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

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Family Member

In family history, I tend to look back in time. But sometimes I need to look forward.

Here is a photo of our newest grandchild, Lilianna Dorothy. She is beautiful, with a full head of black hair and a clear complexion.

As I think of the changes my mother has seen during her lifetime, and the changes I have seen in mine, it is hard to visualize what the future holds for Lilianna. God bless you little one. May He shelter you in the hollow of his hands, as you move forward to play your own special role here on earth. May you bring to your parents the joy that only a child can bring!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Violet Hilda Ing Matthews

I received an email from my brother Reg telling me that our aunt had passed away on Monday.
(Interestingly, I live about an hour's drive away and he lives 7 hours away.)

I confirmed it with my brother Lloyd, and he said he found out from the local Breton newspaper.

MATTHEWS, Violet Hilda (Ing)
May 29, 1922 – June 12, 2017

Violet Hilda Matthews (Ing), 95, of Leduc, AB passed away on June 12, 2017.
Violet was born in Kirriemuir, AB on May 29, 1922, the second youngest of 6 children, to Richard and Louisa Ing. Violet moved to the Breton area with her family in the spring of 1934. She married Ray Matthews in 1946 and moved to the farm where they raised their 5 children. She loved entertaining family and friends, flowers, singing and volunteering.
Violet is survived by sons Gary (Rita) and Stan (Brenda); daughters Diane, Darlene (Wade) and daughter-in-law Sue (Ron); sisters Dorothy Buchanan and Myrtle Carson (Evans); 11 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. 
She was predeceased by her parents, husband and son (Harold), sister Marion Lidgett, and brothers Walter & Charlie Ing.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Village of Breton (Breton Cemetery), Box 480, Breton, AB T0C 0P0.
For service details, please visit
Serenity Funeral Service, Leduc (780) 980-3688


Dear Auntie Vi was my mother's dearest friend as well as being her sister. After my mother was widowed, they lived in the same senior's lodge in Breton and then in Leduc, and finally in the Leduc Extendicare.  She was looking well when I saw her at Mom's birthday party last month.

When I was little, the families of my mother and her brother Walter and her sister Vi would meet at their parents' home in Breton on Saturdays, and we knew each other really well.

When my parents moved to Camrose in 1953, the Matthews family moved there too as our next door neighbors. I remember many hours of playing cribbage and other card games with her. She was patient, kind, and good humored.

Bless you and your family Auntie Vi.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Settling Stratford, Connecticut in 1639

Judy's ancestor Robert Seabrook is listed as one of the 17 families who founded the town of Stratford, Connecticut in 1639. Among the other founders were his sons-in-law Thomas Sherwood and Thomas Fairchild.

Thomas Sherwood was the husband of Sarah Seabrook and they were Judy's ancestors. Thomas Fairchild was the husband of Emma Seabrook.

During the week I came across this map showing Stratford as it was in 1639. I found it very interesting.

The village site was along a river, which was frequently the case, as it provided a source of abundant fresh water for settlers and livestock, and easy transportation in an era before roads were built. And along the left edge of the map we find "Indian Wigwams", an indication of friendly natives. Often the knowledge and experience of natives made the difference between survival and death to the European immigrants trying to survive winters on the new continent.

Near the center was a meetinghouse or church, and across the street from the meetinghouse was the home of Rev. Adam Blakeman. I wondered whether the group of settlers had been led to this spot by the minister, another common settlement practice. The meeting house would often serve as a school and a community center.

Reading the article in Wikipedia, I found that the Stratford settlers were part of the same Puritan movement as the Mayflower settlers 19 years earlier.,_Connecticut

The article begins by saying "Stratford is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It is situated on Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Housatonic River. Stratford is in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was founded by Puritans in 1639." The article discusses Rev. Blakeman's leadership and the history of Stratford in some length. I found it an interesting 5 minute read.

Dorothy's 97th birthday

Recently, we had a birthday party for my amazing mother, which also served as an informal Ing family reunion. (We used to hold these every year at Breton, but the health of the older generation no longer permits this. Three of the six children are still living, and all are in their 90s.)

Here is a photo I took on this occasion. They are left to right, by age: Myrtle 92, Violet 95, Dorothy 97 (ages as of the end of this month).

Mom (Dorothy) was able to have good conversations with various members of the family, but by the time this photo was taken, she was noticeably tired. 

The weather was in the low 20s C and there were no bugs yet, so the dining patio was ideal for a large group. I didn’t take a count at the time, but I remember the following people being there:

Mom, Vi and Myrtle

Of Marion’s family: Ernie, Donna; Ted; Sherry

Of Mom’s family: Me and Judy, Laurel and Cadence, Evelyn and 2 children, Andrew and Nicole and 5 children; Lloyd; Justin, Kim and 4 children (arrived late, because of another commitment); Ed;
Judy and Bernie; Jason; Brandon, Tiffany, and William; Nikki, Taryn and her friend John

Of Vi’s family: Gary; Stan and Brenda; Diane

Of Myrtle’s family: Shirley

So I count over 40 people. James and Karin’s family would have come if her brother's wedding had been on a different day.

It was a beautiful time, full of expressions of love and gratitude.

Happy birthday Dorothy, Vi and Myrtle! All three have birthdays in May.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fun Genealogy

I received an email from WikiTree It claims I am 24 connections removed from Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI and sister to Cesare Borgia, who was said to be the model for Machiavelli's prince, in "The Prince". I don't clam any Italian ancestry, but who knows? WikiTree likes to connect everyone to Lucrezia Borgia. This link may work

The Borgias were certainly an interesting family. As they endeavored to control church and state, I get the impression that they were very dangerous enemies and dangerous friends as well. If they invited you to dinner, you might be doomed whether you accepted or not. Lucrezia was said to wear a hollow ring where she would keep a favorite poison as a special treat for some of her guests. But this is just old gossip and slander, repeated over the past 500 years by their enemies. She may have been a very nice person. She was certainly intelligent and had a remarkable education for a noble woman of her time.

Long Lost Cousin

Actually, she was not lost, but we had never been in touch.  :-)

As I was going through the records of my ancestors and their descendants in the FamilySearch Family Tree, I was looking for historical sources to add and duplicates that needed merging. So far I have done this on the Buchanan, Watson, and Ing/Waller lines.

As I was cleaning-up the information on the George Watson family, it occurred to me that Emily Sheffield's daughter Gloria Knight Praill might have died. Judy and I visited Gloria in 2003, the only time I had seen her. On that occasion we also visited Gloria's (half) sister Marion Bone in Hillcrest. I knew that Marion had died several years ago, but had heard nothing about Gloria.

I did not find an obituary for Gloria, but I found one for her half sister Evelyn Knight. It mentioned that Gloria died just 13 days after Evelyn.

This caused me to re-read a letter I had received from Gloria in 2001.


Dec 12/2001

Dear Cousin Bill,

First of all, I owe you an abject apology for not contacting you much earlier. There's really no excuse except for a few health problems. Since first hearing from you, I've had two hip replacements and then a major back problem. The hips are fine (very good result) but I'm afraid the back is something I have to learn to live with. - Not too easy to accept for such an active person! Anyway, you were wise to retire and enjoy yourself while you are still able to.

I'm afraid I have no old pictures at all. Mom didn't seem to have any, and if she did, Cora Jean would have them.

Regarding my family - my daughter is here and my son is in India. [...]

Thanks very much for the pictures. I do remember Dick [Watson] as we lived with him [about 1926] before moving to Washington [Tacoma, then Benge, Coeur d'Elene, Winona - where Harold died]. I also remember Buchanan's visiting at Dick's place, particularly a Geordie who told us ghost stories around a camp fire and scared us to death. He was GOOD. Was he your father - brother to Jack and Inez? Oh yes - I see on the back page you sent that he probably was.

If you ever get through this way on your travels, I would like to meet you and your wife. I had a call from Carl Sheffield's daughter Lorraine last week and we decided we would try to keep in touch a little better in the future. I guess the reason we don't do these things earlier in life is that we are too busy with our immediate families.

I hope you can read my writing - my typing fell by the wayside as arthritis got worse. Lucky I can still hold a pen, I guess. It's amazing how many small things one gets thankful for as the years pass.

Thanks again for all your trouble. I know [my sister] Cora Jean feels as I do - she has her problems, too, the last couple of years - much worse than mine.

Please keep in touch. Since my traveling days seem to be numbered, I would be very interested to hear about yours. I have decided to try one more trip down the Baja (Cabo San Lucas). I spent my winters there for 18 years and have now missed 3. My friends seem to want me one more time and it's the last year my insurance will cover me, so come Jan 14th, I shall try once more for 3 weeks. Wish me luck!



Judy and I spent a wonderful visit with Gloria and her new husband Ken. As I re-read her letter I noticed "I'm afraid I have no old pictures at all. Mom didn't seem to have any, and if she did, Cora Jean would have them."

I could find no obituary for Cora Jean, so I thought I would try to find her phone number or address. I eventually found a phone number and left a message. A few days later her daughter Diane called me, and I asked her about family photos. She told me that she has a box of them but does not know who most of the people are. So I offered to send the few Watson photos that I have to see if it would help. This morning I also sent her a copy of a 97-page book I had written on the Buchanans and Watsons.



These two families were closely related. John Buchanan married Isabel Watson, his brother Samuel Buchanan married Isabel's sister Mary Watson, and John's sister Jane Buchanan married James Watson, a brother to Isabel and Mary. David Watson, their brother married a different Jane Buchanan, a niece to the others.

Then in the next generation, my grandfather William Andrew Buchanan, a son of John and Isabel, married Elizabeth Jane Watson, a first cousin, daughter of George Watson and Agnes "Jane" Welsh. 

The attached book will help you to sort it all out. It includes brief stories from their lives. 
My website has various family stories including one by a Watson cousin from Abbotsford, BC.


Your cousin,



Sunday, March 05, 2017

"Great Grandma Buchanan"

My mother is approaching her 97th birthday.

She is a remarkable woman and has lived a remarkable life.

Born in 1920, she would have grown up among tales of the horrors of "The Great War".

She experienced the Great Depression first hand, as one farm after another "dried up".

Her brothers and two brothers-in-law were soldiers during "World War II".

A fall last year resulted in a broken femur and her remaining years will almost certainly be spent in a wheelchair.

Tomorrow she faces surgery for an "aggressive cancer". She may not survive the surgery, but she doesn't fear it. It is just another obstacle to be faced in life.

You would think that she had every reason to be discouraged with life, but she has enjoyed life and has always had great faith in the future. She represents much of what is right and good about humanity. She and her husband were always ready to share the little they had with others. And they always had time for family and friends.

Best wishes Mom! You are in our thoughts and our prayers!