Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tracking The Elusive Thomas Latimer

Thomas Latimer is the great granduncle of my wife, Ellen. Tracking his whereabouts, even his very existence at points in time has created numerous 'brickwalls' and has caused many hours of frustrating research. Finally, using a tried and true 'brickwall buster' I have been able to piece together a reasonably good timeline of his life.

Thomas (pictured to the right in a 1912 photo shared by Latimer cousin Robin) was the eldest child of Daniel Latimer and his wife, Mary (nee Beatty or Beattie) . He was born in Enniskillen, Ireland on the 20th of September 1846. When Thomas' father died, his mother decided to move the family to Canada and in 1863, Mary and four of her six children immigrated to Seaforth, Huron County, Ontario, Canada. Thomas was trained as a carpenter, his brothers John ('Jack') Latimer was a tailor and youngest brother Edward Latimer (Ellen's great grandfather) was a shoemaker. The three young men plied their trades in Seaforth to ensure a comfortable living for their family.

Sometime around 1872, Thomas married Charlotte Marriot (or Marriott). Charlotte was born in Stephen, Huron County, Upper Canada about 1848 according to the 1861 Census of Canada. I have yet to find however a marriage registration for them despite viewing all of the Huron County marriage registration images for 1872. Their marriage registration also does not seem to among any databases for Ontario marriages.

In March 1873, Thomas and Charlotte welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Mary Elizabeth. She was the first of ten children, nine of whom lived into adulthood. Their last child, Mazey Beatrice, born and sadly died around 1890.

Sometime prior to 1881, Thomas and Charlotte moved their family which consisted at the time of three children to Marquette, Manitoba where Thomas took up farming for a living. Sometime prior to May 1891, Thomas, now a widower, moved his family about 74 kilometres (or about 45 miles) east to Selkirk, Manitoba. In April 1892, it was reported in the Manitoba Daily Free Press that Thomas met with a bad accident which required that he be sent to a Winnipeg hospital for treatment. This is where the trail of Thomas Latimer runs cold despite the use of numerous of database searches using every variety of search criteria imaginable.

One of the tips I have learned in breaking through these kinds of 'brickwalls' is to search for someone else in the family, especially if they had an unusual name. Fortunately for me, Thomas and Charlotte named their youngest son, and ninth child, Ormand Adwell Latimer. Where that moniker came from I do not know but it was key to finding more information about Thomas' route through life.

Further searching based on locating Ormand (or 'Orm' as he was known) found the family living in Louise, Lisgar, Manitoba in April 1901. As may be derived from his photo, I suspect that Thomas was a bit of character for he told the enumerator in that census year that he was born on the Atlantic Ocean! By 1906 when the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were undergoing another census to determine the number of seats they would have in the Canadian parliament, Thomas was again reporting his place of birth as Ireland.

In that 1906 census, Thomas and five of his children were living in Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan. His trail again runs cold after 1906 and some further 'digging' is needed to determine his whereabouts although according to family stories, Thomas passed away at the age of 87, in 1934 in Benson, Saskatchewan. I suspect Thomas experienced a tough, rugged but clearly long life.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Edwin C. McRae, Attorney and Inventor

I love researching ancestral family lines and stumbling upon an ancestor who was both successful and particularly interesting. Edwin C. McRae, my second cousin twice removed from my maternal family branches is just such a person.

Edwin was born on January 4, 1900 in Mount Pleasant, Isabella, Michigan, USA. He was the youngest of seven children in the family of William Alexander and Anastasia (nee O'Neill) McRae. William and Anastasia were both born and raised in Victoria County, Ontario, north-east of Toronto. William had been trained in the building trades and made his living as a contractor. Sometime in the mid-1890's, he moved his family from the quiet rural setting of Victoria County, Ontario to the quiet, rural setting of Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

William and Anastasia's eldest son, William Vincent McRae, followed in his father's footsteps as a contractor, although for some time around 1920 he was also employed as an auto worker in Detroit. Second oldest son, Colin Joseph McRae moved to Detroit as a young adult and similarly gained employment as an auto worker.

Edwin moved with his parents to Detroit where they can be found living in 1920. By 1930 however, Edwin was married and living with his wife Grace (nee Bunt) on Sherwood Drive in Huntington Woods, Michigan. Edwin worked like other family members at the auto plant but he was the company attorney.

I'm not certain how long Edwin worked as an attorney in the auto industry but at some point, he left Michigan and he and Grace settled in Cusseta, Alabama where he passed away in August 1993.

What is most interesting about Edwin is not only his success at becoming an attorney but he was also granted 28 patents for inventions connected to a variety of automobile engines and accessories. Everything from an anti-skid braking control system to a vehicle torque converter to a ball cock valve. I cannot claim to understand nor fully appreciate the complexity of his inventions and I don't know if any of them were used in automobile production but it is clear the Edwin C. (for Cyprian) McRae clearly had a brilliant mind and put it to good use.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Testing My Family History Assumptions

When I was a young child (oh, so very long ago!), my mother often told me stories about her grandfather, John Foley. She never knew her grandfather as he passed away before she was born but she was proud nonetheless of his success in life as a contractor. At the time, we lived on Pickering Street in Toronto's east end. According to my mother, John Foley had either built or owned numerous homes in our neighbourhood and in fact, he and his family lived in "the big house on the corner."

There was only one big house on the corner in my world at the time, at the intersection of my part of Pickering Street and a street called Swanwick Avenue. Despite the passage of time I believed that the house, not far from where we lived at the time, had been my great grandfather's house. It certainly was big, at least three times the size of the house my parents and I lived in. I realize now that I never did ask my mother which corner she was referring to and so I assumed that that I knew which house was "the big house on the corner."

I like to apply a research lesson I learned early in my family history quest - read your documents again! If you are like me, there is an excitement about just finding the document or record that interferes with the more serious review and extraction of the actual information contained in the document or record. As an example, I once researched, quite thoroughly I would add, a totally incorrect Hadden family believing one member of the family to be my second great grandfather.

Recently, while doing some research on the still too mysterious Foley family, I re-examined the World War 1 Attestation records for uncles 'Gerald' and 'Clarence' Foley. Uncle Gerald was still living at home when he signed up for military service in August 1915. He was five feet five inches tall and worked as a teamster, like his father before him, and listed his address as 96 Pickering Street. Why I hadn't noticed the address I can't say. Perhaps I only noticed that he was living on Pickering Street and for some reason thought the house number was just a minor detail.

While re-examining the record, the house number caught my attention and thanks to Google Maps I was able to see that I had been a large city block off on the actual location of the "big house on the corner." The Foley home was on Pickering Street but not at the intersection with Swanwick Avenue. Rather it was much farther south, at the intersection with Lyall Avenue. Below is a photo of the 'real' Foley house that I recently took while visiting in the area. Ironically, this house is directly across the street from my paternal George Irvine Gaull's grocery store and likely the place where my paternal and maternal family lines first intersected.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

My family didn't celebrate Easter with a chocolate egg hunt, rather we left our hats in the living room, usually on the sofa, and the Easter Bunny filled them with chocolate treats. I have no idea as to where that tradition or the idea for it came from but the chocolate was always good and I didn't get tired having to hunt for it!

Easter also meant dressing up for church and typically a day trip somewhere. For a time, the day trip was to Niagara Falls, Ontario. We enjoyed the scenery, well at least I think my parents enjoyed the scenery while we waited for them at signal that it was time to head over to the fudge shop. You know, the kind of shop that produces every imaginable variety and flavour of fudge that you could think of!

While we had to pose for photos on the eve of Easter usually wearing new pajamas, there was no such requirement on the Easter trip. Below is a moment that captures the magic of one of those early 1960's trips to Niagara Falls when my father caught my brother and sister at the perfect moment smelling tulips in the spring, one of my absolute favourite family photos.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Easter Weekend for Grandparents

There was nothing like a visit with our grandson Marcus to help us prepare for the Easter weekend, especially when Marcus dressed the part to deliver treats to his 'Grammie.'


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pro Versus Hobbyist Genealogist Debate

When I was a kid, growing up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, my life revolved around hockey. I played day and night, year round. In the summer, my friends and I would dabble in baseball but hockey was our passion. We dreamed of improving our skill levels so that one day we could be pros and play for our beloved Maple Leafs. Signing a contract to play in an elite developmental league was a step closer to that dream and a moment that I won't forget.

Lately, genealogy blogs have been filled with opinions on how the community of genealogists, particularly the genealogy blogging community, can see itself. Essentially the question seems to be (and I admit I may be missing the point of the conversation) whether it's okay to generate money through blogs and professional work as a genealogist versus being a hobbyist. The conversation was initiated by Joan Miller at her Luxegen Genealogy Blog in a post Genea-Bodies: The New Somebodies. To give Joan credit, she started a lively discussion with 72 comments added to her post at the time of this writing. I think it took this blog about 200 posts before I had received 72 comments in total for all the posts combined.

Joan notes that the recent highly successful Rootstech conference recognized and elevated the status of the genealogy blogging community who tremendously aided the conference through their blogging and tweeting in social media and as such the "Genea-bodies" became the "new Somebodies" as conference cheerleaders. The engagement of the genealogy blogging community at the conference helped to unleash their passion.

Some great opinions have been added to the conversation at several different blogs and I would encourage you to read them all. Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers has started a series of posts on the issues surrounding fun or profit and opportunities for professional genealogists. Michael Hait also offers some interesting insights in the Tricks of the Tree blog. And IllyaD'Addezio shares his perspective quite well at his Genealogy Today blog. Finally for some good insights from a very popular and well respected blogger check out Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings opinions.

So where am I in the discussion? Well, I take a centrist view, not to be mistaken for 'sitting on the fence.' Just as I experienced in hockey, some want to be professional and hone their skills to a level that supports that experience. Some don't want to push that hard for that goal - and that's absolutely fine. I agree that almost everyone starts with a hobbyist interest and some pursue that interest and then are able to make a living with it. It really is to each their own!

There is nothing wrong with making money especially if you can do that while pursuing your passion for family history. I personally don't make any money from my genealogy pursuits. In fact, the opposite is true - I spend lots of money through society memberships, family history related trips and excursions, on-line subscriptions and document searches, conference attendance, and the list goes on. This blog has no ads which I recognize was and still is my choice for the moment. I have never received any 'freebies' and I have no affiliations with any vendors of genealogy services or products (not that I wouldn't mind receiving something for free but if I do, I recognize my need to be transparent and to disclose that fact).

It is great to see as Joan Miller indicates that the geneablogging community is being recognized but there is also a danger in the discussion. The danger in my view is that there can creep into the community an elitism that somehow the professional knows far more and is automatically more competent than all hobbyists. This has led sadly to some self-proclaimed genea-cops patrolling blogs and trying to belittle some bloggers. I know first hand as I have experienced it.

A well respected genealogist and blogger named 'Apple' who writes the Apple's Tree blog has recently announced that she won't be continuing because of the 'geneabullies' as she described them. This simply must stop. We must play nice together in the sandbox!

I have been researching my family, through one brickwall after another, for more than 30 years. Next year I plan on retiring from my 'day' job and will clearly have more time to devote to my favourite passion but I must admit I have little tolerance for someone trying to bully me or smugly suggesting that my research or it's presentation in this blog is less than the pure academia they feel is fitting based on a self-proclaimed area of expertise.

I'm happy having fun with my research. I'm happy sharing my trials and tribulations while hopefully adding to and benefiting from the support of the international community of genealogists. As Curt Witcher stated at the Rootstech conference,this is "the best of times" for genealogists. I say we should enjoy it - professional and hobbyist alike.

Monday, April 18, 2011

When 'Distant' Cousins Connect

I suspect that there are as many reasons for beginning to research your family history as there are family historians. For some it will be a curiosity, for others it might be completing a family tree that someone else in the family started, and for others it is a love of historical connections. I have written often that for me it was a desire to know more about the ancestors, not too distant, that I didn't get to know like great grandparents and wanting to discover their reasons for making in many cases life altering changes in where and how they and their families would live.

My ancestors came to Canada from Scotland (paternal side) and Ireland (maternal side). A strong motivation then was to determine what drove their decision making to leave their native countries for a land half a world away. In addition, I wanted to know about the family they left behind when they set out to establish their new homes. Just a desire to know more about my family. There were no illusions of a new career in genealogy (more about this is a subsequent post).

This blog started as a means by which I could share the knowledge I have acquired about the family history with family members who now live great distances from each other. I had no idea that it would also serve as a means of connecting with some of those family members 'left behind.' I have been amazed at those "cousin connections" that have emerged because a blog post caught someone's attention in other parts of Canada, in the United States, in Finland, Australia, Scotland, or Luxembourg, and, has led to connecting through email and social media like Facebook. This, in the past year, has led to face to face meetings.

This past week another 'face to face' connection has occurred as my second cousin Pamela Gaull has journeyed from her current home in England to visit Toronto, Ontario to have a chance to meet with me and other cousins. I have shared some of the story previously in the blog about how Pamela and I initially connected and that she is the author of the novel The Darkness of Dreams.

Aside from getting together during her visit here to chat and drink voluminous amounts of coffee (me!), I had the pleasure of touring Pamela around to show her the homes that our common ancestors lived in up to 100 years ago when members of the Gaull family first immigrated to Canada.

Below are two photos from our travels today. In the first, Pamela is with my father, Lewis Hadden. Pamela's grandfather, John Stalker Gaull, and my father's grandmother, Jessie McKenzie Gaull, were brother and sister. Pamela and Lewis then share a great grandfather in John Gaull. In the second photo, I am seated with Pamela at a restaurant where we stopped for lunch. Connecting with the family 'left behind' makes the hours of research work all the more worthwhile - they were already enjoyable!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mary Jane Gaull, Part 2

In my last post, I summarized the first half of my 3rd great grandmother Mary Jane Gaull's life, as best as I can determine.

Mary Jane was born around 1837 in Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and when she was 23 years of age, gave birth to twin sons whom she named George and John Gaull. She seems to have refused to name the twins' father. Six months after the twins were born, Mary Jane married Alexander Glennie and moved to Tillyfro, Cluny, Aberdeenshire without the twins.

The closest, arguably the only match for Mary Jane in both the 1871 and 1881 Scottish Census appeared to be a Mary Glennie who was a patient at the Aberdeen Asylum at Old Machar. However a closer examination of the 1871 census records uncovered Alexander and Mary Jane listed as "Alex and Mary Glenie." They were residing right where I would have expected them to be in Tillyfro, Cluny, Aberdeenshire with at the time three of their five children: Mary Christie Glennie, James Gaull Glennie and Alexander Ingram Glennie. Their first child, a son named Alexander had died in 1867. In 1873, they added John Glennie to the family.

It seems then that Mary Glennie, patient at the Aberdeen Asylum, is not my ancestor.

Alexander Glennie died of bronchitis in February 1879 and Mary Jane's father John helped her out with the 'final arrangements.' This aid became a contentious issue in 1892 when Mary Jane's father John Gaull died for in his will he listed as part of his estate monies he had lent to her. His estate inventory states, "Sum due to the deceased by his daughter Mrs Mary Gaull or Glennie in connection with the Executry of her late husband or the management of the farm of Tillyfro, occupied by her, estimated at two hundred and fifty pounds Sterling but being disputed by the debtor and the deceased having held no voucher for the amount the debt can meantime only be valued at 1 shilling." John Gaull's will did direct his executors to not press the issue of the debt with Mary Jane which explains their actions in removing the debt. However, nothing seems to have been easy between father and daughter.

Mary Jane appears to have lived out her life, it appears somewhat quietly and, perhaps with the sizable estate left to her by her father, somewhat comfortably on the farm at Tillyfro in Cluny. She can be found on the farm in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 Scottish censuses. Living with her were some of her children and eventually grandchildren. It seems that her children Mary, James and John in particular had no desire to move out on their own, preferring to stay and work the family farm.

Mary Jane died on the farm at Tillfro, Cluny in January of 1925 at the age of 88. The cause of her death was listed as "senile decay." The informant of the death registration was her grandson Arthur Glennie who had lived with her on the farm for many years. Mary Jane was at times, I suspect, depicted in the family as someone who did things that others were not able to understand.

A rebel perhaps but a scoundrel, well, I don't think so.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mary Jane Gaull, Part 1

I'm certain that all families have them. You know, the characters. I am holding back using terms such as 'black sheep' or 'nuts' mainly because I remind myself that 'the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.'

My own lineage certainly has it's share of interesting characters - those ancestors whom you want to have answer that one question - "Why?" or "What were you thinking?"

My second cousin, Pamela Gaull is currently visiting Toronto and after having met through Internet channels like Facebook and email, we have finally had a chance to meet face to face. In our meandering conversations so far, we happened upon our common great grandmother Mary Jane Gaull (2nd great grandmother to Pamela and 3rd great grandmother to me). We agreed that Mary Jane seemed to be a 'character' or at least a rebel in her time as far as her family relationships went. In order to get a better sense of Mary Jane's life, I decided to use a timeline chart to tease out some of the interesting episodes of her life.

This first part will look at Mary Jane's life from birth until 1881, a period of approximately 44 years or about half her lifetime.

Mary Jane was born around 1837 in Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the only child of John Gaull (1806-1892) and his wife, Mary Christie (1818-1879). While it is hypothesized that John would have liked to have had a larger family and more specifically a son, Mary Jane remained his only child. Based on census reports and the last will of John Gaull, he appears to have been a strict, stern, hard working man. He left land and money through his estate to his family, something not everyone was capable of doing in 19th century Scotland. His dismay then, was likely somewhat strong when his only child, Mary Jane would have announced sometime in 1859 that she was pregnant.

In February 1860, Mary Jane gave birth to twin boys that she named George and John Gaull. No father was named, something that has lead to much speculation. When George (who lived most of his life as George Irvine) died in 1941, his daughter Margaret provided the information to register his death. Margaret indicated that George's father's name was also George Irvine.

My theory is that Margaret was informed at some time during her life of the name of her father's father but there is no evidence to suggest that a George Irvine (Sr.) existed. In the 1861 Scottish Census, there is no George Irvine who seems a likely suspect to be the father. Presumably the George Irvine that Margaret named as her father's father and whom she described as a farm servant, lived nearby the Gaull farm in Chapel of Garioch. Of the six George Irvines listed in 1861 Aberdeenshire, one is the year-old son of Mary Jane, two appear too old to be the father, and the others in my opinion lived too far away to likely be the father.

In any event, Mary Jane sent infant George to live in Inverurie with a family named Hooey and kept infant John Gaull to live with her and her parents on their farm. In spite of giving birth to the twins, Mary Jane's maternal instincts didn't really seem to kick in. Six months after becoming a mother, Mary Jane married Alexander Glennie on August 11, 1860 at Whitehaugh, Chapel of Garioch. Mary Jane and Alexander had five children between 1861 and 1873 yet neither of the twins factored in to their family life. In 1871 for instance, George continued to live with the Hooey family in Inverurie and John lived with his grandparents at Chapel of Garioch.

Interestingly the only Mary Glennie to found in Aberdeenshire in the 1871 and 1881 Scottish Census records that might match Mary Jane was an inmate or patient in the Aberdeen Asylum located at Old Machar. Could she be my great grandmother?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Father's Namesake

I have often teased my father, Lewis John Hadden (pictured right), about allowing me to be named after my mother's favourite uncle, Gerald Foley, from whom I get my middle name, only to find out that Uncle Gerald's name wasn't Gerald. He was born Louis (after his maternal grandfather) Fitzgerald (his mother's maiden name) Foley. It seems he preferred to go by a part of his middle name, 'Gerald', and it stuck throughout his life.

This conversation about naming had led to my father explaining that he had been told that he was named after an uncle of his named Lewis. Having studied the family for more than 30 years, I knew there was no uncle named Lewis but thought it best not to challenge the myth. But it is now a myth no more!

Some days ago, I recounted the information that I had gleaned from the newly released 1911 Scottish Census. In particular, I noted "Sadly, Jessie also reported that she had given birth to four children but that only three were still alive. I have no idea as to who this fourth child might as the only known child death in the family was Hilda who was born in 1914 and died in 1917." I noted as well the need for further research to figure this part of the story out.

So, I did some more research and I found the missing child, a child that I quite frankly had never heard mentioned in any family story but whom appears to be my father's namesake, just as he had always been told. Lewis James McKenzie Hadden was born on 17 April 1908 at 771 Great Northern Road, Woodside, Aberdeenshire. Lewis was the third son of Alexander Shand Hadden and his wife Jessie Hadden (nee Gaull). One week before his first birthday, Lewis lost a short battle with capitis and died at the only home he had known, 771 Great Northern Road, Woodside, Aberdeenshire. His grandfather and Jessie's father, John Gaull registered his death on April 12th, 1909.

My father was the first grandchild for Alexander and Jessie and it appears that his father, John Gaull Hadden, named him Lewis to honour his brother's memory and John after himself. After all these years, Uncle Lewis has been found at last!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Gaulls in 1911

In my last post, I shared some new information about my direct ancestral Hadden family, revealed for the first time through the release of the 1911 Scottish Census. The census was taken on April 2, 1911 and the census records were released following a statutory 100 year wait on April 5, 2011. It struck me, looking at the census record for my Hadden family that all of them, a whole generation, of family members were gone. Uncle Alec (Alexander Gaull) Hadden is sadly missed having passed away a week shy of his 93rd birthday. Aunt Edith Groves (nee Hadden), who was adopted as a young child into the family, was the last of the generation to pass away, more than nine years ago.

The 1911 census also shows what was happening in other family branches, notably the Gaull family (shown above in a photo from the 1920's). Interestingly, if you search for someone named 'Gaull' in Aberdeenshire of either gender and of any age, you will find my one Gaull family of five. John Gaull (born in 1860), along with his wife of 27 years, Harriet (nee McKenzie), and three of their eleven children: daughter Elsie and the two youngest, William Fowler Gaull, then aged 14, and Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Fraser Gaull, then aged 11.

The census also shows that John and Harriet had 12 children but that only 11 were still living in 1911. They had lost a son, also named John Gaull in 1888 at the age of sixteen months. Little John Gaull (Jr.) died following an eight day battle with diphtheria, according to his death registration. In 1911, everyone's age was listed accurately on the census record except Harriet who shaved a year off for good measure.

John was listed as a crofter and cattleman by trade which confirms information passed along verbally to me by my late Uncle Alec who spent a lot of time in his youth at the Gaull farm. Uncle Alec's description was more pointed, John Gaull was a dairy farmer who sold his milk from barrels that he would take by wagon to neighbouring villages. If, according to Uncle Alec, John found that his supply of milk was running low because of brisk sales, he would stop at a creek to top up the barrels!

Daughter Elsie, aged 26 in 1911, was working at home on her "own account" as a dressmaker. When Elsie would later live in Canada for some years, she worked as a dressmaker for the T. Eaton and Co. department store. William Fowler Gaull was working on the croft, assisting his father while Lizzie was attending school.

Meanwhile, further south in Scotland, John Gaull's twin brother, George Irvine was aging at a slower rate than his twin. George listed his age as being a year younger than his actual age. George can be found living at 47B Eglinton Road in Old Monkland, Lanarkshire with his wife of 27 years, Isabel Watt. George and Isabel reported that they had five children but that only four were still alive. George listed his occupation as being the Foreman Fitter for the General Engineering Company. Three of their children were living with them in 1911: 23 year old Isabella was working as a clerk at a local grocery store, 19 year old Margaret was working as a typist at an Iron Works company, and 16 year old John Gaull Irvine was working as a grocer.

The geographic distance between the twin brothers, John and George was not that great but as I have recounted previously, I'm not certain they bridged the gap.

Friday, April 8, 2011

1911 Census of Scotland

At long last April 5th arrived, marking the release of the 1911 Census of Scotland. Somewhat sadly, I realized that I had become so used to not having access to the 1911 Census that I almost (note that I stated "almost") forgot about it's release this week.

The 1911 Census of Scotland was the country's 12th and was taken on the night of April 2, 1911. The census included some important information that was not found in previous censuses like the duration of marriages, number of children and number of children still alive.

I immediately undertook a search for my immediate Hadden ancestral family. I expected to find my great grandparents, Alexander and Jessie Hadden living in Aberdeenshire with their three sons, Alexander (Alec), Andrew (Andy), and John (my grandfather). Finding the Hadden family through the ScotlandsPeople
1911 Census search engine was easy. I inputted their surname "Hadden" followed by their given names, "Alexander" and "Jessie." I felt confident enough to search based on exact matches for the Hadden surname in the county of Aberdeen.

I was a bit surprised by the search result. Oh, there was only one record matching my search criteria as I expected but when I looked at the record, my great grandfather was missing from the family.

Jessie Hadden (nee Gaull), my great grandmother, was listed as the 'head' of the family. She correctly gave her age at the time as being 29 years old (her birthday was in March just prior to the census). Living with her in the house at 6 Pirie's Lane, Woodside, Aberdeen (pictured above in an image captured from Google Earth) were her three sons: Alexander, aged 7 and going to school, Andrew, aged 5 and going to school, and finally, my grandfather John, aged 1. The 'Alexander' (later Uncle Alec as I would know him) was not the same Alexander I expected to find with my great grandmother as I had forgotten about the two Alexanders in the family unit.

Jessie indicated that she was married and had been for 8 years. The reality is she had only been married for seven years and four months to that point in time. Minor detail perhaps but I suspect that Jessie who had only been married four months when Uncle Alec was born did not want to risk any suspicious looks from the enumerator. Sadly, Jessie also reported that she had given birth to four children but that only three were still alive. I have no idea as who this fourth child might be as the only known child death in the family was Hilda who was born in 1914 and died in 1917. Jessie did give birth in 1901 to a boy named Disney Hay but Disney did not die and lived into adulthood. More research is clearly needed to address this issue.

My great grandfather was found in the 1911 census after all. He wasn't living with his family because he was away working in the fishing industry. Alexander (Sr.) is listed in the census as a 28 year old married Officer, 2nd Engineer on the S. S. North Star. I had been raised hearing about my great grandfather the marine engineer. Now I have a record that proves the family story is not legend or myth!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Genealogy School

When I was in my early 20's, I knew it all! Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten some it with the passage of time and so I have gone back to school, specifically genealogy school, and even more specifically, the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I mentioned my course work a few posts ago when I shared my success in connecting with one of Ellen's cousins through a message board inquiry that had been posted in 2003.

I have been interested in pursuing a formal genealogy related curriculum for quite some time. When I started researching my family history around 1980, there were only a few rudimentary books that I was able to find to act as guides. I joined the local genealogical society and picked up some useful research tips on how to use the local archives resources. There were no formal education opportunities presenting themselves to help my research.

Well, times have changed. We now have computers with good quality database software available to us. We have mobile computing devices. I can even carry my software, database, family history documents, photos and books on a small USB key. In addition, there has been a tremendous expansion in the educational opportunities available to genealogists with numerous post secondary institutions now offering certificate and/or degree programs.

I chose to pursue course work towards a Certificate in Genealogical Studies at the National Institute, with the accompanying post nominals of PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies)

Why I chose the National Institute for Genealogical Studies has a couple of components to the answer. One, NIGS, as it is sometimes referred, is affiliated with St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto - my alma mater. I already know the school and it is located close to me. Two, as a follow-up to the 2011 RootsTech Conference and their recent purchase of the GenealogyWise social media website for genealogists, NIGS offered, for a limited time, free enrollment in their "Social Media for the Wise Genealogist" course. Free is a really good price particularly as I was interested in the program and the free course got me started and got my feet wet. I could try the on-line education program to see how it fit with my needs and style of learning.

I intend to specialize my certification in Canadian research but will also be studying Scottish records research. Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks!

So far, so good - and that's not counting the new, very unexpected cousin connection!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mary Latimer (nee Beattie)

It must be something in the air other than snow, sleet or rain that has brought photos of great great grandmothers to me! First, there was the discovery of a photo of Helen Gammie (nee Shand), my great great grandmother who had immigrated from Scotland to Saskatchewan, Canada in 1907. Later, Helen had successfully urged my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden to bring his family to Saskatchewan to help her manage the homesteads she possessed.

Now, I have been presented thanks to Latimer cousin and co-researcher Robin of British Columbia with a photo of Mary Latimer (nee Beattie)(see photo to the right), Ellen's great great grandmother. Just as was the case for me with Helen Gammie's photo, Ellen had never seen a photo of her great great grandmother.

Mary Beattie was born in Ireland around 1813 and she married Daniel Latimer when, I suspect, she was in her early 20's, probably around 1835. Between 1839 and 1853, Daniel and Mary had six children - 3 boys and 3 girls. Thomas the oldest was born in 1839, May was born about 1846, Annie Jane born in 1847, John born in 1849, Edward born in 1851, and finally, Sarah born about 1853.

Some records suggest, though perhaps not conclusively, that Mary, as a widow, and four of her children immigrated from Ireland to then Canada West around 1864. May and Annie remained in Ireland and did not make the journey with the rest of their family. It might have been that they were already or were about to be married. The preponderance of evidence indicates that the family resided in County Fermanagh although there is less uniform support for the parish of residence. It appears it was either Enniskillen or Derryvullan.

In Canada, Mary and her children settled in Seaforth, Huron County, Ontario. Oldest son Thomas was a carpenter by trade, married Charlotte Marriot in Seaforth in 1872, and then later moved his family west to Manitoba. John, the second oldest son, was a tailor by trade married Margaret Eliza Sills in Seaforth in 1871. John died at the tragically young age of 35 in 1884 in the nearby town of Wingham, Ontario. Edward 'Ned' Latimer, the youngest son (and Ellen's great grandfather) was a shoemaker by trade who married widow Theresa Delmage Sparling in 1872 in Seaforth.

Mary appears to have stayed with son John based on the location of her death in March 1884 in Wingham, Ontario. When her son John joined her in death just a few months later and he was buried in the same plot in the Maitlandbank Cemetery in Seaforth, Ontario.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sister St. Edwin

With all of the information I have shared recently about my maternal Irish Catholic ancestors, I realized one gap was apparent. Where was the call to a religious life?

It can be found in Kathleen Marie O'Neill, a younger sister of my maternal grandfather, J. (John) Graham O'Neill. Kathleen was born May 12, 1896 to William Emmett and Margaret (nee Graham) O'Neill. Not much is known of Kathleen's early life other than the few tidbits offered by the 1901 ans 1911 Canadian Census returns.

On July 1, 1920, Kathleen entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. According to the records provided by the Congregation's archivist, Kathleen was 24.8 years of age when she entered the order. She received her habit and her religious name, Sister St. Edwin, on January 5, 1921. She made her first profession of vows on January 5, 1923 and Kathleen made her final vows on January 5, 1926.

After completing her novitiate, Kathleen was assigned to Sacred Heart Orphanage, which was located originally in the Sunnyside area of Toronto and then in Scarborough, an eastern suburb of Toronto, where she spent some years, until forced by ill health to relinquish her charge. Following a long illness, she died on March 22, 1953 and was buried in the Sisters' plot at Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto. Kathleen was only 56 years of age when she passed away.

Sacred Heart Orphanage no longer exists but I remember donating a large 'slot' car track to the orphanage when I was young. I can remember taking the track into the orphanage and all of the boys asking me which cottage I was in and why I was so special that I got the track. A number of years later, when orphanages were no longer in existence, the facility was used for the residential treatment of emotionally disturbed children. I spent a summer there in the early 1970's completing a study on the residential program's success. I never knew through those times that my grandaunt Kathleen had given so much of herself in the same halls.