Friday, 12 October 2012

Ontario visit

For months now, Dad and I have gone through the files at home and online with a fine-toothed comb. We have hired a professional genealogist in Toronto, and asked many other volunteers with various societies in Ontario to help out. All in an effort to break down the brick wall around the Wait(e) family.

Tomorrow we will fly to Toronto, where we'll spend a couple of days at the Archives of Ontario to search for a series of vital records and whatever else we can find. We'll leave as early as possible on Wednesday morning to drive to Cornwall, which is about 4.5 hours away. We've lined up someone to help us at the historical society there, and then we'll go to Morrisburg, where someone from the UEL association has offered to meet us. Thursday we'll drive to Ottawa, and we'll have 2 days to do our research at the national archives there. We've also got a distant relative to visit in Ottawa, and it will be wonderful to meet in person, as we have all been searching for the same information about the Wait(e) family for many years.

I've got my laptop as updated as possible, my camera, the GPS for the rental car, and a reasonably light suitcase. No doubt dad will have less, but then again, he's not really into much technology. Wish us luck, as we're going to need some on this trip!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Uncles' Journey

I'm not sure where the time has gone, but we're into the month of September, and dad and I are making some progress with out plans for our trip to Ontario. We've got our flights booked, and now we need to sort out where to stay and what our itinerary will be. We will fly into Toronto on October 13th and will fly home from Ottawa on the following Sunday.

In the meantime, Uncle Lynne and Uncle Bob came to Calgary for a quick visit, and we had a fabulous BBQ at mom and dad's place last night, with everyone there except Dylan (he was soaking up the sun in the Shuswap on a houseboat). This morning they packed the car and with dad at the wheel, left for Saskatchewan. They plan to spend about a week traveling through the province, and checking out some old haunts along the way. I am sure they will have a wonderful journey, and will tell stories the whole way! They will miss their brother Glen, certainly, but I have a sense he will be with them in spirit.

In the meantime, I'm at home with the significant task of listing all of the research and documents we have found for the Wait/Waite family. We have decided to hire a professional genealogist, and she has requested this information in order to avoid repeating any of the work we have already tackled. I hold out hope that she will have some strategies that will conquer our challenge, and will either link the two generations we think should be tied together, or will disprove that theory and will link us to another group of Waits.

I also plan to visit the Alberta Family Histories Society library again this week, as there are a couple of key volunteers who may be able to help us before we leave in October. There are many people here who have done a great deal of research in Ontario, and the resources in our local library are rich, indeed. I was particularly happy to receive an email this morning regarding our monthly SIG (special interest group) meeting, which will focus on Wills & Probate Records -- these will be important for us on this trip.

So, I hope the Smith brothers enjoy their time touring Saskatchewan, and I may just find a little new information before they return next weekend. Either way, it's always great to visit with family, and we had a wonderful family gathering last night. Memories in the making, and I treasure them.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Time to Re-organize!

Summer is here, and gives me time to get my information in order. At least I hope so! There are a few family members visiting, and I hope to acquire a few new leads, but also need to have my information in good shape in case I need to show anyone what we know already.

Dad and I are hoping to make a trip to Toronto later this year, and I need to determine what we need to find while we are there. I will develop a spreadsheet to record what we already know and what we need to search for. Then I will work out where we need to go in order to find those Ontario records. There are also a few to find in Quebec, but those will have to wait for another time, or perhaps we will hire someone to work on those.

The main surnames we will search for in Ontario are: Wait(e), Mason, Arnold, Manhard, May, Lytle, Stevenson, and Cameron. We have plenty of information to go on for most of those families, but we are stuck on a few as well. The Waite family is particularly stubborn, and will likely be our main focus.

On my husband's side of the family, we will take a look for Taylor and Brown, but they will take a back seat to my family's research. At least the Taylors and Browns are from one particular area, so they may be a little easier, despite the fact that they are common surnames.

Onward ho!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Sigh ...

I am waiting for the results of the Waite DNA test, and am a little disheartened. I suppose it was too much to expect a clear result right off the bat, but I truly hoped we'd have a match, even with the preliminary results. At this point that's not the case, but June 6th is apparently the magical time when we should have the data for all of the markers we ordered. Fingers crossed that we have a match with someone in the Waite study, and that we can sort out which family line we're related to.

In the meantime, I went to the May meeting of the Ontario SIG of the Alberta Family Histories Society this week. I picked up a little new information, and will spend some time this week thinking about how we can best plan to spend our time when we visit Ontario. We had hoped to be there this weekend, and to have attended the OGS conference, but those plans just didn't work out, as dad and I were both away on vacations this spring, and life just got away on me for the past while. We will sit down soon and think about when we'll be able to make the trip, and in the meantime we can plan how to approach our research when the time comes. Perhaps a visit to the AFHS library will be helplful, as the volunteers are amazing, and sometimes offer suggestions we haven't thought about.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Since hearing that one of our Waite family members has agreed to a DNA test, I have worked a little more on the two brick walls: Smith (or Schmid) and Waite (or Wait). It seems no stone has been left unturned, but I am retracing some of it, as it seems there must be some clue we've missed in one of these lines.

Mostly I'm excited because my parents will be back in Calgary tomorrow. Dad is so methodical about his research, and I am a lot more random. Sometimes we make progress due to his logical and steady approach to our work, and other times I find new clues because I often work in less conventional ways. For example, recently I found church records for John Schmid and Lily Hay, with their daughter Sarah Lincoln Schmid in Philadelphia. Chances are good that these folks are John & Lilly Smith, with their daughter Sallie Lincoln Smith. I'll be more comfortable once the data has gone through the "Don Smith" legitimacy test, but I think I've stumbled onto a small new piece of the puzzle.

I can appreciate that it will take some time for the DNA test to make its way through the mail and to be processed. I am trying to remain patient, and hope the results give us some idea about our family ties.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

DNA - our best hope for breaking down brick walls!

This has been a big month for me. After many years of research, Dad and I agreed there were very few stones left unturned when it came to our research on the Waite and Smith families. We have done most of the work ourselves, but we have also hired professional genealogists to help us to tackle these brick walls.

In the fall, we visited Philadelphia, and hoped to make some progress with the Smith family, but there was simply nothing to add to the John Smith story, and just a few tidbits about his children. We plan to visit Ontario again later this year, and hold out some hope we will find something about the Waite family. There is some work to do at home before we get there -- I am thankful Dad is a very organized and methodical person, as I am much more random in my approach to our research.

We have gone back to the DNA data that we have for the Smith family, and have posted it in the Ancestry database. Next, I will add it to the Family Tree Maker database, as that seems to be a larger pool of DNA data.

On the Waite side, we are thankful that one of the direct Waite descendants has agreed to take a DNA test, and we have ordered and sent the test to him. We will add the results to the existing Waite study, which has been in place for many years. I spoke to Sue Waite-Langley on the phone this week, and I am very excited about the potential, as she seems very organized and was quite encouraging. This is not an inexpensive process, but it will be worth it, as we will have proof -- there are a few Waite families we could be descended from, and we will finally hope to tie ourselves to one specific line.

All there is to do now is to wait for the results of the test. It will take about 2 weeks for the test to make its way from Family Tree Maker to our willing test-taker in Canada, then time for him to do the test and return it. At best, we will be looking at about the middle of April, and from then, I would guess it will take FTM a week or two to process the sample and provide the results. We have linked to the Waite group project when we ordered the test, so Sue Waite-Langley will have the results and will be able to connect us with any potential connections right away.

So now we wait patiently, and hope for good news this spring!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A New Tree - Schmidt

Recently we created a new tree on Ancestry, as searching by "Smith" was not giving us many good results. We have reason to believe the Smith family may have been Schmidt, so the new tree is very small, but narrows down the family a little, and the different surname has given us a few new leads.

In addition, we have posted Dad's DNA data in Ancestry's DNA database, and we're now waiting to see if we'll see any solid matches in the future. At this time, there are a few matches, but nothing clear enough to pursue as close family members.

Somehow in all of this, we hope to make some headway with the Smith/Schmidt family. The new church records from Pennsylvania have given us some hope, and with a little persistence, perhaps we'll get some proof of the family's arrival in North America, and clues as to where in Switzerland they came from.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Just DO it!

I've really struggled lately to do the things I set out to accomplish. I have many items on my list, and they are certainly not all about genealogy, as I have many other interests in my life, such as photography. It's becoming clear to me that I need to write my goals & "to do" list on a big whiteboard or something in order to stay on track.

I spend a fair amount of time researching our family history, but I'm not great at organizing the data. Dad is better at that. I go and find bits and pieces, and rarely keep it straight in my head. He knows instantly what goes where, and whether the information is relevant. We have binders and folders and at least 2 programs on the computer. I really need to go through each person in our main line and ensure we have the source documents in a place we can find them. Ideally, each image would be scanned and entered electronically, and the originals would be filed. I need an administrative assistant!!

I am also a procrastinator. I think we all can be at times. Mostly, I put things off when I don't know what to do, or when a situation seems uncomfortable or awkward. Right now I want to make some headway with two brick walls, but in both cases my best hope is to use DNA to determine our ancestry. In once case, I have the DNA, and just need to figure out how to use the data with a new database. In the other, I need to ask someone I don't know very well for their DNA. If I knew they shared my interest in genealogy, it would be easier, but I'm not sure. So ... I have a letter ... and my relationship with the post office has never been all that strong, so I hope to get it mailed soon. I've had the letter ready for a few weeks now. What I DO know is that nothing is going to happen if I don't mail the letter, as this person has no idea what I'm looking for.

This blog is a bright spot in all of this, however, as I like writing, and if I can commit to posting about once each week or two, I will make progress in my genealogy overall. I have many photos and memories, and Dad has written out some of the tricky parts of our family history. Many of those stories would be good starting points, and now I have decided to use this blog as a place to hold some of the memories, so it's all worthwhile.

Today I purchased a helpful book online, "The Big Genealogy Blog Book." It was written by Amy Coffin, who I met through Twitter not long ago, when I first started. I looked at her blog and commented to her that I liked it. (Check it out:  She encouraged me, and told me it was easy to start a blog. I jumped right in and tried it out, and she was right! It was so easy! It's taken awhile to figure out how to let people comment, and how to post pictures, but over time I'll acquire new skills and I'll improve the blog. I have a lot of work to do before mine is anything great, but at least I'm getting the information down, and there is a place for family to find out what I'm doing.

I may not post regularly on my blog, and I'm not a "New Year's Resolution" kind of person, but today's a start, and I intend to keep it up. Perhaps if I make a note on my calendar each week? Amy's book will help, I'm sure, as it's a well-written, easy to read guide, and just the kind of resource I like. Not too heavy, but practical and helpful. I suppose you'll see how well it works for me in the weeks ahead. ;-)