Friday, March 29, 2013

Women's History Month: Setting My Ancestor in History - 5th Great Grandmother captured during War of 1812

Over on Olive Tree Genealogy blog there's a meme for Women's History Month  This is Number 5

We have all had many female ancestors who have lived through and perhaps witnessed incredible historical events. But like many stories most get lost to time. I remember my Step Grandmother telling me about the horrible things she witnessed during the Blitz in London during WW2. But today I am thinking about my GGGGG Grandmother Mary Jane Montgomery.

In 1812 Mary Jane and her husband were on a ship from Ireland bound for New York. They were going to start a new life in the United States but unfortunately the War of 1812 got in the way. The ship they were on was captured by the British Navy coast of Newfoundland and all on board were taken to Canada against their will. I can only imagine what that would have been like. I suspect it was not only a great disappointment but a little bit frightening.

So as prisoners of war they where taken to St. Johns, and detained four weeks. Upon their release they had to make their way to Quebec, British subjects not being allowed to travel to America during the the war they had to wait until 1816 to finally reach the USA.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RootsTech Sessions Being Live Streamed!

RootsTech 2013 announced today which of its conference sessions would be streamed online for free. Over 5,000 people have already registered to attend the popular conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 21-23, 2013, where they plan to learn how to find, organize, tell, preserve, and share their family's history-and make new connections. The conference will broadcast 13 of its 250+ classes live at , including the daily keynote speakers. The family history conference is the largest of its kind in the U.S. 

"Not everyone can attend RootsTech in person," said Dan Martinez, RootsTech conference manager. "So we give them a chance to virtually attend a free sampling of some of our most popular sessions live online." Martinez added that the live webcasts in 2012 had 50,000 views during the show.

For those living within travel distance of Salt Lake City, Martinez said it's still not too late to register for RootsTech 2013! From the Getting Started, Developer Day, and the Story@home tracks, the 3rd annual RootsTech conference has something for everyone, whether you are an avid genealogist, just beginning, or simply want to discover the latest technologies and solutions to better connect with your family. For registration details and costs, go to
Following are the RootsTech 2013 Streaming Sessions and when and where to find them.

Mountain Standard Time
"Best of RootsTech"
Live Stream on
Thursday, March 21
 8:30 a.m.
Keynote speakers: Dennis Brimhall, President and CEO, FamilySearch International, Syd Lieberman, Nationally Acclaimed Storyteller, Author, and Teacher, and Josh Taylor, Lead Genealogist at and President, Federation of Genealogical Societies
11:00 a.m.
The Future of Genealogy-Thomas MacEntee and panel
1:45 p.m.
Tell It Again (Story@Home)-Kim Weitkamp
3:00 p.m.
The Genealogists Gadget Bag-Jill Ball and panel
4:15 p.m.
Finding the Obscure and Elusive: Geographic Information on the Web-James Tanner

Friday, March 22
 8:30 a.m.
Keynote speakers: Jyl Pattee, Founder, Mom It Forward Media, and Tim Sullivan, President and CEO,
9:45 a.m.
Researching Ancestors Online-Laura Prescott
11:00 a.m.
FamilySearch Family Tree-Ron Tanner
1:45 p.m.
Google Search... and Beyond-Dave Barney
3:00 p.m.
From Paper Piles to Digital Files-Valerie Elkins

Saturday, March 23
 8:30 a.m.
Keynote speakers: David Pogue, Personal Technology Columnist, The New York Times, and Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO, MyHeritage
9:45 a.m.
Using Technology to Solve Research Problems-Karen Clifford
11:00 a.m.
Digital Storytelling: More Than Bullet Points-Denise Olson

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NGS Conference Early Bird Registration Ends Today

Early Bird Registration Discount Ends
 2013 Family History Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada, 8–11 May 2013
Building New Bridges

ARLINGTON, VA, 18 March 2013: The NGS 2013 Family History Conference will be held 8–11 May 2013 at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (LVH), Las Vegas, Nevada. The early bird registration discount ends  Tuesday, 19 March 2013. In addition to enjoying a $35 discount, only early birds have the opportunity to order a printed syllabus. (Everyone will receive a syllabus on flash drive.) NGS members get even deeper discounts, so this is a great time to join. 

Space is still available for most breakfasts and luncheons, the NGS Banquet, and Tuesday bus tours. The BCG Education Fund Workshop is sold out. To be placed on the wait list, e-mail the NGS conference registrar, Courtney Holmes, at .

All full-conference registrants will be entered in a drawing to win a seven-night stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel at Temple Square, courtesy of the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel. The prize will also include a free spot on one the Ancestor Seekers Salt Lake City research trips. Be sure to attend the opening session to find out if you are the winner. The winner must be present at the opening session to claim the prize.

To register online, visit the NGS website at and complete the registration form. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Thinking About My Irish Ancestors On Saint Patrick's Day

Like many people in North America I have a lot of Irish ancestors. In fact if asked what my heritage is I would probably say Irish. But how much do I really know about Ireland or what it means to be Irish. Sure I have reached my ancestors names but I know little about Irish history or Irish life in the past. We all know a little about the potato famine and the coffin ships but beyond that most of us don't know much . So in honor of Saint Patrick's Day and all my Irish ancestors I am going to spend this afternoon reading about the history and culture of Ireland. I may even have a Guinness. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Black Death” plague graves unearthed in London

Black Death Graves
The Black Death
A mass grave has been discovered in London which might hold the remains of some 50,000 people killed by the “Black Death” plague in the 12th century.

Historical records described the area as a “no man’s land” which once housed a hastily established cemetery for victims of the bubonic plague which killed about a third of England’s population following its outbreak in 1348.
So far thirteen skeletons laid out in two neat rows have been discovered about 8 feet below the road.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Medieval knight’s tomb discovered under Scottish parking lot

Medieval knight’s tomb discovered under Scottish parking lot
Archaeologists were called to the scene and uncovered the grave and evidence of a 13th Century monastery under a parking lot in Edinburgh Scotland.

A sandstone slab, carved with a Calvary cross and an ornate sword, marked the grave. The symbols signal the grave belong to a knight or nobleman.

Along with the skeleton, archaeologists discovered the exact location of the 13th Century Blackfriars Monastery.

Read the rest of this story on the National Post at Medieval knight’s tomb discovered under Scottish parking lot

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Court Records ledger book online for Wytheville, Wythe County Virginia

Court Ledger Book 1883-1937 Wythe Co. Virginia online
AncestorsAtRest has a new Court Records ledger book online for Wytheville, Wythe County Virginia. This Court ledger book belonged to William C Pendleton.

At the top of the first page of court records we read Wm [William] C. Pendleton, Clerk Court of Appeals at Wytheville, The Commonwealth Of Virginia. 

William C. Pendleton was born in Marion, Virginia, in 1847 and served in the 8th Virginia Cavalry in Tazewell County. After the Civil War he studied law and practiced in Richmond, Virginia.

He was the author of the History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia 1748-1920 . This volume has long been recognized as the definitive history of Tazewell County Virginia.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Lorine of Olive Tree Genealogy on TV

Lorine over on Olive Tree Genealogy, was interviewed by CBC yesterday for a story about WW 1 Letters found in an attic. Her blog post about this is at WW1 Soldier's Letters Found in Attic of Home
A link to the online CBC News Toronto at 6 on March 7, 2013 which has the interview with her. The story of the WW 1 letters is at mark 17:30 in the half hour segment. Go to:

Women's History Month: Maternal Ancestors

Over on Olive Tree Genealogy blog there's a meme for Women's History Month

The second prompt is: Make a list of your direct line maternal ancestors beginning with your mother. So you will list your mom, her mom, her mom's mom and so on, back as far as you can. Now figure out how many children each female ancestor had. Did the females in your direct maternal line tend to have the same numbers of children each generation? Did they have more? Less? Were they prolific or are there few children born to each woman? Is there a pattern emerging?

Here's my story:

My mother: 3 kids, 2 boys and 1 girl
My grandmother Massey: 2 kids (twin boys)
My grandmother Conn: 4 kids - 2 boys, 2 girls
My great grandmother Massey: 9 children, 5 boys + 4 girls
My great grandmother DeMeulenaere: 6 children, 2 boys + 4 girls
My great grandmother Holden: 6 children, 2 boys + 4 girls
My great grandmother Elgie: 5 children, 1 boy + 4 girls

Of the total of 35 children, there were 16 boys and 19 girls so girls outweighed boys in my female ancestors. The numbers of children declined with each generation - better birth control?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Women's History Month - My Favourite Female Ancestor, Grandma Kak

Women's History Month - My Favourite Female Ancestor, Grandma KakOver on Olive Tree Genealogy blog there's a meme for Women's History Month

The first prompt was to pick your favourite female ancestor and write a little bio about her. So I'm choosing my grandmother, who we called "Kak"

I probably have many have many female ancestors who would have amazing stories to tell. But unfortunately most have been lost to time. I can speculate about what it was like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the 1800s. I can read about Irish life during the famine. My Belgian ancestors would have some great stories as they lived for hundreds of years in what is probably one of the most fought over pieces of land in Europe. But I can talk about one female ancestor who I had the pleasure of knowing very well. My Grandmother.

My Grandmother Mary was born in Bridgeport Ontario in 1920.  Now my Grandmother did not have an exciting life by most people's standards. She was not rich or famous. She did not get to travel the world or discover the cure for cancer. In fact she did not do anything or go through anything that millions of other women of her generation did not experience. Yet I think that in itself is interesting. Her life story is the story of the women of her generation.

Her family was poor. They did not always get much to eat. They wore hand me down clothes and went without shoes in the summer. Her father drank too much and was not a kind man. He ruled the house with an iron hand. He was an extremely hard working man but jobs were hard to find in the 1930s. Her mother was of stern German Catholic background and had a hard life story of her own.

The great depression of the 1930s was a bad time for many and Mary found herself working in a tea room in Kitchener Ontario by the time she was 16. This job would soon lead to another many miles away in the small town that would be her home for the rest of her life.  St Marys Ontario. It was in this town while working in a Hotel that she would meet her husband who was the bread delivery man.

I never really got it straight from my Grandmother what her job was at the hotel. I know that sometimes she worked in the kitchen but I think it was more of a do everything kind of job. She married my Grandfather on a cold Winter day in 1939. The wedding was not big. She did not have a white dress or a bunch of Bridesmaids. It was just a small get together in someones house. They did not have a honeymoon. No money for that sort of thing in 1939. They settled in together in a tiny rented house to start making a life together but unfortunately the War would soon change things.

Within a few years of marriage Mary found herself  raising twin boys while her husband was in Europe with the Army. I know life was hard for her trying to look after twins with not a lot of help. But like many women she managed to do it and in fact I remember her telling me once that she found it kind of hard when grandpa came back as she felt she had things under control and had managed just fine but of course he had other ideas. She was also a tad upset as she had reason to suspect that grandpa had not been 100% faithful to her while overseas. But she was a realistic practical kind of lady and I think she soon forgave him any transgressions he may have committed in the years apart. All in all she was glad he was back.

After the war life went on. But it was at this point that one of her twin boys (my Father) took sick. He was sick for many years and spent months at a time in Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. This was hard on the family, as one could expect, but was of course even more difficult back then as that was before universal health care. It was also before the days of nice highways so a trip to the city was not an everyday event like it is today. But the community helped out and my father pulled through.

She did catering at a local Golf Club and in the 1950s she worked for Bell Telephone as an operator. We have all seen the photos and movies of the girls at the switch boards pulling out and plugging in wires. She used to tell stories of how she and the other girls would listen in on other peoples calls although they were not allowed to. 

At some point in all this she lost a baby. I don't know much about it as she did not speak of it much. She only mentioned it to me a few times and only because I was the family Genealogist even as a child. She told me how much it upset her and that she never knew if it was a boy or a girl because back then the doctors would not tell you much. She had hoped for a girl but never had one. We don't always get what we want in life.

By the 1960s her two boys were grown and had families of their own and she was now a grandmother. And what a fantastic grandmother she was. Just the kind that every one wants. She enjoyed spending as much time with her five grandkids as she possibly could. All of us have years worth of fantastic memories. She was kind and soft spoken and loved to cook for us. And she was a great cook. Good old fashioned food was her thing. Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, meat pies, apple pies, cookies. Big breakfasts of bacon and eggs every day. 

And she loved to do preserving and canning. She always had a root cellar full of pickles and jams and chili sauce and canned peaches.  Like lots of women of her generation she took great pride in her skills as a homemaker. Not only was she a great cook but the house was spotless and her gardens were beautiful. She spent hours every day cleaning and gardening. I don't think she even had a mop to do the floors she said you had to get down on your hands and knees if you wanted to get it clean. I can still see her with her bucket and an old rag scrubbing that kitchen floor. I don't know what she would say about my Roomba floor cleaning robot.

Her husband died in 1991 after over 50 years of marriage. She missed him terribly as one would expect but she kept on going doing the things she loved with the people she loved. She stayed in the same big old house puttering around. And she still had a job. Long after she probably should have retired she continued to work one or two days a week cleaning for some older women in town. I suspect it was more for the social aspect than it was for the money. She felt very close to the ladies and I know they felt the same for her. 

She never complained. She had the best attitude of probably any person I have ever met. She took great delight in the most simple things. A new kind of bird at the feeder would make her day. The flowers outside. A can of coke and a picnic lunch in the park was a great day as far as she was concerned. And as she got older and her health started to fail she still had a positive attitude said little about it. I know it bothered her greatly when she had to let the cooking and cleaning and gardening go. Yet she soldiered on with a smile and a kind word. 

She passed away just last year still living in that big old house by herself. Happy and in good spirits to the end and loved by many. I miss her