Sunday, November 16, 2014

BIFHSGO's 20th Anniversary

Much like people much be registered when they are born so must corporations. On November 16th, 1994 the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa was issued the Federal Letters Patent as a corporation.

How things have changed

  • Then, in the first issue of Anglo-Celtic Roots potential authors were asked to submit typewritten, double-spaced copy on standard 8.5 by 11 inches paper to the society post box address.
  • Today we're request to submit in electronic format using MSWord-compatible software via email.

  • Then the first issue of ACR contained none of the terms Internet, www or http. They came along in the final issue of the first volume.
  • Today every major article published has Internet references.

  • Then out of nine society directors one was a woman.
  • Today out of eleven directors eight are women including the president.

We've come a long way.

Tip: Did your recent ancestors own or were they on a board of a Canadian federally incorporated company? If you know the name of the company you can search for the details at Search for a Federal Corporation.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Call for Presentations for the BIFHSGO Conference 2015

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) is seeking proposals for presentations at its 21st annual conference, September 18-20, 2015 to be held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at Library and Archives Canada.

The three themes for the conference will be Scotland, Photographs in Genealogy, and Technology (including hardware, software, apps, websites, databases, social media, DNA analysis tools etc.). Proposals on these three themes for lectures at the conference on the Saturday and Sunday are sought as well as for workshops or seminars on the Friday.

Details on writing the proposals can be found at under the Conference 2015 heading. Please send your proposals to before January 31, 2015.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Facebook: A Valid Source to Cite or Not?

Recently the "The In-Depth Genealogist" published an article by Christine Woodcock titled "That Online Tree is NOT a Source!"1 While I agree with most of her article I do disagree with the last sentence in the following paragraph where she wrote [underlining is mine]:
"I’ll tell you what is NOT a source: Someone else’s research. Someone else’s tree. Someone else’s educated guess or deductive reasoning. Neither is information received in an e-mail, from a message board, mailing list or Facebook group."

I find that the last sentence is overly broad since, at least to me, it treats all information received over those media as invalid sources that cannot be cited. Although I do hope that the sentence applies to received information stated previously in the paragraph. Even a simple change to "Neither is the same information received..." would link that statement to the previous sentences as to what is not are sources to cite and I would, in principal, agree with the paragraph.

Earlier she had written "A source is a record of the event, documented at the time of the event with information given by a witness to the event." What makes the mode of communication that is sent by e-mail or posted online any less valid than placing an announcement in a newspaper or writing and photocopying a letter for sending by postal mail? Given that in today's modern world many family announcements are made by e-mail or Facebook why wouldn't an announcement distributed by any of those mediums be not considered a source? As discussed on the Evidence Explained forums, Facebook is accepted as a source for information and can be cited (

What needs to be evaluated, just like with any other document that is received, is who provided the information and when it was create in terms of proximity to the event. If the information being sent or posted is concerning an event from a bygone era or is a repeat of something said elsewhere then, as a good researcher, you should locate the document or post that is being talked about and cite that instead. Unless that too points to another document or post ... follow the chain until you get to the true source of the information.

Yet what about if I am an actual witness to an event and I post the information online or sent it out in an e-mail? Can and should someone else cite what I have stated as a source? I know I have received or seen those announcements of births, marriages, and deaths via e-mail and Facebook posts. Knowing the person that has posted the information and the fact it was posted the same or next day after the event, in my mind, has the same weight as receiving a letter in the mail announcing what has happened. I just make sure I save the information as a screen shot or in a text file just in case someone asks me to show my source for the recorded fact.

I do agree that hearsay information passed over those means of communication should not be cited. At best they should be treated as possible clues and follow up questions need to be asked such as "Where did you find that information?" and "Can you share the source of your information?"

As always: read, analyze, and think when using any potential source of information.

1. Retrieved 24 Oct 2014 at 11:41 am EDT

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Ottawa Shooting ... a few thoughts

Unfortunately Ottawa has joined the list that no city wants to be part of ... that of a target of violence and terror. I'm not going to repeat the details, rumours, and comments of what occurred on October 22nd, 2014. You can easily find them online from your favourite news source or from CBC at

While it is important to reflect on what has happened and to seek answers as to why it occurred it is just as important to not become fixated on this event.

So reach out to your loved ones by phone, text, Facebook, Twitter or in person. Give a smile to those you pass on the street, greet your neighbours with a kind hello, and say thank you to all those that stand in harm's way as part of their duty and calling. However, don't just do it when a tragedy strikes but reach out when all is good in the world.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Canadian Gravemarker Gallery - Beechwood National Cemetery photographed

From the Canadian Gravemarker Gallery Update Newsletter that came out October 1st:

"We are very pleased to announce that The Beechwood National Cemetery in Ottawa is now completely photographed and online. There are over 50,000 grave marker photographs to browse; and the cemetery owners report that there are over 90,000 burials in this "park-like" beautiful cemetery."

For those that don't know about this wonderful resource for images of grave markers in Canada they have almost 865,000 images from over 1,400 cemeteries across Canada and they are constantly adding more images every month.

Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada was established in 1873 and is the home of the National Military Cemetery and the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery. The cemetery registers for Beechwood Cemetery can be found digitized and indexed on Ancestry in the "Ottawa, Canada, Beechwood Cemetery Registers, 1873-1990" collection.

John D. Reid has mentioned he is slowly exploring the lives of the 98 soldiers of the Great War of 1914-18 that are buried in Beechwood Cemetery. He will be posting some of those details on the anniversary of their death in his well-known blog Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections. On September 21st John gave details on what he was able to find about the first WW1 Ottawa soldier, Thomas William Hardingham, that was buried at Beechwood Cemetery.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Where are you Laben Mazey?

One of the attendees to the seminar I co-presented at the recent 20th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference had run into a problem where she couldn't find a death registration. What made it seem strange to me was that the person's name was fairly unusual. In her e-mail she spelled his name as "Leban Mazey". The known facts are:
  • He was born in Llantwitvairdre, Glamorganshire, Wales in 1841
  • He was married to Margaret Jones in 1867
  • The last known place he was in was in Llanwonno, Glammorganshire, Wales in the 1901 living with his daughter and her husband

My starting place was Ancestry (just because it is usually open) and when I searched for Leban Mazey born 1841 only a few entries popped to the top of the list. His birth registered in the Cardiff registration district along with the 1901 census. But an interesting thing jumped out at me ... in both cases his forename was spelled "Laban"

Ancestry sarch results for Laben Mazey
So off to my favourite free site for genealogy research and that is FamilySearch.

When searching FamilySearch, especially when you know the region to look, it is a good idea to limit the Location the country. In this case, I restricted the search to only return records for Wales. I also used the spelling of "Laban"

FamilySearch,org search page for Laban Mazey

And a whole slew of records were returned including the link to an image on Findmypast for his marriage registration ... not the index but the registration document itself (Happy dance since it saves £9.25 because it doesn't need to be ordered!). But it seems he was married in 1865 and not 1867. But we can't get sidetracked but that discovery (stay focused!). What is also found appears to be his death registration in Pontypridd district in 1905. Since he was found there in the 1901 census it is a fairly good chance that it is his registration. search results for Laban Mazey, born 1840-1842, restricted to Wales as the location

But the only way to be sure is to order the death registration from the General Register Office and pay the £9.25.

Don't forget about checking the newspapers. The National Library of Wales has been digitizing and indexing a number of newspapers at the free Welsh Newspapers Online site. Sometimes you get lucky in finding a notice of probate, the person selling an item, a family notice, or you find out the person is not a saint but more of a sinner.

Yet why didn't we find his death in the FreeBMD index on Ancestry? After a few more searches I did find him on Ancestry but his last name was transcribed as "Mazet". Looking at the image from the index book I can see how it may be seen that way. Fortunately FamilySearch used their own transcribers for this index.
FreeBMD, "England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915," database, ( : accessed 23 Sep 2014), entry for Laban Mazet, Mar quarter 1905, Pontypridd district; citing the General Register Office's England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes.
FreeBMD, "England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915," database, ( : accessed 23 Sep 2014), entry for Laban Mazet, Mar quarter 1905, Pontypridd district; citing the General Register Office's England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes.

So today's tip is if you can't find the information within one site, check the other sites that hold the same collection. The transcriptions used for the indexes may be different.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

20th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference Brick Walls

One of the activities I set up for the Research Room at the 20th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference that took place the weekend of September 19-21, 2014 was a brick wall board. If you know of any pointers or solutions to these problems posted by the attendees, don't hesitate to leave a comment (with additional information and/or contact details) or contact me and I can forward on the information to the poster. My e-mail address is:

The Brick Walls

Name: Lydia Ferin
Dates: b. ~1798, d. ?
Question: When and where was she born? When and where did she die?
Details: Lydia was married to Nathaniel Chamberlain (b. 1788) and settled in Chelsea, Quebec. Moved to Osgood circa 1856 - no trace after that.

Name: Christian Doho (Dohoo)
Dates: married ~1738 in Southwark
Question: Where was he from?
Details: Had several children born in Lewisham, Kent. Name later changed to Dohoo. Doho was (and is) common name in Africa. This is part of a One-Name research project.

Name: Eunice Hutchins
Dates: b. ~1807 in USA, d. 1 Mar 1891 in Chelsea, Quebec
Question: Who were her parents?
Details: Eunice married John Bradley and subsequently Thomas Childs. Lived in Chelsea Quebec.

Name: Archibald Campbell Turner
Dates: b. ~1790
Question: Where was he born?
Details: Indicated are that he could have been born in Ireland but lived in Scotland before emigration to Canada in 1820.

Name: Samuel Dowdall, Private Canadian Fencibles 1816
Dates: 1809-1816
Question: Is there a regimental roll or list for Canadian Fencibles Regiment at their discharge in 1816?
Details: Would like to find out Samual Dowdall's place of origin and if he had transferred into the Fencibles from another regiment. There was a Samuel Dowdall in the 41st Regiment in the Niagara Theatre during the War of 1812. Would like to determine if this the same Samuel Dowdall as that found in the Canadian Fencibles.

Name: Midghall/McKervney
Dates: 1890+
Question: Looking for the Kathryn Jackson of Australia that is/was researching the same uncommon surnames. She had left messages on several boards 10 years ago but is not longer responding or seeing the messages left for her. Would love to contact her.

Name: Peter Grant
Dates: b. ~1815 in Inverness, Scotland, d. 17 Apr 1890 in Ontario, Canada
Question: Who were his parents? Where are they?
Details: Peter Grant was a Justice of the Peace in Ontario. Did he possibly study low in Scotland? He came to Canada about 1836 but we don't know which ship. He married Elizabeth Muir about 1855 in Gainsboro Township, Markham. He lived in Pelham.