Category Archives for Family History Writing Challenge

Genealogy Tips from Thomas W. Jones

I’ve been listening to tapes from the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Society conference.

One of my favourite speakers is Thomas W. Jones, who specializes in Fairfax, Virginia research. Jones also wrote the book Mastering Genealogical Proof.

In his presentation about Genealogical Documentation, Jones made three comments I think are important:

Documentation is all about communicating clearly and you can’t communicate something you don’t understand. You have to start by understanding the source you’re using. What is it? Where did it come from? Why was it created?”

There are many ways to cite right. Will the reader understand clearly the context from your citation? That’s what important.”

We use conventions that are short cuts. Italicizing a name of something means that it was published. If we quote something from an unpublished manuscript, we don’t italicize it.”

RootsTech Happens Next Weekend

FamilySearch.org, the genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) are teaming up to host RootsTech, a two-day educational extravaganza next weekend, from Thursday February 11 until Sunday, February 14.

I’m so disappointed not to be going to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend in person, but at least I’ll be able to attend virtually, via a multitude of seminars that will be live-streamed via the website.

According to the RootsTech Facebook page, the sessions that will be live streamed in Eastern Standard Time are:

Thursday

10:30 a.m. Keynote speakers
1:00 p.m. The Future of Genealogy – panel
3:45 p.m. Tell it Again – Kim Weitkamp
5:00 p.m. The Genealogists Gadget Bag – Jill Ball and panel
6:15 p.m. Finding the Obscure and Elusive…- James Tanner

Friday

10:30 a.m. Keynote speakers
11:45 a.m. Researching Ancestors Online – Laura Prescott
1:00 p.m. FamilySearch Family Tree – Ron Tanner
3:45 p.m. Google Search…and Beyond – Dave Barney
5:00 p.m. From Paper Piles to Digital Files – Valerie Elkins

Saturday

10:30 a.m. Keynote speakers
11:45 a.m. Using Technology to Solve Research… – Karen Clifford
1:000 p.m. Digital Storytelling: More than Bullet Points – Denise Olson

Family history fairs around the world will also stream some of the sessions. Check the website to see if there’s one near you.

After watching as many of these as I can, I’ll be trying to figure out how to attend next year’s RootsTech. It will take place February 3–6, 2016, again at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Moonlight Serenade

How did they meet?

She once told me of all the dances she used to enjoy as a young woman, so I like to imagine them dancing to Glen Millers’ Moonlight Serenade, which was top of the charts then. The tall red-headed soldier and diminutive brunette with sparkling eyes and a ready smile would have made a striking couple on the dance floor.

They lived within two blocks of one another in Silverthorne, where they also wed.

She had lived in the same Toronto neighbourhood, between the train tracks and Calendonia, north of St. Claire West and south of Eglinton since her birth on February 3, 1921. Her parents lived at 117 Laughton Avenue then.

By the time Evelyn and Richard married in the Baptist Church at the corner of Weston Road and Rowntree on January 28, 1942, her parents had moved to a duplex just south of the church on Weston Road. His parents lived in a cottage at 179 Dunraven Drive just north of there.

The church in which they married no longer stands, but his parents’ home still exists, as does her parents’ duplex, 663 Old Weston Road. It was there that Evelyn received three telegrams and 11 letters from the Department of National Defence when he was in Italy.

Richard was still in Halifax when they got married. He was granted furlough and given permission to fly home to Toronto on January 19 to attend their wedding nine days later. They only had two nights beyond their wedding night together before he was back on base taking a junior leader’s CSE.

She turned 21 a week later. He turned 22 two days after that.

They only saw each other once more before he died, in August 1942. Their daughter Marilyn, my mother, was born the following April. He was posted to Britain by then and then Italy. He served as a Sapper with the Irish Regiment.

After my mother turned one, the Minister of National Defence began sending letters and telegrams to Mrs. Evelyn Doris Himphen. The first arrived on June 16, 1944.

“I am directed to inform you that official information now received from Canadian Military Headquarters, Overseas, advises that he was accidentally wounded in action on the 4th of May 1944” wrote Colonel C. L. Laurin.

Richard healed fully from that injury and the summer was bright.

A pink telegram from Canadian Pacific Telegraph arrived on September 23, 1944. It carried tough news.

“MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE SINCERELY REGRETS TO INFORM YOU B79066 SAPPER RICHARD CHARLES HIMPHEN HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY REPORTED AGAIN WOUNDED IN ACTION DATE NOT YET AVAILABLE BECOMING SERIOUSLY ILL FIFTEEN SEPTEMBER 1944 NATURE OF SECOND WOUND DESCRIBED AS WOUND TO SPINE DORSAL STOP WHEN ADDRESSING MAIL ADD WORDS IN HOSPITAL IN BOLD LETTERS AFTER NAME OF UNIT FOR QUICK DELIVERY STOP IF ANY FURTHER INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE IT WILL BE FORWARDED AS SOON AS RECEIVED.”

Richard never recovered.

Colonel Laurin continued updating Evelyn via letters on September 29 and October 5th before a blue telegram arrived on October 10th.

“MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE SINCERELY REGRETS TO INFORM YOU B79066 SAPPER RICHARD CHARLES HIMPHEN HAS NOW BEEN OFFICIALLY REPORTED DANGEROUSLY ILL FOURTH OCTOBER 1944 STOP WHEN FURTHER INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE IT WILL BE FORWARDED AS SOON AS RECEIVED.”

Richard died of his wounds on October 12, 1944.

Thirteen days later, another pink telegram arrived for Evelyn at 663 Old Weston Road:
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Colonel Laurin followed up with a letter dated the 10th of November to provide all the documents that Evelyn would have to fill out to make claims on Richard’s estate.

Scoundrel’s Wife

Marie-Louise Allard’s married life lasted only 13 years. In that time, she produced eight children, helped her husband start a business, and dealt with 17 different court battles.

Eventually, paying a series of claims against her husband took everything Marie-Louise had—their land, their building and all their furniture. It was all sold on June 14, 1774 to pay her husband’s debts. Marie-Louise and her children had to move in to the Notre Dame poor house. Her 32nd birthday took place there the following December.

Her former husband, Jean-Baptiste Mathieu Arial, was long gone by then. The scoundrel abandoned his family and left Canada in the autumn of 1773, when their youngest child Michel was only three months old.

The couple’s life together hadn’t started out so badly.

Jean and Marie-Louise were married by a missionary priest Father Morisseaux on July 13, 1761, two years after Quebec City surrendered to the British and the government of New France moved to Montreal. With her families’ help, they bought land and sent up a small inn on rue de la Montagne. Their daughter Marie Louise was born five months after the wedding. Their first son and a daughter eventually died, but six children survived, two into their sixties.

If the court cases are accurate, while Marie-Louise took care of their children, Jean specialized in getting inn-goers drunk so that he could scam them out of land and money.

She had had no warning of her husband’s character when they married.

Marie-Louise was 18 years old when she married a newcomer to Charlesbourg. She and her family all believed the story Jean told to the priest who married them. He told them he had just come from spending four years in a British jail, which I very readily believe.

The rest of the story may or may not be true.

The wedding record says that Jean was a “fils mineur” (underage son) of Charles Arial and Marie Moreau, which implies he was younger than 25 years old. Yet Marcel Founier’s records in Fichier Origine show Jean Arial’s birth in France as February 5, 1735. If that’s true, he would have been 26 years old the day he wed Marie-Louise.

Jean told the priest he was a French soldier captured by the British on the outskirts of the French colony of Cap-St-Domingue, on the island of Hispaniola, which is now known as a divided place of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Cap-St-Domingue was a French slave colony and a world source for sugar, coffee and indigo until a slave revolt in 1758 caused Britain and Spain to attack the French.

Jean’s story about four years in a British jail may well have been accurate, but the timing about St. Domingue seems tight. I can’t help but wonder whether he simply used the story as a colourful explanation for an English accent. Britain was still shipping convicts to America until 1780. He might have been one of them. We have only the notes of a priest about what he said to figure out who he was.

Five years after the wedding, Jean Ariail (his spelling, which was different than the priest’s spelling and the court case spellings) advertised in the Quebec Gazette at least three times. Two ads expressed a desire to settle his accounts and a third offered to sell a house to raise funds. In all three, Ariail said he intended to sail for Europe.

This hint at a complicated scam later detailed in a series of court cases against Arial by Aylwin, Hasen, Lee, Levesque, Struckling and others.

Many men claimed to be defrauded by Arial while they were drunk.

Meanwhile Arial or Ariaille left Quebec in October 1773. He began calling himself Jean Baptiste Ariail. He moved to Southington, a community in Hartford, Connecticut where he somehow found enough money to purchase a home. By the time his youngest daughter turned a year old, he had already met and married Hannah Rich. By March 1775, their first son was born.

By the time a third child with Hannah arrived, Marie-Louise was dead. She contracted chicken pox and died in the company of three priests in early October, 1779. Her brother Pierre became the official guardian of her children on October 21.[1]

  • [1] Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Pistard database of guardianship records, CC301, Fonds Cour supéreure, District judiciaire de Quebec, Tutelles et curatelles, SI Dossiers, D5306, the guardianship of the minors of Jean Arial (Ariaille) and Marie-Louise Allard, October  21, 1779, 3 pages, http://pistard.banq.qc.ca/unite_chercheurs/description_fonds?p_anqsid=201502021523212568&p_centre=03Q&p_classe=CC&p_fonds=301&p_numunide=964014.
  • Note 2: Many thanks to Mary Alice Kite and James and Lorraine Patterson for sharing their research.
  • Note 3: The Pattersons are among Ariail and Arial relatives holding a family reunion in Georgia on Saturday, June 20 at the Nails Creek Baptist Church. More info via http://ariailfamily.com.

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