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March 31, 2014

Interviewed on The Genealogy Professional Podcast - Such an Honour!

Interviewed on The Genealogy Professional Podcast - Such an Honour!
Marian Pierre Louis interviewed me a few weeks ago for her ongoing podcast series called The Genealogy Professional. If you haven't been listening you should. Marian has interviewed some fascinating bloggers and genealogists around the globe. 

It was my pleasure to do this interview and I feel very honoured to have been chosen as one of Marian's guests. My Podcast interview and biography can be found at TGP 18 Lorine McGinnis Schulze – Focus on New Netherland

March 30, 2014

Sharing Memories Week 13: Broken Bones & Other Accidents

Sharing Memories Week 12: Broken Bones & Other Accidents
Sharing Memories is a series of weekly prompts to help all genealogists (including me!) with writing up memories of our ancestors and our childhood. 

We all love to find a diary or letters written by great grandma or grandpa where they talk about their lives and share their memories. Think how excited one of your descendants will be to read about your memories and your stories! These stories will be lost after a few generations unless we preserve them. And what better way than in a weekly themed post. 

This week's prompt is "Broken Bones and Other Accidents". Have you ever broken a bone? How? Where? What about sprains or dislocations or traffic accidents? Tell the stories around these accidents. 

I've never broken any bones. But I've had accidents - I guess the worst one was a car accident when I was 20 years old. It was on the 401 Highway heading towards Montreal. I was driving my mother's Volkswagen, and it was night and I was tired. Long story short, the car ended up on the shoulder and then twisted around going the wrong way on the highway. All I remember is the headlights of other cars coming towards us and trying to dodge out of our way. Then the car flipped and began to tumble and roll on its back, spinning as it went. 

To this day I don't know how other cars managed to avoid us and I don't know how we survived. When the car came to rest in a ditch, the top was completely crushed down to the bottom of the windows. The only thing that saved me was I was thrown out of my seatbelt just as the roof caved in, and I was thrown under the seat.

When the ambulance came to take us to the hospital in Kingston, I was full of glass slivers and had a badly sprained neck and back, which still is bothersome to this day. My friend had a tiny cut on his finger and that was it!

My brother-in-law came to get us the next day and take us home while I tried to figure out how to break the news to my mother that her car was demolished. The police officers all shook their heads at the miracle of us making it out alive.

Oh and I met a really cute guy! He helped pull me out of the wrecked car, and had me sit in his car while we waited for the ambulance. It took so long to get there that we had a nice long chat, and he slipped his name and phone number into my purse! Unfortunately I didn't find it until several months had passed and I was in a relationship so never phoned him. I still chuckle over that.

March 29, 2014

Featured Database Brixham Devon Church Records

Featured Database Brixham Devon Church Records
This is a very location specific database but if, like me, you have ancestors from Brixham Devon, you will be thrilled that it's online and free. My Brixham ancestors go way back to the late 1500s so this free set of records for St. Mary's Church in Brixham is a wonderful asset.

In case anyone else has Brixham Devonshire ancestors, here is my list of surnames from this area: 

Moses, Hooper, Petherbridge/Pethebridge, Helling, Martin, Lelton, Downing, Moxey,  Skynner/Skinner, Cundett, Lucas, Nowell, Harvey, Joll, Prowse, Norman, Williams, Doust, Cole, Burd, Lambshead/Lamsed, Pearse/Pierce. My ancestors were living there before 1850.
Follow the links below to search for ancestors in transcriptions of the Parish registers by Judith Smith and Marie Simkus, provided by the Brixham Heritage Museum:

March 28, 2014

FamilySearch Update: Collections from Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United States

FamilySearch Update: Collections from Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United States
FamilySearch Adds Close to 11.1 Million Indexed Records and Images to Collections from Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United States

FamilySearch has added close to 11.1 million indexed records and images to collections from Barbados, BillionGraves, Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United States.

Notable collection updates include the 1,703,529 indexed records from the U.S., Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1846–1910, collection; the 766,368 indexed records and images from the new Canadian Headstones, collection; and the 2,917,490 indexed records from the England, Kent, Register of Electors, 1570–1907, collection. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

March 27, 2014

WW1 Photo Album: Page 15 Canadian Soldiers in the CEF

Continuing on with my WW1 Photo Album archive here is page 15 in my mother's cousin Doris Simpson's album.
There are only two WW1 soldier photos on this page. Unfortunately they aren't labelled and I don't recognize the individuals. I suspect the one soldier on horseback was in the same Cavalry Unit in Toronto as my Uncle Ernest Simpson.

March 26, 2014

Spring Is Supposedly Here and My Spring Organization Fever is High

Spring Is Supposedly Here and My Spring Organization Fever is High
Supposedly Spring is here. I don't know about you but we have about 3 to 4 feet of snow still on the ground and yesterday we had a blizzard. Mother Nature's being very cruel this year. But the good thing about Spring is that suddenly I'm hit with a burst of energy and a strong desire to ORGANIZE!

Yep, every year I go through this. During the long winters I sit and think about the mess of my genealogy files. Every year I come up with a new way to organize them. Sometimes I go back to old ways, long discarded as not working. I've tried binders by surnames, binders by topics, pdf files on my computer, file folders by surname, file folders by topics... in short I believe I've tried every possible organizational method there is. In fact I've blogged about getting organized many times.

But I'm never happy. These past couple of years I've discovered quite a bit of detail (newspaper clippings, parish and church records, land petitions and so on) for several of my ancestors. I've also scanned many original documents in my possession. That's what made me realize my genealogy is getting out of hand. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer volume of my findings.

Hubs is in the same boat. He doesn't even remember who many of his further back ancestors are or what we know about them. So today we made a decision that starting this week we are going to set aside a minimum of one hour every day to sort, print and organize our genealogy files.

I'm going back to one of my very first methods that I used many years ago - binders. These binders will only be for my direct lines. However I'm not going to print genealogy reports or notes for my ancestors. Instead I plan to print a family group sheet for each of my direct ancestors. then print copies of all the documents I have for the parents on the family group sheet.

I suspect I will end up with many binders - each one holding ancestors sharing one surname for all generations. Ancestors whose data is skimpy will share a binder with other less detailed ancestors.  I'm not going to put all the siblings in these binders. I have them on my genealogy program and in my paper files and in my digital files so that will suffice for now.

For me it's about narrowing my focus, not expanding it! I tend to get carried away and research all siblings of every direct ancestor. Don't get me wrong, that is a very valuable research technique as it provides you with clues and information you may not find if you only research your direct. But I don't need to organize all those siblings into a binder.

So wish us luck! I have no idea how many weeks or months this will take but I'm excited about starting. 

March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: Hannah Philpot Golding and George Norris - Friends With Benefits?

52 Ancestors: Hannah Philpot Golding and George Norris - Friends With Benefits?
Pluckley, Kent England
I'm writing about my 3rd great grandmother Hannah Philpot Golding as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and also as part of Women's History Month Challenge

Hannah was born in 1805 in the little hamlet of Pluckley in Kent England to John & Susanna Philpot. 

Pluckley is said to be the most haunted village in England. At age 18, Hannah left Pluckley for Lenham, a nearby small town. There she married Edward Golding and over the next 14 years the couple had 6 children. When their youngest was 9 months old Edward died and Hannah was left a widow at the age of 28. 

Church in Lenham
Hannah had no family in Lenham but luckily she was able to take in laundry to support her young family. My mother went to Lenham to research my 2nd great grandmother Georgiana Golding who was born there in 1840. To our surprise Georgiana's mother Hannah was noted in the church record as "the widow Hannah Golding". My next find was the fact that Hannah's husband died some 3 years earlier in 1837. So obviously my 2nd great grandmother was an illegitimate birth. 

It took a few years to find out who had fathered Georgiana but eventually I had the proof that it was Hannah's next door neighbour, George  Norris. Hannah went on to have another child after Georgiana, and Georgiana named George as her father at her marriage to Charles Simpson, so obviously this was not a secret in the village. 

Hannah never remarried after Edward's death and George Norris remained single his entire life. I've always wondered what their relationship was. They never lived together so were they an early example of  "friends with benefits"? Was it a casual but consensual relationship? Or was it a long-lasting love that carried on over the years. I suspect I will never know. 

Kent County Insane Asylum
The last record of Hannah is the 1881 census where she is found as an 85 year old widow, an inmate of Kent County Asylum. Often paupers were sent to the Lunatic Asylum but it may also be that Hannah suffered from senility or some other disorder that labelled her as insane. It's very sad that none of her children could support her or take her into their own home. I have never found Hannah's death although she may be the Hannah Golding who died in June 1881 in Maidstone (which is where the Asylum was located).

As for George Norris he disappears after the 1861 census where he is found as a 50 year old single man living with his mother in Lenham.

March 24, 2014

Featured Database: Irish Emigration Database (IED)

Featured Database: Irish Emigration Database (IED)
If you have Irish ancestors this is a great database to check out. Irish Emigration Database (IED) is a free searchable set of records from various sources. The list of documents in this database are


Searching for various names and topics resulted in dozens of fascinating newspaper accounts, letters and diaries. 

March 23, 2014

Sharing Memories Week 12: Gardening

Sharing Memories Week 12: Gardening
Hubs planting some of my herbs
Sharing Memories is a series of weekly writing prompts to help all genealogists (including me!) with writing up memories of our ancestors and our childhood. 

We all love to find a diary or letters written by great grandma or grandpa where they talk about their lives and share their memories. Think how excited one of your descendants will be to read about your memories and your stories! These stories will be lost after a few generations unless we preserve them. And what better way than in a weekly themed post. 

The prompt for today is Gardening. What kind of gardens did your parents have? How about your grandparents? Did they grow vegetables? Maybe your grandmother had a prize flower garden? Did any fruit trees or edible plants grow on your property or nearby? Did you garden as a child? Some families might just have had indoor plants.

My father loved African Violets and he grew them inside the house. I remember him using milk to wash their leaves. He also planted marigolds outside in our tiny planter on our front lawn. There may have been other flowers but I don't remember them.

In our back yard we had a pretty lilac tree that smelled really good but there were tons of bees around it all the time. I don't remember my mom or dad with any kind of vegetable garden but we did have a huge clump of rhubarb which my mom used to make stewed rhubarb for us.

My Aunt Rose was an amazing gardener. Her backyard was almost all vegetable garden. She always had used tea bags drying on the heating ducts because she used the leaves to fertilize her plants. 

I'm not a gardener both because of physical limitations but also because I just don't enjoy it! I do however grow my own herbs which I use in my cooking. Back in my late 20s and early 30s I tried my hand at a vegetable garden but the day I picked lettuce and made salad for company and didn't notice the little green worms crawling in the lettuce was the last time I had a vegetable garden.

March 22, 2014

Finding Aid for Heir & Devisee Commission Online Films

From H 1144 V58
Burford Christian BRADT
Canadiana.Org has digitized 21 films of the Heir & Devisee Commission Papers (Heir & Devisee Commission papers 1797-1854, found in their Heritage Collection), and that's a good thing for genealogists. But as mentioned in a previous blog post I wrote called Heir & Devisee Commission 1797-1854 on - Listing Errors and a Workaround, their index and description of what is in each film is incorrect.

After realizing their description didn't match what was in the film I was viewing, I spent several weeks going through each online film and noting what volumes and dates each contained. In September 2013 wrote to through their website and to their Twitter account to provide them with the corrections but had no response. That's right - no response to my offer to provide them with a detailed and correct description of the contents of each film. I call that a huge fail! 

What is the Heir & Devisee Commission?

"This microfilm consists of records documenting the review and determination of claims for land brought forward by the heirs, devisees, and assignees of individuals originally located by the Crown on land, in cases where no letters patent had been issued. The First Heir and Devisee Commission was in existence between 1797 and 1805." [Source: Ontario Archives] 
10 of 21 Films Are Wrong on

H 1133 and H 1134  are correctly identified and described on so let's move on to the incorrectly described films. 10 of the online 21 films are incorrect.  H 1135, H 1136, H 1137, H 1138, H 1139, H 1140, H 1141, H 1142, H 1150 and H 1151 are all incorrectly described and the wrong contents listed on the website. 

Finding Aid for H 1135

Example of an index found in Heir & Devisee Commission Reels
H 1135 (Volumes16-20 Johnston District Location Certificates) does not contain what has listed. H 1135 is described on as containing Volumes 9-15. In reality this digitized film contains volumes 16-20. Here is Olive Tree Genealogy's list of contents which I obtained by viewing the entire film online. 

I have added image numbers to help genealogists find the start of each section. This will work as a Finding Aid for genealogists.

  • Image 14  V16 Johnston District  
  • Image 148 V 17 Johnston District Location Certificates, alphabetical  A-B
  • Image 149 “A” names Land Certificates
  • Image 186 “B” names Land Certificates
  • Image 319 V 18  Location Certificates C-F
  • Image 319 “C” names Land Certificates
  • Image 402 “D” names Land Certificates
  • Image 434 “E” names Land Certificates 1787-1795
  • Image 448 “F” names Land Certificates 1784-1803
  • Image 485 V 19 Location Certificates G & H
  • Image 486 “G” names Land Certificates 1785-1806
  • Image 547 “H” names Land Certificates 1784-1803
  • Image 619 “J” names Land Certificates 1784-1802
  • Image 665 V 20 Location Certificates K-M
  • Image  666 “K” names Land Certificates 1784-1810
  • Image  701 “L” names Land Certificates 1784-1801
  • Image 757 “M” names Land Certificates  1783-1803
My first set of detailed listings of the contents of film H1133 can be viewed at No Response from so here are the Heir & Devisee Commission Film Details 

I have published the full set of corrections for the digitize records on Olive Tree Genealogy website at Heir & Devisee Commission This is a work in progress.

March 21, 2014

Finding an Ancestor in the Challenging Upper Canada Land Books

Finding an Ancestor in the Challenging Upper Canada Land Books
Upper Canada Land Book K
I've shown you how to find an ancestor's petition in the Upper Canada Land Petitions online. If you missed that, you can follow the step-by-step instructions at Searching Ontario Canada Land Records, eh? and Understanding Notations on the Envelope of an Upper Canada Land Petition

Now we're going to tackle the very challenging set of online records called Upper Canada Land Books.

As I mentioned in my tutorial on  Understanding Notations on the Envelope of an Upper Canada Land Petition, the envelope on an ancestor's petition should not be overlooked.

In fact if you are lucky there will be a notation on the envelope that tells you the Land Book the page where you will find the entry for your ancestor's petition for land. Even if there is no notation indicating the Land Book Volume and page number, there should still be an entry in the Land Books.  I'm going to show you how to find those entries whether they are notated or not on the Petition envelopes.

What Are the Upper Canada Land Books?

But first let me explain what the Land Books are. When an individual petitioned for land in Upper Canada (present day Ontario), he or she had to present supporting documentation with the petition. The petition and supporting documentation would be read in the Executive Council. This Council consisted of a Land Committee who were responsible for recommending a decision as to whether or not to grant the petition. The  Council Clerk then made a corresponding entry in the appropriate Land Book.  These books contain the deliberations, decisions and recommendations of the Land Committee of the Executive Council of Upper Canada.

Sometimes the Land Book only contains a summary of the petition. Sometimes there is more detail. It is always wise to uncover all records possible for a given ancestor and I do recommend finding your ancestor's entry in the Land Books. The dates covered by these digitized Land Books are 1792-1867.

These Land Books do not have an online index (except for Land Book C) but there are several different online listings of the microfilm reels providing Volume numbers and dates found in each reel. However none of the online listings agree so I've tracked down which online listing is correct and that is the one you will need to use.

The Digitized Upper Canada Land Books

Let me explain in more detail. The actual filmed Land Books are online at Heritage Canada. But you can't just jump in and start searching as there are 14 films numbered from C-100 to C-110, as well as H-1976 to H-1978. The "H" films are all Finding Aids but I don't find them very helpful.

Clicking on the "About" tab for film C-100 says that this film contains Upper Canada Land Books Vol. 18-19. No dates are provided for any of the films listed on Heritage Canada. They only list Volume Numbers but the envelopes of Land Petitions do not record Land Book entries by Volume number. Instead they record it as a letter such as "Land Book K" or "Land Book M"

So we can't use the Heritage Canada descriptions to help us find our ancestor's entry. But we must use their online digitized images of the Land Books! A search of Library and Archives Canada finds a listing but on their website it shows there are 22 microfilms (as opposed to Heritage Canada's 14).

Finding What Dates are Covered in the Digitized Land Books

It took me quite awhile to find a list that provided accurate details as to what dates and Land Books are covered in each film.

I tried the search engine on Collections Canada found at but results using the "identifier" found in the two lines under a specific film number on the About tab for a specific film back on Heritage Canada bring up results that do not fit the Heritage Canada film.

For example the identifier for film C-100 for example is "RG 1 L1 205068" Entering this in the search engine brings up 5 results. Each is for a different film. The hit for C-106 shows the following details:

 "Upper Canada Land Minute Book T contains the minutes of meetings of the Executive Council between 10 August 1837 and 29 June 1839 (pages 1-614), plus a nominal index organized under A to Z. For Minutes omitted in April 1838, see Upper Canada State Minute Book K (RG 1, E 1, vol. 55; mikan #3815028). " It also states C-106 contains Volume 38. 
But Heritage Canada website description for C-106 states it contains Vol. 36-39. We're in the ball park but we still don't know exactly what is covered in the film on Heritage Canada's website!
However the good news is that eventually I found this list of microfilm numbers on the Library and Archives Canada website. So far the details on this list have proven accurate as to what is on each film on the Heritage Canada website.

Finding Your Ancestor's Land Book Entry Using Notations on the UCLP Envelope

Now we get to the fun part. First you must find your ancestor's petition in the Upper Canada Land Petitions. See my previous blog posts for help with this. Once you have found the petition, check the envelope carefully. If there is a notation such as "Entered in Land Book J, page 110" as was found on one of the examples I used, that of the petition of Elizabeth Bowman DeForest, you're in luck.

Next you consult the list of microfilm numbers I finally found, to find out what film contains Land Book J. It is
C-103 28 Upper Canada J 13 Aug. 1816 - 10 Feb. 1819

Now you go to Heritage Canada website and choose C-103. Once the first image loads you conduct a search the same way as we searched for the Upper Canada Land Petitions. See Searching Ontario Canada Land Records, eh? for a reminder of the method we used. It's a little different searching the Land Books because you are simply going by date which is found at the top of the images. Once you find the year and month you need, you check the page numbers until you get to the page you need.

And here is the entry for Elizabeth Deforest, found in Image 213 of C-103. It's a very simple entry and does not reveal any additional details about Elizabeth or her petition.

Finding Your Ancestor's Land Book Entry When the UCLP Envelope Has No Notation

But what if your ancestor's Upper Canada Land Petition envelope has no notation showing what Land Book it was entered in? What you must do in that case is note the dates - you want to write down the date of the original petition and the last date found on the envelope.

So in the case of my ancestor John Greenlees and his petition of 1826, I could see that the first date is 6 December 1826 and the last is 11 December 1826. So that is my timeframe. Checking the list of microfilm details on Library and Archives Canada I can see that my time period of interest is found on C-104.

C-104 31 Upper Canada M 9 Feb. 1824 - 13 Dec. 1826

Back to Heritage Canada and a quick search through C-104 to find December 1826 and there was his entry.

And that is how you find an ancestor's Upper Canada Land Book Entry using the Upper Canada Land Petitions.

March 20, 2014

Store Ledger from Maine 1922-1927 ONLINE

 Store Ledger from Maine 1922-1927 ONLINE
Ancestors At Rest has added another Ledger Book online. A  Store Ledger from Maine 1922-1927 is freely available as 11 pdf files. The best news is that the first file contains an index of names.

Here's a clip from the C and D indexes. The numbers beside each name refer to the page(s) in the ledger book where the entries for that individual are found.

The next helpful item is that each of the pdf files uses a consistent naming convention - that is with the number of the page in the ledger that is the start of the pdf file.  So if we want to find Decker, Chas 6-7 (from the image at the left) we have to look for the pdf file that contains pages 6 and 7.

A quick look shows that the PDF files available for download are:  Index, P. 1, P. 23, P. 43, P. 63, P. 85, P. 105, P. 123, P. 215, P. 241, P. 273

 Store Ledger from Maine 1922-1927 ONLINE
So we can see that we want to download the file called P.1. And sure enough as we scroll to pages 6 and 7 we spot the correct name. 

It looks like the Decker family needed coffee, raisins, and other assorted household items in 1923. Butter cost the household 30 cents! 

Because there is no identifying information in this ledger as to what store it was or the precise location, I searched for several of the individuals found in the index.

Of the 6 people I searched for in the 1920 census on, I found 4 of them living in Penobscot Maine.

March 19, 2014

Understanding Notations on the Envelope of an Upper Canada Land Petition

A few weeks ago I explained how to find your ancestor's petition in the Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) online. If you missed this step-by-step it is at Searching Ontario Canada Land Records, eh? 

One thing I mentioned in that post was that it is important to read and save the "envelope" for any petitions you find, as the envelopes tell us what the final outcome was to the petitioner's request. Let me show you 3 examples of what might be found on these envelopes.

 Here is the envelope for the petition of Abraham DeForest. Abraham's petition was a fairly simple one page request. He asked for extra lands as a Loyalist, above and beyond the lands he had previously received.

The envelope provides his abbreviated name  (Ab. Deforest) followed by this note:

"Recommended for 100 acres in addition to the lot he has received as family lands if is apparent from the Surveyor General Books he is entitled to them

Read in Council
August 12, 1795"

Then follows a darker notation "V Ent. P 299" This refers to the Land Book where the entry for Abraham's lands can be found. Sometimes there is more detail in these Land Books but often it is simply a summary notation of the petitioner's name and land.

The next envelope is for Abraham's wife Elizabeth Bowman. It's a bit more complex and has several notations in different handwriting. First, the numbers at the top of an envelope refer to the Volume, Bundle and Petition number which we talked about in my first post on finding the petitions.

Next we see the words "Petition of Elizabeth Deforest for land as D.U.E."  D.U.E. stands for "Daughter of United Empire Loyalist" which tells us that Elizabeth's father was a recognized Loyalist. As such Elizabeth was entitled to a free grant of land.

Next, it's a bit hard to read but the first word appears to be "Received" So the next notation reads

"Received 28th January 1817 from Abraham Bowman" and is signed by the Clerk John B-----

In lighter handwriting is the notation "DUE" and the signature of an official. It appears the Council recognized that Elizabeth was a DUE.

The sideways notation reads "Entered in Land Book J, page 110" and the final legible notation in dark ink reads

"Referred to the Council by His Excellency this day and Recommended 8th March. Read and granted 26th march 1817" This tells us that Elizabeth received the lands she requested. Although I am not including it in this blog post, Elizabeth's petition consisted of several pages. On one page she filled out a pre-written form stating she was the daughter of Jacob Bowman, a Loyalist, that she was married to Abraham Deforest and had never received the land grant she was entitled to as the daughter of a Loyalist. Also included was an affidavit from the Justice of the Peace stating that Elizabeth had appeared before the Magistrates and was accepted as the daughter of Jacob Bowman, Loyalist

This last envelope is for the petition of my ancestor Peter Bell. Peter was not a Loyalist so this is a good example of what you might find for a petitioner who is applying for land under some other regulation or for another reason.

Peter's original petition stated he had come from England to New York and lived there for 3 years before deciding to leave and settle in Canada. He gave his reasons as being unhappy under the American government. He asked for land beside his daughter and brother-in-law.

The envelope tells us what the Council's decision was. We start on the right as that is where notations were made first. Apparently there was not enough room so the notations continued on the back.

"Peter Bell applies to purchase Lot No. 8 in the 10th Concession of Puslinch. -- House, 1 May 1839"

Next notation reads "Referred to the --- of Crown Lands to -- herein for the information of the Hon [orable] Executive Council" It is signed by two officials. It seems the Council couldn't make its decision without more information.

The notations continue on the back "In Council 23rd May 1839. There is no authority to sell Clergy Reserves at present. This/The Act of Parliament --- the amount to be sold to me -- which is nearly exhausted." Signed by an offiical. While I cannot make out all the words I can read enough to know it is not looking like Peter is going to get the land he wants. But then comes this notation

"I should like to know what quantity of Clergy Reserves may yet be disposed of under authority. In a case of this kind, settlement should, if ----, be encouraged. "

Peter's petition went through quite a bit of red tape and there is one more note which was written on yet another bit of the outside envelope

It's pretty important as it comes from the Crown Land Office in Toronto and reads

"I beg to recommend the prayer of the Petitioner under the circumstances stated by him - the lot being vacant" It is signed by an official and this last notation tells us that Peter Bell ended up being allowed to purchase the land he wanted.

So don't overlook the envelope as an important part of the Upper Canada Land Petitions.  To find out what other types of land records are available in Ontario, see Finding Ancestors in Ontario Land Records

March 18, 2014

S. R. Turley 1896 Ledger Book, Culpeper Virginia ONLINE

S. R. Turley 1896 Ledger Book, Culpeper Virginia ONLINE
Great news. The S. R. Turley Ledger Book from Culpeper Virginia for the year 1896 is now online and available for download as a PDF file. There are 5 files total on the Ancestors At Rest website.

There are many names of customers in this one-of-a-kind ledger book. Each page has a customer name and the list of items purchased that year plus the cost. Some customers have more than one page of items. It's very interesting to see what food cost in 1896 and what an ancestor was buying!

S. T. Cornwell in the image on the left, bought eggs, candy, oil, flour, socks, shoes and more. One pair of shoes cost $1.15 that year.

S. R. Turley 1896 Ledger Book, Culpeper Virginia ONLINE
In some cases, one page has several customer names on it, such as the page on the right. If your ancestor lived in Culpeper Virginia in 1896 there's a good chance you will find his or her name in this gem.

I had a quick look for some of these names and found several of them living in Prince William County, Virginia. It seems Mr. Turley was a very bad speller as many seem to be phonetic representations of the person's name.

For example there is a "Page Bumery" buying laundry and gloves on one page. However his real name  is Page Bumbery. We also see "Tasker Fisher" and "Georgiana Fisher" A search of the 1900 census shows a black man Tasker Fisher and his wife Georgia in Prince William County, Virginia. 

All pdf file downloads are freely available. Brian is scanning adding the ledger books he owns as quickly as he can, so be sure to keep checking on Ancestors At Rest for updates

March 17, 2014

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Irish "cousins". 

Yep, I'm Irish. With a maiden name of McGinnis there's no doubt. I'm happy to say that my DNA tests also confirm my heritage. 

It's not too late for you to search for your Irish ancestors for free today. is offering Open access to the Irish Heritage Collection from March 13 to March 17, 2014

This collection features all things Irish: census records, births and baptisms, WWI casualties, marriage records, passenger lists just to name a few. Offer is only good until tonight at 11:59pm ET so better hurry.

Who are my Irish ancestors and when did they come to Canada?

My 2nd great-grandparents Joseph McGinnis and his wife Fanny Downey sailed from Ireland to Canada with their 1 year old daughter Delia in 1847. They are my only known Potato Famine ancestors.

My 3rd great-grandparents John Greenlees and his wife Elizabeth Johnston came from Ireland with their 2 young boys, George and Thomas and my 2nd great grandmother Jane. They were well ahead of the Potato Famine and I've always been curious about what brought them here. 

So I have researched and verified 5 Irish ancestors but of course their lineage may go quite far back in Ireland and I'm sure I have many more! 

March 16, 2014

Sharing Memories Week 11: Grades 7 & 8

Lord Elgin Public School
Sharing Memories is a series of weekly prompts to help all genealogists (including me!) with writing up memories of our ancestors and our childhood. 

We all love to find a diary or letters written by great grandma or grandpa where they talk about their lives and share their memories. Think how excited one of your descendants will be to read about your memories and your stories! These stories will be lost after a few generations unless we preserve them. And what better way than in a weekly themed post. 

At the end of the year you will have 52 stories written about your childhood, your parents, grandparents and who knows what else.Today's prompt is to write your memories of Grades 7 and 8.
For me, Grade 7 was a huge change. My old school, Lord Elgin, only went to Grade 6. So for Grade 7 all the kids in the "old area" and the "new area" of my town went to St. Andrew's. That was a scary but exciting event as previously only the "old area" kids attended Lord Elgin while those on the "good" side  of the railway tracks (and Highway 401) went to a different school. 

I don't remember too much about Grade 7 or 8 except I was in the choir and also in a Triple Trio. There was one other Triple Trio of girls with very strong voices while my Triple Trio had softer ones. Our teacher was young and inexperienced while the stronger voiced girls had a woman who'd been teaching music forever! We were both in a province-wide competition, and the strong-voiced girls were favoured to win. 

It was exciting to travel to Peterborough the night of the finals! We sang "Little Lamb Who Made Thee" - so weird that I remember the song so well. Anyway in a surprise turnaround, my Triple Trio won! Yep we came first place - and it was an amazing feeling.

WW1 CEF Soldier Letters Found Under Porch

CEF Attestation Paper
Leslie George Currell
24 year old CEF soldier Leslie George Currell wrote to his sister Gertrude just before Christmas 1917. He was a soldier on the front lines in France at the time. The letter was found under the front porch of the Currell home with other letters and a money order from Leslie during the same time period.

Larry McLean, owner of the home on 76 Bertmount Ave. where the family lived, wants to return the letters to descendants.  Read the full story including the letters at The Last Post: Leslieville Man Finds WW1 Letters Under Porch

I did some research online and found the burial of Leslie (1893-1954) on FindaGrave. The memorial to him includes a photo of him in his CEF Uniform and details about his son George and daughter Marguerite.

Marguerite was born in 1936 and died in 2004 while George was born in 1938. His grave is not found so it is possible he is still living. Leslie George is buried in Resthaven Cemetery in Scarborough.

Leslie George's brother William Lawrence Currell is also buried in Resthaven.

Leslie is found as George in the 1901, 1911 and 1921 census on . In 1901 and 1911 the family is in Goderich which is where Leslie was born. 1921 records the family at 80 Bertmount Avenue in Toronto.

The family appears to consist of father George Leslie Currell born ca 1860 in Ontario, mother Margaret (nee McBride as per her marriage registration in 1884) and children Letitia Gertrude (Gertrude) born ca 1884, Elisabeth A. born ca 1889, George Leslie (our CEF soldier) born 1893, Mary M. born ca 1895, and William Lawrence born ca 1902.

The newspaper article mentions another letter to mother Margaret signed "Blanche" and sent from Saltford Ontario which was found under the porch. A search online revealed a Family Tree submitted to with a photo of the Currell family in Saltfort, including mother Blanche Currell. I have no doubt this is the author of the letter.  Blanche was married to Edward Currell who was soldier Leslie Currell's uncle.

I am sure that contacting the submitters on Ancestry and on FindAGrave would yield descendants who would be interested in the letters.

March 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: Another Strong Female Ancestor Fanny Higginson born 1769

Brig Joseph Charles 1831 Passenger List
I'm writing about my 4th great grandmother Frances (Fanny) Holford Higginson as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and also as part of Women's History Month Challenge

Fanny was born in Lower Peover, Cheshire England in 1769 to John Holford and Ann Harrison. The village of Lower Peover was in existence as early as the middle of the 13th century and it appears that Fanny's family may have lived there for many generations. Shortly before her 18th birthday, young Fanny married Thomas HIgginson who was also from the village. 

Thomas and Fanny had a large family of 8 children born between 1788 and 1802. Sometime after the birth of their youngest child John in 1802 and before 1831, her husband Thomas died. 

By 1823 Fanny's daughter Betty Bell was living with her husband and children in Nether Peover and I suspect Fanny Higginson may have been living with them. The family was stil there in 1831 when they left for America. [Source: England, Cheshire Land Tax Assessments, 1778-1832 on FamilySearch]

1831. Brig Joseph Charles. Fanny Higginson & daughter Elizabeth Bell & family
The last record of Fanny is on December 3, 1831 when the Brig Charles Joseph arrived in New York from England. She is on the passenger list as "Frances Higginson, carpenter's wife" and is listed as 65 years old. Traveling with Fanny were her daughter Betty (Higginson) Bell, my 3rd great-grandmother, and Betty's children Ann, Phoebe, 12 year old Mary (my 2nd great grandmother), Peter and Joseph. [Source:]

The group was on its way to Betty's husband Peter Bell who had settled in New York some time earlier. I often think about Fanny, a 65 year old widow leaving her home and many of her children to come to a new land. In 1831 it would have been rough. 

I don't know what happened to Fanny. Peter Bell and his wife and children left New York to settle in what was then the wilderness of Wellington County Ontario. In fact they were among the very first settlers of a new community called Arkell. 
"Peter Bell, a native of Chesshire Eng, left his native land in 1832 and after spending 6 years in New York State, came to Puslinch in 1838 with two sons, Peter and Joseph and one daughter, Mary."
[Source: County of Wellington, Township of Puslinch by W. MacKenzie, published in the Guelph Weekly Mercury and Advertiser 7 March 1907: Early Settlers of Puslinch]

UCLP 1839 for Peter Bell
It's interesting to note how pioneer memories can hit on some truths but get many facts wrong.  Peter Bell's land petition submitted in 1839 stated that he left England for New York where he bought a farm in Sullivan County. 

He lived there for 3 years then left for Puslinch Township Wellington County with his wife and 3 children. His brother-in-law John Higginson and one daughter Phoebe with her husband John Petty were already in the new settlement of Arkell and Peter requested that he be allowed land near them. [Source: UCLP Microfilm:C-1633, Volume 63, Bundle B-21, Petition 153]

Since his mother-in-law Fanny is not mentioned in Peter's 1839 petition I suspect she may have died but whether she died in New York or in Arkell is not known.

I admire Fanny greatly for the difficult journey she took as a 65 year old woman in 1831.

March 14, 2014

Special on DNA Kits!

Great news! is offering 10% off DNA kits during St. Patrick's promotion. March 13-23

This special price begins on March 13 at 6:00am ET and ends on March 23 at 11:59 ET so don't delay! This is a great opportunity to find relatives you never knew you had with DNA testing. 

March 13, 2014

Free Access to Irish Heritage Records on Ancestry

Great news! is offering Open access to the Irish Heritage Collection from March 13 to March 17, 2014
This collection features all things Irish: census records, births and baptisms, WWI casualties, marriage records, passenger lists just to name a few.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to find your Irish ancestors. 

March 12, 2014

War Widow Hunts for Missing Husband for 60 Years

This story is a tear-jerker. It's beautiful and touching and unless your heart is made of stone you will at the very least get misty-eyed.

No further explanation required - please take a few minutes to watch War Widow Hunts for News of Husband for 60 Years

Credits: Photo from Fotolia. For illustration purposes only

March 11, 2014

Women's History Month: Famous 5 Henrietta Muir Edwards

Women's History Month: Famous 5 Henrietta Muir Edwards
Oliver & Henrietta Muir Edwards & children
Henrietta Muir Edwards (1849-1931) was one of the group of 5 women known as the Famous Five. The Famous Five were responsible for forcing Canada to recognize women under the law as "persons" in 1929.

Henrietta Muir Edwards was active in prison reform and dedicated to helping impoverished working women as early as 1875. She also helped establish the National Council of Women in 1890 and much of her focus was on the legal status of women in Canada.

She was born Henrietta Louise Muir in Montreal to William Muir and Jane Johnston. The 1871 census finds 21 year old Henrietta living in Montreal Quebec with her father William age 50 born Scotland, mother Jane age 40 born Quebec, her siblings Amelia 22, Eva 18, Ida 16, William Jr. 13, Ernest 7 and her grandfather George Johnston 82.

There are records of the family found in the online Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 on

Marriage Henrietta Muir - Oliver Edwards
The marriage of William Muir and Jane Johnston is recorded in Montreal in 1844. The marriage of Jane Johnston's parents George Johnston and Jane Thomson occurred in Montreal in 1817 and Henrietta Muir's marriage to Dr. Oliver Cromwell Edwards is found recorded in 1876, also in Montreal.

In 1883, Henrietta Muir Edwards moved with her husband and three children to Saskatchewan. A brief biography of Henrietta can be found at Canada Online

The Glenbow Archives holds many artifacts such as letters and diaries of Henrietta.  One example of the collection is this diary:

Diaries. -- Fall 1867. -- Consists of diaries kept during her "Grand Tour" of Europe, during which she visited Glasgow, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, and Florence, accompanied by her father and/or Uncle James. -- Volume 1 can be viewed online

Photo of Edwards family courtesy Sandra Smith 
Marriage Record found online on