Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Tweedsmuir Histories

Over the years the Elgin County Archives have been putting the Tweedsmuir Histories online.

The first women’s institute was organized in Aylmer in 1902. In the mid 1930’s Lady Tweedsmuir, the wife of the then Governor-General, encouraged the ladies of the Women’s Institutes to preserved the histories of their communities. By 1947 local branches throughout the province began compiling scrapbooks which became known as the “Tweedsmuir Histories”. These scrapbooks contained records, photos, and oral histories of their communities.

It is an outstanding resource for genealogists, and historians.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

Here are a couple of photos from my collection.
Graduation class for wireless operators in Guelph, Ontario 1943. John A. Hillman is bottom row 9th. from the left. By the end of 1943 he was in England with a Lancaster bomber crew.
Probably taken in 1944. This is a photo of Spitfire pilots of the 65th. Squadron. I am guessing but I think that my uncle Bruce Ivan Hillman took the photo. The 65th. was a R.A.F. squadron. Bruce was posted to the squadron December 28, 1943.
Four members of Dad's Lancaster crew. John A. Hillman is third from the left. Probably taken in early 1944 just before their plane went down in Germany.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Canada 150

Canada 150 is a national campaign to encourage Canadians to collect their life stories, family and community histories. The idea is to collect, and document, these collections for the upcoming 150 anniversary of the founding of Canada in 2017. For further information go to the Canada 150 web page.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hillmans and the Mays

Brothers from one family marrying sisters from another family is not an unknown event for this region of Southwestern Ontario, even in my lifetime. Finding primary documents that provide hard evidence from the Western District of Upper Canada (that is to say before 1851) is another story.

The Western District up to 1851(1) contained today’s counties of Essex, Kent, Lambton, and Huron. The two families originally were from the township of Zone (here we have some primary data, a lot of secondary references, and even more conjecture). Zone township was divided when the county system was organized in 1848. Part of the township was included in Kent County, and part in Lambton County. By 1851 the creation of county courthouses meant that there is a more complete collection of civil records available.

John Hillman was born 4 December, 1819 in Westbury, Wiltshire, England ,and James Hillman born 17 November, 1822 also in Wiltshire.(2) Both are the sons of George Hillman and Susanna Browne.(3) Both are clearly brothers.

The Mays are more of a challenge. Isabella May was born in Scotland 3 October, 1822, and Mary May was born also in Scotland sometime in 1827.(4) Their father was Daniel May - proving it is becoming an interesting challenge. James Hillman married Mary May in Zone Township, Western District, on 21 December, 1847.(5) Unfortunately, these records from the Western District contain only the bride and groom’s names. Not those of their parents. The transcript of their marriage found on microfilm states that they were married by banns in Zone Township. Being married by banns suggests that the families were members of the same church - I know I am out on a limb here; but as far as I know there was only one Baptist Church in Zone Township at this time. In the 1880 United States Census Daniel May is found living with James and Mary in Sanilac County, Michigan. (7)The guess, and it is a guess, is that he is living with his daughter and son-in-law.

In the 1861 Canada Census John and Isabella (6) are living in Aldborough Township, Elgin County, Canada West. Daniel Hillman is found in the Village of Rodney not that far from the farm settled by the Hillmans. There seems to be a link. The evidence is at best circumstantial. We need documentation probably from the Scottish Archives. If it is available.


(1) The Ontario Archives has some microfilm available “Ontario Archives, The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West - Western District, 1786-1856”; Ontario Archives “Western District fonds 1810-1931; As far as I can tell none of this is online. I am using 1851 as an arbitrary date. After this date it gets a little bit easier to find documentation.(2) “England & Wales Births and Baptisms“.

(3)marriage record for George Hillman and Susanna Browne,, "England & Wales Marriages, 1538-1940".
(4) birth date for Isabella May found in her obituary, “The Rodney Mercury Sun” obituary October 4, 1906, and death certificate, Archives of Ontario, "Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1936 and Deaths Overseas". For Mary May I have to go with the date given in the 1880 United States Census.
(5) Ontario Archives, “The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West - Western District, 1786-1856.”
(6) Their oldest son was named Daniel (it’s common in this area to name the oldest son after one of the grandfathers, or both if you are lucky - I am a case in point) ). His marriage certificate (8) puts his birth as 1840. It’s not necessarily accurate; however, it does suggest that John and Isabella were married some time before 1840- probably between 1837 and 1839. Also,, “ 1861 Canada Census”.
(7), “1880 United States Federal Census.”
(8) Ontario Archives, “Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1857-1924.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Review - Time Traveller’s Handbook

Althea Douglas, “Time Traveller’s Handbook: A Guide to the Past”, Dundurn Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-55488-784-2 (soft cover) $19.99

Althea Douglas’s new book is an excellent addition to the reference library of both genealogists, and historians. Althea maintains that family historians are essentially time travellers; but then again so are historians. Many of the references, and terminology, used a hundred years ago that we often turn up in documents are not relevant for us today. A handy book that can remind us (those of us past forty that is) what a quart, mile, or acre were is a useful reference.

The book deals with deciphering documents, family traditions, money and its value, trades, how people lived, and seafaring and military traditions. An appendix of important dates, notes that are chock full of references, deciphering Latin references, and a strong bibliography are for me very useful. As a boy I had British measures such as quarts, peck, mile, and inches pounded into me to the point I can not seem to shake them even now. Younger people should find these tables useful.

Unfortunately, I am now old enough to remember many of the life style references. When I was 6 and 7 my family lived on a small street in the village of Byron (now part of London), and I still remember the horse drawn Silverwood’s milk wagon. I do not remember the milkman ever sitting in the driver’s seat. The old horse probably knew the milk route better than the milkman. Right up until the end of the 1950’s my maternal grandmother kept her coal furnace. My paternal grandmother finally got electricity to the farm house when her sons returned from the war. With electricity, and a septic tank, my father bought her her first refrigerator. Much of the lifestyle we wonder about today was not that far in the past. Either that or I am getting old.

I highly recommend “Time Traveller’s Handbook” for any genealogist or historian’s reference library.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Lena and William Wallace Hillman, 50th. Wedding Anniversary, 25 December, 1962
Personal Collection.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Go Figure !

As usual I get distracted during a research session.
Bringing Up Father, "The London Free Press, September 23, 1918.

2nd. half of Bringing Up Father.
Some things just never seem to change.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lovely Blog Award

Thank you Cheryl for the lovely blog award. Cheryl at “Twice Upon a Time” e-mailed me to let me know that she had nominated this blog for the “Lovely Blog Award”.

The Rules for the award are as follows:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other genealogy blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

So here are some of the blogs that I read on a regular basis. I did not count them; but I suspect that there are more than fifteen. One has nothing to do with genealogy; however, sometimes after a frustrating day of research turning into no research I find it helps.

Amanda’s Athenaeum
Anglo-Celtic Connections
Brenda Dougall Merriman
Canadian Genealogy, or, ‘Jane’s Your Aunt”
Christopher Moore’s History News
Family Trees May Contain Nuts
For All My Relations
Forensic Genealogy
Canadian Genealogy
Genealogy’s Star
Great Canadian Beer Blog - Hey - I’m a Canadian, and beer is a food group ! It also helps with the research - maybe.
Ian Hadden’s Family History
Janet The Researcher
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog
The Educated Genealogist
This Intrepid Band
Twice Upon a Time

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tartan Day

Today is Tartan Day in tribute to our Scots ancestry. Ah - but what kilt to wear? For me it can be a bit of a puzzle assuming that I want it to be authentic. Apparently you trace your clan through your father’s surname. That won’t fly. Not with an English name like Hillman. So it would seem that I need to go to my matrilineal line. Unfortunately the Steeles were from Glasgow originally - definitely lowlanders. That leaves my paternal grandmother. The Turners were from Clan Lamont. That’s stretching it a bit but maybe I will go with that tartan.

I never was one for following rules so I can be nationalistic, and go with the Maple Leaf tartan. Only if no one tries to make me sing the national anthem. Not with my voice. At least before I have had a couple of shots of scotch.
Or I could be regional in my splendour and go for the Ontario plaid.

One thing I can guarantee is that I will be wearing something under the kilt. April 6 or not it’s -6 C. out there today.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ontario Genealogical Society’s 2011 Conference

The Ontario Genealogical Society’s 2011 Golden Anniversary Conference will be held in Hamilton, Ontario May 13 - May 15. The link will take you to the programs that are being offered. It looks like a must conference. You do not need to be a member to attend. I’ll be there.

Friday, February 18, 2011


A friend sent me photos of puppies. Should have made this one a wordless Wednesday.
I promise to use proper citation in all my reports. So help me dog.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

John Hillman and the Rebellion of 1837

Amazing what you can find if you keep on digging. It would appear that John Hillman (1819-1906) was in the militia.
West Kent Militia; 2nd. Kent Militia: St. Clair Volunteers Pay List, 1838.
This is taken from a transcription by the Lambton Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, 1989. The original is found in the British Archives.
The St. Clair Volunteers included men from Zone township. For John Hillman this is the right geographical area. In 1838 he was in Zone. An interesting footnote is that apparently he could not read or write. He made his mark !

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - John David Hillman & Family

John David died in 1936 so this photo was taken before then. I still have to get the women in the back row straight; but I can identify some. From left to right bottom row - Lena Hillman (Peckham), William Wallace Hillman (My grandfather so I know I have that right), John David Hillman, Hannah Hillman (McKay), Henry Hillman. From left to right top row - second from left is Olive (Hillman) Dare, the man is Charles Bruce Hillman, next to him is his wife Hope Hillman (Lougheed).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Recent Keyword Searches

As in my other blog “Veterans Of Southwestern Ontario” I looked at recent keywords that linked to my blog. Interesting. Most seem to be historical rather than genealogical searches. I suspect hat a good deal of the searches are for school essays. It is interesting also to look at what search terms link people to the blog.

1.where were the hillmans from

My paternal ancestors were from Westbury in Wiltshire, England. Now if you look at the maternal ancestors starting from me it gets far more varied. English (from all over hell’s half acre), Scots (from the highlands to the lowlands. Apparently being a Scot was good enough for my ancestors), Cornish, German (the Rhineland via Pennsylvania to Ontario), and Dutch (via New York State to Ontario). If you start from one of my sons then throw Ireland into the mix. Which goes to show that the male Hillman is not choosy.

2.elgin county great depression

A big topic here, and not a lot available online. It looks like a library search. One thing that I have noticed is that there is a difference in the effect of the depression upon the rural areas as opposed to the cities.

3. world war 2 in elgin county

In a word - prosperity. With the “Commonwealth Air Training” came jobs and investment. Farmers received good prices for their produce, and at the same time coped with a labour shortage. Young men and women joined the armed forces. Conscription divided the urban and rural voters. As with the Great Depression you will not find a lot online so its library time again !

4. fenian raid effects

Locally very little. Nationally a great deal. Young men flocked to their local militia units, and several units were sent to Windsor or Sarnia to guard the borders. In fact, a good time was had by all.

5. hillman family history prince Edward Island

As far as I can tell not this Hillman family.

6. london history of latin quarter

I assume here we are talking about the restaurant/ballroom. I do have previous blogs on the Latin Quarter. The building is gone now but the memories continue.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy 91st. Dad !

Johm A. Hillman born January 10, 1920 in Rodney, Ontario. Happy Birthday !!!!