Tag Archives: genealogy

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

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.




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.

The X Chromosome

DNA model

When you get the results from your autosomal DNA kit one of  things you learn about is the X chromosome.  X chromosome is one of the 23 chromosomes you obtain from both of your parents.  This 23rd pair is what decides the sex of the child. If a child has an X and a Y it’s a boy and if it gets two X’s then it’s a girl. Men inherit only one X chromosome, from their mother, while women inherit two Xs, one from their mother and one from their father.

So when Henry VIII kept chopping off his wives heads because he wasn’t getting a male heir I guess he didn’t really understand genetics.

Sorry I digress.. So because of this way of  inheritance of X chromosomes you can then narrow down the number of possible suspects in your DNA. Below are two fan charts that show you who in your tree will be an X chromosome contributor.

The charts are from the Genetic Genealogist, Blaine Bettinger. The male chart represented by the blue centre dot shows you who can contribute to your X chromosome.

Male DNA Fan Chart


The female chart represented by the pink centre dot shows you who can contribute to your X chromosome.

Female DNA Fan Chart

In my case; my mom and her second cousin, because they were X matches, my mom by way of her mother’s father and Marg by way of her father’s mother could only mean that they got the X-from a common women.   This is more apparent when you look at how it works for my mom as she could only get through her grandfather’s mother and not the father. Marg could have gotten from either of her grandmother’s parents. That coupled with the fact that they had a 88.13 CM match when full 2nd cousins have around 200 CM would lead you to believe that they only had a 2x great-grandmother in common.

I hope I’ve explained this correctly  and in a way that can be understood, as I’m by no means an expert.





Mother’s Day


Mom  2I don’t usually blog on Sunday but today is special because it’s Mother’s Day.

For me; today is a bit of a tough day because it is  the first time that I won’t have my mom with me. She died on March 12 of this year and in fact this blog was started on the day of her celebration of life.

My mom was a huge help for me when I  first starting to do my family history as she had photos and  documents that I was able to scan and add to my inventory and to genealogy program.   My mom came from a large family with quite a few cousins so often she helped me keep everyone straight as to who belonged to who. As I’ve said before it was when she wasn’t able to remember details of the family that I realized that something was going on with her memory and soon she had Alzheimer’s.

So often I hear stories of families that are very tight-lipped about their family history  and that’s a shame as it can be a lot of fun to connect on and it’s certainly was for my mom and I.

So I hope if you had a chance to be with your mom today (and she is willing and able) you ask those questions about her family. You never know when you won’t be able to.

Where did I put that?

Organize Definition Magnifier Showing Managing Or Arranging Into Structure

When your start doing family history it’s also a good idea to try, and try is the optimum word, to stay organized.. I know at one point when I was starting out I became overwhelmed with the amount of information and papers that I was finding at lightening speed.  Oh for those days now.. lol   The tough thing about staying organized is that you don’t know what you don’t know. So how can you possibly stay organized if you don’t know the best approach.

Although I’m all about technology and most of my family history information is on my computer there are always papers that you end up with that need to be filed. Like birth certificates you might have purchased. Once you scan them, digitally file them, post them to your genealogy program and transcribe them you then need to put them somewhere. I also keep all my family mementos in the binder as well.


I started with one binder and then as it great to an unmanageable size I split it into two; one for my mom’s side and the other my dad’s.  Each binder has tabs in it with marriage unions on the tab. So for instance; Middlebrough/Beaton, for my grandpa Middlebrough and Beaton for my grandmother’s maiden name. Then the next is Middlebrough/Aindow,  for my grandfather’s parents  and so it goes. It’s probably not the best system and you may be able to find better ones by doing a Google search on organizing your family tree; but so far it’s worked for me.  I’m a member of the Organized Genealogist Facebook page and they often have wonderful ideas for doing just that; organizing.


Whatever your organizational plan is, be sure to stick with it and refine it as you go along. Believe me you don’t want to let those papers get out of control. I remember when I first started doing genealogy someone told me that you could tell you were a genealogist by the stacks of paper on the floor and sometimes it’s true but you don’t want people to think you are a future participant in one of those hoarder television shows.

Begin at the Beginning

Time To Start Message Shows Beginning Or Activating

When I started this blog I remember one of the people who followed said that they hoped to learn as we progressed and that is my hope as well. So I’d like to at least once a week post for those that are just started out on this new and wonderful sickness… cough, cough…. hobby.  But I don’t want to lose those of you that have been doing this for a while. It’s my hope that you may find a different perspective on or a subject you never thought of.

If you’ve read any of the beginner books about genealogy they will always tell you to begin with yourself.  I know that might be boring. Lets face it,  when your trying something new you want to jump forward to the good stuff. But it’s important to get a good foundation and start off  on the right foot. So that’s what you want to do when you start putting pen to paper (or keyboard to computer program) and enter what you know about yourself, your parents and your siblings and if your siblings have children enter that as well.  I know for me it wasn’t until months later that I realized that I hadn’t entered my niece and nephews which isn’t terrible but when you start looking at cousins and their children… leaving it for to long can get really out of hand.

As you enter each persons information think about what documents you have to prove each of the facts about that person. If your like I was you have family mementos and documents all over the house. Perhaps now is a good time to find an archival box that you can put all those papers and family items into so that they are together.

Once you’ve entered everything you know nows the time to go visit those other family members. Especially the elderly ones. Keep this information as notes don’t accept it as gospel, remember you want documents to back up the facts. So if they have any documents you’ll want a scan of them for your records. That’s when a Flip Pal or Zcan+ come in handy (Available at Shop the Hound I might add) and don’t forget photos they always make your family history so rich.

And so it begins. I caution you, at this point your probably past the point of no return. Welcome to the world of genealogy.