Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

June 12, 2021

Access to Nearly 1 Million Slave Trade Records

Staff with Michigan State University’s Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences are taking on the seemingly impossible goal of illuminating the lives of the millions of Africans, and their descendants, sold into bondage across four continents as part of the slave trade. 

Founded by a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project is being carried out primarily by investigators with Michigan State University and the University of Maryland, in partnership with other prominent collaborating organizations. 

An estimated 388,000 enslaved persons arrived in North America, and by 1860 nearly 4 million lived in bondage in the United States.  The project has launched a FREE public website where you can search people, events and places across 857,398 records (constantly expanding) from the slave trade.

Any member of the public can utilize the site “Peoples of the Historic Slave Trade,” available at I will be visiting the site to look for Jonathan Butler, my husband's 4th great-grandfather, a free man of colour from Pennsylvania. This is a wonderful resource for genealogists and historians alike.

June 10, 2021

Wartime love letters returned to U.S. family thanks to Ontario woman's discovery


Every once in a while I like to post a "feel good" story. You know, the kind that makes you smile, or gives you the feels. This is one of those times. It's been a rough year for most of us with the Pandemic. This story made me happy.

The story starts with this quote from the site: 

Morris and Betty Starkman were newlyweds in 1953 and about to start their lives together in Detroit when Morris, a doctor, was instead sent to Korea to fight in a painful war as a captain with the U.S. Medical Corps. 

Throughout that period, he wrote letters to his new wife and other family members.

Somehow, over the years, those letters, plus ones written back to him, became separated from the family, ending up in a tin box underneath a bunch of old magazines in a basement in Kingsville, Ont.

Spoiler Alert! The Ontario woman who bought the letters many years ago, researched the Starkmans and found their son. You can read the whole story here

June 8, 2021

Olive Tree Genealogy Chosen as one of 101 Best Genealogy Websites!

 Olive Tree Genealogy is excited to announce that my website has been selected by Family Tree Magazine editors as one of the 101 Best Websites for Genealogy! 

This is an annual list published to provide  readers with the best online resources for genealogy research. 
“With the online genealogy world constantly changing, it can be hard to keep up with what websites and tools are the most useful,” said Family Tree Magazine Editor Andrew Koch. “That’s why our list focuses on the best of the best—the websites that will make the best use of your time and money.”  
You can find the new, updated list on their website. Olive Tree Genealogy was placed under the category Best Genealogy News Websites and Blogs of 2021

The list will appear in the July/August 2021 issue of Family Tree Magazine, which ships to magazine subscribers in June and will be available on newsstands on June 22.

June 5, 2021

Finding Ancestors in Heir & Devisee Papers 1797-1854

H 1140 Edward Strickland Image 235
 Home District Land Certificates 1787 to 1795 are useful genealogy records that many genealogists overlook.

May 27, 2021

The Pitfalls of Census Records

How accurate are census records? I'm sure this question has arisen for every genealogist at some point in their research.

Why does Great Grandma's age change every census by less (or more!) than the 10 years between census? What's up with Great Grandpa's surname being spelled incorrectly? Why does Grandpa have a different first name every census year? Is it even the right man?? And why does great great grandma give a different place of birth for her parents each time?

These are all questions that might arise as you delve into census records. We quickly learn that census records cannot be considered the absolute and final authority. There are good reasons why we see so many discrepancies, but discrepancies doesn't mean we should ignore the information, just that we need to check for other collaborating records (or records which will disprove the anomalous information)

Why Are Census Records Inconsistent?

How can the census be so wrong sometimes? Consider first what question was actually asked by the census taker. For example with ages - did he ask how old the person was, or how old they were on their last birthday or.....

People lie about their ages. In past generations individuals often did not know their exact year of birth. I have a letter written in 1847 by my ancestor Levi Peer to his mother, asking her when he was born! At the time he was 38 years old but he obviously only had a vague idea of his birth year.

Spelling Doesn't Count

What about names? Spelling was not exact back in the 1800s and earlier. A census taker wrote what he heard, and whether or not he was a good speller or was familiar with the surname dictated what we see rendered on the census page. Don't forget that great grandpa might have been a recent immigrant with a difficult accent. The census taker might not have had any idea what name was being spoken.

If great grandpa was German or Polish or.... any other nationality find out what the English equivalent of his first name is. If you only know him as Walter but you know he came from another country, find out what his English name is in his native land. You may find him recorded either with his English equivalent or his ethnic origin name. For example Wladyslaw can be Walter. And on and on it goes...

Different first names? Children were usually given at least two names at birth and a man (or woman) might choose to use his first or his middle, or perhaps a nickname. Your ancestor might not have settled on his or her name until later in life, so may have used one name on one census and another on the next. Parents may have called their child by the name they bestowed on him but when he grew up he may have decided he didn't like his given name and used his middle.

People also had nicknames - Jack for John, Delia for Bridget, Polly for Mary - there are many standard nicknames which we can easily find with a search of Google. But what about invented nicknames? My husband's grandfather had the first name of Leon and middle name of Thomas but was called Charlie his entire life. We have to keep an open mind about whether or not individual A is the same person as individual B on another census!

Who Answered the Census Taker's Questions?

The next question we need to ask ourselves is - who provided the answers on that census? Was it a parent? And if so, was it Mom or Dad. Mothers may have had a better idea of their children's birth years and ages than dad. Was it an older child (perhaps mom or dad were not home) or even a neighbour giving the information? All these factors will affect the quality of the census information.

Immigration and naturalization years are among the most mis-remembered of all on the census. Let's face it, can you recall the exact year you did something? If I am asked what year I went backpacking through Europe, I can only say it was sometime in the mid 1970s. To figure it out more precisely I'd need some time to sit and think about how old my children were, or some other trigger for my memory. The census taker was not going to sit there while mom or dad thought about what year they arrived in this country so the year you see on the census may be pretty much their best guess, given quickly.

As for great great Grandma giving a different place of birth for her parents (or even herself!) remember that she may only have heard how her mother lived in New York, and not have heard that actually her mother was born in Illinois and moved to New York as an infant. She may know that she herself was born in New York but moved elsewhere as a child and considers that her birth place. Again, think about who might have given the information! Perhaps great great grandma was sick in bed and her husband provided the details, or an older child.

Take it With a Grain of Salt

Treat the census as you should every other genealogical source - with a bit of suspicion. Find other records and assess them all before arriving at a decision as to which (if any) is correct. But don't toss away information in one record as being completely wrong until you have thought about all the variables involved. You may find that you are indeed on the right track chasing Jurgen Muzzel even though you were told your great great grandpa was George Maxwell.....

May 24, 2021

Why Do We Do Genealogy?


I wrote this blog post almost 10 years ago. It still holds true and I decided it was worth sharing again.

A friend asked an interesting question. "Why do you do genealogy?" she asked. Sounds like a simple question doesn't it. And the answer should be simple - "I do genealogy because...."

But guess what? It's not simple. The reasons I currently "do genealogy" are not the same reasons I would have given 20 or 30 years ago. When I began my genealogy quest at a very young age, it was because my father had expressed such curiousity about our Irish McGinnis origins. He died when I was 14 and I made a vow after his death to find out about our McGinnis ancestors for him. In his memory. So my answer to that question, had it been asked, those many years ago, would have been simple. "I do genealogy because I want to find my McGinnis ancestors for my father."

That isn't my main reason anymore. I've grown. This has been a journey - still is a journey, and as on any journey, my needs and desires and goals along the way have changed. For example I've discovered that I can't let a mystery lie without digging into it. I need to find answers. So my answer to that question now would be

"I do genealogy for many reasons. One is my curiousity about my ancestors - who were they, what were they like, what experiences did they live through. My love of history is part of the reason I do genealogy. My desire to solve mysteries is a huge part of my passion for genealogy. And I do genealogy because I want my children and grandchildren to know and recognize the individuals over the centuries whose lives helped make us who we are today."
Genealogy isn't a pursuit well suited for those who require instant gratification. It's a long-term process and seems incredibly boring and tedious to those who are not like-minded. I've spent more hours scrolling through microfilm searching for that one entry with an ancestor's name, then I care to remember. Many people would consider those wasted hours. I don't.

Some of my family are not the least bit interested in our ancestors. Some are interested to a degree. Tell them stories of the more interesting or outrageous ancestors such as our daredevil Peer ancestor who walked Niagara Falls on a tightrope and they listen. Tell them about great great grandpa, the farmer in England, and their eyes glaze over.

I once had a friend say to me "But why do you care? They're all dead!" and yet another said "They're not really your ancestors if they're dead." Hmmm... I can't quite get my head around that mindset!

Some are not interested in the treasured photos of ancestors. To me those are the icing on the cake! They make my ancestor "real" for me. One of my relatives told me she wasn't interested in seeing a photo of our 2nd great-grandfather. Why wasn't she interested? Because, she said "Why do I care what he looked like? I never knew him."

To me that's kind of the point. A photo allows us to "know" our ancestors. With a photo I can study faces and ponder over whether or not great-grandma's nose isn't just like one of my granddaughters.  I can imagine the ancestors in those photos living their daily lives, just as we do today. And I feel a connection to those people.

How about you? How would you answer my friend's question, "Why do you do genealogy?"

May 20, 2021

Identifying Ancestor Photos: Daguerreotypes

Photography arrived in the United States in 1839 thanks to Samuel F. B. Morse, an American artist and inventor. 

Genealogists often have old family photos in their possession or they find some in Great Aunt Matilda's attic. But how do we know when the photograph was taken? One method is to determine what type of photograph it is. The earliest type is the Daguerreotype.

Identifying a Daguerreotype

Morse visited Daguerre in Paris in March 1839 and observed a demonstration of the daguerreotype process. He returned to the United States to spread the news, and by the end of 1839 some larger cities on the East Coast had very successful portrait studios.

Every daguerreotype is a unique image on silvered copper plate.  Daguerreotypes are small, usually about 2x3 inches and they tarnish easily. What else makes it unique? 

Daguerreotype Cases

Daguerreotypes are fragile and were always put in protective cases. Here are a few from my personal collection.

 This is a daguerreotype from 1854

This daguerreotype of a woman in formal evening wear is from the Civil War era.

A rare beautifully decorated double case holding a daguerreotype on side, an ambrotype on the other 

Learn More

Watch my video Five Types of Early 19th Century Photographs

Read more about daguerreotypes on Lost Faces website

May 17, 2021

Finding a Quaker Ancestor


Quaker: The Society of Friends was formed in England in 1648. Early restrictions brought them to New Jersey in 1675 and some 230 English Quakers founded Burlington, New Jersey in 1678. William Penn was granted the territory of Pennsylvania in 1681 and within two years there were about 3000 Quakers living there.

Records of Quaker Monthly Meetings hold the most vital information for genealogists. They may contain a history of the meeting, lists of members, marriages, deaths, removals, and disownings. Quakers did not practice baptism.

William Wade Hinshaw Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy consists of six volumes, each dealing with a different region, and is supplemented by Willard Heiss Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana in seven parts. Volume I of Hinshaw is the abstract of the early records of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Volumes I through VI can be searched online at U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 on Ancestry 

There are more records and links, both free and pay-to-view at Quakers and Moravians on Olive Tree Genealogy

May 14, 2021

Find Ancestors in the Missing Friends Project

The Missing Friends Project on is extracting the names of those who immigrated from UK to America or Canada and who were inquired about by family in various 19th Century newspapers.

Missing Friends Project starts with Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, published in London England and their weekly column (1886-1900) called "Long Lost Relatives". We also have begun extracting names of those in the Boston Pilot, published in Boston Massachusetts (1831-1921).

Our Boston Pilot project is only extracting the names of missing Irish individuals who sailed to Canada. It is important to note that many who sailed first to Canada went on to USA and are so noted in the extracts. Many of the relatives and friends seeking them were based in USA and their location is also given.

We also plan to publish extracts of weekly columns of Missing Friends from The Irish World (1892-1899), published in New York and The Manchester Weekly Times (1891-1893) published in England. We will add other newspapers as we find them and can access them.

The fields being extracted are name of person in America or Canada who is missing, where they lived in the UK, when they left, where they intended going, ship name if known, when they were last heard from, where they were living when last heard from, who is seeking them and any miscellaneous comments.

There are  links and databases at Missing Friends

May 11, 2021

FInd Ancestors in New Jersey

My Peer family came from New Jersey to Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1796. It has been the second most challenging genealogy search in existing records. For anyone interested, finding genealogy records in Ireland is my number one research challenge! 

In light of the challenges of early New Jersey research I have put together some links to online databases for other genealogists to use. 

The Olive Tree logo denotes those are free records on

On Site List Selected Baptisms of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Ramapo, Bergen Co., New Jersey 1750-1817 NEW September 2010
On Site List Records of the Reformed Dutch Churches of Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, New Jersey Membership Lists Hackensack 1695-1769
On Site List Records of the Reformed Dutch Churches of Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, New Jersey Membership Lists Schraalenburgh 1797-1801
On Site List Records of the Reformed Dutch Churches of Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, New Jersey Marriages Hackensack 1696 - 1801
On Site List Records of the Reformed Dutch Churches of Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, New Jersey Baptisms Hackensack 1696-1783
On Site List Records of the Reformed Dutch Churches of Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, New Jersey Consistory Records Hackensack 1701 - 1780
On Site List Baptisms Old Dutch Church, Totowa, NJ: 1756-1774 | 1775-1777 | 1778-1779 | 1780-1781 | 1782-1784 | 1785-1787 | 1788-1789 | 1790-1791 | 1792-1793 | 1794 | 1795 | 1796 | 1797 | 1798 | 1799 | 1800 | 1801-1802 | 1803-1804 | 1805-1806 | 1807-1822
On Site List Marriages Elizabethtown, (was Essex Co.)
On Site List Marriages in Hackensack pre 1700
On Site List Early Settlers in Hackensack
On Site List  First Reformed Dutch Church at Montville, Morris Co., Baptisms 1786-1828
On Site List First Reformed Dutch Church at Montville, Morris Co., Marriages 1826-1873

New Jersey Naturalization Records on

Calendar of New Jersey Wills, 1670-1760 on Ancestry

 New Jersey, U.S., Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 on Ancestry

New Jersey, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1739-1991 on Ancestry

See more links and records at Olive Tree Genealogy New Jersey page

May 8, 2021

FInding a Loyalist Ancestor

Have you discovered you have a Loyalist ancestor? A Loyalist is any person who is loyal to their allegiance (especially in times of revolt). During the American Revolution in what was to become the United States of America, a Loyalist (also called UEL - United Empire Loyalist) was anyone who remained loyal to the King of England. They were called Tories in their own country but Loyalists elsewhere. Most fled to Canada and helped settle that country, particularly Ontario and Nova Scotia

Guide to Finding a Loyalist Ancestor in Upper Canada (Ontario) is available in paperback or as an e-book on and on

Here are some Loyalist resources to help you in your hunt: 

More resources can be found at

May 5, 2021

Find Ancestors in Almshouse & Poorhouse Records

Discharge Ledger 1923-1926

Almshouses (also known as  poorhouses, or hospital) are charitable housing provided to impoverished people in a community.

Almshouses were originally formed as extensions of the church system and were later adapted by local officials and authorities.

 Below are links to online Almshouse records - some free and some pay-to-view. You will also find more links at

United States Almshouse Records

New York Almshouse Records 1782-1813. Records contain name of ancestor, date admitted, age, where from or born, complaint [illness], discharged, died, remarks. 

New York Almshouse Registers

Almshouse Records New York 1819-1840

Almshouse Records New York City 1855-1858

Society for Relief of Half-Orphans & Destitute Children 1900, Manhattan New York

Milwaukee County Almshouse & Poor Farm Cemeteries Wisconsin List of Burials 1872-1892; 194-1974 available at

Child Apprentices (Orphans & Impoverished Children) in America from Christ's Hospital, London 1617-1778: Child Apprentice

Chester County, Pennsylvania, U.S., Poor House Admissions Index, 1800-1910   
Chester County, Pennsylvania, U.S., Poor School Children, 1810-1841   
Canada Almshouse Records

Poor Law Union Immigrants England to Canada 1836-1871

Ireland Almshouse Records

Return of Destitute Poor Removed from England to Ireland, from the 1st day of December 1860 till the 1st day of December 1862

Poor Law Union Removals From England to Ireland, 1859-1860

Ireland, Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1839-1920

Ireland, Sustainability Loan Fund, 1812-1868   

Ireland, Poor Law Union Removals From England, 1859-1860   

UK Almshouse Records

London, England, Poor Law Hospital Admissions and Discharges, 1842-1918
London, England, Poor Law School District Registers, 1852-1918

Leeds Moral & Industrial Training School, Yorkshire, England 1881

Bedfordshire, England, Workhouse and Poor Law Records, 1835-1914

Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, Poorhouse Records, 1888-1912

North Lanarkshire, Scotland, Poor Law Applications and Registers, 1849-1917 

Swansea and Surrounding Area, Wales, Poor Law Union Records, 1836-1916    

Dorset, England, Poor Law Settlement and Removal Records, 1682-1862   
Dorset, England, Poor Law Apprenticeship Records, 1623-1898   
Medway, Kent, England, Poor Law Union Records, 1836-1937   
West Yorkshire, England, Select Removal and Settlement Records, 1689-1866   
West Yorkshire, England, Select Poor Law and Township Records, 1663-1914   
London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1764-1930   
England, Norfolk Poor Law Union Records, 1796-1900   
London, England, Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records, 1698-1930   
Warwickshire, England, Parish Poor Law, 1546-1904   
Dorset, England, Poor Law and Church of England Parish Records, 1511-1997   
London, England, Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1738-1926

May 3, 2021

20 Traits of a Good Genealogist

Most of us want to be good genealogists. We want to do our best to find our ancestors. We want to find the facts,and know that what we found is accurate.

It's never fun to spend time searching an individual's ancestors and adding them to our family tree only to find out it was the wrong person.

That means we need to be thorough and methodical and cautious. We should not accept an ancestor without verifying and double-checking every clue and document we find.

Here's my list of what I believe are the 10 most important characteristics of a good genealogist.

A good genealogist

1. Finds every document possible on an ancestor. He/she does not stop at census and vital registrations but looks beyond to records such as land records, court records, military records, church records,immigration records, education records, newspaper articles, tax and assessment records, etc. A good genealogist looks for more obscure records such as coffin plates, funeral cards, and other miscellaneous records pertaining to the time and location of his/her search.

2. Learns what records have survived for the location and time period for each ancestor's life. Then learns where those records can be found - online and off.

3. Copies documents exactly as found, not as he/she thinks it should be.

4. Cites sources for all facts found. Citing your sources means others can look up what you have written, and verify for themselves. Sources means you've got proof of some kind to support your fact.

5. Never relies blindly on family stories or online family trees, but searches out a source for each. Verify, verify, verify!

6. Makes an accurate copy of all records found. Carefully notes spelling of names while copying and does not make changes.

7. Keeps a research log of all sources checked, and notes if the search was successful or not.

8. Analyzes each record and document carefully in order to spot clues that may lead to other areas of research and to accurately understand what the record is  and is not.

9. Searches siblings of a challenging ancestor in order to find more documents that may hold clues pertaining to his/her ancestor.

10. Leaves no stone (record) unturned. Extends his/her search to records not found online such as in local courthouses or archives.

A good genealogist also tends to have the following personality traits:

1. Attention to detail
2. Perseverance
3. Loves a challenge
4. Passionate about family history
5. Methodical
6. Organized
7. Thinks outside the box
8. Good analytical skills
9. Thinks of themselves as a detective
10. Is patient. Building a family tree isn't a quick fix

What would you add to the list?

April 30, 2021

A Murdering Rogue in My Family Tree

August 5, 1895 in Buffalo, New York was a typically hot summer day. George Greenless, my 1st cousin 3 times removed, was estranged at this time from his wife, Ella 'Nellie' Misener. Hoping to find her at home with her parents, he entered their home and a shouting match ensued.

George then pulled a pistol and shot and killed his mother-in-law. Next he shot and wounded his sister-in-law's fiance Walter Flewell. Flewell later died of his injuries.

George's story is a convoluted one. He was sentenced to life in prison for second degree murder in 1898 and sent to Auburn Prison in New York.

During his trial he became friendly with the warden of the jail where he was held. Later George's Canadian relatives came to New York to testify, and more lurid stories of George's erratic behaviour and mistreatment of his wife came out. A family witness stated that there was a great deal of insanity in the Greenlees family.

In 1909 he was sent to Sing-Sing Prison but was released on parole and married Rachel Roach in 1918 in Buffalo. In 1924 the courts granted George a pardon. He and Rachel had six children before his death in 1928.

His widow Rachel married another Sing-Sing inmate in 1932. William Leonard, her new husband, was sent to prison in 1903, served a short term before release but was back in Sing-Sing in 1904. Another short term resulted but once again he returned to Sing-Sing in 1908 sentenced to 2 to 4 years. I cannot read his crime in the records as the writing is challenging.

Newspapers are amazing, full of genealogy gold! You can try a 14 day free trial at Ancestry to search newspaper records.

Find Ancestors in Historic Insane Asylum Records

Mental Institutions were once called Insane Asylums and those committed to them were deemed lunatics, idiots, imbeciles, crazy, and other terms we now consider derogatory. Many times people committed did not suffer from mental illness. Women were frequently admitted with what we now know was post-partum depression, or menopausal hormone changes. 

For the genealogist, these institutional records are full of information that is horrifying yet important in our genealogy research. Below are some links, both pay-to-view and free, leading you to various online databases of Insane Asylum records.

United States Insane Asylum Records

New York, U.S., Hebrew Infant Asylum Records, 1895-1927   

New York, U.S., Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society Records, 1884-1925   

New York, U.S., Home for Hebrew Infants Records, 1922-1937   
New York, U.S., Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1878-1969   

New York, U.S., Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1860-1934   

UK Insane Asylum Records

Annual return of lunatics: Guisborough Union 1844 Yorkshire England

Annual return of lunatics: Stocksley Union 1844 Yorkshire England

Annual return of lunatics: Richmond Union 1844 Yorkshire England

Annual return of lunatics: Thirsk Union 1844 Yorkshire England

Annual return of lunatics: Stockton Union, Yorkshire England 1869

Annual return of lunatics in the Stockton Union Yorkshire England 1870

Clifton Asylum, Yorkshire England Names of private lunatics in the Asylum at Clifton on 1 January 1869 

England, Criminal Lunatic Asylum Registers, 1820-1843
Bodmin, Cornwall, England, Inmates at St. Lawrence's Asylum, 1840-1900   

Glamorganshire, Wales, Glamorgan County Ayslum Records, 1845-1920    Directories & Member Lists   
Fife, Scotland, Asylum Registers, 1866-1937   

Canada Insane Asylum Records

Toronto Insane Asylum 1841

Annual Report of the Medical Superintendent of the Provincial Hospital for the Insane, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Australia Insane Asylum Records

Victoria, Australia, Lunatic Estates and Register, 1867-1906

New South Wales, Australia, Registers for the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children, 1852 - 1915   
New South Wales, Australia, Hospital & Asylum Records, 1840-1913

Victoria, Australia, Asylum Records, 1853-1940    

Miscellaneous Insane Asylum Records

Olive Tree Genealogy Insane Asylum Records 

Blacksheep Ancestors Insane Asylum Records


April 28, 2021 DNA Kits on Sale! DNA kits are now on sale! Save $40.00 until May 9, 2021

AncestryDNA picks up where the paper trail leaves off. The combination of an individual’s DNA with more than 40 million family trees and 11 billion records on can help people find specific ancestors as far back as the mid-17th century by connecting with living relatives. 
Additionally, AncestryDNA gives people their ethnic breakdown by percentage from 20 populations including the British Isles or Native American—automatically tracing their ethnicity and displaying the results in an interactive and simple way.

AncestryDNA provides consumers with exciting insights into their ethnic background and helps them find relatives who may hold the keys to exciting new family history discoveries. 

Don't miss out on this sale - pick up a few extra for relatives and start your DNA journey.

April 26, 2021

Giveaway Contest! Genealogy at a Glance: Ontario Canada Genealogy Research

If you are hunting for ancestors in Ontario you won't want to miss my new 4-page guide! 

I wrote about how to find genealogy records in Ontario in "Genealogy at a Glance: Ontario Canada Genealogy Research" published by

I have one copy of this guide to give away. One winner will be chosen at random from all entries. 

Entry Requirements

1. Share this blog post on a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook. You may provide a link to this blog post on your own blog as an alternate method of sharing the news. 

2. You must tag me - on Twitter I am @LorineMS and on Facebook @Olivetreegenealogy. You can drop me an email at if you share this blog post on your own blog or other Social Media.

Contest Rules

1. No purchase necessary.
2. Winner will be chosen at random from entries where I am tagged or emailed. See details above for entry requirements
3. One winner will be chosen to receive the giveaway on May 1, 2021
4. Giveaway starts when this blog post is published, and ends at midnight EDT April 30, 2021
5. You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
6. The winner will be notified via social media where entered, and the winner's name will be posted on Olive Tree Genealogy blog.

If you don't win you can purchase a copy. See Genealogy at a Glance: Ontario Canada Genealogy Research

April 23, 2021

NEW! Genealogy at a Glance: Ontario Canada Genealogy Research


If you are hunting for ancestors in Ontario you won't want to miss my new 4-page guide! 

I wrote about how to find genealogy records in Ontario in "Genealogy at a Glance: Ontario Canada Genealogy Research" published by

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, was a wilderness until 1782, when thousands of Loyalists from the United States—fleeing the colonies after the American Revolution—settled along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. They were soon joined by Swiss Mennonites from Pennsylvania, and in the 19th century by emigrants from Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, and other European countries.

Following the format of the other publications in their “At a Glance” series, this guide—in only four, laminated pages—gives you all the information you will need to begin tracing these Ontario, Canada, ancestors. Topics covered include immigration and settlement history; ships’ passenger lists; naturalization records; Loyalists; and census, vital, church, and land records. Throughout the guide are informative tips and numerous online and print resources that will help further your research.

In short, Genealogy at a Glance: Ontario, Canada, Genealogy Research highlights all the basic elements of Ontario family history research in an easy-to-use format, allowing you to grasp the fundamentals of Ontario genealogy “at a glance.”

NOTICE: The company does not ship to Canada. Canadians wishing to purchase the Guide may order one from me by writing to

April 22, 2021

Identifying Ancestor Photographs: Ambrotypes

Ambrotype of the Treadway cousins

Genealogists often have old family photos in their possession or they find some in Great Aunt Matilda's attic. But how do we know when the photograph was taken? One method is to determine what type of photograph it is. 

Photography arrived in the United States in 1839 thanks to Samuel F. B. Morse, an American artist and inventor.The earliest type is the Daguerreotype. Ambrotypes followed, coming into use circa 1854.

Ambrotypes (circa 1854)

The ambrotype was a glass negative backed with black material, which enabled it to appear as a positive image. Patented in 1854, the ambrotype was made, packaged, and sold in portrait studios as the daguerreotype had been, but at a lower cost. The ambrotype produced a single image on glass.

From My Collection of Ambrotypes 

1861 Ambrotype

1858 Ambrotype

Another Civil War era ambrotype of a young woman in day dress with a typical snood and ringlets.  

Don't Be Confused 

Ambrotypes are often confused with daguerreotypes as they are similar in size and usually cased. If the image "disappears" when you move the photo around, it is a daguerreotype, not an ambrotype. Unlike daguerreotypes, which can appear as a positive, negative or reflective (mirror) image, ambrotypes are always a positive image no matter how they are held. 

Learn More

Watch my video Five Types of Early 19th Century Photographs

Read more about ambrotypes on Lost Faces website