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June 29, 2018

What Was Your Ancestor's Unusual Occupation?

Wooden rattles such as this one produced
a loud clacking sound by holding the handle
and twisting the top section around and around
in a circular pattern.
Recently on Twitter, David Allen Lambert (@DLGenealogist) tweeted an interesting question. David asked what was the most unusual Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors.

My response was about my ancestor Lambert Van Valkenburg. He was appointed to the rattle watch of Fort Orange (present day Albany) in July 1659.

The Ratttle Watch was a combination of police officer, firefighter & hourly time caller.

Here's the actual 1659 Fort Orange court record about the Rattle Watch:

First, the said rattle watch shall be held to appear at the burghers' guard house after the ringing of the nine o'clock bell and together at ten o'clock shall begin making their rounds, giving notice of their presence in all the streets of the village of Beverwyck by sounding their rattle and calling [out the hour], and this every hour of the night, until 4 o'clock in the morning.
"Secondly, they shall pay especial attention to fire and upon the first sign of smoke, extraordinary light or otherwise warn the people by knocking at their houses. And if they see any liklihood of fire, they shall give warning by rattling and calling, and run to the church, of which they are to have a key, and ring the bell.

"Thirdly, in case they find any thieves breaking into any houses or gardens, they shall to the best of their ability try to prevent it, arrest the thieves and bring them into the fort. And in case they are not strong enough to do so, they are to call the burghers of the vicinity to thier aid, who are in duty bound to lend the helping hand, as this is tending to the common welfare.

"Fourthly, in case of opposition, they are hereby authorized to offer resistance, the honorable commissary and magistrates declaring that they release them from all liability for any accident which may happen or result from such resistance if offered in the rightful performance of their official duties.

What is the most interesting Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors?

June 28, 2018

New Jersey Death Records 1848-1878 Online

Do you have New Jersey ancestors?  You can now search New Jersey death records from May 1848-May 1878 on the State Archives' website! Over 300,000 entries. See Searchable Databases and Records Request Forms on the New Jersey Archives website.

Search for an ancestor or a surname, select any of interest and they are put into your shopping cart. You can then pay for the full record. 


The Peer family left New Jersey for Upper Canada (present day Ontario) after the American Revolution. I was excited to see that the New Jersey Archives has earlier records pre 1800 and hope to have time to search them all next week!

June 27, 2018

New Book Adriaen Vincent, New Netherland Settler

Are you a descendant of Adriaen Vincent and his wife Magdaleen Eloy? Asking because I just published the 2nd edition of this book on this New Netherland Settler.

Adriaen Vincent, a Walloon from Belgium, made the perilous journey to New Netherland with his wife Magdaleen and their young family in the early 1640s. A former West Indies Company soldier, Adriaen was embarking on a new life.

The family settled in the village of New Amsterdam, which would one day become the city of New York. Life could not have been easy for the couple, faced with a different culture and language. But settlers were pouring in and New Amsterdam was flourishing. Within a few years Adriaen and Magdaleen opened a tavern which catered to sailors and new arrivals. Their fortunes soon took a turn for the better and the family settled into their new life. 

This edition contains new information on the family in the Netherlands and New Netherland, as well as details on descendants of Adriaen and Magdaleen. See

June 26, 2018

Privacy, What Privacy?

Most of you will have heard of the fuss over the information from User Profiles on Facebook being shared and then sold to Cambridge Analytica. If this is new to you, you may want to read Zuckerberg confesses ‘huge mistake’ as Cambridge toll hits 87M to come up to speed.

Basically reports emerged in March 2018 that Facebook had known since 2015 that Cambridge Analytica, which did work for Trump's 2016 campaign, obtained information on some 50 million users via an academic researcher. (this has been upgraded to 87 million users). Many Facebook users are understandably upset.

Take Responsibility for Your Privacy

My take on this is that it's time we users of internet services took responsibility for our own privacy and stopped depending on large corporations to do it for us.

Facebook Settings Options
First of all, users can control their own privacy settings on Facebook. It's easy to go in to your settings (using the gear icon) for PRIVACY and tighten them up. Stop letting others post on your timeline. Stop showing the world your friends' list. Limit who can see your posts and also who can see your past posts. There are several options available and you can restrict your account as much as you want.

Secondly, are you participating in those memes that ask you (often in a convoluted way) for personal details such as your middle name, your year of birth, your mother's maiden name. Even innocent-seeming memes such as "What is your Santa's Elf name" where you have to select your first name, the last digit (or 2 digits) of your year of birth, and so on, should be avoided!

Third, are you posting personal information? Are you linking to obituaries of a close relative such as a mother, father, or sibling? Anyone mining your page for data can now easily obtain more personal details about you!

Fourth, do you reveal your  home address? First names of your children? I could go on but I think you get the idea.

How about those fun little quizzes you like to take? The ones that say you have to allow the app to access your profile, photos, etc - hopefully you don't give that permission! Because if you do, you only have yourself to blame for giving up your privacy. 

It Isn't Just Facebook

Let's not blame Facebook for all our woes. Google "reads" your outgoing and incoming emails using bots in order to deliver relevant ads to you. You can now limit what ads you see, but it doesn't appear you can force Google to stop scanning your emails. But there's a good side to that! Scanning allows Google to stop spam quite effectively.

Anything you post on the internet is almost certainly going to be publicly available at some point to total strangers. So why are you not protecting yourself online?

Think of it this way - would you walk up to a stranger, and immediately say "Hi there. My name's Mary Smith and I have 3 children - Tommy, Bobby and Jimmy. They're 6, 4 and 2. Tommy and Bobby are in Little Angels Public School over on Wilmott Street. My mom Sally died 3 years ago, and her obituary is online. Dad's still with us and he lives in Winnertown. My husband Danny works at the Auto Shoppe in Friendlyville. I'm 49, Danny's 53"   But that is what you are doing when you join memes, take online quizzes, and don't restrict who can see your information.

Take Sensible Precautions

There's no need to be terrified. Just take sensible precautions. When you join a new group or social media site, check out their privacy and security options. Think before you post and before you fill out forms asking for personal information. 

My husband's rule of thumb is to not reveal anything online that you don't want the world to know. I'm not quite that strict but I do check my settings in all social media sites I'm on. Don't wait - check yours now and set them as most suits you.

June 24, 2018

The Thrill of the Hunt is Gone... or Is It

When I started researching my genealogy back in my teens, it was sporadic, with years of non-genealogy in between spurts of frantic searching. But then I began researching in earnest in the days I refer to as B.I. (Before the Internet)

I was thinking about it this week. Do you remember B.I.? Before Windows. Before Cyndis List. Before Before Olive Tree Genealogy!
Before this wonderful cyber world we know now.

I worked on my computer in DOS (remember, this was also B.W. - Before Windows), and joined a few BBS (Bulletin Board Services). I had to dial long distance from my home to the nearest big city of Toronto to pick up the BBS.

It cost me a fortune in long-distance charges so I would dial in, download the BBS "mail" and log off. Then I'd read the messages offline, respond offline and dial in again to upload (post) my responses. There was a 4 to 5 day lag time between sending my messages and seeing responses. That seemed pretty speedy back in those days.

Snail mail was important, I would pore over queries in all the genealogy newsletters I received. Then I'd write to anyone who seemed to be looking for the same ancestors I was. I waited in anticipation day after day, anxious to see what the next day's mail would bring.

I look back on that as a very satisfying genealogy experience, there was something quite wonderful about the feeling you got when that huge package of material arrived in the mail from another researcher.

I miss that. Now I do most of my research online for two reasons - my health issues and convenience. I love the convenience of online research. I love the speed of finding ancestors online. But I do miss going to libraries, archives, and museums and scrolling through page after page of microfilm.

It's kind of like buying from E-Bay instead of going out to the antique store or junk store or flea market and experiencing that "aha!" moment when you spot a treasure buried under a pile of junk... There's a great deal of satisfaction in slogging through reel after reel of microfilm - unindexed microfilm - and finally spotting your ancestor's name!

Now when I get a package in the mail (which is infrequent as most items are scanned and sent via email), it is for material I already know is coming. I'm not complaining, it's all good and it's genealogy information I want and need BUT I don't have that same sense of wonderment or anticipation as I did back in the days of B.I.

I love the Internet. I would never want to return to B.I. But I would love to have the awe and excitement of snail mail anticipation back again. I think I can be forgiven for feeling a bit discouraged - after all I've been researching for almost 60 years! But I love every minute of it and I still do my genealogy happy dance with every new find. And meantime I'm busy compiling and writing my family history books to ensure my years of research are not lost.

June 22, 2018

That Genealogy Moment!

That moment when your heart skips a beat, your hands tremble and you breathe just a little faster. Sounds like love doesn't it? But I'm talking about the most exciting, thrilling moment you experienced in your genealogy research.

Have you had one of those moments? Mine was when I held the original document from 1808 for my 4th great uncle John Peer. I had hunted for this document for over 20 years. It was listed in an index to wills but was not found on the microfilm reel for those wills. The wills were in alphabetical order but John Peer was not there under any variant spelling. I double-checked, triple-checked - could it be Beer? Leer? Pierre? Pear? Peare? Bier? Biere? and on and on it went.

After a few years of mulling over this, repeatedly asking Archive staff for help but finding they were as puzzled as I was, I decided I would search the entire microfilm one document at a time. That took me a few years to finish as I could only periodically get to the city where the Archive was.

Finally one year I finished the entire film without finding the entry. I reported this to Archive staff and asked if I could search the original documents in storage. That wasn't an idea that staff liked, and they insisted I must have overlooked the will in the microfilm.

A few years passed and finally I talked to a sympathetic archivist who helped me fill out a request for the original wills in Box 23 (which contained original "P" wills).  Two days later I was given the box and I carefully looked through it.

There it was. John Pierre. A document (not a will) dated February 9, 1808. As I gently lifted it out of the box, my hands shook. I could hardly breathe.

And there was the proof I had been looking for - that John was my ancestor Levi Peer's brother.

9 Feb. 1808:  Petition of Levi Pierre [sic] "..that John Pierre, your Petitioner's brother, died as your petitioner believes, without a last will and testament, your petitioner being the older brother and next of kin to the deceased..."

Anyone who is not a genealogist will likely never understand the excitement and anticipation I felt holding that document.

What was your most exciting genealogy find? And how did you feel when you found it?

June 20, 2018

Primary Records Can Be WRONG!

We all want our genealogy to be accurate.

We search and search for that primary record, the one that we've been told is "THE" record to find -- a death certificate, a church baptismal record, marriage record....

But - beware! Not all primary records are accurate. As good genealogists we must consider that there can be errors. The informant (person giving the information) may not know the answers and may thus provide incorrect details. The clerk recording the information may not hear the response correctly and may enter it incorrectly. The person giving the information may lie, especially about their age.

In my own family tree, my great-grandmother's official government death registration is incorrect. Her parents' names are wrong. Since I already knew who her parents were (Isaac Vollick & Lydia Jamieson) from other genealogy sources, I was completely bewildered at first by seeing her parents given as Stephen Vollick and Mary.

Then it dawned on me - Stephen was my great grandmother's husband's first name (Stephen Peer). Mary was my great grandmother's own name. (Mary Vollick)

So I looked at the informant's name. AHA! The informant was Mary's 17 year old son. Her husband having died long before Mary, and her older children married and gone, the task of answering the official questions fell to her 17 year old son who had cared for her in her final days.

It is easy to see how the young boy, when asked by a government clerk "Father's name?" (meaning father of the deceased), would have replied "Stephen", for in fact Stephen WAS his own father's name.

The question "Mother's name?" referring to the mother of the deceased, would be answered by the boy "Mary" which was HIS mother's name.

And thus the official death registration for parents of Mary (Peer) Vollick daughter of Isaac and Lydia Vollick, is forever rendered as Stephen and Mary Vollick.

So be cautious when you encounter a primary source that simply doesn't match other reliable sources. Investigate! Think! Don't just accept the new "facts" without further legwork to prove or disprove them.

June 18, 2018

Naming Patterns - Use Them With Caution

I've been following some genealogy discussions on mailing lists recently and noticed that many genealogists fall into the trap of taking sides on a question - sides that are emphatically one way or another, with no middle ground or room for a "Maybe...."

One of the discussions started over a seemingly simple question -- were there naming patterns for children in the 1800s in [fill in blank with any country].

Subscribers began to jump in with their opinions - all either YES or NO with reasons or rationale or examples to support their YES or NO stance.

But no one jumped in with "MAYBE.... SOMETIMES... YES BUT...."

Let's get real! Naming patterns existed.

Were they identical in all cultures? No

Were they identical in all centuries? No.

Were they always used? No.

It's easy to forget that our ancestors were living breathing people, just as we are. They fought, they loved, they cried, they laughed, they had good days, they had bad days, and so on.

Even if there are established naming patterns that are used 99.9% of the time (as is the case with the Dutch who settled New Netherland, now New York in 1600s) --- as researchers we must keep an open mind as to whether or not the customs might not have been followed

Maybe *your* ancestor fought with his father or mother and vowed to never name a child after him or her.

Maybe *your* ancestor was a free spirit and loved the name Lancelot even though the first born male in her family had been called James for the last 10 generations

Maybe your ancestor wanted to cozy up to his rich great uncle so he named his first born son after that person instead of his father.... and gave his second born his father's name.

If you find 7 children in a family and 6 are named after known family members (paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles...) then there is a good chance that the 7th was also named after a family member - but it's not guaranteed, they might have named that child after a good friend - or an important contemporary person or a benefector.

On the opposite side of the fence, you may be trying to find parents' names. You spot what looks like a naming pattern of children which fits with the parents you are fairly confident are the correct parents. But one parent's name is missing from the pattern... That's not the time to toss out your theory! There may be a missing child, one whose existence you aren't aware of, or who died. And that child may be the missing link, named after that one parent who is missing from the pattern.

So, use Naming Patterns as a guide. That's all it is, it is not a set of rules set in stone

June 17, 2018

Who was Annie Barton?

Who was Annie Barton? All we know of her is that she was born in 1866 and died in 1958, presumably in Hamilton Ontario Canada.

Recently a local Hamilton woman was digging in her garden when she stumbled on a tombstone buried in the dirt.

The word "MOTHER" was carved in red, granite stone. A cross and leaf design fills out the marker's top left corner. The stone reads:

"In loving memory of
Annie Barton
 Till we meet again"
This story intrigued me. I began to wonder about Annie. Could I find out more about her? One thing that is mentioned in the original story is that Annie was originally buried in Woodland Cemetery. A search found this burial in that cemetery:

George Barton
His wife Annie Barton

Could this be Annie? Why are the dates of death different? Did the stone engraver goof and that meant a new stone had to be made?

According to a family tree online, George married Annie White and had 3 sons, and yes, they lived in Hamilton.

Read more at Is there a body in my backyard? Woman unearths 60-year-old gravestone while gardening

June 15, 2018

Find Ancestors Immigration in Almshouse Records

In the early 1800's port cities in the USA bore the burden of immigration. By the time they arrived, so many immigrants were tired, hungry and poor they ended up in the City Almshouse. This meant the citizens had to take care of them. At first the citizens of the city asked the Mayors for funds to support the poor. Eventually they asked the states, and by mid-century some states (Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts) set up State agencies to deal with the issue. Eventually, beginning in the 1880's, the Federal Government nationalized the programs.

Dating back to the colonial era, New York City assumed responsibility for its citizens who were destitute, sick, homeless, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The city maintained an almshouse, various hospitals, and a workhouse on Blackwell's Island (now called Roosevelt Island) for the poor.

These Almshouse records often contain immigration details, such as name of ship, date of arrival in USA and port of arrival.

Olive Tree Genealogy has an ongoing project to transcribed and publish New York Almshouse Records. The first set is for the years 1819-1840 and includes Ship Captain's Name, Date of Bond, Sureties, Date Discharged, Death Date, Remarks, etc.

For example, under date 1820 March 11 Elizabeth Kennedy age 34 is listed as having died June 14, 1820; her daughter Mary Ann died Nov. 5, 1820

Researchers can use the clues in the Almshouse records (admission date, ship captain's name, owner's name, etc) as well as census records, to narrow the time frame of arrival. Families with children born in one country, such as England, and then in New York will find it much easier to narrow the time frame of immigration.

June 13, 2018

Search Those Siblings!

Why search siblings? You're only interested in YOUR ancestor, right? WRONG!

Researching and tracking siblings, finding their marriages, children, deaths etc can provide you with answers to questions about your own ancestor.

Let's assume you have not been able to find your great great grandfather's mother's surname before marriage. You know her first name is Mary but that's it. You find great great grandpa's death record and view it in anticipation. But sadly the informant (great great grandpa's second wife) didn't provide a surname for her mother-in-law.

You can't find great great grandpa's marriage record so no help there. But - what about a sibling? Hunt for great great grandpa's youngest sister's marriage record. Look for one of his brothers' death records. Don't overlook turning any stone available to you in your hunt for your own ancestor - remember your ancestor and his siblings shared the same parents, and those parents are your next generation back.

June 11, 2018

Ancestor Letters on Past Voices: Letters Home

Ancestor Letters on Past Voices: Letters Home

These letters are so wonderful to read -- they speak of illness in the family, deaths, births, crops, weather,family and friends. I uploaded Canadian and American letters, but still have dozens to put online.

Here's what's new:

Letter to James A. McChesney, Esq., Port Ontario, New York,from A. C. Dickinson, Smith Town, July 13, 1844; postmarked Peterboro, U. C., July 22, 1844, and Kingston, U. C., July 24, 1844

Letter from Albert Bertram Mudge during WW1 to his mother in Guelph Ontario, 1915

Letter to William Robertson McGillivray in Ontatio, Canada from his brother James McGillivray in Egilsay, Orkney Islands, Scotland, 1857

Search the index to all Canadian letters

Letter to Alvah Bush, Albany New York, from her sister, M.M. Bush, Cooperstown, New York 1843

Letter to Mrs. S. C. Hoskins, Sheffield, Massachusetts, from her daughter Helen, Hampton, Virginia 1849

Letter to Mr. John H. and Anna Northrop, Hebron, Washington County, New York, from Lydia Wells, Lisbon 1829

Letter to Jacob Sharpless, care of Dr. Parrish, Philadelphia Pennsylvania from Blakey Sharpless, Weston

Letter from John McCoy, Captain of the Augusta Co. Militia during the Revolutionary War from Staunton, Augusta Co.Virginia to Thomas Jefferson, 1781 (yes, THE Thomas

Letter to unidentified person from Simeon Baldwin, New Haven, [Connecticut], January 4, 1808

Letter to Mrs. Mary Bradford and sister Sarah Jane, Northumberland,Pennsylvania, from Louisa, York Pennsylvania, 1839

Letter to Miss Charlotte H. Ladd, Boston Massachusetts, from her mother, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1830

Letter to Miss Mary C. Cook, Great Falls, New Hampshire,from Fanny, Concord, New Hampshire, 1847

Mr. S. Newton Dexter, Whitesborough, New York, from Miss Mary Dexter, Providence, Rhode Island, 1823

Letter to Mr. Franklin Hoskins, Sheffield, Berkshire County,Massachusetts, from Wm. Gleason, Jr., Moresville, New York 1840

Letter to Mr. Samuel V. King, China Grove, Georgetown, South Carolina, from M. L. Wilkins, Springfield, 1842

Search the index to all USA letters

June 10, 2018

Bringing Your Ancestor to Life

Daily Witness, Montreal. Monday June 9, 1913
One of the genealogists I follow on Twitter (Dan Ford) recently tweeted something I thought was genius. Here's what Dan said:

"I looked up the weather on the exact date that my Irish ancestor arrived at Ellis Island to better imagine what her arrival was like. Turns out record-setting heat wave, poor Irish lass. I used an online local newspaper to get the weather report."

I love that Dan did this. What a super idea to put more personality into our ancestor's lives. When we add a tidbit of detail to an event that affected an ancestor, we take that ancestor from being a cardboard cutout of a name and date, to a living breathing person just like us. 

What are some tidbits you might look for, and add, to the story of your ancestor during a specific event? Here are some ideas based on an ancestor's immigration:

  • the weather that day
  • the season
  • what type of clothing he or she might have been wearing
  • a historical fact (was there a war going on, a political event, or anything of historical importance?)
  • a description of the ship he/she sailed on
  • find a description of the port of arrival and the port of departure
  • find out how your ancestor would have gone on from the port of arrival to the final destination 
  • look for an ad in the newspapers in the origin country for the ship your ancestor took - there may be ticket prices noted
  • how long was the voyage - check the first page of the ship manifest as that information is usually noted there
  • how old was the ship - often you can find details of when and where it was buiilt, and more
These are only a few quick ideas and based on an immigration event. Let your imagination run wild and try to come up with more, especially surrounding different events such as the birth or baptism of a child, a wedding, a funeral, a move to a different location.

Of course after reading Dan's tweet, I rushed off to try to find out what the weather was the day my maternal grandparents arrived in Quebec on 9 June 1913 at 8:10 p.m.  I had previously found an ad for their journey, information on the ship, and so on, but had never thought to find out what the weather was that day. It's not always easy to access Canadian newspapers but I managed to find one for Montreal on that date. Granddad and Grandma's ship landed first in Montreal then went on to Quebec so I added the weather report (Fair and Cool) to their story.

There was even a report on the front page that snow had fallen in Montreal that day! My poor grandmother must have been horrified. 

Have fun! It's your opportunity to make your ancestor come alive.

June 8, 2018

Identifying a WW1 Uniform of a UK or Canadian Ancestor

Traditionally it was very common for soldiers to have their photos taken in uniform before leaving for overseas (England). Usually a soldier was given leave to go home before being shipped overseas and that is often when these photos were taken.

If he had brothers, or a father or son who also enlisted, they would try to have a group photo taken. This was not always possible, as leaves for individual soldiers might not be in the same time period.

Many portrait studios such as Eatons, had template mats to enclose the photo. These mats were pre-printed had spaces to fill in the soldier's name, sometimes his unit plus other details.

These mats were often brightly coloured with the words "For King & Country" or "For Service in the Great War" (it varied). Ornate frames could be purchased which had the same wording. Sometimes there would be a Canadian Maple Leaf at the top which 'stuck up' beyond the edge of the frame

If there is no photographer mark on the photo (back or front) there are clues that might help you determine a date and place.

First Clue

Determine whether or not the soldier is in a Canadian or British uniform. Both Canadian and British uniforms were used by the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force). Men were usually issued a Canadian uniform when they enlisted, and they kept this for everything done in Canada. After they arrived in England the Canadian uniform would almost always be switched for a British one. (The reason for this switch was that the British uniforms were better quality and lasted longer)

Here are a few of the differences that might help you determine if the uniform is Canadian or British:

1. Canadian uniforms had 9 buttons on front (7 on the actual front and 1 on each front pocket) but the British one had fewer, and they were larger. There is an exception to this - if the soldier was in a Canadian Highland Regiment, his top sometimes just had 7 large buttons

2. Canadian uniforms had pointed cuffs, the British had straight (horizontal)

3. Canadian uniforms (except for the Highland ones) had stand-up collars, British uniforms did not.

So, if the soldier was in a Canadian uniform for this photo, there is a very good chance it was taken in Canada. It could also have been taken soon after arrival in England (before he was given his British uniform)

If he was in a British uniform it was almost certainly taken in England or in France. There were studios in France, behind the lines, where men could have their pictures taken to send home.

There is also a chance that the photo could have been taken on his return home from the war but this is not likely because the norm was for these photos to be taken before war's end and generally before going overseas.

Second Clue

Back to clues for determining when the photo was taken -- look for the badges on his cap and collar. Often on first joining, a soldier was issued with a badge that was a maple leaf with the word "Canada". It took time before he was issued with his unit's badge. You can go beyond this simple comparison (Canada badge versus Unit badge) by finding out about the unit's history -- and what badges they had in what years. This change in badges varied unit to unit so you would have to check for your soldier's unit.

More Clues

There are many more clues such as weapon versus no weapon; type of weapon; type of kit (belt, canteen etc); helmet verus hat, and so on. These are very detailed minute differences that would be hard to spot and also require a detailed explanation/description


One caveat - soldiers from Newfoundland never had Canadian uniforms so everything they were issued (kit, weapon, badges etc) was different. So basically none of the clues I've given apply to a Newfoundland soldier.


June 6, 2018

When the Dead Come Back to Life

Sylvia Kewer from Viriginia, grew up as an only child, adopted by a loving couple. At 66 she learned she actually had 5 other siblings, all of whom thought she had died as a child.

Her discovery was the result of DNA testing on is where DNA gets so exciting - imagine finding long lost siblings. Imagine those siblings thinking a sister was dead, actually meeting her for the first time since she was a toddler.

Read the rest of this amazing story at Adopted woman whose birth family thought she had died finally meets them at 66 years old

June 4, 2018

Montgomery's inn and My Husband's 4th Great Grandpa

There is a historical site run by the Etobicoke Historical Board on Islington Ave. in Toronto known as Montgomery's Inn. The Inn was owned by our William Montgomery's brother Thomas.  A great stroke of luck has meant that the Inn has quite a bit of correspondence between the different members of the Montgomery family. 

The inn has a letter from William Montgomery,in Durham Quebec, to his brother Thomas, in York, concerning his children.  It isn't dated but would probably be around 1860.  It was invaluable in terms of knowing who is daughters married and where those that left Durham ended up. It is interesting to note how the two brothers, living some distance apart, wanted to make an effort that their two families know about each other. 

This letter is displayed at the Montgomery Inn at the corner of Dundas St.and Islington Avenue

From a blurb on the Inn, "Thomas Montgomery was a young man when he emigrated from County Fermanagh, Ireland early in the 19th century. He brought with him, however, a good head for business.  ... Thomas' account books show that whiskey was the most popular drink, but that he also sold peppermint an shrub (mixed drinks), beer, rum, brandy, white wine, port, gin, 'sider', and, one one ocassion, a hot brandy sling. ... During the surge of patriotism that followed the Rebellion of 1837, Thomas obtained an officer's commission in the local militia, eventually rising to the rank of Captain".

The letter:

"Dear Brother if God spares, nothing will be wanting on my part in making our offsprings, ? acquainted, that they may know to cherish and feel for each other where ever they meet on this earth, happy you are the first to  introduce this most natural introduction of everlasting knowledge of friendship and unity handed down by your  proposition, and suggestion, which I with heart felt pleasure acquiese, and I know brother Johnston say he will also.    I will give you a copy of Journal, of all my childrens names and age of births.

  1. J. Mary, born at QuÈbec, August 4th 1813.  Married Brickley.
  2. Raechel born Auguest 28 1814.  Married Andrew Bothwell
  3. Jane born April 18th 1816 at Drummondville.  Married Charles Bothwell. Died Feby 14th 1837, left 7 children.
  4. Elisabeth born May 17th 1818.  Married James McCullogh.
  5. Charlotte born May 23rd 1820.  Married John McCullogh.  (Both Charlotte and Elisabeth in Blanchard.)
  6. Ellenor born Sept. 23rd 1822.  Married Wm. Mafser [Note: for Mafser read Massey], native near Dublin.
  7. Margret born Nov. 14, 1825.  Married Samuel Ployart.
  8. Ann born Feby. 9th, 1828.  Married Dr. Wm. White of England.
  9. Lucinda born April 13th, 1830.  Died 1849, no family.
  10. James born 1833 and William Thomas Joseph born Feby 14th 1835.
Brother in next I will try and give you an account of my grandchildren.
Samuel Ployarts father died last fall, his  uncle in Germany died previously and left a great legacy to his father, brother and sisters two old maids, there is to  come Sam 440 and some pounds.  I know you and Mrs. will be glad to hear Margrets welfare, they have 3 children.  Sam and brother Fredrick is now the Sensus of the township.  I have pleasure in the connection."

June 1, 2018

The Prize Papers Projects

Prize Papers Project launches at Oldenburg Castle

This is a very cool database project that is beginning. The Prize Papers Project, consists of approximately 160,000 undelivered letters seized from ships captured by the British in the wars of the 17th to the 19th centuries. The letters, many unopened, were still in their mail bags headed for delivery.

Most of the collection consists of items (letters, jewellry, locks of hair etc) tucked into envelopes and sent from 1652 to 1815.

What Do the Prize Papers Consist of?

Professor Dagmar Freist of The University of Oldenburg in Germany will work with The National Archives in opening up the HCA 30 (This series consists of miscellaneous Admiralty papers from the High Court of Admiralty, and the Supreme Court of Judicature, High Court of Justice, Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division) and HCA 32 series (This series consists of papers relating to cases concerning ships captured as prize in time of war. Although the papers cover the period 1592 to 1855, the core dates of the bulk of the papers are 1655 to 1817) for further research and discovery.

Length of Project

But don't get too excited just yet - this is a 20 year project set to begin May 2018! I'm kind of hoping for a letter from or to my husband's ancestor Thomas Montgomery who was sailing on a ship from England to New York when the ship was captured. The vessel he was on reached the coast of Newfoundland, where it was taken in charge by a British man-of-war, and all on board were made prisoners of war and taken to St. Johns, where they were detained four weeks. Perhaps there were letters - I can always hope.