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Misadventures of a Genealogist

Mystery Monday: Finding Bell Brodie, Canada edition


I had a pleasant surprise in my email on Sunday morning. It was from my long lost cousin, Grace. (I love calling her that for some reason :)) I have communicated with Grace over the past few years thanks to my blog bringing us together. We’ve shared a lot of information on our linked Menzies/Love connection over the years. Lucky for me, she had something to add to the mystery of Bell Brodie!

She sent me three different letter transcriptions. Then she suggested that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be looking in London, England for Bell, but London, Ontario, Canada! Before I even consulted anything else having to do with the mystery of where Bell Brodie belonged, I brought out the map.


Once I brought up the map, I let out a big old “oooooohhh!!” Not only did London fit what I was looking for, but in Bell’s letter she also mentions “Sister Hellen is going to be married next week she will live at Port Stanly”. SCORE! I see Port Stanley on the map.

As if I needed further coaxing, I decided to re-read the letter I thought might have also been written by Bell (I was wrong and that transcription is coming soon). That letter is from another cousin of Jennie who is writing from Glencoe. Which is also visible on the map if you look to the very far left.

So folks, it looks like this search is going to be taking place in Canada. Which I know exactly zero about. Looks like it’s time to learn a new area for me. Any tips on Canadian research that you think might help me find Bell Brodie?

Disclaimer: The map used is copyrighted to Google. They have awesome maps. I use them daily!

Mystery Monday: Finding Bell Brodie part 2

bellbrodie-00For the last few weeks, I’ve been jumping around a lot. I’ve been working on a billion things and not anything. Do you do that too? Always busy but never seem to get any one thing done. This weekend, I finally took some time to sit down and re-visit my Bell Brodie mystery. I didn’t expect to take such a big break but it was never far from my mind!

I don’t want to spend too much time running around in circles. I think it’s important to re-evaluate the things I picked out of the transcribed letter and make a plan before preceding.

  • Bell Brodie is writing to her “Dear Cousin”.
  • The letter is dated for September 1866 and is addressed from London.
  • Bell calls the person she is writing to, “Dear Jennie” in the middle of the letter.

Using these three clues, I’m planning to do a few things.

  1. I’m going to go through the Menzies/Love line of my family tree and match the year to a generation. This will help me decide if the Jennie mentioned is Jennie Love, Jane Menzies or Jean Farris. Lots of Jean/Jennie/Janes in the family!
  2. I’m going to use the 1861 and 1871 census to see if I can find a Bell Brodie, maybe in London. The letter doesn’t hint at Bell’s age. I figure once I estimate whose cousin she is, I’ll can have an age range at least.

The next clues were:

  • Bell mentions that “Your mother and Alick” were staying with Bell. She even addresses the woman staying with her as Aunt several times in the letter.
  • Bell tells Jennie several things to tell Alick, making it seem like Alick is not present even though in the beginning she mentioned he’d been staying with her 10 days.

What this does for me:

  1. The only thing I can think of is using the “Alick” to help me identify Jennie. I’m assuming Alick is Jennie’s brother. I shouldn’t assume that but it won’t hurt to see if there is someone in the household of Jennie who fits.

The final thing I’m going to research from the first set of clues is this.

  • Bell mentions the fun they had when she sailed up the Hudson in New York. Though she says next that she wished Jennie and Alick had been there at the time.

Bell mentions that she sailed up the Hudson River. Which means she traveled to New York. That also means that if I’m lucky, I can find her in a passenger list. I’ll search Castle Garden first and go from there!

Taking Things Slowly

It’s been a wild few weeks in the Moore household. My recurring injury flared up and I was forced to stay off my feet as much as possible. Then just as I was getting on my feet again, literally, the whole household has come down with all kinds of various illnesses. So of course, this makes me want to do 80 things at one time. Funny how that happens! During all this chaos, I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog and what I want it to be. Mainly, I just want it to be a fun little genealogy blog for myself and whoever else finds it! So I’ll be taking things more slowly. I used to write an article on the spot, proofread it and post it. I’m going to slow down that process a bit, so that I have some time to add in whatever sources/pictures/documents I need to accurately say what it is I’m trying to say. I have a problem in the fact that my brain goes faster then my typing. Sometimes, that really shows!

Family File Cleanup progress as of 6/25/2013
Family File Cleanup progress as of 6/25/2013. Gosh those blank spaces drive me crazy! Must fill them!

Even though I’ll be blogging differently, I still have my same projects. I’m still working on my Family File Cleanup. I’m still trying to plan my first genealogy road trip, two years later, HA! I’m still consuming as much information I can on the subjects I want to learn, just at a reasonable pace instead of an overwhelming one. My biggest project after my Family File Cleanup is done, is going to be going through my extra hard drive and cleaning it up a lot. There’s a lot of duplicate files and stuff on there. I haven’t been as diligent in some areas of organization as others. I’m even thinking about ordering a new external hard drive that’s separate from my computer. Not until I wrangle my mess though, the mess needs to be fixed before I reward myself.

I’ve also been trying out all kinds of software. I had some extra money in my budget to play with this month. Since that rarely happens, I decided to purchase myself a copy of Legacy 7.5 and Evidentia. I really want to try these programs out and see how good they are. While I’ll try out the full version of Legacy, I have a feeling I’ll still stick to Family Tree Maker. It’s what I learned on, it’s what I feel comfortable in. I still have Roots Magic too, and I love that one too. I know it’s better to pick one and stick with it. I just really enjoy playing with the other software options. Nothing wrong with that! Evidentia interests me because though I’m usually really good at pulling bits of information out of documents, I know I can do better. I just don’t want to get too deep into re-analyzing all my records until the cleanup is done! Then I’ll know I have a strong base to work from. Hopefully, this might help me with the mystery of Bell Brodie also! I’ll be sure to blog about all my trials and errors, just like usual.

So that’s where I’m at now. How are you all doing and what are your summer time goals? Are there any huge projects that you’re coming to an end of?

Disclaimer: None of the links in the post are sponsor links. I’m not making any profit by mentioning these programs. I wasn’t even asked to mention them, I just had good old fashioned curiosity!

Mystery Monday: Finding Bell Brodie


Every once and awhile, it’s really good to do something different in your research. I find it keeps me from getting burned out on my larger goals and lets me have a little bit of fun. I was on my way home from a frustrating day at the DMV when I decided I was going to find out once and for all who Bell Brodie is.

Bell Brodie Letter 1st and 4th pages
Bell Brodie Letter 1st and 4th pages
Bell Brodie Letter, 2nd and 3rd pages
Bell Brodie Letter, 2nd and 3rd pages

My first step is to gather what I can from the letter. I’ll probably have to come back to this letter and re-analyze it many more times. I hope that I’ll be able to find more nuggets of detail as I learn more. To start though, I want to just have something to get me jump started.

  • Bell Brodie is writing to her “Dear Cousin”.
  • The letter is dated for September 1866 and is addressed from London.
  • Bell mentions that “Your mother and Alick” were staying with Bell. She even addresses the woman staying with her as Aunt several times in the letter.
  • Bell calls the person she is writing to, “Dear Jennie” in the middle of the letter.
  • Bell mentions the fun they had when she sailed up the Hudson in New York. Though she says next that she wished Jennie and Alick had been there at the time.
  • Bell tells Jennie several things to tell Alick, making it seem like Alick is not present even though in the beginning she mentioned he’d been staying with her 10 days.
  • On the 3rd page, Bell mentions Jennie’s mother again and this time mentions “Allie/Attie/Altie” sending his love to Jennie and his father.
  • Bell mentions Sister Hellen is getting married the next week and will live at Port Stanly.

These are the more obvious clues I picked from the letter. I’m going to start with these and go from there. If you’ve picked out anything more obvious that can help identify Bell Brodie, please let me know! I welcome any assistance.

Without even consulting my family tree file, I also know this letter came from the records of my Great Grandmother Llewellyn. This means it’s connected to my paternal Moore/Thorward lines in the New Jersey and New York area.

I’m not in any rush for this project. What I’m really trying to do, is learn how to be smarter about all the information that I have on hand. I feel like I might be missing some vital information that’s hiding between the lines. It’s all part of the process on being a more experienced, and more advanced genealogy researcher.

10 Years Ago…

This domain was purchased by my brother and I started this crazy, genealogy journey! The website has changed servers many times and I’ve come a long, long way in the area of web design. (Follow the link for a look back at the cosmetic changes to the site.)

It might have only been the last 3 years that I’ve been “blogging” but this site has been around on this domain for 10 years now! I’ve been working on a new design behind the scenes and now that the Diary of Llewellyn has concluded, I’ll devote a lot more of my time to that.


Hopefully I’ll have some updates soon on everything I’ve been up to. All including researching, organizing, learning and quilting! Lots of stuff!

Mystery Monday: Samuel Redford

It’s been a long time since I had something to post on Mystery Monday, but this one is a doozy! Before my vacation, I wrote about ordering Samuel Redford and Frances Travis’ marriage record. Now on top of the Duckworth/Redford mystery, I have a tale of two marriage records apparently.

Before I realized I could see a copy of the marriage certificate online, I ordered a copy from the General Records Office. I didn’t receive it until Saturday, which I think is pretty speedy for a record from another country! Anyway, I was cooking when the mail was brought in, so I asked my father to open the record for me. It’s always fun seeing records through a non-genealogist eyes. He immediately zeroed in on the fact that Samuel Redford was listed as a widower. Which prompted a variety of discussions, the biggest one being my shock at his widower status.

I thought it was funny that this was the first time I was hearing this, especially since I had viewed the record on after I ordered it. Sunday morning when I had a little more time to investigate, I brought up the computer record and the certificate to compare. That’s where the mystery comes in! To respect the copyrights of the records offices, I’m going to just show you a transcription. You’ll just have to trust me on the differences for now!

click for full size
click for full size


I changed the text color on the most significant differences on the records. You can see that on the transcription from Find my Past, it says Samuel is a bachelor and that Frances resides in Werneth. Frances’ residence makes much more sense in the FMP record since I’ve found her family’s census data for 1861, 1871, and 1881 all in Werneth. What I think might have happened when they copied the record down in the GRO (who knows when?) is that the record above Samuel and Frances’ got mixed up with theirs. You can’t tell from the GRO certificate since it only gives the one record, however on FMP I can see the full page. The other record lists the husband as a Widower and both spouses living in Hyde. So most likely a mixup happened somewhere, but it’s not a good thing when you’re researching your family tree from across the pond!

This does show that mistakes happen all the time in records and you should always double check things even from the most trusted of sources.

Home from Florida

Saint Augustine, Florida; March 2013
Saint Augustine, Florida; March 2013

After a week of relaxing in Florida, I’m home again. It was so much fun to spend time with my family in a non-stressful situation. Now that I’m home I have tons of things I want to accomplish. I only wish it were as pretty and warm here in Maryland!

Ten Years of!

My website has been around since May of 2003. That means this May, the website will be 10 years old! I was feeling a little nostalgic about it all, so I decided to visit the Internet Wayback Machine the other night.

click for full size
click for full size

My brother registered the domain for me in at the end of May 2003. By July the Wayback Machine had archived my site! Awesome.

2003 - click for full size
2003 – click for full size

The first incarnation of the site had a Regency-era man drawn by me, telling everyone to enter the website. Sadly, he no longer exists, so this is the page you ended up on after clicking on him.

2003 - click for full size
2003 – click for full size

There he is a little bit! The colors a little off because I used to change the colors of my website all the time. This is the page that you landed on after picking a line of the family tree. I’m not 100% positive but I think I actually made pedigrees for each surname.

2004 - click for full size
2004 – click for full size

In 2004, I was obsessed with image mapping. So this design was a combination of an image map and frames. I can’t believe how much I used to use frames! Sorry for the non-HTML inclined, I’m dating my website knowledge definitely though!

2004 - click for full size
2004 – click for full size

None of the pages except the Index of Surnames were archived. Each person had their own page where I listed all their facts, and familial connections. Whew, I remember how much time I used to spend on the website.

early 2005 - click for full size
early 2005 – click for full size

In early 2005, I had switched out the pink color for blue. I remember using the same picture and instead of an image map I made individual buttons. Same basic setup, just new color.

late 2005 - click for full size
late 2005 – click for full size

By the end of 2005, I had installed The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding. I probably hadn’t installed a theme by the time the website was archived.

2006 - click for full size
2006 – click for full size

In 2006 I used one of the themes and I never looked back from using Darrin Lythgoe’s software!

2007 - click for full size
2007 – click for full size

A different theme for 2007. I really enjoyed this theme and I changed the “Featured Articles” and text on the front page often. It was here where I started to feel like a blog would be fun to have.

2008 - click for full size
2008 – click for full size

In 2008 I made the decision to split up my tree into my mother’s side and my father’s.

2009 - click for full size
2009 – click for full size

I must have changed my theme in 2009, but it didn’t archive well. I was definitely still using TNG. I had also just started using twitter and that black box is where the twitter feed was.

2010 - click for full size
2010 – click for full size

2010 was the year I took the training wheels off and created my own TNG theme. I also started the blog.

2011 - click for full size
2011 – click for full size

2011 – same design.

2012 - click for full size
2012 – click for full size

2012 – still no change.

So that brings us to 2013! I’ve pretty much been working on a new design since 2011, but just haven’t made it work. After seeing how much the site has changed over the years, I’m definitely more motivated to make a new design happen. So hopefully when I get back from vacation, I can sketch out something fresh that will be a new start for the website!



Family Tree Maker 2012 Places Glitch

Or at least, what I’m calling a glitch. I have no idea if this is something I’ve done or if it’s a bonafide glitch. I just know I add my stuff the same way every time and I don’t have 8,345 instances of Johnsville, Bracken County, Kentucky in my file.

click for full size
click for full size

For some reason, I had a LOT of Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland this morning. It’s probably been there awhile since I don’t usually check the places tab. I was curious today though and wanted to try something new. I got to do something new alright!

click for full size
click for full size

I went through the process of merging all the instances of Beith together. Since they are all identical I didn’t think Resolving would do anything, but I wish I had tried now because that might have been quicker. Next time I’ll try. I feel like I was working on it for 8 years, but it really turned out to be a half hour. Okay 45 minutes, but I did get distracted and walked away from it a few times. It was pretty monotonous.

click for full size
click for full size

Eventually I was down to enough that they fit the screen! An end was in sight!

click for full size
click for full size

I have no idea how I ended up with at least 76 different listings for Beith but I hope it never happens again. That doesn’t seem to be my luck though. I’ll just keep an eye on it and maybe Google it.

Can you guys tell I’m procrastinating yet? Thank god it’s Friday! I hope everyone has a good one!

My Smaller Goal Didn’t Work so Well Either

In a completely unrelated note, I’ve got to revisit the rules on capitalizing letters in a title. This fly by the seat of my pants approach doesn’t work well for me anymore. haha!

So today is the day my blog turns 3 years old, and I evaluate the goal I set for myself about six weeks ago. I knew it was a tough task but having goals to work towards really helps me. A lot of obstacles were thrown in my way. I spent a lot of weekend time helping out my neighbors who had a family emergency, and I spent a week sick as a dog. So all in all, my goal was really doomed from the beginning. Trust me, I’m laughing at myself as I wrote that. I have a weird sense of humor.

Anyway, I didn’t complete the goal. I wanted to finish my cleanup through Mollie Jane Webb’s parents. I want to fill in one more set of those 3rd Great Grandparents. It didn’t happen, I made a LOT of progress though.

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So I didn’t make a ton of visible progress on my goal. I did however make progress and really that was the main goal. I think I might have even met my goal without having the plague for a week and a half. For a solid 4 days all I could do was stare into space. So I’m wimpy enough to take that excuse and run with it!

I might not have finished everything I wanted to but I did move past the Taylors. I had originally wanted to go ahead and add past Bartholomew Taylor in but when I started looking at my “documentation”, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it just yet when I had a goal in mind. The purpose of the new cleaner file is so that I once again have a strong base to work from. My old file was such a mess from trying to combine numerous things, and switching software numerous times. I hadn’t taken proper precautions when doing those things and it made a mess of my file. So I’m in a much better place now! I might not have everyone added back in, but it’s been so much better researching, since I know that I’ve got everyone sourced in the new file. If someone asks me about anyone in the new file, I can tell them exactly where my information came from. It’s a good feeling!

I’m not setting a new goal yet because I have a lot going on here for the next few weeks, even a vacation! So when all that has settled down, I’ll set a new goal. Maybe it will be to finish this once and for all, or maybe it will be a smaller, more specific goal. Who knows!

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