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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Starting Genealogy

My friend Michael asked me for help with the genealogy of his late wife Mary Elizabeth Sommers, who died of breast cancer at a young age. He had a sheaf of papers with genealogy from MaryBeth's mother's side of the family, the Bannon family, but almost nothing on the Sommers side of the family. The pedigree chart looked like this:
                                                                  | ???
                                       |John Sommers    |
Mary Elizabeth Sommers |                          | Hattie Mae Covey
                                       | Norah Catherine Bannon

As I agreed to help him, I knew that the first big hurdle would be privacy laws. We had to get back to the time when records became public. Fortunately, on I found a border crossing by the family in 1943 that gave the name of her paternal grandfather as Archibald Sommers, well as her father John and an uncle Douglas. (It also contained birth information and the names of a family contact for each of the parents, which would be useful in finding the right family in the census records.)

At this point Michael decided to phone his sister-in-law Joanne. She was able to confirm the names of Archibald Leroy Sommers and of John's brother; and that Hattie Mae Covey was born in Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia, where there was a family cemetery. She said that Hattie Mae's ancestors included United Empire Loyalists.

In FamilySearch I found the ancestors of Norah Catherine Bannon going back several generations. But the Sommers family seemed like a dead end. In the censuses I found Hattie Mae listed as “May”, and listed with her parents. When I looked for her mother Annie Grace Fader, I hit a goldmine in RootsWeb. It gave Hattie Mae's name as Edna Mae, but with the right parents, birth date and parents. Annie Grace Fader's ancestors are listed in RootsWeb for 7 generations.

Further research found death records for some of the family in British Columbia as well as birth records in Nova Scotia, and marriage records that filled in some gaps.

I had lots of information to share with Michael, and he was really happy about our success. This is information he can share with his children and other family members.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Genealogy Is Important

I subscribe to various newsletters and blogs on genealogy. One of my favorites is "Genealogy in Time". It is an excellent place to find out about the latest sets of records made available on the internet. But it sometimes goes beyond this. I enjoyed this article. I think you may enjoy it too. Just click the link below the box. 

This article examines why genealogy is important. It discusses the practical and philosophical reasons as to what motivates people to spend time researching their roots.

Monday, December 03, 2012

What is Heredis?

Last month I received a free offer of a copy of the Heredis genealogy software. I have tried various genealogy programs over the years, and I was willing to try this one. Importing a gedcom took longer than other programs, and it didn't display the photos (although it did find them). The next day I explored it some more and easily set it to display the photos. This is something that it does very nicely, as you can see. On the left are quick links to relationships. On the right is the all-person index and the search form. On a wider screen it would probably look even better.

Creating a "dot com"

My last posting mentioned that I had updated my friend Octave DeSmet's tiny Bales "R" Us website. About a week later I received an email from the free webhost ( informing me that the partner site that provided the domain names had gone out of business. Suddenly all websites with names ending in vanished from the internet, including!

I have had to change my own URL 6 or 7 times over the years as free webhosts went broke or discontinued the free service. But my website is a hobby (OK, a passion, if you really insist!). For Octave it is part of his bread and butter. This forced me to look at the possibility of registering a domain name, something I had never done before.

What would it cost? How hard was it to set up? I didn't know.

Now I know. It cost Octave $13 to register the domain name for one year. It cost nothing to park this domain on, and it took only a few minutes time once the registration went through its process. I just parked on Octave's existing free account, by using the V-panel page that is part of his account. So long as he pays the annual fee, his website will always be found at this address, regardless what webhost he is using. For a business this kind of stability is paramount ... and not expensive.

Good luck !!!