Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


In Uncategorized on March 30, 2015 at 9:03 AM

It’s funny how, as a kid, you assume that everyone has grandmas like you, and that one day you’ll become a grandma just like your own.  Like somehow, magically, as you age you will take up canning, and knitting…but not the smoking.  Until one day you’re sitting and remembering those delicious canned pears and canned cherries grandma used to make every year, that always sat in the pantry at home, and you realize it’s been 30 years since you had any of those delicious canned pears. And you don’t know how to can. Or knit. (Or smoke, thankfully.)

Thirty years, and yet I can still taste the sweetness, the rugged texture, that hint of cinnamon and cloves perhaps, in those canned pears, remember how the half-pear would slip around in the bowl, as I tried to cut it with my spoon into bite-size chunks.

And there’s a moment of intense longing for, overwhelming feeling of missing of grandma.

So, what is it today that I am taking for granted? What should I be paying special attention to, what skills are slipping out of family memory, what recipes?  It’s amazing how fast, really, these things can be forgotten. My grandfather was raised a farmer, as were the innumberable generations before him, yet I don’t know the first thing about farming.  Grandma was an amazing knitter, just sat and did it almost without thinking it seemed.  I tried teaching myself once and managed a lopsided (although now much-loved) blanket, but that’s as far as it went. So much knowledge, so many memories and skills lost to the family, things we took for granted.

Just some things to think about, and perhaps help us appreciate more that which we take for granted today.


Feystown Cemetery, County Antrim, North of Ireland

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2014 at 9:29 AM

I see that Feystown is one of the more popular topics in this little blog–many folks seem to visit my blog as a result of a search for it. So I thought I’d just pose the pictures I have of it. I visited there in May of 2006 and took a fair number of photos.  Most of the headstones I photographed are ones that are direct ancestors, or names I recognized for other reasons. It certainly is NOT an extensive catalogue of the cemetery, and I’d certainly encourage someone perhaps more local to do just that, catalogue the entire cemetery while the stones can still be read.  It’d also be interesting to see if there are any parish books/registers still within the church that could be photographed and indexed. If you’re going to dream, dream big. lol

So without further ado, my Feystown cemetery photos.

(please feel free to use these photos for your own personal, non-profit use so long as you give proper credit and sourcing. I”d also love to hear from you and get copies of whatever you’re using them for)

(Note that this is a Catholic church and cemetery and as such none of the names on these headstones should be submitted for re-baptism by the Mormon church or others)


Feystown Church and Cemetery, from the parking spots

Feystown Church and Cemetery, from the parking spots

Bellymena 220  Bellymena 223 Bellymena 224 Bellymena 227 Bellymena 228 Bellymena 229   Bellymena 233 Bellymena 230   Bellymena 238 Bellymena 239 Bellymena 242 Bellymena 243 Bellymena 245 Bellymena 249 Bellymena 251  Bellymena 255 Bellymena 256 Bellymena 257  Bellymena 260 Bellymena 261 Bellymena 262

Feystown Church and Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Feystown Church and Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


McRandal headstones

McRandal headstones

McNeill and Black families, headstone, Feystown Cemetery

McNeill and Black families, headstone, Feystown Cemetery


Feystown Cemetery

Feystown Cemetery


McKinstry headstone, Feystown Cemetery

McKinstry headstone, Feystown Cemetery


Jane McKinstry headstone, Feystown Cemetery

Jane McKinstry headstone, Feystown Cemetery


Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


Mulvenna Headstone, Feystown Cemetery

Mulvenna Headstone, Feystown Cemetery


McKenty headstone, Feystown Cemetery

McKenty headstone, Feystown Cemetery


Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


Campbell headstone, Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Campbell headstone, Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


McGavock headstone, Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland

McGavock headstone, Feystown Cemetery, Co. Antrim, Ireland


Interior of St. Patrick's  Church, Feystown, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Interior of St. Patrick’s
Church, Feystown, Co. Antrim, Ireland


Ardclinis Crosier, St. Patrick's Church, Feystown, Co. Antrim, Ireland

Ardclinis Crosier, St. Patrick’s Church, Feystown, Co. Antrim, Ireland







Surname float

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2013 at 6:38 AM

I am lucky enough to have one of those surnames in my family tree that is unique enough that it is likely everyone with it is fairly closely related to me and “english” enough that there are few variations on its spelling and most variations have to do with the last few letters.  McRandal.  McRandall.  McRandle. and variations with “s” on the end and such, but generally a search for Mcrand* brings up a page or two of entries for most searches.  There is some possibility that back in it’s native North of Ireland that it was sometimes written as McCandless for some reason, but the way my nana said her maiden name it definitely had an “r” in it, slightly rolled even…McCrandle sort of. In any case, she assured me she spelled it McRandal–my young self kept forgetting and had to ask her numerous times.   My research since shows it was a fairly fluid surname, as most were, until the 20th century.  Sometime in the 1800s various brothers and cousins of my McRandal ancestor seem to’ve taken a slightly different spelling of their surname (a great way to help sort out all the Hugh, Daniel, Bernard and Johns, btw).

Now before you all get jealous of my somewhat easy-to-find surname, let me assure you that I have a great grandfather Thompson (okay, yes, the “p” makes it slightly easier) and another great-grandfather Smith.  And a surname like Deacon may not be terribly common, but a google search for it brings up all sorts of church deacons (and my Deacons were non-conformists, so unlikely church deacons), much the same as Painter which of course brings up artists and house painters alike none of whom are related to my US-German-ancestry Painters, who were farmers by trade.

Then there is Hansom.  Yes, HansoM. No relation to the inventor of the Hansom cab, a horsedrawn carriage.  But often mis-heard as HansoN or Hansen and mis-transcribed as such.

Turnbough is another story. Turnbo, Turnbow, Turnbaugh…any one will do.  I haven’t quite gotten it back to it’s rumoured French (alsace-lorraine) roots.

Acheson and Akeson are also in my tree, the former from Ireland, the latter from Sweden.  Both are often found as Atkinson.

Which, all in all, just reminds me that surnames were not that important to our ancestors not that long ago.  And given  that even today I find it hard to remember my long-time girlfriends’ by their married surnames, I’d say they’re still not that important to us except in an official capacity.  But we have no trouble correcting officials now when they misspell our names–Hugh McRandal is NOT the same person as Hugh McRandle these days.


Waiting on a census-1921

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2013 at 11:10 AM

*Sssiiiggghhh*  The 1921 Census of Canada was released from Statistics Canada on June 1st and given to Library and Archives Canada, who have promised to have it digitized and released online asap.  Except asap is taking a looonnnngggg time.

While I’ll be excited to find all the branches of my family on this census that I can, I’m most excited to look at my brick-wall Deacon family.  It’ll be the first census where I know where they were living and so should, knock on wood, find them fairly easily.  Depending on the information they provided, it is potentially brick-wall knocking-down time.  Or at least brick-wall chipping-away time.

I was just having a look at the census headings to see what sort of information was collected (thank you BCGS!  Have a look at it here)  I see several potential nuggets of information for me–religion (I know they were Catholic later, but suspect they may not have been earlier), year of immigration (his was 1913, but hers??), and the birthplace of their parents.  Yippee! I so hope they are on this census, and that they told the truth, and that it was recorded correctly and legibly, and that the microfilmer was working diligently and the page they’re on is clear and easy to read.

The politics of this release (or non-release) are bothersome.  But this Conservative government has made certain judgement calls about the Canadian population and what is important–saving pennies (funny as pennies were just discontinued this year) is important, history is not.  In previous years they have sold historical items belonging to the people of Canada, and in one instance at least, sold items on loan from the Buckingham Palace (see article here, but good luck trying to find any other information about it.  Harper runs a tight-lipped ship).


In 1850s, General Genealogy, Uncategorized on August 24, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Sometimes it all just comes together and goes BING! in your head.

I was reading an article in the July ’11 issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine (which I, for some reason begrudgingly, find extremely informative every time I buy it).  It was an article on the year 1857 from the British point of view.  In it was an 1857 painting by Henry Nelson O’Neil called “Eastward Ho!” depicting British soldiers boarding a ship en route to fight is known as the Indian Mutiny.  Looking at it I saw it bore a strong resemblence to a painting I studied (back in 1988) by a woman artist, Emily Mary Osborne, called “Nameless and Friendless” (1857).  So I brought these two works up on my computer screen, and I realized I had a family ambrotype photograph that looked like it fit in nicely with these two works.  I lined them up on my computer screen and here is the result:

Hannah, the centre photo, fits in nicely with the paintings, don’t you think?  We have her ambrotype dated to 1859.  Talk about consistencies in fashion and hair-dos.  I think this is the late 1850s in a nutshell.  A very satisfying connection all-in-all.

Saskatchewan Painter family

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Well, “soon” (per my previous post) is a very relative word.  In any case, here are scans of a couple of newspaper printouts I took while in Prince Albert public library.  The first is a wedding announcement of Nettie Painter’s wedding to Guy Ellis in 1916.  I was actually surprised to find this as the Painters seem to prefer flying under the radar, as it were, living quietly and not announcing things to the world.  Back to Nettie–she was born in the Missouri in 1898, so she was 18 when she was married.  She died at the rather young age of 46.  I have yet to order her death certificate to see what was the cause of death (they are $50 each in Saskatchwan!).

The second scan is the listing in the local newspaper of P.H. Painter’s death in WWI, under “Canadian Casualties”.  As I scrolled through the microfilm to find this I was amazed at the columns and columns, sometimes even pages, of names listed under “Canadian Casualties”.  And some of the biggest lists came AFTER peace was declared.  Even Perl Hervey’s was published December 1, 1918.  He had been listed Missing assumed killed in the beginning of October according to his military file.  It makes me wonder when the families received news of their sons’ deaths…did they celebrate the end of war, thinking their children were safe, only to receive a dreaded telegram some months later?  It really defies comprehension.

PH Painter

Back to Perl (or Pearl) Hervey.  I don’t know the story behind his first name, as it does not appear to be a family name.  But as many in the family did, he was known to everyone by his second or middle name (this may be a Germanic tradition)–Hervey or Herv.  He was an older brother of Nettie, and was also born in Missouri, in 1896.  Family lore has it he was the prankster of the family and was known for pranks such as putting sneezing power in the church organ and itching power in folks pants.  I believe his loss was particularly hard on his elder brother Corley, who was also fought in WWI.

Unrelated to my genealogy, but an interesting tidbit I came across is the article below (sorry for the illegibility…gotta love old microfilm).  Much has been written about how Canada came into it’s own during WWI.  I think this August 2, 1918 article headline rather indicates that is indeed the case.  It’s also interesting to note that O Canada did not become our national anthem until 1980, some 72 years after this article.

New stuff soon

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM

I have recently returned from a visit to the family Homestead and area to do some research.  Although I’m too tired right now to process it all, I am sure there will be some new postings here soon as I go through everything I discovered.

Hidden treasures

In Deacon, My Genealogy, Uncategorized, WWII on January 30, 2011 at 5:12 PM

This is the second time I’ve scanned this particular photo album.  The last time was over a decade ago.  And while I may have known at that time that there were negatives, which I was then unequipped to scan, in the back in a pouch, it seems I didn’t investigate the pouch any further.

Just now I pulled the negatives out, as I can now scan them.  But in with the negatives was a card, a Train Berthing Card, from 1946.  And beside it was a well-worn, folded newspaper clipping.  On the back it bears the date Saturday, Jan. 26, 1946, the Halifax Mail.  This was my biological grandfather coming home after WWII!  The title, “The Long Voyage Is Over” may have particularly reflected his own feelings as we know from his letters that he was rather seasick on the way over a few years earlier (not to mention finally being home, of course).

On the back is part of an article “Dockyard Men Ask 40 Hour Week” which is rather interesting as well:

“…Lashing out determinedly against critics of the plan who aver that industry must revert to peacetime levels of wages or close down industries, Mr. MacIntosh pointed out that the struggle to give workers “a little more time for leisure, for recreation, for study, for rest…without the necessity of the night and day toil that has meant so much drudgery in the past.” will not be won without opposition from big business magnates…”

It rather speaks to the adjustments that had to be made when the mean came home after the wars.  Interesting tidbit, I thought.

The Christmas Tree–Advent Calendar of Memories

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2010 at 5:27 AM

Christmas 1978

Growing up, we always had a “real” christmas tree.  We would either go out and cut one (and by “we” I mean dad with me and my sister doing the choosing) from under the power lines, or buy one from the Boy Scouts at the local Garden Centre.  These were fundraisers for the Boy Scouts, and for around $10 you got a nice big tree.  This was before cultured and shaped trees became all the rage.  Our christmas trees were tall, wide and with lots of spaces between the branches, providing ample use for garland, and the ability to see right into the tree.  Lying under the tree, with my glasses off to give the lights a softness  (okay, a downright bluriness), was magical.

Having grown up further north where pine trees were plentiful, they were dad’s preference.  While they gave off a wonderful scent, they were prickly to decorate, not to mention hard to find further south where we were.  So more often than not we ended up with mom’s preferred tree, the fir.

The tree was almost universally wet so it required a day or two on the covered front porch to dry off.  Then a big bucket of dirt was put down, the tree trunk pushed into it, and appropriate strings pinned from the tree top to the walls to keep it upright.  Old giftwrap paper was placed underneath to create a skirt

Christmas tree 1988


Thanks to Geneabloggers for this theme!

Rememberance Day

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Today brings up confusion.  I do not understand war, I do not understand the “need” for war.  And I wonder, would there have been a desire for a Hitler in Germany if World War One had ended differently.  What about Saddam Hussein if the Gulf War had ended differently?  And who is being bred now in Afghanistan?

How different would my family history be if my grandfather had not fought 4 years overseas in World War One, or his brother, my great-uncle, had died there.  And what of my biological grandfather who died as a result of World War Two?  Who would we be, who would our families be?

The argument seems to be that we would not be enjoying the lifestyle we enjoy now if these sacrifices had not been made.  Perhaps we’d all be speaking German instead of English, perhaps the conditions would be more like those of the dirty 30s, maybe there would have been many more wars.

I do not understand this need for violence, this desire some people have to arm themselves and hurt others in order to further their own cause.  So perhaps that is in itself the answer–I can live in confusion because others have made the sacrifice.  But let’s not glorify it.  Let’s not encourage other sacrifices, let’s encourage peaceful mediations, other ways to end disputes, and perhaps most importantly, understanding and tolerance amongst all people.

Today I hope for peace.  I think that’s what my grandfather’s fought for.