Sunday, January 31, 2010

War's Cold Notification

Before I began researching my family's history, war was something rather academic, just a subject to be studied. It didn't seem to touch my family. My grandfathers were too young for World War 1 and too old for World War 2. But as I have delved deeper into the my family tree's roots and branches, I have found too many young men, some only boys, who paid the ultimate sacrifice 'for King and country.'

I am not only fascinated with the men in my family tree who valiantly went to war but I can't help but feel for the families they left behind and the terrible shock they received when news came from the 'front.' Recently, Alan Cope, a cousin-in-law and family history co-researcher, shared a letter that was received about the death of my great great grandfather's nephew and my first cousin, three times removed, Alexander Garrow Duncan Gordon (pictured right in a photo Alan also provided).

Alexander was born in May 1891 in Keiss, Caithness, Scotland, the eldest son of William Gordon and Annie Hadden. In 1912, Alexander married Euphemia Thomson Anderson and over the next few years, they welcomed children 'Willie' and Margaret. Unfortunately, and likely due to the significant destruction of British World War 1 records during the bombing of London in World War 2, I don't know exactly when Alexander enlisted but he did join the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. Subsequently, he was sent into action at the front.

Dated August 20, 1917, Army Form B. 104-82 was sent to Alexander's family from the Infantry Record Office in Perth. With typical Army efficiency, the notice is a 'fill in the blank' form (the filled in sections are in italics):


It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office notifying the death of :-
(No.) S/ 9654 (Rank) Private
(Name) Alexander Gordon
(Regiment) Argyll & Sutherland Highrs.
which occurred in France
on the 6th August 1917.
The report is to the effect that he was Killed in Action.

By His Majesty's command I am to forward the enclosed message of sympathy from Their Gracious Majesties the King and Queen. I am at the same time to express the regret of the Army Council at the soldier's death in his Country's service.

I am to add that any information that may be received as to the soldier's burial will be communicated to you in due course. A separate leaflet dealing more fully with this subject is enclosed.

I am,
Your obedient Servant,
Officer in charge of Records

It's hard to imagine what it must have been like for a young wife and mother or elderly parents when they opened an envelope containing a form letter like the one above, knowing that their loved one was never coming home, not even for burial.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Hadden Coat of Arms?

A family Coat of Arms or a family crest are sometimes closely linked to family history. Pictured to the left is the "Hadden Coat of Arms." A shield with distinctive quadrants and a crescent moon covering the intersection of quadrants. It looks impressive but I can lay no claim to it because coats of arms were not given to families!

Coats of arms became necessary at a time when, predominantly the noble and gentry began wearing suits of armour for protection when going into battle. Without colourful, distinctive markings, it was hard to tell who was on your side as everyone could, well, look the same. I think it would be a bit like watching your favourite sports team playing their arch rivals while both teams wore the same uniform. Or imagine attending a jousting tournament in more peaceful medieval times, how would you know who your favourite knight was and therefore who to cheer on if there were no distinctive markings.

I'm not certain of the meaning of the symbols and diagrams in each of the quadrants but from what I understand the red colour is suppose to symbolize warrior and military strength and the gold symbolizes generosity while black represents constancy and grief. And the red roses? Maybe romantic warrior? I doubt it but there could a great new apocryphal family story to get started.

It's not that I can't find any number of vendors who will sell me "my family coat of arms" adorning mugs, T-shirts, framed lithographs and plaques. No, it's because the coat of arms was given to individuals for their exclusive use. The coat of arms was passed down as an inheritance but only from father to first born son.

Even though I am the first born son of a first born son, my grandfather was a third born son - so I only get back a couple of generations before I run into a problem. My grandfather's father was a first born son but his father was a fourth born son so again I can't get through to making a claim on the coat of arms.

All is not lost though, a nicely mounted heraldic plaque with the "family coat of arms" looks great on the living room wall.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Will of John Gaull

I don't have that many family wills but those that I have read continue to fascinate me with their glimpses into the life of the individuals who completed them. They also at times add to some of the family mysteries that perplex me.

John Gaull was my 4th great grandfather. He was born on June 8th, 1806 at Conglass, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and married Mary Christie on May 13, 1843 at Kintore, Aberdeenshire. On January 8, 1887, John Gaull employed Thomas Wilsone as his solicitor and set out the provisions of his last will and testament. He named three trustees to oversee the disposition of his estate and provided that they each receive 5 pounds Sterling for doing so - Robert Grant of Pitfichie, Monymusk; Rev. Alexander Yule, Minister of the Free Church of Blairdaff, Monymusk (later, due to Rev. Yule's death, he appointed Adam Gordon, Farmer at Haddock, Monymusk in his place); and, his nephew, William Fowler of Millbowie, Skene.

After the standard direction that his debts and funeral expenses be paid, John Gaull directed his executors "pay to my illegitimate Grandson George Gaull, sometimes named George Howie, sometimes George Irvine" a sum of one hundred pounds.

He left 500 pounds "for the liferent use of my illegitimate Grandson John Gaull, residing at Cairnley aforesaid during all the days of his life and on his death I direct the said sum to be paid over and transferred to the lawful children of the said John Gaull." Liferent, under Scots law, was the right to receive for life the benefits of an asset, in this case money but land could also be left as a liferent, but without the right to transfer or otherwise dispose of the asset.

John Gaull left the rest of his estate "for the liferent use of my daughter Mrs. Mary Gaull or Glennie during all the days of her life," further stipulating that upon her death the balance was to be split between her children, including George Gaull (sometimes Howie, sometimes Irvine) but excluding grandson John Gaull, George's twin brother.

It seems John had not forgotten that he spent money helping his daughter Mary on the death of her husband, Alexander Glennie, in 1879 for he advised his executors that "there is a balance of upwards of Two hundred and fifty pounds due to me by my daughter in connection with the Executry of her late husband or the management of the farm of Tillyfro occupied by her." It should be noted that John allowed his executors to decide how to deal with this issue and they subsequently accepted Mary's assertion that the debt had already been paid back to her father.

John Gaull finally directed that "the whole stocking and other effects on the farm of Cairnley occupied by my said Grandson John Gaull belong to him."

The will was changed or amended on three subsequent occasions by John. First on June 16, 1888, then on November 21, 1888, and finally in July 1892, about a month before his death when his was "now residing at Millbowie, Skene." In the last changes that he made, John Gaull removed the liferent provision for the 500 pounds he was leaving to his grandson and namesake, John Gaull so that the money would simply be given by the estate. He also directed that 100 pounds be set aside to be paid to John Gaull's children, following his daughter Mary Gaull or Glennie's death, on "their respectively attaining majority."

And, finally, he "recalled" the 100 pounds that he was leaving to his grandson, George Gaull instead leaving 50 pounds to George's twin brother John after their mother's death. No reason was given for the exclusion of his grandson George from receiving any proceeds from his estate that was valued on his death at more than 1,500 pounds. Their is no life event that I can find associated with George that would cause his exclusion but clearly, John Gaull had some reason and for now, it remains a mystery.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dinner With The Queen

Sara Caskey was married to my wife Ellen's second cousin, Louis Orville Breithaupt (Louis and Sara are pictured left on their wedding day) who was among other things was the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Canada, the Queen's representative in the province. As a result, Sara and Louis were invited to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. The day after the coronation, Sara and Louis were invited to dinner at Buckingham Palace for an intimate dinner with the new Queen - and about 300 other invited guests. Here's how Sara described the event in her 1977 reminiscences:

"As we drove through the huge iron gates and saw all the Beefeaters swarming around, I wondered if I were in a dream. The Beefeaters in their crimson and gold outfits and large black hats are the special guards of the Queen and they were everywhere.

After removing our wraps and rejoining our husbands, we ascended a large wide stairway and found ourselves in an enormous beautifully paneled Reception Room.

A number of Aides-de-camp were trying to make us feel at home.We were fortunate as two of the Aides had been Lord Alexander's while he was Governor General in Canada and we knew them.

The Queen, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother received us. Then we went directly to the dining room and I have never seen such beauty. All the rooms were gorgeous with the carved paneling and huge oil paintings but the dining room took one's breath.

The small round tables each set for ten were all around the room. The Head Table set for thirty was in the center.

There were six large gold bowls of flowers down the length of it interspersed with gold candelabra.

The room was enormous and banked here and there along the four walls from the floor eight feet high at least were bouquets of pale pink hydrangeas at the bottom. Then dozens of pale pink peonies and white stock."

"The Queen finally came in and because my table companions could not talk [Sara explained that the men to either side of her did not speak English], I could gaze at the Head Table to my heart's content as it was very close. All the Crowned Heads of Europe were seated at it.

All the cutlery, salts and peppers and all the serving dishes were of solid gold. The plates for each course were gold until we came to the dessert served on delicate china.

The Sultan to my right had difficulty serving himself and when the asparagus vinaigrette came, he just took one piece. The steward came to me next and whispered: - "Take all you want - we've got lots." It was so unexpected, I almost drop the serving utensils.

We adjourned finally to the huge Reception Rooms for coffee and visiting. I had just joined Dad [Louis Breithaupt] when the Lord Chamberlain came up and said the Queen Mother wished to speak to us. He took us over and presented us. She chatted away so naturally.

The Royal Family withdrew at 11:30. Then we were allowed to leave, not before of course. We arrived at our hotel after midnight - tired, but happy."

On a lighter note, Sara couldn't resist also recounting an encounter at the coronation dinner with a fellow invitee: "One of the other guests at the Coronation was the Queen of Tonga, a small island in the South Pacific.

The queen was at least six feet two or three inches tall, quite stout and very black. She carried herself beautifully, very erect, and every inch a queen.

I had a minute or two with her, she spoke perfect English. Someone else came up and I moved away.

The other woman asked if it were her first visit to England. The queen said it was and she liked it, and added: "Of course, I have English blood in my veins, you see my grandfather ate an English missionary."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Quite some months ago, I wrote about my wife Ellen's second cousin who in 1952 became the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Canada (see A Ghost of a Chance from August 2009). Louis Orville Breithaupt was a prominent leader in the city of Kitchener, Ontario, serving first as an alderman, then as the youngest mayor of the city, and eventually as a Member of Parliament for about a dozen years. Louis' wife, Sara Caskey was herself prominent in the roles that she took on in life and one of the most interesting documents I have is a 31-page 'autobiography', entitled "Bits and Pieces of My Life," that she wrote in December of 1977 at the age of 83.

Not only did Sara want to capture her family's history but she clearly wanted to share the memorable moments from her life. One of these 'moments' was attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 that Louis and Sara were invited to as a result of Louis' viceregal status as the monarch's representative in Ontario.

Louis and Sara sailed to England for the coronation aboard the 'Queen Mary' along with Canadian Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent and his wife and Ontario Premier, Leslie Frost and his wife. On Coronation Day, June 2, 1953, they were required to be at Westminster Abbey by 8 a.m. Their invitation to the coronation included their Abbey seat numbers. Sara recounted that due to Louis' status their seats were in a good spot to take in the historic event.

"By ten the special guests and Royalty began arriving.

When the Queen came in looking so young and so beautiful, my eyes filled with tears.

At the Abbey door the Archbishops of York and Canterbury took charge.

Unfortunately we could not see the actual crowning. King Edward's chair was just out of our line of vision but as the crown was placed on her head, all the Peeresses raised their coronets and simultaneously put them on their own heads. They sat just across from us, it was quite a sight.

The Queen then walked very slowly to the Throne in her gold robes, carrying the scepter and wearing her heavy crown. She was helped by the Archbishops.

First, the Archbishop of Canterbury, representing the church throughout the commonwealth did homage. Then her uncles, then Prince Philip knelt before her promising to be her loyal liege man but instead of kissing her hand he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.I doubt if there was a dry eye in the abbey.

After the Royal party had left we waited as we had been told to do until directed by the gentleman with the gold stick. Finally we were told we could go. We welcomed the word joyfully." They left the Abbey just after 3:00 p.m. looking for food for they had eaten nothing but a chocolate bar and had spent more than seven hours in the Abbey.

In my next blog entry, I'll share the memories of Sara attending dinner at Buckingham Palace.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Surname Fun

Surnames are often found to be based on location or occupation so I thought that I would peruse my family history database with the intent of taking a lighthearted look at just what the surnames of those connected to either my wife and I might tell me about our family tree. I've capitalized all the surnames below that are from our tree.

Although we are not connected to the royal family, we do have a Royle family along with lots of Kings, Knights, Squires, and one Noble. We have no navy but lots of Saylors. For protection, we have an Archer and if we aren't feeling well, there are lots of Nurses. Of course, while we haven't always bragged about it, I must admit that there is one Hooker.

It looks like we won't go hungry for I found that my family tree has Lamb, Rice, Fish, Ham, Bacon, and Beans. Fortunately we also have lots of Cooks and Bakers so no need for me to actually have to prepare the meals. If we need more, we have a Hunter, a couple of Diamonds, a few Bucks and a couple of Pennys.

For education, our family tree has a Dean and some Fellows but no college or university. The family tree has some Barnes with a Hatch, Locke and Keyes but no farm. There are Swanns and Birds and for recreation, a Ball - but just one. To help the family look its best, there is a Barber and some Taylors. I'm just not certain how good the family can look though as it has three Chinns.

There is a slightly darker side to the family tree as well that I should disclose for there is a Hack, some Flukes, a Gossip and lots of Lawless people. Sadly too, there are a number of Grooms, apparently jilted as I could find no brides.

Finally, for some colour, I noticed that the family has some Browns, Blacks, Greens, Grays and Whites - and I would be remiss not to mention the single Rose.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Smart Family

The marriage of William Smart and Jane Strachan (my 5th great grandparents) were just one of nineteen weddings registered in the local parish at New Deer, Aberdeenshire in 1798. Their marriage record in that old parish register is brief and to the point - "Aug. 30th William Smart and Jane Strachan." There was no mention of witnesses, their parents weren't listed, no ages, just the one line, like the other eighteen couples, listing their names - a testament to being frugal with no waste of paper or ink. They went on the have a family of seven children, based on records that I have found to date.

One son, William, whom I believe to be their youngest son based the traditional Scottish naming convention, was born about 1810. Their oldest was Joshua, named after William's father and another son was John, the name of Jane's father, was likely the second oldest of the boys. William (Jr.) eventually left the family home and moved south. On April 13, 1835 he married Ann Bennett Mackie. William and Ann settled down in Markinch, Fife, Scotland, a town not too far away from her family who lived in Kennoway, Fifeshire. Markinch is located just outside Glenrothes which now is a small city located between Dundee to the north and Edinburgh to the south. William made a living for his family and himself as a Markinch blacksmith according to the 1841 Scottish census.

William and Ann had three recorded children: a daughter, Ann born around 1835, and two sons, John born around 1840 and William born, according to his christening record, on July 31st, 1841 at Prestyhall (Prestonhall), Markinch. Something occurred however over the next ten years that seems to have ripped the family apart for in 1851, William and his son William (are you getting confused by all the Williams yet?) had moved back to Aberdeenshire where they are found in the 1851 Scottish census living on the Smart family farm at Allathan, New Deer with William (Sr.) and his wife Jane (and their unmarried, adult daughter Jane - but enough of the duplicate names!).

What happened to William's wife, daughter and eldest son is not yet known. Only some 'Smart' additional research might reveal the rest of the story.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another Record Found

It's always exciting to find a new family record and this is especially true when the record is over 200 years old. I had just such an experience recently when I delved into some research on my Smart family ancestors. It is easy for me to become focused on 'hunting' for Hadden ancestors and sometimes I need to rise above that natural tendency to look at other connected branches.

James Hadden, my 4th great grandfather, married Mary Smart on May 25th, 1833 in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. James and Mary had at least two children - Alexander, my 3rd great grandfather, and Jane. There is some evidence that they had another child, Mary, but the evidence is not solid. Mary (Smart) Hadden died in 1840 and James left his children, while he went off to find work in New Hills, with his in-laws, Mary's parents, William and Jane (nee Strachan) Smart in Allathan, New Deer, Aberdeenshire.

William Smart appears to have provided a great deal of stability to his family. He was born around 1771 in New Deer where it appears he lived his entire life. On August 30, 1798 he married Jane Strachan. Over the next several years, their family grew with the addition of seven children: Joshua, Jane, Mary, William, Anne, John, and Barbara. William maintained his farm at Allathan in New Deer over the next several decades prior to his death in 1867 at the age of 96.

Although civil registration did not begin in Scotland until 1855, I have recently found the christening record for their first child, Joshua who was named, apparently following the Scottish naming convention, after his paternal grandfather. Joshua's christening record states the following: "William Smart in Allathan had a child brought forth by his wife Jane Strachan baptized named Joshua. Witnesses Joshua Smart and James Robbie." The entry into the parish register is dated July 2, 1799. It is possible, maybe even likely, that the Joshua Smart who is named as a witness to this christening is William's father and my 6th great grandfather.

I really didn't think that there would be more records to find but fortunately, records like this one describing Joshua's christening appear to prove me wrong - and to re-energize the 'hunt' for ancestors.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Hadden Will

The old adage is "where there's a will, there's a way." It obviously wasn't in reference to monies from ancestors estates finding a way to me. I have found a number of family wills and they are always fascinating to read as they provide a glimpse into the lifestyle and values of those family members to which I am connected.

The most notable, and for that matter most recently dated family will that I found was that of a maternal great grandfather, John Foley whose estate was valued at the equivalent of more than $1 million dollars in today's money. When I complained to an uncle of my surprise that he had left none of it to his great grandchildren (me!) , I was quickly reminded that his grandchildren (my uncle) didn't see any of it either!

I have found wills for ancestors in the Gaull and Glennie families and just recently found the will of a Hadden ancestor, specifically James George Wood Hadden. James is the son of my 4th great grandfather, James Hadden and his second wife, Jessie Jamieson. This makes James who was a half brother of my 3rd great grandfather Alexander Bean Hadden, my third great granduncle.

James George Wood Hadden was born in Old Machar, Aberdeenshire, his christening record described the event in this way: "James Hadden, Labourer, Bridge of Don, and his spouse Janet Jamieson, had a son born on 25th August 1848, names James, baptized by the Rev. M Wood in the presence of ... Stephen and John Simpson." James never married and he continued to reside with this mother throughout his life. His lifelong occupation was that of coachman. Sadly, James died on January 29, 1890 at the age of 39 following a five week long battle against bronchitis and pneumonia. In those pre-antibiotics days of not so long ago, what are treatable illnesses today could 'be the death of you.'

On March 3, 1890, "Jessie Jamieson or MacKnight or Hadden, Widow, residing at No. 46 Dee Street, Aberdeen" (Jessie had re-married following the death of James Hadden in 1871 to John McKnight) presented herself in the Aberdeen Sheriff Court to finalize her son's estate. There James' estate was inventoried and found to be valued at just a little more than 66 pounds. The majority of the proceeds of the estate coming from life insurance policies. The largest portion - 50 pounds - was from policy #25516 held by the Victoria Assurance Society, Finsbury Square Building in London, England. The balance of the estate proceeds came from smaller policies "on Deceased's life" with The Coachman and Grooms Friendly and Benevolent Society and the society's Cramond Branch plus a small sum of money James had in National Security Savings Bank in Aberdeen, account #75,644.

It was not a large estate that James left to his mother, Jessie, who was unable to sign her statement for the court as "she cannot write never having learnt to do so." Nevertheless, I'm certain that James' estate contributed to seeing to his mother's maintenance and well-being for a good long period of time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

6 Degrees of Separation

According to the Wikipedia definition "Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth."

Some recent genealogy research has provided me with a "six degrees of separation" experience that I should share.

The other day I wrote about my wife Ellen's great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner who remained living with his Breithaupt uncle and aunt after his widowed mother, Margarette Hailer re-married to Daniel Bean (sometimes spelled Biehn) in 1862. Daniel and Margarette settled in Blandford, Ontario where they farmed and raised a family of eight children. Their youngest son, Jacob Wesley Bean was born in 1873 and like his mother's first husband and father-in-law, Jacob as an adult became a minister in the Evangelical Association.

In 1902, Jacob married Florence Louise Smith in the Ontario town of St. George which is located a short distance north of Brantford, Ontario. The significance of Jacob's marriage is the location, for Jacob, my wife Ellen's great granduncle, married in the same church that about eighty years later my uncle, the late Rev. Ernest Royle was the pastor of for about ten years. Not only that, but it turns out that Florence's mother, and Jacob's mother-in-law, was Julia Nixon. The Nixon family has been a long established family in the St. George area and from the Nixon family came Harry Corwin Nixon, Premier of the province of Ontario in 1943, Harry's son Robert (Bob) Fletcher Nixon, former leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and provincial cabinet member and, Bob's daughter Jane Stewart, a former federal cabinet member and Canadian representative to the United Nations. Both Bob Nixon and Jane Stewart remain good friends of my aunt, Carol Royle.

Perhaps the idea that we are only six steps away from any other person is correct!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Whoops, I Did It Again!

I have often encouraged those just starting to research their families to be sure to look at all of the information contained in documents as its so easy to overlook something important. I know from my own experience in researching my Hadden ancestors that not paying attention to all of the details has lead me merrily down a wrong path. In that case, I had felt something wasn't quite right but it wasn't until I went back and re-checked the details that I found my error and was subsequently able to correct my mistake and get back on the right track.

Well, I've done it again. This time it's not as dramatic but still as eye opening. I've reported previously (see Deep Political Roots) that my wife Ellen's great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner had officiated at the marriage of his cousin Albert Liborius Breithaupt's marriage to Lydia Louisa Anthes, a wedding at which Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King served as best man. Rev. Wagner also officiated at the wedding of cousin Melvina Breithaupt's marriage to Amos Frank Baumann. Melvina was Albert's sister. Recently, I was documenting and, in keeping with a new year's resolution, updating the source citations for the Breithaupt family in my database. This involved locating copies of the census records for the family in Canada.

The 1871 census record for the Breithaupt family (pictured in part above right) lists father 'Louis' as he was known (Philip Ludwig were his proper given names) along with his wife Catherine (nee Hailer) and their children. What I hadn't noticed for some reason in the list of household 'occupants' was the future Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, then aged 14, and his older (19 year old) sister, Catherine. The 1881 Census of Canada shows Louis Henry was still living with the Breithaupt family ten years later. The fact that Louis Henry was living with his Breithaupt uncle, aunt, and cousins solidifies the closeness of the relationship of the two families. But why were he and his sister living there? Where were their parents?

Well, their father Rev. Jacob Wagner died in April 1858 at the age of 33. The 1861 Census of Canada shows that Margarette moved herself and her children back to her live with her parents, Jacob and Margaret Hailer ( sometimes listed as Heiler). Subsequently, Margarette married Daniel Bean in April 1862 and moved to Blandford, Ontario where they started a family. I'm not aware of any family stories that might help me understand why Louis Henry and Catherine Wagner were left with their uncle and aunt but can surmise that perhaps it was due to their age and the desire to have them remain in Berlin, Ontario as Louis finished his schooling or perhaps, Daniel didn't want two grown step-children?

I may never know, but had I not, again examined the details of the record, I would have missed this important aspect of the Wagner and Breithaupt families.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just Clowning Around

I'm not aware of many families who have a clown dangling from a branch in their family tree. Lucy Goosey (pictured to the right) is my aunt. She was born in Toronto, Ontario as the youngest of four children, and the only girl. Twelve years separated her from her oldest brother.

By all accounts, clowning and playing tricks were something that her brothers were also good at. A favourite trick was for two brothers to tie up and hide the third brother in a closet in their home to see how long it would take their mother to find the missing child. Lucy, as the youngest, chose not to pursue the physical comedy that her brothers so clearly excelled at but rather opted to express herself musically - with the bagpipes. There was a natural attraction to the odd looking instrument as Lucy's family was very Scottish. Lucy was in her element spending many happy days marching and blowing, marching and blowing. So good were these times, and so infectious the fun that as soon as I was able to walk, I spent many hours marching and blowing behind her in the backyard of my family home.

As Lucy grew and matured, she addressed her more spiritual inclinations through a most obvious means - she married a United Church minister. At his side, she moved all around Ontario, Canada, assisting him in his pastoral care responsibilities. At the same time, welcoming into the world three children who she knew would also put smiles on people's faces. She developed new skills, my favourite being her gift of producing wonderful baked goods. Small towns like Dover Centre, Freelton, Smith Falls, and St. George all received the benefit of her time with them.

But Lucy fully blossomed in Brantford, Ontario - also the one-time home of Alexander Graham Bell and hockey star, Wayne Gretzky. There, Lucy found her true calling as a therapy clown. There is still much to learn in the field of gelotology and the positive effects of laughter but it is clear that Lucy's presence in local hospitals and nursing homes produced constant smiles and reduced stress and anxiety. Magically, Lucy's presence seemed to make pain begin to disappear. So profound has her presence been in these places that Lucy has been honoured and feted for her contributions.

By day, in a society in which not everyone understands, Lucy uses the name Carol Royle (nee Hadden) but all who know her recognize the beating solid gold heart of Lucy Goosey.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Google Alert Pays Off

I've written before about some of the features and tricks with Google searches that makes Google one of my favourite websites. One such feature is Google Alerts, which incidentally like many Google features isn't well known.

In brief, Google Alerts let's you set-up a regular search by Google of the search terms that are most of interest to you. It appears that this feature was created to allow users to follow current affairs of interest such as news stories, people, sports, etc. One of the uses for genealogists of course is that you can have Google searching on a regular basis for your ancestors, places where your ancestors lived, or stories about living relatives. Google reports back to you by email on the search results with links that you can then scan through to determine if any are relevant for your research. Another great part of this feature is that you can set up as many Google Alerts as you want.

I set up some Google Alerts some time ago for certain family surnames and surnames plus locations. Google has been reporting results to me on a daily basis. Yesterday, my "Breithaupt" surname search alert paid off. The Google email I received provided three results with links and the third of these links took me to an search result page containing several .pdf documents about Ellen's Breithaupt ancestors. I'm not too certain about other than it appears to be a search engine for .pdf, .doc and .ppt file types, with a homepage that mimics Google's homepage. Despite my suspicions about the site, I am at the very least, pleased that the documents I found are of benefit.

If you would like to set up your own Google Alerts, go to There, you can enter the search terms you are interested in, the type of search you want (I recommend 'comprehensive'), how frequently you want to receive results, how many results per email report and finally, your email address where you want to receive the Google Alert emails. Happy hunting!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Knox Children

Thomas Elliott Knox and his wife Amy Squires had three children - Mattie Diona Knox, born in 1884; Arthur Squires Knox, born in 1886; and, Thomas Elliott Knox, Jr., born in 1893. As the children of one of Livermore, California's more prominent citizens, their activities were often reported on by the local media, somewhat reminiscent of today's tabloids, minus the inferred scandal.

When she was just 13 years of age, the Livermore Herald newspaper reported that "Miss Mattie Knox is visiting friends in Berkely." Hardly earth shattering but apparently news worthy in 1897. In 1909, the same newspaper reported that young T. E. Knox, Jr, or Elliott as he was known, had killed a rattlesnake on the front lawn of his parents' home, almost in the same spot in which he had killed another smaller snake the week before. Arthur, too, made the news as reports of his heroic efforts at extinguishing a fire at St. Michael's Church in Livermore had resulted in his falling from the roof of a neighbouring home injuring his shoulder.

The Knox family in fact remained in the news long after Thomas Elliott Knox Sr.'s political career had come to an end. The benefit for me from a genealogical perspective is that these newspaper accounts continued into the 1950's and reported on the deaths of the family members.

Arthur passed away on February 29, 1928 at the rather young age of 42. The Herald reported that his death "ended a long period of illness which had been known to be serious for a number of years. Amy Knox, nee Squires, (pictured above left in a newspaper photograph) passed away in November 1943 and her death was reported as being "sudden and unexpected, as she had made good recovery from a serious illness of a year ago."

Sadly, T. E. Knox, Jr., who had picked up the nickname of 'Dude' somewhere during his lifetime was reported through a bold headline in November 1958 to have died of a "self inflicted rifle shot at his home at 300 Elwood Avenue, Oakland." Elliott, as the family had called him, was "a sufferer from an injury received in World War 1" and "had long been in ill health."

Although these newspaper accounts are correctly considered secondary sources of information, they nonetheless are invaluable in providing biographical sketches containing information that fills in and rounds out the story of the family.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My 2010 Goals

I don't know if I should have resolutions or goals for the new year. Never having been someone who has done exceedingly well with resolutions, I'm leaning towards goal setting to guide and direct my activities for the year, or at least, the first few weeks and I'm hoping that by writing them down I will at least have something to remind me from time to time of what I should be focusing on instead of what is exciting me at the moment.

Goal #1 - Source citations. My database has grown rapidly over the past year in large part owing to the collaborative efforts and sharing of information with other researchers, however I admit I have not taken the time to cite the sources of the facts connected to each individual in my 'tree.' I have always intended to return to each branch and complete the source citations but just never seemed to get around to it. I am currently using RootsMagic software and enjoy the ease of citing sources that it offers - so no more excuses. It's time to start into completing this important part of the family history quest.

Goal #2 - Organize the records collection. I have accumulated an enormous number of records associated with the various branches of my family and Ellen's family. The majority of these are in electronic format and are filed under the family surname, broken down by birth, marriage, death, census, photos, etc. In addition, I have a large collection of paper records that admittedly are not sorted, well, at all - but I admit to disliking the necessary evil of paper filing. And its not that I need a system for I've tried and failed at establishing several. I need to, simply put, just do it. I'm at the point of having to rely on memory, and too frequently simple good luck, to find documents that I want to re-examine so its time to find a better way.

Goal #3 - Deepen family connections. I have been amazed, repeatedly, at the new family relationships that have started over the past year. All have started with innocent enough inquiries about a common ancestor, based on information that I or someone else has posted on Ancestry or Genes Reunited, and most have lead to recognizing a family, usually cousin, relationship. I want to keep these new relationships alive and, in the busy-'ness' of at least my life, I know that I need to do my part by investing in keeping things going - staying in touch and not taking the relationships for granted.

Goal #4 - Continue collaborating. My knowledge of my family has certainly benefited through my 'new' cousins, and my genealogy skills have increased through helping those who have contacted me that maybe in the end, weren't related to me. I would really like to find the time to really complete some good in-depth research collaboratively with all who are wanting to solve a few problems. I just have to keep myself focused!

Goal #5 - Get more involved locally. I do some volunteer work for the Ontario (Canada) Genealogical Society (OGS) but making the time is often difficult. I would also like to find time to join a local historical society in addition to the time needed to get to more local branch meetings of the OGS. Ellen and I didn't make to the 2009 Annual OGS Conference while we focused on her recovery from surgery but this year we plan on attending.

I'm beginning to think that 36 or 48 hour days just might be the solution to meeting all these goals. Good thing I love genealogy!