Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter Olympics

While the world has been watching the Canadian gold rush at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, I have participating, quietly, in Winter 2010 Geneabloggers Games. These 'games' are one of several clever ways to improve your genealogy skills through a number of 'events' with the added benefit of providing a practical aspect of motivating us to get to some of those genealogy chores where procrastination has been the winning influence.

I didn't participate in all of the 'events.' I would have earned a gold medal in data back-up but disqualified myself as I had already completed all of the required elements. Having lost my genealogy data (as well as all other personal data) to a computer virus some years ago, I have several systems in place to back-up my data including two USB keys and a secure, external 'cloud' data back-up service provider.

I did participate in the source citation event, important to me as I had resolved at the beginning of the year to tackle my earlier research times of laziness when I moved on in my research with the intention of returning to cite my sources - only to recognize that the number of citations was enormous, in fact, overwhelming. My result - a platinum medal. To qualify, I needed to make 50 source citations, a level that I easily surpassed.

I achieved a diamond medal level in organizing my files with more than 20 digital files, hard copy photos, digital photos and new data entries (with sources cited) all completed. I also achieved a gold medal in the writing category as I was able to pre-publish a number of blog posts including a new summary page and ancestral stories.

The area I find most rewarding though is the platinum medal level for genealogical acts of kindness. I have heard of and never really understood individuals who will not share their genealogical information or expertise without receiving something in return. I believe that the secret to success is allowing others to benefit from whatever information and expertise I might be able to offer. In achieving this medal, I commented on another genealogical blog and began 'following' several other very interesting blogs. I've assisted a new 'cousin' connection as well as some new to genealogy friends and family. I've even used Facebook to invite my 'friends' to my blog to find information about a new (to me, at least) free software application.

All in all, a very successful winter games. Now, if the Canadian men could just win the hockey gold, all will be well!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Benefit of an Old County Atlas

I'm not certain as to Daniel Fitzgerald's motivation for moving his family in 1843 from New York State to Toronto, Ontario but move he did. Daniel was born in Waterford, Ireland around 1804 and as a young, single man, he struck out on his own in 1825 seeking a bright future in the New World, settling in St. Vincent, New York. There he married Rebecca Noble and brought four children into the world: Lewis, Henry, Joseph, and a daughter Annette.

When he moved to Toronto, he purchased 100 acres of land at Lot 5, Concession 2 according to 1885's History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario, Vol. 2. According to his 1885 biographical sketch, the family 'homestead' was eventually purchased by Daniel's youngest son, Joseph and his oldest son, Lewis purchased 15 acres at Lot 8, Concession 2 to which he later added 10 acres.

Fortunately, McGill University's County Atlas Digital Project provides a great search tool for finding maps and for me, this meant finding the location of these ancestral lands (you can also view Randy Seaver's more detailed review of the county atlas project in his November 24th and 25th, 2009 posting on the Genea-Musings blog). For Daniel Fitzgerald is my third great grandfather (see also Daniel Fitzgerald Died?) and his eldest son, Lewis, my second great grandfather. The atlas maps are searchable by both county and name so finding these properties, with the names of each ancestor printed on the section of land that they owned in an 1878 map was both easy and exciting. Below is section of the map showing Lewis' property, the large original Fitzgerald property that in 1878 was owned by Joseph Fitzgerald and in the bottom left corner of Joseph's lands, the home of Daniel Fitzgerald - "DF" on the map.

If only they had held on to the land. It would be worth millions today! It's great to see that my ancestors appear to have prospered but again, that family wealth seems to have vanished before it could pass to my generation!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (Well, Almost)

Wordless Wednesday is a genealogy blog theme used by many to share bits and pieces, usually photos, connected to their family history. My contribution today is a photo of Andrew (Andy) Gammie Hadden, his wife Louise and their children taken in the 1920's at their 'home' in Garrick, Saskatchewan, Canada. Garrick is a small hamlet about 366 kilometres (or about 230 miles) north of Regina, Saskatchewan. Andy married Louise and remained in Saskatchewan when his immediate family, which included his brother and my grandfather, moved east to Toronto, Ontario.

The photo was likely taken by my great uncle, and Andy's older brother, Alexander (Alec) Gaull Hadden during a visit. The 'log' home was built by Andy on land that he was homesteading. No running water, no electricity, no telephone - and it remained that way into the 1980's when Louise was finally convinced by her children to have a phone installed for emergency purposes only!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Another Family Will

I must admit that I really enjoy finding the wills of ancestors, maybe even more than census reports or birth, marriage, and death records. Wills just seem to have a way of providing information about a family and its lifestyle that other documents, while very valuable as sources, just cannot provide. Wills might typically have only been written by landowners or those with something to leave that they wanted to direct to particular family members. As I have not yet directly linked my ancestry to royalty or nobility but rather to farm servants, I haven't had high expectations that I would easily find family wills.

Recently, I found the will for one of my fifth great grandfathers, Alexander Glennie, who died in 1837 in Daviot, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, through the ScotlandsPeople website. Daviot is a small hamlet located about 22 miles north-west of Aberdeen and it was here that Alexander worked as a blacksmith. On the 12th of January, 1837, Alexander asked the Rev. Thomas Burnett, Minister of Daviot, to write his final will on a single sheet of white paper (his will is very clear about this fact). Alexander was about 81 years of age when he passed away and in early 1837 likely knew that his health was beginning to fail as he states: "I Alexander Glennie residing in the Kirktown of Daviot in order to prevent all disputes among my family after my decease about my money or effects, being weak in body although sound in mind, make my latter Will and Testament as follows."

So what could a blacksmith who lived most of his adult life in a small Scottish hamlet be leaving to his family? Well, quite a bit as it turns out. After appointing his son, John (my 4th great grandfather) as his sole executor, he left 200 pounds sterling to his daughter "Jean Glennie in Boghead of Fyvie" and a further 200 pounds to his daughter "Margaret Glennie in Pinkins parish of Fyvie." The important feature from this part of the will for me - I didn't know about his second daughter Margaret so a new family member has been found.

After each daughter received their share of the estate - the value of just over $27,000 dollars (Cdn) in modern terms, what was left for his son, John? Well, the inventory of Alexander's estate indicates that he had four bank deposits at different banking institutions in Aberdeen worth a combined total of 1,163 pounds plus some interest. Alexander also had over 41 pounds in cash in his house when he died - today's equivalent of about $5,600 Cdn dollars! When the complete estate was inventoried, Alexander left over 1,239 pounds sterling, or almost $170,000 Cdn dollars to his three children with his son, John, receiving the bulk of the estate - his share being worth almost $115,000 in today's dollars.

Not bad for an early 19th century blacksmith from the "Kirktown of Daviot."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

John Henry Foster Babcock

As described by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, we are saddened at the loss of "Canada's last living link to the Great War." John Henry Foster 'Jack' Babcock (pictured right), Canada's last World War 1 veteran, passed away on Thursday, February 18th at the venerable age of 109.

On February 1st, 1916, John Henry Foster Babcock enlisted for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in Kingston, Ontario. He gave his date of birth as July 23, 1900 and despite the easy math involved in determining he was 15 years old at the time, was able to claim his age to be 18 years. He stated that was born in Lober Township, Ontario and that his mother, Mrs. J. T. Babcock was his next of kin, living at the family home on Perth Road (just north of the city of Kingston). He was only five feet, four inches in height, signed his attestation as Foster Babcock and was accepted as a recruit in the army!

Well, the army eventually figured out that he was underage so rather than going to the front, he was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia to unload military vehicles. Although he eventually did make his way to England and was prepared to go to the front, the armistice was signed ending the war before he had that chance.

Jack Babcock lived most of his life in Spokane, Washington but never lost his love for Canada. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, two children, two step-children, 16 grandchildren, and a number of great grandchildren.

We shall not forget!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shaping Your Family Photos

Here's a new and fun way to share your old family photos - Shape Collage. This software application is free to download in a basic form. Just click on the "Download Shape Collage" - the file download will begin automatically. It took only a few seconds for the file to download for me. Double-click on the saved file that you downloaded to begin the installation and follow the on-screen instructions, similar to other software products.

The free version will produce collages in some standard forms - rectangle, heart, circle, or choose a text symbol, or even better, select "more" and design a custom shape of your own. Selecting photos to include in your collage is as simple as dragging and dropping them onto the photos 'window' or by clicking the add (+) button, located on the left side below the photos window and then individually selecting from the desired digital photos from your photo folders. The software provides a preview opportunity so if you don't like what you see, you can try something different or try different shapes until you find something that works best for you.

Once you like what you see, click on the "create" button and the collage will be formed in the centre window. The software allows you to save your collage(s) as image files in a JPEG format. Collages that are created and saved using the free version include a "" watermark. Upgrading to the 'Pro' version for personal use adds features including the benefit of no watermark, if it bothers you. The cost of the 'Pro' version is reasonable at only $25.00.

The above collage was created using the 'rectangle' shape option and just 9 family photos. Shape Collage allows you to use hundreds of photos in each collage. The collage below used the same 9 photos but was shaped using the 'text' shape option that I set to the letter 'H' (for Hadden, of course). In both, you can see the watermark, touching the collage image in lower centre of the sample above and not touching any photos as it is placed at the bottom right of the collage below.

This application provides yet another way to display and share all of those old and current family photos in as creative a way as you please. The fact that there's a free version certainly makes it worth a try. (And for those that might worry about such things, I have no affiliation with Shape Collage whatsoever).

The Little Greenock Residence

Sir Michael Street in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland is the seat of my paternal grandmother's family - the Littles. Number 22 Sir Michael Street to be specific. This little street, originally called Allisons Lane after John Allison, a mason and early land owner was subsequently re-named Sir Michael Lane then Sir Michael Street after Sir Michael Stewart of Blackhall, the third baronet. Located in the core of Greenock, it was home to at least three successive Little generations.

James Little and his wife Dorothea (nee Carson), my great great grandparents, can be found in 1901 'sharing' the address with the Canning, Galbraith, and McDougall families. While Dorothea would today be described as a 'stay at home mom,' James was employed at the local shipyards as an iron driller. Their son, John, then 20 years of age, worked in a marine engine shop while their 18 year old daughter Sarah and Dorothea's sister, Rebecca worked as spinners at the local rope works. Their youngest children James, 12, and Dorothea, 9, both attended school along with their cousin, Rebecca's daughter, twelve year old Annie Carson.

The undated photo above right, shows the neighbourhood likely around 1900 and specifically shows Tobago Street as seen from Sir Michael Street. It was on Tobago Street that Dorothea Carson had lived with her first husband Thomas Comiskey. They had married in April 1869 at 4 Sir Michael Street but just four months later, Thomas died of variola (smallpox). In 1878, she had married James Little and, after living a few streets away, they moved back 'home' to Sir Michael Street to raise their family.

It was from 22 Sir Michael Street that James and Dorothea's daughter Janet married John Triggs in 1898 and from the same house that my great grandfather James (jr.) as a 17 year old married 16 year old Margaret Mitchell in 1906. It was also from the family home on Sir Michael Street that my grandmother, Agnes Little left Scotland in 1928 for a new life in Canada.

The house at 22 Sir Michael Street no longer is standing, torn down no doubt to make way for more modern structures but the legacy of the Little roots on Sir Michael Street live on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Hadden Sisters

In 1881, Alexander Bean Hadden was a general merchant "employing two boys" and living at Bainshole, Insch, Aberdeenshire. The Bean middle name was not recorded at his christening, although one of the 'witnesses' was a man named Alexander Bean, likely a very close friend of the family. In fact, the middle name of Bean only appears in one record that I have found to this point - the marriage registration of his daughter Mary in 1884.

Living with Alexander in 1881 according to the Scottish census records for that year, was his wife Jane (Mathieson) and their children: Alexander, Jane, John, Annie, Isabella, Helen and Mina (Jemina). Also living in the Hadden household was a grandson, Albert A. Green who was the son of their daughter Jane. The two boys that Alexander employed were in fact two of his sons - Alexander, aged 22 and, John who was 15 years of age. Two years later, John would become a father himself when his son Alexander Shand Hadden, my great grandfather, was born.

When Alexander Shand Hadden left Scotland in 1923 with his family to live in Canada, this was the extended Hadden family that he left behind. Alexander was raised by his mother Helen Shand and Helen's husband, Andrew Gammie. I'm not certain that Alexander knew much of his Hadden aunts and uncles so there weren't any family photos or letters to help descendants, like me, to picture our Hadden family ancestors.

Through the magic of the Internet and posted family trees on the Ancestry website, that changed for my branch of the Hadden family. The connection - a real, live, honest-to-goodness Hadden cousin - and not only that but photos! So courtesy of Alan and Mary Cope, my 'Aussie' cousins, I can present my second great grandaunts:

From left, Isabella Simon Reid (Hadden) Cameron who as it turns out was the first Hadden to immigrate to Canada (in 1907), Ann Mathieson (Hadden) Gordon, and at the far right, Helen (Hadden) Moore. Second from right is Helen's daughter Kitty (Moore) Taylor and Kitty's daughter Isobel. The photo was taken in 1923 when the sisters returned to Scotland for a family reunion. I find it ironic that just around the time the Hadden sisters were likely reuniting, their nephew, my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden was leaving Scotland forever. It would be more than 85 years before the family branches would reconnect as a benefit of technology, shared genealogy information and collaboration.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sara (Caskey) Breithaupt

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that my immediate family wrote things down - no diaries, memoirs, or journals to provide interesting facts and family anecdotes. If you're lucky enough to have some of these or old family letters, treasure them! I do however have an electronic copy of the memoirs of Sara (Caskey) Breithaupt and I've referred to them in earlier posts about the Breithaupt family, cousins of my wife.

Sara Caskey married my wife's second cousin twice removed, Louis Orville Breithaupt, in November 1919 (Louis and Sara are pictured on their wedding day above left). Louis went on to become a very public figure in his hometown of Berlin, later Kitchener, Ontario - first as an alderman, then mayor and Member of Parliament, and finally as the vice-regal Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Although Sara was not a 'blood' relative, she also lead an incredibly interesting life, one that is interesting to research for at minimum some of the historic connections in it.

Sara was born in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio in 1894. She was able to trace her maternal family roots back to a second great grandfather, George Scott, a cousin of Sir Walter Scoot, the famous Scottish novelist and poet. In 1841, George's daughter and Sara's great grandmother, Sarah Ann immigrated to the USA with her husband William Bonnell and the eldest three of seven children (the youngest four children were born in the USA). Their arrival in New York City on March 8th, 1841 ended a difficult six week voyage according to family stories. Eventually the family found its way to Youngstown where successive generations found prosperity.

Sara Caskey's father, Herbert served as the General Secretary of the YMCA and in that position was asked to move his family from Youngstown to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1901. In 1908, Herbert left the employ of the YMCA to work with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in New York City. However, in 1909, Herbert was asked to help the church in Toronto on a temporary basis. When this assignment took on a permanent form, Sara, her mother and brother joined Herbert in Toronto where Sara attended the Havergal private girls school. Sara completed a college education in Ontario before she and her family moved back to New York City in 1916.

In New York City, the Caskeys lived in a Central Park West apartment and Sara enjoyed the cultural life that the city offered at the time, particularly opera at the Metropolitan Opera House. The apartment building the family lived in "formed a three sided courtyard where singers and musicians would come to perform and the tenants would throw coins down to them."

"One day a man sang several songs and Mother remarked about his beautiful voice, said he deserved more than the usual sum. I do not know how much she threw him, but we were amused the next day to read in the paper that a friend of Caruso's had dared him to try it - said he wouldn't be able to make a living. Mother was glad she had been of help!"

By this time, the United States had entered World War 1 and shortly before the war's end, Sara became engaged to an officer-in-training, Ogdon Purves. Following the armistice, Sara "found Ogdon much less interesting out of uniform" and so their engagement ended.

Church work returned the Caskeys to Toronto in 1919 and not long afterwards, Sara married a former college acquaintance Louis O. Breithaupt and began a new series of life adventures.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Facebook Family History Moments

Okay, I admit it - I have a Facebook page. In fact, I've had a Facebook page for a long time. I heard about Facebook through my children who talked about their friends, connections, groups and status. Facebook then became for me simply a way to keep track of my 'young' adult children who lived various distances away from the family home.

Over the last year or two, my use of Facebook has been less about what the 'kids' are up to and more about connecting with genealogists. I still keep 'track' of the kids, checking their status and viewing new photos of life events but now I am connected with other genealogists and some newly acquainted cousins. Groups have now become the apparent third wave of my Facebook use.

More and more institutional use is occurring with Facebook such as the Family History Library, RootsMagic, Genealogy Guys Podcast and Ontario Genealogical Society pages that provide a quick and efficient means of spreading news about service and product features to reach 'friends' and 'fans' quickly.

I was recently invited by a 'friend' to join the "Scarborough, Looking Back" group. Scarborough was at the time I was growing up, the eastern suburb of the city of Toronto (since amalgamated into the city proper). My parents moved our family to Scarborough when I was nine years old so I have many fond memories of friends and events through my teen and early marriage years.

The group has taken to posting old photos from around Scarborough and one that got my attention is of the 'old' Birchcliff Theatre (shown below).

The theatre opened in 1949 - in fact the marquee notes that 1949's "Down to the Sea in Ships" starring Lionel Barrymore was the current movie. Unfortunately, the theatre couldn't keep pace with the multi-screen theatre era and was torn down in 1974. I remembered this theatre for two reasons. First, sometime in the early 1960's my parents dropped me off with a friend so that we could enjoy the Saturday matinee, a Disney movie as I recall, while they went shopping. When the movie finished, my friend and I exited the theatre into a winter snow storm (I live in Canada after all!) and no parents picking us up were to be found. In those days without cell phones, I had no way of phoning home to see if there was a problem. And being young, with 'penny' candy available, I didn't save a dime for use in the case of such an emergency. I knew that the theatre was located on Kingston Road and that Kingston Road would take make to the street my house was on - I just had to guess at the right direction of travel. Fortunately, I guessed correctly and after what felt like a very long walk (probably a little over a mile), I walked in through the front door of my house. My parents felt awful, for how could they have forgotten their child. I don't think I took full advantage of their moment of weakness - ah, lost opportunities!

The second reason for remembering the theatre - the first house I bought backed onto what had been the theatre's parking lot.

The important point in all of this is to take advantage of the ever changing landscape of information that continues to build your family history - the anecdotes, the images - all are part of the fabric. You just never know when the source of the unexpected discovery.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh! Susannah Has Been Found!

It can be frustrating when you have an ancestor's name, year of death plus the location and, the civil registration records for the area are fully indexed with links to the digitized record images but the death record can't be found. Experience teaches us to try variations of the surname - still no luck.

I typically start broadening my search parameters. Maybe I didn't have the right year after all so I search the year I believed the event occurred plus or minus some years (I will usually use two years for this purpose). If I'm convinced about the year of the event, I will broaden my location criteria from searching in a specific town to searching in a province or state - or in desperation, I will 'ask' for the records of everyone by a certain name who died anywhere in the year I think is correct. The 'desperate act', by the way, usually returns more results than can possibly help so its not recommended!

Susannah Horton's death fell into this category. Susannah was born in 1808 in Sydney Township, Canada West (now the Province of Ontario), the daughter of Jonathan and Hannah Horton. Susannah married Archibald Guffin likely around 1827. Between 1828 and 1849, Archibald and Susannah had six children - two boys and four girls.

Family information indicated that Susannah (Horton) Guffin died in January 1876 in Hastings County, Ontario, Canada. As civil registration commenced in Ontario in 1869 and as has the Ontario death records indexed with the original images, obtaining a copy of Susannah's death record image was going to be easy. Unfortunately, even when searching for any Guffin who died in 1876, the closest result offered is for Elizabeth Giffin who died in another part of the province.

Well, fortunately, Alaric (Ric) Faulkner has come to the rescue. Ric along with John Carew are co-Faulkner family researchers (Faulkner is my wife Ellen's paternal grandmother's family). Ric found Susannah's death record - indexed under "Griffin." Susannah died in December 1876 - so the family information was cutting her life by almost a full year - in Belleville, Ontario.

Below is part of the death record image and its easy to see how someone might have misread the Guffin surname (indexers are human!) as Griffin. It's also easy to see the importance of checking all or 'as many as you can think of' surname variations as sometimes the one you least expect to be helpful may be the one that finds that 'missing' record. Excuse me now while I go and update my source citations for Susannah!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

'Forgotten' Genalogy News and Views

In my haste with my last post, I forgot to include some additional, and I think, important information. So the 'forgotten' in today's post title refers to me and, I hope, is not a sign, with an upcoming birthday, of things to come.

In mentioning Lisa Louise Cooke's podcasts, I failed to mention that Lisa will be speaking at the Ontario Genealogy Society's annual conference, this year being held May 14 - 16 in Toronto, Ontario. This year's program is themed "Essentials, Innovations, and Delights" and includes an opportunity to join a pre-conference program on Thursday, May 13th. On-line registration is available and a pretty impressive line-up of speakers will be presenting. I've attended these conferences in past and can assure you that they are fun and informative - and, of course, this year you have a chance to meet Lisa!

I also wanted to recommend another podcast series, this one from the National Archives of the United Kingdom. This podcast is particularly beneficial if you have British ancestors as it provides a series of presentations based on the Archives records collection. My ancestors are almost entirely from north of the border in Scotland but as I've learned, there are 'British' records that from time to time include Scots. I have found the podcasts of particular interest to me though as they do a terrific job of setting historical context that give just that little bit of a better glimpse into what life might have been like for my ancestral family. While you may find some presentations a bit academic, many are filled with great British humour. If only the National of Archives of Scotland would do the same!

And finally, I'm a big fan of Scotlands People, the portal into Scotland's genealogical records. I know from discussion with archivists that making record indexes searchable on-line and providing access to record images on a pay-as-you-go fee basis is seen as a model to be copied. Such a system not only provides ease of access to the records but provides revenue for the archives operation. My research has certainly benefited and many a family mystery has been solved by being able to retrieve, view, and save electronic images of Scottish family records. Unfortunately, I've found that the search criteria available from some record types are too broad, resulting in too great a number of results. I've used the website for several years and the criteria really hasn't changed. For example, the criteria for births includes only: surname, forename, sex, year range, county, and district. If you aren't certain of the location, you may find yourself using a lot of pay-as-you-go 'credits' viewing documents that are not the one you need. I'd love to see parent's names added to this criteria. It's doable and would certainly be helpful.

It's likely that I've forgotten something else but if I have, it will just have to wait!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some Genealogy News and Views

Just taking a short break from sharing family history information and stories to share some news and comments on happenings in the genealogy world.

First, there is growing excitement, certainly evident in the United States genealogy community about the finally announced debut on the NBC network of the show Who Do You Think You Are? Produced by Lisa Kudrow of Friends fame, the show is clearly hoping to become as popular as the original British version that continues to be a huge success. I've read that the British version is in fact being credited with an genealogy explosion across the British isles. I hope that the show is a success but - and here comes the opinion part - its seems to be forgotten that a Canadian version, despite being well produced, aired 13 episodes and didn't really get off the ground. Not every British import captures the North American imagination but maybe this is the right time.

The American version will delve into the family history of celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Spike Lee, Lisa Kudrow, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields and Emmitt Smith. I'm sure this will provide an ample variety of family histories to be, at the least, entertaining. The show premieres on Friday, March 5th at 8:00 p.m. EST.

On another note, I wanted to single out two genealogists (and Facebook friends) who keep me entertained and informed - Lisa Louise Cooke and Randy Seaver.

Lisa is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast and, if nothing else, is high energy, fun, genealogy tips and techniques, all rolled into one. I really don't know where she finds the time with family commitments (including being a new grandmother), genealogy conference speaking engagements in addition to being involved in the production of at least four (yes, four!) podcasts series to which I have listened. Lisa's 'gems' include a free, downloadable genealogy toolbar for your browser (I have it - it's great) and her new genealogy 'app' for the iPhone and iPod Touch - clearly ahead of the curve! Perhaps one of the best examples of her unique blend of fun and information is found in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #79 - a live podcast recorded (I know - live and recorded don't seem to belong in the same sentence) at a family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona. It's worth listening to, you don't need any fancy equipment as you can listen right off your computer and it's free!

Randy Seaver is a blogger extraordinaire! Randy doesn't just have a blog - he has several! I personally follow his Genea-Musings blog, interspersed with reads of his Geneaholic blog. Without a doubt, blogging is a great way to share information. That's why I started a blog - to share family history information in an easy and efficient manner, accessible to all who may have an interest. While blogging is fun, there is some work involved thus my amazement with Randy's energy and enthusiasm for keeping folks like me up to date - every day!

Finally, while I have enjoyed honing my skills as an ancestor hunter, I had an experience this week that had me feeling like the predator had become the prey! I received an email from a second cousin - someone who I had in my database thanks to family information I had obtained along the way - but not a cousin with whom I had ever been in contact. It seems that this cousin's aunt passed away last year leaving behind a number of loose pages of family 'history' notes. My newly-connected cousin found my email address through and decided to take a chance on my knowing something of the information his aunt had gathered and that I would be able to then help him 'connect the dots.'

As I am always willing to help in these matters and as I was able to quickly determine our relationship based on the information he provided, I gladly began sharing information and helping him, through email, sort through the various notes. As it turned out, he found a page about me, complete with dates and the names of my children (first and middle). I'm not certain about his aunt's source (like many of us, it seems her 'work' didn't include source citations!) but I have my suspicions. I'm continuing to exchange information with my 'found' cousin but I couldn't help but be startled at the realization that while I have been researching, I have also been researched!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hadden Residences in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

When my great grandparents, Alexander Shand Hadden and his wife Jessie Mckenzie Gaull moved their family that included my grandfather John Gaull Hadden, to Toronto from Saskatchewan, they moved into the east end of the city. Jessie had a younger brother, George Irvine Gaull, who lived in Toronto already, having moved there from Scotland about 13 years earlier.

George operated a small grocery store at 87 Pickering Street. The store was on the main floor of essentially what was built as a house. For a time George and his wife lived in the upstairs but later they lived on another house not far away from the store. Pictured above is George's 'store' as it looks today - more like a house and under constant renovation.

My great grandparents initially moved into a house one street away from George's store but soon after moved the family into the house shown above at 109A Pickering Street (theirs was the one on the left). The 'A' designation is not completely unique but was unusual and typically would be used when a semi-detached house like this was built on a single lot. When the Hadden family lived in the home, the brown bricks had not been been painted their current white colour. It was from this house that my great grandfather and eventually his sons went off to work each day. It was also the family home during the time of my grandparent's courtship. And, most importantly perhaps, it is the house in which my father, Lewis John Hadden, was born.

After a few years in 109A Pickering Street, Alexander and Jessie moved a little further up the street. This time to a house at the 'top' of Pickering Street where it ended at Gerrard Street. This house became their home until their deaths in 1945. This house, shown above with my great grandfather Alexander and his dog 'Queenie' sitting on the front steps, was also the location for one of the better family myths. As the story goes, when the family moved from Saskatchewan, my grandfather's oldest brother, Alexander Gauld Hadden or, Uncle Alec as we knew him, brought his six-shooter hand guns with him. His mother, Jessie hated the guns and was always worried that only something bad would come of them. So one day the guns disappeared and Jessie confessed that she was responsible - she told the family she had buried the guns in the backyard and never did tell anyone the location. For decades, the family wondered where they were buried as they never were found. You can imagine Uncle Alec's surprise then about 40 years later, when visiting family in Saskatchewan, he was presented with his guns by a relative who told him that he thought Uncle Alec was old enough to take care of them himself. I can still recall Uncle Alec passing a large, very 'cowboy' like six shooter as well as a much daintier silver six shooter to me about 30 years ago. I got to hold and inspect the guns of family lore that I grew up believing were still buried in the backyard!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Loss Of A Child

I am always struck by the high child mortality rates, particularly in the 19th and first half of the 20th century that I see in my family tree. I can't imagine a parent's pain and anguish faced with the loss of a young child and only when I became a parent myself, did I appreciate what my parents must have experienced with the loss of two children. While child mortality rates have very fortunately lowered significantly, families still face the dark world of losing a son or daughter. And I need to look no further than my parental family for an example (see I Remember Stephen).

A letter that Hadden co-researcher and cousin-in-law Alan Cope shared with me speaks volumes about this subject. The letter was written was written on December 3rd, 1922 by William (Willie) John Duncan Hadden Gordon (my first cousin, three times removed) to his sister and brother (who I believe were living in the United States at the time).

"My Dear Sister and Brother,

Just a few lines to say that we have lost our 2 dear children Willie and Nan. Willie died at 7:15 last night and our wee Nan died at 10:50 p.m. in the hospital. She died 1 hour after getting there. Willie died with bronco pneumonia and I think Nan had the same but I won't know until tomorrow. They will lie side by side in the Liberton Cemetery. Be thankful dears for this is an awful blow to us but God has called them to His Skies. They were running around this day week. Now Dear Sister and Brother I come to ask a favour of you if its in your power. Mother and Father will do what they can but Dad is pretty quiet just now. So now dears I can't say any more just now and I trust this finds you all well.

I will write Don [another brother] tonight also, so night night dears.

Your loving Brother, Willie"

Seeing an image of the original letter, the pain and despair seems to fill every word. This offers another example of the difficult times, even if its not that long ago, that our ancestors faced. Perhaps now I understand why to my grandparents catching a cold could "be the death of you."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Philip Ludwig 'Louis' Breithaupt

In my last post, I wrote about Catharine (Hailer) Breithaupt, the wife of Philip Ludwig 'Louis' Breithaupt. Catharine and Louis are my wife Ellen's 2nd great grandaunt and uncle. Louis (pictured right) had immigrated from Germany to Buffalo in New York State with his parents in 1843 where a family tannery business was established. Like his father Liborius Breithaupt, Louis had been an apprentice in the tanning business and they successfully applied their trade in their new homeland.

Eager to start his own business, in 1861 Louis moved his family from Buffalo to Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Berlin was likely an obvious choice for a new home as his wife, Catharine had been born and raised there, it had a strong German community, and Louis had conducted business in the area over the years. Success in business lead to success in the community and eventually to the position of Mayor of Berlin, Ontario. While in office as mayor, Louis died in July 1880. The following article, entitled "Mr. Breithaupt's Funeral," appeared in the Berlin Daily News on July 7, 1880:
" Without doubt the largest funeral that ever took place in the County of Waterloo was that of the late Mayor Breithaupt. Amongst those present were friends and relations from Detroit, Buffalo, New York, and places in the States, the Warden of the County, the Mayors and Councils of Galt, Waterloo, Guelph, Stratford, &c., and nearly all the other leading citizens of the County of Waterloo. As previously stated in these columns, the funeral services commenced at the family residence, where the Revds. S. Weber and C. A. Spies led the devotions. After this the procession formed in the following order, headed by Mr. H. Anthes in a carriage:
The Town Police,
The Band,
The Fire Brigade,
The Employees,
The Clergy,
The Family Physician,
The Hearse,
The Family,
The other Mourners,
The Berlin Council,
Councils of other Places,
The Citizens.
The Police, Band, Firemen and other employees were on foot, the rest in carriages. The pall bearers were H. Kranz, M.P., Ex-mayor, Wm. Jaffray, Reeve, and Councillors Clement, Staebler, Anthes, and Moffatt. The procession moved very slowly, the Band playing the Dead March in a most feeling and affecting manner.All along the route the streets were lined with people desirous to see the pageant move along. At the church only a small portion of the people could get in, but a highly interesting and affecting service was held. The Rev. Joseph Umbach, an old friend and pastor of deceased, preached a very eloquent and powerful sermon in the German, and the Rev. S. L. Umbach made a short address in the English language. The service being concluded here, the procession was again formed and proceeded to the cemetery, where the pastor of the church, the Rev. J. Kliphardt, read the burial service. Amongst the clergy present were, in addition to those already mentioned, Revds. C. F. Braun, Geo. Braun, G. Staebler, M. L. Wing and J. Murlock from a distance, and Revds. Messrs. Fellman, Ford, Manz, Tait, Beaumont, Funcken and Sherk, of the Town.
The mere mention of all these names is sufficient to show conclusively in what great esteem the late Mayor was held. In addition to what has already been given in these columns, we add the following particulars as furnished by the family: - Louis Breithaupt was born Nov. 8th, 1827, in Allendorf an der Werra, Kurhessen, Germany. In 1842 his father emigrated to America, and in the following year returned to Germany and brought in his mother and himself. He was at this time 16 years old. He came to Buffalo, N.Y., where he carried on business on a very limited scale in company with his father. On the death of his father in 1851 he became a partner in the extensive tanning and leather business of Mr. J. F. Schoellkopf of Buffalo, travelling for this firm for 12 years.
In 1858 he established his leather business in Berlin, and three years later, before the outbreak of the late American war, he removed with his family to Berlin, Canada. He was married in 1853, the three eldest sons being born in Buffalo, N.Y., and the rest of the family here. Three daughters and six sons are now living, and one son was accidentally drowned in July, 1871. He was burned out twice in Berlin. His mother, aged 79, is still living, as also his only sister who resides in Detroit."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Catharine (Hailer) Breithaupt

In 1911, someone in the Breithaupt family of then Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario, published a Sketch of the Life of Catharine Breithaupt: Her Family and Times. The book was printed by R.G. McLean in Toronto and included seventeen family photograph 'plates.' The author was not specifically identified but it is clear when reading the twenty-seven pages of the 'sketch' that it was a family member, someone close to Catharine, and most likely her son William.

I took advantage of some time recently to examine the book at the Toronto (Ontario) Public Library, North York Central Branch which includes the holdings of the Ontario Genealogical Society in its Canadiana department. Also, by way of a tip, I brought along my digital camera and rather than making photocopies of pages, I took digital images of pages with the camera. No more worries about enough coins for the photocopier!

Catharine Hailer (pictured above left) was born in 1834 to Jacob Hailer and Margaret Riehl, a little sister to Margaret who was born in 1831. In 1853, Catharine married a friend of her brother-in-law by the name of Philip Ludwig 'Louis' Breithaupt. Louis as he went by for much of his life, ran a tanning or leather goods company in Buffalo, New York with his father, Liborius. When his father died, Louis entered into a business partnership with Jacob Schoelkopf of Buffalo. Jacob was described as the capitalist and Louis the businessman, traveling broadly throughout the mid-west. "There may here be mentioned that in the way of business requiring the services of a lawyer, he made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Ill., and ever afterward retained intense admiration for this national hero."

Catharine and Louis Breithaupt are the 2nd great grand aunt and uncle of my wife, Ellen. In fact, Ellen's 2nd great grandfather and the brother-in-law who introduced Catharine to her husband, Rev. Jacob Wagner died suddenly at the age of 33 as he was preparing to join Louis Breithaupt in business together. Catharine and Louis had ten children and the Breithaupt family, as I have recounted in previous postings, became very prominent in the life of Berlin, Ontario. Louis died in 1880 and Catharine passed away thirty years later in 1910. During those thirty years, it is clear from the 'sketch' book of her life, she was cared for as the much loved family matriarch. Her death on July 5, 1910 was reported in the Toronto Globe newspaper on July 7, 1910 as follows:

"Death of Mrs. Breithaupt: Berlin's Oldest Native Resident And A Prominent Church Worker

Berlin, Ont. July 6. - The death took place on Tuesday evening of Mrs. Catharine Breithaupt, relict of the late Louis Breithaupt, at the family residence on Margaret Avenue. The deceased had been ill since April with heart trouble.

The late Mrs. Breithaupt was born in 1834, and was Berlin's oldest native resident. Her parents immigrated to Canada in 1830, and were the first German settlers in Berlin. In 1853 she was married to the late Mr. Louis Breithaupt, who then resided in Buffalo. In 1861 they moved to Berlin and Mrs. Breithaupt has resided here ever since. Her husband died in 1880. She is survived by four sons and two daughters.

During her long residence in Berlin she has been connected with almost every charitable and philanthropic movement in the town. She was a life-long member of Zion Evangelical Church and one of its most liberal contributors. In addition to assisting in the erection of the new church, she also donated the beautiful organ in memory of her deceased husband and son Carl. She was a valued member of the various organizations of the church, and was also officially connected with the Deaconess' Society of the Canada Conference and of the General Board in Chicago."