Sunday, December 20, 2015

Letters from the Irish Ordnance Survey 1834ish

So this is why I get no housework done - well except for laundry and dishes thanks to modern appliances that do all the work for me! So much for the good old days. haha

This morning I began reading through the Letters from the Irish OS. They are fascinating! I read through an LDS microfilm, 23 years ago, about the church in County Down, Northern Ireland where my families were all baptised, married, and presumably buried from. That film also included the names of all the Church of Ireland priests, their bios, along with their individual pictures. Now reading through these Letters I have a much better idea of what life was like for my Grandfather John GILMOUR bap. 1872, and his parents David GILMORE and Ann CLYDESDALE [m. 1867], and *their* parents Thomas GILMER & Rachel LITTLE [m. 1838] plus Joseph CLYDESDALE and Margaret BINGHAM. It's really interesting to read the OS person's assessment of the priest(s) [one was apparently an "appalling blockhead" haha] who would have held so much power over my ancestors, but these men are also discussing native plants and trees, and those that were imported; the local bogs; streams; vegetation; homes; churches; health; and on it goes. I have also stood upon the ground these people are speaking of. Isn't genealogy just the best? And who cares about housework anyway? hahaha Once I get through County Down I'll move on to County Mayo where some of my Mom's family originated. I'll need an Irish drink by then? LOL


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What Did YOUR Ancestors See? - This Week in History

From FindMyPast - "One of the most amazing things about researching our family is thinking about the life-changing historical events they witnessed firsthand." Slavery ended. Boston Tea Party. First NFL game. First Flight! Did your ancestor see any of these events?

Sorry my postings have been sparse as of late. Tiss the season I guess. I'm not ungrateful for the wonderful events happening in my life, I just wish they didn't all happen at the same time. On the bright side I believe my car can now drive itself to Regina and back, without any input from me. It's certainly done it often enough. haha And the roads remain in very good condition.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Import FTM into Legacy

So now that the news has sunk in a bit, lots of people and companies are offering alternatives. If you have a favorite in mind, a quick Google search will probably offer you suggestions and there are tons of offers. My favorite, for more than a decade, has been Legacy who has just published this "How to import Family Tree Maker into Legacy PLUS your questions answered".

Plus Legacy has reduced the price to help out. And no, I have no affiliation with Legacy. I just like the company, and the support they offer.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

FamilyTreeMaker - GONE

Every once in a while we get a real shocker ... and this qualifies. Ancestry is discontinuing FamilyTreeMaker genealogy software! WOW!!

So far the only information I can find is either on Ancestry's blog, or Facebook, which I cannot link to, but following is from Ancestry's blog. I'm sure there will be much more available really soon. Sheesh!! So glad I've been recommending and using Legacy for a decade.

"Posted by Kendall Hulet on December 8, 2015 in Family Tree Maker

Ancestry is proud to have made a significant investment this year to bring valuable new content and records to the Ancestry site. In 2015, we’ve made 220 million searchable historical records from Mexico available, more than 170 million pages from the largest collection of U.S. will and probate records, among others. We’ve also introduced new features such as Ancestry Academy and major advancements for AncestryDNA.

We remain dedicated to helping people gain new levels of understanding about their lives, and who and what led to them, harnessing the information found in family trees, historical records and genetics. As a company, we’re also continually evaluating ways to focus our efforts to provide the most impact and best product experience for our users through our core offerings.

True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.

Our subscription business and website, on the other hand, continue to grow and we are doubling down our efforts to make that experience even better for our Ancestry community.

Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions. We will also address major software bugs that may occur, as well as compatibility updates.

These changes are never easy, but by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on continuing to build great products for our loyal Ancestry community.

If you have inquiries regarding Family Tree Maker, please reach out to our Member Services team. We’ll also provide updates on our blog as needed leading up to January 1, 2017.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

1812 Database

Another gem from Library and Archives Canada.

"This online database allows you to access more than 45,000 references to names of people who were involved in the War of 1812. Names of Canadian men and women who served were taken from LAC’s unique and vast collection of records, including:
• muster rolls
• pay lists
• claims
• certificates of service
• land grants
• medal registers
Start searching the War of 1812 now!"


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Western Ukraine Tobacco Factory

Thanks to Edmonton branch of Alberta Genealogical Society for the following post on their facebook page. The pictures don't transfer well so if interested do a Google search for 'Edmonton branch Alberta Genealogical Society". This caught my interest as it's the same area my husbands family were from.

Stories from Western Ukraine - Historical Zablotow Tobacco-Fermentation Factory.
Recently I became aware of a special tobacoo-fermentation plant located in the Town of Zablotow, Sniatyn District, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast/Province in Western Ukraine. My relative Jadwiga lives in the town and she provided me with some of the information included.
The plant opened in Austro-Hungary in 1872. For a long time it was famous for its products. In addition to utilizing local raw materials, the company imported tobacco from Latin America, Cuba, Puerto Rica and Brazil.

It was located on 12 acres of fenced property and still has a guard on duty today. Entering the gate, you see tropical gardens & old buildings, not standard factory buildings. Amongst the trees, the creeping ivies are growing well & beautiful Austrian rooms exist. There is a dining room, boiler room, administrative building, a Club with an Orchestra House for visitors, where people could stay. Also included were many garages, mechanical & carpentry workshops, fermentation rooms; the foundation of the plant. The thickness of the walls is about 80 c.m. The cobbled streets of overgrown grass paths have sewage hatches and grating with the Polish markings "Stanislow" and name of the tile maker. Stanislow is the previous oblast/province name for Ivano-Frankivsk. In the center, a monument of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria stood. We have stepped back in time about 100 years. Remnants of the glorious Carpathian tobacco industry. These are the oldest buildings in Zablotow.

At one time a cigar shop operated out of a small building within the complex. Cigars were manually rolled but under Soviet rule production stopped. Instead the plant moved into processing tobacco from Ukraine and produced cigarettes.
The tobacco processing procedure was very long & slow. Originally, the yellow leaves from the bottom withered and gradually the full stems were dried. The drying took about a month and a half. The natural fermentation took place for almost a year in special premises. The chemical reaction reduced the moisture & temperature and less tar & nicotine resulted. There were 5 stages and this is somewhat similar to the principles used in the aging of wines and it had a honey aroma & flavor.

Early on Zablotow and 4 other tobacco plants were operating. There had been 3 in the Ternopil Region and one in Crimea. Today in Ukraine only one tobacco-fermentation plant is in operation at Borschiu (Ternopil Region).
The complex is waiting for a new owner and is a great example of the industrial architecture of the 19th century.

My second cousin's Mother Karoline worked in the factory for many years. However, when it came time for her to retire, the administration building had burnt down previously and there were no papers to prove she had worked there, so no pension was provided to her by the company after World War II.

'Map & sign outside the Front Gate'
'The Guard House.'
'Administrative Building'
'All the entrances are closed and the basement is flooded.'


Monday, November 30, 2015

Source Citations Made Easy

This is an excellent article from FamilyTreeUniversity. It is actually a new course they are promoting, but taken directly from their newsletter is the following:

"Vanessa Wieland
Online Editor
Family Tree University

I had no idea how important source citations would be in my genealogy until I started working with my sister to find our family members. Trying to figure out where I found that information originally means I'm having to redo a lot of my research. But this time around, I know better and I'm making sure I cite every source properly.

Source citations can strike fear into the hearts of genealogists (as well as flashbacks to sophomore year English class), but it need not be all that difficult. Source citations are important to our research and for those who come after us. Once you learn the five elements of a source citation, they'll become something you incorporate naturally into your research and it will make your genealogy stronger.

Why Cite Sources?
As you write something for your family (a blog, a newsletter, or anything, to be honest with you) keep in mind that each time you state a fact that is not common knowledge, you will need to cite your source. Others who read your work will want to know where your information came from. How did you know Aunt Edna was married four times? Did you find it in her obit or did someone tell you? Did you see the marriage certificates? By citing a source, you are telling your readers that you've done the work and you can show them where you found that information.

In our course, Source Citations for Genealogists, you'll learn that there is nothing to fear. Instructor Shannon Combs-Bennett will teach you why source citation is important, as well as how to create citations for different records and how to develop a template to expedite future source citations. Read an excerpt from the course below!

5 Elements of a Genealogy Source Citation

While there are suggested ways you should do a source citation there is not a true wrong way or right way. It comes down to adhering to the components of a citation listed below. Once you know these, you will be comfortable enough to adjust yours as needed when you run into an out-of-the-ordinary record.

There are 5 key elements to a successful source citation. Most should be pretty simple to understand, but let’s go through them one by one.

These elements are:

• Who created the information (author, editor, transcriber, etc.)
• What is the title of the source
• When the record was created or published
• Where in the record the information is located (volume, page, etc.)
• Where is the source physically located (archive, library, etc.)

Let’s break this down a bit and further define each component.

“Who” specifically refers to the author or creator of the source. It may be a person or it could be an organization. There are two reasons you wouldn’t list a “who.”
• If it is unknown, like the writer of a historic newspaper article, which typically did not list writer’s names.
• If it is the same entity that published the item and the “who” is also the title of the work.

“What” refers to the source’s title. Underlining, italics and capitalization rules for publications apply here. If the item does not have a title, we create a description for it. The description lets others know exactly what the material is. For example “Letter written by John Doe to his wife Jane.” If you think the title doesn’t make it clear what type of a source it is, you can add descriptive words after it such as database, transcript, image, etc.

“When” refers to the date the media was published. Years are used for books. Months, quarters, or seasons are added for journals and magazines. Full dates are used for newspapers, downloads of online information, and unpublished sources if applicable. If the item is undated we can state that by using the letters ND for “no date.” However, if we can estimate a publication date, then we should try to do so. This can be done by simply showing the estimated date range or writing “likely the 1880s.”

“Where in” refers to the specific place in the source where the information is located. The place is a page number, volume number, chapter title, or etc. If the record is an unbound source, or has no page numbers, you can identify the information on the page you are citing by describing it. For instance “birth dates chronologically listed on loose page in file.”

“Where is” refers to the specific physical location of the source. Did you find it online, in a library, at an archive, or is it held privately? This can get very complicated, but remember, you want to work from small to large. Start with the collection name (the smallest where) and work your way up to the state or country (the largest where) listing all the information about the location of the source as you go.

Once you have these 5 elements, learn more about source citations and how you can incorporate them into your genealogy with Source Citations for Genealogists. Soon, they'll become second nature!"

Anyone interested in enrolling in this course


Catholic Parish Registers at National Library of Ireland

This has been available for a short while, so if you've not seen it before here ya go. You can search by parish name and also see it on a map. As with all things Irish you really need to understand the background.


Sask. Hit Hard by Loss of Long-Form Census

So thank goodness it's back! Many people, genealogists included, are really unclear of why that long-form census is so critical. Here's a very short explanation by the former chief statistician at Statistics Canada who resigned over the long-form census issue. He says Saskatchewan was the province hurt the most when that data wasn't collected.

And think how wonderful it would be to find one for an ancestor! One piece of advice I was given decades ago was to photocopy my own completed form before returning it. I've done that and now have several in a safe, private place that will probably be of interest to a descendant. They are even of interest to me as I read them once in a blue moon. haha


'Secret' Details in the USA 1940 Census

This is a good tip. 5% of individuals listed in the 1940 USA census, or approximately 2 on every page, were asked additional questions about their lives!! Given that most families have multiple members listed on a page your chances of having a relation included are pretty good. Learn how to spot if your ancestor was selected.


Good Solid Advice From Experts

This is a very neat website from Vita Brevis which is a blog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, designed to offer the reader short essays by the Society’s expert staff on their own research as well as news of the greater genealogical community.

The articles are not necessarily just for those with NE research as there are many with good solid advice for all of us.


Ukrainians Starved to Death by Russia

This is something many people have never heard of, but it's a horrendous part of history, and relatively recent happening in 1932 - 33.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Canadian Farming - the INTERESTING big picture

So this week is Agribition in Regina Saskatchewan. A time for those who make their living off the land to gather in a BIG way. It is truly an international event with hundreds coming from countries around the world to learn new techniques, or to sell their products, or just make new contacts. Farming is a VERY BIG business these days, and certainly requires a healthy bank account. For more about Agribition

Having been raised on a Saskatchewan farm - a day or two ago haha - I found these facts most interesting and I suspect you will too. The source is "The Real DIRT on Farming" Saskatchewan Digest Edition. I picked up their magazine at a Co-op Grocery Store. But of course they also have a website

So here's the facts that I wanted to share with you.

One hundred years ago ... over half of Canada's population farmed. Today less that 2% of Canadians are farmers.

In 1931, one in three Canadians lived on a farm.
Today, it's only one in 50.

There's no such thing as a "typical" Canadian farm.

In 1900, one farmer produced enough food for 10 people.
50 cents of every dollar Canadians earned was spent on food.
Today, that same farmer can feed well over 120 people.
And we spend just over 10 cents of every dollar on food.

Less than 2% of Canadians feed the other 98 per cent as well as helping to feed people right around the world.

Farming is different in each province.
Saskatchewan has almost 37,000 farms with grain, oilseed and beef being the most popular types.

PEI has about 1,500 farms that are mostly dairy, fruits, vegetables (like potatoes) and plants.

Quebec's almost 30,000 farms lead the country in dairy and pork production.

Saskatchewan: the average age of a farmer is 54. More than 70% are men. The average farm size in Sask. is 1,668 acres which is more than DOUBLE the Canadian average. Pat's note: the original Prairie homesteader got 160 acres.

Just under half of Canada's farmers also have a job off the farm to earn additional income. More than 50% of all farmers has some form on post-secondary education.

So now you know.

There is a lot more information on the website for anyone interested. I guess we should all be interested in where our food comes from? I'm still love my little vegetable garden and still 'put up' food for the winter. Another one of those habits that die hard perhaps?


Lost Cousins Newsletter - FREE

I've blogged about this so often, but I know there are constantly new readers (Welcome!!), so for anyone with British ancestry there is a new magazine published every month ... and put online for FREE. But why not join Lost Cousins which is also FREE?

Anyway here's this months magazine


German Families CALL NAMES

Germany calling
Posted on November 28, 2015 by Judy G. Russell

Those forgotten other names

She was married 109 years ago today, in the City of Chicago, Cook, County, Illinois.

Hattie_Paul_Knop_marriageHattie Geisler — oldest sister of The Legal Genealogist‘s grandfather Hugo Ernst Geissler — was married on this date 109 years ago.

The marriage was before the Honorable Joseph Arne, Justice of the Peace of Cook County. Her groom: Paul Knop.1

There’s no doubt of the name on the marriage certificate. You can click on the image and see it larger. Hattie Geisler marrying Paul Knop.

And therein lies the tale.

Because every other record I could find for Hattie told me the same thing.

Her name was Hattie Geisler Knop.

So says the 1910 U.S. census of Chicago: Hattie was recorded as Hattie Knop, age 27, born in Germany of German parents, living with Paul and their then-one-year-old son Irving.2

So says the 1930 U.S. census of Chicago: Hattie was recorded as Hattie Knop, age 48, born in Germany of German parents, living with Paul and their then-21-year-old son Irving.3

So says the 1940 U.S. census of Chicago: she was recorded there too as Hattie Knop, age 59, born in Germany of German parents, living with Paul.4 Son Irving and his new wife were living next door.5

So says each of the family death notices in the Chicago Tribune: when Paul died in 1945, his widow was identified as Hattie;6; when Irving died in 1961, his mother was identified as Hattie;7 when Hattie herself died in 1966, her own death notice identified her as Hattie E. Knop.8

So why, I kept asking myself, couldn’t I find her immigration record? Her entry into the United States?

There was just one hitch.

One thing I kept forgetting.

That minor little issue in German families — something known as call names. Something that’s simply a fact of life for anyone with German ancestry.9

The minor little issue that what someone is called isn’t necessary what that person’s name was.

Oh, Hattie is for sure what she was called. And what she called herself here in the United States.

But when she was born in the village of Bad Köstritz in what is now the German State of Thüringen and was then the tiny principality of Reuss jüngerer Linie,10 her name wasn’t Hattie.

The name she was born with, baptized with — her legal name as it was given — was Emma Hedwig.11

Not Hattie.


Which is how her immigration record really is recorded.

Call names.

For those of us with German ancestry, something not to be forgotten.

And something I was reminded of, on this anniversary of Hattie’s marriage to her beloved Paul.


Cook County, Illinois, Marriage License and Return No. 447077, Paul Knop-Hattie Geisler, 28 Nov 1906. She used the Geisler spelling instead of the Geissler spelling my grandfather preferred. ↩
1910 U.S. census, Cook County, IL, Chicago Ward 31, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 1358, p. 269(B) (stamped), dwelling 106, family 148, Hattie Knop; digital image, ( : accessed 14 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 277. ↩
1930 U.S. census, Cook County, IL, Chicago 15th Precinct, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 16-2542, p. 25(A) (stamped), dwelling 217, family 284, Hattie Knop; digital image, ( : accessed 14 Oct 2011); citing National Archive microfilm publication T626, roll 439. ↩
1940 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, Chicago 16th Ward, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 103-1109, sheet 9B, household 199, Hattie Knop; digital image, ( : accessed 27 Nov 2015); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 954. ↩
Ibid., household 201. ↩
Chicago Tribune, death notice, Paul Knop, 11 Nov 1945. ↩
Chicago Tribune, death notice, Irving L. Knop, 15 June 1961. ↩
Chicago Tribune, death notice, Hattie E. Knop, 26 Sep 1966. ↩
See Anne S. Riepe, “German Naming Customs,” Riepe Roots ( : accessed 27 Nov 2015). ↩
See Wikipedia (, “Principality of Reuss-Gera,” rev. 9 Oct 2015. ↩
Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Taufregister Seite 23 Nr. 52 aus 1881, Baptismal Record of Emma Hedwig Geissler (digital image of record in possession of JG Russell). ↩

Thanks to Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist for the above.


SALE on AncestryDNA

Yeah, it's great if you're in the USA ... $69.00

For Canadians the SALE price is $119.00!!! What the H_ll is *that* all about?

This is me feeling so NOT impressed! >:( :-@

At least it's a lovely day outside.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

5 FREE Genealogy Ebooks

From everyone's friend Thomas MacEntee, here is an awesome offer. He is offering five of his Ebooks, FREE!! You don't even need an ebook reader to take advantage. Remember this is for tomorrow only 27 Nov, 2015.

Happy USA Thanksgiving!!

Update: Friday 27 Nov. I've just bought all 5 books for $0.00 and they are on my Kindle waiting for me!! In case you already have an account with Kindle ( you can still click on the link where Thomas suggests, and then look to the right side of the page that opens to where it says you can go to the Canadian version ( Works like a charm!! And there are other offers if you read all the way through Thomas' offer. Happy FREE shopping!!


Any Pilgrim Descendants?

On this USA Thanksgiving Day, instead of thinking about shopping, I'm wondering if any of my readers are descendants of the Mayflower passengers?

Here is a cemetery that has been used for burials by Plymouth residents since the 1620s


Black Loyalists to Nova Scotia, 1783

Anyone interested should definitely read through the background information available through the link below.

"Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the launch of a new online database, Carleton Papers―Book of Negroes, 1783.

This online database allows you to access close to 3,000 references to names of Black Loyalists. Names were taken from the Book of Negroes, a register containing details about Black Loyalists evacuated from the port of New York at the end of the American Revolution (1776–1783); their final destination was Nova Scotia.

Start searching the Carleton Papers—Book of Negroes now!"


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

FindMyPast 75% OFF

For anyone interested in a year's subscription to FindMyPast now could be the time to do it as they are offering 75% off a World Subscription until 30 Nov. 2015 - part of Black Friday. "After the initial 12 month period, your subscription will be automatically renewed at the normal price unless you un-tick the 'auto-renew' my subscription box in the My Account section of the site." It's a very easy thing to do.

Use code: "THNKSGNG15" [which apparently you DO need]. Click on the link below. Then click on "Claim your 75% Black Friday discount Activate Your Coupon". It will say the discount is no longer valid or something like that. Look to the right and find the box that says "Got a Discount Code?" and in the code box type "THNKSGNG15" and you're good to go! .


Regina Branch of SGS - I'll be there!!

So tonight, 24 Nov, is my final speaking presentation for 2015. It has been a very busy year for me. I am honoured to have been invited to speak to the Regina Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society. This will be my second year in a row so it's becoming a tradition? haha Tonight I am going to share a presentation I've written on why we need maps, how we use them, where to find them, and how we cannot do genealogy without them. It's also their pot luck night so should be fun ... as always!!


Menus of the 1850s and 1860s

OK not really genealogy news, but interesting to read for sure! Especially if you had anyone alive in these decades ... as we all did. And the choices were VERY different than today. Not saying that's a good thing though. haha


Monday, November 23, 2015

PRONI - uh oh?

The header says "PRONI website to undergo major changes" and I've seldom seen such an announcement ever be anything positive for genealogists. sigh Time will tell. Have a gander for yourself

There is so much available on the PRONI website now ... maybe I'll spend some time in there making sure I get everything out before changes take place. If you've not been here ya go


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Learning Ancestry website

I sometimes forget how much there is to learn as our genealogy curiosity grows. I have watched my subscription to Ancestry ... grow? Well at least the cost has certainly grown. I continue to renew said subscription as the company and records also continue to grow, and I continue to find relevant information. So for those of us who've been 'at it' for eons, and for those who are new, it's always good to use all the free stuff offered such as from their Learning Centre

Read on group!!


Your Thoughts - 1901 to today

A very informed short video of how many of us are living with misinformed beliefs!! What do YOU think 1901 ancestral Canadian families looked like? Were they mostly hetro couples, led by the male? Were there many women head of households? Were there nuclear families? You may be quite surprised!!

Thanks to John REID for digging this one up. Sometimes we let our beliefs get in the way of solid research.


Time to MRCA

Now if you're thinking what the heck is MRCA, my favorite genealogist has written an excellent article that helps explain some important details regarding DNA investigations using a real example. Thanks again to Judy G. RUSSELL for explaining 'hard' stuff in such an easy to understand way. BTW, MRCA stands for 'most recent common ancestor'.


Irish Help from SWilson

This is quite an amazing website which I just stumbled on. I've checked out a few of the features and the results were consistent with what I have learned elsewhere so I'd say go ahead and use it. Who knows what I might also learn here? i didn't want to do any housework today anyway!! haha

There does also appear to be a goodly amount of RC help here which is not always easy to locate.


STOP 'Saving' Records to Your Ancestry Tree

Hmmmm this article explains a lot! Here's a short exerp

"It's easy to get started with, maintain and share (or keep private). Plus, they've made it extremely convenient to add records from Ancestry's databases. A couple of clicks and you can easily attach any number of sources, or names, to your tree (although we could tell you why that's generally a bad idea)."

The article goes on to explain that you are really NOT saving Ancestry records to people in your tree by doing this!! So I'd suggest reading the article to not find this nasty surprise one day when all those lovely records you'd 'saved' were never saved to your tree ... and they're all gone. Sheesh!

I do not have a tree on Ancestry. Not sure I ever will, but I do know there are tons of people who do ... and I have heard stories from some who have had this happen. Forewarned is forearmed.


You are Related to Everybody ... Twice!

While this is not actually the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it is an interesting chart to look at.


The Halifax Explosion and Boston

So what do the two have to do with each other? It's why Halifax gives Boston a gorgeous FREE Christmas tree, and has every year for 45 years!! When I was in Boston it was the middle of summer, so no Christmas tree. haha

Thanks to Linda T. for sharing this story. Read about it


Friday, November 20, 2015

UEL - United Empire Loyalists

Another new database from Library Archives Canada!!

This online database allows you to access more than 54,000 references to names of Loyalists and British soldiers. Names were taken from the British Headquarters Papers, New York―also known as the Carleton Papers―which include a variety of documents about Loyalist soldiers, civilian refugees, as well as British and German soldiers who settled in Canada after the American Revolution

Hope you've done the LAC survey!! It's important. Once the big guys understand how many genealogists use LAC they will begin to listen to us and perhaps even cater to our needs.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Survey from LAC

This is an important way we can finally have a say in what goes on at Library and Archives Canada.

I usually say "No" to telephone or online surveys, but this one is different as it will affect us all as genealogists. The records held by LAC are the records of Canadians, past and present. They are our family records. Take 10 mins and show them how many genealogists there are ... what is important to us ... and that we Canadians don't all live within Ottawa!


British Home Children - NEW Entries!!

This is pretty massive. I've talked about this in my Unpuzzling Your Past Course for decades, but just today Library and Archives Canada has announced the launch of a new version of its online database

We have known about the 100,000 children sent to Canada between 1869 and 1932, but now the database has more than 245,000 entries for British children. That is a HUGE increase! And if you've never heard of it before, and don't believe that any of your family members could be in it ... please realize that 'home children' almost NEVER talked about what happened to them. The number used to be 11% of Canada's population came from 'home children'. With the numbers over doubling now, you do the math.

Take time to read through the information available before you leave the site!! Read. Read. Read.


Scottish - New Records

ScotlandsPeople has just released a new series of records, searchable online

If you've not been using this fabulous website you are in for a major treat!! Scotland Kept some of the BEST records of anywhere, and now a great many are available online at ScotlandsPeople!! Before this site was available I paid something like $35.00CA for my Dad's birth registration. On ScotlandsPeople it would cost me less than $3.00CA.

So they keep adding new records and today the Military Service Appeals Tribunal records appeared. They are records of those who sought exemption from military service, and the reasons why. Even if you don't find anyone, the examples shown make for an interesting - usually sad - peek into Scottish lives.

And don't miss all the other record types they have ... listed on the left side of the home page. There is a wealth of free information on the site - great background details.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top 10 Blog Posts

My friend Lisa Louise Cooke is celebrating her 1000th Genealogy Gems blog post with a list of her top 10 posts. Congratulations Lisa!! Some great info here


Special 'Shout-outs' To My Students

I have decided to continue posting lots and lots of genealogy information here, and leaving it open to anyone who cares to read it, for FREE. However, I have also decided to share some 'special' information with only those who have taken classes with me beginning way back in the late 1990s. It is my way of saying "Thanks"!!

I have kept really good records, but if you have been missed please contact me so I can add you to that special group. It may only be that you need to update your email address with me. Amazingly there were only five email addresses that bounced with my first shout out that went out to ... wait for it ... 500 people! I am truly blessed with faithful students, some of whom have taken the same class with me three different times saying they learn valuable new skills, and new web links each time.

And a most welcome thing is happening since my first 'shout-out'. I am hearing back from people I may not have seen for quite some time AND they're sharing their stories with me. I love love love it! Thanks folks. Till next time ...


Irish in Chicago & Great Lakes Area!!

There is a presentation on YouTube that talks about the Irish who came to the Great Lakes area. The first speaker talks about the Irish in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York and mentions various record types available to search.

The second speaker talks in depth about the Irish who ended up in Chicago and area. She presents lots of great background information. She also talks about records available for the railroad workers and canal workers in 19th Century Chicago area. A couple details that struck me: the fact that the pre-famine Irish arrivals worked on the canals and later on building churches. They were more skilled as Ulster masons etc so had better jobs that paid well. Post-famine Irish were more likely to be from the Republic and had few skills. They worked on the railroad which included the RR yards - a dangerous place to work and live.

The presentation takes place in Ireland, and you can listen AND watch for FREE
here Both speakers are residents of the USA so there is no language barrier.


Irish - Ask the Experts

Brian Donovan, Irish genealogy expert, answers some questions that could be helpful for all of you!! Have a read


WWI Service Files FREE - Update

I blogged a while back about the service files that Library Archives Canada are digitizing and making available to all of us, for FREE. Here's my post

I suggested that you keep checking back as they continue posting until complete sometime in 2018. In case you've forgotten [hahaha] there are lots of new ones online now. Best of luck


Friday, November 13, 2015

Where Are the Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

Over at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog they've been having some interesting discussions regarding why American genealogists are so numerous (and well known!), whilst we Canadian genealogists are so ... hmmmm ... Canadian? Meaning we don't 'toot our own horns' and so we often remain relatively unknown other than perhaps locally. So a request was posted - send in the name(s) of whomever YOU would like to see recognized. AND my name and blog was submitted [not by me!!] haha Thank you so very much!!! It is truly and very much appreciated.

I was also on the list of 'RockStar Genealogists', but didn't make the list this year. That also takes being nominated. Recently I was taken to task by a student for not letting my readers/students/conference attendees etc. know about these contests. Point taken. So now I've done this much ............. and it was kind of hard to do.

Thanks too to the folks at the Olive Tree for her wonderful website AND for starting this conversation on her blog!!


More Online Classes - FREE

Just discovered this wonderful resource from the New England Historical Genealogical Society [NEHGS]. Lots of information for those searching New E, BUT there are also two free webinars for those with Canadian interests! The link will take you to the two most recent offerings, but you will notice that the "French Canadian Resources" happened 12 Nov. which was yesterday for those reading this live. No fears though as this has been archived and is still available along with numerous other webinars on various topics. I stopped watching the archived "New York Resources at NEHGS" just long enough to write this post! It's good! And I'm not a member, yet.

The upcoming webinar featuring Canadian resources is titled "Atlantic-Canadian Resources at NEHGS" and is scheduled for 10 Dec. 2015.

What an amazing world we live in! Now if we could just figure out how to participate in everything we'd like to. What a glorious first world problem to have!! Here's the link

I found it frustrating that I could not enlarge the screen so I could actually read what the presenter was showing. So ... I clicked on the YouTube option (bottom of the screen you're watching], and then chose the enlarge feature when on YouTube. Now it works like I want it to and I can read every single screen he's showing. Ahhhhhh love it! Hope this helps.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ottawa Valley Irish

"If your ancestors were amongst the early Irish of the Ottawa Valley, do not overlook the McCabe List. There’s a chance you might find a male ancestor on this list; and if you do find an ancestor, you will have uncovered invaluable information on his Irish origins. To discover an ancestor on the McCabe List is to find the elusive holy grail (county, parish, townland) of Irish genealogy. If you suspect your Irish ancestor was in the Ottawa Valley area by the 1820s, therefore, the McCabe List should be high on your list of must-consult sources."

Many people assume their Irish ancestors all came during the Great Famine, but many came much earlier. It never hurts to look, right? Best of luck!!


Canada's Last WWI Vet

Here is the amazing story of John Henry Foster BABCOCK who lived from 1900 - 2010, complete with documents and photos. Mr. BABCOCK was Canada's last surviving WWI veteran. He was a United Empire Loyalist. It is quite a story, and well worth reading.


The Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial

The Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial

This web site commemorates Saskatchewan’s war dead. Those men and women who perished in service to their country for the high ideals of peace and freedom. It has been created to supplement the physical War Memorial located on the grounds of the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina, SK.

You can search the database of more than 11,000 war casualties and find quite a bit of information. Here you will find casualties from WWI, WWII, WWII BCATP, WWII Ferry Command, Korea, Afghanistan, Boer War, Conflict of 1885 and peacekeeping missions around the world.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Illinois State Genealogical Society 2016: Webinars FREE

So for all those folks who read the header, and chose not to read further ... hahaha ... too bad for them! Am I being nasty today? I don't think so. We too often tune out information from areas we're not researching in only to find out that there was important stuff we missed. Such is the case today I believe.

This society is very active, and has some amazing information in their newsletter which they have made available to members AND non-members! Wow!! Who does that? For instance there is detailed information on how to use Facebook for genealogy. This article is written by Thomas MacEntee ... a VERY qualified genealogist who happens to be a member of ISGS. The things you find when you're not lookin' and only readin'!! haha READ. READ. READ.

And then of course they are offering one webinar each month throughout 2016, free to everyone!! They have some great topics and super great presenters. Have a peek


Procrastination Thinking?

I know we are all supposed to "keep our eye on the prize". And stop following "something shiny". Pick one question, and desired result, and work only on that. Choose one family member and concentrate on only that person.

And for the most part these sayings all contribute to sage advice ... probably having come from those who have learned the hard way how confused, and lost, we get when we continue to wander around aimlessly ... especially online. BUT

following is a well written short article showing 'the benefits to research of procrastination'. Ignore the specifics of a certain country in the article. Just open your mind to what you can teach yourself by doing some 'procrastination thinking'. I think I just invented a new term AND I love that term!!! LOL I'm always doing this kind of thinking ... I just never had a well-defined term for it. And it sounds so much more professional than chasing 'something shiny'!! haha For instance when I first began using the Scottish CDs 1881 census eons ago, I ran searches to see how many 'GILMOUR' entries (all spellings) existed in my county of interest, and I was shocked to find over 1,500 of them! I was pretty new at research at that time, but I remember my ego being bruised as I truly believed my family of that surname were unique! hahaha

Article is at


Monday, November 9, 2015

FREE - Soldiers of WW1 Canada

Library and Archives Canada has been digitizing personnel service files from WW1, and making them available, online and free. Here's the blurp for today 9th Nov., 2015

"The digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) service files is underway and a substantial number of digitized files have been added to our website as part of the Government of Canada First World War commemoration activities. We will add new files every two weeks, as the CEF digitization initiative is a priority for us. LAC will ensure that Canadians have access to the files throughout the digitization process, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

As of today, 205,064 of 640,000 files are available in the database."

Many of the normal pay-for-view, or subscription sites have been offering free searches from Sunday (yesterday) until Nov. 11th. They're easy to find. But LAC's website is ALWAYS Free, although not nearly as progressive due, in large part, to political influences from our last federal government. Anyway, these service files have amazing information in them. I am not normally interested in military records, but my Scottish grandfather had a nephew that followed my Granddad to Canada and ended up back in the British Isles, and France, in WW1 where he lost a leg. I remember him very well. He had a peg leg ... AND a parrot!! True story. Anyway, his service files have been digitized and I read through all 81 pages! Incredible amounts of information ... some details were more than I really wanted to know.

So while they're not even half way through the digitization process, have a look. Best of luck everyone. And Thank You to all those brave young men, women, and animals. We are FREE.


Weyburn SK Statue to Pioneer Women

One group of pioneers that has been overlooked is our female ancestors. Weyburn Saskatchewan has commissioned and erected a sculpture, and is now working on an ebook to remember and commemorate those women and their stories.

Here's an explanation of the beginnings of this idea

Contact information is in the link above. Looks like the Weyburn Public Library would be able to help. They are looking for input for their ebook. Anyone have a story to share with them? What is not clear to me is if they want stories ONLY from Weyburn area? Anyone know?


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Genealogy in the Park - photo

From my friends in Edmonton at this weekends Genealogy in the Park. Thanks guys!! I ended up babysitting my sick granddaughter, but thought of you all day. I'm sure it was spectacular!! Sorry for the poor quality photo of that handsome guy ... it's the best I could manage from Facebook, to phone photo, to blog. Where there's a will there's a way? Lol


Thursday, November 5, 2015

50 Free Genealogy Sites

So here they are, but take my advice ... if you EVER get a chance to take a class, or a lesson, for any one of these websites ... for goodness sake TAKE THE CLASS!!!!

Yes, the sites are free.

BUT without some knowledge you WILL miss all the 'good stuff' inside - and you'll never know what you missed. I see it with people every single day.

Anyway, best of luck


Porters & Domestics 1899 - 1949, Immigrants to Canada

A brand new database from LAC!!

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the launch of a new online database, Immigrants to Canada, Porters and Domestics, 1899–1949.

This online database allows you to access more than 8,600 references to individuals who came to Canada as porters or domestics between 1899 and 1949. Names were taken from lists contained in the Central Registry Files series of the Immigration Branch (RG76 BIA) and other files held at LAC.
Start searching porters and domestics now!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why Can't I Be Two Places at Once? Kelowna & Maritimes

I had the most wonderful invitation!!! Come to Kelowna, Sept 23 - 25th, 2016 and do four or more presentations at their "Harvest Your Family Tree" conference which has grown into one of the largest conferences in western Canada. YIPPEEEEEE!!!! So excited!!!!!

But guess what? Look at calendar. I am already booked for that weekend! Nooooooooooo. Sigh. Not that I don't want to go where I'm booked ... it's a life long dream ... but I want to go to Kelowna too!!! Double sigh.

Sooooooo April 10th, 2016 Kelowna will also be hosting an all-day workshop with Scottish specialist, Christine Woodcock. My Dad was born in Scotland. I'm very interested in Scottish research. Maybe I could go to that seeing as I'll already be in Victoria BC. Quick. Look up travel tickets. Figures. I come home April 6th. Triple sigh.

So no matter which coast I'm on, east or west, it will always be the opposite one for the fun festivities at Kelowna. Quadruple sigh. BUT, perhaps some of you can take advantage? I'll talk more about both these events as they get a little closer. GREAT guest speakers coming!!!!!


Genealogy in the Park - November 7, 2015

I blogged about this way a couple times back in October, but now it's near enough to jump into your car and head on over to Edmonton ...

Here is an opportunity not to be missed!! Featured guest speaker is the one and only, world renown genealogist, author, and 'famous person' Dave OBEE. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Victoria for his work as a historian, genealogist and journalist. In 2014 he was presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian award for his work as a community volunteer. Oh and he is NEVER boring. haha Dave has four exciting topics [Genealogy by Google; Beyond the Online Basics; Decoding the Dash; and The Geography of Genealogy in Europe.

The program runs from 9:30am until 3:30pm. They still have a few spots available. Tell them Pat sent you?!! haha Information at

GREAT program and awesome opportunity organized by by my dear friend and colleague Shannon Cherkowski. Trust me, if you can go you will LOVE it!!


Kindertransport Children

"One of the truly remarkable stories that came out of World War II was the story of the Kindertransport children. Nine months prior to the start of World War II, an effort was made to rescue more than 10,000 Jewish children from an almost certain death as the Nazi government was becoming increasingly hostile to the Jewish population in Europe. Through the efforts of a handful of concerned people, children were taken from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Danzig and Poland and relocated with families throughout the British Isles."

If you'd like to read more about this little known story, and/or follow the historical records created about these children, go to

Pat [who woke to find her world outside all WHITE!]

Monday, November 2, 2015

Day of the Dead - Dia de Muertos

I have visited numerous cemeteries in numerous countries - it's just something genealogists do, right? haha Anyway there are always lots of remnants from this holiday in Spanish speaking countries. It's always interesting to see what people have brought to share with their dearly departed ones. Instead of being a sad spot, their cemeteries become a place of festivities ... at least for three days every year. Apparently it's like All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day for Christians in November. Maybe they're onto something? I've never taken part, but then November is perhaps not the best choice - at least for Canadians?

From Find A Grave: "Today is the last day of the Mexican holiday Dia de Muertos where families gather for three days to pray for, and remember, those who have died.

Traditions include buidling ofrendas (private altars), honouring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as giflts. Another tradition is the painting of faces to represent 'La Calavera Catrina'," ...

For images GREAT ideas for Halloween next year? I'm not near so talented.

Pat (BTW, we had 182 little trick or treaters this years and they arrived in the BEST costumes ever. Plus they were super polite. It was a really fun evening). Now onto poppies, and then Christmas. Saw my first two Christmas commercials this morning, 01st of November. sigh

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween in Irish Folklore

Some superstitions and festivities which once surrounded Halloween in Ireland. Spooky!!

Halloween Apples!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

WOW!!!! WE Were the FIRST to See!!!

Yesterday my group of students did our final lessons at the Saskatchewan Provincial Archives, and again we had sooooooooooo many successes!!!! Most notably my long time, dear friend Rob Dilts, excitedly shared his numerous findings with us about the 'questionnaires to early settlers' of this province that have been housed at SAB, and are now being microfilmed by the GSU!! His, and his assistant Lisa's excitement, was palpable. As they shared some of their findings with my group we were immediately drawn in and 'got' the heart felt stories. And several of my incredible students shared stories from their own families that added personal dimension. These are not just stories. These are true facts saved on paper by thoughtful immigrants from all over the World who settled in this mighty Province of Saskatchewan. Might there be some of your ancestors stories here? Who knows?

I am sooooo happy to have had my group of students be the FIRST to share in these incredible new stories that will soon become a new record group!! My students will always remember this - me too. We were the FIRST!! Best of wishes to all who search this new database as it grows. And THANKS to those doing the microfilming that will make these awesome records available to all of us!! That would be the LDS [aka Mormons]. Here's the beginnings

I love organizing my classes, and teaching!!

The HUGE Genealogy Mistake We All Need to Stop Making Now!

Here is the first few lines of an article EVERY genealogist should read!!

"Whether you’re just starting out on your genealogy journey, or have been at it for years, you have likely made (many) mistakes. Unless you’ve been professionally trained in research techniques and etiquette (and even if you have) mistakes are part of the process and offer an opportunity to learn and grow as a researcher.

But sometimes mistakes become habits, ones that are very hard to break. And when one person persists in repeating a mistake, others are likely to follow."

Continue to read the full article ... plus the comments below the article are VERY telling!!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Soldiers of the Queen

I'm not a military researcher, but this site might be of great interest to many of you. It's from the Victorian era, but if you scroll down ... on the right there are links to numerous countries including Canada. Best of luck


Finding FREE Genealogy Sites

I've only played with this for a short time, but it's all free so nothing to lose! It's from Family History Daily and says

"Looking for a simple way to search millions of records from dozens of genealogy websites in one place? This free genealogy search allows you to quickly locate documents for your family tree on a wide variety of large research sites, in state and regional archives and on government record pages.

You will find access to birth, death, marriage and immigration records, archived newspapers, national archives, biographies and much more. We have made every effort to make sure that the sites searched by this engine are 100% free. However, some may ask you to sign up for free access and others may link to additional resources that cost a fee. Please keep that in mind when searching."

Give doGenealogy a try


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Happy Halloween, Bram Stoker, & Dracula

Thanks again to Mr. Mike Collins, author of A Letter from Ireland Vol. 1 & 2 available here

Next week sees the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-en - Sow as in pig) - more commonly called Halloween these days. Where's the year going? Let's now look at a Samhain/Halloween-related story instead - a time of the year when the dead and the living traditionally come closer to one another.

Now to catch up with Charlotte ...


Charlotte Blake Thornley was born in Sligo town in 1818. While she was still a young girl, a cholera epidemic hit Sligo with a huge force in 1832. And this followed on from two successive years of a failure in the potato crop. The bodies mounted up all around her - and local carpenters could not source enough wood to keep up with the required coffins for burials. It must have been a horrific place to live each, to see those corpses line the streets of your home town - and wondering which of your families and friends might be next. Also, some of these supposed "corpses" were still living, too weak to pull themselves back to the living - a horrific thought for a a young girl to endure.

Charlotte came from two of the most illustrious families of Ireland - the Blakes of Galway (one of the Tribes of Galway), and the O'Donnells of Tirconnell. She later married and left Sligo for Dublin, and it is said that she was always a prodigious story-teller - remembering many of the folk tales that had been passed down through her Irish families.

Her third child remained sick for an extended period of time, and he later recalled how she would pass on many of these stories to keep them entertained on the long days spent together. This son went on to write one of the most widely-read books in the world. His name was Abraham - "Bram" - Stoker, and he was the writer who provided us with Dracula. Have you ever read the original book? I do remember staying up late to watch an old Dracula movie as a youngster - eventually ending up watching from behind the sofa, one hand over my eyes. It took less to scare us back in those days!

It's thought that Charlotte filled Bram's head with old Irish stories, and her first-hand accounts of the horrors she witnessed during the Sligo cholera epidemic. She also told him of myths such as the blood-drinking dwarf of Ulster called the "Leacht Abhartach (evil dwarf), whom was killed and buried, but kept on coming back to life. In the end, it was only a sword made of Yew wood that killed him for good.

Or maybe she told young Bram of the "fear an drach fhola", meaning "man of bad blood". Interesting that the last two words "drach fhola" are pronounced "Drawk-ola".

So, although Bram Stoker may have left Ireland for London in 1878, it seems that he brought a large part of his mother's stories and imagination with him. He published his novel, Dracula, in 1897 - and the nightmarish characters and adventures he detailed took up residence in the imagination of millions of people across the world.

It was a gothic horror novel informed by the stories and first hand accounts of famine and epidemic by his west of Ireland mother, Charlotte Blake Thornley.

So, how do you celebrate Samhain/Halloween in your part of the world? Will any of your children, or grandchildren, go trick-or-treating dressed up as Dracula?

Wishing you and all you family a very happy Samhain/Halloween - and may you feel a little closer to your ancestors over the time!

Slán for this week,
Mike and Carina : )

Halloween Apples?!

More than One Irish Famine

Most people have heard of the potatoe Famine in Ireland from 1845 to 1852. I suppose that's because many of us cannot get further in our Irish research than about those dates. The Great Hunger or the Great Famine or the Irish Potatoe Famine was also well known because at this time about 2/3 of the Irish population depended almost solely on this cheap crop. So during the famine, approximately one million people died. Another million left the island.

In 1851, the Census of Ireland Commissioners recorded 24 failures of the potato crop going back to 1728, of varying severity. General crop failures, through disease or frost, were recorded in 1739, 1740, 1770, 1800, and 1807. In 1821 and 1822, the potato crop failed in Munster and Connaught. In 1830 and 1831, Mayo, Donegal, and Galway suffered likewise. The following year, 1832, saw a Cholera epidemic sweep across Ireland and much of Britain. In 1832, 1833, 1834, and 1836, dry rot and curl caused serious losses, and in 1835 the potato failed in Ulster. Widespread failures throughout Ireland occurred in 1836, 1837, 1839, 1841, and 1844. According to Woodham-Smith, "the unreliability of the potato was an accepted fact in Ireland". Things were relentlessly tough through the century for many of our ancestors, both before and after the Great Famine of the 1840s.

The following is from Mr. Mike Collins author of A Letter From Ireland Volume 1 and 2.


Charlotte Blake Thornley was born in Sligo town in 1818. While she was still a young girl, a cholera epidemic hit Sligo with a huge force in 1832. And this followed on from two successive years of a failure in the potato crop. The bodies mounted up all around her - and local carpenters could not source enough wood to keep up with the required coffins for burials. It must have been a horrific place to live each, to see those corpses line the streets of your home town - and wondering which of your families and friends might be next. Also, some of these supposed "corpses" were still living, too weak to pull themselves back to the living - a horrific thought for a a young girl to endure.

I'll carry on with Charlotte's story in my next post titled - Samhain/Halloween (pronounced Sow-en - Sow as in pig)


DNA: Are our friends actually family?

An enticing article from MyHeritage copied below with source at bottom of article.

Many of us are lucky to have close friends, who feel like family, in our lives. In recent years, genetic research has supported the theory that friends are more likely to share certain similarities in their genetic makeup.

When I was growing up, Uncle Max was always hanging around our house, chatting with my parents. He helped steer my father right with his do-it-yourself home projects, he told jokes at the dinner table, and he always came bearing little treats for my siblings and me. He visited so often that he was considered a member of the family.

I had always assumed that he was a second cousin or somehow distantly related to us. It was only when I was a teenager that I discovered that "Uncle" Max was not my uncle, but a very close friend of my parents. He had shared several stages of life with them and had essentially become family. Growing up, we were closer with Max than we were to many of our other aunts and uncles.

Even today, Max's family and ours share a strong connection. We continue to have holiday meals together, and my children play with Max's grandchildren. It is a friendship full of shared experiences and happy memories that will endure for generations to come.

When the bond of friendship is so strong, it's easy to wonder if there is more than just common interests and "chemistry" that draws close friends together.

According to a study published a few years ago in PNAS, the Journal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, good friends - who are particularly close and feel like family - often share genes. According to James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego, we may have more genetically in common with our good friends than with others:

Looking across the whole genome, we find that, on average, we are genetically similar to our friends. We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population

Yale and University of California researchers examined 1.5 million genetic markers of 1,932 people, using data from earlier studies that had collected both genetic information and data on friendships. Investigators compared the genetic codes of friends with those of strangers. Results revealed that individuals who carry a particular genetic marker for a gene called DRD2, a dopamine receptor associated with alcoholism (among other traits), tend to make friends with other DRD2-positive people. Conversely, those who lacked the gene tended to form friendships with people who were also DRD2-negative.

We have long known that our genes determine much of our physical makeup and many other characteristics. Ever since DNA was first identified in the late 1860s, the conclusion has been that traits are inherited from generation to generation. It is now a popular belief that more than 50% of our traits are inherited, including obedience to authority, vulnerability to stress and risk-seeking.

Researchers suggest that many of our choices about life issues, such as politics and religion, are more determined by our genes than we would think. The idea that the people we spend time with - and the choice of our social environment - can actually be linked to specific genes is revolutionary. It helps explain why we enjoy spending time in the company of specific people whom we choose as friends.

So, the next time a dear friend comes to visit, remember that you may be more than just good friends who share interests — you may actually share common genes!

Does your family have close friends who have become like members of the family? Let us know below!
Posted by Esther on October 25th, 2015 - 12:24

Thursday, October 22, 2015

FUN & Learning

Yesterday my current group of students, and I, had our first working visit at the Saskatchewan Provincial Archives in Regina. There were so many successes I wouldn't even know where to begin! Now isn't THAT a good thing? After having looked at hundreds and hundreds of land records on microfilm I thought I'd seen it all. Turns out that is not the case! Not one, but TWO of my brilliant students found ancestral files that I doubt many have ever seen before. It's one of the reasons I love teaching 'cause I get to share in their finds ... which also makes me a better teacher. There is NO substitute for experience. Can't wait to get back there next week and begin working with dozens of new record types!! Some days life is just soooooooooooooo good. :-)

AND then I heard again from a long-time student [one who has taken many courses from me, and has stayed in touch, sharing her successes and challenges over the years - which I LOVE]. She has just completed my course Unpuzzling Your Past for the THIRD time!! And she is becoming an excellent researcher! Her list of accomplishments makes my heart swell with pride. WAY to go Donna!! You are having so much fun; sharing so much unknown family information with your Mom [don't we all wish we could do this?]; using all you've learned to advance your research skills; AND making your old 'teacher' so bloody proud ... I'm just smiling with happy tears in my eyes. Love ya girl and keep going!! I seriously hope to continue to develop more 'Donna's'

Cheers Everyone,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Viking Surnames

According to John Grenham [one of the top Irish genealogists] there is no such thing as a Viking surname! Interesting reading as always over at

Always something to learn in this crazy 'hobby' of ours? Oh yes!! haha

WHAT a gorgeous day, AGAIN!! I'm going out to VOTE. Hope you are too.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

For the Progressive Genealogist

Here is a timely article from a well respected, and knowledgeable, Canadian genealogist John Reid at

In case this article disappears following is the article in it's short entirety.

"This is not about family history, it's about the history Canadians will collectively be making on Monday.

If like me you're fed up with rampant abuses of power I urge you to vote, and vote wisely to strengthen and preserve our Canadian democracy and values.

Restore a Canada where there is no second class citizenship for those with dual nationality or a right to dual nationality. A Canada where evidence-based legislation gets timely and thorough deliberation in the Commons and the Senate by unmuzzled members exercising their own best judgement. Where we restore the legacy of peacemaking. Where we are not afraid to enquire into social issues like missing and murdered indigenous women. And where we do our part to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

Don't sell your birthright for a mess of potage - the largest boutique tax credits.

Vote strategically if necessary. The reasons you vote are yours. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If polls show a clear winner in your area vote your choice. Some of Canada's most progressive governments have been minorities. I'd be most happy with a minority government that reaches across party lines - not that I have great expectations of any party keeping all their promises while avoiding corruption and scandal."

There are sooooooooooooo many of us experienced genealogists who love our country who all feel exactly the same, please think and VOTE, but VOTE with knowledge!!


Divided, Canada stands to lose what makes it great! A MUST read

I hope you can dedicate five minutes for your country and read this article. Can you do 3 Things for Canada?

This is probably the very best article I have ever, ever, ever read. It was written by the Mayor of Calgary - voted as the most popular Mayor in the whole world, and I can see why. I have copied the article below in case the link disappears.

This past summer, I took my mother and my sister’s family, and we all went to Tanzania. Our little group ranged in age from 6 to 75, and we were exploring our roots. We saw the house my mum grew up in and the hospital where my sister was born. We saw lots of elephants. I also stood on the shores of Lake Victoria, in Mwanza, and gazed across the water. Had my parents been born on the other side of the lake, instead of being immigrants from Tanzania in 1971, they would have been refugees from Uganda the following year – pushed out by the bloody purges of Idi Amin.

In 1970, my father was working at a hotel in the city of Arusha. Then, as now, Arusha hosted many UN conferences and other international meetings. My dad met some Canadians working for the Canadian International Development Agency, who, impressively enough, got The Toronto Star delivered every week.

A voracious reader, my dad would ask for the newspaper when the CIDA workers were done with it. An article about the new city hall in Toronto captured his imagination. How do you build such a tall building, he wondered, and make it round? He resolved to one day visit it.

The following year, he got his chance. My father had saved up to go to his sister’s wedding in London, England. He figured that, since he was in London, he might as well make a side trip to Toronto, Canada. Just before leaving, they discovered my mum was pregnant. They went anyway, leaving my three-year-old sister with relatives.

Once in Toronto, my parents fell in love with the city (it was summer). They felt a certain freedom, both for themselves and, they anticipated, for their children, and so they decided to stay.

There were only about six Ismaili families in Toronto in 1971. Prayer services were held in the basement of a home. On Fridays, my mother would strip her only bedsheets, wash them by hand, hang them to dry, and hope they would be done in time to fold. She would then take them, on the subway, to evening services. Decent cloth was needed to cover the small tables and lend the proceedings dignity.

Only a few months later, this little group found itself having to look after hundreds of Ismaili families – refugees from Uganda – and to show them how to survive in a strange new place. They never once begrudged this responsibility. Even though they had so little, these beleaguered new arrivals had less. Even though my parents barely knew how to navigate Canada, the newcomers had no idea how to. So they got to work.

When I was 1, we packed up a Dodge Dart and moved to Calgary. Sometimes we were very poor. Sometimes we were only mostly poor. But what we lacked in money, we gained in opportunity.

In Calgary I went to amazing public schools. I spent Saturday afternoons at the public library. I learned to swim, kind of, at a public pool. I explored the city on public transit. And through it all, I was nurtured by a community that wanted me to succeed, that had a stake in me and cared about my well-being.

And in 2010, 20 months before he died, my dad, who had loved Toronto City Hall, got to sit in another city hall and watch his son be sworn in as mayor.

While that personal story may seem extraordinary in its details, what’s extraordinary is just how ordinary it is. It’s a very Canadian story of struggle, service, sweat and, ultimately, success. Many Canadians have such an origin story. With each telling, we share in the story of who we are. These stories tell us about when Canada works. And when Canada works, it works better than anywhere.

At our best, we’ve figured out a simple truth: We’re in this together. Our neighbour’s strength is our strength. The success of any one of us is the success of every one of us. More importantly, any one failure is all our failure, too.

When Canada works, it is because of that tolerance and respect for pluralism, that generous sharing of opportunity with everyone. It is because of that innate sense that every one of us, regardless of where we come from, what we look like, how we worship or whom we love, deserves the chance right here, right now, to live a great Canadian life.

That Canada, however, is incredibly fragile, and must be protected from the voices of intolerance, divisiveness and small-mindedness. That Canada must be protected from the voices of hatred.

Let’s talk about Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which allows Ottawa to strip Canadian-born citizens of their citizenship if they’ve been convicted of treason, spying or terrorism, if those Canadians have citizenship in another country or are considered able to claim citizenship in another country through a parent. The government can do so even if the conviction takes places in another country – even one that lacks the rule of law.

One of the highlights of being mayor of Calgary is that I get to attend citizenship ceremonies. Every time I do, I cry with joy to be with so many people who have worked so hard to become Canadian and have chosen to take on the great responsibility of citizenship. Sharing in that moment with new citizens, I always talk about how, growing up, I wondered why my father, mother and sister had these fancy citizenship certificates, while all I had was a lousy birth certificate. Only later did I appreciate two things about those pieces of paper: They were the most valuable possessions we had, and they were really the same document.

No longer.

How is it that those individuals I get to watch saying their oath should somehow be less Canadian than others? How is it that we should allow it to be easier for our government to strip them of the privilege and responsibility of citizenship? How is it that I, born at Saint Mike’s in downtown Toronto, could also have my citizenship revoked? One Canadian citizen committing the same crime should be treated the same as any other. They should not be subjected to a different sort of justice.

Most distressingly, the bill allows the minister of citizenship and immigration to exile people from Canada without any Canadian court being involved. That is a degree of power no individual should possess.

How did we allow this to happen?

I am deeply troubled by the language of divisiveness in Ottawa these days. The label of “terrorist” is thrown around with deliberate regularity. It is targeted language that nearly always describes an act of violence done by someone who shares my own faith, that ties violent action to individuals in a religious group here in Canada – many of whom are citizens. It does little to understand the causes of individual acts of violence or the potential solutions. Instead, it encourages fear and division; that’s the opposite of the country we aspire to build and nurture.

Our government likes to warn us of the radicalization of Muslim youth in our communities. But law-enforcement officers and community activists explain that the deeper cause of this radicalization is alienation and isolation – that the kids being radicalized are the same ones who’d often otherwise join gangs. In other words, according to individuals on the ground, the issue is not about religion. It’s about inclusion. Understanding this, we must work hard to make these kids feel part of the community.

But then the government, seeking to appeal to a certain segment of society, picks a fight on a completely irrelevant issue – wearing the niqab to a ceremony. It will appeal two court decisions and spend millions in taxpayer dollars to prevent one woman, Zunera Ishaq, from voting?

And what about those kids – the ones we’re trying to convince that there’s a place for them in our society? Bill C-24 warns them that, no matter what, they can never be truly Canadian. That their faith is incompatible with our values.

All that good work on deradicalization? Undermined.

When we act like this, whether the issue is addressing the extraordinary human suffering of refugees fleeing conflict or the social problems of our own youth, we are failing ourselves, our nation, and the world.

Let it be said: Such failures to become the Canada we hope for aren’t only recent. Far from it. After all, we are the nation that turned back Indian Sikh refugees on the ship Komagata Maru in 1914, the nation of the Chinese head tax, the nation of Japanese internment camps and the “None is too many” policy. We are the nation of provincial eugenics programs and generations of residential schools.

These, sadly, are also our origin stories. Many of us feel a deep, dark discomfort when confronted with them. The truth is not easy. It wasn’t easy for the victims of residential schools to tell their stories to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and it wasn’t easy for Canadians to bear witness to those truths. But it is important that we did then, and that we are doing so with the dark truths we see now.

The real answer to crafting the Canada we aspire to build lies in engaging muscularly with both the past and the future. It means undertaking a thousand simple acts of service and a million tiny acts of heroism. It means acting at the community level: on our streets, in our neighbourhoods, and in our schools. It means refusing to accept the politics of fear.

And then it means exporting the very best of Canada, that ideal and real Canada, to the rest of the world. Yes, I’m naive to believe we still have something special to share. In my city, we have a program, 3 Things for Calgary, that challenges every citizen to take at least three actions, large or small, using their own passions and resources, to make their community better. Let us start 3 Things for Canada and dare each other to take actions that will build our local, national, and global communities with our true, aspirational Canadian values.

One final story. I had the chance a couple of years ago to visit a school in Calgary on its 100th anniversary. It’s called Connaught School, named after the Duke of Connaught – the governor-general of Canada, a son of Queen Victoria. Because it is right downtown, Connaught School is often the first point of arrival for newcomers. In all, 240 students are enrolled; they come from 61 countries and speak 42 languages at home.

I chatted with some of those kids and their parents. Many of the things I heard were horrible: stories of war, of poverty, of degradation. I heard stories of violence so horrific I could not imagine one human being doing that to another, let alone in front of a child.

Then I looked out at those kids, sitting on the floor in the gym, wearing their matching T-shirts. And I looked at their parents, in hijabs and kanga cloth, in Tim Hortons uniforms and bus-driver caps, in designer suits and pumps.

All at once, I knew something to be true above all else. Regardless of what these kids had been through, of how little they have or had, of what wrath some vengeful God had visited on them and their families, they’d had one burst of extraordinary good fortune – they ended up in Canada, in Calgary, at the Connaught School. They ended up in a community that wants them to succeed, that has a stake in them – that cares about them, and will make sure they don’t fail.

And I knew that those kids would have a chance to live great lives. That’s the promise of Canada.

Adapted from an address given at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s 13th LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium, in Stratford, Ont. in September.


Friday, October 16, 2015

1492 - WRONG!!

Dick Eastman has a very compelling article ... at least I thoroughly enjoyed it ... regarding Christopher Columbus NOT being the discoverer of North America. Have a read

Makes me wonder what else we were taught in school that is now known to be inaccurate? Or what else was hidden from us, like residential schools! History is open to interpretation by those who write the school books. And who guides the writers? Politicians? Lord help us!!

Beautiful day out there so think I'll go for a nice walk. Happy weekend everyone.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Genealogy in the Park - Edmonton Nov. 7, 2015

Now here is an opportunity not to be missed!! Featured guest speaker is the one and only, world renown genealogist Dave OBEE. Dave has four exciting topics and the program runs from 9:30am until 3:30pm. Information at GREAT program and awesome opportunity organized by by my dear friend and colleague Shannon Cherkowski. Trust me, if you can go you will LOVE it!!


US Canadian Border Crossing Records

Recently I spoke about border crossing records to ........... here lies the problem! I can't remember where I was!! haha I've spoken at numerous conferences this Fall, as well as to my own students during two courses. So I thought this was the best way to get the word out - to everyone!!

And don't tune out when you read this first title [Vermont, St. Albans Canadian Border Crossings, 1895 - 1954].

BACKGROUND [from familysearch wiki]

From 1895 through 1954, records were kept of many people who crossed the border from Canada into the United States. The records are mostly for people who:

Were immigrating into the United States.
Were visiting the country.
Were United States citizens returning to the United States.

The border crossings records from Canada to the United States began in 1895. They include people coming in ships and trains through Canada to the United States either for a visit or to stay. People who crossed the border in any other way, such as by horse or car, are not in the records.

Lists of passengers crossing the Canadian border to the United States were collected into this record: Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont District. In spite of the title, this collection includes records from all over Canada and the northern United States (not just St. Albans). These are the records of U.S. immigration officials who inspected travelers at the following places:

From 1895 to 1914, at all Canadian seaports and train arrival stations from Washington state to Maine (including major interior cities such as Quebec, Winnipeg, etc.). Officials used shipping company passenger lists (manifests) to determine passengers bound for the United States via Canada.

From 1915 to 1954, border crossing records were only kept at train arrival stations along the northern borders of New York and Vermont.

The information you find varies from record to record. These records may include:

Port or station of entry.
Date of entry.
Last residence.
Name of nearest relative at last residence.
Previous visits to United States.
Place of birth.

Search the index For those with subscriptions to Ancestry, they also have these records on a database. I would certainly search both as there could be differences.

Border Crossing Records - from US into Canada - 1908 to 1935 are also on a database at Ancestry.
Historical Background: [from Ancestry]

In April 1908, the Canadian government began recording the names of immigrants crossing into the country from the U.S. These records are the official immigration records for Canada as no other immigration records exist.

From 1908-1918, the government used border entry lists to record information about individuals coming into the country. From 1919-1924, Form 30 (individual form) was used in place of the border entry lists to record similar information. In 1925 border entry lists came into use again.

Not all immigrants coming into Canada were registered. Some people may have entered the country through non-port cities or when ports were closed. Also, if at least one parent in a family was born in Canada or previously resided there, then the whole family was considered as returning citizens instead of immigrants, and were therefore not recorded.

I love to hear of your successes. Email me or post to 'Comments' directly below this post.