Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

I Remember When…We Got A Pony

One evening in the late 60’s, mom and dad got all of the kids in the car and said “we’re going to the Comber auction”. Well, you can imagine the groans and objections, an auction is no place to take a bunch of kids, but once we found out it was a livestock auction we changed our tunes. We can go see all kinds of animals, it wouldn’t be boring after all.
What we didn’t know is that dad had built a stall in the barn and was planning on buying a pony.
We had a blast at the auction, watching the horses and ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep etc. being auctioned off. Dad bid on a draft pony, dappled grey guelding with a white blaze on his forehead. He was huge, almost the size of a horse. Dad was the winning bidder, he bought us a pony and saddle for $56. His name was Starlight.
We took turns taking care of Starlight, we all curried, fed and watered him, but it was my dad and older brother who cleaned out the stall every day. Since we didn’t have a fenced-in yard, we tied Starlight out on a lead beside the apple tree where we had our tree-house, that was the biggest open area with a lot of shade.
We had a lot of fun riding and taking care of Starlight that summer, but, one day Starlight started acting up, there was a mare a couple of fields over that was coming into season. He wouldn’t listen to us, all he wanted to do was try and get to the mare. He started running around, circling the barn and almost trampled my sister. Dad finally got a rope on him and arranged for the previous owner to come and pick up the pony that day. We all missed Starlight but understood why he had to go. It was nice while it lasted.

Filed under: I Remember When, We Got A Pony

The Willett Genealogy – Imperfect and Incomplete

I ran across the genealogies of the Willet families of England and America at It has been an attempt to discover the origins of the branches of the families with the surname of Willetts/Willet/Willits in America and if and how they are related, written a century ago.

It is not at all impossible that there are errors in this genealogy; and we will be pleased to have pointed out to us such as may be discovered. In the main, however, we believe it to be fairly perfect. There have been several attempts to compile the genealogy of a single branch of the Willett family, but this is the first time the entire family has been brought together in one grand reunion.

The author goes on to explain where he accumulated his information, with blank pages entered for the purpose of further information and corrections in the future. This is a unique book, both in it’s format and in the attitude that the researcher takes, that, although there may be some errors, he tried his best to make it as accurate as possible and admits that where there is conflicting information, he weighed it and though it may be circumstantial, he entered the likeliest information with notes about the conflicting information.

J.E. Bookstaver, the author and a descendant of the Willetts family doesn’t try to convince the reader that he is an expert and he makes no claims to royalty, as was the fashion of the time for genealogists. He just put his research out there, ready for anyone to add to it or correct as needed. I think he was way ahead of his time.

Filed under: Doane/Doan, Family Files, Genealogy, Research Resources, ,

I Remember When… The Science Fair

I remember when I entered my project in the Science Fair at Gosfield North Central School, it must have been about 1970. I did my project on “The Killing of the Great Lakes’. While the rest of the kids in the family were in swimming, I walked along the shoreline taking pictures of the dead fish and litter on the beach. It was disgusting! I wouldn’t go in the lake after that for years.
My dad helped me with my backboard, which was made of two pieces of plywood hinged together. I painted it and started to put pictures on it. I had a jar of lake water and even “captured” some air pollution in a mason jar by burning some “Black Snakes” a novelty item that looks like a black pellet and when lit, expanded really fast into an ash snake with a lot of black smoke.
As it turned out, I was the First Place winner for my grade and my prize was a model replica of the Apollo rocket and lunar module, I guess they didn’t expect any girls to win. I let my older brother build it and play with it.

Filed under: I Remember When, science fair

Obituary of Lt. Col.John Butler’s wife, Catharine Bradt Butler, May 29, 1793


“On Wednesday, the 29th of May
last, died Catharine, wife of 

John Butler, Esq., first judge of the Court of
Common Pleas in Niagara, Lieutenant
Colonel of the old Rangers and chief
agent for Indian affairs for Upper
Canada, etc., etc. Few in her station
have been more useful, none more
humble. She lived fifty-eight years
without provoking envy or resentment
and left the world as a weary traveller
leaves an inn to go to the land of his
nativity”A marble tablet to the memory
of Colonel Butler is in St. Mark s church,
Niagara-on-the Lake.

from Toronto Landmarks 1914

Filed under: Brat/Bradt, Family Files, Genealogy, Loyalists, Obituaries, ,

My Dad’s Silver Buckle

My fondest memory of my dad’s silver buckle was the day of my first wedding. I was young, only seventeen, and my mom made my wedding dress. It was made of white satin and had a Chantilly lace cape instead of a veil and train. The crowning touch was the silver buckle that my dad let me use for my dress. The silver buckle was the ‘something old’ and the ‘something borrowed’. To think that my wedding day was the first time the buckle had actually been worn in over a century! It was quite an honour and I wore it with pride when my dad walked me down the aisle.
My second wedding was 25 years later, 5 years after my dad died. I made my own wedding dress and my flower girl’s dresses.

Filed under: my wedding, silver buckle

My "Silver Buckle"

Searching for family history is really addictive, the more I learn about my ancestry, the more I want to know. I am interested in how they lived, what their daily lives were like, what style of clothing they wore, what they did to entertain themselves, their beliefs, both religious and political, well, everything.
I have some unanswered questions which may never be answered such as “Why did my great-grandfather change his surname a century ago?” and “Who was Sarah’s mother?” I have two Sarah’s with unknown mothers, they are huge brick walls but I’m trying my best to break through them.
Family History research is very similar to detective work, you have to weed out the false leads and dig into people’s backgrounds, and find out as much as there is about them. Once in a while, if you’re lucky, an ancestor may become famous or infamous and there are lots of records available. Most of the time, however, the ancestor is only recorded in the census, vital records or passenger lists and immigration records.
Most people avoid cemeteries like the plague,only going when absolutely necessary, but genealogists take their cameras and go sight-seeing like tourists in among the gravestones. I’ve got to confess, I have arranged my vacation with a few trips to cemeteries I wanted to see. More than once I have dragged my husband from cemetery to cemetery for a hundred miles looking for a particular relative.
History and family history go hand in hand. You can’t really understand how your ancestors lived their lives unless you know the outside influences in their lifetime. I am especially interested in the Revolutionary war and the plight of the United Empire Loyalists. I guess it’s because my father took a great interest in the history of Canada and when we were young would take us to places which were historically significant, near or far. He would stop at every way-sign and memorial on our travels.
My dad had a silver buckle, my brother has it now, and he told us that it was from the Revolutionary war. My grandfather gave it to him, he said it had been given to him by his father. Of course, as kids, we couldn’t imagine something that old, it didn’t look that old. My dad kept it put away, and only brought it out to show someone and then put it back right away, it was the only heirloom from his ancestors and he was going to make sure nothing happened to it. I have since learned that that was the style of buckle in those times, and it would have been a treasured article, passed down from father to son. He treasured it as well, even more so, as he never really knew his grandparents.
I am researching my family history so that my grandchildren will know about their ancestors, where they came from, why they left their homeland, how they lived, what they did in their leisure, what they were like, well, everything. I want future generations to know all about our ancestors. My family history is my “silver buckle”.

Filed under: family history, silver buckle

Madness Monday – Nettie Kennedy

Henrietta (Nettie) Haines, my grand-aunt, was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada about 1875. She married William Lynch who was 11 years her senior on August 1, 1892. She was widowed after a few years and decided to go to New York with her younger sister, Jessie. She met and married David Kennedy who was the manager of a department store in Harlem. David Kennedy had three children, George, Irene and Clara.

On Jan. 13th, 1918 David came home drunk and and shot Nettie three times in the back of the neck. George heard his step-mother’s screams and came to her aide, and had his back broken by his father. Both Nettie and George died within a half hour of each other at different New York hospitals.

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Genealogy, Madness Monday, ,

13th Ed. Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture – Irish Names – O’Neil

The surname of O’Neil is perhaps the earliest Patronym. It has been around since Niall Mor reigned almost 1600 years ago. He was perhaps one of the first Christians in Ireland, being converted from paganism by St. Patrick, who had been one of his hostages.

The surname Niáll means champion. The surname O’Neill is derived from two Gaelic words, Uá Niáll, which means grandson of Niáll. It is also the surname of one of the three most important Gaelic families, the other two being, O’Brien and O’Conor.

The nickname creagh, derived from the Gaelic word craobh, meaning branch, was one by which earlier O’Neills were known. This nickname was given to them because they camouflaged themselves with greenery when battling against the Norsemen near Limerick.

The O’Neill family was quite prevalent in Irish history for almost 700 years, until the end of the 17th century. By the 14th century, it is thought that Ulster O’Neills numbered 29,000.
They are descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages. After the death of King Niall Glúin Dubh (BlackKnee) in 919 AD, his grandson Domnall became the first to use and adopt the surname O’Neill.

Ulster O’Neills divided into two main branches . The senior branch was known as the Tyrone O’Neills and the newly formed branch was known as Clan Aedh Buidhe (Clan of the Yellow haired Hugh) or Clanaboy. Each branch had it’s own chieftain. “The O’Neill Mor” was head of the Tyrone Clan and the Clanaboy Clan chieftain was known as “The O’Neill Buidhe”.

Other lesser clans of O’Neills were also formed. They were the O’Neills of the Fews, the O’Neills of Feevah, the O’Neills of Mayo (who were actually descended from the Fews) , the O’Neills of Leinster, the Cor O’Neills, the Leitrum O’Neills, the Meath O’Neills and the Ivowen O’Neills.

from Electric Scotland

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , ,

A Lovely Gift!

family website glitter text at
I would like to thank FootnoteMaven
for the wonderful portrait that she created for me.

I will display it proudly on my blog.
I’ve tried to picture myself living back then, now I can!

Filed under: Blogging, Kudos,

Wordless Wednesday – Touring Settler’s Village, Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada

My husband and I go camping every summer at Emily Provincial Park in Omeemee, Ontario, near Peterborough. One day we decided to tour one of the local towns and see what attractions we could find. We decided to go north 20 km. to Bobcaygeon.
In the town of Bobcaygeon was a pleasant surprise, a Settler’s Village right in town. The location was quite unusual, we didn’t expect much, but it was worth taking a look.
There was no Admission fee, just a donation when you leave, if you wish to make one. A tour guide took us around and unlocked the buildings, one by one, they don’t get much traffic. Now I will give you a tour.

trapper’s cabin

interior of cabin


firetruck being restored

interior of schoolhouse
teaching requirements 1870
interior of shanty
Fairbairn Church
interior of church
19th century home
time capsule

the Muir house

general store

the Duggan house

the Boyd shanty
the totem pole seems out of place here
the Jail
the blacksmith’s shop

the barn
the honey shack
What is it?

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Wordless Wednesday, , ,

May 2009