Archive for the ‘My Genealogy’ Category

Surname Saturday-Thompson

In My Genealogy, Thompson on January 23, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Thanks to Geneabloggers for the topic suggestions.  I’ve been at a bit of a loss lately as to what to write about–too many and too little things!

So let’s dive right in.  You may think Thompson is an often common surname to attack in my first Surname Saturday, and you’re probably right.  But I could’ve chosen my Smiths!

My Thompsons (Robert, below, and siblings) came to Canada around the turn of the century, that being 1900, not 2000.  They had come from Reading, Berkshire, England.  For those of us on this side of the pond, that’s prounced “Redding”.  This caused me some issues for a few years as we had only oral history, that grandma’s father had come from “Redding”  England.  I looked and looked for a Redding or something similar.  Finally finding Reading I asked if that was perhaps it…no one could confirm or deny.  Then, somehow (perhaps a BBC TV program?), I heard the English pronounciation of Reading (Redding) and my mystery was solved!  But I digress here.

Some of that generation (born 1860s through 1870s) were also born in Dover, Kent, England.

Their father (Thomas, and his siblings) had been born in Devizes, Wiltshire, England which is where their mother was born and raised.  I have noticed it is not uncommon for marriages to occur in the parish or place where the bride resides, and for the new couple to reside nearby at least for a while.

Thomas’ father (Peter) was born in Wargrave, Berkshire, England.  So we’re back in Berkshire.  This is also where Peter’s father (another Thomas) was born.  We’re back to 1766 now.  (note: These last two generations are courtesy of a cousin’s work, Heather, in Australia.  Thanks Heather!).  My impression is that people were generally less mobile prior to the 19th century (1800s), so I would venture that my Thompson family lived in the Berkshire County area for some time prior to this.  However, there is more research waiting to be done to prove or disprove that!  And being that later generations included travelling cheapermongers (goods sellers), cheesemongers (cheese sellers) and bacon factors, it is also possible this family has not settled down in place for more than one generation over the past 500 years.  Hmmmm…no wonder I myself move every 3 to 5 years!

Thompson descendants--uncles and nephews


Married at 15

In My Genealogy on January 14, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Warning:  Some readers may find this subject offfensive.  It is not so intended, but is meant to rather to create an awareness and openess, and perhaps to prompt some questioning (not the least of which is my own!).  You’ll notice I have not named names in this postings, for while these things happened over 100 years ago, they are still sensitive subjects and may offend some.

When we start prodding and poking around the family tree we have to be prepared to find almost anything.  Every tree has a skeleton or two lying somewhere.  To date I hadn’t found anything that I considered very skeleton’ish, and in fact was disparing a little about that.  Why was my family so dull?

Yesterday I didn’t so much uncover, but ruminate at bit on one side of my family.  My great-great-grandfather, we’ll call him Alvin, was 25 when he married.  My great-great-grandmother, we’ll call her Stephanie, was married exactly one month after her fifteenth birthday.  We’re talking 1889, and times were very different, especially out west here where women were still more difficult to find.  Alvin had come over to “America” from England at about age 19.  I had also been told me how Stephanie  had not started “bleeding” (menstruating) when she was first married, but that her new husband was patient.  Okay, fair enough, times were different.

Yesterday I found them on the 1900 US Census, a surprise to find them there as my great-grandfather had been born in Canada the year before.  Their neighbours, I was happy to find, were Stephanie’s parents and some of her siblings.  Yay! Take the tree back another generation! and on a female line, bonus!

The household that her parents lived in was headed by one of her brothers.  He was newly married (the 1900 census asked for number of years married, to which the answer was zero).  His new wife was 15, he was 30.  A quick search of the Washington State Digital Archives and I found that she too was just one month past her fifteenth birthday when she was married.

This pattern was repeated in at least two other marriages within this generation of this family.

I’m not sure why I find this slightly disturbing.  Perhaps the youth of the brides, with the relatively large age differences* paired with whisperings of sibling incest just are too much to comprehend.  Maybe it’s knowing that these marriages were arranged with the parents when the girls’ were 14.  Or perhaps it’s just a sadness at beginning to understand how difficult life was for these girls, with full womanhood thrust upon them so young.  The parents in all cases came over to “America” from England and had themselves married more traditionally, age-wise (they had all been in their 20s/30s and  had age differences of between 1 and 8 years).  So, finally, I have found something I would consider a skeleton, and begin to understand how carefully we must tread, how we must stretch our own understanding and compassion.  It is quite an exercise.

*note how a 15 year age difference is huge at age 15, but not such a big deal at 70.

My Akesons and Achesons, not to be confused

In My Genealogy on January 9, 2010 at 9:10 PM

One of these days I will follow the advice out there and actually have a formal research plan that I follow and document.  In the meantime I love days like today.

I went to the subscription site and just started browsing through what they had on offer.  Seeing a number of Ontario databases,  I realized I had a number of relations that might be found in it.  Plus the Drouin collection (Quebec) which should never be underestimated.

Within a couple of hours I had found scans of original documents taking my (adoptive) Akeson family (mom’s side) back to the mid 1800s and Sweden.

I also took back my Acheson family (from my dad’s side) back to the early 1800s, from Ireland through a short stint in England and into Canada.

There were amongst both these families something that was likely the norm for the times, deaths of children.  Not just one child in a family, but multiple children.  Some at birth, some stillborn and some older.  Just a good reminder to appreciate the health care we have today.

I love these unexpected jaunts through history, never quite knowing where you’re going or where you might end up, or if you’ll find anything at all.  I’m sure research plans have their place, and one day I may find that place.

My brick wall & Irish research

In Deacon, My Genealogy on January 6, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Great-grandma Deac was, supposedly, born in Dublin in October 1882, and has a maiden name of Walsh.  I say supposedly because I have been to Dublin and done the research and can find no record of her.  In any case, I’m always on the lookout for new Irish sources being made available on line.

One of my favourites of course is the Canadian-Irish joint project to get both the 1911 & 1901 Irish censuses indexed and images online.  The 1911 is now fully searchable at with both transcriptions and images of the original householder forms available free.  I have to say I am quietly proud of our Canadian government for having the foresight to participate in this project.

Today I found another promising source.  Right now it “only” has church records from Counties Kerry & Dublin, but it sounds like there might be more in the future.  It’s funded by the Irish Minstry for Art, Sport and Tourism so is government funded, and it’s free.  It appears to offer transcriptions only at this point, but it does give references should one wish to follow up.  Find the site at

And yes, I’ve searched for grandma Deac to no avail.  Hope still lives.

Nana and Jack, an introduction

In My Genealogy on January 5, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Here they are, just as I always remember them.  Nana and Jack.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the term “Jack” was actually a first name and not a term similar to “grandma” or “grandpa”.  To me, it is still a term of endearment, and I say “Nana and Jack” the same way most people would lovingly say “grandma and grandpa”.

Nana was the inspiration behind my love of family history.  Being the first great-grandchild, and the only one for about four years, I had a special place with her, and she with me.  As we moved around the province somehow mom and dad ensured I still had some quality time with Nana and Jack.  When we finally settled down when I was seven, we settled within an hour or so drive of them, and so began regular weekend visits.  I would arrive there Friday and stay until Sunday when they would bring me home.  I would sit on the sofa next to Nana in her soft mustard yellow chair that rocked, she would stroke my hair, and tell me stories of the “old country”, of her family there, of her growing up and of her time when she first arrived in Canada.  There were times I would get impatient and insist “I know, I know” when she would start a story I had heard many times before, but she was so patient with me.  Undoubtably I will relate some/many of these stories as time goes on here in this blog, some of which I was lucky enough to get on audio tape.

Jack had some stories too, not quite as many, but also very interesting.  He had grown up in Manitoba on a farm, part of a large family.  The Depression came, and as the family struggled, at age 16, he left home to make it on his own, one less mouth to feed at home.  He “rode the rails” for some time, and held some interesting jobs.  And finally, he met nana.  So why “Jack” instead of “great-grandpa”.  Well, he was nana’s second husband, and although they had been married over 20 years by the time I was born, the family had just gotten used to calling him “Jack” I guess.   That means, of course, he’s not strictly speaking a relative of mine, by blood.  But of course he is…to me he is my great-grandfather, and I do research his family line as well as the great-grandfather whose DNA I share but who I never met.

Nana and Jack.  How I miss them.  How lucky I was to have had them in my life.

Some days start out ordinary enough

In Hansom, My Genealogy on January 1, 2010 at 11:42 AM

So after my little rant about findmypast, I received an email offering 30% off at$210 USD for the World Collection.  Well, this collection not only gives me the UK censuses, but also the US and Canadian, plus other records.  Yup, I signed up yesterday.

So as I was browsing through some of their records I saw they had on offer Form30A , a form filled out by all ship passenger arriving in Canada for a short period.  In this case that was for 1919-1924, under the title of Canada Ocean Arrivals.  Well I knew my nana (great-grandmother) arrived in 1922–I’m lucky enough to have a copy of a concert programme from the voyage!  So I looked hers up, nothing too new there, but still nice to have.  Next I looked up her husband who had come earlier, although I wasn’t sure how much earlier.  And there he was, easy as pie, arriving in 1921.

Reading down, I saw that he listed  his reason for leaving Canada was the “R.N.C.V.R”.  I knew he had joined WWI, I thought in the Merchant Marine, but none of these initials looked anything like “M”.

So this moring I did a little research, and it only took a little, to find out that RNCVR is the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve.  The Navy.  After years of boning up on Merchant Marines, and finding that their records for the period are pretty much non-existant., he was in the Navy!

A few keystrokes later and I was the Library & Archives Canada website, finding a handy-dandy referal to RNCVR records here.  I love!  So I have now ordered photocopies of a WWI service file I had for years thought no longer existed.  This is shaping up to be a very good new year!

New Year’s Genealogical Goals

In Deacon, General Genealogy, Thompson on December 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

I’m not usually one to do New Year’s resolutions–as my dad would say, I once made a resolution to never make resolutions and have kept it to this day.  However, goals are always a good idea.

I will finally order my grand-aunty Fran’s birth registration this year to see if it will shed any light on my secretive (aka brick wall) great-grandmother Deacon.  “Grandma Deac” has woven a pretty intricate trail, even if she didn’t mean to, and I have been on it for a decade or so now.  If nothing new comes up on said birth registration, then I shall let grandma Deac keep her secrets.  For now.

About two years ago I started getting copies of all the required documentation to prove my research.  I will continue this, as well as scanning (join Miriam over at AnceStories the last Sunday of every month for ScanFest) and transcribing it all into my program (Rootsmagic).

I would like to find out what ever became of my aunts Annie (nurse)  & Mary (music teacher) Thompson after World War I.  That will mean learning a few new research techniques, as I have not needed to do much research in the more modern era (what do you do when there are no censues?!).

I hope you and yours have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Calendars and time

In My Genealogy on December 30, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Surprisingly I did not receive a calendar for Christmas this year, so I found myself in the mall today hoping to get one at a good discount.  But it got me wondering why I feel so strongly that I need to have a calendar before January 1st.  If the Publishers don’t recognize the new year, does that mean  time stops existing?  If there were no calendars, would we just live the same day over and over?  Well, this was getting too philosophical for my christmas-treat-laden mind to grasp.

So, having not found a calendar I like I am about to venture forth in time without one.  What will change, how will it be different, will time as we know it stop?  I’ll let you know January 2nd if we’re all still here.

This also brought up a tradition that we have from my mom’s side of the family where a new calendar should not be put on the wall or displayed until January 1st.  I’m not sure what would happen if we did, but I’m thinking it would bring bad luck.  Okay, you might call it a superstition.  I’m wondering if anyone has a similar tradition, or variations on it?

White–Festival of Postcards

In My Genealogy on December 18, 2009 at 9:37 PM

This postcard was given to my grandmother on her first Christmas, 1917.  While grandma was in Vancouver, BC, I’m not sure where Uncle Fred and Aunt Blanche were living at the time (Aha! a new genealogy project!).  I also wrote about this card in another post that may be found here.

Here is the reverse (the blue pen writing is my grandmother’s):

Thanks to Evelyn at for inviting me to her Festival of Postcards!

Tombstone Tuesday

In My Genealogy, Painter on December 15, 2009 at 9:01 AM

Today’s advent calendar theme (Holiday Happenings…birthdays, anniversaries and the like) did not inspire me this morning I’m afraid.  However I do like this idea of Tombstone Tuesday also found on GeneaBloggers.

This is Annie Mary Painter’s headstone.  She is my great-grandmother.  Born Annie Mary (or Marie) Turnbough in Monroe County, Missouri 23 July 1873 she married James William “Will” Painter 22 Jan 1891 in Florida, Monroe County, Missouri.  She had five children.  In the midst of her childbearing the family moved from Missouri to Sasaktachewan, Canada–near Shellbrook–and homesteaded.  After her husband died she headed west, ending up finally in Vancouver, British Columbia where she died 30 June 1940.  She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Burnaby, British Columbia.