Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Portrait of my Irish Grandfather – Robert Farrell (1896 – 1965)

It is unfortunate that I don’t remember my grandfather as he died when I was only 3 1/2 years old. It is only while doing my research this past year that I have been able to learn a little about him.

My grandfather, Robert Farrell, was born in Ballyreagh, Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh in Northern Ireland on December 15, 1896. He was the second oldest of nine children born to William Forbes and Elizabeth Jane (Maze) Farrell. His father and grandfather were both farmers and Robert, too, became a farmer - both in Ireland and later after immigrating to Canada.

In 1912, when Robert was 16 years old, he (along with his father, mother, and oldest brother Joseph) signed the Ulster Declaration in support of His Majesty King George V and against Home Rule in Ireland. He, as well as most Protestants in the Province of Ulster felt that Home Rule would be disastrous to the well being of Ulster as well as the whole of Ireland. His brother, John William, at the age of 14 was too young to sign.

It is my belief that the unrest in Ireland is the reason that Robert and his brothers, Joseph and John William decided to immigrate. John William immigrated to Australia, Joseph went to New Zealand and Robert immigrated to Canada. His next two youngest brothers, Forbes and James would later immigrate to Australia. Robert’s sisters, Lillian Olivia, Margaret, Maude and Kathleen all remained in Ireland.

According to his ship’s passenger list, Robert arrived in St. John, New Brunswick on March 22, 1920 aboard the Minnedosa via Liverpool, England. His final destination was to be Winnipeg, Manitoba with the intended occupation to be a farmer, later making his way to Saskatchewan. It is not known yet when or where he met my grandmother, Helen “Nellie” Devlin (she immigrated to Canada in 1921 from Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland), but I have been told that they were married in Govan, Saskatchewan (I have yet to confirm the exact year and place), where they worked for a farmer for a short time before moving to the Balcarres district in Saskatchewan. While there they farmed for a Will Wright in the Tipperary district. Later they rented land from John and Charlie White and lived on what was called the old Bateman farm.

In 1936, Robert and Nellie moved to the Abernethy district to a farm owned by a Mr. Jim Behrns. They spent a year there and in the spring of 1937 moved back to the Tipperary district and rented a farm called “Stoney-Lonesome.

Robert and Nellie had six children, four surviving to adulthood and two that died in infancy. In the 1950’s, Robert and Nellie moved back to Balcarres and finally purchased their own farm, where they both lived until their deaths.

Robert passed away on March 27, 1965 in Balcarres, Saskatchewan and is buried at Regina Memorial Gardens in Regina, Sask. Nellie was to follow on May 22, 1980 and is laid to rest beside Robert.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - The Three Little Twigs

This is a picture of myself (the baby) and my two sisters, Heather and Judy, with our mother, Rhona. We are the three little twigs that the branch from Scotland and the branch from Ireland created. This photo was taken about 1964.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - William and Helen Crossman

This is the grave marker for my Uncle Harry and Aunt Nell. They are buried in the Veteran's Section of Rosedale Cemetary in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan.

Inscription reads:

L7080 PTE
1919 - 1999

Helen M.
War Bride
1915 - 2007

Remembered With Love

I would like to thank Marge Cleave, who lives in Saskatchewan, who did a Random Act of Genealogy Kindness for taking this picture for me and sending it to me. I have yet to actually see it in person. She was even nice enough to lay some flowers.

Fate or Coincidence?

My sister is forever telling her kids, and myself, that everything that happens in our lives is preordained in the Book of Life. Was it my destiny to buy a new car last month? Was it my destiny to have my tooth extracted last Saturday (they could have rewritten that chapter!)? Some people say that we make our own destiny. If that were the case, it wouldn’t have been my plan to have my tooth pulled!

All the time growing up, we had heard the story that my stepfather, Douglas Kay, had been in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the day that my mom arrived in Canada. My mom (Rhona MacDonald Marshall) was 13 years old when she left Scotland aboard the Aquitania via Southampton, England on April 4, 1946, landing in Halifax on April 10th. She traveled with two of her older sisters, Vina (aged 15) and Helen (Marshall) Crossman (aged 31). My Aunt Helen (or Nell as she was always called) was a War Bride and was coming to Canada to be with her new husband, William Henry Crossman (uncle Harry). When my grandmother, Eliza Hamilton (Burnett) Marshall, passed away in 1943, my Aunt Nell made a death bed promise to look after the three youngest children, my mom, my Aunt Vina and my Uncle Norman. As “fate” would have it, just before leaving, my Uncle Norman turned 18 years old and had to do his mandatory 2 years military service, causing him to stay behind in Scotland. After spending a few days in Halifax, my mom and her sisters boarded a train and headed west to Balcarres, Saskatchewan to live on the Crossman farm.

My stepfather always loved ships and trains and loved taking pictures of them. In April 1946, when he was 19 years old, he traveled from Montreal to Halifax to see the ships arriving, of which he took many pictures. On April 10th, he happened to take a picture of the Aquitania as she was arriving and on April 11th he took another picture of her while in dock, with all the War Brides at the railing. Was it fate that he was there that day or just a coincidence?

Was it fate that just after the war ended, Doug’s sister Helen married Forbes Peter Farrell (my future father’s oldest brother) and she moved to Balcarres to live on a farm not too far from the Crossman farm? At this time, Doug (still living in Montreal) was working for Canadian Pacific Railway on the cross-country train. When the train got to Indian Head he would jump off and go visit his sister in Balcarres, eventually becoming good friends with the Farrell’s; Forbes, his brother-in-law, Robert Allan, John (Jack) and their sister Lillian (who apparently had a big crush on Doug).

When my mom left school at 16 years old and was out working, she started dating Jack Farrell, who later dumped her for his future wife, Cathy! My mom then starting dating Jack’s older brother Robert Allan (or Allan as he was always called), eventually marrying him on August 15, 1953, making my mom and Doug’s sister, Helen, sisters-in-law. Fate or coincidence? Of course, my mom and Helen (by this time my Aunt Helen) became good friends and she was often at Helen’s house when Doug was there visiting (my mom, not being able to hold a grudge if her life depended on it, also became good friends with Cathy!).

In 1955, my mom, dad and my sister Judy (then just 2 years old), moved to Moose Jaw, Sask. (about an hour from Balcarres), where my Aunt Nell and Uncle Harry had already moved to. This is where my other sister, Heather and I were born. Doug remained friends with my mom and dad after they moved, often going to visit them when he was “out west”.

On August 12, 1962, my father passed away at the age of 35, due to complications from his diabetes, leaving my mom a widow with 3 young children. He was buried on August 15th, my parents 9th wedding anniversary. Of course all the Farrell family and the Crossman family and my Aunt Vina’s family were all at the funeral. Was Doug there? Who knows? I do know that after my dad died, Doug would still come to visit my mom when he was in town, making sure that she was doing o.k. Eventually, their friendship grew into much more and they were married on December 21, 1963 in Moose Jaw. After they were married, we all boarded a train and headed for Montreal.

My mom and stepfather were married for 26 years when he passed away on April 7, 1989 at the age of 61, from complications due to his Parkinson’s Decease. My mom passed away on September 8, 2003 from cancer, at 70 years of age.

So was my mom and stepfather meeting and eventually getting married preordained or was everything just one big coincidence?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday Night Fun - Trading Cards

This weeks Saturday Night Genealogy Fun at Genea-Musings is to create our own Trading Cards, inspired by Sheri Fenley of the Educated Genealogist on her post Trading Cards, Get Your Trading Cards.

I had a lot of problems getting the picture right, but it finally worked. You can make your own by going to Big Huge Labs.

So, without further ado, here is mine:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Saturday Night Fun - My 16 Great Great Grandparents

Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week is to list your 16 great great grandparents in pedigree order. The assignment is:

1) List your 16 great-great-grandparents in pedigree chart order. List their birth and death years and places.

2) Figure out the dominant ethnicity or nationality of each of them.

3) Calculate your ancestral ethnicity or nationality by adding them up for the 16 - 6.25% for each (obviously, this is approximate).

4) If you don't know all 16 of your great-great-grandparents, then do it for the last full generation you have.

5) Write your own blog post, or make a comment on Facebook or in this post.

Here are mine:

Paternal Line:

1. William FARRELL was born about 1834 in Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. He married Eliza Peters on May 6, 1856 in Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Date of death unknown. (Irish)

2. Eliza PETERS was born about 1834 in Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Date of death unknown. (Irish)

3. James MAZE, son of James Maze (mother unknown) about 1835 in Drumoris, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. He married Catherine Fair in 1868 in Drumoris, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. He died on August 25, 1878 in Ballyreagh, Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Irish).

4. Cathering FAIR was born about 1843 in Drumoris, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. She died on July 14, 1916 in Ballyreagh, Brookeborough, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Irish)

5. Arthur DEVLIN, son of Peter Devlin and Catherine McConnell, was born on January 19, 1840 in New Cumnock, Ayreshire, Scotland. He married Ann Andrew on November 12, 1858 in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland. He died on September 2, 1902 in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland. (Scottish)

6. Ann ANDREW, daughter of William Andrew and Eliza Douglas Goldie, was born about 1831in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland. She died on October 23, 1902 in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland. (Scottish)

7. Alexander ANDERSON, son of Robert Anderson and Helen McClarin (?) was born about 1837 in Hulford, District of Riccarton, Ayrshire, Scotland. He married Jane Dunlop on March 20, 1857 in Hulford, District of Riccarton, Ayrshire, Scotland. He died on December 21, 1909 in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, Scotland. (Scottish).

8. Jane DUNLOP, daughter of James Dunlop ad Margaret Ferguson, was born on January 26, 1835 in Hulford, District of Riccarton, Ayrshire, Scotland. She died on September 24, 1921 in Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland. (Scottish).

Maternal Line:

9. Robert MARSHALL, son of George Marshall and Isabella Mitchell was born about 1819 in Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland. He married Ann Kynoch on September 26, 1841 in Alyth, Pershire, Scotland. He died on June 18, 1891 in Dundee, Scotland. (Scottish).

10. Ann KYNOCH, daughter of John Kynoch and Christine Hay was born about 1819 in Dallas, Morrayshire, Scotland. She died on March 13, 1885 in Dundee, Scotland. (Scottish)

11. Hugh HUME was born August 5, 1817 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. He married Agnes Reid on November 11, 1842 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. He died on March 15, 1899 in the District of Canongate, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Scottish).

12. Agnes REID, was born September 22, 1823 in Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland. She died on December 19, 1889 in the District of Canongate, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Scottish).

13. John BURNETT, son of Alexander Burnett and Margaret Crabb, was born on March 1, 1838 in Fetterncairn, Kincardineshire, Scotland. He married Elizabeth Smith on May 28, 1859 in Glenbervie, Kincardineshire, Scotland. He died on August 16, 1900 in Dundee, Scotland. (Scottish).

14. Elizabeth SMITH, daughter of Charles Smith and Helen Longmuir was born about 1836 in Glenbervie, Kincardineshire, Scotland. She died on August 13, 1872 in Logie Pert, Forfar, Scotland. (Scottish).

15. Robert MARSHALL, son of George Marshall and Isabella Mitchell was born about 1819 in Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland. He married Ann Kynoch on September 26, 1841 in Alyth, Pershire, Scotland. He died on June 18, 1891 in Dundee, Scotland. (Scottish).

16. Ann KYNOCH, daughter of John Kynoch and Christine Hay was born about 1819 in Dallas, Morrayshire, Scotland. She died on March 13, 1885 in Dundee, Scotland. (Scottish)

Nos. 15 and 16 are duplicates of Nos. 9 and 10 due to the fact that my mother’s parents were first cousins.

The predominant ethnicity is Scottish with a sprinkling of Irish.

I think this was an excellent exercise as it helps me to know where I still have lots work to do.

Constable John Burnett (1863 - 1923)

On a previous post I mentioned how I contacted the Tayside Police Department’s Museum in Dundee, Scotland to see if they might have my great grandfather’s work record, which they did and were able to send to me. They also mentioned that they should have a picture of him in his uniform. On July 28th, I received an email saying that they were able to get a picture of him taken off and they were putting it in the mail that day. Just 4 days later on July 31st, I received the picture in the mail (I can’t believe it only took 4 days from Scotland when it takes nearly a week and a half for local mail!). This was very exciting as this is the first picture I have of any of my great grandparents. They actually sent two copies of the picture so I will be sending one to my Aunt in Saskatchewan.

Constable John Burnett was born on July 29, 1863 in Fettercairn, Kincardineshire, Scotland to John Burnett and Elizabeth Smith. He married Helen Leighton Marshall on April 24, 1885 in Dundee, Scotland and died on March 2, 1923 in Dundee, Scotland.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Digitized Newspapers for New Zealand

While goofing around today on my lunch break, purely by accident I came across the website for digitized newspapers for New Zealand called Papers Past, put together by the National Library of New Zealand.

According to their Intro page, Papers Past contains more than one million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1932 and includes 52 publications from all regions of New Zealand. What's even better, from what I can see, it is completly free!

If you have ancestors hailing from New Zealand, this might be a great place to look.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Life on the Prairies?

This is a picture of my Aunt Nell (Helen Marshall Crossman - 3rd from the right) along with some of her War Bride friends. Is this what life on the Canadian Prairies did to them?
The picture on the left is my Aunt Nell with one of her best friends, Lena Hammer, who was also a War Bride. These pictures were taken in Regina, Saskatchewan at a War Brides Reunion in April 1988 when my aunt was 73 yrs. old. She passed away two years ago at the young age of 91.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Check It Out

Deez from Cemetery Explorers was kind enough to do a new banner for me, and I just love it. I love the effect of the branches/twigs.

I am trying to send a "thank you" note by way of a comment on his blog, but for some reason Blogger is not letting me (I will keep trying), so I am publicly thanking him here.

Thank you, Deez. You're a gem for doing this.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Ain't She Cute?

This is a picture of my daughter, Briana. It was taken at La Ronde amusement park when she was six year old.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Lieut. James Kay

J. Kay
Can. Garrison Artillery
28th July 1917
Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery
Souchez, Nord-pas-de-Calais, France

This is the tombstone of my step-great uncle, Lieut. James Kay. I found this picture this past weekend while going through some old pictures of my mothers. I was very excited to find this as I didn't think that one was to be found. I had found one online on a war memorial site, but the engravings were all worn off so I hadn't ordered it yet. Although the above picture is very faint (it was taken in 1937), it is still better than what I had previously seen. What's even better is that I have the original negative as well! I'm going to take it to a camera store to see if they can produce a better copy.

Along with the picture was a letter sent to James' sister, Helen and her husband, Captain John Beare, sent by a Captain Lawson. Captain Beare was a Merchant Seaman and I'm assuming that Captain Lawson was a friend of his.

May 1st, 1937
SS Holmbury
Port of Santa Fe

Dear Capt & Mrs. Beare,

I am afraid that you will be thinking that the snaps did not come out, but I am pleased to say that most of them in spite of the rain are very good.

Unfortunately we were only 24 hours at both Antwerp and Le Havre, so were unable to get the films developed at either port.

However please find enclosed the negative and a print of your brothers grave, which I am very pleased to be able to send to you, especially considering the weather, that it is so clear. The other print is the best out of two.

I hope that neither of you felt any ill effects after the dampness and the rain. It was unfortunate that we chose such a bad day, but my wife and I were exceedingly pleased that we did go.

I should like to know if you receive this in good order so would you kindly drop a card to my wife just to say that you have received the snaps. Hoping that we meet again sometime.

Kindest regards,

Yours sincerely
Capt. Lawson

The full story of Lieut. James Kay can be read here:

1. Lieut. James Kay
2. Lieut. James Kay (1888 – 1917) - Update
3. Lieut. James Kay (1888 – 1917) – Part 3
4. Lieut. James Kay (1888 – 1917) – Part 4

Friday, June 26, 2009

Free Credits on Scotlands People

In a message from the Angus Mailing List, a gentleman posted that the Glasgow Herald made reference that Scotlands People is giving away 20 free, I repeat free, credits in celebration of Homecoming Scotland 2009.

Log into as usual and go to the section "need more" in the upper right hand corner. Scroll down past the normal "select number of units" box and in the voucher box type in: heraldmag

You must register by 1:00 p.m. (Scotland time) on Saturday, June 27th, and the credits are valid for 90 days.

This is not a scam, I just did it and got an extra 20 free credits.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Puckerbrush Award

June has been very busy at work so I have gotten behind in blogging. When I wasn't looking, I was awarded the The Puckerbrush Award - not once but 3 times! I want to thank Linda over at Flipside, Harriet at Genealogy Fun and Jessica at Jessica's Genejournal. I'm not sure how deserving I am of this prestigious award, but am truly honoured to receive it. Thank you.

Because I am so late in posting this, everyone that I can think of to give this to has already received it. I've learned at lot about researching through reading everyone's blogs. Without all of you, I wouldn't have known where to start.

Happy Father’s Day – Douglas Sinclair Kay

When I was 2 yrs. old, my mother married my Aunt Helen’s brother, Douglas Sinclair Kay. My mom first met my step-dad when she was still married to my father, Allan Farrell. My father’s brother, Forbes and his wife Helen Kay lived on a neighbouring farm in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. Doug (as he was always known) lived in Montreal and worked for Canadian Pacific Railway, working on the cross-country train. He would get off the train at Indian Head and go and visit his sister and her family. He became very good friends with my mom and dad. When my father passed away in 1962, it seemed inevitable that my mom and Doug would get married. They were married on December 21, 1963 and after a couple of days honeymoon, we all boarded a train for Montreal.

Douglas Sinclair Kay was born on October 31, 1927 in Lachine, Quebec to Adam Sinclair Kay and Clarice Salmon, the younger of two children. When he was 8 years old the family moved to the South Shore of Montreal, to St. Lambert.

While growing up, Doug was very active with the local sports clubs as well as Scouting, becoming a Scout Master for the St. Lambert Storer Troop. In 1957, he played hooky from work and took his troop to the Jubilee Jamboree in England. After he married my mom, he gave up scouting. He would say that 3 little girls were much harder to handle than 35 boys! Even after he gave up his scouting, he still kept in touch with “his boys”, many of who invited him to their weddings. One of his boys even named a son after him.

Although Doug never legally adopted my sisters and I, he always considered us as his own. Because I was so young when he married my mom, to this day he is my daddy.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but we never wanted for anything. If he could afford it, we usually got what we wanted, and he always paid in cash. Nothing was put on credit. He always said that if you don’t have the cash for something, then you can’t afford it and you really don’t need it – something I still follow today. He was never burdened with a mortgage because he had been saving for many years to buy a house (plus he got a really sweet deal on a house when the previous owner died!). We lived in that same house until I graduated from High School, when he sold the house and bought a duplex.

Because he was always careful with his money (but by all means not stingy), he was able to finally take my mom on a long overdue honeymoon back to Scotland in 1970. Three years later we all went to Scotland. My middle sister, Heather, was going with her school on an exchange so he decided we should all go (I even got to miss a month of school).

When I started school, I was enrolled in the newly established French Immersion program. Because my step-dad grew up in Quebec, he already knew French (albeit street French) so we would always have these secret conversations together, which would drive my mom and sisters crazy because they couldn’t understand us!

Having three girls to raise, you could say that my-step dad was a little over protective. Although he never spanked us (and believe me, we deserved it sometimes), just one look from him and we knew we were in trouble. When I was about 15 yrs old, I asked him what he would do if one of us came home pregnant (I think I was trying to see how far I could push him). He would say, “you’d see the fastest shot gun wedding you ever saw”! Needless to say, when at 18 yrs old I did come home pregnant, I was petrified to tell him. Well, there were no shut guns and thankfully no wedding! He told me that if I didn’t want to keep the child, he would adopt it. This child was a part of his family and was not going anywhere else! When the time came for my daughter to be born, he was the one that was with me in the delivery room. After she was born, he would do everything a father would have done, from feeding her, to changing her and taking her for walks. The two of them were inseparable. And when I went back to school, I had the best babysitter.

My daughter and I lived with my mom and step-dad until my daughter was about 7 yrs. old, when I could finally afford to get a place of our own, even if it was in the upper part of the duplex.

When my step-dad was 58 yrs. he was diagnosed with a severe case of Parkinson’s disease causing him to take an early retirement. The next 3 years were extremely hard as the disease got worse. He was a big man, standing 6’4” and 250 lbs., and was always in the best of health, so it was heartbreaking to see this disease take from him what it did. His Parkinson’s had progressed very quickly, even quicker than the doctors had anticipated, and within 3 years of being diagnosed he passed away in 1989 at the age of 61.

Although Douglas Sinclair Kay was not my father, he was and always will be my Dad. Happy Father’s Day daddy – we miss you.

Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a DADDY!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Madness Monday – Family Secrets!

Warning: This is going to be a long post!

I am currently reading the book Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxemberg. He writes about the shock of learning that his mother had a secret sister and his search to find out all he can about her (I highly recommend this book). As I’m reading it, I’m thinking, “how would I react in this situation?” Well, I have since found out!

When I first began my family research, I didn’t have much on my father’s side. I received a few names from my cousin on my paternal grandfather’s family – the Farrell’s – that have proven very fruitful. However, my paternal grandmother seemed to have just appeared out of thin air, that my grandfather wished for a bride and there she was! Actually, I did have a couple of tidbits – I always knew that she was called “Nellie” and she was born on April Fool’s Day. I never got to spend too much time with her because I lived clear across the country and we only visited maybe every 3-5 years. When she passed away in 1980, I was sent a copy of her funeral card, which gave her full name as well as her birth and death dates and where she was born (Ellen Devylin, b. April 1, 1892 in Euckenleck, Ayrshire, Scotland, d. May 22, 1980).

I tried searching on Ancestry for Ellen Devylin born on April 1, 1892 in Euckenleck. I soon found that her last name is Devlin and it’s Auchinleck (so much for accuracy on funeral cards!). I revised my search and still came up empty. I decided to try something way off base and used her nickname, Nellie, and the first entry that showed up was the 1901 Scottish Census showing a Nellie Devlin born about 1892 in Auchinleck, daughter of William Devlin and living in Auchinleck. O.K. that’s a possibility. I scroll down a little further and find another Nellie Devlin born about 1892 in Auchinleck but living in Sorn, Ayrshire (which is not too far from Auchinleck). O.K. now I’m beginning to think that someone is just playing with my mind – how can this same person be on the same census report living in two different places. I look at the file and see that this Nellie Devlin is the daughter of Peter Devlin. Turns out that Peter and William are brothers and they both had a daughter named Nellie born about 1892. By now I’m pulling my hair out. How can two brothers have a daughter born the same year and call them both the same name? Why are they doing this to me!! How am I supposed to know which one is my grandmother and why hasn’t my Aunt answered my letter of two months ago where I asked her for this information! I decided to give up for now and go concentrate on my mom’s side of the family – they were a lot easier to find!

I have a little tree up on Ancestry of my Farrell family and a couple of weeks ago I noticed a little green leaf next to my grandmother’s name. I clicked on it to see the “hint”. Someone is also researching the Devlin line and has a Helen Nellie Devlin born April 2, 1892 in Auchinleck. Well, that’s pretty darn close, especially the “Nellie”. I do know that Nellie is a nickname for Helen so my grandmother’s name could have been Helen instead of Ellen. The birth date is also nearly bang on. The Helen Devlin posted on Ancestry has a father named Peter (maybe I’m getting somewhere here, I think), but, and that’s a big BUT, this Helen had a child named Peter Gibb Devlin who died at 4 months old, father unknown (I kind of figured that with the same last name that the child was illegitimate). Frustration has fallen in my lap once again because “I know” that my grandmother only got married and had a family AFTER she immigrated to Canada.

I decided to continue to search, this time on Rootsweb and found someone else searching the Devlin line. He also had a Helen Devlin born April 2, 1892 in Auchinleck, whose father was Peter Devlin, with a child named Peter Gibb Devlin that died at 4 months old (father unknown). This was getting way too coincidental. But I just “knew” this couldn’t be my grandmother because she didn’t have kids until she came to Canada – or so I thought!!!

The time had come to pick up the phone and call my procrastinating Aunt! Here is how the conversation went:

Ring, Ring

Aunt Lily: Hello?
Me: Is this Lily?
Lily: Yes.
Me: Hi Auntie Lily, it’s Alana.
Lily: From Montreal? (I think I shocked her that I was calling because I haven’t spoken to her in 3 years)
Me: Ya, how are you doing?
Lily: I’m doing great (which was good to hear since she had a 7 by-pass operation 2 years ago). I bet you’re calling to find out when I’m going to answer your letter.
Me: Kinda!
Lily: I don’t know how much I can help, I think you have everything.
Me: Any little bit would help. What I was wondering, though, was if you remember what your mother’s parents names were.
Lily: Her parent’s names – no I don’t. (crap!). Your granny and her parents didn’t get along very well and she didn’t speak of her life before coming to Canada. I don’t know if you know this, but she had two little girls before coming here.
Me: What? (after picking myself up off the floor) Really?
Lily: Yes – and she left them behind when she immigrated.
Me: What? (picking myself up for the second time) Was Granny married before she came to Canada.
Lily: Oh no, but she did have a boyfriend and they were planning on getting married. See, you never know what you're going to find when you start searching (no kidding!)

By now I’m so stunned I’m speechless. I was hoping for her to maybe mention a little boy, but two little girls? She never did mention a little boy and I was too stunned to ask.

Apparently my grandmother had two illegitimate girls while still living in Scotland. She and her boyfriend were planning on getting married but this caused a problem with her mother. Because my grandmother was still living at home, with the little girls, her mother was getting money, my Aunt thinks possibly from the government. If my grandmother married or moved away and took the girls with her, her mother would no longer receive this money. This caused such a rift between my grandmother and her mother that my grandmother got so upset that she up and left. Not just the house, or the town, but the country – and left her two little girls behind. That must have torn her apart.

I asked my Aunt if my grandfather knew about this and she said no, that my grandmother kept this a secret during their 45 years of marriage. I assumed that she decided that she was going to start fresh in this new country and forget what was past. Not so - my grandmother kept in contact with her sister who updated my grandmother on the little girls and how they were doing, but destroyed the letters before my grandfather saw them. She carried this secret with her to her grave. My Aunt only found this out by accident in 1990 – 10 years after my grandmother died. On her way home from a visit in Montreal, she made a stop over in Winnipeg to visit her cousin, Nettie. While there, Nettie says to my Aunt “I don’t know if you know this, but I’m really not your cousin – I’m your niece!” Nettie is the child of one of these little girls that my grandmother left behind. She has been living in Canada for a long time and has been “posing” as my Aunt’s cousin to protect my grandmother’s secret (she would really be my cousin). All that time my grandmother knew that Nettie was her granddaughter but couldn’t acknowledge it for fear that her secret would come out.

My Aunt has promised to send me the stuff I requested as well as Nettie’s address so I can write to her to get the whole truth.

Since speaking with my Aunt I have managed to find my grandmother’s birth record, which lists her father as Peter Devlin (one mystery solved). Just out of curiosity, I searched for the death record of this Peter Gibb Devlin and I found it on ScotlandPeople. He is listed as illegitimate, mother’s name is “Nellie” Devlin, and grandfather is Peter Devlin. So, did my grandmother actually have 3 children before coming to Canada. Who are these little girls, how old were they when my grandmother left and who is the father (or fathers)? The questions are just coming from everywhere. Now the wait is on again for my Aunt to send Nettie’s address.

I just hope I don’t have to wait another two months. I don't think I could take it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mailing Lists and How They Helped Me

I have seen recommendations from other GeneaBloggers about joining mailing lists to help in their research. I decided to check them out so I went over to RootsWeb to see what they had. I found one pertaining to one of my areas of research, the Scotland-Angus list so I decided to join. I haven’t posted anything as yet and so far the messages received, although very interesting, don’t pertain to any of my family. However, I did check out the archived messages and there was a very interesting post regarding the Dundee police force saying that if you had an ancestor who was a member of the force you can contact the Tayside Police force’s museum and they might have your ancestor’s work records.

The Tayside Police was formed on the 16th of May 1975 and is made up of a number of smaller City, Burgh and County Constabularies (namely Angus, Dundee City and Perth and Kinross), which over the course of more than 150 years have successfully merged together to form the present Tayside Police Force.

My great grandfather, Robert Burnett (my mother’s maternal grandfather), was a member of the Dundee Police force in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. The 1891 Scottish Census lists him as a Police Constable and according to his death record he retired as a Detective Inspector. Unfortunately, I don’t have any record of when he joined the force.

Fortunately, the person who posted the message on the mailing list also gave the website to the Tayside Police Force. I logged on and found their History and Museum section, which gives a brief history. You can contact the museum by filling out an online form with your request. There is a warning on the site that the email is not monitored 24 hours a day. The form is only for contacting the Force Museum and comments will be sent directly to museum staff. I filled out the form with the details that I knew of John Burnett and hoped for the best. That was on May 23rd.

On May 30th I received a reply from the website co-ordinator saying that they had received my email and that it had been forwarded to the Museum Curator who may be able to help. So far so good – at least I got a response! The same day I got another email from the curator himself, Mr. Willie MacFarlane, saying that with the information I had provided he was fairly sure that they should have some record of my great grandfather and unless it had been removed from the file, there should be a black and white photograph of him when he joined the Force. He mentioned that he would attend to the matter on his next visit to the Museum. I was very excited to learn that there might be a picture of him as I don’t have any pictures at all of any of my great grandparents.

Today, not two weeks since my original request, I received a very exciting email from Mr. MacFarlane. He found my great grandfathers work record – a very detailed one at that. Here is what he provided:

Dear Alana:- Further to our emails to each other I now have some information on your great grandfather.

John Burnett PC No. 128 was 22 years of age when he joined the former Dundee City Police on 24th November 1884. Formerly he had been employed as a warehouseman. He was single and lived at 37, Stirling Street, Dundee. He stood at 5ft 9 and1/2 inches in height and was born in Kincardine-shire.

On 19th May 1898 he was promoted to Sergeant, and then on 3rd June 1908 he was promoted to Det Officer and then on 16th May 1914 he was promoted to Det. Inspector. On 24th November 1920 he resigned from the Force on medical grounds and was awarded a pension of £198 3/- pa. He died at Dundee Royal Infirmary on 2nd March 1923. His widow Helen Marshall or Burnett received a widow's pension of £40 pa.

John Burnett was clearly well thought of and in fact he received a reward of 5/- for his part in the arrest of a Sarah Milne who had stolen jewellery on 13th February 1896.

You will be pleased to know that we do have a photograph of John Burnett in uniform and once this has been developed I will sent it to you by land mail.

Best wishes

Willie MacFarlane Hon. Museum Curator.1

How exciting is that! I can’t wait to get the picture and will post it as soon as it arrives.

According to the 1891 Scottish Census Robert Burnett and his family were living at 5 Stirling St. and in 1901 were living at 36 Carmichael. However, they must have moved back to 37 Stirling Street, as that was his residence at the time of his death.

So, I’m going to join those other GeneaBloggers and recommend joining a mailing list. 95% of the time the messages may be irrelevant, but that 5% could just be the missing link you are looking for.

Source 1: Willie MacFarlane , " Constable John Burnett". e-mail to Alana Farrell, sent 04 June 2009.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Farrell or Fearghail

I have been doing most of my research lately on my father’s line – the Farrell Family. At this point I have only gone back to my great great Grandfather and so far I have found that we come from Ballyreagh in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. But apparently this is not where the name Farrell originates from.

This Irish surname, with variant spellings O'Farrell, (O) Ferrall, and cognates O'Farrelly and O'Ferrally, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic Ó Fearghail. The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of", plus the personal byname "Fearghal", composed of the elements "fear", man, and "gal", valour; hence, "descendants" of the man of Valour" (I like that!).

This great sept originated in the Leinster Co. of Longford and their chief known as Lord of Annaly resided at Longphuirt Ui Fearghaill (i.e. O'Farrell's fortress) from which the name of the county derives. So important was the sept that much space is accorded to them in the "Annals of the Four Masters". There were two main branches of the O'Farrell's, the chiefs of which were distinguished as O'Farrell Boy from "buidhe", meaning yellow or Golden, and O'Farrell Bane from ban meaning "fair" or "white". Several of the family distinguished themselves in the Irish brigade in France, and Sir Thomas Farrell (1827 - 1900), was a noted sculptor many of whose statues adorn the city of Dublin.

A Coat of Arms granted to the (O) Farrell family depicts a gold lion rampant on a green shield. The colour symbolizes Hope, Joy and Loyalty in Love. It also reflects the hopes, ambitions and aspirations of its original bearer. On the Crest there is a black greyhound springing from a ducal coronet.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Father Richard O'Farrell, which was dated circa 1615 - 1663, in Annaly, Co. Longford, during the reign of King James I of England and VI of Scotland (1603 – 1625).

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

This post was written for the 13th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture , Irish Names, hosted by Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What good are Census Reports?

My sister told me recently that when the last Census was taken a few of years ago, her youngest son balked out filling it out. His comment was "What good are Census Reports? It's just another way for "Big Brother" to keep his eye on us!" At 20 yrs. old, he is that cynical! She told him that it will help future generations to know more about us and how we lived.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at her house and updating her on things that I had found on our family. I was rattling off information that I had found using the Scottish Census Reports. Her oldest son was in the room and she turned to him and said "You see, that's what Census Reports are good for!"

When the next Census is taken, make sure you fill it out. And try to do it as accurately as possible to avoid giving headaches to your descendants when they are trying to find you!

Another Award - Wow!

I've been offline for a few days so was surprised to see that two geneabloggers gave me the Friendly Blogger Award. Thank you to Judith at Tennessee Memories and Robin at Where I Come From. It is very much appreciated.

I know that this award has been going around for awhile, so I'm going to cheat and take the easy road out and present this to everyone who hasn't received it yet, as you are all friendly bloggers!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Prince

After four years of marriage, my mother and step-father didn’t have any children of their own, so they decided that they would try adoption. Since my mom already had three girls, they were hoping for a little boy. Back in the mid 1960’s there were a lot of restrictions with adoptions with regards to race, religion, etc. At the time the only boys that were up for adoption were either children of colour or children of the Catholic faith (we were Protestant), both of which my parents didn’t “qualify” for.

Now at this time, I was about 6 or 7 years old and used to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. Because of his work shift, my step-dad only got home around 8:00 p.m. After about a year of trying to adopt, my step-dad called home one night and told my mom to keep me up until he got home as he had a surprise. He said it was a little boy about 9 weeks old. I was so excited because I thought, finally I was getting a little brother and I wouldn’t be the baby any more. Around 8:00 p.m. that night in walks my step-dad carrying a cardboard box. I thought it very funny that my new baby brother would be in box! My step-dad put the box down on the floor and, to my surprise, out popped this little brown head that started licking me in the face. It was a new puppy and boy did he every look funny! He looked like an oversized sausage. I didn’t know it was because he was a dachshund and he was supposed to look like that. He was soooo cute and tiny and we called him Prince.

My mom spent 3 months sleeping on the sofa training him. She trained him not to go on the furniture, not to go up the stairs to the second floor where the bedrooms were, and not to go in the dining room where we always ate. We had a huge front lawn with no fence and she even trained him to stay on the lawn. Not one paw touched the sidewalk without permission.

With the type of shift that my step-dad worked (he worked on the commuter trains), he was always able to come home during the day for a nap. One day he came home, took one look at Prince and said “come on boy, let’s go to bed”. That’s all it took – after all that training, he was now allowed to go upstairs and sleep on my parents bed. Next thing we knew, he was allowed up on the sofa. But that’s all my mom gave into – Prince was still not allowed in the dining room unless my mom gave the O.K. If we were eating dinner, Prince would sit on the edge of the doorway and not even his nose would cross that threshold. If my step-dad called him in to get a piece of food, Prince would look at my mom first and wait for her to give the O.K. and then he would slink in, take the food and then dash back out.

Whenever we would be playing outside the front of the house, Prince would always be out there too, sitting on the lawn. There were no concerns that he would run away. The only time that he was allowed off the front lawn was when my step-dad would be coming down the street. My step-dad would take the bus home whenever he came home during the day and he always had a set time to arrive. Mom would let Prince out the front to sit and wait. We always knew when my step-dad would be coming down the street because Prince would be sitting on the corner of the lawn wagging his tail so much you would think he was going to take off. My mom would wait a few minutes and then say “go on Prince” and Prince would take off down the street to meet my dad, give him a big Hello and then run back home to wait. It got to the point the neighbours all knew when my step-dad would be coming down the street just by watching Prince’s tail go.

My step-dad was a big hockey fan and Prince would always sit and watch the games with him. My step-dad would sing the National Anthem and Prince would sing right along with him. I thought this was so great to think we had a dog that could sing that I entered him in a talent show put on by our local park. I watched as all the other dogs did these really neat tricks. When it came to my turn, I got up my courage and started singing the National Anthem expecting Prince to join right along. All he did was lie there and sleep! I was so embarrassed! I guess my voice just wasn’t deep enough. I should have gone with the "cookie on the nose" trick.

When Prince was about a year old we got a kitten we called Mittens (she was allowed to sleep with me). For the most part Prince and Mittens got along fine, unless the cat was in a bad mood. If she was, she always took it out on Prince and would knock him upside the head with her paw! One day we found a stray kitten, that couldn’t have been more than 5 or six weeks old. Prince became very protective of this kitten. I think he was afraid Mittens would do something to it. He would let it sleep in his bed and make sure that it ate its food. We eventually gave the kitten to a little girl who’s cat had just got hit by a car.

Prince was my step-dad’s baby and they did everything together. As Prince got older, he went deaf and blind and could barely walk because of his arthritis. After 17 years, we knew it was time to put him down. My step-dad took this very hard and couldn’t do it, so I was the one that had to take Prince to the vet. It broke my heart to have to leave without him. Prince wasn’t just a dog, he was the baby brother I never had.

P.S. I’m still the baby of the family!

This post was written for the 13th Edition of Smile For The Camera - All Creatures Great and Small.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

I was so pleased to read Jessica's Genejournal and see that she nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. I haven't been posting too much lately so it was really nice of her to give me this. It's going to be tough to nominate 7 more - there are so many to choose from. My nominees are:

Apple at Apple's Tree

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lieut. James Kay (1888-1917) - Part 4

1. Lieut. James Kay
2. Lieut. James Kay (1888-1917) - Update
3. Lieut. James Kay (1888-1917) - Part 3

On July 22, 1915 James enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was sent to England where he was later posted with the 5th Canadian Siege Battery – Canadian Garrison Artillery. While he was in England, he sent a postcard home to his mother, dated January 16, 1916. It reads:

“Haven’t heard from you for a long time – what’s up? Still in England. Expecting to move any time. Weather gorgeous. Have hired cycle. Don’t mind staying here. Jim”

I’m not sure when James’ unit was finally shipped out, but having found the War Diaries of WWI at Library and Archives Canada, the 5th Canadian Siege Battery were in Poiziers (France?) in October 1916. By July 1917 they were in Angres. These diaries give a day to day account of everything that occurred. Although these are very interesting to read, my goal was to see if there was an account of when James died. Since I knew he died on July 28, 1917, I quickly scanned the diaries until I found that day. I found the page that I was looking for and this is what was written:

“28-7-17: The Battery Position was shelled today with H.E. Lieut. J. Kay was seriously wounded and died on way to Dressing Station. 346828 Cpl. H. Sheldon was also wounded.”

Lieut. James Kay was commissioned from the ranks and laid to rest at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery in Souchez, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. A Memorial Plaque and letter from Buckingham Palace were sent to his mother, Elizabeth, after his death.

Online memorials have been set up for those who died during WWI and James’s memorials can be found here, here and here.

“All Gave Some
And Some Gave All”

Rest In Peace Uncle James.

Lieut. James Kay (1888-1917) - Part 3

1. Lieut. James Kay

James Kay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 22, 1888 to Adam Bishop Kay and Elizabeth Muirhead Sinclair. Already knowing that he was living in Montreal in July 1915 (the date he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force), I was curious as to when the Kay’s had arrived in Canada. In searching the 1911 Canada Census, I came up empty.

I then decided to see when they were last in Scotland and found them on the 1901 Scotland Census. According to this census, they were living at 37 Queensferry Street in Edinburgh. Adam Bishop Kay (listed as Head of the family) was a Joiner and Cabinetmaker. James was 13 years old and his brother Adam Sinclair (my step-grandfather) was 5 years old. Going back a little further to the 1891 Scotland Census, I found Elizabeth, aged 27, living with her mother, Helen Sinclair, and a sister, Catherine Sinclair, living at No. 14 Melville Place, Edinburgh. Elizabeth was married at the time (she is listed as Elizabeth Kay), but Adam Bishop is not listed as living with them. James was 3 years old and a daughter, Helen aged 2 months, is also listed. Adam Sinclair was not born until 1896. If Adam Bishop was serving in the Military in 1891, he obviously made it back home safe and sound since he still had one son to father! (and as mentioned, he is listed on the 1901 Census.

I then decided to check the Canadian Passenger lists from 1865-1935. I found an Elizabeth M. Kay, age 44 (widowed) and Adam S. Kay, aged 16 arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Numidian on December 14, 1911, via Glasgow, Scotland (they obviously arrived after the 1911 census was taken). James was not with them at this time. There is also no mention of a daughter Helen . (I have not found any records of a daughter Helen, except for the 1891 Census and the 1923 income tax receipt – was she perhaps living with another family member?).

On continuing my search of the Canadian Passenger Lists, I found James Kay arriving on the Carmania, leaving Liverpool, England and arriving in New York City on November 24, 1913. He was listed as a returning Canadian with a final destination of Montreal. It shows that he originally arrived in Canada in 1908 and had lived here for 5 years. I haven’t found the passenger list for this arrival yet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It’s Data Back Up Day

I work in the Quotations Dept. of a large manufacturing company. Every day I work on large multi-million dollar quotations that take weeks to prepare. The last thing I want is to lose my data. Every night our servers are backed up, once a week my computer backs up to the one beside me, that backs up to the one beside it, etc. and once a month I’m very vigilant about backing up my data directory onto flash drives or CDs. I’m not so vigilant at home – or at least I didn’t use to be.

As previously mentioned, I belong to the Order of the Eastern Star (Masonic affiliated) and I am my local chapter’s secretary. I also put together their jurisdictional newsletter. Between correspondence, mailing lists, chapter by-laws, etc., the newsletter, I have a fair amount of data on my computer. About four years ago, I had a Trojan Horse sneak in the back door that shutdown my computer. Of course, I didn’t have anything backed up! I lost everything! Most of the data lost wasn’t that important, but having to retype from scratch the by-laws and redoing the newsletter just broke my heart.

Lesson learned - I now back up at least once a month if not twice. I was going to do it this coming weekend, but with the threat of the Conficker Worm that was supposed to strike today, I did my back up last night, both at home and at work. I certainly don’t want to retype those by-laws again and I certainly don’t want to lose all the work I have done on the family history.

Have you done your back up yet?

Blogs and Sourcing

I have been reading with interest the discussions about the validity of blogs in genealogy research and whether or not to post sources.

Being new to genealogy and blogging, I enjoy reading the various blogs to aid me in the “how-to” aspect of my research. I have learned many things with regards to where to search for information, ideas on how to break down brick walls and reading about other’s frustrations and happy moments in their research, all the while nodding my head. I do not, however, use these blogs as sources in my own research (I have a family booklet that my cousin put together and I don’t even use that as a positive source as he didn’t include any sources).

I started my blog, for my benefit to keep myself organized and motivated and to share with those who are interested, my findings and my trials & tribulations in my research.

Should anyone who might be researching the same surnames be interested in my sources, they are more then welcome to contact me and I am more than happy to share. However, I will not be listing my sources on my posts. If this, in turn, causes others to stop following my blog – so be it (although I certainly hope that doesn’t happen!).

My two “unsourced” cents.

Tombstone Tuesday - Robert Allan Farrell

Ever Remembered, Ever Loved
Allan Farrell
1927 - 1962
In God's Keeping
Allan Farrell was my father who passed away when he was 35 yrs. old. from complications due to Diabetes. He was buried on my parents 9th wedding anniversary. I took this picture about 20 years ago when I visited his grave for the first time.

Anyone else in the distant family would have a hard time finding this tombstone because his full name is not one it! His full name was Robert Allan but he always went by Allan. For some reason either my mother or my grandparents didn't think to put his full name on the tombstone! The below picture is a closer look of the stone before it was placed on his grave.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lieut. James Kay (1888 – 1917) - Update

As mentioned in my previous post, my sister had given me some medals and a dog tag belonging to my step-great uncle James Kay. With these I embarked on a search of his military records.

My first step was to check the Canadian Soldiers of World War I on Ancestry. I didn’t have much to go on except his name and that he lived in Montreal. I found a record for a James Kay with a relative of Elizabeth Muirhead Kay. On selecting that one, I found an Attestation Paper indicating Elizabeth Muirhead Kay as next of kin, who lived at 38 Overdale Ave., Apt. 4, Montreal. Overdale Ave. rang a bell, so I double checked some papers that I had and found an old Income Tax receipt for a Helen Kay dated 1923 (she owed a whopping $.72) that said that she lived on Overdale Ave; however, the street number was 36 Overdale. I knew that my step-grandfather had a sister named Helen. I printed off the Attestation Paper just in case this was my James. I then decided to go a different route and typed in my step-grandfather’s name, Adam Sinclair Kay. First record that showed up had a relative of Elizabeth Muirhead Kay. It was Adam’s Attestation Paper listing Elizabeth Muirhead Kay as next kin (mother) living at 38 Overdale Ave.! I have a postcard that James wrote to his mother in January 1916 and it was addressed to E. M. Kay. This was the clincher that confirmed that I had found the right James Kay. I couldn’t believe my luck that within a ½ hour I had found both James’ and Adam’s Attestation Papers. The papers had their date of births, location of birth, their occupation and their service number. It also listed previous military service. James had served seven years with the Royal Highlanders of Canada. One of James’ medals that I have is from the Royal Highlanders!

The Attestation paper was for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. I had never heard of this so I decided to google it. The first link that showed up had a complete explanation of this special force. Apparently during World War I, Canada didn’t have a fighting militia so Canadians signed up to fight with England. This force was later disbanded in 1919. The article I found had links to other sites and one of them was Veteran’s Affairs Canada. Veteran’s Affairs Canada has a Canadian Virtual War Memorial. The introductory paragraph says “This site contains a registry of information about the graves and memorials of more than 116,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served and gave their lives for their country. Included on this site are the memorials of more than 1500 soldiers who died in service to Canada since the Korean War, including peacekeeping and other operations.”

I plugged in James’ name (you can also enter date of death if you have it, which I didn’t). Two entries showed up. The first was for a James Kay, Regimental Sergeant Major (WO.I) who was part of the Canadian Infantry, Manitoba Regiment (which also showed his service number) who died in 1919 – not my James. I selected the second record and hit pay dirt! Lieutenant JAMES KAY who died on July 28, 1917. Force: Army; Unit: Canadian Garrison Artillery; Division: 5th Siege Bty. The dog tag that I have says Lieut. J. Kay, 5th Can. Siege Battery. I now had a date of death and a location in France where he is buried. The memorial lists the cemetery and even a location within the cemetery where his grave is.

(To Be Continued…..)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lieut. James Kay

As mentioned in previous posts, my mother remarried when I was 2 years old, after my father passed away. Although I knew that my step-father and his sister were born in Lachine, Quebec and that my step-grandmother was born in England, I didn’t really know too much about the Kay family, other than the fact that my step-father’s sister, Helen was married to my father’s brother, Forbes Farrell, making my blood cousins my step-cousins! (I’ll post more on that in a future post).

Last weekend my sister Judy brought out a box of medals that belonged to my step-great uncle, James Kay that I hadn’t seen in years. She wanted me to take them as she knows that I am working on the family history and thought I would be interested in them.

James Kay was a name that we had heard about but whom we knew virtually nothing. All we knew was that he was my step-grandfather’s brother and that he was killed during WWI. I don’t even remember ever seeing a picture of him. My step-father didn’t know anything about him and my step-grandfather died when I was little so we couldn’t ask him. James Kay was just a name from the past.

While looking through the box of medals, we found a picture of him. Now we had a face to a name and James became a real person! This picture was the front of a post card that James sent to his mother dated January 1916.

We also found two tiny pictures, one of which was of his grave and temporary cross, with a hand drawn map on the back showing the cemetery where he is buried, but no name of the cemetery (although I could tell from the map that it was in France).

With the medals we also found his dog tag, which mentioned his Unit name. I told my sister that with this little bit of information, I would try to see if I could find James’ military information. The next couple of days were spent researching (after which my elbow gave me grief) and did I hit a gold mine! Not only did I find James's military information, I also found some information on my step-grandfather that I knew nothing about.

Stay tuned to see what I found.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Marshall Clan

The word prompt for the 11th Edition of Smile For The Camera is brothers & sisters? Were they battling brothers, shy little sisters, or was it brother & sister against the world? Our ancestors often had only their siblings for company. Were they best friends or not? Show us that picture that you found with your family photographs or in your collection that shows your rendition of brothers & sisters. Bring them to the carnival and share. Admission is free with every photograph!

The brothers and sisters that I have chosen for this edition of Smile For The Camera are my mother and her siblings. My mother had six siblings and they were all very close, especially the 3 youngest (they did everything together – especially getting into trouble). My grandparents passed away when my mom was very young - my grandfather when she was 2 years old and my grandmother when my mom was 11 years old. The oldest of the siblings, my Aunt Nell then became guardian of the 3 youngest kids. She was married but her husband, a Canadian soldier, was off fighting. The next 3 oldest, my Uncles Dave and Robert and my Aunt Rachel were also married and in the service. When the war ended, my Aunt Nell was to immigrate to Canada as a War Bride and was going to bring the 3 youngest, my Uncle Norrie (17 yrs), my Auntie Vina (15 yrs.) and my mom (13 yrs.), with her. Up until about 2 weeks before departure, all but my Aunt Nell received their papers. While waiting for her to received her papers, my Uncle Norrie turned 18 and was called up for his mandatory 2 years of service, causing him to remain behind in Scotland.

The first picture is of all the brothers and sisters (minus my Aunt Rachel) taken just shortly before my mom and her two sisters left for Canada in April 1946. Left to right – back row: Dave Marshall, Muriel (Robert’s wife), Robert Marshall and Norrie Marshall. Left to right – front row: Lizzie (Dave’s wife), Nell (Marshall) Crossman, Vina Marshall and Rhona Marshall (my mom).

The second picture is of the brothers and sisters taken in October 1970 when my mom returned home for the first time in 24 years. It was a great reunion for her seeing her brothers and sisters again (my Aunts Nell and Vina were absent from this gathering). Back row: Norrie and Dave. Front row: Rhona (my mom), Robert, and Rachel.

The last picture is of the four sisters. This was taken in the mid 1980’s and was the only time that all four sisters have been together since before the war ended. Left to right: Vina, Rhona and Rachel. Nell is the one sitting.

Unfortunately, only two of the seven siblings are still alive, my Aunts Rachel and Vina.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm Still Alive!!

Just a quick note (against doctor's orders) for those who follow this blog. I did not fall off the face of the earth - I'm still here. I have been suffering from Tennis Elbow and have been in excruciating pain for the last month and a half. I finally caved in and went to the doctor 3 weeks ago when I couldn't take the pain anymore. I've been on meds for two weeks and have been taking physio therapy twice a week for 3 weeks now. It is slowly getting better. Strict instructions from the doctor to try to stay off the computer as much as possible and to rest the arm, which of course is really hard since I'm a secretary and am on the computer all day. Needless to say, I've stayed off it at night (I think I'm having withdrawal symptoms!)

I used to snicker at people when then said they had Tennis Elbow thinking this was just an excuse not to do things (a few people at work use excuses like this not to work), but snicker no more. It really hurts!! It not only affects the elbow, but the swelling and pain affects the whole arm, and even makes the fingers numb. It doesn't help either that it's my right arm and I'm right handed!

I caved on the weekend and did some research on the Scottish Census on Ancestry (of which I found loads of information), but paid for it the next day. I will be posting what I have found, but it may take a few more days rest before that happens, so just be patient with me. I do hope, however, to get my post done for the Brothers & Sisters carnival that is due on Tuesday.

That's it for tonight, folks.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Number 21

This week's Saturday Night fun over at Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver is asking who is your Number 21 on your Ahnentafel list. Unfortunately, my Number 21 is still undiscovered so I went with the next closest that I have, which is my Number 24, Robert Marshall.

Robert Marshall is my maternal great, great grandfather. He was born in 1819 in Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland and died around 1891 in Dundee, Scotland. He was married to Ann Kynock of Dallas, Morrayshire, Scotland. Ann was also born in 1819 and died in 1895 in Dundee. They were married on September 26, 1841 and had 9 children. I still have to find out their exact dates of birth and deaths. These are some of the many things on my To Do List.

Robert and Ann were married in the new parish church, which is still standing today. The parish record states simply “Robert Marshall, teacher, Alyth, and Ann Kynoch of the parish of Dallas, were 3 times preached on September 26, 1841”. This is, of course, the Scottish custom of reading the “banns” to the congregation to announce the marriage.

Robert was a school teacher in the village school of Glenprosen. With it went the school house. It was a Society school set up by the church (The Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge).

Robert and Ann’s children were:

Anne Marshall – born around 1844
David Fenton Marshall – born April 13, 1847 (David is my great grandfather)
Robert Marshall – born July 16, 1849
John Kynoch Marshall – born June 18, 1851
William Ramsay Marshall – born September 15, 1853
James Grant Marshall – born November 24, 1855
George Smith Marshall – born August 30, 1858
Francis Ferguson Marshall – born November 28, 1860
Helen Leighton Marshall – born 1865 (Helen is my great, great aunt as well as my great grandmother).

You will notice that I mentioned that Helen Leighton Marshall is both my great, great aunt as well as my great grandmother. David Fenton’s son, Robert (my grand father) and Helen Leighton’s daughter, Eliza (my grandmother) married. Which means that my grandparents were first cousins! I somehow think that is illegal and could explain why my family is as strange as it is!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. She was born on Feb. 21, 1933 in Dundee, Scotland and passed away on Sept. 8, 2003. When I was Worthy Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star, I did a talk about Mothers that I wrote and I thought I would post it here in tribute to my mother.

During the years that passed from when I was born until my sisters and I moved away from home, my mother didn’t have a job. If she had been asked to fill out a questionnaire about her personal data, she would have left the question “Employment” empty. She believed that her job was to be our mother – full time. That was the way she had chosen it to be.

Here is an old photograph of my mother. In the photo I think she looks very beautiful. She was about 16 years old then. When I look at the photo, I see a woman who could have had an unlimited number of opportunities in life. Although she didn’t always look it, Mom was a tough bird.

Like a lot of people her age, she had a rough childhood. She grew up in Scotland during the worst of the Second World War. Many a time she could be found hiding under her bed, because of the bombings near by. That is, when she wasn’t busy getting into trouble. Mom had six sisters and brothers. Three were off serving their country and the oldest was always working, so that left the three youngest kids plenty of time to get into trouble! In 1946, at the age of 13, she immigrated to Canada with two of her sisters, the oldest being a War Bride. They arrived in Halifax and then rode the train to Balcarres, Saskatchewan to live on a farm, and with a new family she had never met. Coming from the modern city of Dundee to a farm, she always said she never knew what was worse, the war or not having indoor plumbing! Although mom quit school at 16 years old she never let that stop her. She was never one to sit around. She would always be out working – be it on the farm, at the local hospital or at a seafood canning plant in Toronto where they once spent the winter. I know that if she had put her mind to getting a career, the whole world would have been at her feet. Yet she always contemplated herself as housewife and mother.

Mom got married at 20 years old to Robert (Allan) Farrell, a boy from the next farm. Allan, my father, was a diabetic since the age of 13. Due to complications, he passed away at the age of 35 leaving my mother a widow with 3 kids at the tender age of 28 (by this time we had moved to the “Big City” of Moose Jaw). Two years later mom re-married a family friend who lived in St. Lambert, Quebec (his sister, Helen Kay, was married to my dad’s brother! That’s a whole other story!). As soon as we moved to St. Lambert, Mom got involved in the Women’s Church Guild. She became a constant worker at the church bazaars and rummage sales and later, as we grew up, with the Girl Guides. She was an avid crocheter and made a lot of afghans. Everyone in the neighbourhood we grew up in admired her for the great effort she put into charity work, but if someone asked her what she did for a living or who she was, she answered that she was Douglas Kay’s wife, and Judy, Heather and Alana’s mother.

The thing I remember best from my childhood is how it felt to come home from school. She was always there and when we swarmed through the door, she was getting supper ready to put on the table. Today there are probably many women who will see what she did as a waste of her good abilities. Why would a determined woman be content with making soup and sandwiches? I don’t know the answer myself. But it must have been good for something when I, many years later, still remember how it felt to rush through the kitchen door – and there was mum, waiting for us. I just wish I could have given that to my daughter.

I belong to a generation who by and large grew up in families with mothers who were home all day. And there is no way I could have had a better childhood. If my mother suffered privations from being a housewife not working away from home, she did not transfer any of them to us, her children. And whatever we may have of good qualities, we have because we had a mother who considered it her job to be our mother.

In the middle of all of life’s confusion, it is actually very reassuring to know that you always have a simple rule of thumb: how would I act if my mother could see me right now? In a way I think that we in our generation have fooled ourselves into believing that we can reinvent the whole world and alter the fundamental rules of life overnight. But deep inside we all know that we are actually the same people we were at the time our mothers could look into our eyes and see what we had done without needing to exchange one word. And believe me, in my case that happened a lot! I remember that as a little girl I believed that there were monsters living in my closet. Before I could fall asleep, I had to have mum chase them out of my room. Only then could I sleep.

I’m shrinking a little as I write this. But only if I tell it exactly the way it was can I explain what I mean: most of the time in our lives we have to chase out the monsters from our closets ourselves. But during a few short years in the beginning of our lives, our mother takes care of them for us.

Today I think that many women would be afraid of a life like the one my mother had. So many things have changed that if an intelligent woman would have to do today as my mother did then – devote herself to a husband and children – she would not only feel that her options were limited, but she would also feel outright threatened. I hope that my mother felt that she did the right thing.

We all go through our adult life with the conception that we have never been anything but fully developed grownups. But we have; we have all been small children once, who hurried home from school completely assured that someone was waiting for us at home. It meant something then and it means something today. And I am eternally grateful that the woman in the photograph was waiting for me.

Who’d have thought I’m a KreativBlogger?

What a nice surprise to receive a message from Amanda at A Tale of Two Ancestors telling me that she has awarded me the KreativBlogger Award. As a new genea-blogger I certainly didn’t expect this. Thank’s so much Amanda.

The in rules for the Kreativ Blogger Award are:
1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those sites on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate.

There are so many to choose from that I compromised on 6.