How do you research?

After a short break, I am back.  Its not that I haven’t been doing any genealogy research, but that I took on too many projects at one time. Can you identify with that?  In my case it was too many projects, all genealogy related, but not necessarily related to my genealogy.  It brings me to the point of this post.

How many lines of research are you doing at one time? Many family researchers say to research only one branch at a time.  Do I do that? For some branches of my tree, it is easy to stay focused.   I visit a website or read the index of a book and look for the names I am researching. No problem.

When do I research more than one line at a time?  My husband and I have lines in the same geographical area.  When I read a book about that particular area, I look for all possible names-not just from one line.  There are so many books to read, I don’t want to have to read the same one twice.  Have I found this method successful? Absolutely.

Now, if I could just avoid getting sidetracked while on the internet.  That’s a post for another day.

It’s not always that easy…

We’ve all seen the commercial or ad where someone types in their ancestor’s name and up pops an entire family tree already done for them. Is it for real?

The short answer is sometimes. The longer answer is that many times a tree will pop up, but…

1) Is it your ancestor or someone with the same name during the same era (even perhaps a cousin)?

2) Is your ancestor’s name mentioned as a spouse with no descendants on some very distant branch on the tree?

3) Is this tree researched well or copied from someone else? Are names and birthdates duplicated on the same branch instead of being merged?

4)  Is this tree properly sourced? If not, then are the facts correct?

I like to look at trees and use them as a starting point for me to find the documents and source them properly.

In the end, the satisfaction I get from conducting my own productive search is greater than seeing a completed tree done for me (although I won’t complain if you find my 3x ggrandparents on my dad’s side).

Wishing you luck in your research.


What’s your story?

Its a new year and we all make resolutions.  This year I’m suggesting a resolution that everyone can keep.

Tell your story.  Too often while researching a family history, we think “I wish I had asked ______________ about their life.”  Many years ago I interviewed my maternal grandmother and a paternal aunt, and yet, I look back now and think I could have been more thorough.

Even though some younger people might not yet be interested, in the future they will be wishing they knew more about their family history and wishing they had asked you.

There are different ways, some very simple, to record your story, thoughts, and memories. In all instances it is easiest to start with a small notebook.  When you think of an event from the past, write down a quick note. Use one page for each separate thought so that you can expand on it later. You don’t have to write everything down at this point. You will use this as a jumping off point. Go through photos to jog your memory about people and places in your past. Realize also that not all memories will be pleasant, but that is life. Your descendants will know that also.

Some memories to ponder: your spouse/parents/grandparents/aunts and uncles, childhood memories, school memories, the “old country” from which you came, special holidays, sports or activities you enjoyed, memories of your children when they were young

When you have accumulated several ideas, its time to start recording. Here are some suggestions:

-take your original small notebook and expand on your thoughts. You can leave the notebook as is or you can expand it into a small book. You can also use small photo albums. Put a copy of a photo on one side and write an entry on the facing page. There are several companies through which you can create your unique, personal book.

-use a cassette recorder (some people still have them)

-ask a friend or relative to videotape you as you talk about the different people/events (there are even companies you can hire to record you). You can show a photo and then describe your memory.

Remember, even if you have done your family tree with dates and names, its the memories that add substance. Please also remember to date and name the people in your photos. You might know who they are, but future generations may not.

This project is not something to be done in a day, but don’t put it off. It will be easier to do in small pieces.

Good luck.






November Meeting

This month we are fortunate to have Sher Leetooze who will speak on Building Your Family Story Using Maps.  She will show us OS, DND and Topographical Maps of Ontario and Great Britain and teach us how to read symbols and gather the clues that will help us.

There is always something to learn at a meeting. Come to the library on November 21st at 7p.m. and join us. No yearly membership, but we ask for a $2 donation at each meeting. For more details, see  and we hope to see you there.



Don’t tell Auntie Helen

As a teenager I became interested in my family history and purchased a Family Tree Kit.  There was no Internet then to help, only stories passed down from relatives.

Life then got busy with university, marriage and children. Several years later, I found that Family Tree Kit and decided to start again. During an interview with my eldest aunt, stories were told and a rough family tree was presented, but I wanted proof.

Living in Uxbridge at that time, I went to the library and ordered microfilm on loan from the Ontario Archives. What a frustrating process, going through reels of microfilm, looking for grandma’s birth or the marriage of her parents and then finding nothing. Remembering that grandma had an older sister, Ellen, I tried again and Bingo! There was my great grandmother’s name as the mother, but alas, no father was listed. In fact, the word “illegitimate” was written in the register.  After calling my parents to tell them of my discovery, I was told “Don’t tell Auntie Helen. It would upset her.”

Now Ellen’s birth was over 100 years ago, and no one knows the circumstances surrounding her birth, but I do know that illegitimacy was not rare in those times and for various reasons. It was not talked about, except perhaps in whispers. No Internet, TV, radio or phones to communicate information.

I never told Auntie Helen, but I wonder if she would have been happy to learn all that I have discovered since that day or if she would have been content with family stories. Although genealogists want to know the truth, we have to respect the feelings of others.


You never know…

when you’ll need something.  My husband doesn’t like to throw things out for the reason that after you dismiss something or throw it out, you’ll need it.

Several years ago I went to a meeting where Dorothy Shier was talking about British Home Children, specifically, Barnardo children.  I went to the meeting knowing that I didn’t have any Home Children in our family.

I had been looking for my great grandmother for months. The family story was that she came from Cornwall with her family when she was 4 years old and was born in 1877, according to her death certificate.  I could find nothing about her previous to her children’s births.  I had uncovered some stretches in some family stories so I wondered if there was some elastic in this story as well.  I thought back to that Uxbridge Genealogy meeting and thought, I wonder…

I decided to look for her on the then Library and Archives Canada site.  There was a search for Home Children.  When I typed in her first name, middle initial and surname, there she was.  The age was 5 years off, but not out of the ordinary for researching genealogy.  And yes, I did do more research to prove she was my great grandmother and I had my father send away to Barnardo’s for information (another story perhaps).

If I had not gone to that meeting where I knew the information would not be useful to me (hah), I would never had found the piece to this puzzle.

You never know when you’ll need something.


Unique Genealogy Resources at Uxbridge Public Library

Uxbridge has a great public library, supported by various groups and individuals.  Today I want to talk about Family Histories in the Genealogy Room.  These binders, books, and duotangs with local family histories provide a wealth of information and were donated by the families.

Here are a few of the family history binders/books and some other names mentioned within them:

REID – Falconer, Vicars, Walker, Relly, Garnet

LEASK – Noble, Annis, Dickinson, Anderson, Smith

KYDD- Johnston, Brethour

ST. JOHN – Bacon, Doble, Baker, Evans, Brethour

GREGG – Cox, Doble, Brandon, St. John, Shier

There are over 100 different family histories in the Family History Cabinet. It located to the left as you enter the Genealogy Room. Check the library’s website for hours.

The Great Escape: A Canadian Story.

Pam from Uxbridge Public Library has asked me to share this:

Everyone is welcome to hear Ted Barris speak about his latest novel The Great Escape: A Canadian Story.
WHEN: Wednesday October 9th, 2013 – 12:00-2:30 PM
WHERE: The Royal Canadian Legion – 109 Franklin St.
TICKETS: Available at the Uxbridge Library $12.00 (HST Incl.). Veterans & Legion Members $10.00.


Welcome to the Uxbridge Genealogy Group Blog.  We hope to inform you about the Genealogy Room and resources at Uxbridge Public Library, to invite you to our monthly meetings, and to talk about family history in general.