July 31, 2015

Skeletons of Four original settlers of Jamestown Colony identified


Skeletons of Four original settlers of Jamestown Colony identified
The bodies of four original settlers of Jamestown Colony have been identified! They are minister Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, Captain Gabriel Archer and Captain William West.
"One of the bodies was just 5 feet 5 inches long, and missing its hands, most likely from four centuries of deterioration. It had been jostled during burial, so the head and shoulders were scrunched long before the wooden coffin lid and the weight of the dirt above had collapsed on it. Flesh no longer held the jaw shut; when this skeleton was brushed free late in 2013, it looked unhinged, as if it were howling. The bones, now labeled 3046C, belonged to a man who had come to the New World on the first trio of ships from England to the spot called Fort James, James Cittie or, as we know it, Jamestown. He survived the first wave of deaths that followed the Englishmen’s arrival in May of 1607. Over the next two years, he conspired to take down one leader and kill another. This man had a murderous streak. He died, along with hundreds of settlers—most of the colony—during the seven-month disaster known as the "starving time"." [Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com]
 Read the whole story at New Jamestown Discovery Reveals the Identities of Four Prominent Settlers

July 30, 2015

J. K. Rowling on Who Do You Think You Are? This Sunday

J. K. Rowling on Who Do You Think You Are? This Sunday
Who Do You Think You Are? “J.K. Rowling” (US premiere, originally aired in the UK)
Tune In: J.K. Rowling’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? airs Sunday, August 2 at 9/8c on TLC

 Ancestry.com , the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.
Famed Harry Potter author and philanthropist JK Rowling is eager to trace the  French roots of her maternal side, having always been very close with her mother who’s passed away. She knows that her great-grandfather, Louis Volant, received the Legion d’honneur for his WWI efforts, but she doesn’t know why. 

She embarks on a journey in France to trace her mother’s roots. She discovers that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising truth. Tracing the trail even further back, Jo learns of her 2x great-grandmother, who had plenty of struggles both as a poor, single mother and a witness to German invasion during wartime, which forced her family to choose sides in a time of turmoil.   

I'll be watching! Will you?


Photo credit: Andrew Montgomery

July 29, 2015

Nominate Your Favourite Sites For Best Canadian Genealogy

Nominate Your Favourite Sites For Best Canadian Genealogy
Now's your chance to nominate your favourite site for Canadian genealogy.  Nominations are open until August 3rd so don't delay.

Local society and municipal sites, and sites that are primarily blogs are excluded. Any site you nominate must have substantial Canadian content. 

I'm pleased to see Olive Tree Genealogy website on the list of pre-nominated sites! Check the list and see if there are some missing that you think need to be considered.


July 28, 2015

Banished Gets a Thumbs Down From Me

Banished Gets a Thumbs Down From Me
Banished is a new 7-part series on CBC Television, premiering July 27, 2015 at 9pm. In 1788, Britain banished its unwanted citizens & convicts to Australia. Last night's episode focused on two convict lovers who are forbidden to marry, and their best friend. 

(Semi-spoiler alert ahead!)

I was looking forward to Part 1 but confess that it disappointed me. It had a very predictable storyline and characters. We had the obligatory evil convict, the hero convict who will suffer death rather than relinquish what he believes are his rights as a human being, the good-guy convict who puts on a good show of bravery but in reality is a coward. 

Then you have the oh-so-horrid soldier, the overly practical officer who sees all problems in terms of what's best for the troops (with no humanity shown), the governor of the colony who is at heart a decent man constrained by rules and laws, the overly sympathetic and empathic minister's wife and on and on it goes! 

Every major character was straight out of a beginner's handbook on writing romance novels. 

Even the costumers and sets were too polished. The convicts' clothing was not dirty or torn enough. The soldiers in the field had immaculate uniforms. Everything looked like a stage set to me. Yes Elizabeth Quinn's hair was matted and rumpled, but it looked like the way we teased our hair with rat-tail combs back in the 60s. It just didn't have the ring of authenticity. 

I was expecting more history, more of a documentary feel, and not quite so much fluff. 

Yes I will watch the next episode (reluctantly) if only because I hope the writing and story line will improve.

July 27, 2015

Banished, a New Series on CBC Television Starts Tonight!

Banished, a New Series on CBC Television Starts Tonight!
Banished is a new 7-part series on CBC Television, premiering July 27, 2015 at 9pm.

In 1788, Britain banished its unwanted citizens & convicts to Australia.

Among the first convicts to be exiled are close friends Elizabeth Quinn (MyAnna Buring), Tommy Barrett (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and James Freeman (Russell Tovey).

In this new world, relationships between convicts aren't allowed, but Elizabeth and Tommy break the rules.

When their romance is revealed to the soldiers in charge, it sets in motion a series of events that put friendships and ideals to the test, at a time, and in a place, where survival depends on having the back of those you love.

Image: Screenshot from CBC website. 

July 26, 2015

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 27V Nurses & Staff

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.


Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 27V Nurses & Staff
Nursing Sisters & Staff

 The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

July 25, 2015

The Origins of Red-Haired Mummies in China

Red-Haried Mummies in China
 Archaeologists and scientists  have found the oldest and best-preserved mummies in the Tarim Basin area of China. Within a Bronze Age cemetery first discovered by Swedish archaeologists in 1934, some of the oldest mummies every found have had their DNA tested. The findings were a surprise. 

Previously the origins of the earliest settlers in this area were thought to be either  nomadic herders from the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan, or from modern Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. But DNA results indicate the most common mtDNA haplogroup was C, suggesting origins in southern Siberia.


“Considering the presence of haplogroups H and K in the Xiaohe people and the geographical distribution of shared sequences, we conclude that the west Eurasian component observed in the Xiaohe people originated from western Europe, and maternal ancestry of the Xiaohe people might have close relationships with western Europeans,”

Continue reading at DNA Reveals These Red-Haired Chinese Mummies Come From Europe And Asia

Credits: Image is a screenshot from Forbes.com

July 24, 2015

A Relationship Calculator Helps with DNA Matches

A Relationship Calculator Helps with DNA Matches
If you are like me, whenever you get a DNA match that says the match is possibly a 3rd or 4th cousin, you can't remember or are not sure how to figure out where your common ancestor might be in your ancestry - a grandparent, a great-grandparent....??  In other words, how do you narrow the list of suspects candidates?  

I recently found this relationship chart which I love because it allows me to quickly determine that if a match is a 3rd. cousin we share 2nd great-grandparents. If the match is a 4th cousin we share 3rd great-grandparents. It's not that complicated and I wish I could remember that the common ancestor is one number less than the cousinship... but my brain won't retain that. 

On the chart I'm using, you simply look for the projected relationship, so let's say your DNA match was 5th cousin - look on the chart for 5th cousin (it is row 7, column 7). Now look UP to the top row, which in this case says "4th great-grandson or daughter". Okay that means you and your match share 4th great-grandparents. See how easy it is?

There are other charts online for understanding the term "cousin removed" and for figuring out the relationship of a person if you know their ancestry and how it connects into your family. 


July 23, 2015

FIngerprints From The Past

Sometimes ancient fingerprints are preserved in artifacts later found by  archaeologists. Some very intriguing fingerprints have been found and studied to determine age, gender and ethnicity of the last person to handle the object. Many were created thousands of years ago!

Here is a list of the 10 fingerprints discussed (with images) in the fascinating story What 10 sets of ancient fingerprints tell us about the people who made them

1.   Leonardo Da Vinci’s Middle Eastern ancestry – 525 years ago
2.   Medieval Europeans prayed mostly for themselves – 600 years ago
3.   Fashion conscious women of Roman Britain get the pale look – 1,900 years ago
4.   Division of labour in an Italian pottery workshop – 2,400 years ago
5.   Data management in Europe’s oldest city – 3,300 years ago
6.   Ancient Egyptian bakers pack bread for the trip to the afterlife – 3,300 years ago
7.   Youth employment in Stone Age Sweden – 5,000 years ago
8.   First farmers – 10,000 years ago

9.   The child who picked up a figurine – 26,000 years ago
10.   The Neanderthal weapon maker – 80,000 years ago
        

July 22, 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Ginnifer Goodwin

Who Do You Think You Are? Ginnifer Goodwin
Airtime: Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c on TLC

Actress Ginnifer Goodwin knows nothing about her paternal grandfather’s family because he refused to talk about his parents. She goes on a journey to uncover the truth behind her great-grandparents’ story, and is shocked to discover turbulent lives filled with court cases, drugs and incarcerations.  

Actress Ginnifer Goodwin never knew her paternal grandfather, John Barton Goodwin, who died when she was an infant. She’s been haunted by the lack of information surrounding his family line; he never talked about his parents to her father, Tim. Understanding the generations that laid the foundation for her has grown more important to her since becoming a mother herself. The birth of her son Oliver has reignited her desire to know why her grandfather never spoke of his mother and father.    

Ginnifer starts her search for information with her dad, who recalls that his father John Barton’s parents were named Nellie and John “Al” Goodwin, and that for some unknown reason, John Barton was abandoned when he was just 11 years old.  

Photo Credit: TLC

July 21, 2015

What Family Secrets Will Your DNA Reveal?

Great news! Ancestry DNA test kits are now available to Canadians. If you've been waiting for the chance to order a kit to Canada, now's the time.

I've had my DNA (and my brothers, and my husband's, and my sons and my in-laws..) DNA tested at other companies and now is my chance to do the same with Ancestry DNA in Canada  

The more places you test, the better so I'm really excited about this! So far, with our DNA tests we've learned many new things - not just our ethnic background but family secrets. That's right.

We learned, for example, that the family rumours were true and that hubs' grandfather's father was not the man married to his mother. Nope, the rumour that Great-Grandma had been messing around with the hired man named Cooper turned out to be true! DNA connected my husband and his mother with first cousins through the Cooper family. 

We also were able to verify our paper research showing my Native American heritage, and my husband's black ancestry. 

One more secret recently came to light, and this was something no one had any inkling of. Not a whisper, not a rumour, nothing - so it was a real bombshell. We had a first cousin match to one of my sons. A first cousin we'd never heard of. No one in the family knew of this person. I'm sure my genealogist readers can figure out pretty quickly that a first cousin match meant that a sibling to my son's father (or to me) had a child no one knew about.

I can't reveal more (yet) as I don't have this person's permission but if/when I do have it, I'll tell the whole story here. It's mind-blowing! And it's been wonderful to learn. Because of DNA this amazing person is now in our lives and attends our family functions. It was a win-win situation except for one tiny blimp on our delight at finding this match.  I promise I'll share all this in a future blog post once I have the thumbs up to do so.

Meantime, why not find out what secrets lie in your family tree? Take the Ancestry DNA now.

July 20, 2015

Ask and Ye Might Receive!

Have you ever hit that proverbial brick wall and wondered where to look next for a reclusive ancestor? Often we genealogists find ourselves stuck because the records we want are in another country and we aren't sure how to access them.. or  if they even exist!

Don't overlook asking Libraries, Archives and Museums for help. My husband's ancestor Michael Jackson (yes truly that is his name) lived in Nenagh, Tipperary Ireland. Finding details on him or his family have been challenging! 

It Never Hurts to Ask!
Marriage Michael Jackson & Mary Moynahan 1835
What I had found in my research was that Michael married a woman named Mary Moynahan (Minihan) on 14 February 1835 in Monsea Parish, Tipperary. I found the christening records of three children in the online Catholic Parish Registers at the National Library of Ireland. I also found instances of Michael and a man I believe is Mary Moynahan's brother in  Parish Poor Law Union Records for Loughnora, which is where the two families lived. 
4 February 1847: Rate for the Relief of the Poor of Nenagh Union: Michael Minihan"  house and land, Sarah Minihan, Michael Jackson 
But I wanted details! After a search of various websites to find out where these records might be held, I learned from the National Archives of Ireland that the Tipperary Public Library had the Rate Books. An hour on their website didn't yield any information that led me to believe they offered any research services, and I could not find a working email address. 

Since I'm not one to give up, I ended up "creating" a few email addresses based on their domain name tipperarylibraries.ie. Most websites have an admin address and other standard ones such as "info".  So I wrote to info@tipperarylibraries.ie and a few others I thought might work. None bounced back so that seemed successful. Of course whether or not anyone would respond was another matter. I kept my email request concise but provided necessary details, offered to pay for research services and requested assistance.

To my surprise and delight, early this morning I received a lovely email from a woman who is part of a Tipperary Studies project. I guess one of my emails was forwarded to her. She took quite a bit of time to research all the Rate books on my behalf, as well as gravestone inscriptions and prison records. She also provided a link to a subscription Irish Newspaper site where I could search for the individuals in question. 


What a lovely surprise that was! I now have more details on Michael Jackson and his possible brother-in-law Michael Minihan. 

So never hesitate to ask.  Offer to pay for services, keep your email brief but be sure to give details needed (names, dates, locations), and ask for help with ONE question. You never know - you might get lucky.


July 19, 2015

Solving the Mystery of London's Great Plague

Solving the Mystery of London's Great Plague

Will excavating a 16th century graveyard solve the last mystery of London's Great Plague?

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 27R Nurses

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.


Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 27R Nurses
Nurses
The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

July 18, 2015

Documentary Launching on The Africa Channel "Up From the Roots"

Documentary Launching on The Africa Channel "Up From the Roots"
Ngozi Paul, 2007
An amazing opportunity came my way last week. The Africa Channel is launching a new TV show in the Fall and the host and producer of the show, Ngozi Paul of Ngozika Productions, asked me to be on one of the segments called "Up from the Roots", about the importance of knowing your roots and how to create a family tree. 

But the timing was not possible so I had to reluctantly pass on the opportunity. I talked to Ngozi (who is the producer and star of the television series "Da Kink in my Hair") and what an interesting woman she is! How I wish I could have joined her. To say I am disappointed to not take part in this wonderful documentary is putting it mildly.

I wish her well with this new documentary. It sounds fascinating. Ngozi shared with me the names of the other two individuals (Ron Finley the urban gardener and Felicia Leatherwood) who will be featured on the episode I would have been on, and they are going to be very interesting guests!

July 17, 2015

Update on Digitization of WW1 CEF Personnel Files

As of today, 171,771 of 640,000 files are available online via the Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database. Please visit the Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files page for more details on the digitization project.

Update on Digitization of WW1 CEF Personnel Files
Frederick Markham 1896-1918
Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, which roughly corresponds to alphabetical order. Please note that over the years, the content of some boxes has had to be moved and, you might find that the file you want, with a surname that is supposed to have been digitized, is now located in another box that has not yet been digitized. 

So far, LAC has  digitized the following files:
  • A to Dagenais (boxes 1 to 2257)
  • Free to Gorman (boxes 3298 to 3658)
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the following boxes were skipped in the digitization process, but will be done in the next few months.

  • Dagenais to Fredlund (boxes 2258 to 3297)
Lorine's note: Wouldn't you know that the file I am waiting for (impatiently I confess!) is for Cyriel Demeulenaere - which was in the batch that was skipped. Arrgh!

July 16, 2015

UNB is Honouring my Uncle Nev, a Fallen WW2 Soldier

Last month I received an email from Laura Jackson. She explained that she had been selected to travel to Holland with the University of New Brunswick to look in depth at the liberation of Holland. She is to be part of Lucinda and John Flemer Netherland’s Study Tour.

Laura's email said  

"As a history teacher in an area of many post World War II immigrants from the Netherlands I am hoping this experience will help me pass on the legacy of those battles. Part of the program is to research and speak at the grave of a fallen soldier from the liberation offensive. The soldier assigned to me is your uncle James Nevin Bonar."

Laura then went on to ask for any information I could give her on Nev so that she would have a better understanding of him as a husband and father. I should explain that Nev was married to my mother's sister Lillian in a double wedding ceremony in Guelph in 1936.  He and my aunt Lily had one son then Nev went off to war. 

He was killed 23 October 1944. Nev was only 29 years old. Laura added some detail I had not known previously - that his unit was part of some very intense fighting in Holland, and was in very close contact with the enemy. His body was robbed before it was buried presumably by Germans. 

Nev Bonar in back row. 1936
It was touching to see the poignant letter his parents wrote after receiving a Memorial Cross in his name.



A small local paper wrote about the trip that Laura is currently on. She promises to send me photos of the grave on her return and I'm quite pleased about this. I never knew Nev but I heard about him from my aunt and mother. They spoke highly of him and I think my aunt loved him very much for she never remarried. 

I wish I'd known him but I'm very grateful he is being honoured this way. He has two living grand-daughters who I think will be very pleased. 



July 15, 2015

10 Important Characteristics of a Good Genealogist

10 Important Characteristics of a Good Genealogist
We all want to be good genealogists, don't we. We want to know that we did our best to find our ancestors and that what we found is accurate. We don't want to spend time searching an individual's ancestors and adding them to our family tree only to find out it was the wrong person!

That means we need to be thorough and methodical and very very cautious about accepting documents and individuals without verifying and double-checking every fact we find. 

I've come up with a list of the 10 most important characteristics that will tell you if you're on the right track to being a good genealogist.

A good genealogist

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

2.  Learns what records have survived for the location and time period for each ancestor's life.

3. Copies documents exactly as found, not as he/she thinks it should be. Example: You know your Grandmother's name to be Mary but in one census she is record as Marie. A good genealogist copies her name exactly as found in the original record, not as he/she knows it. A good genealogist notes the discrepancy in names but does not alter what was found in the original document.

4. Cites sources for all facts found.

5. Never relies blindly on family stories or online family trees but searches out a source for each. Verify, verify, verify! Example: If great aunt Harriet told you Great-Grandpa was a trapeze artist who deserted his wife and children, make note of this in your notes with the source and date you were given this information, then hunt for proof of her statement.

6. Makes an accurate copy of all records found. Carefully notes spelling of names while copying and does not make changes. Example: my name (Lorine) is often carelessly copied from my websites, blogs or emai by genealogists who write to me and address me as Lorrine, Lorraine or Lori.This makes me wonder how good a genealogist they are if they are unable to copy a name correctly.

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

8. Analyzes each record and document carefully in order to spot clues that may lead to other areas of research and to accurately understand what the record is  and is not. Example: A woman who asked me for help told me she knew when her grandfather arrived in N. America and had his immigration record. She provided a complete date - day, month and year. But when I looked at the original document it was not an immigration record but rather his naturalization paper.

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

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

There are more characteristics of a good genealogist and the list could be extended. But these may be the 10 most important and if we make sure we are following these characteristics, we are definitely on the way to being a good genealogist.

What would you add to the list? 

July 14, 2015

If You Need Help Dating Early Photographs, You'll Want to Read This

If You Need Help Dating Early Photographs, You'll Want to Read This
From personal collection of L. Massey
I am fascinated by the customs and traditions that women followed during the time period of the Civil War. Their clothing, their hairstyle, jewelry and even their poses reflect the social nuances of the times. Children’s portraits of this time period also intrigue me, as during the Civil War era they were dressed as miniature adults.

All these fashion clues can help us to date an early photograph. 
One of my most unique finds is a CDV (Cartes de Visite) of a young child with his rocking horse. It is rare to find portraits of children with their toys or familiar objects, for they were expected to behave as adults and stand or sit very still during their sitting for the photographer. 
There are few casual photographs and people were most often posed formally for their photos. Often women hold an actual CDV Civil War album, or a book. But rarely is it a personal item with meaning to the individual
This is an early CDV (Cartes de Visite) of a young boy on his rocking horse. Even though he is in a dress we can tell he is a boy because of the side part in the hair. Girls' hair was parted in the middle. We can also estimate his age, since dresses and skirts were only put on boys who were not yet toilet trained. Training generally began around age 2.

If this were a photo of your ancestor and you knew the year it was taken you could estimate his year of birth from the clues above.
To date this CDV we could look at the edges. If it has square corners it is before 1872. Rounded corners were made after 1872. Sometimes a CDV has its corners cut to fit into an album slot and then it can be difficult to determine what the original shape was.

There are many ways to date an early Carte de visite and other photographs.  See Lost Faces page on dating early photographs for more help. Be sure to check out my YouTube Video Five Types of Early 19th Century Photographs
 

July 13, 2015

The Top 10 Genealogy Influencers You Should Follow on Twitter

The Top 10 Genealogy Influencers You Should Follow on Twitter
To my great surprise (and delight!) I found myself ranked as #5 of 2,573 in the Top Genealogy Influencers

I'm in good company, just check out the names of those in the top 10:

Here's the top 10 and their Twitter Handle in case you aren't following them yet: 

1. Ancestry.com @ancestry

2. Geneabloggers @geneabloggers
3. National Archives UK @uknatarchives

4. Family Tree Magazine @familytreemag

5. Yours truly! Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy @Lorinems

6. Kirsty Wilkinson @genealogygirl

7. Library of Congress @librarycongress

8. British Newspaper Archives @bnarchive
9. Genealogy Bank @genealogybank

10. Megan Smolenyak @megansmolenyak



July 12, 2015

Nursing Sister Phillips WW1 Album: 25V Red Cross Medic

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.



The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos" in the vertical menu bar on the right side of your screen. You can also click on that phrase at the bottom of this post.

July 11, 2015

10 Steps to Searching the Irish Catholic Parish Records When You Only Know a County of Origin

By now most of us with Irish Catholic ancestors have been to the awesome new database of all Irish Catholic Parish Records published online by the National Library of Ireland. (See If You Have Irish Catholic Ancestors Today's Your Lucky Day)

The records are not indexed or transcribed and thus there is no search engine where you can simply type in a name to see results. Instead you search for your parish of interest and then scroll through the images to hopefully find the record you want. 

But what about those of us who don't know the parish our Irish ancestors were in? What about those, like me, who only know a county of origin? Well, I have developed a plan for methodically and carefully searching the records in a somewhat organized fashion. 

Faded page of Parish Records
Be aware before you begin that many of the records are so faded they are illegible. Many have terrible handwriting which is cramped and difficult to read. You can use the controls provided with the images to increase or decrease the contrast, to enlarge the images and to increase the brightness. 

Step 1: Look at what you know or what family lore has indicated. In my McGinnis family we have two family stories. One branch of the family who settled in Ontario circa 1833 says the family was in Belfast. My branch also says Belfast. Another branch has a photo of their  ancestor and on the back it says Katesbridge. 

Since I don't want to just start frantically searching all of Co. Down or Armagh, I needed to find out what Parishes cover Katesbridge and Belfast.  Of course I googled it! After quite a hunt I figured out that Katesbridge, Co. Down is in the Parishes of Newry and Drumballeyroney. Belfast city has 15 different parishes so I decided to start with Newry, then Drumballeyroney

Step 2: Next stop was National Library of Ireland where I typed in the parish name (Newry) in the search field. The page that loaded gave me the list of microfilms available for Newry and the dates for the surviving records. I am searching for several baptisms ranging in years from 1807 to 1831 and one baptism circa 1844-1846. Newry had some of those years so I simply began scrolling through the online images until I finished 1825. 

List of Microfilms for Newry Parish
Step 3: When I completed Newry, I went to Drumballeyroney which I learned is also called Annaghlone. Their baptisms started in 1834 and go to 1851. 

Step 4: Use the Filter Tool! I needed to jump to 1844 so I clicked on the microfilm and immediately used the Filter Tool. (Filter Events/Dates). By choosing Event=Baptisms and Year=1844 I was taken to the exact page to start my search.
 
Filter Tool

Step 5: Both Newry and Drumballeyroney came up empty for me so I turned to Belfast. Of the 15 parishes in Belfast city only 8 have surviving records and of those 8 only 2 had records early enough for my needs. That search also had no results for me. Now came the tricky part - figuring out where to search next.

Step 6: I extended my search to parishes near Belfast and Katesbridge. To do this I used  the map found with the online parish records. Click on "Go to Map" at the top right of the screen, right beside the search engine where you can enter the parish name. 



By clicking and drilling down you can get a map of parishes. I printed this map and put a red star in Newry.  I began systematically began searching adjacent parishes.


Newry Parish and Adjacent Parishes

My goal is to search a wide range of parishes surrounding Newry, Belfast and Drumballyroney. That means I must move on to Step 7.

Step 7: Using GenUki I was able to bring up a list of adjacent towns to Katesbridge. I can do the same for Belfast. This will help me decide which might be where my McGinnis ancestors lived or worshipped. I also brought up a list of nearby churches

Step 8: I printed these lists off and created a file folder for my search plan (maps, lists of parishes, record of where I've searched and so on) as this will be a long-term project.  

Step 9: Go through each parish and eliminate them as having the records you seek. Eventually you will either have success and find your ancestor(s) or you will discover that your ancestors do not appear in the surviving parish records. 

Step 10: I suggest you create a notebook for this project and make notes as you search each set of records. My notebook lists the Parish, the film number, the dates covered and the condition of the records. As well I noted any McGinnis (Magennis) names I found in case one day I find a connection to my family.

My Research Notebook for Irish Catholic Parish Records
If you are looking for instant results you are almost certain to be disappointed. I have  finished searching 17 parishes for my McGinnis ancestors. I have written in dozens of pages in my notebook. I've found many clusters of McGinnis individuals but none are mine. I will carry on searching until I am satisfied that my ancestors are not to be found or I actually find one! Realistically this will be a long slow task possibly taking months of a few hours each day. 

But my motto is "Leave no stone (aka record) unturned!"



July 10, 2015

Happy Ending re Wallet With ID from 1956 Found in Ceiling of Home

Happy Ending re Wallet With ID from 1956 Found in Ceiling of Home
Earlier in June I blogged about a Wallet with ID from 1956 Found in Ceiling of Home  

The owner of the home stated that "While taking down the ceiling in our house, C. found a wallet full of treasures. Anyone know a William Mollon, born June 19th, 1933, from Sydney, Nova Scotia? He took the train from Sydney to Port Credit in June of 1956."

I am happy to report that the wallet has been returned to the man who lost it! 

His nephew reports "After 59 years my uncle's long lost belongings have finally been returned to him. William (Bill) Mollon"


July 9, 2015

Got Norwegian Ancestors? Check out this immigration map

Got Norwegian Ancestors? Check out this immigration map
190 years ago the first emigrants left Norway and Stavanger to start a new and better life in US. The journey took around three mounts and 9th October the first Norwegians immigrants enter New York. 

Expedia’s Nordic Migration map charts the mass movement of Nordics to the United States from the mid 19th century up to the second half of the 20th century. This is an interactive map where you choose the country and click the arrow to watch the timeline of where settlements occurred over time.

July 8, 2015

If You Have Irish Catholic Ancestors Today's Your Lucky Day

If You Have Irish Catholic Ancestors Today's Your Lucky Day
If you, like me, have Irish Catholic ancestors, today is your lucky day. The National Library of Ireland is due to launch their entire collection of Catholic Parish Registers at 2 p.m. It's free for researchers and should help many of us break down a brick wall or two!

The collection covers 1,086 parishes throughout the island of Ireland and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records from the 1740s to the 1880s.

I'm eagerly waiting for this set of records but expect their servers to crash for the first few days as genealogists rush to the site. In fact I went there just now and got this message when I chose various topics:

"Due to technical difficulties the main National Library website is currently unavailable."

Fingers crossed it will be up and running this afternoon. If anyone has success today, please let me know!

July 7, 2015

When Family Moves Far From Home

When Family Moves Far From Home
Yesterday was an emotional day for me. My son and his family left to move almost 1400 miles away. They won't be back for at least 3 years. The journey is too difficult for me physically, and with 4 young children it would be costly for them to come home, so it will be a long time before I see them again. 

My own sadness paled when I started to think about our ancestors who made such journeys - some even further away - in the days before we had the Internet, Skype, Facetime, Facebook and all manner of instant communication.

Suddenly I understood the anguish that my great-grandmother must have felt when 5 of her 6 grown children left England in the first decade of the 20th century to settle in Canada and Australia. I put myself in her place and shuddered to think of how she felt, knowing she would quite likely not see for many years, if at all. She did make two trips to Canada to visit over the space of 30 years but how dreadful it would have been to not see her grandchildren grow up or hear her own children's voices over those years.

And in earlier years, such as when my ancestors left Ireland in 1846 to escape the Famine Years, it must have been heart-breaking to see their children and grandchildren sail off to N. America, knowing they would never see them again. 

As we said our goodbyes yesterday, we were all dry-eyed until my 10 year old grandson hugged me, would not let go, and began to sob. I felt my heart breaking and I started crying too. My daughter-in-law wiped away tears and we all had one last hug. My grandchildren's little hands waved out the car window as they drove down our driveway. 

I take comfort in knowing that they are only a moment away by phone or the internet. I am also happy for them as they begin a new adventure. But my heart goes out to my long-dead ancestors who must have grieved for years for their children so far from home.