Saturday, September 26, 2015

SNGF ~ How Many Surnames in Your Family Tree Database?

I’m joining in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun blog meme hosted by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings.  This weeks challenge is:

1) Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2) Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3) Tell us how many surnames are in your database and, if possible, which Surname has the most entries. If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5! Or 10!! Or 20!!!

4) Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on Facebook, or in Google Plus Stream post.

My main genealogy database is in RootsMagic 7.  I do use a number of programs but chose RootsMagic for this challenge because has my largest database currently.

To find out how many surnames are in my database I went to the Reports menu tab and selected List.  From that popup menu I chose Surname Statistics List.  The surname statistics list offers a number of sorting selections.  I chose to sort by surname frequency. 

RootsMagic Surname Report

This produced a 78 page report and each page contained about 49 names.  I wasn’t going to sit and count them all!  This gives me an estimated number of surnames 3822.

My top 20 surnames are:


  • MCINROY 429 people from 1781 to 1998
  • UNKNOWN 420 people from 1741 to 1973
  • GARDINER 344 people from 1645 to 2010
  • GALLANT 304 people from 1712  to1996
  • HASLETT 298 people from  1712 to 2006
  • ANDERSON 290 people from 1620 to 2008
  • FERRIER 264 people from  1753 to 1982
  • ROBICHAUD 233 people from  1609 to 2012
  • SPITZ 232 people from 1657 to 1933
  • MCKEOWN 218 people from 1805 to 2010
  • HAZLETT 198 people from  1760 to 2009
  • MILLS 197 people from  1672 to 2014
  • MCCREA 196 people from  1725 to 2000
  • WILSON 189 people from  1678 to 1998
  • REID 189 people from  1838 to 1988
  • @@ 167 people from 1808 to 1985
  • WATSON 161 people from 1676 to 1981
  • HEATH 153 people from 1793 to 1993
  • BADGEROW 152 people from 1745 to 2006
  • HOWATT 143 people from 1763 to 1997

This was an interesting topic to look at.  First I’ve discovered that I have way to many “unknown” names for my liking.  These span a wide range of time.  Some of these are in my direct lines, however many are in distant cousin branches.  It’s on my to-do list to try and figure out who these people are.  I also see that at some point I’ve imported/merged a cousins database who used @@ symbols in the name field.  ARG!  I no longer import gedcoms into my master file, but I will have to go back and clean that up as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Margaret Alice Colgan (1891-1965) – 52 Ancestors #2

My Grandmother Margaret Alice Colgan was born 10th of August 1891 in Osprey township, Grey County, Ontario.  Her parents were John James "Jack" Colgan (1854-1928) and Indiana Lovica Badgerow (1866-1937).

Margaret was the second oldest child born to her parents, her siblings were:

Sarah Elizabeth Colgan (1889-1978)
John James "Jack" Colgan Jr. (1898-1961)
Mary Ann Colgan (1900-1952)
David Henry Colgan (1905-1991)
Julie Colgan (1907-1952)
Jessie Minerva Colgan (1907-)
Albert Wellington Carter Colgan (1913-1953)

Charles Mills & Margaret Colgan Marriage Margaret married Charles Edward Mills on the 25th of September 1912.  The wedding took place at her family home.  I've previously posted their marriage notice and photo in my post about her husband Charles Mills.
Charles and Margaret farmed in Melancthon township near Dundalk before retiring and moving into town.  Here they raised their children Alice Odeca (1915-1915), Charles Roy (1916-1990), John Emerson (1918-1987), Thomas Nelson (1920-2007), Margaret Aileena (1925-1997) and Norman Leslie (1922-1989).

Margaret died on the 1st of March 1965 in Center Grey Hospital, Markdale and is buried with her husband in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Dundalk, Ontario.

Margaret Alice Colgan & Charles Edward Mills Gravestone

Do you have information on this family or are you related?  I’d love to hear from you!


Joining in the 52 Ancestors challenge  Amy Johnson Crow at the blog No Story Too Small.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SNGF ~ The Date My Grandmother Was Born – Mary Hilda Anderson 1915-2006

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has shared another great Saturday night genealogy fun challenge!

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:1)  What day of the week was your Grandmother born (either one)? Tell us how you found out.

2)  What event was a headline in the newspapers on that date?  Tell us how you found out.

3) What has happened in recorded history on your Grandmother's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

4)  What famous people have been born on your Grandmother's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

5)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

For this challenge I decided to do my maternal Grandmother since she was born in March!  My Grandmother Mary Hilda Anderson was born March 16h, 1915 in Chatham, New Brunswick to parents Karl Oskar Andersson (AKA Joseph Oscar Anderson) and Alma (Emma) Robichaud.

1.  Grandma Hilda was born on a Tuesday and interestingly enough I found out that the calendar in 1915 is the same as it will be in 2021!  I found this out on the website About My Birthday.

2.  To find a headline from a newspaper for the day or week Grandma was born I couldn’t check a New Brunswick paper since they are not online as far as I know.  So I checked The Charlottetown Guardian Moring Daily paper from P.E.I. I used the website Island Newspapers

The headlines read Notorious Dresden Sent To The Bottom, Yesterday In The House Of Commons and Lord Kitchener Reviews Situation.

The Charlottetown Guardian cover 

3.  To look for historical events that took place on the day my Grandmother was born I checked Wikipedia.  There was a huge list!  These are 5 I picked out.

  • 597 BC – Babylonians capture Jerusalem, and replace Jeconiah with Zedekiah as king.
  • 1792 – King Gustav III of Sweden is shot; he dies on March 29.
  • 1812 – Battle of Badajoz (March 16 – April 6) – British and Portuguese forces besieged and defeated French garrison during Peninsular War.
  • 1815 – Prince Willem proclaims himself King of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the first constitutional monarch in the Netherlands.
  • 1912 – Lawrence Oates, an ill member of Robert Falcon Scott's South Pole expedition, left his tent to die, saying: "I am just going outside and may be some time."

4.  To find famous people who were born on March 16 I also checked Wikipedia.

  • 1751 – James Madison, British-American politician, 4th President of the United States (d. 1836)
  • 1846 – Gösta Mittag-Leffler, Swedish mathematician (d. 1927)
  • 1915 – Kodaira Kunihiko, Japanese mathematician (d. 1997)
  • 1926 – Jerry Lewis, American actor, singer, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1927 – Vladimir Komarov, Russian pilot, engineer, and astronaut (d. 1967)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Charles Edward Mills (1889-1976) - 52 Ancestors #1

I'm joining in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog meme and I'm already a week behind! LOL  Our youngest has been teething and needed a lot of cuddling this past week or so.  Now I have a little time to sneak onto the computer with both hands free to type!  This week I'm sharing a little about my paternal Grandfather Charles Edward Mills.  Grandpa Charles and his wife Margaret both died before I was born so unfortunately I don't know much about their lives to share.

Charles Edward Mills was born 19 November 1889 in Melancthon Township, Dufferin County, Ontario to parents Thomas Mills and Maria Grummett.

Charles was the second oldest child born to Thomas and Maria, Charles siblings were:

Thomas James Mills born 30 Nov. 1888
Sarah Lucinda Mills born 12 Jan. 1891
Hannah Jane Mills born 23 Aug. 1892
John Herman Mills born 23 Jan. 1894
Carrie Olive Mills born 11 Sep. 1896
Rosie (Rosa) May Mills born 27 Feb. 1898
Henry Stinson Mills born 30 Mar. 1900
Chester Roy Mills born 9 Jun. 1902
Edith Pearl Mills born 12 Oct. 1903
Velma Muriel Mills born 16 Jan. 1913

Grand Father Mills {Charlie Mills } 001

I was so blessed to receive a copy of a photo of Grandpa Charles Mills as a child.  He looks about 2 in this?

Charles married Margaret Alice Colgan on the 25th of September 1912 in Margaret's family home.  Margaret was the daughter of John James Colgan (1854-1928) and Indiana Lovica Badgerow (1866-1937).

This is a transcript of their marriage notice:

Mills - Colgan
The marriage of Miss Margaret Alice Colgan, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Colgan of Flesherton, to Mr. Charles Edward Mills of Melancthon, was solemnized  at high noon on Sept. 25, at the bride's home.  The ceremony was performed by the Rev. H.E. Wellwood, the bride's pastor.  The young couple were married under an arch, the house being prettily decorated with autumn leaves.  The bride was attended by her sister, Miss Sarah, and the groom by his brother, Mr. Herman Mills.  The wedding was quiet, only the immediate relatives being present.  After the service a dainty wedding breakfast was served.  Mr. and Mrs. Mills will reside in Melancthon, near Dundalk.  The best wishes of their many friends follow them.
Flesherton Advance, 3 Oct 1912, page 4

Fall has always been my favourite season.  I bet the fall wedding decorations were beautiful!  I so wish I could see a photo of what it looked like.   I do have a wedding photo that was shared with me a few years ago by a cousin.

Charles Mills & Margaret Colgan MarriagePhoto received from Cindy Sawyer

While the photo wasn’t labelled as a wedding photo I think it is pretty obvious by the dress of Grandma Margaret!  The back row left to right is Sarah Colgan, Charles Mills, Margaret (Colgan) Mills, Jack Colgan.  Front row John James Colgan (father of Margaret), Jessie Colgan, MaryAnn Colgan, Davy Colgan, and Indiana (Badgerow) Colgan (Mother).  The youngest child of John and Indiana Colgan, Albert was born the summer after Margaret and Charles Mills married.

Charles and Margaret farmed in Melancthon township for most of their lives before retiring and moving into the town of Dundalk.

I don't have a clear picture of what their home farm looked like but the 1921 census gives some clues.  It shows that Charles and Margaret owned their own home, that it was made of wood and contained 3 rooms.
I do wish the census had listed the exact lot and concession number so I could tell where that farm was!

They had 6 children Alice Odeca, Charles Roy, John Emerson, Thomas Nelson, Margaret Aileena and Norman Leslie.

 Do you have information on this family or are you related?  I’d love to hear from you!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Genealogy Do Over – Week One: Setting Up My New Linux Install & Favourite Software

In my last post I shared some of my goals I would like to work on in the next 13 weeks of the Genealogy Do Over.  Before I could get down to making research plans I wanted to upgrade my laptops operating system and programs.  As I’ve mentioned before I use Linux my primary operating system.  I had been running Bodhi Linux 2 for a few years and decided it was time for a change.

Bodhi Linux is a wonderful Linux distro, but it is built on an older version of Ubuntu.  I wanted a newer version that could run the newer software versions that I wanted.  So this past week I’ve been downloading and trying out a few.  I decided to go with Linux Mint 17.1.  So far I’m loving it!

Then I set up my Windows virtual box so I can run the few Windows programs that I use and don’t play nice with WINE.  This is mainly Windows Live Writer, Family Tree Maker 2012 and RootsMagic 7.  RootsMagic WILL work in WINE but I find it just works better in a Windows virtual box setup.

I set up Evernote in WINE and the Linux version of it called NixNote 2 (previously called NeverNote) as well.

I also installed a newer version of my favourite photo management software DigiKam.  It is available for Linux and Windows.

I installed the newest version of GRAMPS.  I’ve tried using this before and just couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Actually I think it’s the only Linux program that gives me a headache.  It works very different than other genealogy software I’ve used.  I’m going to start a new database in this to give it a fair test.  There are some things I really like about how GRAMPS handles places and reports.

I’ve installed RootsTrust a new genealogy program for Windows, Mac and Linux.  It’s only in beta but I already like what I see.  I also like that it’s cross platform and can also run on a flash drive.

I installed Shutter a wonderful screenshot program.

Then I installed Evidentia I just love this program but I was still running an older version of it until I upgraded this week.  I’m looking forward to trying out all the new features in this version!

Of course I’ve also been busy moving over my Thunderbird mail and FireFox profiles so that I didn’t lose any important data or settings.  Dropbox is all set up and many other little programs that I find very handy.  I love how easy Linux makes it to install most software and keep it updated to!  I have always loved how I can update my Linux operating system and every program on it so quickly.

Now that I have everything setup the way I like it’s time to work on my new research plans!

My Goal’s For The Genealogy Do Over


A few weeks ago Thomas MacEntee announced a new project on the Geneabloggers site.  It’s the Genealogy Do Over  and wow has it gathered a lot of attention in the genealogy community!  There is even a Facebook group with over 1000 members.

The basic idea behind the Genealogy Do Over is to put aside ALL of your past work, excluding original documents that you’ve ordered in the past and start fresh for 13 weeks.  This includes of course starting a new genealogy database in your program of choice.  Then build up a research plan and properly start adding people and sources to your new database.  You can read more about the Genealogy Do Over on the website.

When I first read this, I thought NO WAY!  I’ve been researching my family history for a long time, I couldn’t possibly put all that time and effort aside and just forget about it, even for just 13 weeks.  I tried to ignore it, but the project kept coming up over and over again in my genealogy Feedly list.  The more I thought about it I liked the idea, sort of.

I have decided that I would do a modified version, more of a go over than a do over as some on the Facebook community are calling it.

I started working on my family history when I was 12 years old.  I put a lot of work into my research for about 7 years after that.  I used a combination of paper family trees and a DOS version of Brothers Keeper.  I did try to source things as best I could.  Most of my information came from work done in the local library.  They had a wonderful collection of newspaper clippings organized by family and of course census records on microfilm for the local area.  Back then I at least made a note of what binder the information was coming from.  Then I got married, moved, had children and I was just to busy to spend much time on my research so I took a long break.

When I started working on my family history again about 8 years ago I started to build my tree all over again starting with my paper notes.  At the time I was building it on Ancestry, not long later I started to look for software program to use.  I tried all the free programs I could find and the free versions of paid programs to see what I liked the best.  I finally settled on RootsMagic as my main program.

Why I’m doing a Genealogy Do Over Go Over

Although I’ve always tried my best to cite sources for my family history work I’ve changed formats over time.  Since my “new” tree years ago was built on Ancestry then imported into other genealogy software programs the source templates were largely simple text templates.  I prefer the nice templates that RootsMagic use.  I find it easy to forget to add helpful information to sources if there isn’t a field that says ADD ME! 

Looking over my tree I was surprised to find close family members who I haven’t added proper sources for.  I noticed that a lot have birth records cited, but no images for it.  Why?  Well because when I first built the tree on Ancestry when I downloaded the gedcom file it doesn’t include images.  I thought I had gone back to download them, but I’ve obviously missed some.

Other branches of my family tree are very well sourced.  I see no good reason to set them aside for now.

Over the years I’ve come up with a filing system on the computer that I love and a naming system for my files.  I’ve posted about them before.  This I’m not planning to change and I’m not going to set these files aside.  After all they are all vital records and census records, named and filed the way I like them.

One thing I do want to improve on and I have mentioned in my past few New Years goals posts is keeping a research log.  I have gone back and forth between using the research log in RootsMagic and using Evernote.  I like both but to often forget to use either.  I am getting better at it though!  One thing I want to get in the habit of doing is recording negative searches by SOURCE not just under the person’s information.  I think this will make it easier to know what families I’ve search for in record groups.

I want to make changes to my current workflow.  I normally research, have way to many tabs open then download, name, file and transcribe the document into RootsMagic.

My biggest problem?  I have genealogy ADD, I get very sidetracked by things when I’m researching.  I can be reading a blog that reminds me of something I want to look for, so I open a tab and start that.  Then I find a different family or possible family in that record and I’m off on that trail.  But wait a minute!  My original target was not accomplished!  In some ways I’ve added a lot of good information to my database with this method and yes even broken down some brick walls.  However I’ve also left holes, possibly missed records and just generally lost track of my original goals.

My overall goals for the Genealogy Do Over

  • Establish a better research plan.  This will be outlining what I know about a person or family group, then outlining what I’m looking for.  What sources have been used and where I need to search.
  • Make better use of my analysis tools to extract every bit of data from each record possible.  One of the tools I’m using for this is Evidentia.  I owned the older version of this wonderful software but finally upgraded to the newest version this past week.  I’m looking forward to putting it to good use!
  • Get back in the habit of using good meta data.  I use DigiKam to organize and edit most of my photos and documents.  It has wonderful  tools for editing meta data including image descriptions and tags.  For record images I want to also add source citations to the meta data.
  • I want to start working back over each person in my tree to fill in missing records.  I also want to make sure that I’ve transcribed each source into the person notes and source research notes.
  • I’m also testing out a few other genealogy programs that run on Linux my main operating system to see if I like them.  I LOVE my RootsMagic and use it in a virtualbox install but I would prefer to eventually move to a program that is native to my OS.  I’m currently testing out GRAMPS and RootsTrust

I don’t know if I’m going to change my main program yet or not.  I LOVE RootsMagic the data flow in it is just the way I think.  However it really does bug me that you can not make a person or image privet!   You can mark a person as living to hide them from export but that is the only way.  You also can’t mark images as private and that really does bug me.  Otherwise it love the software.

Are you joining in the Genealogy Do Over?  What are your goals?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Look Back Over 2014 And Goals For 2015

It’s that time of year again when we start to look back over what we have accomplished and what we would like to make better in the year to come.  Last year I didn’t post any genealogy goals for 2014.  I was expecting our 6th little baby and having a few health issues.  I knew that I would have my hands full in 2014!  LOL

Back in 2013 these are the goals I posted for that year.

  • Spend more time working on my Irish brick walls.
  • Make better use of research logs.
  • Catch up on the data entry backlog .
  • Keep learning about DNA and try to figure out some mystery connections there.
  • Blog more!

I have made some progress on some of my Irish brick walls.  I spent a lot of time working on my Stinson line and going through the Ontario Catholic parish records on FamilySearch a few years ago.  I was sure I had finally put together the right family for my 2nd Great Grandmother Margaret Stinson.  Then in 2014 I made 4 DNA matches with descendants of her sister Jane Stinson and brother William Stinson.  It was wonderful to have that DNA matching as extra proof that I was on the right track.

I’ve tried to make it a habit to document my research using a research log.  I’ve had mixed results with this!  I have been using the research log that is part of RootsMagic and I really do like it.  However I find it very frustrating that it can’t be open at the same time your working on a person.  To often I find that after entering data in RootsMagic for a person, I forget or get distracted (by records or children!) to also open that research log and add it there.  I’m considering going back to using Evernote as my research log.  This way I can have both open at the same time to cross reference.

How have I done on getting caught up on the data entry backlog?  Welllllll….. If  I’ve made some progress on that, the backlog keeps growing.  I have a lot of information I have saved to enter on my Colonial American lines especially.

I’ve kept trying to learn about working with DNA.  In addition to the Family Finder test I was gifted a few years ago, this past summer I also tested with AncestryDNA.  While I don’t think Ancestry has good tools for working with your DNA, it desperately needs a chromosome browser!!  I have made some very good matches there.  Some of my cousin matches at both sites have become great friends that I enjoy sharing data with.

My blogging has not been very consistent here unfortunately.  I have managed to keep blogging steadily on my other blog Homestead Acres.  That blog focuses more on our family’s activities, recipes and gardens.  I am hoping to make more time to share here.  The problem is that I spend my extra time researching and often it’s hard to find more time to write about that research!  I’m going to try to join in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks meme this year.  I looked at it last December, but with a new baby coming I knew I would not be able to keep up.  I’ll be sharing about my plan for that soon.

So what are my goals for 2015?

I have a lot of hopes for this coming year, but I won’t be upset if I don’t make a lot of progress.  Spending time with our children always takes first place.

  1. I want to keep working on my “brick walls”.  I have a few Irish lines that stop short with their arrival in Canada.  I also have some brick walls on my Crowell, Davison/Davidson and Stewart lines I would love to make more progress on.
  2. I’m going to try to join in the 52 Ancestors meme and hope that I can make a good post each week.  I would like to use this time to go over my research that I’ve already done and make sure everything is sourced properly.  While doing this check new databases for additional information that may have come online since I last worked on these families.
  3. I’m going to join in my version of the Genealogy Do Over and I’ll post more about that soon to.
  4. I would like to expand my family DNA testing.  I’ve already ordered another DNA test and hope to test a few more family members this year.  Doing this will help so much with triangulating (grouping) my matches.
  5. I would like to test out a few more genealogy programs.  I’ve used RootsMagic as my main database for a long time.  I LOVE the program, but there are a few things that it can’t do that I want.  I also use Linux as my main operating system.  Maybe it’s time to have another look at GRAMPS.  Could I really leave my beloved RootsMagic?  I don’t know but a few little things are starting to bug me about it.

How was your 2014?  Do you have any special goals for this coming year?