Bill's Genealogy Blog
Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.
- Name: Bill Buchanan
- Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada
I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site https://familysearch.org This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
Since April 2010, I have served in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click http://mormon.org/
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Villain or Victim?
As family historians we are serious about preserving family stories and passing them along to future generations. Hopefully, some of these stories will provide good examples to follow or bad examples to be avoided. But we need to be aware that some of the stories are biased and incomplete.
For example, in the following story, was "John" a villain or a victim? The undisputed facts seem to be that John and his wife "Mary" separated in 1944 or 1945. She became mentally ill and neglected the children for days at a time. Her illness may have started with severe postpartum depression, but she spent the rest of her life in institutions, gradually improving over time. John disappeared from the family's knowledge for nearly 20 years.
Ontario Child Protection Services removed the children from the home and prepared to place them for adoption. But Mary's mother did not want to lose her grandchildren. She used her limited resources to hire a lawyer and applied for custody of the grandchildren. She was eventually successful, and brought the children to Alberta. She and her other daughter's family raised the children, who grew up, married and raised families of their own.
Did John's abandonment of the family trigger Mary's mental illness, or did her mental illness cause her to evict him from her home? Opinions may differ. Obviously Mary was not responsible for her illness. Was John just another a "deadbeat dad" who abandoned his family when they needed him most? What sort of person was he?
In the past few days I received three snapshots of John taken when he was a young man.
This letter that accompanied the photos, gives an unbiased and unsolicited appraisal of his character.
I have sent these on to John and Mary's children and grandchildren.
Aug 28, 2016
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. These are the only photos I have of [John] and family.
Please note, he was a good friend of my Dad and my Grandpa, and they always had positive things to say about him. Sometimes these kinds of affirmations come from without, don't they?
When you view the photos and have anything to add, please get in contact with me
In the photos, I noticed that John is wearing a stripe on the sleeve of his uniform, so he was a lance-corporal (private first class). Obviously he was considered a good soldier. I also notice that the tee-shirt says CANADA ... ARMY TANK ... So he served in a tank regiment, which I had not been aware of, although I had researched his ancestors. We know almost nothing of his military service.
Maybe this letter will help us to appreciate a man who was largely unknown to his own family, but was still remembered and loved many years later by his friends as a good man. (Remember that Bill was looking for any of John's family when he found that I had been researching this family. I wasn't looking for him.)
And maybe I will be a little more cautious of giving one side of the story without trying to find the other side of the story. Maybe John and Mary were both victims of her illness. I would like to think so.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Our Trip to Utah
I have served in FamilySearch Support for several years, but I had never attended the annual picnic in Centerville Utah. This time we decided to go. My new supervisor was the person who hosted the annual picnic. And he volunteered to let us stay with him and his wife!
It is a long drive from Edmonton and we had been talking about replacing our old car for some time, but this seemed like the perfect time. We bought a 2017 Elantra with most of the creature comforts and some new safety features, and set off for Centerville.
We visited my mother in Leduc, and then spent Wednesday night with Judy's brother and his wife in Monarch, Alberta. We had a pleasant visit and viewed the new root cellar and the greenhouse they had built.
We left early on Thursday morning, because we had a long drive to our next stopping point, Idaho Falls. We stayed at the Snake River Motel 6, clean and affordable. While in Idaho Falls we bought 14"x17" pictures of Christ with a girl and Christ with a boy, for the children our son and daughter-in-law are planning to adopt. We also bought identical frames and a game for Laurel's family.
Then on to Utah the next morning. In Salt Lake City we visited the Family History Library (obviously!), the Church History Museum, and the Family Discovery Center in the JSMB. I was interested to see what activities were part of the Discovery Center so that I could report back to the director of my Family History Center. At Centerville we stopped for lunch and drove to Andy's farm. Andy and Joanne were not home so I phoned them and we waited. Soon they were there with big smiles, showing us around their home and land. The house was built by William Jennings, an early Utah entrepreneur, in 1887 and was made of adobe. Much of the furniture was also historical. Around the yard there was a collection of old horse-drawn farm equipment and tools, such as my dad was still using into the 1950s. I felt like I had been transported back in time 60 or 70 years. It was wonderful! Andy's grandparents bought the farm in 1910, so it has been in the family for over a century.
Judy helped Joanne make her special salsa. Andy and I helped with the setting up of the church where the dinner would take place the following afternoon. Part of this was a small discovery center. Judy and I slept in a historical bed under the protection of a muzzle-loading rifle on the wall. And in the morning we helped with preparations for the picnic. There were chairs and tables to set-up, and fruit to pick for the support missionaries. Andy got stung by a hornet while picking peaches. But it didn't slow him down or dampen his enthusiasm.
Before 2 PM support missionaries began to arrive. I recognized the names of some who serve in Family Tree support, and it was fun to finally meet them. Among them was Elder Lynn who serves as a leader in my group. He gave me a jar of honey from his bee hives and a jar of his special seasoning for meat. Among the other people there was Joseph (another of our supervisors), their manager Scott, and Scott's manager Bengt from Frankfurt Germany, and Bengt's manager, Diane (Assistant Director of FamilySearch). So these were real people (most were accompanied by a spouse and some cases children), not just names on a organization chart!
Besides meeting lots of people, I also had a chance to ride in the Herman's 1920 Ford Model T. It was an open "touring" model with a canvas roof. I sat up front beside the driver so that I could watch him shift gears using the pedals. (middle pedal for reverse, left pedal for low and high gears, the right pedal was the brake) I had not ridden in a Model T for probably 60 years. I enjoyed it. My 1932 Ford Model B was not much improvement, but in cold weather, the closed-bodied Model B was probably a lot more comfortable.
All too soon it was time to go to the church for the dinner. There I had the opportunity to meet my long-term supervisor, Emma, and two of her assistants, Sisters Craig and Hoffman. It was good to see some of my fellow group leaders: Elder Penrod, and Sisters Sorensen and Yost. We had a nice meal, and then talks by Bengt and Diane. And we visited until it was time to put away the tables and chairs and leave. It was a special occasion, and I was glad that I came. Would I come another year? Probably not. It is a very long drive.
The next morning we left about 7 AM so that we could attend church with Elder and Sister Moore in Mantua (pronounced "man 2-way") We missed the turn and were half way to Wellsville before we could turn around. We met up with the Moores and enjoyed worshiping with the friendly people of Mantua, before resuming our journey. Andy and Joanne provided us with lots of food for the journey. I was really exhausted by the time we reached Dillon, Montana, and we had some difficulty finding the Motel 6. But asking local people had served us well, and it proved to be the case once more. The room was larger than normal and had 2 double beds, refrigerator and microwave. While we watched Hunger Games 2, I sent a Skype message from my tablet to my missionaries.
We left about 6 AM for Monarch. Somehow we ended up going into Butte, Montana. This was not our plan at all. But with some local help, we reached the interstate. We stopped for gas and bought subs at Subway at Shelby. Gas is sure cheap here, and this car barely sips it. 5.3-5.6 litres/100 km! I did not need to refuel until Devon, Alberta. In fact I could probably have made it home on the gas I bought in Shelby, but I like to be safe.
By 3 PM we were at Monarch. After supper we were talking about our preferences in reading. At some point I mentioned The Fire of the Covenant by Gerald N Lund, which tells the story of the Willie and Martin handcart companies of 1856, and things I had learned from the book that do not come up in casual conversations about the events. They mentioned that they had a film of the Willie handcart company, called 17 Miracles and asked if we would like to watch it, so we did. It agreed with the book but followed other people involved in the events, and was really excellent. I was really impressed by Levi Savage, one of the sub-captains. Before the crucial vote was taken at Winter Quarters (Florence), Nebraska, he was asked to speak and he strongly counselled them to not go west until spring. He was strongly rebuked by Captain Willie. When the vote was taken and the majority of the company wanted to go west, Levi fully supported their decision. Later experience proved that both Savage and Willie were right: there would be suffering and death if they went west that summer, but staying in Winter Quarters when the Martin handcart company of 800 people was due to arrive soon, was not a viable option either. I found it interesting that the film mentioned that the death rate in the Willie handcart company was similar to other groups of immigrants coming west. They lost about 14% of their people in the cold weather. I would have considered it high. Of course, the Donner party with the best of equipment fared much worse.
We left about 6 AM so that we could get Judy to her medical appointment at 1:15 PM. At Okotoks, we stopped for lunch. We stopped again in Leduc to see Mom but she was not in her room or the public areas of Extendicare. So we continued home, arriving about noon. Judy had no trouble getting to her appointment.
There were lots of things to catch up on after a 6 day absence. It was good to be home again.
Still, I was impressed by how well everything went. We had not been on a long trip like this since 2002. I wasn't totally convinced we could do it. We took out travel insurance, but fortunately we didn't need it.
Monday, June 13, 2016
The Peel of Buchanan
In a previous posting I referred to my search for "the old Buchanan castle". I had seen various references to this building, which existed in the 1600s and probably much earlier. It seemed that it had to refer to the old manor house "Buchanan Auld House". But this seemed to be a "mansion" rather than a "castle". So where does the term "castle" come in? Finally I found references to the "Peel of Buchanan" which stood not far from the Auld House. A "peel" was a "tower house", a small castle resembling the "keep" of a large castle, but smaller, typically 4 or 5 stories high. From this description in the History of Stirlingshire, the Peel of Buchanan was definitely a castle, complete with a moat, and probably a drawbridge.
'We may now pass to another remarkable antiquity, which, like the last mentioned, has, hitherto, so far as is known, been unnoticed in print—" the Peel of Buchanan," about 200 paces in front of the mansion of His Grace the Duke of Montrose. The Enric [river] had had its course in this direction, though now flowing considerably to the southward. The ditch around this ancient fort was filled by the river, and crossed by a passage, probably a draw-bridge, from the north.'
The History of Stirlingshire, Volume 1, By William Nimmo, Robert Gillespie, page 59, published 1880
Friday, June 10, 2016
In Search of the Old Buchanan Castle
Buchanan Castle at Drymen, Stirlingshire is an interesting ruin, but a comparatively modern one. It was built in 1852-1858 by the Duke of Montrose to replace the manor house which burned in 1850. It was a classy residence in its day. But its day only lasted a century. In 1954 the roof was removed so that it could no longer be taxed as a residence, and the building has greatly deteriorated since that time. “A romantic ruin” is a frequent description of it. Let's go back in time.
There is a picture of the Place of Buchanan showing a white 3-story rectangular building, that was part of the “Auld House”. John Buchanan, the last laird Buchanan of Buchanan, built a long one- story building as an exhibition hall. After his death, his estate passed to the Montrose family, and the First Duke of Montrose built 2 stories on top of the exhibition hall, added on to both ends, and finished the building attractively.
The verbal description seems to match this 1787 drawing of the Place of Buchanan made by J. P. Neale, shown above, which can be seen about page 272 of deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/9533/95335542.23.pdf
The chiefs of Clan Buchanan seem to have lived in this same location since at least the year 1225 when they were granted a formal charter. Did the older parts of the Auld House date back that far? Possibly. Was it the “old Buchanan castle”?
While searching for information I came across a reference to a stone “tower house” that was once part of the complex of buildings. It was called the “Peel of Buchanan”. A tower house was a small defensive castle and aristocratic residence, a fortified tower typically 4 stories high. I think I finally found the “Old Buchanan Castle”!
By this time in history, the skirmishes between clans were over, and the new fashion for aristocratic residences was the palace rather than the fortress. And the Peel was probably a decrepit eyesore compared with the newer buildings. See the article in wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peel_tower
In its glory days the Peel of Buchanan was surrounded by a water moat, as the Endrick river passed by. The course of the river subsequently changed, and the foundations of the Peel, and its moat, are now hidden beneath the green grass of the golf course. The only remnant of the old watercourse is Peel Pond. The History of Stirlingshire, Volume 1 By William Nimmo, Robert Gillespie, page 59. https://books.google.ca/
"THE families of note in Stirlingshire about the end of the 13th century, and subsequently distinguished, were the Levenax, the Callendars, the Livingstons, the Erths, the Mores, the Stirlings, the Buchanans, the Drummonds, the Napiers." History of Stirlingshire. Corrected and brought down to the present ... https://books.google.ca/books William Nimmo (minister of Bothkennar.), William MacGregor Stirling - 1817
I suppose that the term "old Buchanan castle" may have been used to refer to the manor house or to the peel. I had always thought it referred to the manor house. But that was before I knew about the Peel of Buchanan. Tower houses were commonly called "castles" and I find that the Peel more closely matches the usual definition of a "castle". I feel saddened by its loss.
The chronology as I currently understand it goes like this:
1225 the Buchanan chiefs were living on the site, perhaps for 200 years. They probably lived in fortified houses but tower houses were uncommon at that time.
1400 The Peel of Buchanan was probably built about this time and the chiefs would be living there.
Over time, additional buildings were added.
1660s the exhibition hall or “volary” was built by the last John Buchanan of Buchanan
1683 the Montrose family acquired the Buchanan estates and moved in
1690s the Place of Buchanan was created by expanding the exhibition hall
1720s the Peel of Buchanan was demolished
1850 a fire destroyed Buchanan Auld House/Place of Buchanan
1852-1858 the new Buchanan Castle was built
1954 the roof was removed from Buchanan Castle and it was allowed to decay
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
A Family Divided by the American Revolution
I find the story of Thomas Sherwood and his family especially interesting. The American revolution has sometimes been called "the first American civil war", and this was very obvious in the case of the Sherwood family. The three brothers moved from Fairfield, Connecticut to a place 5 miles north of Fort Edward NY, to begin farming.
When the revolution broke out, brothers Seth and Adiel joined the rebels. But Thomas read in his Bible that he should fear God and honor the king. And in obedience to the scripture, he moved his family north to Quebec and joined the British cause. Various Sherwood cousins joined one faction or the other.
A family story that I find rather touching is that Thomas was given a letter from Seth's wife requesting financial help, as her husband was a prisoner of war and was unable to help. Thomas protested loudly that there must be a mistake as "No brother of mine would be a traitor to his king!" but somehow the sister-in-law received the help she had asked for. Even in the midst of war, family was most important.
His cousin, Captain Justus Sherwood was more famous, but this account mentions them both:
"On October 4, 1777....Towards dusk the Queen's Loyal Rangers and the other provincials were sent to reinforce Colonel von Breymann --- the officer who had been leading the reinforcements near Bennington --- at a redoubt on the north side of the British camp. The Germans were under attack by the Kentuckian Daniel Morgan and his corps of rifleman, and a few snipers of provincials might help turn the tide. As night fell the rebels overran the men at von Breymann's redoubt. Justus was ordering his men back within the camp when he felt hot iron pierce his thigh and he staggered and lost his balance. Lieutenant John Dulmage, swimming before his eyes, aided by a German soldier, was lifting him from the redoubt. As the second Battle of Freeman's Farm was ending, Dulmage, aided by men from the company, carried Justus past Burgoyne's own headquarters to the hospital tents on the north side of the camp, near the bank of the Hudson where the provision of bateaux were tied up.
"The hospital was a madhouse of shrieking men, surgeons sawing shattered limbs on tables slimy with blood. Dlumage found an empty straw palliasse [straw mattress], and joined by Thomas Sherwood and Elijah Bothum, both very alarmed, they laid Justus down gently. With a knife his lieutenant cut away the breeches from around the bloody hole. In his agony Justus heard John say that he had stopped a musket ball but the bone was intact. Elijah brought a tumbler full of rum, which Justus sipped while awaiting a surgeon to attend to him.
Dulmage left to look after the company, while Thomas and Elijah sat with Justus and held him steady until the surgeon had extracted the ball. With teeth clenched, Justus wondered why the rum was doing so little good.
"Throughout the night Justus lay comforted by more doses of rum. In the morning Thomas Sherwood came in, and on asking about Brigadier Fraser, Justus was saddened to learn that he had died before dawn at the house where the Baroness von Riedesel was staying. The army's present predicament was not Fraser's doing. After a moment's silence Thomas reported that Burgoyne had ordered a withdrawal up the Hudson. The vanguard was leaving, although rain teemed down, beating on the walls of the tent. Outside the road was a sea of mud, guns towed by emaciated horses and oxen, pushed by men who had scarcely the strength to walk, let alone salvage the artillery. The most severely wounded men would be left behind, but John Dulmage had men making a litter for Justus. All refused to forsake their captain."
Buckskin Pimpernel: The Exploits of Justus Sherwood, Loyalist Spy by Mary Beacock Fryer - 1981 - 288 pages Page 18 http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/ONT-LEEDS-GRENVILLE/2000-02/0950948283
Saturday, April 02, 2016
In Search of Agnes - New Brunswick Research
One of Judy's cousins is interested in finding the ancestors of his grandmother, Agnes Teale, of Tisdale Saskatchewan. Agnes was married to Augustus "Charles" Teale, from Hessle, Yorkshire, England. I am well acquainted with the ancestors of Charles Teale, but his wife was somewhat of a mystery, so I thought it would be interesting to find out more.
This was her second marriage, and what our branch of the Teale family thought was her maiden name, was in fact her married name from her first marriage. So her maiden name was not Agnes Clayton, it was Agnes Murphy. Armed with that information from the cousin, I started looking for additional information. The cousin mentioned that her first husband was Joshua S Clayton, and they were married in New Brunswick, and had two Clayton children. After Joshua's death in Belgium in WWI, the children were raised by her in-laws.
New Brunswick Provincial Marriages 1789-1950
Name Joshua S Clayton
Event Type Marriage
Event Date 23 Feb 1909
Event Place Saint John, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Birth Year (Estimated) 1888
Father's Name Joshua B Clayton
Mother's Name Eva Scribner
Spouse's Name Florence Murphy
Spouse's Gender Female
Spouse's Age 18
Spouse's Birth Year (Estimated) 1891
Spouse's Father's Name Wm Murphy
Spouse's Mother's Name Enora Ragan [Honorah sounds like Enora.]
Certificate Number 001420
I found the church marriage record in the Drouin Collection in Ancestry.com and also found the government marriage record. Strangely enough, her name is given as Florence Murphy in these marriage records. And multiple official records of her children give her name as Florence Agnes Murphy or Agnes Florence Murphy. Her father's name is given on Drouin and government marriage records as William Murphy. However, her mother's name is indexed differently depending whether you look in FamilySearch or Ancestry.com
I found the record of the marriage of her parents.
Oct 1880 Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada
"William Murphy and Hanorah Regan
On the eighteenth of October eighteen hundred and eighty I married William Murphy and Hannorah [sic] Regan after dispensing with banns, both of Studholm, Kings County, in the presence of Dennis Regan [or Ryan] and Margaret Ann Graham. James Vorcker"
Now I searched the New Brunswick Vital Records for the birth of Agnes. I believe this is her birth although the given names are recorded as Mary Agnes. There is no record in the New Brunswick Archives of the birth of a Florence Murphy to a William Murphy that can match our girl. Florence may just be a nickname. In the document below, the father's name is a perfect match and the mother's surname fits too. I cannot find any other William Murphy married to a Regan in this time and place.
Index to County Birth Registers
Name MURPHY, MARY AGNES
Father MURPHY, WILLIAM
Mother REGAN, JOANNA O.