‘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

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