Jul 092020

Hello there, friends and family.

My genealogy site has laid fallow for far too long. I’ve been off working on other projects — namely, finishing my PhD in Writing Studies. The two years following the completion of that degree have been spent recovering from that arduous process.

However, I now have more time for genealogical research, and I have discovered the world of genetic genealogy. (This started as a distraction from my academic work.) Super exciting! Recently, I have been working as a search angel for adoptees looking for their biological families of for those with unknown biological family members who’d they like to find through genetic genealogy. It has been really rewarding work to help them solve these mysteries. I hope to do more of this in the future.

I’m also contemplating a move into professional genealogy and genealogical coaching. This has been a long time coming, and many of you will raise an eyebrow, shake your heads, and tell me that I should have done this a long time ago. I bow my head in acknowledgement of your rightness. I just had to close off that PhD chapter of my life first!

The first step in this process is going to be to catch up on my genealogy correspondence and to refresh this site.

I look forward to being part of the genealogy world again.


Nov 132016

Ludwig Hamann (1902-1986)

Ludwig Hamann (1902-1986)

Born in 1902, Ludwig Hamann, my husband’s grandfather, lived in Germany in a tumultuous time. He experienced the First World War and the interwar period when life in Germany was difficult for many. He joined a company that sold chicory coffee in 1922 and worked as a salesman for many years. Around that time, he also joined the YMCA and practiced his Christian faith with the other men that he met there. In a letter to his daughter, he writes that the day he convinced Lina Weinecke—a woman he met at work—to attend an exhibit with him was the best day of his life. Lina and Ludwig married in 1927 and their eldest daughter Trudi was born in 1930.

In 1932, Ludwig joined the Sturmabteilung (the Storm Detachment), which was the paramilitary section of the Nazi Party. The SA numbered 400,000 men by that point, but would grow to over 3 million members by 1933; many of these members were working class and unemployed. Ludwig was drawn to the Nazi party, according to his daughter, because Hitler had built the Autobahnen (the highways), which had helped many people, and he had created jobs for many who had been out of work–Hitler gave people hope for the future. Undoubtedly, Ludwig was also drawn to the nationalistic message of the Nazis: the cry that Germans and Nazis were better than others, the assertion that this superiority meant that other groups, such as the Communists, should be chased, beaten, and driven out of Germany.

Ludwig’s mother and his wife disagreed with his membership in the SA and were scared for his safety.

Lina Hamann and children

Lina Hamann and children

The predominantly working-class SA would come into conflict with the middle-class SS. In 1934, the SA was violently overthrown by Hitler and his men who believed that these working class, mostly socialist masses, would stand in their way of consolidating power. Some of the SA became SS members. My husband’s aunt does not mention in her family history what happened to Ludwig’s political beliefs at this point. Instead, she tells us that her parents were devastated by the death of Trudi in 1933. Two more girls were born to the family in 1934 and 1935. Ludwig was singing with his Christian men’s choir when his second daughter was born. He came home to find his wife in labour. His mother heard the commotion from her neighbouring apartment, and when she joined to help in the delivery, she discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s head. Thankfully, the baby was born healthy. Lutz, my husband’s father, was born in 1937. A third girl joined the family in 1941.

Ludwig Hamann joined the German army in 1939 when the war broke out. He was mostly absent from the family home for six years. He was stationed in Belgium, in Germany, and he ended the war as a prisoner in Greece. At home, my husband’s grandmother foraged in the forests to find enough food to feed her children. They sold the baby’s clothes for food; they had no choice.

Ludwig returned from the war a broken man. His relationship with his family was difficult and painful. As a former Nazi, he had subject to the denazification rules. His desire to move up in the world ended in bitterness. Any improvements in his life thanks to Nazism were fleeting at best, and the cost for this fleeting improvement was an unfathomable number of deaths and a systematic program to eliminate a group of people to whom the Germans felt superior.

Was Ludwig Hamann a bad man? Was he an evil man? At what point did his hopes for a better life for himself turn into something destructive? To what extent was he, a common man, responsible for the actions of those he supported?

Ludwig in uniform with his family

Ludwig in uniform with his family

At what point were the vocal reservations of his wife and his mother silenced? How were they silenced? Did their protests reside in those silent, unspoken spaces that exist between us and those we love? Did they choose to rationalize Ludwig’s political beliefs? Or did these women look aside and dismiss the rumours about what was happening to their Jewish neighbours? Or were they insistent, loud and merely ignored because they came from women who had no say in the machinations of powerful men?

What responsibility do we have to this history, a history of humanity gone wrong? This isn’t a history of a group of people who are different from us. This isn’t the history of an evil people. This is a history of common people: common people who believed that they were doing the right things for their families and who wanted a better future. This is a history of common people who, through false information and dangerous ideas, became convinced that their better future and their worth as a culture and race were threatened by people who were different that them. This is a history of all of us, of all humans, and of all of the evils that lurk in our hearts.

Lest we forget.

Nov 092014
Richard Burke

Recent comments and inquiries about my Burke family research have reminded me that I do have a couple of additional pieces of information to add to the Burke family story.

Richard Burke Family

Richard Burke Family

In a previous post, I mentioned that I believed that I had found the brother of my g-g-g-grandfather David Burk.  I believe that David and his siblings came to Canada during the late 1840s at the time of the Irish potato famine.  David Burk settled in Mariposa Township in Victoria County, Ontario.  Oral family history has it that David had a brother Richard and a brother Joseph.  I believe that David’s brother Richard moved to Carievale, Saskatchewan.  I outline my reasons for making this connection in my previous post. I have yet to locate David’s brother Joseph.

In the meantime, however, I have some additional information about David Burk.  This new information adds more circumstantial evidence that David Burk and Richard Burke are brothers.

While in Ontario this summer, I made a trip to the Ontario Archives (love).  I pulled the tax assessment rolls for Mariposa Township (Fonds F 1761).  These aren’t on microfilm, so I had the pleasure of dealing with the beautiful old folders.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of them.  I found the following entries for David Burk:


David Burk; Con: 2 W 1/2; Lot: 20; Acres: 100; Value of each parcel or lot: 75; Value of horses: 30; No of neat cattle, 3 years or upwards: 2; Number of neat cattle: 6; Total value of taxable personal property: 36; Statute labour: 6.


Records weren’t available as they discovered mold on the folders.


David Burk; Age 28; Farmer; Householder; Con 2, Lot 20 W 1/2; Value of lot: 300. No other info.


Occupant: David Burke; Occupation: Yeoman; Householder; Age: 28; Concession 2; Lot 22 1/2 N; No. of Acres: 100; Value of each lot: 40; Total value of property: 40; Statute Labour, No of days: 2.

I also checked if David Burk was perhaps the original patent holder for the land on Con 2 Lot 20.  He wasn’t.  The original patent for Con 2 Lot 20 1/2 W for Mariposa Township, Victoria County went to John Ray in 1843, George Ray in 1844, and to John Naylor 1853 and 1854. This suggests that David Burk was renting this land — a fact which is confirmed by the fact that he has moved to Con 2, Lot 22 by 1854.  The 1861 census has him living on Con 2, Lot 21.



1873 Mary Ann Shouldice Burke Death Record

  1. If there were other Burk siblings living on this land and helping (and I suspect that there were), they were younger than David because he is listed as the head of the household.
  2. It gives us some pretty interesting information about the farm: 6 neat cattle!
  3. It gives us some additional information about David’s age.  The 1861 census puts his date of birth at 1824, but according to this new information, it could have been a couple years later in 1826.

Of course, none of this ties David Burk to Richard Burke.  What I also discovered, however, was that David Burk was living next to several Shouldice families in 1851-4: those of Jacob, William, John and Samuel.  Richard Burke’s wife was Mary Ann Shouldice.

Moreover, Mary Ann Shouldice is buried in North Valentia United Cemetery which is only one concession over from David Burk’s farm in Mariposa Township.  (Mary Ann died of puerperal peritonitis (infection after childbirth) three days after the birth of her son Frederick Whitlock Burke in 1873 – see the death record to the left).

It is seems probable that Mary Ann Shouldice was related to the Shouldice family who lived next to David Burk and that Richard had met Mary Ann through this connection. (I suspect that Richard was living on David’s farm).  Perhaps Mary Ann was the daughter of Jacob Shouldice who was born 1796 in Ireland and who died in 1882 in Lindsay in Victoria County.  This would fit as Jacob is the name of Richard and Mary Ann’s first son. Interestingly, Jacob Shouldice is listed as Bible Christian in his death record.  David Burk’s son Benjamin (my great-great grandfather) married into the Puley family who were also Bible Christians.

So again, this isn’t definite proof that Richard and David were brothers, but at this point I would be very surprised if they weren’t.

P.S. Someone named Frances left a comment on my previous post that she was a descendant of Richard Burke and knew that he had 12 siblings.  Frances — I tried to contact you at the e-mail you left, however, my e-mail bounced.  I’d love to hear more about what you know.  You can write me directly at!

Apr 062014

I have done some major work on the web site in the last few months.  I have updated its look (yay!), and I have made some behind the scene changes that make some things easier for me (and hopefully for readers too).

Twigged also has a brand-new Facebook page if you would like to follow the site there.  I link to any new material on Facebook so you won’t miss anything.  You can find the page here:

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the database update went slightly awry, and the photos and documents that were on the site previously were erased.  I do have copies on my computer, but it will take me some time to re-upload them.  If there was something on the previous site that you are desperate to have, let me know and I’ll do my best to get it to you.



 Posted by at 9:29 am