Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Emmeline Cockroft

Emmeline Cockroft (abt. 1883 - 1921) was the first wife of my great grandfather, Herbert Jackson. After her death, Herbert married my great grandmother, Janet Aspinall.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A jump across the pond!

I have been able to trace another branch of my family back to Europe! That's always so exciting! For a long time now, my 4x great grandparents, Henry Prince and Sarah Jane Elson, have been a big brick wall for me. Alas, Sarah Jane's origins remain elusive, but I've made a lot of progress on Henry!

Previously, I only had records from after Henry and Sarah Jane were married. I did have an 1852 census record that looked promising, but I couldn't be sure that it was him. He was the right age, and had parents named Joseph and Elizabeth, but those are pretty common names, so I wasn't confident.

Then, in response to one of my usual queries looking for their marriage record, someone posted a transcription of an 1841 England census record. There were enough common family members for me to be sure that this one matched the 1852 record. But again, that didn't tell me if these records were for my Henry Prince.

To try to fill in the gap, I went to the library to use Ancestry Library Edition to check the 1861 Canadian census. I found this record. It shows Henry Prince married to Sarah, proving that this is my Henry. But again, no sure way to connect it to the earlier records.

At this point, I made a very smart decision: I went back over what I had! Always a good idea! And that's when I found the answer. In the 1881 census, there's another Prince living with Henry, Sarah Jane, and their children: James. He's 33, exactly the right age to be Henry's brother James from the 1852 census. With everything else lining up so nicely, this was the bit of evidence that brought my confidence to the point where I strongly believe that the Henry Prince in those earlier records is in fact my ancestor.

So, that 1841 England census record is quite exciting! At that time, Henry was living in Bramshaw, Wiltshire (Bramshaw used to be split between Wiltshire and Hampshire; it is now completely in Hampshire.), which is also where he was born. This is far from most of my other English ancestors, almost all of whom originated in West Yorkshire, in Huddersfield and the surrounding areas. So I have another county to explore! And by explore I mean research because who can afford a trip to England? :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December To Dos

It's been awhile (a year!) since I wrote a to do post, so I thought I'd bring them back! One of my weaknesses is my inability to actually plan my research (I go with the flow!), so I should probably work on that. Here's what I'd like to get done this month:
  • Start scanning my Cockroft family album. I haven't prioritised this one since the people in it aren't related to me (they're from my great grandfather's first wife's family), but recently I was contacted on WikiTree by someone in that family, so I'd like to send her some pictures!
  • Write a blog post about my progress on Henry Prince, my 4x great grandfather.
  • Finally finish my post about the Romeo and Juliette in my family, which I keep starting and not finishing for some reason.
  • Order the mtFullSequence DNA test from Family Tree DNA! I'm so excited to do this! A series of blog posts will follow, probably in January.
  • Catch up on my genealogy blog reading in my Google Reader, which I've let get way out of hand!
What are you hoping to accomplish this month? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 24, 2012

I can't tell you my maiden name!

I'm loving this unexpected side effect of having conversations with more of my fellow genealogists: they say things that I think are really weird, and suddenly I have a blog post idea! :) Today's thing-I-think-is-weird is people's reluctance to divulge their maiden names.

This has come up when I'm telling people about WikiTree, because your WikiTree ID is based on your maiden name. Some people use X or something similarly anonymous, but most people just put in their last name at birth. So the minimum info you're asked for when signing up is your first name, last name at birth, and email address.

The response to that has sometimes been: "You want my last name at birth? That makes me uncomfortable...", to which my response is a puzzled look. There are several reasons why this makes no sense to me, which I will now explain:

1) Just about all men, and an increasing number of women, have the same last name from birth to death. They have no "maiden name". My last name is Lavoie, it's been Lavoie since the day I was born, and it will be Lavoie until the day I die. It wouldn't be very practical, therefore, for me to hide that name from you. This is true for the majority of people. So why is it that people who choose to change their last names when they get married suddenly need to keep their old names a secret?

2) Even people who don't have public online trees often write publicly about their ancestors. I hate to tell you this, but even if you hide your parents' names, if I can see all your grandparents' names, I can probably guess your maiden name. And your mom's, for that matter.

3) This is perhaps the most important reason. If you, in this day and age, are using your maiden name or your mom's maiden name as a password for anything of any importance, please stop, now. That is not secure. You are just begging for identity theft.

Have I missed anything? If there's another reason why you keep your maiden name a secret, I'd love to know what it is! Because it's a total mystery to me!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Me and WikiTree

I've been meaning to write this post for so long! As you have probably gathered from other posts I've written recently, I now work for WikiTree. Since February, I have been WikiTree's User Group Coordinator. (I'm even on the Contact Us page! Check it out!)

This change came about because I had recently become really active in the user groups, and on WikiTree in general. I had started the Acadian Ancestors User Group. I was getting involved in every way possible. And now I'm even more involved! I even got to help represent WikiTree at a genealogy conference. Awesome!

Now, the main reason I wanted to write this post was to clarify one thing: this blog is still my personal genealogy blog. I am not paid to blog here. Part of my job is blogging once a month on the WikiTree blog, but this blog is all me. I'm telling you this so that I can continue to post about WikiTree and not be seen as a marketing person. If I gush about how much I love WikiTree, it's because I do, and I was writing those posts long before I started working for the site!

In future posts I'll give more details about what exactly I do on WikiTree. And as usual, if you want an invitation to the site, let me know!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happy blogiversary to me!

It's my blogiversary!! :) One year ago today, I posted my very first post on Stories of a Canadian Family. It was just a list of my known surnames up to 5 generations, and since I hadn't even told anyone about my blog yet, I wasn't expecting anyone to see it until I'd posted a couple times and then spread the word. But somehow, Geneabloggers instantly tracked me down! Barely an hour after I'd posted for the first time, I'd been added to Geneabloggers, and people had started welcoming me to the community!

Now, it's a year and 74 posts later, and my humble personal genealogy blog has people who actually read it and comment on it, despite the fact that I'm not always the most regular poster in the world. :)

So, thank you Geneabloggers, and thank you everyone who's reading this, or has read any of my other posts over the last year. You guys are awesome. Here's to many more years of researching and blogging fun!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's mine; all mine!

Sharing is nice.
Recently, I've been thinking about why we do genealogy. Through a lot of conversations lately with other genealogists, I've begun to realise that we don't all do it for the same reasons. Specifically, I'm interested in how altruistic our motivations are, or aren't!

I think most people want their genealogical research passed down to their descendants. No one wants all their hard work to die with them, right? But what about people other than your direct descendants?

I tend to think of my genealogy as something I want to add to a greater whole. Yes, I want my descendants and other future and current relatives to have it, but I also want it to be out there for the world to see. Imagine if everyone's genealogy was easily accessible; think how much work could be saved!

Of course, it's only really helpful if it's correct and properly sourced. That actually makes me want to share my genealogy even more! All the error-filled trees out there in books and on the net just keep multiplying, because people find them and use them as sources. So my thinking is, every correct, sourced tree that's out there is countering that. If someone finds my correct tree, maybe they'll use that instead of the spurious ones.

One topic that I think really brings out people's levels of altruism in genealogy is one place studies. When I get on this topic I tend to complain about how no one does one place studies in Canada and the US (they're really big in the UK). Recently, someone suggested to me that it's because people are less tied to places here, unlike in the UK where some families have been in the same parish for generations. Therefore, a one place study won't be as useful in one person's genealogy.

The thing is, in my opinion, one place studies aren't about helping myself with my own genealogy. They're about making a contribution to the body of genealogical resources, that will be useful to everyone who's family ever lived in that place.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you put your genealogy out there for the world to see, or do you hide it away on your hard drive or in a private online tree? Do you stick to your own family, or do research that can benefit even people you're not related to? And I want reasons! Let's get a discussion going!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My first genealogy conference: SCGS Jamboree 2012

This past weekend, I was in Burbank, California, for SCGS Jamboree 2012. Travelling so far was exhausting, but so worth it! First of all, I finally got to meet the rest of the WikiTree team (I'm just realising now that I never actually wrote on this blog about how I now work for WikiTree... well now you know!): Chris Whitten (the founder of WikiTree), Tami Osmer (developer of the Relatively Curious Internet Genealogy Toolbar), Elyse Doerflinger (who writes Elyse's Genealogy Blog), and Thomas MacEntee (whom you probably know from GeneaBloggers). It was very cool to meet people (in person!) that I exchange emails with all the time. You really get a better look at people's personalities that way.

Left to right: Tami, Elyse, me, Chris, and Thomas

I spent most of the weekend sitting at the WikiTree table in the vendor hall, talking to people about the site and trying to get people who seemed like they'd be great contributors to sign up. In the process, I had a lot of awesome conversations about the wiki concept, the importance of citing your sources, and a bunch of other things. I also heard a lot of people's genealogy stories, and, in the case of people who were not comfortable signing up for WikiTree, got some insight into the generation of genealogists who did not grow up with the internet, and consequently often have a totally different perspective of online genealogy tools.

I also got to meet some other bloggers, which was exciting, as well as lots of vendors. And I bought some books, and some software, and a decorative fan chart (reviews of all these things to come!).

Overall, the weekend was super fun, and also really inspiring. I feel like I have all these ideas now and can't wait to work on them! This is true for my personal genealogy, as well as for WikiTree. For example, while I was at the conference, I started categorising all my WikiTree profiles by city/town, and this has turned into a potentially huge project! More about that to come, as well!

So, other than the actual flying across the continent part (which was exhausting, uncomfortable, and resulted in me losing my water bottle and breaking my favourite sunglasses), I had a great trip, and can't wait until my next genealogy conference!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

See you at SCGS Jamboree 2012!

I'm going to my first genealogy conference! This weekend is the SCGS Jamboree 2012 conference, in Burbank, California, and I'm going to be there, spending most of my time at the WikiTree booth.

Geneabloggers compiled a list of bloggers who will be at the conference here. Some of them are ones that I follow, and I'm so excited to meet them! So if you're going to the conference, please let me know, and stop by the WikiTree booth when you're there, as I'll be there a lot of the time. I'd love to meet you. :) I can even give you one of my fancy-schmancy new business cards!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Slight progress on Sarah Jane Elson

Henry Prince and Sarah Jane Elson are my 4x great grandparents, and I can't seem to get any further back than them, particularly on Sarah's side. So, I'm trying to find ways of gaining any bits of information about them I can, in hopes of one day having a breakthrough. So today, I focused on a woman named Mary, who I believe is Sarah's mother.

I have two censuses records for Sarah Jane Elson: 1871 and 1881. In the 1881 census, there's a 75 year old woman named Mary Elson living with Henry and Sarah and their family. It's very likely that this is Sarah's mother. Today, it occured to me that she is not living with Henry and Sarah in the 1871 census, so I decided to search for her there.

When I searched the 1871 census for Mary Elson, I found this person, who is about the right age. She is a widow, living with the Flint family (the wife's name is Ann). So I searched for Ann Elson with a spouse whose last name is Flint (because I couldn't quite make out his first name). Right away, I got a birth record for a girl whose parents are Perney Flint (which definitely appears to match the census record!) and Ann Elson. So, if this Mary Elson is Sarah Jane Elson's mother, Ann would most likely be her sister. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a marriage record for either of the Elson girls, which might provide the names of the parents.

For some time, I've also had an 1852 census record sitting around that might be Sarah Jane and her family. It's starting to look more promising now. Her mother is Mary Elson, and she has a sister named Ann. One major downside to the 1852 census, is that it doesn't separate family groups, and doesn't state relationships between family members. The Elsons are listed right after a man named Thomas Gooderham, who is around the same age as Mary. So, he could be her husband, Sarah's father, but that would mean that for some reason the children were given their mother's name. Or, he could just be the guy next door, and Mary is a single mother. (She's awfully young to be a widow, but it is certainly possible.)

Update: I looked at the original image, and Mary Elson has a W in the residence field, which most likely means she was a widow, despite being only 29 years old. So Thomas Gooderham is probably unrelated. Imagine being 29 and widowed, with 4 children! :(

More to come on these two, since they frustrate me so!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Unknown Cutie Pie

So far unidentified little girl looking adorable and classy. This is from my grandma's old pictures, and was in an album with pictures mainly from around 1950.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drouin Collection free for a few days! has opened up the Drouin Collection for free searching for a few days! It's already started. I can't seem to find an end date, but when I heard about it I think it was some time next week. You can search this collection here.

I've already taken advantage of this to do some searching that I would normally do at the library in the comfort of my own home, with wireless way faster than the library's! You can see my progress on Domitilde Perras' tree. I already had her parents, but I found their marriage record, which opened the door to her grandparents: André Perras, Charlotte Doyon, Ignace Dupuis, and Osithe Barbeau.

The Drouin Collection is great for slowly and steadily inching your way back in your Quebec lines. And the records are in French, but they follow a formula, so it's easy to learn to read them without knowing a lot of French (though knowing how dates are written out is essential).

In other Ancestry related news, from now until Sunday (the 22nd), you can get a 30 day free trial! The free trial is normally only 14 days. You don't need to sign up for a paying membership after. I've always wanted to give the free trial a shot, and this seems like the perfect time. Hopefully I can fit a lot into that month!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Louis Lavoie and Marguerite Richard - Research Plan

Lately I really feel like my research isn't going anywhere (hence the decrease in the frequency of my writing). I think I need a plan. So, I'm going to try to develop a method of recording what I know and determining where I need to go from here to fill in the blanks.

I'm starting with my paternal grandparents (my grandparents that aren't living). Because this is pretty recent, there aren't a lot of public records concerning them, so I probably already have most of them. Mostly I think I'll need to talk to my aunts and uncles.

My paternal grandparents' tombstone. Located at the
St. Boniface Roman Catholic Cemetery in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

What I know and what I don't know:

Louis Jacques Lavoie was born on September 16, 1916. This is from my dad's memory, so I'd love to have a birth record to confirm it. The year is confirmed by his tombstone. He was born in Quebec City. I don't have a source cited for this. It might be from his obituary. I'll have to look at the obituary again to be sure.

Clemence Wilhelmina Marguerite Richard was born on September 19, 1915. This date is also from my dad's memory. The year is confirmed by her tombstone, and is consistent with her age in the 1916 census. I also don't have a record that has her full name. Sometimes I think my dad just added the Wilhelmina to be funny. She was born in Sainte-Anne, Manitoba. This is in her obituary, and that's also where she was living in the 1916 census.

Marguerite soon moved to St. Francois Xavier. Her obituary says that she lived there as a young child. At some point she moved to Winnipeg.

Louis fought in WWII.

At some point Louis moved to Manitoba (straight to Winnipeg?).
Louis and Marguerite married, probably in Winnipeg. I have no sources at all for this, but it seems to follow from what I do know about their lives.

Louis died on August 16, 1976, in Winnipeg. This date is from my dad's memory, so I'd like further confirmation, but the year is confirmed by his tombstone.

Marguerite died on November 5, 1999. This is in her obituary, and also I can confirm at least the approximate date from my own memory; I was in grade 6 and it was shortly before Christmas.

What I can check now:

Check with my aunts and uncles to see if any of them have any birth, marriage, or death records related to my grandparents. Also find out what they know first- and second-hand.

I'm sure I copied out (by hand; I didn't have a flash drive on me!) Louis' obituary, but now I can't seem to find it. So I need to get back to the library (with a flash drive!) and download it. That might give me a source for some things.

Since he was a Canadian who fought in WWII, the Legion Magazine would have published something about Louis' death in the Last Post. The online database currently only goes back to 1985, but I'm sure if I contacted them I could get the information.

Records I'll want in the future, when they're available:

Both of my paternal grandparents should be in the 1921 Canadian census, which will be made available in 2013.

Marguerite was born in Manitoba, so her birth record will be available in 2015. I don't know where one can look up vital records for Quebec, or when they become available; does anyone know?

So that's my plan! I definitely think that was a worthwhile exercise (though it took me forever!). Please let me know if you see anything missing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy 1940 US Census day!

It's here! This is obviously more exciting for those of you who are American, who may be searching for your parents or grandparents in the census, but I'm still happy to trace a couple lines of distant cousins a little further. :)

You can access the census here: Just so you know, it's a bit slow right now. Apparently way more people were prepared to search the 1940 census than the servers can handle. So if you (like me) did not spend time leading up to this release making a list of people to look up, no worries. You're probably better off waiting a bit for things to simmer down, anyways!

Happy searching!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Your opinions! I want them!

It's spring cleaning time! And I see no reason for my blogs to be excluded from this time-honoured tradition. Therefore, I've put together a short survey, in hopes of getting some feedback from my readers on what could use some cleaning up around here. It's totally anonymous, and basically asks your opinions on the blog's content and appearance, but there's room for you to comment on whatever you like.

So, if you'd be so kind, I'd love it if you could take a few moments to give me your comments and constructive criticism. The survey is here. (I tried to embed it, but it was too big.) Please and thank you! Oh, also, all the questions are optional, so you don't even have to do the whole thing if you don't want to. Every little bit helps!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ann Beaumont - Brick wall smashed!

Ann Beaumont was my 3x great grandmother. She was an exciting name to discover, because this revealed the origin of the name Beaumont, which runs in my mom's family. Ann had a son named Beaumont Jackson, Beaumont's grandson (my grandpa) has the middle name Beaumont, and my uncle has the same name as my grandpa, including the middle name Beaumont. So it was very cool to learn that that came from the last name of my great great great grandmother!

What I knew about her as of this morning was this: She was born in about 1841. On January 1, 1860, she married John Jackson in Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire. They had a son named Beaumont, who moved to Manitoba. Eventually Ann also moved to Manitoba (between 1911 and 1916, I think).

Today I discovered the site Beaumont Family History, which specifically says it studies the Beaumonts of Yorkshire! I was so excited! So, I sent them an email telling them what I knew about Ann Beaumont. Within a few hours I got an email back from Diana Beaumont, telling me that Ann lived in an area they hadn't covered in detail yet, but still giving me two census records, which give me the names of her parents, and 4 siblings. She also provided the exact dates of birth and baptism. I nearly fainted with joy.

So, here's what I know now: Ann was born on February 5, 1841, and baptised in Kirkheaton on May 16, 1842. Her parents were John Beaumont, a surgeon, and Mary (ooh, looks like I've got another brick wall to chip away at!). In the 1841 census, they lived in the household of Joshua and Ellenor Inman, on Stafford Hill (perhaps this street; check out that street view: beautiful!). Next door was a 60 year old John Beaumont, who could possibly be Ann's grandfather. Here's what the censuses contain:

1841 Kirkheaton Census, HO 107/1278/3
At Stafford hill
Joshua Inman 40 farmer
Ellenor Inman 40
John Beaumont 30 surgeon
Mary Beaumont 30
Ann Beaumont 4 months

John Beaumont 60 farmer
Charles Stancliffe 25 cow dealer
Joseph Beaumont 7
1851 Kirkheaton Census, HO 107/2294
At Hill Side #123 on schedule
John Beaumont H 43 surgeon Kirkheaton
Mary Beaumont W 43 Kirkheaton
Tom W Beaumont S 14 scholar Kirkheaton
Ann Beaumont D 10 scholar Kirkheaton
Maria Beaumont D   8 scholar Kirkheaton
Alfred Beaumont S   5 scholar Kirkheaton
Ada Beaumont D   3 Kirkheaton
This is so exciting! I'm not very good at working with UK records, but at the very least I can take this information to the library and search the Ancestry database, and hopefully find even more details.
I'm so grateful for the genealogy community! I only hope I can be this helpful on someone else's brick wall one of these days! :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Four Generations

This picture contains four generations of my grandmother's family! On the left is Nils (Nelson) Pehrsson, my great great great grandfather. Beside him (back row) is his daughter, my great great grandmother, Alice Mary Peterson. Beside her is her daughter, my great grandmother, Mildred Grace Watts. In the front is Mildred's eldest daughter, my grandma's sister, Dorothy Angus.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Preserving my childhood memories

Yesterday, I was looking for a picture of myself from elementary school to scan. So I pulled out my old School Days Treasures book, a book which has way more stuff in it than it was ever meant to hold, so it's bursting at the seams, and is consequently really hard to browse through.

As I did this, it occurred to me to that I should be scanning this stuff. That my overstuffed collection of school work, school photos, report cards, certificates, etc., probably won't last forever, but that I could still keep it forever on a tiny little flash drive (or two; backups are important!).

So I can add that to my list of massive scanning projects! After I finish my grandma's photos, I'd like to do all my School Days Treasures stuff, and eventually all my photos from my pre-digital camera days.

And then there's my dad's collection of pictures. I'm afraid to even fathom how big a job that will be. Not only did my parents take about a gazillion pictures when my sister and I were kids, but my dad also inherited his mother's photo collection. So it'll be a while before I'm short of things to scan! :)

For now, enjoy this cute picture of a grade 4 me, when I was finally starting to grow into my two front teeth!

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I've been up to

I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block of late. But I'm still here! Just a bit quieter than usual... So I thought I'd give a quick update on what I've been up to lately.

I've been working on my one place study of St. François Xavier. I haven't gotten a whole lot done on that yet, since I only have Saturday mornings to work on it, and one Saturday a little trip to the emergency room took up my whole day and sort of ruined my plans. But other than that I've worked on it every Saturday, and another researcher there gave me the idea of photographing the pages I'm transcribing, so I can work on them at home. I don't have a professional camera, just a little digital one, but it's worth a shot! If I can take pictures that are as easy to read as the paper copies, then that could really speed up my work on this project! So I'll be trying that out this weekend.

I've also started on a website for the one place study. I got some space at Freepages (did you know you can get free web space there for genealogy?!), and so far I've put hardly anything on it, and it's very plain and ugly. But eventually it will be pretty and full of information! You can visit my Freepages here.

Other than that, I've mostly been working on my Acadian ancestors on WikiTree. Not doing a whole lot of research, just merging profiles and starting to add some sources (pretty much just the censuses). Soon I plan to add sources from Stephen A. White, because it turns out that a copy of his Dictionnaire généalogique des familles acadiennes (basically the Bible of Acadian genealogy, and rather hard to find) is at the St. Boniface Historical Society! So sometime soon I'll be making time to flip excitedly through that. :-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

I got photo albums!!

Yay! I just went on a shopping spree at Michael's, and the most exciting part of today's haul is two great big acid-free, lignin-free photo albums! They were a whopping $30 each on sale, but each one holds 400 4x6in. pictures! Which means that all the pictures I've scanned so far would fit in one and not even fill it.

So, I'm going to start moving the photos I've already scanned into a new album. Then, I'll get back to my scanning (which has been neglected lately since it didn't feel worth the effort when I didn't have these new albums to move the pictures into yet), and as I scan I'll move those photos into the new albums. Then I can toss those awful magnetic photo albums and my grandma's photos can avoid disintegration for a while longer! :)

Me right now, admiring my fancy new albums:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rating My Genealogical Maturity - 2012

Through a recent blog post on Tonia's Roots I have found the Genealogical Maturity Model on The Ancestry Insider. While I don't agree with everything on it, I think it will be useful to help me identify areas of my genealogical work that could use some improvement.

So, here's my assessment as of right now, leaving out the Conclusion Trees section, which I find unpleasantly elitist (and apparently I'm not alone in that):


# Level Sources Check
1. Entry Typically relies on compiled genealogies.
2. Emerging Mostly relies on compiled genealogies and online sources.
3. Practicing Uses a limited number of record types and repositories. Mostly relies on online and microfilmed sources.  x
4. Proficient Uses a wide variety of record types. Often contacts record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources.
5. Stellar Insightfully pursues research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a plethora of records and record types. "Burned counties" are not roadblocks.

The number of record types I use is increasing all the time, but I still don't use much that isn't available online. The parish records I'm looking at now for my One Place Study are probably the first offline records I've used.


# Level Citations Check
1. Entry Captures URLs for online sources and citations for published sources.  x
2. Emerging Increasingly captures necessary information for manuscript sources.
3. Practicing Typically produces complete source citations.
4. Proficient Gives complete and accurate source citations including provenance and quality assessment.
5. Stellar Overcomes limitations of genealogical software to create well organized, industry standard reference notes and source lists.

OK, I admit it. Most of my citations are just links to the record online. I really should work on this.


# Level Information Check
1. Entry Typically does not realize the need to judge information quality and has no basis for doing so.
2. Emerging Emerging realization that information quality differs. Muddles evaluation by thinking of primary/secondary sources instead of primary/secondary information, leading to muddled evaluation when sources contain both.
3. Practicing Judges information by source type, informant knowledge, and record timing. Applies "primary/secondary" to information instead of sources.  x
4. Proficient Additionally, learns history necessary to recognize and evaluate all explicit information in a source.
5. Stellar Additionally, utilizes implicit information in a source. Finds information in cases like illegitimacy that stump most researchers.


# Level Evidence Check
1. Entry Limited understanding of evidence and the role it plays. Typically ignores conflicting evidence.
2. Emerging Captures direct, supporting evidence and increasingly depends upon it.
3. Practicing Additionally, captures directly conflicting evidence.
4. Proficient Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, supporting evidence.  x
5. Stellar Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, conflicting evidence.


# Level Conclusions Check
1. Entry In the absence of analysis, reaches conclusions by instinct.
2. Emerging Learning to evaluate the quality of sources, information, and evidence. Emerging ability to resolve minor discrepancies.
3. Practicing Additionally, resolves conflicting evidence or uses it to disprove prevalent opinion. Usually applies correct identity to persons mentioned in sources.  x
4. Proficient Additionally, when necessary creates soundly reasoned, coherently documented conclusions utilizing direct and indirect evidence.
5. Stellar Additionally: Publishes clear and convincing conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.

Overall Level

Category Level
Sources  3
Citations  1
Information  3
Evidence  4
Conclusions  3

So, just under Practicing. Not quite the result I was hoping for! Obviously, citations are what I need to work on the most. So as a next step, I think I'll look up what citation formats are standard in the genealogical community, and start applying them to my citations on WikiTree. That, and my New Year's resolutions...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I got an award!

Lora from whippersnappergenealogist awarded me the Liebster Blog Award! This award is given to blogs that have fewer than 200 followers and deserve more recognition and encouragement. I'm so touched! :)

In a process that is suspiciously like chain mail, this is how it works:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  3. Put the award on your blog.
  4. Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award.
  5. Inform them of their nomination by leaving a comment on their blog.
So, here are the bloggers I'd like to show a little love to today! (I'm gonna cheat and only do 3, out of a combination of laziness and the fact that I follow lots of blogs with more than 200 followers.)

The Demanding Genealogist: I was happy when I found this blog, because I think we're all guilty of less-than-scrupulous genealogy at times, and I appreciate having someone around calling us out on that! Even her blog posts are better cited than most of my WikiTree profiles!

Adventures in Genealogy: Deb gets this award most because of her Follow Friday Gems posts! On Fridays, she links to an amazing collection of great genealogy sites, articles, etc. that she finds around the web. Very useful!

Tangled Trees: Almost nothing on this blog has anything to do with my own genealogical research, and yet it's always interesting. With lots of pictures and interesting tidbits, there's something for everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Joining WikiTree by invitation

You may have heard the news that WikiTree has gone invitation-only. This means that in order to join, you have to be invited by someone who is already a member.

Well, I'm already a member! So I just wanted to let my fellow geneabloggers (and anyone else who reads this blog) know that you can ask me for an invitation. The idea of this change is not to keep people from joining WikiTree. It's meant to slow things down a bit, and stop what was happening before, which was a lot of people joining just to dump their GEDCOMs there and forget them. That's not what WikiTree is about. If you join, it should be to participate in building the worldwide tree, which means being willing to merge profiles with other people and collaborate.

So, if you respect the WikiTree Honour Code and want to join this amazing community of genealogists, contact me for an invitation.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jonas Aspinall - Mystery solved!

Jonas Aspinall, my great great grandfather
I wrote a post a while back about Jonas Aspinall's mistaken family tree. I've got it all sorted out now, and I'm sad to say that my family members who have worked on Jonas' family tree have done some unnecessary work. Jonas' father (also named Jonas) was confused with another Jonas Aspinall of approximately the same age. As a result, the line of Jonathon Aspinall was followed back instead of the line of Thomas Aspinall, who is my actual 4x great grandfather.

To determine which Jonas Aspinall was my 3x great grandfather, I ordered the younger Jonas Aspinall's birth record from the UK. (I'm confident that this Jonas is at least the right one, because there aren't any others born around the same time.)

Jonas Aspinall was born on the Eleventh of November 1857, in the registration district Great Boughton, in the sub-district of Chester Cathedral in the County of Chester and City of Chester. His father's name was Jonas Aspinall, a mattress manufacturer, and his mother's name was Ann Aspinall formerly Rangley. The birth was registered on the Twenty Fourth of November 1857, and the father was the informant.

When I had been searching on Ancestry and initially discovered this conundrum, I saw two marriage records for Jonas Aspinalls. The one that was with Ann Rangley recorded the groom's father as Thomas Aspinall. Somewhere along the way, someone found the other marriage record, between a different Jonas Aspinall and his wife Susey Sykes, with that Jonas Aspinall being a son of Jonathan Aspinall and Hannah Stake. This resulted in a false branch of my family tree.

It's scary to think how easy these mistakes are to make! I'd hate to think that my family tree could have branches in it that don't even belong there. Constant vigilance is required!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

St. François Xavier parish records

Today, I started my One Place Study of St. François Xavier, Manitoba. I'll tell you right now, this is gonna take a while. This morning I made my first trip to the St. Boniface Historical Society, my goal being simply to find the place (tucked away in the back of the Cultural Centre), sign up for a membership ($35 a year, to avoid the $5 a day to use the research facilities), and familiarise myself with the process of doing research there.

So, I set myself up with my laptop, and asked the archivist for the parish records for St. François Xavier. She returned with two boxes, each of which contained several books, with the records starting in 1834 (way earlier than I expected, since the R.M. wasn't formed until 1880!). It turns out that the copies at the Historical Society are photocopies, not microfilm like they have at the Manitoba Archives, so they might be slightly harder to read, but at least I don't have to miss work to use them (the Archives are only open 9-4 on weekdays, but the Historical Society opens for a few hours on Saturdays).

In addition, the genealogist working there (who was very helpful when the French went beyond my beginner level in the records) found me a book that was published by the Rural Munipality in 1980, called Our First 100 Years. It describes all the families of St. François Xavier, and even has pictures! When I looked under Daigneault, I found a picture of my great grandparents, Alphonse Richard and Bertha Daigneault, and their children, including my mémère! It was very exciting! That book will be helpful for putting together the information I find in the parish records.

Today, I only got through about 10 records. This is a small chunk of 1834. I only had about an hour to spend actually transcribing the records, though. In the future I'll have 3 hours each Saturday if I get there right when they open. If I could get through about a year's worth of records each week, it would only take me about 2 years to finish. And of course during the week I can be working on the census records and whatnot. Probably it will take longer, though, since there are probably a lot more records per year once I reach the late 1800s and early 1900s. I've got a huge project ahead of me, but one that I know will be worthwhile, and that I hope will be helpful to other genealogists.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The possibility of a One Place Study

Recently, I am finding myself drawn to an idea that might be disastrous in terms of my time and energy. I want to do a One Place Study. Basically, what that means is that I want to look at a single town, and do a complete genealogy of it. As in, go through every vital record, every census record, every record I can get my hands on, and compile this information in some useful way.

The place I want to study is St. François Xavier, Manitoba. I thought of this town for several reasons. First, it's pretty close by. I mean, I can't bike there (simply because the Trans Canada Highway is very bike-unfriendly), but as long as I can convince Mr. Canadian Family to drive for 45 minutes each way, I can get there. That means I can take pictures, transcribe tombstones, and all kinds of fun things like that.

I don't really have more ancestors there than other places, but for some reason I've always enjoyed really branching out on my family there. It's one of the places where my ancestors were during the period of 1881-1916, meaning there are census records to make things easy. That also means that if I find common descendants of my ancestors there, they're pretty closely related to me, which is always fun. The population is also fairly small, sitting at just a bit over 1000 today (though I think the definition of the town must have changed over time, at least as far as census subdistricts go; all the census numbers make sense except for 1901, when almost 2300 people were enumerated in St. François Xavier).

To be honest, I don't even know how much work this would take. But it just seems like such a fun thing to do. I'm already picturing myself publishing a book and being a minor celebrity within the tiny niche of Manitoba genealogists. :)

So far I've identified a couple of first steps:

  • Join the Manitoba Genealogical Society (I should have done this ages ago anyway). Find out what research has already been done so I'm not reinventing the wheel.
  • Find out how I can access the relevant vital records. Manitoba Archives doesn't have them, and Manitoba Vital Statistics does not allow the public to browse them (you can search them online, but to see the full record you have to order it; that would cost a lot for a whole town!). Hopefully the MGS can help me there. Also, the Family History Centre has the church records for the town, which are baptism, marriage, and burial records, so those would be similar to the vital records.
Are any of you working on a One Place Study? How did you get started on this monumental project?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blacking out tomorrow to stop SOPA

In case you aren't aware (I just found out today when I visited Wikipedia and then Geneabloggers), tomorrow a lot of websites will be blacking out in protest of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), a piece of proposed American legislation that is BAD for those of us who like a free and uncensored Internet, ie. all of us.

Therefore, even though this is not happening in my country, I have decided to black out my blogs tomorrow. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause (though obviously I won't be posting any new content while my blog is blacked out).

For more information, see the post on Geneabloggers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - J.C. and Alice Lavoie

Today's tombstone is that of my great grandparents, Major Joseph Carmel Lavoie and Alice Bard, along with two of their children, Paul-Emile Lavoie and Marie-Anna Lavoie. Their grave is located in the St. Boniface Roman Catholic Cemetery in St. Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

An interesting thing about this tombstone is that it reveals two relatives I didn't know existed. Paul-Emile and Marie-Anna both died in the 1930s, when they were in their 20s. They are my dad's aunt and uncle, but he didn't know they existed because they died before he was born.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Wrap-Up

December was busy, and I was also lazy. But that's ok. Everyone needs a break now and then. :) And I was still pretty active on WikiTree, so even if I wasn't here as much I was still getting some stuff done. Here's how I did on my December goals:

  • Figure out what's going on with Jonas Aspinall's tree, and get my information all cleaned up with all false connections gone. Done! Though I still haven't written a blog post about it.
  • Go to the library at least once to work on my huge pile of record lookups. Done! I think I actually went to the library twice to use Ancestry Library Edition.
  • Put in several hours of scanning time. This, I did not do. I guess I missed hearing about Scanfest and totally forgot about it!
  • Go shopping for acid- and lignin-free photo albums for my grandma's photos. No, but I did get tips from some archivist friends on places where I could find some.