Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
Since April 2010, I have served in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Birthday Present

Earlier this week, by brother Lloyd came with a surprise birthday present, a Garmin Drive 60 GPS unit for my car. I have sometimes thought of getting one, and I had played with using Google Maps on my phone in the car, but found nothing that worked really well.

This unit comes with free map updates, and many features, including speed camera warnings, speed limit advisories, lane advisories, and other useful things. I am looking forward to learning to use it. Lloyd helped me to set it up. I was surprised that downloading the maps took 2 hours and 20 minutes. But now it is ready to roll. I tried it out over the past two days, and there is a bit of a learning curve, as with any new technology.

It runs entirely on the stored maps and GPS so there is no need for an internet connection, which means that the operating cost should be zero.

Thank you Lloyd!!!.  What a wonderful gift!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Genealogical Puzzles

This past few weeks have been interesting, and busy.
I have been serving my usual 25 hours per week helping in FamilySearch Support.

Recently, I was contacted by Rose and Alice, former neighbors and friends from my elementary school days. They wanted help tracing their ancestors Beatrice and Bertie.

Their grandfather and grandmother came to Canada from England in 1906, shortly after their marriage. We knew their names and approximate ages.
The information on the grandmother Beatrice, was easiest to find. And in the 1911 Canada Census, we discovered that her parents and siblings had also come to Canada. I made good progress in tracing her ancestry. There were lots of primary and secondary census to document my discoveries. But one of the discoveries brought me to a halt. Beatrice died in 1922. And Rose and Alice's mother was born in 1925. Beatrice was Bertie's first wife but she was not their grandmother!

Meanwhile, I was stuck on tracing the ancestry of the grandfather, Bertie. Then in his marriage record, he said that his father's name was William, a vital clue. Then the breakthrough I needed, I found Bertie and his mother in the village of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, near (the original) Edmonton. His mother was Maria, and both were born in Cheshunt. Their ages were given in the census. And the previous generations of the family had been born there. I love it when that happens! 😊
A shower of sources presented themselves: censuses, General Register Office indexes and vital records, parish registers. Thank you FamilySearch,, MyHeritage, and findmy past! I was able  to trace Bertie's ancestry for 4 generations, until I found an ancestor who was married in Cheshunt but came from somewhere else.

What about the biological grandmother, Bertie's second wife?
We found her name and her marriage to Bertie in 1924, and were able to trace her family lines back for 4 generations as well. For these Irish Catholics living in Quebec, the Druoin Collection was marvelous.

Rose's father was born in Poland but I could find no record of him there. I found him on a passenger manifest coming to Canada, found his marriage, and found his grave. Fortunately, the family had information on his parentage.

The other person for whom I did research had discovered families with his English surname living in Uruguay and nearby counties in South America. They claimed to be all one big extended family. This was somewhat of an adventure, as I had never done research in South America. After researching extensively in England, I was disappointed at how spotty the records were in Uruguay. Sometimes I would find a record and had no way of verifying which branch of the family they belonged to. The use of double surnames was a big help. I assembled what I could find, in FamilySearch, and sent it to my friend to share with the people in South America. Maybe they can fill in the gaps for me.

And the adventure continues...

I hope you are all enjoy the genealogical puzzles that present themselves to you throughout the new year. 😊

Sunday, December 23, 2018

An unexpected gift

Earlier in the year, my friends Bob and Sandra returned from their trip to Scotland with some special gifts for me from the Buchanan Castle Golf Club shop. I was very grateful for their love and thoughtfulness.

Today I had another surprise. As I was talking to friends in the hallway at church, Bob came up to me with a big smile and a gift ... a Buchanan tartan neck tie! I have often thought that a Buchanan tartan tie would be a great addition to my collection of neck ties, but I had never had a good opportunity to buy one. And I have no lack of ties, considering that I have some ties that I have worn for 50 years.. But this one is special. It is brand new, and made in Scotland, and in the "rainbow tartan" of Clan Buchanan. What genealogist of Scottish descent would not love to have such a treasure?

Thank you Bob and Sandra. May Christmas be a special and blessed time for you and your family!

And this is my wish to each of you as well.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Mystery of Annie May Buchanan 1884-1890

My cousin Barry had directed my attention to the records for Trinity Anglican Cemetery near Donegal, Perth, Ontario. This was a pioneer cemetery where some of my Buchanan family were buried. One grave in particular has puzzled me for a long time.

Annie May Buchanan
BIRTH 1884
Perth County, Ontario, Canada
DEATH 18 Jul 1890 (aged 5–6)
Elma, Perth County, Ontario, Canada
Trinity Anglican Cemetery
Donegal, Perth County, Ontario, Canada
MEMORIAL ID 154530855 ·

She is not mentioned in the Buchanan Family Tree book or any other family records. Her life fell between censuses, so she is not mentioned in the Canada census. Her birth is not recorded in the government records. (There is an Annie May Buchanan born 29 May 1888 in the area, but we know who she is, and she married Norman Acheson and died at age 70, not as a young child.) So who is the mystery child?

This record adds some information.
This is record 013889, located on page 511 of Schedule C - DEATHS
Anna May Buchanan
died July 18th, 1890
6 years
Farmer's daughter
born Elma [township, Perth County]
duration 11 Days
physician Dr. Hamilton
informant Charles Buchanan
Gentleman, Elma
registered August 27th, 1890
Church of England
registrar Thos Fullarton

The informant for a death is normally a parent, spouse or adult child. Charles Buchanan was my great grandfather's brother. In the 1891 census he also gives his occupation as "Gentleman", so he is the right person. But there is a complication. Anna May was born about 15 years after Charles's youngest known child, so he is almost certainly not the father. He is probably the grandfather. He had five sons: Andrew, Thomas, William, John, Charles. Unfortunately I have no record of any of them being the father of Annie May, but one of them almost certainly has to be. Let's look at the possibilities:

Andrew born 10 Nov 1848 and died the following year. So it can't be him.

Thomas, born 15 Mar 1851, and married Ellen Cochrane 24 Dec 1875, and his family moved to Manitoba in 1881, so he would not have a daughter who died in Ontario in 1890.

William, born 8 May 1856 and married Mary McGregor 19 Apr 1882. At the time of the 1891 Canada census they were living in Grey County.

John, born about 1858 became a good prospect, so I spent considerable time researching him. The family records have almost no information other than saying that he had a wife named Mary and a son named Charles Henry, and was living in Michigan at the time of his father's death. He is found in the 1861 and 1871 Canada censuses then disappears. His sister Jane's obit says he is living at  Whittmore, Michigan, USA. Google maps identifies this as Whittemore, in Burleigh township,  Michigan. I then found him in the 1894 Michigan censuses and the US censuses for 1900, 1910 and 1920. Except his wife's name is given as Belle. Then I found a marriage record. 

Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925
Name: John Buchannan
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 28 Apr 1882
Event Place: Bingham, Huron, Michigan
Age: 21y
Birth Date: 1861
Birthplace: Ontario
Spouse's Name: Isabella Mary Campbell
Spouse's Age: 25y
Spouse's Birth Date: 1857
Spouse's Birthplace: Ontario
[This in turn led me to her parents and siblings.]
If John was living in Michigan in 1882, he would not have a daughter living in Ontario in 1884-1890. 

Charles, born May 1865, would have been 19 when Annie May was born, so he is probably not her father. In the 1891 census, Charles is single and living with his sister's family. On 6 Dec 1916 he married Janet Elizabeth Anderson. 

The best possibility seems to be William. We do not know when he moved to Grey County.

Charles is a possibility, but William seems the most likely father of Anna May Buchanan 1884-1990.

Help Finding Another Grave in Wetaskiwin

After Ted Lidgett's funeral, Judy and I looked for my grandpa Buchanan's grave, firstly at the City Hall and then at Public Works. As we were getting out of our car, a white Public Works pickup truck was coming out of the gate and the driver stopped to ask f we needed help. I explained that I was looking for my grandfather's grave. He explained that the office had just closed, but gave us directions to the old cemetery and where to find the index.

We had no trouble following his directions, and the index was even open to the correct page. William Andrew Buchanan was listed there along with the plot number of his grave, but there was no map to show us where the plot was located. I wrote down the information and then we went looking for the grave. Fortunately, there are numerous section markers, but I was still having trouble finding 9999 in S2.

The white pickup truck from Public Works pulled into the cemetery a few minutes later, and the driver got out of the truck to help me find the grave. After a few minutes he phoned the man who manages that cemetery, who came over as soon as he was finished banking. I so impressed by these two good men! They had both completed their day's work, but instead of going home for supper they wanted to help me. They found what might be the right location but said I would have to phone the office tomorrow to be sure.

Bless them both for their kindness.

My follow-up phone call confirmed that they had found the correct grave. We plan to put a tombstone on it in 2020.

My grandfather, whom we ALL* called "Pa" was a blacksmith in the days when they were an essential part of all farming communities. They sharpened tools, fixed tools, and even created tools that were needed for the everyday tasks of farming families. He owned blacksmith shops in Manitoba and Alberta. Even after his retirement he had a small blacksmith shop on Jack's farm, where he resided at the time of his death in 1948. The family was poor and could not afford a tombstone then, but our circumstances have improved.

*ALL includes his children and their friends, his grandchildren and their friends. On one occasion, someone asked the McCallum boys what they were doing. They answered "We are waiting for Daddy and Pa.", which probably left that person more puzzled than ever.

Edward "Ted" Thomas Lidgett 2 June 1944-2 November 2018

It was a beautiful sunny day for Ted's funeral.

At the Baker Funeral Chapel, we met members of the Lidgett family. And on the way into the chapel Ernie said that they would like me to make some remarks at the end. I thought at first he meant a graveside prayer, but when I saw the funeral program I saw that I was scheduled to give my remarks after the eulogy and the open mic. They explained. Ted planned the service and he said that Bill often speaks at family funerals. They tried phoning me twice to let me know but I was away from home at Evelyn's all that week. I started writing some notes while we were gathered as family before the service. Donna leaned over and said “Keep it short.” and I was happy to oblige. The officiating pastor was Reverend Glen Forsberg, a friend of Ted's from his school days, and gave a beautiful tribute to Ted. He led the prayers and hymns. The eulogy was given by Ted's nephew Rob and his niece Sherrie and was beautifully done.

The only speaker during the open mic was Bea, a friend of Ted's from his days working as a sales representative for Scott National. They would often meet at Tony Roma's restaurant for lunch and remained friends after Ted retired. She had seen him shortly before he needed to go to get a biopsy and he was supposed to let her know the results. When she did not hear from him, she searched the Edmonton phone listings for Lidgetts and found Ernie, who told her that Ted had pancreatic cancer and his only weeks left to live. Then she spent long hours over the weeks with Ted at the hospital. This is a  beautiful example of friendship.

In my remarks I mentioned that I was representing my brothers and sister who were unable to be there. I referred to Ted's love of family, and my own passion for family history. Ted has attended family gatherings faithfully over the years. He was kind and gentle and always positive. I referred to the two great commandments referred to by the Savior, to love God and to love our fellow man, and I said that I felt that Ted exemplified these principles. He was always in good humor and his smile could light up a room.

After the service we traveled to the cemetery and the urn was buried by the grave of his parents.

During the luncheon I was able to visit with many of the family. Donna was using a cane. Dave was also using a cane and Donna said that he had suffered a massive heart attack back in February. Dave's sons were the urn bearers. Danny was in good humor although confined to a wheelchair. Rob is starting to turn grey. None of us are as young as we used to be. They were all very friendly. The Lidgetts are a wonderful family.

A Poem That Influenced My Life

You have probably had times when a certain song was stuck in your head for several days. In my case, it is a poem that I learned long ago. It talks about life and death, and may be associated with the recent death of my cousin Teddy Lidgett. 
When I was about 19 years old, I was riding back to Calgary from my parents’ home near Radium Hot Springs. The man I was riding with asked me if I was familiar with Longfellow’s Psalm of Life.
I had to confess that I was not, so he recited it from memory. It impressed me deeply.
A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 - 1882
Tell me not, in mournful numbers, “Life is but an empty dream!”
For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal;
“Dust thou art, to dust returnest," Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow, Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
 Learn to labor and to wait.
When I came across a religion that taught that we can continue to progress eternally, it struck a harmonious chord in my heart and mind.  Whether I can ever approach perfection, I will be a better person to the extent that I tried. A few years later, as a departing missionary, I quoted a few lines of this poem when bearing my testimony in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, in Salt Lake City.
I invite you to share this poem with your family members.