+  That way I can provide links to your blog posts at the end of the wee
Accepting the Challenge to Write My Memories (Ancestors At Rest Blog)

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories - Kindergarten Days (The Pendleton Genealogy Post)

If I missed your blog post please just drop me an email (olivetreegenealogy AT gmail DOT com) and I will include it in my next summary.

Free Access to All Canadian birth, marriage and death records

Free Access to All Canadian birth, marriage and death records.
Free access until January 27, 2014, 11:59p.m. (ET) to All Canadian birth, marriage and death records on 

To view these records you will need to register for free with with your name and email address. Once you have registered you  will be sent a user name and password to access the records. 

If you haven’t already, you will be prompted to register once you start trying to search and view the records. After January 27, 2014, you will only be able to view these records using an paid membership.

So don't wait! If you have Canadian ancestors now is your chance to find their Vital Statistics records. 

January 24, 2014

WW2 Soldier's Letters Found - Need Help Returning Them to Family

WW2 Soldier's Letters Found - Need Help Returning Them to Family
Jared M. wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy after Lisa Haas put him in touch with me. It seems Jared found a box of old letters lying in an alley in Hamilton Ontario. 

The letters were written by soldier Sammi Gentile in England during WWW2. They were sent  to Mr. & Mrs. S. Gentile in Orillia Ontario. Jared hopes to find a descendant and send the letters home. 

WW2 Soldier's Letters Found - Need Help Returning Them to Family
Here is what we know from the letters: 

Mr. & Mrs. S. Gentile lived at 160 Main Street in Orillia in 1945. Sammi was a gunner in B Wing and stationed at a Repatriation Depot. He mentions the name Dan Rolland in one of the letters.

From my brief research last night I think I may have found the right family. 


The only Gentile family listed in the 1940s Voter's Lists on consists of Sam Gentile, a merchant, his wife Mary as well as Sam Jr., Peter and Josephine all of age to vote. I suggest that Sam Jr. is our soldier and he is writing to his parents Sam and Mary. In the 1949 Voters' List only Sam and Mary remain left at home. 


FindAGrave shows burials for some of the Gentile family in Orillia Ontario.  Samuel J. Gentile Jr. born 1913 died 1983 is there. I suggest this is Sammie the soldier. Also foundis Sam Sr (1881-1965) and wife Mary (1893-1958). 


The 1921 Census on for Orillia which is in Simcoe County Ontario, show the Gentile family at 160 Mississauga Street. The family consists of

  • Sam Sr. age 40, born Italy, immigrated 1893
  • wife Mary 27, immigrated 1910
  • daughters Winnifred (9) and Josephine (4)
  • sons Sam Jr (7) and Peter (2)

There should be more census records and voters' lists for the family. No doubt birth, marriage and death records can be found as well. There are many other sources we can look for. 

I hope my readers will put on their genealogy sleuthing hats to help find a descendant of this family. Let's help Jared send these letters home to a family member who will treasure them.

You may post findings here as comments or send to me via email (olivetreegenealogyATgmailDOTcom) Please don't put information about living people in the comments section of this blog post. Such information should be sent to me privately. I will forward all findings to Jared. 

January 23, 2014

52 Ancestors: I Think I am My Own Cousin

Amy Johnson Crow has a new challenge for geneabloggers called Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy challenges genealogists to write about one ancestor once a week. I'm having fun with this and I hope you are too!

This week I am going to tell you about my ancestor Cornelius Vollick and his wife Eve Larroway. Cornelius, my 4th great grandfather, was born in 1761 in New York. He fought for the British during the American Revolution in Butler's Rangers. After the War he came to Ontario Canada as a Loyalist and settled in the Niagara area. There he married Eve Larroway who was the daughter of another Loyalist.

Interestingly enough, Cornelius Vollick's great grandmother Sophia Uziele, was the sister of Eve Larroway's great grandmother Maria Uziele. Since Cornelia and his wife Eve shared the same set of great-great grandparents, that makes them 3rd cousins. 

Here's the surprise:

Cornelius and Eve shared TWO sets of common 2nd great grandparents, not just one!  Cornelius' great great grandparents were Jochem & Eva (Vrooman) Van Valkenburg. So were Eve's. Cornelius' other set of great great grandparents were Pierre & Cornelia (Damen) Uzielle. So were Eve's.

Two of Jochem & Eva's grandchildren (through their son Isaac and daughter Jannetje) married two grandchildren of Pierre Uziele and Cornelia Damen.

The Van Valkenburg grandchildren were Isaac Van Valkenburg (who married Maria Bradt the daughter of Storm Bradt and Sophia Uziele) and Marytje Van Alstyne who married Petrus LeRoy the son of Maria Uziele (who was Sophia's sister!) and Leonard Le Roy.

Here's a chart which might show the relationships in a less confusing way

When I used an old version of FamilyTreeMaker some years ago my father was listed as my father AND as

my 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th cousin once removed
Phew! What cousin relationship that does that give me to Cornelius, Eve and my own children? I confess it confuses me and I've not yet figured it out. And I don't have that older version of FTM anymore. All I know is that genealogy is always full of surprises!

January 22, 2014

Got New Netherland Ancestors?

Journal of Jasper Dankaerts 1679-1680
If the answer is yes, you will be interested in this book which is online at Project Gutenberg.

The Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-1680 by Jasper Danckaerts is the travel journal kept by Dutch Labadist missionary Jasper Danckaerts during his time in New Netherland (present day New York state).

This document of his journey in 1679 and 1680 gives wonderful descriptions of the country and the inhabitants' style of life. He also wrote quite extensively about specific individuals of the time, including my ancestor Jacques Van Slyke (1640-1690)  and his sister Hilletie Van Olinda.

The original journal was discovered and purchased in 1864 and then translated from Dutch to English. It has undergone a few editions since then. The Project Gutenburg online e-book is the 1913 edition.

Credits: New York from Brooklyn Heights, 1679. From the original drawing by Jasper Danckaerts in the possession of the Long Island Historical Society

January 21, 2014

Grave Marker Found - Who Does it Belong To?

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, has a puzzle for all genealogists. You can read the details at 
Help us find the owner of this gravemarker

A gravemarker was found in Portland Oregon with the following names inscribed:
Francis Day Manin
1909 – 1974
Susan Manin Smith
1937 -
Teddy Templeton Jr.
1955 – 1975

Thomas would like help finding family so the gravemarker can be returned. If you want to help, leave your findings on Thomas' blog or here on Olive Tree Genealogy. 

Here's a bit of research I did:

Oregon, Death Index, 1898-2008
Name: Frances Day Manin
Age: 65
Birth Date: Jul 1909
Death Date: 22 Dec 1974
Death Place: Multnomah
Spouse: James
Certificate: 74-19821

In 1930 James and Francis Manin were living in North Kelly Butte, Multnomah, Oregon with 2 children - Susan Manin age 6 and Margaret Manin age 4

January 20, 2014

Oops I goofed! A Correction re Preserving Paper Treasures

Oops I goofed! A Correction re Preserving Paper Treasures
Last December I wrote a series of blog posts about how and where to preserve your treasured documents from the past. In the blog post Preserving Paper Treaures: Step 3 Ready To Create & Store I advised readers to choose a lovely wooden box that would be less likely to be tossed out or the contents removed so the box could be used for another purpose.

Thanks to an Archivist friend, I have learned that I gave bad advice! According to Laura Cosgrove Lorenza who very kindly and gently wrote to me about my error:

"...wood boxes should not be used to store paper, especially contemporary paper (anything much after 1920) or newsprint. The reason is two-fold: the wood is usually preserved with lacquers and oils which are injurious to paper because they off-gas, but more importantly the rag content in contemporary paper is significantly less and therefore the acid in the wood and the higher acid level in the paper fight one another to speed the deterioration process."

Laura further suggests that the Northeast Document Conservation Center's preservation leaflet on the storage of maps, which addresses the dangers of storing paper materials in wood. (4.9 Storage Solutions for Oversized Paper Artifacts) is very helpful for alternate suggestions on storing documents.

Oops I goofed! Correction re Preserving Paper Treasures
Since I do want to continue using my antique wooden lap desk to store my ancestors' paper documents I will have to follow the steps suggested by the Northeast Document Conservation Center before using it for long-term storage. 

A huge thank you to Laura for taking the time to write to me so I could correct my error.
Laura has worked in a variety of Archives for the past 8 years and is currently working in a corporate Archives. She's also a Genealogist, Lecturer and Writer with more than 18 years experience. You can find Laura on LinkedIn or posting on her blog The Last Leaf on This Branch 

Credits: "Oops And Right Icon" by digitalart on

January 19, 2014

Sharing Memories: Getting Your Driver's Licence

Here is a Challenge for all genealogy bloggers. I want you to keep a weekly journal called Sharing Memories. Some of you may recall that in 2010, 2011 and 2012 I provided weekly prompts to help with writing up memories of ancestors and ourselves. 

If you missed this weekly series called Sharing Memories you might want to have a look and see if any of the prompts appeal to you. Many readers asked me to continue with the prompts this year so that is what I am going to do.

If you write your own blog and you are participating in this challenge, please use the hashtag #52SharingMemories if you are posting on Twitter or Google+  That way I can provide links to your blog posts at the end of the week. You can of course post your stories as comments on this blog post or in a private journal. It's your choice! The important thing is to WRITE!

Sharing Memories: Getting Your Driver's Licence
Do you remember getting your driving license? Who taught you to drive? What kind of car was it and how old were you? Did you pass your first time? 

I sure remember it. My father had died 2 years before so it was up to my mother to teach me. She took me out to the parking lot behind what used to be the D.I.L. (Defence Industries Limited) Munitions Factory where she worked during WW2. 

I learned to drive in an Envoy with stick shift. I. give my mother credit, she put up with the start-jerk-stall and grinding gears of a 16 year old learning stick shift. 

The problem, which neither of us realized, was that in our little town there was no such thing as parallel parking, so I never learned how to do that. Sure enough when I was being tested in the city of Oshawa, the official wanted me to parallel park. I had no clue how this was done, so I just pulled in, nose first. Needless to say I never did get that car in the parking spot! (Aside: I am pretty good at parallel parking now)

To top it off, I was so nervous at being tested that when I pulled out from the parking lot at the place where testing took place, I ran over the curb onto the sidwalk. Oops. 

Ya, you guessed it. I failed my first driving test. The instructor also said I was making my left turns incorrectly (thanks Mom!). 

I am pleased to say that when I went back a month later to try again I passed. Tell us your story!

January 18, 2014

Is Great Grandpa's Cause of Death Wrong?

Is Great Grandpa's Cause of Death Wrong?
I watched a very interesting show on TV a few weeks ago. It was called The Poisoner's Handbook and is based on the novel of the same name by Deborah Blum. 

The show traced several real-life cases in 19th century New York where suspicious deaths had taken place. Coroners in that time were not required to have any expertise or credentials. As well coroners were paid by the case, which meant the faster they determined the cause of death, the more money they made. Many coroners accepted payment to alter a cause of death. The result was that often an incorrect cause of death was given. 

Thanks to Charles Norris, New York's first scientifically trained coroner and his assistant Alexander Gettler, a highly trained toxicologist, determining causes of death became more accurate.  Forensic science became a trusted tool when suspicious deaths ocurred. 

The program was fascinating on many levels and if you get a chance you might want to watch it. It also points out that as genealogists we need to be aware of the times and the culture in which the death certificates of our ancestors were issued. 

January 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Vollick, the Blacksheep of the Family

Amy Johnson Crow has a new challenge for geneabloggers called Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy challenges genealogists to write about one ancestor once a week. 

52 Ancestors: Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Vollick, the Blacksheep of the Family
The only photo I have of Lizzie
on the right
My great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Vollick had what I consider a rather difficult life. I knew she married Stephen Peer against her parents' wishes and I knew they disowned her. But when I connected with the grandchildren of her siblings several years ago, I learned even more. 

Lizzie, as she was called by her siblings, was known as the black sheep of the family. According to her sisters she was a "wild thing". In 1879 at the age of 16 she eloped with Stephen Peer who was 10 years her senior. Her parents were not happy, both because of her age but also because the Peer family were considered rather unsavory. Nothing criminal, but they were a family of daredevils and considered irresponsible. For example, Stephen's brother was the first ever base jumper and his cousin walked Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

The entire family lost touch with Lizzie and she had no contact with her parents or siblings again.

Lizzie's family all lived in the Elmvale Ontario area but she and Stephen began moving from town to town, finally settling in Guelph in 1890. By then they had 6 young children and not much money. My grandmother Olive was the oldest. 3 more children were born, the last in August 1896. One year later Stephen, age 44, died of typhoid fever and 34 year old Lizzie was left a widow with no money and 9 children aged 1 year to 17 years. 

The City of Guelph established a fund to collect money for the impoverished widow and her family. Notices were put in the newspaper asking for donations. Because Lizzie was destitute, the Baptist Church arranged for burial of Stephen (to date I have not been able to find his burial location). In an ironic twist of fate, Stephen's death notice ran incorrectly under the name of his father. You'll understand the irony when you read about Lizzie's death registration later in this article

Oct. 28, 1897
        Levi [sic] Peer died at General Hospital on Wednesday afternoon from typhoid fever.  Leaves a wife and nine children in destitute circumstances.  City relief officer made arrangements for burial and attended to needs of family.  Trinity Baptist church also assisting.  (article from Guelph Herald.)

Somehow Lizzie managed to support the family but I know it was rough. My grandmother never spoke of those days and I always wondered if they ended up in the local poorhouse (now the Wellington County Museum just outside of Elora) 

52 Ancestors: Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Vollick, the Blacksheep of the Family
Lizzie's Tombstone in Woodlawn Cemetery Guelph
Lizzie's difficulties were not over. In May 1914 she died. She was just 51 years old. Her cause of death was starvation. All her children except Edgar, the youngest, had married and left home. It was left to Edgar to provide the information to the clerk for her death registration. In his grief and confusion he must have misunderstood the questions asked of him for he gave his own father and mother's names as the first names of Lizzie's parents. 

So her death record gives her correct maiden name of Vollick. But instead of her parents' names (Isaac and Lydia) it states "Stephen and Mary Vollick". And thus poor Lizzie is forever recorded with the wrong parents and even death was not kind to her. 

To add to the family tale of hardship, young Edgar enlisted in World War 1 less than a year later. He was only 17 at the time, an orphan. Sent to France he suffered as many did through the War years and in August 1918 he was killed. He was just 20 years old.

I am only glad that Lizzie did not live to see her youngest die.

January 16, 2014

Religious Freedom Day: Ancestors Who Fled Religious Persecution

Religious Freedom Day: Ancestors Who Fled Religious Persecution
The Migration of the Palatines. Woodcarving from the British Museum
Today is Religious Freedom Day. It's a good day to talk about our ancestors who suffered under religious persecution. 

The Palatines were a group of German individuals who were persecuted and suffered in their native country in the early 1700s. As well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708-09, the harshest in 100 years.

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

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

In New York, the "poor Palatines" were expected to work for the British authorities, producing naval stores [tar and pitch] for the navy in return for their passage to New York. They were also expected to act as a buffer between the French and Natives on the northern frontier and the English colonies to the south and east. They were treated more like indentured servants or slaves than new immigrants. [Source: Palatine Germans to America]

The following are my Palatine ancestors: 

January 15, 2014

Fascinating Video About New Amsterdam and New Netherland (New York)

Do you have ancestors who settled in New Netherland (present day New York State)? 

If yes, you will want to watch this very interesting 15 minute video called Het Klokhuis: Nieuw Amsterdam about New Amsterdam (present day New York City) and New Netherland (present day New York state). 

The video is in Dutch but it doesn't really matter if you understand Dutch or not. I don't speak Dutch but the video is fascinating and easily understood without knowing what the actors are saying. 

The description of the video reads:
Nieuw Amsterdam. Het Klokhuis in Amerika. New York heeft Nederlandse roots! Brooklyn, Harlem, Wallstreet en Broadway; allemaal namen met een Nederlandse voorgeschiedenis. Bart duikt in het verleden van New York dat toen nog Nieuw Amsterdam heette 

Google Translation: Nieuw Amsterdam. The Klokhuis in America. New York has Dutch roots! Brooklyn, Harlem, Wall Street and Broadway, all names with a Dutch history. Bart delves into the history of New York that was then called New Amsterdam

If you can read a few Dutch words, you may want to turn on the subtitles. That is what I did and it helped add a bit more understanding as every so often there would be a word I recognized. 

To turn on the subtitles (ondertiteling), just run your cursor over the bottom of the video screen. A horizontal menu bar displays. You want click on the "T" icon found between the gear icon and the volume icon.  Then untick the radio button "off" and tick the button beside TT888


January 14, 2014

Lives of the First World War: A New Project Online

Lives of the First World War Image © IWM (Q 001580)
Image © IWM (Q 001580)
Recently Olive Tree Genealogy received an interesting email about a project called Lives of the First World War

 Lives of the First World War is one of the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) major centenary projects, which looks to uncover the life stories of the men and women who served Britain and the Commonwealth during the First World War. 

The platform will bring together a wide range of record sets, including material from museums, libraries, archives and family collections, together in one place, enabling users to explore documents, link them together and start telling the stories of those who served in uniform and worked on the home front.

More information on Lives of the First World War can be found here. You can also follow the project on Facebook and on Twitter

Credit: Image © IWM (Q 001580) published here with permission

January 13, 2014

Early Customs in Photography: Post Mortem Photos

Some people collect these old photos. I don't care for them myself but I understand and accept that in the 19th century they were an acceptable custom. The custom was at its height in the VIctorian era.

Post-Mortem photos were often taken when a loved one, especially a child, died. Often it would be the only photo a parent had of a beloved son or daughter. 

The deceased would be dressed in their best clothes and carefully propped or placed, either alone or with the rest of the family, to appear alive. Often the deceased appeared to be sleeping.

We may find it morbid but it was customary. Many cultures also took photos of the deceased in their coffin.

You may view an exhibit of such photos at The Strangest Tradition of the Victorian Era: Post-Mortem Photography

January 11, 2014

Who Are You? Three Orphan Photos

Who Are You? Three Orphan Photos
Photo taken in Port Huron Michigan
at the Tunnel City Studio,
728? Huron/Baron Ave.
Recently my mother-n-law gave us two photos saying she did not know who the individuals were. All she knows is that she inherited them from her Elgie and Facey side of the family tree.

Hubs thinks that he has another photo of the same couple when they were younger. But unfortunately he does not have identification of this couple either. The photo of the couple also came down to him through his Elgie and Facey lines so he could be correct. 

We are trying to determine if the couple in the earlier photo is indeed the same couple in the individual photos. If they are, then hubs is going to attempt to figure out who they are. 

There is no identifying photographer's mark on the two individual photographs.

So I am asking my readers to weigh in. Do you think this is the same couple? At the bottom of this blog post I've uploaded closeups of their faces.

January 10, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: A Death and Abandonment in Australia

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: A Death and Abandonment in Australia
Amy Johnson Crow has a new challenge for geneabloggers called Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy challenges genealogists to write about one ancestor once a week. 

This is my 2nd great-grandmother Sarah (Elvery) Stead. She is 30 years old in this photo taken in 1866 just one year before she set sail from England for Australia. Sarah was 7 months pregnant at the time, and was with her deaf husband, my 2nd great grandfather William Stephen Stead, and their 4 children ages 1 to 7. They were leaving Ramsgate England to settle in Australia near William's brother Edward Crunden Stead.

Poor Sarah's fate was sealed from the moment she stepped on board the ship Light Brigade. Luckily she did not know what was in store for her. The journey to Australia was not an easy one. The Light Brigade ran into foul weather which increased their travel time. Due to the long voyage Sarah went into labour and a son Ebenzer was born while they were still at sea. Poor Sarah died shortly after his birth, bitten by a flea from a rat and developing typhus. The ship lay in Quarantine in Sydney Harbour at the time of her death. 

Her husband continued his trip with his 4 children and a newborn babe and made it to Sunny Corners where his brother lived. I'm sure he had no idea what he was going to do with 5 young children, no wife and no job. Sadly after 6 months little Ebenezer died and was buried beside his mother in Haslem's Creek Cemetery (now Rookwod Cemetery) in Sydney. 

My mother at the grave where Sarah and Ebenezer are buried
In a bizarre twist of fate, Edward Stead (William's brother) was the official gravedigger there so he dug their graves and saw to their burial. The gravesite was never officially purchased or owned by the Stead family and in fact a few months later it was bought by a rather important family and the head of the family was buried there. 

The gravestone marker only records Thomas Newland and his children. There is no stone for Sarah and Ebenezer but they are found in the cemetery records as being buried in the Newland family plot. 

Now came William's dilemma. His wife was dead. His baby son was dead. He was a deaf man with 4 young children in a strange country and now way to support them. The decision was made - he would return to England where he had a job and family to help him out. But he could not manage with 4 young children. So he took his 7 year old son and his 4 year daughter (my great grandmother) back to England and left his other two sons ages 1 and 8 behind with his brother.

His brother had recently lost a child of his own and one of William's sons was not only the same age, he had the same name! So Edward and his wife adopted the two sons left behind by his brother and raised them as their own. 

William left a copy of the photo I own of Sarah with the two sons his brother adopted. His hope was obviously that they would never forget their real parents. One of the boys left behind died young but the other survived and married and had children. Sadly their descendants had no clue who the lady was in the photo passed down in the family. But one of the descendants managed to uncover the truth and connect with my family in Canada in the 1980s. 

But I often think about poor Sarah dying so young and her children being separated and raised by different parents in countries so far apart. I wish she could have lived and seen her baby and other children grow and have children of their own.