Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living at Onoway, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Onoway, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. During July 2007 - January 2010, and September 2011 until the present I have provided part-time support for This is very rewarding. I have helped many with the free Personal Ancestral File 5 (PAF5) software. I continue to help others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
Since April 2010, I am an assistant director of 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

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nostalgia for the Present

These are the good old days!

Things have been very busy. My FamilySearch support mission has required a lot of time. It was very rewarding work though, and I hope to apply again after our house has sold and we have moved into Spruce Grove. I am also teaching a genealogy class on Sundays, and serve a shift at the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre with Judy, and a weekly shift with Judy at the Edmonton Temple. I have appreciated the flexibility that my mission assignment gave me. Since my 30-month mission ended on March 12th, I have the time I need to start preparing the house for sale.

This is a wonderful house, but maintenance was easier when I was younger. I will miss it greatly. This is the house we built, the house where our children grew up. But the new house we will share with James and Karin will be better suited to our future needs, as we get older. With our own separate apartment, we will still have our privacy and independence. It will be just a few minutes from doctors and a hospital, and church, and shopping. When we need to travel to Edmonton, the trip will be much shorter. Judy has been promised a small garden plot, which will be easier to manage than the 3 gardens we presently have. And our laundry room will be on the same floor as our other rooms, so there will be no need to carry laundry up the stairs. With city water, we won't need to take our white laundry to the laundromat to avoid mineral stains building up on our clothing. We even have a little park area out back. But it won't be our 9 acres of bush in the country.On the other hand, having real broadband internet access to be a big improvement.
I am the new director of the Edmonton Riverbend FHC. We had our first staff meeting last Saturday and it was very well received, to my immense relief. I am learning to do the monthly reports and sending and receiving microfilms. (There is no escaping paperwork!) When I move to Spruce Grove they will need to replace me as director, as I will no longer be living within the jurisdiction that operates the FHC. But they know that, and wanted me anyway. It is funny, but knowing that made me feel good.


My granddaughter's gymnastic team won a gold medal in the Alberta Winter Games. Congratulations girls!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Irish Genealogy Can be Fun!

My experiences doing family history in Ireland have generally been frustrating. Our Buchanans and McCallums left Ireland before there were good records kept.

My experience with a friend's Peter Evans' family was fun and exciting. Searching on the maiden name of Jane Cromer brought up a flood of information about German clock makers who emigrated to Ireland in the 1800s, including Jane's father, Conrad Cromer. He took over the watch making business of his father-in-law Robert O'Shaughnessy at 18 George Street, Limerick, Ireland. 
Robert in turn, had continued the fishing tackle business started by his father Daniel O'Shaughnessy, inventor of the famous Shaughnessy or O'Shaughnessy fish hook, still in wide-spread use over 200 years later. Daniel designed the O'Shaughnessy hook, but the metal was brittle and would sometimes break. Robert perfected the metallurgy, allowing his hook-makers to do the heating and tempering on the common Irish turf fire, producing hooks that were better than those produced by his deceased father and deceased elder bother John. An apprentice of John's by the names of Sells also sold O'Shaughnessy-style hooks in competition to Robert. 
But Robert's main business was watch and clock making. The Limerick museum has one of Roberts tall (grand-father) clocks on display. Some of Conrad Cromer's watches are still in existence and photos can be found on the internet.
Robert's children carried on the business after the death of Robert in 1842. Conrad married Jane in 1854, so 12 years later. Conrad's family carried on the business after his death in 1903. 

I would never have expected to find myself tracing the pedigree of a fish hook, but that is what led me to Daniel and John O'Shaughnessy!
O'Shaughnessy hooks can be seen on this page:  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Indexing - A special opportunity

I hadn't done indexing for a while and decided to start again. I chose to download a batch of Saskatchewan Catholic records, which were written in French. As a retired French teacher, this seemed like a perfect choice.
   As I read the name of the priest who recorded these christenings, marriages and burials, I felt a thrill! E Lacombe, OMI. Unless there were two Catholic priests by the name of Lacombe who were members of the Oblate order, this was the legendary Father Lacombe: frontier missionary and peace-maker between hostile Blackfoot, Cree and white inhabitants. He helped persuade the powerful Blackfoot Confederacy to let the CPR build railway tracks through their land. He convinced the Blackfoot Confederacy to stay out of the Northwest Rebellion. He saved hundreds and possibly thousands of lives. They loved him and trusted him and that love and trust was mutual. He was a great man by any measure. As a young priest he was transferred back to the safety and relative obscurity of serving in Quebec, but at the first opportunity he came back to live among the Indian people that he loved so much. 
By indexing records that he created, I felt privileged to be walking in the footsteps of a man I greatly admire. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Computer Upgrade

My Dell tower has been running Windows Vista since it was new 5 years ago. But as I run more and more software simultaneously, it got to the point where it would freeze-up in the middle of my work and need to be rebooted. This was especially bothersome when I was helping someone on the telephone. I reached the point where I had to upgrade it or replace it. Friday night my brother Lloyd doubled the RAM and added a second hard disk. And it seems to have solved the problem!

My Website Is back Online

My website is back online, this time at
It is the same as it was, except that the family database has been updated.

As I note on the site:
"I encourage you to sign-up for FamilySearch Family Tree, where I have uploaded genealogy, photos, stories and sources. That way, if you have additional research, old family photos and stories, you can share it with the entire family by uploading it there. is part of the GSU (Genealogical Society of Utah), which has been gathering genealogy and making it available to the public since 1894. This site is totally free and accessible to everyone, and it is as close to a permanent repository as you are likely to find. As you browse your part of the family tree, look for photos and stories that I have linked to the "person" pages on the site. (You may need to add 2 or 3 generations to connect yourself with the records of deceased people there, but it is easily done. Records of living people can only be seen by the person who created them. If you need help, call the toll-free number 1-866-406-1830 for Canada and USA and ask for help with Family Tree.) ... I think I am just about finished with trying to maintain a personal website. They tend to vanish without any warning at the whim of the webhost. I have hopes for x10 but it is probably my 9th or 10th webhost! If I vanish again, look for my postings on"!


Where and which is Konigsau?

A member of my class was hoping to find the parents of his ancestor Johan Dekinder. Through research I was able to find that Johan was born in Konigsau, Lemberg, Austria, which is now Rivne, L'viv, Ukraine. During the latter part of his reign, Holy Roman Emperor Josef II arranged the creation of German-speaking settlements in the area around L'viv/Lemberg as model farming communities to serve as an example to the Ukrainian and Polish speaking residents. One of these communities was Konigsau, shaped like a regular pentagon. It seems like a fascinating place! I was fortunate to find the local history book, which lists 3 generations of Johan's ancestors! It does not tell where Johan's great grandparents were born, but that is another puzzle for my friend to work on.

In 1939, the Hitler government brought all of the German-speaking residents to Germany, and these settlements became Ukrainian-speaking. The "Galician Germans" became just another chapter in the history books.

A good article on Josef II can be found at,_Holy_Roman_Emperor

(There are various other communities by the name of K√∂nigsau, but Johan was from the one in Galicia.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Memories of Ales, Gard, France

Friday while I was on duty for, a phone call came to me from Draper, Utah regarding a family history question. I discovered that the caller was the wife of a young Englishman I served with in Ales, France in 1966! It brought back a flood of memories, and I told her I had some old photos I could send.

The quality of the photos is poor. Color slides were the popular technology for photos at that time. If you projected the slides, it was almost like being there again. It was amazing! But the traditional color print photos retained their popularity after the slides craze had passed. It is probably a good thing, as their survival was much better.

Back when we arrived in Ales the only affordable housing we found was out-of-town in an old stone house without indoor plumbing other than cold running water in the kitchen sink. (In most areas of France and Switzerland our housing was excellent. Ales was a bit more primitive.)

One day a plowman came to plow the neighbor's vineyard. His plow was in a 2-wheeled cart. While he and his horse were busy plowing the field, my missionary companion and I took each other's photos standing beside his cart. Here is a poor quality photo of how I looked nearly 50 years ago.

Ah, the memories!