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, 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.

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!