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 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/

Saturday, November 11, 2017

And What About Ben Wright in Cousin Jessie's Chart?

It is interesting to me how things that should be random, sometimes form a pattern. I was contacted in the last few days by a cousin who is a descendant of Benjamin Wright, the brother of Alexander "James" Wright, the subject of my previous post. She was able to give me the name of the child shown on the chart, and Benjamin Wright's two wives.

In Chelsea, London, on 26 September 1896, Benjamin Wright married Mary Ann Eliza Webb, who already had a daughter Janet, born in 1893. In 1897, Ben and Mary had a daughter Annie Wright, who would be the child mentioned on Jessie's chart. She may be the Annie Wright who died in Chelsea in 1925.

Here they are in the 1901 England Census
Household               Role     Sex   Age   Birthplace
Benjamin Wright Head M 42 Norfolk
Mary A Wright Wife F 43 Lambeth, London
Janet Wright     Daughter F 8 Chelsea, London
Annie Wright   Daughter F 4 Chelsea, London

Here is Benjamin in the 1911 England Census in the Chelsea Workhouse.
Name: Benjamin Wright
Age in 1911: 48
Birth Place: Norfolk, Norfolk, England
Street address: Chelsea Workhouse, Britten Street, Chelsea
Marital Status: Widowed

But Benjamin's life did not stop at this point. In 1912, he married Madge Jermy, who already had three children.
Madge (Bradley) 5 (b. 23 March 1906 in Chelsea)
John (Bradley) 4 (b. 1907 in Chelsea as Johnnie Henry Charles Bradley)
Henry (Bradley) 2 (b. February 1909 in Chelsea)
GRO lists the mother's maiden name as Jermy for all 3.
I do not know what became of John and Henry, as I did not find their deaths. Perhaps they were given to other families to raise. But Janet lived with Ben and Madge and their children.

In Benjamin's military pension record in 1915, he lists Madge as his wife and  three children:
Madge Bradley b. 23 March 1906
Janet Wright (yes, a different daughter by that name) b. 4 March 1912
Samuel Wright b. 3 April 1914
GRO gives the mother's name as Jermy in all three cases.
Pension record on Ancestry.com

Mom's cousin Jessie, who made the Wright genealogy chart for me in 1963 seems to have missed the second marriage and additional children.

These were tough times for these poor people. Apparently Ben's military pension was inadequate because this particular family had frequent stays in the Chelsea Workhouse. 



Friday, October 06, 2017

Will the Real James Wright Please Stand up?

Here is part of a genealogy chart given to me by my mother's first cousin Jessie Evans Wright in 1963.


The Mr & Mrs Wright are Charles Wright and Mary Ann Grant from Carleton Rode, Norfolk, England. Samuel is my great grandfather, who married Charlotte Harriet Eley, and gave her the brooch that has been passed down in our family and worn by 5 successive generations of brides.

The problem is Jim or James. He appears nowhere in the official records. He was never born, registered, or appeared as a member of the family in any census. 

But Jessie's chart is missing Alexander Wright, who appears in all the public records.

An email message this week from a descendant of Benjamin Wright ("Ben" in Jessie's chart), brought me back to this puzzle. Looking closely at James and Alexander, I noticed that James' children had the same names as some of Alexander's children.

Alexander Wright (c.1849)
sp: Emma Elizabeth York (b.1850)
 Charles William Wright (b.1870)
 Alexander John Wright (b.1872)
 Samuel Wright (b.1873)
 Emma Elizabeth Wright (b.1875)
 Thomas Wright (b.1877)
 George Wright (b.1879)
 Louis Wright (b.1885)
 Albert Wright (b.1887)
 Alice Wright (b.1890)

I checked the military records of Alexander's son Charles William Wright, a military career that spanned 30 years, retiring with the rank of Company Quarter Master Sergeant. His record included service in India, Mauritius, and South Africa. He had a bullet wound in the thigh. A handful of medals are listed in his record, maybe not a VC (Victoria Cross), but a YC ... whatever that is. This Charles certainly fits the profile of "James" Wright's son Charles.

In one place he lists his father's given names as Alexander Wm, and in another as Alexandera James!

I think I have the answer. Alexander may be the name used on all of his official records, but maybe he sometimes used James as a nickname with family and close friends.


I wonder where I could find official documentation of Albert Wright catching "a well known German spy in the west end of London during 1st World War". It seems like an interesting story!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

The Burns Family

On September 25, 2017 I received this email message:

Hello Bill,
I am Arthur Morton Burns' granddaughter and I was wondering if you have any information on him or perhaps any pictures. I just found out that he was my grandfather and would love all the information that you could send me please and thank you. 
Carol

I immediately recognized the name of the first husband of Dad's first cousin, Emily Jane Sheffield. In fact, Dad (William "George" Buchanan) and Emily's brother Carl Sheffield, owned a farm together north of my grandfather's blacksmith shop, at the "10 Mile Corner" west of the town of Millet, Alberta.

I was able to give Carol the birth information for Arthur ("Shorty") Burns:

Canada Births and Baptisms, 1661-1959
Name: Arthur Morton Burns
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 14 Jul 1887
Birthplace: South Norwich Township, Oxford, Ontario
Father's Name: Charles Burns
Mother's Name: Harriet Avy
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C01608-8
System Origin: Canada-EASy
Source Film Number: 1845886  Reference Number: cn 25406


And a record that includes his parents and siblings:
Burns, Charles
    * b. ABT 1846
          o England
    * e. Occupation
          o 1881
          o Butcher
    * e. Residence
          o 1881
          o Burford, Brant South, Ontario
    * m. Avey, Harriette
          o 22 Dec 1868
          o Oxford County, Ontario, Canada
---
Burns, William C.      * b.  ABT 1871            o Ontario, Canada
---
Burns, Nellie Marie    * b.  ABT 1876           o Ontario, Canada
---
Burns, Edith M.         * b.  16 Jul 1884          o Ontario, Canada
---
Burns, Arthur Morton  * b.  14 Jul 1887        o Ontario, Canada
------

Shorty was a businessman, owning stores in various rural communities: Millet, Patience, Pipestone
Emily and Shorty had two daughters, Marion and Dorothy, before they divorced and went their separate ways. I was unaware that he had another family. 

References to the families of William Buchanan and George Watson in “Tales and Trails of Millet”, v.2
Porto Bello School Division 3146; Tales and Trails of Millet, p.507
The 10 Mile Corner is 10 miles west of Millet. Buchanan's "Blacksmith Shop/Shoe Repair Shop" was on the NE corner (SW35-47-R25-W4) (bought from Carl Sheffield), Pydde's "Farmers Trading Store" was on the SE corner (NW26-47-R26-W4), Cameron's dairy was on the NW corner and Millet Seventh Day Adventist Church was on the SW corner. (NE27-47-R26-W4)
Porto Bello School was on NE22-47-R26-W4.
St. Peters Lutheran School was on SW27-47-R26-W4.
Wm. Buchanan farm NE34-47-25-W4
-...
WATSON, George Allan; Tales and Trails of Millet II, page 556; Wetaskiwin
The Watson Family
Mr. and Mrs. [George] Watson, his two sons. Dick and Allan [George Allan], and two daughters, came to the Porto Bello and Telford districts to homestead, in the early 1900's.
The mother enjoyed smoking a corn cob pipe,
Daughter Margret moved to Michigan as a young girl and married Arthur Sheffield, and in 1911 moved back to Millet. They had two children, one son, Carl, who married Leona Hagen, and one daughter, Emilia [Emily], who married Shorty Burns. Arthur passed away in 1923 and Margret in 1941.
The second daughter married Bill Buchanan, the blacksmith. They had four children: George, Jack, Maggie and Inez. Inez is the only surviving member of that family.
Allan married and had seven children.
Brother Dick was a bachelor and he and his nephew Ralph retired and lived in Millet.
-
Tales and Trails of Millet, v.2
Telford School District 1355 (west of Millet, Alberta)
SE2-48-26 R.J. Watson bought this farm from C. Brinker
NE2-48-26 bought by SW & RJ Watson from K&D Sidor [Who is S.W. Watson?] -p.620
Telford District... On Section 2 there was the Watson family: Dick, George and Allan and their sister Mrs. E. Sheffield, with her children Carl and Emily, as well as her nephews, Jack and George Buchanan, and niece Inez. p. 622
...
Telford boasted a baseball team for many years with Ray and John Brennan; Ben and Edward Glassman; Joe and Fred Coles; Bud Scott; Bill, Bob and Benny Arnholtz; Henry and Jim Deans; Norval Atkinson; Jack Buchanan; Carl Sheffield; Joe Benedetto, as some of the players. The girl's softball team was coached by Mr. Howard Fulcher (now retired in Millet). It comprised of Tracy (Krossa) Hougestol; Frances (Benedetto) Meaver; Jean (Benedetto) Cassidy; Kay Fulcher; Nora (Fulcher) Hall; Mary (Halat) Coles; Linda (Glassman) Heine; Pat Brennan; Jessie (Jackson) Rath; Irene (Jackson) Soper; and Inez Buchanan.
- p.622
Shorty Burns [Arthur Morton Burns] had a butcher shop on Main street [of Millet about 1913]- p.656

Emily had a daughter, Gloria, with Franklin William Knight.
She later married Harold Milligan Rogers and had a fourth daughter, who is still living.
According to Dad, Harold Rogers was murdered in his home by an intruder in 1949.

I really regret that I did not take photos of Marion and Gloria when Judy and I visited them in 2002, so I have no photos of either of them. Marion was able to fill me in on a few details on the Sheffield family. Gloria invited us to stay for supper, and we had a really nice visit with her too.
"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."

What a delightful incident. My Dad was remembered 75 years later for telling ghost stories?! Who could have guessed that?  😉

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Saga of My Mysterious Steele Family

I love it when I receive an email from someone I have never heard of, but whom I can easily identify as a cousin. 

The Steele family were a mystery to me for a long time. Dad and his brother and sister knew very little about this aunt and uncle of theirs. Their information was basically:

"Frank died in a mill explosion, and Minnie died giving birth to twins." 

Since the rest of the George Watson family moved from Michigan to Alberta in 1903, I searched Alberta fruitlessly for years. Then when the internet became available, I found the George Watson family in the 1881 Canada census and I discovered that her name was actually Mary E. (Mary Elizabeth according to her birth record.)

1881 Census Place: Turnberry, Huron North, Ontario, Canada  April 1881
Source: FHL Film 1375909  NAC C-13273  Dist 175  SubDist B  Div 2  Page 17  Family 67
Sex Marr Age Origin Birthplace
George WATSON M M 39 Scottish O  Occ: Farmer       Religion:Weslyan Methodist
Jane WATSON F M 38 Scottish O Religion: Congregational
George A. WATSON M 10 Scottish O Religion:Congregational
Mary E. WATSON F 7 Scottish O Religion: Congregational
Margaret A. WATSON F 5 Scottish O Religion: Congregational
Richd.Joe. WATSON M 2 Scottish O Religion:Congregational
Eliza Jane WATSON F <1 span="" style="white-space: pre;">
Scottish O Religion:Congregational[Some years are off slightly, and Richd.Joe should be Richd.Jas, but plainly it is the correct family.]

This information helped me to find the marriage of Frank and Minnie in Michigan about 15 years earlier than I originally expected. 

Extracted marriage record for locality listed in the record.
Search performed using PAF Insight on 16 Oct 2006
Mary E. Watson; Female; Birth: , , Canada; Father: George Watson; Mother: Jane Watson; Spouse: Frank Steele; Marriage: 16 JUL 1891 Sault Sainte Marie, Chippewa, Michigan; Batch No.: M018016 Dates: Source Call No.: Type: Printout Call No.: Type: Film Sheet:


This led to finding older children that my family never mentioned. Some of them are listed in the 1910 census.

1910 US Census
name: Frank Steele birthplace: Wisconsin relationship to head of household: Self
residence: Raber, Chippewa, Michigan marital status: Married race : White
gender: Male immigration year: father's birthplace: Scotland
mother's birthplace: United States
family number: 76 page number: 4
  Household Gender Age Birthplace
self Frank Steele M 39y Wisconsin
wife Mary E Steele F 36y Canada
son William G Steele M 16y Michigan
son Robert G Steele M 14y Michigan
dau Lucy M Steele F 9y Michigan
dau Marth A Steele F 7y Michigan [Myrtle]
son Eal T Steele M 2y Michigan [Earl T.]
"United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MLPP-C6H : accessed 08 Dec 2012), Frank Steele, Raber, Chippewa, Michigan; citing sheet 4B, family 76, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374654.

By the 1920 census the parents are both tragically dead.
United States Census, 1920 Residence , Chippewa, Michigan
Household Gender Age
 William J Steele  M 26y
 Lacy M Steele  F 18y [Lucy M.]
 Myrtle A Steele  F 16y
 Carl F Steele  M 11y [Earl T.]
 Frank A Steele  M 9y7m

My family said "They had Nate, Nellie, and Jeanie, who were adopted by Uncle George Allan Watson and his wife Carrie. Then Carrie left and moved to Ohio with all of the kids but Ralph who was rather slow and could only do farm work."

In the Alberta Provincial Archives I found the parish register for the Millett Methodist Church. Well! Nate was the biological child of Allan and Carrie! He was not the child of Frank and Minnie. 

The pieces were starting to come together. But who were the twins? Obviously they were not Nate and Nellie, so they must have been Nellie and Jeannie. This document helped:

Border Crossing, July 31, 1913
Watson  George 70 Farmer      Canada     USA Mich  Raber Mich  Millet Alta  $100
Watson  Jane     71 housewife Canada     USA Mich  Raber Mich  Millet Alta
- to join son Richard
Steel     Mary       4 mos          USA Mich  USA Mich  Raber Mich  Millet Alta  
Steel     Elizabeth 4 mos          USA Mich  USA Mich  Raber Mich  Millet Alta  
- wards of grandparents Mr & Mrs Geo Watson

http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/p/i/t/Suzanne-F-Pitt/BOOK-0001/0022-0001.html
calls Nellie Elizabeth, so Jeannie is Mary.


Nellie died in Toledo of polio. 
Name: Nellie Watson Titles: Death date: 13 Dec 1926
Death place: Toledo, Lucas, Ohio Birth date: Estimated birth year: 1913
Birth place: Age at death: 13 years 7 months 27 days
Gender: Female Marital status: Race or color:
Street address: Occupation: Residence:
Burial date: Burial place: Cemetery name:
Spouse name:
Father name: Frank Steele Father titles: Father birth place:
Mother name: Elizabeth Watson Mother titles: Mother birth place:
GSU film number: 1984618 Digital GS number: 4024345
Image number: 332 Reference number: fn 75959
Collection: Ohio Deaths 1908-1953

Image requires sign-in: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.2/M3S8-8D9/p1

Jeannie died some time prior to Nellie, and she probably died at Millet, Alberta, Canada as I cannot find her death in the Toledo Blade obit index or other Ohio records. 

What a sad story! Minnie died on 22 Jun 1913 of heart failure, apparently triggered by the birth of the twins. Frank died on 02 Jun 1918 in a massive boiler explosion in Bartlett's sawmill, at Shelldrake, Whitefish Twp, Chippewa, Michigan. They were both young. Frank was only 47. They had a large family, and some of the children were very young. The twins, baby girls that my family knew as Jeannie and Nellie, both died young. Nellie was only 13 at the time of her death and Jeannie would have been even younger. 

I have been helped by Watson and Steele cousins to fill in the gaps . Most recently, by the cousin who contacted me last week and was able to give me the names of Earl's descendants. In return I sent her a PDF copy of a Watson Family Tree book I created in 2007, where there is minimal information about the Steele family, but good information on most of the other Watson descendants. 

I invite any further information or corrections. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Those Safe Old Horse & Buggy Days? Not!!!

A Bullet Hole In The Old Sewing Machine 
As I was growing up, Mom (Dorothy) had an old Singer treadle (pedal-powered) sewing machine. She made much of our clothing on that old machine that was given to them by Dad (George's) aunt, Maggie. One day I asked about the bullet hole in one of the left hand drawers of the sewing machine.

Dad explained that as a boy, he was at Aunt Maggie's house visiting his cousins, and one of them was cleaning a 22 rifle.  The boy clicked the trigger without checking to make sure there was no shell in the chamber. The bullet went through the cabinet of the sewing machine and ricocheted off its steel frame, embedding itself in the heel of Dad's boot! But other than the tell-tale bullet hole in the sewing machine, no harm was done that day.


A Runaway Wagon 
Money for presents was scarce on the farm. George and Dorothy had decided that they could buy their little boys a toy wagon by gathering the bottles thrown out along the dirt road by the truckers. George intended to take his horses Pet and Dobbin, but George's brother Jack and his wife Tina were visiting, and Jack suggested that George take his team and wagon, as they were already hitched up. George took Bill [me] and Reg, aged about 6 and 5 at the time, along with him. He was enjoying pretty good success when Jack's horses, Sandy and Babe, smelled a bear and bolted for home. George ran as fast as he could, but couldn't catch the wagon pulled by the panicked horses.

As he ran and walked towards home, he would pass shattered bottles that had fallen from the wagon onto the cement-hard dirt road. Around every corner and over every hill he feared he might find the dead or mangled body of one of his two little boys, crushed by the steel tires of the wooden wagon wheels.

As the wagon drew near George's house, Jack remarked "George sure is driving fast! He must be trying to get home before the storm." But the team and wagon went thundering past, on their way to Jack's farm, nearly a mile farther east.

Seeing that the horses weren't stopping at our house, Bill decided to jump off the wagon. Fortunately he jumped from the back of the wagon and landed safely on the road. The old car seat that Reg was sitting on fell off the back of the wagon as the team was climbing the hill on the far side of the Little Moose creek, taking Reg with it. He also was unharmed. George was very relieved when he realized that both children were safe.

By the time the horses pulled into Jack's driveway, the wagon-bed, made of loose planks had fallen apart. If the boys had remained in the wagon they might have been hurt or killed. (Some days guardian angels have to work extra hard.)


A Surprisingly Successful Hunting Trip 
When "Pa" Buchanan and his sons George and Jack lived six miles west of Breton, Alberta in the 1940s there were few residents in the area, and most of the farmers depended on wild game to help feed themselves and their families. George liked to hunt with his 30-30 Winchester from back of his horse, Pet.

On one occasion, George was out hunting near Alder Flats and spotted a moose. He fired at the moose, and it went down, then stood up again, so George fired again. Again the moose went down. When he got closer, he was amazed to discover that he had killed two moose that were in his line of fire. A very successful hunting trip! To bring the meat home, a friend loaned him a wagon with the wagon box disguised as a load of lumber. It was felt that although the local RCMP were somewhat tolerant of the farmers' hunting big game out of season to feed their families, there was no need to borrow trouble.


Saved By A Short Plank 
While George Buchanan was working at the sawmill at Antross, Alberta with Marvin Burris and Steve Grzyb, they were cleaning out the burner. They had made a wagon box out of scrap lumber. He was bent over doing some work along the edge of the burner. For some reason, the team of horses suddenly backed up the wagon, pinning his head against the side of the burner. One of his co-workers thought that George was dead for sure. But the other one didn't think that a dead man could yell that loud! George's life was saved by the fact that one of the planks making up the wagon bed was shorter than the others. If his neck had been slightly to one side or the other it would have been crushed for sure!

His neck was boxed-in by wood on all sides, and the horses were so skittish it was impossible to tell what they might do next. Marvin grabbed the halters of the horses to hold them in place, while Steve blocked the wagon wheels, then Marvin ran to the barn and got another team and two more men to help rescue George. They were able to unhook the spooked horses and hook-up the other team to pull the wagon away from the burner, freeing George from the trap he was in.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Downloading a Blog from Blogspot

During a period of years I did not keep a personal journal, but I did have this blog. So I decided to download the blog as a supplement to my journal.

After a web search I tried Blogspot2docx (BlogspotToDocxV1.6.4.exe)

It successfully downloaded the text of the blog, which was the main thing. All photos and formatting were lost. Is anyone aware of a different tool, preferably free, that includes the photos and formatting, and saves it as an editable file?

If so, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Best Wishes Evelyn and Gary



The wedding was outdoors, with a temple sealing to follow at a later date. There was a decorated arch that Gary had built for his daughter's wedding a few months ago. The guests were seated on folding chairs covered with white silk covers, with a center aisle. Evelyn's daughter was the flower girl. Evelyn and Gary were attended by their children.

Bishop Steve Hudson officiated and gave a beautiful service. A minor glitch occurred in the ring ceremony. Gary’s ring was too small, but everyone took it in good humor. Soon they signed the register, and marched down the aisle as Mr & Mrs Belter.

We had just acquired an addition to our family: a son-in-law and three step grandchildren, and miscellaneous other in-laws Our family had grown!

The next thing on the schedule was all of the family photos. (We also had family photos taken last week after several years without a formal family photo.)

Then the wedding party was off to the park in Stony Plain for more photos.

The rest of us visited until they returned and it was time for supper. Gary was now wearing his ring.
Judy and I sat with family. The tributes to the bride and groom (by Gary’s children and Evelyn's sister) were very moving. Evelyn and Gary are wonderful people, and greatly loved. It was a lovely supper. Judy and I had chosen chicken, and even looking at the burgers and steaks chosen by others, I felt that it was a perfect meal.

After the supper, was the dance. The first dance was by Gary and his mother, and Evelyn and me. It has been so long since a last danced, that I had two left feet. As I remarked to Evelyn, “It is a good thing the photographer is taking still photos, as if he was taking video it would be obvious that I had no idea what I was doing”.

Evelyn looked beautiful and happy; Gary looked handsome and happy, a well matched couple.

After dancing for a while, the guests started putting things away. With all of the help it went quite quickly. Judy and I arrived home about 9:30, tired but very happy. 

Best wishes for happiness now and forever! We love you!