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December 30, 2020

Search for Ancestors in Daily British Whig Digitized and Online

The Daily British Whig is rapidly being digitized by Digital Kingston from 1850 to 1929.

I had fun searching and discovered that there are articles about people who lived outside of Kingston. 

I sure would love to know the story behind this dispute involving one of my Vollick (aka Van Valkenburg) families! 

Source: Daily British Whig (1850), 30 Jul 1903, p. 6



December 26, 2020

Updated! The Genealogy Spot Has a Facelift - Please Check it Out


Are you like me with a spare room where you just toss all your miscellaneous stuff in? You keep meaning to straighten it up, organize and sort it, maybe even throw some of the junk away, but you never find the time. 

Well, that was the case with one of my dozen websites, a little-known one called The Genealogy Spot

I originally set it up as an overflow site off Olive Tree Genealogy but it got away from me! I kept tossing miscellaneous things into it - obscure databases and links, some great, some not-so-great. 

Last year I decided it had to stop. So I made some hard decisions about what was worthwhile for genealogists and what wasn't, created a simply navigation system, and got to work. 

My first decision was to focus on immigration - with ships arrivals in USA and Canada but equally important, ship departures. It's pretty tough to find departures so I made it my mission to find as many obscure databases as I could that showed departures from North America in particular. The result is that I've got some unusual databases that aren't easily found. I hope visitors find an ancestor in them!

Next I switched hosts, the place where websites live. I opted for a different operating system and set about to learn it. Then I redesigned the entire site, and got busy transferring data over to the new one. I ended up with an entirely new site of 479 pages, smaller and more organized than the original site.

Once all that was done, I had to double and triple-check all the links, both internal and those link out to other sites of value. That took me two months of non-stop work. But today I completed it. I think I found and fixed them all.

I'd love it if you would take a few minutes to drop by and check out TheGenealogySpot.comto see if you can find an ancestor or two. And if you see any problems, please let me know so I can correct them.


December 22, 2020

Chasing Waterfalls, Another HIstorical Niagara Video WINS!


Peter Sacco's wonderful Historical Niagara videos that I've been fortunate to be a guest in, are winning awards! The Chasing Waterfalls episode was one I was honoured to be in, and it can be viewed on YouTube at the link above.

Quoting Peter 
"We Won in London England x2! Go...Chasing Waterfalls! A documentary I shot over a few years, and which was partially featured as an episode for Historical Niagara TV series was selected in the UK for BEST DOCUMENTARY featured the 150+ waterfalls/cascades between Niagara through Hamilton. I was pleased to be selected a semi-finalist for BEST DIRECTOR by Best Director Awards in London England.
Thank for to all my 'experts' who participated in this film--
Jim Diodati, Pat Darte, Jon Montgomery from #AmazingRaceCanada, Amanda Walton, Harry Houdini's nephew, George Hardeen Ontario Waterfall expert, Mark Harris, Jack Custers #yourtvniagara, Daniel Rodrique, Michael Clarkson, Ernesto Reinhart Retired University instructor Burt Murphy, #ballsfalls Conservation staff, #decewfalls staff, Lezlie Harper, Genealogist Lorine McGinnis Schulze, St. Catharines Mayor #waltersendzik, Hamilton Mayor #fredeisenberger #BestDirectorAward and thank you to all the folks over the last 3 + years who joined me on these fun, sometimes crazy, long hiking expeditions!"

December 21, 2020

Check out my NEW revised site for Naturalization Records!

I am excited to announce that I have finally completed my newly revised and re-designed site

Naturalization is the process by which an alien from one country becomes a citizen of another country. The naturalization process did not have to happen in one court, or in one location. It was not mandatory and not all aliens became citizens, and not all completed the process once they started it. Naturalization Records are very important to your genealogical research but are often overlooked.

Declaration of Intent William Edmunds 1832

I created a simplified design and navigation system that will hopefully allow visitors to find their ancestors in these records much more quickly.  

I have links, original documents, and my transcribed indexes of names for Naturalization Records, Passports, Alien Registrations and much more. 

Here are a few links to get you started:

Naturalization & Citizenship Records & Examples

U.S.A. Naturalizations
Canada Naturalizations
American Passport Applications
American Alien Registrations
Canadian Passports
Canadian Oaths of Allegiance
Canadian Sessional Papers

I took me 6 months to redesign and move the site to it's new home, followed by a month of checking and double-checking for broken links. Fingers crossed, but I think I found and fixed them all. 

Please take a peek, and if you do find something wrong, I'd appreciate you dropping me a note at so I can fix any problems I might have missed.

Enjoy your visit!

November 30, 2020

West Flanders Belgium Indexes

Thanks to Bos Genealogy in English for tweeting about these new records for Belgium genealogy.

My husband's great-grandfather Achilles (Archie) DeMeuleneare was born in Tielt, West Flanders so this is of great interest to us. 

Province West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, index civil records of death 1794-1926 [SEARCH or INDEX] 

concerns Boezinge (1899-1919), 

Houthem-bij-Ieper (1891-1913), 

Ieper (1806), 

Koekelare (1896-1906), 

Kortrijk (1876), 

Nieuwkerke (1880-1919)

November 28, 2020

Historic Black DC Cemetery Headstones Wash up on Potomac River in Virginia

Headstones from a historic Black DC cemetery wound up along the Potomac River in Virginia. The headstones were from Columbian Harmony Cemetery, a historic African American burial ground that was dug up and relocated in 1960 to make way for commercial advancement. 

According to the online article "Columbian Harmony had been the final resting place for a century’s really worth of D.C.’s most illustrious Black citizens. Amongst them: Elizabeth Keckley, confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln Philip Reid, who aided develop the statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome and scores of Black Civil War veterans from the Union Army. But it was not just renowned names. Some 37,000 individuals have been laid to relaxation there among 1859 and 1960. "

Many descendants of those blacks buried in the cemetery, and whose stones are now among the discarded stones in Virginia, are hoping to see as many stones as possible rescued and placed in another cemetery, while others hope to erect a national park to memorialize the dead. 

Continue reading at

November 26, 2020

Adriaen Vincent, a Walloon from Belgium


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.

November 25, 2020

1910 Hertfordshire Inland Revenue Maps Available

There is a helpful guide to finding records of the UK Valuation Office Survey which was carried out between 1910 and 1915. The survey provided a unique snapshot of land and property in the Edwardian era, assessing its worth, how it was used and by whom 

The survey took place as a result of the 1909-1910 Finance Act which provided for the levy and collection of a duty on land in the United Kingdom based on any increased value of the land as a result of public money spent on communal infrastructure – a so-called ‘increment value duty’.

The Valuation Office was set up by the Inland Revenue in 1910 for England and Wales (and in 1911 for Scotland) to carry out the work of the survey.

118 valuation districts were established in England and Wales, each in the charge of a district valuer and each comprised a number of income tax divisions. It was by these valuation districts and income tax divisions that the work of the survey was organised and carried out.

Some 1910 Inland Revenue map and forms are being indexed and can be searched through Hertfordshire Names Online.

November 23, 2020

Boston asks for help restoring historic gravestones to appropriate burying grounds


Edward Lillie, Sr., died 12/27/1688 in Boston

Boston historians are asking for help reuniting several centuries old gravestones with the appropriate graves in the city's historic burying grounds. Historic Burying Grounds Initiative said it is asking historians, researchers and genealogists to check their records and help determine where the individuals were originally interred. 

During the 20th century, gravestones and pieces of stones were removed from various cemeteries for preservation purposes. Sometimes they were removed to prevent theft, with the full intention of restoring and replacing them at a future date.

Please take a look at the 9 photos provided on site and see if you can help  identify where each stone belongs. 

November 20, 2020

Ancient Manuscripts Sewn into 17th Century Purses

Between the seams of a beautiful 17th century silk purse are found bits and pieces of an ancient document. The parchment document thought to be from the 14th or 15th century was cut into pieces and used to reinforce the interior lining of the purse.

According to AtlasObscura

 "Whoever made the bag, likely in Italy in the 17th century, started by deconstructing a volume and snipping the bifolia—the sheets of parchment that were folded to make the pages—into four tapered triangles. They stitched these together around the edges to form a little skeleton to build the rest of the bag around. The fragment is “an integral part of the purse itself,” says Jay Moschella, curator of rare books at the Boston Public Library, who recently acquired the object from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., a London dealer. "

According to expert historians, many early manuscripts were re-purposed, often cut up and used to reinforce newer books. Continue reading this fascinating story at


November 18, 2020

The Van Alstyne Family of New York

 My 8th great-grandfather, Jan MARTENSE (Jan s/o Marten) was also known as Jan DE WEVER (the weaver) in Colonial New York. He is the immigrant ancestor of the VAN ALSTYNE family. 

His wife was identified as Dirkje (sometimes written as Dirckien) Harmensdr. (or Harmense, meaning daughter of Harmen) BOERTGENS, in a notorial paper dated 24 May 1658 at Amsterdam.

I have found baptism and marriage records as well as notarial records for the family in the Netherlands.Continue reading at The Van Alstyne Family of New York

November 16, 2020

Autographs on Sydenham High School Classroom Wall 1901

My friend Karen owns an amazing antique store called Barriefield Antiques. One of her finds was this cutout from a classroom in Sydenham, Frontenac County Ontario. 

With her permission I am posting all the photos she kindly sent me so that  an interested descendant can look for a name of interest. You can contact Karen on her Facebook page at  or her Instagram account




November 15, 2020

Steve Morse Lecture on History of Geography of New York City


My friend Steve Morse just wrote to tell me about a lecture he is giving via Zoom November 18th.

The talk is on Wednesday November 18 at 2 PM Eastern Time.  It is titled "The History of the Geography of New York City."  The talk describes the  five boroughs and the five counties, and how they came about.  It also goes into detail on the history of Brooklyn and of Queens.

The talk is free but you have to register.  The details for registering can be found at

November 14, 2020

Olive Tree Genealogy in 2nd Historic Niagara TV Episode

Some of my readers may recall that I was invited to participate in a TV Series episode on Laura Secord. Olive Tree Genealogy was very honoured to have been asked to participate in this new episode on Waterfalls of Niagara.

This episode produced by Peter Sacco of Historic Niagara fame, is about waterfalls of Niagara. Special guests were Harry Houdini's son George Hardeen and Amazing Race Canada's Jon Montgomery.  Be sure to take a peek at 

I am in two spots, around the 15.5 minute and 31 minute mark, but please watch the full 35 minutes. It's a great series and so interesting to watch. 

November 13, 2020

Church of Ireland Parish Registers are a genealogy goldmine

Over $110,000 was awarded to the Representative Church Body Library to support the digitization of the Church of Ireland parish registers in Ireland.

 The register records date back as far as 1619 and include the Church of Ireland parish registers for baptism, marriage, and burial; 1,110 sets of parish records in total and approximately 840 of which contain varying quantities of public records which have not yet been digitized.

Continue reading at

November 11, 2020

New Netherland Settlers: The Straetsman Sisters & Their Six Husbands

 The  Straetsman sisters Barentje and Teuntje were from Culemborg  Netherlands. In 1630 the West India Company conquered part of Brazil and  the colony of New Holland (now present-day Recife) was founded. 

Dutch  troops were sent to Recife and Olinda in Pernambuco Brazil and no doubt  Barentje and Teuntjes first husbands were among those sent to maintain  order. 

They settled first in Brazil before 1637 and then New Netherland  circa 1657.

More at The Straetsman Sisters Barentje & Teuntje and Their Six Husbands

Access Canadian WW2 Military Service Files in a Few Easy Steps

Uncle Clare
A few years ago I sent for the military records of my father's brother, Clarence E. McGinnis. I knew Uncle Clare had been in WW2 as I have several photos of him in uniform. But I never knew where he served, what unit he was in, or what he did during the War. 

World War 2 Canadian records are restricted. But they can be accessed and they can include documentation about enlistment, discharge, military units served with, and may also include other documents concerning medical history, medals awarded, personal evaluation reports and dental charts.

Library and Archives Canada holds military service files for those who served after 1918. Their website explanation of who can access what files and how to obtain them may be confusing, so I'll share  with you what I did. It was simple.

I wrote a one page letter requesting the complete military service files for [individual's name] who was born [individual's full birth date or estimated year] in [name of city/town plus county and province in Ontario] to parents [names of father and mother].

I included my uncle's death date and a photograph of his tombstone as proof of death. Interestingly enough they actually returned the photo to me!

That was it. I mailed the letter and photo to

ATIP and Personnel Records Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0N4

You can also fax your request to them at this number: 613-947-8456

Your request can be written as a letter or you can print off a blank copy of the Application for Military Service Information form [PDF 663 KB] also available in Rich Text Format [RTF 44,516 KB], which should be filled in, signed and sent by mail or fax.

Huge envelope arrives
After a wait of about 5 months a very large package arrived with Uncle Clare's complete military file. I estimate there are about 80 or more pages.  The wait was not unexpected as it is made clear on the Library & Archives Canada website that they are backlogged and requests can take up to 6 months to fill.

There was a lot of interesting information in the military file for Uncle Clare - such as details of his work history prior to enlisting. It include what he was paid! I wish my dad's files had been as complete.

Lots of pages to read!
I am really pleased to have some more details to add to my knowledge of my uncle. I knew him quite well but he never spoke of his military service or his early years. I suppose I was too young for him to think I'd be interested.

But I'm really enjoying reading through his files to find out where he went during the war (to England and France) and what he saw and did during that difficult time.

For more information on finding ancestors who were in the Canadian Military during other years you might want to check out The Canadian Military Project

For WW1 personnel files you can view these online. Library and Archives Canada has scanned and uploaded the full files to the online CEF Searchable database.

November 10, 2020

Another Episode of Historical Niagara

Ready for my shot! Yes I just did two more interview for two more episodes of Peter SaccoTV series “Historical Niagara”. 

Details to be posted on my Olive Tree Genealogy blog later this week. Chopped my hair again yesterday in preparation for today - my Pandemic haircut!

November 4, 2020

New Netherland Settlers: The Stevensen and Jacobsen Families


A brief excerpt from my book New Netherland Settlers: The Stevensen and Jacobsen Familes was previously published as The European Origins of Steven Janse Coning in the December 2001, Vol. 6 No. 4 issue of New Netherland Connections. 

My book completes several years of research into the origins and descendants of Steven Janse Coning who was baptized in 1617 in Nijkerk and settled in New Netherland with his wife Maria Goosens circa 1649. By 1663 Steven and Maria had at least 7, possibly 8 children. 

After their divorce in 1663 Steven and Maria married other spouses, and Maria had one more known child born to a man named Jacob whose surname is unknown. This book follows Steven, Maria and their descendants to three generations.

October 30, 2020

A Different Hallowe'en

 It will be a different Hallowe'en this year. Covid-19 means it may not be safe to take our children or grandchildren Trick or Treating. 

So with a sense of nostalgia, let's look back at some of the costumes I made for my kids or they put together themselves. I never let them wear a purchased costume, instead we'd go up into the attic where I kept stacks and stacks of clothes from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and we'd let our imaginations run wild.

For example here's a pirate costume I put together for my youngest son - from a purple dress I loved in the early 80s, white gauze pants from the early 80s, a colourful sash from the 70s, and other bits and pieces I cut from clothing. I'm not a seamstress so I tacked it all together as best I could.

I forgot what he was but he was thrilled with my oversize caftan from Mexico, a coloured sash, sandals, some chunky jewellry, a toy sword and baby powder to whiten his hair.

I hope you can still make this year's Pandemic Hallowe'en fun for your little ones.

October 28, 2020

New Netherland Settler Jan Sipken


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.

October 23, 2020

What is Your Oldest Ancestral Item?

It's always a thrill to inherit or find an object that once belonged to an ancestor. I had chills when I found store tokens made by my 9th great-grandfather Henry Noldred of Ramsgate Kent England. Henry was a grocer who had his own tokens created to spend in his store in place of official money.

I was so intrigued by this new-found information that I started researching to see if I could find any of his tokens and I found that one of his existed created circa 1650!. I also learned that Ramsgate was spelled Romansgate back then. 

Once I found that one of Henry's tokens had been sold on an auction site a few months before, I became determined to find another and purchase it. I'm excited to say I succeeded! I managed to find two in England, and I bought them both. I plan on having a small plaque made with Henry's birth, death and location. Then I'll have the tokens and the plaque framed and it will have a place of honour on my wall.

This is the description of the tokens: (rosette)HEN.NOLDRED.IN.ROMANS , around beaded inner circle, three tobacco rolls / logs of wood.

Rev: (rosette)GET.IN.YE.ISLE.OF.TENNET , around beaded inner circle, HIS HALF PENY in three lines. M. Dickinson 454. Neither obverse or reverse dies represented in Norweb.

What is the oldest ancestral item you own?

October 21, 2020

New Netherland Settler Harmen Janie Ryckman

1644 Marriage of Harman Janss Ryckman

 Harmen Janse Ryckman (my 9th great grandfather) came to the New World with at least one child - his daughter Margarita (Grietje) Harmense Ryckman. By 1662 Grietje had married Jacques Cornelise Van Slyke the son of Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke and his Mohawk wife, Ots-Toch. Jacques and Grietje settled in the new village of Schenectady. Grietje's father lived in Albany as early as 1666 and there he died circa 1677

October 18, 2020

Lost and Found: HAIGHT family mementoes

 Joyce McFarlane in Ontario has the following items to give to any descendant who wants them.

Have been going through some old boxes of parents stuff. I have come across, a picture, a bible, and hymn book. picture labelled Jay Haight, bible belonged to Mrs Claire Haight, and Hymn book, Clement Haight. Looking for any relatives that might want these.



You can contact Joyce through her Facebook page

Looking for an ancestor photo? See!


October 16, 2020

Walking Photographs

My Father & Mother 1946

Someone posted an intriguing photo on Twitter. It was simply a photo of two sisters walking down a sidewalk circa 1940s. It suddenly occured to me that during the time of Sidewalk Photographers roaming the streets of large cities, there must have been hundreds if not thousands of such candid photos taken. 

Of course the way it worked was the photographer would snap a picture then try to convince the subjects to purchase a copy. 

I have a few of those "Walking photos" and thought it would be fun to post them here. Maybe you have some too? Tell us about them in the comments below.

 Left is a photo of my mom and dad in 1946. I love this photo because mother is pregnant with me! 

I have another earlier Walking Photo of my grandmother and mother holding my brother's hands. Behind them is my aunt (mother's sister) with her son. It was taken ca 1939 either in Guelph or Toronto Ontario Canada


Next is a Walking photo of one of my Australian cousins - my grandmother's brother Albert Simpson with his grandson Johnny Salmon. It was taken in the early 1950s







October 14, 2020

New Netherland Settler Hendrick Meesen Vrooman

Image: 1648 record for Hendrick Meesen Vrooman

Hendrick Bartholomeus (Meesen) Vrooman and five children ages 15, 13, 11, 7 and 5 years old are on the passenger list of D'Eendracht (The Concord) arriving in New Amsterdam New York on 17 April 1664. 

The ages of these children fit the children known for Hendrick: Adam born ca 1649, Eve born ca 1651, Johannes baptised 1653 Leiden Netherlands, Kathlyntje baptised 1657 Leiden, and Bartholomeus baptised 1659 Leiden. Hendrick's wife and mother of the children was not with them and we might assume she was dead. 

October 11, 2020

Curious About Ancestor Effigies or Busts?

Hertfordshire churches contain numerous effigies and busts of people whose images were not recorded elsewhere. 

Inside All Saint’s church in Willian, Thomas and Lucy Wilson are remembered with these colourful carvings on their memorial

October 9, 2020

Don't Miss This New Saskatchewan Database!

 MemorySask: the Saskatchewan Archival Information Network is a database of descriptions of archival material held in Saskatchewan archives as well as Nunavit. It is a work in progress, with new descriptions being added regularly.

You can search names or locations. If you have Saskatchewan ancestors you will want to check this out.

October 7, 2020

New Netherland Settler Lodewyck Post

Sometime between October 1647 and July 1652, Lodewyck Cornelils Post, his wife Agnietje Bonen, and their children left Amsterdam Holland to settle in New Netherland (New York). Research into Naarden Holland church records has revealed the birth of Lodewyck, and the marriage of his parents in that city.

October 1, 2020

Olive Tree Genealogy on Episode of TV Series Historical Niagara!

Recently I was asked to appear as a guest on a TV series produced by Peter Andrew Sacco, called Historical Niagara. The series is seen on TV in Ontario Canada and the episode I was asked to appear in is on Laura Secord. Peter interviewed me via Zoom and it was a great experience.

The Laura Secord episode is available to watch on YouTube. If you use the scroll bar to find me, look for my bright pink top around the 28 minute mark. I hope you'll watch the entire episode as it's quite interesting, and walks you alongside Laura on her famous journey.

If you don't know who Laura Secord is (no, not the chocolate makers!) she is our Canadian heroine who warned the British during the War of 1812 that the Americans were planning a surprise attack. To warn the British forces, Laura had to walk through thick forest 20 miles inside American occupied territory. But watch the episode and you will learn much more about Laura. 



September 30, 2020

New Netherland Settler: Pier Family


It has always been known that THEUNIS JANSZ. PIER, an early settler in New Netherland (New York) was born circa 1600 in Holland. 

Chris Brooks and I researched and found Theunis' baptism. His parents' names are now known! We found a great deal on the family -- and our jointly authored article Origins of the Pier Family in the Netherlands and an Update of Their Connection to the Ostrander Family by Lorine McGinnis Schulze and Chris Brooks, was published in the July 2000 issue of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record. in Deventer, Overijsel, Netherlands. 

He married Jannettie Arentsdr. on September 14, 1624 in Amsterdam Netherlands. Theunis Jansz's sons Jan and Arent, were the immigrant ancestors of the PIER family in America.

Read more at Pier/Peer Family