February 14, 2016

1910 Valentine's Day Postcard Buffalo New York

Recently I rescued 28 vintage orphaned postcards from antique shops. They range in date from 1900 to 1918. 27 are from United States and 1 is from Ontario Canada. 

I have scanned and added 6 of these postcards to Lost Faces and will be adding the rest of these wonderful cards over the next month. I hope descendants will see these postcards and recognize an ancestor.  

 Perhaps you will find an ancestor or two!

Postcard to Miss Margaret Rasch, 146 North Division St., Buffalo New York from James to Maggie. Mentions Roy Smith.  1910

February 13, 2016

Free Access to Canadian & Immigration Records!

Olive Tree Genealogy received the following announcement: 

While Family Day isn’t celebrated nationally – in fact, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. are the only provinces to officially celebrate the day – Ancestry.ca is using this family-focused holiday to offer free access to all Canadians. 

We hope this will be welcome news to the 93 per said of Canadians who said they were interested in learning more about their family history according to a recent Ancestry survey.

Until February 15, Canadians will have free access to all Canadian records in additional to Global Immigration Records – that’s more than 230 million records.

So while the extra day off will allow for some Canadians to catch up with their present family, this free access on Ancestry.ca also allows all Canadians to connect with family members of the past.

Image is a screenshot from Ancestry.ca

February 12, 2016

10 Million Irish Catholic Parish Records Coming Online!

More than 10 million Catholic Parish records from Ireland are to be published online by Ancestry.com, the world’s largest family history resource. The collection means that Ancestry will have over 55 million Irish records and will provide the largest collection of Irish Catholic parish records available online.

The collection is made up of Baptism, Marriage and Burial records from over 1,000 Catholic parishes across the whole of the island of Ireland - both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Baptism and Marriage records make up the majority of the collection and Burial records can be found primarily for parishes in the northern regions.

Ancestry has indexed records from over 3,500 parish registers. This is the first time that the collection has been indexed with the images linked online.

John Slyne, VP, International Operations at Ancestry comments: “The Ireland Catholic Parish Registers is the single most important collection needed to trace Roman Catholic ancestors in Ireland in the 1800s and we are delighted to make it available through Ancestry.  Providing the very best Irish records to our members is important to us and this collection helps us do that, taking the total number of Irish records to over 55 million.  It also means we continue to provide the largest online collection of Irish Catholic parish records available anywhere which is good for those in Ireland and also those across the World with Irish roots.

The collection is set to go live on Ancestry.com in March 2016.

February 11, 2016

Woman of Courage: Ada Massey

Ada Massey
Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

Ada Massey was a young free-spirited woman. Born in the small town of St. Mary's Ontario in the summer of 1887, Ada was the first child born to Thomas & Harriet (Purdue) Massey. Eventually she was joined by 7 younger siblings. Their family was life was not unlike others of the time period. 

But Ada was different from other girls and young women her age. From an early age she began occassionally wearing men's clothing. Her behaviour became increasingly eccentric as judged by the mores of the early 1900s. After her father's death in 1912 when Ada was in her early 20's, her mother and brothers took to locking her in her room when she would have an emotional outburst. 

During one such time Ada climbed out her bedroom window and hopped on the family sleigh to drive into town. It was a cold winter's day and she had no hat or coat but Ada didn't care. 

Ada in mourning for her father in 1912
Eventually her behaviour and her emotional outbursts were too much for her widowed mother to handle and Ada was committed in January 1919 to what was then called the Insane Asylum in London Ontario. 

The notes of attending doctors and nurses reveal an anguished young woman, a woman whose wanting to cut her long hair short was judged a sign of insanity as "no decent woman would ever do such a thing."  

Ada insisted she wanted to cut her hair as it was far too hot in the summer and she was tired of fussing with it.

Poor Ada was never good at adding or subtracting numbers and when a verbal math test was administered by the doctors, Ada failed miserably. The notation on her chart reads "mentally retarded". 

Photo of Ada hangs on our wall

Reading Ada's hospital charts and notes one has to wonder if she were truly slipping into madness or was she just being dramatic so that she had some excitement in her otherwise drab life! She began to claim that she was married and that her husband was buried in the local cemetery. But reading her words made me think it was all a ruse, that she knew very well she was not married to a dead man, for her story kept changing. 

Meantime Ada's family sent letters and notes, as did Ada's many friends. Her mother wrote to the doctors asking for word of Ada's progress and expressing how much the family missed her. The doctors' notes back were brief and showed a total lack of caring. Ada was allowed visitors but the trip from St. Mary's to London was not easy so the family had few opportunities for a personal visit. 

Eventually Ada refused to eat. She wanted out. She wanted to go home and be with her family and friends. She wanted to go back to her job at the  J.D. Moore Cold Storage Plant. 

After her continued refusal to eat, force feeding was ordered. We can only imagine the ordeal she went through. Ada continued to refuse solid food. 

Less than 2 weeks after being admitted to the Asylum, Ada died. She was only 28 years old. The doctor's note to the family informing them of her death was one simple line of text 

Her death certificate notes the cause of death as "Exhaustion" I believe she simply gave up. I believe she was a misunderstood young woman who did not fit into the social norms of the day. And that is why I call her a Woman of Courage. 

Ada is buried in the local cemetery in St. Mary's  with her brother James. Rest in Peace Ada.

February 10, 2016

True Love Finds a Way - Sweethearts Reunite after 72 Years Apart

True love finds a way.

Norwood Thomas was a 21-year-old paratrooper when he met 17-year-old British girl Joyce Morris in London just before D-Day. They dated for a few months before the war intervened and saw Mr Thomas sent to Normandy.

After the war ended, Norwood went back to America, and settled in Virginia Beach, while Joyce ended up in Australia. They lost touch until recently.

Yesterday they reunited in Australia, courtesy of first-class tickets from Air New Zealand, and donations from complete strangers.  

Read the heart-warming story of 93 year old Norwood  and 88 year old Joyce  at Wartime Sweethearts Reunite after 72 years apart

February 9, 2016

Update on Alberta Homestead Collection

Olive Tree Genealogy received this note about the Alberta Homestead Collection which I believe will be of interest to those using the online database:

Hi Viewers, 

With Ancestry’s recent announcement in launching the Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930 , the Alberta Genealogical Society would like viewers to seriously compare the scope of the two indexes. Ancestry’s index is has a minimal listing of approximately 207,000 records, whereas the Alberta Genealogical Society has in their combined database over 520,000 entries. 

The AGS all name homestead index for 1870 to post-1930, lists those applying for land patents between 1885 and 1897; those who completed the homesteading process and eventually obtained a title; those who applied but abandoned their homesteads; and other individuals whose name appears in the files for a variety of reasons—something the Library and Archives of Canada nor Ancestry has done. 

We invite everyone to view the AGS databases which have twice as many records, and twice the knowledge over the record index at http://www.abgenealogy.ca/alberta-homestead-indexes

Thank you, 
Lyn Meehan, 
AGS Communications

Image: screenshot from Alberta Genealogical Society

February 8, 2016

Woman of Courage Anna Maria Warner

Because February is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of strong and courageous women in my life. You will be able to follow along as you wish by choosing the label "Women of Courage" in the right side bar. I encourage my readers to join me in honoring women of courage in your own families.

When my 5th great-grandmother Anna Maria (Mary) Warner was born in Schoharie New York in 1735, she could not have known the hard times she would go through as an adult. Her husband Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick was imprisoned three times during the American Revolution for his Loyalist sympathies. When he was in prison, Mary was solely responsible for their 10 children. 

After Isaac was released from prison he joined Butler's Rangers and fled to Canada. Mary continued to aid the British, and in 1779 she and the children were taken from their home at North River, New York by American patriots. Their home was burned, Mary and the children were marched 80 miles north through the forest and left in destitute circumstances to either die or figure out how to get to Canada. Luckily natives found Mary and helped them reach Montreal by July of 1779.

There the family received food rations, lodging and blankets until 1782 when they settled in the Niagara area as impoverished Loyalists. Then came the Hungry Years when crops failed and food was scarce. Hundreds of Loyalists perished. I can not begin to imagine how Mary survived and kept her family alive during these times.

February 7, 2016

Honouring WW1 Nursing Sister Jean Cameron-Smith

Jean Cameron-Smith was born in Perth Ontario on September 22, 1871. A search of the online Birth Registrations for Ontario provides a late registration dated 1933.  Her father's name is given as Robert Ralph Cameron-Smith. Her mother is  Helen Mason.

Like Gertrude Billyard, Jean enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in London England on February 24, 1915. She was almost 39 years old. 

During her service overseas, Jean was promoted to Matron in September 1917. This photo was almost certainly taken in 1917 when she was in Oprington as a matron.

She served as a Nursing Sister in England and France and at War's end returned to Canada on the SS Carmania on 5 July 1919.

1921 finds 50 year old Jean in Edam, North Battleford Saskatchewan working as a Matron in a hospital. You can read more about Jean at http://www.pastforward.ca/perspectives/September_152006.htm

Jean's full service file is online as a PDF document.