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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Notice the Witnesses to an Event

The value of knowing the witnesses at a marriage is illustrated by this recent email:

Date: 18/02/2012 05:32 PM

Subject: James Adwick Waller

Hello Bill,

Just been visiting your excellent site by trolling the internet looking at the Hadwick family and as your site was very helpful to me I thought I should provide some info for you!

The important one was the identification of James Waller baseborn son of Ann Waller, baptised at Harting, Sussex, as James Adwick Waller.

... Importantly for you however is the movements of James Hadwick/Adwick/Addick as James Hadwick and Ann Waller were witnesses to the marriage of Anthony Knight, widower, of Sheet [near Petersfield] and Ann Carpenter, spinster, of Rogate, Sussex at Petersfield, 13 July 1833. This is 10 months before the baptism of James Waller at Harting on 13 May 1834, one wonders if there was a great deal of partying after the wedding!!! Also interesting is the fact that the baptism is shortly before the burial of Henry Adwick at Harting on 18 May 1834. Possibly James was attending his brothers funeral, though this could be a coincidence. When James Addick is married to Ann Cannens on 4 April 1852 in Petersfield his father is named as Henry Addick. From Census records etc this James was born 1811x17. Henry was 25 at his death in 1834 and therefore born 1808/09.

Though it's not definite it would appear that James Adwick Waller is the son of James Adwick. The latter is probably the son of Henry Adwick. ...

Obviously, a lot of this is guesswork at present but I hope it's of interest.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Given-name Searches

I have found that a given name search has opened doors when the surname has been badly spelled.

Really common names provide one challenge, but rare names provide another. No one knows how to spell them. The surname of my Forsbury family has been spelled many ways. I made a huge breakthough by doing a first name search in the 1851 census for every George born in Hendon, Middlesex, England in 1841 +/- 1 year. Since this is the greater London area, it was a long list. I found the family and it gave their years and places of birth. A Google search found a query from Australia looking for information on George's brother. Within hours I had a reply from a distant cousin, and we both caught up on 150 years of family history!

More recently, I was looking for a Ritson family. I knew that name was Ritson because I had a digital copy of the marriage certificate. The relative asking about them gave me the names and ages of the children, and also spelled the name as Ritson. The problem was that the Ritson family seemed to disappear after the marriage. has a search engine where you can put in the given names of family members when you do a given name search. It immediately found the family in the 1901 and 1911 UK censuses as Kitson! This is a vast improvement over the old given name searches! It took only seconds instead of hours of searching. I really hope that will add this feature to its search engine.

In another case I had a family where some members changed their surname. A first name search made it easier to find them regardless which surname they were using at the time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Still Looking for a Tablet
I was leaning strongly towards the Lenovo Ideapad 1A. The $200 price tag with 16 GB of built-in storage seemed very likely to be a good choice. I don't tend to do things that need a super-fast processor, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) seems to be well supported. Then I discovered that it was sold out. The Future Shop and Best Buy stores who handled it, no longer had it. I could find it available online at Future Shop online store, where I had previously had a bad experience. (A flat bed scanner arrived dead-in-the-box. They accepted it back but I was stuck with $20 return postage.) I could also find it online from Lenovo, but they were asking $250. I would definitely not pay that much for it!

Unless I can find a better deal soon, I will probably go with the Acer Iconia. It has only 8 GB of built-in storage, but is expandable. It is faster than the Ideapad 1A, has 1 GB RAM instead of 512 MB, and runs Android 3.2 (Honeycomb). It is probably more tablet than I need. But the customer reviews give a satisfaction rating of 4.5/5 versus 3.5/5 for the Ideapad. I have read a lot of reviews on various tablets over the past week, and some of them are downright scary.

I am still looking for other options. $280 is a lot of money, but I want to be satisfied with what I get. (It is that Scottish blood acting up again.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Buying a Tablet Computer
Two weeks ago Judy asked me what I would like for my 70th birthday. I could think of nothing. "Is there any piece of computer hardware or software you would like?" Nothing came to mind. Later that day I said "I think I would like a smart phone like Andrew has, so I wouldn't need to carry a briefcase to church. I am always misplacing it." In my briefcase I carry two books of scripture, the Sunday School lesson guide, a study manual or two, and the manual for the family history class. Andrew has all of that on his smart phone.

So I checked out smart phones and consulted with Andrew. I discovered that a smart phone could cost me $500 or a minimum 2 year contract at $50-60/month. I already have a cellphone and use it maybe twice a month. And the screens of smart phones tended to be 3"-4" in size ... very portable but very small. Is there a better option? Maybe a 7" tablet computer instead of a telephone? But what is available?

I researched the Kindle Fire and the Nook Color, either one would probably meet my needs but they are not available in Canada, and neither one has access to the Android Market. What is available in Canada ... that I can afford? I decided that I would not pay more than $300. I needed something that would support the LDS Gospel Library, otherwise it could not replace the briefcase. The Blackberry Playbook 16GB is on sale for $200 (originally $500) and from a hardware perspective is an unbelievable deal. But further investigation showed that it does not run the Gospel Library, or Android at least not yet. I looked at various other tablets. Some were too large and some were too small. Some were too expensive and some were too "cheap". At present I am looking at the Acer Iconia 7" tablet for $280 and the Lenovo IdeaPad 1a for $200. The Iconia is the better hardware. But for $80 less, the IdeaPad 1a still has good hardware and comes loaded with interesting software. Both have full access to the Android Market, Gospel Library, have a microSD memory card slot, GPS, and are built by major manufacturers. Either one should meet my needs nicely.

Or should I just keep the briefcase that has been serving me since 1985? The computer geek in me keeps screaming "Here is your perfect chance to get a tablet computer so that you can teach others how to use it for family history! Your kids have already donated over $100 to the project. You can't let them down!" My Scottish blood keeps screaming, "But Laddie! $300 for a toy that you don't even know how to play with???" Which voice will win?

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Important 50th Anniversary
This posting is very personal. If you find it too personal, I will not be offended if you stop reading it. No, this is not my wedding anniversary! That should be coming up in a few more years. Fifty years ago I made a life-changing decision. After a few months of attending church and being taught by the missionaries, I decided to be baptized by immersion and become a follower of Jesus Christ. This happened on the 10th of February, 1962. This led me to make many changes that made me a better person. It also led me to do things I would probably not have done otherwise. Two and a half years later, I was called to serve as a missionary in the French East Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God gave me many wonderous experiences, and I learned to love the French and Swiss people.

After my mission I met Judy Kinney. We started dating and we were married on the 23rd of March 1968. Actually we were married twice that day, with a civil ceremony in Raymond, Alberta and a temple ceremony in Cardston. My faith has played a big role in my marriage and family life.

I also felt encouraged to pursue an education. Suddenly my knowledge of French from my mission was a great blessing, as I decided to complete a Bachelor of Education with a major in French. I could see my Saviour's hand in my life, as if the pieces of a puzzle were fitting together. I think God has a plan for each of us. We get to decide whether to accept his plan or not.

I have tried to follow his plan, but I am sure I have often fallen short of what I could be. He provided me with a career in distance education and computers. After retirement, my interest in computers and family history made an online family history mission a comfortable choice, and I am now on my second support mission. People phone Salt Lake City for help with family history, and if I am on shift, my telephone rings. What could be better than that? I can serve from home! I am also serving in a Family History Center. Did I mention that I have a passion for family history? If you know me, you will be well aware of it.

Judy and I are proud parents and grandparents. Families are important. We are each part of a family, and all of us belong to God's family. He is our father. Our own family can be eternal. Family ties can be a strong force for good in the lives of people of all ages. May they always be a blessing to your family and to mine!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Big 70
We had a small 70th birthday party at our daughter Laurel's after church on Sunday. (She isn't 70, but I am.)
All of my family were there except for Evelyn's family. (She and her children were here Thursday-Saturday during her teachers convention, but they had to go home on Saturday.)

My brother Lloyd came and brought my mother! Also my sister Judy and her husband Bernie and granddaughter Taryn came. Mom is 92 and she doesn't get out a lot. Sunday she got to see all of my family except for Evelyn's family and my granddaughter Mady (who was at gymnastics) and my son Rob (who showed up after the Superbowl game). It was a nice little get-together. Taryn made me a birthday card by hand, which was really sweet!

I can't believe all of the birthday wishes! I received 20+ via Facebook and 30+ from others serving in FamilySearch Support. I realize that most of these people received pop-up reminders, but it is nice that they took a moment to think of me and send their best wishes. I also received a few phone calls.

We are doing well. My wonderful wife Judy is now serving with me at the Family History Center during my weekly shift on Thursdays. Our new series of classes starts this week with a class for beginners. Hey, I will post the schedule here for anyone on the Edmonton area who is interested.

Family History Classes

Classes will be approximately 7-8 PM Tuesdays and Thursdays,
at the Riverbend Family History Center, 14325-53 Avenue, northern east entrance.
We are available to help you with research and questions after class.

Feb 7/9 Introduction to family history for beginners: Why and How?
Feb 14/16 Introduction to New FamilySearch: What it is ... & what it isn’t!
Feb 21/23 New FamilySearch: Adding, editing, and combining
Feb 28/Mar 1 New Family Search: Reserving ordinances and printing requests
Mar 6/8 What it is & what you can do with it – films, indexing, original document images
Mar 13/15 Commercial websites for free at the FHC
Mar 20/22 Genealogy software
Mar 27/29 none - Spring Break
Apr 3/5 Wiki and free online research courses
Apr 10/12 Cemetery research
April 17/19 Sources, citations, and notes: How to use them
April 24/26 How to write a personal history an easier way
May 2/4 Make family history more interesting for your family: Creating books, reports, and websites the easy way. Bring your ideas for family history fun!

If you would be interested in a class on one of these topics (or teaching it), please contact Try to bring some ideas to share.
Getting more from your digital camera
Getting more from your scanner
Getting more from your computer
Tablet computers – uses and limitations, ideas swapmeet
How to automatically synchronize data across multiple computers (Dropbox)