Category Archives: Ancestry

Finding the tree of my ancestry past.


After a couple years, back to my ancestry, and the Quackenbush family name.

From, site owner Erik Craig Quackenbush tells us a bit about this duck, sorry, Dutch, name and its roots.

Quackenbush is a Dutch name. The first recorded use of the Quackenbush coat of arms was in 1529 by Dirk Aelbertszoon van Quackenbosch,  registered in the Leiden Armorial (1785). The motto “Vrede in Rykdom” (Peace in Wealth) was first used by his grandson Gerrit Aelbertszoon van Quackenbosch in 1578.

Van Quackenbosch from the forest of the croaking frog.

The coat of arms is: Vrede In Rykdom!

It means Wealth and Happiness!

Quackenbush is an American last name based on a Dutch name (Van Quackenbosch). This name was brought to the Americas in 1654 by Pieter Van Quackenbosch his wife and 3 sons. In the Netherlands People were named by the region they live in.

Oddly enough, Pieter came from  Valkenburg, so not sure how that lines up with the region they lived in.  Perhaps frogs and bushes.,_South_Holland

Pieter did leave an amazing legacy to his family; the gift of a name so unusual that all of his descendents can trace it right back to him.

The Quackenbush Family in Holland and America is a 200-page walk through the family name and its history.

Another local distant ancestor, Hannah Jane Vanvolkenburgh-Quackenbush

If you Google Quackenbush, you get a lot of photos of air rifles.

Henry Marcus (H.M.) Quackenbush founded the H.M. Quackenbush Company in Herkimer, NY.  His Quackenbush rifle was popular from 1893-1920.  The company’s “gallery guns” were used across the U.S. in carnivals and shooting galleries.

H.M. and his company also invented a couple other useful things, including the extension ladder, the Kaleidoscope, coat hangers, scroll saw, darts, stair rails, bathroom shelves, and most successfully nutpicks and nutcrackers.

Dennis Quackenbush continues the tradition, making air guns at

Again, from is my favourite story.  E.Clarke Quackenbush is said to have installed the first car radio in his boss’ Packard.  He ran the antenna the length of the car.  The radio worked perfectly until the car was put into gear when they found that the antenna had wrapped itself around the driveshaft.

Wikitree has some Myths and Misunderstandings of the Quackenbush family.

Bush is the shortened form of Quackenbush for those that decided to Americanize the family name.

The Frontiersmen of New York: Showing Customs of the Indians
By Jeptha Root Simms

Abram Quackenbush: — One of the earliest Low Dutch families to locate in the present town of Glen was that of Quackenbush, as the name is now written. One of Quackenbush’s boyhood playmates, near the lower Mohawk castle at Fort Hunter, was an Indian called Bronkahorse, who was about his own age. Quackenbush was a lieutenant under the brave Capt. Gardinier. Among the followers of the Johnsons to Canada was his Indian friend, who also tried to get the white Whig to go with him, assuring him that he would have the same office in the royal army. Their next meeting was in the dodging, tree-to-tree fight at Oriskany. The lieutenant heard himself addressed in a familiar voice, which he recognized as that of his early Indian friend. now posted behind a tree within gunshot of the one which covered his own person. “Surrender yourself my prisoner and you shall be treated kindly,” shouted the Mohawk brave, “but if you do not you will never get away from here alive — we intend to kill all who are not made prisoners!” The success of the enemy at the beginning of the contest made them bold and defiant. “Never will I become a prisoner,” shouted back Quackenbush. Both were expert riflemen and now watched their chance. Bronkahorse fired first and planted a bullet in the tree scarcely an inch from his adversary’s head, but he had lost his best chance, as the lieutenant sprang to a new position from which his adversary’s tree would not shield him, and in the next instant the Indian dropped with a bullet through his heart.

 A story about Isaac Sears and Walter Quackenbush, Sons of Liberty.

So what’s my tie-in?  I’m sure I have some distant cousins with the Quackenbush name through the VanVolkenburg line.

Hezekiah Sears was my Great-Great-Great Grandfather.

Lavina/Lorine  VanVolkenburgh Sears, 1805 – @1881 was my Great-Great-Great-Grandmother.

Her nephew John VanVolkenburg Cordova Mines, Ontario writes a bit about his historyAnd some more through his aunt Mrs. Almeda Van Volkingburg-Quackenbush.

Continuing on… Phylander (Filander) Van Volkenburg, great-great-great-great grandfather.

His father, Jacob VanValkenburgh, 1765-1828 married Chloe Hodges.

His father was also Jacob.

His father Paul came with Jacob about 1790 from Holland to NY then to a farm in Brockville, Ontario.

Next up, Roebuck.  Because Sears.  And Buck.


Who you gonna call?

Spelling Bees and Séances

Spell AYKROYD. (without looking!)

Can you pronounce it?
(ˈeɪkˌrɔɪd ) 

Can I get the definition?
According to Collins English Dictionary, Aykroyd is a noun, meaning “Dan”.

Dan. born 1952, Canadian film actor and screenwriter, best known for the television show Saturday Night Live (1975–80) and the films The Blues Brothers (1980), Ghostbusters (1984), and Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Can you use it in a sentence?

He also spent time with Danny Aykroyd , Eddie Murphy and some of the other younger stars of the 1980s.

Who you gonna call?

Daniel Edward Aykroyd was born in Ottawa, Canada Day, 1952 to Samuel Cuthbert Peter Hugh Aykroyd and Lorraine Gougeon Aykroyd. He acted and co-authored the movies in the Ghostbusters franchise, with Ghostbusters III in the pipeline. As Dr. Raymond Stantz (born 1959 in Brooklyn, NY), he was a bit of a bumbling, naïve, nervous believer of the paranormal. I don’t know about the bumbling, naïve or nervous part, but Dan Aykroyd believes in ghosts too. As did his great grandfather, Dr. Samuel Augustus Aykroyd, a dentist and mystic researcher from Kingston, Ontario.

According to Dan,

I am a Spiritualist, a proud wearer of the Spiritualist badge. Mediums and psychic research have gone on for many, many years… Loads of people have seen spirits, heard a voice or felt the cold temperature. I believe that they are between here and there, that they exist between the fourth and fifth dimension, and that they visit us frequently

Can you identify which one is the Ghostbusters Headquarters and which is a Spiritualism Church?

Spiritualism and the branch of Spiritism became popular in the late 1900s, with over 8 million practitioners.

Sam Aykroyd was one of them, or at least studied them as a mystic. From what I have read, he corresponded with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) on the subject of spiritualism.

Apparently Sherlock’s father had quite the effect on Canadians, including Sam Aykroyd, who had his own weekly circle of spiritualists.

Arthur Conan Doyle had a fondness for Canada that was apparent in the many positive things he had to say about our country’s natural beauty, social and economic potential, and key role in the British Commonwealth. Conan Doyle visited Canada on four occasions. The first visit in 1894 was part of a literary tour; the 1914 trip  was a pleasure tour organized by the Canadian Government to promote western tourism, and the visits he made in 1922 and 1923 were chiefly part of his efforts to promote the Spiritualist cause.

Coincidentally, and without realizing the tie-in, I visited the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle room at the Toronto Reference Library while researching the Aykroyd family name, and its tie-ins to the Sears family.

I don’t believe in coincidences. 🙂 I do believe in deja-vu, and the fact that we can see things that have happened in the past and will happen in the future, if the impressions are strong enough.

Peter Aykroyd, Dan’s father, recently released a book, “A History of Ghosts” on his ancestors and many other religion’s views on spirits.

Dan and Peter did an interview last November on it.

If you don’t believe in ghosts, The Cedars was put on the market in February. It might be a nice place to move into but I’ll pass…

A Victorian church where Sherlock Homes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to contact the dead has gone up for sale.
The Cedars Spiritualist Church in Ipswich, Suffolk – once a hotbed of British spiritualism – is on the market for between £500,000 and £700,000.
In the 1920s it hosted packed meetings where psychics would try to contact the spirits of people who had passed on.

As I was listening to it, I started browsing some of the tabs I had opened. As the interviewer asked a question about Houdini’s relation to the spirit world, I had just started reading this link, about Houdini.


Back to the AYKROYD family name. And Sam Sr. Sr.

Samuel Aykroyd was born Around 1810 he left Hudson, NY for Kingston, Ontario.

His son, Samuel Aykroyd II, is rumoured to have trekked across a frozen Loughborough Lake in 1826 to purchase his own land, still occupied today by the family of his great-great grandson.

His son, Samuel August AYKROYD III was born 1855 and died in 1933.

Around the time of Sam Aykroyd II was one Benjamin Aykroyd (1830-1898).

He married Jane SEARS on March 5, 1855.

Her parents were William Sears and Margaret NUTT. William Sears was the son of Hezekiah Sears. Though not a very common name today, it seemed popular in the 1900’s. Hezekiah was my great-great-great-great grandfather’s name. And his son’s name too. Though there are two Hezekiah’s living in that area from that same time period…

Benjamin’s dad was Stephen Aykroyd (1806-1851), who married Frances KNAPP. They had 9 sons and daughters in that family.

Benjamin’s son was George Aykroyd, born Christmas Eve, 1855 in Storrington, Ontario. He was a farmer in Loughborough. I assume he was a close relative of the Sam Aykroyd’s, though I haven’t found the tie-in yet. He married Althea SPIFFORD on Wednesday, November 13, 1878 at the young age of 23.

He died October 9, 1915 and is buried in Sydenham Cemetery. Benjamin & Althea had two children, Jennie Luenza Aykroyd (SLEETH) (1882-1950) and Wilkie Aykroyd (1886-1961).

Wilkie Aykroyd had two children Thorall Ann Aykroyd (BURNETT), (1907-1967 and Helen Elizabeth Aykroyd (BARR) (1910-?).

Brant Gibbard’s Geneaology Pages were invaluable for tracing my ancestry along with others, including the Aykroyd’s, who lived in the Kingston area.

Next up, the NUTT family and Farmer John Sears of Nutt’s Corners.

Powells, Powells everywhere…

James W. POWELL – “An Old Photographer and a Good Citizen His Useful Career”

This morning at 9:15, Mr. James W. Powell passed away, at his residence, Princess Street, after a lingering illness. The deceased was born in the house now occupied by his family, in 1842, consequently he was 54 years of age. He was the eldest son of the late James Powell, tinsmith. He received his early education at the Quaker School, near Picton. Twenty-five years ago he returned to this city, and was apprenticed to Sheldon & Davis, photographers. After serving a year with this firm, he opened a gallery over King’s drug store, after following his business in that place he removed to Napanee, where he remained a year. He returned to Kingston and for a number of years did business in the Anchor Block. Thirteen years ago he removed to his present stand, where he has conducted business ever since. A few years ago he suffered from a stroke of paralysis, and from that time till his death he has not been actively engaged in business.

The deceased leaves a wife, three sons and five daughters to mourn his loss. He was a member of the Methodist Church. He also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Chosen Friends and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. The deceased had a large circle of friends, both in business and in private life, who will hear of his death with regret. He was popular among the amateur photographers of the city, and during his life gave them many useful hints in the mysteries of photography. The funeral will take place from his residence, Princess Street, on Sunday.
The Kingston Daily News – 16 Jul 1896

I first realized the POWELL family name has a strong history in Canada when I visited the Toronto Reference Library. I was one of the first visitors to the brand new Arthur Conan Doyle Room and the adjoining Baldwin Room. It felt a bit odd to have 3 curators fetching materials for me since I was the only person there. Asking for a few names to research, Powell was the largest hit. The curators brought box after box of Powell-related materials. The Powell’s in Toronto were a famous bunch.

The first manuscript I read was an amazing 19th-century typed letter from a lady of the Powell family, detailing the family history of her line and a few others. Famous Americans and Canadians were mentioned throughout the pages.

So 373 years ago, 21 years after the Mayflower set sail, one Thomas Powell was born to Thomas Powell and Priscilla Powell (nee Whitson). So the mystery of the common name of James is solved. As Puritans, they named their children after themselves. This was not always the case, with some really bizarre names coming out of that religion. I never found a Wrestling Powell or Fight-The-Good-Fight-Of-Faith Powell, but then again I didn’t go back too far.

A book on his descendants exists, though it hasn’t been updated in a hundred years or so…

Long Island genealogies. Families of Albertson, Andrews, Bedell, Birdsall … Willets, Williams, Willis, Wright, and other families. Being kindred descendants of Thomas Powell, of Bethpage, L.I., 1688.

It’s available at the Toronto Reference Library, or online at Archive.Org

So Thomas Powell founded Bethpahge, Long Island, turned Quaker, and sold parcels of land to other Quaker settlers. He seemed to make out pretty well, considering he purchased 10,000 acres in central Long Island for £140 and some fur pelts, or maybe some sheep, from the local Indian tribes. They were allowed to pick berries and hunt on the land, so there was that….

I have no clue if Thomas Powell is related to the James Powell lineage, however I have a good hunch that James Powell Shannon was.

James Powell Shannon was born September 10, 1832 at Belleview, Hastings. He died March 5, 1910, buried in Oneota Cemetery in Duluth. He was one of 24 children born to John Abel Shannon & Samantha Smith.

Is there a chance that he is related to James Powell the photographer, who was the father of my great-uncle?

Most likely. According to the 1886 Daily Whig, he ran Shanahan’s restaurant in Kingston. Shanahans — E. & A. Chown’s first business stand. They served their apprenticeship with James Powell, father of the photographer of the same name.

If you’re researching 19th-century Kingston, check out the link to the Whig above. It has a list of many of the stores along the main strip and a brief story about their owners.

So who was the photographer, James W. Powell? We’d need to jump forward a few more years.

On July 1, 1867, guns fired and bells tolled as Canadians took a bit of power from the British and united their colonies. Sir John A Macdonald was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of Canada. He died in 1891 at the age of 76, with R.W. Powell calling it at 10:15pm.

No word yet if RW and JW were related…. What was JW doing in 1867?

In 1867, James W Powell lived in Kingston at 18 Colborne St. James W POWELL was the father of James Haffel POWELL, who married my great aunt.

In 1871 he moved to Napanee, and worked at Sheldon & Davis as a photographer.  Some photos from the National Gallery.

In 1876 he was at Wellington St.
In 1881 he was at 34 Brock St.
In 1883 he was at King and Market Square
In 1889 he was at 165 Princess St.

James Powell and family owned 165-167 Princess St. from 1840 to the 1880’s. When fire raged up Princess in 1876, this building was saved from destruction by blowing up a small brick house to the west.

The Stories of Store Street.

Neighbours of James, perhaps a bit into the future, included Dan Aykroyd’s great-grandfather Samuel Augustus, the dentist in Kingston.

The King of Kingston

Six generations of Aykroyds have lived in the Kingston area. The family’s penchant for the paranormal started with Dan’s great-grandfather, Samuel Augustus Aykroyd, Kingston’s fifth dentist, who had an office on the town’s main drag at 92 Princess Street (now a TD bank across the street from a Starbucks). As a child, Peter spied on his mystic grandfather’s regular seances at the family’s farmhouse, a childhood fascination that would eventually greatly influence his own son.

In the attic of 165 Princess St, photos and documents from Powell’s photography studio were found years later. These Fonds are in the Queens archives which I hope to see someday soon. Their web site has a few Powell photos.

James W. POWELL, was a photographer for over 30 years in the Kingston and Napanee Area, from 1870 to his death at 9:15am on July 16, 1896. If you have any links to Powell photos, please post them in the comments below.

In 1901, his son, James Haffel Powell, was 28 when he married married my Great Aunt Mary Ida Sears. At 24, she was a nurse. Her parents were Samuel SEARS and Hannah BUCK. His brother Charles W. POWELL of Kingston was his best man, with her sister, my Great Aunt Alberta J. SEARS being the maid of honour. Jess Miklos was kind enough to pull that together for me.

They lived on Perth Road near Kingston. Not to be confused with Frank Baden-Powell Park, in West Perth Australia.

When the elder POWELL passed away, his son and mother tried to keep the photography business going. Jennie (Jane) SALLANS POWELL and her sons managed until 1906, when the business was closed. Later, James Haffel Powell joined my Great-Great Grandfather Ralph Warren Sears as a guard in Kingston Penitentiary.

Although James Haffel Powell is only related to me through marriage, his tree was one of the more interesting ones to climb. Haven’t found the link to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, but I’m sure it’s there someplace. I will revisit my great uncle’s history in a future posting, along with a history of Cobalt, Ontario.

Next posting will be on the AYKROYD family, my ancestor’s neighbours in Loughborough, Ontario, and a possible tie-in with the SEARS family tree.

The meaning of a name

The Sears family name is derived, misspelled, translated, obscured, and Americanized into various forms.

From, this blurb on the Sears name seems to simplify everything.

Irish (Kerry): Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Saoghair, which in turn may be a patronymic from a Gaelicized form of the Old English personal name Saeger (see 2 below). EML.English: patronymic from a Middle English personal name Saher or Seir (see Sayer 1).Americanized form of French Cyr.

I found that the Americanized (Kentucky) version of Sears is Cyrus. As in Billy Ray, Miley, and her original ancestors.

Perhaps the best explanation for the various iterations of the Sears family name was put together by V. Suzanne Sears, who I will quote ad verbatim.
The sound Syr is nearly 2,500 years old:
the first person with this last name lived in the middle east and is recorded in ancient history

It goes back even farther:
related to pagan gods and goddess names

It spread out of the Middle East into Persia:
where it became synonymous with things Powerful:
primarily geographical… Rivers and Hills

but some men also took it up as a last name.

Heading north: it spread with the Celts to the Baltic Sea….
One finds the River Syr in Belgium and Lake Suire in Switzerland………..

Spreading further: it reached Norway and Sweden and is still a popular first name today: Sirre

In Scotland: it came to be a word synonymous with Hill…..

to ancient Mediterranean sailors: it was a mermaid that created havoc with their ships……..

A Syr had many powers…….

There is speculation it is the backbone of the term Sire….or Lord…..and it probably is…….

However here is where we stop:

Sears and Sire are not in any way related……..

Instead: we are now using the Latin Sutor…..

which refers to the term Pattern Maker…..
and which in French: the T is not pronounced.

Thus a person who worked with patterns was a Sire or Le Sire……..this is a huge family name in Belgium and Picardy and Flanders.

In France: it is spelled Le Sueur…….and is applied to both shoe makers and cloth makers and iron makers.

Its a trade name.

From this rose the very famous Flemish Dutch cloth of ancient times called Sayre……or Sayer.

A Sayer or Sayre was someone who was a Le Sire:
someone who worked and used patterns of Sayre cloth.

Eventually the two terms were interchangeable……..
like Smith…….

Many many families carried this last name………

England had a policy of refusing to import French or French related cloths:
and since they desperately needed them:
instead they imported Sayres…..or Le Syrs

One can find Le Syrs and various spellings as early as 1100AD in all parts of England……..including Colchester regions of the Richard Sayres fame………

They were so highly prized as tradesmen: they were imported to all regions of Britain and Scotland and Ireland and Wales.

Mary Queen of Scots imported a group of Flemish Sayres to Scotland: only to have her son James resettle them in Bedfordshire.

Bedfordshire was also the place where in the 1400s a group of Flemish weavers sought and applied for the right to settle…….and was granted: as in the Sears of Bedfordshire known in early New England.

We also have the Syers of Sussex:
who were also Flemish……..

Thus Sayer and Sears and any other British spelling
are not one genetic family
but many:
anyone who plied this trade.

Some indeed did become wealthy from the actual import and export of the cloth Sayre
most did not

Certainly the cloth workers: disenchanted with the Catholic and Anglican relgion that were the backbone of Puritanism……..driving themselves and others of like persuasion to North America………

The Flemish cloth weavers of Britain had floated its economy for a very long time with little reward in general.

As to Norman or French origins from Serez or any other Normandy town:
thats inconsistent with the facts……

The only version of the name in Normandy was Le Sueur…..and most became Huguenots: and some did migrate to London England Threadneedle district…….

certainly not during the times of the Norman invasion……

Sayre is a simple Flemish word for cloth and clothweaver:
there is no magical French noble version…….

There are thousands of persons today named Le Sire and Le Sueur and Sayre and Sirre still living in this north eastern part of France and Flanders ,,,,,,,

and they are very clear on their origins……
Most even carry Germanic or Jewish DNA profiles….
with a few Swiss ones with typical Celt profiles….

Only the Irish versions are slightly different in origin:
every original Seers in Ireland belongs to the
Seer O Sullivan clan.
and indeed it did mean builder:
but related to stone masonry

All other versions came over to Ireland from Britain and Flanders at later periods and are not indigenous to Ireland.

It was primarily in America where the name and similar sounding ones all seemed to become Sears……even Scearce became Sears: which is unrelated in meaning and origin.

Hope this helps demystify what is really a very simple last name…….

Thanks V. Suzanne.

After reading this, I figured other than trying to trace back a few generations of Sears from direct descendants birth and marriage certificates, and cemetary headstones, it will be a tough task trying to tie them together without DNA evidence.

Perhaps the friends and relatives of my great great ancestors were more interesting anyway….

Next up, the Powell family, my Great Uncle (in-law).