Heirlines
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Prince Albert Branch
Saskatchewan Genealogical Society

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In this archive May~Jun~Jul~Aug 2003
Volume 20 Number 2 of 3
January 2003 Meeting
Dealing with Eccentric Relatives Concerning Genealogy
Eccentric Uncle Epilogue
Canadian Genealogy Centre?
March Meeting
Family Circle

Current issue

January 2003 Meeting

The advantages of the Internet continue to multiply. A reference to a Robert Dalziel on a Dalziel grave marker in the online Heirlines (Sep-Dec 2000) has lead to an interesting correspondence between the member who provided the inscription and an Ontario researcher. The researcher found a detailed obituary on "Robert Dalziel their youngest son who died in New Westminster, British Columbia, 17th July 1872, age 46 years." The obituary gave tremendous detail on the deceased’s life. Robert Dalziel worked in the mines in California before his move to B.C. He had a small farm and a lot in Vancouver. He was a perfect gentleman and dropped dead suddenly with no will. There were further details on the estate auction including the amount of money paid for the lot in Vancouver.

A mutual acquaintance of more than one member has inquired about genealogy. When one member mentioned a recent query the other member stated, "I already told him what to do!" That is, start with yourself; get to living relatives and local history books.

A Swedish cousin wrote that a member’s mother’s younger sister died before Christmas. The aunt was 98 years old. The member appreciates that even though his cousin’s first language is not English, they are able correspond.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you always write on the back of photos. Your descendents will love you for it. Unfortunately for a member, a precious trunk of family photos received has photos without identification. After time spent trying to identify the photos, the member has set the frustrating project aside as the people all started to look alike. She is shifting her energy to indexing obituaries.

There are many advantages to letting people know that you are interested in family history. A cousin sent newspaper clippings and photos to a member. The family related clippings and photos had been collected by the member’s aunt and one of the photos is a "new" one of the member’s father at age 15 months with his sister and brother.

In the process of a computer upgrade, a member is diligently importing the good parts of the old genealogical file into a fresh file. She also appreciates access to a fascinating book on Lunenburg written by a relative and an 87-year-old great-great aunt in Massachusetts who industriously types wonderful family information on a manual typewriter.

A guest is researching her grandmother from Cardiff, Wales. She has her five brothers and sisters pretty much complete but was wondering about how to access the North Bay census. Members mentioned the online version or ordering in to the library. The library order may be slow though but the library does have a printer. Another plan would be to order the reel at both the Family History Center and then the library if it proved worthwhile.

An industrious member has indexed and preserved over 200 funeral cards and generously offered members the duplicates. She has found a home for her 260 duplicate copies from her collection of the Western People Magazine with the Mennonite Archives in Saskatoon. The archives offered to pay but she is happy to donate. She is also working on an impressive photo journal for her brother’s 65th birthday and is looking for information on one of his teachers William Kornelsen. Member has also contributed photos of relatives to Legion for their wall of fame.


The family tree chart is a standard format for displaying data but one member has an ancestor family circle showing 8 generations. While he was working as a librarian, a client described an "easy way" to him of displaying. Our member drafted the circle and gave a copy to include in this issue. Also mentioned was the reoccurring difficulty of surnames and variations.

"How do you inspire relatives to write their own biographies?" was the question put forth by one member. It is the story "The Little Red Hen"—everyone wants to eat the bread but few are willing to put the work in. Relatives are keen to get the book but some have yet to grind the flour.
A funeral home in Portage La Prairie literally opened the vault for one member’s research. It was a rich experience that produced a lot of information and photocopying was "no charge". Also, Portage appears to be history oriented. It has a Wall of Honor in the army barracks there and has video tapes of service people.

Another member mentioned the value of obituary or funeral cards. One from his mom’s collection of Mrs. Head was much appreciated by her daughter-in-law.

Was Uncle Nick married twice? No, there were two men with the same name in the same area. Also, forgotten placement on High School Honor Roll was shown to a relative and perhaps gave a boost to self-esteem. That is the value of doing genealogy. It gives you a sense of where you are coming from and it is up to you to make the map to get you where you want to go.

Palidwar or Palidwor is not a common name and even though the link is missing, a member is convinced that they are related.

A new granddaughter has been added to the family tree. Also, a father’s brother, trained in the ministry in Scotland came to Canada to Tisdale around 1937. Why Tisdale? The member hopes that there were other relatives there.

A fall trip to Scotland was rewarding, especially the Aberdeen Family History Center. Member wishes that he had spent more time there. Also, on his trip to Salt Lake City his was impressed with there card system for printing-- just remember to take your card out of the machine when done. He was also hoping someone could tell him if an investment in a death certificate for his grandfather would definitely give him more details than the Ontario microfilm.

A poem written for her Mom’s 80th birthday, has lead to a poetic family history. A colourful cast of characters in the family-- bootleggers, moonshiners, ministers, and prostitutes, as well as a fiddle and a photo album are being captured in poetry.

 

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Dealing with Eccentric Relatives Concerning Genealogy
By Vickie La Rose

I have been doing genealogy since 1979. I knew very little about my family and was curious to know everything about them. All of my four grandparents were born in the Western Ukraine or Galicia. They all immigrated to Canada in the early 1900's, met and married in Canada; hence I am a second generation born Canadian. What are my roots, why do we celebrate certain customs, why do they have certain values, why didn’t they do certain things to make life easier, where did we get athsma? I had a thousand other questions so that I would know where I come from and who I am. I’m also doing this for my children and future generations. My children don’t know their relatives well, as we moved to Saskatchewan in 1959.


I’ll speak about my mother’s family. My grandfather died when I was 11 at the age of 63, and I remember very little of him. I loved my grandmother dearly. She was my Boba and we had a close relationship. I have many wonderful memories of her. These grandparents faired very well in their adopted country. They had 8 children, 5 living. My grandfather’s first job was at Segal’s bakery in Winnipeg where he got 4 years of apprenticeship. He moved his young family to Portage la Prairie and bought 12 lots of land. He added on to the house and ran his own bakeshop with my Boba’s assistance. She also took in boarders in order to retire the debt. When he got a license for the bakery, they suggested a name change from Berezka to Beraskin. He had Beraskin Bakery painted on his metal horse pulled bread wagon and delivered his bread three loaves for .25 cents. He shipped bread on the train to Oakville, Burnside and Bagot; 24 loaves for $1.00. The bakeshop burned down around 1914. Then my grandfather ran a dairy business and later a dray business, then rented a farm on the city’s edge, and later bought a farm at Edwin. This bakery wagon sat on the Beraskin property until it collapsed in 1999.


Their youngest son George, the eccentric uncle, eventually inherited the farm, the house, and two lots. He never married and he never left home other than to do some traveling. He worked sparodically but he didn’t ask anything of anyone and refused all offers of remodeling and modernizing the house that was built around 1918. When he was young the family thought he was spoiled and selfish, and as he got older he became more eccentric by withdrawing and hoarding, with some paranoia and depression.

As I became more involved in genealogy I requested old photos that I remembered, documents, etc. He did return the photos I gave my grandmother, and he did let me see some of the photos, but I could not have them, even for reprint. In the meantime, the yard and house became so cluttered that the city sent him a letter informing him he had to clean up and setting a time limit. Ten years later he still hadn’t gotten around to it and the yard became even worse and the house needing more repairs. He had no central heat, no cook stove, no power, no running water, and when the roof began to leak he was forced to move into a one room suite in the Rotary Seniors Complex. The neighbours began complaining, so again he got a notice, with an inspector coming to call later. The place had been vacant for 3 years and it devalued property values in the area. It was also a fire and rodent hazzard. My uncle developed osteoporosis and his vertebrae collapsed so became confined to a wheelchair in 2002. The city sent him a letter, giving him one week notice, and they were sending in a bulldozer.

In all those years of requesting photos, documents, I was denied. When I requested information he was hesitant about giving it. He is the last surviving member of my mother’s family, and there was no one else to ask. I interviewed every neighbour and friend of the Beraskin family and tried to verify it with him. He was somewhat helpful, but begrudged giving me the information. But I needed documents, and many of them were in the old house. I could not find the records at the newspaper office, archives, or city records. Information without a source of proof is only a myth and not history. Each time I visited my family in Portage I would seek out my uncle, invite him for meals to my father’s house, and offer to take him out for coffee. On each visit I would offer to clean out his house under his supervision hoping to come across the documents I needed. No one was allowed in the house, not even a visiting cousin from Ontario that had never met her grandmother or been in her house. The requests were refused. Finally he offered to sell the family an article or two at horrific prices.


A nephew went to see my uncle and he and his wife offered to clean out the house before the bulldozer came in. He consented because he had no choice. He was hospitalized.

There was so much garbage in the house, that there were only tunnels to walk through. My son and daughter-in-law by coincidence during the same week went to visit relatives there. My daughter-in-law also offered to help. She offered to buy things from my uncle but he declined stating he probably could get more at an auction. However he did send with Glenda a large framed oval picture of my grandfather, and his Bible, saying "Vickie probably wants these." They hauled truck loads to the garbage dump at Poplar Point. My daughter-in-law salvaged from the garbage truck for me my Boba’s first battery radio, and a box of negatives. Under these negatives were mortgage papers, foreclosure notices, and sewing machine payments. It was only then, that I understood why my Boba refused to let my grandfather buy the 450 acres they rented near the city. They were under constant threat of foreclosure and she didn’t want to take on any more debts. These were the only documents rescued, but they gave me some insight.

A few weeks later my grandmother’s furniture, and momentos were being auctioned. Some of the family attended the auction, and again by coincidence my daughter went to visit the family. I had an accident in July and had booked a cruise in August long before this all transpired so was not able to be there. My daughter bid on the sewing machine, ice cream maker, baker’s table, the flour bin, a roaster, and oil can for me and my brother bought a metal dray license which told me the year my grandfather went into the dray business. The trunk with the round lid that Boba brought from the Ukraine went for nearly $300 to an antique dealer.

Most of the family heirlooms went to strangers, the documents are lost forever, and the house which was my birth place was bulldozed down while I was in B.C. My brother took a video of the demolition for me, and I could see the bakery wagon being crumpled and hauled out to the dump. Many years ago I suggested to my uncle that it should be in the museum and that I would attach a history to it. Portage has a village museum, one of the best in Canada. How many bread wagons have you seen in a museum?

In hindsight I don’t see anything else that I could have done. Two or three years ago I reminded my uncle that he had no right to the heirlooms because he did not inherit them in the Will. They were his to use, and I suggested he pass them on to the family. I don’t think my nephew could have done anything different either. They have 3 young children and both have jobs. They were racing against time in the evenings and to them everything was garbage. An extension from the city was granted by at least 12 years and they were not prepared to extend any more time when asked. Yes, everyone knew that I had approached the uncle several times. It is a daily topic of conversation in our family as well as our concern for his well being. Yes, municipalities should consider family historians in such situations.

I have one hope left. His one room suite is as cluttered as his house was. Maybe, just maybe, there lie some of the documents I am searching for. He is 81 and in poor health.

 

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Eccentric Uncle Epilogue
By Vickie La Rose

On February 3, 2003, the landlady came to collect the rent and found my uncle dead in his wheel chair, ready to enter the common area. He had probably been dead since February 1. This is the eccentric uncle, the last surviving member of my mother's family.

I learned this late Monday evening, packed our bags at 10.30 p.m, and were off to Portage La Prairie early next morning. We arrived to find my 3 brothers and sister sorting through Uncle George's effects looking for a Will. They had been there all day. They are aware of my need for documents and pictures, so had been setting them aside for me. Uncle George lived in a one room apartment he would never let any one into. Now he had 7 people going through his possessions that were stacked in boxes, filing cabinets, and closets. He never discarded a thing in his life. We found old grocery receipts, hospital menus, old serviettes, every flier and advertisement that came in the mail, etc. which included cigarette boxes to be used for notes. He had tons of envelopes, stamps, writing paper and over 200 pens, but he never wrote a letter.

At the end of 2 long days we were finished. Fifteen large bags of garbage were accumulated, the auctioneer came for a truck load of tools and furnishings, and I took a trunk load of old letters, documents, clippings, and pictures. A pack rat is hard to live with, but he makes a fine ancestor. I have birth certificates, receipts dating back to early 1900's, old photos dating back to 1903, and
many letters dating back to the 1970's. Unfortunately I did not find the bakery records, the draying business records, so presume these went out to the garbage when the house was bulldozed down. I find that the city wrote their first letter to Uncle George in October of 1970 telling him that he had to have the sewer connected.

Uncle George was our favorite uncle when we were children. We had so many fun times with him, and fondly remember the treats he brought us, the long discussions in later years, he gave the toast at my sister's wedding, and he was there if we needed him. He grew old and grouchy, eccentric, paranoid and depressed isolating himself from the family. He chose not to marry, but did have girlfriends, so we felt responsible for him. We cared for him as much as he would allow us to. I'm glad I went in October and January, visited him in hospital, took him food, took him out for coffee, and to Dad's for supper. He readily accepted my hugs even though he told my sister I was a troublemaker. He felt I had no business asking nosey questions about the family. I mourn the loss of yet another relative, but feel his death is a blessing. He will suffer no more pain, loneliness, anger or anguish. We will return in June for a family graveside service. He requested no funeral service or obituary in previous conversations, so we had him cremated. God rest his soul, and may he rest in peace.

 

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Canadian Genealogy Centre?

An article titled "Federal government considering Internet geneology research site" appeared in the Portage La Praire paper on January 6, 2003. The National Archives is moving towards "the creation of the Canadian Genealogy Centre, a virtual centre that will offer services, advice and research tools for genealogists and the Canadian public." If you learn more about this centre, please pass your information on to Heirlines.

 

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March Meeting

Pressing family matters prevented our speaker on United Empire Loyalists from attending. Louise stepped in with a copy of links on Loyalists from Cyndi’s List. Also, there are Loyalist societies across Canada with useful resources for genealogists. As the Loyalists came into Canada they were given 200 acres and the land petitions provide a wealth of data.

To celebrate Saskatchewan’s 100th anniversary in 2005, a member suggested planting a "family" tree on the river bank. The idea was well received.

The tables were turned when a Scottish citizen, surname Ogley, visited Canada to research his Metis roots. He had with him beadwork, a quill belt and pipes that his grandmother used to smoke. The member who visited with him will pass on a letter to the editor of the Prince Albert Daily Herald and another volunteered to check in the Anglican Diocese.

Did you know about the 1940 registry? It was part of the war effort and all Canadian men and women registered their skills. Some members remember doing this and one has his card. Information in this registry becomes available after the registrant has been dead more than twenty years.

 

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Family Circle

A member heard of a family circle chart and has developed his own.


For those of us who are not engineers, Genealogy Printers offers a family circle chart at
http://www.genealogyprinters.com/catalog/ look for "blank charts"or http://www.genealogyprinters.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=29.

It is described as:
11 Generation Circle Chart
Our true 11 Generation Circle Chart. An amazing chart designed by us which allows entry for a massive 1535 Ancestors. You will not find it's equal anywhere.
Available in Red, Blue, Green & Black colour print - please choose your preferred colour using the option below. (actual size 28" x 28")

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created Jan 2001 modified Sep 2003