Sentimental Saturday – Happy 4th of July

I’m posting photos from my collection of family photographs on Saturdays with a brief explanation of what I know about each picture.

Ellen and I are both proudly Canadian. Ellen was born in London, Ontario and I was born in Toronto, Ontario.

But we both have family connections to the United States.

My mother, Anne Margaret (O’Neill) Hadden was born in Detroit, Michigan. Ellen’s maternal grandmother Mattie Diona (Knox) Latimer was born in California.

Ellen’s American roots go much deeper though. Her 7X great grandfather was Edmond Faulkner, one of the founders of Andover, Massachusetts around 1645. One of Edmund’s great grandsons Col. Francis Faulkner, Ellen’s second cousin, 6 times removed, fought at the Battles of Lexington and Concord Bridge, initiating the Revolutionary War (or, War of Independence depending on perspective).

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden at the grave of her 7X Great Grandfather Edmond Faulkner

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden at the grave of her 7X Great Grandfather Edmond Faulkner

In 2013, Ellen and I took a road trip that included travelling through Massachusetts and I couldn’t resist attempting to find Edmond Faulkner’s grave. It meant a number of wrong turns along the way but eventually we were successful in locating the Old North Parish Burying Ground in what is now North Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts.

I took the photo above showing Ellen at her ancestor’s grave. The current gravestone was erected by some descendants of Edmond Faulkner just over 100 years ago, replacing what was likely an original, and no doubt very weathered, slate gravestone.

So we wish a Happy 4th of July, Independence Day, to all of our numerous American family members and friends. Enjoy your holiday and please be safe.

Collaboration in Genealogy – An Example Of Doing It Right

While I was travelling through Scotland and Ireland, I received an email from Ancestry.com notifying me that another Ancestry member with the user name kforsman72 had sent me a message.

I will often receive these types of emails that are typically from people asking for more information about someone in my online public Ancestry tree. This message was different.

The message I received stated “I just wanted to let you know that I came across the graves of the Kletzings in Section 5 of Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago. The graves include Josiah, Kate, Arba, Clarence, Florence Amy, and Kathryn Gall. I’ve created memorials and uploaded photos of the graves to Find-A-Grave, in case you are interested in viewing them.”

Once I was home from my trip, I went to the Find-A-Grave site where I searched for and found the Kletzing memorials reference in the Ancestry message.

KLETZING Josiah gravestone from findagrave

Grave site of Josiah and Kate Kletzing, Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois (Photo by Kate Forsman, 2015. Used with permission)

The memorial pages provide the information found provide information from and a photo of the grave of my wife Ellen’s first cousin, three times removed Catherine ‘Kate’ (Nusbickel) Kletzing, her husband Josiah Kletzing and some of their children.

Kate Kletzing was the daughter of Frederick Nusbickel and Elizabeth Wagner, an older sister of my wife’s 2X great grandfather Rev. Jacob Wagner. Kate was born 1 March 1855 in Rose, Wayne County, New York and according to U.S. census records she married Josiah Kletzing around 1880. Josiah and Kate had five known children, three of whom are documented on the gravestone. Kathryn Gall, who is listed on the gravestone, was Josiah Kletzing’s second wife whom he married in 1915.

I now know kforsman72 to be Kate Forsman and from what I can determine Kate does not have the Kletzing family in her family tree. No, Kate took a photo of the Kletzing grave and set-up the Find-A-Grave memorial pages to help out other genealogists and researchers. That’s a good thing.

But Kate took it a step further, checking on Ancestry to see who might have this Kletzing family in their tree. She found me and through that initial message, she helped me add some valuable evidence to my research database.

Well done, Kate. I believe the genealogy community is made of great folks who love to help others and Kate has demonstrated why I hold that belief.

But The Date Is Set In Stone

First, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day described by some as a time when everyone is either Irish or wants to be!

It is a day when I immediately think of my own Irish ancestry. Specifically, my maternal ancestry.

When I began researching my family history, it seemed that ethnic ancestry was easily described as my maternal ancestry was Irish and Roman Catholic whereas my paternal ancestry was Scottish and not Roman Catholic.

I discovered eventually, through many hours over many years of research, that my maternal ancestry was Irish with a good dose of Scottish blood and that my paternal ancestry was Scottish with a good dose of Irish blood. Things are not always as simple as first presented.

My mother often regaled me with stories of her maternal grandfather. A man named John Foley whom it was claimed lead a rags to riches life. John died, so my mother told me, in 1927 in Florida on a business trip. He died before my mother was born so she didn’t know him but she did love to pass on the stories she no doubt heard from her mother.

Finding John Foley’s grave in Toronto’s Mount Hope Cemetery was the easy part and as a bonus, the family had ‘set in stone’ his dates of birth and death for me. Being set in stone meant according to most dictionaries that the dates were firm, immutable, permanent and unchangeable. As seen below, John gravestone states that he was born February 16, 1864 and that he died on January 13, 1927.

FOLEY John grave stone Mount Hope Cemetery Sec 20 Lot 360

As I researched my great grandfather’s life, I discovered that he died not in Florida as I had been told but rather in Los Angeles, California. His trip in January 1927 was not for business but rather it was a vacation. The State of California, various newspaper articles, and John Foley’s estate file all confirmed his date and place of death. But what of his birth?

John was born in what is now Ontario, Canada. He was born in pre-confederation Canada, at a time when there was no civil registration requirement for births. Therefore, there was no birth registration to be found. So I turned to the census records.

John can be found first in the 1871 Census of Canada recorded as being 8 years old and living with his parents William Foley and Bridget (McTeague) Foley in Barrie, Ontario. Both William and Bridget are recorded as being born in Ireland. Also in the household were John’s three brothers and two sisters. John is recorded as being the youngest of the four boys.

Based on that 1871 census, John was born about 1863. In the next census, that of 1881, John is recorded as being 18 years old, so again a birth year of about 1863. Unfortunately, John is (at least thus far) no where to be found in the 1891 census. However, in the 1901 census, John is recorded as being a widower (his wife, my great grandmother, Mary Jane Fitzgerald had died on April 9, 1899) living with his three young children along with a housekeeper and her two children. His date of birth is recorded as April 1865. The 1911 census records John’s date of birth again as April 1865, and finally in the 1921 census, John is recorded as being 56 years of age from which can be calculated a year of birth of about 1865.

Fortunately FamilySearch has posted the Roman Catholic Church records for numerous parishes in Ontario covering the period of 1760-1923 (there is no index available but images can be browsed which can be a lengthy but in my case rewarding bit of research) and so it was that I discovered John’s baptismal register record in the records of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Barrie, Ontario. The baptismal register misspelled the family surname as ‘Froley’ but provided me with what I believe is the first recording of John’s February 16, 1863 date of birth.

FOLEY John baptism record 1863 - Copy

Even when the dates of your ancestors appear to be ‘set in stone’, nothing can be taken for granted until all the evidence is in.

52 Ancestors: James Hadden (abt 1804-1871)

James Hadden is my 4X great grandfather. I really don’t know that much about the life that lead but various records tell me that he was born about 1804 in Fetteresso, Kincardineshire. 

I have searched Scotland’s Old Parish Registers and could find no baptismal record for James. This suggested to me that either the register book containing the baptismal record for James no longer exists or James’ parents, William Hadden and Agnes Robb were not ‘church going’ people and the baptism of their son was not a high priority for them.

What the Old Parish Registers do inform me is that James Hadden married Mary Smart on May 25th, 1833 in Inverurie, Aberdeen, Scotland. James was about 29 years old and his bride, Mary was 25 years old.

The young couple settled into life together in New Hills, Aberdeen, Scotland, a small village near the location of the present day Aberdeen Airport. James seemed to do well working as a farm overseer. Mary and James also started a family; their first child, a daughter whom they named Mary was born December 31, 1833. A son, Alexander ‘Bean’ Hadden was born in 1837 and another daughter, named Jane was born in 1837.

Their apparently happy existence was cut short however when Mary died suddenly in 1840. Eventually James re-married. His second wife was Janet or Jessie Jamieson and unfortunately I could find no record of their marriage in the Old Parish Registers of Scotland but other records do provide confirmation that they were married, likely around 1847 as their first of two known children (both sons – James George Wood Hadden and William Hadden) was born in 1848.

James continued farming up until his death from bronchitis on March 12, 1871 in Aberdeen.

Curiously, several years ago while suffering from a concussion that caused severe headaches and an inability to focus for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time, I decided to ‘kill some time’ by searching Google for images of James Hadden. I had no realistic expectation that I would find a ‘photo’ of my 19th century ancestor but what I did find astonished me nonetheless. A photo was found of James’ gravestone!

The photo had been taken by Colin Milne in St. Peter’s Cemetery on King Street in Aberdeen. Colin had taken photos of several gravestones that he referred to as ‘strays’ and then posted them on his website in the hope that family members might one day find them. I contacted Colin and he kindly provided me with a copy of the original digital file for my use.

James Hadden gravestone, St. Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen, Scotland (photo courtesy of Colin Milne)


I then contacted City of Aberdeen staff who informed me that the people listed on the gravestone do not represent the names their records show are buried in the plot. The gravestone lists seven family members: Mary Smart, William Hadden (James Hadden’s brother), William Hadden (son of either William or James), James Hadden, James G. W. Hadden, Jessie Jamieson, and Alexander ‘Bean’ Hadden.

As it turns out, Mary Smart is not buried in this plot. Her name on the gravestone is a ‘memorial’ only. The same is true for James’ brother William Hadden. James Hadden and Jessie Jamieson are buried here along with James George Wood Hadden, Helen B. Smith McKnight, James Reid, Elspet Scott, John McKnight, and Christian Mackie. 

The City of Aberdeen staff informed me that James Hadden bought the plot in section 39 of the cemetery in 1842. “In the olden days in Aberdeen it was not uncommon for family’s to use graves for close friends or even neighbours as money was so tight.”  I was able to identify that John McKnight was James’ step-son so perhaps Helen was John McKnight’s wife and I have no idea as to who Elspet Scott, James Reid and Christian Mackie are? Identifying them and their relationship to James Hadden is another task to add to my genealogy to-do list!

Opening Up Canada’s West

One of the challenges that I have faced researching both my family lines as well as those of my wife, Ellen, is the relative young age of Canada. This is especially problematic due to the involvement of our family branches in Canada’s western, specifically the prairie provinces.

My Hadden family ancestors first immigrated from Scotland to Saskatchewan around 1907 when Helen ‘Nellie’ Shand and her husband Andrew Gammie took up a homestead near Aneroid, Saskatchewan. I have recounted previously, how in 1923, my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden answered his mother’s call for some help and he left Scotland with his wife and children and put down Canadian roots that I can now call my own.
I have not yet found Helen and Andrew in the 1911 census records but they appear in the 1916 census records of the Canadian prairie provinces.
Saskatchewan only became a province on Sept. 1, 1905, meaning that are only three publicly available set of census records – 1906, 1911, and 1916. As my family was still in Scotland in 1906, I’m limited to the two remaining record sets.
But (!) thanks to a stalwart group of volunteers, additional Saskatchewan information for genealogists is becoming available – one plot at a time! I have found through the Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project website a small treasure trove of burial locations, date information and numerous gravestone photos of many Latimer ancestors (Ellen’s family). A special thanks to volunteer Val Thomas who photographed and indexed the Benson Cemetery, the final resting place for several of Ellen’s relatives.
The Saskatchewan cemeteries site contains the transcriptions of more than 1,000 of the province’s more than 3,300 cemeteries so while there is still lots of work to do before the ‘project’ is complete, great work has already been done and made available. The site provides a listing of the transcribed cemeteries along with the municipality to which they are associated.
More than just cemetery transcriptions, the site also includes an obituary index with links to the obituary text that unfortunately does not seem to allow the ‘copy and paste’ function. This technological aspect is in my opinion not helpful. However, the obituaries, if you find one connected to your family as I did with Ellen’s Latimer relatives, are typically full of great information about family members but also about the deceased and their life in the community.
Keep up the good work Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project volunteers!