William Dutaillis

Auguste’s son… remember Auguste!

I still dont know exactly where Auguste was born or where he died or who his parents were but I do know quite a bit about his 9 children …

William is the eldest boy. I actually suspect he was adopted but cant prove it …. yet… He is my ancestor.

He was a cook: Cook to Lord Ducie. He was promoted during his employment to “House Steward to the Earl of Ducie”. He lived at both Tortworth Manor in a wee house on the extensive grounds and on Seamore Place in London at #2, beside the house the Rothschilds eventually bought.

He and his wife Martha raised three children: the eldest, a girl named Harriet; the middle child a son named Henry; and the youngest, Mary Ann, my ancestor. Whom you’ve also met.

William and Martha retired to Ramsgate, Kent where their daughter Mary Ann and her husband George Hodge ran the Shipwright’s Arms. It sounds like a lovely place to retire: the coast of Kent.

My own retirement in process… an interesting life stage. I hope things turn out as well for me.

Mothers Day

It’s over.

Thank you sweetie!

For some people Christmas is the hard holiday. For me it’s always been Mother’s Day.

I am pleased to say my birth daughter, my only child, found me … and that the hurt is healing. But I feel it is unlikely that the scar will ever go away. I am one of those girls who left the hospital with empty arms.

My own mother … she passed 11 years ago: on May 3. Her birthday was just before that: April 20. So Mother’s Day is the third remembering. Each year since her passing my ability to see the woman she was… to see her life as a whole … improves. I can remember her NOT sick. But instead, healthy and vibrant. Alzheimers steals the person. Not just from themselves but from the family too.

The last decade of her life she wasn’t sure who I was… she would look at me … and her eyes would shine.

My dad’s journey was different… I will celebrate him next month. First comes the first anniversary of his death. He knew me 98 percent of the time to the end. The last 6 weeks we were kept apart by Covid 19… he didnt die from it. He died because of it …

From being isolated. From not having the extra support provided by myself and by my loyal and caring staff. Yes. I hired additional support for him in the nursing home. Some of us need more than the system provides. He was one of those…

Six weeks … that’s how long it took for him to fade away … to let himself “sleep the big sleep” and join my mother.

Which brings us back to Mother’s Day.

Great big HAPPY to all you mom’s … without you, we wouldn’t be here!

My mother’s Pink elephant!

Mystery Man

I’ve come a long way in my search for answers about Monsieur Pierre Auguste Dutaillis… my greatx4 grandfather…. but so much of his life is still a mystery!

One BIG mystery solved…. he did not marry Janet after all … and was free to marry Isabella

Just this week I finally found the explanation to that particular mystery about him …. in the record book of Scottish marriages from 1751 to 1800 for Edinburgh parish. What a bonus! His occupation is also listed, giving me hope that I can find more information about his early life in France.

There are so many variations of his surname in the records I do have, and his birth year is not given in a single one! We can guess …. if Isabella was born in 1774 … he is likely older than her …. but that’s about it! With a birth year ranging from 1760 to 1774, and the various spellings of Dutaillis … Du’Taille and Dutailly… DeTaille… Dutailles … to name a few, it is still overwhelming. But there is hope.

In pursuit of information on his origins I joined another genealogy web site: one that is French called geneanet.org. This has been very helpful going forward in his younger children’s lives but so far no answers about him. Just more questions.

Four children went with him and Isabella to France in approximately 1817. There is no record of him after they arrive but Isabella’s death record confirms the family did move “home” as do records of marriages and births and deaths for the children.

Who is he??? Why cant I find him?

April Fool

My sister got engaged on April Fool’s Day… 50 yrs ago. Yup, she is still married to the same guy…

Seems a crazy day to get engaged! They wanted to marry by the end of May. Gran asked the obvious question. No they were not expecting.

Mom ran upstairs and fished an engagement present out of her closet: a full set of Revereware pots. She was prepared!

I have those pots now. Plus my mothers. Mine. And my mother in laws. Lots of pots.

Lots of stuff! I have two kitchens … we have a cottage … and I have lost a few pieces along the way… so it’s not as bad as it sounds… but, believe me I do not need any more pots!

They are starting to look old. Just like me.

Family Trees

I have all these scraps of paper with diagrams on them, arrows and margin notes. Trying to prove connections between people born before 1800 with the present. Amazing puzzle… leading to all sorts of theories. Progress has been made.

Great great gran who you met last post had a sister we never knew about. Her father, had a whole family totally unknown to us before my investigations. All knowledge we did have was hearsay … family legend; I’m sure much embellished over the years.

Now, I can say with certainty that my great grandfather four times removed was likely French, perhaps from Belgium, and he arrived in Scotland during or before 1793, running away from the turmoil in his homeland. He married. Then married again four months later. No record of a divorce or annulment? That’s the first mystery…

There are lots of mysteries in his story! I am still trying to untangle the truth from what facts I can find about him.

I only have records for this man’s life from 1793 – that first marriage in Scotland – to 1814 – a birth record for his youngest and whom I now consider his 9th child with the second wife – then he disappears again. I can follow his children’s lives to a certain extent. One died in his first year of life confirmed by a burial record; another 2 also seem to have died as infants. There are no records beyond their baptism for them. That left 6 children whose lives to follow: one of them my ancestor; and one of them possibly his twin sister.

At first I wasn’t sure he was really part of this “new” family… I had no birth record for him. Only where he was born and the year. The same for his twin. No birth record. We first see her at her marriage in 1816. That record was how I linked her to the rest of the family. Later I found another record confirming their relationships. She is a witness at her little sister’s marriage in 1838.

Finally I found “proof” that my ancestor was part of this family too: a census record that had my great great grandmother Mary Ann, his daughter, as witness at his “twin” sister’s daughter’s wedding. I also found a census record with Mary Ann living with Harriet …. the daughter we had never heard about before – her big sister! …. before she left for Australia. It was true! William had a mysterious father and yes, maybe he was a twin! Siblings though, we had never heard he had more siblings than the twin.

He was supposed to be born illegitimate too. The first marriage not being annulled may have given rise to this part of the story. It’s also possible his father had another wife before these two! Who was this man? Where did he come from? Well, I still don’t know the answers to those questions or when or where he died … and so the search goes on!

The chaos in France and Belgium during the time period that my ancestor left France or Belgium is making my search very challenging. I am having to brush up on my history, and my poor French…

Wish me luck!

Great Great Gran

Mary Ann Dutaillis
Great Great Grandmother
Mary Ann Hodge nee Dutaillis

I’ve become an obsessed amateur sleuth / family tree builder… thanks to cousin Jerry!

The above photo is my father’s mother’s father’s mother: my great great grandmother Mary Ann Hodge nee Dutaillis. She had an amazing life.

Having just finished my search for my long missing great uncle, I’ve plunged into another family mystery. Was Mary Ann’s Dutaillis’ grandfather really a count? The story goes a very important French gentleman had to leave France and his fortune behind; travelling to Scotland to start a new life.

The story got embellished along the way I’m sure. My father’s version includes a mistress and the birth of twins … Now, my great gran Eliza, she was a bit of a snob; perhaps her mother-in-law was too. Could the family have made up an association with someone important just because of Mary Ann’s last name? Or perhaps just embellished a few details to try to make the story fit with that important figure in the French Revolution, Count Adrien Dutaillis.

Finding information on a birth before 1800 is difficult (Mary Ann’s father is believed to have been born in 1797 in Edinburgh, Scotland), especially if the couple was unmarried. Records were not kept the way they were later on. For instant, in England, censuses didn’t start until, I believe, 1841. Having become quite fond of census data, I encourage you to participate in all such endeavors yourself when asked. I just completed a “Housing” survey from Statistics Canada. I have a whole different attitude to the questions now that I’ve searched for answers myself.

The mysteries of family genealogy include things like how to spell illegitimate. I might get it right eventually. I think I will come up with an abbreviation! I got mad the last time and just wrote BAS***D instead. You would think autocorrect would correct when you needed it! Nope. NO WAY. Even here. I had to go back and play with the word till the red line under it disappeared.

I have convinced myself we are no relation at all to Count Adrien Ramon du Bosc Dutaillis (1760-1851). Instead I am looking for a member of the Second Estate, born in France probably around 1770 give or take a decade, who had to leave France to save his ass in the face of the oncoming French Revolution. Estimating arrival in Scotland as 1780 to 1790, I have found a few candidates, my favorite, August Dutaillis… Currently, I am trying to confirm that this man is Mary Ann’s grandfather. Because that could be the name he took upon leaving his old life behind, I may never find out his true lineage. First to confirm he is who I seek!

Wish me luck!


My favorite HNY giffy this year!
Thank you to the artist!

A new year always seem to come with resolutions… This year I am endeavoring to master ancestry.com … Today was day one. I made quite a bit of progress on my family tree, and am exhausted. I have hopes to work on it a bit each day and by July 1, to have most of the information I have in my paper files added to my ancestry.com family tree.

I admit to having started this tree on ancestry’s site in 2009, and to having made very little progress since. To facilitate a better effort, I have prepaid for 6 months access to their resources, which are many. I have found more information just today than in the past few years… not that I was really looking you understand. But, I am looking now!

I also wanted to find a way to add some of my family tree info to this web site … So, that’s on the “to do” list too. So far it seems you need a plug in … which requires a business wp account so that’s not going to happen. I am the queen of work around solutions and have designed a few web sites in my day so let’s see if I can figure out a way to present my family tree information here. And in such a way so that only my family or those I wish to can see it. I must learn more about privacy settings and how to make parts of my site accessible by password…. so much to learn.

First things first though, I am still learning how to blog… Not something I ever thought I’d be doing. Ever. But here I am…

Here’s to 2021 everyone! Wishing for an end to the pandemic; a return to “normal” or to a “new” normal that we can all live with! Stay safe! Keep learning!


Christmas Doves

It’s the winter solstice today: the shortest day of the year. And, there is a significant stellar event in the night sky, I believe, as well tonight. Too bright in the city to see it most likely.

The winter solstice marks the turning of the seasons; the beginning of the next cycle … It reminds us here in the northern hemisphere that spring is coming. And then summer …

Today, it mostly reminds me there are only 4 more days until Christmas. A singular, most unique Christmas … a “just the two of us” Christmas. Roast beef instead of turkey. No vegetable casserole or salad to prepare ahead to bring to the annual family gathering. Pretty much the only time we all congregate each year these days. All “Cancelled!” due to Covid-19. However, there are silver linings. There always are!

The importance of family and loved ones, close friends and dear ones, has never been more apparent to me. Reflecting on this past year, I am made aware that the people in my life are what really matters. That being with those I care about counts.

The best thing about the end of this year is that next year is beginning with HOPE! Vaccines have been developed … they appear to be effective, and we may, by this time next year, be close to whatever our new normal is going to be. Last year at this time, there were only murmurs of this new virus… We have come so far, considering how little hope there was when things first began going critical in so many countries; all over the world.

Next year Begins with Hope! That brings tears to my eyes.

Wishing us all a better world in 2021.

Peace & Joy!


For me, Christmas-time always brings “Family” to mind.

This year, my thoughts have focused once more on Family History, more so than on presents and the annual family dinner, in part because this is my first Christmas without dad but mostly because there isn’t a family dinner or get together of any kind planned due to the pandemic. Going through boxes of old files and photos has also certainly helped, as has starting a PowerPoint presentation for dad’s “future” internment and celebration of his life.

Hodge Family Photo 1903
Hodge Family Photo

And wouldn’t you know it, a cousin who has been compiling information for a long time got in touch recently. He is also thinking about Family History once again. His grandfather is the brother of my father’s mother. I’m confused already! It’s easy though: his grandfather (Fred) and my grandmother (Rose) were siblings. They are the “children” in the above photo taken in 1903, before Eliza, Charles & Rose came to Canada, leaving Fred in England to finish his studies.

So far, I have 3 binders set up – one is information about my mother’s side of the family, one has information on my father’s family tree, and the other is all about my parents, their children, including me, and grandchildren. My sister started the binder system. I added the new “our generation” binder to it. This information is far from being as organized as I would like. Then, I have a large pocket file of information relating to my husband’s family. Why they don’t rate a binder? I don’t know. Likely just because I don’t have that much information collected on them… yet!

My plan for the New Year is to revisit the binders, add some tabs to create sections for different people, get back on Ancestry.com and get going with learning more about my family’s past. About where I come from. And maybe, just maybe, the process will help me figure out where I’m going!


Winnipeg Free Press, Nov 7, 2020

November 11, 2020 is my first Remembrance Day without my father. He served in WWII on the HMCS Ettrick. He never talked of the war when I was a child. By the time I was born, it was long past.

As he got older, memories of his youth became more important. Once mom was in care, he was alone in the house. I would often find him lost in thought, and when I asked what he was thinking about, he would tell me he was “reminiscing” …

His whole life he had told me stories, and so as our roles began to reverse. I the caregiver and he the one needing care, I began to tell him his own stories … the ones he had told me over and over … the one about the painting of the little girl, the one about the eight-legged dog from “Ew Bah Chi,” and then, for the last part of his journey, I made him his own story:

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, a little boy was born, the fifth child of …

I repeated it to him often; at most visits near the end. I think it was more the sound of my voice that gave him comfort. Like a parent reading a bedtime story to a child. The story gave me comfort too. He was more than what he appeared. He had a story. He was important. Especially to me.

Covid came and I was locked out of the facility where he lived in mid-March. Mid-May, on Queen Victoria Day, he passed. Almost exactly 10 years after my mother left us, they were together again. I miss them both every day, but today, on this day of Remembering, it is especially hard.

Stories, especially those that review the important people and events in a person’s life, can help Alzheimer’s patients stay grounded. I encourage you to tell your loved ones stories … about your life; about what and who is important to you. You never know, someday, someone may be telling your story to you.