BIFHSGO Conference 2017 : England, Wales and Methodology~

September 29 to October 3 – The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) held their annual conference at The Ben Franklin Place in Nepean Ontario, with themes of England and Wales and Methodology Research.

Friday started with concurrent workshops in both morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning I attended “The Manorial System and How to Use Manorial Records” with Celia Heritage and after lunch break, at the nearby Royal Oak, I attended “Maps and Mapping” with James F.S. Thomson (Associated with the Toronto Branch of OGS) where I learned a ton about where to find old maps and what fun things I can do with them! Both workshops were excellent with detailed handouts of resources to follow up on.

The conference opened with keynote talk by Glenn Wright called “Another Bloody Englishman! Britannia in Red Serge, 1873-1920” which was an interesting history of the North West Mounted Police which had strong ties to England.

Saturday, Session 1 Plenary by Celia Heritage “Beyond All Reasonable Doubt” followed by a coffee break with delicious snacks and a visit to the Marketplace where I perused old maps, books and postcards. Throughout the day, I attended “Buried Treasures: The Parish Chest” with Paul Milner – which was fantastic and is based on Paul’s publication of the same name. “Researching in English and Welsh Records Offices” with Celia Heritage was a very useful hour spent mostly discussing how to prepare yourself for a visit to the repositories and get the most out of your time. The lecture was ‘homework’ heavy, stressing the importance of looking at research guides available on the repository’s website and that also FamilySearch.org had incredibly useful research guides for most areas in the world. The last panel of the days that I attended was “Occupational, Guild and Freedman Records” with Paul Milner.

Sunday’s panels were: “Using Death Records to Break Down Brick Walls” with Celia Heritage, “The English Probate System” with Paul Milner and “I’ve Lost My Ancestor Before 1837” with Celia Heritage.

The Plenary talk to end the weekend was given by Paul Milner entitled “My God, Nobody Told Me!” was poignant and touching and a wonderful way to end a genealogical conference, challenging everyone to share their findings with family and write histories before the knowledge is lost.

Saturday and Sunday ran two tracks of lectures, so I haven’t listed everything from the schedule. All of the lectures were recorded which have been edited and made available in the Members section of the BIFHSGO website along with their respective handouts – with the exception of Friday’s 4 workshops. I encourage anyone interested to become a member – the lectures are all fantastic!

Every session I attended was full of relevant information, interesting and entertaining, and very often inspirational. I came home with so much information on how and where to find materials to search, I wanted to search all the things as soon as possible. It was a genealogical candy store overload!

With access to a research center and well-stocked market place, there were always things to see and do during breaks. I came away with a sweetly priced AncestryDNA kit and some old detailed maps of Dublin and Manchester. I was a little slow to GlobalGenealogy ‘s vendor table that had the books on ancestral occupations, where the “Textiles” copies sold out.

Biggest Take-Aways that everyone stressed:

  1. Not everything is on-line – despite the millions of records being uploaded daily on numerous on-line repositories, it is the tip of the iceberg of what is actually archived.
  2. Be Methodical in your research – planning and recording documentation and sources.
  3. Read research guides for every resource you plan to access in order to have a full understanding of what the materials are that you’re searching for as well as available coverage.
  4. Compile and Share your findings.

I’m looking forward to the BIFHSGO Conference 2018 Themed: Scotland!

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RTC 2017

I’m way late in blogging post-conference about RTC 2017, which was August 3-5th 2017 at the Kanata Inn & Suites, Kanata Ontario.

It was a great time as usual, I enjoyed the writer workshops Thursday afternoon and the Author readings that evening. Some of my favourite panels involved Barbara Devlin, Debra Cooke and Anna Markland discussing Historical content, which is my real passion. But, again this year, there were so many wonderful authors in attendance, generously giving out books, and bracelet charms and loads of swag – Thanks for all the cool earrings Deb Cooke!.

The dinners were fantastic – the food is always really tasty! My table-mates were author Carey Decevito and her close friend, and some fellow Ottawa writers that are close friends with author Angela Stone who also sat with us when she wasn’t flitting around the dining hall socializing! (If you ever need a sex educator – Angela is the woman for you!  She’s incredibly knowledgeable)

This year, my take home of free books included books from: Zoe York, Katie Ruggle, Eliza Gayle, Anna Markland, Coreene Callahan, and an anthology edited by Jerry L. Wheeler. I missed out on Barbara Devlin’s “Black Morass” give-away, due to the crushing crowd, and my inability to actually find her table in time to get a copy.

I bought 3 books – another by Claire Delacroix, “The Crusader’s Bride” which is the first book of the Templar series, “Triad Blood” by Nathan Burgoine, and an Anthology compiled and signed by all the members of Anna Markland’s writing group for ‘Canada 150’ called “Dreams and Promises”.

 

Ticket purchase for RTC 2018 has already opened and most of the dinner tickets have sold out, but there is still event space. I finally had the foresight to get in early with ticket purchase and room booking, so I’m excited that for RTC 2018 I’ll be settling in with my closest girlfriends for this awesome event! It’s always a great time –  ORWA member  Eve Langlais and her crew always put so much effort into making sure everyone has a blast!

Check out the RTC facebook page for regular updates.

BIFHSGO 2017 (September Meeting & Conference)

 

Tomorrow morning, Saturday September 9 2017, BIFHSGO (British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa) will have their first meeting of the Fall session after summer break. Speaker John McConkey’s topic will be “The Sinking of the SS Portsdown” from 10am to 11:30am at the Ben Franklin Place, Ottawa Ontario. There will be a SIG (Special Interest Group) – BIFHSGO Writing Group following the lecture. The Scottish Genealogy Group will be meeting Saturday September 23. Times and locations are on the Meetings page of their website, as well as a listing of other SIGs affiliated with BIFHSGO.

Annual Conference! –

Also coming up this month is the Annual BIFHSGO Conference from 29 September to 1 October, also at the Ben Franklin Center, Ottawa Ontario.

“Learn about English and Welsh family history and genealogy research methodology. Our Marketplace will be open to visitors”

This will be my first time attending and I’m pretty excited about this conference, especially the seminars leading into the conference itself.  Friday will feature a City of Ottawa Archives Tour.

The speakers include: Celia Heritage, David Jeanes, Gillian Leitch, Marnie McCall, Ken McKinlay, Paul Milner, James. F.S. Thomson and Glenn Wright. I’m really looking forward to visiting the Marketplace!

 

OGS Conference 2017 Day 2

OGS Conference 2017 – Day 2 – Workshop Day!

The morning was spent with Jane E. MacNamara Think Like a Genealogist: Creative Research Techniques to Help You Follow the Right Ancestral Trail”. Jane went through some trial documents to show us how to make the best out of each piece of information on varying types of documents from Passenger Lists, Church Transfer Papers, Collections of manuscripts and Death Certificates. The intention was to think about other resources any small piece of extra information gleaned could be used to find a new research avenue. Not just to find new resources, but think more deeply about each resource.

We spent the afternoon with Kirsty Gray Using Family Reconstruction to Break Down Brick Walls”. While she’s a lot of fun, she’s also a tough teacher encouraging attendees to start thinking hard on research goals and get cracking! She was all about really digging into detail and filling out as many of the siblings branches as possible to create a richer family community in order to broaden parameters. Kirsty also had us analyzing documents in order to ask questions to determine potential resources to refer to in order to collect all the details possible. She also talked about varying levels of Reconstruction – how deep and broad to research. And then of course, Organization, and reaching out for Help.

After that was a “First Timers” gathering where I got to add another ribbon to what is now starting to look like a small collection. (I haven’t gathered nearly as many as some other crazy ribbon people I’ve seen!  ;P )

And then Opening Ceremonies with some words from Dr G. Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and Keynote Lecturer Journalist Dave Obee.

Dr. Berthiaume spoke about all the current projects in the works at LAC, and all the new ones soon to come. So much work has gone into the digitization of the WWI CEF records being copied and uploaded for all Canadians to access.  There are plans to carry on the digitization of resources and incorporate co-operative scan projects with the public using applications that LAC is developing for that purpose, which generated a lot of excitement from the full theatre.  His understanding of the importance of Family History Research to Citizen Genealogists, and passion to connect people to those resources and tools was wonderfully acknowledge by Mr. Dave Obee.

Mr. Obee spoke at length on the topic of Immigration. With acknowledgment to our presence at Algonquin college on traditional First Nations lands, considering, briefly immigration from the perspective of those experiencing the newcomers. He shared his own family’s experiences emigrating from various other places into Canada. Their stories, their dire hardships, and their points of view about being in Canada. “Push and Pull”. He reminded all of us, that as Genealogists, we, probably more than anyone else, should be fully aware of what immigration Means. There are events and forces and reasons behind every family leaving their homeland for another. We need to acknowledge how those events continue to cascade. History doesn’t stop at the Immigrant with a straight line through descendants, but instead, ripples. Suffice it to say, Mr. Obee delivered a powerful lecture that was broadly appreciated.

OGS Conference 2017

I’m super excited about this week’s events – The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) Annual Conference , held this year at Algonquin College in Ottawa Ontario!

This will be my first year attending, and there’s so much going on, I’m sure I’m going to be in pure genealogy overload. I’ll try not to explode!

For me, conference will be starting off the evening of Thursday June 15th with “British Pub Night” (SOLD OUT) hosted by The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO). There are some events scheduled earlier in the day – Research Excursions to Library and Archives Canada (SOLD OUT), The Canadian War Museum, The Ottawa Public Library and The City of Ottawa Archives.

Friday will be Workshop Day – there are loads of them offered! 6 concurrent workshops in the morning, and in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to “Think like a Genealogist: Creative Research Techniques to Help You Follow the Right Ancestral Trail” with Jane E. MacNamara, in the morning. And then after lunch, I’ll be at “Using Family Reconstruction to Break Down Brick Walls” with Kirsty Gray.

After the workshops are finished, there is a “First Timer Gathering”, and then OGS Board/Branch meetings. After dinner, Opening Ceremonies and Keynote Lecturer Dave Obee followed by Reception.

Saturday & Sunday – I look forward to lectures given by D. Joshua Taylor MA, Dr. Blaine Bettinger, Linda L. Reid, Linda Corupe UE, Kathryn Lake Hogan UE.  Saturday evening there will be a Banquet with guest speaker D. Joshua Taylor MA, MLS.  Closing Ceremonies are Sunday afternoon.

Monday, 19th June is “Using Ancestry Day” – All day, all things Ancestry 🙂

The Market Place will be open to the public for the duration of the Conference – please come and check it out!

 

Genealogy Guys – Podcast

These two charming guys really know their stuff!

The Genealogy Guys   podcast run by Drew Smith and George G. Morgan has been on the air since 2005 and still going strong with their additional podcast the “Genealogy Connect” interview format show.  They’re both prolific Podcasters, Speakers, Researchers, and Writers.  They’re definitely a ‘Go-To’ for all things Genealogy and are available on multiple listening platforms.

For enjoyable genealogy podcasting, these two are worth spending time with.  I have been listening to them for a few years now, and pretty much every episode offers some useful tidbit of information.  These episodes have reviews of  books or technology, updates on various source repository news and listener mail.

I sent in a query in which they provided very helpful information regarding researching family in Hong Kong back on April 5, 2015 Episode # 286 .  I was very pleased to have George answer my questions so thoroughly and most of the sources he talked about are listed in the show notes.

This information is still relevant now, because shortly after the airing of the podcast, my Father-in-law (who’s family I was querying about) passed away.  I’m only now gearing up to resume researching that part of our family, and George’s on-air response and show note links are my first stop!

I’ve really learned a lot from listening to their show – Thanks Guys!

 

 

 

CONWAY, James 1815-1875

Why am I writing about a long-dead guy called James Conway? Because he was one of my direct ancestors that has eluded tracking for many, many years.

Why am I excited to talk about him?  Because I have been doing genealogical research for almost 25 years, and over those many years, have tried time and again to expand on my knowledge base of this individual.

And then recently, I spent two grueling days (not grueling, as in -suffering in the desert for weeks with no water or wifi – kind of grueling, although, sometimes it felt that way…) bouncing from website to website doing genealogical gymnastics in order to find a death record for James Conway.  The ‘Right’ death record, because James Conways – there are many. Many.

I recently joined BIFHSGO    (British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa), from which I was able to obtain access to some archived conference videos.  In particular for this blog post, I listened to quite a few presentations given by Maurice Gleeson, who frequently attends Genetic Genealogy Ireland Conferences.  He gave a lot of great talks on DNA testing and how to use it for Genealogy.

Despite the fact that Ireland is notoriously difficult to research (almost as difficult as ( Newfoundland), his talks gave me hope that I can probably find ‘something’.  He suggested that Irish researchers try IrishGenealogy.ie   because a lot of records are available for viewing at ‘no cost’.  ‘No cost’ is great, because when you’re searching across many sites that aren’t free, credits/fees get unruly and costly.  And I will tell you, that website was incredibly helpful and my husband has been trying to pry me out of it since I discovered it.  Within it, I’ve also found records for my other family branches in Ireland.

So with my consortium of websites, new hope, and using the FAN (Family-Aquaintances-Neighbours) approach I achieved victory.

Websites:  IrishGenealogy  ,  FamilySearch  ,  ScotlandsPeople  ,  FindMyPast  ,  National Archives of Ireland  ,  GRONI (General Record Office Northern Ireland) / (Northern Ireland Direct)  ,  EmeraldAncestors  ,  Belfast City Council  .

Different records can be found across different resources, but many also have the same records.  For instance, Family Search (FS) is always my first place to go when I begin a research session because it has new content being uploaded all the time.  It is also my primary resource because its contents are free and the search engine if very useful.  For the time period I was searching, in most databases the vital records for Ireland are available in Index format, which is a great start.  Some website search engines offer varying degree of information viewable, which is why it’s good to search more than one site when possible.  They’ll likely duplicate one another, but sometimes they’re complementary too.

I actually went into IrishGenealogy (IG) trying to find a marriage record for James Conway and his wife Sarah Kirk.  I had no idea if they were married in Ireland or in Scotland.  Scotland?  I thought you said you  were searching  in Ireland??    Haha!  Yes, yes I did, BUT, as I’ve discovered over the years, during the 19th century people hopped the Irish Sea as frequently (and without paper trails) as people crossed the Canada-US border during the same time period.

From past research stints, I gathered that James Conway and his wife Sarah Kirk (as per their children’s’ BDM records)  were living:

  • 1841 Scotland Census – East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, Scotland
  • 1845 Scotland – Christening of daughter Mary (b.1843 Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire)
  • 1851 Scotland Census – Barony, Lanarkshire, Scotland
  • 1863 – Ireland – Marriage of daughter Mary (Belfast, 1st husband)
  • 1868 – Ireland – Street Directory  [LennonWylie]
  • 1868 – Ireland – Marriage of son John (Belfast)
  • 1869 – Ireland – Marriage of daughter Mary (Belfast, 2nd husband)

The census records both indicate the James and Sarah were born in Ireland, but I wasn’t sure if they were married there, or met and married in Scotland, as I’d seen often enough with other families.  I also wasn’t positive on the birthplaces of their sons (Thomas & John born ca.1838-1841)) because they weren’t consistent from census to census, and I haven’t yet been able to locate records for their births in Scotland, nor Ireland.

I was able to track information about John through the Burial records for Belfast City, which led to a death record as well as pointing toward his wife for a marriage record (1868) and some of their children, through the burial listing and the appearance of the family on the 1901 Ireland census.

From there, and still not able to find anything directly on James, I decided to try to find more information on their eldest son Thomas.  This is where IG helped crack things open.  I found  Thomas’ full death record on that site, which led to 1911 census retrieval on the NAI site.  After much index matching, I was able to find their marriage record (1872).

On all of the marriage records for the children, none of them had James listed as ‘deceased’ (whereas in some cases spouse fathers were).  So I figured, he was still alive by 1872 and did more searching on IG& EA to try to narrow down options and gambled that his was the 1875 entry then went to the GRONI site to look at it and was ecstatic to find that I chose the right one.  John was listed as present at time of death, the occupation was correct and the address was close to where his daughter Mary lived around that time.  It also stated that he was a widower, so that lets me know that Sarah died before he did.  I haven’t gone looking for her death record yet, but with all that I found recently, I have a lot of fleshing out to do.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to push back another generation with this family, since no parent names are listed on the death records, and as yet, I still haven’t found a marriage record for the couple.

The biggest help that I have had while searching this family – also that of Mary’s 2nd husband, is the occupation.  James Conway was a Block Printer (also sometimes listed as CALICO printer)  by trade, (way more useful than ‘labourer’) which isn’t something that I have seen a lot of  –  Mainly in those skilled families in the textile industry – especially in Renfrewshire Scotland (Glasgow region).  Think Paisley – as in the famous Paisley shawl that was very popular during the early Victorian era.

According to WikipediaWoodblock printing on textiles is the process of printing patterns on textiles, usually of linen, cotton or silk, by means of incised wooden blocks. It is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all methods of textile printing. Block printing by hand is a slow process. It is, however, capable of yielding highly artistic results, some of which are unobtainable by any other method.” 

I would also surmise that it’s a toxic occupation, as most of the men that I have come across that were  Block Printers, died young in the 50-60 age range.  However, having said that, their causes of death might also be a combination of work environment and poor living conditions.  Mary’s 2nd husband Robert and their eldest son James (my direct ancestor) were also Block Printers in Belfast.  The family lived in row housing, seeming to move every few years or so.  Both men also died young, the son having died of tuberculosis aged 32.

I mentioned them, because I’m pretty sure that Mary’s husband Robert learned the trade from her father James Conway along with her brothers, in Renfrewshire, long before she married him in Belfast.

If I could impart some of the most important aspects of genealogical research that I made use of in the discovery of the Death record of James Conway?

  • The value of Genealogy Organisations like BIFHSGO,  and knowledgable individuals like Maurice Gleeson
  • FAN technique
  • Cross-check and revisit multiple archival websites
  • Tenacity and Flexibility

While it may all seem quite convoluted, it does come together in the end.  There is so much involved in the research, revisit and cross-checking documents and websites, going back and forth in the timeline, moving between family members, jumping between countries, and cringing over subscription and credit costs…  So much excitement from the seat of my armchair, in the comfort of my living room!