What can you do on Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan?

Who knew there was so much to see in Michigan? Being from Southern Ontario, right next door to Michigan, we usually see it from the highway on our way to more Southern destinations. The highway doesn’t give the best perspective when judging what a place has to offer. Getting off the beaten path can prove to be a rewarding and surprising experience for the whole family.

We had planned a much longer trip to the Mid-West for this summer but life always throws curveballs. My husband ended up starting a new and exciting chapter in his work life but it meant we had to shorten the vacation and the purse strings to allow him to build his credibility and repertoire in his new position. There were some groans from the peanut gallery, aka my 10-year and 14-year old sons, when I mentioned the thought of vacationing closer to home in our neighbouring Michigan.  I knew from experience, when you pick a place to visit and keep an open mind, you can be surprised by the unexpected jewels that you find that you would otherwise never experience.  Once of those gems was Old Mission Peninsula.

I have to admit, I secretly had a selfish reasons for heading to Michigan.  I am a BIG fan of The Curse of Oak Island on the History channel.  If you are into anything Knights Templar, pirate treasure or lore you may have heard of it.  If not, I suggest you look up Oak Island on Google – there’s A TONNE of stuff.  Basically, it’s a 200 hundred year old hunt for treasure on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia in Canada.  Two brothers from Michigan, Rick and Marty Lagina, are invested in the search for this infamous treasure.  So much so, they are part of a reality series on the History Channel.  On the side, Marty and his son Alex, have a winery in North Western Michigan that I’ve been dying to visit since they aired an episode about it a couple seasons ago.  I love wine, I love Oak Island, I need a relatively close place to vacation ~BOOM ~ vineyard in Michigan owned by the Lagina’s heading up the Oak Island treasure-search.  I’m in.

Mari Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula, Laginas, Michigan
Entering Mari Vineyards

Before reaching my destination of preference, we travelled to Traverse City, Michigan to spend the night.  I didn’t know what to expect in Michigan, except for the area around Birch Run as I have been known to frequent the Premium Outlets back when our dollar was much stronger.  I chose to stay at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa because it had a 4.9 star rating out of 5.  It certainly lived up to its rating.  There was an indoor water park for the kids, shopping, golf, restaurants and lots of other things to enjoy.  And we were only there for the night but we had a great time.  Not-to-mention there were breath-taking views and nature all around.  The kids wanted to have a longer stay but we had a full agenda and needed to move on.  I will certainly mark this beauty of a resort for future excursions.

Grand Travers Resort, Traverse City, Michigan

We hit our destination early on the second day and it was wasn’t quite open so we headed along Old Mission peninsula for a scenic drive to fill the time.  We ended up at the point and visited old “Mission Point Lighthouse“.   It was a perfect spot to stop with some parking, a heritage cabin, a  shallow beach and of course, the lighthouse itself.  This was our first opportunity to get up-close and personal with Lake Michigan.  It’s a marvel.  The water was crystal clear.  One of my “bucket-list” items is to set my feet in all 5 of the Great Lakes and I was able to mark this one off.  It was a bit cool for the morning but definitely would have been excellent for a dip in the heat of the early afternoon.  My youngest and I skipped some stones on the smooth water before heading up to check out the lighthouse itself.   I must also mention there is a cabin  These are the things that have the most impact for me.  Finding those little off-the-beaten-path treasures that end up finding a place in the memory bank of your mind.

Old Mission Peninsula, Mission Point Lighthouse

Cherry orchards are plentiful on Old Mission peninsula as well.  Where I come from, apple orchards are the norm so seeing so many trees with small red cherries as opposed to larger round apples, was a bit unique.  My husband is a cherry lover so we stopped at a road side stand and got some cherry juice and other cherry treats while there.

Cherries, Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan

Upon doing a little reading of one of the local tourism publications before heading out in the morning, my husband learned of a little craft brewery hidden away on Old Mission peninsula and suggested that since we were here we might as well check it out.  We stopped in the Jolly Pumpkin.  There were so many beers to try.  My husband had a couple of samples before deciding on a pint of a pale and citrusy ale.  Myself, I opted for more variety and went for a flight of their “sours”.  There were some darks, a red and a couple of others.  My favourite was a paler ale, much like the one my husband chose, with a sour but refreshing citrus after taste.  The kids got to enjoy a summer drink too!  They relished in some ice cold and fresh squeezed lemonade and learned a little about about the pub from the super-cool bartender.

 

By this point in the day, our destination of choice, Mari Vineyards, would be open and ready to accept visitors so off we went.  It was the highlight of my trip.  The grounds for the winery were magnificent.  It felt like it was right out of a Tuscan post card.  My husband and I tasted a few different varieties of wine while our boys enjoyed juice boxes outside on the patio.  Our wine expert was Debbie whose energy was contagious.  She (seemed to) shared my enthusiasm for the Oak Island adventure and mentioned that Alex was her General Manager.  I could hardly contain my excitement – I am such a celebrity geek (I even get excited meeting local radio dj’s – it totally embarrasses my kids and husband).  She showed us the chainmail tunic over the fireplace in the main lobby and said, “you must know all about our owner’s (Marty Lagina) enthusiasm for the Knight’s Templar and such”.  She didn’t have to complete the sentence, I was nodding my head wildly in acknowledgement.  We ended up leaving with 2 bottles of wine, a souvenir glass and 3 Oak Island T-shirts.  If I didn’t see anything else in Michigan, I would have been completely satisfied with this visit.  And here’s the thing, they have a whole tour of underground caves where they store the wine.  We didn’t even get to that because we had the kids with us.  Although they enjoyed their complimentary juice boxes  they weren’t nearly as impressed with the winery as my husband and I were.  They did enjoy the view and the Oak Island connection more than made up for it.

Mari Vineyards, Michigan, Old Mission Peninsula Mari Vineyards, Wine Tasting wine tasting, Mari Vineyards

 

 

 

 

From Farmer to Family to Fallout. What Happened to Job Dowding?

I could tell you the story of a young man who spent his adolescence on a “factory farm” in Fifehead Magdalen alongside his older brother and sister in the Southern part of England.  He lived with his older cousins on this farm that housed his elderly relatives, and learned the trade of dairy farming.  Between the years 1841 and 1851, he travelled with his older brother to Canada in search of a new and prosperous life.  Meeting and marrying his love in York (now Toronto), he travelled South-West with his young bride and her family to settle near Woodstock, Ontario.  He went back and forth between a farm there and his brother’s in Logan Township in Perth County over the course of the next several years. Upon the death of his wife after birthing their ninth child, this man adopted out his children amongst various members of his and his wife’s family, presumably because he couldn’t afford to raise them.  He died in Woodstock jail in 1886 of general paralysis at the age of 58.  Place of burial is unknown and is presumed in the jail’s potters’ field.

That is the story I could tell.  It is an interesting one.  To me, however, the real story was in how I pieced it together.  It has taken me years, several connections and endless Ancestry.ca and Google searches, to bring this tale to life.  It was shrouded in mystery and still has several loose ends.  It is no way a finished story but here is what I have so far.

I introduce you to my great great great grandfather, Job.  He brought my Dowding lineage to Canada from England almost 200 years ago.  My earliest record of him is the 1841 English Census in Fifehead Magdalen. He is listed there at a “factory farm” at 13 with a Sarah Dowding, 20 and a John Dowding, 15.  There were other Dowdings too; a Thomas and Elizabeth both 70, and a younger Thomas of 40.  According to one of my valuable contacts, she explained that factory farms were used to house elderly parents and/or as training opportunities for younger relatives to learn about dairy farming.  She felt it was possible that Job was a cousin and was apprenticing as a farmer to learn the trade at the Factory Farm in Fifehead run by Thomas Dowding. This connection also mentioned that she found other documents that suggested Job had other siblings. These names included Charles, Jemima, William, Edwin James and Albert Charles.  Although I cannot prove undeniably that my Job fits 100% into this line, there are clues that suggest it’s a probability.

I’ve wrote in the past, about the Dowdings in my family tree.  I wrote about my great great grandma Dowding in Alice Stone – A Mystery and her husband in my October 2015 post for Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds challenge.  In both stories, I mentioned that for most of my youth, the extent of my extended family knowledge was limited.  I was told that my grandmother was an orphan and there wasn’t much to be found about my Dowding line.  With modern day technology of course, fact-finding about family history has become much easier, more convenient with more available at our finger tips.  It also brought forth new connections.

Another contact reached out and said in her message: “Just when I thought there was nothing more to add to this family, I stumbled across your site on [ancestry.com]”. She has helped me with the Canadian end of Job’s journey.  This connection is a Danbrook descendant, which is a whole other collection of amazing tales in its own rite.  Elizabeth Danbrook, the wife of Job Dowding and my 3X great grandmother, was this person’s 3X great aunt (if I have my math correct).  Although she claimed she didn’t have much information on the Dowding line, she had considerably more than me.  She gave details of a letter that she had from a Danbrook descendent speaking of Job.  It described Job as a beautiful singer that fostered a love of music amongst his children.  It also mentioned that Job was a victim of St. Vitus Dance.  Also called Syndenham’s Chorea, it is characterized by jerky, uncontrollable movements of the facial muscles and limbs stemming from rheumatic fever.  The letter goes on to read: “Auntie [Elizabeth] died when Bertha was born, the home was broken up, he was not able to work any longer. He was a very hard worker and gave all his wages to Auntie, I don’t think he even knew the taste of liquor.”  

This acquaintance also asked me if I knew how Job ended up in jail where he died.  This was shocking.  I had his death information but did not discover until that notification, that it was jail where his life ended.  When I went back over the record, there it was in a tiny box at the bottom, place of death: gaol.

My contact went on in her email to say her thoughts were perhaps the St. Vitas Dance gave the impression of intoxication and he was jailed for that.  She also had more information that when Job’s wife died, the 9 children were divided up amongst relatives and spread out across Southwestern Ontario.  Some lived with relatives of Elizabeth and some went to a Dowding in Perth county.  Without much information about Job, I didn’t know if he had family that came from England with him.  It was from this clue that I researched further and discovered the likelihood that the John Dowding from Perth county was related, and was most likely a brother.  Some of Job’s children show up in a census with John Dowding in 1881.

These 2 new connections made from information shared on Ancestry have opened up a door to new research and new possibilities.  I have new questions to answer – are there more family connections that come from the Dowdings in Perth?  Why was Job Dowding put in jail, how did he die and where is he buried?  Where were all the children placed after Elizabeth’s death.  So much more to piece together.

 

The Beginning of the Varnum’s in Canada: Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: April

Mary Ann Varnum, Mary Ann Cornish

My brother-in-law asked if I knew anything about the Varnum branch of his and my husband’s family tree.  I knew that when Thomas Cornish  came from Cornwall, England, he married Mary Ann Varnum. On their gravestone, it indicates that Mary Ann was a “native of Quebec”.  That was the extent of my knowledge of the Varnum side of things.  He sent over some print-outs of family history and I glanced at them.  Of course, with my love of family and history connections, I took to the internet to research more.

American Flag, American Revolution, Patriots

When I ran a search on the name Varnum, there was a wealth of information about countless Varnums with significant contributions to American History.  George Varnum, my husband and brother-in-law’s 9 X great-grandfather, came from England around 1635, with his son Samuel.  They were early settlers of Ipswich and Dracut, Massachusetts.  Samuel’s son, Colonel Joseph Bradley Varnum, and himself, had involvement in King Philip’s War, a last effort of Native American’s to drive the British settlers out.

There was also another Joseph Bradley Varnum, Colonel Joseph’s grandson, who served in the Revolutionary War and later became a Senator and Speaker of the House.  And then there was General James Mitchell Varnum, Joseph’s older brother.  He was one of Brown University’s (then Rhode Island College) first graduates and practiced law.  Besides serving in the Revolutionary War he was a member of Continental Congress.  Joseph and James were 2nd cousins 7 X removed from my husband and brother-in-law.  The list of Varnums with a place in American history went on.  Many of them were influential Patriots during the American Revolution.  Which leads to the question, how did the Varnums end up in Canada to which Mary Ann would be a “native of Quebec”?

United Empire Loyalist

With significant sleuthing, I found a record for Benjamin Varnum on the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada’s (UELAC) website.  Going back to the family tree, Benjamin was a great-grandson of the Samuel Varnum that originally came with his father, George, from England.  In his biography on the UELAC site, it states: “[Benjamin] was a UEL [United Empire Loyalist] who was disowned by his family and expunged from its records”.  In other words, he was on the opposing side to most of his relations during the Revolution.  He was disowned and according to the UELAC, his American Verification of Death states he died in infancy.  Imagine a family going so far as to have another member completely removed from records.

Thomas and Mary Ann (Varnum) Cornish
Thomas and Mary Ann (Varnum) Cornish

Benjamin Varnum, who went against the grain of his prominent American kin, began the Varnum legacy in Canada when he moved to Sutton, Quebec in 1770.  He was grandfather to Mary Ann who married Thomas Cornish, and 5 X great-grandfather to my husband and his brother. Digging into the past to discover more about the Varnum family has only piqued my interest which will, no doubt, lead to further research.  The question that is resting foremost in my mind now is, why did Benjamin choose to be a Loyalist?  What is the story for his venture to Quebec and his descendants to head West to Upper Canada where Mary Ann met her husband.  And the family history search obsession continues…

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

Notes

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.  “Barnum, Joseph Bradley, (1750/1751 – 1821).”  Accessed April 29, 2016.  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/bodisplay.pl?index=V000074.

Brown Daily Herald, The.  “The Revolutionary War: Hosting rebellion by Drew Williams.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://250.browndailyherald.com/the-revolutionary-war-hosting-rebellion/.

Brown University Office of the Curator.  “Varnum, James Mitchell (1748 – 1789).”  Accessed April 29, 2016.  http://library.brown.edu/cds/portraits/display.php?idno=93.

Ginger Genie Blog, The.  https://thegingergenie.com/12/14/28/cornish-comes-to-canada/.

Google Books.  “Crossing to Freedom by Elizabeth Wells Bardwell.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://bit.ly/103u8kp.

Google Books.  “The Prominent Families of the United States of America by Arthur Meredyth Burke.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://bit.ly/SAYTTz.

History.com.  “American Revolution History.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://www.history.com/american-revolution/american-revolution-history.

History.com.  “King Philip’s War.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/king-philips-war.

United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada.  “Loyalist Directory: Benjamin Varnum.”  Accessed January 14, 2020.  http://uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/detail.php?letter=v&line=112.

 

Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: March – Piecing Together the History of George Alexander Brown

George Alexander Brown, Brown Family of Woodstock, ONIsn’t it fascinating how sometimes you know so little about someone who you have to piece together a story on the bare minimum of details that you do find?  That is how it is for my great-grandfather George Alexander Brown on my Mom’s side.  The only thing I knew about him, other than he was a slight man with a thick dark moustache, was that he was supposedly killed in front of the Snow Countess in Woodstock, Ontario while riding his bike when he was struck by a car.   I wasn’t sure about that – the story seemed a bit sensational to me but that was all I had.

Woodstock, Snow Countess, Dairy Capital

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, obtaining the subscription to a genealogical site was such a fantastic investment for me.  All the documents and connections helped to fill in so many blanks.  When I plugged George Alexander Brown into the database, I was finally able to get some dates.  He was born in 1874 and died in 1937.  He was 62 when he died.  That meant that my grandmother was 17 when he died, a young girl.   This also meant that he died long before my mother was born.   Because I was only 8 when my grandmother died, I was too young to form the questions that I now wish I could have asked her about her father.

I was able to see census records that showed my great-grandfather was born in England and spent part of his young life in Sevenoaks, Kent.  He came to Canada approximately in 1877 with his father, Joseph Alexander Brown, mother, Jane Elizabeth Beaumont and his 7 brothers and sisters.  They settled in Woodstock, Ontario.  I know from the English censuses that Joseph was a shoemaker but there isn’t much else that I’ve found about George’s parents.

In an old Woodstock directory document from 1893, I managed to find George listed with his brother James living at 38 Hincks Street.  According to the directory, they both worked at D.K. Karn pianos.  They were also living with their mother, Jane but she was listed as a widow.  Two of the sisters were listed as well, but as “domestics” with Woodstock College.  The little I was piecing together of my family was also opening up a treasure trove full of local history.  D. W. Karn Pianos were one of the largest and most prestigious piano companies in the world.  Woodstock College also had a rich history that was the humble beginnings of the now McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

George Alexander Brown, Brown Family History, Woodstock Ontario

George’s marriage to my great-grandmother, Mary Louise Dowding, was evident on the marriage certificate where he was listed as a “machine-hand”.  My guess was that this was his position with D. W. Karn Pianos.  They were married in Woodstock.  The latest document that I had to review was George’s death notice.   He died on September 29, 1937.  On the far right side of the document it stated the cause of death: “Cerebral haemorrhage due to injury of the brain due to thrown off bicycle by motor car”.  It gave me a sense of satisfaction to read that.  It was as though I needed to see it in writing in order to bring belief and closure to the story that my great-grandfather did die in a bicycle accident.  The last thing to verify is if it truly did happen in front of the Snow Countess.  Stay tuned for updates as I continue the quest to learn more about George Alexander Brown.

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: January

The Legend of the Shipwrecked Baby

Legend of the Shipwrecked Baby, Seburn Family History, Niagara History

Legend has it that the Seburn name in my family, originated several generations ago when a small child was found as the only survivor of a raided Loyalist camp during the early part of the American Revolution.  Because the child was too young to identify himself and was found close to the ocean, he was given the name “Sea born” to indicate “Born of the Sea” with unknown lineage.  That name, according to legend, morphed into Seburn, which is the name more commonly heard among today’s Seburn generations.

When I heard this story as a young teenager, I was fascinated.  At that point in my life, my family history didn’t have much essence so this story injected some drama into my otherwise, dull past.  I held on to the story for years, hoping that someday I would have time and resources to explore its origins.

With the development of the internet, I began to research my “Sea-born” story to see if there might be any truth to this tale.   To my amazement, an identity in cyber-world reached out and indicated a similar story in her “Seburn” past.  Tara Browner, who I now know as a 4th cousin, published a post on a genealogy message board, suggesting she had Seburn lineage which included a Stephen Seburn who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck or Indian attack.  I immediately responded to the post for I couldn’t believe that there was another person, from another side of the continent, reporting the same story I heard as a teenager.  As luck would have it, Tara was planning a trip up my way for genealogical research and I arranged to meet her.

Tara Browner, Seburn Family History, Niagara History, Legend of the Shipwrecked Baby
Tara Browner

Since she was coming to Southwestern Ontario, I offered to drive if she would share what she knew about the Seburn line.  She was a wealth of information.  She brought pictures, showed me grave sites and she passed along stories of the war and property and introduced me to Tim Seburn, a 5th cousin 1 time removed.  He also knew the legend of the shipwrecked baby.

We all discussed “The Legend” and each had our own spin on it.  There was my version, of course and there was Tara’s version of a French/Acadian boy who was “somehow left behind during the expulsions in the 1750s and adopted by a British soldier”.  Tim’s rendition was that Stephen, or perhaps an earlier Seburn , was an unidentified babe from a lost Dutch ship and later adopted by an English family in Kent. Whichever story you chose to explore, the bottom line was that there was a child  who was an orphan around the time of the American Revolution and who grew up with the name Seaborne or Seburn and is the beginning of Seburn lineage in the Niagara region and beyond.

Tim Seburn, Seburn Family History, Niagara History, Legend of the Shipwrecked Baby
Tim Seburn

And it doesn’t end there.  Several years passed since then.  I had to put family research on hold as I completed more education, married, had a family and established a career.  I fell out of touch with Tara and Tim and my new-found adventurous history, until recently.  Rekindling my love of genealogy, I thought about my long-lost distant relatives and wondered if they might be on Facebook and they were! Reconnected again, Tara directed me to Tim and he mentioned there could be more to the Seburn legend than we thought and that he’d keep me posted.

Of course there was more to the story.  On January 4th, 2016, Tim sent an attachment with just the words, “Let me know what you think”.  When I opened the attachment, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It was an image of the original adoption papers for Stephen Seburn and it was dated 1758. Talk about a Fascinating Family Find.

Seburn Family History, Stephen Seburn, Niagara History
Original Apprenticeship papers for Stephen Seburn

I was curious how Tim came about finding this document.  In an email he sent to me he wrote:

“…no question that this is the original document Stephen brought with him to Canada. It was in a box of stuff that was in the original homestead on Beechwood Rd, and was taken to BC by … the last owner of the homestead. It took me 5 years to track him down. His mother’s transcript of the document was found in … files at the Mayholme Foundation in 2011, so, even if his mother didn’t possess the document, I knew she had certainly one time saw it. When I finally got [the gentleman] on the phone he assured me he had a lot of stuff, but not the adoption document. But he was curious enough to open his mother’s boxes which had remained sealed for decades, and there it was!”

Tim indicated that:  “I now anticipate that the Seburn legend was a lie told to a little boy to create the impression that his ‘adopters’ were wonderful to have taken young Stephen in”.   Were they indeed wonderful for taking him in?  We may never know.  What we do know, is that Stephen was an orphan, he came to Canada and has left a legacy and a lineage that is very much entrenched in our family history.

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

 

Notes

  1.  Tara Browner, December 30, 2000 (5:00 a.m. GMT), comment on the original Seburn, “Niagara Area Family,”  Ancestry.com, on December 30, 2000, http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/localities.northam.canada.ontario.lincoln/125.300.301/mb.ashx
  2. Tim Seburn, email message, January 4, 2016.

Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: December 2015

From Downton to CanadaDownton, Wiltshire, Pressey

My family is descended from Downton.  Impressive isn’t it?  When I hear “Downton”, of course, I immediately think Downton Abbey.  Being a fan of the television series, I conjure up images of large estates, beautiful gowns, tea and servants.  Exciting right?  Digging deeper, it didn’t take long to learn that this illusion was far from the truth.  In fact, it is more ironic than anything, for the family I am speaking of, were paupers.

Pressey, Ella May Pressey, Noels, Ella May Pressey
Ella May (Pressey) Noels

This family is the Pressey’s.  My great-grandmother on my father’s side was Ella May Pressey.   Her great-grandfather, George came from Downton, Wiltshire, England.  Times were grim in Downton during his life.  There was an agricultural depression during the 1830’s and many were out of work.  According to a fascinating find I discovered on the internet:  The Downton Story, it explained that the answer to this overwhelming poverty in the Wiltshire parish of Downton,  was to send its poor to Canada.  John Pracey (Pressey – George’s brother) and his wife and family, were amongst the first group of Downton folk to head over the Atlantic ocean, on the ship the Louisa, to Quebec, Canada.  From there, they made their way down the St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes and eventually landed at Port Talbot, south of London, Ontario; a community that was once at the centre of a booming new world settlement.  Words of favour were passed back to Downton and more enthusiastic villagers set sail for the new, and better, world.

Port Burwell, Talbot Settlement, Pressey,
Port Burwell, Ontario Today

The next group to arrive included George,my 4th great-grandfather, his wife, Mary and 5 children: Henry, Phineas, Frederick, Ann and George.  They started their life in Canada at Port Burwell, Ontario as one of the first settlers to the area on what was part of the Talbot Settlement.  To this day, many descendants of John and George Pressey still live in the area of Port Burwell having established a new history for the family name and a new history for this land we call Canada.

 

Notes:

  1.  “The Downton Story,”  accessed Dec. 22, 2015, http://www.thedowntonstory.com/index.html.
  2. “PRESSEY FAMILY_DESCENDANTS OF PINEAS PRESSEY (1246) & RUTH BAILEY (1247),” accessed December 22, 2015,http://presseyfamily.tripod.com.
  3. “Port Talbot, Ontario,” accessed December 22, 2015,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Talbot,_Ontario.

 

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: November

Remembering Roy Mason, Stoker, HMCS Woodstock, World War II

Roy Mason, Royal Canadian Navy, WWII

 

My mother called Sunday and said “You won’t believe what I found”.  I love statements like that.  Intrigued, I headed over to her place and was thrilled to see an old scrapbook of my grandmother’s; one I had never seen before.  Even more intriguing, my mother had never seen it before either.  And the icing on the cake was that the scrapbook contained articles and papers about WWII, one in particular was about my grandfather and his involvement in the Navy during the war.   The synchronicity that she would find this 3 days before Remembrance Day was remarkable.

My grandfather passed away when I was 13.  I can vaguely remember him talking about places he had seen during the war when he and I were watching the Royal Wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.  Other than that, I had little interest as a young girl, in World War II.  His stories were unheard by me at that time.  What I wouldn’t give now, to go back and hang off of every story he wanted to tell.  Similarly, my mother knew little of his undertakings in the war.  We took it for granted that these stories would be at our disposal when we were ready to ask questions but then the opportunity was lost when Grandpa passed.  And now … now Mom found this scrapbook.  It was in poor condition but the article was there in plain sight.  A story for me to “hang off of”.  It follows:

 

Roy Mason, Stoker, HMCS WoodstockRoy Mason, Stoker, HMCS Woodstock

 

 

Although it is brief, I now have new research initiatives.  I want to explore where Gibraltar is and it’s connection to the WWII; investigate the sinking of the HMCS Louisburg; find out who were other sailors aboard the HMCS Woodstock from across Canada.  I feel like I’m just starting to get to know my grandfather and it’s been almost 30 years since his death.  Oh to be able to talk with him now.  I could tell him how much I appreciate all that he, and all other veterans and soldiers, have sacrificed.  Remembering you today Grandpa…

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

Should you Subscribe to a Genealogy Resource?

Have you been considering a subscription on an online genealogy resource but aren’t sure if it’s going to be worth it?  Check out my first vlog post to get some insight into why it might be a great idea:

Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: October

John Dowding, The Dowding Family
When I was 8, my parent’s and Grandma (my mom’s mom) took me on a trip to Ohio to meet relatives of my grandmother’s, her 1st cousin, Dick, and his wife, Millie. I fell in love with them both instantly. They were friendly and hospitable and I felt they treated me like a grown up so they were definitely all right in my book. Their last name was Dowding. That was when I remember Dowding solidifying in my mind as a branch to my family tree.

Richard Dowding, Mildred Dowding

Upon asking for more information on that family as I grew older, there wasn’t much to gain. My grandmother’s “Grandma Dowding” was an orphan and there was never any talk of her husband or a “Grandpa Dowding”. Many years of my life were spent with the understanding that my family tree would always be limited because no one had information beyond the orphaned “Grandma Dowding” and that seem to include her husband as well (I wrote about her last September in a post entitled “Alice Stone – Mystery“).  My involvement and passion in family research came to the attention of a distant cousin of mine.  She contacted me and offered to share information on the Dowding family.  What she gave me was “fascinating” as all new genealogical information is to me.  There was a new picture of Grandma Dowding with her husband, John James Dowding, and their two children, Richard and Mary Dowding.  Along with the picture was a notation that read: “Little is known of John Dowding, he was a member of Christian Science Church.  He was in poor health and developed an ailment that was treatable but because of his religion would not see a doctor, and consequently John succumbed to his ailment at the age of 40, leaving Elizabeth to raise their children.”

Dowdings
John and Elizabeth Dowding (nee Stone) with Richard and Mary

John Dowding, John James Dowding, Woodstock, ON

After plugging this information into my online genealogy database, it wasn’t long before a death certificate was produced.  This document revealed that John James Dowding died of pneumonia.  Sadly, he was only 40 years of age.  Learning that he was a part of the Christian Science Church was absolute new information to me and most members of my family.  Exploring further, it is a faith that embraces healing through spirituality and prayer over medicine.  It was a new concept in the time of John Dowding and I’m trying to find out how he may have learned about it and where he may have attended gatherings.  That may provide new insight to how my Dowding ancestors may have lived.  There is no wonder anymore why there was so little known about Great Grandpa Dowding.  He wasn’t around long for his children or his grandchildren to get to know him.  But at least I now have a picture and a story that may help to open a door to find out more about my Dowding line.

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

Liebster Award Nomination

Leibster Award, New Blogger

I blog to share because “sharing is caring”. I’ve said that before. It’s therapeutic for me to just share whatever I’m passionate about in the moment and if other’s join me on my journey, wonderful. If they comment and share back, even better. Yesterday though, I received a gift that I never dreamed of. I was nominated for The Liebster Award. An award to spotlight new bloggers and to allow them the opportunity to pay it forward. I’ve seen the badges on other blogs but never thought I’d get to put the badge on mine.  Well guess what?  Today, that all changes.

I need to thank Beth Wylie for the nomination.  She is a fellow blogger (Life in the Past lane) that I met a few months ago through blogging and Twitter.  On her brief bio she is described as:  “an Arklahoman- an Arkansas native who became an Oklahoman by marriage. She’s on a mission to shake all of her ancestors out of her family tree even if it takes a lifetime. When she’s not researching family history, she’s busy being a healthcare administrator, wife and mommy to a precocious three year old”.  Through brief conversations over blog posts and twitter, I derived that we have much in common.  We are both Gingers, which in itself creates a unique bond, we are passionate about our family history, we love to blog despite upholding demanding careers and busy families and we love Outlander.  Practically twins if you ask me.  I love to visit her blog to hear about a family history search South of the border.  I am truly grateful, honoured and thrilled that Beth nominated me.

There a few rules to accepting a Liebster nomination:

Leibster Nominee, New Blogger

 

My Nominator’s Questions:

1. What motivated you to start your blog and how long have you been blogging?

I am a journaller.  I think I got my first diary when I was 8 and from then on, I was writing my feelings.  I have a subconscious need to get my story out.  I’m not sure why or where this comes from for I have always had a need to do this.  In my early twenties, it became therapeutic when I suffered a few identity crises.  With the onset of blogging and social media it was a natural progression to take to the internet to get the stories out.  As I mature, my writing has a more meaningful purpose and blogging has helped with that evolution.  I’ve been blogging for about 4 years but only 1 seriously and consistently.

2. Where do you get the ideas for your blog posts?

Good question.  I don’t always know.  I make lists but I rarely choose from my list.  It is usually a surge of inspiration that will come at random times.  The Crestleaf 12 Month’s of Fascinating Family Finds challenge has been a great way for me to stay on track with my family history.  I have lots of great stories to share about that and the challenge gives me the focus to do it.  I’m pretty certain I have ADHD so any help with focus is great.

3. Do you ever get “writer’s block,” and, if so, how do you deal with it?

I have yet to experience writer’s block with blogging.  I used to suffer it immensely with university papers.  It helps when you write for yourself.  When I have to write to someone else’s expectations, it’s much more difficult.

4. What is the best advice you can give your fellow bloggers, especially new ones?

Read all you can about creating a blog and then toss it all away.   Take what you understand and make your own rules.

5. How do you network with other bloggers?

Twitter and by posting on their blogs.  I’m interested in taking it to the next level and start going to blog conferences to actually meet some of my “Blog World” friends in person.  I’ve met so many unique and wonderful characters in the Cyber World but it makes me long for a physical face-to-face chat over a cup of tea or coffee.  As great as it has been to meet so many people I’d otherwise never get to know, I love the energy of being with another person in the physical realm.

6. What is the best feedback you have ever gotten on a blog post?

One where someone read a post about a lost family branch and actually knew my family and gave feedback on sources of more information.  It was like finding a chest of rubies in the shipwreck you’ve been trying to uncover for years.

7. What kind of writing experience did you have prior to starting your own blog?

Bachelor of Arts in Drama.  I thought I’d be doing more acting but ended up writing a lot of papers about plays.  I’ve also written a few magazine articles about graduates for the post-secondary institution I work for.

8. What is one goal you have for your blog in the next 12 months?

To finish all 12 months of the Crestleaf challenge without missing any months.

9. What is your favorite blog?

I have many favourites for different reasons.  I like Life in the Past lane because I feel I relate to Beth’s genealogical journey. I like ADHD Kids Rock because of challenges myself and my son face with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). I like A Bowl Full of Lemons because I like organization and DIY stuff.

10. Who is the one person (not related by blood or marriage) that has influenced you the most.

Richard Branson.  I love his “Screw It, Let’s Do It” mantra.  And I love his philosophy that if you take care of the people they will take care of you.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. First female ice-resurfacing machine operator in the Township of Norwich (the Zamboni driver)
  2. My favourite food all my life has been spaghetti
  3. I can clog
  4. I love Macaroni and Cheese loaf
  5. Christmas fanatic
  6. I’ve written 3 (maybe 4) major papers about George Bernard Shaw
  7. My first album was Destiny by The Jacksons
  8. I saw Michael Jackson in concert when I was 11
  9. I am fussy about food textures
  10. I have a secret crush on Hugh Jackman and Robert Pattinson
  11. I’ve seen every episode of Friends at least 3 times

My Nominees

Wear Out There, Christina Proctor

 

  1. I am an Image/Leadership Consultant on the side and I’ve fallen in love with Christina Proctor‘s blog Wear Out There.  For me, it’s (somewhat) local – I’m Canadian in a Southwestern Ontario world so I relate to many of the local business and style recommendations.  I also connect with her on her “About” page.  I believe that choice of style and expression can be the difference in the pursuit of success.  Congratulations on a great blog and presence Christina!

 

On Becoming a Wordsmith

 

2.  On Becoming a Wordsmith is a special blog to me.  It was created by my high school English teacher, Elaine Cougler on her “journey to publication and beyond”.  After high school, I ventured off to the world of post-secondary education, established a career and a family and several years later reconnected with Elaine.  She had since retired and told me about her dream to publish.  I enjoyed following her blog about all the steps she took to make her dream come true.  The first book of her trilogy “The Loyalist’s Wife” is a remarkable telling of a story of a young couple’s struggle to start a life in a new world with a looming Revolutionary War.  The young man in the story, John Garner, joins Butler’s Rangers in the fight for Loyalist freedom.  “So what”, you say?  My 6X great grandfather, William May, was a member of Butler’s Rangers.  It was like reading my own history.  Not only am I so very proud of my teacher’s pursuit of her dream but she has been a huge inspiration to me in following my own.  Congratulations Mrs. Cougler!  (I know it’s Elaine but there is a certain amount of endearment that comes from referring to you as the teacher who helped instil a love of literature and writing in this girl’s heart).

 

My Travels, Crazy Aunt Susan, Susan McLachlan

3.  My close friend and colleague, Susan, started a blog a while back, My Travels, to capture her travel experiences.  She only blogs when she travels but it allows me to almost be there with her.  With a busy family of 2 young boys, I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like so it’s a great way for me to feel a part of it.  Unlike other travel blogs, for me, I know Susan and can imagine her experiences.  I am nominating her blog and hope it encourages her to continue sharing her journeys.

 

ADHD Kids Rock, Jeff Rasmussen

 

4.  I don’t think my next nominee qualifies as a small blog but I believe it is relatively new.  Jeff Rasmussen is a 15 year old individual with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).  He has had significant challenges going through school and at 13, he created a web site and blog to share his experiences, strategies and stories to help other kids who have similar challenges.  I love visiting his blog ADHD Kids Rock, because someone close to me is one of those kids.  Jeff embraces his ADHD and celebrates his gifts.  It’s a unique perspective.  Often, when I am researching ADHD to understand how to work best with its challenges, the focus is on “how to deal with it” or “what are the symptoms”, “how to medicate it”, “how to feed one with ADHD”; most resources are about reacting to ADHD and not accepting it.  Thank you to Jeff for having the courage and the drive to go forward with his vision.  He has certainly touched us and given us a positive place to go to learn about and embrace ADHD.  Congratulations Jeff!

To my nominees, I pose the following 11 questions.

  1.  How has blogging changed your life?
  2. Where do you get ideas for your posts?
  3. What 3 tips would you give new bloggers?
  4. What do you find the most challenging about blogging?
  5. Has blogging brought you any surprises that you didn’t expect when you started?
  6. Which social media platforms do you use (if any) to promote your blog?
  7. How did you gain your expertise on blogging?  Did you take courses, have someone assist you or did you just jump in?
  8. What is the single most rewarding thing you get out of blogging?
  9. Have you attended any blogging conferences?  If so, what did you gain from attending?
  10. How do you nurture relationships with your followers?
  11. Which of your strengths has helped you the most with your blogging?

I hope you enjoy your nomination as much as I did.  Thanks for your inspiration and your stories.  I wish you abundant success as you continue on your blogging journey.