Monday, August 15, 2011

Private John Burton Perkins

This is the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.  Among the almost 7,000 Canadian soldiers remembered here is Private John Burton Perkins, Grandpa's great uncle, who died in June 1916 in the Battle of Mount Sorrel (Sanctuary Wood).  He is also commemorated in the First World War Book of Rememberance.

John Burton was in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.  He voluntarily enlisted a year before his death as a machinist.

I am sure this is who my grandfather was named after.  I don't know much about him yet.  He had no descendants but he did have 3 sisters and hopefully I can connect with some cousins and learn more about him.

So who's planning a trip to Belgium?  And can you take a picture of his name for me on Panel 10?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Making Connections

Thanks to Google I found a new cousin!  You have to go way way back to our 6th great grandparents Nathan and Hannah Burnham who were from Ipswich Mass at the beginning of the 1700's to find common ancestors... and that makes Stephen my 7th cousin.  I found him because he was good enough to post about some of the descendants of Nathan and Hannah.  See how powerful the Internet is!

So hello Stephen, I hope we have lots of luck Making Connections and Fixing Branches.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Canadian Enough

My grandmother was always under the impression that her family had been in Canada for 8-10 generations.  I never questioned this while growing up.  I assumed we had been in Canada longer than it had even been Canada.  Turns out she was only partly right.

Tonight, while working on her file it occurred to me that 6 out of 8 of her great grandparents were immigrants (4 from Scotland, 2 from England) and the other 2 were 1st generation Canadians.   All 16 great great grandparents were born outside Canada.  The first ancestor born here was her great grandfather Charles Burnham in 1815 in Port Hope when it was still the British colony of Upper Canada.  So "we" really haven't been here that long at all, but it was pre-Confederation... I sure hope she wouldn't be disappointed!!  200 years is pretty respectable!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Back in 2002 when I first started doing research I made a lot of mistakes.
  • I took the research of others as truth.  I didn't double check or confirm any details before incorporating that information into my file.  I wound up with A LOT of incorrect information that was impossible to separate from research I had dome myself.
  • I did not keep detailed notes.  I have no idea where most of my information came from.
  • I had several versions of my file in several different formats.
  • I printed off anything that seemed like it might matter one day.  This might not sound so bad, but it means I have BOXES of paper and no idea who they match up with and therefore it's not useful information at all.
In 2010 when I got my new computer I made a brave decision. I started my GEDCOM from scratch.  Eek!
  • Now I am confirming - with original documents when possible - all information before entering it.
  • I am keeping detailed notes on people I correspond with, any information I find, the places I look (even when I don't find what I'm looking for) and the items I am still missing.
  • I have separated the working version of my trees from the final version.
  • I keep a working version on, not all this information is confirmed but allows me to be flagged for leads, documents and other researchers in their system.
  • I keep the real version (Family Tree maker 2010) offline with only information that I have verified myself linked to soft copies of all original documents.
  • I have created an organized filing system for keeping all Ancestral Charts, Family Group Sheets and hard copies of original documents.  But that's another post...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elizabeth Martin Shaw

Elizabeth Martin Shaw, my great-great grandmother, was born around 1882 in Montreal but I can't find a record of her baptism anywhere!

Her parents (James Shaw and Annie Martin) were very involved with their churches, first Erskine Presbyterian and then Taylor Presbyterian.  I've found her older siblings baptisms at Erskine (1874 & 1879) and her younger siblings baptisms at Taylor (1884, 1897 and 1899) along wither her mother's death in 1888 and her father's remarriage in 1896.  I went though the registers at both churches page by page for the gap between 1879 and 1884 and STILL could not find her.

How curious!  Not to mention frustrating!

Monday, July 11, 2011


I started researching almost 10 years ago.  I can't remember why. 
I know why I keep doing it though... 
My son.

I want to give him a sense of history, that we have indeed been there, and done that.  I want to give him a sense of belonging to something much larger than the family he knows.   I want to give him a sense of pride, in our ancestors who bravely came to this new country.  I want to give him a sense of humility because for every hero there is a scoundrel.  I want to give him a sense of balance, there are milestones and tragedies.

And I can only hope he inherits my curiosity, my passion, and my dedication to this project.