Category Archives: Introduction

Genealogy Fitness


Last week I spent a lot of time hunting through the genealogy files while the Mister was away fishing with the guys.  We do spend a lot of  time sitting at a desk or a reader, so you can imagine it takes some work to stay fit as a genealogist. How easy is it to sit at your desk and think that you are hungry and need something to nibble on.  Or that you can’t go for a walk because you have “just one more” record to look at.

I don’t know about you but one thing that I do;  is  yoga three times a week. It’s great for stretching those muscles so that you’ll be able to bend down to read that inscription on a tombstone  or to get that book on the bottom shelf in the library.

Going for a daily walk,  even if it’s only for 20 minutes,  sometimes is a great way to refresh yourself and your mind. Who knows; that may be when you think of  something you’ve never thought of before and you have new inspiration for your research.

Spring in the park

Finally, I know how caught up you can get in your research and the next thing you know you realize you haven’t eaten for a while and now your famished. Take a moment to have a drink of water before you dive in the refrigerator so that you aren’t quite so hungry and then you’ll have time to plan something healthy to eat rather than that quick fix. Or if your to hungry to wait;  then be sure to keep a supply of healthy quick fix meals so your armed and ready.

Genealogy does keep you in you seat quite often but we have to work to keep our bodies and minds fit so we can work on that next brick wall.





The Evolution of Family History Hound


I’ve told you how I started on my genealogy path and although I was a family history hound, the site Family History Hound and the subsequent other sites were not born until I met my husband; Kevin.

Just like my genealogy passion, my life with Kevin started on the internet.

Kevin and I met 6 years ago this past February, on the dating site eHarmony.  I think it’s a great site and it worked really well for us. but I do know there are others that haven’t had the same experience. Kevin is a computer consultant and an entrepreneur and so after being around him  I realized that I’d like to try being an entrepreneur too. From that; Family History Hound was born and then Shop the Hound.

Having Shop the Hound feeds the need I have to help others. I try to have products in the store that help you look after your photos; by scanning them and backing them up. Or getting them easily from your camera to you computer. I’m a firm believer in; “Think smarter not harder”… so I look for techy items. We have DNA guides and I’ve just recently added some bling in the way of Angels from Jacqueline Kent Angels.  We have many other items and I hope you’ll check out our site.

Take Up Genealogy You’ll Make New Friends (Family)

Friend Joining Group Showing Friendship And Togetherness

One thing that happened by taking up this hobby (obsession??) that I’d never thought of was that you meet new friends.. well in actual fact they are distance family.

The first person I met was Gordon. I had just started doing genealogy and my genealogy society was planning a trip to England. I wasn’t going to participate because, after all, I’d just started, what would I look for? I didn’t even really know how to research.  At that time someone at one of the many special interest meeting I attended spoke about Genes Reunited.Genes Reunited is a website  that many people with English ancestry post their trees to and you can connect with others tracing the same people . It costs nothing to have a tree but if you are connecting to others there is a small fee and they also offer an enhanced subscription service to get documents which costs more.

Many evenings after a special interest group meeting, were late ones. That was because I’d learn so many new things that I couldn’t wait to try out. This was the case with Genes Reunited. So I posted a tree and started to see connections.  My first connection was Claire and she said I should me Gordon as he was a closer  family connection that she was. Gordon is my third cousin on my dad’s side. With this new connection I decided what the heck I can go to England and meet Gordon and his wife, Sandy.

It’s funny when you meet someone who is your family but you don’t know them. For me at least, it was like we’d known each other for ages. Well in fact we did know each other fairly well as we’d been furiously corresponding daily for 6 months, but still we had never met. His mother; Winifred is a delight and reminds me so much of my great-grandmother although she’s not related on that side. I guess it was the accent. Winifred will be 99 this September. So you can image all the things she’s told us. Like the fact that my family use to send her family Postum in packages..


It was through this trip and through Gordon that I started researching Jesse Vincent; who is one of my all time favourite ancestors.  I’ve researched him quite a bit and I love his story, but I’ll save that for another time.

On this same trip I met Alan and Brian from Brighton, Sussex and they too are connected through my dad’s side of the family.

Since that first trip I’ve connected with over a dozen different cousins  from almost all sides of my family. Some of our family connections have been lost for over 100 years which I think is amazing.

The best things about these connections is that these people usually love to do genealogy just like you and you will have someone to collaborate with.

Who will you connect with?

Do You Have a Genealogy Will?

Last Will

There have been many times that I’ve thought about what should happen to my research in the event of my death. In fact I’ve threatened, ok,  strongly suggested,  that my sons better not throw out my research or I’d come back to haunt them.  But all kidding aside; do you know what you want to happen to your research and more importantly have you told anyone what you want to happen?  I may not be motivated to write my will but I’m more motivated to have something for my research and don’t forget to include those DNA accounts.

So what can you do? Well you can handle in several ways; you can write a genealogy codicil and have it added to your own will. Or you could fill one a form and leave it in a place that you know someone will find it. Say your safe deposit box.. Or you could give a copy to the important people in your life.

Or you can just verbally tell people what you’d like to happen and hope that they follow your wishes. If you choose this route then you’d want to tell as many people as possible so that more than one person knows.

So who do you leave your research to?  If it’s going to be someone in your family then it should go to the person whose eyes didn’t glaze over when you were telling them about your latest find. If you have more than one person interested then you might let each of them know who you’d like to have the research and why, so you can deal with any of the fall out ahead of time. That might be when you decide that doing something legal is your best approach.

You can also leave your research to your local genealogical society or to a society that seems the most appropriate; say where you did the bulk of your research.

You can leave it to  your local archives. Keep in mind that some archives will only take written books not necessarily the collection of papers. This is where contacting the archive and seeing what they will take is a good idea.

Whatever you decide to do,  I think it’s important that you have a way of letting the people you love know what they should do. They have enough to deal with,  so making it simple for them is the best plan.  The ultimate goal is to ensure that  the  countless hours and money  that you have spent doesn’t  go to waste.

So do a quick google and you will find documents that you can use  or just write one yourself.  But in the words of a large sportswear company; JUST DO IT!

The Storytellers

Once upon a time

I come from a long line of storytellers. Most especially on my dad’s side of the family. I do know things about my mom’s side but my dad was always telling us stories about life growing up. There was the story of the airplane crash, the story about how he was goofing around with an axe and almost cut off his sisters finger and the story of when his step great-grandfather died at the farm.  These are only a few of the stories; there were many a story told at the family dinner table.

One of the things that I’ve encouraged, OK, nagged my father to do is record those stories. Finally after several years he has taken the recorder I gave him and done just that.  I know, a recorder you think .. but  keep in mind that I said that this has taken a long time and since that time I’ve suggested that he take his smart phone and do it but he chose to do it with the recorder.

My idea was to take the recordings and put them together with pictures that I have and make a DVD that my dad can give as a Christmas present.  Often I wonder how I get so busy but then I realized it’s because I want to do all these projects and I’m always thinking of new ones. But oh well, it keeps the mind active and I think that’s important.

Let me tell you about my mom. I say she wasn’t a story-teller but I guess she must have been.  How else would I know that my great – great  grandfather had a brewery and that he’d come to  Canada to ask his son to help him with it. GGgrandfather left hat in hand because his son was a tea drinker and didn’t believe in “the drink”.  Or was it just because he’d worked there as a child and there were rats and they just weren’t pleasant memories.

Over time I realized that I too have become a storyteller. After all, what is this blog, other than a way for me to get those stories out?  Every time I meet someone new and they make the mistake (hehehe) of asking me what I do I get to tell them stories.  Stories of how I got started in genealogy, things that I’ve found and places I’ve been lucky enough to get to.

We’re all storytellers, aren’t we? We post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; look at me this is what I’ve done. We just do it in different ways.  One thing I would like to encourage people to do is write those stories or record those stories. I know your thinking,  but who will care? But future generations will care; they will want to know who their grandmother or grandfather was, what was important to them.

After all, isn’t that why you got involved in family history?



I’m on a Hot Trail, That’s Only 100 years old

Were searching

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that line.  But when I do use it,  it’s actually true. I’ll get caught up in a hunt and won’t get anything done  (well in the rest of my life dept) because I’ve been working all afternoon on some shaky leaf or record that I’ve found. Thankfully I have an understanding husband who understands when a person has passion about something they love to work on. Don’t ever ask him about spreadsheets … just saying.

Take this afternoon for instance. I arrived home to see that someone had answered an inquiry that I had about a person we had in common on their tree. Much of the reply was the usual; “I don’t know much about them I just have them in the tree”… but this was slightly different because I knew the ancestor had married but had never found out what their husband’s first name was. Or maybe I just hadn’t looked, because suddenly I realized that I didn’t have my ancestor in the 1916 or 1921 census.

From that information about the husband’s first name, I now knew that my ancestor had two children.. Then it was; wow they went to Idaho… why would they go there, hey they took their great-grandmother with them.. and on it went. Suddenly the afternoon was gone.

So no I didn’t get the laundry done and supper won’t be ready when my husband get home.  Heck that wasn’t going to happen anyway.  But I did almost miss going to the gym to meet my friend, and that would never do.

Genealogy need to come with a warning label. “This hobby may get in the way of your responsibilities.” So enjoy….


Ok it was like this….

top secret

If you’ve been doing genealogy for a while, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be that long, you know that you either are told or discover family secrets along the way. For me family secrets aren’t a big deal. I was never a gossip so if I find out anything I don’t run around telling everyone what I’ve found out.  It’s all about getting the family story correct not about the skeletons I discover along the way.

My Mom was always  interested in my work on our families.  She was the one I went to with, not just the secrets, but all the things I found out about our family.  With Mom  you always knew when you’d found out something juicy because she’d always say;  Ok it was like this …

I often wondered why she just didn’t tell me that stuff, why I had to find out the hard way.  But I guess if you want to look at it in a positive way you realize that she never took away the thrill of discovery and she was honing my sleuthing skills.

In the fall of 2010 my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but prior to that I knew something was wrong because; for one thing, when I would ask a question about the family dynamics she started to say; “I don’t know”.  She had always known before.

I miss those family history conversations with my Mom. How I long for one more;

“It was like this”

The Joy of Discovery

Yesterday I told you about how I got involved in genealogy. One of the things that I think is important if you want to get into family history is that you do a couple of things. At least I believe it helped me.

First of all I joined the Alberta Genealogical Society, in particularly; the Edmonton Branch.  It was there that I met people who were interested (other fanatics) in the same thing I was.  The society has a library with many volunteers that are ready to help you get started and show you website to go to and book that you should read. The society has a library where there are books on every aspect of genealogy. From beginner books, books on how to do genealogy in Alberta, Canada, U.S.A., England and any number of other countries. There are local history books and people’s completed genealogies. You can spend hours in the library and I literally have.


Alberta Genealogical Society

The other thing I did was take a beginner course in genealogy.  Again it was a place to meet people who had the same interest as I did,  but also to learn some of the basics that you need to learn early on so that you can research correctly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that you need to cite your sources so that you can find the information later and have looked at my early information and I haven’t got a clue where I found that info. Really; I was sure that I’d done that… where did it go. But I guess despite the fact that I learned it there were times that I just plain forgot to do it… Maybe it was the joy of discovery that got me carried away.

I recall the first time I really got the bug. You do know that this is an illness and that there is no cure?  I was waiting for my beginner course to start and was sitting at home at my computer and surfing various genealogy sites. You know when you’ve gone here and there and you really don’t know how you got to a site? Well that was where I was.  Finally I’d gotten to a site;  I now know that it was the National Archives in the UK,  but at the time I didn’t understand that. Anyway, I’d gotten to a screen that you could put your ancestors name in and do a search. So I put in my great-grandfather’s name; Jesse Oliver and pressed search. Up came the 1901 census. It wasn’t the actual document only a transcript but it showed my great-grandfather who was 17 and he was a plumber. I was hooked. I was so amazed by the fact that he was on the internet. That this information was from 100 years old .. and that he had been dead for over 50 years, long before the internet was thought of, and here he was.

Over the years there have been many discoveries but it’s your first that you remember.


The Hound on the Hunt

Hi my name is Ellen Thompson-Jennings and I’m the Family History Hound. In fact you may have been or seen my site Family History Hound and Shop the Hound.

New Me2159014593_e38366fb98

My interest in family history began when I was in my teens. It was at that time that I sat with my 93-year-old great-grandmother;  Alice Elizabeth Oliver nee Clark and asked her question that I’d found in a genealogy “how to book”.  I worked on my genealogy for a while but that was back in the days of “snail mail” and there wasn’t an internet super highway like we have today. Life got busy with kids and jobs and the next thing you know it’s 30 years later.

nana  Alice Elizabeth Oliver nee Clark

That was 15 years ago and  I realized that my family was grown and now I had time to do this. It was that realization that changed my life. How so?  Well, first of all I joined the Alberta Genealogical Society and then I took an introductory course in genealogy. Then I started reading everything I could get my hands on; books, magazines and posts on the internet.

I was doing this every waking hour that I wasn’t working at my “pay the bills” job. It had become my passion.

I won’t tell you the whole story because I want to save some of it for later. But I do want to tell you that I’d like to pass on my passion. Even though it’s 15 years later I still can’t get enough knowledge about genealogy and/or family history and that brings me to my blog.

Whether your new to genealogy or have been doing it for a while its my hope that I can give you information that you can use to help you with your own family story.

So I hope you follow along and you too become a Hound on the Hunt.