Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Descended from the Isle of Lewis?

While Lewis is NOT on the tour, this wonderful slideshow from RampantScotland shows the magnificent scenery and rich history of this Outer Hebridean Island:

Saturday, 6 August 2011

May 2012 Tour Booking NOW

With the popularity of the television show Who Do You Think You Are?, more people are showing an interest in finding their roots. I am a genealogist, living in Ontario, with an expert in Scottish genealogy research. I offer 10 day trips to Scotland to allow people to access the records directly.
Genealogy Tours of Scotland offers 10 day tours to Scotland so that you can do your family history research ON SITE. The tours allow time to research at Scotland’s People Centre, The Scottish Genealogy Society, The National Library and at the Mitchell Library.

For more information 
 e-mail me  

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Transported Back In Time

Recently I was at a Scottish Genealogy Conference. One of the workshops was a repeat for me, so I quietly slipped out the back door and wandered around the vendors. As always, I was drawn to the booksellers. I saw a book that I had been thinking of buying online for a while. I turned the book over. $25. Very thin book. As I was wondering just how badly I wanted this book after all, I began flipping through the pages. I was drawn to the photos in the centre of the book. Nothing too special about the photos  and the information I may be able to get online....then I saw it. The very last photo was a picture of my Papa's house. The house my father grew up in! I was SOLD.

When I got to the cashier, I showed her my amazing find. She asked if the house was small. Suddenly I was transported back in time and memories came flooding back. Small? To me it was always HUGE. Big rooms and high ceilings. Of course by the time I arrived on the scene, there were only my grandpa and 2 of my aunts in the house. My aunts shared one of the huge bedrooms at the front of the house and Papa had the other one. The rooms seemed enormous to me, but it is hard to imagine what it was like when my dad was living there with his seven siblings. Four boys in one bedroom and four girls in the other. Dad said often when his mom went to wake the kids in the morning, there would be other kids from the neighbourhood in the bed as well. The living room was large and spacious. Of course it doubled as a dining room but the table was up against the window most of the time, so it seemed like an end piece rather than a focal point. Papa had his own chair at the side of the fireplace. The room smelled sweet - pipe tobacco. Quite a contrast to the reek outside from the coal chimneys. The room was always warm (not heated warm, cozy warm - inviting). Papa's house was always so much quieter than my Gran's house. Of course with 20 children - all adults now but dropping in at all hours - Gran's house didn't stand a chance in the "quiet" department.
Papa's house was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. There was always music and singing and laughter and above all, family and kin. Dad carried these memories of the "Cochrina Ceilidhs" in his heart and his memory for life.
Papa's house had a emulsion heater. If a bath was wanted, the secret door at the side of the fireplace was discreetly opened and the heater "flipped" on. Time was then ticking until it was "ready" and the bath could be drawn. This wait time always seemed to co-incide with the length of time it took to enjoy a cuppa and a blether.
The kitchen and the bathroom, of course, were add-ons to the original house. The part of the bathroom that always fascinated me as a child was the "pull-chain" toilet. Out the back of the house was a loan down to the main street and this loan ran alongside the pit bing. I recall sitting in the bath late one morning and hearing bagpipes. The pipe band was headed down the loan on its way to get ready for a Gala Day practice!

Needless to day, the serendipity of finding that photo was indescribable as was the torrent of memories that accompanied being asked one simple question about the photo. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.....or in this case, a thousand memories!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Did You Know?

· three of the nine founders of the Bank of Montreal were from Scotland. The Bank's coat of arms has it roots dating back to 1833. As a result the Scottish thistle and Saint-Andrew cross play a prominent role in the coat of arms of the bank. The three Scottish founders names were John Richardson, George  Garden and Robert Armour.

· After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues
    dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Don't Under Estimate the Importance of Local Resources

Many of us are familiar with the standard search engines, websites (Scotland's People, Ancestry, GenesReunited) and online resources (Rootsweb, Genuki) but many of us forget to contact the local societies for information relevant to the location where our ancestors resided. Often, the local family history societies will have parish census records, church records, monumental inscriptions, old maps and information related to local businesses, schools and families.
A list of Family History Societies can be found through the Scottish Association of Family History Societies:


Don't be shy about contacting the local society and asking where to turn next. They may just be the contact you need to help break through a brick wall or two.

Happy Researching!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Can't Find Them in the Census?

One of the best tools for a genealogist is the census. This lets us know where our ancestors were, their approximate age, occupations and who the family was comprised. From there we can go back and look for birth or marriage certificates. But sometimes our ancestors elude us on the census records, or we might be wanting to find them before the 1841 census. What then? The OPRs have scant information but are a useful tool as well. If these records don't produce results, have a look at the Post Office Directories, now available through the National Library of Scotland (NLS).

Here's the link: http://www.nls.uk/family-history/directories/post-office/

From here, you can click on the area where your ancestors resided and start scouting them out!

Happy Searching!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Scottish Research Opportunity

With the popularity of the television show Who Do You Think You Are, more people are showing an interest in finding their roots. I am a genealogist, living in Ontario, with an expert in Scottish genealogy research. I offer 10 day trips to Scotland to allow people to access the records directly (as opposed to paying for services of a professional genealogist). I take groups to the repositories in Edinburgh (Scotland's People Centre, The Scottish Genealogy Society, The National Library of Scotland) and in Glasgow (The Mitchell Library - the largest Library in Europe with one full floor dedicated to genealogy research and now a second floor which houses the Genealogy Centre - a repository with full access to all of the records). In addition, I arrange speakers to help those in the tour better understand their scottish research and scottish ancestry. Being from Scotland, I think it is really important for those of British Heritage to gain a greater understanding of who they are as a person. As such, I take the groups to The Scottish Experience Dinner Show and arrange a full Scottish Banquet in a small country castle on the outskirts of Edinburgh for the final night. There is time for people to travel to the part of Scotland where their ancestors lived. This is not included in the tour price, but I will make all of the arrangements for the individuals as requested.
Groups of 5 or more qualify for a $100 per person discount.

My newsletter and brochure can be viewed from my website:

Saturday, 7 May 2011

New in Welsh Genealogy

An interesting new site for anyone with Welsh ancestors is The People’s Collection Wales (Casgliad y Werin Cymru). This is a “place to discover and learn, contribute your own content and share the story of your Wales with the world”. The website is a new online archive where you can do a variety of things of interest to genealogists such as exploring historic maps of Wales, creating and sharing family trees, join special interest groups, learn about Welsh history and more. This is a free site, but in order to contribute your own stories or information, you will need to register with the site (registration is also free). http://www.peoplescollectionwales.com/

So Many New Resources for Irish Research

With the opening of the new PRONI centre in Belfast, there has been a great deal of activity in digitizing and making accessible, items of interest to those searching Irish ancestors. The PRONI centre allows onsite access to Irish records in much the same fashion as the Scotlands People Centre in Edinburgh at Register House.  There has never been a better time to be researching your Irish roots. Here is a list of what is available online – most of it FREE:

Thousands of eyewitness accounts from the bloody Catholic uprising of 1641 have been transcribed and put online for the first time. The uprising ultimately resulted in half the land owned by Irish Catholics being confiscated and given to Protestants from Britain. This land redistribution, based on some 5,000 sworn statements given by the eyewitnesses, make this free collection a valuable resource for genealogists. Here’s the link: http://www.1641.tcd.ie/index.php

The Irish Newspaper Archives has expanded their list of newspapers that can now be searched for free. There is a cost to view the actual article. http://www.irishnewsarchive.com/Default/Skins/SEARCH/Client.asp?Skin=SEARCH&enter=true&AppName=2&AW=1304766319516

Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin has added burial records that go back as far as 1828, which predates the official opening of the cemetery in 1832. Officially known as Prospect Cemetery, it is the largest nondenominational cemetery in Ireland and contains an estimated 1.2 million burials. Both Protestant and Catholics are buried in this cemetery and this record set is an excellent place to look if you have ancestors from Dublin. Have a look: http://www.glasnevintrust.ie/genealogy/

The website Irish Genealogy continues to add more Catholic church records to their website. The most recent update includes church records for Dublin City, Carlow, Cork and Kerry. http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/

Ireland Genealogy also allows you to search through historic Irish Pension Records by surname. These records predate the 1901 Irish census. Although these records are currently held at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, many of these records are not indexed by surname. Thus, this website can save you time and effort. There is no cost to search but there is a fee to see the full record  http://www.ireland-genealogy.com/

The Guinness Brewery in Dublin has digitized historical employee records from the brewery spanning the period from 1759 to the present. Some 20,000 individual employee files have gone online, which represents about 80% of all employees who worked at the historic brewery. A typical file lists the employee’s name, date of birth, date of death, employee ID number, date joined the brewery, date left, occupation and department that the employee worked: http://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/GenealogySearch.aspx

Here’s what’s new at PRONI:

  • historic photographs online through Flickr. The first batch of images is 15,000 pictures taken by a photographic studio in Armagh from 1900 to 1952. Many of the images are wedding and family group photos. The collection can be searched by family name. This is a good resource to check if you have ancestors from County Armagh. http://www.flickr.com/photos/proni

The Heritage Council of Ireland has launched a major new web portal called the Irish Archives Resource. It allows researchers to locate archival collections in Ireland that are relevant to their research. A detailed listing is provided for each collection along with instructions on how to access the collection. Many of the major city and county archives in Ireland have already contributed to the website. This site looks like it will quickly become a must-stop for Irish genealogy researchers: http://www.iar.ie/

Belfast City Council has digitized 360,000 burial records from three city cemeteries:  Belfast City Cemetery, Roselawn Cemetery and Dundonald Cemetery. Each record contains the following information: full name, age, sex, last place of residence, date of death, date of burial, grave section and number and type of burial.  http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/burialrecords/index.asp

Queen’s University in Belfast has created a virtual library on the history of Irish migration. The Irish Emigration database contains more than 33,000 records from various sources, including letters, diaries and newspaper ads. The Voices of Migration and Return database contains 90 life interviews conducted with migrants from the Ulster region. http://www.dippam.ac.uk/

FindMyPast Ireland has recently launched. Searchable records include land and estate records, Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland, directories, military and rebellion records, migration records and wills that go back as far as the 13th century. Here is just a sampling of what can be found on this subscription based site:

Marriages, Deaths, Wills (The Index of Irish Wills (1484-1858), Dublin Will and Grant Books Index (1270-1858), Philimore & Thrift Idexes of Irish Wills (1536-1858)
Sir Arthur Vicars Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland (1536-1858).

Census substitutes such as the Griffith’s Valuation, Tithe Defaulters of 1831 and the
Census of Elphin 1761
Treble Almanack & Dublin Directory 1783
City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory 1824
Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory 1884
Bassett's The Book of Antrim (1888)
The William Smith O'Brien Petition 1848-49
1798 Claimants and Surrenders
Ireland's Memorial Record: World War 1: 1914-1918

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Researching Scottish Ancestry - WHERE DO I START?

For those of us fortunate enough to have ancestors with Scottish heritage, researching is a fairly easy task. Knowing where to look is usually where we get tied up. Following these hints should help:

THE place for Scottish records, of course, is the office of the General Register (GRO). Their website is the repository for all official documents: birth, marriage, death, census, wills and testaments. Here’s what you need to know:

·        The website is: http://scotlandspeople.gov.uk. It is a pay-per-view site, so be prepared. You can purchase 30 credits for £7. It is one credit to view the index and five additional credits to view the image of the record. So, 6 credits to get to that point. At today’s exchange rate, that is about 35¢ per image. Cheap at twice the rate! Credits are purchased in bundles of 30 and are good for one year from the date of purchase. So, if you purchase 30 credits on May 1, they will last you until April 30 of next year. If in June, you decide to give genealogy up for the summer and have 4 credits left, when you resume your research in September, you can add 30 credits to your existing 4 and you will then have 34 credits for one year from September! (Just like roll-over minutes on a phone plan!)

·        Civil Registration didn’t start until 1855. Before that date, you need to look at the Old Parish Registers (OPRs). Find that link on the left hand side of the website and enter the data fields. You will get very little information from the OPRs, so don’t be too disappointed.
·        OPR Births: You won’t get birth dates, since documenting a birth was not the responsibility of the church. What you will get is a recorded statement about the child’s baptism. This will give you the date, the parish and the name of at least one parent, sometimes both parents.
    • OPR Deaths: Rather than death records, you will get burial records or the statement about the purchase of a “mortcloth” for dressing the dead. 
    • OPRMarriages: Marriages are a bit trickier. If your ancestor was married in the church, you will get documentation of the reading of the Banns (intent to be married, usually read aloud for the three Sundays preceding the wedding). Marriage laws were a bit unusual in Scotland, so these records are not always available. Essentially, a couple needed only to declare before two witnesses that they were intent on living as man and wife, and they were then considered to be married. No formality necessary! Marriages also didn’t need to happen in a church, and in fact, often took place at the home of the bride or groom. All still very legal. More on Regular and Irregular Marriages can be found here:

·        Civil Registration started in 1855. There were two censuses taken before civil registration and these can be accessed on the ScotlandsPeople website (left hand side – Census – 1841, 1851)
·        When you start your search ALWAYS start with a census. This will give you not only the name of your ancestor, but the people in their family as well. From this you will glean enough information to help you keep track that you are searching the RIGHT family. You will find the name of the head of the household, usually the father/husband unless he is deceased or away at work on that particular night. If the husband was away, his wife will be listed as the head. All children residing in the home will also be listed along with their ages. Remember that it was not uncommon for children as young as 13 to be away at work. In this case, you will need to do another search just under their name and if they were with another family as a boarder, you should be able to find them. Remember that the ages on the census are approximate since the census was usually done in March, so when you then go to search the civil records for births, make sure you allow for a two or three year window.
·        Census & Birth records are accessible to the public after 100 years. Scotland takes this time frame very seriously so up until that time, you will not be able to access them online. You can see the index for births right up to about two years ago, but you need to order the record from the Registrar General. One the birth records, you will find the maiden name of the mother, which will help you to build her family tree (again, check for her family on the census returns under her maiden name and you will come up with her siblings as well. You will also find the date and place of marriage for the parents of the new baby. This will give you the information you need to proceed with searching marriage records.
·        Marriage Records are accessible after 75 years. Again, the indexes are available up to a couple of years ago, but you need to send away for the actual document. On the marriage record, you will find the names for each partner’s parents, the occupation of each partner AND for at least each father. Mother may have an occupation listed if she continued to work after her children were born.
·        Death Records are accessible after 50 years. The death records will list the name of the deceased, including her maiden name in the event of a woman’s death, the name of the spouse, the place and cause of death. It will also give you some indication of the length of the illness that caused the death in the event that it was from anything other than old age.
·        ALWAYS pay attention to the names of the witnesses on the marriage records and to the names of the informants on a death record. You will find these are often family, close friends or neighbours. These people form part of your ancestors social circle. Knowing this information allows you a better understanding of the story and not just of the dates and place names.

There are a number of other places and repositories to check in your Scottish Research, but these will get you started.
Happy Searching!

© Christine Woodcock, Genealogy Tours of Scotland


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Lots Happening In UK Research

New at RootsIreland (www.rootsireland.ie):

 Recently uploaded 32,000 baptism records for County Monaghan in Ulster, meaning that all of the Ulster counties now have some representation on the database Irish Ship Passenger Lists. The Centre for Migration Studies, Co. Tyrone, has provided over 227,000 names of Ship Passengers. The records are of passengers, mostly of Irish origin, on ships travelling from Irish and British ports to ports in North America (United States and Canada) from 1791 to 1897.

New Research Facility for Irish Research

PRONI opened a new research facility in Belfast on March 30, 2011. Similar to the Scotland’sPeople Centre in Edinburgh, the new PRONI Centre provides on-site research and assistance. Here’s just a peek at what is available in Belfast:
•New copying facilities including a self-service digital camera
•Interactive, touch-screens with visual and audio content
•Free WiFi
•Enlarged Search Room with internet access and laptop capability
•Reading Room with 80 desks

Merging of Services in Scotland

The NAS & GRO have merged in Edinburgh. From the NAS website: “From 1 April 2011, the National Archives of Scotland merged with the General Register Office for Scotland to become the National Records of Scotland (NRS). This website will remain active until it is replaced in due course by a new website for NRS”

And in Glasgow, the Genealogy Centre has moved into it’s new home on the third floor of the Mitchell Library. Like Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh, the new Genealogy Centre facility has 20 computer terminals where research can be done. What this means of course is that whether you live in the west or the east, there is a research centre where you can go and access the records as well as some assistance. It also means less time travelling when in Scotland to do on site research. I am looking forward to visiting both the Scotland’sPeople Centre in Edinburgh and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, complete with the new Genealogy Centre, when I take a group of other researchers “home” to do research this fall.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Tragic Death of William & Andrew Carrick

William Carrick, was born 18 July 1817 in Barony. He married Jean Fleming on 06 Sept 1851 in Airdrie.  Jean was the daughter of James Fleming and Jean Summerville. Jean was born 15 February 1820 in Cumbernauld, Dunbarton, Lanarkshire. Jean and William lived at #19 Lechlee Street, then moved to #26 Lechlee St. Jean and William had four children: Jane (1854), Andrew (1855), Rachel (22/8/1859) and Elizabeth (17/8/1962).

William and his son, Andrew, worked at Greenfield Colliery. This mine was located in Hamilton and was owned at that time by the Hamilton Coal Comapny.  Greenfield, the deepest pit in Lanarkshire, was a large colliery employing 929 men who worked below ground and another 144 men who worked above ground. The Manager at the time was a Mr James Hastie and the Undermanager was a Mr Williamson.  William and Andrew were tragically killed in the coal mine at Greenfield Colliery on October 15 1872 when the cable on their lift suddenly broke, sending the men plummeting 780 feet (130 fathoms) to their deaths.  There were a number of reports with regards to this accident since it was not the "run of the mill" roof fall. Unfortunately, roof falls were all too common and did not require a mine inspector to review the case. However, in the case of William and Andrew, the mine inspector, Ralph Moore, was summoned and his report was as follows:

"By the breakage of a round wire rope at Greenfield Colliery, Hamilton, three persons were killed.  The men were ascending the shaft about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and when near the surface the rope broke, and the cage on which they were ascending fell 100 fathoms to the bottom of the pit.  They were all killed.  The rope had drawn coals all day, and was not overloaded; it had not been in use 12 months, and had only raised 5,000 tons of coal.  The pulley and drum were small (5 feet in diameter), but I could find nothing to account for the sudden fracture." From report by Ralph Moore, Inspector of Mines & Collieries in the Eastern District of Scotland for the year ended 31st December 1872

The accident was also reported in the newspapers. Two such reports were:

From The Scotsman 16 Oct 1872
"Hamilton - Three Miners Killed
At Greenfield Colliery, near Hamilton, yesterday afternoon, three miners, William and Andrew Carrick, father and son, and Thomas Docherty, were killed under painful circumstances. They had ceased work for the day, and were about the last of the workers to ascend No. 2 pit, when by some cause, at present unexplained, the pit-rope broke when the men were within six fathoms of the surface, and the cage and its occupants were dashed to the bottom, a distance of about one hundred and thirty fathoms. Death was instantaneous. The bodies were recovered two hours afterwards, fearfully mangled. Carrick, senior, has left a widow, and resided in Lechlee Streetday before the sad occurrence.  The accident has been reported to the authorities, who are making an official investigation."
. Docherty was unmarried, and had only commenced to work at Greenfield the

From the Glasgow Herald 16 October 1872]"
"15 October 1872
Melancholy accident at Greenfield Colliery three lives lost
About half past four o'clock yesterday afternoon a melancholy accident occurred at Greenfield Colliery, the property of the Hamilton Coal Company, whereby three miners have been killed. The names of the deceased are William and Andrew Carrick, father and son, residing at 26 Leechlee Street Hamilton, and Thomas Docherty, residing at Dixon's Rows Blantyre. They were employed on the day shift in the main coal seam of No 2 pit and had dropped work for the afternoon. They were among the last, if not the very last, of the men who entered the cage for the purpose of being conveyed to the pithead, and reached within half a dozen fathoms of the surface when, by some unaccountable cause, the pit rope broke, and the three miners were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft (the “cage”) in its descent dashing in pieces the wooden beams dividing the separate seams of coal between which they were working.

The pit is the deepest in the district; and as the fall was 130 fathoms, death must have been instantaneous. The bodies were brought up in about an hour and a half after the accident. Carrick, who was 50 years of age, has left a widow to mourn his loss. Docherty was unmarried, and had only arrived at Greenfield the day before the occurrence, and was, it is said, leaving the place yesterday. Mr Hastie, manager, and Mr Williamson, underground manager, were at the works when the accident occurred, and rendered every assistance in procuring the bodies. The sad event created great excitement throughout the town last night, and at the pits work was entirely dropped. The matter has been reported to the authorities, who are making an investigation as to the cause of the occurrence.

Certainly one can only begin to imagine the anguish that befell the Carrick family (and indeed their entire mining community) that day. Young Elizabeth was only 10 when her father and her brother were killed. After William and Andrew died, Jean moved between her daughters.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

April 6 is Tartan Day

April 6 is officially known as Tartan Day in Canada. April 6 was chosen as the date because it is the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish declaration of independence.
A tartan represents a community, and is an enduring symbol of Scotland that is cherished by Canadians of Scottish ancestry. Many Canadian provinces and other countries already celebrate Tartan Day.
Further to that announcement by Heritage Canada, Canada announced that the Maple Leaf Tartan is now the Official Tartan of Canada. “In creating the Maple Leaf Tartan fabric, David Weiser captured the natural phenomena of the Maple leaves turning from summer into autumn. The green is the early colour of the foliage. Gold appears at the turn of autumn. Red shows up at the coming of the first frost. The two tones of brown find their way throughout the leaf creating a  prolific profusion of colour." Its International Tartan Index number is 2034.

Tartan Day originated in the late 1980s in Nova Scotia, where it was declared an official day by the provincial government. It then spread across the country, with many provinces joining in. This marks the first time the Day has been recognized by the federal government. "By officially recognizing this Day, we encourage Canadians all across the country to celebrate the contributions that over four million Canadians of Scottish heritage continue to make to the foundation of our country," said Senator John Wallace.  

So, Canadians of Scots descent, wear your tartan today and wear it proudly. Show your true colours. Show off your heritage.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Scottish Genealogy Resources

I had the great good fortune to attend a workshop on Scottish Genealogy at the University of Guelph on Friday. The event was hosted by the Scottish Studies Foundation and the workshop leader was Dr Bruce Durie from Starthclyde University in Glasgow. Dr Durie runs a post graduate program of studies in genealogy at the university. His workshop was brilliant and there was so much to learn.
First off, there are so many new and exciting things coming soon to Scotland's People. While we are all eagerly awaiting the release of the 1911 census this coming Tuesday at 11 am, many more resources have been digitised and will be made available on the Scotland's People website in the next 12 - 18 months. These include:  Valuation Rolls and Kirk Session records.

I also learned of a website belonging to Scotland's People called Scotlandsplaces. This is a free resource and includes old maps, gazetteers. The trick here is to search by PLACE, not by person.

Other great sites to assist in our quest to hunt down our Scottish Ancestors are:


http://www.nls.uk/ (National Library of Scotland)

Happy Hunting!!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Storer Story

Joseph William Storer married Eliza Meggot. This couple had 5 children: Eliza, Kate, Ruth, Edgar and Joseph William (Jr). The boys, Edgar and young Joseph, married sisters. Edgar married Leah Bowater and Joseph married Louisa Bowater. Louisa was a widow when she married Joseph. Her prior married name had been Louisa Beale.

Edgar and Leah had at least one child, son Edgar George Leslie Storer. Little Edgar was born 22 December 1906 in Brantford and at the time of his birth, Edgar Sr. was working as a shear fitter. Like many others in the family, Edgar served in the First World War. By the time of his enlistment, Edgar & Leah had moved and Edgar’s occupation was as a brass worker.

Eliza & Joseph’s second daughter, Kate, married James Liggins in about 1880. Kate had quite an eventful life, as did her four sons. Apparently James, a brass foundry worker, was quite a sickly chap and often out of work as a result. The couple had 4 sons: Harry, Archibald, Leonard and Stephen. The Liggins family were very poor as James rarely made enough to feed his family. In 1897, Kate went to an orphanage in Birmingham, England, called Middlemore Homes. Here she relinquished the care of her two older sons, Harry and Archie. Middlemore was a “clearing station” for children being sent to Canada. These children, who had largely grown up on city streets in England, were suddenly transported to a foreign country — without their parents or caregivers—and sent to work on farms in their new countries. The children were indentured to the organization that sponsored them until their 18th birthday.

Apparently Kate “was a bad sort, running around with men.”  When Kate took the older two boys to the orphanage, and was asked if she would ever want them back, she said, “No.” Archie says that he and his brother could always remember the coldness in her voice, the door closing and her footsteps walking away.

Harry is described in the Middlemore books as being of sallow complexion with dark eyes and an untidy appearance. Archie is described as having a dark complexion with dark eyes and an untidy appearance. The Middlemore records state that, “ the circumstance was that both parents were alive. The father is a brasser but is so delicate that he does not earn more and 10/ week. Mother is living with another man named “Berks” She states that she married Berks 7 years ago, although the husband is still alive. She states that she plans to leave Berks as soon as she can as he is a brute. “He is a bad un to our children by my husband. His language is particularly disgraceful.” James was in gaol three times for desertion (non payment of child support) and apparently Steven Berks had also been gaoled twice. Mother quite understood that she cannot see the boys for at least 2 years after they are in Canada. Accepted.”

The records from Archives Canada show the immigration records for both boys. Henry was aged 13 and Archie was aged 10. The two departed Liverpool on May 14 1898 aboard the SS Siberian. They arrived in Halifax on 29 May 1898. Their destination was Halifax.

Henry arrived in Halifax and tracing his movements from that point has proven quite difficult. It appears that Harry stayed in Nova Scotia during his indenture to Middlemore Homes. The 1901 census for Antigonish NS shows Henry residing as a lodger with James and Sophie Gordon. He was 16 at the time. I have not been able to find a marriage record, or a death record for Henry. Nor have I been able to find him on the 1911 census.  The possibilities of what became of Harry are infinite.

Although Archie arrived in Halifax with his brother Harry, he eventually moved to BC where he met and married Ida Martha Taylor on November 24, 1924. Archie was 37 at the time of his marriage. He committed suicide on September 6, 1931 at the age of 44. This is a tragic ending to the tragic life of a British Home Child. A child who was removed from his family, his country, his culture and sent to work in a foreign land. Sadly, no family connections were ever made. Unlike adoptions from foreign countries, the Home Children never belonged to anyone. They were often made to feel unwanted or defective. Many Home Children grew up socially isolated and full of loneliness. Very few learned a trade that would earn them an income. The sad reality for Archie was more than he could bear, even with a new wife.

Kate’s younger two boys, Leonard and Stephen were also relinquished to orphanages. By 1900 Middlemore Homes had closed it’s doors and so the younger boys were sent to Barnardos. It is unclear whether or not they were relinquished together. They were sent separately to Canada. Stephen, the youngest, arrived first in 1900 at the very tender age of 8. His brother, Leonard, followed in 1901 at the age of 9.

On September 27, 1900, Stephen boarded the SS Tunisian in Liverpool and left his family and homeland behind. He arrived in Quebec on October 6, 1900. His destination was Toronto where presumably he ended up at a Barnardo’s clearing/receiving home. From there, he was farmed out to work. The 1901 census shows Stephen living in Muskoka/Parry Sound with an elderly woman named Judith Lever. Judith appeared to have a number of home children in her custody. Stephen was the youngest. From Parry Sound, young Stephen moved to Rainy River/Thunder Bay where he appears on the 1911 census living with a young woman named Irene McKean.

On December 4, 1915, Stephen enlisted to fight in WW1 with the Canadian Overseas Expeditiary Force. Enlisting to fight was one way that the Home Children hoped to be able to return to their homeland. Stephen’s attestation papers show him living at
8 Huron Street, Brantford, with his maternal aunt, Ruth (Storer) Skett. Stephen’s military record shows that in order to be considered “fit” to enlist; he required an operation to repair a double hernia. It is believed that this hernia was the result of having to perform hard manual farm labour from such a young age.

Upon his return from Service, Stephen married his first cousin, Lily Skett (Ruth and husband George’s youngest daughter). This was much to the chagrin of old George since Stephen was a bit of a rebel and apparently drank quite a bit. Stephen and Lily had no children together, and at some point the marriage disintegrated. Both Lily and Stephen remarried. Lily moved to Michigan to be near her family, and eventually remarried there. Stephen and his second wife, Aline, lived in Windsor. Stephen died on December 17, 1950 of a stroke. He was 58 years old. Stephen is buried in the military section of Green Lawn Cemetery in Windsor.

Kate’s remaining son, Leonard, left Liverpool on 18 July 1901 aboard the SS Numidian. His port of destination was Quebec. He arrived on 29 July 1901 with “a large party of Dr Barnardo’s children, 239 to Toronto, 68 to Winnipeg, 20 to Russell Manitoba and 3 to Peterborough Ontario.”  Leonard married and settled here in Brantford.  He was married to his wife, Lily, for 51 years. Leonard and Lily had one daughter, Donna. The three of them are buried together in Mt Hope cemetery, Brantford. In Leonard’s obituary, there was no mention of any other family. His mother Kate later moved to Niagara, New York where she re-married. It is unclear whatever became of the father of these young boys.

Eliza and Edward’s youngest daughter, Ruth, married a man by the name of George Skett. This couple had 5 daughters: Georgina “Elsie”, Annie May, twins Ruth Ada and Rose Harriet and then youngest daughter Lillian (who married her cousin, Stephen Liggins). The family lived at 8 Huron Street for a number of years and George and Ruth seemed to be the couple that all of the other family members stayed with when they arrived in Canada or when they found themselves between jobs or homes. Ruth and George moved to Detroit in their later years. Ruth died in 1925 and George in 1938. Ruth’s obituary in the Brantford Expositor reads: 

The death occurred in Detroit on Wednesday, June 3, of a former well known resident in the person of Ruth Storer, beloved wife of George Skett. Deceased had been in ill health for some time, but bore her suffering with great Christian faith. Coming from England 13 years ago she and her husband resided at No 8 Huron Street, city, for 10 years before moving to Detroit. She leaves to mourn her loss besides the sorrowing husband, five daughters and two sons, Mrs R Deveany, Mrs Wilfred Short, Mrs Gilbert Short, Mrs Steven Liggins, Miss Elsie, Cyril and Bert, all of Detroit: also one sister and two brothers, Mrs Katie Forbes, Mr Joseph Storer, Mr Edgar Storer of the city. Mrs JJ Fletcher, city, is a niece. At the funeral, many beautiful floral tributes bore testimony to the high esteem in which the deceased was held. The pallbearers were the three sons-in-law of the deceased, Gilbert and Wilfred Short, Robert Deveany and J Beal, F Phelps and ? Hustis.”

Edward and Eliza’s eldest daughter, Eliza, married Edward Woodcock. This couple had 6 children:
Bertram, Nelly, Alice, George Henry, Edgar and Mabel. The family emigrated together in 1907. Also traveling with them were two men, Edwin Davies and John Fletcher. These two men were betrothed to Edward & Eliza’s eldest two daughters. Daughter Nelly married Edwin and daughter Alice married Jack Fletcher.

Son Bertram enlisted to fight in WW1 at the age of 29. Sadly, Bertram was killed in action in Calais France at the age of 31. He is buried in the Hersin Communal Cemetery in Calais but is included in the monumental inscription on his mother’s gravestone in Mt Hope cemetery in Brantford.

Daughter Alice and her husband, Jack Fletcher, had 5 children. Their eldest daughter, Edna May, died at the very young age of 5. She succumbed from shock which she was in as a result of burns that she had received. Her death registration states that she had suffered the burns 15 hours before her death and that the shock had resulted in heart failure, and ultimately her death.

An article in the Brantford Expositor on August 20, 1918 reads:
            Ethel Fletcher Died of Burns
            Was Playing near a bonfire and her clothing caught fire

            Ethel Fletcher, the five year old daughter of John Fletcher, 7 Huron Street, yesterday afternoon received burns from this morning which proved fatal. The little one passed away at the hospital about 9 o’clock this morning. Yesterday afternoon in the company of some other youngsters she was playing with a bonfire near her home when her clothes caught fire. She received most serious burns about the body, her head and hands only escaping. Dr Robinson was called and the little one was rushed to
hospital, where, despite the tenderest care and attention, her injuries proved fatal.

Edna’s obituary was in the Brantford Expositor on August 21, 1918. It reads:

FLETCHER—in Brantford on Tuesday morning, August 20, 1918, Edna May, 5-year-old daughter of Mr & Mrs John Fletcher, 7 Huron Street. The funeral will take place on Thursday August 23, 1918, from the residence of her parents to Mt Hope Cemetery. Service at the house at 2 o’clock.

Little Edna died at the Brantford General Hospital. She is buried beside her maternal grandmother, Eliza Woodcock at Mt Hope Cemetery. They share the same monument. This monument also bears a memorial for Edna’s uncle, and Eliza’s son, Bertram.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Using Obituaries for Research

When you are researching for your ancestors, don’t overlook the obituary. In the obituary you not only find the date of death, but you may also find an address, siblings or parents who died prior to the ancestor, spouse or offspring who were still living at the time of your ancestor’s death, and maybe even a cause of death. Obituaries are often the key to adding the missing twigs on your family tree. As well, the obituary provides the name of the funeral home and if they are still in existence, you can contact them to see if they have a funeral card, their certificate of death, and they may be able to tell you who they dealt with in making the arrangements for the funeral.

Getting Photos Out of Magnetic Albums

Having trouble getting your old photos out of those sticky magnetic albums? Don’t despair. You can use a micro-spatula (a small science tool about the size of a large crochet hook, but with a soft rounded edge) and gently ease this under the photo to separate the photo from the sticky page. These can be expensive, so a “multi-purpose tool” can be ordered from Creative Memories for $9 and will work wonders and last years. Other scrapbooking companies and stores likely have similar items for getting those embellishments off the pages. Drop by a store or check online for a dealer nearby and start getting those precious photos OUT of those sticky albums and into archival safe ones that will keep them preserved for decades.

The History of Hop Scotch

The game hopscotch was invented in Ancient Britain during the early Roman Empire. Roman soldiers would wear their full armor while training on hopscotch courses over 100 ft long. They did this to improve their footwork, much like football players do today when they hop in and out of tires during practice drills. Eventually, children turned this drill into a game and it continues to be played on playgrounds and sidewalks today.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Adventures of a Ten Dollar Bill: How I Tore Down My Brickwall

For a number of years, I have had two major brick walls. I call them “My Two Elusive Hughs”. They are father and son; my great grandfather and my great-uncle. The younger one left Scotland in 1920 and emigrated to “America” Little was known about him other than that he left a wife and two young children in Scotland and that he died young, in California. From the California Death Records Index, I was able to get Hugh’s death certificate. Although his cause of death sounded like alcoholism, his death certificate listed his death as “accidental.” I learned that he died from drinking
cleaning fluid and that there had been an autopsy and a coroner’s report. I wrote a letter to the Coroner in Alameda County where I knew he had lived in 1936 (he died in 1947). I attached a ten dollar bill to offset the cost of copying and mailing the information to me. A few weeks later, the money was returned along with a note saying Hugh died in San Francisco County. I wrote a letter to the coroner in San Francisco and attached the ten dollar bill to it. Another few weeks later, the money was returned with a note telling me that the archival records were now held by the San Francisco Public Library. One more letter and the same ten dollar bill was sent to the San Francisco Public Library and lo and behold, the next envelope from California held the autopsy report, the pathology report and the coroner’s jury’s verdict! The death was ruled accidental, but Hugh’s wife reported that he had been drinking all day from what he thought was a bottle of gin, It actually contained cleaning fluid. So, ten dollars, three US stamps and a bit of perseverance was all it took to break down a brick wall and learn that “the wife likely did it in the kitchen with a gin bottle!”

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The History of Listerine

Joseph Lister, Professor of surgery at Glasgow University, was the first to realize that the high post-operative mortality of his patients was due to the onset of blood poisoning (sepsis) caused by bacteria. Back then, the operating theatres were not the sterile places that they are today. In the early 19th century, they were awash with blood, tissue and amputated body parts. In 1865 Lister found that carbolic acid was an effective antiseptic. Dr Lister is likely more commonly known in connection with Listerine—the antiseptic mouthwash. While Dr Lister didn’t invent Listerine, it was named after him because the product is antiseptic and Dr Lister was the pioneer of antiseptic surgery.

The Fowlers of Slamannan

Slamannan is a village in south east Stirlingshire. The village stands near the right bank of the Avon, south and west of Falkirk. The rocks in the area are mainly carboniferous, and include both coal and ironstone. Mining employed a large portion of the population. The population of the village in 1861 was 482. Of those, 28 were Fowlers. There were a number of small mines in the area of Slamannan including Binniehill, Limerigg and Southfield Colliery. The 1861 census shows the following Fowlers living in Slamannan:

At 23 Binniehill Row were John Fowler and his wife Isabella (Grey) along with their children, James, John, Archie, Jean & William. John’s father was Henry Fowler of Lasswade (who was married to Jean Kerr). John’s son Alexander, who died in 1865, is not shown on the census. John, of course is a coalminer.

At 54 Binniehill Square were John’s brother, Alexander, and his family. Alexander was married to Isabella (Grant) and their children were Henry, Thomas, Jean, Alexander, Isabella, and William. Also living with them was Isabella’s nephew, Thomas Grant. Alexander was a coalminer and so were his sons Henry (19), and Thomas (16). These boys were old enough to be working in the mine proper. Isabella’s nephew, Thomas, who was 13 would likely have been working at the pit head, or above the ground.  Alexander died 2 years later on March 22, 1863.

Another brother, Joseph, shows up on the 1861 census for Slamannan village but no street address is given. This is likely a clerical error on the part of the census taker. Joseph was married to Jane McIntosh. This couple were granny Mack’s grandparents. Their son, Henry later married Jeannie Carrick. On the 1861 census, Joseph and Jane are shown with their children, Henry, Agnes, Jane and Margaret. Jane’s mother, Jane Kerr, is also living with the family. Joseph and his son Henry (12) were both working in the mines. Jane’s mother is listed as being a pauper. Daughter Margaret was only a year old at the time of the census.

A nephew of these three brothers, Henry, (son of Henry Fowler and Clementina Anderson) is shown living at 56 Pirneylodge Row. Henry’s father, Henry, was the brother of Joseph, Alexander and John. Young Henry is married to Margaret (Fowler) - his cousin. Margaret’s father is Henry’s uncle, Alexander (married to Isabella Grant). Young Henry and his wife, Margaret, have three children by the time of the 1861 census, son Henry, daughter Isabella and daughter Clementina. Henry is only 26 and Margaret is 22. Henry is working in the mines. Daughter Clementina was only a month old at the time of the census. Mining, for the Fowlers, was very much a family affair.