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.

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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 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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fun Genealogy

I received an email from WikiTree It claims I am 24 connections removed from Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI and sister to Cesare Borgia, who was said to be the model for Machiavelli's prince, in "The Prince". I don't clam any Italian ancestry, but who knows? WikiTree likes to connect everyone to Lucrezia Borgia. This link may work

The Borgias were certainly an interesting family. As they endeavored to control church and state, I get the impression that they were very dangerous enemies and dangerous friends as well. If they invited you to dinner, you might be doomed whether you accepted or not. Lucrezia was said to wear a hollow ring where she would keep a favorite poison as a special treat for some of her guests. But this is just old gossip and slander, repeated over the past 500 years by their enemies. She may have been a very nice person. She was certainly intelligent and had a remarkable education for a noble woman of her time.

Long Lost Cousin

Actually, she was not lost, but we had never been in touch.  :-)

As I was going through the records of my ancestors and their descendants in the FamilySearch Family Tree, I was looking for historical sources to add and duplicates that needed merging. So far I have done this on the Buchanan, Watson, and Ing/Waller lines.

As I was cleaning-up the information on the George Watson family, it occurred to me that Emily Sheffield's daughter Gloria Knight Praill might have died. Judy and I visited Gloria in 2003, the only time I had seen her. On that occasion we also visited Gloria's (half) sister Marion Bone in Hillcrest. I knew that Marion had died several years ago, but had heard nothing about Gloria.

I did not find an obituary for Gloria, but I found one for her half sister Evelyn Knight. It mentioned that Gloria died just 13 days after Evelyn.

This caused me to re-read a letter I had received from Gloria in 2001.


Dec 12/2001

Dear Cousin Bill,

First of all, I owe you an abject apology for not contacting you much earlier. There's really no excuse except for a few health problems. Since first hearing from you, I've had two hip replacements and then a major back problem. The hips are fine (very good result) but I'm afraid the back is something I have to learn to live with. - Not too easy to accept for such an active person! Anyway, you were wise to retire and enjoy yourself while you are still able to.

I'm afraid I have no old pictures at all. Mom didn't seem to have any, and if she did, Cora Jean would have them.

Regarding my family - my daughter is here and my son is in India. [...]

Thanks very much for the pictures. I do remember Dick [Watson] as we lived with him [about 1926] before moving to Washington [Tacoma, then Benge, Coeur d'Elene, Winona - where Harold died]. I also remember Buchanan's visiting at Dick's place, particularly a Geordie who told us ghost stories around a camp fire and scared us to death. He was GOOD. Was he your father - brother to Jack and Inez? Oh yes - I see on the back page you sent that he probably was.

If you ever get through this way on your travels, I would like to meet you and your wife. I had a call from Carl Sheffield's daughter Lorraine last week and we decided we would try to keep in touch a little better in the future. I guess the reason we don't do these things earlier in life is that we are too busy with our immediate families.

I hope you can read my writing - my typing fell by the wayside as arthritis got worse. Lucky I can still hold a pen, I guess. It's amazing how many small things one gets thankful for as the years pass.

Thanks again for all your trouble. I know [my sister] Cora Jean feels as I do - she has her problems, too, the last couple of years - much worse than mine.

Please keep in touch. Since my traveling days seem to be numbered, I would be very interested to hear about yours. I have decided to try one more trip down the Baja (Cabo San Lucas). I spent my winters there for 18 years and have now missed 3. My friends seem to want me one more time and it's the last year my insurance will cover me, so come Jan 14th, I shall try once more for 3 weeks. Wish me luck!



Judy and I spent a wonderful visit with Gloria and her new husband Ken. As I re-read her letter I noticed "I'm afraid I have no old pictures at all. Mom didn't seem to have any, and if she did, Cora Jean would have them."

I could find no obituary for Cora Jean, so I thought I would try to find her phone number or address. I eventually found a phone number and left a message. A few days later her daughter Diane called me, and I asked her about family photos. She told me that she has a box of them but does not know who most of the people are. So I offered to send the few Watson photos that I have to see if it would help. This morning I also sent her a copy of a 97-page book I had written on the Buchanans and Watsons.



These two families were closely related. John Buchanan married Isabel Watson, his brother Samuel Buchanan married Isabel's sister Mary Watson, and John's sister Jane Buchanan married James Watson, a brother to Isabel and Mary. David Watson, their brother married a different Jane Buchanan, a niece to the others.

Then in the next generation, my grandfather William Andrew Buchanan, a son of John and Isabel, married Elizabeth Jane Watson, a first cousin, daughter of George Watson and Agnes "Jane" Welsh. 

The attached book will help you to sort it all out. It includes brief stories from their lives. 
My website has various family stories including one by a Watson cousin from Abbotsford, BC.


Your cousin,



Sunday, March 05, 2017

"Great Grandma Buchanan"

My mother is approaching her 97th birthday.

She is a remarkable woman and has lived a remarkable life.

Born in 1920, she would have grown up among tales of the horrors of "The Great War".

She experienced the Great Depression first hand, as one farm after another "dried up".

Her brothers and two brothers-in-law were soldiers during "World War II".

A fall last year resulted in a broken femur and her remaining years will almost certainly be spent in a wheelchair.

Tomorrow she faces surgery for an "aggressive cancer". She may not survive the surgery, but she doesn't fear it. It is just another obstacle to be faced in life.

You would think that she had every reason to be discouraged with life, but she has enjoyed life and has always had great faith in the future. She represents much of what is right and good about humanity. She and her husband were always ready to share the little they had with others. And they always had time for family and friends.

Best wishes Mom! You are in our thoughts and our prayers!

Success in researching Judy's Constable family

This past week I have had a lot of success researching Judy's Constable family, who lived in the Beverley area of Eastern Yorkshire England.

We knew that the parents of Jane Constable, who married Robert Teal were Thomas Constable and Hannah Smith, but we were stuck at that point.

This time, I found tons of information at FamilySearch and some online parish registers.

The Teale family was from the Howden area of Yorkshire, but I found Jane's christening a little bit north of there, in the North Cave parish. Her ancestors were mostly found in Cherry Burton parish, which apparently consisted of a main street and surrounding farms. Her ancestor Richard Constable, born 1601 is described in his son Richard's marriage record as an "inholder", which I believe to be the same thing as a "inn keeper". He was definitely not a "husbandman" or farmer, like most of his neighbors.

Marriage Register:
A marriage intended to bee had betwixt Richard Constable of  Chirriburton [Cherry Burton] sonne of Richard Constable of the same Inholder &  Marie Trewlove doughter of W"^ [Wm.] Trewlove pish [parish] of Kirk Bourne Husbandman both of the age of twentie yeares and upwards were published in the pish  [parish] Church of Cherryburton, &c. vid June 3** 

* This paragraph is lined and the following substituted. 
The Registers of Cherry Burton. 53 
1655. 1'^^ same pties [parties] weere published againe as abovesd the lo*'^ day of June, &c. The same pties, &c., the 17'^ day of June. Richard Constable abovesd was Married to the above named Marie Trewlove the third day of Julie 1655. Att Etton. In the presence of Mary Trewlove by mee J. Canlabye: 

Tracing this family back another 173 years has been a beautiful experience. The big unanswered question is "Who were the parents of Richard Constable of Cherry Burton, who was born in 1601?" I do not see that the Cherry Burton register and FamilySearch answer this question, The Cherry Burton parish register covers that time period and other Constables were christened there, but apparently not Richard. I suspect that his father is Thomas, who had 7 children christened or buried there in 1605-1624, but there is a chance that his father was John, who had a son Marmaduke christened in 1599.

It is thrilling to be looking for "our" people in records that are over 400 years old! I feel that I have come to know these families and the little community where they lived.

To me it points to the necessity of returning to your data and looking at it again and again.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

RootsTech and Beyond

RootsTech is finished for another year. I have enjoyed watching all of the RootsTech2017 presentations that are available for viewing on the internet. They can still be seen. The list of recorded sessions follow. To view them click Fun! Motivational! Helpful!

Wednesday Sessions

Full Session
Innovator Summit General Session 2017

Liz Wiseman
Innovator Summit General Session 2017

Steve Rockwood
Innovator Summit General Session 2017

Ben Bennett; Craig Bott, Grow Utah; Heather Holmes, TapGenes; Nick Jones, JRNL, Inc; Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch
Industry Trends and Outlook

Cydni Tetro
Innovation: Best Practices and Applications

Showdown Semi-Finalists
Innovator Showdown Semi-Final

Alison Taylor, Pictures and Stories
Metadata—Writing on the Back of a Digital Photo

RootsTech Logo
Blog Innovator Summit Innovator Showdown Family Discovery Day

Thursday Sessions

Full Session
RootsTech General Session 2017: Thursday

Drew and Jonathan Scott
RootsTech General Session 2017

Steve Rockwood
RootsTech General Session 2017

RootsTech General Session Sponsor 2017

Kelli Bergheimer
Getting Started in Genealogy

Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide
DNA: The Glue that Holds Families Together

Dana Drutman
DNA Matching on MyHeritage

Lara Diamond
Jewish Genealogy: Where to Look and What's Available

Angie Bush
My Ancestors are in MY DNA!

Crystal Farish; Rhonna Farrer
Family History Is Anything but Boring

RootsTech Logo
Blog Innovator Summit Innovator Showdown Family Discovery Day

Friday Sessions

Kenyatta Berry; Sherri Camp; Melvin Collier
RootsTech General Session 2017: African Heritage Presentations

RootsTech General Session Sponsor 2017

Jason Hewlett and Finalists
Innovator Showdown Finals 2017

Judy G. Russell
Mothers, Daughters, Wives: Tracing Female Lines

Mary Kircher Roddy
Censational Census Strategies

Amy Harris
Next Steps in British Research

Sunny Morton
Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, findmypast, FamilySearch and MyHeritage

Rorey Cathcart; D. Joshua Taylor; Rich Venezia
You Found it Where? Unusual Records

Jen Baldwin
Cross the Atlantic with Religious Records

Anna Graff; Jennifer Hadley; Katie Smith; Andrew Thomas; Tyler Thorsted
How to Preserve Your Family Heirlooms

Saturday Sessions

Full Session
RootsTech General Session 2017: Saturday

Buddy Valastro
RootsTech General Session 2017

CeCe Moore
RootsTech General Session 2017

RootsTech General Session Sponsor 2017

Steve Reed, JRNL, Inc.
Journaling Principles that Work

Crista Cowan, Ancestry
Don’t Just Be a Searcher, Be a Researcher

Katherine R. Willson
Creating Google Alerts for Your Genealogy

So what is missing? Ron Tanner, that's what! 

Ron is a perpetual favorite as he is highly entertaining as well as being the general manager of Family Tree, Historical Records and other fascinating stuff! He can give us a glimpse of what is under consideration for future changes at Somehow his session did not get recorded. ... or did it?

A friend gave a link to where I could find several Ron Tanner videos, including a home video of much of Ron's RootsTech presentation.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Maybe your FHC can make use of some of these presentations,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Special Gift

Every Christmas, James and Karin try to give us a gift that will not fit under the tree. Sometimes it has been a musical or theatrical performance. This time it was two nights in Banff with their family, including Karin's mother and grandmother, who are good friends of ours.

Thursday 5 January 2017
James’ family planned to meet us at the Cave and Basin in Banff about 2 PM.
The temperature was a constant 6C but with salt on the highway, there was a fairly constant spray on the windshield. I did not dare use cruise control, and that was a good thing. I was travelling in the right hand lane and had to slow down for a slow vehicle. Then I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a yellow Dodge RAM 1500 skidding frantically, trying not to hit us. Apparently, the driver was unaware that the traffic had slowed down. We were all blessed that he managed to regain control of his truck and slow down.

Because it is Canada’s 150th anniversary, access to the park was free. We got to the Cave and Basin a little early and spent some time there. Karin phoned that they were running late and would be there about 3 PM, so we watched the big (4 large screen) slideshow a few more times.
When they arrived, they invited us to visit parts of the building we were not aware of, which was fun.

We followed them to Gateway Lodge, just outside the park gates, where we met Teresa and Cathie, Karin’s mother and grandmother. We shared unit 102, with Teresa and Cathie. It was a nice two-story unit with living room (and gas fireplace), kitchen, dining area, and bathroom downstairs and two bedrooms and a full bedroom upstairs.
This is where the 8 of us had our meals and social time together.
Supper was spaghetti prepared by Karin.

We went back to Banff we all went swimming (soaking) in the upper hot spring at 39C for about an hour. Above us we could see the snow and ice of winter, and except for our hair freezing, we were warm and comfortable. Afterwards we stopped at the IGA supermarket to buy groceries.
Back at the motel, Cathie taught the children how to play Yahtzee.

Friday 6 January 2017
For breakfast we had waffles and sausages, prepared by Judy.
This was the big day. We all decided to go to Lake Louise. Judy and I rode with Teresa and Cathie.
The mountains were absolutely stunning in the bright sunshine and fresh white snow. At Lake Louise we enjoyed the ice sculptures, and James’ family did a little skating on a rink that was cleared on the lake. We caught a glimpse of some sled dogs getting ready for some event. Karin lost her mobile phone, but we were able to connect with the person who found it. While the younger people went skiing, the older generation could watch the ski slopes, chair lift and gondolas. But the place was crowded and noisy and expensive, so we went to a restaurant and ordered potato and bacon soup, which we all enjoyed.
Later we returned home to the motel, and watched a movie borrowed from the motel office, Home Alone 3 (chosen by the children).
We enjoyed the lovely time with family.

Saturday 7 January 2017
By the time Judy and I got up, Teresa and Cathie were already gone. Theresa needed to be back to Edmonton by 11 to manage a bottle drive she had organized in support of the Baghdad Christian refugees in Lebanon group, for her friend the Anglican Church vicar of Baghdad. It is amazing the connections she has through her several trips to Israel. This Anglican bishop told her that in their time of darkest need, only the Mormons reached out to help his people. (Of course, we try to be there to help Muslims and other groups when they need humanitarian assistance too.)

Our return trip became very exciting ... we counted 17 vehicles in the ditch along the Calgary bypass and the route to the next town north. (Remember that these are people accustomed to driving in snow.) That part wasn't fun, but we managed to avoid adding to the count. Although it was a near thing once, when a light touch on the brakes sent us into a skid. This new car handles well.
After travelling at 60-70 km/h from Calgary we stopped at Airdrie for food and fuel.
The cars were now traveling about 90 km/h. The highway became progressively better on our way back north, until it could be classed as "good winter driving condition".

We stopped in Leduc to visit my mother for about 30 minutes. She is not doing well. She said that she cannot even travel to the dining room in her wheelchair without becoming lost. She recognized us with no difficulty but she described a visit from a Tetreau family that almost had to be Brandon, Tiffany and William, but she had no idea who they were. She even said that she would like to be moved to the other  (psychiatric) wing so that she would be able to visit with her sister Vi. On earlier visits she would have opposed such a move. Now she seems to be lonely and confused. This is sad to see in someone you love who has always been very intelligent and very involved with other people. She needs our love and prayers at this difficult time.

We enjoyed this special Christmas gift, but it is nice to be home again.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry Christmas everyone. 2016 was a wonderful year for us!

Judy is an avid gardener, and this year her efforts were especially rewarded. We had the best garden in the past 20 years or more!  Some of potatoes were nearly the size of a dinner plate. And we had a variety of wonderful fresh vegetables. A surprise was Judy’s other garden, at Evelyn’s house, where we had carrots that were a foot (30 cm) long and very sweet and tender.

Bill has served in FamilySearch Support for several years, but had never attended the annual picnic in Centerville Utah. This time we decided to go. His new supervisor was Andy Bavelas, the person who hosts the annual picnic. Andy invited us to stay with him and his wife Joanne!

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 Bill’s mother in Leduc, then spent Wednesday night with Judy's brother Bob and his wife Anna in Monarch, Alberta. We traveled to Idaho Falls the next day, then on to Utah the next morning. In Salt Lake City we visited the Family History Library (obviously!), the Church History Museum, and the nearby Family Discovery Center.

Andy and Joanne were instant friends! They are warm, friendly people. The house was built of adobe in 1888 for William Jennings, an early Utah entrepreneur. Much of the furniture was also historical. Around the yard there was a collection of old horse-drawn farm equipment and tools, such as Bill’s dad was still using into the 1950s. It was like being transported back in time 60 or 70 years. It was wonderful!

Judy helped Joanne make her special salsa. Andy and Bill helped set up the church for the dinner that would take place the following afternoon. We slept in a historical bed under the protection of a muzzle-loading rifle on the wall.

In the morning we helped our hosts with preparations for the picnic. By 2 PM support missionaries began to arrive. Some names were familiar from Family Tree support, and it was fun to finally meet them. Elder Lynn serves in Bill’s group, and gave us a jar of honey from his bee hives and a jar of his special BBQ seasoning. We even got to meet some of the managers in FamilySearch and their families. Bill also had a chance to ride in the Herrman's 1920 Ford Model T touring. Soon it was time to go to the church for the dinner. It was a special occasion, and we were glad we came. Would we come another year? Probably not. It was a lot of fun, but a very long drive.

We were able to make some progress on our ancestral research, most recently on one of Bill's Hunter lines (the Trane line) in Scotland and one o Judy's Kinney lines (the Kelly line) in the Isle of Man.

But the really big news this year is two new grandchildren. We love them already and we welcome them to our family! James and Karin will be wonderful parents!

In this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who spent his life teaching people to live in peace and love. In this season we all feel a little kinder towards the people around us. May you and your loved ones feel joy at Christmas and throughout the coming year!