My New Cousin

Originally Posted on July 19 2010:

It’s been a while since I wrote anything.  I will try to change that from now on and write as much as I can.  When I started researching my family history and my wife’s family history, the only thing that she told me was “Don’t get us related!” Since we both come from large French Canadian families from the Essex County area of Ontario, I was kind of surprised that I hadn’t yet.  There were a couple of marriages that connected the families, but that’s it.

Last week I was researching my 4 times great-grandparents – Alexis Rivet & Marguerite Turcot.  I decided to start following the Turcot line.  Marguerite’s parents were Jean Baptiste Turcot and Marie Dorothe Gagnon.  Then I found Jean Baptiste’s parents, Louis Gabriel Turcot and Angelique Pigeon.  I then went to enter Angelique’s parents (Louis Pigeon & Agnes Caron)  into my software and realized that I already had them.  Before I connected them I check how they were related to me.  It came back to say that they were my wife’s 7 times great-grandparents.


When I connected Louis Pigeon & Agnes Caron to Angelique Pigeon I found out that they are my 7 times great-grandparents as well!  So now I’ve discovered that I’m 8th cousins to my wife.  🙂 Sorry, honey! Love you!

Where did Rivait come from?

Originally Posted on January 23 2010:

As I have mentioned, before I started looking, I knew nothing about the Rivait’s.  I did not know how large of a family it was or how long we had been in Canada for.  My dad gave me a name of another Rivait that he said we were related to.  I contacted him and found out that we were second cousins.  With his father’s help I was able to piece together my grandfather’s brothers and sisters.  I now knew who my great-grandparents were, William Rivait & Alexina Guilbeault.  After further research, I found out that my great-grandfather was born Guillaume Rivet.  When I searched for Rivait, there was never very much.  My line of Rivait’s was only 3 generations old.  When I started investigating the Rivet name, I found a lot more historic documents.  After e-mailing another Rivait, she shared her research that took the Rivet’s back to Maurice Rivet (b. 1642 in La Rochelle, France).  Maurice is my 7 times great-grandfather.  He came to Canada around 1664 and settle in Cap-de-la-Madeleine.  Maurice married Marie Cusson, who was born around 1657 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine. They had 12 children and being good French Catholics, they all had large families.  Now the fun begins finding all the connections.

My German (Swiss?) Heritage

Originally Post on December 18 2009:

The next step I took was to sign up on the mailing list for  I wrote out what I knew of my grandmother’s family and asked if anyone had any connections to this same family. I received a few e-mails about the history of Backi Jarek. It was great to get a better understanding about how my grandmother’s life would have been like been coming to Canada. I also received an e-mail with a link to someone’s Morgenthaler family tree that had my great-grandmother (Katarina Morgenthaler b. 1895) and great-grandfather (Georg Klingler b. 1885) on it. The birth dates and locations were the same. My grandmother had written that her mother had two sisters named Barbara Morgenthaler (b. 1889) and Sofia Morgenthaler (b. 1894) with the years they were born. Looking at the tree, I was in shock. I had just discovered that my grandmother’s family was part of a very interesting migration of Germans into the Balkans known as the Donauschwaben. Now this family tree goes all the way back to Bendicht Morgenthaler (b. c1565) from Ursenbach, Bern, Switzerland. Bendicht is 12 generations above me, so he is my 10 times great-grandfather. I now have two branches of my family tree already researched back to the 1500 or 1600s.

Unfortunately, I have not found out much about the Klingler side further past my great-grandfather. My grandmother wrote that he fought in the first World War on the Austrian side. Towards the end of the war he was captured by the Russian army and kept captive for a year. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to confirm this or not, but definitely an interesting story.  Shortly after he returned to Backi Jarek, he married my great-grandmother (Katarina Morgenthaler). My grandmother also wrote that she had an aunt named Anna, Georg Klingler’s sister. My father remembers hearing family rumours that Georg Klingler went to the United States around 1910. He got a woman “in trouble” and came back to Europe where he was quickly conscripted into the army. When my father was young he remembers the family traveling to the Cleveland, Ohio area to visit his grandfather’s cousins. That is really all that I know about the Klingler side.

Discovering My Father’s Side

Originally Posted on December 7 2009:

My father’s side was a little more mysterious. I’ve only ever known my grandmother, and my aunts and uncles. That’s it. My grandparents got divorced when my father was young. The family moved away from the Leamington, Ontario area and ended up in Toronto. They never had any contact with their father’s family since.

Before I started looking, I didn’t know very much about my grandmother, Katharine Mary Klingler. I knew that she was German and born somewhere in Europe. Her and her family came to Canada while she was young. I remember one Christmas around 1993, my grandmother brought a magazine article about the war in the Balkan states. She showed us the map from the article. She pointed at an area north of Belgrade in Serbia and told us that was where she was born. I thought that was weird, because I thought she was German and Serbia was not part of Germany.

My father and his siblings were born in the Leamington area of Essex county and that was where their father, Harold Rivait’s family was. While I was growing up, the only Rivait’s in the Toronto area phone books were my uncles and us. However, I heard there would be at least a full page of Rivait’s in the phone book in Essex County. Rivait is a French name, but that’s all I know about our family.

When I visited my parents after they came home from Arizona, I looked for any information that they had. Luckily, my dad had given my grandmother a Family Tree book to write down all that she could about her family. My grandmother had written down all about how her family came from a little German village in Yugoslavia called Backi Jarak.  With a quick Google search I found DVHH – Remembering Our Donauschwaben Ancestors .   It was a wealth of information on the German migration into the Balkan states.  I had no idea that there were any German villages there.  Now the story my grandmother told us made sense.  She was born in 1920 in Yugoslavia and came to Canada in 1930 with her parents, sister and brother.  They settled in Kamloops, British Columbia for about 15 years and then moved to South-eastern Ontario.

This was my introduction to my father’s side of the family.  I had no idea what a rich and interesting heritage we belonged to on my German side, but little did I know, there was more amazing information to come…

Gathering More Information – My Mom’s Side

Originally posted on Devember 2 2009:

I feel like I need to dedicate the first few posts on my blog to the history of how I got to where I am. Even if it has been only months, not years. This how I started my research…

I had information on a whole branch of my tree that I didn’t know anything about. Well, I never really knew about any of the branches, so like starting any family tree research I asked my parents what they could remember about their families. Unfortunately, my parents were in Arizona for the winter and had to rely on their memory. The second problem was that my grandparents had all past away around 5 years ago, so I could not ask them.

I knew the most about my mother’s side, so I will devote this post to that side. My grandfather, John Alan Wood was part of Ken Coull’s tree that I had just found. I knew some information on my great-grandmother, Doris Carvel Farmer, but thanks to Ken’s research I now knew where she was born. My mother was able to give me some information on her and this started the branch of the Farmer’s from Hasting, Sussex, England.

My grandmother, or Nana as we called her, Vera Alice Turner was born in London, England. I knew about some of her family. My mother had kept in contact with one of her cousins, now living in Australia. My Nana would tell me about her growing up in Shepard’s Bush, London. She was the youngest of four children, she had two brothers and a sister. She was a war-bride, she married my grandfather (Alan Wood) after World War and came across the Atlantic to Canada.

To cover off my great-grandparents, I had information on the Wood side, some on the Farmer side and pretty much nothing on the Turner and …  We didn’t know what my Nana’s mother’s maiden name was.  I had 3 of 4, so far…

How I Accidentally Ended up with Ancestors…

Originally posted on November 20 2009:

My obsession with genealogy started 9 months ago. It was a quiet day at work and for some reason I decided to Google my family. I came across a result on Rootsweb. The family tree that popped up had my great-grandfather, John Douglas Wood, on it. I was pretty surprised. It showed my great-grandmother, Doris Carvel Farmer along with their children. I clicked through to my grandfather, John Alan Wood. My mother and uncle were posted as Living. I clicked on my mom’s link and it showed ME! I swear my heart skipped a beat. I had no idea who the owner of the tree was. Who was this guy and why the heck did he have me on his family tree?

I knew my family. It consisted of my dad’s brothers and sisters and their kids, my mom’s brother and his kids. There was some mention of cousins in England, Scotland and Australia, maybe two or three. Besides that I thought we were pretty much alone.

The tree in question was owned by Ken Coull. I had never heard of the surname Coull before. I started checking out the rest of the tree. There were a lot of unfamiliar names and places in Scotland. I had known that my great-grandfather was born in Scotland and at some point came to Canada before World War One. Ken’s tree had 2,859 entries on it. I couldn’t believe that I could be connected to that many people.

After some humming and hawing , I decided to e-mail Ken Coull and ask about the tree and what connection we had. A few weeks past and I had not yet received a reply from Ken. Then one morning I got to work and there was an e-mail from Ken in my inbox. When I opened the e-mail, it wasn’t from Ken at all but his son. He mentioned that his father and mother were killed in a car accident. Ken’s son sent me a copy of Ken’s gedcom file to see if it would help me with my research. I was shocked when I opened it up and found more than 38,000 people.

I kept looking at all of the work that Ken had put into his research. I thought that all of this work would be lost if I didn’t do some thing with it. I loved the thought that somehow, I’m connected to these 38,000 people. I couldn’t leave this information, so I decided to try to share it and help others researching these names.

And that is how I accidentally ended up with ancestors.