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May 31, 2017

How an antique Illinois Family Photo Album came to Canada via New Jersey

My good friend Illya of sent me a gift several years ago of an antique photo album. The Album has had a rough life, and needed a good home, so Illya bid on it at a New Jersey auction, won the album and shipped it to me here in Canada.

Bertha Timmerman Fichter
The album has slots for 64 cabinet cards, and one tintype. 2 Cabinet Cards are missing, for a total of 63 ancestor family photos in this album. 15 of the Cabinet Card photographs were identified with writing on the album pages.

With the identification of those 15 photos and the clues from the photographers who took the photographs, I was able to find the family in the census for Chicago Illinois and determine that this album belonged to the Timmerman Family.

The Timmerman Family Photo Album is full of beautiful photographs, most taken in the period 1890 - 1910. Most of the photos were taken by photographers in Chicago Illinois - Morrison, Jaeger, Hoffman Studios, Vahlteich and others. A few were taken in Omaha Nebraska.

I wondered how a Chicago Photo Album over 100 years old ended up at a New Jersey auction, but research found that one of the Timmerman daughters (Bertha Timmerman) married a man named George Fichtner and moved from Chicago to Boontown New Jersey sometime between 1910 and 1920. No doubt the album was cared for by this daughter and her descendants for many years.

Olive Tree Genealogy has scanned several of the photos and published them online for all descendants and interested researchers to enjoy. I will be scanning all the photos and placing them all online in hopes that genealogists will recognize an ancestor. I've also written up the genealogy research I did on the Timmerman family and published it online as well. Hopefully interested descendants will enjoy this look into the family photographs of more than 100 years ago.

There are 63 other antique family photo albums (mostly from the Civil War era) online on Lost Faces on Olive Tree Genealogy website. More are being added as I scan them.

May 29, 2017

Help Reading 17th Century Dutch Church Records

If you have ancestors who settled in New Netherland (now New York) in the 1600s, you will undoubtably eventually find yourself struggling with Dutch words and handwriting. You may even venture into research from the Amsterdam Archives Church Records which have been microfilmed.

Amsterdam Doopregisters (Baptism Registers) follow a fairly consisent format. They show names (sometimes an occupation) of father, mother, child and sponsor(s).

You don't need to read Dutch, you only need to be able to pick out and read the names of the individuals you are interested in. But it is more difficult than it sounds. 17th century letter formations are very different than what we are used to. Dutch names and spellings are something new to many of us as well.

Example from a 17th Century Marriage record from Amsterdam

As I was struggling to learn how to read this early Dutch script, I made up a little booklet which I add to each time I figure out something new.

I use my little home-made guide to help me interpret what I am looking at in these early (1600s) records. Other researchers asked me to send them copies of my notes and examples, so I made up a mini-tutorial.

I am not an expert, I muddle along as best I can, but researchers I sent the tutorial to seemed to find it helpful, so here it is. I hope that if any of you are starting to dig into those distant records you will find this at least interesting if not helpful in some small way.

I'll add to these Blog notes as I get the pages of my little guide scanned. Remember, it's FUN and it's NEW and it can be intimidating but just keep on plowing through one step at a time.

Source of Registers: Amsterdam Doop (Baptism) Registers on Microfilm

Finding an entry on a page of records from 1621

Click on the image for a larger picture, or View larger image. You can also view a larger image here

This is a page of church baptismal records from 1621 in Amsterdam. The entry I was looking for was for Claesje the daughter of Teunis Dircks & Aefje Pieters.

This is a relatively easy page to read compared to some! The handwriting is neat and legible, the filmed record is not dark, and the size of the writing is not too small.

Reading Dutch Script: Studying the letter formations on a page of records

If you need help with Dutch names, you might find my section on New Netherland (present day New York) of some help. Anyone with ancestors from New York in the 1600s may find themselves with Dutch ancestry (which is what got me started on all this!)

It gives examples of Dutch names = English names = Shortened Dutch names (nicknames). It also explains the use of suffixes -je or -tje, -je, -tje, -ie and -ke

To learn the patronymic naming system and the suffixes used there, you might find Understanding Patronymics helpful

Reading Dutch Script: Steps to take when you find an entry of interest

Step 1: Trace the entry as it displays on the microfilm reader

Step 2: Copy the entry

Step 3: Study the letter formations. Figure out what the entry says

Reading Dutch Script: More Letter Formations

Using this same page of church records we can learn other letter shapes and names

Reading Dutch Script: Figuring out even more letter formations

May 27, 2017

Rescue Photo Album 1930s Carillon Quebec page 11

The 11th page of the Flynn family album has some names. The left photo is labelled "Theresa - Fred - Joe" and underneath an address "51 Robert St." The second photo is labelled "Joe age 2 on Robert St."

Please see page 16 of this album when it is available for more information on this family

May 26, 2017

Civil War Photo Album Fowler Merchant Families

This is one of my favourite CDVs (Cartes de Visite) from the Fowler Merchant Civil War era photo album in my personal collection. It was taken during the Civil War - if you look carefully you can see this young lady's snood - a netting worn over the hair at the back of the head. Her hair is carefully slicked down and parted in the center - another sign of 1860s women's hairstyles.

Her bolero jacket was also popular during this time. Also note the dropped shoulders, full sleeves narrowing at the wrist, and the full skirt, but loosely draped, not over a hoop.

The plain background and patterned floor are further clues to help date this photograph. You can see the full Fowler-Merchant Family Photo Album online at Lost Faces.

Surnames: Fowler, Merchant, Keach, Houghton, Lovejoy, Hewitt, Maloney, Tanner, Whitcomb, Sladden, Frazier, Comstock, Gray, Moseley, Center, Lee, Alexander, Fisher, Williams, Cottrell, Burgess

Locations: Cambridge New York, Connecticut, Washington DC

May 24, 2017

Owning a Piece of Someone's Life

Many years ago I bought a book at a local Garage Sale. Inside was the owner's name "Millicent Lynn", and a hand-written genealogy. I knew Millicent slightly, she was an elderly woman in the town where I lived in the 1970s. Millicent was a gentle lovely-looking woman who looked like Helen Hayes and always wore gloves, a dress, and carried a purse over one arm much like Queen Elizabeth. Millicent's son and grandson owned a local business in our small town.

A handwritten inscription inside the book reads "To Cousin Millicent with love from Olive Gay and all cousins at Grenfell Saskatchewan. March 1981" (Millicent was Millicent Lynn, mother of the Mayor of Midland Ontario) 

It was through Millicent's grandson that my husband and I met some some twenty years later. My future husband worked for Millicent's grandson and when I published my first book The Van Slyke Family in America: A Genealogy of Cornelise Antonissen Van Slyke, 1604-1676 and his Mohawk Wife Ots-Toch, I was directed to his office for assistance.

After our marriage I discovered that my husband owned an antique cupboard that once belonged to Millicent. He also owned the WW1 army helmet that once belonged to Millicent's husband, and a very old black top hat inscribed inside the band with Millicent's husband's name (George Lynn).

With all these connections and treasured objects in our home, I began to feel that we owned a little piece of Millicent and George's lives, and that to complete the circle we needed to find out more about their lives and ancestors.

With that in mind I set out to find Millicent and I'm happy to say that I found her arrival in Canada from England on the Ship Metagama in 1919 as well as many other voyages back and forth between England and Ontario. Millicent arrived at St John New Brunswick on 17 February 1919. It looks like she had $50.00 on arrival, and she was headed for her mother-in-law's in Penetanguishene Ontario

This is George Lynn's WW1 helmet that is part of my husband's WW1 Collection. I also found George's WW1 Attestation Papers and many census and vital records for George, his parents, his grandparents and so on back to 1814.

Now I feel that the journey is complete and I will pass this coincidental genealogy on to Millicent's grandson.

May 23, 2017

Announcing Four New Family Tree Books

I'm excited to announce my four new family tree books now available on Amazon. If you have Caspall, Laming, Hubbard, or Wildbore ancestors from Kent England you may find these books of interest.

The Wildbore Family of Kent Englandby Lorine McGinnis Schulze
 8.5x11". $6.99 28 pages

This book follows 4 generations of descendants of George Wildbore and his wife Alicia Pamphlett (nee Sackett) who married in Minster, Thanet, Kent England in 1571.

The Hubbard Family of Kent England by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
26 pages. 8.5x11" $6.99

 Isaac Hubbard married the widow Mary Ducy in St. James in Dover in 1698.This book follows Isaac and Mary's descendants down four generations through their son Isaac, their grandson Philip, their greaat-grandson Philip and their great-great-granddaughter Milly Elizabeth who married John Caspall.

The Laming Family of Kent England
by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
 8.5x11". $6.99 24 pages

The Laming family is found in Thanet and Minster Kent England for over 200 years. This book follows six generations of descendants of William Laming born circa 1610 and his wife Mary Culmer.

The Caspall Family of Kent England
by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
40 pages. 8.5x11" $11.99

 The Caspall family can be found in Kent England with John Caspall's birth circa 1710-1717. This book follows the descendants of John Caspall and his wife Mary Prigg for six generations. John was from Stonar Kent but he and Mary baptized all their children in Sandwich Kent. Other locations where Caspall families lived include Folkestone and Ramsgate.

May 21, 2017

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Photo Album 44R Letter

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One.

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.
Letter from G. H. Wilkinson
The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

May 20, 2017

Rescue Photo Album Carillon Quebec page 10

This page is labelled "Carillon 1931" The photo on the left is labelled "Mrs. A. Pope" but it is not clear if this relates to all three photos or not.

May 19, 2017

What's in a Name?

I've talked previously about surnames that changed (either deliberately or accidentally) over the years. This makes research into those families challenging! But what about first names?

Besides the usual nicknames (Bob=Robert, Jim=James, Cathy=Catherine) that we find as we research our ancestors, what other problems might we encounter along the path of our family tree?

How about ancestors with first names that have absolutely nothing to do with the name they were given at birth! These are people whose commonly used first name is not a derivative or nickname or anything other than some invented or pet name used by family and friends.

You can't assume that just because Grandpa was called Charlie that his actual name was Charles. Grandma might have been called Bobbie by her friends but does that mean her name at birth was Roberta? NO! Let me give you some actual examples in the family trees of my husband and myself.

My husband's grandfather was Charlie. Everyone called him that, friends and family alike. His wife called him Charlie. That was the name on their mailbox and in the local phone book. So of course we assumed his given name was Charles. But his birth registration found a few years ago showed that his actual first and middle names were Leon Thomas. How did he get the nickname Charlie? No one knows and he is no longer living to tell us. It's a family tree mystery that will likely never be solved.

My own grandmother was Dolly. As a child I assumed that was her given name but in reality her name was Ruth Ethel. When I asked her about her name she told me that when she was born she was so tiny that her mother thought she looked like a little doll. That was what her mother began calling her, and the name Dolly stuck with Grandma her whole life.

Other examples are my friend Bobbie whose brother could not pronounce her real name of Celia. He called her "baby" which sounded like "Bawby" and thus Bobbie was the name used by family and later her friends. It was many years before I learned her real name!

So don't get too stubborn about refusing to believe that the genealogy record you found for a man named Achilles is in fact your Belgium great grandfather Archie (another example from my husband's family tree) when all the facts fit! In this example, once we had the name Achilles pronounced by a native French speaker, we realized that it sounds like Aw-SHEE, which of course can easly become Archie. And thus my hubby's great grandfather Archie was indeed the man named Achilles baptised in Tielt Belgium in 1894.

Do you have examples of such names? Tell me about the names in your family tree, not common nicknames such as Jim for James, Bob for Robert, Bill for William, Cindy for Cynthia, etc., but pet names or invented names that you discovered for an elusive ancestor. Use the comment section here or write a post to your own blog to share your stories.

May 18, 2017

Book Review: The Spyglass File

If you like genealogy and mysteries, you will enjoy Nathan Dylan Goodwin's The Spyglass File

Forensic genealogist Morton Farrier reluctantly takes on a case involving a woman born in World War 2 England who is searching for her biological parents.

What follows are numerous twists and turns, multiple story lines and in general enough mysterious happenings to keep the reader guessing and on the edge of his/her seat throughout the entire book. 

Goodwin combines thorough genealogy research techniques and various online sites to satisfy any genealogist. As well the historical aspects of the book are well-researched and satisfyingly detailed.

All in all a good read from this author. 

May 17, 2017

Got New Jersey Ancestors?

I wonder how many genealogists know about the many New Jersey records online at Olive Tree Genealogy and Ancestors At Rest

If you are looking for your New Jersey ancestors you might want to check these out:

New Jersey Church Records

* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1756-1774
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1775-1777
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1778-1779
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1780-1781
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1782-1784
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1785-1787
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1788-1789
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1790-1791
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1792-1793
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1794
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1795
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1796
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1797
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1798
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1799
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1800
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1801-1802
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1803-1804
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1805-1806
* Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, New Jersey 1807-1822
* Marriages Elizabethtown, (was Essex Co.)
* Marriages in Hackensack pre 1700
* Early Settlers in Hackensack
* First Reformed Dutch Church at Montville, Morris Co., Baptisms 1786-1828
* First Reformed Dutch Church at Montville, Morris Co., Marriages 1826-1873

New Jersey Cemetery Records

* Montville Reformed Church Cemetery, Montville Twp. Morris County New Jersey:
** Surnames A to C
** Surnames D
**Surnames E to F
** Surnames G to H
**Surnames J to L
**Surnames M to N
** Surnames P
** Surnames Q to R
** Surnames S to T
**Surnames V
**Surnames W to Z
* Graveyard Records of the True Reformed Church, Montville, New Jersey on Changebridge Road Also known as the Seceder Cemetery

New Jersey Census Records

* Bergen Twp 1794 Rateable
* Town Officers Pequannock Twp. 1740-1749
* Town Officers Pequannock Twp. 1750-1759
* Pequannock Township Tax Ratables May 1778 and (February 1780)
* 1793 Militia List Wantage Twp

New Jersey Muster Rolls

* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers Lt. Allen's Co. 6th Battalion
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers Cpt. Shaw's Co.
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers Cpt Hopkins Co.
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers Cpt Shaw's Co.
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers 5th Battalion Cpt. Crowell's Co.
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers 1st Battalion Cpt. Millidge's Co.
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers Col. Barton's Co. 1st Battalion
* Muster Roll NJ Volunteers Cpt. Cougle's Co. 1st Battalion
* 1793 Militia List Wantage Twp

New Jersey Coffin Plates

Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestHenry Wesp 1875~1904
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestJohn Frederick Seugling 1831~1894 Little Falls, New Jersey

New Jersey Family Bibles

Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestPridaux & Greville Family Bible (New Jersey)
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestWoodhull Family Bible 1793 - New Jersey

New Jersey Funeral Cards

Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestFuneralCard for President James A. Garfield Died at Elberon, New Jersey 1881
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestMemorial Card for Henry K. Garrison, died 1924 Centerton, New Jersey
Find Death Records on Ancestors at RestFuneral & Mourning Card of August M. Schimpff 1877 - 1892 found in Dover NJ

New Jersey Family Trees

* New Jersey Pier Family
* New Jersey Post Family

Image credit: 

May 15, 2017

Lizzie the Black Sheep of the Vollick Family

Lizzie, the blacksheep of the Vollick family, was known as rebellious and stubborn. Her birth in 1863 was uneventful. There was no indication that her nature would prove to be much less compliant than her ten brothers and sisters.

Baptised as Mary Elizabeth to parents Isaac and Lydia Vollick, little Lizzie grew up in a bit of a rough and tumble, yet loving, family. What led her on her path to her eventual death of starvation at the age of 51 with only her 17 year old son at her side?

We might look at her involvement at the age of 15 with Stephen Peer who was a drifter some 10 years her senior. Stephen was considered a no-good drifter by Lizzie's parents and they did their best to keep the two apart. It did no good and a few months after her 16th birthday she eloped with Stephen. That was the start of Lizzie's downfall. Her family disowned her and her parents never spoke to her again.

June 5, 1895
Stephen couldn't hold a job and over the next several years he and Lizzie moved from town to town. By the time Lizzie hit her 33rd birthday, she had brought 9 children into the world. Stephen took whatever work he could find but the family lived in poverty. Not many details are known of their life for the first 17 years of their marriage but in June 1895 Lizzie's husband Stephen was attacked by a neighbour and the neighbour's son, struck repeatedly in the head with an axe and ended up in the local hospital with a serious skull fracture. He was not expected to live but managed to pull through.

A court case followed but Stephen could not attend due to his injuries. As it turned out, the attack began over an ongoing argument over the use of a water pump on the property where Stephen rented a small house. When the neighbour, a Mr. Hyde, tried to get water that hot summer day, Stephen attacked and punched him. At that point Hyde's son ran out of his house with an axe and the two men beat Stephen using the axe and their fists.

Two years later, Stephen died of Typhoid Fever, leaving 34 year old Lizzie an impoverished widow with 9 children between the ages of 1 and 11 years old. The family was so poor that Lizzie could not afford to bury Stephen so the city stepped in to assist her financially.

The brief notice in the local newspaper stated
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.)
Besides the tragedy of losing her husband and being left in such destitute circumstances, what has always struck me is how the newspaper did not even get her husband's name right. We know this is the correct death notice for Stephen as his death certificate confirms the dates. It may be that his middle name was Levi in honour of his father, and perhaps he was known by that name.

My grandmother was the oldest child when her father died - being just 11 years of age. I knew her quite well, as she lived until I was 15 years old. She never spoke of her parents, nor of the hardships she undoubtedly suffered after her father's death.

Mary Elizabeth Peer's grave
But back to Lizzie. One by one her children married and moved away. Eventually she was left with only her youngest boy Philip Edgar. When he was just 17, Lizzie died, leaving him an orphan. She was just 51 and died of starvation.

Shortly after her death in May 1914, young Philip Edgar joined his older brothers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, fighting overseas in World War 1. He was killed in France shortly before his 21st birthday, bringing to an end the story of Lizzie and her life. I am glad she didn't live to see her boy die. But she certainly had a traumatic ride through life.

Update: If you are interested in the Vollick family I also wrote three books on the Vollick and Follick descendants of Lambert Van Valkenburg. They are: 

From Van Valkenburg to Vollick: The Loyalist Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick and his Vollick & Follick Children (Volume 1) 

From Van Valkenburg to Vollick: V. 2 Cornelius Vollick and his Follick and Vollick Descendants to 3 Generations 

From Van Valkenburg to Vollick: V. 3: The Loyalist Storm Follick and his Follick and Vollick descendants in North America

May 14, 2017

6 Generations of Mothers on Mother's Day

Six Generations of Strong Females on International Women's Day 
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers past and present. The collage above shows 6 unbroken generations of my female lineage - from one mother to the next.

Starting from the left we have Sarah Stead, my great-great grandmother. Next is Sarah's daughter Sarah Simpson, my great grandmother. Then we have Sarah Simpson's daughter Ruth Fuller, my grandmother. Then comes Ruth's daughter Joan, my mother. Then me and then my daughter Judy. Then our direct maternal line is done as my daughter had sons but no daughters.

These 6 mothers had a total of 24 children. Sarah Elvery Stead died at the age of 31 and of her 6 children, only 4 lived to be raised by step-mothers. Sarah Jane Stead Simpson lived to a good age of 89 and raised 6 children. My grandmother always spoke of her mother with love and affection. My grandmother Ruth Simpson Fuller had 3 children and lived to be 90 years old. Then my mother Joan had 4 children and lived to ripe old age of 93!

My mother was an interesting character with an adventurous spirit. If it were later in the day I'd raise a glass to all the mothers who went before me but because it's early morning I'll just take a few moments of silent thank you to all of them.

May 12, 2017

Find Your Ancestors in Alien Registration Records USA

Alien Registrations are a valuable genealogy resource for finding ancestors. An alien was any individual who had not naturalized.

From November 1917 to April 1918 all those considered alien enemies were ordered to register with the U. S. Marshal in the county where they lived.

World War I Alien Registrations in the United States
All states were required to complete alien registrations but not all records were kept.

Alien Registration Records 1940-1944
The Alien Registration Program began 1 July 1940. Every alien resident of the USA had to register at a local post office. Aliens entering USA had to register when they applied for admission. All aliens over 14 fell under this law. Forms filled out by aliens were sent to INS (now BCIS), along with a registration number. They are known as "AR-2" files

Registrations from 1940-1944 are on microfilm at INS. To obtain copies of AR-2 Files, you must submit a request identifying the immigrant by name, date of birth, and place of birth to the INS (now BCIS), Freedom of Information Act program.

The following Alien Registrations can be found on

* Index to Alien Registration Affidavits: U.S. District Court, Phoenix Division, February 6, 1918-June 28, 1918

* Index to Enemy Alien Registration Affidavits 6,000 affidavits created by U.S. Marshals, Kansas Judicial District, 1917-1921 []

* McKeesport, Alleghany County, Pennsylvania Alien Identification Card for Elizabeth Koval 1940 includes her immigration date and port of entry

Links to the following registration for Aliens are also found at

St. Paul, Minnesota Alien Registrations, 1918

Alien Personal History and Statements, Iowa 1942-1946

Alien Applications for Permission to Depart from USA, 1919-1920, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas

Alien's Personal History and Statement (DSS Form 304), 1942-1945, for Michigan

Alien Personal History and Statements, Minnesota 1942-1946

Alien Personal History and Statements, Missouri 1942-1946

Alien Personal History and Statements, Nebraska 1942-1946

Alien Personal History and Statements North Dakota, 1942-1946

May 10, 2017

Good Query vs Bad Query - Which Do You Write?

When asking for genealogy help on a forum, a Facebook group page or in an email, it is wise to learn how to write a good query. A good query is bound to get you good results, other subscribers are more apt to respond. A bad query will be ignored or deleted. Good queries are clear, precise and have enough information to allow readers to help you.

  • Remember the 3 Rules - Name, Dates and Location! Be sure to include all three in your query.
    1. What is your ancestor's name?
    2. When was he born (or married or died?). If you don't know, make a guess - you must know if he was born 1820-1840 for example, versus being born 1910-1920!
    3. Where did your ancestor live or settle or where was he born? Be sure to include this information in your query.
  • Tell what sources you have searched (example: I've searched the 1910 and 1920 census)
  • State exactly what you want to know (example: I'm looking for my ancestor's death)
  • Write a descriptive subject line for your post or email (example: looking for Harvey Smith in PA circa 1850)
  • Leave lots of white space! Don't run your sentences all together. Leave space (white space) between your information and your question(s). Remember, the easier you make it for readers, the more chance you have of getting help 
  • Don't write a 5 page essay! Summarize, be precise and specific 

Good Query

Subject: Looking for Homer Jackson ca 1830 OH-1901 Pennsylvania

Homer Jackson was born circa 1830-40 in Ohio, lived in Pennsylvania from 1860 until his death in 1901. Parents unknown

He married Mary (surname unknown) circa 1859. Known children were Jesse, James, Sarah & Mary all born Pennsylvania in 1860s.

Have found family in census records from 1860 to 1900

I am looking for Homer and Mary's Marriage Record, hoping to find her surname and their parents' names

Bad Query

Subject: Help!

Looking for info on Homer Jackson in Pennsylvania

May 8, 2017

Fannie Slaven Family Photo

Fannie Slavens Family

This photo was tucked inside an antique Civil War Era Family Photo Album I purchased. Inside the album the inscription read "Sarah J. Taylor Album Presented by Thomas Taylor June 1871"

Can you identify anyone in this photo? For a list of other identified photos in this album, see Civil War Era Taylor Family Album with CDVs (Cartes de Visites)

May 7, 2017

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Photo Album 44V 1-2

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One.

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.

The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

May 5, 2017

Jews to New Netherland (New York)

Back in 2000, I was approached by the Jewish Archives in Recife Brazil, asking for my help in identifying the 23 Jewish refugees who were on board the ship St. Charles sailing from Recife to New Netherland in 1654. According to the Archives in Recife, the first Jewish Synagogue in America was built in Recife, this is known from archeological excavations.

I have a small connection with the Dutch settlement in Recife Brazil through my 8th great grandmother Maria Post who was born there and baptised on 6 June 1649 in the Dutch church in Recife. See FN 1:

The Archives interest was in the names of the refugees, and what their lives were like in New Netherland. As far as I am aware, there is no passenger list for the St. Charles. Names of the Jewish refugees may be able to be pieced together by using other documents. I managed to find the names of some of the adult passengers from other records -- mainly court documents of the time. The names I found (using primary records only) were: Abram Israel, David Israel, Asser Levy, Moses Ambrosius & Judicq de Mereda

One source I consulted stated that there were 23 Jews "big and little" (meaning adults and children)

On 7 Sept. 1654 Capt. Jacques de la Motthe aka Motte, skipper of the St. Charles, appeared in court with a petition. He requires payment for freight and board 'of the Jews whom he brought here from Cape St. Anthony". de la Motte states that "the Netherlanders who came over with them" are not included in his suit and that they have paid him. Solomon Pietersen "a Jew" appears and says that "900 guilders of the 2500 are paid and that there are 23 souls, big and little [meaning adults and children] who must pay equally" [Source: The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini, edited by Berthold Fernow in 7 volumes. reprint Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. Baltimore. 1976 Vol. I Minutes of the Court of Burgomasters and Schepens 1653-1655 p 240]

It is not clear if Solomon Pietersen was on board the ship so I have not added his name to the list. There are some published materials on the Jewish refugees who came from Brazil to New Netherland, but I have not attempted to find them. I have found the names of several other Jewish settlers to New Netherland who may have been passengers on St. Charles -- but they may also have arrived before or after the Recife refugees.

From what can be pieced together about them, it seem probable that the twenty-three consisted of six family heads---four men (with their wives) and two other women who in all likelihood were widows, since they were counted separately---and thirteen young people. The heads of the families were Asser Levy, Abraham Israel De Piza (or Dias), David Israel Faro, Mose Lumbosco, and ---the two women---Judith (or Judica) Mercado) (or De Mercado, or de Mereda) and Ricke (or Rachel) Nunes. [Source: The Grandees: America's Sephardic Elite by Stephen Birmingham]

The Jewish Archives representative informed me that they plan on establishing a Jewish Center Study at the old Synagogue, and they will place the information and sources I find for others to use. I do not know if this happened.

Historical Background

On January 26, 1654, approximately 150 Jewish families of Portuguese background fled the city of Recife, in Pernambuco, Brazil. By September a number of these refugees had established the first community of Jews in the future United States.

Known as Sephardim (Jews of Spanish-Portuguese extraction), theirs was a complex saga. After 1497, the kingdom of Portugal outlawed Jewish life, causing many to flee to Holland where a climate of acceptance prevailed. From there, some migrated on to Pernambuco, a colony of the Dutch West India Company in modern day Brazil. Their community flourished there until the Dutch eventually surrendered Pernambuco to the Portuguese and the Sephardim were again forced to flee.

After being driven ashore in Jamaica by Spanish ships, twenty-three members of the community, along with a group of Dutch Calvinists, made their way to New Netherland (New York)—another colony run by the Dutch West India Company. Peter Stuyvesant, Director General of all Dutch possessions in North America, feared the indigent newcomers would burden the colony but when he motioned to eject the Jewish newcomers the Company refused his petition (many of the company's shareholders themselves being Jewish). [Library of Congress.]

Helpful Sources

A book cited by Stokes in his Iconography: Samuel Oppenheim, _The Early History of the Jews in New York, 1654-1664_ (1909) As cited by Russell Shorto in The Island at the Center of the World: Hershkowitz, Leo, "New Amsterdam's Twenty-Three Jews -- Myth or Reality?" In Shalom Goldman, ed., _Hebrew and the Bible in America: The First Two Centuries_; Hanover, N.H.: Brandeis Unirversity Press, 1993. [Howard Swain]

Harry Macy has an interesting article in the latest (vol 15, nos 2-3; Spring/Summer 2004) NYGBS newsletter now titled The New York Researcher. The article is titled: "1654-2004: The 350th Anniversay of New York's First Jewish Settlers" and is on pp 35-37. In a footnote he mentions that Leo Hershkowitz has "compiled a probable list of those coming in 1654 and the next few years." This is in his article, "Original Inventories of Early New York jews (1682-1763)" in American Jewish History vol 90 (2002) pp 246-47, note 7. Mr. Macy''s article lists many other sources of interest to those researching these early Jewish settlers. [Howard Swain]

(Summer 2004) issue of "de Halve Maen", the quarterly publication of The Holland Society of New York. It is Professor Leo Hershkowitz' article, "By chance or by choice: Jews in New Amsterdam 1654", pages 23-30. Herkowitz says that de Peereboom (The Peartree) sailed from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam on 8 July 1654. New Amsterdam is now New York City.

Among those who disembarked were Jacob Barsimon, probably with Asser Levy and Solomon Pieterson. These were the first known Jews to set foot in the Dutch settlement...

"The 23 Jews whose voyage had originated in Brazil arrived shortly after "de Peereboom". On page 29 Herkowitz says, "Though Jews asked for permission to build a synagogue, it was not granted by Stuyvesant, and this issue was never pursued..." [courtesy of Dorothy Koenig]

Visit's free JEWISH FAMILY HISTORY COLLECTION for access to their Jewish records

FN 1: C.J. Wasch, Doopregister der Hollanders in Brazilie 1633-1654, (1889), Adriaen Crijnen Post, Clara Moockers. Wt Christoffel ---, Andelijina Caron, Dorothea Montanier.

May 4, 2017

New Book: Hinds Family of Kent England

The Hinds families were in Ramsgate Kent England for many generations. This book follows the descendants of Thomas Hinds and his wife Sarah Ammis who married in 1693 in Canterbury.

The surname is found in records as Hinds, Hind, Hindes, Hinde, Hynds, Hynd, Hyndes, and Hynde. Family group sheets are included as are images of all documents found.


List Price: $6.99
8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
Black & White on White paper
28 pages

May 3, 2017

My Famous Canadian Ancestor in the Circus

Albert George Marriott and his twin brother were my 3rd cousins, twice removed. Both were born in Guelph Ontario in June 1882. The winning of a baton contest in the old Guelph skating rink gave the Marriott twins their start for 60 years in show business. They started off in Downie Brothers Circus as jugglers on bicycles but in later years developed an arial act, and gained international fame.

 ANDREW DOWNIE'S CIRCUS made several successful visits around the turn of the century. For a one-ring show hauled overland by wagons, Downie achieved maximum results from 50 performers and a profusion of animals

In 1896 the twins joined the Harry Lindley Dramatic Company, playing in Canada up to Dawson City in the Yukon. Engagements with other companies included the Andrew Downie Company of Vancouver.

 It was with the Downie circus that the Marriotts orignated their bicycle juggling act which they repeated at the opening of Tony Pastor's Theatre in New York.

"We played with the Orrin Circus in Mexico for three years then going to the Million Dollar Theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina for six months." [letter from Al Marriott] ..."My research found Albert and his wife Maud as passengers on board the SS Verdi from Buenos Aires to New York. They are listed as "theatrical artists"

"Next came several months at theatres in Havana Cuba. On five occasions we played return engagements in front of the grandstand at Toronto Exhibition and making appearances before the Prince of Wales" [letter from Al Marriott] Using, I found Albert and his twin brother (whose name is uncertain, in various records it appears as Menard, Murray and Manet) sailing back to New York from Havana Cuba in 1907.

The Marriott Twins were booked for a world tour and played the large cities of Europe and other continents. Following this was a booking to represent the USA at th ePan-Pacific Peace Exposition at Nagoya Japan for six months.  Albert and Maud's names appear on the passenger list of the Kongo Maru sailing from Nagoya to New York

Among the engagements was one with President Truman at a county fair in Missouri and the following week at Washington DC. There followed references in Al Marriott's letter to numreous other engagements including seven years at the Hippodrome in New York.

In later years with the coming of the aeroplane their act took the form of a large plane mounted on a high tower. The players performed on a trapeze hanging from the plane, as well as being fastened to the propeller. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Al Marriott is now Georgia [Guelph Mercury Sept 21, 1939: The Marriott Twins Scored World Fame]

This ad was found in the Billboard on November 15, 1913 on page 23.

1886 - Downie & Austin's Parlor Circus
1890 - Rich & Downie Circus
1891 - 1892 - Downie & Gallagher Circus
1905 - Downie's Dog & Pony Show
1905 - McPhee's Big Company
1909 - 1910 - Andrew Downie's Circus
1911 -1913 - Downie & Wheeler's Circus
1914 - 1917 - LaTena's Circus
1918 - 1923 - Walter L. Main Circus
1924 - Andrew Downie's Circus
1926 - 1929 - Downie Bros. Circus ( sold it to Charles Sparks

Searching for Albert, his wife and his twin brother in the various genealogy records has proven rather challenging. To date I have found Albert and his twin's birth records in the Ontario Vital Statistics. They are found in 1891 and 1901 census for Guelph Ontario. Interestingly in 1901 Albert, age 18 is listed as a Hardware Clerk while his brother is listed as a photographer.

In the 1930 census for Michigan, Albert and his wife are listed as vaudeville performers. The various ships passenger lists I have found them in lists them as jugglers, arial artists and theatrical artists. I am still hunting for a photograph or poster of the twin brothers' act.