November 28, 2014

Book Review: The Tiny Portrait

The Tiny Portrait by Heidi Carla is a wonderful children's book about a brother and sister who find a family treasure in their attic. Tess finds a cased portrait of a young woman with her dog, labelled "Lottie & Pearl" When the portrait begins to fade, Tess and her brother Toby decide they need to find out who Lottie was. Their first clue is the year "1890" on the photograph and then Tess finds Lottie's diary.

Then Tess begins to see Lottie everywhere she goes - a shadowy figure who seems to lead the children to places they need to go to find the answers. The children embark on a journey of discovery - not only finding out who Lottie was but discovering that sometimes the greatest treasure of all is the memories the object invokes. 

Beautifully illustrated with sepia toned photographs done by the author's sister Karla Cinquanta, this book is an enchanting venture into the world of genealogy and early photography. 

My 9 year old grandson looked through The Tiny Portrait and proclaimed it "very interesting" He liked that it was about (in his words) "Family trees" and he loved the photographs. He spent quite a bit of time poring over the illustrations and when I asked him what the appeal was, his answer was "I like the details"

This book is a delightfully creative way for genealogists to introduce children or grandchildren to the world of genealogy. The Tiny Portrait is available on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for review purposes 

November 27, 2014

American Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the United States who are celebrating this holiday today.

I often wonder which of my American ancestors celebrated this special day with family.

My last ancestor from USA (Levi Peer) left that country in 1801. Would he have celebrated with family? I don't know!

Last night we took our grandsons out for a "Festive Holiday Meal" here in Ontario Canada. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in November. Ours is in October but one of our chain restaurants is offering Christmas (yes, Christmas!) meals now so that is what we had. I told the boys we were celebrating American Thanksgiving one day early. 

Enjoy your special day!

November 26, 2014

Finding an Ancestor in Almshouse Records

Almshouse records are often overlooked in Genealogy Research but they can provide lots of great information on an ancestor. People were sent to almshouses for being poor, for not having a steady job or for other reasons.

Finding an Ancestor in Almshouse Records
Erie County New York Almshoue
Olive Tree Genealogy has several sets of Almshouse records online at Almshouses & Poorhouses.  Below are a few of them

* New York Almshouse Records 1782-1813. Records contain name of ancestor, date admitted, age, where from or born, complaint [illness], discharged, died, remarks. Start with New York Almshouse 1782-1813 Surnames "A"

* Almshouse Records New York 1819-1840 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]

* It's not an Almshouse & Poorhouse but I didn't know where else to put this incredible database - a List of those who died while in Staten Island Quarantine May 1849 - Dec. 1850 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]

* Almshouse Records New York City 1855-1858 [An Olive Tree Genealogy free database]

Looking for British ancestors in America? Try Child Apprentices (Orphans & Impoverished Children) in America from Christ's Hospital, London 1617-1778: Child Apprentice Surnames [B][C][D][E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [R][S] [T][U] [V] [W] [Y] [Z]

November 25, 2014

Lost & Found: Looking for Kenneth Dean Ostrander or Descendants

Jane T. asked for help finding family to return a 1919 postcard and photo she recently purchased in an antique store. Here is her email

I found this photo post card in a store in Stirling, ON today. Written on the back is "Kenneth Dean Ostrander, age 4 mos, 1919 Jan. To Myrtle Hubbs from Vera" Would be great to reunite it with a family member.

Kenneth Dean Ostrander, age 4 mos, 1919 Jan. To Myrtle Hubbs from Vera"
Kenneth Dean Ostrander,
age 4 mos, 1919 Jan.
To Myrtle Hubbs from Vera
Lorine's Note:

The 1921 census (free on shows a Kenneth Ostrander age 2 in Hallowell Township, Prince Edward District, son of Harold and Vera Ostrander. He has a brother Donald 8 months old.

There are also dozens of records in the 1940s and 1950s for a Dean Kenneth Ostrander born ca 1919 flying for KLM Airlines as a 2nd Officer.

A 2012 obituary for his brother Donald Ostrander reveals that Kenneth Dean pre-deceased him.

Can any of my wonderful readers help find Kenneth Dean Ostrander's family? There are lots of nieces and nephews names in this obituary.

Please leave your findings as a comment on this blog post. Let's get this lovely postcard and photo home before Christmas!

November 24, 2014

Identifying Photographs Part 2

The following article was originally written by Lorine McGinnis Schulze and published on Olive Tree Genealogy at

It may not be reproduced in any way without my written consent.

Tintypes (circa 1855)

The Ferrotype process (tintypes) was introduced in the United States in 1855. It substituted an iron plate for glass and was even cheaper than the ambrotype. Because tintypes were placed in albums along with CDVs, they were often trimmed at the sides and corners. Tintypes were produced in various sizes
  • Full plate 6 1/2" x 8 1/2"
  • Half plate 4 1/2" x 51/2"
  • 1/4 plate 3 1/8" x 4 1/8"
  • 1/6 plate 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"
  • 1/9 plate 2" x 2 ½"
  • Gem approximately 1/2" x 1" 
Example of Gem tintype in Oval Matte ca 1860sGem tintype ca 1860s. A Gem tintype could be 3/4" to 1" wide. Carte de visite sized card mounts (2½"x4") enclosed the gem and the finished item was known as a carte de visite tintype or ferrotype
photo-tintype 1.5x2.5 Civil War Soldier9th plate ( 2 x 2.5) tintype in matte. Civil War Soldier
tintype 2.5x46th plate (2.5 x 3.5) tintype.

Next up I will talk about  Cartes de Visite and Cabinet Cards. Also see my YouTube Video Five Types of Early 19th Century Photographs 

November 23, 2014

Help Send a WW1 Soldier's Cap Badge Back to Family

Michael L. wrote to me about a cap badge he found many years ago. Here is Mike's story:

I am looking for descendants of a John Orr who served in WW1 and lived in Oshawa in 1926. I have a hat badge that I recently traced to him and would give it to a descendant of his. I found it in my mothers’ garden around 1943.It is from the Canadian Highlanders Regiment. A few years ago I was curious and looked up who had lived in the house before my parents moved in. John Orr was living there in 1926. Last year I found a site with Attestation papers. I found John Orrs’ papers and he was in the Canadian Highlanders. If you could find a relative that would be great to give it to them.

Help Send a WW1 Soldier's Cap Badge Back to Family
The cap badge reads 

A search of the online CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) database brings up Captain John Orr born 27 August 1890 in Wishaw, Scotland, enlisting on 23 September 1914. His Regimental Number is 24908
His mother Helen is given as his next-of-kin and he was single. 
I did some research and found the family in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census for Wishaw, Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire Scotland. His father was Andrew, his mother Helen and John had many older siblings.
John Orr Attestation Paper front
I was able to put together a family grouping of:
Father: Andrew Orr born ca 1849 Liberton Lanarkshire
Mother: Helen born ca 1851 Stonehouse Lanarkshire
  • Marion b ca 1875
  • Adam b ca 1877
  • James b ca 1879
  • Elizabeth b ca 1881
  • Janet b ca 1884
  • Mary b ca 1886
  • Andrew Jr. b ca 1889
  • John b. ca 1891 
I have not done any more research to find John Orr after his enlistment in the CEF in 1914 but he might appear in the 1921 Canadian census and on a ships passenger list arriving in Canada between 1901 and 1914. 

If any of my readers want to help find descendants so the cap badge could be returned to family, please leave responses as a comment on this blog. If you have information on living descendants it will not be published online but I will pass it on to Mike L.  

What a terrific thing if we can send this cap badge to family!

November 22, 2014

Photoduplication Services To be Discontinued at FamilySearch

Photoduplication Services To be Discontinued at FamilySearch
Genealogists will be disappointed to learn that  Photoduplication Services provided by FamilySearch are being discontinued as of December 5, 2014. As of this date, existing orders will be completed, but new orders will not be accepted. 

This would be the time for someone living in the Salt Lake City area and looking to make some extra money to step in and offer to retrieve documents for a reasonable fee. I know I'd use their services. 

I realize films can be ordered in to a nearby Family History Center and that's great if you live near one or are physically able to get out to one. I am one of those who can't access one.

Hopefully the termination of this service won't be too much of a negative impact on researchers but I for one will be sorry to see it go.

November 21, 2014

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Album 31 R

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One.  

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain. 

The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission. 

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page. 

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos" in the vertical menu bar on the right side of your screen. You can also click on that phrase at the bottom of this post.

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Album 31 R
X-Ray Room