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.
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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Busy ... Busy ...
On one of the forums I belong to, I saw a posting about the free e-book Windows_7_The_Missing_Manual.pdf (downloadable from a variety of sites). So I downloaded it. It looks like this 849-page book is free for 45 days. So I am busily reading. So far I am on page 247, and I find it very useful. I was considering installing my old IBM ViaVoice dictation software, now I find that Windows7 already has dictation software built in. There are lots of other neat tricks and shortcuts.

Data Entry
It seems like irony, for such a slow and klutzy typist as me to be asked to manually enter two family history books into a genealogy database. I have completed the info on the smaller, first book, and I have started on the second book. The second book is in German, a language that I gained a brief acquaintence with in 1969, and where I have forgotten nearly everything I learned. Still, after a 2-hour session with a native speaker of German, I was up and running. ... well at least crawling! The vocabulary used is very minimal, which helps. I am currently on page 20 of 425. I am using the free Personal Ancestral File 5.2 software for the data entry. I have never found anything faster and easier.

I am enjoying our brief but beautiful summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bingo! on Indexing
Why do I do indexing of Ontario births, where I usually get credited with 12 records for batch, when I could be doing 1930 US censuses and get credited with 50 records per batch? (No money changes hands either way, just maybe bragging rights, although I have never heard anyone bragging about it!) Well back to the question ... because there is a million times better chance that I will index one of my relatives.

This morning I indexed two batches. The second one came up as Elma, Perth, Ontario. My family lived there until 1879, and left some relatives behind! Just maybe ....

Sure enough, there was the birth registration 029002 of William Thomas McCauley, a second cousin to my father! I already had the information, but what a thrill it was to see the image of the actual page, and to be part of making this image available to future generations! 

It was even a thrill to see the signatures of the register, Thomas Fullerton, who registered the vital events of my family members in previous years. In 2002, I remember seeing his gravestone in the Trinity Cemetery near Donegal, where all of the gravestones were bulldozed into a big pile. (It was such a total contrast to the beautiful Donegal Cemetery just a couple of miles away.)

If you would like to do some indexing in your spare time, visit In an hour or less you do your part to make records available to family historians.

Other Stories ... of Inez Buchanan
I exended an invitation to my siblings and other family members to take a few minutes to share their fondest memories of Dad, and in the case of the younger generation, any stories of him that they can remember hearing. The story by Gloria Burns was a delight to me when she told it to us. Another story from that time on Uncle Dick's farm concerns Dad's sister Inez. One of the Burns girls locked the outhouse door while Inez was inside, then ran around chanting "I locked Inee in the toto! I locked Inee in the toto! I locked Inee in the toto!" It was a long-remembered story of a prank by a small child. This one was remembered by Inez, passed along to her daughter Bev, who told it to me. Bev also told me about the concerns that Inez would be taken away and put up for adoption. Emily Burns also asked Bill to let her have Inez, so she could raise her with her three daughters. But Bill refused to allow his family to be broken up.

Happy Fathers Day Dad!
Yesterday Judy and I attended the dance recital for five of our granddaughters. After the 6-hour event we met Laurel's family at the Spruce Grove McDonalds for a late supper. It was a long, fun-filled day.

I paused to reflect on my own father's life. He passed away on September 3, 1975 at age 69. During the intermissions at the dance recital, I started writing down some of my memories of my father. I continued after we got home.

George Buchanan was born near Neepawa, Manitoba in 1906. His father, Bill, was a blacksmith and owned his own business in the village of Riding Mountain, and later in the town of Neepawa. When Dad was young, his parents moved to Leslieville, Alberta, where he received much of his education. His family later moved to the city of Tacoma, Washington. Dad and his friends spent much of their spare time swimming in the bay. They all tanned, except for Dad. (Neither do I.) He also became an amazing swimmer. He could swim for miles.

Times were tough. He quit school after grade 6 to help support the family by cleaning streetcars. At some point he also worked in a box factory, making wooden boxes. When he was 17 his mother became sick and died. His father was left with four children, the youngest being 8 years old. Bill was under pressure to give her up for adoption. Instead he moved back to Canada, setting up a blacksmith shop in Millett, Alberta, where his brother-in-law Dick Watson had a farm.

Dad worked at various hard physical jobs, like building wooden bridges out of large timbers for the railroad. This may be where he developed a hernia that occasionally troubled him with dizzy spells for most of his life. He was not a large man, but was very strong. After he married my mother he became a farmer, and farmed without power equipment … just the muscle power of a team of horses and his own. In the winter he worked as a logger, cutting down trees with a bow saw, trimming off the branches with an axe, and skidding the trees to the picking up point with the help of his favorite horse, a black Morgan-cross named “Pet”. Later he worked as a pipe-fitter in the Camrose oilfield for three years. When the family moved to Edgewater, BC, he worked in the planing mill for about 10 years, and when the sawmill closed down he did maintenance for Kootenay National Park.

Dad was a hard worker and an honest man, and taught me to be the same. But there was much more to him than that. I remember watching him when I was a young child, as he give my little brother Lloyd “horsey rides” on the instep of his foot, while singing nonsense songs to him. He would tell us stories using made-up characters, like the Side-hill Gouger who always walked around the mountain in the same direction so one leg was longer than the other. And of a bird that always flew backwards to keep the dust out of its eyes. He loved the game of checkers, and I remember him making us a checker board from a sheet of cardboard and sawing wooden disks from a broken handle to make the game pieces. This was while we lived in the old log house west of Breton.

Over seventy years later, his cousin Gloria Burns Praill still remembered him telling ghost stories when she and her mother and sisters were staying at Dick Watson's place at Millet prior to their move to the USA in the 1920s. She said "I also remember the Buchanans visiting at Dick's place, particularly a Geordie who told us ghost stories around a campfire and scared us to death. He was GOOD!!!"

Dad regretted his lack of education. He had the mind of a good lawyer, but was trapped by a poor education. He was very intelligent and was an avid reader. In some areas of knowledge he probably achieved the equivalent of a university degree. His special interests were political science, economics, and the environment. He had a deep love and appreciation for nature. Nature provided the trees and the farm land and wild game he depended on to feed his family. He taught us to treat nature with respect. He recognized God as the creator of nature, but attended church only on special occasions, although he read the Bible and had a good basic knowledge of it.

To his very core, he deeply disbelieved in war. Maybe he sensed that WWII was a different kind of war, because he actually volunteered for it but was rejected because of his hernia.

Both my parents formed lasting friendships and had a strong sense of community. Dad was president of the Edgewater Senior Citizens’ Club prior to their move back to Alberta.

Physically, Dad stood 5’9” tall, with dark wavy hair, and never went bald. He had a black wolf’s head tattooed on his left forearm. The wolf had a red tongue. Dad had a very sharp mind, often perceiving the stories behind the news. After all, the official news is just one side of the story.

Like most farmers, he could build and repair almost anything. He and his brother Jack built Jack’s house in about 1944. In about 1951 he bought a town lot in Breton, bought a shack from the sawmill company, moved it onto the lot and created a house by building onto it. In Edgewater about 1956 he did the same thing. This time Reg, Lloyd and I were old enough to offer a little help. He did the carpentry, plumbing and electrical wiring himself. I learned much from him that helped me to build my own house. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that it is possible to build your own house.

He was a good man, and a good husband and father. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being his son.

Happy Fathers Day Dad!



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Computerizing Family HistoryA few days ago I had a phone call from a friend. A mutual friend of ours had two family history books that she wanted entered into the computer. Actually she wanted them put into, which she and I both have access to. I agreed to help.

So far, in 3 days I have 215 records computerized. This is a somewhat pitiful rate, but I have spent time consulting the census and vital record sites to fill-in missing details. Tomorrow I may finish the first book. The second book is in German, and may be beyond my skills. I took a German course over 40 years ago, and not much of it remains. We shall see.

Scanning Family Photos
Seeing a posting of someone planning to buy a scanner and visit their cousins brought back fond memories.

10 years ago, to begin my retirement, I bought a used laptop and a new Canoscan scanner, and set off visiting relatives from coast to coast to scan their photos and documents. This combination served me well.

The scanner software can make a big difference. I was able to scan multiple photos at once, and then separate them when I got home. This was perfect for me, as my Canoscan was a slow parallel port model. Some scanners want to preview and then crop each photo as it is scanned, and I did not have the time for that. I also have a Lexmark scanner that scans at a low resolution by default, and I have to remember to reset the scanning resolution before EACH individual scan. There seems to be no way to change that setting permanently. What a pain!

My scanning software doesn't automatically fix defects in the original photos, but does give me tools I can use manually to fix many of the defects. e.g. Most newspaper photos respond well to a De-screen filter or a Median 3 filter.

Originally, I put my old family photos on a CD and made copies for interested relatives. Now I find it simpler to upload the photos to Picasa.

I really have fond memories of many visits and many scanning sessions. I hope that my relatives have been as satisfied by my visits as I have been.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

More on the Buchanan Y-DNA Study
I am glad to report that I was able to help one of the genetic matches I contacted. He wrote, "My ancestor, William Buchanan came from Castlederg, Tyrone probable very soon after he married Matilda Carson in a church in Castlederg. He settled in Flesherton, Grey county in Ontario and all his 13 children were born in Canada."

"His father, Robert married Sarah Stewart. His father, Joseph married Nancy Carson"

From this information (confirmed by further information which he gave me later), he is a descendant of the Buchanans of Cooel (Coolavanagh), which connects to the ancestors of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, through Thomas Buchanan of Ramelton, Donegal.

"John Buchanan married an Eleanor Moore in 1745 and had a family of 3 girls and 1 boy: Sally, Martha, Eleanor and Joseph. Joseph Buchanan married a Nancy Carson in 1795. To them were born: John, Mary, James, Eleanor, Robert, William and Matilda." quoted from "BUCHANAN FAMILY OF COOLAVANAGH (COOEL), DRUMQUIN", By David Keys, Glenarn, Lack in "DRUMQUIN 2007".

I was able to find the marriage of William Buchanan and Matilda Carson at
Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898
Groom's Name: William Buchanan
Groom's Birth Date: 1825
Groom's Age: 22
Bride's Name: Matilda Carson
Bride's Birth Date: 1826
Bride's Age: 21
Marriage Date: 04 May 1847
Marriage Place: Civil Marriage Records, , Misc, Ireland
Groom's Father's Name: Robert Buchanan
Bride's Father's Name: Samuel Carson
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M70195-3
System Origin: Ireland-VR
Source Film Number: 101284
Reference Number: 2:1PCKB0N

And I found them in the free 1852 census of Canada West
16 Buchanan, William Farmer Ireland Wesleyan Methodist   26 M
17 Buchanan, Matilda   Ireland Wesleyan Methodist   26 F
18 Buchanan, Robert   Canada Wesleyan Methodist   4 M
19 Buchanan, William   Canada Wesleyan Methodist   3 M
20 Buchanan, Samuel   Canada Wesleyan Methodist   1 M

Hey, this is fun!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Following Up on Buchanan Project on FamilyTreeDNA
My cousin Darlene, asked me to follow-up on some of the genetic matches. Yesterday I sent this email to the 19 closest matches:

I am contacting you regarding a Y-DNA match at

My cousin's results said that we are of a “typical chiefly line of Clan Buchanan”. Since your results match ours, that should be true of your Buchanan line too.

The earliest record of my own Buchanan family is the christening of Robert Buchanan on 20 Apr 1815 in Derg Parish Church, Castlederg, Tyrone, Ireland. Robert was the son of Andrew Buchanan, and his wife Jane (whose last name may have been Long or Young, but probably McNeilands). In 1847, Andrew and Jane sailed to Canada with their 7 sons (Robert, Charles, James, William, Andrew, John, and Samuel) and their daughter Jane. Charles had married Ann Porter in Mar 1843 in Killeter Presbyterian Church, Termonamongan Parish, Tyrone, Ireland. William had married Ann Thompson on 24 Mar 1846 in Lower Longfield Parish, Tyrone, Ireland. Charles and William had baby daughters. The family may have been accompanied by other relatives. The father Andrew and William's baby daughter died of immigrant fever during quarantine in Kingston, Ontario. The rest of the family settled in uncharted wilderness that is now in Elma township, Perth county, Ontario.

Wayne Buchanan and Clifford Buchanan in the FamilyTreeDNA database are descendants of this Andrew and Jane Buchanan who lived in Learmore townland near Castlederg in the 1815-1824 time period and in Binnawooda townland near Drumquin in the 1840's. I believe that Andrew Buchanan of Cooel (adjacent to Collow) in the Tithe Applotment Survey in 1826 is the same Andrew, since he was not shown in Learmore.

There is speculation that they may have come to the Castlederg area from County Donegal.

Ernest Buchanan is a different case. I am contacting you at the request of my cousin who had Ernest's Y-DNA test done. There is no “paper trail” connecting Ernest to my family, but he comes from the right area and is a perfect match to my cousin Wayne Buchanan. William Thomas 'Ernest' Buchanan was born in 1931 6 mi/10 km south of Castlederg. His grandfather was John Buchanan of Kirlish townland. I think that John's father was William Buchanan of Kirlish, Longfield West parish, Tyrone, (the only Buchanan listed in Kirlish in Griffiths Valuation). And that is as far as we have gone on Ernest's line. Since “Lower Longfield” is synonymous with “Longfield West”, this is the same parish where my 2g-uncle William Buchanan married Ann Thompson, daughter of James Thompson of Collow townland. I believe that Ernest is closely related to my family.

There is also a Buchanan family from Cooel/Coolavanagh townland that is said to be related to the Buchanans of Kirlish. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to do a Y-DNA test on this other family.

Now the questions of interest to me and my cousins ...

Were any of YOUR ancestors in the area of western Tyrone or adjacent areas of Ireland?
Can you trace them back to Scotland?
What information do you have on your Buchanan ancestry?
May I share what you send me with my cousins?
(I have used BCC: to hide your email address from other recipents of this email.)

I look forward to hearing from you.


Bill Buchanan
For the descendants of Andrew and Jane Buchanan of Castlederg, Ireland