March 5, 2015

Win a 6 Month U.S. Discovery Membership to Ancestry!

Here's your chance to win  an Olive Tree Genealogy giveaway. Thanks to TLC and Who Do You Think You Are, I have a  6-month U.S. Discovery membership to to award to one lucky winner.

Entry Requirements: For a chance to win you must do the following:

1. Share this blog post telling others about this contest. For example, you may share on a social media site such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+. You could provide a link to the blog post on your own blog, or share on a mailing list.

2. Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me where you shared this blog post and the news of the Olive Tree Genealogy Giveaway. 

3. Watch the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Julie Chen on Sunday March 8 at 10/9c.

4. Send an email to and tell me what archive or library Julie Chen visits first on her journey of discovery. 

Contest Rules:

1. No purchase necessary.
2. Winner will be chosen at random from correct entries received. See details above for entry requirements
3. One winner will be chosen to receive the giveaway .
4. You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
5. The winner will be notified via your provided contact information and the winner's name will be posted on Olive Tree Genealogy blog.
6. Entries will be accepted until  March 10 at midnight Eastern Time

Please note that only entries received at can be accepted.

Disclaimer: subscription for the Giveaway generously provided by and TLC

March 4, 2015

Women's History Month: Part 2 Winnebago Escape: Three Merry Widows Follow the Sun

Part 2 of Winnebago Escape: Three Merry Widows Follow the Sun (the story of my mother, aunt and Grandmother in 1974 as published in Driving Magazine)
They took just enough money to last them a month, the balance being held in trust by one  of the daughters to be mailed in given amounts monthly.  By doing it this way, they would be unable to overspend.  If they had no more money to buy gasoline for the Winnebago, then that’s where they’d stay  until the next month’s cheque arrived in the mail.  Naturally hey kept in close touch with the daughter informing her of their whereabouts at all times.  In truth, a perfectly logical plan of action.

Last summer was the height of the fuel crisis in the United States and here were these unsuspecting dears trundling across the border in a 20 foot Winnebago with a 413 cubic inch engine that sucks gas at the rate of l0 miles to the gallon of gas if you’re lucky. So what happened?  Nothing.  Only once were they restricted to a three dollar order which is ridiculous in a vehicle such as the Winnbago – it merely gets out of the gas station so you don’t block traffic.  Throughout their trip which lasted six months, three of which were spent in sunny California, the three widows never ran into a gasoline problem.

Joan McGinnis,  the youngster of the group who thinks hauling a Winnebago down the freeway is fun commented, “When I do the driving I expect someone else to navigate for me.  I like to see some of the scenery and if you drive more than 55 mph you don’t get a chance to see anything.”  As luck whould have it, that was the speed limit instituted during the crisis, so it wasn’t  as if they were holding up traffic.  Joan didn’t drive when it was windy, or when it rained, or on the weekends or when it go dark.  In other words they drove for a few hours at a leisurely pace Monday through Thursday leaving the highways  to the impatient  ones during the weekends.

It would appear that someone up there watched over them for they had no mechanical problems, no flat tires, no emergencies or problems whatsoever .  Oh, the odd time they  got  lost, but again that was no problem as they didn’t even care which road they took.  All they knew was that they were heading for California and the sunshine.

Part 2 of 3

March 3, 2015

Winnebago Escape:Three Merry Widows Follow the Sun Part 1

This is a copy of the interview with my mother, aunt and grandmother in Driving magazine in 1974. The interview was called Winnebago Escape: Three Merry Widows Follow the Sun

Because it is Women's History Month I wanted to share with my readers the story of these adventurous women in my life.  

It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Sell  your house and possessions buy a motor home and spend the rest of your days following the sun.  So many of us talk about it, but sadly never get beyond the dreams.But three people set their sights on such a goal and through determination and staying power, succeeded where most fail. 

Who are they? Three adventuresome widows.  And they’re not young either.  Their ages range from 58  to 82.  At this stage in life, all too many of us would probably be content to rock our hours away on the front stoop of our home. And in winter we’d probably spend the days complaining about our arthritis, afraid to walk to the local store for fear of slipping on an icy sidewalk.  In the meantime the merry widows of this article will be gallivanting around the southern parts of the United States, soaking up all the glorious sunshine.

Joan McGinnis, Lillian Bonar and Ruth Bates made their decision about two years ago.  All three had lost their husbands sometime earlier and thought hey had a steady monthly income, none were wealthy – not by a longshot.  Nevertheless through careful planning and tight budgeting they felt they could make a go of it in a mobile motor home.  Having sold their respective homes and disposed of their furniture,  the three purchased a 20 foot Winnebago and moved in.  Wisely they decided to live in the unit for a number  of months before venturing out onto  the highway.

Mother Drives, Lily Cooks
Anyone  contemplating a similar move would be wise to follow their example as it’s simply amazing how many things can go wrong at first.  Invariably these occur miles from the nearest help putting a damper on the  good times.  During their period of adjustment they modified a few  things in the Winnbago to suit their lifestyles, namely the closets, but for the most part found that few alterations had to be made either to the unit or to their way of life.

The day of their departure, they had made  no advance bookings, whatsoever, in fact they hadn’t even mapped out an agenda.  Why? Because they didn’t to be burdened by silly schedules.  When they became tired hey planned to stop.  If they saw a pretty place, they’d simply pull over  None of this crashing at breakneck speed simply to  comply with an arbitrary schedule.

Part 1 of 3

March 2, 2015

Women's History Month: Who's Your Heroine?

March is Women's History Month so let's talk about the heroines in our family trees. Do you have a female ancestor who inspires you or who achieved success in the face of hardships? Or perhaps one of your ancestors was the first female to do something quite amazing or unheard of in her time.

Women's History Month: Who's Your Heroine?
My Grandmother Ruth Simpson 1894-1985
I have several female ancestors whom I admire. One is my maternal grandmother. Ruth Simpson was born in 1894 in Kent, Ramsgate England. She was a pampered and somewhat sickly child who was called Dolly by her family because she looked like a little china doll. A timid woman, Grandma Ruth was not one to take risks or seek adventure. 

But at the age of 19 she left the comfort of her home, left her friends and family, to follow her fiance to Canada. Grandma was terrified of water so this was a very brave and large step for her to take. She was also used to being cared for and pampered but starting a new life in a new land required her to be strong. 

Soon after their marriage in Toronto Ontario in 1914, she and her husband moved to Guelph where they began family life. Grandma had two daughters in quick succession and settled down to be a homemaker. After her third daughter was born in 1923, Grandfather bought Grandma a small store so that she would not be bored. Grandma ran the tiny Tobacco Shop for several years then decided she wanted to have fewer headaches than being a female business owner in 1925 gave her. She applied for, and got, a job selling high-fashion women's dresses in a large department store. Sadly her husband (my grandfather) died when Grandma was only 45 years old. She had to survive on her own.

My mother, aunt and Grandmother in the 1970s
That terrified her but she did it. That's what I admire the most - that as frightened as she was, she drew a reserve of strength from somewhere and did what had to be done. It was WW2 and she soon met Sam R.,  married him and moved to Ajax where she got a job in the Munitions Factory in that town. 

When  Sam died some 10 years later, Grandma moved back to Guelph and got her old job back in the dress department. And yep, you guessed it - she met and married Fred B. She was 62 years old at the time of her third marriage. 

After Fred died Grandma moved in with her two eldest daughters. After a few years in an apartment they sold all their possessions and started traveling around N. America in a Winnebago. She and my mother and aunt were written up in two driving/touring magazines where they were featured as "The Merry Widows" who took a Mechanics Course and did their own repairs as well as driving all over N. America and into Mexico. 

My Grandmother Ruth is my heroine. Who is yours?

March 1, 2015

Nursing Sister Phillips WW1 Album 6V

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One.  

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain. 

Nursing Sister Phillips WW1 Album 6V

The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission. 

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page. 

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos" in the vertical menu bar on the right side of your screen. You can also click on that phrase at the bottom of this post.

February 28, 2015

Get Ready! Who Do You Think You Are Starts March 8

Get Ready! Who Do You Think You Are Starts March 8
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns this spring to give eight new celebrities a unique opportunity to dig into their roots and learn more about their family history. The two-time Emmy nominated series is Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky. New episodes begin Sunday, March 8 at 10/9c.

 TLC announces the additional featured contributors for the upcoming episodes:

* Melissa Etheridge, who heads to Quebec to trace the history of her paternal side, learns about the scandalous marriage of her 6x great-grandparents.

* America Ferrera, who brings the series to Honduras for the first time ever, learns about the father she barely knew, and unravels her great-grandfather’s role in the violent Central American political system.

* Tony Goldwyn, who is familiar with his prestigious paternal Hollywood lineage, but knows little about his mother’s side of the family. In his episode, he comes to learn about his 3x great-grandparents, who fought for women’s rights and westward expansion.

* Josh Groban, who discovers his 8x great-grandfather was a highly educated and renowned scientist that studied astronomy, and was quoted by Isaac Newton himself.

Previously announced celebrity contributors include Julie Chen, Angie Harmon, Bill Paxton and Sean Hayes. The episodic air order is currently scheduled as:

March 8           Julie Chen
March 15         Josh Groban
March 22         Angie Harmon
March 29         Sean Hayes
April 5             Tony Goldwyn
April 12            America Ferrera
April 19            Bill Paxton
April 26            Melissa Etheridge, the world’s largest online family history resource, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities, which is used to build out the story of each episode.

Take a look at a Sneak Peek

February 27, 2015

WooHoo! 19 Years and Counting for Olive Tree Genealogy Website!

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to Olive Tree Genealogy...... Happy 19th Birthday to me. 

Olive Tree Genealogy began sometime in the winter of 1995 but it wasn't until February 1996 that it was given space on the old Rootsweb site.

That site is still online at and it holds all the "extra" free databases and goodies that I don't have room for on Olive Tree Genealogy at

Eventually I purchased my own domain name "Olive Tree Genealogy" and set up another site as a companion to my "Ote" site.  

I am often asked why I created Olive Tree Genealogy. After my husband died in 1993 and I was injured at school by a student, my enforced inactivity and loneliness was pretty tough to take. A friend suggested I learn how to set up a website on this new phenonemon called "the internet". 

Many of the big sites we use today did not exist when I set up Olive Tree Genealogy. CyndisList came online right after me. Rootsweb started up around the same time. didn't exist. Hard to imagine, isn't it?  Olive Tree Genealogy is a senior in Internet days. Back then the few genealogy sites online were, as all sites were, battleship grey with no fancy bells and whistles like search engines!

I started with one ships passenger list and some historical articles I wrote about Huguenots, Walloons, Loyalists and Palatines. That  ship's list was so popular and I received so many requests for more that I began hunting for others. Now Olive Tree Genealogy has over 1,500 ships lists online. And they're all free.

What am I up to now? Well I'm busy with writing my books and maintaining my blogs and websites as well as my personal genealogy research of course. Here's a list of my main blogs and websites.


Olive Tree Genealogy
Ask Olive Tree
Ancestors At Rest
Past Voices: Letters Home
The Paper Trail
Antique Hunter
Ollie's Yummy in Your Tummy
 Olive Tree Genealogy
Naturalization Records
Ancestors At Rest
All Census Records
The Genealogy Spot
Olive Tree Extras
Past Voices
The Great War
Canadian Military Heritage Project

Writing genealogy and history books also keeps me pretty busy!  You can read a bit more about me if you are interested, or see some of the early versions of Olive Tree Genealogy at

February 26, 2015

Rare Inscribed Roman Tombstone with Skeleton Found

Rare Inscribed Roman Tombstone with Skeleton Found
I find these stories fascinating and love to share them with my readers. An ancient and rare Roman tombstone with a skeleton under it has been found in a Roman cemetery in Cirencester

The carved tombstone reads  D.M. BODICACIA CONIUNX VIXIT ANNO S XXVII which translates to read In memory of Bodicia. Wife. Lived 27 years

Cotswold archaeologists believe that the skull found under the stone is that of Bodica.

Continue reading, and see the photographs at  'Incredibly rare' Roman tombstone found complete with human remains of a woman named 'Bodica'

Credits: Image from
In memory of Bodicia. Wife. Lived 27 years