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March 31, 2020

Free on Ancestry During the Pandemic

Ancestry is offering many free items during this Pandemic. Please read on to see if there is anything of interest.
  • At-home educational resources for families and teachers: With parents educating their kids at home and teachers looking for creative ways to administer assignments, new virtual ways of learning are on the rise. Ancestry US is making teacher-developed lesson plans available for free for anyone to download, covering a range of educational topics for various ages. For more information, click here. 
  • Helping to ease the isolation from social distancing with new connections: Ancestry US has collaborated with the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to offer temporary free access to millions of historical records and images from the federal government. And we will continue providing free online tutorials and video courses to help people get started with family tree building. For more information, click here. 

March 29, 2020

Lambert Van Valkenburg A New Netherland Ancestor

Lambert Van Valkenburg married Annetje Jacobs on April 4, 1642 in Amsterdam.

His name was recorded as Lambert van Valckenburgh, his bride as Annetje Jacobs. [Source: DTB 457, p.146]
He sailed to the New World before 1644 and settled on what is now the site of the Empire State Building in New York.

Many genealogists are not sure where or how they can find more information on an ancestor in New Netherland (present day New York) but there are many resources available, both online and off.

For example here is a document which I found online for Lambert.

Declaration as to the estate left by Pieter Lievesen, deceased
Scanned Document:NYSA_A0270-78_V2_095a

[ At the request ] of the honorable Fiscal Vander Hoykens the undersigned persons attest and declare that on the 25th of January 1644 the fiscal was at the house of Lambert van Valckenborch, where Pieter Livesen lodged in his lifetime, and inquired for the goods of said Pieter Livesen, whereupon Lambert van Valckenborch answered that there was nothing left of the goods of the above mentioned Pieter Lievesen, as he had long before also declared to the fiscal and the witnesses. Done the 25th of January 1644, in New Netherland.
Oloff Stevensen
Gysbert op Dyck
Translation: Scott, K., & Stryker-Rodda, K. (Ed.). New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 2, Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647 (A. Van Laer, Trans.).

March 27, 2020

New Brunswick Deaths to 1969 Available

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick recently published 4,922 digitized images of death registrations for 1969.

The following Record Series are available in the Vital Statistics Search Engine. 
IndexDescriptionYearsRecordsLast updated
141A1b Index to Late Registration of Births1810-1924 112,418 2020-03-13
141A1c Index to Late Registration of Births: County Series1869-1901 2,294 2019-09-10
141A2/2 Index to County Birth Registers1800-1919 87,968 2020-03-09
141A5 Index to Provincial Registrations of Births1870-1924 169,725 2020-02-25
IndexDescriptionYearsRecordsLast updated
141B7 Index to New Brunswick Marriages1847-1969 286,109 2020-03-20
IndexDescriptionYearsRecordsLast updated
141C1 Index to County Death Registers1885-1921 40,447 2019-12-30
141C4 Provincial Returns of Deaths1815-1919 84,191 2020-03-13
141C5 Index to Death Certificates1918-1969 246,718 2020-03-12

March 25, 2020

What Did Our Ancestors Sound Like 500 Years Ago

Have you ever wondered what our ancestors really sounded like? This 500 year old poem being read aloud is very cool

NOTE: Do not push the > arrow on the image, it does not play. Instead use the link below:

A Middle English reading of John Skelton's poem "Speke Parrot". Find the full poem, with notes and glosses on

March 23, 2020

Traded His Wife & Children to His Brother for a Watch

TRADED OFF HIS WIFE: PECULIAR BIGAMY CASE TRIED AT COBOURG George Albert Reynolds Disposed of His Wife to His Brother Walter For a $15 Watch-- All Three Sentenced and the Deal is Off Source: The Globe (1844-1936); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]09 Jan 1903: 1. 

This lurid bigamy case caught my eye while I was browsing online newspapers. Imagine trading your wife and children to your older brother. For a watch. For anything!

It seems Mrs. Reynolds was happy with the deal and I wondered if she ever did go back to hubby #1 after all three of them were charged with bigamy.

So I had a hunt for the culprits to find out what happened after the verdict.

Let's start with the marriage of George Albert Reynolds to his wife, Annie Clark. According to the online marriage record on Ancestry it took place in Peterborough on 10 December 1900. George and Annie were both 20. George's parents are recorded as George Reynolds and Mandy Hickerson so it should be easy to verify George's older brother Walter.

It didn't take long to find that Annie was still married to George when she died in 1921 at the age of 35. Her death occurred on 6 January in Northumberland County. Source: Ontario Canada Death Records 1869-1947

My one question was answered and I admit to being surprised that Annie stayed with George after their arrest.

I was curious about the two children who were passed from George to Walter and back. Their son William was born in August 1901 and their daughter Jenny in December 1902. Another bit of a shock! Little Jenny was only 1 year old when the arrest was made. The article states that Walter Reynold came back to Canada from Michigan and married Annie in November 1902. That would mean that Jenny was not yet born and Annie was 8 months pregnant.

Walter was born in 1878 and died 24 October 1923 in Coburg of Typhoid Fever. He is recorded as being unmarried. Source: Ontario Canada Death Records 1869-1947

However a search of marriage records showed Walter marrying Lulu Maud Peling on 20 March 1911 and living with her and their three children in the 1921 census for Brighton. The children were Edith 9 years old, Mary 6 years old, and John 3 months.

This is one of the more bizarre cases I've encountered. What odd things have you found in your genealogy research?


March 20, 2020

No Toilet Paper Where You Live?

Coronavirus causing shortages? No toilet paper where you live? No Sears catalogue or phone book? No fresh leaves? 
My book "Death Finds a Way: A Janie Riley Mystery" available on Amazon, can do double duty - as a good read, then a substitute for that timeless outhouse Sears catalogue. 
200 pages goes a long way but be cautious of paper cuts. Note that I do not recommend the Kindle version for this use.


March 18, 2020

Over 440,000 Cemetery Records Added in February 2020

Over 440,000 Cemetery Records Added in February 2020

Now online for free access at

March 2, 2020, Menifee, CA — published 440,213 cemetery records covering
86 cemeteries across 16 states, 1 province, and 2 countries, in the month of February 2020. They are now available for free viewing to the general public by visiting

These records were acquired from genealogists, city and county offices, and cemetery sextons. Most of these records include dates of birth, death, and burial, and many include plot locations and names of funeral homes.

Geographic localities covered in these records…

Quebec, Canada (Compton, Frontenac, Richmond, Shefford, & Stanstead counties)
Arizona (Yavapai County)
Idaho (Canyon County)
Illinois (Rock Island County)
Louisiana (East Baton Rouge Parish)
Maryland (Dorchester County)
Michigan (Oceana, Tuscola, & Washington counties)
Minnesota (Washington County)
Missouri (St. Louis City)
New Hampshire (Grafton County)
New Jersey (Monmouth County)
New York (Albany, Chautauqua, Chemung, Dutchess, Delaware, Erie, Kings, Oswego, Saratoga, Steuben, & Suffolk counties)
Ohio (Franklin & Ottawa counties)
South Dakota (Butte & Marshall counties)
Texas (Austin & Kaufman counties)
Virginia (Alexandria city)
Washington (Clark, Cowlitz, & Lewis counties)

All records were left unedited to reflect the same information exactly as appears from their original sources.

Since 1997, has published transcriptions of cemetery records acquired from genealogists, government agencies, churches, and cemetery sextons. To date, more than 25 million records are available online for free, unlimited access.

Genealogists may browse or search the full archive, or contribute their transcriptions, by visiting

March 16, 2020

Calming the Coronavirus Jitters

Coronavirus is here. And it's going to get worse. We need to respond sensibly and calmly but people are like sheep. Not all, but many. They react with panic when they see pictures of stores with empty shelves. That starts panic buying - "OMG I have to get toilet paper, sanitizer, food before it all runs out"

So they race to the store with NO PLAN in place! They fill their carts with as much toilet paper as fits, they race to get to the cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers before someone else gets there ahead of them.

If you are among this group, STOP. These should be your steps:

1. Take inventory. How much Toilet Paper do you have on hand? How many cans of soup? Etc.

2. Calculate roughly how much of essential items you need for your family for 2 weeks.

3. If you don't have enough, stay calm and either order online or go to a nearby store but ONLY buy what you need to top up your existing supplies for 2 weeks.

What Did Our Ancestors Do? 

There have been many plagues. pandemics and other frightening crisis situations over the centuries. Our ancestors did not have the medicines we have, they did not have easy access to nearby stores carrying goods they needed, and there were no safe alternatives to venturing out and risking contamination. We have online shopping. We have refrigeration for safe storage of frozen and perishable foods (keeping in mind that electricity could fail). Panic is the worst thing you can allow yourself to give in to.

Start Now To Prepare for the Future

If folks had taken heed over the past several years to the warnings and suggestions to always keep an emergency supply of essential items such as non-perishable foods, medicines, flashlights, batteries, and so on, there would be NO panic buying because every household would have on hand a 2 week supply!

And please don't respond saying "Not everyone has the money to do this!" because that excuse is, to put it bluntly, crap.

I Don't Have The Money to Buy Emergency Storage Items!

That's nonsense. Here's how you do it, no matter what your finances are:

Buy one extra food item each time you shop. Toss in one cup of Mr. Noodles ($1.00 here in Canada). Toss in an extra can of beans. Maybe you can add a bag of pasta or rice. It doesn't matter just add that one item each week, or monthly. If you shop monthly, add 4 items. By the end of the year you'll have 50 or more items in your Emergency storage area.

Yes this suggestion is specifically for food items but you can use the same mind-set for other things you might need in a crisis situation. Create an Emergency plan and area in your home to store items, then work towards your goals. Do you want to store 2 weeks of items or 6 months? That is your choice and no matter what you decide realize it can take months or years to reach a long-term Emergency goal. But it is never too late to start.

Making a Plan

Come up with a Plan B in case Plan A isn't going to work. What would you do if there was no electricity or heat? Do you have an alternate cooking or heating method? Think about these things, make your Plan(s) and relax!

Having a Plan provides relief from stress and that is what we all need right now.

We are preppers so I always have a 2-3 month supply of essential needs - medicines, cleaning materials, food and so on. That includes food and medicines for our two dogs.

When I first saw word back in late December, early January of this new serious virus, I inventoried my supplies to see what, if anything, I need to top up. The idea of this kind of Emergency storage is you don't touch those items if there is no emergency, but humans being what we are, sometimes we are caught short and grab a bag of pasta or can of beans or some other item, then neglect to replace it. By taking an inventory I realized I did not have any Immodium or Gravol to treat symptoms. I also decided I wanted two more containers of disinfectant wipes for our home (I already had one and two more would mean I had one for each floor) and I was able to obtain those before panic buying and hoarding set it. It would not have been the end of the world had I not got two more - as I have lots of cleaners that can be sprayed on a dishcloth or paper towel and used.

I Don't Have Room for Emergency Supplies!

I'm pretty sure you do. Be creative - store items in closets, under beds, in your garage, your attic, your basement. I know everyone doesn't have a garage, attic or basement. We have a basement but no garage or attic.

But this is where you can be creative. It's winter. Many of us have stored our summer and spring clothes in a second closet. Take them out, put them in suitcases or a storage tub and use that empty closet for Emergency supplies.

Ladies - pack up your extra purses and shoes in tubs. Use the shelf space you just created to store your Emergency supplies.

Empty a kitchen cupboard of items you don't use very often. Store them in labelled tubs and use the empty cupboard.

If you are lucky enough to have a garage/basement/attic, set up some cheap shelves and keep your Emergency supplies there.

There are many other ways to find space for Emergency storage and I am sure you can think of some I haven't mentioned.

My Personal Two Week List of Food Items

Many of my Facebook friends have written to ask what I have on hand, so here is my own list. There are 2 of us to feed for 14 days. I plan by meals then multiplying by 14. I have multiple food allergies so my list has to meet my needs. Yours could probably be much less specific
  • 7 cans of Pork 'n Beans
  • 7 cans of Salmon 
  • 7 cans of Tuna
  • 7 cans of various soups + 7 powdered soups. Many of these are for cooking. I dehydrate fruits and vegetables so can easily make healthy filling soups by adding lots of my dried vegetables if we are stuck. I can also mix a cream soup with pasta and tuna for a nice casserole
  • 4 bags of pasta - I don't like rice so don't buy it
  • Canned beans for chili or pasta/rice dish
  • 14 snack packs of fruit 
  • 14 fruit juice boxes (for hubby)
  • 14 cans of vegetables
  • 4 jars of pasta sauce
  • 2 boxes of cereal (one for each of us)
  • powdered milk
  • enough water in large containers to provide 6 litres of water daily. We can't rely on our well water so I have more water on hand than most people might need. 
  • bag of oatmeal
  • 1 bottle of oil, 1 bag of sugar
  • 1 jar of peanut butter (for hubby)
  • 1 bottle of honey (for hubby) 
  • 2 boxes of granola bars
  • dog food for our 2 pets
Your permanent 2 week Emergency Supply needs to have dates of purchase written on the canned goods so that every 3 to 5 years you can eat what is near expiry, and replace those eaten.

These are items I added to my 14-day Emergency Supplies once I knew we were in a Pandemic situation that might require self-isolation or quarantine:
  • 2 pre-made frozen chili
  • 2 pre-made frozen stew
  • 2 pre-made meatloaf 
  • Chicken + ground beef in freezer to enable me to make 
  • apples, carrots, potatoes and parsnips kept in our mudroom with heat turned off 
  • 2 blocks of cheese
  • 14 small yogurt (for me)
  • 1 loaf of bread 
  • 3 packages of Tortillas + 3 packages of Naan Breads  because they last longer than bagged bread
  • Tea and coffee
Remember - this will pass. We will recover but we will have to change our mind-sets from panic to calm thinking mode.

Keep the prepper motto in mind: Plan for the worst but hope for the best.

March 13, 2020

Message in a bottle found 82 years later

On 5 September 1938, John Stapleford in Hertfordshire wrote a message and put it in a bottle. The note was handwritten on the back of an old cake box from Cawley Bros Ltd and placed in a Smith’s bottle. Stapleford asked whoever might find the bottle to contact him and send a photo.

The message read: “Will the finder of this bottle please communicate with: John Stapleford, 18 Fitzjohn Avenue, Barnet, Herts, England. With a photograph.”

82 years later a man called Hill walking along the beach saw the bottle and retrieved it. After finding the bottle Hill did some research to find out more about the man who left the message.

Continue reading this fascinating story.

March 11, 2020

Churchill daughter's WW2 colleagues sought by Cambridge archive

Sarah Churchill in 1966

An appeal has been made to trace three women who appear in a World War Two photograph with one of Sir Winston Churchill's daughters.

Sarah Churchill (1914-1982) served at RAF Medmenham in Buckinghamshire in 1940 or 1941 and a photo was taken of her with three colleagues. Researchers are interested in finding out who the other women with her were. 

Take a minute to read the rest of the story and check out the photo. Perhaps you know one of the women photographed with Sarah.

March 9, 2020

Don't Put it Off! Organize and Scan Your Family Photos

I just finished sorting & labelling hundreds of my family pics back to 1867 because I'm preparing for a huge scanning project. 

My first task was to take the photos out of the archival boxes in which I stored them. 

Several years ago I wrote a series of blog posts as I started a huge project to sort and organize all my photos into groups and store them in special boxes I purchased online.  You can read about those efforts here:

Organizing Family Photos: Creating a Plan

Organizational Project Part 2 - Family Diaries

Organization Project Part 3 - Digitizing Family Slides

Organizational Project Part 4 - Sorting the Family Photographs

Organizational Project Part 5: The Domino Effect in an Organization Project

Organizational Project Part 6: Ready for the Second Sort of Photographs!

Easy Steps to Organizing, Scanning, Preserving & Sharing Family Photos

These are some of the early WW1 to 1960s era family photos I sorted and labelled yesterday.

What a job! But what a great feeling to finally note names, dates, and locations on all pictures. What are you doing with your family photos? If you are tackling this kind of project please remember to use pencil to notate on the back of the photos so as not to damage them.

I'll talk about the actual scanning process in another blog post so stay tuned!

March 6, 2020

The Nebraska Death Index (1904-1968) online and free

Sample Page Nebraska Death Index
The Nebraska Death Index (1904-1968) is now online and free, the first time this data has ever been available to the public at all, in any format!

This is a free searchable database of 185,806 deaths in the state of Nebraska between 1956-1968, and free digitized images of the approximately 1.4 million entries in the death index for the years 1904-1955.

Looking for information on somebody who died in Nebraska? You can do a search in this database for the records from 1956-1968, or browse through newly digitized images of the index for the records from 1904-1955.

Genealogists can thank Reclaim the Records for this gift.

March 4, 2020

Obtaining Original (Pre-Adoption) Birth Certificate for Adoptees

Did you know that Pre-Adoption Birth Certificates can be ordered online?

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation on November 14, 2019 allowing adoptees for the first time to receive a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18-years-old. This measure (S3419/A5494) helps ensure that all adult New York adoptees will have the same unimpeded right to information about their birth and biological parents.

For Adoptees Born in New York City:

Adoptees born within the five boroughs of NYC should contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or visit their webpage at for ordering information.


Who is eligible to get a copy of a pre-adoption birth certificate?

  • An adoptee who is 18 years of age or older
  • Direct Line Descendants - A Direct Line Descendant is a child, grandchild, or great grandchild, etc. of the adoptee
  • A lawful representative of the adopted person
  • A lawful representative of a deceased adopted person’s Direct Line Descendant

March 2, 2020

Free Beautiful Templates for Family Records

The Photo Alchemist has given genealogists a wonderful gift! Vintage & Antique blank family records for you to download and print for FREE!

Make your genealogy files stand out with these beautiful templates!

To Download, click on the image you want, to open it up on the screen, then just right click on it and save it to your device!