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.
Since April 2010, I have served 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.


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