February 10, 2016

True Love Finds a Way - Sweethearts Reunite after 72 Years Apart

True love finds a way.

Norwood Thomas was a 21-year-old paratrooper when he met 17-year-old British girl Joyce Morris in London just before D-Day. They dated for a few months before the war intervened and saw Mr Thomas sent to Normandy.

After the war ended, Norwood went back to America, and settled in Virginia Beach, while Joyce ended up in Australia. They lost touch until recently.

Yesterday they reunited in Australia, courtesy of first-class tickets from Air New Zealand, and donations from complete strangers.  

Read the heart-warming story of 93 year old Norwood  and 88 year old Joyce  at Wartime Sweethearts Reunite after 72 years apart

February 9, 2016

Update on Alberta Homestead Collection

Olive Tree Genealogy received this note about the Alberta Homestead Collection which I believe will be of interest to those using the online database:

Hi Viewers, 

With Ancestry’s recent announcement in launching the Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930 , the Alberta Genealogical Society would like viewers to seriously compare the scope of the two indexes. Ancestry’s index is has a minimal listing of approximately 207,000 records, whereas the Alberta Genealogical Society has in their combined database over 520,000 entries. 

The AGS all name homestead index for 1870 to post-1930, lists those applying for land patents between 1885 and 1897; those who completed the homesteading process and eventually obtained a title; those who applied but abandoned their homesteads; and other individuals whose name appears in the files for a variety of reasons—something the Library and Archives of Canada nor Ancestry has done. 

We invite everyone to view the AGS databases which have twice as many records, and twice the knowledge over the record index at http://www.abgenealogy.ca/alberta-homestead-indexes

Thank you, 
Lyn Meehan, 
AGS Communications

Image: screenshot from Alberta Genealogical Society

February 8, 2016

Woman of Courage Anna Maria Warner

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

When my 5th great-grandmother Anna Maria (Mary) Warner was born in Schoharie New York in 1735, she could not have known the hard times she would go through as an adult. Her husband Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick was imprisoned three times during the American Revolution for his Loyalist sympathies. When he was in prison, Mary was solely responsible for their 10 children. 

After Isaac was released from prison he joined Butler's Rangers and fled to Canada. Mary continued to aid the British, and in 1779 she and the children were taken from their home at North River, New York by American patriots. Their home was burned, Mary and the children were marched 80 miles north through the forest and left in destitute circumstances to either die or figure out how to get to Canada. Luckily natives found Mary and helped them reach Montreal by July of 1779.

There the family received food rations, lodging and blankets until 1782 when they settled in the Niagara area as impoverished Loyalists. Then came the Hungry Years when crops failed and food was scarce. Hundreds of Loyalists perished. I can not begin to imagine how Mary survived and kept her family alive during these times.

February 7, 2016

Honouring WW1 Nursing Sister Jean Cameron-Smith

Jean Cameron-Smith was born in Perth Ontario on September 22, 1871. A search of the online Birth Registrations for Ontario provides a late registration dated 1933.  Her father's name is given as Robert Ralph Cameron-Smith. Her mother is  Helen Mason.

Like Gertrude Billyard, Jean enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in London England on February 24, 1915. She was almost 39 years old. 

During her service overseas, Jean was promoted to Matron in September 1917. This photo was almost certainly taken in 1917 when she was in Oprington as a matron.

She served as a Nursing Sister in England and France and at War's end returned to Canada on the SS Carmania on 5 July 1919.

1921 finds 50 year old Jean in Edam, North Battleford Saskatchewan working as a Matron in a hospital. You can read more about Jean at http://www.pastforward.ca/perspectives/September_152006.htm

Jean's full service file is online as a PDF document.

February 6, 2016

Introducing Penny Allen, Canadian Genealogist

Recently I wrote a blog post called Where (and Why) Are Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

I issued a challenge to Canadian Genealogists to speak up and promote themselves better. As part of my challenge I crowdsourced a list of Canadian Genealogists which you can view at Update on Where Are the Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

Next I invited any Canadian Genealogists on that list to participate in a Guest Biography post here on Olive Tree Genealogy. I'm pleased to introduce you to  Penny Allen, a Canadian genealogist living in the U.K.

I asked Penny some questions about here role as a Canadian Genealogist and here are her responses.

1.      How and when did you become involved in the field of genealogy?

Quite a while ago, I was bitten by the genealogy bug when researching family history meant writing letters, using microfilm and ‘horrors’! – books. My parents are first generation Canadians and I was curious about the stories that I heard about my grandparents.

2.      What is your main genealogical focus?  

I have many interests in genealogy, but most of the time I delve into emigration, land ownership and early settlers to Canada. Because of my work, I enjoy learning about maritime history – the navy and merchant navy, WRENs and anything similar. I have yet to pursue my Scandinavian roots and am keen to start uncovering that branch of the tree.

3.       What are your website(s) and blogs? 

I have had numerous over the years, but my blog, ukcdngenealogy.blogspot.com is the most current.

4.      Do you have a Social Media presence?  

This information is available via my blog. 

5.      Do you believe a Social Media presence is important? 

Although I am aware of and support social media use in genealogical circles, I don’t embrace it fully, as I have had some negative personal experiences. However, I recognize its importance as a quick way to stay in touch with the genealogical community. It is valuable in its methodology, but I would stress that people do take care when using and providing information online. 

6.      Are you a member of any genealogical societies or organizations? 

At the moment, I am a member of the Alberta Family History Society and the Society of Genealogists (London).  Over the years I have been a member of various family history societies and I like to rotate my financial support amongst them as I feel that their work is very important. I regularly recommend their services to anyone who asks me for help.

7.      What does genealogy mean to you? Why do you believe it is important?

There is a quote (loosely interpreted) that basically says ‘You need to understand from where you came in order to know where you’re going.’ Family connectedness and knowing your roots does give a sense of belonging and purpose.

8.      What do you believe is the most exciting development in genealogy today?

There is no question that the use of DNA research in genealogy is one of the most popular ways of connecting with long lost family. It helps to pinpoint an area where a family originated and can put you in touch with other family members as well as researchers in the area. 

9.      Do you have a prediction or hope for the field of genealogy in the future?

Digitization of archival records seems to be expected as the norm nowadays and will be needed long into the future. However, many do not realize that there is a long process of implementation in most organizations, and these decisions can sometimes take years to manage. Not every resource is online and researchers will still need to make a physical visit to an archive, so my hope is that people will continue to support the valuable work of archives. A number of important archives in London have been impacted by researchers seemingly doing a large percent of their research online as demonstrated by the services that were recently cut at the Imperial War Museum. 

10.   Please feel free to add anything you would like to say that hasn’t been addressed by the questions above. 

I am concerned by the numerous cuts to local studies services in the UK which is often times connected to council library (public libraries run by local authorities) cuts. Often the council is trimming library services in general, and the local studies services are affected in the ‘downsizing’. This is purely an administrative action, saving costs, but in turn, cutting jobs means losing staff whose local knowledge has been built up over the years. The result is that many libraries are staffed by volunteers, and when faced with genealogical questions aren’t able to help customers (this has happened to me personally). It is disappointing that this knowledge base will be lost and more advocacies from users are necessary. My hope is the councils running libraries will realize how much this type of service is needed (as a result of positive action taken by the users) at local libraries! 

February 5, 2016

Woman of Courage Hannah Blanden

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

Bastardy Examination 1791
When my 4th great-grandmother Hannah Blanden was 8 years old, her parents were ordered out of their home in from Bury, St. Edmunds  Suffolk and sent to Wenhaston Suffolk.  The year was 1778 and a Removal Order had been served on Thomas Blandon, Drummer in the Western Battalion Militia and his wife Mary and their children Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah, Thomas and Susannah. The youngest child was only one year old.

Removal orders meant that a family had become a financial burden on the parish they lived in, and could, by law, be ordered back to the parish the head of house had been born in. This was an incredible hardship on an already impoverished family, because often the birth parish was one the individual had never lived in for any length of time.

At the age of 20 Hannah had an illegitimate child and underwent a Bastardy Examination held by her parish in 1791.

Because parishes did not want to be responsible for the care of an illegitimate child, a pregnant woman or one who had just given birth, would be questioned by a midwife or other authority and the name of the child's father recorded. The father would then be ordered to provide financial support, either as a lump sum payment to the parish for the child until he/she reached the age of majority, or as a monthly sum (also payable to the parish for the child's welfare). In many cases the mother too would be ordered to make payments. This ensured that the child did not become a burden on the parish.

Bastardy Examination of Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Under Oath Hannah states that on Thursday 14 October 1790 she gave birth to female bastard child at Ephraim Lockwood’s house in Holton Parish, Blything Hundred, Suffolk Co. James King was the father.

Bastardy Order James King & Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Justices of Peace Eloazar Davy and Charles Purvis in Parish of Holton, Hundred of Blything, County of Sufoolk hear the case brought by Robert Smith, Guardian of the Poor in Blything. James to pay 1 shilling per week to John Robinson of Southwald or to Treasurer of the Poor, for maintenance of child as long as living in the parish. Hannah to pay 6 pence weekly. 

At some point after the birth of their daughter James and Hannah may have married because they had at least two sons - Lewis in 1793 and Thomas in 1796. I have not found a marriage record for them so it is possible they never formalized their union. 
What a brave woman I am descended from! To go from poverty, to be uprooted from friends and her home, be a single mom - that's a woman of courage to come through it all.

February 4, 2016

Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930

A new collection launched on Ancestry will be of interest to those with ancestors in Alberta Canada.  

Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930  is a valuable land record collection that includes the names of approximately 200,000 people who applied for homesteads in Alberta under the Dominion Lands Act - an 1872 law aimed to encourage the settlement of the Canadian Prairies

Compiled during a time where the population was expanding to Western Canada, this collection is a valuable resource for those hoping to learn more about their ancestors who settled in The Princess Province.

Here’s a bit more insight on the collection:

·         In order to encourage migration to the west, settlers were offered the chance to apply for a 160-acre homestead in areas of their choice in Alberta.
·         After paying a $10 filing fee and agreeing to build up their homestead to include items such as a house and barn, fencing, breaking and cropping a portion of the land, the homesteader could apply for the title to the land.  

The Collection:
·         The collection contains 1,622,218 images and 206,457 records showing basic biographical information such applicants’ name, age, place of birth, former place of residence, date of entry on the land and marital status. 

Image: Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930 for Amy Ellen Brown (Smith)

February 3, 2016

Woman of Courage Martha Finch

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

My husband's 3rd great grandmother Martha Finch had one heck of a life. By the age of 20 she was in the Race Hill Workhouse in Sussex England. The Workhouse was where debtors were sent if they could not pay their bills. Soon Martha found herself pregnant and her daughter Esther was born. Little Esther was lucky. Her maternal grandparents took her in rather than see her live in the Workhouse. But Martha stayed and within four years she had another child born in the Workhouse - a son John. Little John also went to live with Martha's parents. 

Baby Edith, my husband's 2nd great grandmother, was born in the Workhouse in 1870. Martha gave no father's name on little Edith's birth registration. Sadly Edith, not as lucky as her two older sibllngs. She grew up in the Workhouse and was still there 20 years later.

Martha was finally able to leave the Workhouse by 1901 when she managed to obtain a job working as the cook in a private household. She was a woman of courage who suffered due to circumstances of her surroundings and the time period in which she grew up. 

Who do you have as a Woman of Courage?