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June 15, 2018

Primary Records are NOT always Accurate

We all want our genealogy to be accurate.

We search and search for that primary record, the one that we've been told is "THE" record to find -- a death certificate, a church baptismal record, marriage record....

But - beware! Not all primary records are accurate. As good genealogists we must consider that there can be errors. The informant (person giving the information) may not know the answers and may thus provide incorrect details. The clerk recording the information may not hear the response correctly and may enter it incorrectly. The person giving the information may lie, especially about their age.

In my own family tree, my great-grandmother's official government death registration is incorrect. Her parents' names are wrong. Since I already knew who her parents were (Isaac Vollick & Lydia Jamieson) from other genealogy sources, I was completely bewildered at first by seeing her parents given as Stephen Vollick and Mary.

Then it dawned on me - Stephen was my great grandmother's husband's first name (Stephen Peer). Mary was my great grandmother's own name. (Mary Vollick)

So I looked at the informant's name. AHA! The informant was Mary's 17 year old son. Her husband having died long before Mary, and her older children married and gone, the task of answering the official questions fell to her 17 year old son who had cared for her in her final days.

It is easy to see how the young boy, when asked by a government clerk "Father's name?" (meaning father of the deceased), would have replied "Stephen", for in fact Stephen WAS his own father's name.

The question "Mother's name?" referring to the mother of the deceased, would be answered by the boy "Mary" which was HIS mother's name.

And thus the official death registration for parents of Mary (Peer) Vollick daughter of Isaac and Lydia Vollick, is forever rendered as Stephen and Mary Vollick.

So be cautious when you encounter a primary source that simply doesn't match other reliable sources. Investigate! Think! Don't just accept the new "facts" without further legwork to prove or disprove them.

May 18, 2018

More Immigrant Ancestors 1812-1913

After writing about my immigrant ancestors in a 300 year span (27 of them!) on an earlier blog post "Who Were Your Immigrant Ancestors", I thought it only fair to write about my husband's.

His most recent immigrant ancestor was Elsie Markham from England to Canada in 1913

His earliest that we have found so far was Thomas Montgomery from Fermanagh Ireland to Quebec in 1812. Thomas and his family were heading to New York but their ship was captured by the British in the War of 1812. The passengers were taken as prisoners and sent to Newfoundland and then Quebec

Below are other known dates of arrival for more of my husband's immigrant ancestors in that 101 year timeline from earliest arrival to most recent:

  • William Massey from Ireland to Quebec in 1842
  • John Cooper from England to New Jersey 1842
  • James Hogan from Ireland to Canada in 1843 
  • George Jickling from England to Canada 1844
  • John Cowan(s) from Scotland or England in 1851
  • Frederick Purdue from England to Canada in 1856
  • William Jackson from Tipperary Ireland to Canada in 1857
  • Sam Sandercock from England to Canada in 1887
  • Achillus Camillus (Archie) De Meulenaere from Belgium to America then to Canada in 1900
Let's hear your stories! Who were your immigrant ancestors?

May 16, 2018

WW1 Canadian Military Records Being Digitized

Did you know...... It took 18 months to remove pins, clips and staples (260 kg of metal!), as well as adhesive, to get the 640,000 files of the Canadian Expeditionary Force ready for digitization.

All records should be digitized and online by the end of 2018. Kudos to Library and Archives Canada for making this wonderful database freely available!

Read more in the article "For the Duration" at

May 15, 2018

Are you a Sippe or Sipken Descendant?

I'm excited to announce my new book on the family is available!   

Jan Sipkens was a Dutch soldier who settled in New Netherland sometime before October 1674. His marriage intentions were recorded in the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church that month, and they revealed his origins were in Amsterdam Holland.

A search of the Amsterdam church records found his baptism in 1656 to parents Sipke (aka Zipke) Auckus and Baefje Jans. The surname in North America eventually became Sippe as well as Sipkens.

A search of available Amsterdam records revealed baptisms of Jan Sipken’s siblings and the marriage of his parents. This book details the family in Amsterdam Holland, and New Amsterdam in New Netherland (present day New York).
One of the records I found and added to the Sipken book
New Netherland Settlers:: Jan Sipken, W.I.C. Soldier, and His Sipken and Sippe Ancestors & Descendants

8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
50 pages. Available on and

See all my New Netherland Settlers series of books.

May 14, 2018

Don't Disturb - Author at Work!

This is what an author does at the cottage in the spring. Bundle up, sit outside and let the waves and wind be your muse.

Working on the second draft of my new genealogical mystery novel "A Grave Secret" Hoping to have it published this year as a second in the Janie Riley series.

My first book featuring Janie was "Death Finds a Way" where Janie was lucky enough to be in Salt Lake City on a research trip.  But being Janie, many more adventures awaited her beyond just looking for her 3rd great-grandmother.

This time Janie flies to the most haunted village in Kent England to search for her 4th great grandparents, John and Susanna Philpott. What will she stumble on this time? Ghosts? Murders?

Sorry but you'll have to read the book to find out!

Be sure to bookmark my author site for updates.

May 13, 2018

6 Generations of Mothers!

Six Generations of Strong Females on International Women's Day 
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers past and present. The collage above shows 6 unbroken generations of my female lineage - from one mother to the next.

Starting from the left we have Sarah Stead, my great-great grandmother. Next is Sarah's daughter Sarah Simpson, my great grandmother. Then we have Sarah Simpson's daughter Ruth Fuller, my grandmother. Then comes Ruth's daughter Joan, my mother. Then me and then my daughter Judy. Then our direct maternal line is done as my daughter had sons but no daughters.

These 6 mothers had a total of 24 children. Sarah Elvery Stead died at the age of 31 and of her 6 children, only 4 lived to be raised by step-mothers. Sarah Jane Stead Simpson lived to a good age of 89 and raised 6 children. My grandmother always spoke of her mother with love and affection. My grandmother Ruth Simpson Fuller had 3 children and lived to be 90 years old. Then my mother Joan had 4 children and lived to ripe old age of 93!

My mother was an interesting character with an adventurous spirit. So to all the mothers who went before me  thank you to all of them.

May 11, 2018

Crime and Punishment in 17th Century New Netherland

Seal of New Netherland
In 17th century New Netherland (New York) the punishment for adultery was harsh, as Lauren Duyt's wife Ytie Jansen found out in November 1658 in New Amsterdam (present day New York City). This young Dutch woman had been sold to an Englishman, Jan Parcel, at the request of her husband. Laurens himself was accused of having had illicit intercourse with Geesje Jansen who he apparently preferred over his wife Ytie. Despite the mitigating circumstances of being sold the court sentenced Ytie to be whipped and banished.

In New Netherland -- unlike New England -- this sentence of whipping seldom got further than a symbolic flogging in the case of women, which meant that the offender was led to the stake, partly stripped, and given two rods on her hands, after which she was untied and banished." Source: "Sweet and Alien Land," by Van der Zee [New York.The Viking Press, 1978], Chapter, 'Law and Disorder,' p. 356.

The records reveal a great deal about this episode in Council Minutes Vol. VIII, Dutch Manuscripts (1658):

18 Nov. Order for the examination of Geesje Jansen, accused of having had illicit intercourse with Laurens Duyts  [ p. 1038 vol. VIII]

25 Nov. Sentence of whipping and banishment pronounced against Ytie Janse for living in adultery with Jan Parcel, alias Botcher [ p. 1049 vol. VIII]

25 Nov. Sentence. Laurens Duyts of Holstein, for selling his wife Ytie Jansen, and forcing her to live in adultery with another man, and for living himself also in adultery, to have a rope tied around his neck then to be severely flogged, to have his right ear cut off and to be banished for 50 years   [p. 1051 vol. VIII]

25 Nov. Sentence John Parcell, alias Botcher, of Huntingdonshire, England for living in adultery with Ytie Jans, to be placed at the whipping post with two rods in his arm, to be banished for 20 years, and pay a fine of 100 guilders with costs  [ p. 1053 vol. VIII]

When Ytie and Jan --"two sorrowful sinners" -- appeared two weeks later in court to ask for permission to marry, the magistrates were unrelenting and gave them three months to pack, telling them to "separate from each other at once."  

25 Nov. Sentence Geesie Jansen, for living in adultery with Laurens Duyts, to be conducted to the whipping post, and fastened thereto, the upper part of her body being stripped naked, and two rods placed in her hand, to be afterwards conducted, in that wise, outside the city gates, and banished from the province the term of 30 years, with costs [ p. 1055 vol. VIII]

30 Nov. Sentence. Iva Dircksen, for adultery, to be conducted to the place where justice is executed, and there to witness the punishments inflicted this day, and then be banished for the term of 50 years [p. 1057 vol. VIII]