Branch News: 2008-2009


Ancestors in YourAttic
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

The wet weather helped chase genealogists out of their gardens and into the Quinte Branch annual “Ancestors in Your Attic” meeting on June 20th.  The meeting started with a presentation by Helen Coffey about how she published her family history “From Tipperary to Tyendinaga, The Story of John Coffey and Mary Burke and their Descendants. She used Microsoft Word for the text and Paintbrush for the images without using any advanced features and so created the table of contents and index from scratch. Maps were traced and re-drawn by hand to avoid copyright issues and to simplify their content. Charts were also built from scratch using only some basic shapes available in Word to indicate family groups. Overall, she showed the audience that you don’t need specialty software to publish a family history, just the desire to “get it done.” Helen graciously donated a copy of her family history to the branch library and also supplied us with a digital copy of the index for the Names Index database finding aid.

Ancestors in your Attic followed with an expert panel of Rod Green, Marilyn Harry, Stacy Goddard and Barbara Dawes responding to written questions submitted by the audience. The discussion ranged from how to find where ancestors in the UK had emigrated from to what early Ontario records are available in the 1800-1830 timeframe. Rod Green still had his laptop hooked up to the projector from the previous presentation and was able to demonstrate websites that were suggested as helpful.  Judging by the audience participation in the discussion it was another successful “Ancestors in your Attic” meeting.

Bob Dawes thanks Helen Coffey for donating a copy of her family history “From Tipperary to Tyendinaga” to the Quinte Branch. The expert panel including Rod Green, Marilyn Harry, Stacy Goddard and Barbara Dawes responded to questions submitted by genealogists in the audience. An attentive audience with many questions reflects on the panel’s responses.

Quinte Branch at the 225th Anniversary of the Loyalist Landing
Photography by Georgette Green

On June 13th, 2009 The Bay of Quinte Branch of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada (UELAC) marked the 225th Anniversary of the Landing of the United Empire Loyalists at Adolphustown, Ontario and the eventual establishment of the Province of Ontario. It was held on the site of the United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park where the Loyalists landed on 16 June 1784. The day featured a large encampment of various military re-enactment units as well as a flotilla of seven Bateaux, civilian re-enactors, artisans and settlers with their supplies on display. There were performances by the Loyalist Fife and Drum Corps and a wreath-laying ceremony later in the afternoon at the UEL monument and Cemetery in the Park.

Finding Ancestors in Newspapers
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

May 16, 2009–OGS President, Don Hinchley, told the Quinte Branch members, gathered in the Quinte West Council Chambers, how to use newspapers to research their ancestors. He concentrated on the print publications of the 19th and 20th centuries and explained how genealogists need to read between the lines. Many of the older, community-based newspapers provided elaborate social news surrounding family visits, weddings and deaths which can provide a wealth of new leads in your family history research. Quite often they would provide the married names of grown daughters in an obituary or the number or identify that a parent was deceased in the wedding notice. It is important to look for the same events in different papers as they would provide differing amounts of detail and not always correct which is another red flag for genealogists. If you are unsure of what papers cover your area of interest check out the Inventory or Ontario Newspapers by J. Brian Gilchrest at your local library. A good online site to check for papers is at the University of Waterloo. Microfilm copies of most papers are available through inter-library loan from the Archives of Ontario or Library and Archives Canada and you can check their websites to see what has been filmed.

Finally, Don reviewed the digital age papers which are online and include the digitized copies of some older papers. He recommended using Wikipedia to check out the history of various papers to see their print runs and name changes. The Google News Archive is a good place to search older papers including what was held by Paper of Record. Most of the large national papers are available online through pay-per-view but most public libraries have access and some offer home access to their members. To keep on top of new information check out Google Alerts which will advise you if a name you’re researching becomes listed. 

Don is Past Chair of Durham Region Branch OGS. He is a retired schoolteacher and is a genealogy “buff.” He was Vice President and is now President of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Quinte Branch Chair Richard Hughes introduces OGS President Don Hinchley.

Quinte Branch Members Receive Ontario Volunteer Service Awards
Article by Vernalynn Heale

On May 12, 2009 three members received Ontario Volunteer Service Awards, from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in recognition of each of their 5 year
commitment to volunteerism with the Quinte Branch. Representing Richard Hughes, Chair, and Tina Gemmell, Webmaster, was Vernalyn Heale, Membership, who accepted their awards from Leona Dombrowsky M.P.P. for Prince Edward-Hastings riding.

Vernalyn Heale accepting the awards from Leona Dombrowksy

Quinte Branch Librarian Mugged
Article by Richard HughesMay 5, 2009 – Branch librarian Marilyn Harry received a candy-filled coffee mug from Mark Philbin of radio station Classic Hits 95.5 in Belleville and Amy Taylor of Investor’s Group. This was a program of Volunteer and Information Quinte to recognize and honour volunteers in this area.   



Looking at the Loyalists on Their 225th Anniversary
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

April 18, 2009 – Extra chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the crowd of more than 60 who came to hear Peter W. Johnson UE explain the significance of the 225th anniversary of the United Empire Loyalists in the Bay of Quinte region. Peter took the audience through the course of events that created the loyalists – from the beginning of the American Revolution to the final settlement of their sons and daughters in area townships. He recounted the surnames of many area families that are related to the original loyalists causing many in attendance to start scribbling in their notebooks. Peter explained that the weekend of June 13th will be devoted to the celebration with many events and re-enactments at the Loyalist Park in Adolphustown.

Quinte Branch also presented Peter with the first copy of the new Stockdale Cemetery Annotated Transcript on CD-ROM. Peter was instrumental in creating the annotations to go with the memorial inscriptions as well as contributing many photos and copies of funeral cards for the publication. For more information about this exciting product from Quinte Branch Digital Media please see the Books & CDs page or the Northumberland Cemeteries page.

Peter W. Johnson UE, Past President of the United Empire Loyalists Association, wearing the uniform that would have been worn in the early part of the American Revolution by a musketman (private) in the New Jersey Volunteers.

Quinte Family History Researchers Receive Valuable Tool

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New CD Provides Comprehensive Information on Stockdale Cemetery and Early Murray Township Residents.

2 April 2009Stockdale Cemetery, in Murray Township, has been completely transcribed – a document of 366 pages on CD-ROM, including over 1400 entries with extensive family information, relationships, maiden names, cemetery history and maps. The CD is illustrated with pictures of early settlers, buildings, etc., from the collection of Mr. Peter W. Johnson, UE. Creating family trees has become a very popular hobby for Quinte area residents and a key tool is to be found in the area cemeteries. Stockdale Cemetery has long been the final resting place for residents of Murray Township. Now, through a collaborative effort of the Quinte Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society and Mr. Peter Johnson, UE, local genealogist and former president of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, a comprehensive new document has been created. The Stockdale Cemetery CD, a total of 366 pages, is indexed by name and is fully searchable. It is available from the Quinte Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society for $20.00.

Irish Exodus from County Wicklow and
Re-Settlement in 
Hastings County

Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Bob Dawes 

The Quinte West Public Library meeting room was packed on a sunny but cold March 21st to hear speaker, Jim Kennelly, talk about the migration from County Wicklow, Ireland to Hastings County during the potato famine. He explained how the tenancy system worked within Irish agricultural society from the landowner down through a series of head tenants and sub-tenants to the poor farmers at the bottom. These people subsisted primarily on potatoes and when the blight hit in the mid-1840’s they were devastated and over one million died. The Coolattin Estate was owned by the Fitzwilliam family who were very benevolent towards their tenants and assisted many in emigrating to Ontario. Further information can be obtained through the book “Surplus People” by Jim Rees or from

Also recognized at the meeting were, Laura Bush, a lifetime member of Quinte Branch, who turned 90 on St. Patrick’s Day and, Char Cooke, who with her husband, Roy Cooke, have audited the branch financial statements for many years.

Jim Kennelly with Quinte Branch Chairman Richard Hughes. Happy Birthday Laura!


Freemasonry and the United Empire Loyalists in Upper Canada
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Bob Dawes and Rodney Green

February 21, 2009: Quinte genealogists and a spattering of local Freemasons, including local former MP Harry Danford, assembled in the Quinte West council chambers to hear Robert Collins McBride UE, a retired teacher, Loyalist Gazette editor and Past District Deputy Grand Master of the Peterborough Masons, speak about the beginnings of Freemasonry in North America and Upper Canada. Bob began with a review of Freemasonry in the United Kingdom and how lodges were transported to the North American colonies by the pioneers and soldiers. As communities in the new world developed so did the practice of Freemasonry and its basic tenets of brotherly love, relief and truth. The American Revolution was the first American civil war and it was a trying time for Masons of different loyalties. All of the big names in the revolution such as George Washington, King George III, Joseph Brant, Sir John Johnson etc., were all Freemasons and found unique ways to maintain their vows while fighting their neighbours. Bob recounted many stories of situations where lives were saved by fellow masons after viewing a distress sign and either rescuing the individual or arranging an escape. He finished his presentation with a review of the organization of Masonic lodges in Ontario and where their various records are kept.

Larry McQuoid thanks Bob McBride for his presentation. Local Freemasons gathered to hear Bob McBride speak.


300th Anniversary of the Irish Palatines in Quinte
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

January 17, 2009: Eighty-Two excited genealogists filled the Quinte West council chamber to hear Don Dulmage explain the exodus of the Palatines from Germany to the Bay of Quinte. In 1709, these protestant Germans were being persecuted by the Roman Catholic majority and moved to England at the invitation of a sympathetic Queen Anne.  They settled in London but were unwelcome so moved on to Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, Ireland to help beef up the Protestant population there.  An equal number also went directly to American colonies in New York and South Carolina. In 1760, there was a second wave of emigration to North America when the Irish landlords drastically increased their rents. These colonists sided with the loyalists during the American Revolution and were eventually relocated to Canada where they settled around the Bay of Quinte. Don also explained the complicated surname changes that occurred first through Ireland and then North America and recounted his own journey to the land of his ancestors in the Rheinland Pfalz area of Germany. He also explained how difficult it is to find any sign of their presence in New York state where their Loyalist history has been expunged. A good website for a
quick history lesson is A Short History of the Irish Palatines by Tom Upshaw at

Don Dulmage is the Canadian author of Return to Deutschland” which documents the journey of his discovery of his family’s history (through a set of extraordinary circumstances) from Prince Edward County back to Germany where he was reunited with his root family after 292 years. Return to Deutschland” is available from Essence
in Belleville.

82 excited genealogists filled the council chamber to hear Don Dulmage Don Dulmage is thanked by Rod Green (left) and Richard Hughes (right).


How Mary Thomas Tells the Story of Canada’s History
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

November 2008:  Chair Dick Hughes kicked off the Annual General Meeting at 12:30 to get the business part over before the program. He presented his Annual Report to the Membership followed by Bob Dawes who presented the nominating committee’s slate of executive officers for 2009. They are Chair – Dick Hughes; Vice Chair – Shirley Heard; Treasurer – Richard Jones; Secretary – Georgette Green who were voted into office by the Quinte Branch members attending.  Following adjournment of the AGM, Mary Thomas, CJBQ radio reporter and author, took to the podium to talk about her three books.  She explained how she did her research on each of the books and how much it was like genealogy in tracking down the facts as well as her extensive use of archives and public libraries during their development also much like genealogy.  She did short readings from each to emphasize the different types of research she got involved in and that just whetted the audience’s appetite so that she sold out the supply she brought to the meeting.  Her books are “Behind Enemy Lines,” the story of a WWII tail gunner who spent six months on the run through Belgium and France before escaping to Switzerland. “David’s War” which chronicles an artillery battery from Gananoque who fought in WWI and “Turning Point” which brings to life the 1837 Rebellion from the point of view of Anna Jameson an English author and feminist.

Bob Dawes thanks Mary Thomas for her presentation at the Quinte Branch AGM on 15 Nov 2008 which was enjoyed by a full house.

Behind Enemy Lines“, “David’s War” and “Turning Point” by Mary Thomas are available from Essence Publishing in Belleville.

Damned Rascal” Captain John Walden Meyers
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Bob Dawes

October 2008:  Almost one hundred people filled the Quinte West council chamber to watch “Damned Rascal” and listen to producer Doug Knutson, of Windswept Productions,  explain how he had researched and produced his documentary on the life of Captain John Walden Meyers. Often described as the founder of Belleville, Captain Meyers was a
Loyalist, industrialist, entrepreneur, soldier, spy and eater of small children.  The legend of his espionage exploits during the Revolutionary War earned him the last title which frontier mothers would use to scare their children into submission. Although he is only half finished the documentary, the audience was mesmerized with what has been done so far. Over twenty descendants of Captain Meyers were in attendance coming from as far away as Woodstock and a group photo captured their interest in their ancestor. More
in the news at SNAP Quinte.

Doug Knutson of Windswept Productions is thanked for his presentation by Past Chair Carole Foshay. Over twenty descendants of Captain Meyers were in attendance.


Quinte Genealogy Centre Appointed Depository for Papers of Mr. Hugh P. O’Neil, M.P.P. for Quinte 1975-1995 and Cabinet Minister

On Tuesday morning, September 23, 2008, the Quinte Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society celebrated with the Community at Quinte West City Hall. Mr. Hugh P. O’Neil, Member of the Provincial Legislature for Quinte, 1975-1995, deposited his collection of papers, representing 20 years of legislative memories in the Quinte Genealogy Centre, operated by Quinte Branch OGS. These valuable papers will be available for reference by the public, academics, historians, journalists and writers in the years to come.

Members and guests were warmly welcomed by Quinte Branch Chairman Richard Hughes, who then turned the program over to QB Director Bob Dawes who introduced the special guest speakers: Mayor John Williams; Library Board Chairman Craig Desjardins; and Mrs. Dorothy James of the Trent Port Historical Society who joined friends and family of Mr. O’Neil and members and guests of Quinte Branch for this special event. The unveiling of the collection by Mr. Hugh O’Neil and Mr. Richard Hughes followed. A plaque
commemorating the event was placed with the collection by Mr. Richard Hughes.

Mr. O’Neil stated “The Quinte Genealogy Centre is home to a significant collection of historical records relating to the families of the Quinte area. It encourages research into this history by individuals across North America and beyond. In these circumstances, I felt that this would be the most appropriate location for the records of my 20 years serving the people of the Quinte area. I am very pleased that the records of my time representing Quinte will be available to everyone for many years to come.”

Refreshments were served by Quinte Branch and a social time followed.

Janet Kellough Presents “Is it History or is it Fiction?”
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Bob Dawes

Those attending the Quinte Branch meeting on Saturday, September 20th were entertained by Janet Kellough, a local author and storyteller. She explained that her mission in life was to write historical fiction with a backbone of actual events and people or the back story as she phrased it. This gets the story across in an interesting and entertaining way for the reader and encourages them to research the facts for themselves. Janet did two readings from her books and had the audience mesmerized as they were swept away to a teenage summer on the shores of Lake Ontario in the 1920s and the investigation of a serial murderer in the 1830s. The latter book is still a work in process and we will have to wait for it to be published to find out how it ends.

Edward Cullin thanks Janet Kellough for her entertaining presentation.

Read more about Janet Kellough, novelist, storyteller, playwright and performer at

Hastings County Cemeteries Transcribed by Quinte Branch Volunteers
Article by Rod Green
Photography by Georgette Green

Over the summer much has been accomplished by the Cemetery Committee due to the time and efforts of many volunteers. Several cemeteries in Hastings County have been updated. Groups of volunteers have made visits to transcribe Moira Cemetery and Luke’s Cemetery in Huntingdon Twp. and Thomasburg Cemetery in Hungerford Twp. Volunteers are always welcome, either individually or in groups, to adopt a cemetery or cemeteries.

On September 8, 2008, Quinte Branch volunteers transcribed Thomasburg Cemetery

Bell Grant Expands Microfilm Collection
Article by Richard Hughes
Photography by Georgette Green

The Bell Employees Giving Program has granted $2,000 to the Quinte Branch of the OGS which will be used to expand the Research Library’s microfilm collection. Thanks to the volunteer hours given by retired Bell employees Rod Green, Cemetery Coordinator and Researcher, and Harriet Richards, Branch Photographer, along with a large number of volunteer hours given by other members, the Bell program has allowed this grant. The Branch currently has an extensive microfilm collection of Ontario census and birth, marriage and death registrations. The new grant will be used to expand the scope of the census records and add further registrations. Here Bell retiree Rod Green presents the cheque to Treasurer Ted Cullin and Chairman Richard Hughes.

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards Presented to Quinte Branch Members
Article by Carole Foshay

At a special presentation ceremony in Belleville on Monday June 23, the following Quinte Branch members were presented with Ontario Volunteer Service Awards from  Prince-Edward Hastings MPP Leona Dombrowsky: Carole Foshay, 5 years; Roberta Cullin, 10 years; and Rodney Green, 25 years. Marilyn Harry and Noreen Smith who will receive awards for 20 and 25 years respectively were unable to attend. They will receive their awards at a Branch meeting in the fall. Read all about it in the Belleville Intelligencer.