Archive for the ‘My Genealogy’ Category

On finding a Confederate soldier in my tree

In Painter, US Civil War on March 28, 2010 at 8:05 AM

I admit I know very little about the US Civil War other than that it involved emancipation of the black slaves and Abraham Lincoln.  So when I searched, and surprisingly found, for my great-great-grandfather in the Civil War soldier database I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d found.  He was listed as a Prisoner of War, so it listed where he was captured (not far from his home in Missouri) as well as when, and how/when he was discharged.  I dutifully took notes.

Then I thought I should figure out this Confederate-Union thing.  I was assuming that my ancestors felt the same way I do, that slavery is bad.  I was wrong.

Samuel was a confederate soldier.  As was his brother William.  And many of their neighbours.  And for the first time in 30 years of family research, I was a little disappointed in my ancestors.

I thought I should find out more about his regiment, “Porter’s Regiment”.  Most of what I found seems to be based on a regimental history by Mr. Mudd (I wonder if he was any relation to the Dr. Mudd who fixed up Abraham Lincoln’s assinator, John Wilkes Booth, which gave rise to the saying “his name is mud”?).  While Colonel Porter’s regiment was officially part of the army, they were at times, by some, considered Bushwackers as they employed guerilla warfare.  Colonel Porter was killed in Jan/Feb 1863–both Samuel and William were captured in 1862.

None of this information made me feel any better about my ancestors and I, who pride myself on being open-minded, find myself with quite a challenge.  How do I reconcile my ancestor’s beliefs with who I am (and are they rolling over in their graves with the knowledge of me as their descendant)?  I suspect I will have to do quite a bit more research on the US Civil War, in particular Missouri’s role in it, to help with that reconciliation.  What a difference 150 years and 4 generations can make!


Tombstone Tuesday-Jacob Painter

In My Genealogy, Painter on March 9, 2010 at 10:33 AM

At the Stoutsville Cemetery, Monroe County, Missouri:

His wife, Hannah, is memoralized on the other side of the column.


[one side]




[another side]



Mar. 12 1895



His toils are past his work is done

And he’s fully blest

He fought the fight the victory won

And entered into rest.

[opposite side of Jacob]







[verse illegible in pic]

Thanks to Geneabloggers for this daily theme.

Wordless Wednesday–Africa, 1962

In Christmas, McRandal on February 17, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Card sent for Christmas from Rhodesia.

and the inside:

Tombstone Tuesday–Samuel H Painter

In My Genealogy, Painter on February 16, 2010 at 8:04 AM

Samuel H. Painter, Stoutsville Cemetery, Monroe County, Missouri, USA

GPS coordinates:
0 m

Samuel H. was the youngest son of George and Sarah Ann (nee Smith) Painter/Bender.  He was born 25 Sept 1829 in Berkley County, Virginia (now West Virginnia).  The family migrated to Missouri in Samuel H.’s youth.  He married America Ann Nesbit 24 Aug 1852 in Missouri according her published obituary.   They had eight children, including James William (“Will) Painter, my great-grandfather.  Samuel H.  farmed at Stoutsville until his death 27 Nov 1893.

Stoutsville Cemetery, in part, had to be moved for a Dam project which created the Mark Twain Lakes from the Salt River forks.  The cemetery, as a result of the Dam project, is very water logged, especially at the lower portions where I found my feet sinking a little as I walked around.  Apparently not all the graves were succesfully relocated before the water level rose.  I was unable to locate any records of the relocation project while there.






Nov. 27.1893



[illegible due to weathering]

Madness Monday–Grandma Deac

In Deacon, My Genealogy on February 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

She looks kind enough, from stories she was a very nice woman, but she is driving me crazy….

The “facts” as I have them for this particulary circular madness:

Beatrice Annie Deacon, aka Grandma Deac (pronounced deek), working backwards (from copies of original documents):

Death Registration, 1968, lists maiden name Walsh, born England, birth 6 Oct 1882, parents born England (names unknown)

Daughter’s death registration, 1956, lists maiden name Walsh, born Dublin, Ireland

Son’s death registration, 1947, lists maiden name Walsh, born Ireland.

1941 National Registration, lists birth Dublin, Ireland, racial origin Irish, entered Canada 1913, birth 6 Oct 1891

Son’s birth registration (husband is infomant), 1923, maiden name Deacon, born Dublin, Ireland, racial origin Irish, age 41 (ie b. 1882)

Stillborn baby’s death registration (husband informant), 1921, mother listed as Agnes Catherine, born Ireland.  Agnes Catherine, I believe, was to be the baby’s name as I’ve found Mass being said for her in other documentation.

Daughter’s birth registration (husband informant), 1918, maiden name Deacon, born England.

I have been unable to find her on any passenger list in 1913 (or surrounding years), but unfortunately not all lists survive.

There is an old postcard from Jones’ Restaurant in Plymouth, Devon dating from around 1907-1914 time period (judging from telephone number).  Family stories indicate they may have met in Plymouth.

Mr Deacon, working backwards (from copies of original documents:

Daughter’s death registration, 1956, father born Cornwall, England

Son’s death registration, 1947, father born England.

His own death registration, 1926, born England, Occupation Waiter, father Kestel Deacon born England 5 Jun 1882,  mother not known, “in Canada” 13 years (1913).  (Beatrice is informant)

Will mentions only wife by name and “my children” (not listed), 1926.

Son’s birth registration, 1923, father English, born Cornwall, England, Waiter, age 42 (ie b. Jun 1882). (He is informant)

Stillborn baby’s death registration, 1921, father born England, Waiter. (He is informant)

Daughter’s birth registration, 1918, father born England, Waiter. (He is informant)

Passenger List, 1913, Wm Deacon, Waiter (both Occupation from which he came and intended occupation in Canada), England, married.  Oh, on the exiting Passenger List he is 26 years old (ie. b. 1887).  When he arrives in Canada 9 days later he is 32 years old (ie. b. 1881).

Possible Marriage registration, 1909, Wales, resides Plymouth, Waiter, father William Kestel Deacon, Labourer.

So those are the “facts” such as I have them.  I have been to Dublin, Ireland and searched for Beatrice Annie’ Walsh’s birth registration.  It does not exist.  There is a candidate or two in England however.

So, is Grandma Deac Irish or English, Walsh or Deacon, or something entirely different altogether?  HELP!

In the 1911 English Census is a William Henry, waiter, and his wife Beatrice Annie Deacon.  He is born in Cornwall, she in Devon.  They’ve been married 2 years.  Shortly after the census they have a son, Lawrence Deacon born at the same address to William Henry, waiter, and Beatrice Annie, nee Deacon.  I have no Lawrence in my tree, no Lawrence’s death is registered in England or in BC (I might have to check Ontario).  There are no family stories of a son that died.  There is available online, however, the story of a Lawrence Deacon who was hung for murder after WWII in Manitoba, Canada.  His mother, Beatrice Deacon (aged 35), and he (aged 8 ) came to Canada from England in 1919.  They were going to her mother in Manitoba.  I have been unable to find any other Lawrence Deacon’s born around 1911 anywhere in England.

Searching for any other Deacon Waiters brings up no other leads.  There are other William Deacons, but they are blacksmiths or in the navy and can be followed through the census’, not marrying a Beatrice or not marrying at all.  Beatrice Walsh searches lead nowhere (there are some, but not born in Ireland).  Beatrice Deacon searches lead me back to the Beatrice Deacon in Plymouth in 1911 with her son Lawrence.

I suppose the trick is to discern what is “fact” from what is “fiction” in the documents I currently have.  I have racked my brain for other documents that might exist.  Mr Deacon’s employment records with the CPR, if they still exist, are not accessible (the CPR archives adamantly insist they are not available for research).  The son’s military records reconfirm the Walsh-Dublin, Ireland information.  English WWI records were mostly destroyed in the Blitz so I’m unable to confirm or deny any military service on Mr Deacon’s part.  The postcard I have for Jones’ Restaurant on Union St in Plymouth gives me a rough date of 1907-1914 (from the telephone number), but no such restaurant is listed in online historical directories for Plymouth.

Other family tidbits:  Her daughter was named for a much-loved deceased brother.  She was in a hospital growing up, presumably for something like TB.  She had the following growing up:  a pony, an irish setter, and a nanny who smoked corn cob pipes.  Or, she was an orphan growing up.  After her husband’s death in 1926, she withdrew the children from public school and put them into a private Catholic school.  She was apparently a very devout Catholic as well as anyone can remember, and both she and her husband are buried in the Catholic portion of the cemetery.  Her husband, on the Passenger List, is listed as C of E (Church of England, Anglican).  He died in the local public hospital, St. Paul’s, run in conjuction with the Catholic Church (perhaps she converted/returned to Catholicism through this time?  The nuns felt for her, a widow with young children, and she got a job in the kitchen at St. Paul’s after her husband’s death).

So very many “ifs, ands, or buts”.  I feel fairly confident about the 1909 marriage being them, largely due to the unusual name of Kestel.  But anything else in England or Ireland is questionable.  I’ve tirelessly searched census after census in Canada, the UK and Ireland for anyone who resembles them.  I’ve searched out leads through marriage witnesses who, quite nicely, lead back to the Deacon family of Cornwall.  Grandma Deac, for whatever reason, obscured her family history, and apparently she did a very good job of it.

Perhaps, one day, someone researching a collateral branch of one of their trees will find a missing Beatrice Annie and a mystery will be solved.

Wordless Wednesday–Robert E. Thompson

In My Genealogy, Thompson on February 10, 2010 at 11:16 AM

or rather, Word-full.  Page showing  children elected (limited spaces) into the Royal Albert Orphan Asylum at Bagshot, Surrey, England, from an Annual Report of the orphanage.  Robert Ernest Thompson was my great-grandfather, and “won” a spot at the orphanage (there was voting involved), where he stayed Dec 30, 1885 until he was old enough to leave in Dec 18, 1891.  His siblings (at least the youngest 5 of the 9) were placed with family members, only Robert was placed in an orphanage.  I’d certainly liked to know why, or how that decision was come upon.  He did not have happy memories of his orphanage years.

Yet another Geneabloggers topic!

Tombstone Tuesday–Thompson, Thomas and Hannah (Reading, Berkshire)

In My Genealogy, Thompson on February 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM

The story went that the Thompson parents (parents of my great-grandfather who came to Canada) had a family grave,  but only they were buried there.  It was told as a rather sad story.  So when I went to England in 2006 for research, I of course had to see if I can find this fabled grave.  Earlier searches of the much-touted National Burial Index, which may work for many, yielded up nothing for my Thompsons.  A trip to the Berkshire Record Office (Archives) in Reading however were very helpful.  I found they were in the Reading Cemetery, which would seem a simple place to find, being as I was in Reading.  Working “on the fly” (most things I do I have researched fairly extensively a day or two beforehand), I found the general area the cemetery should be.  A wrong bus in the wrong direction and a fair bit of walking later, I finally arrived at Reading Cemetery (at Cemetery Junction).

It was not at all what I was used to here.  Here at home our cemeteries are immaculately manicured properties, with an office near the entrance usually open weekdays with generally helpful staff.  Not so at Reading Cemetery.  No office, no staff, and what looked like a rather overgrown and unkempt cemetery.  Luckily I had taken a copy of a cemetery map I had found at the archives, with the grave’s position identified only as being in section 30.

I got to the what I thought must be the correct area, judging by various pathways and how/where they merged.  There were areas I could see graves had been completely grown over with shrubs and trees, graves that would only be made accessible by some hard work with a weedwacker or machete.  A little more searching and I was lucky enough to find my Thompson grave, mostly clear of plant growth.  And indeed, there they were, Thomas and Hannah, alone in their grave.

I cleared off some of the vines as carefully as I could (recalling all the warnings about “cleaning” stones.  I talked to them (okay, that may sound strange to some of you), telling them how one of their sons had survived the orphanage, and had come to Canada to find love, a career as a warehouseman, and to have two children.  I left a photo of an original ambrotype of Hannah (below) at the site, with my contact details on the back, just in case any relatives should stop by (no contact to date).

Oh, and the family lore about room for the family, that seems to have come from the grave nextdoor to Thomas & Hannah’s–Thomas’ parents.  More about Peter & Sarah Thompson another time.


In Loving Rememberance Of











Thanks again to Geneablogger for the subject inspiration.

Hugh and Sarah McRandal–Tombstone Tuesday

In McRandal, My Genealogy on February 2, 2010 at 9:46 PM

A topic suggested by Geneabloggers.

Hugh & Sarah McRandal, and his grandparents, Hugh & Anne McRandal

Feystown, Antrim County, Northern Ireland

This is an older picture of the headstones put up by the local McRandal family to replace the originals.  Below is a picture I took of the same headstones in May 2006.  Notice the extreme differences in condition–the wind and rain wear stone down quickly in this region.


(Left tombstone)

Pray For The Souls Of


DIED 2nd NOV. 1954.





(Right Stone)


Pray for the souls of


of Duntague who departed this Life

22nd March 1866,  Aged 61 Years.

Also of Margaret McKay his eldest

daughter who died 7th July 1861,

Aged 31 Years.

And of Martha Connolly his second

daughter who died 23rd Feby 1862,

Aged 28 Years.

Also his wife ANNE McRANDAL,

who died 13th April, 1890, aged 80 years.


Lost Family

In Deacon, My Genealogy on January 28, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Watching Ancestors in the Attic (History Channel) tonight reminded me of my grandaunt’s baby girl.  The story goes that she was adopted out through, possibly, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.  The family who adopted her may have moved to Victoria.  I have searched, off and on, to find her or any family she may have had.  No luck yet.

It’s another tragic story in the Deacon recent-history.  My grandaunt loved and was engaged to the baby’s father either at the time or shortly afterwards, however the baby was born out of wedlock, and being a good Catholic family, that was a no-no.  As it happens, the baby’s father died of pneumonia within a short time, before they had married, at the tender age of 21.

The story continues.  My grandaunt loved kids.  She did marry later, but it ended up  she could not conceive–she had ovarian cancer.  That cancer took more than a decade before it claimed her life at the age of 38.

Her brother, my grandfather, died of Banti’s disease at age 24.

This is my brick wall family.  My grandfather and grandaunt’s mother was Beatrice Annie (or Anne).  Paperwork I have says her maiden name was Walsh, and that she was born in “Dublin, Ireland”.  She had only the two children, and one stillborn in between, that I am aware of.  Their father, her husband, died in 1926 at age 45 (intestinal blockage–can you imagine?) when the kids were just young.  She herself lived to 75 or 85, depending on which document you believe regarding her birthdate.  They seem to me to be a family who went through more tragedies than many.

My Painter Soldiers in WWI

In General Genealogy, My Genealogy, Painter, WWI on January 25, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I”m not sure how I ended up there, but yesterday I found myself  knee-deep in World War I research.  In particular I was reading up on the Canadian Railway Troops (CRT) and the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) to which grandpa and his brother (my granduncle) belonged respectively.

Going over my granduncle’s military file (search Attestation Forms at CollectionsCanada, then order a copy of the entire file for around $30),  I found that while it was true he belonged to the 16th Battalion when he died, he had only belonged to them for a month before he was killed.  His short career in the army saw him transferred between four different battalions.

Grandpa on the othe other hand, being older, enlisted earlier in January 1915 and was transferred only once, from his enlisted battalion (58th) to the 1st Canadian Pioneers, which later became known as the 9th CRT.  His paybook and file paysheets list him as a Steam Tractor Engineer & Repairs.

For an interesting description of what it was like in France, and in  particular being part of a CRT company, download and read France & Flanders: four years experience told in poem & story (1919) by W. Brindle, a Sapper (roughly the engineer equivalent of a Private).   What a promising source InternetArchive (, Canadian version) is!

Another wonderful source of information I found was the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) Study Group.  Try searching on your ancestor’s battalion to begin with, or just browse..  The amount of accumulated knowledge on this site is formidable.

Finding out what happened on a specific day in the war in a particular battalion is actually quite easy–search on the battalion and read the War Diaries.  Almost everyday entries were made describing what the battalion did on that day.  Although very few names are specifically mentioned, it can give you a very good overview of what things your ancestor did on a day-to-day basis, and show what happened the day, as in my granduncle’s case, your ancestor died.

There are many many books out there written on specific battalions and battles.  If you are researching the 16th Battalion as I am, I highly recommend Brave Battalion by Mark Zuehlke (Chapters, Amazon).  Last night I read 4 pages detailing what happened October 1st, 1918, giving me a pretty good idea exactly what my granduncle’s last morning was like, and how and where (and why) he was likely killed.  Thank you to my sister for giving me this book for Christmas!