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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mystery Photos and Papers
I had a phone call the other day from Mary Nutting, the Archivist of the South Peace Regional Archives in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The SPRA have come into possession of a pile of old photographs and papers from a long-abandonned farm house that belonged to Robert James Coulter and his wife Florence Ruby Hamilton. An internet search on these names found my website and my information about this couple. But most of the people mentioned in the papers and photographs were Hodgsons from Duck Lake, Saskatchewan and Davis family members. I was able to find the Hodgson family in the 1901 census, still living in Duck Lake. I found a probable family connection between the Davis and Hodgson families, but no connection with the Coulter and Hamilton families. Robert and Ruby Coulter came from Neepawa, Manitoba where my father was born, and we have a family connection. Robert's sister Annie Mary married Robert George Buchanan and his brother William "Edgar" married Lucy Stella Buchanan. Robert probably came to the Peace River Country in the 1920s or 1930s.

Does anyone know of a connection between the Coulter/Hamilton family and the Davis/Hodgson family in north-western Alberta? The SPRA are eager to find out. If you tell me I will pass it on to them.

Who was William Herbert Davis? Who were George Davis and Catherine Yorkston? How do they connect to the Hodgsons? (These Hodgsons appear to be distant relatives of my uncle Evans Carson, but not of my Buchanan/Hamilton/Coulter connections.)

Speculation: Did the Davis or Hodgson family rent the house after it was vacated by Robert and Ruby's family? That way their family papers might legitimately be left behind, without their names appearing in the land title. I would be interested in any further light on this mystery.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A challenge from http://kinexxions.blogspot.comIf you wish to participate in the meme, simply copy the text below and paste it into your blog (or into a note on facebook or Google+ if you don't have a blog) and annotate the list accordingly. We're on the 'honor system' here, no one is going to check up on you! Participation is up to you, no tagging of other bloggers required. And, if you've done it before, you can do it again.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (color optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

1. Belong to a genealogical society.
2. Researched records onsite at a court house. [John Buchanan's will in Neepawa court house]
3. Transcribed records.
4. Uploaded tombstone pictures to Find-A-Grave.
5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents).
6. Joined Facebook.
7. Helped to clean up a run-down cemetery.
8. Joined the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook.
9. Attended a genealogy conference.
10. Lectured at a genealogy conference. [Alberta Centennary, Edmonton]
11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society. [Wetaskiwin]
12. Been the editor of a genealogy society newsletter.
13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society.
15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery. [I can get lost on my way anywhere!]
16. Talked to dead ancestors.
17. Researched outside the province in which I live.
18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
19. Cold called a distant relative.
20. Posted messages on a surname message board.
21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet.
22. Googled my name.
23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
25. Have been paid to do genealogical research.
26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research.
27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative.
28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
29. Responded to messages on a message board or forum.
30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion.
31. Participated in a genealogy meme. [I am do it now.]
32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
33. Performed a record lookup for someone else.
34. Went on a genealogy seminar cruise.
35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space. [Several!]
36. Found a disturbing family secret.
37. Told others about a disturbing family secret.
38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby.
40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person (Unclaimed Persons).
41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure.
43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher.
45. Disproved a family myth through research. [The Linnen estate story]
46. Got a family member to let you copy photos.
47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records. [But a scanner is much better]
48. Translated a record from a foreign language. [French]
49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record. [A few]
50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer.
51. Used microfiche.
52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City [Someday I would like to.]
53. Visited more than one LDS Family History Center.
54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
55. Taught a class in genealogy. [I am doing it again.]
56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents. [I am still looking for Ruth Ing's maiden name.]
60. Found an ancestor’s Social Security application. [I found the SSDI entry.]
61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.
62. Used Steve Morse’s One-Step searches.
63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
66. Visited the Library of Congress.
67. Have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower.
68. Have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War.
69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone.
70. Became a member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits.
71. Can read a church record in Latin. [So long as it is simple and legible.]
72. Have an ancestor who changed their name.
73. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list.
74. Created a family website.
75. Have more than one "genealogy" blog.
76. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
77. Have broken through at least one brick wall [e.g. parents of Ann Waller b. 1812 Rogate, Sussex]
78. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C.
79. Borrowed a microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center.
80. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project.
81. Visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
82. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.
83. Have an ancestor who was a Patriot in the American Revolutionary War.
84. Have an ancestor who was a Loyalist in the American Revolutionary War. [My wife does!]
85. Have both Patriot & Loyalist ancestors.
86. Have used Border Crossing records to locate an ancestor.
87. Use maps in my genealogy research.
88. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK.
89. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors.
90. Visited the National Archives in Kew. [But I visited the gardens!]
91. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records. [But I wrote to them.]
92. Found a cousin in Australia (or other foreign country).
93. Consistently cite my sources. [I am getting better]
94. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors. [England]
95. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes.
96. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
97. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
98. Organized a family reunion. [No, but attended a few I really enjoyed.]
99. Published a family history book (on one of my families).
100. Learned of the death of a fairly close relative through research. [Second cousin Marion Bone]
101. Have done the genealogy happy dance. [At least mentally.]
102. Sustained an injury doing the genealogy happy dance.
103. Offended a family member with my research. [But I have pleased many more!]
104. Reunited someone with precious family photos or artifacts. [Although I have shared photos!]

FamilySearch Support Mission Update
My Recommendation form has been faxed in and received at the other end. 
I am watching my mailbox eagerly for my official letter.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Finding the Serridges and the Sherveys
My brother Reg came to Edmonton for Brandon and Tiffany's wedding (Congratulations, guys!) And we dropped over to my nephew's house where they were staying for a few days. As we were chatting, his wife Carol expressed an interest in her genealogy, as did their daughter-in-law.  I have some free time this week, before I start teaching family history classes, and I will probably receive my official call to serve in FamilySearch Support about the same time. Carol was able to give me a little information on her grandfather (William) and great grandfather (John) on her Serridge line and her grandmother Isabella Shervey, that took me back into the time period when the censuses are available. So I have been trying to help her find free information and providing her with subscription-only information that she does not have access to.

I was able to easily follow the Serridges back to the 1841 UK census. The Tattersalls, back to the 1881 census before duplicate names and ages became a big challenge in 1871.  Even the marriages index at did not allow me to sort out the eight men born about 1856 named James Tattersall in and around Haslingden, Lancashire. Maybe later ....

After finding records of the Norwegian Shervey/Sherve/Skjerve family in the wonderful 1885 and 1895 Minnesota state censuses on, I was off to a good start. (Hats off to you guys! I have found Wisconsin state censuses virtually useless, but Minnesota, you did it right!)

I also found them in the 1900 US census and the 1911 and 1916 Canada censuses, and in Google searches. I didn't find them in Castlegarden or Ellis Island. And I don't know enough Norwegian to make any sense out of the Norwegian censuses. Then I hit the jackpot! A downloadable family tree going back into the 1500s on some lines. How accurate is it? I don't know, but it is amazing!

Maybe I will get a chance to follow some more of the Serridge maternal lines, while time permits. Then maybe a closer look at Kim's genealogy ...

'Bye for now.