Longevity in the Canadian Military

This week the prompt from Any Johnson Crow is Longevity for the 52 Ancestors challenge.

This brought to mind the longevity of the Jordan family’s involvement with the Royal Canadian Artillery.

In 1871, William Jordan was the first soldier to join the newly formed company, the first to serve sentry duty and the first to sound call.
In the book Quebec ‘Twixt Old and New by George Gale 1915 on page 281, he writes…

”In response to the first “Fall In” call sounded by Trumpeter Jordan on the Citadel square, when “B” Battery was formed, but two lonesome looking individuals, who had accepted the shilling, strolled out from one of the casements and marched with fear and trembling to join him. They were in civilian dress, the first uniforms not having yet been borrowed from the local garrison artillery company. The three men resembled in some respects the three Graces – Faith, Hope and Charity – as they stood on the parade grounds. Their first fatigue duty was to take charge of a lot of iron cots on which their comrades were to sleep when they enlisted. On account, evidently, of Trumpeter Jordan being the senior man in the caps, he was the first chosen to do sentry duty at the main gate and had nothing more to make him look like a military hero than an old steel ramrod, that had been left as a souvenir by the Imperial troops. With this harmless weapon, Jordan made the most of it and filled in his two hours duty. However, in a few days, with the incoming recruits and Royal Artillery non-commissioned officers, there was no more play soldiering. Henceforward it was real military life. In 1908, during the Tercentenary celebration, Sergeant Jordan had the honour to be presented to the late Lord Roberts as the senior soldier of the Permanent Force in Canada.
That Bunker Hill cannon did not come out of its hiding place and occupy its position on the Citadel square with a brand new coat of paint, inscription and all for some time after the organization of “B” Battery.”…



William Jordan (1852-1938)


Generation 2

Following in their father’s footsteps were four of his sons; Samuel (b.1872) who became a Sergeant Instructor in at the Military College in Kingston, Ontario, Peter (b.1878) who served in Canada during WWI, John Brown (b.1884) who served overseas in WWI, was gassed and came home with a tracheotomy, and William James Francis (1887) who served in Canada during WWI.


Samuel Jordan in Kingston


Peter Jordan at the Sergeants Mess

Generation 3

The next generation of Jordan men to serve were William’s grandsons William Sydney who served in WWII and Douglas William Jordan who served in WWII and Korea. Doug was a career soldier and lived in Manitoba where the Royal Artillery was based in later years. Doug was the last Jordan family member to serve in the military.

In total there was a Jordan family member in the Royal Canadian Artillery for over 100 years!

A great place to research your Canadian Military Ancestors is the Canadian Library and Archives website, which has some databases worth checking out.


Crafting My Genealogy

I recently joined a group on Facebook called GAACR (Genealogy Arts and Crafts Room) where there are regular posts about creating arts and crafts using our ‘stuff’.

One item caught my eye, it was an old used envelope that was enlarged and framed. The original post had been found on Pinterest and shared with members of the group. I knew that this was something I wanted to try.

I looked through my files and picked an envelope and a few postcards. I scanned them at a high resolution, 3,000 dpi along the longest side. The large scan is needed so the image doesn’t get fuzzy upon enlarging. My first scan I made into a TIFF file and then duplicated as a JPEG which is the file type usually needed for when ordering.

Here are the envelopes/postcards I chose from my collection.

Envelope to jack

Envelope addressed to my grandfather, 1925



The back of the postcard that my grandfather sent to his sister when he was in Ireland after WWI, 1919



Postcard sent from my grandmother to my grandfather when they were dating, 1924


postcard C Coffey001 copy 2

Postcard sent from William Jordan to his niece Christine Coffey, 1916

The next step was to upload them to a photograph ordering site, I used London Drugs. Make sure do to watch for automatic cropping that some of these sites do. I have often found that the automatic cropping will cut off my pictures in odd spots. The size I enlarged to was 12 x 18 and the cost per print, $14.98.

My hardest decision was picking the frames, that took me three trips to the store! The frames were purchased at Michaels where you can often buy an item and get a second one for a reduced price. If you break your purchases up into two separate trips you can reduce the cost of your frames.

I am quite pleased with the results and have hung the pictures in my living room, they are a great conversation piece.


I think there may be room for a couple more!


Quebec TipTypes

A photograph is a glimpse into the past

Amy Johnson Crow and her #52ancestor challenge have us picking a favorite image this week.

This is not an easy task because I have a wide range of photographs from various family lines. I decided to pick from the pictures I have of unknown people.

This image is a tintype, without a doubt I believe it was taken in Quebec because of the clothing. I have calculated the date of the image to be anywhere from 1870-1900. I cannot attribute it to any family members, but believe it is from the Norton or Jeffery families who lived in Montreal and Quebec City. The children are absolutely adorable.


Unknown family members, likely the Norton/Jeffery family who lived in Quebec City and Montreal.


I couldn’t help but add this picture, also a tintype. I believe it to be the same boy as in the above picture.

If you have a clue about who these children are or the dates of the tintypes I would love to hear from you.

Open the DNA Floodgates

The floodgates have opened for me in the last two days and all because of DNA.

Yesterday it was all about my Norton family from Great Yarmouth, England. A person emailed me, yes you read that right, they contacted me! Our trees didn’t jive though because I had an error in mine. I had the wrong marriage for Jeremiah Norton, I had wrongly attributed an Elizabeth Jillings as his wife. They had found the correct marriage, Elizabeth Sharpe was the wife’s name. Yes, I made one of the worst genealogy mistakes…grab and go. <sheepishly hanging head> How do I know their tree is the right one? Because I wasn’t certain of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Jillings and to be honest I hadn’t done my due diligence on that marriage record. I meant to go back and research this couple but instead, I added it to my tree and I didn’t go back.

My new DNA cousin was a descendant of Elizabeth Sharp and her first husband Charles Wright. Elizabeth married a second time to Jeremiah Norton. We have five Norton descendants who show up as a match to three people who descend from the Sharpe – Wright marriage. So a lesson well learned all because of DNA. Today was going to be all about gathering data and correct records on the Norton family until an email arrived and I think I may be in genealogy heaven.

This person contacted me because we were DNA matches and they could see the surname Loftus on my online tree. The second match is with — get this — Mary Loftus who I blogged about yesterday!

Mary is an elusive ancestor I have been researching with a cousin Dani Lee McGowan and we have been stuck. This DNA cousin is matching with about seven people who we have identified as descendants of Mary Loftus’ two marriages. Our new DNA cousin has her Loftus family back to 1824 in Mayo, Ireland and has a tree that Mary would fit very well into.

At the moment I am working with both matches to see what more can be learned!

I know people who have been working on their trees for a number of years can relate to what this feels like – is euphoria the right word? A discovery like this happens maybe once a year for me if I am lucky, but to have two in two days is THE best kind of overwhelming!

With all the new matches that are bound to be on the horizon keep the floodgates open and try to keep up!


Did Your Ancestor Leave You A Clue at the Cemetery?

Did your ancestor leave you a clue at the cemetery? Mine did.

Sites like Find-A-Grave and Canadian Headstones are great tools to use in helping us research our family but a trip to your ancestors grave could lead to more discoveries. What you don’t see in the pictures posted on those sites is the headstones surrounding an ancestor. I found the clues my ancestor left on a visit to a cemetery which I wouldn’t have found without being there.

The trip took place in 1998 when my mother and I drove to Saskatchewan to discover more about her grandparents whom she had never met. They were all deceased so the trip would be to the cemeteries to pay our respects.

Up until that point, I had done most of my research on my mother’s family by making phone calls, sending emails, applying for b/m/d certificates and visiting my local library & LDS Centre looking at census records. I was on a limited budget and working with next to no information (my mother knew very little about her family history).

My husband agreed to watch our kids and my mother and I set off, loaded with maps and hope in our hearts. On our list was Indian Head, Saskatchewan (where her mother was from) and Yorkton, Saskatchewan for her paternal side. We hit up numerous antique shops along the way and enjoyed our mother-daughter time.

In Yorkton, we visited King Cemetery armed with the knowledge that this was the final resting place of David Stewart & his wife Bridget McMahon, her grandparents. After locating her grandparent’s headstone and getting a photo, I noticed that beside was a matching headstone but the names were unfamiliar. It read –

In Memory of Margaret McGowan
Beloved wife of John McGowan
Born Nov. 27, 1848 Died Dec. 27. 1916.
Also the above named
John McGowan
Born April 1842 Died March 28, 1920

This was puzzling, further investigation around the stones showed that there was a cement border enveloping the stones and a third stone that was David & Bridget Stewart’s daughter Violet. But who were these McGowans?

Finding The Connection

Once we returned from our trip, I checked the Rootsweb mailing list for a surname mailing list for the McGowan name. These mailing lists were a great way for genealogists to be in touch before the advent of Facebook and more modern communications. So I joined the list and sent a query asking if anyone knew why the McGowan stone was close to the Stewart’s and if anyone knew of the connection. About an hour later I zipped back down to the basement to check and see if I had received a response, after waiting for the dial-up of our internet I saw that there was a reply from Dani Lee McGowan. Dani Lee had been to the same cemetery two years previous and took nearly identical photographs.

David Stewart stone King Cemetery

The Stewart stone, photo by Patricia Greber

McGowan stone, King Cemetery

McGowan stone, photo by Dani Lee

Stewart, Violet stone, King Cemetery

My mother Mary (Stewart) Dever is holding back the bush so we can read the inscription on Violet Stewart’s stone. This is the third stone enclosed in the cement border which you can see on the right.

Dani Lee knew the families were connected, but she also questioned how. This began the start of a friendship and collaboration that continues to this day. I started researching the McGowan family and eventually found that we share a common relative, Mary Loftus.

Mary Loftus McGowan Stewart

Mary was born about 1822 in Sligo, Ireland (not proven) and married Felix McGowan, either in Ireland or in New York. In 1839 their first child Bridget was born, and two sons John (1842) and Thomas (1844) arrived after the family moved to West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario. In about 1845 Felix passed away, the following year Mary who was a devout Catholic marries a Scotch Presbyterian in 1846. Enter my ancestor William Stewart who becomes a father to Mary’s children and together they have six more, James, Margaret, Alexander, David, William all born in West Flamboro. Mary Ann, their last child, was born in 1857 after the family moved to Ayton, Normanby Twp., Grey Co., Ontario.

The flurry of emails between Dani Lee and I during this research period and discovery was almost daily. Every new discovery was celebrated, we were thrilled to have found our connection.

Evidently, our great-grandfathers David Stewart and John McGowan were close. They traveled from Normanby, Ontario settling in Manannah, Meeker Co., Minnesota for about 30 years, and later they both moved back to Canada and finally chose to rest side by side in death.

The Trip was Worth It

Would I have ever discovered this without a visit to the cemetery? I may have, but I think it would have taken me a lot longer to figure out the connection and I would have missed out on years of collaboration with my cousin!

Seeing the stones side by side was a big clue that these families were connected. The cement border indicating the shared plot drove home that I needed to spend time researching this family.

My advice to you, take the time to visit your ancestors final resting spot and keep your eyes open for any clues the left you.

Meet Up?

Dani Lee and I have never met face-to-face but she has plans to travel to Canada this summer and I hope that we will be able to have a reunion that is 20 years in the making!

Still to Discover 

We still have yet to find when our common ancestress Mary Loftus died. We know she was in Minnesota in 1888 according to “Illustrated Album of Biography of Meeker and McLeod Counties Minnesota” where she is mentioned in the write up for John McIntee, her son-in-law.

Her next and last appearance is in the 1891 Canadian census where she is living with her oldest son James Stewart in Ayton, Ontario. That is the last record we have been able to find for her, someday we hope to find where she is buried so we can journey to her resting place and pay our respects.


Let’s Get Started

I am following the challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow to write about 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.

A simple word, start, but start what? For me, it means starting my 2018 genealogy journey.

I have decided that I will create a second genealogy book this year. The focus will be my maternal Stewart family. I do not have an abundance of information but it can be surprising once you begin gathering information, there is often more than a person thought.

How will I start?

  1. Creating a file on my computer labeled Stewart book, start moving documents & pictures into it, start thinking of the plan
  2. Start asking cousins for their input
  3. Start envisioning what records to include
  4. Start planning if I need to visit an Archives
  5. Start putting my paper files for the Stewart family in a box by my computer

So here we go with the beginning of 2018 and the start to many new genealogy discoveries and accomplishments!


What will you start in 2018?

The Jordan Book

Well it’s the end of the year and I did it, I managed to get my 1st copy of the Jordan book off to be printed.

After many years of researching my family tree, I wanted to share it in a way that would be interesting to my family. I decided book format would be the best way to share photographs and stories about the families I have spent so much time researching. Another reason for wanting to create the book is all my research just sits in files, either in my cabinet or on my computer, the photos I have collected gather dust in albums, it all is waiting for an audience. I felt I had to do something to share the lives of our ancestors.

What to Include

I knew I couldn’t cover all my families in one book so I decided the easiest way to break it down would be by surnames. I picked a family line that I had a lot of information on to make it easier as this was my first try with My Canvas. I have to give credit to the Armchair Genealogist as I took her course about using the program My Canvas.

My next decision was the parameters of the book, how many generations to include, and who would be the focus? I decided the book would cover the first three generations in Canada. Why three generations? Our Jordan family arrived about 1850, the immigrant ancestor Samuel was born in 1819 in Ireland, his son William was born in Canada in 1852, and William’s children were born between 1872-1887. I do mention William’s grandchildren in the book but the focus is more on the first three generations. There are more records available for the first few generations, and a lot of the records can be located online. Another important factor when focusing on the earlier generation is I do not have to be as concerned about privacy.

Generation 1 – Samuel Jordan & Mary Quigley, he later married Matilda Stevenson

Generation 2 – William Robert Jordan, Eliza Jordan (died at 17) and Matilda (Jordan) Perry

Generation 3 – Samuel Thomas Jordan, Peter John Jordan, Mary Elizabeth Jordan, John Brown Jordan, & William James Francis Jordan

All the people mentioned above (other than Eliza) became a chapter with a wedding page, photos, and a bio.


documents and photographs are easy to upload and are clear to read using My Canvas

While preparing the book I reconnected with the descendants of Mary Elizabeth (Jordan) Frost and they wrote the bio for their branch of the family. They also had photographs of family gatherings which were great to be able to add to the book.


Mary Elizabeth Jordan’s bio and wedding page


I created a two-page spread highlighting my great grandparents 50th wedding anniversary that took place in 1950


Once I finished creating all the pages in My Canvas I ordered a copy. It arrived at the house and I have been going over it, rearranging some pages, adding, and editing one last time before opening it up to other family members to order their own copies.


Cost is an issue, with the book coming in at 75 pages, it cost me just under $160 and when it showed up at my door I had to pay another $20 in fees. Not a cheap price but to see the quality of the pages, how well the photographs and documents look in the book combined with the work that I have put into this for the past 20 years, I am ok with the price.

Do It Again?

I plan to try and get at least one more book done next year. I am a little torn whether or not I will use My Canvas again. The next family I plan to focus on is the Stewart family and I do not have nearly as many photographs so I may try using Blurb or something similar.

Do you have plans to share your research in 2018? How will you do it? However you plan to share your research I encourage you to make a goal and stick with it! It sure feels great to have finished it!!

A Flip-through of the first 25 pages of the book.