Tag Archives: family history

DNA Test The Elders in Your Family


Back view of serene senior couple taking a walk in the park in summer


My children know, or at least they should know, that they won’t be getting some large inheritance because I’m spending all my money on DNA testing.  Well that might be a slight exaggeration but I’ve spent a lot and I plan to spend more.

Out of all that spending has come a greater visual understanding of how from one generation to the next you lose matches, at least with autosomal testing . What do I mean when I say that?  First of all let me tell you who I’ve tested.  I’ve tested both my sons, my parents, two uncles on my mom’s side of the family and one of my cousins on my mom side as well as a second cousin on my mom’s side of the family. On my dad’s side of the family I’ve tested two of my dad’s  second cousins and a third cousin and a second cousin once removed.  So what does that all tell me?

What I’ve found most interesting is the matches that my mom and her brothers get and how some of those are connected to one of my son and not to the other. I do understand that you get half of your chromosomes from each of your parents and that you don’t get the same half as your siblings. But I guess it didn’t really hit home until I saw who matched to who and who didn’t.

My mom was 78 when she passed away this year and my uncles are of a similar ages. When you start looking at who are their matches outside of the known  immediate family and to which members of the younger generation they connect to you realize that by not testing the older generation when you are able you may lose valuable information that will help you understand your family connection to your matches.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that with each generation you lose  a bit of how you connect to someone elses tree, so you shouldn’t wait … you should test your oldest generation as their DNA has much to tell you.

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

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

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.



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.




Open Up the Treasure Chest

Treasure chest

Today when I was speaking to another genealogist  about a road block I had, I told her that for some reason I have this feeling that I had the answer. Somewhere in all the things I’ve collected over the past 17 years. I don’t know why I feel like that, it’s just a nagging feeling.

So if your like me then you keep all those notes, sticky notes and scrap papers of those people who aren’t your family, but could be, because you haven’t made the connection.  After all why would you throw them out because as soon as you do you know that your going to find that connection.  But what do you do with them? Where do you store them?  and if you store them; how on earth will you be able to find them when you think you need to look at them.I can offer a few suggestion and I hope that you can offer some back.

One way you can keep track of all those bits and pieces is to create a file folder for each family group called something like “Beaton – Misc” or “Thompson-Bits and Pieces”.  I have a file like this for each family group and every so often (usually every 6 month but for sure every 12 months)  I go through them and see if I can connect that record I found with my family. I have things that I collected 17 years ago when I was just starting out. I sure didn’t know then what I know now about the family.

If your bits and pieces are of a digital nature then you should start folders on your computer similar to the paper version and make it a habit to check in from time to time.

Or you can take all the scraps and put them in an archival box and call it the treasure box. How fun to go through it and find that piece of information that you collected oh so many years ago actually fits into your tree.

The most important thing if you’re doing any of these things is to be sure that the scrap piece of paper means something to you when you find it again.  Site the source on it, if it’s just a note be explicit so you don’t look at it and thing “what the heck does that mean”. If you don’t do this then that scrap piece of paper becomes just that; a scrap piece of paper.

So as I sift through the things I have pertaining to my road block,  I hope I find that scrap piece of paper. Cuz I think one of the ancestors has been nagging me enough, that I just might have the answer in my treasure box.




Queries – Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Question Mark Puzzle Shows Asking Questions And Inquiring


Queries can be a useful tool for doing family history. They can be posted on genealogy society webpages or to genealogy boards.

When creating your query be sure to give it a title that tells the reader at a glance what you’re looking for. If you post something like;  “Family History” most people will just scroll by it. But if you post; “William BEATON, Pittsburgh Township, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario” then if they have a connection to that name at least they will stop and read. After all, isn’t that why you’re creating the post? To have someone look”.

Many years ago I posted on the Edmonton Branch of the Alberta Genealogy Societies query page; I wrote that at the time of my great-aunt;  Jesse Lett’s death that she was survived by the following people etc. This led to my meeting my second cousin (on-line) about a month later. She wasn’t even aware that she had any other family on that side of the family.

Also be sure to stop and search those old queries.. perhaps someone is searching for your family.