100 Years Since the Soldiers Came Home

In one month, it will be time to commemorate the centenary of Armistice of World War I. One century ago thousands of damaged soldiers were returning home, marking the resolution of the war to end all wars.

Dever, John M. WWI Booklet 1:3

Worldwide there were soldiers embarking on the journey home. Some hadn’t met their children or hadn’t laid eyes on any family members for years. Others had seen and done unspeakable things, many returned broken on the outside, while for others the scars were less visible.

What was life like for them when they returned?

Let’s Remember Them

What records have you found about your soldier when they arrived home? Did they come home with all their body parts? Did they resume the same life that they had before they left or did they make different choices in their career, did they return to their home and family or live alone?

There were longterm consequences resulting from the soldiers’ experiences. Some returned but died within a few years from injuries. Most bore some scars, visible or invisible for the remainder of their lives.

What was your soldiers’ experience?

Records 

If your soldier fought for Canada the records at Library and Archives Canada that are online are the best places to learn about your Soldiers experience. Many include discharge certificates, like this one:

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Discharge certificate for John M Dever

In the bottom corner, you can see that he was discharged on May 31, 1919, six months after Armistice.

When John began his service in 1916 he was an office clerk, to find out what his occupation was a couple years after his return I checked the 1921 Canadian census (or the first census of the country your soldier returned to). The 1921 census shows my grandfather, John Dever settled back in his parent’s home and went to work in the family grocery store.

Over the next few years, he took courses and became a grain broker, apparently transitioning back quite successfully, and somehow putting his war experiences behind him.

Dever, John M. Correspondence School

Accounting certificate 1923, John Dever

Not one story of his war experience was passed onto me.

I challenge you to write about the soldier in your family who returned. Consider commemorating their memory by sharing about their experience and transition to coming home.

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5 Ways I Search The Fulton Newspaper Site

I have been 3 days, yes 3, searching through the Fulton Newspaper site. Here are some key ways I made some fantastic discoveries.

If you do not know about the Fulton site it is created, maintained and added to by one guy, ONE GUY. Its official name is Old Fulton NY Postcards and contains over 43,000,000 newspaper pages from mostly the USA, with some from Canada. I also discovered another page on the site that contains hundreds of historical documents covering both countries. After spending some time searching on the site I have some tips that may help you along.

Here is where you will start searching Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 7.57.13 PM

The “All of the words” has a drop-down menu,Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 7.59.24 PM

With “all of the words” selected type in your search.

Tip #1 Use brackets around the name you are searching for and add in a keyword, you can use a second name like a wife’s first name or maiden name. Example “Thomas McMahon” CullitonThe search will find all instances of the name in quotes and the other name has to show up on the page.

Tip #2 My favorite though is to search for locations. I did a search for a family that had connections to Buffalo but they were from Delhi, Norfolk, Co., Ontario. Voila, I found a mention of a marriage for William McMahon of Delhi, Ontario.

McMahon - McNerney Delhi, Ontario

McMahon-McNerney wedding Buffalo Courrier June 11, 1916

Notice how the search parameters are highlighted? Makes it so nice for finding where the name is mentioned on a page.

Tip #3 Do you know where your family was living in New York? If not have a look in a Street Directory and find the house address. When you have the address try a search for it. This time change your search parameters to “the exact phrase”. Newspapers often gave the address of the people they were writing about.

I found John Lindsay when searching for his home 140 Chenago street. It turns out John was one of the owners of the Queens Hotel in Toronto before moving to New York. John was married to my great grandmother’s sister Margaret McMahon.

Lindsay Buffalo NY Evening News 1927

John Lindsay obituary, Buffalo NY Evening News 1927

Tip #4 What about an occupation? I knew my 2x great Aunt Elizabeth McMahon worked for Hengerer store, I did a search for the store name and McMahon and I found this clipping.

McMahon Eliza Buffalo Evening News Jan 27 1932

Buffalo Evening News Jan 27, 1932

A name search can also reap rewards, you will need patience when scanning all the results, I promise it will be worth it. I discovered I am not the only one searching the McMahon boys who were in Philadelphia. This article indicates that Margaret, their Aunt, was looking for them back in 1919.

McMahon Philadelphia PA Inquirer 1919-2

Philadelphia PA Inquirer 1919

Tip #5 Search names and add the word probate or will. Probates were reported on regularly and can be a wonderful lead to more genealogical information.

Culliton, Marg Niagara Falls NY Gazette 1953 May

Our ancestors were a mobile bunch so searching far and wide for them or more distantly connected relations may be the nugget you need to find unexpected links.

All in all, time well spent and I wish you happy hunting!

Finding the People in the Pictures

Sept. 19th was a great day, a cousin sent me 12 images that she had in her collection. All but one were photos I had never seen before of the McMahon family.

My cousin had identifications for most of them but I have to say, days of research has not uncovered the others. Although she did not send me photographs of the reverse side of the pictures, she did write out what was written or stamped for each photo. The great thing is that a couple of the photographs are from a McMahon family in Philadelphia that I had never heard of. The challenge is to see if I can find the people in the photographs in a paper record.

Day 1 – was spent researching the people named in the photos and the locations. I really wasn’t able to get anywhere using that method.

Day 2 – I was completely focused on the photographer’s stamp to narrow down the dates.The photograph dates appear to be 1895-1915, I have not yet been able to link them to a family in a US census.

The biggest puzzle is the following three pictures, all McMahons. Two of the pictures; the couple and the communion photo are from Philadelphia. I do not have any McMahons living in Philly in my tree, yet. (Hovering your mouse over the photos should bring up the description).

A hint that may help is the name of the boy in the middle photo, Aloy McMahon, short for Aloysius I imagine.

Searching the genealogy sites for a John McMahon in Philly has not narrowed down anything for me, research will be ongoing. SOme possibilities for Aloysius, but nothing concrete as of yet.

The other photos she sent are of Sarah (McHugh) McMahon and her daughter Elizabeth and were taken in Buffalo, NY. These are my direct line, Sarah is my 3x great grandmother!

 

And here are Ontario ones. I believe the photo in the centre below is another daughter Sarah McMahon above,

What a fun diversion from waiting for DNA matches to arrive!

I was advised of a site that helps you to date an old photo that is a postcard from the empty stamp holder on the reverse side.

And here is the site I used to help date the Ontario photographs.

And guess what? My cousin says she has more to scan! Now I am waiting in anticipation.

If you have McMahons from Philadelphia or if you recognize anyone in the images let’s chat!

Shout Out to Random Acts of Photo Restoration Facebook Group

Random Acts of Photo Restoration Facebook Group is one of my favorite genealogy Facebook groups. The people there volunteer there time to fix pictures that are torn, faded, blurry and otherwise damaged. The kind people there do the best they can to touch them up for you, for free!

The group has over 14,000 members and somehow everyone gets taken care of. There are other rules that you should read through before you make your first post, general etiquette, and rules of the group. You are asked to scan your picture at 300-600 dpi and then upload it to the file section of their page. That way the photo doesn’t lose resolution and makes it much easier to work with.

An example below of the magic that can be produced. This photo I uploaded and requested colour to be added. I posted the picture and the specific colours of the soldiers’ uniform and a day later a kind soul had created this for me. Notice he even removed the crease in the picture!

Other family members were super excited to see the photograph in colour. It added ‘life’ to the picture! 54570F5F-E584-45F4-A278-8404F74AC96CIf you are like me and do not have the tools to create this I do recommend this group, and a big shout out to all the people who work on the pictures, from a very happy member!

 

 

St. Andrew’s Church, Quebec City

Attending a service at St. Andrews Church, Quebec City last month when visiting Quebec City was an important moment in my genealogy journey.

Back in 1818, February the 4th, my 3x great grandmother Elizabeth Tipper was wed to Robert Jeffery/Jeffrey. The minister Alex Sparks wrote as Tupper for the bride’s surname and it took about 15 years to figure out her surname was actually Tipper.

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The first event at the St. Andrew’s Church for my family was the marriage of Elizabeth Tipper to Robert Jeffery in 1818.

A side note is that Chev. Robert d’Estimauville was a witness to both Elizabeth Tipper and her sister Anne’s marriages, and I have yet to find the connection.

I have been to Quebec City on a few occasions but St. Andrew’s, which is the oldest church of Scottish origin in Canada, is only open on Sundays for service. I have only been inside once before and that was many years ago.

On a Sunday I made my way to the church early and enjoyed sitting on the stairs outside the church, reveling in the knowledge that this is a very special place for my family.

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The welcoming lady seated on the pew beside me directed where to get the Hymnal book and I waited for service to start. People continued to trickle in and I was happy to see some families with young children in attendance. And then the organ played. What a fantastic sound that echoed through the room. A few tears gathered at the corner of my eye as I allowed myself to bask be in the moment.

After service, I took a few minutes to photograph the interior as I do not know when I will be back. I was welcomed to have fellowship after in the Manse but my travel companions were waiting, maybe next time.

Pictures of the interior of the church