This Is The Face of Genealogy

Old photo of man and woman

John Torrence and 2nd wife Louisa

The backstory of how the LAWeekly were big jerks to genealogists.

Here’s some nice faces: John Torrence and Louisa Loy.


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Using 23andme to find cousins

I recently signed up to have my DNA tested during 23andme’s recent $99 sale. I’m interested in the health data, but finding cousins, validating my research and  unlocking brickwalls makes sense to me.

This is for the potential cousins out there.

My great-great-grandparents

(meaning if our common ancestor is listed here, we are 3th cousins)

  • Willem Harms Bakker born Nieuw Beerta, Groningen, Netherlands
  • Hillechien Jans Janssen born Nieuw Beerta, Groningen, Netherlands
  • Jan Wubbe Jansen born Netherlands
  • Geertruida Jans Franssen born Netherlands
  • John O. Torrence born Iowa, USA
  • Mary Emogene Briggs born Illinois, USA
  • George Firth born Yorkshire, England
  • Susannah Elliott born Yorkshire, England
  • ? Kowalenko born Ukraine
  • ? Trischuk born Ukraine
  • ? Shykaruk born Ukraine
  • ? possibly born Ukraine

My great-great-great grandparents

(meaning if our common ancestor is listed here, we are 4th cousins)

  • Harm Jurjens Bakker born Netherlands
  • Hilke Fokkens born Netherlands
  • Jan Jans Jansen born Netherlands
  • Hilke Zwierts Zwart born Netherlands
  • William B. Torrence born Pennsylvania, USA (probably Scotch-Irish ancestry)
  • Elvira G Fagg born Virginia or North Carolina, USA (probably English ancestry)
  • Orrin Briggs born Maine or Massachusetts, USA (probably English ancestry)
  • Susan Bowder born Pennsylvania, USA (probably German ancestry)
  • Thomas Firth born Yorkshire, England
  • Mary Elliott born Yorkshire, England
  • John Elliott born Yorkshire, England
  • Susannah Dawson born Yorkshire, England
  • (I haven’t listed the Ukrainian ancestors as I don’t know their names)


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Good Genealogy Luck – Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Each Saturday, Randy Seaver of Geneamusings issues a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun blogging challenge. This week’s subject  is to talk about a time when we had a big ol’ dose of good genealogy luck.

That’s an easy one. In June 2003 I was living in England. My new boyfriend and I decided to do a fly-drive holiday in Sweden. The purpose of the trip was to conduct some genealogy research on my dad’s side as well as have a bit of a vacation in beautiful southern Sweden.

We started just south of Stockholm and drove westerly over five days. It was quite an adventure, seeing places well off the tourist trail, stopping at rural village churches, old farmhouses, and staying in countryside B&Bs.

I didn’t want my genealogy side-excursions to take over the trip, so we stopped in Vadstena, in the province of Östergötland. There we found a pretty town, dominated by an amazing castle next to a giant lake. While doing the self-tour of the castle, we saw a sign pointing to the province’s archives. In the castle.

Yep, I’d accidentally stumbled upon the region’s record office. My husband, the good guy he is, immediately offered to run to the car to get my files. While in the archives, we looked at several original parish registers and were able to take a family line back a further generation. Sadly, we only had about an hour until closing time, but the staff there were brilliant and helped us out. It didn’t hurt that we were the two of the three researchers that afternoon!

I want to post some photos of our time at Vadstena (and all my Sweden photos including a very well-kept headstone of my 3x-great-grandparents and of us meeting my dad’s second cousin and his family) but they’re on another computer right now. I’ll add them here soon.

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Genealogy Software: WGBP #28

Goodness, has it really been two months since my last post here? My excuse: pursuing a new focus as a web designer in a new town has given me many opportunities to learn, share, network and do some interesting work along the way.

Moving on, this week’s genealogy blogging prompt is about the software we use in our genealogy research.

I’ve already written extensively about Reunion for the Mac. Some of the other fun features I’ve taken advantage recently is the ability to save charts as graphic files (PNG):

Ancestor Chart

Ancestor Chart

Other software worth mentioning

  • iTunes is great for downloading genealogy podcasts,  such as the UK’s The National Archives Podcast Series (UK) or The Genealogy Guys Podcast, not that I’ve ever found the time to listen to them in full….
  • Twitter apps such as Tweetdeck keep me up to date in the world of genealogy and genealogy blogging. There are some fabulous genealogists on Twitter, all of them a fun and lovely bunch of people.

    Also, if it weren’t for Twitter, I probably wouldn’t have followed the recent controversy related to GenealogyWise. I think it’s safe to say they’ve learned their lesson about what a social network is and isn’t to its members.

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London Metropolitan Archives: My Favourite Records Repository WGBP #19

This weeks Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #19 is to answer the following questions: Describe your favorite records repository. Why is it your favorite? What types of records does it contain? Do you have any advice for first-time visitors? Special thanks to Geneabloggers and WeTree for  promoting and creating the blogging prompts.

My favorite records repository is the London Metropolitan archives, located in north central London. Besides their amazing array of records in one organization, they have helpful staff; nice facilities (plenty of lockers and a place to sit and eat your lunch); good opening hours; plenty of computers connected to the Internet, their own databases and subscription genealogy databases; WiFi;  an excellent selection of London history books;  an amazing map collection; and parish register microfilms for nearly everywhere in London*.

From their website:

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is the archive repository for many London-wide organisations. The archives of the City of London Corporation (COL) and the former Greater London Council (GLC), London County Council (LCC), Middlesex County Council (MCC) and their predecessors are held here. LMA also holds records for many religious, public, business, local authority and other organisations based in London. The dates of items that can be found here range from medieval to the present day, and our collections are constantly expanding. At the moment, there are documents to fill around 72 km worth of shelving! You can find out more detailed information concerning our holdings by looking at our collections page.

Some of my notable finds in the LMA are:

  • Finding a detailed 1783 birth record of my husband’s gr-gr-gr-gr grandaunt in an original Account of Married Women book of the British Lying in Hospital (genealogical jackpot!)
  • My Yorkshire ancestor’s brother in city directories going back to 1740
  • The 1822 removal order for my husband’s ancestors from Lambeth parish back to St. Martin’s in the Fields (they were admitted and discharged from the workhouse on the same day, so a good friend or family member must’ve bailed them out!)

For first-time visitors, the London Metropolitan Archives’ website contains a lot of useful information for anyone wishing to visit or ‘virtually’ explore this fantastic repository.  I have also written a blog post on How to do genealogy research at a city or county record office in England. The LMA can be reached by public transportation. Personally, I recommend figuring out the buses ahead of time, instead of using the Underground (aka Tube). You can have wonderful tour of London on the upper deck of a London city bus, plus it really helps being above ground to understand how London is laid out.  The Transport for London website has an excellent online journey planner.

*  Be sure to check their catalogue to  check the parishes they cover. Click Log in to start.

P.S. The Hampshire Record Office wins 2nd place!

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Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Top 10 Genealogy Sites

Randy Seaver kickstarted the topic Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Top 10 Genealogy Sites, so here are mine:

  1. – is a one-stop-shop for online genealogy resources. While not cheap, I find they are good value and they are constantly adding more records.
  2. – Google Book Search contains a huge variety of books, particularly old county history books and published family history books. I’ve found some great gems in there.
  3. – This is the site that has searchable indexes of vital records, military service, coroner’s records, naturalization etc for the state of Illinois. Coverage is spotty but it’s a huge time saver and they’ve always been very quick when I’ve ordered copies. A more integrated global search would be nice though….
  4. – Chicago Ancestors is a Newberry Library project and has digitized city directories (hooray!), street finding aids (hooray!), historic maps (hooray again!) and links to useful places on the web. I bet they did it to ward off the zillions of questions they had to answer repeatedly, but whatever the motivation, I like it!
  5. – They haven’t got the content I need (yet) but their interface is so freaking slick and highly usable. Well done, you guys.
  6. – Some day when I have a several hours, I’m going to watch a huge stack of these genealogy videos. I’ve seen Megan Smolyenak Smolyenak’s portable film studio at NERGC – quite impressive!
  7. – IGI and FHLC catalog are great for general research
  8. – The Documents Online service from The National Archives (UK) is fab. I’ve impulse-purchased wills and service records more often than I’d like to admit!
  9. – Loads of databases and events to look forward to. Their library in Boston is impressive.
  10. – I’m a new user of Genealogy Bank but I’m excited by their coverage of historic newspapers and other records. There’s some great stuff in there that would take far too long to find using the old way.


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Canadian Border Crossings on Ancestry

Exciting stuff! has published Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 on it’s site. I was hoping to find my grandfather there, but no luck. Please tell me he didn’t slip through the border in the Minnesota woods or something…he was about 10 years old, so I’m told. That sounds pretty dangerous.

I did, however, find his uncle Peter Kowalenko and Peter’s wife and daughter in the records in 1927. Peter’s birthplace is listed as Hordinka, Austria.

Peter is listed again in 1930, and was rejected from entering Canada to see a friend. Peter’s birthplace here is listed as Hordenka, Poland (pesky border changes). Peter and wife were living in Michigan at the time. Interesting!

It’s probably Horodenka:

I haven’t been able to locate the family in church records yet. Two trips to the Family History Library and no finds on my Ukrainian family yet…

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