Friday, January 12, 2018

Janet (Aspinall) Jackson

For week two of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, the prompt is "Favourite Photo". I love finding photographs of my ancestors. So often it's difficult to find more than bare bones facts about my ancestors, as found in vital records, censuses, and the like. Having a photo of them really brings them to life! One that I'm especially fond of is this one of my great grandmother, Janet (Aspinall) Jackson.

Janet was born in 1894 in Southowram, which is just outside of Halifax, West Yorkshire. She was the third of four children of Jonas Aspinall and Sarah Hannah Fretwell.

She immigrated to Manitoba, Canada, in 1920, and in 1922 she married my great grandfather, Herbert Jackson. He had lost his first wife in 1921 and been left with a 3-year-old and a newborn baby, and Janet had moved in to help take care of them.

Janet gave birth to her first child, Charles, in 1925, but he only lived to be one year old. A few years later they had Leonard, my grandfather.

Janet died in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1968. She was 73 years old. She is buried in Boyd Cemetery, in Minto, along with Herbert, his first wife Emmeline, and baby Charles.

Revisiting my research on Janet Aspinall this week has filled in a few gaps, and I improved her biography on WikiTree a bit, but I still want to know more details about her! This has definitely motivated me to ask my grandpa for some stories!

Tune in next week for week three of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, when the prompt is "Longevity"! I'll be writing about the longest-lived of all my great grandparents.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Alphonse Richard

Welcome to my first 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks post! I had originally intended to start by writing about each of my great grandparents in a specific order. However, now that I've learned that this challenge is officially happening and there are weekly prompts we're supposed to use to pick an ancestor, I've decided to be a little more flexible. I'll still be doing one generation completely before moving on to the next, but I'll determine the order within that generation based on the prompts.

For week 1, the prompt is "Start". So, I chose Alphonse Richard, because when I started my family tree in high school, it was the Richard line that led me down the rabbit hole, resulting in a lifelong genealogy addiction.

Seriously, how cool is this picture?!
Alphonse Richard was born in Dakota Territory in 1889, the son of Albert Richard and Arthemise Ducharme. In 1899 the family moved north to St. Fran├žois Xavier, Manitoba.

In 1910, Alphonse married Bertha Daigneault, daughter of Narcisse Daigneault and Domitilde Perras. They had 7 children, including my paternal grandmother, Clemence Richard.

Alphonse died in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, in 1960, and is buried in Green Acres Memorial Gardens just outside the city.

For more details about Alphonse's life, plus all my sources, take a look at his WikiTree profile. I keep that up-to-date with all my research.

Taking another look at Alphonse's life has been a great start to the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. I thought of him as someone that I was "done" researching, as much as that's ever true. I knew his parents, his siblings, his wife, all his children, and had lots of sources for him. But when I looked at his WikiTree profile, I hadn't edited it in 3 and a half years! In just a few days of focusing my efforts on him, I got more photos of him from my aunt who has been digitizing her photo collection, found his obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press archive, took a look at all his census records and found a few new details in them, and totally revamped his profile, writing a nice bio and improving my source citations.

Tune in next week for week 2 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, with the prompt of "Favourite Photo"!

Friday, December 22, 2017

2018 Plan: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For years I've used this blog for no specific purpose, with the idea that I occasionally write posts about my research to help me sort out my thoughts. That's exactly how I used this blog in 2011 and 2012, and I found it really helpful. But then it slowed down for a few years, and somehow I have gone two full years without writing anything here at all! These have also been slower years for me in terms of actually working on my genealogy, as other aspects of my life have taken over. I went back to school from 2013 to 2016, for instance.

Well, I'm still super busy, but I have at least a bit of time for my family tree! So I've decided to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks in 2018. I know at one point this was a popular challenge with genealogy bloggers, but I don't know if anyone is still doing it. If you are, let me know! I'd love to have other blogs to follow on this journey.

So, each week of 2018, I will be focusing on one of my direct ancestors. I will do as much research on that person as time permits, attempting to fill in all their basic data and immediate family members, and perhaps even adding a bit of life to their stories. I'll write a blog post about that ancestor, improve their WikiTree profile, and perhaps also improve their profiles on some other sites I use like FamilySearch.

Since many of my ancestors end up neglected by my random, go-where-the-wind-takes-me approach to genealogy, I'll be methodically working my way through my direct ancestors in this endeavour. I'll start with my 8 great grandparents, followed by my 16 great great grandparents, and then 28 of my great great great grandparents, going left-to-right (or top-to-bottom) on my family tree, which will bring me up to the end of the year.

Enjoy the holidays, everybody, and then I hope you'll check out my first 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks post in the first week of January, when I research my great grandfather, Joseph Carmel Lavoie.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over: Week 1

The Genealogy Do-Over has begun! Week 1's topics are as follows:
  1. Set aside previous research.
  2. Prepare to research.
  3. Establish base practices and guidelines.

Set Aside Previous Research

This is the part of the do-over that doesn't really fit with my practice of only using WikiTree as a genealogy database. I don't really want to enter everything again on a desktop program, since I don't like the desktop programs anyway.

So, my version of this will be that as I progress through the do-over I will go over every WikiTree profile in my tree and every source connected to those people with a fresh perspective. I will take nothing for granted.

Prepare to Research

My research up until now has been chaotic at best. Productive, perhaps, but probably not as productive as it would have been if I'd ever had a plan. Or a research log so I don't search the same things again and again.

I've decided to give Evernote a try. It seems like it could be useful to someone like me, who doesn't have a desktop genealogy program. I already use it to clip recipes from the web, so I'm familiar with the basics, though I haven't used it extensively. This week I'll be setting up a few notebooks for genealogy. One notebook will be for research plans and logs. This is what I desperately need to improve, so it's my focus. I haven't decided yet what else to put in Evernote.

In addition, as I've done a little bit in the past, I'll be using Remember the Milk for specific to do lists. For example, "Find So and So's parents." might be on a to do list in Evernote that keeps track of research I want to get back to. But the specific item "Look up So and So's obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press archives." would go in Remember the Milk and be tagged with location:library. Then, when I'm at the library, I can see all the to do items that can be done there. Maybe Evernote could do this too, but I already use Remember the Milk for blogging and housework to do items, so for now I'm sticking with what I'm used to.

Establish Base Practices and Guidelines

This is where I actually change how I research. The plan is to sit down and work on a specific person or event. I will get all the information I can get from the sources I'm looking at. When the exciting leads pop up that would normally have me off in some random direction, I will put it in my research to do list so I remember to come back to it, and then continue what I was doing.

I can't promise I'll be perfect at this, since sometimes inspiration strikes and I just gotta go where the wind takes me, but I'm hoping that this strategy will do a lot to give my research a sense of direction, and help me actually finish tasks instead of just starting all of them.

As a sidenote, I'm loving the community aspect of this challenge! Watching the Facebook group over the past few days has been a great experience. I'm looking forward to learning a lot over the next few months!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Genealogy Do-Over

Basically my research plan.
Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has come up with a challenge of sorts, which is exactly what I need: a Genealogy Do-Over. The idea is to start over with your genealogy research, and do it right this time, rather than continuing to build off of old, bad research.

Because of the way I do genealogy, my Genealogy Do-Over is going to look a little different from most people's, I think. I use WikiTree as my primary (read: only) genealogy software. So obviously I can't just wipe the slate and begin again, since my research is integrated with that of countless other people. I may, however, start using a desktop program just to track my progress in this endeavour. (Alternatively, I could just keep track in a spreadsheet of the WikiTree IDs I've covered so far.)

My reason for wanting to do this is primarily source citations. I'm confident in my facts. Like many genealogists, I went through a phase of thinking I could trust everything in an online tree. But after learning that lesson, I joined WikiTree and started my tree for scratch there, so in a way I've already done one of these do-overs. In the three years since, I'm confident that all my information has come from decent quality sources, such as vital records, censuses, tombstones, obituaries, etc. None of it was blindly taken from another tree. But, often I look at my research and I can't tell where I got a fact from. I'm sure I got it somewhere good, but where is a mystery.

Basically, I'm rushed. I find a census record, add a whole bunch of information from it, use it to add a bunch of family members, and then just throw the link to the census in the sources section of each profile. Only recently have I started really using a lot of footnotes to specify where I got each fact. And I'm still not formatting my sources in any formal way.

Additionally, I don't keep track of my research at all. I just go where the wind takes me. I know that probably means I'm being inefficient, and I've probably lost track of a lot of leads I should have followed. I have a few things on to do lists here and there, but no semblance of a research plan.

So, it's time to go over it all again! I'm sure I'll make some great improvements to my WikiTree profiles, and maybe I'll even find some hidden doors through those pesky brick walls of mine.

More posts to come, once the challenge begins!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's Your Number?

I first saw it on Pinterest, and since then on numerous genealogy blogs, inculding Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Everybody's figuring out how many of their ancestors they've identified back to their 7x great grandparents (1022 ancestors in all [not 1024 as everyone keeps saying; do the math!]). What fun!

So I decided to give it a try myself:

GenerationPotential AncestorsMy Identified Ancestors
Great Grandparents88
2x Great Grandparents1616
3x Great Grandparents3232
4x Great Grandparents6447
5x Great Grandparents12838
6x Great Grandparents25634
7x Great Grandparents51241

Grand Total: 222 out a possible 1022, or just under 22%!

Darn. I started out so strong! 100% out to my 3x great grandparents! But the numbers really started to dwindle as I got further back.

In particular, I noticed my mom's side dropped out of the calculations pretty quickly, other than my direct maternal line which I've put a lot of work into. But all those English lines, they go back to 1830 or so and then things start to get challenging! My dad's side, on the other hand, is all French Canadian, so those lines tend to go back to the 1600s pretty easily.

But I'm not discouraged! I'm still thrilled by how much my tree has grown in recent years, and am excited to see the new directions it will take in the future. (I recently learned I'm part German! Who knew?) Perhaps I'll fill in this table again a year from now and see how far I've come.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

GFR Family History Month Challenge: Day 5

Check out my Day 1 post to see this challenge from the beginning!

It's time for Day 5 of the GFR Family History Month Challenge! (You may have noticed I missed Day 4. I had a busy day, and also do not have the free time for scrapbooking!) Today's challenge is: Research a collateral ancestor. Who was your great aunt’s husband? What about that gal with the funny name who married your fifth great uncle? Go find out about someone new. Sometimes clues for your own direct line lay buried with those collateral families.

This is actually a topic I quite enjoy. Apparently it's common in the genealogy community to only research your direct ancestors. When I found this out I was thoroughly confused. I never even considered limiting my tree in that way. I do focus on people who are no more than two generations removed from my direct ancestors (by which I mean all of my ancestors' grandchildren), but there are plenty of times when I go off further than that.

Today's challenge prompted me to look through my Watchlist for a name I haven't looked at in a while, though, and I ended up looking at Samuel Cockroft and Martha Ann Shaw. The Cockrofts aren't related to me by blood, but they are blood relatives of my blood relatives. Emmeline Cockroft was my great grandfather's first wife. When she died, Herbert Jackson was left alone with two small children, and he soon remarried to my great grandmother, Janet Aspinall.

Samuel and Martha Cockroft were Emmeline's parents. A quick search on FamilySearch led me to their marriage registration index. So now, if I want, I can order their marriage record, and continue researching the Cockroft and Shaw lines.