Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back at 2010

It just seems appropriate to be retrospective today, the last day of 2010. This year was filled at it's onset like all others with great promise that somehow became derailed. For the first time in my life, I experienced a time of poor health. And, of course, I picked an illness in Guillain Barre Syndrome that I had never heard of and couldn't even pronounce properly. I now feel I have a certain expertise in the affliction - and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

When 2010 started, I posted that I had five genealogy related resolutions: to cite sources for all the facts in my genealogy database; to organize my hard copy family history records; to maintain and deepen my family connections with cousins around the world; to continue collaborating with other family historians/genealogists; and, to get more involved in the local genealogy community. Not much progress was made with resolutions two and five but I did okay with the others. I have put some real effort into citing my sources though at times I wonder if the task will ever be complete. I continue to enjoy relationships with an ever growing number of cousins around the world with whom collaborating on our family's history is a great joy.

On January 24th, I shared the recollections of Sara (Caskey) Breithaupt, the wife of Ellen's cousin Louis Orville Breithaupt, regarding their attendance at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. To date, this post remains the most popular of all my blog posts. On February 19th, I had the opportunity to introduce you to Shape Collage, a free software product that is used to generate photo collages in a variety of shapes. The software is still available so I recommend you give it a try.

2010 was filled with conversation about the NBC television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" that shone a spotlight on genealogy by showing celebrities as they discovered their family history. On a personal note, 2010 saw a very successful Ontario Genealogical Society annual conference. I shared a conference lunch with Lisa Louise Cooke and Dave Obee - and my post reporting on the conference got me a mention in Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog - pretty 'heady' stuff from my perspective.

The big event however for 2010 was the wedding of my son, John to Maryann (Grubisic), pictured above. The wedding was a true celebration of the happy couple: a time filled with laughter, dance, story-telling and, more than a few tears. The wedding also produced a rare occasion where a photo was taken of my father and his three 'kids.' Pictured below, from left to right, Ian Hadden, Lou-Anne Hadden Doody, Lewis Hadden, and Bob Hadden.

Finally, 2010 saw our cousin, Pamela Gaull become a published author through her first novel, "The Darkness of Dreams." We're all quite proud of our wee cousin for such a significant achievement!

I don't know what 2011 has in store for me but I'm resolved to not develop GBS again. I am equally resolved to return to the family fonds holding about 125 linear feet of records for Ellen's family at the University of Waterloo and, in addition, to finding and documenting the lost graves of some ancestors. It should be a busy time.

May the New Year bring health and prosperity to all of you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

To all who regularly - and occasionally - stop by my blog,

Thanks for your emails, comments, and most of all your support.

May you have a very Merry Christmas!

We hope that Santa is good to you!

Ian and Ellen Hadden

Thursday, December 23, 2010

So, What Did I Miss?

Developing pneumonia and subsequently a paralyzing case of Guillain Barre Syndrome in early October resulted in my having a 'Rumplestiltskin'-like experience of 'waking' up after two months in the hospital and not knowing what I had missed in my life as an devoted genealogist. The hospital in which I was confined had no Wi-Fi or Internet connectivity for me to use so in addition to wanting to be home with my wife, I wanted to get my hands on my computer to see what I had been missing. It turns out that a lot was going on!

I received about 1,400 emails during the months of October and November, some from distant and new-to-me cousins. The emails also included my daily fixes of Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog and Dick Eastman's "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter." I missed several new postings of my favourite blogs like Sheri Fenley's "The Educated Genealogist" and Amy Coffin's "The We Tree Genealogy Blog." I missed two updates to my RootsMagic genealogy database software (which has now been installed successfully).

I missed several new databases that were either introduced or updated by Ancestry, including the Canadian Expeditionary Force World War One Burial Registers that contained the following record for my great granduncle James Gammie, "Died of Wounds. Took part with his Company in an attack on the morning of September 28, 1918, and was wounded in the back by shrapnel. He received attention and was evacuated to No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station where he succumbed later in the day." I have always felt a closeness to 'Jimmy' Gammie as his death resulted in my family immigrating from Scotland to Canada.

Most importantly to me, I missed during my two month absence a whole lot of new episodes from my favourite podcasts! I have shared previously my strong views on the tremendous value of podcasts. During October and November, I missed four episodes of the Genealogy Gems podcast, produced and hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke, including her special 100th episode. Being stuck in hospital I was unable to offer my congratulations to Lisa so - better late than never - Way to go Lisa, for a great job, incredibly well done and always creative, interesting and inspiring! When I finally had a chance to listen to episode 100, which was filled with highlights from past episodes, I was amazed at the number of times I said, "Oh yeah, I remember that gem." I also missed three of Lisa's premium Genealogy Gems podcasts and before I left hospital, my annual premium membership expired. Not to worry Lisa, I'm absolutely renewing! And because Lisa isn't busy enough with Genealogy Gems, I missed three new episodes of the Family Tree Magazine podcast that Lisa also hosts.

Finally in the podcast realm, I missed three new episodes of the Genealogy Guys podcast, always fun and educational, George and Drew should not be missed. If you have an interest in history and perhaps a United Kingdom based ancestry, you might be interested as I am in the UK National Archives podcasts. I missed nine new episodes of their podcast in just two months.

Last but not least on my immediate family 'front,' I missed the death of 'Oliver', one of our two cats. Oliver (pictured above) was found crying in a culvert by our youngest son, Joe, on a cold, rainy day. He was brought into our home for safekeeping just until a good family could be found for him. He was named Oliver as he was the lost boy. Although he wasn't very old, it appears that he suffered a heart attack on the night of December 4th and was found the next morning by my wife, Ellen. I wish I had been here to help Ellen through the loss of a pet that she was very close to.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Becoming a Biped - Again!

There is no evidence in my ancestral tree that would suggest I might have been afflicted by a neurological disorder like Guillain Barre Syndrome. Prior to October 8th, 2010, I had never heard of the disorder, let alone know how to pronounce it properly and know what it's affects might be. Lots of time in the Intensive Care Unit and Rehab Unit at the hospital was ample to reflect on the meaning of paralysis! And lots of time to try to figure out how to stand and walk - again.

Despite the more than a half century age difference, I found myself in a competition with my eighteen-month old grandson, Marcus, striving for the goal of 'first to be bipedal.' Should be an easy win for me, I thought, as I had many, many years of walking and as scary as it might be to imagine, running under my belt. My brain told my muscles what to do and due to the fried out status of my nerves, nothing happened. My legs didn't work; my arms didn't work; and, the strength needed to stand and walk seemed to have stood and walked away from me.

My defiant proclamation to the unit's head nurse that I would recover in a short term and not the long term I had been assessed as requiring seemed for a time to be just bluster and bravado.

Then on October 25th, physiotherapist Dawn and occupational therapist Cathy entered my world and began applying forms of physical torture that to that point in life, I had been unaccustomed. (Pictured with me are to my left, occupational therapist Cathy and to my right, physiotherapist Dawn). Their tag-team regime of upper body stretches and exercises quickly lead to my re-naming them 'Cruella and her evil twin sister, Cruella.' The place of their work was renamed the 'Torture Chamber' from the Therapy Room. Fortunately, they weren't willing to let me skip therapy any more than I was willing to give in to the pain.

Learning to stand was the most difficult of challenges, one that I wasn't certain I would ever again master. It was after watching my daughter, Lisa, stand up that I finally figured out the mechanics and began standing on my own. With standing 'conquered,' walking became a natural progression. The walk distance increased from 5 to 100 yards in a week. I'm now able to walk about half a mile and I'm stretching that distance almost daily. Unfortunately, I think my grandson, Marcus has me beat in the running category but I hope to catch up soon.

Thanks to all who have left comments or extended well wishes and support for me on Facebook. It is very much appreciated.

Next time - So What Did I Miss While I Was 'Gone'

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tales From The Nearly Departed

To consider myself 'nearly departed' sounds a bit melodramatic but on Sunday, October 10, 2010, it was true - but I'm back!

The tale begins on Sunday, October 3rd when I woke up with 'pins and needles' in both my feet and lower legs. By Tuesday, the 'pins and needles' were in my hands and forearms. On Wednesday, October 6th, I went to the emergency department of my local hospital, the Ajax-Pickering General Hospital, and literally fell out of the car on arrival. Doctors initially thought that I had had a stroke affecting the brain stem but when an MRI was negative for stroke, they quickly turned to a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome, or GBS for short. GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the body's nervous system, typically leading to a life threatening paralysis. I was, effectively, a quadriplegic within 48 hours of admission to the hospital.

At 5:30 AM on Sunday, October 10th, my wife Ellen was advised that she should get to the hospital as they were uncertain if I would 'make it.' Coinciding with her arrival at the hospital, I went into complete respiratory arrest. I don't remember much of that Sunday, something Ellen tells me is a good thing but I do remember waking up to see RN Julie looking back at me and my thinking "Darn [or whatever expletive you wish to substitute], I've died!" I also remember the respirator, an incredibly Machiavellian form of torture that I fortunately endured for only five days.

I spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit where I got to meet and came to know the doctors and nurses who had saved my life and gave me a second chance! The other good news aspect of all of this was that my attending specialist commenced the treatment for GBS even before he was able to confirm the diagnosis through a neurological assessment. His decision vaulted my recovery into the fast lane!

Next post - Becoming a Biped Again!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Fair Memories

It's that time of year again - the time for fall fairs, the traditional time to celebrate agriculture and the harvest, along with innovations in manufacturing and technology. The oldest of these fairs in Canada is the Canadian National Exhibition, or CNE, held each year since 1879 in Toronto, Ontario during the last two weeks of August and including the Labour Day weekend. The photo below from shows the Princes' Gates to the 192 acre Toronto lakefront property that annually hosts the fair, in 2003.

My maternal grandfather, J. (John) Graham O'Neill often shared stories with me about his parent's struggles in attending the 'Ex' with him when he was a child due to his carriage wheels often becoming stuck in the mud of the unpaved fair grounds in the late 19th century.

My own memories range from tolerating my parents' desire to wander through the exhibits of the latest appliances and household conveniences when I knew that the real fun was to be found on the midway to impressing a teenage date by attending a 1975 concert by her favourite 'group', only to blow it by admitting that I wasn't at all familiar with any of the group's music. The group was Chicago. I'm familiar with their music now!

My most memorable 'Ex' recollection however, was the coming of age involved in being allowed to attend the fair for the first time on my own. The year was 1968 and the featured attraction for my friends and I was called "Time Being." An entire building had been transformed into a "psychedelic total environment discotheque" experience, complete with a full slate of '60's rock groups providing live performances. A band would play a concert in the afternoon and another band would play an evening concert. The evening concert typically involved a more well known group.

The day that my friends and I attended 'on our own,' a little known group named "Raja" performed in the afternoon. We knew nothing of the group at the time and still can offer little by way of any song titles but the group's drummer used tympani sticks rather than standard drum sticks and that novelty alone made them interesting and worth watching to a group of 13 year old boys.

The evening performance was what we were excited about because "The American Breed" were scheduled to perform and we just had to see them. At 8:00 p.m., we were front and centre, standing in a sea of teenagers as the group played their two hour concert that included their biggest hit "Bend Me, Shape Me." With the concert over, it was time to hastily make our way to the commuter train ride home so as to not exceed any curfew. Unfortunately, the midway was placed as an obstacle between the concert building and the train station. One last ride, or two, couldn't possibly hurt. And the rides didn't hurt - they were fun, as always. What hurt was the glares from parents who found us walking home at about 1:00 a.m. as they drove through our neighbourhood looking for us.

I don't recall being allowed to go to the 'Ex' again 'on my own' until possibly that fateful date in 1975. Despite not knowing any of the music performed by her favourite group, my date married me two years later anyways!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gaull Cousin Is An Author

Pamela Gaull read my blog post in Scotland about my meeting with cousin June Morrison and realized that she and I were also connected as cousins. After she left a comment on the blog, we were able to connect by email, sharing information and photos. Since then we have added Facebook to our electronic connection toolkit.

As a result, I have been able to celebrate with Pamela from a distance, her accomplishment of having her first novel published, the cover of the book pictured below.

With the recent publication launch, Pamela has been on a bit of a promotional tour typical for authors - the launch party and book signings. On Saturday, September 11, 2010 Pamela attended a book signing in Ellon, a small town north of Aberdeen, Scotland. Not only was Pamela feted as a new and good local author, she was surprised when into the bookshop walked three other of our Gaull cousins.

From left to right, John Gaull Thomson, Pamela Gaull, Frances (McWilliam) Scorgie, and Fiona Thomson (daughter of John Gaull Thomson). I am a second cousin to each. Our common ancestors are John Gaull and his wife Harriet McKenzie. John Gaull Thomson is a great grandson, Frances and Pamela are great granddaughters, Fiona is a great great granddaughter and I am a great great grandson.

Ellen and I are planning to visit Scotland in a couple of years when I retire (Fall of 2012) so hopefully we'll be just in time for the next book signing and family get-together!

Pamela's book is available through

Disclaimer: I received no remuneration as a result of this post. I ordered my copy of Pamela's book through Amazon!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Last Will and Testament of Catherine Hailer Breithaupt

In my last post, I shared the last will and testament of Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean who left her estate to her children "to share and share alike." Today, I am sharing the essential elements of Catherine Hailer Breithaupt's last will and testament (Margaret's sister).

Catherine (pictured right in a 1907 photo) was born on the 16 August 1834 in Berlin (now Kitchener), Upper Canada (now Ontario). It is reported that Catherine was the first person of German heritage to be born in this region of Ontario that is now famous for its German culture, including a widely popular annual 'Oktoberfest.' In 1853, Catherine married Louis Breithaupt, a tanner born in Germany who at the time was living and doing business in Buffalo, New York. Catherine met Louis through her brother-in-law, Jacob Wagner, Margaret's husband. Louis and Catherine had ten children, the first three of whom were born on New York state before the family moved back to her hometown of Berlin.

Louis died in 1880 and Catherine lived the next 30 years as a widow in Berlin before she herself passed away in 1910. Catherine was survived by six of her ten children. The tannery and leather goods business had been very prosperous ans consequently, Catherine left an estate much more sizable than her older sister, Margaret. Her residence pictured below in 1897, published in the "Busy Berlin Jubilee Souvenir" booklet displays a grand Victorian era lifestyle.

Catherine left the following:

1. $3, 000 [about $65,000 - $70,000 today] "to be invested at interest by my executors and the interest derived therefrom to be paid yearly to The Missionary Society of the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Association of North America.

2. $3,000 to be similarly invest for the same Canada Conference Church Building fund.

3. $1,000 the the General Missionary Society of the Evangelical Association "to be used by them for heathen missions only."

4. $1,000 for the Young Men's Christian Association in the Town of Berlin to erect a new building or purchase the building they were currently occupying.

5. $500 to the Deaconess Society of the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Association

6. Land on Margaret Avenue in the Town of Berlin for the Deaconess Society to establish a suitable Home.

7. $500 to the Zion Church in Berlin "to be used by them only for repairs to the pipe organ."

8. "I bequeath the sum of Three Hundred Dollars to each of my grandchildren who shall survive me."

9. "If my sister Margaret survives me [and she did] she is to be paid ten dollars per month after my decease during her life and I bequeath the same to her accordingly."

10. "I bequeath to my nephew the Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, if he survives me, the sum of One Thousand dollars payable within one year after my decease without interest."

11. "I bequeath my old Family Bible, the one which belonged to my mother, to my son Louis Jacob for his life ... it being my desire that the said Bible be kept as an heirloom and be held for the time being by the oldest of my male descendants."

12. Gifts and articles received from her children were to be returned to those who had given them.

13. Household goods and furniture were to be divided equally based on agreed value and if there was no agreement then they were to be auctioned off with only the family members allowed to attend the auction.

14. All residue of the estate was to be shared equally amongst her surviving children.

15. "With respect to my daughters' shares I desire expecially (sic) that they shall retain their shares in their own names and under their own control and free from the control or disposition of any husband they have or may have."

The will of Catherine Hailer Breithaupt named her sons as executors and was probated on 23 March 1911.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Last Will and Testament of Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean

Margaret Hailer was born in Chippewa, Ontario in 1831, the eldest child of Jacob and Margaret Hailer. As a very young child, Margaret moved with her parents from Chippewa, a small village near Niagara Falls, to Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario or Upper Canada as it was then. Her parents, her father specifically, are reported to be the first 'European' settlers in the region.

At the age of 18, Margaret married the Rev. Jacob Wagner with whom she had 3 children. Following Jacob's death, Margaret married Daniel Bean (Biehn), a school teacher, in 1862. Margaret and Daniel had 6 children. Margaret died July 7, 1918 and her last will and testament was probated on May 13, 1919.

In her will, Margaret directed the following:

"1. I will and direct that all my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses shall be paid.

2. I will and direct that my real & personal estate if any shall be sold privately or by public auction and converted into money at such time or times as my executors may in their discretion deem prudent.

3. I will and direct that my children who have paid to me certain legacies which they received from the Estate of my father J. J. Hailer, dec. and for which I gave them my notes, shall be repaid according to the agreement expressed in said notes. Should there not be enough left however to pay them in full, I will and direct that they share and share alike, according to the amount received from each. Funeral and testamentary expenses as also any just debts other than these mentioned in this article shall be paid in full and preferred.

4. Should there be any residue, after above claims have been duly settled, I will and direct that my eight children, their heirs or assigns forever, shall share and share alike, namely: To Catherine Bates, one-eighth, To Louis Henry Wagner one eighth, To Eusebius H. Bean, one eighth, To Euphemia Schmidt, one eighth, to Emma Mary Bean, one eighth, to Samuel U. Bean, one eighth, to Jacob Wesley Bean, one eighth, and to Alma Margareth Bean, one eighth.

5. I appoint my sons Louis Henry Wagner and Eusebius H. Bean the Executors of this my last Will and Testament."

The Will was signed by Margaret Bean and was witnessed by two of Margaret's nephews - Louis J. Breithaupt and his brother, John Christian Breithaupt.

Interestingly, it can be noted that 8 of Margaret's nine children are named in the will. Only Jacob Wagner (Jr.), her youngest child with her first husband, born in 1859, is not named.

Monday, September 13, 2010

They Walked to Conquer Cancer Again!

We all have a story to tell about at least one special someone who has received the terrifying diagnosis of cancer. In April, I posted a story about my daughters, Lisa and Jenna who formed a team to participate in the 60 kilometer (a little more than 37 miles) Walk to End Breast Cancer in support of research at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.

They raise funds and walk because breast cancer took their mother from them when they were just teenagers.

It hadn't been the first time that Karen had found a small lump in a breast. The first time had occurred in our second year of marriage. At that time, the benign lump had been removed and Karen had been told not to worry as some people were just prone to these small 'cysts.' In August 1999, twenty years later, another small lump was found. A mammogram indicated that there was again nothing to worry about and that further medical intervention was not needed "except for the patient's peace of mind." With no 'peace of mind' and as only worry was being felt, surgery was scheduled to remove the lump.

On December 20, 1999, Karen and I returned to her surgeon's office full of expectations to be told all was well. Her surgeon entered the small office where we waited, sat down beside Karen and uttered the life changing words, "I'm afraid I don't have very good news for you." Karen passed away in 2002 after a brave battle with an aggressive form of cancer.

Lisa and Jenna formed the team 'Karen's Wings' to raise funds by completing a marathon type two day walk through the streets and neighbourhoods of Toronto. In the past two years, their team has raised about $14,500 to fund leading edge research that is inching closer to a cure.

This past weekend, 4,633 cancer survivors and their supporters hit the streets and walked again. The oldest walker was 97 years young 'Kitty' and the youngest survivor, a 4-year old girl who has already experienced the trauma of a double mastectomy. Below, Lisa and Jenna cross the finish line at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds to the cheers of many gathered there to offer encouragement and congratulations.

The closing ceremonies allowed all participants, including the survivors shown below wearing their pink survivor shirts entering the ceremonies across the stage, to celebrate their achievement - this year raising $10.6 million to further the Princess Margaret cancer research work.

Next year, we plan to expand the Karen's Wings team with the addition of my son John along with my wife, Ellen and myself (assuming doctors okay the participation of us 'old folks'). Our real hope, however, is that we won't need to walk because cancer will have been beaten!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Could Have Been Rich!

On April 1, 1858, Jacob Wagner, my wife's great great grandfather, entered into a partnership agreement with Louis Breithaupt. Jacob and Louis were brothers-in-law, having married sisters Margaret and Catherine Hailer, respectively. The original hand written agreement is on file at the University of Waterloo, Ontario in the Wagner Hailer Family fonds.

The agreement reads, in part:

L. Breithaupt of the city of Buffalo, N.Y. and
Jacob Wagner of the city of Berlin, Waterloo County, C.W. [Canada West]

for the purpose of carrying on a Leatheretton and Tannery in the said Berlin city.

We, the undersigned hereby agree, that L. Breithaupt and Jacob Wagner divide the profits and losses of the concern equally.

There is to be an equal capital in it, from each of us, say about $3000 - to four thousand dollars each. The one, that puts any more capital in it then [sic] the other, is to have lawful interest for same."

The agreement then goes on to note that Jacob Wagner "is to have full charge of the business." Also, "the business is to be worked on under the name and style Breithaupt and Wagner."

Sadly, eighteen days after Jacob and Louis signed this agreement, on April 19, 1858, Jacob died. Louis, without his brother-in-law and partner, proceeded to establish the tannery in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, pictured above as it looked in 1897 from the book "Busy Berlin: Jubilee Souvenir 1897."

The business was a huge success, launching the family into local and provincial prominence in addition to sustaining a wealthy lifestyle for four generations before the family business was sold.

That wealth, as a result of Jacob's death, did not extend into the Wagner family so I'm not rich - but I'm fine with having married into charm and good looks!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Sibling Photos

At my son's recent wedding (see John and Maryann Got Married!), my sister, Lou-Anne insisted on having a photo taken of the 'senior' Hadden siblings - Lou-Anne, our brother Bob and myself. The photo below is the result of Lou-Anne's insistence.

In our sibline, I am the oldest, followed by Lou-Anne, and then Bob. The same order as we stood together for the photo. (Two brothers, Brian and Stephen who were born between myself and Lou-Anne died at 2 months and 14 months respectively).

The photo seemed to be a first. For some reason I couldn't remember another time when we had a photo taken of just the three of us. There were photos of us with our spouses or children but nothing in which the three 'kids' were together. That is, until I came across the gem below, taken around 1965, that captured our annual visit with Santa (oh, and that thing I'm wearing is my Daniel Boone 'bulky-knit' sweater, hand made by our mother).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Family Connection to the 18th Premier of Ontario

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had found a connection in my wife Ellen's family to the 18th Premier of Ontario - William Grenville Davis, also known as Bill Davis or in some quarters, 'Brampton Billy.'

My hunt for the connection began when I spotted Bill Davis' name listed in the lengthy online summary of the various family records held by the University of Waterloo's Breithaupt Hewetson Clark Collection. Bill Davis was the Premier of Ontario when I began my career as a public servant working for the province of Ontario (some 31 years ago) so seeing his name in family records connected to Ellen's family really piqued my curiosity. In addition, no one in the family had ever mentioned a connection to one of Ontario's longest serving Premiers in the modern era.

The same record group summary that mentioned Bill Davis also mentioned his mother, Vera Davis (nee Hewetson). I was aware of the Hewetson family in relation to Ellen's family. The connection is found through Rosa Melvina Breithaupt (Ellen's second cousin, twice removed) who married Alfred Russell Hewetson on 10 October 1917. Hewetson ran a very successful shoe manufacturing business in Brampton, Ontario with his father, John William Hewetson.

When Alfred Russell Hewetson died of pneumonia in 1928, at age 40, Rosa took over his involvement in the business. Eventually, Rosa would re-marry to H. Spencer Clark with whom she would establish the renowned Guild of All Arts or Guild Inn and the planned community of Guildwood Village in the Scarborough area of Toronto, Ontario.

Now to the Bill Davis connection - Alfred Russell Hewetson's sister, and Rosa's sister-in-law, Vera Mildred Hewetson married successful Brampton, Ontario lawyer, Albert Grenville Davis in 1923. Their son, William Grenville Davis, was born in 1929. Rosa was Bill Davis' aunt although it is not clear from the records and biographical information I have read, whether he knew her as such. So Bill Davis does not have a 'blood' relationship to Ellen but their families are connected.

Bill Davis followed in his father's footsteps and was called to the Ontario bar in 1955. In June 1959, he was elected to represent the provincial riding of Peel, which included his hometown of Brampton. He served as the Minister of Education from 1962 to 1971 and as Premier of the Province of Ontario from 1971 to 1985. During the 1960's, Davis transformed the education and especially the school board system in the province and, as Premier, he lead the province through tremendous years of growth. His critics, and what politician doesn't have a few of those, accused him of being bland.

In his most famous quote, Davis replied to his critics, "Bland works!"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You're Right, Amy - It's Not Fair

My friend and genealogist, Amy Coffin had a post yesterday on her great blog, The We Tree Genealogy Blog, about how easy some of her research was into her husband's family but how difficult researching her own family has been. Amy, you're right! It's just not fair.

I have been researching my Hadden (paternal) and O'Neill (maternal) families for 30 years and I still can't find a confirmed date of birth for one of my maternal great grandfathers. He died in 1927 so I'm not conducting research deciphering cave drawings! Although I have had more success on my paternal Hadden family, it has not been easy and I would have thought that after 30 years I would have more to show for it.

On the other hand, I began researching my wife Ellen's family about seven years ago and at times the information flows so fast, it's tough to keep up with all the source citations - multiple sources for almost all facts. Granted Ellen's family has a much longer history in Ontario, Canada and having more local sources is a benefit but my excitement in discovering multiple prominent local and national political connections doesn't always seemed to be shared with the same fervour. Four mayors, Members of Canada's Parliament, Members of Provincial Parliament(in Ontario), a Canadian Senator, and today's discovery of a connection to Ontario's 18th Premier (more on that on a later date when all the sourced facts are known). I've even found a local pioneer village where spinning wheels produced by Ellen's third great grandfather are on display.

Maybe one day, my family will feel as easy. It's a good thing hope comes in large quantities!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hadden Family Reunions

As I grew up in my parental family, there really wasn't anything heard of called a 'family reunion.' We tended to stay home and were not really the 'visiting' kind. As a result, I feel a bit of envy when I read about other families gathering from near and far over the course of the summer for reunions - refreshing established connections and making new ones.

My Hadden family has come together usually at weddings and funerals, typically leaving with the same promise to get together again, and especially in the case of funerals, at a happier time. While the intentions are always good, only rarely have they materialized. One occasion was around 1980 at an uncle's farm near Belleville, Ontario. Below is a photo of my grandfather, John Gaull Hadden (centre) flanked by his four children (from left to right - Carol, Lewis, James, and Douglas).

With special thanks to Alan Cope, a Hadden cousin through marriage and genealogist in Australia, I learned of an earlier Hadden reunion - one that took place in 1923, the same year that my Hadden family left Scotland for Saskatchewan, Canada. In that year, Hadden aunts of my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden gathered in Scotland (photo below courtesy of Alan Cope).

As my great grandfather's parents never married and Alexander was raised by his mother, Helen Shand Gammie, I don't know if he knew his father, John Hadden's family. It seems a shame that as his Hadden relatives gathered he left Scotland behind for the promise and adventure of a new land.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Family Patriarch Photos

One element of my wife Ellen's family that fascinates me is the amount of information, that is records, available to aid with research. This includes, vital records, family documents, wills, legal agreements, and most fascinating to me, old photos.

In my family line, I have very few photos of my grandparents and only a couple of my Hadden great grandparents. As a result, I think it's remarkable that I have found a photo of Ellen's great-great grandfather and one of her great-great-great grandfather and grandmother! More remarkable still when you consider that photography was a relatively 'new' invention when these folks were alive.

Jacob Emanuel Muerner and his wife Susanna Schluchter (Ellen's three times great grandparents) were born in Berne, Switzerland in 1789 and 1787, respectively. All eleven of their children were also born in Switzerland. In 1837, they immigrated to Canada and settled in New Hamburg, a hamlet located west of what is now Kitchener, Ontario. Below they are pictured in undated photos, but as Jacob died in 1869 and Susanna in 1875, these photos are the oldest in my digital family collection.

The Rev. Jacob Wagner was born in Germany in 1824. In 1832, he immigrated to the USA and settled in Lyons, New York state. Eventually he and his wife, Margaret (nee Hailer) would move to and settle in Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario. The date of his photo below is unknown, however Jacob died in 1858 so it would have been taken sometime before that time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Family Education Records

I never imagined it possible to find records related to the education of ancestors dating back to the 19th century. But thanks to one of my favourite Canadian history websites, Our Roots, that is what I have basically discovered.

Our Roots was developed as a collaboration by colleges , universities, and archives across Canada to put Canada's local histories online. Containing local history works in both French and English, the site describes itself as "a library, archive, museum and school all in one."

A site search lead me to the book, Berlin Collegiate and Technical Institute - Historical Sketch and Calendar of Pupils 1855 - 1904, published, it appears, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the high school. Although the Head Masters over that fifty year period were described as visionary educators, I suspect the school was likely a stern and disciplined environment for the teen-aged students over the period the 'calendar' covers.

Student marks are not provided but the book lists all students by year of entry into the high school. By reviewing the full calendar of students, I found the following ancestors of Ellen's listed (their relationship to Ellen noted in parentheses):

1869 - Louis Jacob Breithaupt (first cousin, three times removed)

1871 - William Henry Breithaupt (first cousin, three times removed)
Louis Henry Wagner (great grandfather)

1876 - John Cristian Breithaupt (first cousin, three times removed)

1880 - Melvina Breithaupt (first cousin, three times removed)

1881 - Ezra Carl Breithaupt (first cousin, three times removed)

1886 - Albert Liborius Breithaupt (first cousin, three times removed)

1889 - Herbert Leslie Staebler (first cousin, two times removed)

1902 - Louis Jacob Gordon Wagner (grandfather)

1904 - Rose Breithaupt (second cousin, two times removed and founder with her husband Spencer Clark of the Guild Inn)

Unfortunately, the book doesn't contain confirmation of graduation but it still nice to find documentation verifying their education, up to 150 years ago.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Last Birthday Party for Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean

Margaret Hailer was born in 1831, in Chippewa, Ontario, Canada, a small hamlet on the banks of the Niagara River, almost within hearing of the Horseshoe Falls. Her father, John Jacob Hailer is reported to be the first European settler in the Waterloo region of Ontario, purchasing his first acre of land and settling with his family in what is now the downtown core of the city of Kitchener, Ontario.

Margaret married Jacob Wagner in 1849, when she was eighteen years of age. Jacob died suddenly eight and one half years later in 1858, leaving a young widow and two young children. In 1862, Margaret married Daniel Bean, a school teacher, and they had eight additional children. Daniel passed away in 1885.

In 1918, Margaret's family gathered with her in the Bridgeport section of Kitchener (renamed from Berlin in 1916) to celebrate her 87th birthday. A 1918 clipping from the Daily News newspaper, part of the treasure trove found of family records on file at the University of Waterloo, donated by Gordon Wagner, states that "Even today it is her custom to go to church twice every Sunday. During all the past years she has been one of the staunchest Sunday School workers."

The article further indicates that 6 of her 10 children were able to attend the birthday celebration - unfortunately the article only lists four of the six: Euphemia Bean Schmidt (of South Dakota), Emma Mary Bean Haist (of Buffalo, New York), Margaret A. Bean Bender, and Samuel Bean, both of Berlin/Kitchener, Ontario. All four children were from Margaret Hailer's second marriage to Daniel Bean. In additon to her children, the article indicates that grandchildren, many other family members and friends participated in the celebration of her birthday.

Unfortunately, just a little over a month later these family and friends were to gather again but this time for Margaret's funeral in July 1918. As one newspaper obituary so eloquently described it, "At the ripe age of 87 years, 1 month and 7 days, mother Margaret Bean, nee Hailer, eldest daughter of the sainted Jacob Hailer and his wife Margaret Riehl, was suddenly translated from her earthly pilgrimmage (sic) to her heavenly mansion on Sunday, July 7th, 1918, at her late home, Frederick St., Kitchener, Ont., without any premonition or previous illness."

Margaret was laid to rest in the Breithaupt family section of the Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener (photo of her monument above right).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Canadian Senator in the Family

It's a frequently offered piece of advice, one that I have offered to both experienced and inexperienced genealogists as a lesson learned over the years - go back and re-check your records for nuggets of information you may have initially overlooked. If only I could remember to follow the advice I offer! Oh well, better late than never!

As the result of a recent cemetery trip, I decided to go back and review the pedigree charts and family group sheets left by Gordon Wagner, Ellen's uncle, that contain the information resulting from his family history research. I was looking for a particular family name but in reviewing Gordon's notes, I noticed that beside the name of one of Ellen's second great grandmothers, Anna Muerner, Gordon had penciled in "(sister of Senator Muerner)." I had never heard of Senator Muerner and, in fact, because I had not yet pursued Anna's family, I wasn't aware that she had any siblings.

I checked the Canadian Parliament web site's listing of past Members of Parliament and the Senate and it indicated that there were no Muerners. I did however find a short Wikipedia biography of "the Honourable Samuel Merner" (pictured above right in a photo from the Parliamentary library taken in 1898). Using the more 'anglicized' Merner spelling, I found the Parliament biography for Ellen's second great granduncle, 'Honest Sam' (as he was apparently called) Merner.

A blacksmith by trade, Samuel Merner established a successful wagon and carriage manufacturing business in the village of New Hamburg, Ontario. Prosperity in business lead Samuel into leadership roles in his community like membership on the local school board and time as village councilor and reeve. In 1878, Samuel lost a provincial election but was elected to represent the federal riding of Waterloo South in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa, Ontario.

Unfortunately for Samuel, he was defeated in the 1882 election but on 12 January 1887, Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, appointed Samuel to the Canadian Senate. The charmed life continued for Samuel - business successes included two iron foundries (that he subsequently gave to two of his sons), large farms, and a silent partnership in a large, profitable furniture manufacturing business. His original carriage shop, he sold to his brother Frederick. Samuel and his wife Mary Ann brought fourteen children (seven boys and seven girls) into the world and lived in an elegant home beside the Nith River in the heart of New Hamburg.

Sadly, on the twentieth-fifth anniversary of Canada's Confederation, July 1st, 1892, Samuel's wife Mary Ann died of "congestion of the lungs." Samuel did re-marry, in 1898, and following a re-location of his family to the Brunswick Hotel in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, which he owned, he began to experience a decline in his health and wealth. According to the Universities of Toronto and Laval's Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, it appears that Samuel, in desperation, unsuccessfully attempted to end his life in 1905 by taking carbolic acid. Samuel passed away on August 10, 1908 and was survived by his second wife and eight of his 14 children.

Ancestral Mayors of Berlin/Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

A number of my wife Ellen's ancestors successfully entered the political arena of public service with four serving as Mayor of the Town of Berlin and, as of 1916, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. While I knew of some of the political lives of her ancestors, our recent genealogy quest to Kitchener highlighted these four men in particular, presented here in chronological order of mayoral service:

1. Phillip Ludwig 'Louis' Breithaupt

Louis Breithaupt (Ellen's 2X great granduncle) moved to the town of Berlin, Ontario from Buffalo, New York, USA in the late 1850's. He had been introduced to the area by his friend and brother-in-law, the Rev. Jacob Wagner (Ellen's 2X great grandfather). Catharine Hailer, the younger sister of Jacob's wife Margaret, subsequently married Louis. On April 1, 1858, Louis and Jacob completed a written agreement to go into the tannery business together but, unfortunately, Jacob died on April 19th. Louis opened the tannery on his own and built the business into a family enterprise that spanned four generations before it was sold to the A. R. Clarke Co. Louis was elected Mayor of Berlin in 1879 and died while in office in 1880.

2. Louis Jacob Breithaupt

Louis Jacob (LJ) was Louis' son (and Ellen's first cousin, three times removed) and served as Mayor of Berlin from 1888 - 1889. He had previously served on the local school board and had been a town councilor, deputy reeve and reeve. Subsequent to his service as town mayor, LJ represented the area as the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) from 1899 - 1902. When not serving in public office, LJ was president of the family leather company.

3. Jacob Merner Staebler

Jacob (Ellen's great granduncle) established a highly successful insurance company in Berlin in 1873. No longer in the family, the Staebler Insurance Company still operates as a multi-million dollar per year insurance firm. First elected to town council in 1880, J M Staebler held successive public offices leading to a term as Mayor in 1891. An interesting side note about J M Staebler - when he first established his business, he had his initials placed over the main entrance door to the company offices. Subsequently, the building was sold to another man who shared the same initials and who, understandably, was thrilled to purchase a building for his new business that already bore his initials. That man was J. M. Schneider and his company went on to become one of the largest producers of meat products in Canada.

4. Louis Orville Breithaupt

'LOB' (Ellen's second cousin, twice removed) became, up to that time, the youngest Mayor of Kitchener in 1923. Louis subsequently went on to represent the area in 1940 as Member of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, in the government of Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, and old Breithaupt and Wagner family friend, William Lyon MacKenzie King. Louis left Parliament in 1952 to take up the appointment as Ontario's 18th Lieutenant Governor. He died suddenly in 1960 while serving as Chancellor of Victoria College at the University of Toronto, Ontario.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

It is hard to believe that a year has already passed since I started this family history blog. In the past year, I have somehow managed to write a new post every two days on average and there have been more than 5,000 visits to the blog. Blog visitors have been from about 35 different countries literally around the world, with the majority of visitors from just about all provinces in Canada, almost all states in the continental USA, and across the United Kingdom.

I started the blog based on urgings that I listened to through genealogy podcasts during my daily work commute, particularly Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems podcast and Drew Smith and George G. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys podcast. One year ago, I had hit the threshold of 10,000 names in my family tree database and thought the blog would be a useful and easy way to share the stories from the family histories of both mine and my wife Ellen's roots. I shared the link to the blog with about twenty-five family members from both our families, with the hope that they didn't think it was too stupid an idea.

It would be an understatement to say I am amazed by the response the blog has received! I have connected with cousins, previously unknown, from both our families. Ellen's family has a long and rich history in Ontario, Canada as well the New England states so that is the primary base for her cousin connections. My cousin connections are more international, reflecting different twentieth century emigration points from the mothership of Scotland. My 'new' cousin connections can be found in Australia, Finland, Luxembourg, Scotland (of course), and 'around the corner' from my house, in Pickering, Ontario.

It's been a great year with times of seemingly unlimited stories to share mixed with dry spells during which I couldn't fathom what I might be able to blog about next. Those dry spells tended to be the catalysts for more research to seek out the next topic or story. I can only hope that the next year will provide as much benefit to me!

Thanks for visiting. I hope you will drop by often!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wagner Hailer Family Fonds

In my last post, I wrote about part one of our genealogy vacation outing to the city of Kitchener, Ontario to search out more about Ellen's family roots. The first part of our journey took us to Kitchener's Mount Hope Cemetery and the discovered of some (but not yet all) of the prominent ancestral graves, including her first, second and third great grandparents.

The second part of our day was dedicated to visiting the University of Waterloo's Dana Porter Library, in particular, the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room to examine the Wagner Hailer family fonds. I had discovered this document collection purely by accident many months ago while conducting an Internet search for Wagner family information. The website for the university states "The Hailer and Wagner families were both prominent early families residing in Waterloo County, Ontario, as were the Staebler, Biehn/Bean and Breithaupt families, whose documentation is present in this fonds to a lesser degree." The documents contained in these fonds were donated by Ellen's uncle, Gordon Wagner who found himself in the circumstances faced by many genealogists - at the time that he was winding up his family history research, no one else in the family was interested enough to take it on. If he only knew that his niece would marry a genealogist!

Gordon completed his genealogy research during the 1980's, at a time when the options for obtaining documentation involved waiting for records to arrive via 'snail mail' or traveling to sources. Fortunately, Gordon had the time and resources to travel although I still imagined that the record documentation that he had donated to the university likely consisted of a few pages in a file folder. To my amazement, the fonds consist of two filled archive document boxes.

As the university describes, "The fonds consists of correspondence, legal documents, photographs, genealogical records, relating to Jacob Hailer (1804-1885), Henry Wagner (1793-1867), Jacob Wagner (1824-1858), Louis Henry Wagner (1857-1945), Staebler Family, Biehn/Bean Family and Breithaupt Family. Documents relating to each have been family have been arranged separately with the exception of the correspondence and some legal documents which have been arranged in two chronological sequences."

Needless to say, I was doing the 'genealogy happy dance' when I discovered this 'mother lode' of family history material. I went equipped to the library with my digital camera so that I could take photos of all the documents and materials - unfortunately, the library does not permit the use of cameras! The university does offer a free self-serve scanner that saves images onto a USB key. While I typically carry more than one USB key with at all times, on the day of my visit I had no key because I had brought the camera so a short walk to the university campus 'tech' store was required to purchase a new USB key. After two hours of scanning, I had managed to complete one of the two boxes of materials. Another trip or two will be required to complete the second box along with the complementary "Breithaupt Hewetson Clark Collection" (the Breithaupt family records alone occupy 125 linear feet shelf space). Enough to keep me busy for some time!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Genealogy Vacation Trip 2010

Last December, I wrote about our 2008 genealogy quest to find ancestral graves and our hope that in 2010 we could resume these adventures following Ellen's recovery from her 2009 neurosurgery. Well, yesterday was the day and what a genealogy bonanza it turned out to be!

Ellen's German roots in Canada are only a little more than an hour's drive from our home so it is perhaps odd that we hadn't taken greater advantage of the location proximity. The Kitchener, Waterloo region is famous for its German heritage, hosting an annual, world renowned 'Oktoberfest.' My research has uncovered that Ellen's ancestors were among the first German settlers in the area, in fact, her second great grandaunt, Catherine Hailer Breithaupt is said to be the first person of German heritage to have been born in the area.

Planning for our genealogy 'day trip' was supported by two important online tools: the Find A Grave website helped me confirm that family members were buried in the city of Kitchener's Mount Hope Cemetery and the University of Waterloo's website told me that they were holding the "Wagner Hailer family fonds," the genealogy source documents that Ellen's Uncle Gordon Wagner had collected in the years he conducted his family history research.

Our first stop was at the Williamsburg Cemetery office in Kitchener as they hold the cemetery records for the Mount Hope cemetery. In addition to providing us with the plot numbers for various family members, they provided a cemetery walking tour map and helped us determine the locations of the family plots. The map provides three walking tour routes through different cemetery sections and points out the locations of the graves of prominent individuals, several of which were Ellen's ancestors!

With our maps and guided by our GPS unit, it was on to Mount Hope cemetery where to our amazement we discovered what 'prominent' meant. The cemetery is located on Moore Avenue in Kitchener, Ontario, just off of Breithaupt Street (our first clue!). Among many, our most amazing finds was what I described as a 'gated community' within the cemetery containing the graves of Ellen's great great grandparents, Jacob and Margaret Hailer Wagner along with members of the Breithaupt, Goetz, Devitt and Anthes families. This large corner section of the cemetery has an iron fence with concrete, monogrammed concrete posts surrounding it (as seen in the photo above). The earliest internment appears to be that of Jacob Wagner, Ellen's second great grandfather, in 1858 (photo below).

Among other notable graves - that of Ellen's great grandfather, the Rev. Louis Henry Wagner who officiated at many Breithaupt weddings and the Hon. Louis Orville Breithaupt, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (photos below).

Next post: the Wagner Hailer family fonds.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Musings of Gordon Gilbert Wagner

I have posted previously about my wife's uncle, Gordon Gilbert Henry Wagner (1914 - 1994), pictured left from October 1980, who by profession was a land surveyor in British Columbia, Canada but was also a published author and genealogist. The pedigree charts and family group sheets that Gordon compiled in the 1970's and early 1980's have been invaluable in helping me further my research into Ellen's fascinating family roots.

Gordon's research into the family was laborious, as any involved in pre-computer and Internet research will recall. The family group sheets he left behind provide various notations but offer little to explain some of his findings.

So, I was thrilled to receive copies of some of Gordon's writings - short stories and poems - believed to have been compiled in the early 1980's while Gordon was taking some creative writing classes. The connection to genealogy? Gordon used his family history as a setting for many short stories needed to complete class assignments and in these stories, Gordon is able to offer his narrative explanation and sources on family history questions.

One such story offers his explanation for the date of birth of Ellen's second great grandmother - Eleanor Ann (Ellen) Kimmerly - predating the marriage date of her parents. Gordon's short story in which he 'meets' and 'speaks' with his second great grandfather Sylvester Faulkner, in part, reads as follows:

"Sylvester's [Faulkner] son, Francis Dwight, had married Ellen Kimmerly, the daughter of Andrew Kimmerly and Huldah Ostrum. I had a copy of Andrew Kimmerly's will. He died in 1828. Ellen, her mother Huldah and her two brothers, George and Allen, were beneficiaries.

Lottie (Faulkner) Fuller, my mother's cousin and family historian, showed that Ellen had been born on July 11, 1821. This agreed with the Belleville Intelligencer article reporting her death May 29, 1896, in her seventy-sixth year. Records on file in the Belleville Public Library showed Andrew and Huldah married May 14, 1822 by Reverend McDowell of Kingston, Ontario. [Note: This record is found on page 29 of Rev. McDowell's register]. I had confirmed this in the archives of the United Church in Toronto.

Sylvester listened patiently as I told the story, his shaggy eyebrows frowned over his deep-set blue eyes; I could fell them boring through me. The rocker had stopped. He stood up and slowly and deliberately added wood to the fire.

He settled back in the rocker. "You're right about the dates, and that happened quite often. In those early days Reverend McDowell was the only ordained minister between Kingston and the shores of Lake Huron. Used to come through once a year, and if you missed him you'd have to wait until his next trip. The Kimmerlys were Lutheran, had a church at Big Creek, usually had a lay preacher. Andrew and Ellen must have been married there then had a proper service the first time Reverend McDowell came by. That sort of thing happened all the time, same with christenings."

Creative writing class assignments as a genealogy source - who knew?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Knox Family of Livermore, California

Thomas Elliott Knox, my wife Ellen's great grandfather, was sufficiently prominent in early California to deserve a biographical section in "A History of The New California: Its Resources and History, Volume II," edited by Leigh H. Irvine, published in 1905 by The Lewis Publishing Company. Thomas is seen on the right side in the above 1923 photo taken in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, along with his wife Amy Squires Knox (centre) and Edward Latimer (on the left) with their granddaughter, and Ellen's mother, Olive Teresa Evelyn 'Tess' Latimer.

The information contained in these biographical sketches can not only confirm that which vital records provide but add 'flesh to the bones' in providing a wide variety and chronology of occupations and locations that otherwise would be difficult to attain. One interesting note, in the first paragraph, the author states that Thomas' father died in 1873 - he actual year of death was 1875. When this book was published in 1905, Thomas' mother was still living as stated but she died the following year.


Thomas Elliott Knox, mayor and postmaster of Livermore, was born
in Huron county, Canada, on the 13th of March, 1855, his parents being
Thomas and Catherine (Young) Knox, the former born in Buffalo, New
York, while the latter was a native of Canada. The father died in the year
1873, but the mother is still living and yet makes her home in her native

Thomas E. Knox pursued his education in the schools of Canada and
at the age of fifteen years he left home, going to Michigan, where he secured
employment in the lumber woods. After engaging in scaling timber two
years he made his way to Lake Superior, Michigan, where he worked for a
time at brick work and at plastering. The year 1875 witnessed his arrival
in California. He was then a young man of twenty years, and he made his
way from San Francisco to Santa Barbara and the following year came to
Oakland. Here he followed his trade for a time, and subsequently removed
to Berkeley, Alameda county, California, where he remained until 1878, and
during that period assisted in the organization of the town, which at that
time contained only about two hundred voters. This was during the period
of the Kearney excitement, and Mr. Knox organized what became known
as the Workingmen's party, and, although in no way connected with the
Kearney principles, placed a ticket in the field and was instrumental in elect-
ing the whole ticket. In 1879 he was elected town marshal and held that
position for two terms, being the second incumbent in the office in Berkeley.
In 1880 he purchased one hundred and fifty acres of land near Livermore
and established what is known as the Berkeley colony. He was here engaged
in the conduct of a vineyard for ten years, and when that decade had passed
he took up his abode in the town of Livermore and has since been very active
in its political circles. He first entered the assessor's office as an employe,
doing field work in the district known as Murray township. He was thus
employed for eight years, a part of the time being under Tom Molloy, the
first county assessor, and a part of the time under Robert Leckey, the present
chief deputy recorder. On his retirement from that position he began con-
tracting and building, and has since been identified with industrial interests
in this locality. He has taken and executed the contracts for considerable
bridge work in the county, and at present is associated with Mr. Bradshaw
as contractors in the construction of the new Livermore opera house.

Mr. Knox, however, has never put aside his active and helpful interest
in political affairs, and is a stanch Republican in his views. He has been
to many of the county conventions of his party, and his opinions carry weight
in its councils. He was elected a trustee of Livermore in 1899, and has
continuously served in that capacity for more than four years, being chairman
or mayor of the city during 1902-3. In April, 1903, he was appointed by
President Roosevelt to the position of postmaster at Livermore and has since
acted in that capacity. His official service is always faithfully and promptly
performed, and he is as loyal to the welfare of his community as he is to his
private business interests, whereby he is acquiring a comfortable competence
for his family. In his social relations he is connected with the Independent
Order of Foresters.

In October, 1881, Mr. Knox was united in marriage to Miss Amy
Squires, a native of England and a daughter of John Squires, the former
treasurer of Berkeley, California. Her brother-in-law is now secretary of
the harbor commission. To Mr. and Mrs. Knox have been born two sons
and a daughter: Arthur, who is assisting his father: Elliott, who is now in
school; and Mattie, a student in the high school at Livermore.

Monday, August 2, 2010

John and Maryann Got Married!

I was unable to make to the other wedding that took place on Saturday, July 31st - the one in Rhinesbeck, New York - because John and Maryann Hadden got married! It is always great to witness the next generation achieving milestones, evoking memories of when you achieved those same stages in life's journey.

I'm pleased to share a few images of the happy event and the party-all-night that resulted.

John places a ring on Maryann's finger!

The bridal party ready to celebrate!

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. John and Maryann Hadden!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hadden Family Tree is About to Blossom

The week of the big event has finally arrived. Just five more sleeps and Maryann Grubisic will wed my son, John Graham Hadden, in Burlington, Ontario. Born just 48 hours apart, the happy couple will be surrounded by family and friends on Saturday afternoon, July 31st as they tie the proverbial knot.

As a family historian, I'm used to seeking out and examining the marriage records of ancestors - but this is different! It is a true excitement that envelopes the family, and especially a parent, when a child is getting married, evoking memories of your own wedding day. Maryann and John have done an incredible job in working through all the details of their special day - choosing a venue that provided all of the important features they wanted, special invitations that intoned that special request of "the honour of your presence," and the colour coordination of bridal party formal wear.

In a pleasant break from tradition, John will have his sister Lisa as his Best 'Person.' I can recall wanting my brother, Bob to be my best man but as he was only 16 years old at the time, he was considered by law to be too young.

To John and Maryann - "May the winds o adversity ne'er blow open your door" and "May ye ne'er want a frien', or a dram to gi'e him!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

An Obituary for John Foley

When my great grandfather, John Foley, left Toronto in January 1927 on a business trip to California, he wasn't expected to die during his journey. One Toronto newspaper described his sudden death in the following obituary:

"Dies Suddenly In California

Late John Foley Left Toronto on January 4, Caring for Old Friend on the Trip

Two weeks to the day after leaving Toronto with his wife for a visit to California, the remains of John Foley, retired building contractor will be carried to the grave in Mount Hope Cemetery.

Prior to going away he had been tendered a party at which an orchestra provided music for the many friends who assembled to bid him a farewell. He was accompanied on the journey by M. J. Gloster aged 83. Mr. Foley, who was in his 63rd year, having undertaken to look after his old friend on the journey.

Mr. Gloster, who is growing feeble, had deferred his own departure so that he might have the company and assistance of a younger and vigourous companion. Mr. Foley owned property in California and intended to dispose of it while there. Although he had suffered from a heart disorder for some time, he was apparently in good health when he left Toronto, and announcement of his demise came as a great shock to members of his family and to his friends.

Shortly after reaching California he suffered a heart attack. Mr. Foley was a life-long resident of the east end and a well known sand and gravel contractor. He attended St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church. Besides his wife he is survived by one daughter Mrs. Graham O'Neill, three sons, Clarence, Gerald, and John; one brother, John and a sister, Mrs. Shaughnessy.

The remains will reach Toronto on Monday. Deceased was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Holy Name Society. His home was at 249 Queensdale avenue."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My Continuing Genealogy Education

During the May 2010, Ontario Genealogical Society conference, I attended at class offered by my friend Lisa Louise Cooke, the host and producer of the the Genealogy Gems Podcast. Lisa commented that as genealogists we should be spending thirty percent of our 'genealogy' time studying, learning about new tips and research methods helpful in the further pursuit of the your family history. Until my retirement date arrives in a couple of years, like most, I don't have as much time as I would like to work on genealogy - or do other things I love, like "just hanging out" with my wife.

I decided to apply a valuable research tip to help me with 'study time.' I have always been amazed at what new details I find when I go back and re-examine genealogical records for my family, I decided to 'go back' and re-listen to the podcasts that I had previously heard. The podcast series I have subscribed to were still in my iTunes library and on my iPod. Podcasts generally, and I listen to several, have always been an enormous source of learning, introducing me to new ideas, information sources, and research techniques - and they are great entertainment during my daily work commute.

I didn't start my 're-listening' in an organized way but rather spun the wheel of the iPod and listened to the podcast episode that it 'landed' on - Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #74 from October 2009 turned out to be my starting point. In the episode, Lisa interviews Joe Bott of, a free, searchable Internet "Genealogy Photo Archive." Joe explained how he started the site and shared stories of 'reunions' of family members with old lost-to-the-family photos. I remembered listening, not that long ago, to the episode and then trying the Dead Fred site without any results.

But when I re-listened to the episode, I heard of site search tips and techniques that I didn't recall trying previously, like searching by location. So back I went to Dead Fred and to my amazement, I found photo #23793 (pictured below). The photo is a page from the 1915 University of Toronto yearbook and depicts eight members of the Chemists and Miners program, each of whom is identified. The second person from the top on the left side is identified as "Breithaupt, John Edward."

John Edward Breithaupt was born in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario on December 8, 1892, the eldest child of John Cristian Breithaupt and Carolina Catherine Anthes and the grandson of Phillip 'Louis' Breithaupt and Catherine Hailer who were prominent early settlers of the Waterloo Region of Ontario.

John Edward Breithaupt (seen the close-up photo below) is also my wife, Ellen's second cousin, twice removed and we had never seen a photo of him until my re-listening and re-checking of sources lead to my finding the yearbook page on Dead Fred. Checking, or in this case listening, twice, always pays off!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Queen Elizabeth Visits My Office

Well, not really but on July 6th, she was just across the street. I am fortunate in that the windows of my office offer a postcard view of the Ontario Legislative Building in downtown Toronto, Ontario (pictured to the right from my office windows with crowds gathering to see Queen Elizabeth).

The day was mercilessly hot and humid yet undaunted, the 84 year-old monarch completed a lengthy 'walk about,' speaking with many of the gathered well-wishers, inspected a guard of honour, received a military 21-gun salute, and eventually made her way to an awaiting car that whisked her and Prince Philip off to the airport for a trip to New York City where she later in the afternoon addressed the United Nations.

I'm almost certain that her last wave pictured below, was for me - well, maybe!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2011 Census of Canada Gone Wrong

There have been recent reports of genealogists being outraged because the "long" form of the 2011 Canadian Census will not be made publicly available in 92 years as has been the practise with past census information. The argument of course is that this action "slams the door" shut to future generations of genealogists who will be unable to access important information about their families. Perhaps, but I see a greater issue.

On June 17, 2010, the government of Canada approved an Order-in-Council (OIC) under the Statistics Act, which was published, as is required, in the Canadian Gazette on June 26th. An OIC is typically a change or amendment to a regulation under an existing law - in this case the Statistics Act. The OIC that was approved established an agricultural census and a population census to take place in May 2011. The OIC also prescribes the information to be collected. What makes 2011 unique is that Statistics Canada, the arm of the government responsible for census taking, will be completing a sampling of households that will be requested to complete a "long" form of the population census questionnaire, which asks for much more detailed information. It are these "long" forms and the information they contain that will not be released.

The shorter population census form that everyone is to complete will require the submission of information that we are used to seeing in census returns: address, name of household head, names of all household occupants and their relationship to the head along with their sex, date of birth, age, marital status, and first language. This information will be available for future generations but only if the person completing the 2011 census form indicates on the form gives consent to release the information. According to a published report in the Vancouver Sun, "This change was made to reasonably limit what many Canadians felt was an intrusion of their personal privacy," said Erik Waddell, a spokesman for Industry Minister Tony Clement (Statistics Canada falls under the purview of Industry Canada). "

I have yet to meet a single person who genuinely believes that the release of census information in 92 years constitutes an intrusion of their personal privacy. By comparison, the US census information is released after 72 years. I can't imagine what evil purpose someone might use the information for - could they use my date of birth to fraudulently misrepresent themselves as me - at the age of 148? I'm not aware of anyone, anywhere using census information in a malevolent manner. Rather, the real risk with the census is found in those who misrepresent themselves through things like email fraud and 'phishing'. If a 'fraudster' sent an email to everyone in Canada posing as a Statistics Canada representative and asking for social insurance numbers and/or banking information and even if only one percent of all the Canadians replied and provided their information, there would be about 340,000 victims. Those who would commit fraud are not going to wait many decades when instant gratification can be attained.

So why is the release of this information optional? That is really the larger question that needs to be addressed without hiding behind the dark and fearful veil of privacy concerns.