Sunday, 26 January 2014

Unexpected Find - Military Records

Today I was writing up a tidbit on my great-great Uncle Hasting, to celebrate his birthday (January 26, 1897).  Among the records I had already had on file for him was his Attestation Papers which he'd signed on May 14, 1918.  The papers give a wealth of information including his occupation, a physical description of him at the time, as well as confirming his mother's name and address.

But it's the header that led me to much more:

2nd M D    1st Depot Battalion.   1st C.O.R. Regiment

The MD refers to Military Division.  The next indicates the Battalion he was with.  And finally, 1st C.O.R. Regiment.  That stands for 1st Central Ontario Regiment.

I knew from an article written about Uncle Hasting in a newsletter in 1962 that he'd served with the 4th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  Once I'd discovered that he'd been assigned to the 1st COR initially, I managed to track down that he was almost immediately added to the backup troops heading overseas to join the 4th.  But where did he go and when ?

I lucked out on  This site has been a wealth of unexpected information over the past few years, and today was no different.  On that site I discovered the "Records of the Fourth Canadian Infantry Battalion", compiled by Captain W.L. Gibson, paymaster and historian of the Battalion, and published by The Maclean Publishing Company in Toronto in 1924.

A search through those records told me that Hasting was assigned to the 4th on May 14, 1918 as a member of the 1st C.O.R., and that he was T.O.S. (i.e. "taken on strength", or joined the Battalion in person) on October 9, 1918 in the north of France.  It continues to tell us the Battalion's movements throughout France, and then how the boys headed to Southhampton, boarded the S.S. Olympic and landed at Halifax on April 15, 1919.   They then headed to Toronto where the unit was disbanded on April 23, 1919, and according to those records, Hasting returned to Markstay, Ontario.  It also confirms that he was not wounded during his time served.

What more can I take from this information ?  If I wanted to, I could search for military photos of the Battalion at any point along their route in France; capture photos of the SS Olympic, perhaps even interior shots that would show how the troops were treated during their voyage home.  I could search newspaper archives to see if there was more information about the Battalion either during the war, or upon their arrival in Halifax or Toronto.   Even a simple search for military medals, uniforms, etc., would fill out even more information about his time serving our country. 

One unexpected find, but vast potential for adding life and spark to a story.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Let's Take a Tour of this Blog

The main purpose of the blog initially, was to create a warehouse for on-line resources that others can use in their own searches.  My bookmarks are rather unruly, and I'm frequently hunting for one link or another.  So if you look at the list of links to the left, you'll see how I've categorized them for now.

At the moment, these are literally just lists of sites that I use on a semi-regular, or very regular basis in my hunting.   My family all, at one time or another either lived, or passed through, Ontario or Quebec, Canada.  So my list of links is heavily focused on those two provinces in Canada.     The majority of my family also hails from either Ireland or Wales, so again there may be a slight weight given to those lists.   And finally, a large number of them also settled in Boston, Massachusetts, or Cleveland, Ohio, so those will be two growing areas in the United States category.

Over time, as I slowly add to these lists, they may shift and change, and more main categories could be added.   But for now, they are what they are.    I've lumped things like Ships and Passenger Lists, Cemeteries, Newspapers, and Maps together instead of dividing them up between countries because those are items that do ebb and flow between countries.  Newspapers from the U.S.A. often make mention of events in Ontario.   There was a time when an expat Irishman would die in Canada, but his burial records would also be filed in their family church in Ireland, or a Canadian burial record would denote the place of birth or residence of their parents in Ireland.

Eventually, I'd like to try and highlight some of these sites and maybe give some suggestions as to how you can use the information you find there, to lead you to another site or another bit of information. But for now, enjoy the list.  And please feel free to suggest others that you've found handy as well.  You'd be amazed at how much we can all learn from one another.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

So here we are...

Oh look, another genealogy blog on the internet.  Yay ?!?    I know, I know.  But here I am, blogging about the subject that seems to have taken the world by storm lately - genealogy.  Or am I ?  

Let's see...
ge ne al o gy 
npl. ge·ne·al·o·gies
  1. A record or table of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors; a family tree.
  2. Direct descent from an ancestor; lineage or pedigree.
  3. The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories.
Well, if you take a look at the F.A.Q. I've written (over on the left there...), you'll see I'm not particularly interested in the "direct descent from an ancestor; lineage or pedigree."   And while I can produce alot of tables and records, the majority of my documentation and files aren't the clinical birth-death-marriage records required by the rules or "laws of genealogy." Oh sure, I have all of that data wherever possible. But I add to it that little bit of extra - the spice of life.

No, in the world of family trees, mine is not a lombardy poplar (tall, straight, narrow), it's more of a gigantic old maple tree (wild, branchy, reaching for the sky, with very deep roots)   It is full of stories and photos, newspaper clippings, postcards, book notations, family folk lore, and truths.    It can be staid and boring in spots, but usually it is fascinating, fun, and inspiring.    My family tree isn't unique, special, or outstanding.  The truth is, all of our families have the same types of people, the same types of stories, the same folklore, and the same intrigue.  Some of us just don't know where to look for it.

Over the past couple of years I've been slowly building a library of short write-ups about various family members, typically in celebration of their birthday or anniversary, and I post them for my family to see on Facebook, or occasionally email them.   My friends often comment that they wished their family was that interesting, and family members will ask where I'd discovered all these little bits of information - things they'd never heard of.   Surely I'm just creative, and I make some of this stuff up ?No.  I can honestly say that I haven't had to make any stories up, or invent things out of thin air.  Everything I've written has been based on the facts and information I've found in my searches either in my boxes of collected paper and photos, or mostly on the internet.

My family isn't any different than most.  I have boxes (and boxes and boxes) of un-identified photos, old letters, post cards, and newspaper clippings.   There are basements full of old slides, film reels, school photos, and newsletters.    Most of it has sat for years, unorganized, and undocumented.   But then one day, after lugging boxes of unorganized papers back from my Grandma's house, the bug bit me, and for the past few years I've spent most of my free time organizing and documenting, and scanning everything I could get my hands on for all of my families.   And, most importantly - I've been sharing whatever I could with whomever was interested.  That, my dear readers, is the key.

This blog is part of that sharing.  It won't be focused on my families - although as I mentioned to my mother the other day, I'm fairly certain I could write a trilogy of thick books on each one of them from the looks of my study shelves.    What I'd like to focus this blog on is the WHERE.  Where did I find those little tidbits that can flesh out a person's life enough to make them just that much more interesting. How can I help others to find that same little bit to add to their own family story.

As I always say - every life holds a story just waiting to be told.  Let's go find yours.