Sunday, June 12, 2016

10 Top Tips for How to Bust Through Your Genealogy Brick Wall

I missed hearing David Obee speak at the recent Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Toronto in June. (I was intrigued to read in the syllabus that David posed the question "Can you tell the story in twenty-five words? If so, that's good. If not, try". )

I was happy to have heard Lisa Louise Cooke's plenary on future technologies and I am a BIG fan of her Genealogy Gems website.

I came across both David and Lisa Louise in this great 2013 video on "10 Top Tips for How to Bust Through Your Genealogy Brick Wall" and thought it would be helpful for me to review as a way of taking on my Poughkeepsie Brick Wall

Dave Obee’s Top 10 Tips:

1. Create a Timeline – “plot her life…it’s easier to see the holes.”
2. Understand Geography – “plot movements”
3. Find Every Possible Record
4. Understand How Records Were Created
5. Read Every Local Story in Newspapers at that Time
6. Tap into Local Knowledge – “Locals know more” (historical and genealogical societies)
7. Go There if You Can in Person
8. Look for Negative Proof
9. Collaborate with Other Researchers
10. Be Diligent About Proof

Saturday, June 11, 2016

OGS 2016 - Highlights & Links Worth Repeating

Some gifts from who was one of the sponsors of the conference

I attended the Ontario Genealogical Conference (OGS) in Toronto, Ontario (June 2016) and the OGS reported that the attendance numbers were high! 

Conference attendance totals - from The OGS newsletter

I attended the following sessions at the OGS Toronto Conference:
It would take me a long time to transcribe my notes from the conference and to put ALL of the valuable things that I learned here on my blog so I have distilled the three days into the following highlights and links worth repeating and sharing:

Plenary: "The Ethical Genealogist in the 21st Century"

Judy G. Russell did the opening keynote address on Friday evening. She was delightfully animated, entertaining and most wise on the subject of genealogical ethics. I learned a lot. Highlights and links worth repeating are:

I was live tweeting Judy G. Russell's presentation
 Plenary: "Future Technology and Genealogy
Five Strategies You Need"

Lisa Louise Cooke did the keynote Saturday morning on future technologies. At the end of the plenary, I doubt that there was a dry eye in the house as she concluded her presentation with her own family history journey and a quote from her father who said to her, "you keep the quilt, l'll keep the note". Other highlights and links worth repeating are:
  • Data Visualization: Journalism's Voyage West | Rural West Initiative 
  • And while I do blog and belong to many genealogical Facebook groups, I don't podcast but I really DO want to publish my family history and Lisa Louise offered the following self-publishing resource Lulu - Online Self Publishing Book & eBook Company 
  • Most importantly - it was helpful to hear that there's always room for low-tech. Not everything is online!

Lisa Louise Cooke's slide deck

  Plenary- "Lessons From The Cutting Edge"

CeCe Moore (who we learned has Ontario ancestors!) gave the closing plenary and it was a sweet way to close the conference as she described how genealogy can unite and heal and how sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

CeCe Moore's slide deck

To get a sense of what CeCe's DNA genealogical work can help people do, watch this:

FINDING YOUR ROOTS DNA SPECIAL WITH CeCe Moore from The DNA Detectives on Vimeo.

Pop-Up Talk - Rural Diaries

The one pop-up that I did attend was about the Rural Diaries project which is an amazing project for folks to get involved with. It was so great to meet and listen to Dr. Catherine Wilson and it was alarming to learn that because longhand cursive writing is no longer taught in Ontario schools, the ability to read these old journals is now being lost.

The Rural Diary Project needs help transcribing

Genealogy Bloggers
As a genealogy blogger, I was grateful that Ruth Blair - the Passionate Genealogist found me and gave me my green beads that identified me as a genealogy blogger in the crowd of several hundreds at the conference.

More Highlights and Links Worth Repeating 

Rather than recap each individual session that I attended, here are some helpful take-away links:

News To Me:
Don't Want To Forget:
Syllabus Links I Want To Explore
This was my first genealogical conference and it did NOT disappoint!! Lots of connections and lots of sharing information an learning. I definitely plan to go again next year! 

OGS Conference 2017 will be held in Ottawa ( ) and I hope to see you there!

My OGS 2016 Conference Notes - The Archives of Ontario

My tweet @cindiforeman

Our gift from the archives of Ontario

I recently attended the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Toronto and I was one of the lucky ones who was also able to attend the hands-on research excursion to the Archives of Ontario (AO).

The photo wall inside the Archives of Ontario
Our day started with a tour of the AO building including the preservation room and two of the twelve vaults located upstairs on the second and third floors. (Note: 90% of the AO collections are stored off-site)

The preservation lab on the second floor
Once the tour was completed, we headed to the microfiche to start our research

The microfiche room
I decided to peruse the miscellaneous municipal records for Essex county Ontario hoping to find records of the Essex gaol. There were some records (not what I was looking for) but I did stumble upon records submitted by my great grandfather John Moynahan who served as Justice of the Peace and Municipal Clerk for Ojibway since its incorporation in 1913 to the time of his death in 1933.

Municipal Records - My great-grandfather's John Moynahan's handwriting
I really enjoyed the special presentation "Preserving Your Personal Archives". The slide below that reads, "Record who, what, when with a soft pencil (2B) on the back edge of your photographs" is the best advice of the day and how I wish all of my ancestors had done that!

Advice on how to archive and preserve your own family history records
 "Saving Stuff" by the Smithsonian was the 'go to book'  recommended by AO preservation archivists and there is a great book preview available on Google Books (click here)

It was a wonderful full day, I did manage to locate the will of my 3rd great-granfather Denis Moynahan (1787-1885) and plan to revisit it in detail and see if there is anything that I missed

The group waiting for the bus after a wonderful day of research

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ancestor Problems

Every now and then, I subscribe to the Detroit Free Press for just one month for the low cost of $7.95. This month I did so because I found a Mary Moynahan (of Sandwich, Ontario) who married Dr. William Weyburn in Detroit in 1849.

Now there are a number of Moynahan women who I have been searching for over the past thirty years and I was hoping that this Mary was Matthew Moynahan's daughter named in his will ( and to whom he bequeathed "one bed and bed clothes"). (See: 52 Ancestors No.18: Matthew Moynahan's Last Will (1770-1860))

Hoping to find more about Mrs Mary (Moynahan) Weyburn,  I perused the Detroit Free Press and I located Mary (and the good Doctor) and I will write a dedicated post on that subject at a later date.

This post however is about the interesting other random bits of news that one comes across while researching newspapers and an idea that I had to create a cartoon based on the following news item about Maggie Moynahan and crows.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Ancestor Problems

I thought it would be fun to create a series of cartoons based on interesting newspaper tidbits such as this and call the series "Ancestor Problems".

Here is the first draft that I did this morning of Maggie Moynahan's missing rosary and Windsor's kleptomaniac crow.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My First OGS Genealogical Conference!

Suffice to say that I have attended many, many conferences in my life. In my previous occupation, conference attendance was a standard, regular activity and I have also been responsible for planning various conferences over the past few decades.

I entered my retirement feeling a little "conferenced-out" actually but I am SO excited about attending the upcoming Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Toronto because it will be my very first genealogical conference and I am spending this week to prepare.

OGS 2016 Home Page
I have been doing genealogy for over thirty years. When I started, you had pencil, paper and you physically visited the archives, libraries, record offices etc and sat down for the day researching.

In the early nineties, the internet opened up so many possibilities especially for folks like me who, at the time, was living in a fairly remote community north of Sudbury, Ontario. I used the mail a LOT. Mailing churches, relatives and various other institutions to gather research on my ancestors.

By the time I moved to Ottawa in 2002 (location of the Library and Archives of Canada) the internet was rapidly growing and to compare those early days to what is available online today is mind boggling!

Ironically, as I prepare for my first ever genealogy conference, one of my favourite genealogists, Amy Crow, recently posed the question, "Are In-person Genealogy Events Dead?"

Live-streaming of genealogical webinars, the expense of traveling, and the comfort of "researching from the couch" has apparently made attending in person less of a draw according to some genealogists. Some would prefer spending their money on travel to research places where their ancestors once lived.

Happily, I am NOT late to the genealogy conference party! Amy Crow's answer to the question is that "Genealogy conferences and seminars are not dead. "

The OGS 2016 App

I downloaded the app last night and thought I would start to think about what I hope to achieve between June 3-5, 2016. The app is GREAT and allows me to build an agenda for myself (My Schedule) and peruse the list of exhibitors and mark the ones that I am really interested in visiting.

The app also has maps of the expo hall and two conference floor meeting rooms and there is a comprehensive events listing that can be browsed by categories like social media, newspapers, keynote lectures and Irish genealogy, etc.
I have just downloaded the OGS 2016 app!
There are so many other features on this app that will only be fully functional during the conference. I am not sure who is responsible for the app but it is great. Here is the profile that I created on the app that other folks using the app can see. 
My OGS 2016 app profile
 The Conference Sessions

The first thing that you should do with your newly downloaded app (after creating your profile) is insert the sessions that you pre-selected at registration int your schedule. In doing this I noticed that there was nothing selected for Friday. ( I have contacted the OGS conference folks to figure out how to fix this)

I am REALLY excited about some of the sessions that I selected:
If you too are a "first-timer", please note that there is a 1-hour gathering scheduled at 4:30 Friday June 3 that is sponsored by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies

And I am hoping to get selected for "Ask An Expert".I am hoping to find where my ancestors who died in asylums are buried and how to learn more details about them.

 The Conference Exhibitors

I really always love the  folks who set up tables at conferences to connect with their community and share information.

The full list of exhibitors is here and some of the ones I have circled that I am most excited to visit include:
  • Armchair Genealogist Family history writing workbooks
  • Digital Treasures Analogue to Digital Media Transfer Services – Photos, Documents, Video, Film, Audio to Digital
  • FamilySearch International FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The OGS Conference 2017 coincides with Canada’s 150th birthday and will be held in Ottawa, June 16-18, 2017. The theme will be Our Canada – Your Family: Building a Nation.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Moynahan-Fortier Mystery Leads Me To A Wyandotte Chief

This blog post demonstrates the fascinating tangents that genealogical research can take you. In wanting to determine the relation of an Essex county Moynahan I found the Captain Charles Fortier family which then led me to the family of the Chief of the Wyandottes in Anderdon, Ontario.

Source: Teach Me Genealogy
It All Started With 
Denis Moynahan (1787-1885) 

When researching my 3rd great-grandfather Denis Moynahan (1787-1885) in the early days of Essex County (1820-1860), I would always came across another Denis Moynahan (#2) who was born in 1823 (Ireland) and died at the young age of 42 years on the 9th of November in 1865.

Because of Irish naming traditions, I have always tried to connect this Denis Moynahan (#2) with my other Essex county Moynahan ancestors to no avail. ( I have yet to locate any BMD record)

Denis (#2) was well educated. My Moynahan ancestors of the same time period were unable to read or write.

Denis (#2) married Elizabeth ("Eliza") Fortier (1831-1871) and they had four children: Ellen, Mary Jane, John and James.

When widow Elizabeth ("Eliza") Fortier died in 1871, the young children were raised by the Fortier family.

Denis Moynahan (1823-1865) was
  • Crown Land Agent in 1857
  • Township Clerk of Sandwich West in 1861
  • District and County Clerk between 1863-1864
  • In charge of Sandwich Infantry No. 1 Co in 1864 
Despite Denis (#2) being so well positioned in the early politics of Essex county, there is so very little actually written or known about him and some local histories do not even mention him.


Source: Township of Sandwich; Frederick Neal (Page 12)


Source: Township of Sandwich; Frederick Neal (Page 104)


Source: Township of Sandwich; Frederick Neal (Page 72)
 Death 1865

John Fortier Moynahan 

Of the four children of Denis and Eliza (Fortier) Moynahan, I have learned most about John Fortier Moynahan. Sister Mary Jane died in her twenties; sister Ellen, I believe, became a Sister of Charity in Winnipeg, and brother James died at thirty four years of age.

Here is what I know so far about  Denis and Eliza's only known surviving son John.
Source: The Book of Detroiters

Source: Detroit Free Press January 15, 1939

John was the eldest son of Denis and Eliza (Fortier) Moynahan and he was only two years old when his father died (1865)  and 8 years old when his mother died (1871).

He owned a successful metalworks in Detroit - the Moynahan Metal Works (est 1912) - and I find it most interesting that he took pride in his shanty house beginnings and would defend his proud description of himself as a "shanty Irishman". He also proudly retained ownership of his childhood home ("shanty") in Anderdon, Ontario in the 1940s
Source: Detroit Free Press Feb 14, 1941

Source: "The City of Detroit" 1701-1922

Descended from Captain Charles and Jane Fortier

The Amherstburg newsclipping where I found J.F. Moynahan as a pallbearer at his uncles funeral in 1917 started me on a new tangent that would lead me to Captain Charles Fortier and the Chief of the Wyandottes

Source: The Ameherstburg Echo: March 23, 1917

The Fortiers of Anderdon

Finding J.F. Moynahan as a pallbearer at his uncle Edward Albert Fortier's 1917 funeral yielded some insight into the Fortier family from which he descended. 

I spent a lot of time on that tangent even though the Fortiers are only related through marriage to a Moynahan I have yet to prove is directly related. 

Captain Charles Fortier was an important character in the early history of Ontario. He was a captain in the British Army and came west from Quebec at the war of 1812 and served as Commissariat in Amherstburg. After the war, the Captain settled in Pain Court, Kent until his death when the family moved to Anderdon, Ontario. (Source: Amherstburg Echo March 1917)

Chief of the Wyandottes - Joseph White Sr.

Captain Charles' daughter (Eliza Fortier Moynahan's sister) Angelique (1816-1895) married Chief Joseph White Sr. - Chief of the Wyandotttes (he died in 1885).

Source: Gary Hall; Photo of Chief Joseph White at 45 years

Joseph White Sr., an acquaintance of Chief Tecumseh and British general Sir Isaac Brock during the War of 1812, was later honoured by the British monarch King Edward VII for his aid in putting down the 1837 rebellion.

They had six children together (four sons and two daughters) and two of the sons, Solomon and Thomas, were important figures in the early politics in Ontario.

  • Son: Solomon b. 1836 who became Mayor of Windsor (1890) and a Conservative MPP for 20 yrs. Prior to entering politics, Solomon was a vintner & a cattleman
  • Son: Thomas, became a prominent businessman and long-time reeve of Anderdon and Ex-warden of Essex
  • Son: Joseph White of Windsor
  • Son: Alexander White of Windsor
  • Daughter: Mrs Pierre Ramon
  • Daughter: Evangeline (Eva) White, b 1855 (Mrs. E.L. Scully )
Captain Charles an Angelique are buried together in the Amherstburg Wyandotte Indian cemetery

Source: Windsor Public Library
Joseph and Angelique (Fortier) White Headstone

Source: Windsor Star
Oldest descendant of Chief Joseph White

Ernest White (photographed above in a Lakeshore, Ont. home July 16, 2013) turned 100 on July 27 and he is the oldest descendant of the last Canadian Wyandot Nation chief Joseph White.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Distant Cousins from the Annal-Hess Clan Part II

In this morning's inbox was an email from saying that I had hints for Jemima Almina (Annal) Sutherland (1846-1920)

When I visited the hints I found one that connected me to Find A Grave with photos recently added by Sandy Sutherland.

Source: Sandy Sutherland, Find A Grave

I had to check. Most of the information that I have received about the Annal-Hess branches in my family tree, I have received through the generous sharing of cousin Vicky Hess. Another distant cousin, Kim Simpson, shared information on the Simpson branch (and I wrote about this in my blog post 52 Ancestors No.31 Meeting Distant Cousins from the Annal-Hess Clan.

Distant Cousins: Annal-Hess descendants: Simpson & Sutherland branches
(Find A Grave profiles)
I was excited about the possibility of Sutherland cousins so I emailed Sandy Sutherland to ask for permission to use her Sutherland family photo (below) .

Jemima Almina (Annal) Sutherland (1846-1920)

Jemima is the older sister of my 2nd great-grandfather James Henry Allan Annal (1849-1930). She married James Sutherland (1850-1933) an only child, son of William and Barbara (Barron) Sutherland of Pomona Island, north of Scotland (better known as the Orkney mainland).

My 2nd great-grandfather
James Henry Allan Annal (1849-1930

James & Jemima Sutherland Headstone
Riverview Cemetery Wallaceburg, Ontario
Source: Sandy Sutherland, Find A Grave

Source: Vicky Hess: Wallaceburg Newspaper page 1 May 27 1920
On the photo below, Sandy Sutherland wrote,
Family photo. Jemima is seated next to her husband James. William Sutherland is standing behind her. If you can label anyone else in the photo, please do so, or let me know.
Source: Sandy Sutherland, Find A Grave

Commemorative biographical record of the county of Kent, Ontario (p 513)
Following the branches on your family tree is so important. 

In the Commemorative Biographical Record above for James Sutherland (above), detailed information is also given on my 3rd great-grandparents James and Elizabeth (Wiley) Annal of Orkney, Scotland.

This biography makes me curious:
  • Why are two children: James Henry Allan (1849-1930) and Mary C. Annal (1851-1918). omitted?
  • Why did all the children stay in Scotland except for sisters Jemima, Mary and their brother (my 2nd great-grandfather) James Henry Allan Annal?
Screen shot: My Annal-Wylie Family Tree on

Meeting cousins like Vicky, Kim and Sandy through genealogical research has been one of the many benefits of my genealogical research. Another benefit is being able to share the information and photos with other descendants so that they know more about the story of their ancestors.