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


Ancestor Trading Cards and Other Photo Ideas

Bing Crosby, Auntie Ronnie and Uncle Gordon
Bing Crosby, Auntie Ronnie and Uncle Gordon (copyright)

As I’ve mentioned before collecting family photos seem to be a by-product of family history.  I know I’ve gone to my aunt’s home; Flip Pal  (shameless plug) in hand and was able to scan photos from her albums and even photos from her wall.  She had this photograph of my great-aunt and uncle standing with Bing Crosby at the Jasper Park Lodge. I was able to scan it through the glass while it was still hanging on the wall.

My flip pal pictures (3)

Another useful tool is the Zcan+ (another shameless plug). The Zcan+ can be used to scan photographs and documents. What makes it different from the Flip Pal is that the Zcan+ has OCR (Optical Character Recognition). This means that it recognizes characters in documents,  in 199 languages,  and you can save to Word and then you can edit the document.  You can also save as Excel or PDF and that only a few of the types of files you can save.

Midnight Zcan+ Zcan+

Often I’m asked; which is better? But each has its own advantages. The Flip Pal because it’s a standalone product, no computer required. It weights just slightly more than 1 lbs and runs on double a batteries. The Zcan+ does require a computer to run. They come cordless and wired.   I love it for scanning at my desk and inputting family history documents into my genealogy program. But I’ll talk about that another day.

So depending on what you plan to do would depend on which scanning product would be right for you.

Now back to what other things I’ve seen done with family photos. At a recent genealogy conference I went to in British Columbia; there were two ladies that sold products to make a type of ancestor trading card. Not really for trading,  but that was the size of the cards. You could put a photo of your ancestor and then perhaps hand write or type out the information you wanted to capture on the card. The cards were then stored in a small drawer which could be set out on a side table or coffee table for display.

ancestor trading cards

Another great idea I saw was on one of the many Facebook pages that I follow. A lady named Susan, had created a table-cloth for the cake table for an upcoming wedding . So beautiful and so creative and what a great keepsake.blog

So over the summer gather those photos at family reunions and family get together when you visit your relatives on vacation. Take along your Flip Pal or Zcan+, which you can purchase at Shop the Hound (last shameless plug) and you too can get those creative juices flowing.

Out of Power and a Blog to Write

It’s never a good idea to leave a post until the last-minute. Why? Well because you just might have someone hit a power pole in the area and not have your blog done.

But if you’re a genealogist and you have no power what do you do? Well you can make that telephone call to that older relative and ask those questions you’ve been meaning to ask. Or you can get out one of those many Genealogy books or magazine and catch up on you reading.
Or you can hop on a Harley and enjoy the great weather.

the harley

Family Photos – Get Out Your Creative Thinking Cap

When you have an interest in family history I think an off shoot  of that is that you try to find and preserve family photos.

I know for me, family photos are precious, as only one side of my family either took a lot of photos or maybe it was just that  the other line didn’t feel they were as important as I do and got rid of them over the years.

If your one of the lucky people and you do have family photos, sometimes it’s fun to use these photo in different ways so that you can interest your family in the things you have found.

I’ve done a couple of things with my family photos  and if you search around on the internet or Pinterest you’ll find many more.

A couple of years ago for Christmas I made a metal photo panel showing the many generations in the family.  I made one for each of my brothers which had a photo of their son, themselves, my father and my dad’s father.

Below is something I made for myself showing six generations of the women in my family.


Another was a project that I started before my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer ‘s. It was a heritage cookbook. I started collecting photographs of my mom’s six siblings (one from when they were younger and one as current as possible). I also asked for a copy of their favourite recipe. You know that recipe that they were famous for,  like my Auntie Faye’s;  Yorkshire Pudding.  As it turned out my mom’s sickness progressed really quickly and it was only a few months after she was diagnosed that she no longer recognized the family.  At one point I had thought about not completing the book. But after about a year I decided to go ahead with the project and I dedicated the book to my mom.  It turned out great and many of my cousins from my mom’s side of the family asked for copies.

Recipes from the HeartRecipes from the Heart 2

In fact we’ve talked about a volume two with recipes from all the cousins.

These are just a few ideas and you are only limited by your creativity.More ideas tomorrow, stay tuned.



In Search of Willie Beaton

Beaton Family
Beaton Family (Willie; small boy)

Today I  continue with what I call the “Beaton/Batten” Mystery. So as I told you; when I was in Victoria, British Columbia I had a chance to go to several of the local archives. On Friday before going to the B.C. Archives I made my way a few kilometres from our motel and found the  (CFB) Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum and Archives. The Archives is small and is run by Joseph, who was very helpful.

So as a back story; William (Willie) Beaton had a son; William Theodore Beaton Jr. who also had a son; Leonard K. Beaton.  William Beaton Jr. got divorced from his Leonard’s mom; Eleanor. Eleanor and Leonard, I was told,  left Alberta and went to British Columbia; Victoria to be exact. I was told that Leonard was a Dr. for the Navy.

Joseph quickly looked up Leonard’s name and wasn’t able to find him. So now we knew that Leonard wasn’t a Dr. Often family stories are just that…. stories. But I usually find that always have a grain of truth. I was sure Leonard was in the Navy, but Joseph said that if he didn’t have a rank then he wouldn’t be in the records. I’d been able to find Leonard in the Electoral Roll in 1962 living with his mom. I was trying to figure out if he ever got married and had any children.  Finally Joseph said he had a book that I should check. It was called; Operation Sick Bay and it was written by Lieut. Commander S.T. Richards. Sure enough; Leonard was in there.. So he was in the Navy, but he wasn’t a Dr. he was a Medical Assistant. Joseph showed me the building where he would have worked.

Joseph suggested that my next stop should be the Esquimalt Archives.  Located a short taxi ride away it was situated just below the MacDonald’s.  The curator; Greg was very helpful as well. I told him that the last known address for Leonard and his mom; Eleanor was 883 Admirals. He was able to provide me with some details on the house they lived in.

He suggested that my next stop should be the Victoria Genealogical Society.  So off I went in my Yellow Taxi. After paying my $5.00 to use the library I started looking at the Victoria City Directories.. They didn’t have a complete set but I was able to figure out that Leonard’s middle initial stood for Kenneth. (funny I’d dreamed that the night before).

Then it was off to the B.C. Archives across from the beautiful Empress Hotel.  Besides being able to listen to my uncle’s audio recording that I spoke about before.. I was able to look at all of the Victoria City Directories as the B. C. Archives had a complete set.  In 1968 I found out that Leonard had married Ann. That was all I found.. in just one of the directories .. but it ended up being such powerful information.

Armed with the new information I made a list of all the Ann Beaton’s and Leonard or L. Beaton’s on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver. On Saturday in the late afternoon; I made my first cold call to Ann Beaton. It went like this;

Hi my name is Ellen and I’m looking for Ann Beaton who was married to Leonard Beaton. Are you she?  I could no believe my luck when she said she was. I then said; is Leonard Beaton still alive and she replied; “Shouldn’t he be”…  I was dumb struck… I was so tongue-tied I didn’t know what to say. After I told her what I was trying to do she explained that Leonard had some memory issues and I explained that I understood. I asked a few more questions and then decided that I would call back the next day with a list and I hoped a bit of composure.

I ended up calling on the Monday evening when we were in Valemount, British Colombia on the way home. Armed with my list I asked the questions that I’d thought of.. Now was the time for the big explanation and the big question.

Leonard is the last of the Beaton line and I wondered if he would do a DNA kit for me. I had broached the subject during the last conversation and it didn’t seem hopeful. So I went on to say again that he was the last of the line and that I was trying to solve the mystery of his grandfather’s parents and who they really were. I told her that I would pay for the kit and all the postage and paperwork that would be required. I explained that it was only for genealogical purposes and the information would be for my use.  Lets be honest…. I begged.. and then I waited for the answer. The answer was no.

We spoke a bit more and I asked for her address; which she gave to me and I gave her my information and told her that her two daughters were welcome to call me and I would provide any information that they’d like.

I have to tell you that I sobbed that evening. It seemed silly that someone who I didn’t even think was alive a few days before had suddenly become so important. But there I was sobbing in the hotel swimming pool.

Later in the evening I got myself a glass of wine and thought of how I would try to win the family over and get Leonard to do a DNA kit.  After all he’d been estranged from the family for 65 years so why should he care about these people? So I have to talk to Ann and her family and tell them stories and show them photos.. and maybe just maybe …

Boy Was I Wrong (I thought I wasn’t going to do genealogy)


If you’ve been reading along then you know that my husband; Kevin and I, were away to a Harley Rally in Victoria, British Columbia. We had a great time with lots of riding and the weather was very warm, which was great because there wasn’t any rain. (Darn I could have had more space on the bike if I didn’t bring my rain gear and leather jacket).

After our trip on the “Going to the Sun” road and up through Seattle. (You need to check out their; Underground Tours) we arrived in Victoria last Wednesday. Suddenly I had one of those light bulb moments when I realized that Victoria is the home of the B.C. Archives. Hmmmm who do I have that would be in the B.C. Archives? Well, my great-grandfather; Jesse lived and died in Osoyoos. My great-uncle; Alfred lived and died in Kelowna. Another great-uncle; Ted  lived and died in Osoyoos. … and then there is the Beaton family…

So I went to the archives on Thursday and sure enough they had my great-grandfather; Jesse’s will and my great-uncle Alfred’s will and even an audio tape of my  great uncle Ted talking about pioneer life in Alberta and British Columbia.  But could I come back tomorrow so they could pull the items? You bet I could…..

So off Kevin went on Friday on a ride to Port Renfrew and off I went to the archives.. But before I went there I made a stop at the  CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.  But I’m not going to tell you why I went there until tomorrow…

Then another cab ride, but this time to the Esquimalt Archives which is below the MacDonald’s. So guess where I had lunch? Again I’ll save this part until tomorrow.

Then another stop at the Victoria Genealogical Society to drop in to see what they might have that would help me and you guess it… I’ll tell you more about this tomorrow.

Finally I arrived at the  B.C. Archives which is right in front of the Royal B.C. Museum. We didn’t make it to the Museum but Kevin and I watched two wonderful movies the day before at the Imax. But I digress…..

I should tell you that one of the archivist had already phoned  me on Friday morning to tell me that they wouldn’t have the wills until Monday and I’d told them that I wouldn’t be in Victoria but  I would pay them to have them copied and mailed to me.

I have to tell you that the staff at the Archives were so helpful and friendly. Not just the archivist but the guard as well.

So they didn’t have my wills but they did have the audio available. It was so thrilling to hear my Uncle Ted telling stories again.  Uncle Ted died in 1983 and  I’m not sure when the last time I would have seen him was.  He was not a big man but he had a personality as “big as all outdoors”.

Ted Pendergraft
Ted Pendergraft

He was interviewed by someone, probably from the genealogy society, that knew him. It started out; your name is Theodore William Pendergraft and my uncles says; Yes, I was born in Buffalo, Wyoming and was named after Teddy  Roosevelt. My daddy always said I could have been President.  I probably would have been if I’d have stayed in the United States. The tape goes on for 45 minutes and talks about Alberta and British Columbia in the 30’s and in 1982 when it was taped; just one year prior to his death.

When you listen to him you realized what an intelligent man he was and maybe I’m biased, but I think he could have been President.

The Ancestors

When your on the back of a Harley you may just have too much time to think.

The Ancestors

The ancestors call me,
they whisper in my ear
Tell my story for all to hear.

I had a family, I had a home.
I walked this earth
but not alone.

We’ve been silent for all these years.
Speak our dreams
and share our tears.

The ancestors call me,
They whisper their name,
Tell my story so we may live again.

– Ellen Thompson-Jennings

No Vacation is Complete


This week my husband and I are doing a Harley trip. We are going to Victoria, British Columbia to attend a HOG Rally.  HOG stands for Harley Owner’s Group. This is similar in some ways to a genealogy conference as it’s a bunch of like-minded people who love to talk about their passion. The difference is that their passions are Harley’s.. They have vendor booth but instead of selling Flip Pals they are selling leathers and bike bling. They have a banquet  and it’s very similar to a genealogy banquet but the attire might be a bit different. I’ve never seen anyone at a genealogy conference wearing a leather vest and bike chaps.

I’m a genealogist but I do like a good road trip and it’s always fun to hang out with like-minded people and learn new things.

There is one thing that will probably  be different from most other road trips that we’ve gone on lately.   As my  husband is from Ontario,  I often take the opportunity to take a side trip and visit a location where my ancestors lived. My husband; Kevin has come to realize that no road trip  is complete until you go to the graveyard.  I don’t imagine we will be going to any this time as I only have a few ancestors that came from B.C.  and <sigh> none of them are from Victoria.


Grave Yard Fitness

000_0014-0Yesterday I told you how important it is to stay fit so you are able to go for walks through your ancestors last resting place.

Remember this summer when your going to those grave yards,  to do your research and take those photos, that you take along your genealogy tool bag.  What does a genealogy tool bag have in it? Well mine has; some water (for drinking), some low-calorie snacks, a small notepad and pencil, camera or cell phone, battery pack just in case that cell gets low. How about those gardener knee pads or kneeling boards so that you don’t have to be in pain while your reading that inscription or getting that great photo.  Don’t forget that sun screen and bug repellent. Then be sure to bring that soft bristled brush to clean off any spider webs or bird droppings . Finally you might want to bring a spray bottle of water to bring the inscription out a bit more  or a mirror to reflect the light so you can get a better shot.

One item I recently heard of that I thought was great was to bring foil. By pressing the foil over the inscription you can sometimes see the inscription so much better, especially those really faint one.

And finally, I saw this idea and it might be something you want to use. If you go to the dollar store get a few of the plastic flowers. Then write a note that says why you are interested in this marker and give your contact information and laminate the note. You don’t have to give your phone number you could get a generic email (either Google or Hotmail) and use that. Then attached the laminated note to the flower and put it on the grave.

You never know….. you just might find a new cousin.


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.