Thursday, 30 April 2015

It's our First Anniversary!


On April 30, 2014 my dream of having a blog became reality when I wrote and uploaded my first post "My ancestor was just a farmer...". Many of us have farming ancestors and didn't realize much could be said about them and their lives. It was later followed up with the article "Farmer's Directories" .

In all the years doing research on my family, and those of a few friends, I came across mention of these ancestors on various websites, in newspaper articles and in       publications ...  censuses dating back to 1666 New France, city directories, the fur trade, court documents, school yearbooks, just to mention a few. Hmmmm... none of my ancestors are on the Social Register. But at least they are not on the list of people fined for drunkenness either.

My family research takes me not only to 1600's Canada, but also to the United States, Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia.  I realized I was gathering a long list of links and I was happy to share it with anyone looking for information on their ancestors. Then I wanted to reach a wider audience and thought that rather than just putting them up on a website, I could also satisfy my enjoyment of writing by creating a blog.
Besides giving you articles and links that suggest where you can look for your ancestors, I also give tips and tools to help in your own research.  Two of the most viewed are: 
I have written about many diverse subjects over this past year, and following are the articles that people were most interested in:
I was only mildly surprised at the number of readers of my blog, but really astonished at where in the world they are!!  It is no wonder that most viewers are from the United States, considering there are more people living in just the state of California (38M+)  than in all of Canada (35M+), but it is exciting to me to see that there are readers from far away countries.
Big thank you to all those who follow on the Blog, FaceBook and Twitter, and thanks for sharing with others. I'm looking forward to another year of researching and writing!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Lay of the Land

People emigrated to make a better life for themselves and their children, and for a lot of people that meant land. For budding countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia more people working the land and bearing children meant prosperity for the country. Some farmers as they began to prosper bought more land to add to their holdings and pass on to their children.

Land grants were also given to soldiers for appreciation of their service, also a way of paying them, as land was plentiful, money was not.

I have found a few of my ancestors on Land Grant indexes, which give a hint where and what time period to look for the actual documents. Right place... right time... Next would be to look it up in the archives to get all the details, and to be sure it is indeed my ancestor.

Relevant Links

Land Grants for Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1782-1786

Early grants of land in the wildernesse north of Merrimack, Mass 1892

The Houmas land claim, New Orleans, 1859

The Vincennes donation lands in late 1700's - Indiana 1949

Massachusetts land grants in Vermont

Documents relating to Talbot's Settlement (Ontario) 1836

Copy of the old records of the town of Duxbury, Mass 1642-1770

Abstract of permits granted under the Acts for the Armed Occupation of Florida 1848

History of New Netherland: or, New York under the Dutch 1848

Dyer's index to land grants n West Virginia - 1896 Vol 1

Dyer's index to land grants in West Virginia - 1896 Vol 2

Report of the Select Committee on Pondoland Lad Grants, S.A. 1906

Chronological list or index of grants en fief and royal ratifications of grants en fief, made in New France, to the time of its cession to the British Crown in 1760

List of lands granted by the crown in the Province of Quebec: 1763-1890

Liste des terrains concédés par la Couronne dans la province de Québec: 1763-1890

The District of Moose Jaw, North West Territories as a field for emigration (with accounts by residents and names of wheat farmers) 1889

Description of Van Damien's Land (Tasmania) with important hints to emigrants 1822 - with names of granted lands.

The Colony of Western Australia : A Manual for Emigrants and lists of land grants - 1839

History of Brome County, QC - including grants of land

Year book, the Society of Colonial Wars in Kentucky, 1917 ; to which is added a calendar of the warrants for land in Kentucky

Township grants of lands in New Hampshire included in the Masonian patent issued subsequent to 1746 by the Manonian proprietary - 1896

Warrantees of land of Pennsylvania 1898 - Vols 24, 25, 26

*Land grant - West Kootenay, BC - for Alexander Wesley McIntosh 1895

*Land grant - Fredericksburg, ON - for Christiane Buth (d/o W. Rambough UE)

The dutch grant, Harlem patents and tidal creeks (ancient Dutch deeds) NY 1889

Reports of land cases determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (w/ index to claimants) 1862

Index to Australian Land Records

Indexes to Land Grants of Canada - LAC

Index to New Brunswick Land Grants

Grantham and Wickham, Drummond, Qc - Lots for Soldiers 1815-1816 ***

Related Post: Location, location, location

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Serendipity Sunday - Social Media

FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube ... the go to sites to let people know what you are doing, where you are going, who is going with or broke up with whom...

Years past people did the same thing using their social media, the Social or Society Pages of the local newspapers.

Here are examples of what a town society writer would put in the paper.



 Just like today, they aired the good, the bad and the ugly. A scandal was juicy news.

London 1906

Look for the Social, Society or Around Town News section of the local newspapers for mention of your ancestors.

Doing more...

Well, they say the more you do, the more you do. 
And here I am... doing more!

I started a new blog and wrote my first post today. 


This one is more for me, to tell the stories of my ancestors.

I will only post when the spirit moves me, chronicling an event in the life of one of my myriad ancestors.  

If you have any of these same ancestors, drop me a line and let's chat!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ancestry Australia FREE Access

In celebration of Anzac Day, Ancestry Australia is offering FREE access to WWI records.

..... good until Sunday April 26 midnight AEST


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

New Book on the Block

There is a new book out, published April 7, 2015 by Pen and Sword Books, UK titled
Tracing your Trade & Craftsman Ancestor, by Adèle Emm

At Google Books you can get a pretty good preview of what it is about, giving a bit about the trades and crafts and how you, as a genealogist, can find records. Google books includes a search box and there is a clickable index at the back (scroll down).
I gave it a look-see and I have already learned the difference between a shoemaker, a bootmaker, a cobbler and a cordwain
Adèle at one point talks about the Book of Trades by Dutch Artist Jan Luyken, to which I gave the link in my article Guilds and Apprenticeships of May 2014.
Check out your bookstore, library and inter-loan.

Greetings to and from the Queen

Today is the (actual) 89th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Long live the Queen!

You can read all about her life at the Royal Website.

When my parents were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in November 2007 we applied to have a greeting card sent to them from the Queen. It was a nice surprise for them and they loved it!

If you know someone who is going to be 100 or 105 years old, or a couple celebrating their 60th, 65th or 70th wedding anniversary, and lives in a realm or territory of the UK, you can apply to have a greeting card sent to them from the Queen. 

In Canada you use this application found on the Governor General's website.  You may also ask for a congratulatory message from the Governor General.

You may request a greeting from the Prime Minister of Canada for 65th+ birthdays and 25th+ anniversaries. You will find that application form on the Prime Minister's Website.  My Mom received one such greeting for her 80th birthday.

Relevant Links

To apply for a greeting sent to Australia

To apply for a greeting sent to New Zealand

To apply for a greeting sent in the UK or to other commonwealth countries.

History of the Royal Greeting Card

Monday, 20 April 2015


One day a few years ago I stopped in to visit a friend, and was curious about the huge pile of clothing and stuff in the middle of her living room floor!?! She explained to me that they were hit by lightning during the storm the night before. Most lights and all their electronics were fried.  The electrical surge even ran along the metal bar in their closet, down the wire hangers, and burned anything that had something metallic on it, including belts and the patches on her husbands ambulance uniform shirts. The current even found the underwires in her bras that were in the drawer!! Thankfully her insurance covered such an event and my friend was accessing the damage in preparation for the agent's visit.

I worked a short stint at an insurance company doing dictaphone typing when I was still discovering what I wanted to do.  That wasn't it.  But my father-in-law, after leaving the RCMP, worked for many years as an investigator for the Fire Underwriters Investigation Bureau in Montreal. 

You may find some insurance claims in a newspaper:

One of my ancestors - actually Henry Alexander, the brother-in-law of my great grand uncle - died in June of 1887 in Ottawa. When his wife Jane received $2000 from his life insurance, she wrote an acknowledging letter and the Insurance company posted this letter in the Ottawa Journal...

Search at newspaper archive (US, UK, Canada, etc) websites "insurance claim" and you may learn of some calamities that required a claim, and some disputes and fraud!
The Dominion (of Canada) Register and Review (a government publication) in some years listed fires, where they occurred, the value of damage and the insurance paid.  I have listed some below.

Relevant Links:

How to check your house after a lightning strike

History of Insurance

Insurance - Olive Tree Genealogy transcriptions

Insurance Reports for Dominion of Canada - lists of shareholders

The Citizen's Insurance Company of Canada: list of shareholders - 1800

Annual Report of the Mutual Lie Insurance Co of NY; list of policy holders 1864

Handbook of the New York Fire Insurance Exchange, including list of members - 1903

The Boston Fire, Nov 9th and 10th, 1872; complete list of losses

Official List of Committees with Directory of Members and Exchange Rules - 1907

The Ontario Mutual Life Assurance Co, Waterloo; 12th Annual list of claims paid 1881

The Federal Life Insurance Co, Hamilton, Ontario 1896 - list of Medical Examiners

Woolson's economy household inventory and insurance record - c1918

How companies were doing on the Stock Exchange 1908 (in search box type insurance)

Fire Insurance Cases: England, Scotland, Ireland, America; 1729-1839

Fire Insurance Cases: England, Scotland, Ireland, Americal 1840-1848

Digest of Cases Decided in the Supreme Courts of Scotland 1800-1842

Chart of the assessment life associations and friendly societies transacting business in Canada: showing the business done, death claims paid, number of assessments made, income, expenses, assets, etc., of the leading Life Associations and Friendly Societies licensed to do business in Canada ; 1894 to 1903

The Post magazine almanack, the insurance directory, reference and year book (London) - has a limited search at Hathitrust.  If interested you may find it at your library.

Australia - Unclaimed Money from shares, bank accounts and Life Insurance.

Dominion of Canada Register & Review - 1883 - Record of fires and insurance paid

Dominion of Canada Register & Review - 1882 - Record of fires and insurance paid

Dominion of Canada Register & Review - 1886 - Records of fires and insurance Paid

Sessional Papers of Dominion of Canada - Insurance List of Officers and Shareholders 1902

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Dominion of Canada -Deaths, Fires and Murder

A Sunday Bonus!!

I was browsing through the Dominion (of Canada) Annual Register and Review publications and for 1883 I came across a list...

Record of Accidental Deaths and Suicides for 1883

Shows the date, persons name, the city where accident occurred and cause of death. 
When I got to the end of the list... another surprise!

Shows date, name, place, property, amount of loss, amount paid by insurance.

If you go back the other way, there is a Journal of Remarkable Occurrences. These include murder and mayhem, as well as unusual temperatures and earthquakes.

Check index of names near the front or back of each publication, and further look up "deaths of criminals", etc...
Other years have Remarkable Occurrences also.

Check the Contents of each publication for what is there.

Relevant Links
Accidental Deaths and Suicides for 1882

Accidental Deaths and Suicides for 1883

Accidental Deaths and Suicides for 1886

Record of Fires and Insurance for 1882

Record of Fires and Insurance for 1883

Record of Fires and Insurance for 1886

List of available publications of Dominion Annual Register and Review


Serendipity Sunday - What's the beef?

While searching through newspapers looking for mention of my ancestors I came across this article in the Dec 7, 1878 issue of the Quebec Saturday Budget.

On that date the retail cost of first quality dressed beef is about $9.50 for 100 lbs, and I don't know why the wide range, but 5¢ to 12½ ¢ per lb for 3rd quality. These are prices your ancestors could expect to pay for their supplies in 1878.

And prices of leathers and hides...

You can compare them with the prices of 1881 (page 3) and 1897 (page 4) .

Check local newspaper archives from your area to get prices of supplies.  These were listed Wholesale and Retail prices near the shipping news.  Also grocery store ads.


Monday, 13 April 2015

Passengers - Part II

This booklet enticed many men in Scotland to bring their families to New Brunswick.

In Part I on Passengers I told that I haven't found my 2x great grandfather Mavor on any passenger list coming to Canada from Scotland.  But I do know when his brother immigrated.

Francis Mavor brought his wife Catherine and their ten children to the Mavis Bank Quay in Glasgow early the morning of April 25th, 1873 to be ready to board the steamer Castalia. I can imagine they must have been nervous, maybe having second thoughts, but also excited to start their new life. They set sail, travelling in steerage, and arrived in St John, New Brunswick on May 10th.
Quite often when a ship was arriving to port a passenger list would be published in the newspaper. When Francis and his fellow passengers arrived at the port in St John, their names were printed in Saint John's newspaper, The Daily News. A great newspaper that gives passenger lists is the British "The Colonies and India" and you can find copies of issues from 1877 to 1898 online at subscription newspaper sites. Each issue has a section with schedule of ships arriving and sailing and lists of passengers.  Remember the "colonies" were not just in North America but also in the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Australia ... to name a few.  
During the Klondike Gold Rush, 1896-1899 many steamers were travelling along the west coast back and forth to Alaska.  Some city newspapers printed names of passengers - try Oregon, Washington and also Vancouver, BC.
I have put together into a PDF a few articles I found from different newspapers that list passengers by name and/or by class. To download the pdf click on the link below. 
To search I used keywords "passenger list", "list of survivors", "Alaska passenger list", etc.
I have also included a couple of other interesting links
Relevant Links:
  • The Nile - Calcutta to England ; 2 Apr 1864 
  • The Colonies and India passenger lists ; 24 Aug 1895
  • The Kent - Melbourne to London ; 28 Sept 1859
  • The Royal Charter - Liverpool - Australia ;13 Nov 1859
  • RMS Marama - Australia to Vancouver ; 28 July 1909
  • RMS Miowera - Australia to Vancouver ; 6 Jul 1896
  • Steamer "Hating" - Skagway Alaska to Vancouver ; 3 Aug 1901
  • The Cahors - grounded on rocks - Australia; 13 Jun 1885
  • SS Mohegan -  wrecked manacle reef Cornwall ; California, Oct 1898
  • SS Mohegan - wrecked on manacle reef - from London Times ; Oct 1898
  • Passengers, survivors of the RMS Lusitania ; sunk 1915
  • Empress of Japan - Last trans-Pacific voyage - arrived Vancouver ; 2 Oct 1918 (among passengers are Sir Henry May, Governor of Hongkong and WM & WN Birks of Birks & Sons of Montreal)
  • Steamer "Lakme" - Alaska to Seattle ; 27 Jul 1899
  • Passengers to Vancouver and Murder in Scagway - 1898

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Serendipity Sunday - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I connected with a new-found distant cousin this week, and it reminded me....
sometimes going forwards, helps you to go back.

I was stuck with my genealogy on my father's side of the family, both his mother's family from England and his father's family from Ireland. There were no member trees on Ancestry with the same family to even give me a hint of where to look.  On the paternal side I did have an Irish Pedigree for the family and the names of my 2x great grandparents in Canada, but no proof of connection between the two. I didn't know how they met, where or when they married, or who her family was. On the maternal side I was stuck in Bath.

So I started back at the 2x great grandparents and researching all siblings and aunts and uncles I worked my way forward to try to find living relatives. I posted on Ancestry message boards, I contacted owners of trees who seemed to have a common person, I left messages on other forums, and I left my surname list on facebook groups for my area of research. It took a while but I finally got bites and each new relative I connected with had a piece of the puzzle, or in one instance with 3 of us newly-acquainted cousins brainstorming we were able to put together the story of our family. 

In both family cases, it was like a big dam holding everything back, and when I could finally poke holes in the dam, all my ancestors came flooding through, happy to finally be discovered and tell me their stories!

Not only did I discover more about my ancestors, but my living family has grown, with cousins all over the world. Here are some relationships of the ones that keep in touch:

2 - 2nd cousins   
3 - 3rd cousins
1 - 1st cousin 1x removed
1 - 2nd cousin 1x removed
4 - 3rd cousins 1x removed
1 - 3rd cousin 2x removed   
2 - 4th cousins

There are many more distant cousins and wives of cousins that exchanged their stories with me too.

Two steps forward, one step back..... and back, and back...

Monday, 6 April 2015

Old Folks Tales

My old neighbor Malcolm lived alone since his wife died many years before, hadn't many visitors, and liked to sit on the ratty old couch that graced his veranda. Malcolm was about 94 when we moved in next door.  My kids used to like to go sit with him on a warm summer's day, and hear tales of the old days.  Tales of the days when soldiers, Indians and horse and buggies were seen in the village. My girls loved it! Only a couple of years later Malcolm's family moved him away to a home and he lived to the ripe old age of 102.

My grandmother, Sadie Mavor, was in the province-run Centre d'Hébergement de LaSalle the last few years of her life. She looked forward to the days I brought my four children to visit her. What hit me, was that so did most of the other residents living on her floor. Many of them had no visitors and liked having my well-behaved (*smile*) children around to tell their stories to. Especially during holidays.

The elderly love to reminisce. They remember more of the past than of the present and want to tell their stories. If you go visit the elderly in the town of your ancestors you can hear the stories of an era gone by, and just maybe they knew your ancestors. 

In the 1800's there was often only one home for the needs of the aged, infirm and orphans. After WWI my husband's grandfather had no work and could not look after his family. He travelled to find work and the older sons got live-in work on farms, but my husband's father and his sisters were put in the Home for the Aged and Orphans run by the Grey Nuns. Soon their mother was able to get work in the kitchen there to be near her children.

Relevant Links:

Old Folk's home Toronto 1800 - report

Victorian Benevolent Home and Hospital for the Aged and Infirm, AU 1926 

Methodist Church Home for the Aged - New York 1850-1950

The Otterbein Home  - Ohio 1913-1966

Annual Report of managers of Old Man's Home of Philidelphia 1875

Annual Report of managers of Home for Aged Women Rhode Island, 1860

Annual Report of the Chapin Home for the Aged and Infirm NY - 1875, 1882 

Home for the Aged, Columbia, Hudson NY - 1893

Orphan Home and Asylum for the Aged and Infirm; Lutheran Church, PA (several)

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