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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.