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July 30, 2019

Canadian Military Ancestors & History

Olive Tree Genealogy is very excited to announce a new website for Canadian Military history. The Canadian Military Heritage Project at is dedicated to presenting Canadian military history ~ the wars, uprisings and conflicts in which Canadians participated. Our goal is to preserve the records and memories of Canadians who served their country, and to ensure that their sacrifices are not forgotten. Through the Canadian Military Heritage Project we hope to maintain the tradition of remembrance and to foster pride in our military heritage.
Our pages will provide historical background as well as genealogy records for each conflict, chronological timelines, statistics, battles, weaponry, uniforms & equipment, famous Canadians, biographies of soldiers, heroes and their stories, contributions of women, other countries who participated, muster rolls for conflicts before 1900, Letters Home (from soldiers at the front), music and poetry, guest authors’ submissions, links to other online resources, and Research Libraries.
These pages will be of interest to educators, students, genealogists, military historians and those who are interested in the stories of the participants themselves.

July 22, 2019

Ancestor Photos Can Make You Sad

Ina Burdick
 As many of my readers know, I rescue Civil War era photo albums and after scanning the photos I publish them on my Lost Faces website. These photos fascinate me and whenever I can, I research the names of the individuals.

Some catch my interest more than others, as is the case of this sweet little girl, Ina Burdick, seen on the left. Her chubby pretty little face captivates me! Her gorgeous wavy hair, so nicely kept, must have been a source of delight to her mother, as in the photo on the right, little Ina is seated so her hair in its glory is displayed.

Little Ina captured my interest so much that I wanted to find out all about her although there were some things I didn't want to know, such as when she died! I was afraid she might have died young, and as silly as might seem, that would make me incredibly sad.

And Lillie Burdick, possible sister to Ina, had such a sweet face I wanted to know more about her too. 

My curiousity was too much. I set off to find out what I could about Ina and the other Burdick individuals in the album, pictured below. Were Will and Lillie her siblings? Was Sarah her mother?

Spoiler Alert: After much research I found the Burdick family and the two sisters Ina and Lillie. It is not a happy story but read on if you wish to know what happened to the girls. If you want to see the other photos of their relatives in this rescued album, visit Album #9 on

Ina Burdick

Lillie Burdick

Will Burdick
Will Burdick

Sarah Frank Burdick

I found out quite a bit about the Burdick family by searching Ancestry for various records. For a summary, Sarah Frances (not Frank) Coon married Ira D. Burdick and had several children. Ina Burdick, Lillie Burdick, and Will Burdick pictured above were their children. 

Lillie sadly died at age 9 in Wisconsin. Her tombstone shows 25 Jul 1872 to 8 Mar 1882. She is buried in Milton Junction Cemetery, Milton Wisconsin with her sister Ina. Ina lived a challenging life of physical issues and heart problems which led to her early death at age 47. My fear proved founded - and while it may seem odd, I felt sad after reading her obituary, a portion of which is below:

"Ina D. Burdick....died in Milton, Wis., June 22, 1909, the day following her 47th birthday..... In childhood, for reasons not clearly understood, her bodily growth was arrested, which was followed by rheumatic and other troubles that rendered her practically helpless. In this state of enforced inactivity there came an abnormal accumulation of fatty matter which rendered her a helpless invalid for the latter part of her life, and made her subject to heart trouble from which she died." Source:

Lillie and Ina's mother's obituary also made me sad. She was only 55 when she died of pneumonia. But what bothered me most was the last sentence in her obituary which only mentioned her son Will, not her daughter Ina.

"Mrs. Sarah Frances Burdick .... died at No. 47 Columbia Place, Chicago, April 27, 1893, after an illness of five days with pneumonia.... She leaves her husband and one son to mourn their loss." Source:

Do other genealogists get caught up in these old photos and feel as if they know the individuals? I really wanted those two pretty little girls to grow up happy,  and live long healthy lives.

July 17, 2019

Manhood Franchise: An Interesting Puzzle in an 1890 Voters' List

The 1890 Voter's List for Picton Ontario has a puzzling set of descriptors. The last column on each page does not have a heading. As well the codes used are not listed.

Looking at the first pages of the booklet is no help. Usually short forms are defined but not this time.

So what do the cryptic "m f" and "f--m f" and "t--m f" mean?

"t" is usually "tenant", while "f" could be "farmer" or "freeholder" But what is the "m f"? It isn't "male" or "female" as the letters are always together.

If we look through this booklet we find that the names in alphabetical order are all men in Part I.

Our first clue as to the meaning of "m f" comes with the start of Part II and the title "List of persons entitled to vote at Municipal Elections ONLY". All the names that follow are females and each one has either a "t" or an "f". They never have the puzzling "m f" in the last column..

Since before 1935 Voter's Lists for Municipal Elections were used for Federal Elections as well. So this seems to indicate the women could not vote in Federal elections when the list was taken, but could vote in municipal.

Canada did not give women the vote until 1918 (except for Quebec which did not allow female voters until 1940). In 1884 a law was passed giving single or widowed women who owned property and who lived in Ontario or Quebec the right to vote in Municipal Elections.

Using all these known facts, it seems likely that the women on this list had the right to vote in municipal elections but not federal, and that the men were indicated as being eligible for both by having the mark "m f" after their names. It follows that it is equally likely that "m f" stood for "manhood franchise"

If any of my readers has a source that indicates what "m f" stands for, please share it in the comments. My suggestion is based on evaluating the clues and I do not know with certainty if I am correct. 

July 15, 2019

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online
John Wormald age 11
Reform School 1892 has recently published some fascinating reformatory school and prison records from West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Collection 1779-1914 details the crimes of thousands of boys admitted to Calder Farm Reformatory, East Moor Community Home School and The Shadwell Children’s Centre.
The records are available using these links:  
I spent a very enjoyable afternoon searching these records for my son's Yorkshire ancestors on his father's side.  They are full of details! For example I found the Reform School Record for the 11 year brother of his great-grandmother Kate Wormald. Little John Wormald was sent to Calder Farm Reform School in 1892 after a series of thefts. His records included his photo and details of his misdeeds and the punishment meted out by his parents (6 lashes of a birch rod each time he stole something). Young John was noted as having red hair, blue eyes and freckles.

The records indicate that John was hanging with a bad crowd and so in desperation his parents sent him to live with an uncle. John then stole a substantial sum of money from his uncle's coat pocket and ran off with one of his friends. It was then he was arrested and sent to Reform School for 5 years.

What I also found fascinating was that the Reform School records also had followups of the children after they were discharged. I noted that several of the boys went into the Army after discharge and appeared to have changed their lives. Young John Wormald went into the Army and there are notes for several years about his life after discharge. It seems that England was at that time trending towards actual reform and not punishment of young offenders.

July 12, 2019

Review of Out-of-Style:A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved

Out-of-Style:A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved by Betty Kreisel Shubert is one of the best books I've read about fashions and hairstyles over the ages. I use it to help me date the old photographs I collect. 

The author has filled the book with her own illustrations to provide assistance in understanding what the various terms in fashion and clothing mean.

Her use of her charming illustrations rather then the expected photographs (cartes de visite, cabinet cards, tintypes, ambrotypes & daguerreotypes) adds to the unique appeal of this book.

As well the author illustrates with her sketches, the gradual changes that took place over time with such women's fashions as the bustle. Ms. Shubert originally came up with the idea for her 349 page book as a way to help genealogists and historians who were seeking a reference work to help them date fashions in their own family photographs. Don't overlook this book as an invaluable guide to have on your bookshelves.

July 5, 2019

Finding a Birth Father

Nancy C. asked Olive Tree Genealogy for advice:

My father, who is now 82 years old, has never known who his father was.  The secret died with his Mother.  I so want to help him in this search.  He doesn’t expect or want anything from the man’s family, he just wants to know who the man was. 
Both my father and I did a 23 and me test.  The results seem overwhelming.  I’ve made contact with a few distant cousins, but have found no answers yet.  Can you advise me as to what to do?

I hope you do find your paternal grandfather, but the task will not be easy. It's good that you took DNA tests and all I can tell you is that with any luck you may eventually find a close match to your father. However note that I said "may eventually". It could take days, weeks, months, or even years. You may not find one. So my advice is keep checking your matches, and contact every match that is fairly close.

Meantime, make notes of every detail of your grandmother's life around the time she would have been pregnant with your father. Whoever the father is, he had to have some contact with your grandmother, so would have been somewhere in the area. These are a few of the questions I would want to find the answers to if possible:
  1. What churches did she attend? 
  2. Where did she work? 
  3. Was she still in school? 
  4. Who were her teachers and classmates? 
  5. Where did she live and what social functions were available to her? 
  6. Who were her neighbours?
When your DNA matches come in, perhaps you will see a familiar surname, or you'll find your dad matches to a descendant of a man who was living near your grandmother. It can be that easy if you are lucky.

Other ideas are for you to trace your mother's siblings down to someone you can ask about this. You never know what tidbit of gossip comes down in a side branch of a family. A sibling (a sister perhaps) might have known who the father was and might have whispered it to her daughter....

We had such a rumour come down in my husband's family over the paternity of his grandfather. And that whispered rumour told behind closed doors was overheard by my husband when he was a young teen. He never forgot it. And it turned out to be true. We proved it through DNA.

Meantime, please take a look at how we discovered my husband's biological great-grandfather through DNA testing, in my article DNA Results Leave us Gob-Smacked! 

Good luck in your quest!

July 3, 2019

FInding a Mennonite or Amish Ancestor

Menno Simons
Do you have Mennonite ancestors? I have several, all of who came to Ontario Canada in the early 1800s.

Menno Simons (ca 1496-1561) was a Dutch religious reformer. In 1536 he left the Roman Catholic priesthood because of his disagreement of infant baptism and other Catholic teachings. He organized and led the less aggressive division of Anabaptists in Germany and Holland. The name Mennonites is derived from his name, although he did not actually found the sect. The Mennonites were a Protestant sect which arose from Swiss Anabaptists. They were also called Swiss Brethren.

During the sixteenth century, the Mennonites and other Anabaptists were relentlessly persecuted. By the seventeenth century, some of them joined the state church in Switzerland and persuaded the authorities to relent in their attacks. The Mennonites outside the state church were divided on whether to remain in communion with their brothers within the state church, and this led to a split. Those against remaining in communion with them became known as the Amish, after their founder Jacob Amman. Those who remained in communion with them retained the name Mennonite

A few Dutch Mennonites began the immigration to America in 1683, followed by a larger immigration of Swiss-German Mennonites beginning in 1707. In the 1870s Dutch Mennonites, who had settled in the German Kingdom of Prussia and then Russia, moved to the United States and Canada where they became known as Russian Mennonites.  Many Mennonites settled in Pennsylvania. Large numbers immigrated further into Ontario Canada especially Waterloo County

My Mennonite ancestors who came to Ontario Canada were Burkholder, Gingrich, and Hunsicker
You may find the following links of help in your own research for your Mennonite ancestors

Mennonite Ships Passenger Lists
Mennonites to Canada
Mennonite Family Trees
Historical Mennonite Overview

4th of July Flash Sale Ancestry DNA & Membership!

Don't miss this 4th of July Flash Sale in the US on Ancestry® Memberships and AncestryDNA®.
4th of July Flash Sale:

Ancestry Family History Memberships will be on sale for 50% off. Terms apply.

AncestryDNA® will also be on sale for $59.

The 4th of July Flash Sale will start at 9:00pm PST on Tuesday, July 2nd and will end at 9:00pm PST on Thursday, July 4th.