Category Archives: Knowledge is Power

It Really is in the Mail

Mail On Mailbox Shows Mail Post And Sent Messages

One thing I recall as a child, was that it was neat when you got something in the mail. Now it seems like that doesn’t happen very often now, except for flyers and bills and even then you can have those come to your email.

So one of the cool thing about being a genealogist or family history nut is that you “do” get things in the mail. Right now I’m waiting for a death certificate and another certificate that I’m ashamed to say I don’t recall what it was, but they are coming from Britain. I always log my certificate purchases in my genealogy program but for some reason I missed this one so it’s going to be a surprise.  I’m also waiting for some probates to arrive from the B.C. Archives, after my recent trip to Victoria. All of these items will provide, hopefully; more clue to get my research farther back or at least to fill in those gaps. Meat to the bone so to speak.

Family history can be an expensive hobby. As I mentioned; I’m waiting for some certificates from the UK that cost 9.25 pounds each and the three wills that should arrive on Monday cost about $35.00 Canadian. But I guess there could be worse things that I could spend my money on.  I don’t have any vices so family history is mine.

Sometimes you can find the same information in other ways,  such as on-line databases or genealogy websites but sometime you just need to look at the document to get the details that you want. For instance;  with regard to the death record I’m waiting for. My 3x great-grandfather; William Middlebrough was born in Kingston on Hull, Yorkshire, England in 1839 or 1841 . Pretty straight forward until you get his birth record and it lists, not  Jane Brook which all the other Middlebrough researchers say is his mother, but Jane Carr.  I’ve done some research on Jane Carr and I can find a Jane Carr but no record of her and John Middlebrough as a couple. I can find John Middlebrough married to Jane Brook though.

But the birth certificate I have shows John Middlebrough, Joiner (and that’s my John’s occupation) and the mother is listed as Jane Carr. So what the heck. Then there is the death record in 1839 which I have on order for William Middlebrough. Who is this William. So I’m purchasing it to see who is listed as the father and if he’s connected to the family. Were their two John Middlesbrough’s living in the same area? Did they have the same occupation? Did they both marry Jane’s?  I can hear the conversation now;  “Hey cuz, isn’t it  wild that we are both marrying Jane’s, why don’t we both name our sons William? Just to make it interesting one of us could register the birth and the other not? Oh, your didn’t register your marriage…that will fix those government types”.

So that’s why you buy certificates… sometimes they are a wild goose chases and sometimes they answer questions.

On the other hand purchasing a probate record can provide you with an abundance of information. Often you can find out who were the important people in your ancestors life and what their relationship was to your ancestors  and even where they lived , or at least that’s the hope.

So as I said earlier you could spend your money on worse things; after all purchasing some of these documents are a bit like gambling. You spend your money and you’re hoping  for a big return.

Jackpot Word With Fireworks Shows Gambling Or Winning


Distracted or Social Media Junky… Oh Look; Squirrel

A Brown squirrel eating nuts

Over the past couple of years I’ve wondered If I have  had a mild attention disorder or If social media has created this. Either way I seem to be on the go and doing so many things that sometimes it’s hard to “stay focused”.

Sometimes stayed focused can be easier said that done. So what can we do so that we stay on task so we get those jobs done and are able to get to the  fun stuff; like, genealogy?

1. Set a time limit for social media. Even if it has to be a timer on the stove.

2. Sometimes it’s not that we are distracted as much as the job we have to do isn’t the most exiting thing to do.  Sometimes you just have to “suck it up” and “just do it”. Perhaps you need to get up early before the rest of the family gets up or stay up later and do that nasty job after everyone is in bed.

3. Headphones. Whether you use them to play music or not, if you’re wearing them then people tend to leave you along.  This is a tried and true system that my husband; Kevin uses.

4. Don’t try to multi-task. I’ve read a few reports lately that tell us that multi-tasking doesn’t mean you’re doing more jobs better but rather more job mediocre. Pick one job and do it well.

Once you get your jobs done you’ll have more free time to work on your family history. Because you know that’s not distracting at all. “Hey look there’s a new website for sharing your tree”…….


Ready Set; Organize


Today we continue with organizing… Well at least I’m try to do that.  The book I was telling you about; The 1-week Self-Organization Challenge by Simon Wright tells us; you have to plan.  My plan is to methodically go through the stack of papers on my desk and deal with them. Not to shuffle them around and let them propagate a new stack of papers.

The book also suggests to set yourself a time limit … which I have done. It also talks about not letting yourself procrastinate. To late that’s how I got myself into this stack of paper. He talks about making sure that when you set a time frame that you make sure that it’s the appropriate amount of time. Not too much and no to little.  He says that if you give yourself too much time that often you take that whole amount of time even though it may  not have been necessary and of course don’t give yourself too little time as then you will feel like you have failed at the task.  I like that idea …

Note; that I have no affiliation with this book it’s just one of the many books that I read that I’d like to pass along.


I Need to Get Organized

close up of file folder

Often as with any hobby, it’s all about staying organized. This is something that I’m not terribly at but I’m far from perfect. Shhhh don’t tell my husband because he would have a different comment. He’s one of those people where everything has a place and everything is in its place. I’m more of a stack of papers here and there on my desk but I know where things are. Oh well they say that opposites attract lolol.

Organizing is something I’m interested in so I, from time to time,  I read up on the subject. Currently I’m reading; The One Week Self-Organization Challenge by Simon Wright.

I do know one thing that if you take the time to organize things, even a little bit it can be very mentally uplifting and almost feel like a weight is taken off your shoulders. Or maybe that’s just me.

I remember one of my bosses telling me that when people work through sorting  papers on their desk that typically they rotate in piles. Kinda like a clock and eventually they have completed a full circle on your desk.

My challenge this week is a stack of papers that have accumulated while we were away. Kinda a mish mash of personal stuff, genealogy stuff and business stuff. So I’m  going to work on that. The book tells me I need to identify the problem. Check

Next it tells me to increase my productivity. Well that must be talking about not looking at social media. I can’t tell you the number of time I start something and then….. Squirrel… Or something shiny gets in the way.

The book talks about learning a new skill. Often picking up a new skill such as this is well worth the time and money as you can use the information in other aspects of your life.

It also talks about delegation. I can’t do that with my stack of papers but perhaps I could do that with some other task that is weighing on my mind. How about you?

I’m saving some of the next steps for tomorrow’s blog so in the meantime think of the task you’d like to organize and then think about how you are going to tackle it. Don’t make it a huge task, sometime;  I think we make the job too big and that becomes overwhelming. Remember it’s about eating that elephant…. One bite at a time.

Note. I have no connection to the book. It’s just the book I’m reading. Perhaps you’d like to read it too; The One Week Self-Organization Challenge  by Simon Wright

DNA Gedcom

Biotechnology dna science

By now you have come to realize I’m a DNA junky and I may have to start a group. Oh wait a minute, I did… well a friend of mine and I did, for our genealogy society. We are not experts and we tell everyone that, but we are very interested in the topic and so we want to help everyone else that has the same interest, so that way we can all learn it together.

So to continue with the hunt to figure out the Beaton/Batten mystery the next step is to go to I learned about it from a blog post on Sue Griffith’s blog called Genealogy Junkie.  Take a look around her blog; there is a lot of info.

Once you’ve set up your account  on you’re ready to go. You can do this several way; you can upload an Ancestry file, 23andMe file, Family Tree DNA file or a gedmatch file. I have my DNA kits (I’m the keeper of both my parents DNA and a few other family members) on Family Tree DNA but I also have my personal DNA and my husband’s on Ancestry.  I decided to opt for the gedmatch upload and I choose my mom’s kit as she is a part of the Beaton/Batten mystery.

If you choose the same path that I did, then I can tell you that on the gedmatch upload page (beta) there is a link to an instruction booklet that is written very well and was easy to follow along with.

Once you’ve completed all the steps you can download a report that looks like this.


Mom's matchesSorry my screen shot is a bit blurry.. But you get the idea.. or perhaps you will once I show you chromosome 22.

mom's matches chrom 22Here you can see that I have a couple of overlaps on this portion of the chromosome.  If your hover your mouse over the coloured segment it tells you all the people who match on that segment. Now you have a list of people who you can contact. On the green line there is my cousin Rick, my mom’s second cousin; Margaret and another person (whom I’ve contacted before). On the Brown line its the same three people. But on the purple segment there are seven people who I can contact.

Maybe I won’t find the answer to my Beaton/Batten mystery…but I’ll keep looking and convincing other people to do their DNA and work with the tools we have available and maybe someday the mystery won’t be a mystery any longer.






Tracks Through Time


This past weekend my husband, my sister-in-law, Debby, and I  spent time in Barrie, Ontario at the Tracks Through Time, OGS Genealogy Conference. Debby was a participant and Kevin helped me with my Shop the Hound booth.

There were about 400 lively conference attendees and they were able to hear tips and tricks on how to track your ancestors through the ages.  It was a well-organized conference and they had events to help beginner conference attendees as well as; “ask the experts” where you could make an appointment to see if you could get help with one of your genealogy struggles. Something new was;  Fast Tracks which was an opportunity for vendors to showcase something about their booth.

Thomas MacEntee, Christy Gray, Dr. Maurice Gleeson and Dave Obee  were speaking and this was only the tip of the iceberg.

It was a great weekend and both the Flip Pal and the Zcan+ were a big hit. We had a great time and look forward to next year’s event in Toronto.


Can’t Find that Birth Record?


Sometimes when you’re looking for a birth record you can be disappointed because it’s not there and it should be. Before your disappointed, check the other children’s in the families birth if you have a clue about their possible dates. I’ve seen where seven children were registered at the same time; spanning a time period of 16 years. You just might be looking in the wrong time frame.

Happy hunting.

It’s May, It Must be Jennings Month

2015 On Balloons Representing Year Two Thousand And Fifteen Celebration

When I first started doing Genealogy I decided that I’d have a family of the month.  What that meant was that you worked on one family for the month and then at the beginning of the next month you’d choose another family. The families involved were my parents grandparents families. This ensured that you didn’t get really bored with one family.. But if you were on a hot trail you could just opt to stay with the say family and keep working on them until the 1st of the next month.

I probably need to implement this again as I tend to get stuck on one family (the Beaton’s) and keep looking for answers that I may never find.

Discoveries in Your Own Home


When your just getting into your family history  you don’t realize all the things you have available at your fingertips… well maybe they are tucked away in a drawer or closet, but you probably have them.

As I mentioned in Begin at the Beginning you have to start with yourself and collecting all the bits and pieces in one place is a good way to start. So get out that archival box and start putting those things you have collected all together.   Some items that you might have are;

  • Vital Records – these documents record those milestone events in life. Birth certificates, marriage licenses and certificates, divorce records and death certificates. Sometimes these records aren’t completely accurate. For example; a death records is accurate for gender, cause of death and location. But it may not be accurate for name and date of birth and if parents names are given, then they may not be accurate either.
  • Religious Records – certificates of baptism, christening, confirmation, bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah can all be found in family papers. You  may also find a document of marriage issued by the church rather than a government issued marriage license or certificate. Maybe you have old church bulletins.
  • Personal or Family Bible – You may have a family member that took the time to fill out the pages containing, some or all; recordings of births, christening, confirmation, marriage and deaths.  Note if the information was put in by one person at one time or if they were entered at time of each event. You can tell this by different handwriting or different ink or pencil.
  • Photograph Albums –  family albums contain photographs and other family mementos of importance. If your lucky and someone labelled with at least the names that’s great. But if not, you’ll have to show them  to other family members to help you identify and label the pictures. But that’s not all bad, because it gives you a starting point for discussion.
  • Scrapbooks – this is a past time that has fallen by the wayside in my mind, so if you find them they often are a gold mine of information chronicling a lifetime of events in an individual or a family.
  • Letters, Diaries and Journals – everyday life events and sometimes innermost thoughts are to be found in these items.  They will give you a glimpse into their lifestyle at the time, or the things they purchased or maybe just what the weather was like.
  • Family Histories – often you aren’t the first person in your family who was interested in the family. This doesn’t mean your work is done but it means you have a starting point that you can follow and re-prove and add to.
  •  Local Histories – often people who have lived in an area will purchase the local history book because their family is included in the book.
  • Baby Book – these too can  provide you with quite a bit of information. Especially if it’s for a first child.. isn’t that what always happens.. the first child get the baby book and all the photos. My baby book tells which cousins I spent my first birthday with.
  • Funeral Books and Memorial Cards – guest books can tell you who was at the event. This can give you clues as to who is still alive at that time if you’re not sure.  The memorial cards can provide dates of birth and location as well as telling you when the person passed away and where and when the funeral service and burial took place.
  • Obituaries –  these are probably one of my most favourite documents and they often provide so many details about the family that I have to read them over and over. My grandmother kept copies of all the family obituaries and they have been a huge help in my own research.
  • Military Records – these can be service statements, disability certificates, discharge papers or pension records. You may have medals, ribbons or uniforms.

If you don’t find these types of records in your own home then ask your parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles if they have any of these things. If they do; then take that opportunity to go over and scan these items. It’s a great way to let people know your interested in the family and a great ice breaker into the subject.

Never Assume… Cuz You Know What Happens

At one point in my life I had this one terrible boss, but if he taught me nothing, he taught me the saying; “to assume makes an *ss out of u and me”.  Why do I bring this up? Well when my grandparents; Harold and Gladys Thompson passed away I was given some of the family photos. At the time I was told that three of the photos were of my great grandparents; Lily Shannon and her husband John Robert Thompson.

Years had  passed and I’d occasionally looked at  the photos but then a few years ago I read some books about genealogy and photography. In the books they spoke about looking at photos for details that might provide additional clue for your family history. It was at that point that the saying “never assume” came to light.

May I present the three photos.  All three pictures,  I was told were of my great-grandmother Lily.

Lily ShannonJohn Robert Thompson and Elizabeth RalphLily Shannon and John Robert

The first photo is of; Lily Shannon and my grandfather, Harold and the last picture is of Lily and John Robert Thompson with the two boys (Harold and Norman). The middle picture I was told was Lily and John Robert.

First of all I knew that my grandfather; Harold  was born out-of-wedlock in 1907. Although my grandfather never knew who his father was I’d found a birth registration listing his father as Godfrey Myrtle. I also knew that Norman was born in 1911 and he was John Robert’s son.  So sometime between 1906 and 1911 Lily and John would have come together.  But clearly the middle photo is at a much younger age so they may have known each other earlier. I knew for sure that it was John Robert in the photo by his distinctive ears but I was starting to have some doubt about the women in the photo.  Then I started researching John Robert and found that he’d married Elizabeth Ralph in 1893 .  In 1894 they had a daughter; Henrietta Pearl Thompson. Then I noticed I had another photo of an (until then) unidentified child with the same photographers name on it as on the photo of the younger couple.

Pearl Thompson may be

It was all starting to come together. Then I took a better look at all the women in the photos and I notice the noses aren’t quite the same and neither are the eyebrows.. and that’s when I  realized that I  was assuming  what I’d been told was fact. In my families defence they probably never thought to ask either; they had done the same thing as I had.

So the lesson learned is to always check the facts yourself. It’s great when people help you and provide information but sometimes they don’t know what’s fact and what isn’t.