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.
In 2010-2018 Iserved 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 26, 2011

A Date Guide to English Genealogy
GenealogyInTime Newsletter
26 February 2011 

This article has a wealth of information on record types used in England, Wales (and in some cases Ireland), as well as the time periods when they were used. It goes far beyond the usual census, birth/christening, marriage, and death records! I learned a lot of new info ... now if I can just remember it!

This is the first part of a multipart article.

(short form

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Zealand Earthquake
We were worried when we heard that Christchurch, New Zealand had been hit by another earthquake, because we have friends living there. So we send off a brief, anxious message and received this reply.

Hello Bill & Judy

We just cannot explain how we felt when we got the power back on and looked at the e mails we had received have sent. We were really overcome. He phone lines for us here were kept for emergency phones calls out only. It really is a great comfort, knowing that you are there.

Well we are all fine bodily but mentally exhausted, just when we thought things were beginning to settle down. We would have the odd little tremor and thought nothing could ever be as bad as the September quake. Wow what a big mistake that was.

Dawn and I were shopping and jars of glass beads etc were just hurtling through the air. The walls of the shop went one way and the floor went another and up and down. When everything had stopped we managed to drive home. Just about to turn in the drive and wham bang another aftershock. Our car was rocking and rolling as we turned in, only to see Alan’s car really swaying from side to side almost going over.

Our house is fine and only a few things thrown about.

The road in which Dawn lives is terrible with holes in the road and liquefaction everywhere. Liquefaction is water forcing the silt and sand upthrough the ground. It is horrible. One car was stuck in it,at the bottom of their drive they have a gaping hole. Another old friend (90 years old) had this horrible stuff nearly up to his windowsills.

Dawn’s house is a mess, bigger cracks everywhere (bit still liveable at this stage). Ken and Alan are going to take the chimney down before it falls down and damages the roof. The drawers in their units were actually thrown across the room and the units moved at least a foot from the wall. Everything in the kitchen and the laundry landed on the floor. Fortunately not too many breakages.

This folks we can live with, we have our lives and our homes. We are together and know where we all are at each time. Unlike a lot of people at the moment.

Our friend’s son in law was in town having coffee with him mum. They were sitting near the door of the café when it hit. They went to get out but his mum tripped and the people behind just pushed her down and walked over her. He managed to pull her out. They got back to where they had parked the cars only to find his car completely flattened and hers very damaged. Today there was a white tick [checkmark] on his car showing that no one was trapped in it.

The last quake was 7.1 but this one was less but not as deep, not as far away and more tonnage and of course more damage. There were at least 10 after shocks last night some as 5.7 and not very deep. I am to quote technical terms – totally knackered. But on saying that we are still alive.

We have just been watching the news that you all would have seen yesterday. It is bad. The PGG building that has been on the news is a relatively new – about five years at the most. The CTV building where the people are buried is where Dawn used to work. She was on the 5th floor.

At this stage in time we still do not have water, well our area hasn’t. So we have been to a friend who still has the water on but it needs boiling. To “flush” the loo Alan takes a bucket with rope attached and lowers it into the creek just over our fence. Brings the water back and flushes the loo. We are not really supposed to do that because many of the sewerage places are knocked out.

Well at this stage, I know that this e mail is a bit topsy turvy, but we would like to say Thank you so much, your thoughts, words and your prayers have been gratefully received.

Lots of love

There are other people in New Zealand, Libya, and other places that need our prayers.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It has been a fun week!

Lost Great Aunt, Now Found
While I was checking birth records on for Judy's Davidson family in the Liverpool-Everton area of Lancashire, I discovered a great aunt Margaret Davidson, christened 1 Jul 1888 in All Saints Church, Liverpool, Lancashire, England. This was an unexpected bonus! I was just trying to find exact dates rather than approximations. I never expected to find a missing child. Margaret probably died very young, as Judy's father never mentioned her. (I have also had fun filling in some gaps in the Ralph Davidson - Margaret Ellen Pickavance family, as well as Margaret Ellen's parents' family.) This family has a special place in my heart, as Ralph's daughter Mary Elizabeth Davidson Towns was "Aunt Mary" to Judy.

Websites Old and NewMy friend Octave asked me to change the rates posted for his hay hauling business, which I did. But it also caused me to reexamine the free websites I created for the Ukrainian Genealogical and Historical Society and for Alberta GenWebs. These were sitting on and I was unable to update them. I could sign in, but their server would refuse my FTP connection. I changed my password and tried again.  No luck! The changed password was accepted, but the FTP connection was refused. I finally gave up and looked for a new free webhost. I found one, and it looks to be working well. UGHS is at and my Alberta county GenWeb sites are at It is nice to be able to update the sites again!

Dead-end Trees
At the Family History Center, I tried to help someone who had built her family tree online, and then discovered there was no way to move it or download it. She would have to rebuild it each time she wanted to move it. Please save yourself time and effort by making sure that any website where you build a family tree will also allow you to download it (usually as a gedcom file, readable by all genealogy software). The best of these sites also allow you to upload an entire tree in the form of a gedcom file from your software. So building a tree on these sites takes a few minutes and not many hours if you keep your data in one of the good free genealogy programs. AncestralQuest, RootsMagic, PAF, and Legacy all have excellent free software that can import and export gedcom files, as well as adding, editing, and deleting records. To find them try a Google search for: download +(name of the software)

RootsTech 2011
Everything I have seen indicates that this conference was a smashing success. With over 3000 registered participants, plus hundreds more who visited the free displays of genealogy and technology, this conference was apparently the largest held in North America. Those who attended raved about it. It was a feast for techno-geeks as well as the white-haired set. I would love to have been there! (I sort of fall into both categories.)

What will the next week bring? I guess I will have to wait and see.

Friday, February 11, 2011

50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2011
Have you checked out the most popular genealogy websites?
Some of these I use regularly. Many others I do not. Some don't seem that interesting to me (e.g. directories of websites), but I will be checking out some of them. Pay sites are clearly indicated, which makes it easy to avoid them if you want.
The ranking was compiled by Kory Meyerink of ProGenealogists. (Kory used to do a podcast that really enjoyed.) I have to wonder how some sites that provide very little data or just one kind of data (e.g. ) rate so highly, while others such as http://http// didn't make the list.

Check the list yourself at:

What do you think?

Free and Easy Research in England
In family history research, there is always an element of luck. No matter how good your skills are, the records you are looking for may not exist, or may be camouflaged to the point that they are unrecognizable. Still, if you know where to look and how to look, you can make wonderful progress very quickly. I would like to share an example from yesterday.
Yesterday morning I had an email from someone in South Africa, interested in researching his ancestors in England. I was intrigued by the fact that he was researching an Ing family, one of my own main lines.
"Henry Ing was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, on 20th March 1901, at the Sands, Swindon, U.D.  (not sure what the UD means)  Henry’s father was Edwin Ing, and his mother’s name was Clara Annie Knight Ing, formerly Chapman."

I found only one possible family in the free 1881 census of England and Wales at

1881 British Census
Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation
Edwin R. ING Head M Male 50 Aylesbury, Wiltshire, England Chemist & Druggist
Adelaide ING Wife M Female 50 Chiseldon, Wiltshire, England
Adelaide ING Daur U Female 23 Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Elizabeth ING Daur U Female 21 Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Edwin ING Son U Male 16 Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Margarett ING Daur U Female 14 Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Fredrick ING Son U Male 10 Swindon, Wiltshire, England
William ING Son U Male 7 Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Mary GREENWOOD Serv U Female 20 Brinkworth, Wiltshire, England Servant Domestic
Elizabeth ROGERS Serv U Female 18 Cricklade, Wiltshire, England Servant Domestic
Source Information: Dwelling Walton House Bath Road
Census Place Swindon, Wiltshire, England Family History Library Film 1341487
Public Records Office Reference RG11 Piece / Folio 2018 / 8 Page Number 10

If so, here are his parents and siblings. Older siblings might already be married by this time, so the 1871 census would be an excellent source.

I told him "If you have access to a Family History Centre, you can access this and other England censuses for free, and should be able to easily find the previous generation." [There are FHCs in South Africa.]

Here is the marriage of Edwin R. Ing and Adelaide Baden registered in Highworth, Wiltshire at
Surname First name(s) District Vol Page
Marriages Sep 1855
BADEN ADELAIDE Highworth 5a 5
ING Edwin Robert Highworth 5a 5

Further searches in FreeBMD brought up a list of Ing children, whose births were registered in Highworth.

On the free site, here is Adelaide's birth, complete with her parents' names:
England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
Name: Adelaide Baden
Gender: Female
Baptism/Christening Date: 31 Dec 1830
Baptism/Christening Place: Chisledon, Wiltshire, England
Birth Date: 09 Jul 1830
Birthplace: Chisledon, Wiltshire, England
Father's Name: Andrew Baden
Mother's Name: Jane
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C02267-7
System Origin: England-EASy
Source Film Number: 1279399

And her parent's marriage:
England Marriages, 1538–1973
Groom's Name: Andrew Baden
Bride's Name: Jane Chowlls
Marriage Date: 1816
Marriage Place: Chisledon, Wiltshire, England
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M15497-1
System Origin: England-VR
Source Film Number: 1279399
Reference Number: 2:TV0C7C

This tree on FamilySearch shows Andrew Baden's parents:
Husband's Name
William BADEN Born: Abt. 1767 Place:
Married: 4 Nov 1792 Place: Chisledon, Wiltshire, England
Wife's Name
Mary FENNELL Born: Abt. 1771 Place:

So in about 2 hours I was able to go back from 1901 to about 1767 on one branch of his ancestors, using basically two free sources: and  With access to the additional censuses and records at a Family History Center, much additional research would be possible for free.

Last night at the Family History Center, I helped someone doing research in Canada. She was building a family tree on  but we could find no way to download the information she submitted there. She also subscribes to where we were able to connect her to a family tree contributed by her mother and her brother going back several generations. On we found her grandmother's immigration to Canada in 1949, which she found especially thrilling. "Hey, I know these people!!!" We also found the marriage of the grandmother's parents in

The FHC's new inkjet printer/scanner combo is out of ink again. Yesterday afternoon I was successful in giving network access to the old HP LJ1100 that is connected to the admin computer, and making it the default printer for the 5 patron-use computers.

In the evening I installed a new color cartridge in the inkjet so it is up and running, but it is ruinously expensive to operate as the default printer. And nearly all printing in the FHC works better in black and white anyway!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Thompsons of Collow (continued)
We have established that two of the brothers of my 2G-aunt Ann Thompson Buchanan came to America, Robert and William. In the 1960s, a leading Buchanan family historian, Annie Brae Buchanan McMane, was planning to go to Michigan to meet some of her Thompson cousins in Michigan and find out more family history. I don't know whether she went or what she found out. Who are these Thompsons in Michigan? An obituary sent to me by Helene Herd, may lead to an answer.
Obituary sent to me by Helene Herd, hoping that this is the right family.
JENisirish added this to Nancy Stewart on 3 May 2010.

"Mrs. Nancy Thompson died at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. John Caldwell, Wednesday fornoon, July 29th, 1896 in the 77th year of her age. She was born in the County of Tyrone, Ireland in the year 1819, her maiden name being Stewart. At the age of 16 she united with the Presbyterian church and held with that faith. In the year 1841 she was married to Robert Thompson, and one year later immigrated with her husband to America, landing in Quebec and resided in Canada until 1865, when they removed to Michigan, settling on a farm in North Branch township, where she has since resided. She was preceded to the silent shore by two little daughters who died many years ago, and her husband, who died June 27th, 1893. She was an ideal mother, self sacrificing and devoted to her home. She lived for her family and was ever ready and willing to give her assistance in times of sickness or need, near and far. There being no church in her denomination in this locality, on July 5th 1879, she united with the Free Will Baptist church and lived a consistant life, adorning her profession. She leaves ten children to mourn: James, John, Robert, William, Alexander, Jared, Mrs. John Dennis and Mrs. john Caldwell, of North Branch; Mrs. William Baldwin of Goodland, and David of Schuyler county New York. Her funeral was held from St Johns Church on Friday July 31st, at 2 PM and was largely attended. The services were conducted by Rev. Rosenburger, of Danville, assisted by Rev. A. Smith of North Branch, and her remains were then laid to rest in St johns Cemetery. ___ Six eldest sons, who acted as pall bearers..."

Born in County Tyrone in 1819, and married to a Robert Thompson in 1841 seems good. Settled in Canada is also a match. However the Buchanan group came to Canada in 1847 not 1842, so they could not have traveled in the same group. The Buchanan group stopped at Esquesing for a short time before proceeding to North Easthope where they stayed with Irish friends. Possibly Robert and Nancy were among these earlier arrivals.

Among other places, my research led me to Google Books, where I found the following in "History of Lapeer County"
"Robert Thompson was born in County Tyrone, Ireland in 1819. Settled in 1842, and in North Branch, Lapeer, Michigan in 1865. Now lives on Section 10. He was married in 1841 to Nancy Stewart, who was born in 1819. Twelve children: Isabella who died in 1845, James, John, Robert, William, Margaret, Jane who died in Canada, Alexander, Jared, Mary, Ann, Jane, David."

OK, this is useful information, confirming what is said in his wife's obituary. Born in 1819 seems a little late for my Robert, who is shown as born about 1811. Still, it allowed me to find Robert and Nancy in the free 1880 US census:
1880 United States Census 
Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace
 Robert THOMPSON   Self   M   Male   W   60   IRE   Farmer   IRE   IRE 
 Nancy THOMPSON   Wife   M   Female   W   60   IRE   Keeping House   IRE   IRE 
Source Information:  Census Place North Branch, Lapeer, Michigan
  Family History Library Film   1254589   NA Film Number   T9-0589   Page Number   393D

[and the sons Alex, Jared, David and daughter Jane ]
1880 United States Census 
 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace
 Alexander THOMPSON   Self   S   Male   W   24   CAN   Farmer   IRE   IRE 
 Jerone THOMPSON   Brother   S   Male   W   24   CAN   Farmer   IRE   IRE 
 David THOMPSON   Brother   S   Male   W   17   CAN   Farmer   IRE   IRE 
 Jane THOMPSON   Sister   S   Female   W   19   CAN   Keeping House   IRE   IRE 
Source Information:  Census Place North Branch, Lapeer, Michigan
  Family History Library Film   1254589   NA Film Number   T9-0589   Page Number   392B

I also found their son Robert's family nearby, but more interesting is a brief bio for this son.

ROBERT THOMPSON born 13 Aug 1848 Perth Co. Ont, at age 17 [came] to North Branch Twp. Married Asubeth McArthur. they had at least two daughters and a son. Lapeer Co. Birth records
Interesting!!! This establishes that Robert's parents, Robert Thompson and Nancy Stewart Thompson were living in Perth County, Ontario in 1848. I spent a few hours on doing a search for all Historical Records for people named Thompson in North Branch, Lapeer, Michigan, USA. What a wealth of information on the generations of this family!!!

I cannot find this family in the 1852 census of Canada West. Perth County was not organized until 1850, and some parts of the county were still not organized into townships, but it should be in this census. North Easthope is in Perth County.

So, is this my missing Thompson family in Michigan?  I can't be sure, but I consider it highly probable.

The following email message came from a cousin I had never met. I have edited it to delete some personal information. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Bill,

My name is Pauline ..., I am the daughter of George Samuel Evans and Vera Mitchell Evans. My father was the son of Charlotte Wright Evans and my father's sister and my aunt was Jessie Evans Anderson, who after receiving your Ing Family History wrote one of the Evans Family History.

My husband and I were watching television the other day and Alberta, Canada was being featured. I said to him I have relatives in Alberta. Well today, Boxing Day, we are snowed in which is very unusual for ... North Carolina, so I dug out the two histories and started to read them again. My sister ... is also living in North Carolina. My father died in May 24th, 2002 from Prostate Cancer and my mother died on January 26th, 2009 just short of her 101 birthday, ...

I hope this finds you in good health and that you have had a good Christmas. I would love to hear from you.

If you would like dates etc, please let me know this was only meant to be a brief update and I would be happy to supply anything more. ...


This message led to an interesting interchange of email between Eileen, her sister, two cousins in England, my cousin Diane, my brother Lloyd, and myself. I sent them about 100 photos, some with Eileen's mother as a small child. These were photos given to me by my mother, sent to her (or her mother) by relatives in England. It was a delight to be able to share them with people who wanted them! Lloyd was able to help identify some of the people in the photographs and the circumstances. I also sent PDF copies of a descendancy chart and a modified register (narrative) report, which they can use to figure out who is who.

Some people worry obsessively about privacy, and want none of their information on the internet. That is an impossible goal, and not always desirable. I prefer my email address to be easily findable on the internet so that other researchers (and distant cousins) can contact me easily. But I hope you will not find my residential address, social insurance number, date and place of birth, or other information that would allow identity theft. I think we can be careful without being paranoid. There is an article on this subject on my home page, if you would like to know more.