Saturday, May 30, 2015

Historical Ontario Vital Statistics Records Available Online for FREE

The Archives of Ontario successfully signed a licencing agreement with Family Search International (FSI) to make available online several years of historical Ontario vital statistics records previously available only on microfilm. Starting May 30, 2015, the following records will be available online through the FSI website for free:

Some Interesting Findings - Moynahan

In reviewing the Moynhan records I was surprised to learn that my ancestors Jeremiah and Mary (Brennan) Moynahan waited two years (12 February 1873) to register the birth of Margaret (23 November 1871) and plead ignorance of the statute.

Some Interesting Findings - Hess

Mary Hess died 30 December 1927 in Chatham, Ontario.

When I looked at her death certificate - which I had not seen until the records were put online bu FamilySearch - the names of her parents were different than the ones in my tree? This will require more research.


Margaret Moynahan Birth Record: "Ontario Births, 1869-1912," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2 June 2015), Margaret Moynahan, 23 Nov 1871; citing Sandwich East, Essex, Ontario, Canada, registration number ; FHL microfilm 1,844,891.

Mary Hess Overview: Ancestry Member Private Tree: "The Forest

Mary Annal Death Record: "Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2 June 2015), Mary Annal, 30 Dec 1927; citing Kent, Ontario, Canada, 18887, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 2,184,480.

Friday, May 22, 2015

52 Ancestors No.19: A Donivan Tragedy on the Chapleau River 1952

This is the nineteenth of 52 blog posts for the 2015 edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge. I have been blogging my family history for the #52Ancestors challenge since it began in 2014.

#52Ancestors asks bloggers to "have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

This week's blog post is about my husband's great grandmother's (Mary Donivan's) stepson Raymond Michael Donivan who died tragically with his son and son-in-law on the Chapleau (Ontario) river in 1952.

Ray Donivan, Lena Donivan,
Theresa Jane Donivan, and Mary Elizabeth (O'Leary) Donivan
Raymond's mother (Mary Ann McGahey) Donivan died giving childbirth in 1891 when Ray was only 4 years old. Ray's father Patrick Donivan married Mary Elizabeth (O'Leary) who lovingly raised Patrick's children from his previous marriage and from this second marriage came fourteen more children.

Ray Donivan (1888-1952)
Ray and half-sister Lena and cousin Mayme Hayes

 Sons and Grandsons - Standing in the back: Jack Boucher, Delbert Warren, Victor Donivan, Amby Donivan, Willie Donivan,. Standing near Gramma Donivan Mary Elizabeth (O'Leary) Donivan, Wilfred Donivan, Jack Donivan, James Quigg, Ray Donivan. The little boys are Jimmie Rice, Ed Boucher or Lloyd Boucher and Arthur Boucher.

Canoeing the North

From the Ontario watershed, all rivers flow north into James Bay. 

The tragic story of Raymond, his son "Donny" and his son-in-law Hilaire takes place on the Chapleau river. The details are captured in news articles below. ( All photos and news clippings belong to Ellen Quigg and are presented here with her permission.)

Chapleau River: Topographic Map

Birch Street Catholic Cemetery, Chapleau, Ontario

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

I am grateful for the inspiration and strength that flows through my blood from my many women ancestors: the women ancestors I have known in my lifetime; the women ancestors I have located through my genealogical research and the women ancestors whose name and stories I may never know.

Most of my women ancestors were mothers but many never married at all and never had children. The single women ancestors became teachers or caregivers or followed other callings in their lives. I do know that the common thread through time is that they all loved their mothers.

Collage originally made for IWD March 8, 2015
I have been blessed in this life with the best daughter and son a woman could ever have. I am eternally grateful for both of them. Being a mother has been my greatest privelege.

My two beautiful children

My Ancestors

  • Elizabeth Annal
  • Mary Brennan
  • Mary Anne Elizabeth Broderick
  • Rhea Fern Coughlin
  • Dawn Maureen Creighton
  • Florence Mary Curd
  • Mary Hess
  • Mary Hussey
  • Dorothy Moreland
  • Mary Ann Steinbrum

  • Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    52 Ancestors No.18: Matthew Moynahan's Last Will (1770-1860)

    This is the eighteenth of 52 blog posts for the 2015 edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge. I have been blogging my family history for the #52Ancestors challenge since it began in 2014.

    #52Ancestors asks bloggers to "have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

    This week's blog post theme is "
    Where's There's A Will" and I am focussing this blog post on the will of my great-great-great-great grandfather Matthew Moynahan (1770 - 1860) 

    Matthew is my oldest known Moynahan ancestor. My family history trail stops with him. The rest of the story remains unknown (so far) in county Kerry, Ireland

    Matthew died on the 3rd of February 1860 in Maidstone, Ontario.

    Burial record: 5 Feb 1860 (Maidstone, Ontario)
    Source: Catholic Church Records, Drouin Collection (1747-1967)
    Mathew was buried the 5th of February 1860. He was ninety years old when he died. The witnesses at the burial were "Richard Barret, Michael Twomey, Denis Moynahan and many others."

    Matthew was buried at the original St. Mary's cemetery adjacent to the first brick church in Maidstone. When the new St Mary's church was built, all those interred in the old cemetery were moved to the new one. No marker presently exists for Matthew Moynahan.

    Source: OGS: St Mary's R.C. Cemetery
    Source: OGS: St Mary's R.C. Cemetery
    I have tried to locate an obituary for Matthew in 1860 but the Ontario papers of the day have great gaps around 1860.

    The Will

    I located Matthew Moynahan's memorial registration at the Archives of Ontario (GS 987 Sandwich Township, Essex County, Deed, Vol. D, 1857-1860, #581-993)

    No.915 was entered on the 23rd of May 1860 at 3 minutes after twelve o'clock noon. It makes reference to being "provided the last will and testament of the late Matthew Moynahan....bearing the date the fourteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty six" and then the document goes on to quote certain other facts.

    Firstly, Matthew devised and bequeathed " all real and personal property of whatsoever kind or nature or where so ever situated unto my beloved wife Honora for and during her natural life should she survive me"

    "Secondly, after the death of said wife, if she shall survive me, I give devise and bequeath unto my son Timothy Moynahan, his heirs and assigns forever all my real and personal property except one bed and bed clothes which I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Moynahan"

    Only Honora, Timothy and Mary are named in the will. But what of the rest of the family?

    Timothy Moynahan, in a 1900 Detroit Free press article, spoke of his brothers and sisters:

    "There were five brothers and three sisters" "all gone" by 1900 when the article was written.

    We know of another of Matthew's son James Moynahan (1805-1958) from the biography below:

    Other research has led us to two more children: We read of a Jeremiah Moynahan of Detroit with whom Mathew had had a falling out over an incident on Matthew's farm that caused some damage.

    We have also located a Johanna (Moynahan) Sullivan (1806-1891) of Washtenaw, Michigan whose death record show parents Matthew and Honora Moynahan. That still leaves a few blanks in our history of  Matthew and Honora.

    There are still so many pieces left to my Moynahan ancestor puzzle, and wills are a great source of information!

    Resources for Research on Wills


    Michigan, Probate Records, 1797-1973 (4,710,990 images at Family Search) Description Probate records from county courthouses in Michigan. Most of the collection contains estate files. The content and time period varies by county. Some of the records date before 1837 when Michigan became a state


    How to Find a Will in Court Records - Archives of Ontario (Updated May 2014) This research guide describes how to find a will that was filed in an Ontario court.

     Ontario Court of Probate and Surrogate Court Records: Wills and Estate Files - A Pathfinder


    Family Search Historical Collections Index