February 6, 2016

Introducing Penny Allen, Canadian Genealogist

Recently I wrote a blog post called Where (and Why) Are Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

I issued a challenge to Canadian Genealogists to speak up and promote themselves better. As part of my challenge I crowdsourced a list of Canadian Genealogists which you can view at Update on Where Are the Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

Next I invited any Canadian Genealogists on that list to participate in a Guest Biography post here on Olive Tree Genealogy. I'm pleased to introduce you to  Penny Allen, a Canadian genealogist living in the U.K.

I asked Penny some questions about here role as a Canadian Genealogist and here are her responses.

1.      How and when did you become involved in the field of genealogy?

Quite a while ago, I was bitten by the genealogy bug when researching family history meant writing letters, using microfilm and ‘horrors’! – books. My parents are first generation Canadians and I was curious about the stories that I heard about my grandparents.

2.      What is your main genealogical focus?  

I have many interests in genealogy, but most of the time I delve into emigration, land ownership and early settlers to Canada. Because of my work, I enjoy learning about maritime history – the navy and merchant navy, WRENs and anything similar. I have yet to pursue my Scandinavian roots and am keen to start uncovering that branch of the tree.

3.       What are your website(s) and blogs? 

I have had numerous over the years, but my blog, ukcdngenealogy.blogspot.com is the most current.

4.      Do you have a Social Media presence?  

This information is available via my blog. 

5.      Do you believe a Social Media presence is important? 

Although I am aware of and support social media use in genealogical circles, I don’t embrace it fully, as I have had some negative personal experiences. However, I recognize its importance as a quick way to stay in touch with the genealogical community. It is valuable in its methodology, but I would stress that people do take care when using and providing information online. 

6.      Are you a member of any genealogical societies or organizations? 

At the moment, I am a member of the Alberta Family History Society and the Society of Genealogists (London).  Over the years I have been a member of various family history societies and I like to rotate my financial support amongst them as I feel that their work is very important. I regularly recommend their services to anyone who asks me for help.

7.      What does genealogy mean to you? Why do you believe it is important?

There is a quote (loosely interpreted) that basically says ‘You need to understand from where you came in order to know where you’re going.’ Family connectedness and knowing your roots does give a sense of belonging and purpose.

8.      What do you believe is the most exciting development in genealogy today?

There is no question that the use of DNA research in genealogy is one of the most popular ways of connecting with long lost family. It helps to pinpoint an area where a family originated and can put you in touch with other family members as well as researchers in the area. 

9.      Do you have a prediction or hope for the field of genealogy in the future?

Digitization of archival records seems to be expected as the norm nowadays and will be needed long into the future. However, many do not realize that there is a long process of implementation in most organizations, and these decisions can sometimes take years to manage. Not every resource is online and researchers will still need to make a physical visit to an archive, so my hope is that people will continue to support the valuable work of archives. A number of important archives in London have been impacted by researchers seemingly doing a large percent of their research online as demonstrated by the services that were recently cut at the Imperial War Museum. 

10.   Please feel free to add anything you would like to say that hasn’t been addressed by the questions above. 

I am concerned by the numerous cuts to local studies services in the UK which is often times connected to council library (public libraries run by local authorities) cuts. Often the council is trimming library services in general, and the local studies services are affected in the ‘downsizing’. This is purely an administrative action, saving costs, but in turn, cutting jobs means losing staff whose local knowledge has been built up over the years. The result is that many libraries are staffed by volunteers, and when faced with genealogical questions aren’t able to help customers (this has happened to me personally). It is disappointing that this knowledge base will be lost and more advocacies from users are necessary. My hope is the councils running libraries will realize how much this type of service is needed (as a result of positive action taken by the users) at local libraries! 

February 5, 2016

Woman of Courage Hannah Blanden

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

Bastardy Examination 1791
When my 4th great-grandmother Hannah Blanden was 8 years old, her parents were ordered out of their home in from Bury, St. Edmunds  Suffolk and sent to Wenhaston Suffolk.  The year was 1778 and a Removal Order had been served on Thomas Blandon, Drummer in the Western Battalion Militia and his wife Mary and their children Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah, Thomas and Susannah. The youngest child was only one year old.

Removal orders meant that a family had become a financial burden on the parish they lived in, and could, by law, be ordered back to the parish the head of house had been born in. This was an incredible hardship on an already impoverished family, because often the birth parish was one the individual had never lived in for any length of time.

At the age of 20 Hannah had an illegitimate child and underwent a Bastardy Examination held by her parish in 1791.

Because parishes did not want to be responsible for the care of an illegitimate child, a pregnant woman or one who had just given birth, would be questioned by a midwife or other authority and the name of the child's father recorded. The father would then be ordered to provide financial support, either as a lump sum payment to the parish for the child until he/she reached the age of majority, or as a monthly sum (also payable to the parish for the child's welfare). In many cases the mother too would be ordered to make payments. This ensured that the child did not become a burden on the parish.

Bastardy Examination of Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Under Oath Hannah states that on Thursday 14 October 1790 she gave birth to female bastard child at Ephraim Lockwood’s house in Holton Parish, Blything Hundred, Suffolk Co. James King was the father.

Bastardy Order James King & Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Justices of Peace Eloazar Davy and Charles Purvis in Parish of Holton, Hundred of Blything, County of Sufoolk hear the case brought by Robert Smith, Guardian of the Poor in Blything. James to pay 1 shilling per week to John Robinson of Southwald or to Treasurer of the Poor, for maintenance of child as long as living in the parish. Hannah to pay 6 pence weekly. 

At some point after the birth of their daughter James and Hannah may have married because they had at least two sons - Lewis in 1793 and Thomas in 1796. I have not found a marriage record for them so it is possible they never formalized their union. 
What a brave woman I am descended from! To go from poverty, to be uprooted from friends and her home, be a single mom - that's a woman of courage to come through it all.

February 4, 2016

Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930

A new collection launched on Ancestry will be of interest to those with ancestors in Alberta Canada.  

Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930  is a valuable land record collection that includes the names of approximately 200,000 people who applied for homesteads in Alberta under the Dominion Lands Act - an 1872 law aimed to encourage the settlement of the Canadian Prairies

Compiled during a time where the population was expanding to Western Canada, this collection is a valuable resource for those hoping to learn more about their ancestors who settled in The Princess Province.

Here’s a bit more insight on the collection:

·         In order to encourage migration to the west, settlers were offered the chance to apply for a 160-acre homestead in areas of their choice in Alberta.
·         After paying a $10 filing fee and agreeing to build up their homestead to include items such as a house and barn, fencing, breaking and cropping a portion of the land, the homesteader could apply for the title to the land.  

The Collection:
·         The collection contains 1,622,218 images and 206,457 records showing basic biographical information such applicants’ name, age, place of birth, former place of residence, date of entry on the land and marital status. 

Image: Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930 for Amy Ellen Brown (Smith)

February 3, 2016

Woman of Courage Martha Finch

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

My husband's 3rd great grandmother Martha Finch had one heck of a life. By the age of 20 she was in the Race Hill Workhouse in Sussex England. The Workhouse was where debtors were sent if they could not pay their bills. Soon Martha found herself pregnant and her daughter Esther was born. Little Esther was lucky. Her maternal grandparents took her in rather than see her live in the Workhouse. But Martha stayed and within four years she had another child born in the Workhouse - a son John. Little John also went to live with Martha's parents. 

Baby Edith, my husband's 2nd great grandmother, was born in the Workhouse in 1870. Martha gave no father's name on little Edith's birth registration. Sadly Edith, not as lucky as her two older sibllngs. She grew up in the Workhouse and was still there 20 years later.

Martha was finally able to leave the Workhouse by 1901 when she managed to obtain a job working as the cook in a private household. She was a woman of courage who suffered due to circumstances of her surroundings and the time period in which she grew up. 

Who do you have as a Woman of Courage?

February 2, 2016

Major News! FamilyTreeMaker is back!

This just in from Ancestry.com

New Family Tree Maker Options

By: Kendall Hulet

Since our Family Tree Maker announcement last December, we have continued to actively explore ways to develop and support Family Tree Maker and ensure you have choices to preserve your work in ways that matter to you.

Today, I am pleased to announce two options for desktop software that will work with Ancestry.

Software MacKiev

Software MacKiev, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, is acquiring the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions. Software MacKiev has been the developer of Family Tree Maker for Mac for more than six years and is thrilled at the opportunity to publish future versions of Family Tree Maker for Mac and Windows.

This new agreement means you will receive software updates and new versions from Software MacKiev, and have the ability to purchase new versions of Family Tree Maker from Software MacKiev as they are released.   You will have continued access to Ancestry Hints, Ancestry searches, and be able to save your tree on Ancestry with Family Tree Maker moving forward.


We have made an agreement with RootsMagic, a leading genealogy desktop software program publisher, to connect Ancestry with the RootsMagic software by the end of 2016. With this new relationship, RootsMagic can serve as your desktop family tree software, while having access to Ancestry hints, Ancestry searches, and the ability to save your tree on Ancestry.

We have heard your concerns and are working to provide the solutions you requested. These new agreements will make it possible to preserve your work on Ancestry and Family Tree Maker and enable future features and benefits to help you discover your family history. 

Be assured that Ancestry, in cooperation with Software MacKiev and RootsMagic, will continue to support you as you discover your family history.

We ask for your patience as we work diligently through all the details to make these solutions available. Be sure to check back on our blog as we share more information about Family Tree Maker in the next few months.

For more information on Software MacKiev and RootsMagic, click below:

●      Software MacKiev:   http://www.mackiev.com/

●      RootsMagic:   http://www.rootsmagic.com/

Five Days of Family Photo Stories: Ribbons and Bows

Recently Gail Dever wrote about a very cool idea on her blog. Her post is called Writing about your life — and your ancestors’ lives — in five photos

She inspired me to follow suit in a blog meme called Five Days of Family Photo Stories.

Just choose 5 photos that you love from your collection of shoeboxes and albums. Feature one each day on your blog or in your personal journal. Tell the story of the photo - where was it taken, who is in it, who took it, what year was it taken, what emotion does it invoke when you look at it, etc. 

This photo was taken in a studio in Guelph Ontario in 1923. Just look at the bows in my mother and aunt's hair! How on earth did my Grandmother find the time to make them look so sweet? And the ringlets are amazing. I wonder if they had electric curling irons back then or did Grandma have to heat the irons on the stovetop?

I wonder if Grandpa Fuller helped out or did he make himself scarce while Grandma was getting her three daughters ready for this photo? Grandma could get pretty stressed out so I suspect she was a tad irritable during the process. No doubt my mother had strenuous objections to being all dolled up and having her hair put in curls! Mother is the middle daughter sitting down and she's 7 years old in this picture.

Although photographers often had standing subjects pose with their hands on the person seated in front, I'm thinking that older sister Lily's hands on my mom's shoulders were to make sure my mother stayed in her seat!  

Do you think Grandpa took them all out for ice cream afterwards? I hope so but knowing Grandma I doubt it. No doubt she would not want their dresses to get messy. Maybe they got to go home and change. I imagine Grandma had a headache and would want to lie down so it's very possible Grandpa took Lily and my mom out for a treat. I never knew him but according to his daughters he was pretty laid back and easy-going. 

Do your ancestors have a story to tell? Maybe it's time to give them a voice through a photo.

February 1, 2016

WooHoo! Olive Tree Genealogy is 20 Years Old!!!

Twenty years ago my life changed. I started Olive Tree Genealogy website at a time when the internet was just in its baby stages. There were no webpage editors, no blogs, and no one I could ask for help. 

I learned to code my webpages manually, using trial and error. Most websites were battleship gray with no bells and whistles. I was pretty excited and proud of myself when I figured out how to make mine pink-peach! 

The winter of 1995 was actually the debut of the Olive Tree Genealogy website but it was only a few pages. 

It's was located at http://www.bconnex.net/~lschulze/

The nice graphics I created don't display and I don't have them anymore but you get the idea. 

February 1996 saw Olive Tree Genealogy move to Rootsweb.com as the full-fledged OTE site. Here's what Olive Tree Genealogy website looked like in 1997
In 1998, considering itself all grown up, Olive Tree Genealogy took its own domain name and moved to its current home. 

My website was among the first to bring primary sources to the Internet with its passenger lists of ships from the Netherlands to New York in the 17th Century. 

What started as a project to take my mind off my accident and losing my husband to cancer, became a career! 

Olive Tree Genealogy grew from a dozen pages to over 2500 pages, and over the years have created in total 10 websites and 10 blogs. If interested you can read the full Biography of Lorine, the creator of Olive Tree Genealogy

See the list of my 10 websites and 9 blogs

January 31, 2016

Honouring WW1 Nursing Sister Edith Mary Harston

Edith Mary Harston was born in Warwickshire England June 5, 1886. On her CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) Attestation Paper she provides her mother's name as Mrs. Emily E. Harston of Stafford England.

Edith enlisted on March 9, 1915 in London England at the age of 29. She was a tall woman, 5'10" with blue eyes and brown hair. It is obvious how much taller she was than the other Nursing Sisters in this photo at left. Edith is in the middle.

There is no PDF file available yet for Edith but Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is digitizing and publishing these so eventually her file will be available to view. Below is the front of her 2-page Attestation Paper.


Hampstead Hall
Bafford House

January 30, 2016

Solving a Genealogy Puzzle Part 4: Finding Rachel

Please read Solving a Genealogy Puzzle: Finding Rachel Parts 1, 2 and 3 before continuing with this last article on my quest to find Rachel.

I hope I've put together a compelling case for the parents of Rachel Ann Van Slyke being James H. Van Slyke of Pennsylvania and Sarah Ann McCready.  As well I suggest that James Franklin Van Slyke and William M. Van Slyke were Rachel's brothers.

What evidence have I found to support my theory?


Year William Rachel James
1880 Father blank blank PA
1880 Mother blank blank PA
1900 Father PA unknown PA
1900 Mother OH MO MO
1910 Father no census unknown PA
1910 Mother no census unknown blank
1920 Father no census USA PA
1920 Mother no census OH MO
1930 Father no census PA PA
1930 Mother no census MO USA
Realizing that we do not know who provided information to the census taker, we can still see that these individuals fairly consistently show their father's birth place as Pennsylvania. The mother's varies from Missouri to Ohio.


William M. Van Slyke Rachel Ann Bridges James Franklin Van Slyke
* Mary Ann (his mother's middle name was Ann)
* Rachel E. (his sister's name)
* Lola A.
* James (his father's and brother's name)
* David 
* Richard
* James (her father's and brother's name)
* Timothy
* Almond Robert
* Harley Clyde
* Willie D. (her brother's name)
* Wesley?  
* Sarah M. (his mother's name)
* Maud
* Bessie
* James (his father's name)
* John D.
* William E. (his brother's name)
* Anna
* Ruth May
* Thomas
* Ruby  

Realizing that there may be other children born to these individuals, we can still see that the name James is consistently used, possibly in honour of their father, and the names Sarah or Ann used, possibly after their mother. As well, James death certificate provides his mother's name as Ann McCready.

Year William Rachel James
1850 possibly Bates Co unknown, possibly not born yet not born
1860 Prairie, Chariton Jackson, Jasper not found
1870 possibly Benton Co Grand River, Henry Grand River,Henry
1880 Windsor, Henry Windsor, Henry Tebo, Henry
1900 Oklahoma but in 1890 was in Bates Co MO Windsor, Henry Jefferson, Johnson
1910 dead Windsor, Henry Green Ridge, Pettis
1920 dead Windsor, Henry Windsor, Henry
1930 dead Windsor, Henry El Dorado, Cedar but 1937 died in Bates Co


 I  found the following family story about James Frank Van Slyke born Missouri:
This story comes from my dad, Louis Van Slyke.  He said his grandfather, James Frank Van Slyke, was about 8 years old one winter during the War of Northern Aggression.  He lived with his mother, his father had run off.  Some union soldiers were camped near their farm, it was cold.  James' mother was a Union sympathizer and baked biscuits for the union officers.  She sent Frank to the Union camp with the biscuits.  James didn't have an overcoat, so he was in his shirtsleeves in the cold.  One of the officers asked him, "Where's your coat, boy?"  James said he didn't have a coat.  The union officer took off his greatcoat and gave it to the boy.  James thought it was the best coat in the world.  He could walk through the snow-covered woods and didn't feel the cold at all.  He kept that coat until it just wore out. Later, James lived with anyone that would let him go to school.  He would do chores as required and go to school.