‘Genealogy & DNA’ – with the LCGS

After a long, cold, winter, and many weeks of cloudy skies and rain, the warm sunshine arrived, just in time, for the May meeting of the Lanark County Genealogical Society.

LCGS logo

 

It’s always a pleasure to exchange ideas with fellow LCGS members, learn about new genealogy  projects, and ongoing efforts to preserve our history and heritage, and helping distant families around the world, reconnect with their pioneer roots.

Arlene Shirley and Jayne

(l to r –  long-time LCGS member, and member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Arlene Stafford-Wilson, center- Shirley Somerville, Librarian and Director of Genealogical Resources, and Jayne Munro-Ouimet, LCGS President, and recipient of 2018 Award of Excellence for her outstanding contributions to Lanark County)

Also present, Helen Gillan, historian, tireless volunteer, and one of the founding members of the LCGS.

Arlene and Helen

 

My presentation included a brief overview of  the stories included in “Lanark County Calling: All Roads Lead Home:

Lanark County Calling book summary poster

 

The main topic of the afternoon was a presentation and discussion of “Genealogy and DNA”.

Genealogy and DNA

In the presentation, I compared three of the most popular DNA Home Test Kits:  ‘My Heritage’,  ’23 and Me’, and ‘Ancestry’.

Slideshow DNA

A contrast of the many varying price ranges for the DNA test kits was discussed, how each test is done, which tests are easier to use, and how soon the DNA results will be returned to the consumer.

Next, we examined some of the main features of each kit.  Some DNA kit companies provide maps of the world, with a numerical breakdown of where your DNA match ‘cousins’ may be found, and how many are in each country.

Slideshow 2 LCGS

Other kits focus more on the medical aspects of DNA, and will provide the consumer with specific information on whether they are a carrier for a variety of diseases, like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, blood-sugar disorders, cancers, macular degeneration, gluten-related disorders, nerve, heart, and blood disorders.

Some of the DNA test kits provide more comprehensive information on family connections, and will show how many cousins/DNA matches are in a particular part of the world, displayed on a map, and if you choose to build a family tree, these DNA tests will provide you with matches to the people in your tree, so that you may expand your family history through cousin connections.

The presentation included the different types of family-tree building software that comes as part of the kit, the ease of use of each of these, and also the ability to upload or download your DNA results into genetic ‘pools’, like those in GEDmatch, to provide you with an even wider search capability.

I also discussed some of the issues with privacy and DNA, how some DNA test providers share our DNA results with insurance companies, drug companies, and law enforcement. We also examined many of the newest features available to the consumer.

The presentation concluded with a question and answer session, and many interesting points of discussion took place, among those attending.  Some had already taken one or more home tests, and they shared their personal views on the pros and cons of each type of test.

Arlene and Janet

Following the presentation, the book table was busy, and many stopped by to discuss the stories in ‘Lanark County Calling’, and have a copy or two signed for themselves, and signed as gifts for others.

Book signing May 2019

Karen Prytula, LCGS Director of Communications and Marketing, was busy throughout the day, coordinating the audio-visuals, and sharing updates with members. Karen very kindly presented me with a jar of Polk Honey, as thanks for the presentation.

Arlene and Karen

Arlene Stafford-Wilson with Karen Prytula, LCGS Director of Communications and Marketing.

Polk honey

 

Polk Honey is produced in Pakenham, by Arnold Polk, and is one of the county’s most sought-after treats.  If you’d like to try some yourself, it is available at the Pakenham General Store, 2524 County Rd 29, Pakenham, Ontario.

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Following the presentation, a delicious lunch was provided, and one of the highlights of the afternoon was a lovely display of some of Lanark County’s Heritage Quilts:

quilt collage

Brian holding quilt

Brian and others holding quilt

IMG_20190504_143710

 

Many thanks to the Lanark County Genealogical Society for inviting me to be with you, and present ‘Genealogy and DNA‘.  It was a wonderful afternoon, a chance to catch up with old friends, and to learn about ongoing projects, as the LCGS continues their work to preserve our heritage and history.

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For more information on the Lanark County heritage quilts, please contact the LCGS:  Lanark County Genealogical Society

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If  you missed the talk on ‘Genealogy and DNA’, I will be presenting this to the Smiths Falls Historical Society, September 19th, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.   All are welcome.  For details, call 613-283-6311.

 

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

Soper Theatre, Smiths Falls

It was 1914 when local man, Bert Soper, opened the Rideau Theatre on Chambers Street, at the corner of Beckwith, in Smiths Falls.  Stanley McNeill was the first manager.  He was a local lad, son of Harry McNeill and Alice Butler, and he ran the theatre like a well-oiled machine.

Soper 1

Photo: Steven Maddock of Hyfund Studio

 

In the 1930s, the theater was renamed ‘The Capitol’, and people drove for miles around to come and see ‘Gone With the Wind’, ‘King Kong’, and “The Wizard of Oz”.

Harry Jenkins crossing guard

photo: Harry Jenkins was an usher at the Capitol Theatre, and later worked as a crossing guard on Brockville Street in Smiths Falls.  His daughter Phyllis Jenkins Evoy worked at the ticket booth at the Soper Theatre, and Harry’s grandson Gordon Evoy worked as an usher at the Soper Theatre.

A new theater was built in 1949, at 15 Main Street in Smiths Falls.  The new Soper Theatre boasted 964 seats, making it the largest movie theater in Eastern Ontario.

The Soper was managed by Walter Lackenbauer, a man who took his job very seriously.  It was said that Walter was so punctual that you could set your watch when you saw him walking across the bridge, on his way to work each day.

When Walter Lackenbauer retired in 1976, Art White became the Manager of the Soper, and worked in that capacity until 1992, and then Jan Stepniak took over the position.

Walter Lackenbauer

Walter Lackenbauer and his wife Bernadette ‘Bernie’

 

Another familiar face at the Soper Theatre was Violet Gariepy, a native of Scotland, she worked at the candy counter along with Norma Willoughby, and Jessie Loucks.

This is the clock that hung on the wall in the concession counter at the Soper. *

clock from the Soper

Some of the early films shown at the Soper, were ‘tame’ compared to the movies produced today.  Films like ‘Snow White’, and ‘Old Yellar’ were suitable for the whole family.

 

Snow white

 

Old Yeller

One of the most popular movies in the 1950s was “The One That Got Away”, – the story of a German prisoner of war, Franz von Werra, who escaped from a moving train, as it passed through the town of Smiths Falls.

The one that got away

 

By the time I was old enough to attend a movie, the Soper Theatre was the only place in the area where we could go to see the newest Hollywood films.  The Soper was just around the corner from the Sweet Shop – talk about a great location!

Soper 6 street view

Photo: Steven Maddock of Hyfund Studio

 

The Ushers who worked at the Soper Theatre might have been the original ‘multi-taskers’, who had a variety of jobs.  These were the ‘boys’ who helped young children to their seats at the Saturday matinees, who shone their flashlights on young lovers in the back row, and did their best to keep the smoking and drinking from getting out of hand.

teens at back necking

 

The same ushers had to walk back to the green seats, and remind smokers that their policy was cigarettes only, no cigars. They also had to police the drinkers, the kids who liked to sneak in mickey bottles in their jackets and have a few drinks on a Friday night.

smoking in the back

The mickey, invented in Perth, by John McLaren, was just the right size to sneak into the movies!

mickey whiskey

 

Some of the ushers who worked at The Soper, over the years:  Gordon Evoy, Scott Irvine, Ralph Scott, Grant Dopson, Rob Knapp, Donnie Lackey, Ricky Laming, Tommy Martin, Bert Stranberg, Joe Gallipeau, John Marks, Brian McDougall, and Hugh Finlayson.

The big blockbuster movies in those days were some that we’ll never forget.  According to many of the former staff members at the Soper, these movies were among the ones that brought in the biggest crowds in Smiths Falls:

Seven Brides for Seven brothers

 

James Bond

James Bond: Goldfinger

 

Godfather movie poster

 

No one wanted to swim the year that this one came out –

Jaws movie poster

Smokey and the bandit

 

close encounters

Rocky

 

Star Wars

On the opening day of Jurassic Park, staff members,  like Tammy DeSalvo, dressed up as dinosaurs, much to the delight of local children!

Jurassic Park movie poster

 

Titanic movie poster

 

Sometimes we forget that it’s the people we don’t see at the theater, the ones who work behind the scenes, who play some of the most important roles.   Rae Murphy was Projectionist at the Soper Theatre when the building was brand new, in 1949.  The back-up Projectionist was Widge Williams, son of Bill Williams, owner of the Port Elmsley Drive-In Theatre.

Everyone’s favourite place at the Soper Theatre was the candy counter, and along with Violet Gariepy, you could find Gail Preece, along with brother and sister team – Christine and Stephen Harper, and twins David Morris and Stephanie Morris.  David later became a police officer for the Town of Smiths Falls.

Arlene and Violet

Arlene Stafford-Wilson with Violet Gariepy (right) at the book launch, “Lanark County Calling”,at the Book Nook & Other Treasures, Perth, Ontario.

popcorn

 

Many of us will never forget our very first movie, and for those of us who grew up in the area, the Soper Theatre was our first experience in a real movie theater.

The very first staff-member we encountered might have been Phyllis Evoy, at the ticket booth, or Violet Gariepy at the candy counter.

Phyllis Evoy

Phyllis (Jenkins) Evoy – worked at the Ticket Booth at the Soper Theatre for many years

 

We may have noticed a very serious man, Walter Lackenbauer, the Manager, walking around the lobby, making sure that everything was running smoothly.  Maybe we’d catch a glimpse of Rea Murphy, on his way to the projection booth, or one of the helpful Ushers escorting a child, or an elderly person, safely to their seat.

Although most of us have been to more modern, slick, new theaters since our nights at the Soper Theatre,  those special, magical nights of our youth will remain forever in our hearts.

*note – the photo of the red Coca-Cola clock that hung on the wall of the candy counter was provided by Violet Gariepy.   Violet’s husband Raymond became ill, and Jan Stepniak visited Ray in the hospital.  Ray told Jan how much he had always loved the clock from the candy counter.  Jan came to their home later, and presented Ray with the clock.  Ray sinced passed away, and the clock hangs proudly on Violet’s wall, a treasured memory of her time working at this much loved theater.
Photos of the Soper Theatre:   Steven Maddock of Hyfund Studio
For more information on John McLaren of Perth, inventor of the ‘mickey’
John McLaren of Perth, inventor of the mickey

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Discover the fascinating people in Smiths Falls who made the magic happen at the Soper Theatre. Learn about the lively staff Christmas parties, find out who went to the Rideau Hotel every night after work and why, and which one of the staff was married to a well-known hockey player. Read about the daily operations, behind-the-scenes at the Soper.  Learn about a controversial court case when a Perth lawyer brings charges against a local film distributor. Meet the people who ran this beloved theater – the managers, the projectionists, the ushers, the candy-counter workers, and the people at the ticket booth, and read their memories and stories of this very special place!  Go behind the scenes at this beloved theater in – “A Night at the Movies: The Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls”, in ‘Lanark County Calling – All Roads Lead Home’.

 

LC Calling poster without Fall 2018 reference

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

 

 

The Witch of Plum Hollow

The readings always began the same way, with her visitors climbing the rickety wooden stairs to her cramped attic reading room.  She motioned her guests to sit across from her, at a small pine table.  A fresh pot of tea sat on the table, along with two cups.  She’d pick up the pot, shake it vigorously, and pour a cup, watching as the leaves slowly sank to the bottom.  Next, she swirled the tea around, poured the liquid back into the pot, then instructed her visitor to do the same.

fortune telling room

(the attic in Jane Barnes’ cabin)

 

Jane Elizabeth Martin Barnes was a beautiful, young, woman when she arrived in North America. She left her home in England after refusing to marry a man twice her age. Her father, a Colonel had instructed her to wed his friend, a middle-aged soldier, and Jane would have no part of it.  Instead, she fell in love with a handsome young man, Robert Harrison, and they left Britain together, married, and had a son.

Sadly, Robert died shortly after, and Jane was left alone to raise their baby.

Jane had a lovely slim frame, fair complexion, and bright eyes.  It wasn’t long before she began to date again, and a young shoemaker, David Barnes, won her heart.  They married and settled near Lake Eloida, not far from Plum Hollow, about fifteen miles south of Smiths Falls, in Leeds & Grenville, Ontario.  Jane and David had a large family – six sons, three daughters, and Jane took in three neighbourhood orphans after their mother passed.

Jane Barnes young

Jane Elizabeth Martin Barnes

 

Jane’s husband David, was a bit of a wanderer, and he left her, abandoned the children, and moved to Smiths Falls.

Jane, in need of an income to raise all of their children, began to read tea leaves.

In the late 1800s, telling one’s fortune by reading tea leaves became very popular.

tea leaf reading painting

 

In those days, loose tea was used, and so the leaves at the bottom of the cup often formed shapes or patterns, and these were interpreted by the fortune-teller, to predict future events.

loose tea

Loose tea was measured into a tea pot filled with boiling water

 

tea pot

After the tea was consumed, the loose leaves lay at the bottom of the cup

 

holding a cup with leaves

Then, the fortune-teller, or tea-leaf-reader, would interpret the meaning of the individual’s leaves.

Many believed that the position of the leaves in the cup itself, had meaning.

tea leaf 3

tea leaf symbols

The images of the leaves in the cup were often matched with a series of standard symbols, used by many in the trade.

tea leaf symbols 2

 

News of Jane’s accuracy in her predictions spread quickly, and she had visitors from neighbouring towns, cities, provinces, and even visitors from the northern states.

Jane Barnes old

 

During Jane’s time telling fortunes she was able to find missing objects, missing farm animals, and even missing people.  Jane’s predictions were so accurate that even the police called on her to assist them from time to time.  She even had a few very famous customers, in the many decades of her practice, in that little cabin in the country.

newsclipping about mother barnes

As the decades passed, news about Jane’s gift for predicting continued to spread far and wide, and there were often carriages lined up down the road near her little cabin.

 

news about Mother Barnes

 

Young people went to Jane to ask advice on their love lives and she was able to predict who they would marry.  If any of the neighbours misplaced anything, they walked to Jane’s little cabin and she would tell them exactly where to look.  Farmers went to Jane when their cattle or horses wandered off, and she always directed them to precisely the right spot. Business people consulted Jane for advice on their professions, and politicians sought her advice on elections and policies.

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Jane’s little cabin still stands today.

Jane's cabin

Mother Barnes, as she was affectionately referred to in Leeds, lived a long life, and passed away in that same little cabin, where she had shared her predictions over the years.

obit of Mother Barnes

 

Jane is buried at the Sheldon Cemetery

 

Sheldon Cemetery

When Jane passed, she was buried in an unmarked grave.

Plum Hollow cheese-makers from 1924-1974, Claude and Ella Flood, erected a stone in memory of  ‘Mother Barnes’

 

Jane's gravestone

 

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Discover the fascinating story of Jane Barnes, and her years as a local fortune-teller.  Find out about some of Jane’s most prominent and famous customers.  Who were the high-profile movers and shakers who sought Jane’s advice on a regular basis? Read about a grisly murder case that perplexed police, and was finally solved by Jane. Who was the famous and controversial newspaper publisher who sent his wife to ask Jane’s predictions because he didn’t want to be seen visiting a ‘fortune-teller’.  Learn about the case of a poltergeist in Quebec, where the family seeks Jane’s help in solving the violent and frightening haunting of their house.  Discover these stories and more, in the book “Lanark County Calling: All Roads Lead Home”, the complete story of Jane Barnes, a gifted lady, also known as – ‘The Witch of Plum Hollow”

LCCalling poster for web png