Baa Baa Black Sheep: Benedict Arnold

This is a re-blog of an old post from 2009.  I tried to update/revise it and it went all funny, so … I’m piecing it back together.


Yes, I know, this is a strange one, but it’s a good one, and who doesn’t find a bad boy (or a bad girl) interesting?

In genealogy, it is no different – rum-runners during Prohibition, crime bosses, murderers and traitors like Al Capone, Lizzie Borden and Benedict Arnold (pictured right), respectively.

The gossip and hype that revolved around your Black sheep during their infamy – and still does, for some of them – will keep you busy looking for the facts for a while.

Good luck tracing your blacksheep!

More later!

Benedict Arnold: Black Sheep -= or =- Loyalist?


#Benedict Arnold is a #Loyalist? o.0? Are you sure?

Originally posted on Your Roots Are Showing!:

Long time followers remember when I first wrote about General Benedict ARNOLD.  I described him as my Black Sheep ancestor and mentioned the re-location of his family to New Brunswick, after his disserting the American Continental Army (under command of General George Washington) to side with the Royal Army belonging to King George III.

Arnold’s military career and actions during the American Revolution are documented, misquoted, and in some cases questionable on both sides of the 49th Parallel – but as to what actions are questionable depends upon which side of the border you reside.

Let’s consider three things:

[1] Is he a traitor?

[2] Is he a “black sheep”?

[3] Is he a Loyalist?

This first question can be answered with reasoning that can be applied for a liberated answer that my Americans friends and fellow Canadians cannot dispute.

General Arnold was a member of the Continental Army…

View original 648 more words

Tough Woman #52Ancestors2015 (3)


My subject for this segment of #52Ancestors2015 began with an in-depth (and heated) discussion with Nostalgia for all of last week and the better part of this one!

“You cannot write about her either, Dearie” the Old Banshee scolded again.

“But she’s a tough woman and a relative,” I retorted.

“But, she is NOT your ancestor, so, she is not eligible.”

“And where is that written in the rules?” I called back frustrated.

“Lady Bird indicated 52 Ancestors,” Gia reiterated. “And you well know, Rabbit, an ancestor is commonly known to be a relative who was here before …”

“Fine, fine,” I caved, tossing my hands over my head. “I’ll write about you instead, if it will shut you up!”

Gia’s face lit up as she gushed a little surprise at the compliment and a tad of uncertainty at the jibe.

“That is nice, Dearie, I think, but you don’t know very much about me.”

Hiding behind my monitor, I smiled wickedly. “Oh, I know plenty about you, my Dear Old Fossil.”

I cleared my throat before continuing.

“You are like an unwanted older sister,” I started. “Mama Rabbit told me many times that you were a foundling, wailing from your laundry basket upon the doorstep.”

“Laundry? Basket? Rabbit, come now, you jest!”

“The basket was filled with strange white flowers,” I continued undaunted. “It was like you were buried in them.”

The Old Banshee’s worried expression softened as she heard familiar information.

“Go on,” she gestured regally.

“But, Mum didn’t notice your little braided handband until after she picked you up.”

Nostalgia was enraptured. “Yes, I remember Mama telling me that…”

“And you were still wailing at the top of your little lungs — I am a VooDoo child and I don’t take No for an answer!”

Nostalgia sunk into a nearby chair, wide-eyed and ashen.

“Dressed in your little Woodstock onesie,” I grinned wide, “that was really a t-shirt held together by those plastic, safety-headed diaper pins!”

Finished, I looked over my monitor. My nemesis was grey like granite and immovable.

“Gia?” I queried, keeping my safe distance.


“Gia?” I ventured out from my safety zone, and crept closer. “Gia, are you …”

Mid-sentence I was, when her head snapped in my direction. Her eyes were a piercing red like those little LEDs you find on cheap keyrings, and down the sides of her face, the evidence of tears.

“… leaking?” I asked.

“You wicked, wicked man!” she bawled, scrambling out of the chair and room, only to rush upstairs to her Inner Sanctum, finalizing her retreat by slamming the door.

A few minutes later, MiLady then joined me, having had a nice relaxing bath.

“Who is slamming doors?” she asked sweetly, as she leaned over and kissed me after taking a seat upon the sofa beside me.


“What did you say to her now?!?” The sweet tone was no more.

I then explained I had at last gotten even to all of her badgering insults.

“It’s been going on for nearly two weeks, Dearst,” I finally pleaded.

“You need to go up there and apologize to her,” was the home-court decision.

“But, SHE started it!” I whined.

“And, YOU’RE finishing it!” MiLady said, pointing upstairs.

KING ME! #52Ancestors2015 (2)

You must have heard that time and again playing checkers with family and friends; probably said it a few times yourself.

Well, the twist for this #52Ancestors2015 post is a game of kings.  No, not checkers or chess, but how well (and how many) kings do you know.

Everyone is probably familiar with Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI from the Academy award-winning film, “THE KING’S SPEECH.”

But when and where were the most kings at any one given time? 

I have found nine (9):


All of these gentlemen, young and old, were reigning kings of their respective countries at the time this photograph was taken.

With a little detective work, I discovered that one king was missing! Do you have any idea who?

Before I tell you, we should date this photograph.

If you guessed sometime during World War I (between 1914 and 1919), you are too late!  

It was the funeral of King Edward VII UK on May 20th, 1910, and all of these men came to grieve. Yes, they were all related!

So, let’s start solving this (listing from LEFT to RIGHT):

  • King Haakon VII of Norway: Coronation in 1906 and died in 1957 (late king’s son-in-law)
  • Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria: Coronation in 1887 and abdicated in 1918 (late king’s second cousin)
  • King Alfonso XIII of Spain: Coronation in 1902* and died in 1931 (late king’s nephew-in-law)
  • King Manuel II of Portugal: Coronation in 1908 and reign was dissolved in 1910 (late king’s second cousin)
  • King George V of UK: Coronation in 1910 and died in 1936 (late king’s son)
  • Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany: Coronation in 1888 and reign was abolished in 1918 (late king’s nephew)
  • King George I of Greece: Coronation in 1863 and died in 1913 (late king’s brother-in-law)
  • King Frederik VIII of Denmark: Coronation in 1906 and died in 1912 (late king’s brother-in-law)
  • King Albert I of Belgium: Coronation in 1909 and died in 1934 (late king’s second cousin)

NOTE *Alfonso XIII was born a king (May 1886), as his father had died six months earlier at the young age of 28 years. Alfonso would not be coronated until 1902 when he reached legal age.

Gustaf V of Sweden: Coronation in 1907, died 1950

              THE MISSING KING!                 Gustaf V of Sweden:      Coronation in 1907, died 1950

Now, the new puzzle is: why was this king missing from the occasion?


If You’re a HOLCOMB, We Are Related, Dearie!

I’ve been blogging genealogy and gravestones for so long, I was beginning to wonder if I was the only nut researching my family tree.

Last Saturday, you can imagine my surprise after finding a blog post about a Phineas HOLCOMB from Simsbury, Hartford, Connecticut.

“Lots of HOLCOMBs are from there, Rabbit” Nostalgia hissed. “What are the odds, now, really?

Undaunted, I went digging through my research notes anyway, after work Saturday …

And well into my Day-Off Sunday (today 18JAN2015) …




Jacky’s related! (Well, to my eldest son Junior that is!)



Ensign Joshua HOLCOMB II is Jacky’s 7th great grandfather, while he is Junior’s 9th great grandfather.

“This would make Jacky and Junior 8th cousins two times removed,” Nostalgia announced while tapping away on a calculator.

“Gia,” I asked very confused, my head still spinning. “How? They only share one great grandparent, and that’s Joshua II.”

Nostalgia stared me down over her glass rims before resuming her tapping. “I’m not done yet!”

“Wouldn’t that make them half cousins?” I asked innocently. “So, half of eight is four …”

I smiled wickedly knowing The Old Banshee’s weakness to too many numbers being thrown at her.

“And half of two is one,” I continued foolishly. “So they would be fourth cousins once removed!”

The Old Banshee grumbled and tapped the calculator harder.

“Or, they could be cousins half removed!” I proudly announced as I grabbed Nostalgia by the shoulders, shaking her before kissing her. “That’s it! They’re half removed!”

Then I realized what happened and rushed to the bathroom!

By Request: What are “The Advil Notes?” #genchat

Friday last (16JA2015) was #genchat and questions flew about faster than most participants could type.

One discussion was Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over as one way to re-organize one’s research.

Another question (forgive me I forget who asked it, The Pirate Queen, I believe) dealt with being more organized when dealing with genealogical research: documents, photographs, digital media, desk, etc

That got me thinking: I am way ahead of the game for the Genealogy Do Over; I started back in 1982! Or was it 1986?

May 1982 was when my maternal grandfather passed away, but it was that summer when I went to visit the great aunt I never knew I had and her family.

While with them I inherited a copy of family history notes.  “The ATKINSON Genealogy,” or the TAG book (1966) as it is affectionately referred to by many now, contained drop charts and some narratives written in Elite — a font style available to a typewriter as opposed to Pica. Does anyone remember TYPING courses in high school, not KEYBOARDING? (Keyboarding was used to describe Piano lessons in my high school.).

These notes were very informative. Some detail into the communities were included, as well as prominent businesses run by family members for two and three generations.  The original notes were compiled in 1927.

By 1966-67, descendants decided to mass produce the TAG Book to share with everyone, for as cheaply as possible.

gestetnerA Gestetner mimeograph machine (example at left) was borrowed and the copying began, but there was only one downfall:

These originals were published “AS IS.” Massive errors and omissions of entire families were mass produced, knowingly — and without citations.

Yes, there were no citations. 

I found quotes from historical texts that were no longer in print.

There were references to special collections from the OHS (Ontario Historical Society), visits to cemeteries and interviews with aged family members. (It would be the early 1990s before I was able to identify most of these references.

Unfortunately, there are still a few I have not been able to decypher.).  Hence the name: The Advil Notes.

Approaching the task to re-vamp and sort out the mess into a format I could comprehend and remember (for the most part) involved dissecting the book.

Yes, you heard me. I took it apart.

Now, it wasn’t really a book. It was a wine-coloured duo-tang with about an inch of single-sided paper in it. (If you were to look at it now, it has expanded into 23 one-inch binders, six plastic banker’s boxes, 1TB external drive [50% full], an assortment of ZIP disks, floppy disks, 3.5 disks, bits on Ancestry, more bits on FindMyPast, PDFs in The Cloud and Dropbox, and too many thumb drives filled with census records, gravestone photos and what nots.)

When I began to format my notes, I did not have access to a computer. I used a typewriter.  I was permitted to use the electric typewriters during lunch at my high school. And to keep track of my references, I had a notebook divided up into sections, one for each of the 14 sub-groups of the third generation of the family.

NOTE: There were also two other ATKINSON families in the TAG Book that were thought to be related, but no information was available to substantiate the claim. I was not able to find anything over the years either and strongly believe that DNA testing would put the final word on it. The only setback is finding willing ATKINSON males from the two uncertain families to take the test with my cousins.

The original drop-chart format was a series of columns running down the left side of the page. Each column represented a generation. The name immediately beside the columns was born into the family.  The name opposite was, of course, the spouse.

Children would then be listed under the parents in birth order, with the appropriate generation column ticked.

The format looked fine until the family member “parent” remarried.  Then the second, and subsequent, spouses would be listed, after the previous marriage children, to the right hand side of the page with no one listed at the left.  A very messy situation with my relatives marrying three and four times!

ROOTS III — yeah, how many of you remember THAT one?

7-20-2010 5-14-21 PMMy set-up influence came from a genealogy software brochure promoting ROOTS III.  The brochure examples had each generation tabulated across the page, with the corresponding generation number in square brackets before the individual’s name. Following the person’s name would be an alpha-numeric value also in brackets; this was the person’s identification number.

It took about five years or so to type up everything that I had — so all of junior high and high school.  It was very difficult, as you can imagine, coming from a large family of prolific rabbits!

When I was finally able to use a computer, don’t laugh. It was a 486. WordPerfect was a God send! At any time, I was able to input data for all the new-found family members faster than taking an “instant picture” with a Polaroid! 

7-20-2010 5-16-39 PMI decided that listing all spouses under the family member would be easier to understand. Separating the children to each marriage would involve “a, b, or c” following the identity number.

References and proofs would then accumulate at the right hand side of the page with full listings at the trail end of the document.

Now, how the citations are listed has changed a few times. I need to keep it simple and if I find a way that is such, I use it.

Some citations (for example actual newspaper obituaries, notices, etc) are one format. Census records, BMD certificates and military service records are another format — particularly if acquired from the big online genealogy websites.

There are still many NOT holes — it’s NOT him or it’s NOT her — in my research, but the earliest generations are well documented and fellow family genealogists are slowly finding me to compare notes.

One such cousin lives in Calgary, Alberta. She piggy-backs off my notes to aid her in finding gravestones of our relatives that need to be photographed. She has located at least one hundred of them from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario!

Back in Ontario, many of my cousins I re-connected with last month are scanning old photographs of our grandparents, our parents, etc to share and identify.  I am hoping one day to see wedding photos of our parents and our baby pictures — THAT should be fun!

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad starting honeymoon APRIL1962






A Visit to FHL in SLC is a MUST! #FGS2015

The December subjects for FGS2015 Ambassadors involved previous visits or the plans for a potential visit. (Of course, I chose the latter having never been out that way.).

If (perhaps that should be re-worded to when) I am to attend, a visit to the Family History Library would be a given.  This is based upon my hypothesis that the Library would possess the answers to questions that have lingered and nagged our family for almost 90 years. (If they do not hold the answers, then I have no idea who else would.)

The name of the sailing vessel that brought my earliest ATKINSON ancestors is still not known and it has been an 88 year-old brickwall.

If — Heaven forbid — the answer(s) are not there, I would guess the next route would be DNA testing, but I cannot submit to it as I was not born an ATKINSON — Mama Rabbit was! (I’m not too worried, I have plenty of male cousins I can annoy),

What little I do know:

  • they arrived in New York City, 1833
  • they bypassed the U.S. Customs House with a letter from James Buchanan, British Counsel
  • they continued to York, Upper Canada (later Toronto, Ontario)
  • six (6) weeks after arrival, son Robert died (1811-1833)

When arrangements to visit can be made, I will need an experienced guide — not Nostalgia! I would like to use my money for copying fees rather than bail.



They Tried a Do Over #52Ancestors (1) Starting Fresh

The first installment of #52Ancestors 2015 Edition is called “Starting Fresh,” and it was my earliest ancestors that tried to do just that!

John ATKINSON and his wife, the former Elizabeth HODGSON had decided upon a do over:  to start fresh in the New World — the New World in this case was York, Upper Canada (which would later be called Toronto, Ontario).

Their journey started in England taking them to New York City.

Everything that they needed for the trip, they themselves were responsible for.

They took anything that they could carry, and their fare for the trip varied upon the age of each traveller.

Yes, EACH traveller.

John and Liz were not alone. They left with two bachelor sons, Thomas (b.1802) and Robert (b.1811); a pregnant, married daughter, Mary (b.1801), her husband also named Thomas (BRUNSKILL b.unkn) and their six children (names, genders and ages unknown.).

It was February 1833 when they left England. (The name of the ship is also unknown.).

While still at sea, three of Mary’s children fell ill and died. It has been hypothesized since 1927 that these young lives were taken by Cholera.

When the ship docked in New York City, John, Liz and their family was excused from the Customs House. John had a letter from British Counsel, James BUCHANAN that permitted them to continue on their way to Upper Canada.

It was April when another bad event hit the family. Robert, the younger son of John & Liz died. He was 22years of age. He was buried in St. Philip’s Church Cemetery.

(Once again, family belief is that Cholera was responsible.).

Related posts:

Nostalgia says “Do Over!” (I ask “Why?”)

If you plan to stop by for a visit you’re gonna need a helmet — unless you’re the GeneaBloggers Guru, Thomas MacEntee :)

Yes, there’s a war going on Down the Rabbit Hole. (Again).

For those of you long familiar with my genealogy ramblings, you have probably come to expect this, when I tell you just one ill-fated word:


For any newcomers, and there are quite a few of you actually, I apologize as I unfortunately drop you into the thick of it, to fend yourselves as best that you can. (To make it up to you, I will make a list of her misdemeanors at the end of this post.).

Nostalgia has been interested in genealogy for a few years now; and it is shy of a couple of miracles that any of my research notes and references have survived.

Last night was Attempt #3.

MiLady and I were enjoying a quiet evening reading, when the Olde Banshee floated into the room and occupied the seat at my computer desk.

“Have you started your do over yet, Rabbit?” she inquired.

“What?” asked my darling as she turned to look at me and take in my surprised expression.

Not this, again,” I facepalmmed. “No, Gia, I –“

“Not to worry, I’ll help you. Thomas writes that it’s very easy, you know.”

“Gia!” I scolded. “Those are MY notes!  I have over 40 years of personal research tied up in that!”

“I know,” came the beginning of her sing-songy lie. “I’ll just save everything in an folder marked OLD, and then –“

“And then,” I continued, “You’ll delete everything like you did the last time!”

“THAT was an accident,” she confessed, “It’s not MY fault that you insist on using XP. Vista is better!”

“Vista,” MiLady interjected with a wee smile, “has also been replaced, Nostalgia. You’re just a little outdated.”

Gia shot a backwards glance at my soul-mate to give her a curious look, before resuming her terrorist attack on my research!

I, in the mean time, darted from my comfortable seat to launch a rescue salvo in my defense.

“I need my notes, Nostalgia!”

“You can do better,” she chimed, “Just imagine how improved your citations will be with all the knowledge you have amassed to this point.”

“How can I participate in 52Ancestors, this year?” I inquired.

“52 what?”

“52Ancestors in 52Weeks,” I added. “It is back this year with all new themes.  I told ‘Lady Bird’ that I would try to participate a little better than I did last year.  My posts were hit and miss.”

“How many was that?” she asked.

“Six, maybe seven.”

“Out of 52?!?” Nostalgia screeched. “And Lady Bird has forgiven you?”

“I think so,” I said quietly.

“Well, that will not do,” she scolded. “You WILL do better, this year, Rabbit. You have enough material here …”

“Yes, Gia,” I winced having bit my tongue. “Thank you.”

“… And what is this mess?” she exclaimed after opening the wrong folder.

“Those are my genchat notes.”

“And you can read this chicken scratch?” she leered.


After rolling her eyes, Nostalgia pushed away from the computer desk. She glanced quickly at her phone and typed a couple of keystrokes.

Her eyes then went wide with discovery as she got to her feet.

“It might be advantageous, this year, if you do not participate in the Do Over, Rabbit,” she announced.

“And why is that, Gia?” I inquired, mostly out of courtesy.

“You would have no information to use or verify when you go to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City!”

“Gia!” I feigned surprise, “You are amazing! I never would have thought of that!”

“I know, Dearie, that’s why you need me,” Nostalgia beamed as she then took her leave and ascended upstairs.  “I have to go, My Thomas needs me!”

When the Old Banshee was gone, MiLady looked at me with a devilish smirk.

“You are a terrible liar,” she said looking over her eyeglass rims. “You should tell her that you’re not going this year.”

“Shhh,” I hushed her as I pointed up the upstairs, “She doesn’t need to know… Yet.”

Past Experiences with Nostalgia

Yes, It’s Late … Very Late (I Need to Explain)

December is always a busy month Down the Rabbit Hole. There is always too much going on!

Like the rest of you, we too enjoy the wintery holidays with family, but we also have a gamut of birthdays to acknowledge and celebrate.

But a few things threw everything off kilter and we are just recovering now:
[1] MiLady loves decorating the place during the first weekend of the month, but this year she decided to do it a week earlier!

Within a couple of hours, our little hovel was brightened by the old tree dressed in the buzzing warmth of little flashing lights, reminensent of a seedy roadside motel where half the neon letters don’t light up.

“It doesn’t look right,” she muttered.

I looked sideways at the green holiday icon. “You haven’t finished decorating it yet, Dearst.”

“No,” my girl replied. “We need a new tree. There are big gaps at the bottom where the cats have slept in it.” She then wiggled a couple lower branches for emphasis. “They broke these. See?”

I nodded and soon found myself at a big Canadian store to get a new tree.

“And we’ll need new lights too,” MiLady texted. “These old ones are outdoor lights.”

A few minutes later, I found our tree, standing in a line up with the other hardwood hellions. Picking him out was easy. If I could carry him without a cart, he was our tree.

Finding new lights was a challenge though, because the Tree had its own fashion sense!

After twenty minutes of its nagging, I decided upon three sets of LED rope lights.

“Why are you getting so many of those?” our tree asked.

“I’m into bondage!” I smiled wickedly. “I just hate talkative trees!” (Surprisingly, the tree hadn’t said another word after that!).

Four days later, I arrive home from work to a dark and dreary interior. I look about, our tree is gone!

“What happened?” I inquired wide-eyed.

“I took the it down and packed it away,” MiLady said sadly.

“I see that, but why?”

My soul-mate then proceeded to explain that our youngest cat had some tree issues.

My puzzled look was enough for her to continue.

“He crawled into and up the tree and batted all the ornaments off! Then he jumped out of the tree and swatted the ornaments across the floor — and under the loveseat! He chewed off the little pinecones and cranberries from the bottom branches; and he licked off all the artifical snow that was sprayed on it!”

My thoughts scrambled as my eyes widened after each sentence she spoke.

[OMG, I didn’t rescue that little Scotch pine, I brought him to his execution!]!

[2] It had been a very long time since I went East to visit family — eleven (11) years to be exact. That changed very quickly.

A couple phonecalls from my younger brother and sister sent me scrambling for the earliest flight I could afford.

The first person I saw was my brother. A quick selfie and he took me to see Mum, who was not doing well.

“Rabbit?” her quiet, tired voice questioned, when I came into view.

“Hullo, Mum,” I smiled as I leaned in and kissed her.

Her eyes widened in panic. “Where’s MiLady and MY Little Rabbits?!?”

“Home,” I responded, “I came alone.”

I then discovered I gave a wrong answer, as the temperature of the room dropped 30 degrees!

[3] After returning from my visit, I was quickly informed of all the latest happenings in the genealogy twitter-sphere.

Nostalgia — yes, she’s still staying with us — has got to be Thomas MacEntee’s biggest follower, as it took her three days to explain to me what his latest project was.

“A do over,” the Olde Banshee said again.

“Oh, I’m not interested, Gia,” I replied. “I’ve got no hair left to work with.”

“Not a makeover, you silly Rabbit!” she spat. “A genealogy do over!”

I screwed up my face before tilting my head to one side.

“A what?”

“It’s starting over again, Dearie,” she explained.

“Over?” I repeated as my mind slowly comprehended.

“Yes, yes! Over, as in, all over again from scratch!”

[Oh, no! No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no!]

I scrambled to my computer and booted it up quickly, as i searched for my external backup harddrive.

“What on Earth are you doing, Rabbit?” she finally asked, after catching up to me.

“Saving my work!” I stammered. “I remember last time you offered to help me…”

“Oh,” she said curtly, “It wasn’t as bad as you recall.”

“I never found Papa John’s birth certificate. The long, red one.”

“And he was …?” Gia lingered

“My paternal grandfather from England,” I said completing her sentence.

“Oh! THAT certificate!”

The awkward silence that filled the room was broken by an shrill, electronic tweet. Nostalgia looked at her cell and quickly
left the room.

“Gia?” I called out. “What are you –?”

“Thomas is posting on Facebook, Dearie!” she announced as she rushed up the stairs to her room. “Gotta go, Ta!”

FGS 2015 Conference


It's A Super Session! FGS & RootsTech!

Are You Ready?

#genchat 30JAN: Writing Your Family History


January themes


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,878 other followers

%d bloggers like this: