November 25, 2015

Who Was Your First Immigrant Ancestor?

I'm not American so I don't celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. We Canadians had our Thanksgiving back in October because we celebrate for a different reason than Americans do. I don't have any Pilgrim ancestors. None of my ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or other ships arriving that early on the shores of America. 

What I do have are ancestors who left Holland for the New World of New Netherland that is now New York. I celebrate their bravery and strength for making such a journey! 

Watching last night's docu-dramas on  the Plymouth Rock and Jamestown settlements (excellent shows, well worth watching) made me wish someone would do a similar show about the Dutch who settled New York. 

My earliest ancestor to America that I am aware of was Cornelis Antonissen Van Slijk from Brueckelen, Netherlands, who left the Netherlands in May 1634 from the Texel on board De Endracht and sailed to the New World. He was a thirty year old carpenter and mason, and his skills were desirable in a new colony.

There were many other settlers arriving around this time period who I can proudly claim as my ancestors.  Those who I have researched are

Willem Pieterse Van Slyke (nephew of Cornelis Antonissen and also my ancestor) arrived New Netherland 1660
Lambert Van Valkenburg - records  indicate he was in New Amsterdam as early as Jan. 1644. Since it is unlikely the ships sailed in the winter, he was probably in New Amsterdam in the summer or fall of 1643.

HarmenJanse Ryckman came to the New World sometime in the 1660s with at least one child - his daughter Margarita (Grietje) Harmense Ryckman.

Hendrick Bartholomeus[Vrooman] and five children ages 15, 13, 11, 7 and 5 years old are on the passenger list of D'Eendracht (The Concord) arriving in New Amsterdam NY on 17 April 1664.

Jan Martense (VanAlystyne) and his wife Dirkje were from Meppel, Netherlands and they came to the New World with at least 2 children. The first time we see them in New York in 18 July 1655 when a son Marten was baptised at New Amsterdam.

Jan Cornelise Damen emigrated from Bunnik, Netherlands ca 1650 and married Sophia/Fytie Martense. To date no record of him as a passenger on a ship has been found. However Pim found an Amsterdam Netherlands notarial document in 1651 where a Jan Cornelisz. van Vechten signs on to come to the New World in the employ of Jacob Stoffels.  Jan Janszen Damen was in Amsterdam at the same time and vouches that Jan Cornelisz. has his father's permission.  Both sign the document. Vechten and Bunnik are "twin villages" but the church is in Bunnik. This is almost certainly my Jan Damen. 

Other immigrant ancetors who I have not yet researched to find their dates of immigration or other details:

  • Cornelis Janse Clopper who married in 1657 in New Amsterdam (present day New York City)
  • Soert Olferts
  • Jan Snediker arrived ca 1641
  • Cornelis Vonck married in 1657 in Long Island
  • John Concklin before 1665
  • Arent Leendertsen de Grauw married 1659 in New Amsterdam
  • Herman Coerten
  • Christian Barents Van Horn arrived before 1653
  • Lucas Dircksezen Vanderburgh arrived before 1658
  • Cornelis Aertsen Van Schaik arrived before 1642
  • Lucas Dirckszen Vanderburgh arrived before 1658
and too many more to list them all, including Huguenots and Walloons from France. I appreciate them all for without their bravery, curiousity and strength I would not be here today.

November 24, 2015

Introducing Wayne Shepheard, Guest 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 say that our first invited guest is Wayne Shepheard from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

I asked Wayne some questions about his role as a Canadian Genealogist and here are his responses.

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

I have always been a collector of memorabilia and was the person who took on the task of creating and maintaining the family photo albums; so it was a natural progression to find the stories that went along with the pictures and artefacts. I did not really get totally into the research aspects until after my parents and grandparents had died so missed out on asking them a lot of questions about our ancestry. Trying to answer those questions is now a major focus of my personal family history pursuit. I have I have been quite active for the last twenty-five years getting substantially more involved in many aspects of research and volunteer work since I retired.

I worked for 40 years as a geologist in the exploration for oil and gas. In doing that I was well-acquainted with research techniques – assembling information and coming up with solutions to problems – so I was well-prepared to investigate genealogical problems using usually limited information and arrive at plausible stories about people in the past.

2. What is your main genealogical focus? 

Most of my own research has been in England and Scotland. My late aunt had done considerable work on my mother’s family across the US. I wanted to know more about my father’s side all of whom at some point arrived in Canada and the US from the British Isles. Devon was home to the Shepheard branch so that is where I have done most of my work.

These days I do a bit of everything: research (my own and others’ families); writing (blogs, articles for journals and currently a book); volunteer work (I am an Online Parish Clerk for four parishes in Devon, England; and editing (I recently took on the Editorship of Relatively Speaking, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society). Occasionally over the past few years I have taken on projects for people who wanted to know more about their family histories, through my consulting business Family History Facilitated.

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

I write a regular blog called Discover Genealogy where I can tell stories and relate my experiences with searching for information in old records and help others put their own history together. I also write occasional pieces for another blog, The Pharos Blog: Lighting up Genealogy.

4. Do you have a Social Media presence? 

I know there are many genealogists who are very active with social media but, unfortunately I just don’t seem to have the time to get organized that way – or maybe I’m too old and set in my ways. I do have a Google+ site that I use to share some thoughts and ideas, mainly from my blog. I keep a Facebook page only to allow me to keep up with what my children and grandchildren are doing.

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

I think a lot of people get a lot out of sharing ideas and information through social media. I guess a blog is part of that aspect as well. Probably the main importance of other venues is to put people together who have similar interests and, using those contacts, be able to learn more about different ways of researching and sources of data.

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

I belong to several organizations associated with areas I am actively researching or activities that assist me in reaching out to others as a volunteer. They include the Alberta Genealogical Society, the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Devon Family History Society and the Society of Genealogists.

7. What does genealogy mean to you?

Genealogical work allows me to keep active in research and solving problems, things I have been doing all my adult life. In retirement especially, it keeps my mind and body active. Doing what I do also allows me to pass along ideas and information to others involved in family history and working with them always results in me getting new ideas as well. I’m putting my information in a form that my descendants can access and at least learn something about where they come from.

8. Why do you believe it is important?

Assembling information about one’s family and ancestors allows us to learn where we are in life and how we came to be there. There are lessons to be found in seeing who came before, what they did, what problems they encountered and how they solved them. Getting involved in genealogical work also gives an opportunity to meet other interesting people and keep our minds active.

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

There is no question that availability of information on the Internet has changed the way most of us research. It is a constant struggle, but also very exciting to keep up with new information coming online. That being said, it is very important not to lose sight of the other sources of historical records, both in terms of repositories and people.

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

I think people can learn from research into their past. What they usually find out is that their ancestors were not all that different in their outlook or goals. The differences are mostly in the tools they had to work with and the living conditions which they endured. Finding out how people in the past went about their daily lives or how they changed the ways they lived in order to find better opportunities for themselves and their children can be can be instructive for people living today.

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

As in most pursuits and hobbies it is most important to have fun. We aren’t solving the world’s problem, although we are learning that people from all over the globe essentially have the same basic outlook and objectives in growing, learning, working, interacting with others, raising families, etc.

November 23, 2015

No. 9 of My Top 10 Genealogy Mysteries: John Greenlees

A Facebook friend recently posted her top 10 Genealogy Mysteries.  They aren't brick walls because there is probably an answer somewhere, just waiting to be found.

I thought this was a great idea and I am following suit with my Top 10 Genealogy Mysteries. Of course any help or suggestions for further research are welcome. You can read my other Genealogy Mysteries at Top 10 Genealogy Mysteries

Here is my Number 9 of 10 Genealogy Mysteries:  

John Greenlees born ca 1781-1791 Fermanagh Ireland married Elizabeth Johnston on 01 September 1814 in Galloon Parish, Clogher Diocese, County Fermanagh 


1814: His marriage to Elizabeth Johnston (whose surname is known from the marriages of their children) is found in FERMANAGH, Galloon Register, Marriages 1798-1830 on Sept. 1, 1814.

1814: At their marriage he is listed as being "of the parish of Aghalurcher" Elizabeth is recorded as "of Drumy. [sic]" I have never been able to find out what parish "Drumy." refers to.

ca 1815: son George born Ireland (no birth or baptism records for any of John and Elizabeth's children have been found)

ca 1815-1816: son Thomas born Ireland

ca 1819: daughter Jane born Ireland. Shortly thereafter the family arrived in Canada (as per John's 1826 land petition. No ships' passenger list found)

ca 1821: daughter Margaret born Canada

1825: daughter Catherine and son John (twins?) born Ontario

1826: John filed a land petition stating he arrived in Ontario in 1819 and has a family of a wife and 6 children.

1826: he placed an ad in an Ontario Canada newspaper stating a stray heifer had been found on his property in Nelson Township, Halton County Ontario.

ca 1827: son James born Ontario 

1830: He appears on the 1830 census for Nelson Twp. Gore District. He is the head  of a family of 9 consisting of himself, 4 sons under the age of 16, his wife, and 3 daughters under the age of 16.

1833: John filed a second land petition

1842: He is on the 1842 census Nelson Twp. Gore District. He is a farmer, and there are 9 people total with 5 people natives of Ireland, 4 people natives of Canada. The census shows that the 5 people not natives of the country have been in the province 21 years which does not quite match up with his earlier land petition

1858: Tremaine Map of Halton County shows John on Concession 1 Lot 10

1861: Census for Nelson Twp, Halton County has 70 year old John and his wife

1862: April 1 John's will is written

1868: Lowville Cemetery stone:  In memory of John Greenleese who died Nov. 5, 1868 Aged 75 years also Elizabeth wife of above Died Apr. 6, 1872 Aged 84 years & 8 mo's both natives of Ireland.  


On 7 May 1805 a John Greenlees age 23 born Fermanagh Ireland joined the54th Foot Soldiers 

There are Greenlees families in Aghalurcher in 1833. Could they be related to my John?

There is a Thomas Greenlees in Aghalurcher in 1788. He could be my John's father. John named his second son "Thomas".  


Who were John's parents? Where and when was he born? Is this my John in 1805 military record above?   

November 22, 2015

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 31V Captain Croll

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.
Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 31V Captain Croll
Captain Croll

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"

November 21, 2015

Finding an Ancestor's Full Record on the NEW Home Children Database

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the launch of a new version of its online database, Home Children Records.
This online database has been extended to include more than 245,000 entries for British children sent to Canada between 1869 and 1932. Names have been indexed from a variety of sources, such as records from sending organizations, publications, governmental and private records.
After reading LAC's latest announcement I rushed to the site to search for some of the Home Children I'd previously found on the Ships Passenger Lists there. My husband's great-grandmother's brother Albert Finch was one of those children. 
Barnardo's Homes
Albert came to Canada from England with Barnardo's Homes so there was only one "extra" entry for him that I had not seen before. The entries are summaries only and in this case the original was from Ups and Downs Magazine and not available on microfilm.  Luckily I know a genealogist in Ottawa and asked him to retrieve the original entry for me. 
Ups and Downs Magazine
Some of the Ups and Downs Magazine entries are on microfilm at British Home Child & Child Migrants in Canada LAC has kindly provided microfilm numbers if your Home Child's entry in Ups and Downs Magazine has been filmed.  You can also check for your name of interest here.
Middlemore Children's Emigration Homes
Next I searched for my friend Linda's grandfather Ernest Mustin and his brother George. This was a goldmine! There were 5 "extra" records for Ernest and 6 for his brother George. Here is a sample of what the result for one entry on LAC provides:
Given Name(s): Ernest
Surname: MUSTIN
Age: 11
Address in United Kingdom: Adam St., Dartmouth St.
Guardian: Thomas Mustin
Date of Application:1892-03-07
Notes:See newspaper cutting, parents charged by Nat. Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to children - neglect.
Record Title: Application Book
Page Number: 421
Case Number: 1249
Volume Number:245
Microfilm Reel Number:A-2104
Reference: MG28 I492, Middlemore Children's Emigration Homes
Library and Archives Canada
Database Item Number:
Obtaining Copies
Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 08 March 1892
Seeing this I knew I had two options open. First I could search for that newspaper clipping myself on a British Newspaper site. Second I could request copies of whatever else might be in the file that LAC referenced. I searched for the newspaper clipping and found it easily. It was quite distressful as it gave a vivid description of Ernest and his brother's neglect. The boys were said to be malnourished, covered in vermin, and with no shoes or coats (this was March in England). The home life scene described was horrific. 
But I still wanted whatever LAC had on file, so I read How to Access the Records (on the first page of the Home Children Database). It was clearly laid out - Films starting with "C" or "T" are available online and  must be accessed by the researcher. Films starting with “A” Prefixes (including Middlemore MG28 I492 records) must be ordered from LAC.
To order a copy you must start at this page. Read the instructions then go to Online Order Form for Reproduction Requests Next you will read, and click on, the ACCEPT buttons before continuing to the order form. 
On the Order Form page you see a shopping cart and choices. You want Textual documents (includes documents on microfilm) 

Next choose how you want the copies delivered. I ordered all 11 of my entries and chose Digital Copies by Email. The very next day I received a phone call from LAC informing me that because Middlemore records are restricted they cannot be sent digitally and would I accept copies by mail. Of course I agreed but this is something for other researchers to remember when ordering.

Now comes the tricky part. There are 3 fields to fill out.

 First the Title. In my case the Title was simply the Record Title. So I copied and pasted "Application Book" into that field.
The next field is the Reference Number. That was "MG28 I492, Middlemore Children's Emigration Homes" 
In the last field for Additional Information I simply copied and pasted the entire entry that LAC provided. I will say that when the Archivist phoned me the next day she stated that I had filled out the form "perfectly".
Fill out how many copies you want and if you don't want to exceed a certain number of pages. I left that blank as I want it all even if it is 30 or 50 or more. 
Then you fill out a Declaration of Use and indicate whether you want Rush or Regular service. There is room for Special Instructions if needed. I used it on this one because I also wanted the notes for Ernest's brother George. So I asked LAC not to duplicate pages but send me any that were about George and not Ernest. 
If you want to order more than one record, as I did, you have to add them to your cart one at a time. No one said it would be fast or easy! Also if you are a senior, you can get a discount on the cost. Ask for your order # when you hear from LAC, then submit your proof of age (such as a passport, birth certificate or driver's licence) along with your order # and they will apply your discount. 
Eventually you will receive an email with the final cost for your copies along with a link for online payment if that is the method you choose to use.
Start searching home children records now!

November 20, 2015

National Genealogical Society Announces Program for the 2016 Family History Conference

National Genealogical Society Announces Program for the 2016 Family History Conference
ARLINGTON, VA, 20 NOVEMBER 2015—The National Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the release of its 2016 Family History Conference program. The program, which includes more than 170 lectures, is now available online at and as a sixteen-page registration brochure, which can be downloaded at

Nationally known speakers and subject matter experts will address a broad array of topics, including records for Florida and its neighboring states; migration into and out of the region; military records; state and federal records. Other topics will discuss genealogical research on African Americans and women; methodology; analysis and problem solving; and the use of technology, including genetics, mobile devices, and apps useful in genealogical research.

The conference will take place at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 4–7 May 2016.   Registration opens on 1 December 2015 at  A number of special events have limited seating, so register on 1 December, or as soon as possible thereafter, if you plan to attend these events.

Up-to-date information about the availability, amenities, and rates for conference hotels can be found at

Sign up for the NGS Conference Blog at so you do not miss conference news or announcements.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogical education, exemplary standards of research, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Arlington, Virginia- based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, and guidance in research. It also offers many opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

November 19, 2015

Fun Ways to Learn About Your Parents' School Life

I am always on the lookout for the Yearbooks of Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute from the 1920s and 1930s. Both my parents went there, as did many other relatives. 

A few years ago I was lucky enough to find one from 1928, one from 1929 and one from 1933. There was mention of my dad in 1928 and 1929! 

Actra Nostra, Yearbook of Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute

1928. Form 3 Industrial: "What Would You Say if You Saw" (followed by a half dozen student names, each with a one line statement) "Cecil McGinnis attend school regularly?" Hah! Sounds like my dad skipped school a lot!

1929. Alumni Section "Cec MGinnis is [working] at Holman Luggage" 

The fun thing is that I had no idea where my father worked before marrying my mother other than Biltmore Hats. Knowing he was at Holman Luggage sent me scrambling to find out more about them.

The Curator at Guelph Civil Museum told me "They made luggage and cribbage boards". I did more research and found this:

Holman Luggage was first known as the Stratford Luggage Company in 1923 and was located in Stratford. Expansion was necessary and by 1925 Mr. Ivey Holman moved the company to Guelph and it was located on the 2nd floor of 82 Yarmouth. In 1930 they moved to Carden Street in the Bell Piano building. In 1946 there was a fire and company had to relocate to 167 Suffolk St. West. Holman's stayed on Suffolk Street until they closed in 1975. The company manufactured luggage, cases and tables.

I even found a photo of my mother and notice that she had won a Typewriting Award. 

Last week I was able to purchase the 1931 GCVI Yearbook and there was my mother's name again. 

There was no photo but I found out she was in the Second year of Commercial. Now I know that I have to keep looking for the 1932 issue of Acta Nostra to see a photo of her when she graduated.

November 18, 2015

1911 Birthday Postcard Jamestown New York

I am lucky enough to have rescued some early 1900s postcards from a flea market. I will be posting them here and on my Olive Tree Genealogy site for all to view. Perhaps you will find an ancestor or two!

W. F. Shaw, Jamestown New York. "Dear Pa" from "your? girl L.E." 1911