Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding My Blog

A short time ago, genealogy blogger 'guru' Randy Seaver suggested as a 'Saturday Night Fun' theme that bloggers share some of the search terms that have been used to find their blogs. I didn't have the time when this activity was suggested but was intrigued and wanted to do some exploring through the search terms used by people around the world to find my blog.

I used the tools included in both Blogger and Statcounter to review the most common search terms that lead folks to this blog. I was surprised, although it is probably the most obvious term, that most people found my blog by searching for 'Ian Hadden.'

But when I saw that someone was searching for 'Ian Hadden injuries', I started to worry - what did they know that I didn't? Next, I noticed my condition worsening when someone searched for 'Ian Hadden death.' After my recent spell in hospital, I wrote it off as someone's wishful thinking. This has recently been topped by someone searching for 'Ian Hadden suicide.' I guess the coroner's report is in or someone is speculating?

I have absolutely nothing against search engines like Google sending readers to my blog. That is, in essence, what I hope will happen but what I don't understand about search engines is how someone searching for 'nudist families' is sent to me? I am not a 'naturalist,' and that's a very good thing for everyone's sake, and I don't know of any family members, past or present, who practised that lifestyle!

And finally, what is Google thinking when they send people to my blog who have searched for 'old person crossing finish line.' Next year, when I retire from my 'day job' that might be appropriate but it feels a bit premature at present!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sgt. William Findlater and Dear Aunt Elsie

Way back in November 2009, when this was just a wee bairn of a blog, I shared a family story about dear Aunt Elsie Gaull Findlater. The crux of the story was that Aunt Elsie had lived in Canada alongside other family members like her brother 'Georgie' and older sister Jessie, but that Elsie returned to Scotland when her father was elderly and ill, to look after him. Once back in Scotland and following her father's death, Elsie was said to have been pursued by an evil man who married her and then, in order to take over the Gaull family farm, killed her.

Elsie's cause of death is listed in 1952 as a "cardiac failure." This is hardly the violent death the family story evokes. But what if, as has been suggested to me by another Gaull family member, she was starved? Could heart failure stem from starving?

It seems that Elsie had good times in her life but these, it seems, often ended somewhat tragically. Elsie married William Findlater on July 10, 1913. William was the fifth son of Lewis and Mary Findlater of Kemnay in Aberdeenshire. Both were a bit older for newlyweds in their era - William was 32 years old and Elsie was 28 years of age. About a year after they married, William enlisted with the Gordon Highlanders, and was assigned to the 7th Battalion.

By 1918, William, then a Sergeant, sadly became a casualty of World War 1, passing away at "home" rather than on the front so his family were able to bury him in the Kemnay Parish Churchyard. In 1920, William was posthumously awarded the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, signifying that he was a member of the Territorial Force prior to September 30, 1914 and had served in the operational theatre outside of the United Kingdom.
Elsie, a widow at the age of 33 (pictured above right aboard the ship 'Cape Trinity' in 1925), moved to Canada and shared an address at 67 Pickering Street, Toronto, Ontario with her brother George. Eventually as the story has it, Elsie returned to Scotland, married John Duncan and at the age of 67, passed away.
Oh, what life might have offered to so many had it not been for the 'Great War.'

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Rabbie Burns Day!

Today, Scots (and those who wish they were) around the world celebrate the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the great 18th century Scottish poet.

Through the 1980's and early 1990's, my father and I helped 'pipe' in our fair share of haggis at traditional Burns suppers and sipped a few wee drams in toasts as part of the Address to the Haggis. As the photos below show, my father the piper (pictured with his sister Carol, also a piper) and I as a drummer spent many great hours as part of the Highland Creek pipes and drums band.

More of Sara's Story

In my post of January 8th, I shared some of the genealogy information contained in Sara Caskey Breithaupt's memoirs. Written in December 1977, Sara entitled her memoirs, "Bits and Pieces of My Life." Jodie, a blog reader from Ohio, informed me that she is a descendant of Sara's Caskey family and wondered if Sara might have offered more information.

I confess that I have not pursued research into Sara's family as there is no blood relationship (which is not always a good reason to not pursue the research) to either myself or my wife and available research hours have been devoted to areas quite frankly of greater priority to us. I did commit to checking Sara's writing to see what more she had to offer about her family history, as she knew it.
My previous post about Sara's family history concludes with Sara's description of her grandmother, Sara Jane Bonnell's immigration to the USA in 1841. Sara admitted that she knew more about her mother's family than that of her father. The following is the further information that Sara shared concerning her family history.

"Sara Jane Bonnell married Gustavus Henry McElevey, an architect. They had four children, Mary Scott, my mother, [pictured below is Mary Scott (McElevey) Caskey with granddaughter Mary Scott Breithaupt, taken around 1921 or 1922] William Bonnell, Alice and Paul Henry.

Gustavus (glad they did not feel they had to pass that name on) died when mother was fifteen. Grandma's mother in Youngstown built a house for her right next to her own and Grandma moved with her four young children from Brazil, Indiana to be close to her mother. The two houses has a lovely lawn and trees between them.

It was there that I was born.

Grandma was one of seven, four born after they lived in the U.S. One brother was given his mother's maiden name, Scott, so when mother arrived, Grandma named her after her brother Scott, Mary Scott. I, of course used it for my oldest. Mary Scott and two of my grandsons have Scott as a middle name.

Father's ancestors were Scotch-Irish, the name at one time was MacCaskey. Mac means "son of." Somewhere along the line the Mac was dropped.

The family moved to the United States about 1680. I am not at all clear about the family. I wish I knew more. I am going to repeat a story I think most of you have heard me tell.

Father's mother's parents, Richard and Nancy Hall, lived in New Jersey until after their five children were born. Then great-grandfather Hall decided to go West to try to better himself. He settled in what later became Millersburg, Ohio, and sent for his wife and children. The youngest, a wee baby was Keturah. She became my grandmother.

Great-grandmother Hall took what she could of their belongings in probably just a covered wagon, disposed of the rest and started out on a long journey over the mountains in Pennsylvania. Probably took a few weeks as no doubt the letter from her husband has telling her to come. By the time she arrived at her destination her husband had died.

She could not go back so she settled down with her five children and managed to bring them up. I have always hoped she had kind neighbours not too far away.

Keturah, or Kate as she was always called, married John Marcus Caskey. They lived in Millersburg until 1880 then moved to Cleveland, Ohio. My father, Herbert K. was one of their four sons. The only sister, Harriet, married Winthrop Ingersoll and moved to Rockford, Ill. It was Uncle Wint who had Paul, my brother, come to work for him in Rockford after Paul graduated from M.I.T."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Once a Collector ... Always a Collector

Okay, I admit it. I guess I've always been a collector. For the past thirty years I've been pursuing and collecting family history documents and heirlooms. Further in my past, it has been other things - some now with monetary value and some kept only out of sentiment.

I suppose it started as a kid with sports cards - hockey and baseball in my part of the world. I wish I had held on to all those mint condition 'original six' NHL cards but sticking them on my bike to make noise as the spokes of my wheels snapped them just seemed at the time to make a lot more sense. I moved from 'bubble gum cards' to stamps, taking up a hobby that my father had pursued. I did well with the stamps but bored easily while waiting for the post office to 'release' the next commemorative stamp.

By the time the early 80's rolled around I had started collecting autographs. I'm not sure as to why, I just did and now, thirty years later I own some pieces of history like an original report from around 1806 penned by Henry Erskine, twice Lord Advocate of Scotland. It started with sending blank file cards, the kind of index card you might use to write a recipe on, to a variety of celebrities. The folks who received my file cards with a politely written autograph request were from diverse backgrounds - politicians, scientists, entertainers, etc. To my amazement, they signed the cards and sent them back to me.

Emboldened, I decided to send photos, mainly clipped from magazines, to celebrities and again, they graciously signed and sent the now autographed photos back to me. I wrote some months ago about one such autographed photo, from author Alex Haley. One of the more creative autograph collecting endeavours I used, and I cannot take credit for thinking it up, involved obtaining a 'signed' copy of the World War 2 surrender agreement.

It involved obtaining the wording of the "Instrument of Surrender of all German Forces" that was signed at Rheims, France on the 7th of May, 1945. I hand-wrote a copy of the agreement and sent it to an address I had found for Karl Doenitz, the Grand Admiral of the German Navy and who as Adolf Hitler's successor instructed the surrender of Nazi Germany. To my amazement, Karl Doenitz lived at the address I had found in a volume of "Who's Who" and he signed the agreement and mailed it back to me. I followed up with Mr. Doenitz who subsequently sent me an autographed photo of himself wearing his Admiral's uniform (above).

Some pieces of history I can leave to my descendants - not now but some day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Branch in the Hadden Family Found

Isabella Reid Simon Hadden was just 16 years old on November 28, 1885 when she gave birth to a daughter, Jeannie Mathieson Dickson. Isabella wasn't married to the baby's father, a local 21 year old farm servant named Charles Dickson. Isabella and Charles never would marry and so Jeannie was raised by her maternal grandmother and the woman she was named after, Jean (Mathieson) Hadden.

Unfortunately for little Jeannie, her grandmother died of breast cancer just after her second birthday in 1887 and so, she was sent to live with and be raised by her paternal grandparents, William and Sophia Dickson in Culsalmond, West Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is with these grandparents that 5 year old Jeannie can be found living in the 1891 Scottish Census, along with Jeannie's two Dickson aunts, 2 Dickson uncles, and another Dickson granddaughter, 6 year old Lizzie Taylor.

Isabella eventually married in 1893 to Alexander Cameron and, in 1910, Alexander and Isabella emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada (Isabella is pictured above 'among the wheat' on their farm). Isabella's daughter, (and apparently only child as Isabella and Alexander do not appear to have had children) Jeannie married game keeper George Cruickshank in 1909 at Culsalmond.

I want to take credit for being an incredibly innovative researcher and being able to find Jeannie but the truth is the discovery of Jeannie's branch of the family was gifted to me through contact with Jeannie's granddaughter Marion Paterson.

Marion, my 3rd cousin, had to be patient when she reached out to me as I was hospitalized at the time and so significant periods of time went by for Marion without a reply from me. In the end, we have connected and she has shared family photos like the one above of Isabella that otherwise would not have been seen by my branch of the family. All in all a good result and a commitment between cousins to continue to collaborate.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Canadian Gaull Family Connection

It takes a while to thoroughly read and, if necessary, respond to more than 1400 emails. That's the number of email messages that accumulated during my recent illness. One of the more intriguing messages was sent through Ancestry from a researcher in Saskatchewan, Canada who is related through marriage to one of my Gaull family cousins, a second cousin to be specific.

I immediately went through my genealogy database to find that I had some basic information about 'other' members of the Gaull family who were at least at one time in Canada, but really until this week when I dedicated some time to researching this family branch, I had no idea of the group of cousins (even as a family member I'm probably not allowed to refer to them as a 'flock of Gaulls') living on the Canadian prairies.

The connection is through my great great grandfather, John Gaull (1860-1942) who with his wife, Harriet McKenzie, raised eleven children including my great grandmother, Jessie McKenzie Gaull and her younger sister, Mary Jane Gaull. (John Gaull is pictured below, in the centre surrounded by family members in a 1928 photo taken on the family dairy farm in Monymusk, Scotland).

Mary Jane was only 16 years of age when she gave birth to her first child, Mary Jane Donald. Although the birth was registered as being "illegitimate," the father was identified at the time of birth registration as James Donald, a local 21 year old farm servant. When James Donald and Mary Jane Gaull married early in the January following their daughter's birth, Mary Jane Donald's birth was deemed to have been 'legitimized' and a Record of Corrected Entry (RCE) was registered stating that to be the case. (It is important when conducting Scottish research to look for these RCE's as they 'pop up' unexpectedly and can prove to be invaluable to your research).

James and Mary Jane went on to have seven additional children and, of their eight children, it appears that at least two immigrated to Canada in search of better lives and likely free land to farm in western Canada. William 'Bill' Donald and his younger brother Peter Donald both settled in Saskatchewan, married and raised families. I can now look forward to connecting with these 'new' cousins!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't Forget to Check for New Record Releases

The beginning of a new calendar year can be an exciting time especially if like me, it means that family records are finally going to be made public because the statutory time has passed. I almost forgot that this year, on January 1st, the 1910 birth registration, 1960 death registration and 1935 marriage registration images for Scotland were being made available through the Scotland's People website. This meant that I could finally see my paternal grandfather's birth registration.

John Gaull Hadden (pictured left) was born on March 9, 1910. Now that 100 years have passed, and presumably most of the privacy concerns about making his birth registration available to anyone willing to pay a small fee, I obtained the registration. The record informs me that my grandfather was born at 4:15 p.m. at 6 Piries Lanes, Woodside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It confirms his parents as Alexander Shand Hadden and Jessie Hadden (nee Gaull). Alexander's occupation is listed as "Steam Ship Stoker" which later evolved to be the better sounding 'marine engineer'!

The interesting aspect of the record is the spelling of the Gaull surname. I have seen it spelled 'Gauld' on many records but on my grandfather's birth record, it is spelled as "Gall" in two separate places. It is possible that my great grandfather Alexander who signed the registration record didn't know how to read or didn't know or care how to spell the Gaull family name. I doubt I will ever know why he signed off on the error. The important lesson with the spelling issue is to check all variants because when a record like this containing an incorrectly spelled surname is indexed, the error will be carried into the index potentially making searches more difficult.

Develop a timeline type chart and see when important events in your ancestor's lives occurred because you don't want to miss obtaining that record you have been waiting for as soon as it is available.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sara's Story

I never had the chance to meet Sara (Caskey) Breithaupt, the wife of Ellen's second cousin, Louis Orville Breithaupt, (pictured to the right on their wedding day in 1919) but have come to know her through photos, newspaper clippings and her "book." The book, as Sara herself described it, is her autobiography that she completed in December 1977, when she was 83 years of age. While we try to interview older family members to record their knowledge and memories, Sara produced a thirty plus page 'autobiography', complete with some of her favourite family photos.

Historically, Sara saw a lot, including Wilbur and Orville Wright's first flight around Massachusetts Bay. As the wife of the Queen's representative in the province of Ontario, Canada during the 1950's, she met with many Canadian and foreign statesmen, she attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but was most comfortable surrounded by family in Kitchener, Ontario.

I am pleased to share a small piece of Sara's story, as told by her in 1977.

"A short time ago I had a delightful, nostalgic hour with the world renowned violinist, Fritz Kreisler, via T.V.

Three men who had known him talked of his life and gave excerpts from his records. It brought back to me so clearly and happily the times I had heard him play while we were living in New York.

But I suppose I should really start this at the beginning, rather than at eighteen or twenty years of age.

I was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on April 4, 1894 and Paul Herbert followed me six years later on August 19, 1900.

Sixty years later I wanted a copy of my birth certificate so wrote the City Hall in Youngstown. They informed me that they had no record of my birth, only that on April 4, 1894 a female child had been born to Herbert Koch Caskey (the Koch is for good friends of his parents when he was born) and to Mary Scott Caskey. No proof that it was me, might have been my sister.

I wrote the First Presbyterian Church for my Baptismal Certificate. It has my name and date of baptism but no date of birth!

I wrote to my cousin, Pauline Jones, in Youngstown to see what she could do, she and a lawyer friend got Aunt Alice Jones, my mother's sister to testify. All went well, the authorities were ready to sign that I was that female child when Aunt Alice, always extremely honest, said: -"But of course I was not there, I was only told" . This put them all into a tailspin but finally to the satisfaction of everyone , myself included , it was decided that I really had been born and not some nebulous sister.

My ancestry has always interested me and I think, and hope, that you, my family, will be interested too. Especially those with Scott or Sara in their names.

I shall take my mother' s family first as I knew them so much better than I did father's.

My great-great-grandfather was George Scott, a cousin of Sir Walter's. George married Sarah Hutchinson who died when their only child was a few weeks old. She, Sarah Anne, married William Bonnell in Bradford, England.

They sailed for the United States in 1841 with their three children, my grandmother, Sarah Jane was five. They left in the middle of winter in January, in a sailing vessel which took six weeks for the trip and Grandma told me every one on board had to cook their own meals.

Now 136 years later, December 1977 the new "Concord" just crossed the Atlantic in three hours and twenty-two minutes."

I think we all have family members, no longer with us, whom we would love the opportunity to sit down with and talk about their lives. Sara is one of those for me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Family Heirloom

Let's just admit it - we all hope that family heirlooms exist and someday we will be recognized as the family archivist to whom all the heirloom objects and photos should be sent. I've never really encountered an heirloom in my family and there are a lot of possible reasons for that sad state of affairs. But recently my wife Ellen handed me one of her family's unidentified heirlooms in the hope that I might be able to identify the original family member to whom it was connected.

Ellen had acquired an old walking cane (pictured above) said to have been the possession of an unidentified ancestor. The cane has an ivory handle which is joined to the wood shaft by a gold engraved band. As can be partially seen in the photo below, the engraving was the key to identifying the original ancestral owner. According to the engraving, the cane was presented to "J.J.H." in 1876.

Fortunately, my wife only has one ancestor who has the initials J.J.H. and he was alive in 1876 making my job a lot easier (sometimes it's good to get lucky!). J. J. H. is Ellen's third great grandfather, Jacob John Hailer (pictured below). Jacob is, along with a few other of Ellen's relations, a member of the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame. The Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) Region Hall of Fame describes Jacob's contribution to the area as "Jacob Hailer, a pioneer furniture manufacturer, was deeply religious and was very active in establishing the Evangelical Church in Canada. It is recorded that Sunday School was held in his Spinning Wheel Shop at the corner of what is Scott and King Streets in Kitchener and that members of Canada's First Nations often dropped in to observe what was going on.

Hailer was born in Wilfredingen, Baden, Germany and came to Canada when he was twenty-seven, locating in Berlin. He bought an acre of land from Bishop Eby and started to manufacture furniture, being one of the earliest furniture manufacturers in the County."

Jacob was born on 20 December 1804 and passed away 6 March 1882. Perhaps he received the cane as a birthday and/or Christmas gift in 1876. We don't know the circumstances of the presentation and perhaps we never will.