Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Night Fun - Matrilineal line

I came across a couple tweets tonight about  an exercise from Randy Seavers who's blog is here

Here is our mission!

1) List your matrilineal line - your mother, her mother, etc. back to the first identifiable mother. Note: this line is how your mitochondrial DNA was passed to you!

2) Tell us if you have had your mitochondrial DNA tested, and if so, which Haplogroup you are in.

What a great activity on the eve of Mothers day!

Diane (1949 - living) - Married Scott Neil- Kingston, Ontario
Jane Ann Shanks (1923 - 1992) Married James Cahill  - Scotland
Betsy Gaff (1894 - 1986) Married John Shanks - Scotland
Ann (I only have a name at this point)

I don't have much information about this part of my family.  Finding information in Scotland seems to be an expensive adventure!

I haven't had a DNA test done.

Happy Mothers day to all the mothers out there!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Open Doors Hamilton

Today was a day where local areas of interest were open to the public free of charge.  It was a great opportunity to visit some places you might not otherwise go to see.
I was able to go to three things today.  A baby in tow and rain hindered going anywhere else but still it was a great day.

Here are the places we went too.

Janes Walk.  Check out this site for an explanation of what Janes walk is.  Maybe there is one in your area on Sunday, or maybe you can set one up in your town next year!
This walk was of Victoria Park.  Here are a couple plaques that describe part of what we learned about.  I will post the rest on my Familyhistoryfun - Wentworth Site soon!

Erland Lee Museum

Check out the link above for more details, but basically was the Lee family home until purchased by the Womens institue.  The first ever meeting was held here in 1897.  I need to research more about this because my family lived in this area, and there are some names on this plaque that might be related to me. Surnames NEIL and DEAN.  What an exciting find!

Battlefield House Museum

This is where the battle of Stoney Creek took place during the war of 1812, in 1813.   IT was interesting to hear some of the stories about the Gage family and that time period.  I wasn't able to go up to the monument because it wasn't stroller friendly, but maybe another time!

This is the first time I've been to an open doors event.  Are there ones in your area? I'd love to see a blog about it if there is!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Thanks to Kindness of others!

I wasn't going to post today, but then I was lucky enough to have someone stop by a gravesite and take some pictures for me.  So nice!

 *This ones are bit difficult to read, but you can on some of the others he took*

They are both in the Trinity Union Cemetery in Glanford, Wentworth County. 

Note the different spellings of the last name.

This first one is
Wilber Hendershott (July 12 1851 - July 30 1916) and his wife Elizabeth Matilda Neil (Dec 17 1857-June 2 1925)
Elizabeth M. Neil is my GG Grandfathers sister.

This second one is Wilbers parents
Philip Hendershot (1827 - 1906) and his wife Catharine Olphiant (1832 - 1908)

Some of the dates are a bit off, from what I have, so I will need to investigate that at some point.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

52 weeks to better genealogy - Week 17

This is the assignment... From Geneabloggers and Wee Tree
Get out your family photos and label them. You’ve seen them a million tines because they’re YOUR photos, but what happens when they’re passed down to others? Will those people know the names of everyone in the pictures? Take some time and label your photos with pertinent information. If you’re working with old photos, take consideration with their age and condition. Devise an archival-friendly labeling system. For digital photos, you can use computer programs to tag the images with names or other identifying information. If that’s too confusing, you can at least save and/or re-name digital photos with details of your choosing. Don’t let another generation slip by without documenting your photos. Your ancestors will thank you. If you have a genealogy blog, share with your readers your system for identifying photos, and even share a photo if you like.

When I read this, I thought, OMG, I so need to do this.
I don't have time to actually complete it right now, but it will be on my mind when I look at my pictures in the future.

For the pictures I have on my computer that are "genealogy" related, (that is, not the hundreds I have of my new daughter), I have been getting good at labelling them.  This is how I have been labelling them so far.

LASTNAME_Firstname_Locationifknown_date if known

So far it seems to be working well for me, but I probably should do this for all the "recent' photos I have of my family as well.

So I didn't actually do any work for this weeks challenge, but here is a picture of my daughter...just because.
I'll label it Swinging fun! :)

Scanning Sunday

Here is a picture with my grandfather in it.  I wish I knew where, or when exactly it was taken, but I don't know exactly.  I do know he was part of the Canadian Dental corp in WWII, so I wonder if this is that group of guys?  In any event they all look they hare pretty happy here. :)
My grandpa, James Cahill, is the one is the back row, on the far right.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wentworth County website

For those that are interested in Wentworth County, Ontario Canada check out my new site

I just started it, so its under construction, but my plan is to add all the links and information I can find about this area.  I hope that people will use the forum provided to chat with others about their research, and submit pictures of relavent things.

Any feedback/constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Displaying genealogy - Part 2

I gave my thought about how to display some genealogy as mentioned in my previous post, and I remembered about PICNIK...a great photo editing site I haven't used in a long time.

So here are some things I did quickly.  Maybe they are something I could get printed off and framed?  I am sure with some more time invested I could get them looking pretty good.  My only concern would be about how they would print off, would the resolution be ok? They always look so much better on the computer!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Displaying your Genealogy

With all this work we put into researching our family history, we should be showing it off!
I'm just not sure how exactly I want to do it yet.  Everytime I see that Ancestry commercial I think about it.

I know I don't want to print off a "chart" because it is forever changing.  I was thinking of printing off some old records I have found, along with some black and white photos and putting them in frames. 

Do any of you out there have pictures of how you have displayed your genealogy?  I'd love to see them! Post a link if you'd like.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book of Pictures

I wanted to pass along the name of another book about the Hamilton area, since I have to return it to the library today.  I can't summarize it because there is just too much in it!  It is full of old pictures of the area.  If you have family from that are you should check it out. Although it didn't have my family in there, maybe it has yours?

Hamilton - Panorama of our past 
A pictorial History of the Hamilton-Wentworth Region
The head-of the-lake Historical Society

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

I just discovered this grave from this site.
It is from the Clunyhill Cemetery in Forres Scotland

It has my GG grandmother (Lexie McLean), her husband (Robert Dean) and their son (Alexander Dean).  What a great find!

Lexie was also the name of my G Grandmother.  My daughters name is Alexis...nickname Lexie. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

A light bulb moment!

I've decided on my next big task of orginization/spring cleaning.

I had been wondering how I could get the tons of records I have found on ancestry, onto my Rootsmagic family tree.  I didn't think it was possible.  My plan was to eventually print everything off.  But that would have been a LOT of ink, and paper!

Well with one simple question by me on Twitter...
Question? when U find records on Ancestry, do U print them all off? The background is always black so uses up lots of ink..any alternatives?

And the one simple answer from ACoffin...
@FunFamHistory Save Ancestry records as images.

I was like duh!  I didn't realize that I could do that.  I thought my only option was save on ancestry or print.  But with one quick look, I realized there was a button to click, and I can save it too my computer!

So now, I will need to do this methodically or I will get very overwhelmed.  I have a lot of records, some are for multiple people.  I will need to give this some thought before jumping in.  But knowing me, I'll end up jumping in with both feet!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Town Called Hamilton 1814-1840

I want to find out some basic history of different areas of where my family lived so it will help me to find our more things about them.  I'll start for now with the Hamilton, Ontario area because I live here, and it should be easier to find things out.
I am going to start with a book I have been reading.

Hamilton - A Peoples History - Bill Freeman.  

I will go through each chapter, and just pull out some interesting facts to me, and what might be relavent to my family.  If you want to get all the details I encourage you too see if you can find it at your library, or you can purchase it.
Hamilton: A People's History

First Chapter:  The Head of the Lake Beginnings to 1814

Second Chapter - 
A Town Called Hamilton 

  • 1816 - March 22 - Hamilton became a community - named after George Hamilton (Modern day streets are named after his relatives - John, James, Hunter, Catharine)
  • Courthouse and Jail brought people from all over (From the District of Gore - which includedWentworth, Halton, Brant, Haldimand counties and Puslinch Township) - This is how Hamilton initially began to grown
  • Education was very important to the settlers.  1817 - there were 5 schools in Barton Township for 800 students
  • 1832-1835 - Dundurn Castle built by Sir Alland MacNab and Robert Charles Wetherall

  • 1832 - Cholera epidemic.  There was panic in the community, especially because of the immigrants coming on ships into the ports.  Even prisioners were released to avoid the epidemic.  There were lots of dead.
  • 1830's - political conflict between Dundas and Hamilton, along with all of Upper Canada.
  • Population then started to increase due to British immigration, and by 1835 the population of just Hamilton was 2,600.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Head of the Lake - From Beginnings -1814

I want to find out some basic history of different areas of where my family lived so it will help me to find our more things about them.  I'll start for now with the Hamilton, Ontario area because I live here, and it should be easier to find things out.
I am going to start with a book I have been reading.

Hamilton - A Peoples History - Bill Freeman.  

I will go through each chapter, and just pull out some interesting facts to me, and what might be relavent to my family.  If you want to get all the details I encourage you too see if you can find it at your library, or you can purchase it.

First Chapter:

The Head of The Lake
From beginnings - 1814

  • The first inhabitants of the "head of the lake", which is the western end of Lake Ontario was the native people about 6000 years ago.  
  • 1638 - 1640 - The population decreases because of the small pox epidemic which was brought over by the Europeans
  • 1650 - war that severely affected the native poupulation
  • 1700 - The French had control of the area
  • 1759 - British dominated after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
  • 1775-1783 - American war of Independence; 60,000 loyalists came to modern day Canada. About 10,000 of these went to upper Canada, and 2000 of those to the Niagara Peninsula (which included the Head of the Lake)
  • 1787-1788 - "Hungry Years" because of a drought.  Most didn't use money but a barter system.
  • 1791 - Barton and Saltfleet Townships were surveyed by Augustus Jones
  • Most in this area were farmers.  Mos were given 200 acres and given clothes for 3 years, and basic tools.
  • Most were members of the Church of England (Anglican), but Methodist became more popular in the rural areas.
  • 1812 - Population of Upper Canada was about 77,000, 20,00 of these were loyalists, the rest were American settlers who were looking for cheap land (** This may be why my ancestors moved from the states to the area?**)
  • 1812-1814 - War of 1812 (Battle of Stoney Creek - June 1813)

Ontario - Local photos

Here are some pictures I took while we drove the country side this Easter on the way to my in laws in Niagara Falls.  During this trip, we were passing through lots of little townships where various relatives are known to have lived. I don't know if they lived along this road, but I thought I'd take some "drive by" pictures of some of the areas since it had me wondering where exactly they would have lived.

Some of the areas we drove through were Stoneycreek, Smithville, Gainsborough, Caistorville, Welland, Lincoln

It was such a beautiful spring day!

This last one is from a different weekend, but it is of the CN Tower in Toronto as we drove by on our way home. I don't believe I have any direct relatives from here, but I have seen York county on some marriage records, so who knows what some more digging will reveal.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

52 Weeks to better Genealogy - Challenge #14

It's week 14 for the 52 weeks to better Genealogy.(Geneabloggers and Wee Tree)
Here is what we were asked to do:

 Use a different search engine for your online genealogy research. Google is quite popular, but other search engines may provide different results. Try Yahoo! Search (, Bing (, (, Dogpile (, and even Clusty ( Pick an unusual surname and search it in different engines. Make note of the top 10 page returns for each. If you’re a genealogy blogger, share your observations on this experience.

I have become so accustomed to using Google as I am sure so many people have, that I forget about the other search enginges.  I tried various names and places in all of the above pages.  For the most part I the same results from all of them.

In my quick seach I cam across some pages I had forgotten I had found in the past.  So I quickly bookmarked them, they should provide me with some information when I have time to get back to them
I find that with google, while I get numerous "hits", some good sites often get lost in the crowd, so trying some of these different ones allowed them to float to the top so too speak.
I will be bookmarking these other search engines and will utilise them for sure when doing my searches.

This was a great exercise!

Friday, April 2, 2010

My First Award....Ancestor Approved!

 Just like a family tree, this award has been passed down a few "generations".  It started with Ancestors Live here, was passed down to 10 bloggers from there, one of which was MountainGenealogy. Then  handed down to 10 more.  I am very grateful to be one of the recipients from The Family Curator.  The links provided will give you the "sources" click away! :)

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlighted you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.

I have been humbled....
  • by my relatives that have served in the military (WWI and WWII)
  • by relatives that moved away from their families to North America to presumably achieve a better life.
  • when learning about they way life was at different points in time
  • to find so many hard working farmers in my family. 
I have been happy about....
  • finding other relatives that enjoy genealogy research too
  • being able to pass along more family history to my daughter when she is old enough
  • being a detective and continuing on my search.

 I have been surprised....
  • that so many of my relatives passed through the US at some point before or after being in Canada.
  • that I ended up living in the same area where many ancestors lived in the past, without even knowing it until I moved here!
  • how the spelling of surnames can change so many times

 So now I will pass this award onto 10 more bloggers..
Some have probably already recieved the award which probably proves how much they deserve it!

Wee Tree - Amy Coffin
Dr. Bill Tells Ancestors - Dr. Bill
Genealogy Canada - Elizabeth
Canada Genealogy - M. Diane Rogers
Ancestories -
Blame Grandma
Jacks Genealogy - Jack
The Family Griot
Turning of Generations - Michelle Goodrum
The Gene Gleaner  - Katie
 I think I only have the "twitter" of Canada Genealogy, if I'm already following you just let me know what your Twitter name is, or if I'm not let me know so I can!

Follow Friday -The Family Curator

I am pretty new to the world of blogging. I am still not so familiar with all of those wonderful genealogy blogs that are out there yet, but slowly I am finding some of my favourites.  One of them has to be The Family Curator.

 She really has motivated me to get organized.  To be honest, I haven't had the time to go through every old article she has on her site, since she has so many useful things.  But I sure plan to navigate my way through them at some point soon.

Here are just 3 posts that should help to motivate any new blogging genealogists!

Happy Searching!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Course Review - Descendency Research @FamilySearch

Thanks to someone posting on Twitter a while ago I found out that there are some FREE courses at

I decided to try one of them out today, and I was pleasantly surprised!

I did the Decendency research, Lesson #1 (of 3)

It was a video of someone talking, and explaing what decendency research is, why you may want to do it, and how to get started.  It was easy to listen to, and his stories kept my attention.  Now to those who are expert genealogists it will be way to basic for you, but for someone like me, I found it to be very informative.  It gave me some ideas of how I can change things up to try and work on decendents instead of ancestors.  I just might try that!

My only "complaint" was going to be that I couldn't print any of the information off from the video, but low and behold, I went back, and there are links to some written information I hadn't noticed.  Excellent!

So to anyone that hasn't looked there yet, I would highly recommend it.  I will be watching the rest of these for sure at time!

Data Backup Day

Thanks once again to Geneabloggers for a great idea!  Data Backup Day!

I'm guilty of not backing things up regularily.  This will be a great habit to get into.

So  I took their advice, and put my genealogy folder that I had recently organized and put a copy onto my external harddrive.  I then took a copy of my Rootsmagic file and put it on that harddrive too.

I also recently put all of my bookmarks onto delicious, so I'm not sure if I need to back that up or not, if anyone has advice about that, let me know.

So overall I am getting things organized, and it feels great!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Recap - Wentworth Bygones No. 11

Today I ventured to my local library.  My main reason for being there was story time for my little girl, but also on my agenda was to start in my search of Hamilton History books.  I found out that I need to go to another one that has the large collection for all the microfilms and other genealogical specific resources.  I'll have to do  that someday when I can be "baby free", so for today, for various reasons I only came home with one book.

From this book, I have discovered a historical society, who have produced several publications.  Their website is here
This book has no information about my family, but I thought maybe I would do a slight Recap about what is in it. It is basically a few little stories that were presented at "The Head-of-the-Lake" historical society meetings.  It was interesting reading about what this area was like back in the mid-late 1800's!

Wentworth Bygones
From the Papers and Records of 
The Head-of-the-Lake 
Historical Society, 
Hamilton Ontario.
No.11, 1975

The Following are the titles of the excerpts from their meetings told in this book:

The Journal of a Scottish Farm Pupil in Ancaster
by Eleanor S.D. Farmer
(an address to the Society on April 19, 1974)

The Reverend Thomas Geoghegan
By Katharine Greenfield
(an address to the Society on Feb 9, 1974)

From the Mayor's Chair: Then and Now
by Mayor Victor K. Copps
(The Bailey Memorial Lecture)
(an Address to the Society on Oct 12, 1973)

The Story of William Sampson
First Recot of Grimsby, 1817-1822
by The Rev. Canon E.A. Brooks
(An Address to the Society on Jan 11, 1974)

The Railways of Hamilton
by Andrew Merrilees
(An Address to the Society on March 8, 1974)

A History of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Hamilton
By J.T.L. Fletcher
(An Address to the Society on February 14, 1975)

Early American and Canadian Glass
by Miss Lottie M Jones U.E.
(An Address to the Society on Nove 9, 1973)

Baptismal Records of the Church of the Ascension (Anglican) Hamilton, 1851-53 
These records are listed at the back of the book...Unless I find out otherwise that I'm not allowed to post them, I will post my scanned photos here.  Maybe they will help someone out in the future?  By clicking on them it should open into a larger window to make viewing possible.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

If you happen to catch me when I still have the book, I will gladly through it for any surnames you might be researching in the are.  Just leave a comment below.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Tapleytown Cemetery

It's Tombstone Tuesday.  I'm a little late, almost wednesday, but better late then never right? :)

This is the same picture I used early this week for my "brickwall" post, but since they are on my mind, I thought it appropriate to use here.

I have also just found out that I may have some more relatives buried in this cemetery, so I will need to take another trip out there sometime this summer.

This is Eve Neal, and her daughter in law Ruth Neal, in Tapleytown Cemtery, Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

52 weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge #13 - Cyndi's List

After reading   Dr. Bills blog today, I decided to check out Cyndi's list as part of the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge # 13. (as discussed by Geneabloggers and We Tree)

My experience with this website in the past was one of confusion.  I have come across it before during my searches, but never gained much information from the links, simply because it was so overwhelming, and I didn't know where to begin.

Today I gave it another go.  And, to be honest I have come away with the same feeling.

First I used the search bar and typed in Wentworth Ontario.  For a county I want to research.  It came back with 68 sites. 1-10 results on the first page, but when I went to the second page, it said there was only 13 results in total.  So I'm not sure what happened so the rest of the results?   

It was not easy to determine what the search results were about exactly, but I could easily click on them to find out if it was of inerest.  So I did, thinking it would take me to a page that talked Wentworth and Ontario, and I would determine then if they were relevant or not.  I expected to be taken to various webpages.  But instead I was taken back to various index pages, where I had to search for the page they were talking about.  The pages were often very long, filled with lots of writing and links. Only by using my "find" button, could I easily find the links talking about Wentworth. 
With all that searching, I did get one page that could be useful, that I have used in the past.  Ontario genweb: Wentworth County

Now compare this to typing in Wentworth Ontario in google.  It came up as my second or third option.

So in conclusion, while Cyndi's List is FULL of lots of valuable information I am sure, in my opinion it is just not worth the time needed to search it.  I much prefer Mr Google.

p.s There is a small list of blogs listed there...I think geneabloggers should add their site, as should some of the other bloggers around here.  Although I think they would just get lost in the huge collections of information.

My Brick Wall - Eve and Samuel NEIL

I'm stuck, and I'm not sure where to look.  Maybe some of you out there will have some thoughts to point me in the right direction?

My goals of breaking down my brick wall are primarily to...

Find out where Levi NEIL was born
Find any siblings of Levi NEIL
Find Samuel NEIL
Find the maiden name, residence and migration of Eve NEIL

I am using the surname NEIL here as it is the modern day spelling, however in earlier documents it is found to also be spelled numerous different ways.

What I know:
About Levi Neil:
  • Born - May 9 1822
  • abt 1842 - Married Ruth Dean,  not sure yet  if the USA or Wentworth County
  • 1851 Census of Canada East/Canada West - Wentworth County, Saltfleet - says born in Saltfleet
  • 1861 - can't find him in that census
  • 1871 - Census of Canada, Ontario, Wentworth, Saltfleet - says born in Ontario
  • 1881- Census of Canada, Ontario, Wentworth, Saltfleet - says born in Ontario
  • Marriage record in 1864 to second wife (Elizabeth Hannon) says born in Canada. Says his mother is Eve Neal and his father is Samuel Neal.
  • Possibly died 1890 - no record yet.
 One of Levi's son's - Nelson Murray Neil - always lists his father as born in the USA in the census's so I'm not 100% convinced that Levi was born in Ontario.  Maybe he was born in PA?  I would need to find out when Eve came to Canada.

About Eve Neil:

I have found her grave in Tapleytown (which is in the same county as Saltfleet), it is next too Levi's first wife Ruth. I also have the census record for 1871 that lists her as dying that year.

From this I know:
  • Eve's last name spelled NEAL, Ruth's last name spelled NEEL
  • She is a "native" of Pennsylvania (I assume that means she was born there? or does it just mean she lived there?)
  • Died March 25 1871, and can figure out that she was born on Oct 20 1776
  • In 1822 when Levi was born, Eve would have been 46, so I would assume she would have children when she was younger, where would they be? I don't know of any siblings to Levi.

Samuel NEIL
  • I can't find him in Canada, and I am not sure where to look in the states.  I am assuming somewhere in PA but not sure.
  • There seems to be a Samuel Neil that others are researching, that would have been born around the same time, but he is in Tennessee so I have ruled him out, now that Eve is from PA

So some questions I have for you experts...

Was there some event in PA history, that caused migration up to this area of Canada.  I have read that mennonites may have migrated, but I don't think they were mennonites, it says their religion is E. Meth on all census's.  (I need to do some research on religion I think.  Maybe a topic for a future blog.)

So that's my brick way...if anyone has any thoughts I'm open for suggestions!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ontario Genealogy Society Conference

For anyone that is in the area, or is interested, here is a link for the

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010 in Toronto May 14-16

I really want to go, since it's less then 2 hours away...but I'm not sure if I can yet.

Has anyone been to a genealogy conference? What are they like? Worth the money?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring cleaning - Organization continues!

I wrote earlier about feeling motivated to do some genealogy spring cleaning. Well I am still feeling that way with this dreary weather. Mind you, I can only do a little at a time since I do have my 9 month old daughter to take care of, but I feel like I am actually getting somewhere now with some organization.

Up until now I have had papers everywhere. I have finally followed my own advice and did a colour coded file system. It is making things so much easier!

Now I am going through what I put in those files and working on scanning what I need into my computer. I do just a few pictures a day so that it is not so overwhelming.

The next step is organizing my computer files. So I can find everything more easily. This is how I decided to organize my computer files.

  • Have one file called Genealogy - placed on desktop for easy access.
  • Have the 4 surnames listed in here, just like in my file cabinet. I will put other file folders with names in that line as needed.
  • Within those folder I will label the pictures documents like this:

SURNAME_Firstname_name of document_Date if available
This should make things more consistent, and easier to find.
  • I will also have files labeled like I will in the paper format such as, maps, history, forms etc.

After this is done, my next step will be organizing my bookmarks on my web browser. This will be a big job!

If anyone has any ideas for what they do as they search the web I would love to hear it. I tend to bookmark everything I find genealogy related, but it then becomes impossible to find what I really need.

It would be great to have one user friendly, master list, organized by category of genealogy websites that users could submit and maybe rate don't you think? Maybe one already exists? If it does please pass along the link.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Chippawa Ontario

Its Tombstone Tuesday...check out Geneabloggers for other great posts!

Holy Trinity Church Cemetery
Chippawa, Ontario

A place where several of my ROWE and ALDOUS relatives are buried.
Several ancestors were also married in this church

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Scanning Sunday!

The Family Curator posted a blog about Spring cleaning today, and that got me motivated.
So I went through some bins of old pictures, and was suprised by what I had that I had forgotten about. I have a LOT to get organized, but I started scanning some pictures today. Maybe I'll start my own "Scanning Sunday" so I can gradually work away at it.

Here are a couple of what I have found today.

This first one is my grandmother - Jane Cahill - taken at Holyrood Palace, Endinburgh Scotland.

This one is Bill Shanks, Nov 23, 1959. It is a professional photo (Thos Calder, 38 Munches st. Dumfries, Scotland) I believe it is for a hotel he managed. I have a picture of that hotel, but haven't scanned it in yet.
I used google maps to look at the street view of that photography place in Scotland....I find it so interesting to get a glimpse into an area that my relatives might have visited.

Sentimental Sunday - Family stories - Getting the information

It's Sentimental Sunday from Geneabloggers!
I'm not sure if this exactly fits into that theme, but I'll give it a go!

After a visit from my mom this weekend I have realized I really do need to get all this information that is in my family members heads down onto paper. They have so much to share, it's my job to find out the best way to get it from them before it is too late.

I personally have found it difficult up to this point to get the information I have been looking for in an organized fashion.

What hasn't worked so far:

  • Listening to stories - While I love the family stories, and don't want anyone to stop telling them to me, I admit I have a terrible memory and am afraid I will mess up the details of the stories they have told me.
  • E-mail requests - I have tried to extract information this way, but many of my relatives are not necessarily as computer literate as I am, so I can understand the confusion.

So this is what I am going to do:

Send them (via snail mail) a package of information. This will include:

  1. Letter - stating what my goals are, and an explaination of how to fill out the included forms.
  2. Family group record - partially filled out
  3. Family tree - a part of my family tree that relates to them to show what I have so far
  4. Self addressed stamped envelope

Here is a generic letter I was thinking of sending. I would personalize it depending on whom I am sending it too.

Dear Family Member;

I am so excited to be working on our family history!

I want to be able to give all of this information I have to anyone in our family that might be interested, in particular I want to be able to pass this along to my young daughter.

But first I need your help!

How can you help? Just tell me everything you can about our family! A big task I know, so I've included some forms that will help get things organized.

I would be so grateful if you could fill them out for me at your convenience. Don’t worry if you can’t fill out everything, just do the best you can. I have partially filled out some information to get you started. If what I have is wrong, please correct it.

Each record is meant to be for a couple and their children.

For example - Your parents information would be filled out on the top of one of the sheets, at the bottom you will include their children's information (so you and any siblings)

You could do the same form then, for your grandparents, aunts/uncles, and yes, don't forget you and your spouse! And even for your own children as well!

If you want to add stories or other information, go right ahead, write on backs of sheets, or add your own paper, I’d love to hear it all!

When you are done, just put all of those sheets into the envelope I've provided.

I have also included a little snippet from our family tree that I have so far.

If you have any questions, feel free to call me at ***-***-**** or email or "facebook" me.

I have also started a blog I am very excited about, where you can follow my stories of doing genealogy research

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out!

Love Kelly

Here is a family group record form I was thinking of using from Ancestry.

Any feedback? Do you think that is a good way to start? What do the rest of you do to get information you are looking for from family members?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Irish Roots

With St. Patrick's day here, I starting thinking about my Irish ancestors. I suspect one of my surnames, NEIL, to have originated from there, although I can't trace it back to there yet.

Another name, CAHILL, can be traced back to Ireland but I have much research and digging to do.
According to the census below, my GG Grandfather, Robert CAHILL came to the states in 1874. from Ireland. His wife Mary came in 1860 it appears. There seem to be several Mary and Robert Cahills in the PA and NY census', so I really do have to look at them more closely to make sure I have the correct ones. I am a bit confused on how/when/why they moved around in the United States since my G grandfather James was born in PA, lived in NY in 1900, then back to PA just before he joined the Canadian army for WWI. I am starting think that Mary (possibly with the maiden name MAHOONEY?) was married before Robert and had some children with him.

So many mysteries to unravel!

1900 United States Federal Census
Penn Yan, Milo Town, Yates, NewYork

I think I first need to search some more, and try to get more information about their habitation in the states before I go back to them in Ireland. I want to be sure I have the correct people before I go back too much further.

Happy Searching and Happy St. Patty's Day!

Tombstone Tuesday

It's Tombstone of many daily themes with geneabloggers. You should check them out, there are tons of great bloggers listed there!

So look for more daily themes like this one!

Abrham Dean (October 20 1842 to March 16, 1905)
Mary J Neil (1843 to JUne 23 1926)

This grave is in the Fruitland Cemetery, Stoney Creek (Originally Saltfleet), Wentworth, Ontario

I'm not sure who was supposed to be on the other side of the grave...maybe their kids? (Murray and Mary Ann Dean)

I think this weekly theme might make me go out and get more pictures...I only have so many right now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Start off organized!

If I could give just one piece of advice to someone just starting out is get organized early on. I was not organized, and now it is taking me a lot of time and effort to get things that way.

I was originally using only to keep my family tree. (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this site. And I wouldn’t have half the information I have if it wasn’t for them.) But now that I want to share my family tree with others and want to print off various reports I have outgrown ancestry as my only source of record keeping. So I find myself finally buying a family tree program (Roots magic), and converting everything into the new system. A big pain let me tell you. It would have been a lot easier to have started out with this program.

As you gather more and more information, you will quickly realize that you will be accumulating a lot of pieces of paper. Even if you tend to do things on the computer, you will still have things you have printed out, or records given to you by family members.

There are lots of possible solutions. Everyone will have their own way to keep track of items but below is just one possible way, and one that I might try.

Start with 4 coloured files. For example: 1 blue, orange, green and red

Each colour will represent 1 of the four family lines starting with your grandparents. Label each of these folders with the surname.

So for me it could be..

Cahill - Red

Shanks - Green

Rowe - Orange

Neil –Blue

This first file will contain all information from your grandparents down to you.

The second file for each colour would be all of your grandparents’ parents’ information, including their siblings. You would label it with whatever reference # system you are using.

The third would be your great grandparents’ information, including their siblings.

And so on.

As you can see, these files could become quite full the further back you go. In this case you would simply subdivide them and label appropriately. But no matter how far back you go, you will be able to tell simply by colour what side of the family you are looking at. This would be particularily useful for me since I have a common surname "DEAN" in 2 different lines of my family tree.

It is recommended that within each of these folders to include a large envelope so you can place any small documents or pictures in them. This will help protect them to some degree, and also help them from getting lost.

It is suggested that these files be used for “inactive” work. So those documents that you are not currently working on. The work you are still working on may be put into binders for easier access. These too need to be organized too, but we’ll discuss ideas for that shortly.

I may try this system, but I am also interested in hearing what works or doesn’t work for other people!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting started

So you’ve thought that maybe looking into your family history would be an interesting hobby.

Now what?

You may be inclined to jump right into some online searches, but first you should concentrate on gathering the information that you already have in your possession. It will save you a lot of frustrations later on.

Start by writing down things you know for sure. (I will discuss in a later entry about types of forms you can use, but here is an example of one.)

Information about you. Your birth date, where you were born. Are you married? When were you married? To whom, where? This information may or not be useful in further searches, but your family tree will start with you, so thats a good place to begin.

Next you will move on to your parents. When were they born, where? When and where were they married. Where in their lives have they lived. What are the names and date of births of all of their children (your siblings).

Then, what do you know about your grandparents. List anything you can think of. Where they in the military? If they are no longer living, do you also know the date they died? Do you know where they were buried?

You might know a little something about your great grandparents. If you do, write it down.

See, already you have some information to go on. Maybe it’s not all complete, but what you have will hopefully give you a good place to move on from. The more information you can start with though, the easier it will be. So, the next step is too look at any documents you might have in your possession. Maybe you have a family bible, or old military records, or anything else that would contain any hints of your family.

Now that you have some information, you will want to talk to your family members. Go visit them, and see what they can tell you. Some people might be able to tell you stories. Maybe you will want to record your conversation so you can refer to it later, or bring along some paper to record things. Don’t trust that you’ll remember everything they tell you. I’ll talk about sources later, but also knowing who gave you the information will become very important later on, so make sure you keep track of who told you what.

Your family will be able to give you lots of information. Learn from my mistakes. Make sure you talk to your eldest relatives and write down whatever you can remember from the stories they tell you. They may provide a piece of information that may help you later on in your research. Maybe you could even get them to write down information that they recall. They can do this on their own time and then give you that information at a later date.

So have fun!

If you've already done this stage (maybe even a long time ago) what was your experience. Were family members willing to share stories with you? How did it help you out?

What got you started?

There can be numerous reasons why you are are getting into researching your family history.
Maybe you want to find living relatives. Maybe you want to know where your family originated from? Maybe we want to find out about various illnesses or causes of death? Maybe you are just the curious type.

This last one, would be my reason. I am a curious person by nature.

I have a relative who has been into genealogy for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to it through her enthusiasm and love of family history. She really had be intrigued. She is an excellent story teller and she makes everything sound so interesting. Myself, I am not such a great story teller, but my thing is doing the actual research and finding the documents to support the stories. I love doing this kind of thing.

When I first started there wasn't the wealth of information on the internet that there is now, or at least I didn't know about it then. So in the beginning I didn't do too much research at all, it was more about writing down what I had. Then, about 5 years later I got into it some more. I found out quite a bit of information through online resources and was excited about what I was finding out. Then life took over and I took a break for quite a while. I started up again this past year and I am discovering more and more how much I am loving it!

Whatever our reason for looking into our family history, if it has become your hobby I am sure you can agree that it is very addictive. Even if you only do it sporadically, once you start it's in your blood!

So tell me, what got you started on genealogy?

Family History Fun

My name is Kelly and I am an addict!

Addicted to genealogy that is.

So what am I going to do about it? Well blog about it of course!

I'm super excited to be starting up this blog. I have some ideas of where I would like to take it, but if you have thoughts of what you'd like to see, post a comment below!

I am not an "expert genealogist" like I see so many people claim to be, rather I am simply someone who loves the action of learning about my families history. Finding the old documents that help to unravel the mysteries is a great way to pass some time. I like the idea of being a detective! I think I chose the wrong career!

Hopefully with this blog I can share what information I have been gathering with some other amateur genealogists. Along the way I am sure to learn lots myself through my research and with others who will interact with me on here!

So hello to anyone that has stopped by, and I hope we'll learn lots together!