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.

My Photo
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

Monday, October 01, 2018

A DNA Breakthough

For over 50 years I have been looking for the parents of my great great grandfather Andrew Buchanan, who brought his family to Canada from County Tyrone, Ireland in 1847. We may have found them, thanks to an autosomal "Family Finder" DNA test done by my cousin Darlene. One of the matches is an S. D. Keys, shown as a 2nd to 4th cousin.

This is someone we have been in touch with over recent years and if his 2GGF Samuel Buchanan was a brother to our Andrew Buchanan, then he would be a 4th cousin to Darlene. But it gets better. Samuel's wife Matilda was also a Buchanan by birth, which means that he received a double-dose of Buchanan DNA, so he might appear as a 2nd cousin.

.Various sources indicate that Matilda was born in Castlederg and Samuel in Cooel/Coolavanagh.
Matilda appears as the daughter of Joseph Buchanan and Nancy Carson, and Samuel as the son of John Buchanan and Mary (Molly) Caldwell.

Genetically, Andrew could be the son of either of these sets of parents, depending whether he was a brother to Samuel or Matilda. But since the names Matilda, Joseph, and Nancy (Ann) are rare in Andrew's family, it seems probable that Matilda was the sister-in-law and not the sister. The names Samuel and John are very common in Andrew's family.

We have close YDNA matches with the Buchanans of Cooel and of Kirlish. S. D. Keys would not appear as a YDNA match because this test follows the male ancestral line. His male line would be Keys rather than Buchanan.

So it appears highly probable that John Buchanan and Mary Caldwell of Cooel are Andrew Buchanan's parents. 

Good work Darlene!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Clan Buchanan appoints its first chief since 1681

Some of you are aware of my interest in early Buchanan history.

I received a text message from James informing me that the Lord Lyon (the heraldry authority for Scotland) has recognized John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan as Chief of Clan Buchanan. Up to this point, he was the representative of the Arnprior and Leny branches of the family, so he seems like a natural choice.

John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan
the new Chief of Clan Buchanan

Arnprior was noted for several things.

  • They were descendants of the facetiously-named King of Kippen, friend of King James V, whose amusing story was recorded by Sir Walter Scott. 
  • A Buchanan of Arnprior who removed the gates of Mugdock Castle, seat of the chiefs of Clan Graham, when they were on the opposite sides of a civil war in the 1600s.
  • Francis Buchanan of Arnprior died as a supporter of the Jacobite cause.
  • John Buchanan of Arnprior was the agent for settling the estate of John Buchanan of Buchanan, the last chief in 1681. (At this point most of the Buchanan estates passed to the family of the Duke of Montrose.) 

Leny is one of the oldest Branches of the Buchanan clan.

  • In fact when William Buchanan of Auchmar, a rival claimant to the the title of Chief, wrote his monumental history of the Buchanan clan in 1723, he expressed surprise that the Leny branch bothered to keep the surname Buchanan after all this time. (His own Auchmar line died out in two more generations, so even if the Lord Lyon had granted them the title, it would not have lasted for long.)
  • Janet Buchanan, one of the two daughters of Chief John Buchanan who died in 1681, married Hugh Buchanan of Leny.
  • So you might say that after all this time the title is where it belongs.
Best wishes to the new Chief of Buchanan and the Lady Buchanan, his wife!.

For further information see and

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Happy 75th Anniversary!

On Sunday Judy and I drove to Lacombe to join in a special celebration.

Myrtle and Evans celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary recently. They are my last surviving aunt and uncle. They have a daughter and two sons.

I have known for a long time that the best man and the maid of honour for the wedding were my father George Buchanan and Evans' sister Fern. But I did not know that I had played a very small role as well. "They first met at a baby shower for Billy Buchanan at the home of Mrs. Hettie Chapin." So if it wasn't for my baby shower they might not have met. But by even the longest stretch of imagination, that is all of the credit I can claim! The remaining 75 years was entirely their own achievement.

In 1943 Evans was serving in the Canadian Army and was able to get a short leave to marry Myrtle, before his unit was shipped off to join the conflict in Europe. He served in England, France, Holland, and Germany before returning home. 

Myrtle and Evans spent a lifetime serving in the community organizations where ever they lived. And they both enjoyed sports, even late in their senior years, and the medals they won proved their skills. Horse shoe pitching was a part of our Ing family reunions, and I remember that Evans was almost always a member of the winning twosome, regardless who he had for a partner.

They have impressed me as being happy and positive through bad times and good. I have never heard an unkind word from either of them. These wonderful people have made the world a better place in every way they could.

Congratulations Myrtle and Evans!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Trip to Jasper National Park

When Rob was in Vietnam a few months ago, his in-laws helped him to see the local sights. We wanted to do the same for his mother-in-law before she returns home. 

On Wednesday morning we stopped at Rob’s at 8 am. Rob’s car would not start the night before so they were taking their Infinity QX4 SUV/van, which has more room but less fuel economy.

It would be a long drive to Jasper and the smoke from the forest fires in BC would obscure the mountains to some extent, but this was the time we had available for the trip.

We stopped at Hinton A&W for lunch, then on to Miette Hot Springs. We considered visiting the Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, but decided that we did not have enough time, so we drove to Miette instead. Along  the highway way we saw a herd of bighorn mountain sheep.

On the Miette road we visited Punchbowl falls, which was not very impressive this time of year. 

What a road to Miette! 15 km of narrow road, sharp corners and hills. Rob said it made him wish that he still had his BMW. My car’s brakes probably received more wear and tear in this trip up the mountain and back than they received during the previous year! Rob was equal to the task of taking the baby stroller up and down the stairs at Miette. The water was hot and relaxing. Many of the people seemed to be foreign tourists.We had a long and enjoyable conversation with a Danish couple from Copenhagen. We stayed there until 2 pm. There were more mountain sheep at Miette. They have no fear of people at all

Then on to Maligne Canyon. We hiked down as far as the first bridge, then back. It was starting to get late in the afternoon, and we wanted to see Athabasca Falls. 

Athabasca Falls are a magnificent sight! We spent a half hour there, Then it was time to start back home. We saw two herds of elk, beautiful creatures. A mother bear and cub also walked past our car. Judy said she had never been as close to a bear in her life. (probably less than a meter), but she was safely inside the car and they were outside the car.

Rob stopped in Jasper to refuel but I was physically exhausted and decided to carry on home. We could probably have made it home without refueling, but it was not worth the risk. We stopped briefly in Edson, then on towards home. 

Rob passed us around Lake Wabamun. It was wonderful to arrive home about 9:15 pm. I was so tired at Athabasca Falls that I wasn’t sure I could drive all the way home. But I believe in the power of prayer.

It was a wonderful day. We did not manage to see everything I had hoped for, but I think that we all have good memories of what we have done and seen today.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Buchanan Castle Golf Club

During Sunday School, I attended a family history workshop and had a pleasant surprise. My friends Bob and Sandra from Yellowhead ward dropped in to tell me about their 3-week stay in Scotland. They visited the haunts of Sandra’s Fraser ancestors, of course, as well as most other areas of Scotland. And they came bearing gifts, photos of the ruins of the new Buchanan castle, and photos from the Buchanan Castle Golf Club. The golf club building is within some of the existing walls of the "Auld" Buchanan House/manor/castle.And they gave me a Buchanan Clan book, and a golf ball, embossed with the logo of the Buchanan Castle Golf Club. The golf ball was something new to me. My brother Ed and my cousin Darlene had given me photos and books after their visit there, but never a golf ball. Thank you guys, as a descendant of the clan chiefs, I really appreciate it!


Email: Photos and Clan Buchanan items

Dear Bob and Sandra,

Thank you for your thoughtfulness, love and kindness!

Y-DNA tests on three of my male cousins identify my family as "a typical chiefly line of Clan Buchanan", So these photos and other items touch me in a very personal way.

I am glad you enjoyed your explorations in Scotland. I own a book with the grandiose title "How the Scots Invented the Modern World", but the surprising thing is how well it supports its claim. Much of comes from the introduction of universal free basic education. The Presbyterian reformers, had a goal that everyone would be able to read the Bible, and do basic writing and arithmetic. And so they made basic education free to all, at a time when the average laborer in England and Wales could only sign their names with an X.. Universities were established in major Scottish cities, and new schools of medicine, science, economics, engineering, etc. were developed to the point that Scots were in high demand in other countries as university professors.

The book makes a few other claims, but it had my attention when it mentioned free basic education, because it reminded me of an old family story. My great grandfather and his siblings were harassed on their way to Sunday School in Northern Ireland by children of a different faith, who wanted to steal their Bibles because they had been taught that that book was a curse. It may seem like a peculiar story, but it means that my Presbyterian family could read and write at a time when many of their neighbors could not.

I was thinking again of the man you met whose life story paralleled Bob's in so many ways. I see an experience like that is a tender mercy from God. He knows you both and loves you. ...

Thank you for wanting to help me!

Your friend,
Bill Buchanan 

Death of Lorne Buchanan - Who created "the" Buchanan Family Tree Book

My cousin Barry sent me the obituary of our cousin Lorne Buchanan.
I first heard of Lorne Buchanan in 1977. My work had required me to visit the families of correspondence students in the High Prairie area.
"So your name is Buchanan? Are you related to Gordon Buchanan who owns the sawmill in town?" "It is possible, but probably not." 
"Gordon is from Manitoba, so maybe not."
"My dad was born at Neepawa, Manitoba, so maybe I am!"

After supper I went to Gordon's house and somewhat nervously rang the doorbell. A nice lady answered the doorbell, and when I explained that my father was born at Neepawa and I was wondering if our families might be connected. She turned around and said to someone behind her "Gordon, why don't you get your Buchanan Family Tree Book?" Gordon showed me himself in the book and I showed him myself. We were officially related. Wow, what a book!

I collected the information about the book and I set out over the next few months to get a copy. 

That was not easily done. I found that the book had been created by Lorne and Doris Buchanan of Neepawa, except they didn't live there anymore and no one seemed to know where they lived now or how to get a copy of the book.

Then one day a package arrived in the mail. A distant cousin sent me her copy of the book. Bless her! I made photocopies for a few close family members and later I input all of the data into a genealogy database program.

In 1992, I visited Neepawa and I was still trying to locate Lorne and Doris. I wasn't sure they were still alive. But a cousin suggested that I telephone his mother, as she would know his address. "She is still alive?" "Yes, she is." She gave me their phone number and so my wife and I and our two youngest sons had a wonderful visit with Lorne and Doris.

In 2002 we were again in Neepawa and had a great visit with Lorne and Doris. He agreed to give us a copy of all of the letters he had received from cousins providing information for the book.I had many enjoyable hours inputting the information into my computer. 

Doris passed away in 2014, and now Lorne in 2018. Here is his obituary, (with the names of living family members removed).

From Brandon Sun Obituaries Aug 2018:
BUCHANAN: On Monday, August 13, 2018 Lawrence Campbell "Lorne" Buchanan, age 91 years, passed away at the Wawanesa Personal Care Home. Lorne, the second son of Bert and Maude Buchanan, was born August 3, 1927 in the R.M. of Lansdowne, east of Bernie, on his parents farm. In 1931, the family moved to the Scott place where they lived for three years prior to moving to Riding Mountain. He attended the Tobermore School for one year, then went to Riding Mountain School where he completed his grade 9 education. In 1943, Lorne started work at the Neepawa Airport and the following year went to Portage Airport. In 1946, he started working with Walter Matthews Plumbing and Heating in Neepawa, as a Plumber and Tinsmith, until 1951 when he went to Winnipeg to receive formal training. Lorne ran his own company for a few months and then started with Canada Post in 1951. 

He married Doris Sneesby March 7, 1953 in the Sneesby family home in Woodside. The family was complete with the arrival of five children: .... In 1980, they moved to Altona, where he retired in 1985. Together Lorne and Doris moved to Manhattan Beach in 1988 and lived in the camp house for a couple of years before renovating the Buchanan/Tyler cottage to become their retirement home. In later years he lived at the Wawanesa Valley Lodge, then Wawanesa Personal Care Home. 

When not working, Lorne enjoyed travelling to both the east and west coast and numerous times to Arizona to spend time with ... family. Always willing to help people around the camp with projects, Lorne most of all loved to have coffee and share his wisdom. His witty humour was second to none. He will be deeply missed. 

Lorne will be lovingly remembered by his children, ..., thirteen grandchildren, thirteen great grandchildren and sister-in-law .... He was predeceased by his wife Doris, his parents and brother Andy. 

The Celebration of Lorne's Life will take place at Memories Chapel, 330 18th Street North, on Saturday, August 18, 2018 (TODAY) at 2:00 p.m. A reception will follow. Donations in memory of Lorne may be made to the Manhattan Beach Retreat Centre, P.O. Box 62, Ninette, MB R0K 1R0.  Expressions of sympathy may be made at

At the website, I left this message:

Lorne and Doris edited the Buchanan Family Tree book about 1970, a colossal work that involved contacting hundreds of cousins and gathering and organizing the information. And all of this was done before we had computers. He loved to tell old family stories which was wonderful, because that was just what I hoped for. As a fellow "family historian", he has been an example and an inspiration. A giant has left us.

My sincere sympathy to the family and friends.
Third cousin, Bill Buchanan

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Blackfoot Indian Genealogy

During the past two weeks I have been doing some research for a friend of mine.

His ancestors lived on the Blood Indian Reserve between Cardston and Fort Macleod, Alberta.
I was delighted to find photographs of his great grandfather Big Sorrel Horse and his great grandmother, and his great-great grandfather Left Hand. This is amazing, as I do not have a single photo of any of my great-great grandparents!

I even found written descriptions of family members, and in one case I found a family story told by Big Sorrel Horse himself. He tells how some of the people were totally devastated when the buffalo disappeared and they had to rely on government handouts to avoid starvation. He said that Chief Red Crow decided if white men could survive by agriculture so could the Blood people. Left Hand believed this too, and Big Sorrel Horse tells how his father threshed the grain by putting it on blankets and walking the horses around and around to tread out the grain. Then he winnowed it in the wind, and loaded 7 bags of oats on a travois and spent 3 days taking it to Fort Macleod to sell it.

Other stories tell how the governments on both sides of the border imposed peace between nations that had been enemies for generations, and the trouble caused by men who wanted to keep up the old traditions of raiding the camps of others. For young men in particular, battle honors might be needed in order to claim a wife.

In the 1901 Canada census, the earliest Canada census where I found him, Big Sorrel Horse was aged 18 and already married. The story I heard was that he earned the name by defeating a Cree warrior who was riding a big white horse, but when he rode the horse out of the water, its coat was stained red by the blood in the water. So he had won a "big sorrel horse" in battle and this became his name, which has been passed down to some of his descendants.

Black and white photo of Mr. and Mrs. Big Sorrel Horse