Sunday, 1 May 2016

Visiting Vernon and District FHS

My talks tour of British Columbia continued from Tuesday to Thursday of this week in Vernon, not far from Kelowna. I was greeted at the airport by Marjorie Allen, Nancy Hanson and Yvette Miller from the local Vernon and District FHS (www.vdfhs.com), and after a lunch at the Gray Monk Estate Winery, a vineyard close to the airport, we then made a scenic trip towards Vernon, taking in a few sites on the way.


Upon reaching the city, we briefly recced the venue for the talk on Wednesday, after which I then had a chance to visit the society's premises, located within a Lutheran church, where a class was underway. It was a great set up, with lots of British and Irish journals and support materials, as well as a fully equipped computer room with several terminals offering access to many useful online repositories.



In the evening I was then invited to a social gathering at Nancy's house, to meet several members of the society over an informal buffet meal. Overnight, I was then a guest at High View B&B, run by Marjorie with her husband on the outskirts of the city at Coldstream, with a superb view of Kalamalka Lake.



On Wednesday morning we made our way early to the venue - fortuitously, as I forgot my Powerpoint clicker, prompting a mad dash back to retrieve it in time before we got under way! - at which I gave a series of four Irish and Scots based talks, to a good crowd of about 70 folk or so. The venue was an ex-forces club which had a replica Spitfire on its roof, and as I am a real fan of Spitfires, this worked for me! (If you were at the event, the books that I mentioned in my talks can be purchased via www.globalgenealogy.com)



After the day's programme, which seemed to go well by the reaction, I was then invited to dinner at the O'Keefe Ranch, a heritage site preserving a ranch that was just a few days older than Canada itself. We had a fantastic tour of the site, which I believe I heard mention was one of only 5 ranch heritage sites in the world, before a superb feast of rubs and chicken drumsticks!








On Thursday morning then, I was taken on a visit to Silver Star ski resort - considering how warm it had been in Vernon, it was a pleasant surprise to suddenly be up in the hills surrounded by snow! Although the resort was all but closed, it was still a great chance to see another remarkably beautiful part of the countryside, before having to make my way back to Kelowna for my flight to Vancouver, my final venue for the talks tour.






A huge thanks to the folks at Vernon, and to Marjorie, Nancy and Yvette in particular for their hospitality. Next stop then was Vancouver....!


Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Powys War Memorials Project competition

From Heritage of Wales news, the blog of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales:

Powys County Council has secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Cadw (Welsh Government) and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority for the Powys War Memorials Project 2014-2018: A Mark of Respect. This project commemorates the centenary of World I and is now holding a World War I memorial photography competition as part of the project. 

Nathan Davies, the Powys War Memorials Project Officer explains, “We know of about 300 war memorials in Powys ranging from stone crosses to stained glass windows, plaques to statues. However, there are likely to be considerably more than this. One aim of the project is to find, record and catalogue all the World War I memorials in the county. All you need to do is find a war memorial, take a photograph of it, complete the entry form and email it to us. That’s it ! You’ll be commemorating the centenary of World War 1 and will have the chance to win a share of the £200 prize fund.”

For fuhttp://heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.ca/2016/04/powys-war-memorials-project-free.html
ll details of the competition, and on how to submit entries, please visit the full post at

Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

IGRS 80th anniversary story archive project

From the Irish Genealogical Research Society (www.irishancestors.ie):

The IGRS celebrates its 80th anniversary this year and we would like to create a special archive of stories to mark the event. We are inviting anyone, not just members, to choose a favourite Irish-born ancestor and tell their story. You can find details of the project, a sample story and rules for submission via this web-page http://www.irishancestors.ie/?page_id=7271 We hope to achieve at least 80 submissions to match our anniversary and have already received some interesting stories since launching the project at WDYTYA.

Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

Welsh newspaper references to Calcutta

From the Families in British India Society (www.fibis.org):

Around 600 English language entries from Welsh newspapers have been transcribed from the Family Notices that have a reference to 'Calcutta' by Peter Evans with the cooperation of the National Library of Wales and uploaded to the FIBIS database website.

See:
Search/browse Welsh Publications Family Notices (FIBIS database)
Welsh Newspapers Online (1804-1919)

(With thanks to Valmay Young)

Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

Dorset and Boer war records on FindmyPast

Additions to FindmyPast (www.findmypast.com) this week:

Dorset Baptisms
We've added over 68,000 new baptism records from churches across the county of Dorset. Our Dorset marriages and burials have also been supplemented.

Dorset Marriages
The records of more than 52,000 additional marriages have been added, allowing you to discover previously unknown details about your family.

Anglo-Boer War Records, 1899-1902
Find out if your ancestor served in the Anglo-Boer War with over 2,500 new records that reveal their rank, regiment, service number, the awards they received and whether they were killed or wounded in the line of duty.

Further details at https://blog.findmypast.co.uk/fridays/.

Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

Chinese cemeteries and capital cities

I'm a wee bit behind on blogging about my current trip to Canada, so a quick progress report on my visit last weekend to the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, located on Vancouver Island.

Following the two events I spoke at in Parksville (see http://www.britishgenes.blogspot.ca/2016/04/thanks-to-qualicum-beach-fhs-for-two.html), I had a short period of R&R in Victoria, as a guest of Pat and Al Hocker. I had previously met Pat on a couple of occasions in Portugal, where she had attended the Lost Cousins hosted Genealogy in the Sunshine events at Rocha Brava, in 2014 and 2015, although this was the first time I met her husband Al, a former surgeon. At almost 80 years old, he was not only the fittest men I've ever met for his age (he goes out and rows his boat every day when I'm still contemplating getting up!), but most certainly one of the wisest - an absolute gent from Kentucky, who also just happened to introduce me to bourbon for the first time. Both made a great couple, and were the perfect hosts, so thanks for a great time!


Pat kindly took me on a tour of Victoria and the south end of Vancouver Island on Monday. Our first stop was the Chinese Cemetery, an extraordinarily tranquil location where many early Chinese settlers (including many who came for the gold rush and to construct the railways) were eventually interred on a temporary basis, prior to their bones being eventually repatriated to China. I love seeing how different cultures inter their deceased, and this cemetery was one which used feng shui in terms of its layout.








We then visited Victoria, and took some time to tour around the BC provincial legislature. We managed to  sit in on the chamber in session for 10 minutes, listening to the politicians from each side shouting at each other! It was interesting to see how similar the layout to the chamber was to that of Westminster, though some what more modern, with desks for the MLAs. I couldn't take pics during the session, so here are a few from outside - the building itself is just over a hundred years old.





We then stopped for coffee in the city centre, before making the decision to visited the city's museum.

Of particular interest to me here was the section on the huge variety of languages of the First Nations in the region, where I also learned about something I'd never heard of before, despite several visits to Canada - the policy of 'residential schools', to which children were removed from their First Nations parents (often by the police) and given an education in English. This appears to have been a policy that has caused much division and resentment, and one for which the Canadian government recently apologised (the last such school was apparently closed in 1986).

What I found fascinating and tragic about this story was just how familiar it was - I'd previously heard of similar tales from visits to Australia, and even closer to home, where it was not much different to the story of how the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) tried to stop the use of Gaelic in the Highlands of Scotland, which led to so much damage to the survival of the language and to the culture. Whilst as genealogists we cannot judge the actions of the past from the present perspective, we can certainly observe the patterns of past policies, and this is one that I'm certainly beginning to realise seems to have been applied equally across much of the former British empire. Thankfully, as with Gaelic, efforts are being made to now preserve the surviving languages and dialects in BC, which can only be a good thing.




After Victoria, it was then a trip inland by plane to Vernon, where I gave four talks on various Scottish and Irish subjects to the society there, which I will blog about in due course. As venues go though, it had one major asset that made the heart glow - a full size replica Spitfire on top of the building. Now that's style...!


Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Further funds appeal from Ulster Historical Foundation

An update from the Ulster Historical Foundation (www.ancestryireland.com) on its relocation to new digs in Belfast city centre, including a further appeal to help with a funding shortfall:

The Foundation’s move to the Corn Exchange – An update from the Executive Director

Our recent move to new offices in the Corn Exchange is already helping to transform the Foundation’s ability to engage with those who we exist to serve. And it is increasing our ability to interact more with the general public, who are curious about their history.

In the short time that we have been operational in the new premises we have already been able to host three events with an international dimension:
  • A presentation by representatives of the Maine Ulster-Scots Project who discussed their archaeological dig in Somersett, Maine – a settlement of Ulster immigrants dating from the early eighteenth century
  • A ‘fam’ visit by representatives of Ancestry’s ProGenealogists team (from Salt Lake City and Dublin)
  • A morning exploring Ulster ancestral research with a group of family historians who are currently touring with the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO)

This is in addition to the already increasing number of personal research consultations that we are providing for local people and overseas visitors interested in their Ulster roots.

This is why the Foundation sought to move to the city centre – to be more accessible to our users and so we can continue to develop more practical partnerships with kindred organisations (e.g. The Belfast Charitable Society (Clifton House), Linen Hall Library, Tourism Northern Ireland, and of course the other organisations with which the Foundation shares the building).

Moreover we have made it easier for ordinary folk to use the services and benefit from the knowledge of the Foundation’s team in the new offices. The central location is easing the burden on our team of volunteers, some of whom are disabled, and for whom the old unit at Malone Road was a less than perfect location.

Furthermore, the installation of a new elevator in the building will soon be completed meaning our accessibility for disabled visitors will be enhanced ensuring the Foundation’s staff can welcome everyone who wishes to call.

It also means we have been able to increase the number of intern and placement opportunities for local students, and have had expressions of interests already about the possibility of providing summer internships for some overseas students.

Therefore we would like to offer a huge note of thanks to everyone who has helped to support the move through practical assistance or by ‘buying a brick’. Your generosity is greatly appreciated by the volunteers, staff, and trustees. It has enabled the Foundation to open a new chapter in our history, in the sixtieth anniversary year since the organisation was established.

The fundraising contributions have made it possible to complete the move and install most of what we need. We are a little short still of where we would like to be – to date we have raised £27,875, leaving a shortfall of £2125, thus if you think you can help by making a donation, we would be delighted to have you join our band of supporters.

It has been a busy 3 months since we moved to the Corn Exchange (at the end of January 2016), and we have had some fun bringing order to the chaos of storage crates – the joy and despair of moving – with which anyone who has moved house will be familiar.

You can see how we are progressing by visiting our updated photo gallery of images related to the move (see http://www.ancestryireland.com/make-a-donation/buy-brick/big-move-photo-gallery/). And do revisit from time to time, as you will see other important developments taking shape – including the installation of our new library.

Thank you again for generously supporting our fundraising, we hope you can see the positive change and improvements the relocation is already bringing to the work of this charitable organisation.

Best regards
Fintan Mullan
Executive Director


Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

SAFHS conference 2017

One to bookmark - next year's Scottish Association of Family History Societies conference is being held on Saturday 22nd April 2017 at Cairn Queensferry Hotel, North Queensferry, Fife, KY11 1HP. Unusually, the conference is not being hosted by a family history society on this occasion, but by professional genealogist organisation the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives.

For further details please visit http://www.safhs.org.uk/conference.asp.

Chris

For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

Somerset and Dorset photography project

Somerset and Dorset Family History Society (www.sdfhs.org) is establishing a searchable database of photographs from the region, and is seeking public contributions. From the society:

Although you would be welcome to bring your photographs in to the Family History Centre at any time (just give us a phone call, to let us know you are coming), we intend to hold a series of Photograph Open Days, to be run by our inputting team, when we shall also have our experts available to advise on dating and caring for your photographs. Have a look at the ‘Events’ page on this website to check for dates arranged.

Once the project is up and running, we may be able to extend it beyond Sherborne, by seeking the aid of the Society’s Groups to run similar Photograph Open Days.

We do have some criteria we need to observe to keep the database relevant to Somerset and Dorset.
  • The photographs must be of people born in, or who have lived in, one or both of the two counties.
  • Ideally no more than 3 images of one individual, for instance taken in youth, aged 20- 50, and 50 +.
  • At least one of the subjects needs to be identified by name.
  • A location and date, if only approximate, is desirable.
We would also like to have your permission to supply copies of photos to other researchers (we would make a nominal charge for this service, to cover costs).
    We would also be interested in any old photographs of places and buildings in the two counties with known family associations; for example houses, churches, halls, pubs and hotels, farms, factories, railway stations, and anything of this sort.

    To keep things manageable, we may, regrettably, have to decline offers which fall outside of the guidelines above.

    For further details visit http://www.sdfhs.org/sdfhs-projects/introduction-to-sdfhs-projects/a-hidden-resource/.

    Chris

    For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.

    Free ScotlandsPeople credits

    A quick reminder that 20 free ScotlandsPeople credits are available for grabs until the end of this month by using the code scotland on the website at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

    You can access civil registration records from 1855 onwards on the site, Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic parish registers, censuses, valuation records, wills and more on the site. The normal cost of 30 credits is £7.


    Chris

    For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html. My Pinterest account is at https://www.pinterest.com/chrismpaton/.