April 25, 2015

What Happened to the 1490 Roscommon Irish Immigrants Who Survived the 1857 Voyage to Canada

In 1857, 5000 Irish emigrants left Co Roscommon to escape the devastating grip of the Famine. This group left on four ships bound for Canada. Not all of them made it alive. Up until this year, the destiny of the 1490 who  survived was unknown.

They left Liverpool on four ships: the Virginius, Naomi, John Munn and the Erin’s Queen. Many died en route. Once the Strokestown Irish landed in Canada, many were interviewed by Canadian newspapers. A project run by the University of Maynooth has found out where a large number of these Irish people went, and uncovered their fate. 

On 11 May 2014, a memorial wall was unveiled containing the names of the 1,490 people who emigrated in 1847. An exhibition, Emigrant Faces from County Roscommon, was held at Strokestown, detailing the lives of more than 12 of the emigrants, such as Michaell Flynn, James Higgins and Thomas Fallon who fought in the American Civil War; Catherine O’Keefe, a Roscommon emigrant in Melbourne, Australia; and Patrick McNamara, a labourer on the construction of the Blue Ridge Mountain Railroad Tunnel.

Continue reading the story at Tracing the ‘missing 1490’ who fled Strokestown during the Famine

Credit: Image from The Journal showing names of a few of the immigrants 

April 24, 2015

Season Finale of Who Do You Think You Are? This Sunday

The season finale of Who Do You Think You Are? features singer Melissa Etheridge as she goes on a journey to uncover her father’s maternal roots. The episode airs this Sunday, April 26 at 10/9c on TLC.

Melissa finds French Canadian ancestors who were shaken by a scandalous lawsuit, a turbulent relationship entangled with tragedy and an adventuresome ancestor who prospered in colonial America.

Credit: Image from TLC

April 23, 2015

Pre-Holocaust ID Cards of Thousands of Jews Discovered in Lithuania


Pre-Holocaust ID Cards of Thousands of Jews Discovered in Lithuania
 Recently Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum archivists found almost 26,000 previously unknown identification cards belonging to Jewish citizens in the national archives in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania. The cards, which contain personal details such as father's name, date of birth and more, were kept with a collection of all ID cards issued by the local population authority in Kauna, to Jews and non-Jews, from 1920-1940   

Continue reading at Pre-Holocaust ID Cards of Thousands of Jews Discovered in Lithuania


April 22, 2015

DNA Day Sale!

AncestryDNA is celebrating their annual DNA Day this April by offering a 20% discount on AncestryDNA. The special will run from April 23-April 27, 2015. Happy DNA Day! 

This link takes you to their offer DNA Day 20% off AncestryDNA 

If you don't have your DNA kit yet, maybe it's time. Don't miss out!

April 21, 2015

Ben Affleck and The Can of Worms


For those who haven't seen the dozens of news stories online, Ben Affleck was featured on Henry Louis Gates' PBS show Finding Your Roots. During the course of filming, Affleck learned that he has a slave owner ancestor. Leaked emails from Sony between Gates and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton reveal that Affleck did not want this aired in public and wanted that part edited out. 

You can read the emails yourself but basically Gates made it clear he didn't like the idea of hiding the facts (truth). The producer then said as long as no one else had seen it and it could never be found out, humour Affleck and don't use it. Affleck was referred to as a "mega-star" and both men worried about making sure he got what he wanted.

And so his true family history was hidden. Affleck got the white-washed version he wanted where all his ancestors were public-spirited justice-seeking good guys.  And of course all genealogists know that's a crock! Our ancestors were real people. They include the good and the bad, the farmer and the daredevil. Some we would like if we met them, others ... not so much. 

The bottom line is that what our ancestors did is no reflection on us. Just as we cannot blame ourselves if we discover we had a "bad seed" in the ancestor mix, nor can we take credit for those who did amazing things. We can feel proud of them, or we can feel sorrow over misdeeds. But we need to accept who they were, and that their actions good or bad were in a different time and place. 

It is only by learning about the past that we can stop evil from happening in the future. We learn from mistakes and they should not be hidden or deleted from our family tree or from history.

It's a shame Affleck didn't adopt Bill Paxton's approach on TLC’s "Who Do You Think You Are?", when he learned he had a slave owner as an ancestor. Mr. Paxton's response was that it was a shame but "your history good and bad is your history" And that, Mr. Affleck is the point. 

Embrace your history, both the positive and the negative! Learn from it. Don't attempt to create a fictional family tree full of heroes and noble ancestors. 

But as the saying goes "Karma will out" and now Mr. Affleck's request for an edited  version of his family tree has bitten him in the (ahem) with the truth now known world-wide. What would have been seen by a small number of viewers watching the show, and truly not a big deal has become a huge deal with many casting stones Affleck's way. The perception by many, including me, is that it was a misuse of celebrity status to facilitate censorship. And this is never a good thing.

Credit:  Photo by Stoonn.

April 20, 2015

Are You Brave Enough to Eat Like a Dutch Settler in New York?

This is kind of cool. A local restaurant in Brooklyn New York is offering food items that our early Dutch settlers in New Netherland (present day New York) might have eaten.

Read the full story at Brooklyn Brewery Dares Diners To Eat Like Dutch Settlers

Credits: Image from Brooklyn Brewery

April 19, 2015

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Photo Album 30R Sisters in Front of Tent

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Photo Album 30R Sisters in Front of Tent


The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos" in the vertical menu bar on the right side of your screen. You can also click on that phrase at the bottom of this post.