Category Archives: My Family History

Canadian Border Crossings on Ancestry

Exciting stuff! Ancestry.ca 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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Challenge: who are these residents of “the valley of the northwestern lakes”

While on GenealogyBank, I found my brickwall ancestor Oren Briggs inside a document entitled ‘Petition of citizens of the United States residing in the valley of the northwestern lakes, praying the adoption of measures to procure the free navigation of the St. Lawrence. April 11, 1850. Referred to the Committee on Commerce. June 4, 1850. Ordered to be printed.’ Publication: Serial Set Vol. No. 563, Session Vol. No.1; Report: S.Misc.Doc. 111;

Is the “valley of the northwestern lakes” the area around Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes? Can anyone confirm? Several of these men lived in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois in 1850.

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Divorce 1848 style!

My 4x great grandparents Oren Briggs (also spelled Orren, Orrin or Orin) and Susan Bowder have got an unusual and mysterious past. Their marriage was her second and at least his third marriage! She was 25 and he was 51 years old.

The following took place in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois in 1848.

  • May 16: Sarah Ann Briggs files for divorce 
against husband Oren
  • May 17: Oren’s civil lawsuit settled
  • May 18: Susan’s divorce to John Tittle granted
  • May 20: Oren’s divorce granted
  • May 24: Oren and Susan get married

Busy week!

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Relatives of Ellen Firth

The massive list below are relatives of my great-great mother, Ellen Eliza Firth.  I have manually removed anyone who is living. The report was generated in Reunion 9. I will update this post as further details are discovered (or corrected). If you are related please leave a comment! If you spot any changes or living persons, please let me know.

Last update: March 28, 2009

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George Firth – declaring the mystery as solved…

It’s been over 8 years since I first knew of my 3x great grandfather George Firth, but I’m happy to say that today I officially merged George Firth, my ancestor from Yorkshire, with George Firth, the nephew of my 4x great grandfather, John Elliott in my genealogy software.

This means that my George and his wife, Susan Elliott (daughter of the above John Elliott), were also first cousins – not unheard of back then.

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Susan Bowder (1823-1902)

Susan BowderSusan Bowder, born 7th Apr 1823, is my 4x great grandmother. She was born in Pennsylvania or New York, though I do not have much yet on her early years. I do know that Susan’s parents were Jacob Bowder and Rebecca Walter(s), who were of German descent, but born in Pennsylvania.

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Oren Briggs (1797-1882)

Oren (also spelled Orren, Orrin or Orin) Briggs is my 4x great grandfather. He is also one of my ‘brick wall’ ancestors. Oren’s story fascinates me. He was born about 1797 in Massachusetts (according to his census entries) or Maine (according to his children’s later census records). Maine was once part of Massachusetts so it probably is Maine. Prior to 1839, I can find no definitive record of him, though two potential matches have been identified. Orren Briggs married at least three times, and I descend from his third wife, Susan Bowder.

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