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.

Sunday 13 November 2011


I have a head full of useless information. Fascinating facts and bits of trivia. I've never been able to market it -especially since the board game was invented eons ago. I was recently in our OGS branch and saw a book that appealed to that part of my brain that hoards bits of trivia.

It is a book put together by Moorshead publications. They are the publishers of Family Chronicle Magazine, Internet Genealogy and History Magazine. This book contains bits of trivia about how some of our everyday items came to be. It is an easy read and really for someone like me, a fascinating read.

One story in particular tickled my fancy. The story of how teabags were invented. According to the authors, Thomas Sullivan of NYC, a tea merchant, decided to hand out bags of tea as a promo. Similar to Kraft handing out samples of powdered cheese and a bag of macaroni as an after thought and it becoming the staple in most kids diets, now known of course as Kraft Dinner.

Sullivan packaged a couple of spoonfuls of loose-leaf tea in hand sewn silk bags. People didn't bother to unpackage the tea, as Sullivan had anticipated they would. Instead, they threw the tea, silk bag and all, into the hot teapot and added their boiling water. The gauze acted as an infuser and the required seven minutes later the perfect cup of tea awaited.
Restaurant owners particularly liked the ease of use of the new teabag.
Seeing an opportunity for marketing a new product, Sullivan set about to better the product by changing the bag and making it a better infuser, eventually coming up with gauze. This has transcribed into what is now a paper bag.

Tetley produced the first square bag in 1953 and introduced it in Britain. Initially, tea drinkers in  Britain were wary of this new product and it took some time to catch on.

By the early 1960s, my mother and two of her sisters were settled in Southern Ontario. When they got paid, they made up "care packages" and sent them home, just as they had done when living away from home in Scotland. In one such parcel, my mum sent my Granny a box of teabags. She wrote back and thanked my mum for the parcel with the proviso, "next time, don't bother with those stupid little bags of tea. It took me forever to cut them open to take the tea out" Apparently teabags hadn't caught on for a while in the outlying centres of Scotland!

The book is available for sale through the Brant Branch OGS bookstore for $5.00

Friday 4 November 2011

More on the British Nursing Records

Yesterday's post was about the British Nursing Records being released on Findmypast. Today the news is that they are also available for FREE on the National Archives Website. And being Scottish, free is my favourite price!

Happy searching!

Creating Memories - Random Acts of Kindness

Today is Random Act of Kindness Day. At a certain point in your life you become aware that creating memories is really what "it" is all about. After all, once we leave for our trip to the great beyond, all that is left for our loved ones (aka descendants) are the memories that we have created with them. These are the stories we hope will be shared with future generations. The traditions we hope will be passed along as "I remember when Grandma and I..."

Today is Random Act of Kindness Day. I grew up with the very firm belief that "There but for the Grace of God Go I" Life changes in an eyeblink. And not always for the better. If not for God's grace, we could be in the circumstances of those we share this world with. Those we hopefully don't feel pity for, but rather, those we want to assist in finding life a better place to be. I believe we are born to be our brother's keeper to the best extent that we can. I have tried to instill in my children the understanding that others are no different from us. Only their circumstances are different. That's why I have taught them the importance of service. And have been richly rewarded this past month with both of them being recognized for their caring and commitment to others through their volunteering.

Today is Random Act of Kindness Day. Not one to miss the opportunity to grasp a teachable moment (my cousin always thought I would have been great at home schooling, but honestly, when would I ever get a break if they were home ALL DAY???), I rose early to bake a batch of shortbread. Warmly wrapped and smelling heavenly, we gathered our treats and headed off to say thank you to some of the service providers in our community. The paramedics, the police and the firefighters.

The service providers were genuinely thrilled to have been thought of. We had a great laugh en route to the three stations as we created very special memories together. The kids quicky decided I should be the spokesperson and they would be the gift bearers. No one in their schools was aware it was a special day. My day went to hell in a handbasket later on, but that was completely irrelevant. Years from now, our magic morning will be talked about around the dinner table by my children and their children and.....well, you get the idea. And memories will have been created and left behind for those who will crave clinging to them.

Shale Mines of West Lothian

Shale Mining was once a very busy industry, employing thousands of men and women in Scotland. Although few records still survive, the Almond Valley Heritage Trust is working to preserve those that did. They are working to digitize and make available salary records, tenancy records, employee cards, apprenticeship records, accident records and other materials. These are slowly being added to their website. The website also includes maps of the shale villages in West Lothian as well as photographs of the various miners houses.

The Almond Valley Heritage Trust have digitized a number of books on Shale Mining and made these available on their website along with a list of the various jobs within the shale mining industry. This is definitely worth a look for those with shale miners in their family tree.

Here’s the link:

Happy Searching!

Thursday 3 November 2011

Army Nursing Records

Newly released from Find My Past are the Army Nursing Records. For Scotland, these include the records of over 1500 women from Scottish Women’s Hospital who were stationed in Europe (primarily France, Corsica or Serbia) during WW1.

Other records are the Army Nursing Service, the Royal Hospital Chelsea Nurses records, WW11 Military Nurses records (those serving with either Queen Alexandra’s Reserve or Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service in France)

If you do not have a full subscription to Find My Past, the cost to view the records is 10 credits.

Happy Searching!