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

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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.

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

Sometimes, You Don’t Have to be Searching to Make a Fascinating Family Find

Family Tree

I work at an educational institution and my department hires student tour guides. Because many students take 2 year programs, we will usually have guides for about a year and then they move on.

One guide in particular, Andrew Leaman, took several programs in a row so he was with us for a few years.  In the beginning, assuming he would be with us a short time, I only made small talk with him and smiled when I saw him since I didn’t expect to know him long.  As he became more of a familiar face sticking around over the course of his various programs, conversations lasted longer and my team got to know him a bit more.  Come to find out, he was a graduate of the same high school as me and came from my home town. That, of course, led to chat about what we had in common from old haunts to people we knew.  He brought in treats once in a while and we all developed a respect for him as he grew as a tour guide.  Later, he became a student ambassador speaking on panels to prospective students of his pathway to success.

As I was thinking about a gravestone discovery for my husband’s great aunt one day in my office, Andrew stopped by to say “hello”.  The great aunt’s name of my stone discovery was Cora Leaman and it occurred to me that Andrew’s last name was Leaman also.  I knew since I first met him that his name was Leaman but at that moment it was like I heard it in my head for the first time.

Andrew Leaman, branch on the Cornish tree

“Andrew!”  I said.  “You’re a Leaman!”  He responded with “Last time I checked”.

“My husband’s great aunt was a Leaman.  Any chance there might be a connection since you are from my area?”

He said it was possible since he knew of there being Cornishes in his family line.  I pulled up my  online family tree and instantly he pointed out “Hey, that’s my grandfather!” and from there we had quite the conversation filling in the gaps of our shared family tree. His great grandmother, Cora (Cornish) Leaman, was the same Cora whose grave stone I was looking for the week prior; my husband’s great aunt.  She was a sister to my husband’s great grandfather Ken Cornish (the same Kenneth Verne Cornish I mentioned in last month’s Crestleaf’s entry).   That makes Andrew a 3rd cousin through marriage. Incredible!

I’m always amazed at how small the world is sometimes but it seemed to be even smaller that day.   The fact that the woman, whose stone I was in search of, was the great grandmother of this student, who I worked alongside for almost 2 years without making the connection, astounded me.  And the timing of the two discoveries was equally astounding.  Synchronicity at its best.  Sometimes, you don’t have to be actively searching for something to make a fascinating find.  Sometimes, you discover something fascinating right there in front of you and you didn’t even realize it was there the whole time.

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

One Step at a Time – Lyrics (Jordin Sparks)

One Step at a TimeAdapted from “One Step at a Time” performed by Jordin Sparks

Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that I’ve always dreamed of
Close enough for me to taste
But I just can’t touch

I wanna show the world, but no one knows my name yet
Wonder when and where and how I’m gonna make it
I know I can if I get the chance
In my face as the door keeps slamming
Now I’m feeling more and more frustrated
And I’m getting all kind of impatient waiting

[Chorus:]
I live and I learn to take
One step at a time
There’s no need to rush
It’s like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It’s gonna happen when it’s
Supposed to happen and I
Find the reasons why
One step at a time

I believe and I doubt
I’m confused, I got it all figured out
Everything that I’ve always wished for
Could be mine, should be mine, would be mine
If they only knew

I wanna show the world, but no one knows my name yet
Wonder when and where and how I’m gonna make it
I know I can if I get the chance
In my face as the door keeps slamming
Now I’m feeling more and more frustrated
And I’m getting all kind of impatient waiting

[Chorus]

When I can’t wait any longer
But there’s no end in sight
when I need to find the strength
It’s my faith that makes me stronger
The only way I get there
Is one step at a time

[Chorus x2]

Writer(s): Robert S. Nevil, Lauren K. Evans, Mich Hansen, Jonas Jeberg, Joseph Belmaati
Copyright: Murlyn Music Publishing, Laurel Krown Music, R. Nevil Music, Cutfather Publishing Limited, Murlyn Music Publishing/ Crosstown, Joe Belmaati Publishing Limited

Be King of Your Content

Content is King

CONTENT IS KING” is the message that resonates through the social media know-how kingdom.  What does that even mean?  There are so many thoughts out there on what one should think about when preparing content for social media that I found it difficult to sift through it.  “Connect emotionally with your audience”, “use video on your site”, “be sure to use as many ‘keywords’ as possible to ‘optimize’ your ‘search engine optimization’, “use a content calendar to strategically post at times when your audience is online”, “use plenty of images”, “don’t use too many images”, “use other’s content”, “don’t use other’s content”, “hashtag everything”, “be careful how often you hashtag”, “here’s 22 things to include as content for your blog …” etc. etc.

 

I thought “there’s too much to know, I can’t do this effectively, why even bother”.  Despite those feelings of inundation in the beginning, I carried on.   I eased myself into the vast, evolving and ever-changing world of social media much the way one might enter the water from a sandy beach; step-by-step, adjusting to the water as I gradually gained confidence to take the next step.    Getting different perspectives on expectations for a credible social media presence was good but I’m glad I didn’t let the different schools of thought squash my desire or need to get out there in the social realm. From my experience so far, I’ve surmised 4 key things that keep me forging ahead and striving to be King (or Queen) of my content.

 

  1. Allow Myself Time

I am of the type to want to reach perfection instantly.  The learning curve is not my favourite part of a journey.  I want to start out an expert.  When I was reading up on content, I thought I needed to write the best posts and capture the best of other’s content so that I would sign in as a superhero of social media immediately.  I wanted to have a hundred posts ready to go so that I could post continuously while creating new content.  I had to take a step back and give myself permission to take time to grow as a social media persona.  I know I have a long way to go and I’ve accepted that.  The journey is providing me with learning opportunities.  If I waited until I felt I was an expert, I’d never be here, creating content on feeling confident to create content.

  1. Keep It Sweet and Simple.

This is one rule that I come back to again and again in all areas of my life.  Content creation is no exception.  I think back to my years of textbook reading.  If a page was solid text, I was less enthused about reading it but if it had lots of pictures, graphs or tables with text boxes and quick bullets of information, it was much more appealing to read and digest.  The same thoughts happen with any kind of media content.  Visual appeal with quick points are more likely to entice me to continue reading so I keep that in mind when preparing content.

  1. Stay True to Myself

When all else discourages or overwhelms, I stay true to me.  Sometimes, I just have to ignore the hyperbole and go with what my heart tells me to write.  Of course, I need to give consideration to my audience to entice them to return but if it isn’t true to me, the audience will see through it and I may lose valuable trust.  In my opinion, it’s best to be transparent.  You’d be surprised at how many others were just waiting to hear something that resonated and your content was it.

  1. Use a Scheduling Tool or Calendar

It seemed scary to prepare a content calendar at first.  What content would go where over the course of a month seemed like a lot of work.  When all was said and done, it saved time and more importantly, anxiety.  It helped me organize thoughts and keep creativity flowing because I wasn’t stressing over what to post and when.  You can go online and source out content management tools or create your own in Word or Excel.  It’s worth it.

 

Despite all the blogs, posts and information out there on all the things to consider when creating content for your social media presence, these 4 ideals have helped put it all into perspective.  Are you King of your content?

 

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

Kenneth Verne Cornish – Not Just a Set of Dates

Genealogy essentially comes down to dates.  The date a person is born and the date a person dies.  Baptism dates, immigration dates, marriage dates, divorce dates.  Dates, dates and more dates.

Kenneth Verne Cornish

Kenneth Verne Cornish, my husband’s great grandfather, was only a set of dates;  April 11, 1903 to June 16, 1950.  That made him 47 years old.  It seemed young for a man to die at this age in the 20th century but one can never tell when there are just dates.  Perhaps he was a smoker in a time when little was known about the detriments of smoking.  Perhaps he passed away peacefully in his sleep from a brain aneurysm that no one could explain.   Or perhaps he died of heart failure that was characteristic of his family line, something that perhaps, my husband should consider since he is a descendant.  Dates, a grave stone and a few pictures.  That was all Kenneth Verne Cornish was to us.  Until…

Kenneth Verne Cornish, Gas Poisoning Inquest
Kenneth Verne Cornish’s Obituary and Inquest Coloumn

About two months ago my husband came home with a photocopy of an obituary and a newspaper story.  Two newspaper columns photocopied on a white piece of paper.  There wasn’t any date or any mention of the newspaper it was clipped from but the words painted a picture that suddenly added humanness to an otherwise anonymous ghost.  “My Aunt wanted you to have this since you are the family ‘genealogist,'” he said.  The story read:

An inquest will be held in the council chamber of the town hall at eight o’clock this evening in the death of Kenneth V. Cornish of Ostrander, who died late Friday night in the Tillsonburg Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, believed to be a victim of methyl chloride poisoning.

A preliminary inquest was held at the G.A. Barrie Funeral Home on Saturday afternoon, when Coronoer Dr. R. E. Weston and the inquest jury viewed the body.  The jury empaneled by Chief Constable T. I. Corbett includes W. A. Anderson, foreman, H.C. Armstrong, Clarence Ronson, Fred Yager and I. H. Crosby.

Later Saturday afternoon, a post-mortem was performed by Dr. F. W. Luney of London, provincial pathologist.

Mr. Cornish, who was in his 48th year, suffered the gas poisoning while making repairs to the refrigeration unit at the Massecar Locker Service plant at Glen Meyer, early last Wednesday evening.  He returned to his home late in the evening, feeling rather ill.  He suffered a convulsion shortly after one o’ clock the following morning, and was rushed to the hospital.  He suffered a series of convulsions after admittance to the hospital, and never regained consciousness.

Dr. C. A.Richards, who attended Mr. Cornish, hospital authorities, and local pharmacists contacted several laboratories in an effort to find something to counteract the deadly poison.  Finally Professor M. E. Watson of the University of Western Ontario suggested that molar sodium lactate might be of some assistance and a supply was rushed from Victoria Hospital, London by the Tillsonburg Police Department.  A quantity of blood was also brought from London and transfusions were given.

Doctors say that there is no known antidote for the deadly methyl chloride poisoning.

Kenneth’s obituary further provided details to his life.  It mentioned he was a well-known refrigeration expert and electrician, he was married to Marion Watcher, had a son Allan and a daughter, Mary who were both married and had children of their own.  He was also a member of the Otter Lodge and the Canadian Legion.  He didn’t die of lung cancer, aneurysm or heart attack.  He died a terrible, premature death and left a wife, 2 children and 3 grandchildren behind.  He was a husband, a father, a grandfather.  My father-in-law was only 2 when he passed and has no recollection of his grandfather and namesake.  With these 2 columns clipped from an old newspaper, we got a glimpse of who this man was.

Kenneth Verne Cornish – no longer just a set of dates.

Kenneth Verne Cornish, Kenneth William Cornish
Kenneth Verne with Kenneth William, his grandson

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

The Sound of Happiness

When I was young, let’s say my teen years, happiness was loud. Sounds of laughter, loud music, screams from roller coasters, the phone ringing when a friend would call, traffic because I was in a car travelling to the next event, parties etc. I loved the buzz of having noise around me. I preferred visiting the city over camping and hiking. If I was alone, I turned on the television or the stereo at high volumes to have sound with me all the time. I fell asleep at night to the radio. I felt safe and I was happy.

Loch Ness
Tranquil Loch Ness

 

Sometime in my early twenties, that changed. I spent 4 months in England for school and when I think back to my most loved memory of that stint, it was a day spent outside Inverness, Scotland, on a rock, skipping stones on Loch Ness. We ventured away from the crowds of tourists who wanted to view the lake from Urquhart Castle and shimmied our way down an embankment with a snack of apples, crackers and cheese. There were just 3 of us, 2 other travel companions and myself. It was so tranquil. I remember being hyper-aware of the sound of each skip of the stone before the final “plop” into the lake. I felt calm and I was happy.

Soft snow falling
Gently Falling Snow

Another time, my oldest was 2 and we were at a cottage in the winter in Northern Ontario – far off the beaten path of civilization. My husband, son and I were outside playing in the snow – real snow – 5 feet deep. We were doing somersaults and jumping off the deck into the fluffy banks below. After one spectacular jump, landing on my back looking up at the giant flakes of snow gently falling from the sky, I felt I had been pulled back out of warp speed and my senses became super-attuned. It became quiet, my body completely relaxed into the snow-form my body made from my jump and I could hear the sound of every snowflake land around me. I felt love and I was happy.

Birds chirping
Early birds calling

Just this morning, being on holidays and sleeping in without the hurried routine that I am accustomed to on a “regular” day, I had the window open and I listened to the birds as they began their calls. The world was still asleep. There were no cars, back-up alarms from heavy trucks, sounds of conversation or lawn mowers. Just the sound of the birds and the trees swaying in the breeze. I felt peace and I was happy.

The sound of happiness has changed from when I was young. Once busyness and noise was necessary to feel content. Now, the absence of noise is much more profound in experiencing happiness. I still have great moments of happiness when there is lots of uproarious laughter and sounds but I do cherish the tranquil moments of silence.

What are the sounds of happiness for you?