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.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day Connections

Both my wife, Ellen, and I share American connections.

My mother was born in Detroit and moved to Toronto, Ontario with her parents when she was seven or eight years old. As her parents were Canadian and she lived her life in Canada, my mother was a very patriotic Canadian - who eventually, in her 50's, formally became a Canadian citizen.

Ellen's American roots are much more historic and revolutionary for some her ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.

Samuel Shumway, the brother-in-law of Ellen's first cousin, 6 times removed Daniel Faulkner, was a private in the company of Captain Mallott, in Colonel Holman's regiment, having enlisted around April 20, 1775. He was stationed at Roxbury, Massachusetts and eventually marched into New York state and took part in the Battle of White Plains. Following the fulfillment of his first enlistment, Samuel again volunteered to serve and re-enlisted around May 1777 in the company of Abel Mason.

Ammi Faulkner of Royalton, Worcester County, Massachusetts, enlisted in January 1776 for one year in the company of Capain Micajah Gleason, Colonel John Nixon's regiment, in General Sullivan's brigade. After thirteen months of service, he was discharged but around April or May of 1777 he re-enlisted, this time for a period of three years. He served, as assistant forage master, the entire three years plus an additional year for good measure.

And finally, as I posted previously, "On the night of April 18, 1775 the British troops began their move to Lexington where Hancock and Adams were located. Paul Revere set out on his ride, made famous by the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1861 poem, and traveled through Somerville, Medford and Arlington warning patriots along the way of the troop movement. After arriving in Lexington, Revere sent Dr. Samuel Prescott to deliver the message in Concord and then Acton. Dr. Prescott's destination in Acton was the home of Major Francis Faulkner, Ellen's second cousin, six times removed. Francis Faulkner is said to have fired three warning shots into the air as an alarm signal to assemble the local militia. The Faulkner home in Acton (pictured above left) had been purchased in 1733 by my wife Ellen's first cousin, seven times removed, Ammi Ruhamah Faulkner, the father of Francis."

How much more revolutionary can it get? Happy 4th of July, Independence Day to all of our American family and friends!