Wednesday, August 19, 2020

My New Book!!

I may be the worst blogger ever. I haven't posted in over a year...

    Grad school took all my time, and then this summer... well, we all know what this year has turned out to be like. So, my blog writing has really suffered. However, I have been doing writing and editing of a different kind. Since I was little, I have always wanted to write and publish my own books. So, this summer, I decided to take the leap. 

    As a teenager, I wrote a book heavily influenced by Jane Austen, particularly Austen's Lady Susan. Like Lady Susan, my book is written completely in letter form. Last year I decided to pull it out and do some intensive editing. While it is still not really as good I would like it to be, I realized that it would take years before it reaches that point, so I took the plunge. 

     For Better or Worse is a short and easy read that you'll probably only enjoy if you enjoy reading Jane Austen. While my dream is to write historical fiction (especially about my ancestors), I will work up to that :)

    I've self published through Amazon, and if you're interested, here is the link:

But, of course, there is no pressure to look it up :)

Thank you to everyone who supports this blog! It means the world to me!

         Sincerely yours,

                                                                                 McKall Erin Ruell

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Serial "My Works Will Follow Me: The Life of Peter McIntyre" Chapter One

Photo from memories
This project will probably take me years and years to get it where I want it to be, but I told myself this was the time to start. My fifth great grandfather, Peter McIntyre, was born in Scotland during 1790, and wrote an autobiography. He was also the first ancestor that I really researched when I was 8 or 9 years old. That fact, along with him being Scottish, has always made him dear to my heart. When I started to read his autobiography again last summer, I decided that someday I wanted to write a historical fiction about him so that my family would enjoy reading and learning about him. When I went back to re-read his autobiography to start brainstorming, the second paragraph jumped out and me, and it almost seemed as if he was asking me to write about him. He said:
“Perhaps this will be useful to my sons or daughters after my departure from them, as I know I must rest from my labors, and my works will follow me.”

Peter's life was full of adventure and meaning, and I feel wholly inadequate to capture it in story form. But I hope this will be something my future children, or nieces and nephews, are able to use to learn about their incredible ancestor. I plan to rely heavily on the autobiography, along with historical records, to make Peter’s story as accurate as possible. Although some fictitious people, dialogue, and a little of the plot must be allowed to help the flow of the narrative. Especially since Grandpa McIntyre’s autobiography, as grateful as I am for it, isn’t always the most well written and cohesive of literature. Look in the chapter notes for references to the sources I use and for notes on what is fiction and what is not. Keep in mind that these are, in most cases, more like draft forms of the chapters, and I plan on going back and editing them as I go along. And, as always, suggestions and advice are always welcome, though I will say be gentle. This type of writing really makes me feel like I’m putting my heart on the line and I really going to learn to have tough skin :) Now all that being said, I hope that you enjoy this serial, and perhaps learn as much from it as I will in the research and writing process!

Chapter One
The day of March 17, 1790 was a cold and dreary one. Archibald McIntyre looked on anxiously as several women from the village of Succoth, Scotland, worked around his wife. He glanced down at the infant in his arms, grateful for the strong squirming boy. He sighed and prayed that God would also spare the new baby’s mother. Maggie MacLean, seeing his look, came over and put a hand on his arm. “Dinna fash Archibald, we will do all we can to save her.” “Aye, I know you will.” Looking back towards the patient she said, “Mary is strong, I have not lost hope yet.” He nodded, unable to speak for the emotion he felt. She began to gather her things. “I must return home to my bairns tonight, but Agnes and Margaret are to stay with you. I will return as soon as I can in the mornin.” He nodded again. “I thank you.” As she left he took a seat near the bed, bouncing the baby in his arms some as the little one began to make fussing noises. The mother’s eyes were closed, too weak to move. Presently Agnes Campbell, an older woman, who in other circumstances was seen as rather round and jolly, came over to Archibald. “I’ll take the wee thing from you now Archibald. I reckon he is probably in need of some feedin.” Archibald nodded and handed the baby to her. She looked at the tired husband and father for a moment, and paused, as if wondering if she should say what was obviously on her mind. “I dinna wish to say this, but I think it best if you prepare yourself.” Tears filled her eyes as she continued, “I’ve seen God take home new mothers stronger than she is now. You have all ye’r other bairns to think of, as well as this wee man.” Tears filling his own eyes now, Archibald only nodded. As Agnes walked away with the baby, he put his head in his hands, completely exhausted. 

Archibald awoke the next morning with a start. The fact that he had been able to fall asleep at all was a marvel to him. Alarmed, he looked at his wife on the bed in front of him. Margaret Campbell, the youngest daughter of Agnes, was attending the patient, whose face still appeared pale and languid. Seeing he was awake, Margaret said, “She’s holdin’ on awhile yet.” He sighed in relief. There was still hope, small though it was. At that moment Maggie MacLean walked through the door. She came directly to Archibald. “Do not be cast down.” She knelt in front of him and put a comforting hand on his arm. “Mary McGlashan will not die yet, I dreamed last night and seed her in a great hall near a throne holding a large lighted candle in her hand.” He smiled faintly. He was a believing man, and had faith in such things. Maggie looked to the cradle beside Archibald and picked up the baby. “Do you know what ye’ll call this wee laddie yet?” Archibald nodded and smiled more fully as he looked at his newborn son. “Aye. Mary wants to call him Peter.”

Chapter Notes
While the details of Peter’s birth are limited to a paragraph in his autobiography, the account of the dream in the dialogue in this chapter, is word for word (see Peter McIntyre autobiography, digital copy, Call No. MS 3261, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, : accessed June 19 2019, page 2.)  However, Peter never gave the name of his mother’s friend, so the name of Maggie MacLean, as well as Agnes and Margaret Campbell are fictional. I have also chosen to spell the names of McIntyre and McGlashan as they are spelled in the autobiography, though in the Parish birth and marriage records they are more commonly spelled as MacIntyre and McGlashain. This discrepancy in name spelling is not uncommon as the English spelling of names in Scotland were an attempt to write how the Gaelic names sounded. Another discrepancy is Peter's birth date. He lists the day of his birth as March 17, while the entry in the birth register is March 18. I have chosen to go with the 17th to correspond with the autobiography, though I am more inclined to believe the birth register. Also, you might have noticed my attempt at using words to portray the Scottish accent as well as Scottish words themselves. I have marked a couple of them in italics. Most of the Scottish words I will use is this story will be checked for accuracy in their meaning and in their being used in the right time period using a Dictionary of Scottish Language ( However, I will apologize now if I make a mistake or make anything sound ridiculous. That is definitely not my intention. If anyone has more knowledge about the Scottish language, please comment, fill out the contact information boxes on the right, or email me! I would love to learn more!

Words used in this chapter:

Peter McIntyre, Peter McIntyre Autobiography, Digital image, Call No. MS 3261, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, : accessed June 19 2019.

Old Parish Registers, Births, 534/2 10 68, Strachur, entry for Peter MacIntyre March 20 1790, Page 68 of 157, Digital image, Scotland’s People( : accessed June 18, 2019), ©Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words: Sarah Belle and Evelyn Winch

This is Evelyn Caroline Winch Prey, and Sarah Belle Burnap Winch, my great grandmother, and great, great grandmother.

Having this picture of Evelyn as a baby is a great treasure, not only because I don't have many baby pictures of my ancestors, but it is also fun to see family resemblances. One of my sisters looked very similar to Evelyn as a baby.

Evelyn Caroline Winch was born 21 July 1907 in the beautiful village of East Aurora, New York, to Sarah Belle Burnap and Arthur Isaac Winch. She was very talented pianist and lived in many different places throughout her life. I have very few memories of her, but I have pictures of her, showing me how to bake. She died on the 16 December 1995 in Kanab, Utah.

Sarah Belle Burnap was born on 17 May 1887 in New York to Edward Burnap and Caroline Mary Stedman. I remember my grandmother telling me that, as a child, she always thought Sarah Belle a stern woman. I think you can see in her face that she had a strenuous life. Her family growing up was very poor. We found a newspaper article in the Old Fulton Postcard newspaper collection, of a time where her family's home burned down, and the family took refuge in a nearby farmyard (perhaps that will be a story for a future blog post). I think in many ways her life was one of survival, and this time raising a brand-new baby must have brought its own challenges. She died 29 September 1964, (incidentally the year my mother was born), and is buried in the Village of East Aurora.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words: Peter McIntyre

Peter McIntyre - Photo from memories
Sometimes a picture says it all...

Peter McIntyre was born 17 March 1790 in Succoth, Argyllshire, Scotland, to Archibald MacIntyre and Mary McGlashan.

He was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 and served as a Christian missionary for years throughout the Highlands. 

He eventually immigrated to Tooele, Utah, United States, where he died on 10 April 1872.

Something unique about Peter is that he wrote his autobiography, giving details about his time fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, being a missionary and travelling to Utah.

One of my current projects is writing a historical fiction novel from his autobiography. A labor of love that is taking me a long time!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Connected in Strykersville

Once, when driving through New York a couple of summers ago, in a small town called Strykersville, my mom and I saw a small sign on the side of the road: "Strykersville Pioneer Cemetery." Though to our knowledge we had no ancestors from Strykersville, the quaint sign with the old swinging gate, surrounded by tall trees, called to me, and we decided to park the car on the side of the road and explore.

As we entered, there seemed to me to be a feeling of untouched hallowedness. Some headstones were still standing and readable, while others were broken, covered with moss, grass, and dirt - only a faded remembrance of the people they had once honored. 

There were several stones near the front, belonging to Revolutionary War veterans, a discovery which delighted me! Growing up in the west, I had never come across such old relics of the past, and my imagination wandered to far off times and places where freedom and liberty was so valiantly sacrificed for. I wondered what all the tall trees I then stood in the midst of, had seen.

I was saddened that so many of the headstones in this solemn place had been forgotten and left to decay. But, standing  among them, I felt strongly connected to these seemingly forgotten people. I was not related to them, did not known their names, yet they, whoever they were, were real to me. I realized that you don't need to be related to someone or even know their name, to be able to feel connected to them. And really, isn't that why family history and history are important? So that we can be connected through the ages?

On that same trip to New York, in a small shop, I came across a plaque with this quote:

"The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make." - William Morris

How fitting to find this quote only a few days after being in Strykersville; a place where, though not on the records of my family tree, I made a tender connection.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mother of a Princess

A little girl looked up as her mother walked through the door. At the mother’s call, both the girl and her little brother rose, and each took their mother’s hand. “My dears, I have an important matter to discuss with both of you. Come with me.” As she spoke, she led the children to the adjoining room and there, before their eyes, was laid out an assortment of the most beautiful toys. Dolls of different sizes with the most detailed, beautiful clothing, and various mechanical toys made the children’s eyes grow wide. The mother’s eyes saddened for a moment but became firm with determination as she thought about the importance of what she was about to do. “Children, I had intended to give you some handsome New Year’s gifts, but I am afraid that because of the cold weather, the poor are in so much need of blankets, clothes and bread, to protect them from the rigour of the season, that my money has been spent.” Kneeling so that both of her children could see her face clearly, she said, “This year you may only have the pleasure of looking at these new playthings, as it is a duty to succor the unfortunate.” The young children, though highly disappointed, nodded their heads. Their mother then led them back to her sitting room and sat with them, one on each side. “Now children, as many other mothers this season will not have enough money to buy their children toys, as I have not, I am rather afraid that the toy man will not be able to sell as many toys. Therefore, do you not think that perhaps we should pay him for his journey here today in bringing those toys, as well as console him that he was not able to sell them?” Forgetting her own loss for the moment, the little girl eagerly nodded her head saying “Oh yes mother please! I should feel sorry if we did not.” Perhaps the little girl had learned a lesson from her mother that day. Her mother was Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.[1]

Image from WikiCommons
Many opinions of Marie Antoinette and her life have been shared throughout time. While I do not in any way claim to be a well-researched scholar of her, the little I have studied fascinates me, especially what I’ve read about her as a mother. I’ve wanted to write about this topic for years, and now that I have, I don’t believe that I have in any way done it justice. Years down the road, when I have done more research, maybe I’ll be able to rewrite this. But in the meantime, here are my thoughts.
While the memoirs of Marie Antoinette, left by those who probably knew her best, are probably considered biased, part of me believes there is something to believing in what the people who knew her best had to say.

Many royals through the ages have seemed aloof from their children, however, several accounts display the opposite of this queen. It is said that when her first daughter was born, she said: “Poor little one, you are not desired, but you will be none the less dear to me! A son would have belonged to the state--you will belong to me.”[2] Professor Hugo Thieme wrote that “After this event the queen gave herself up to thoughts and pursuits of a more serious nature. In 1779 the dauphin was born, and from that period Marie Antoinette considered herself no longer a foreigner.” “During these years she was the most devoted of mothers; she personally looked after her four children, watched by their bedsides when they were ill, shutting herself up with them in the château so that they would not communicate their disease to the children who played in the park.”[3]

Later, when the family were prisoners it was said that both the queen and king tutored their children in academics, and both were loved dearly by their children.[4] Princess Marie Therese Charlotte wrote the following of her mother:

“On the 3d of July, they read us a decree of the Convention ordering that my brother be separated from us and lodged in a more secure room in the Tower. Hardly had he heard it when he flung himself into his mother's arms uttering loud cries, and imploring not to be parted from her. My mother, on her side, was struck down by the cruel order; she would not give up her son, and defended, against the municipals, the bed on which she placed him. They, absolutely determined to have him, threatened to employ violence and to call up the guard. My mother told them they would have to kill her before they could tear her child from her. An hour passed in resistance on her part, in threats and insults from the municipals, in tears and efforts from all of us. At last they threatened my mother so positively to kill him and us also that she had to yield for love of us…”[5]

When finally, the queen was herself taken, away her daughter wrote:

 “My mother, after tenderly embracing me and telling me to have courage, to take good care of my aunt, and to obey her as a second mother, repeated to me the same instructions that my father had given me; then throwing herself into my aunt's arms she commended her children to her. I answered nothing, so terrified was I at the idea that I saw her for the last time; my aunt said a few words to her in a low voice. Then my mother went away without casting her eyes upon us, fearing no doubt that her firmness might abandon her. She stopped once at the foot of the Tower, because the municipals had to make a procès-verbal to discharge the concierge from the care of her person. As she went out, she struck her head against the lintel of the door, not thinking to lower it. They asked her if she was hurt. ‘Oh, no,’ she said; ‘nothing can hurt me now.’[6]
...she went to death with courage, amid curses which the unhappy, misguided people poured forth against her. Her courage did not abandon her in the cart, nor on the scaffold; she showed as much in death as she had shown in life.”[7]

Life is full of misunderstandings, difference of opinion, and biases, but all in all, the opinions which will matter most to me in my life, are those of my family. I don’t believe Marie Antoinette was perfect, and I don’t know as much about her life as I would like, but in the eyes of those close to her at least, she was a woman who had their love and respect.

[1]Jeanne Louise Henriette (Genet) Campan, Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, Book 1, E-book, Amazon Kindle, pages 2780 and 2801. Creative liberty was taken, especially with the dialogue, to help create the narrative. I have tried to stay close to the idea the original author was suggesting. 
[2]Hugo Paul Thieme, Woman: Women of Modern France, Vol. 7, online book,, Chapter 12.
[4]“Ruin of a Princess,” The Story of My Life, accessed January 28, 2019,, 127 and 245.
[5]Ibid, 266-267.
[6]Ibid, 269.
[7]Ibid, 278.

Friday, March 15, 2019

My RootsTech Story (and a little recap)

This isn't necessarily a story, although I suppose it is part of my own life story, so scratch that!

Flash back to RootsTech 2015: I had never heard of RootsTech, but I had just applied to Brigham Young University’s Family History and Genealogy program, and so when my parents suggested I go, I was all for it. While I had always enjoyed doing family history and genealogy as a teenager, I was still very much an infant in my knowledge of it. RootsTech was my introduction not only to many of the basic skills of family history, but also to the genealogical world. I also met many of the BYU Family History faculty, and between that and all the classes I went to, it was confirmed in my mind that the decision I had made to apply to the program was the right one for me. Two weeks after RootsTech, when I got my acceptance letter to BYU, I was beyond excited to begin my journey into the Family History and Genealogy profession.
After my first RootsTech and
acceptance to BYU

RootsTech 2016, 2017 and 2018, my class schedule and finances only made it possible for me to attend the free Family Discovery Day at RootsTech while volunteering at the BYU booth in the Expo Hall. But each year I learned something new and my increased knowledge from all of my classes during the year, gave me a new perspective each RootsTech.

Now to RootsTech 2019: I was finally able to attend all four days and my perspective was a little different going into RootsTech this year than it was my first year. As a graduated student, hoping to find my niche in the Genealogical world, and with more of a focused view of which classes I went to, I couldn’t help but compare in my mind the differences and similarities of my first year and this one. The most notable, and obvious difference, was that unlike my first year, I was able to attend intermediate to advanced classes and understand the lingo 😊 

The other difference was definitely networking. My first year the thought of introducing myself to anyone other than the professors from BYU didn’t occur to me, but this year it was a constant thought at the back of my mind. That being said, was I very good at networking this year? Probably not. As a naturally reserved person networking is something that is harder for me than other things and something I am working on one step at a time. But the good thing is I can already see some improvement in myself in that area, small though it may be.

I was surprised at the similarities I found between the first year and this year. Just like 2015, this year of RootsTech filled me with so much inspiration and motivation! If you ever feel that you need to put some more fire back into your family history life, RootsTech is the place to do it. Just like my first year gave me the courage to continue on with my decision of studying Family History, this year, what I learned at RootsTech gave me the courage to put myself out there more on social media, and to start working towards accreditation. After RootsTech this year I feel renewed, and I am so excited for the future!

Apart from my personal self discoveries explained above, I also learned so much from each class! I decided I would share some of the highlights from a few of my favorite classes. Hopefully they will inspire you as they did me 😊

Hear Them Sing! Social History in your Family Narrative - Rebecca Whitman Koford
  • Social History: The study of ordinary people
  • Writing -
    • Tune Up: Gather facts
    • Theme Song: Personality
    • Weave in Melody: Research general history
    • Harmonize: Research specific history
    • Hear Them Sing: Bring out their voice
Uncovering Family Stories with British & Irish Historic Newspapers-Myko Clelland
  • Return to often, because new newspapers are added frequently
  • Use wildcards in your search
    • + before a word = the word must be present
    • - before a word = the word is not in the result
    • "word or phrase" = get it exactly
  • Avoid dates as much as possible, they can narrow it down too much.
New York Research Essentials - Ashley Lish, D. Joshua Taylor, Frederick Wertz
  • State census records
    • 1825-1845 - Names of the household
    • 1865-1875 - Includes more information
    • 1855-1875 - Includes special schedules, including some marriage and death schedules
  • - a better way of searching the Fulton Postcards website
Finding 17th Century English Ancestors - Else Churchill
  • Tax Records
    • Subsidies
    • "Free & Cheerful Gift" 1625
    • Ship money 1630-40
    • Poll Taxes 1641-1697
    • St. Paul's Cathedral Fund 1677/8
    • Hearth Tax 1662-1689
Perspectives on Accreditation - Diana Elder, Julie Stoddard, Lisa Stokes
[This class convinced me to start working towards accreditation!!!]
Level 1
  • 1,000 hours experience
  • 500 of those in the region of interest
  • 80 hours in each administration district
  • Four generation project
    • Pedigree Charts
    • Family Group Records
    • Key Source documents
    • Research Log
    • Report
      • Clear Strong objective
      • Evidence Analysis
      • Source Citations (not specific style, but consistent)
      • Transcriptions & Abstracts
      • Future Research
Level 2
  • Document Interpretation
    • Create a research plan based on the document
    • Some regions have language requirements
Level 3
  1. 4 Hour Research Project
  2. Oral Review
How to Prepare:
  • Start now!
  • Attend classes and conferences
  • Keep track of your hours
  • Use ICAPGen resources
  • Read, research and write!
Finding the Poor & Destitute Irish - Brian Donovan
  • In 1922, the records building was destroyed
  • Land & security records survive because Britain wanted to keep track of the Irish
  • Registry of Deeds -
  • There are maps on Trinity College's website
  • The Land Commision
    • Founded in 1881 to establish fair rents
    • 1885 Ashbourne Act - broke up the estates
  • For Northern Ireland you can get the records on PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)
These are only a few of the classes I went to, and only a very small bit of what I learned from each class! I'm already counting down the days until next year's RootsTech!