Hi There!

The Older I get the More and MORE Stuff there is in my life … more stuff to store, more stuff to clean, more stuff to remember … you get the idea…. More and MORE Stuff.

I’m hoping to sort through some of my stuff; get rid of some stuff; repurpose some stuff and maybe even be obsessive enough to catalogue some stuff…


  • First … in case I can’t remember some stuff, there will be the possibility of there being a record somewhere about it
  • Because it will help me figure out what stuff I have (some seems to be missing??) and don’t have but would like to have… and
  • For sure I’d like to get rid of some stuff – downsize is a big catchword for those in our senior years!
  • And it will hopefully help me clarify just what stuff is important to me (that seems to change depending on where you are in life) and what stuff isn’t.

I’ve never been good at doing anything Every Day … so I don’t know how often I’ll get around to writing new blog entries. First job is to figure out how to use WordPress… make a few entries and baseline each page and launch the site. Then we’ll see if I can establish a rhythm.

The point! you ask… well, as I mentioned, getting rid of some Stuff …. We’ll see if this project can help me do some of that (hahaha! who’s laughing?) AND, more importantly, perhaps, to share memory tricks and ways to remember and ways to stimulate our memories … Because for me, my most important stuff has memories attached to them; memories I don’t want to lose.

  • For instance, within my vision, there is my mother’s pink elephant, and a host of other personal belongings that have “stories” attached to them;
  • My dad’s ashes are in front of me too… and beside me, boxes and boxes of stuff relating to his care for the past decade: stuff to purge; stuff to sort… lots and lots of stuff … some to keep to remember … to include in the family history binders;
  • Then there are my many collections of stuff… china springer spaniels, garden books, craft supplies are a few examples… obsessive collector? Yup. Maybe we can talk about ways to deal with that issue!
  • Mostly, I hope to help you deal with Your Stuff by dealing with some of My Stuff!

Let’s see where this all goes … will I have less Stuff or more Stuff next year this time? What will we have talked about?

If you are past 50; likely you are well aware of how much stuff accumulates…

Some of it you never want to part with and some you wish you had never owned but just how to get rid of it? Yard sales… what a lot of work! Hmmm. I’ve recently given all my father’s clothes to the Canadian Diabetes Textile Recycling bin… I kept his hat… the special one – it’s on the urn!

Carrier Law

I just love this picturesque description of my Great Great Grandfather James Law who was born in Insch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1811:[1]

… it might with truth be said that no stronger or more robust, more firmly-knit, or finely-built man walked its streets. He stood 5 feet 10 inches in height, straight as an arrow, with large, massive brow, broad and high, above which the auburn hair bristled like a hedge-hog in full defensive panoply—hair it was which by no process of combing would lie flat, and usually disdained any covering.

His auburn hair “bristled like a hedge-hog in full defensive panoply”! Imagine his eyebrows! My own are starting to get “Scottish” now that I’m older. No one is auburn-haired in the family that I know of so we must have lost that along the way, down the generations.

It’s not often you find a such a vivid description of an ancestor. A photocopy of the first half of one chapter from “A Village Propaganda” published in 1889 has been in our family archives as long as I can remember. I never read it that closely before. I can’t source the book anywhere. It seems to have been lost to time. I feel blessed to have this wee bit of it to cherish and pass down.

James Law came to Canada with his wife, Helen Massie, and their six children and his sister Margaret Beattie. Two of those six children married sisters, the daughters of Samuel Burnett and Margaret Gerrie. James and Helen and three of their children are buried at Winterbourne Presbyterian Cemetery in Winterbourne, Ontario. Samuel Burnett and Margaret Gerrie are buried there too. Their gravestones are old and some are broken or knocked akimbo. It’s a graveyard I’d like to visit, wander through.

I’ve learned so much about my family since I got interested in genealogy. The things my parents never told me is now a much more extensive list than before. They knew some of the secrets, but not all. They didn’t know where James and Helen were buried. Not a secret, just a fact lost to time. Lots of those.

It’s all about the babies. They come when they come. Not when you are ready for them. Same then as now.

[1] From: Chapter X: The Rhynie Class and Its Alumni, “A Village Propaganda” by David Douglas, published Edinburgh, 1889.


Do you have major accomplishments you are proud of? …. most of mine will not be remembered by anyone other than myself…

Doing family history research I have found that it is rare to find information beyond what is provided in archived records like census and bmd data. Rare… but when it does happen… so very rewarding. The person is brought to life. Made real! Your imagination is captured.

I’ve discovered such “stories” a few times now. Found ancestors I would love to meet … to sit and talk, to learn more.

William Dutaillis, his daughter Mary Ann, her son William Hodge… greatx3 grandfather, greatx2 grandmother and great uncle… to name a few.

Their stories are outlined by the bits and pieces … the “facts” … births, deaths, marriages, where, when, who, found in the records… These facts when put in order give shape to their life. And can tell a very intriguing tale. But it is the extra ordinary detail that really gets the imagination going.

For instance, William Dutaillis: one of many interesting details about this man, a newsclipping, naming him the father of the murdered babe… finding that sent me reeling! And into high gear researching details.

Mary Ann … photos of her gravesite in Ramsgate, Kent shared with her husband George William Hodge, brought her vividly to life. The center of a family story no one ever really understood until the records revealed details. She went to Australia with three of her adult children, returning to England to live out her days.

And Great Uncle William Hodge. A pianoforte maker turned mariner, turned publican… Three careers, two wives, two sons.

I wonder what our descendants will find about us that piques their interest and makes them wonder…

Great Uncle William was
Chief Steward of the SS La Marguerite

Mary Ann Burnett

My paternal great grandmother was born on this day in 1848 in Waterloo, in what is now Ontario … She was a twin, and one of ten children born to Samuel Burnett and Margaret Gerrie.

She married Robert Law in April of 1873. They had nine children. Their son Alexander Hamilton Law was my grandfather.

Mary’s sister Elizabeth married Robert’s brother William on New Years Day in 1878.

Mary died in 1913 at the age of 64. I turn 64 this year.

Happy birthday to you Great Gramma!

Thorny Questions

I’ve been so busy trying to find answers, I don’t seem to have time for much else. And, I never seem to catch up… there is always a new question to answer.

My family tree now has more than 2,000 people in it, and often when Ancestry sends me hints I no longer know who the heck they are talking about.

I focus on one or two particular “thorny questions” and move on to the next one when I can’t find a satisfactory answer. Or, after I’ve found that elusive record that explains it all…

What’s your thorny question?

Lately, mine involve Aberdeenshire, Scotland… My father’s father’s side of the family came to Canada from Rhynie in 1855, setting sail on the “St. Lawrence” in Aberdeen with high hopes for a better future in the New World.

James Law and Helen Massie, my great great grandparents, and their 6 children ended up on a farm near Winterbourne, Ontario… and from there, two of their sons continued the family’s migration. One to Moose Jaw, and it seems, the other south to Chicago in the USA. And, a grandson, my grandpa, came to Winnipeg.

James Law and his family arrived before Canada became a country. I am fifth generation Canadian according to my sisters, as James and Helen were naturalized Canadians. Third generation in my thoughts, as I am the third generation born on Canadian soil…

James Law was a common name back then, just like it is today, and finding out more about his parents and grandparents is challenging. Figuring out the fate of his eldest boy, also named James Law, has also been difficult. I am still hoping for a DNA match to confirm my theories for sure.

The two boys who went west in Canada – their story is a family favorite. It starts with …”Two brothers married two sisters… Robert Law married Mary Ann, and William Law married Elizabeth Burnett” … and goes from there.

What’s your family’s favorite story?


I succumbed to the allure of DNA testing. I admit, curiosity is one of my failings. Or strengths, depending on your point of view.

I wanted to know if there was any French in my veins. I also wanted to see if I could find any new information on a few tricksy people in my family tree.

It took me a month or so to spit into the tube and mail it in. Procrastinating is another of my faults. Then came the waiting… it was at least a couple months until the results were finally in.

I was amazed at the amount of new information about my family and at the number of “matches” … people who have taken the test who are my “relatives” …

None of my thorny questions were answered except for the biggest one.

There was absolutely no sign of any French ancestry. None at all.

Not one of my matches were on Auguste’s or Victor’s scions on the tree. In fact there was no sign of a single French relation. And my ethnicity breakdown contained zero French. France did not even get a single percentage point.

The results did catch all of my known ethnic heritage.

Scottish, for sure. My dad’s grandfather’s family came to Canada in 1855. The area they came from in Scotland as well as where they settled here were both identified.

It caught my maternal grandmother’s Germanic lineage, she came from Russia with her parents in 1906.

And, as expected, English. My mother’s father came ftom England in 1913. Then went back to fight in WW1, returning to Canada to stay in 1919.

My paternal grandmother, the descendant of William Dutaillis, came to Canada from England in 1903 with her parents.

The results have been very informative … but I’m kinda sad about the French …

So, it appears William Dutaillis, born 1797 Edinburgh, was most likely a Scot. My DNA results support that theory… as well as my conclusion that he was most likely adopted. I am still thinking by Victor not Auguste.

Whichever one it was. That individual changed William’s life and my family’s destiny, and I am grateful for their influence.

Mary Pauline Dutaillis

Born 1797 Paris per all her records… not her birthname I’m thinking…

Adopted by Auguste Dutaillis is my theory… remember him. I know so much more now than I knew back then.

One record is all it takes to change the story… and an interesting story it is. Full of heart break and true love…

The Emigres that touched my family’s past.

Would love to go back in time and have tea… have a wee chat. I have so many questions…

Mary Pauline marries William Waters Ireland in Edinburgh in April of 1816. I’ve known that for a year, but today I finally sprung for the record… downloaded it from Scotland’s People… and I am stunned. This record adds another layer to the story … a very interesting story indeed

Auguste, her father, was on at least his third occupation since he arrived in Edinburgh… the marriage record states he was a French Teacher…

The groom’s occupation was “comedian” .. We see that in later records for him … baptisms in Liverpool for their kids…

But even though these are interesting facts they are not the Most interesting thing about the record.

Her residence was given as …. the palace of Holyrood House….

Now that is interesting!

Shipwrights Arms

Pre 1890 Shipwrights Arms is the building behind the horse. Photo from the Kent Pub Wiki:
Originally provided by Bob Lee to that website. No other source given. ONLY photo I can find ANYWHERE.

Remember Mary Ann? She and her husband George William Hodge ran the above tavern for just over two decades in Ramsgate, Kent, England from 1850 when it opened to 1871, the year George died.

The previous Shipwrights Arms in Ramsgate had been run by the Harlow family. It seems to have closed its doors in 1849. The brewer, and owner of most of these pubs, would have been responsible for the transition to the new location, which was across from the Customs House on Harbour Place. The street was widened in the 1890s, and renamed Harbour Parade. The buildings in the photo were all torn down and replaced. The new Shipwrights Arms kept its street address but was shifted over to the corner make room for the new Customs House. The Queens Head, which you can see in the picture, kept its location and its address, but the building was also replaced. The new Customs House was in between the two taverns.

This was George’s second career. He was the son of pianoforte maker named William Hodge. William was originally from Knowstone, Devon, and had come to London sometime before 1814 to work as a carpenter. He married Sarah Walker in 1815 and they had four children, one of whom died in infancy. It seems William worked for over 40 years on pianofortes … he died in 1862. His daughter Sarah married James Moutrie, another pianoforte maker, and his sons William and George both learned the trade at an early age. The whole family was involved in the developing pianoforte industry in St. Pancras, London, England.

George worked in the piano trade in St. Pancras up until a few years after his marriage to Mary Ann. He was almost 30 when he switched gears to publican. They had ten children together. The first three were born in London, but the rest were all born in Ramsgate. Lots of children, meant lots of help with the work, but only once they were old enough to be useful. It sounds like a busy twenty years. The youngest, Fred, was seven when George died.

After George’s death, Mary Ann left Ramsgate and started a lodging house in nearby St. Peter’s. She does that for a decade or so, and then, with three of her then adult children, she embarks on the Lusitania for Tasmania (1884).

I so admire this woman. She was 60, and was going to immigrate to Tasmania? Fred, her youngest and a bachelor, and her two youngest daughters, Emma and Florence, and their husbands and children, all went together. A total of twenty family members are shown on the passenger list: six adults and fourteen children. One of Emma and Tom’s babies didn’t make it and was buried at sea.

Mary Ann returned to England at some point. We can’t find her return trip home. It looks like she waited until her kids were settled before she left, but we can’t be sure. We know she was “home” by the time she was 75. She spent the last chapter of her life living with her eldest daughter, Sarah Mary Ann, in Margate, Kent, up until her death in 1912 at 89 years of age.

A full life by anyone’s standards.

I descend from Mary Ann and George’s second youngest child: Charles Samuel Hodge. He died before I was born, but Eliza, his wife and my great grandmother didn’t. I was blessed with hearing stories about Mary Ann when I was a child. Eliza had worked for her, as her “lady’s maid” we were told. That’s how she had met Charles! Eliza lived a very long life. She died two weeks before her 107th birthday in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. But that’s another story!

Technical Difficulties

Sometimes it seems the technology that is supposed to make our lives easier makes life harder instead. It seems that way MOST DAYS for me lately.

Operator error a factor I am sure.

Tried out One Drive and document sharing . Do not go there! Not unless you and your co-conspirators know what they are doing. My document ended up corrupted.

And, so it would not PDF.

A week and a half thinking it was my Acrobat Pro at fault. WASTED time.

And of course suckered into a purchase of the NEW now monthly subscription so I can finish my project.

The document Still would not pdf. Another few days rebuilding it … and “Uncorrupting” it.

Then a paper jam ends up killing the printer. So, no luck printing a hard copy.

Are you feeling my pain! LOL. I remember when I would just take that all in stride….

Now I need a few days away from the computer just so I don’t throw things.