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Going back…..information on visiting Almonte, Ontario (Yuills/Atikenhead’s settlement area)

The summer of 2016 in August I visited Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, it was mainly just a trip to finally see Canada Capital but also for genealogy research. My dad’s family first settled in the Ottawa valley in the 1800s.

I took a day and drove out to Almonte Ontario which is the area were the Yuills and Aitkenheads originally settled in. The families originally lived in the Ramsay township area which is no more but you can visit the town of Almonte were many of them lived.

Almonte is about a 45 minute drive from Ottawa. The drive was fairly easy and the town itself not hard to find. There is also the town of Mississippi Mills nearby as well, it is a larger town then Almonte.

Almonte itself, is a very small town, with some heritage feel to it. The old mill still has its heritage look but has been turned into condos and restaurants. There is a small river walk in the town as well as many restaurants and art type shops. I do recommend being prepared to some walking as it the best way to get around.  The town does host many festivals in the summer, including highland games so I would say to check if  you not interested in a crowded time.

There is also the Auld Kirk Cemetery, just a short distance from Almonte. It is is fairly easy to find, provided you have coordinates. Coordinates can be found on Find a Grave. The Cemetery  itself is quite large and the church is still there. It is not open to go inside and I am not sure how you would gain access to the inside, but you can see in the windows to get an idea.

I  recommend going to the Ottawa Public library beforehand and visiting their local history room to look at the cemetery transcripts. This is because the cemetery is quite large and if your looking for specific graves, you do need to know their location before hand.

I will say that you may need to self-sufficient when looking at the local history information at the library.

The church itself, is quite small but is a beautiful little church. It was built in 1836 and it is around 181 years old.  It does contain some burials inside the church(Some of my ancestors are buried in the church).

There is also Library and Archives Canada located in the Ottawa as well, I didn’t have time to visit  in depth, but I  was able to see the main building.  If you do plan to visit material that Library and Archives holds, I strongly advise finding out before how to request items, as It can take time as a lot of their records are stored in other sites, and need to brought to the main building for viewing.

Here are some links and or books to check out on those who want more information:


Auld Kirk Information

The Auld Kirk Cemetery : stone inscriptions / compiled and edited by Gary J. Byron.

Library and Archives Information:

Ottawa Public Library Genealogy Information:

If you do plan to visit and would like some additional information, You can contact me at

Thanks for Reading




Family History books and Community History books

I have had the luxury of getting my hands on 3 family history books and 1 community history book.  These, though not always the most reliable sources of information are very useful.

Family History Books

These are generally books that detail a particular family line.  The 3 I have copies of are:

Genealogical Sketches of James Yuill Of Ramsay Township, Lanark County, Ontario and Descendants by J Herbert J Yule.  (This was very generous donated to me by a kind ancestry user)

Two Hundred Years. Fairbairn family by Grace Jenking. (This is a PDF Copy found online and printed out)

From Lanark County, Scotland to Lanark County Upper Canada: James Aitkenhead and His Descendants by Margaret E Goodman(This book was mentioned to me by ancestry user who donated the Yuill book to me and I was very lucky to find a copy in a local bookstore.)

The Yuill and Aitkenhead books are very detailed and quite in depth. The Yuill one was published in the 50s, so its stop there. Aitkenhead however was published in 2009 and is a  labor of love. I highly recommend if you are researching that particular family, getting a copy or borrowing if able.

All these books have proved useful for me, not just for names and dates but stories.

BUT…. these books will often have incorrect information. I recommend treating these a guide. Some common issues I have come across is gender wrong, dates incorrect, mix-up in names.  I had who married who mixed up, especially with people with the same names.

One example are: I had a Montrose listed as a girl but It was actually a second name of a male James Montrose Fairbarin.

On the hand, I have found more ancestors who were missing or just what happen to them unknown until I had the book.

Community History Books-  are a book about the history of community.  There are different kinds of these I feel.

They are those who might look a community more generally for example: Ukrainian community of Edmonton 1900-1950-more of a broad focus.  You might things such as were their community lived in Edmonton, were they shopped etc and maybe some names if your lucky.

Might give an idea of what your ancestors life was like or a starting point if you don’t have much to go on.  Example: You know your great grandparents were Ukrainian and lived in Edmonton in the 1900s, the book might give you some ideas of were search.

Another type is a history of specific geographical place- such as The Fox’s Tale: The History of Foxwarren and the Consolidated School District #525. This book is about the small town called Foxwarren and its history, residents etc. These will generally have a section about the pioneers of the area.  I find these to be very useful not just for the family histories and stories but the telling of what live was like in the town etc. Very good for finding out what etc your ancestor live was maybe like.


As Always, Thanks for Reading





Tracking down Spouses

Sometimes tracking down a spouse  information is hard if you only have little information to go on. I have quite often come across this, trying to tracking a spouse name or other information. I have found some of the following methods useful.

If you only have a last name, I have frequently come across this, where I will found a death record that listed the married name, but not the spouse name.

For example, Death record of Sarah Jones listed her married name as Peters but no spouse first name.

This is where if you have grave information, you can sometimes track down the spouse by searching the cemetery records for that last name.

For example, Sarah Peters Nee Jones was buried at Headman’s Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Then  I would search the cemetery for Peters and then narrow down the field by focusing on those born in and around Sarah’s birth date. I then try searching for marriage between Sarah and the possible matches. If found I have found the spouse.

Another option is, if pictures are available, is comparing graves pictures for similarities. IE-similar stones or similar colors.

Also if you know for example that Sarah died in Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario in 1918 and was born in  1845. You could try searching for Peters that died in Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario born in around the same time as Sarah.

These methods are very much a  trial and error but I have had quite a bit of success with them.

As Always, Thanks for Reading




Finding Jewish ancestry in my family


I have been recently trying to find more information about my maternal grandfather’s side of the family, in particular about his mother. Background information can be found in this post and is this post. I have a small path that I think is right but not 100% positive at this point.  Here some quick background information:

Sarah Barnett is my 1st Great Grandmother

Her mother was a Ellen Coleman.  I find out her maiden name from ordering Sarah’s birth certificate and I know that she died from tuberculosis according to one of her son military records. I got a hint on Ancestry and decided to take a further look into this family to see. I also knew from censuses that she was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.

This family that I think is correct is the following:

(abt means about)


Moses Coleman  born abt 1830 in Middlesex,London, England

Frances(Fanny)Coster born  abt 1831 in Birmingham,Warwickshire,England


Maria Coleman born abt 1848 in Birmingham or London, England

Benjamin Coleman born abt 1852 in Birmingham, England

Jane Coleman born abt 1858 in Birmingham, England

Jacob(John) Coleman born abt 1860 in Birmingham, England

I have Ellen living  with the family in 1861 and next census she is an orphanage for Jewish children with her sister Jane in the Whitechapel area of London.  In 1881 she appear working as a servant in the Whitechapel area.

It was never known that my great-grandmother was maybe part Jewish, certain things make me believe this the right path. One it was believed that Sarah was in an orphanage at some point, I haven’t come across any records etc of this. I believe this mention may have been about her mother.

I am continuing to work on this family and hoping to eventually get a confirmed birth or marriage information for Ellen. I have no evidence at this time to believe that John her husband was Jewish as well.

As Always, Thanks for reading


Fustration,Fustration,Fustration…with the Scots and Ancestry

I have recently been frustrated with Ancestry and searching my Scottish ancestry. In particular with the censuses. I have noticed that transcribing for these censuses is lacking somewhat in the correct or close correct surnames. I know that it’s usually volunteers doing this work which I really do appreciate but sometimes the names are just way out of whack.

Ones such example is Medougert for McDougall. This is almost no way there with wildcard searching etc that I would come across this name. I happened to find this by using a different site.  On the plus side this lead to me to the following site which is quite useful for early Scottish censuses.  This site is Scottish Indexes and I honestly can’t remember how I stumble across this site but I did. It is run by couple who have a genealogy company called Maxwell Ancestry.  Its focus is mainly south Scotland but they do have records from all over Scotland.

I have used their site for searching their census indexes. You can either do a basic or advanced search. I will say those in my searching wild cards are a good option as for example when searching McDougall if the spelling was McDougal the result didn’t come up. The information that they give for census is more detailed than ancestry and some additional information is provided sometimes. One such example is for one ancestor they actually had provided who the ancestor had married. They also seem to be more accurate with the surnames then ancestry.

If you’re having trouble or you want search Scottish censuses for free, give the site a try.

As Always, Thanks for reading


ScotlandsPeople Review


I finally decided to give ScotlandPeople website a try.  For those who don’t the site is a genealogy record site  for Scottish records. It is run by the Scottish Government as well as the people who fun FindMyPast. This site is strictly a pay for record site, meaning you pay to view the search results as well as the record. This of course has pluses and minuses.


You aren’t paying a monthly or yearly etc access fee.

It is more cost-effective that you are only paying for select records.

It give more details and information to records then Ancestry.

It is good to use to get more information then some other sites provide.


You can end up paying money for incorrect records.

You have to use credits to view the search results and then a credits to see the actual record.

I don’t find it a good site to use it stand alone, it is better to use in with another site.

Overall I found the site easy to navigate, there is different search options. They do also provide  help for searching. I do recommend looking this over first as will help with searching and also explains what is in the various collections. They do also offer searching for military collections for free. Overall, the help section is quite extensive and worth taking the time to read though to help with navigating the site.

Option 1

Basic Search- this a free surname search that can be done on the site by searching for name and select years. It give you a list of the possible matches in each collection on the site. This is really only good if you want to see if there is a possible chance your ancestor is on the site but again you do have to pay to actual see the results.

Option 2

Searching a specific collection-This does require you to have account to search. It does vary slightly from collection to collection. The basics are you search by names, dates, sex, dates. You also have the option to narrow down by county or major cities and then by districts in those areas. I do recommend narrowing the results if you just clarifying information. If you are trying to find new, then I would recommend not narrowing too much to give you the chance of getting the best result.

Overall, I would recommend using the site in conjunction with another site such as Ancestry personally. I used to clarify or expand on information from Ancestry. I found stand alone it wouldn’t be as useful as the access is more limited to specific records. I will say however that it provides more information for birth, marriage and censuses then Ancestry which is providing the basic information.

As Always, Thanks for reading




2016 and Breaking down James Alexander Smith’s brick wall

I have been for ages working on finding out were my great grandfather James Alexander Smith come from. I was able to quickly trace his life after his moved from Ontario to Manitoba in the late 1870s and his life in Manitoba till he died. Little to nothing was known about his life prior to his move to Manitoba.

I knew that he was born in Port Elgin Ontario according to one of his daughters birth certificate and from 1921 census he stated that his father was born in Scotland and his mother in England. It also stated on his obit that two siblings a brother named John and a unmarried sister named Mary were still living and in Southampton, Ontario.

I was recently contacted by someone on ancestry who thought that James’s was a brother of his ancestors and that he had a picture of him. Upon providing my picture of James as well it turned out to be a matching picture.

I myself decided to see what information I could glean from James’s sister Mary as I knew she was still alive in 1949 at time of his death and was unmarried, therefore no name changes to deal with it. I was able to trace her down to a voters list and her brother as well. From there it kept coming and coming with more information and people and I now have fairly comprehensive idea of James Alexander’s Smith life before his move to Manitoba.

I soon will be doing a further post on this family soon

As always, thanks for reading