May 25, 2015

The Tragic Story of Little Willie McCallister

Poor Willie McCallister. Little did he know that November day in 1885 that his young life would end. 

The Tragic Story of Little Willie McCallister
New York Times 6 November 1885
Willie, sometimes called Fred, was 5 years old and living in the Catholic Orphan Home for Boys in Troy New York.  He and an older boy, 12 year old Eddie Townsend wanted to watch the fireworks, so they devised a plan to sneak out and enjoy the show. But young Willie stepped in the muck, made much worse than usual by the rainy weather, and could not get out. 

He struggled, but sank further into the wet sludge. Young Townsend ran off and was found wandering the streets the next day. Sadly he did not tell authorities that Willie was trapped until two nights had passed. When he did finally reveal Willie's plight, it was too late. Little Willie was found dead with mud up to his chin. 

Willie deserves to be remembered and perhaps my readers can help find Willie's family. According to a lengthy article in The Times on November 12th, Willie's mother was Kate McCallister living on North 1st Street and employed at Leggett's Box Factory. Willie was said to be very good-looking and well-liked in the Asylum. He is the perfect example of what is known as a "half-orphan", that is, a child with one parent living but in destitute circumstances.

Eddie Townsend was arrested as it was revealed that he disliked little Willie and often struck him with sticks. He was later charged with manslaughter in Willie's death

The Times 12 November 1885 (4 clippings above)

Pittsburgh Post Gazette 7 November 1885
Thanks to visitor Beckie who sent me the Pittsburgh Newspaper clipping and asked for my help. 

UPDATE! I think I may have found "Willie" and his family in 1880 in Troy New York. The family consists of Frederick McCallister, age 35, a  moulder born in Pennsylvania with wife Katie, age 25 born New York and with children Grace,6 and Freddie, 7months (Freddie would be little "Willie") I am off to hunt for the family in 1900.

May 24, 2015

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Album 24 V Tent Ward

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.

The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos" in the vertical menu bar on the right side of your screen. You can also click on that phrase at the bottom of this post.

May 23, 2015

Irish Immigrant Murdered in USA 1832, Goes Back to Ireland for Reburial

In 1832 the widowed 29-year old Catharine Burns left Tyrone Ireland for America. 

A few weeks after her arrival she was murdered along with  other Irish Catholics at Duffy's Cut in Pennsylvania. 

Many of the dead died of cholera but evidence suggests that some were murdered. Blunt force trauma and axe wounds were determined to be the murder victims cause of death.

Prejudice against the Irish may have been the cause of the attacks.

Catharine's bones were recently discovered and she will be flown back to Ireland for reburial. Sadly her relatives have not been found and all that is known of her is that her father-in-law was John Burns, born circa 1758. He was on the ship with Catharine heading for America in 1832.

Read more on BBC News at Duffy's Cut: Irish emigrants' plight highlighted as murder victim returned home

May 22, 2015

More Ways to Find an Ancestor in the 1851 Agricultural Census

Previously I talked about the 1851 Agricultural Census and using the online Library and Archives Canada Search Engine to find an ancestor.

You can also search on in their online Canadian Census records. Unfortunately you cannot narrow your search to just bring up results for the Agricultural Census. However when you enter an ancestor's name, IF that person is found in the existing Agricultural portion of the 1851 census, and IF they are found in a surviving 1851 Personal Census, you will see two results. One will be the personal census, the other the Agricultural.

Search Results 1851 Census for Charles Black - 2 entries, Agricultural & Personal

If the person is found in one census and not the other, how do you tell which you have? It's simple. The result for the Agricultural census will not display an age. 

Search Result for Agricultural Census - no age is shown

The database you want to search is called 1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Don't enter the individual's age or year of birth. Just search by first and last name, and location.

It would make life easier if Ancestry had entered the word "Agricultural" into their database fields so we could narrow the search but they have not done so. However with a little patience you can find your ancestor providing that census has survived for the area the ancestor lived in.

Don't overlook this resource as it has great genealogical value to researchers. 

May 21, 2015

Is Being Sold Again?

Rumour has it that Permira Advisers LLC, the buyout firm that owns most of privately held, has hired investment banks to run an auction for the company. You can read more at Reuters.

Permira outbid other private equity firms to take Ancestry private in 2012 for $1.6 billion. 

What's in store for Ancestry and its customers now? We'll have to wait and see if the rumours are true.

May 20, 2015

Finding Ancestors on 1851 Agricultural Census Canada

Previously I talked about the 1861 Agricultural Census for Ontario and the goof that made when bringing it online.
Why search for ancestors in an Agricultural Census? These records provide details of exact location of land, type of farming, house lived in, livestock and more. doesn't appear to have the 1851 or 1871 Agricultural Census schedules (at least they are not easily found!) but there's good news!

In 2011 I talked about how to go directly to the Agricultural census on Collections Canada. That was a great database and search engine, much better than the new one on Library and Archives Canada. But it no longer exists. You must now search for ancestors in the 1851 Agricultural census at Library and Archives Canada. 

1. Select Canada West (Ontario) from the drop down list for Province/Colony.

2. To narrow your search by township or county (or both) simply add them as keywords. 
Be very careful using this search engine! It is unforgiving. For example if your ancestor's name was recorded as "Thos." (for Thomas) on the original census page, searching for "Thomas" will give you ZERO hits. 
It is best to use wildcards, for example "Tho*" allows for abbreviations and full name. 
I had ancestors in Flamboro Township in Wentworth County in 1851 so I entered keywords "flamboro wentworth" and got 3 hits. Each hit has a list of available images. All I needed to do was start at the first image and begin looking.

Here's an example of what one page of the 1851 Agricultural Census looks like. The graphic used here is blurry but the original is crystal clear.
So don't be afraid to give this a try in your search for more details of an Ontario ancestor.

May 19, 2015

Have You Checked Assessment Records for that Elusive Ancestor?

Genealogy records for early Ontario (Canada West, Upper Canada) are challenging to find. They are sporadic and held in different repositories. Some often over-looked pre 1850 records include Assessment Records. 

Assessment Record Page
These work well as a census substitute and they usually provide an exact location of land (Lot and Concession Number) within a Township.

Some give numbers and type of livestock and crops. Assessment records were used to assess individual's property and holdings in order to calculate and collect tax revenue.  

Not all townships' Assessment Records have survived. Not all townships did assessments for the same years. So if you are looking for these records you will need to find out if your County and Township of interest has any that survived. 

I am very pleased to announce that thanks to the generousity of transcriber Fred Blair, Olive Tree Genealogy has published 10 Assessment Records for early Ontario. Following is the list of Assessment Records now available for download on Olive Tree Genealogy Ontario Assessment Records section

    Assessment Ancaster Township, Wentworth County, Home District 1816
    Assessment_Ancaster Township, Wentworth County, Home District 1818
    Assessment Beverley Township, Wentworth County, Home District 1816
    Assessment Beverley Township, Wentworth County, Home District 1818
    Assessment Grand River Tract, Haldimand Township, Wentworth County, Gore District, 1816
    Assessment Nelson Township, Halton County, Gore District 1816
    Assessment Nelson Township, Halton County, Gore District 1818
    Assessment Trafalgar Township, Halton County, Gore District 1816
    Assessment Trafalgar Township, Halton County, Gore District 1823
    Assessment Trafalgar Township, Halton County, Gore District 1825

May 18, 2015

Organizational Project Part 6: Ready for the Second Sort of Photographs!

In January I began my plan to sort, organize and digitize my family photos.  I ended up ordering archival boxes and sleeves from a company called GetSmartProducts

I've previously shared how I am organizing, sorting and purging these photos and if you missed those earlier posts, you can view them by clicking on the lable "Organization Project" at the bottom of this post or in the right side bar.
Pre-marriage photo box - childhood & young adult
All my family photos and photos passed on to me after family members passed away have passed the first sort. That means I have tossed blurry photos, set aside photos that I don't want but others in the family might love to have, and put all the rest into the categories I decided on in my original plan
I now have 5 purple acid-free boxes with family photos categorized which cover my life: pre-marriage; marriage #1; marriage #2; marriage #3; grandchildren. 
I have other boxes for other general categories but for now I'm focusing on these 5 purple boxes. My next step is to take one box and do my second sort within those photographs. I plan on putting the photos into a semi-chronological order, which should make finding duplicates easier. This should also ensure that photos of special events such as birthday parties, vacations and other occasions end up together. 
Next I will remove duplicates and place them in boxes intended for each of my children. If there are duplicates that I think my nieces, nephews, cousins or other family members would like, I will put those into envelopes to be mailed to them. 

Once I've completed this sort (the second sort), I could either begin scanning these photos or I can leave them and start on Box #2. I have decided I will finish the second sort on these 5 purple boxes before starting to scan.

Here are links to the previous blog posts about this project:

Organizing Family Photos - Creating a Plan

Organizational Project Part 2 - Family Diaries

Organization Project Part 3 - Digitizing Family Slides

Organizational Project Part 4 - Sorting the Family Photographs

Organizational Project Part 5: The Domino Effect in an Organization Project