Bill's Genealogy Blog

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

My Photo
Location: Onoway, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. During July 2007 - January 2010, and September 2011 until the present I have provided part-time support for This is very rewarding. I have helped many with the free Personal Ancestral File 5 (PAF5) software. I continue to help others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
Since April 2010, I am an assistant director of 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

Friday, April 30, 2010

I had an interesting price negotiation with my tree surgeon, but not the kind you might think. He phoned me and offered a price of 50% of the original price of $900. I counter offered with $700, he replied with an offer of $500. Finally we settled on $600. That's right. I had decided that 2 days without electricity was worth $200, so I decided that $700 was a fair price, and he was trying to give me a better deal. I think that we negotiated a settlement that we can both be comfortable with. Maybe some day I will need his services again and I would rather that we ended this situation amicably. _________________________________________________________________ I read Dick Eastman's blog posting this morning, where he mentioned the new family history resources available for free at FamilySearch. To read the article see: I decided to make a comment that is relevant to my own blog, so I will quote it. Posted by: Bill Buchanan April 30, 2010 at 12:30 PM This is wonderful! I just tried it and can actually view the 1870 census document instead of being sent to's commercial site. I am also amazed at the number of new databases recently added for Canada on the Record Search pilot. There now are over 20 major Canadian databases. I spent hours yesterday checking my database against the Ontario birth records, and I am part way through the letter "B". I am also checking the free 1901 Canada Census at since that particular census gives exact birthdates too (sometimes exactly 1 year "off"). I enjoy all of these new resources. The Family History Centers have free access to the US Census 1850-1930, the UK Census of England and Wales 1841-1911, and lots of other good stuff through partnerships of FamilySearch with some of the major subscription services. These are "the good old days" for genealogy! _________________________________________________________________ I spent my evening at the FHC helping to install LCD monitors and miscellaneous other minor tasks. I expect to spend more time there in the future. I couldn't believe how "dead" things were. Despite all of the new free resources, there was only one patron for most of the evening. Somehow they have to get the word out to the public.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Further technological challenges (This is starting to ressemble Lemony Snicket much too much!) As I start writing this posting, I am sitting in a house with no electricity, no heat and no running water. This is how it happened ... I live on a rural acreage. I had noticed that some trees on our property were threatening our electic power line. So over a period of a few days I carefully cut down those I dared to remove. Then I hired a contractor to remove four trees that I judged to be beyond my ability. I explained that I did not want the trees to fall on the propane tank or the power line. He assured me that his crew could handle the job. We attended a wedding on Saturday, and when we returned we found that three of the trees had been cut down, bucked up, and neatly piled. The fourth had brought down the power line! I phoned the contractor, who told me that he had hired an electrical contractor to do the repairs and that we should have power before dark. Sunday morning he told me the same thing. We would have power before dark. Our friends Alan and Kathy Hill took pity on us and invited us to their house for lunch and afterwards Alan brought over his 1750 watt generator so that we would try to save the food in the freezer and refrigerator from spoiling. We ran extension cords from the generator to these appliances, and it worked well. We still had no furnace, lights or running water. That evening I had expected to attend a training meeting for family history consultants, but I didn't feel right about leaving my wife alone in the cold and the dark. She urged me to make my home teaching visits, and volunteered to come with me if my usual companion was unavailable. I think she was hoping to get out of the cold , dark house! I phoned him and he was available. I phoned three of the families I visit and they were available - so off I went, leaving my sweet wife in the cold and the dark. When I returned home, she said that the generator had run for 5 hours on the tankful of gas. She asked about us possibly buying a generator, and we will check into it. Then Monday, the tree surgeon explained that the electrical contractor was having trouble buying the necessary parts on the week end. But we would have power before dark. (I copied the above from the paper I had scribbled it on.) Our "off-the-grid" experience ended in the late afternoon of Monday. The electrician re-strung the power line, installed the replacement parts, and asked me to phone the power utility to re-connect us to the grid. Their service man arrived about a half hour later, and installed a new meter and re-connected us to the transformer. We are back! It is amazing how much more I appreciate warmth, lighting, running water, and my computer, after having been without them for a few days!

Friday, April 23, 2010

This past week has been filled with technology challenges: 1. Corrupted Database: In the past few months I have started using AncestralQuest 12.1 to synchronize my genealogy database with On April 15th I discovered that my AQ database was badly corrupted. Attempts to repair it only created other problems. It added inappropriate parent relationships such as Sealed or Guardian, and after each of these incorrect relationships no further children were linked to these parents. (If the parents had 10 children and the error occurred with child #1, children #2 through #10 were no longer linked to the parents.) Suddenly, hundreds of people had no parents! Yet, when I checked the April 10th version of my database in PAF, the relationships were there. I wasted hours searching for and re-linking children to parents in AQ, and went to bed for the night feeling exhausted and frustrated. The next morning I decided to take a different approach. I checked the 10 April version in PAF and found 4 errors with bad pointers. As an experienced PAF user, rather than run PAF’s Check/Repair function, I exported the database as a GEDCOM file, created a new PAF file and imported the GEDCOM. All was well. There were no errors and the children were all linked to their parents. But what of the 50 or so people I had added after 10 April, and the other people whose information I had updated from the Broughton Story, etc? I tried AQ’s Compare/Merge Databases for over an hour before I realized that I was hopelessly lost! The next day I wondered whether the PAF Insight program on my old computer still worked. It did! In 10 minutes I had imported the new data from the April 14th database into the April 10th database. I now had a good and up-to-date database! 2. Uploading HTML files to my web server: Now it was time to generate a new HTML version of my database for my website. This time I used PAF, and then uploaded the files. For some reason, the name index file (which was complete on my local computer) was only partially uploading. I switched from AceFTP to FileZilla to upload the offending (but crucial file). No go! Well, maybe the web server’s own tools would do the job? Again, no joy! In the end I made two copies of the file, and deleted names M-Z from one copy and names A-L from the other. This gave me two smaller names index files (index_A-L.html and index_M-Z.html), which were duly uploaded to the web server. I then tinkered with the page that links to these indexes and other things as needed. The new online database was … ONLINE! Surely there must be a better way! I generated the pages with AQ and the results were the same … I was not surprised since PAF5 and AQ12 both descend from the old AQ3. I tried four free programs I found on the web, but have found nothing that meets my needs. I want something free that generates HTML files that are less that 1 MB in size. Do you know of anything? Please let me know. My database is over 21,000 people, and many of the free products seem to be designed to handle a few hundred at most. 3. Google accounts suspended. I went to sign into Gmail yesterday morning and the Dell partner page reported “The Gmail gadget does not support the "Always use https" preference that you selected in your Gmail settings. If you would like to use https, please open Gmail directly. Learn more” [Apparently, Gmail globally changed this setting on all accounts.] Further attempts to access my Gmail account and my Blogger account brought up this message: “Account temporarily disabled We apologize for the inconvenience. Accounts may be disabled because of a perceived violation of either the Google Terms of Service or product-specific Terms of Service. Learn more” Ouch! I sent Google two emails assuring them that I have never used my accounts for anything improper, and asking them to re-activate my accounts. Today I tried another method provided by Gmail, by requesting an automated telephone reply giving a validation code. I immediately received the phone call and had my account reactivated in about 2 minutes, with a much more secure password (as requested). I love happy endings. I hope I will always be grateful for those that come with less effort!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Exchanging information I was contacted a few days ago by a Broughton relative, and we exchanged information. As a result, I have been able to update three of my Buchanan families who descended from the Broughtons! (These updates will appear in the 2010 version of the Buchanan Family Tree e-book, which I plan to have available in December.) I hadn't expected anything out of helping her, but it is nice to see how "what goes around comes around". While researching the Broughtons who lived in Elma Township, Perth County, Ontario, I came across information on the settling of North Easthope. This was of special interest to me because my Buchanan family went there 2 or 3 months after their arrival in Canada in 1847, and the women stayed there for the winter while the men went into the wilderness north of Stratford to seek land and build houses. (Their settlement later became Donegal, which is east of Newry but not shown on the map. The pin marks North Easthope, maybe 30 km from Donegal.) The article I found is at and I found it fascinating. As I read about John Campbell, second Marquis of Breadalbane clearing the tenants from farms in the glens around Loch Tay, and sending them to Canada, I immediately thought of the old Scottish ballad "Bonnie George Campbell" and it's catching melody. "High upon Highland and low upon Tay Bonny George Campbell rode out for a day Saddled and bridled and gallant rode he. Toom home came his good horse But never came he." There are many variations in the words, and in some versions it mourns the death of James Campbell, who died in the battle of Glenlivet on October 3, 1594. Other good stuff I just received my free copy of The Practical Archivist's popular e-booklet "8 Blunders People Make When They Scan Photos and How To Avoid Them All". The Practical Archivist, Sally Jacobs has a blog and a website and has been interviewed by one of my favorite podcasters, Lisa Louise Cooke The Practical Archivist is well worth checking out. If you haven't listened to Lisa's podcasts, you are missing fun and interesting stuff!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The O'Cahan Clan of Ulster, and Wikipedia
As I was trying to explain to a cousin how our Buchanan family could come from Ireland rather than Scotland, it occurred to me that Wikipedia would have a good article on the Plantation of Ulster. I found one and sent her the link. While reading Wikipedia articles on Irish history, I found the one on the O'Cahans. It doesn't mention Anselan who was the founder of the (Scottish) Buchanan clan, but has some interesting information on the destruction of the Irish clan his father had ruled 600 years previously. I was surprised to see that it refers to one of my favorite Irish melodies. 'Rory Dall O'Cahan, an Irish harpist of the 17th century, may have penned the popular Irish tune "The Derry Air" or, "Londonderry Air", in order to lament the destruction of the O' Cathain Clan. Consequently, it may have been originally called "O'Cahan's Lament". The tune is best known as the accompaniment to the song "Danny Boy".' I was unaware of a tenuous family connection to this beautiful and haunting old melody. I found it somewhat touching. Anselan is mentioned in a separate Wikipedia article (Note the various spellings of the name.) So when you are trying to explain something complicated, Wikipedia may be able to save you a lot of work. Studies have shown it to be as accurate as major "print" encyclopedias and it is frequently more comprehensive than they are. -- Bill website: