September 15, 2014

DNA Gave My Husband a Completely Different Great Grandfather

A few months back I wrote about a surprising DNA match with my husband in a post called DNA Results Leave us Gob-Smacked! 
DNA Gave My Husband a Completely Different Great Grandfather
Comparison of hubs' mother's DNA with Alice
Hubs and another man were a .64% match with a predicted relationship of 2nd or 3rd cousin. I don't have permission to use his name so I'll call him John. John's family tree showed no surnames that matched hubs. Emails to John revealed that he was born in the same small town as hubs and his ancestors had settled there many generations prior, just as hubs' ancestors had done. 

A 2nd cousin match meant that John and hubs probably shared a great-grandfather, while a 3rd cousin match meant they shared a 2nd great-grandparent.

I was puzzled, as we had researched hubs' genealogy several generations back without seeing any link to John and his lines. John also had done extensive research on his lines several generations back. We knew who hubs' and John's great and 2nd great grandparents were - and they were not the same. 

John was as intrigued as we were, so our next step was to have John's mother and hubs' mother tested. We also tested hubs' father just in case the match was on his side. The DNA results were in - hubs matched John's mother (let's call her Alice) with 3.00% shared. Because we had also tested hubs' mother and father, we knew if matches were on his maternal or paternal side. It was conclusive - it was on his maternal side. 

A look at the matches for hubs' mother showed that she matched Alice (John's mother) with 6.9% shared and was estimated as a 1st or 2nd cousin. First cousins share grandparents, while 2nd cousins share great-grandparents. 

Comparison of hubs' mother's DNA with John

Since DNA doesn't lie, I had a closer look at John's family names, especially the names of his great-grandparents on his mother's side. John's great-grandparents were George Cooper & Sarah Jane Jickling. Suddenly I remembered a little tidbit of family lore that had passed on from hubs' grandmother on his mom's side. His grandmother had always claimed that hubs' grandfather Bert Holden was not really the son of Bristol Holden because Bert's mother Elsie Phyllis Markham had been "fooling around with the hired man named Cooper" If this were true it meant that hubs' great grandpa (his mother's grandfather ) was not Bristol Holden but someone named Cooper. 

Bingo! It looked like that family rumour might be true. I began researching the Cooper family in and around St. Mary's and found lots of supporting evidence for the rumoured parentage of Bert Holden. 

At the time Elsie became pregnant with Bert (August 1917) one of George and Sarah Cooper's sons lived beside Elsie Markham's brother Albert. One of George and Sarah's sons and a nephew lived beside Bristol Holden on his farm just outside of town. Who better to be "a hired hand" on the farm of Bristol Holden than either the son or the nephew?

Elsie married Bristol Holden 7 months before Bert was born.  She was 19 years old and had only arrived in Canada from England 4 years earlier. Her only family was two brothers one of who was killed 10 days before Bert was born.  Elsie was orphaned at 6 months of age and passed from relatives to strangers until her oldest brother (who was a Home Child sent to Canada at the age of 11) saved enough money to send for her in 1913. 

It seems very likely that poor Elsie found herself pregnant, either from the married son of George and Sarah Cooper or (more likely) the unmarried nephew, who according to John's mother Alice, was a known "rogue". Given her situation she no doubt was happy to marry Bristol. Did he know the baby was not his? We will never know. Elsie may have told him. Or she may have initiated some intimate moments with him, then told him she was pregnant. He would of course assume the baby was his. 

In the end it doesn't matter what the details are. We cannot blame Elsie. It was 1917 and she was a  pregnant unmarried girl. She had few choices. By all accounts she and Bristol had a happy marriage and she was a good mother. In the end that is what matters.

But back to the nephew. If he was Bert Holden's biological father, then Alice and hubs' mother are 1st cousins twice removed. Allice's grandparents were George Cooper and Sarah Jickling and this same couple would be hubs' mother's 2nd great-grandparents. 

The line of descent would then be:
  • George Cooper (1843-1922) & Sarah Jickling
  • George's son Herman Cooper (1873-1958) & Caroline Martin
  • Herman's son Gordon Alfred Cooper (1899-1970)
  • Bert Holden
  • Hubs' mother
  • Hubs
 Our theory is that Gordon Alfred Cooper was the biological father of Bert Holden. We are continuing our research to try to prove or disprove this theory. We may never find out whether it was George or one of his uncles or his father but we do know that George & Sarah are direct ancestors of hubs' mother.  We have eliminated some sons and grandsons of George & Sarah as being too young or too old. We have narrowed the suspect list to those with the closest proximity and who might have been "the hired hand" on the Holden farm in 1917.

One last item is that we have seen a photo of Gordon Alfred Cooper's legitimate daughter and there is a striking resemblance to hubs' mother at the same age. Just one little tantalizing bit more to add to the puzzle.

I would love to find some descendants of Caroline Martin's parents George King Martin & Hannah Robinson, have their DNA tested and see if they match hubs' mother. That should tell us if Bert's biological father is indeed Gordon Cooper or if we need to eliminate him and look at his uncles again.

September 14, 2014

Certificate Frederick Swindells, a Power Loom Overlooker Found

 This lovely print was discovered in a local antique shop yesterday and I wanted to share it in case a descendant wishes to purchase it.

The handwritten label, signed by 3 men, reads:

This is to certify that Fred W. Swindells was admitted a member of the above General Union in the Leigh District on the 5th of July 1907

The bottom of the certificate reads  

"Campbell & Tudhope  Chromo Lith  Glasgow"

The Union is the General Union Associations of Power Loom Overlookers. The seller is asking $250.00 and the Antique Store is the Barrie Antiques Centre in Barrie Ontario Canada.

Being the curious sort I couldn't resist looking for Fred W Swindell on To my delight I found him in the 1911 census with his wife Emily.

He is listed as a Silk & Cotton Weaving Overlooker, age 25 and born Macclesfield, Cheshire, England but living in the Leigh District of Lancashire England.  His full name is recorded as Frederick William Swindell.

Wondering how his certificate ended up in Ontario Canada I checked immigration records on and found him visiting England in various years - and listed as a citizen of Canada. So it appears he settled in Canada at some point in time.

Update: I just found Emily Swindells arriving in Canada in 1921, heading to join her husband in Guelph Ontario. That is where both my parents were born and my roots there go back to the 1840s.

September 13, 2014

500 Child Skeletons from Irish Famine found in Workhouse Grave

500 child skeletons from Irish famine found in grave
Seven years ago the skeletons of 500 children buried in a mass grave in what was once the Kilkenny Union Workhouse.

545 children were buried within the grounds of the Kilkenny Union Workhouse between 1847 and 1851, two thirds of whom were under age six when they died. Studies on the teeth revealed that scurvy was rampant among the children

Skeletal studies found that all of the infants between six and twelve months – and three quarters of the children between one and twelve years of age – had been affected by stunted growth.

Read more at 500 child skeletons found in workhouse mass grave tell of struggles during the Great Hunger

Image credit: wikimedia commons Irish Famine

September 12, 2014

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice: The Saddest Place in London England

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice: The Saddest Place in London England 

Recently I stumbled on a fascinating and moving blog post called The Saddest Place in London: A Story of Self-Sacrifice

The article on is about a little corner of London England called Postman’s Park, where, to quote from the blog post:
On a stone wall, underneath a makeshift overhang, are a series of ceramic plaques, each one painted beautifully with the names of people who died while trying to save the lives of others.
Take a moment to see the plaques and read the stories.  

Image of plaque for Solomon Galaman in Postman's Park, London England on

September 11, 2014

Franklin Expedition Ship Found After 169 Years!

Franklin Expedition Ship Found After 169 Years!
HMS Terror
Queen Elizabeth sent her congratulations to all Canadians a few days ago. Why? Because we found one of the lost ships from the Franklin Expedition after 169 years! Searchers are not yet sure if they have found HMS Erebus or HMS Terror.

The two ships of the Franklin Expedition and their crews disappeared during an 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage.  They were the subject of many searches throughout the 19th century, but the mystery of exactly what happened to Franklin and his men has never been solved. All 128 members of the Expedition died when their ships became locked in ice while exploring the Arctic in a search for the Northwest Passage.

Inuit testimony in the late 1840s  claimed that one ship sank in deep water west of King William Island, and one ship went perhaps as far south as Queen Maud Gulf or into Wilmot and Crampton Bay. The location of this wreck backs up that testimony which was widely discounted previously.

Earlier searches had discovered the bodies of a dozen or so men from the Franklin Expedition on King William Island. Watch a video about the discovery of the wonderfully preserved mummies at Franklin Expedition Mummies

A search team made up of a partnership between Parks Canada, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy and the government of Nunavut made the discovery.  They confirmed it on Sunday using a remotely operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada. They found the wreck 11 metres below the water’s surface.

Since 2008, Parks Canada has led six major searches for the lost Franklin ships. Four vessels — the Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Kingston and vessels from the Arctic Research Foundation and the One Ocean Expedition — led the search this summer.

Read more and watch videos at Long-lost ship from Franklin expedition found and at Lost Franklin expedition ship found in the Arctic

September 10, 2014

Nursing Sister Philips WW1 Photo Album p. 11

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. 

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.

p. 11 R Staff outside a hut

p. 11 V burials

September 9, 2014

Vote for Your Favourite Genealogy Rock Star

It's Genealogy Rockstar Time in the Genealogy Community. Choose your favourites from nearly 150 nominees.  What is a Genealogy Rockstar? John D. Reid defines this as
Rockstar genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?
The list of nominees is here Please cast your vote at Rockstar Genealogist(s) 2014: voting now open before Saturday September 13th. 

Yes Olive Tree Genealogy is on the list of nominees under my name Lorine McGinnis Schulze, so if you want to vote for me, that's great! I'd love it if you did. If you don't want to vote for me, that's okay but  please do vote for someone.

Credit: "Gold Star And Silver Star Award" by pixtawan from

September 8, 2014

Has Jack the Ripper Been Found Through DNA?

A few days ago the Daily Mail UK published an article written by Russell Edwards. Mr. Edwards believes he has found the true identity of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer responsible for  at least five grisly murders in Whitechapel in East London during the autumn of 1888.

The story is compelling. Mr. Edwards owns a shawl said to have been found on or near the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper's victims. One of the policeman who investigated the murder in 1888 took the shawl home to his wife and she immediately packed it away, unwashed.

The shawl was passed on from one generation to the next until  2007 when the current owner at that time decided to auction it off.  Edwards, a self-confessed amateur detective, bought the shawl and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analyzing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes. His credentials are top-notch in his field.

Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of Eddowes, resulting in a perfect match. Thus the shawl was proven to be Eddowes, which answered questions about its provenance.

DNA samples from what Dr. Loouhelainen believed to be semen on the shawl were then compared with a descendant of the sister of the prime suspect, again with a perfect match as the result. Mr. Edwards believes this new DNA evidence proves conclusively that Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew who had fled to London with his family, escaping the Russian pogroms, in the early 1880s, was Jack the Ripper. Edwards'  book Naming Jack the Ripper will be published by Sidgwick & Jackson today, September 9th. 

Some questions spring to mind - why did they not test descendants of all the suspects in case another match was found? How do they know that Mr. Kosminski's semen was found at the scene because he was a customer of Ms. Eddowes, rather than her murderer? 

I will almost certainly purchase the book in hopes of reading more details of the analysis of the DNA sample. Although the shawl is not listed in the inventory of items found on Catherine Eddowes or in her room, I do not find that too unusual. I suspect the police officer who supposedly asked permission to keep the shawl, may have taken it home with him before the inventory was taken - with or without permission of his superiors. What did intrigue me was the listing of a skirt patterned with Michaelmas daisies. The same design of Michaelmas daisies occurs on the shawl.

Continue reading full details at WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain's most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders