Saturday 31 December 2011

Start Your Family Tree Week December 26 - January 1

Today's helpful hint on Find My Past   for starting your family tree includes a link to Scotland's People for learning more about old occupations. From there, the list is alphabetized. Click on the letter of the alphabet and it will lead you to a list of the old occupations starting with that letter. Each occupation comes with a description of the job.

Check out jobs such as aqua-vitae maker, litster or wowman.

Happy Searching!

On This Day, I Thee Wed....

Christmas was less of a celebration in Scotland than it was in other places throughout the world, and until 1958, it was not even a holiday from work. The larger celebration was Hogamany, or New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day was a day off for everyone and as such, you will find that many marriages occurred on December 31, allowing family to gather without the need for early rising to attend work the next day.

98 years ago, on New Year's Eve, 1913, my grandfather, Harry Crawford, married his first wife, Sarah Costello. Harry was just two and a half weeks shy of his 21st birthday. Sarah was 20. Harry and Sarah were married in the Manse of Shotts Kirk, the family’s local church. It was a time of great celebration.

Harry and Sarah had six children together. Sadly, Sarah died of complications in childbirth on July 25, 1924 during the birth of baby Joseph Costello Crawford. Harry was devastated at the loss of his wife. His children, with the exception of baby Joseph, were taken in and raised by his mother, Agnes Crawford. Joseph was taken in by Harry’s maternal aunt. Baby Joseph died on October 17, 1924 at the tender age of 3 months. He died of pneumonia.

Just shy of four years later, Harry re-married and this couple, my grandparents, had another 15 children together.

Dora always considered Sarah’s children as her own and was the grandmother to all of their children. In total, Harry sired 21 children. This is an amazing legacy for any man. Dora mothered 20 children. She loved them, took pride in them and missed them when they weren't around. She was adored, loved and admired in return. Perhaps Harry's greatest legacy to his descendants was the woman he chose to mother them.

Monday 26 December 2011

Start Your Family Tree Week December 26 - January 1

Find My Past has launched Start Your Family Tree Week. It runs from today (December 26) until January 1. Each day, there  are tips to getting your family tree started. For those who are not new to genealogy research, there are also hints about websites to check for documents and other information.

Today the tip is to get as much information as you can and to get it recorded properly. The Find My Past website has free PDF downloads. The first is a Family Tree Chart for recording your family information. The second is an Interview Guide for interviewing family members.  And the final free download is a Quick Guide on how to get started (a hint at what records to check).

Happy Tree Building!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

British Newspaper Archive Now Available on GenesReunited

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the British Newspaper Archive had gone live. This is an ambitious undertaking which will allow access to millions of digitized images of historic newspapers from throughout the UK, including Scotland.

Word comes this morning from GenesReunited that digitized images from the British Newspaper Archives is now available through their site.

In their press release, they state:

"We are very pleased and proud to announce that you can now access the British Newspaper Archive on Genes Reunited. This is unlike any other data set available online, and will give you an insight into what was going on in the world whilst your ancestors were alive. View articles written at the time of key events in history, such as the breaking news of the sinking of the Titanic, or the reports following the grisly murders of Jack the Ripper."

This means that you will now have access to:

  • News Articles
  • Family Notices
  • Letters
  • Obituaries
  • Advertisements
The search is really very user friendly and allows you to narrow your search to a given time period as well as to a given county. The free part of the search allows you to see an unreadable thumbnail of the image as well as a few words so that you will know whether you have the correct item. If you do not have a subscription, the images can be viewed as a pay-per view, but I am unclear how many credits you will be charged.

This is certainly worth a look:

Sunday 11 December 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Traditions

Although Christmas has always been about the birth of the Christ child for me, once I became a mom, I needed a tangible way to have my children know that Christmas wasn't just about Santa and presents. It was about Baby Jesus and all that He gave to us. So, we started a Christmas eve tradition of celebrating Jesus' birthday. When I was teaching Sunday School, this was one of the favourtie days in the Sunday School year. We would start in advent, learning about advent, then starting our way through the Christmas story. On the Sunday before Christmas, we had our birthday party for Jesus, complete with games, balloons and cake. The kids received loot bags and were asked to bring in an unwrapped toy for a child in need. It was always such a fun day and often the kids would bring a friend to enjoy the party with us.

My kids are a bit older now, but the tradition continues with a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas eve. Hopefully this is a tradition that my kids will carry forth with their kids. 

Saturday 10 December 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Personalized Gifts

I remember when I was younger, my elderly aunt would complain about "another china mug" or "another dust collector" when someone gave her a gift, not knowing quite what to get for someone of her age and stage of life.

I started collecting old photos when I started genealogy. I have amassed hundreds, perhaps a thousand family photos. When I saw the joy, the pure unadulterated joy, that the gift of our family history book gave to my aunts and uncles, I knew that from that moment on, if a gift I gave them didn't create tears of joy and memories, it wasn't worth giving.

It was so enriching for them to have a solid, tangible connection to their past. Something they could show off with pride and something to be treasured so that future generations could also enjoy it. At first, I started doing scrapbooks.

I would do small books and personalize them to include the life story and photos of the recipient.

From there, I graduated to personalized calendars. They have been a huge hit and something everyone looks forward to each year. This year, thanks to the MyMemories digital scrapbooking software and my Flip Pal mobile scanner, I have been able to incorporate scrapbooking along with the personalized calendars.

I can't wait for the reactions on Christmas when the calendars are opened and the product is all so new again.

As family historians, we hold the pictures, the documents and the stories. The greatest gifts we can give are to share the stories in meaningful ways with the relatives that are still here with us.

Happy gifting!

Friday 9 December 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Eve

I miss my mum the most on Christmas eve. For as long as I can remember, we always spent Christmas eve together. Even when we were off at our own events, we would get together after and talk well into the morning. Sometimes my brother would join us, other times not. We would call family out west and wish them a merry Christmas. It was a ritual. After the wee hours turned into near-dawn, we would call family in Scotland and be the first to wish them a merry Christmas.

Once my daughter came along, and then my nephew, and after we got through the magic of hanging the stockings and preparing the cookies, milk and carrots (for Rudolph), mum and I would settle in and watch the Christmas eve mass on tv, and chat into the early morning hours. We still managed the phone calls. (I remember one year, she mis-dialed and talked to someone in Hong Kong!)

Then after mum died, Christmas eve suddenly seemed so empty. The church, the kids routines, were all the same. We started our own ritual of celebrating Jesus' birthday, complete with cake and candles,

but later, when not a creature was stirring, the silence was deafening. And defeating. She really was gone. The long chats and phone calls would never happen again. At least not in the same way. Something so simple suddenly became so painful. I now dread Christmas eve and I can't wait for it to be over. For another year.

First Women's Football Team Was Formed in Scotland

Great piece from the Daily Mail on social  history of women. The article is on the first women's football league. Helen Matthews aka Mrs Graham founded the first women's football team in Britain. Helen was the "goalie" and was from Stirling Scotland.

Thousands flocked to watch the women do "unwomanly" things. Scotland defeated England 3-1. After the second straight defeat, riots erupted (not unlike today!) and the game of Women's Football was banned in Scotland. Not to be put off, Mrs Graham simply moved her team south of the border.

All of the women on the Scotland team were activists for women's rights and won a major campaign for the rights of women to vote just one day after the riots had erupted.

We've come a long way, baby!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

British Military Nurses

I have previously mentioned that FindMyPast has British Army nursing records on its website. The records provide a name, date and the service provided. However, there is another website specifically dedicated to British Military Nurses. There are nurses tales, diaries accounts of nurses in the First World War, the Matron-in-Chief’s account of nursing with the expeditionary force in France and Flanders and numerous other first hand accounts from British Military Nurses.

The website provides a wealth of information on British Military Nurses including a history, civilian nurses, and a list of UK Home Hospitals under Scottish Command. There is also a searchable database of the nurses from the Women’s Scottish Hospital.

The website is well worth a look and provides a wonderful history lesson on British Military Nurses.

Happy Searching!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

West to New England

In 1650, at the Battle of Dunbar, the English defeated the Scots. 10,000 Scots were captured and marched from Durham to Newcastle. They were given very little to eat. This was a true story of “survival of the fittest” with many prisoners dying on the way either from disease, or being killed due to disability or inability to keep up with the crowd.

The Scots who did survive, presented a problem for the English, just due to sheer numbers. It was too expensive to house and feed them, but too dangerous to set them free and perhaps allow an uprising.

One week after the battle, England's governing body, the Council of State, turned the prisoner’s over to Sir Arthur Hasenlrigge to be disposed of as he saw fit.  Several of the prisoners had petitioned to be transported overseas. As such, 150 of the fittest were sent down to London, led aboard the “Unity” and transported off to New Hampshire in America. Several weeks later, another 270 were led aboard the “John & Sara” and set sail for Boston.  

The ship’s list of the John & Sara has been transcribed and can be found at:

Saturday 3 December 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Ornaments

Ornaments have been a big part of Christmas. Many many years ago, my aunt and I started a tradition of gifting each other with a new ornament every year as an adornment on our gifts to one another. We even managed entire sets over time.

Then, as a fundraiser one year, my mum's friend made ceramic ornaments and everyone bought those.

We have had ornaments for every special occasion

First Christmas Together
New Home

Baby's First Christmas for each of the kids
Even celebrations of the cats and their first Christmas with us

I have always had a pet. I am a dog person, but my husband, not so much. So we have cats. They don't know they are cats because they have been raised like dogs - loving, loyal and attention seeking. Since the cats came along, we haven't had tinsel on the tree so as not to create an unnecessary emergency when the cats chewed the tinsel. But we do want the cats to be part of our tree,

so we always make sure we leave ornaments on the low branches that are safe enough for them to take off.

They haven't really stuck to that rule, however, and every year, we wake up to find an ornament from the upper branches laying on the floor.

When my mum passed away, I inherited her ornaments. They now adorn our tree every year. And the memories along with them.

Of course, we have all of the standard home made ornaments that the kids have made and that we have treasured. Our tree will never make it into a designer magazine. But it tells a story every year and speaks volumes about the special memories of a very special time of year.

Merry Christmas!

Friday 2 December 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Holiday Foods

For as long as I can remember, we had dumplin for dessert. Smothered in custard. It was always the highlight of the dinner. And no matter who was hosting the family, my aunt always brought the dumplin.

 I love this photo of my wee gran. She loved spending Christmas in Canada.

There has been lots of chatter lately on our family facebook group page about dumplin. One of my cousins asked for the recipe and the memories started to get shared. It’s a tradition that has been lost over time. And I can guarantee my kids wouldn’t thank me for even trying to make one.

A few years later, my mum’s shortbread became a holiday tradition. She spent hours and hours blending the ingredients and kneading the dough. She came one year to teach me how to make it and was stunned when I took out the pastry cutter to make it easier to cut the butter into the other ingredients. It saved hours! In the end, the result was every bit as good as mum’s and even my uncle gave his seal of approval (and no, thank you, I had no interest in carrying on his tradition of tablet. The thought of it makes my teeth ache). My mum said that whenever she died, she could die knowing that the shortbread would live on as a tradition.

After shortbread, she added in mincemeat tarts. Double crusted and dusted in icing sugar. To die for. Especially warm from the oven and accompanied by a tall glass of eggnog.

My son has been diligent in learning the shortbread recipe. Something I can be assured his children will also learn. My daughter has started adding in her own holiday baking. And we can’t seem to manage the wait for December before we are asking for it!

In some cultures food is akin to love. In ours it is a matter of a love of food!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday 1 December 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories -Tree Troubles

We love a real tree. In our life before kids (hard as that is to remember), we had an open house every year just before Christmas and part of the tradition for at least 8 years was for the tree to fall over near the end of the open house (most people took that as their signal to leave whether they had been ready to leave 5 minutes earlier or not). The only year that the falling tree wasn’t the highlight of the open house was the year our advent wreath caught fire!

When Heather was born, we dragged her along in her sleigh. We did the same with Christopher for his first Christmas. Then, in 2001, we had an extension built onto the house. We decided that rather than risk 5 gallons of water all over the new carpet when the tree went for a toss, we would invest in an artificial tree. So for seven years, we built our tree. Doug took no chances and tied the tree up anyway. Not such a bad idea once we added cats into our household. Two years ago, we decided to once again venture out and get a real tree. Christopher had missed out on that part of our annual Christmas preparations. So off we went.

It was an all day event. We finally had the tree up and ready to decorate about 3:00. We left the kids to it. It looked terrific. A few burned out lights, but otherwise a great tree. After supper, Doug was commenting on how great the tree was. I said "yes, but it seems to be at a 45 degree tilt" The kids overheard and started fussing about getting it fixed. I told them dad would get to it in a minute, "after all it is not about to fall down in the next five minutes, I promise you" No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I heard Doug yell, "it's over..........get towels........" Seems that our luck with real trees is back (and yes, it was tied up.......took the nails right out of the wall when it went for a toss). We did manage to break a record though. Shortest time ever before the tree tipped. Usually it lasted a week.

Last year, we managed to cut down a tree that had two trunks! (What the heck?)

While we didn’t have the falling over problem, we were hit with a different plague. It dried out and every day, more and more needles would rain onto the floor. By Christmas morning, we were down to a few barren twigs…….making it the shortest time our tree has been up past the opening of the presents. About an hour to be exact!

Wonder what memories (or near nightmares) this year’s tree will hold!?!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

A Short Video from on the History of St Andrew


November 30th is St Andrew's Day

St Andrew is the paton saint of Scotland, but who was he? Anyone who attended Sunday School will remember Jesus going to the Sea of Galilee and calling Simon Peter, and his brother (2 fishermen) to come and be "Fishers of Men". Simon Peter's brother was Andrew.

Andrew was a disciple, an apostle and an evangelist for early Christianity. He was crucified in Greece by the Romans and was hung on an 'X' shaped cross. Legend has it that St Regulus (St Rule) was ordered by God to have Andrew's remains "scattered to the ends of the earth." Some believe this was simply meaning that his evangelism be scattered to the ends of the earth. However, St Regulus set off across the sea and stepped ashore in Fife - in the town now known as St Andrew's. A fishing village. He is known as the Saint of Fishermen, maidens and barren women.

The Saltire - or the cross of St Andrew's - was later adopted as the national emblem of Scotland. The cross is 'X' shaped to match the cross Andrew was crucified on. The white cross was originally silver, but in heraldry, white stands for silver. The saltire is incorporated into the Union Jack (a white diagonal cross).

It was in 1320, at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, that Andrew was officially declared the Patron Saint of Scotland. Today St Andrew's Day is a bank holiday. For those of us not living in Scotland, but of Scottish ancestry, it becomes a day to honour our heritage.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Scottish Trade Directories Newly Added at has added to their database. This time the addition is for Scottish Trade Directories. You require a membership of $45 per year, or you can use a pay per view program which runs about .12¢ for 90 days.

Happy Searching!

British Newspaper Archive is LIVE

The British Newspaper Archive talked about in an earlier blog post has gone live, havng been launched today. Scottish newspapers from Ayr (Ayr Advertiser), Aberdeen (Aberdeen Journal), Fife, Angus, Dundee (Dundee Courier, Dundee Advertiser), Edinburgh (Evening Times), Glasgow (Herald), Falkirk (Herald), and Stirling (Stirling Observer) are just a few. You can narrow your search by place, county, region, date, or name of newspaper.

You need to create an account, but it is free to join. There are various subscriptions to view the images.

Happy Searching Reading!


Mocavo has launched a UK version of its genealogy search engine. This version is programmed to find websites, blogs, message boards etc dealing specifically with UK Genealogy research.

Give it a try at:

Happy Searching!

Saturday 26 November 2011

Making Use of Message Boards

One of the best things about the Genealogical Community is our penchant for connecting. We all desperately want to connect to our past, to those who came before us, to our ancestors. But we are also very fond of connecting with other genealogists. Others searching for their past, their ancestry. Because of this desire to connect, the Genealogy Community is also very helpful. I can't begin to thank those I have connected with who have furthered my research. Most of them total strangers. People I would not recognize on the street. But whose names I know because of our connection to family history.

A great way to connect with others, especially early on in your research is through message boards. These are parts of websites where you can leave your unanswered questions. This is a great way to find others with the same research interests as you - people looking for the same family members. In order to do so, make sure your title captures the people you are looking for. Not long lists of people but something as simple as Haddows of Lanarkshire Scotland. This rules out those with Haddow ancestors who are from the US, England etc and makes the responses more meaningful to you.

Most of us are aware of Ancestry. Personally, I don't find Ancestry terribly helpful - especially for Scottish research. But you can leave a message on the message boards and perhaps find a connection that way. This saves you trawling through hundreds of possible matches in other people's trees with inaccurate information.

Another great message board system is Rootsweb. Rootsweb is free. The responses may take longer but they are generally very helpful. As well, many of the message boards are now linked to the mailing lists, which reach people a whole lot faster.

For connecting with others specifically researching in Scotland,  GenesReunited is a fabulous website. I highly recommend joining and uploading your tree. I have found living relatives I never knew existed and the help has been totally amazing, A membership is $34 annually and every couple of weeks or so, you will get an e-mail with "hot matches" The software is programmed to look for other trees with the same names and then notify you of the connection. It doesn't always narrow it down to your specific ancestors, but often it does. You can then connect with the others searching the same family members.

Another little known site is Curious Fox. You can narrow down your search to your ancestors county. You can also see old maps of the area, which can be quite helpful.

Take the plunge. Branch out. Connect. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Happy Searching Connecting!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Clackmannanshire Records

If you are looking for records from Clackmannanshire, you can see what is available through their website. At this point, the records are not digitized or available online, but there is a comprehensive listing of the records that are available:

"Within these holdings there are major runs of material such as local authority minutes, letter books, school log books and Valuation and Assessment Rolls. Among the private deposits can be found material relating to various local businesses and voluntary organisations"
~Clacksmannanshire council website

For those living abroad, the library can be contacted by e-mail.

Happy Searching!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Looking for Convict or Criminal Ancestors?

There are a couple of websites if you are looking for convict ancestors who were transported, and we have mentioned one on this blog before. However, if you are looking for criminals who were convicted and hanged, or sent to prison, Black Sheep Ancestors is a good site to try.

There are records for England, Scotland Ireland and Wales, but these are nicely categorized. One of the links will actually take you to a listing of all of the executions that took place in Scotland in either the 19th or 20th century.

Even if you don't have convicts for ancestors, the site is an interesting one to trawl. If nothing else, it shows some very interesting social history.

Happy Searching!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Creating Family Keepsakes With My Flip Pal

Last night, I loaded the Creative Suite software that I purchased with my Flip Pal. It was remarkably simple to load, but what I wasn't prepared for, but pleasantly surprised by, was what all was included. There is the Scrapbook Artist2 software, PagePlus which is an editing/publishing program similar to Publisher or PrintMaster,  PhotoPlus which is a photo editing program, a Slideshow creator (which I did not install, but plan to) and Family Tree Heritage genealogy software. All for only $50.

I decided to get to work with the Scrapbook Artist software. I recently purchased MyMemories and was thrilled with the ease of use of that software. Scrapbook Artist is really quite simple as well. And less complicated in that nothing needs to get downloaded within the program. It comes pre-loaded with a number of digital back grounds, embellishments, letters and frames. The add-ons are easy to load, easy to use and it is easy to change the colour using the colour wheel.

I wasn't as thrilled with the journaling in this program and journaling is a very integral part of preserving memories for me. And many of the add-ons need to be purchased, whereas MyMemories offers TONS of freebies with new things being added weekly.

However, if I hadn't already had MyMemories, I would be quite content with all that Scrapbook Artist has to offer. Here's the final product:

The pages can all be saved as Png files (picture files) which can then be "dropped" into a photobook program and then printed/bound for gift giving. This particular page is of my mum and will be included in a book about her for my children.

Here's to preserving family keepsakes!

Monday 21 November 2011

My New Flip Pal Mobile Scanner Has Arrived!

My early Christmas present to myself is a new Flip Pal mobile Scanner. I first learned about these devices earlier this year and immediately wanted one. But as any mum knows, everyone else comes first. Finally another genealogy friend talked me into spoiling myself for a change, and I took the advice and ordered my Flip Pal. It arrived in the mail today!

I decided right off the hop that if I was going to get the Flip Pal, I was going to do it right the first time and so I purchased the Creative Suite program as well. This is optional. I do a lot of desktop publishing and I make all sorts of family treasure type of gifts like personalized calendars, newsletters, etc so I knew the additional cost was going to be worth while for me. 

The first thing that struck me was how super light-weight the device is. It weighs just over a pound. There is no fuss, no muss, no bother in setting it up. The batteries are pre-loaded. You just need to remove the protective paper that sits between them for shipping. Turn the on switch and you are in business!! No plugs, no wires, no cables. Just flip the switch and it is ready to go.

I recently inherited the job (ok, I offered) of scanning some old photos that were given to the local genealogy society. They are photos of people from here and the thought was that if we displayed them on the blog, we might be able to find the rightful owners of these treasured heirlooms. So, I set to work. In less than 5 minutes, I had scanned 12 photographs, both sides! It is so incredibly simple. Lift the lid, place the photo face down, push the button and seconds later, the photo is scanned. The display screen shows you where the scan is in terms of its progress.

The 2GB SD card holds up to 1250 images. More than the average family historian is going to need space for! Then it is as simple as popping the SD card when  you are finished. The Flip Pal comes with an SD- USB stick (commonly known as a card reader). If you want to save the pics on the SD card, you can. Just replace the card when you are ready to scan more photos. If you want to download them into the computer, place the SD card into the reader and away you go. If you want to re-print, take the SD card to your local photo finishing shop and you are all set.

I love my new toy. And I wasn't paid or compensated in any way for sharing my enthusiasm. I just really love the device and wanted to spread the word about how simple it is to use. Not to mention how valuable it can be for someone who has loads of old photos or documents to scan.

Happy Scanning - and here's to getting through our "to-do" lists!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Dundee Register of Merchants and Traders for 1879

Lots of names in these directories. A definite must-look for anyone with ancestors who were merchants or tradesmen.

Happy searching!

Thursday 17 November 2011

New Website About the English Catholic Nuns

A new website has been launched. This is a work in progress, with plans to have readers contribute information, to have books digitized and fully searchable. However, the current database is worth a look. The search fields include First name, Last name, Name in Religion, Convent and year Professed. The records include all of these fields  as well as age when professed, date clothed, place of birth and date of death if known. There are some notes available as well which provide some wonderful social history and or insight into the Nun. For an example, for an Elizabeth Webster, the notes read:

"Had become unsettled by the journey to England and was told by the Prioress that she would have to repeat her noviceship. She appeared to accept this at first, but after 3 months decided to leave. Had been in the habit for four years"

And for one Beatrix Smith, her obituary reads:

"Sister Fedes Beatrice alias Smith departed this Life after having received the Rights of our holy Mother the Church the 28 of August and year of her age 66 & of Religion [...] & year of our Lord 1694. She was of an innocent conversation much adicted to pennance from her Infancy & had a desir to be religious from eight yeares old. She exceld in the vertues of Charity to the poor & in the mortiffication of her appitit. Doctor Meneyl performed the funerall obsiquis the 29 of August. She lyeth Buryed in the quire on the south side. Requiescat in pace."

Other information includes relationship to other girls in the convent (ie: cousins, sisters), any titles that the family may have possessed (Lord, Lady), a family tree if it is available.

Well worth a look for those with English Catholic ancestors who were Nuns.

Monday 14 November 2011

Preserving Your Family History

Preserve Your Family History

Most genealogy researchers will tell you that they are searching not only to find out about their history but also to keep their family’s history alive for future generations. So, now that we have those research documents, bits of scrap paper, newspaper clippings, photos, e-mails and other assorted bits of “research”, how do we preserve them for future generations? There are a number of options. Here are a few:

1.) Scrapbook - take those precious old photographs and preserve them in an archival, acid free book. Remember to tell the story as you add the photos. If you are 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. Gently pull up on the photo with consistent pressure while sliding the spatula under the photo and work slowly and firmly to ease the photo away from the adhesive of the magnetic album. The spatulas can be expensive, so a “multi-purpose tool” can be ordered from Creative Memories for $10 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, photo-safe ones that will keep them preserved for decades. While embellishments are aesthetically appealing, they are not necessary in a family history album. The history is what is important.

2.) Family History Book - This really isn’t as complicated as it sounds. My first family book was a record of my grandfather’s descendants. Harry fathered 21 children. My grandmother and my mother were fantastic story tellers. Once they passed away, I knew in my heart that I needed to get their stories onto paper. I needed a way to let my children know my granny and my mum. And I needed to give them a way to feel like a sense of belonging to our very large, very open family system. Our family is all encompassing and all embracing. Don’t get me wrong, like all families, we have our moments and our members. But in such a large family there is usually always someone you can connect with. Your family book can be whatever you want it to be - the story of a single ancestor, the story of one branch of your tree, how the family came to emigrate. Any subject you choose. As we all know, it is important to document, and a family book is a great way to do just that.

And while you are at it, don’t forget to document your own history. Provide a personal history lesson for your family. Think of how thrilled you are when you come across an old letter or postcard from a now deceased relative. Why not provide that same feeling for your descendants? When does your memory and awareness of certain events (ie. JFK’s murder, the first man on the moon, the Watergate Scandal, Lady Di's death, 9/11 hurricane Katrina, the Tsunami, the Japan earthquake, Obama being elected) kick in? Where were you when you first learned the news? How did you respond? How did you know this news was bigger than most? Do those events trigger memories of what life was like then? What society was like? What values and principles were important? Think of the inventions you’ve seen in your life time. My granny went from travel by horse to watching rockets being launched. Remember when YOU were the remote for the tv? How you used a wringer washer? Life before microwaves, electric can-openers, a time when home milk or bread deliveries were the norm? Think of a time before space shuttles; when trains or boats were the main form of vacation transportation. Fear not! Document your own history. It will make fascinating reading to those who wish that they could reach back 100 years and touch you, share a coffee and a chat with you. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. It is YOUR story that they are interested in. This is not an English class.

3.) Family Newsletter - if your family is large enough, you may want to consider sending out a newsletter. I promise you that you won’t regret it. Especially if your family is spread out geographically. The newsletter content can be whatever you want it to be. I started our family newsletter in December 2005  -  nearly 2 years after I put together our first family book. When I finished the family book, I wanted a way to record and to share new babies that were added to our tree, a way to announce marriages, a way of acknowledging and honouring those who have passed away. I have also included facts and trivia about the area where the family grew up, Scottish traditions, recipes, new research that I have uncovered about past generations. The newsletter started out being mailed to 20 of my aunts, uncles and cousins. It is now e-mail and snail-mailed to over 80 people. Kids can’t wait to get their own copy in their in-box. And everyone who gets a copy passes it along to someone else. The distribution has expanded in other ways as well. It is no longer just for Harry’s descendants, but for the descendants of his three brothers as well. Others now contribute stories, poems, recollections, old photographs and even funeral cards for our ancestors. They share their pride in their children’s accomplishments. The one thing EVERYone looks for in each edition are the physical similarities that run through our family. I have cousins in Timmins who are the double of cousins in Edinburgh. The two have never met and yet anyone seeing the two of them would know they belong to the same family. These realizations provide a remarkable sense of belonging. I even do a section once in a while where I run two photographs together to show the rest of the family how much of a resemblance there is. The family are thrilled with the resemblances. As my uncle once said, “Joey looks more like Alex than Alex does!” We have dedicated some issues to family occupations and are able to show the family that we are not just coal miners or farmers anymore, but also firemen, teachers, bus drivers, nurses and social workers. The newsletter has been a remarkable journey and one that I am so very glad I undertook. Know your intended audience (mine is always my older aunts and uncles). Be sure to add more than just birthdays and reunion news and you will be amazed at the gratitude you receive.

I recently had the honour of putting a family history book together for a friend. Her uncle was turning 80 and this was to be a special gift for him. His sister is edging towards 80 herself and as an aging grandma, was eager to get her memories into a format that would preserve them for her grandchildren and generations yet to come. Their father was a soldier in both world wars. An amazing story in and of itself. He was wounded in WW1 so was not able to go back into the field in WW2. Instead, he was a trainer of soldiers who were about to be shipped out. The big blessing for his daughter was that with the Family History Book, his memory and his story would not be forgotten when she and her brother died. They could now enjoy the rest of their sunset years knowing that their father’s legacy would be preserved.

From the family book and from amassing hundreds of pictures, I made family calendars for my friend’s mom and uncle. That was a year ago. This year, I was asked to make 5 for the family. There was lots of secrecy as the calendars were requested and put together. At Christmas, they were all opened during a family gathering. The comment I received from my friend really hit home for me. She said, "you know you have given my cousins the greatest gift and that is a sense of family as it was certainly fractured prior and maybe always will be but at least there is a "knowing" now that didn't exist before.....that is a gift." I realized in that moment that this is what my family book, and even more so, my family newsletters have done for my family. These preserved memories had given each and every one of us a sense of belonging. Like it or not. And certainly we each have twigs on the tree that we wish we could prune. Regardless of that, we are connected. Forever. By blood, by relationship, by being connected. Whether we were born a Crawford, married a Crawford, were adopted by a Crawford or were raised by a Crawford, we are all part of the same cloth. A cloth that is unique in design. Our ancestors were warm and welcoming. Others were welcomed into the clan for a number of reasons: close friendships, far fetched kin, neighbours, folk who just needed a place to be. By nature, then, the cloth for our clan of Crawfords is an open weave. Anyone "claimed" by a Crawford IS a Crawford. And they all get their branch on our tree. Others are jealous of our connection. Not that they are necessarily envious of the relationships or even of the individuals, but of the deep and abiding sense of belonging. You can give that same gift to your family.

4.) Blogging - For those who have heard the term, but have no idea the meaning, a blog is basically an online journal. Something written on the web and updated regularly. Blogs can be about absolutely anything and can include photos, videos, links to websites or to other blogs. The new social media craze seems to show that most of us enjoy sharing our thoughts, but letter writing to just one or two people is both tedious and time consuming for those of today’s generation. So social medium such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Blogging has become an easy way to share with everyone at once and to do so in a timely way. Everyone can know everything there is to know in an eye-blink. I have a blog that I often use to update family in Scotland, Australia and the western states about family outings, special events and vacations. I also have a blog where I can update those who are interested in the latest research I have uncovered (most were thrilled with the possibility of a “black widow” in the family tree). If you already use your computer to communicate with other family members, consider blogging. Others can always print the information and save it for future generations.

5.) Family Website - again, this is for the computer savvy researchers. And again, this is a great way to keep the information alive and to share with others. My cousin in Australia is the webmaster for our family website. I visit it often, not only for dates and events, but for pictures, information about family homesteads, old family occupations, stories and so much more. I rarely come away from the website without having learned something new. And again, this is a great way to keep in touch with other family members and to get them to contribute information and pictures as well.

There are a number of ways to preserve your family history for future generations. Try tackling one of them. You will be amazed at how easy it really is and you will feel an incredible sense of accomplishment as well.

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.

On the Slamannan border with New Monklands is the triangular Black Loch. A mile further east of that is the smaller, Little Black Loch. Harry Crawford is seen in this picture standing at the banks of Black Loch.

The Year Was 1893

The year was 1893. Polio had made it’s debut in the Americas. Influenza and typhoid fever were on the rampage in Scotland. Jenner’s Store had hired architect William Hamilton Beattie to restore their Shoppe on Princes’ Street, in Edinburgh, following a fire on 26 November 1892, that had destroyed the original building. Charles Jenner died in October 1893 and bequeathed £8,000 for the restoration of the exterior of the building, specifically asking for the provision of caryatides (feminine figures built into masonry) on the exterior columns. He felt that this would symbolically show that women were the main support of his business.

Although the Scottish Football League was in it’s fourth season, 1893 marked the first time that there were two divisions in the league. Division One consisted of: Celtic, Heart of Midlothian, St Bernard's, Rangers, Dumbarton, St. Mirren, Third Lanark, Dundee, Leith Athletic and Renton. Division Two consisted of: Hibernian, Cowlairs, Clyde, Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Port Glasgow Athletic, Abercorn, Morton and Northern Thistle.

There were 112 mining accidents in Scotland, 60 of them in Lanarkshire. The miners were starting to protest the unsafe conditions in which they worked. 1893 saw the beginning of the miners strikes. The miner’s unrest and dissatisfaction with their working environments, and their call to action, was in fact, the beginning of the miner’s unions. One particular death was in Caldercruix, and made the round of gossipy news. Although mine related, the death was not considered to be a mining accident since the death did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Mines Act. The accident occurred when a local tramp fell down the pit of Caldercruix mine, owned by James Nimmo & Co.

Henry Fowler and his wife Jane (Carrick) were living in Shotts in 1893. Jane’s mother, Jean (Fleming) Carrick was residing with them following the death of her husband and son and following her daughter Rachel’s emigration to America.

At that time, Jane & Henry had 10 children. On January 16, 1893, Jane & Henry’s second daughter, Agnes, gave birth to her second son, Henry Fowler Crawford.

Just two weeks later, on January 29, 1893, Jane and Henry’s son, James Cook Fowler, died at their home on Anderson’s Row in Shotts. James died of Pertussis. The informant for his death (the person who informed the Registrar and who gave the deceased’s information to the Registrar) was James’ brother, Joseph Fowler.

Young James was just 10 years, nine months old when he died. Young James was the first of Henry & Jane’s children to die. He had managed to live to quite a good age before illness overtook him. Given the lack of antibiotics at that time, it is truly amazing that Agnes’ young sons, Thomas and baby Henry did not also succumb to this disease.

Three weeks after the death of young James, on February 19, 1893, Henry & Jane’s grand-daughter, Jane Carrick Calquhoun was born. Baby Jane was the third grandchild for Henry & Jane and their first granddaughter. Her proud mum and dad were Henry & Jane’s eldest daughter, Jane Carrick Fowler and her husband, William Lorimer

In September of 1893, Jane & Henry’s son William contracted TB. He died on 22 December 1893 just as the year was coming to a close. While there is no doubt that these deaths would have dealt a terrible emotional blow to both Jane and Henry as well as to old Jean, there was, in the midst of their grief, cause for celebration with the birth of two grandchildren (great grand-children for old Jean).

As emotionally draining as 1893 was for the Fowlers, the issues that they faced were not uncommon for many families at that time. It is from such tragedies that they gained their strength of character and from the births and marriages that they gained their resilience; their fortitude to carry on. We can not help but be touched by their lives. Their ability to carry on in the face of such adversity is a true testament to the strength of the human spirit.