Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

February 27, 2019

But What Will Our Descendants Find?

I love the time we live in now. The technology. The excitement. The innovations in so many areas - art, cooking, science.


Part of my collection of Ambrotypes & Daguerreotypes
But I'm saddened when I think about our descendants. What will they find as they search for us? We don't go to portrait studios as our ancestors did. There will be very few formal photos of us in our Sunday best. No gorgeous leather bound photo albums full of studio photographs.

We use our cell phones or our iPads to take quick unposed photos of moments - the birth of a child, a wedding, a vacation, a graduation. But do we print those pictures or do they stay in digital format? If we don't print and preserve them in some way, what picture memories will our descendants find?

Letter from Levi Peer 1848

Think of our excitement when we find a letter written by an ancestor to a loved one. In my own research I stumbled on several letters written by my 2nd great grandfather to his mother in the early 1800s. I was also lucky enough to have a letter written by an ancestor in the mid 1600s turn up in letters rescued from ships, then translated and put online. But here's the question - how many hand written letters have you sent to family or friends in the past year? I've sent none. In fact I can go back many years and say I've sent no letters that could be preserved, tucked away in an attic or a closet and discovered by a descendant in the future.


Yes our descendants will have many advantages in genealogy that we don't have. Right now we're seeing records being digitized and made available to the public at a record pace. But imagine how much will be at our descendants' fingertips 100 years from now, even 25 years from now. But the loss will almost certainly be in getting a sense of who the ancestor was, who WE were as individuals who cry, mourn, love and feel joy. Letters, diaries, and photos put a layer on an individual that can't be known any other way.


Photo Book created about my Fuller ancestors
Because overall I feel sad that most of us will leave very few candid or posed photographs, and very few hand-written letters, I began a personal project to create and publish photo books for my children and grand-children. It is my hope that some will survive and be passed on down through the generations.

Every year I also write and publish privately to share with my children, my memories of childhood, of my parents and grandparents. I also published a small guide with ideas on writing your memoirs and sharing your memories with family.

Sharing Family Stories and Memories: Prompts for Writing Your Memoirs for Future Generations
Available as an ebook on, paperback on, ebook on or paperback on

Are you doing anything to make sure your descendants will have some special items in the future? It's never too late to start.

February 26, 2019

Happy 23rd Birthday Olive Tree Genealogy!!

Can you believe it???? Twenty-three (23!) ago my baby was born. No, not one of my children - that was when I started my website Olive Tree Genealogy

Olive Tree Genealogy actually began sometime in the winter of 1995 but it wasn't until February 1996 that it was given space on the old Rootsweb site.
Many of the big sites we use today did not exist when I set up Olive Tree Genealogy. CyndisList came online right after me. Rootsweb started up around the same time. didn't exist.

I am often asked why I created Olive Tree Genealogy. After my husband died in 1993 and I was injured at school by a student, my enforced inactivity allowed me to begin creating Olive Tree Genealogy site. Visitors are also intrigued by the name - how and why did I come up with it? My middle name is Olive and I am named after my paternal grandmother Olive McGinnis. So it seemed an obvious step to name my site after her (Olive) and after our "tree".

I started with one ships list which contained my ancestor Cornelis Van Slyke's name, then I wrote  about Huguenots, Walloons, Loyalists and Palatines. The  ships list was so popular and I received so many requests for more that I began hunting for more. Now Olive Tree Genealogy has over 1,600 ships lists online. 

Look at me now! I am a dinosaur in Internet terms. 23 years is a very long life on the Internet. Wonder if I can last another 23!

February 25, 2019

Don't Overlook Almshouse & Poorhouse Records

If you have not yet searched Almshouse records for an elusive ancestor, you're missing out on a great source of information. People were sent to the Almshouse (or Poorhouse) for reasons other than poverty. Children were sometimes sent if they were found living on the streets.


There are many sources for these records. Several years ago Olive Tree Genealogy transcribed various New York almshouse records. If you have an ancestor who settled in New York City 1819 or earlier, you may want to have a look at the transcribed names in  Alms House Admission Foreigners & Nativity Records with Ships Names 1819( New York City, NY) and New York Almshouse Records 1782-1813

page from the 1855 Almshouse Records New York City
There is a gap and then I found this lovely set of records:  Alms House Admission Foreigners & Nativity Records with Ships Names 1855-1858 (New York City, NY)

Of course as with all records on Olive Tree Genealogy, the three transcribed above are free to view.


Ancestry offers this set of almshouse records for 1830-1920 New York, Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses 1830-1920 


A little known set of records are those created in England for the Poor Law Union.  Poor law unions were collections or groups of parishes brought together to administer poor relief. Earlier 'unions' were referred to as 'incorporations' and some of these existed until the 1860s. The Victorian poor law was predicated on the 'workhouse test'. This is where poor relief would be offered via the 'deterrent workhouse', designed to be an institution of last resort.

The records of the Poor Law Commission and the Poor Law Board are in The National Archives. They are not particularly easy to use, as the lists are very uninformative, so any search is likely to be lengthy, but it can be very rewarding. Olive Tree Genealogy has extracted the names of individuals who qualified for passage to Canada from England between the years 1836 to 1853 and in 1871. There is a gap from 1854-1870 inclusive.

See POOR LAW UNION IMMIGRANTS TO CANADA for names of those being sent to Canada so that their home parish would no longer have to support them

February 22, 2019

The Goeway Family Ancestors & Descendants

New Netherland Settlers: The Goeway Family: Ancestors & Descendants of Salomon Abbelse & Barber Philippse

 72 pages. Available on and

The story of the Goeway family in New Netherland begins with Salomon Abelse who was baptised in Amsterdam Holland in 1617, and his wife Barber (Barbara) Phillipse who was baptised in 1619 in Amsterdam.

Salomon and Barber left Holland for New Netherland with their children circa 1652, settling in New Amsterdam (present day New York City)

This book provides details of Salomon and Barber's ancestry as well as their siblings and descendants in Holland and New Netherland. Salomon's Freisland origins are also included.

See the full list of available New Netherland settlers books

February 20, 2019

Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 online

Diane Boumenot of One Rhode Island Family has gathered links to the free set of Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, First Series: Births, Marriages and Deaths is a series of 21 volumes compiled by James N. Arnold.

According to Diane "The volumes have been digitized and I have managed to find all of them available for free on the internet.  Some of the copies are poor quality, however, they may be better than nothing if you are far from a library that holds these."

Thanks to Diane, anyone with Rhode Island ancestors will want to check out her blog and follow the links she has provided to view these records. 

February 18, 2019

Family Day Celebrations

Some of my family in 2013
Today is the Family day celebration for Alberta (AB), British Columbia (BC), New Brunswick (NB), Ontario (ON), and Saskatchewan (SK). It is not celebrated in other parts of Canada.

Family Day was originally created to give people time to spend with their families but it also provides a day off between New Years Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart. Unfortunately, not everyone gets Family Day off, which makes it a debatable holiday in many provinces.

It's a strange holiday in my opinion but family should be a top priority! Why else would we genealogists spend hours/days/weeks/months/years searching for ancestors if we didn't think family was important? 

This is some of my family in 2013. I had managed to gather most of them together at our home. Only six of my ten grandchildren are in this photo. My eldest son and his family are not present. But with us that day were a brother and his wife, an aunt, a step-daughter and her children, also some assorted cousins.

I'm standing in the middle wearing a scoop neck black sleeveless top, hands held in front. Funnily enough my only daughter is standing on my left, also wearing a scoop neck long sleeve black top, holding her hands in front. No one else is standing in that position - is it genetics?

We are not doing anything for Family Day this year. What are you doing this year, or if you don't get this holiday, what have you done in the past?

February 15, 2019

Captain Adriaen Crijnen Post - a New Book!

New Netherland Settlers: Captain Adriaen Crijnen Post & Claartje Moockers

Available on or

The Dutchman Adriaen Crijnen Post and his wife Claartje (Clara) Moockers are found in Recife Brazil in 1646. By the time Brazil fell to the Portuguese in 1654 Adriaen and his femily had left for the Netherlands. From there they sailed to New Netherland. 

As a representative of Baron van der Capellan, Adriaen established a thriving colony on Staten Island. The colony was burned to the ground in the Peach Tree War in 1655 and 23 colonists were killed by Indians. Adriaen, his wife, 5 children and 2 servants were among the 67 colonists taken prisoner. 

This book follows Adriaen and Clara in New Netherland and also provides information on their children and grandchildren. 

See the full list of available New Netherland settlers books

February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day- A Blast from the Past

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I thought my readers might like to see a vintage postcard sent by a young man (James) to his sweetheart Maggie Rosch in 1910.

I love how James doesn't whisper sweet nothings or words of love to Maggie. Instead he complains about his bad cold, the roads which are also bad. Presumably they are snow covered. He ends by telling her that "the machine" is coming to her by way of another man and she will probably get it before she gets his card. He ends with "from James"! 


I hope if you receive a card or letter from your loved one, it is a little mushier than this one James wrote to Maggie.

If you like vintage postcards you can find more on Lost Faces

February 11, 2019

AncestryDNA Sale!

What a deal! Time to stock up on DNA kits for your relatives. AncestryDNA is on sale in the US for $59

The sale starts at 6pm EST on Monday, February 11, and end at 11:59pm EST on Thursday, February 14. Use this sale link for your kits


National Archives UK opens it's POW 1715-1945 collection

More than 764,000 records of servicemen, women and civilians who were taken captive during the Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, Boer War, First World War and Second World War have been published online

The entire Prisoners Of War 1715-1945 collection now contains over 2 million records.

First page of lists of POWs captured in Boer War

From the site: "The records are incredibly diverse and not only include military personnel, but also civilians, diplomats, missionaries and merchant seamen. The nature of these documents varies owing to the enormous scope and scale of the collection. Some will consist of lists of deaths, files on escapees and detailed records of daily life, while others will reveal additional biographical details about individual inmates including physical descriptions, witness statements, medical reports and more."

February 8, 2019

Book on the Vrooman Family in New Netherland (New York)

New Netherland Settlers: The Vrooman Family: Ancestors & Descendants of the Brothers Hendrick Meesen Vrooman, Pieter Meesen Vrooman and Jacob Meesen Vrooman of New Netherland (New York)

56 pages
Available on and

The three brothers Hendrick Meesen Vrooman, Pieter Meesen and Jacob Meesen came from the Netherlands who came to New Netherland in the early part of the 17th century. Pieter arrived circa 1655, and he and Jacob settled in Albany. Hendrick settled first at Kinderhook, then Steen Raby and finally Schenectady in 1677.

This book traces the Vrooman ancestry back to the brothers' great-great grandfather Gerrit Jans Kerstantsz born in Holland circa 1457, and follows the family down 5 generations.

More books on New Netherland Settlers available here 

February 6, 2019

Juvenile Inspecton Records in Canada

Example Juvenile Inspection Card
The Juvenile Inspection Reports are another source to look for a Home Child ancestor. These records date mostly from 1920 to 1932.  however, there are a few from 1911 to 1917 and some after 1932. They are available free on Heritage.

Immigration officials created inspection report cards as they carried out regular inspections of children brought to Canada by various organizations. There is usually one page per child, showing name, age or date of birth, year of arrival, ship, sending organization, the names and addresses of employers and comments.

This series also includes inspection cards for some European children, including those brought to Canada by the Armenian Relief Association of Canada (1923-1932) and the Canadian Jewish War Orphans Committee (1920-1921).

First choose what reel you need from the list below:

​Microfilm reel number First name on reel Last name on reel
T-15420 ​ANDERSON, Newton and  ABBOTT, Auber  ​CARDNO, Leslie
​T-15421 ​CARDWELL, Andrew ​EVANS, Arthur E.
​T-15422 ​EVANS, Arthur L. HENDERSON, Ann F.
T-15423 ​HENDERSON, Charles H. LOCK, Annie
​T-15424 ​LOCK, Herbert O'BRIEN, Samuel
T-15425 ​O'BRIEN, Thomas SHAW, Victor
T-15426 ​SHAW, Walter A. WEALE, Walter
​T-15427 WEALLS, Eric ZYCZYNSKI, Leon

For the surname COOK for example, you need microfilm reel ​ T-15421. Just type that into the search box on the Heritage site and then browse the images. The records are in alphabetical order.

February 4, 2019

How to Search the New Canadian Collections on Heritage

As of January 1, 2019, all Canadiana content included in Early Canadiana Online, Héritage, and Canadiana Online became available at no charge to users.

For those uncertain how to use the site, here's a walk-through which I hope will help.

When you click on the link above you will see a search box upper right, labelled "Search" This searches all collections. I typed in an ancestor's name "Isaac Vollick" and hit the search button

A new page opened showing that there are 2 results in Upper Canada Sundries. The text further indicates "Matching pages: Image 878 | Image 1169" Each of the images is clickable. Clicking on these links will take me to the actual image for whatever record for my ancestor is there. 

This is what I see when I click on the first link (Image 878)

The small white pop up on the right explains that this contains signatures to a petition dated Hamilton, 22nd November 1828 but the petition itself is missing. I can copy the text inside the white box, then paste it into a text editor to search for the name I want (Vollick). Then I can come up with an educated guess as to how many images beyond Image 878 I might have to go in order to see the image with the actual written signature of Isaac. Or I can save all the images if I'm interested in who else signed the original petition.

I could have done the same search by choosing Genealogy collection on the main Welcome page. I'd get the same results. 

No Dates?

Some visitors to the site complained there were no dates, not even a year.  That is not correct. For example in the record cited above the date is given in the little popup window. But if that popup window isn't given, you can see that there is no date on the image. 

So all we need to do is scroll ahead (or back) until we find the date! In this case, I scrolled ahead and when I reached image 881 the date was easily spotted. See the image below



February 3, 2019

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog Sweet 16!

Happy Birthday to Olive Tree Genealogy Blog! It's been 16 years (yes!! sixteen!!) of publishing articles, tips, and other hopefully helpful or fun posts.

My first blog post was Feb. 3, 2003. 3,854 posts later, I'm still here, still gathering or writing genealogy stories to share. My long-time readers might occasionally see a repeat of an earlier post -  updated of course, but there are many early posts that are worth sharing again for new readers.

What Interested Readers the Most?

You might be interested to know that my most-read blog post of all time was from October 2016 called Propaganda Postcards 1900s Warning Men of Dangers of Women's Rights

It has had 12,075 reads! My second most popular is from September 2015 called The Problem of Family Not Wanting Your Genealogy Research
with 11,627 reads

Where Does My Audience Live?

I'm curious as to where my readers are from. And suprised to see that the third largest group of readers is from France. I'm not sure why my blog is popular in that country. Thank you to my wonderful friends for continuing to support my efforts to help genealogists discover ancestors. Statistics for residence are only available from May 2010 to present day so the numbers don't represent all 16 years of being online.

How Many Posts Did I Write Each Year

When i started blogging in 2003, blogs were a new "thing". So my start was slow, with only 12 posts, about one per month, that first year! The next year I doubled the number of posts, and my numbers climbed from there. For a few years I challenged myself to write daily, but that became too difficult to maintain.

Now I try to write a minimum of 3 articles each week. It's hard work! But I enjoy pointing other genealogists to new databases coming online, coming up with tips for becoming a better genealogist, or writing about an important issue. Sometimes I just want to have fun with my posts like my annual Easter Bunny genealogy articles.

So I hope my readers will continue to enjoy Olive Tree Genealogy blog and I hope to still be writing it for at least another 16 years!


February 1, 2019

New Book: Jan Sipkens W.I.C. Soldier, and His Sipken and Sippe Ancestors & Descendants

New Netherland Settlers

Jan Sipken, W.I.C. Soldier, and His Sipken and Sippe Ancestors & Descendants

50 pages. Available on Amazon

Jan Sipkens was a Dutch soldier who settled in New Netherland sometime before October 1674. His marriage intentions were recorded in the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church that month, and they revealed his origins were in Amsterdam Holland.

A search of the Amsterdam church records found his baptism in 1656 to parents Sipke (aka Zipke) Auckus and Baefje Jans. The surname in North America eventually became Sippe as well as Sipkens.

A search of available Amsterdam records revealed baptisms of Jan Sipken’s siblings and the marriage of his parents.  This book details the family in Amsterdam Holland, and New Amsterdam in New Netherland (present day New York).

More books on New Netherland Settlers available here