Reflecting on the Guild blogging challenge and looking ahead

Over recent weeks I’ve been posting a series of Cavers one-name study blog posts. This was prompted by a challenge set to Guild of One-Name Studies members. The goal was to write 10 new blog posts over a 12-week period. Which I’ve managed, starting with an opening blog post written shortly before the New Year bells, followed by 9 subject blog posts between January and early March 2020.

The range of topics covered has been very broad, ranging over newspaper articles, mysteries over strays and Cavers individuals popping up in unexpected places, Cavers surname references spotted in new online databases, and posts about some of the Cavers surname gems I found for sale on eBay. I’ve been really pleased with the variety of material covered. Each blog post required new research to be undertaken, as well as writing, but was a delight to prepare and post. And although I’ve been blogging about Cavers topics here since 2011, it has been very encouraging to know that I can still blog about things this easily, and cover an interesting variety of topics and subjects.

Looking ahead I am to build on this momentum, and continue to blog regularly, though less frequently than in recent weeks. That rate is not sustainable for me long-term, especially with my severely disabling progressive neurological illness. But blogging more often is something I can continue doing, albeit at a more leisurely pace.

I also aim to continue the mix of subject matter explored recently. So expect a wide variety of upcoming posts over the next year and beyond. If readers have specific topics that they would like me to explore do please let me know in the comments section below. Otherwise my plans are as outlined above.

Seasonal greetings and best wishes for 2020

Festive greetings to fellow Cavers researchers, and all the best for the coming year.

I’ve signed up for a Guild of One-Name Studies blogging challenge, and will be aiming to blog here more over the coming months. The long-term aim is to encourage me to blog more here about my Cavers research for years to come. But there may be quite an influx of posts over the next three months.

Topics will vary. I have a mix of blog ideas lined up. For starters lots of fun old newspaper references, very much light, frothy pieces, but often amusing.

Another theme will be to blog about some of the Cavers artefacts I got hold of recently, including a US baby photo from a century ago and a WW1 soldier reference letter.

Along the way of the one-name study I’ve encountered many characterful Cavers people from the distant past, and plan to write about some of those in coming weeks. have recently added a number of interesting data sets of records, and I plan to blog about some of the Cavers entries found in these.

I also have some new Cavers genealogy (family lineage) blogs planned. And some blogs about some more mysterious Cavers people from the past, and what we know of them, and where they might possibly fit in.

So much to come, if all goes as planned. Watch this space!

Goals for my Cavers one-name study in 2018

Looking ahead to the New Year I thought I’d jot down things that I’d like to tackle in this area in the next 12 months.

I’m tempted to work on a new WordPress-based website for my one-name study, as I did for my Coldingham and Melrose one-place studies. But at the moment I’m not sure that’s a good use of my limited energy. Not least because my existing Cavers blog is also acting well as a repository for ideas / sharing.

I’d definitely like to blog more Cavers family lineages, and also stories of interesting people, references to Cavers people in early newspapers etc. That should become easier as more Scottish Borders papers are added to the British Newspaper Archive in digital form online.

The Cavers Y-DNA Project continues, and I’d like to do at least a couple more DNA blog posts. The first will consider the issue of comparing Douglas vs Cavers DNA – not quite as my first impressions suggested, and more complex a story. And I very much want to blog about the potential of autosomal DNA testing for the Cavers one-name study, given my recent successes. I may well widen the DNA study to accept autosomal tests next year.

It would also be nice to blog more provocative articles which raise questions, or throw up suggestions for further research. For example I did a medical blog post in the last year, which led to quite a bit of discussion. It would be good to see more along these lines.

Many ideas anyway. Looking forward to it!

Recording of talk about Cavers one-name study

I gave a talk recently about my Cavers one-name study at the Guild of One-Name Studies regional meeting at Perth, Scotland, on 2nd November 2013. I was asked afterwards by fellow Guild members if I could put a version online. I’ve just recorded a new version, slides and audio. It’s just under 16 minutes long, and is essentially the same talk as before. I talked about how my one-name study has evolved over 30 years, including changing techniques, benefits and challenges of digitisation, and moves into social networking. Here’s the link.

New DNA project for Cavers one-name study

In recent years DNA has become increasingly useful for genealogy purposes, allowing family lines to be pieced together that don’t have the required documentation. In surname studies this is particularly true for Y-DNA, which is passed down from father to son. If there is an unbroken male line of descent the descendant should have the same Y-DNA as his distant male ancestor with the same surname, and that is true for Cavers as well.

Bearing this in mind, and also bearing in mind the large number of Cavers lines that we can’t trace back past the late 18th century, but are probably in many cases connected, I have started a Y-DNA project for Cavers. This has been set up with FamilyTreeDNA which is one of the largest genealogical DNA testing companies, based in America. For surname/one-name study purposes it’s generally necessary to do a Y-DNA test accurate to 37 markers, and this company offers a good deal on this level of testing.

Now DNA testing isn’t cheap, although prices have dropped considerably in the last few years. I can’t afford to pay for other people’s tests. I would need descendants to volunteer to pay for their own tests, or perhaps for family branches to group together to cover costs. To give an example of costs, I can provide a single Y-DNA 37 marker test kit to people in the UK for 80 pounds. If ordering the same item directly from FamilyTreeDNA (if you’re outside the UK) the same kit bought via the project currently costs $149 US dollars.

What I’d hope is that male descendants from a number of different Cavers lines would sign up to be tested. You would get the results from your own test, and by combining them and comparing them with other Cavers Y-DNA tests, which I would be able to do as the project administrator, it should be possible to see if different lines are related, and how closely. This is potentially very useful for the Cavers one-name study, and genealogical purposes, and has already proved very useful for other one-name studies.

To read more about the project see the project’s public page on the FamilyTreeDNA website. This is very much a long-term project, but I hope that it will be very useful.

Goals for this blog and the Cavers one-name study in 2013

As we near the end of another year and approach the start of a new one I thought I’d blog about my goals for this blog and the related one-name study for the year ahead.

A big reason for starting this blog was that it was a way for me to share information that I’d been able to piece together about Cavers families in the past. it’s really important to me that I do this while I still can. I’m very seriously ill, and the future is uncertain. So for 2013 I plan to make more genealogy blog posts, where I cover specific family lines in detail. For examples of prior posts of this kind see the posts categorised under Genealogies.

Mixed up alongside those I will continue to post references to the Cavers surname that I spot in old records, and also other topical articles, like the 1881 Canadian census one I posted here recently. For example I’ve found a lot of interesting references to the name in old newspapers in the British Newspaper Archive that would be worth sharing here.

Something that I need to do with my offline records is to update my events database for the one-name study. This is an Excel spreadsheet full of references I’ve found in all sorts of records to Cavers people, and it’s very useful. I may want to share it more widely though, again my way of preserving things longer-term, in which case I would look probably at converting it to be available online in Google Docs format.

May I also take this opportunity to wish all Cavers researchers the best for 2013.

New Facebook group associated with one-name study

I’ve just created a new Facebook group associated with the Cavers one-name study. As the group’s blurb says:

A worldwide group for CAVERS (surname) family history researchers. Share with us your stories and your photos. Tell us which lines you are researching and see if anyone else can help to fill in the gaps. The surname originates in Roxburghshire, Scotland, but Cavers ancestors emigrated all over the world. This group is associated with the Cavers one-name study registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies.

I know that not everyone is on Facebook, but I hope to reach out through this group to some people who might not find the study via other means. And for those who are on Facebook it will be a valuable tool for communication between Cavers descendants.

The group can be found here. Note you have to be a registered user of Facebook to see the group via this link.

Next blog post will be 1881 Canada census one

I’m planning to have a fresh look at the 1881 Canadian census, using the available transcripts and indexes, to see just how many of the found Cavers people are from pedigrees where we can trace them back in time, especially to Scotland. This will be useful to establish the state of knowledge of the one-name study for Cavers people in 19th century Canada, and will be a stepping stone towards future research.

It’s going to take me a little bit of time to do this though. So there may not be a post here for some time. But when I do post it should be quite a lengthy one, summarising the families recorded, and also giving some statistics, in terms of how many families and individuals (total and %) have known ancestral trees, especially back to Scotland, how many of the 1881 residents were born in Scotland etc. To do this I’ll need to revisit my notes from Canadian BMD certificates, especially for Ontario, and existing 19th century Canadian family trees I know about. And that will have to be cross-referenced against people recorded in the 1881 census.

Doing this should also highlight the “stuck” lines, where we could devote more attention, and hopefully be able to break through some brick walls.

Plans for the blog in 2012

Firstly Happy New Year everyone! Belatedly admittedly, but the sentiment is still the same.

Apologies that there hasn’t been a new proper blog post yet. There would have been, but I’ve been struggling since the Christmas holiday with a very heavy cold, on top of 4 chemo drugs and steroids taken permanently, all of which suppress my immune system very heavily. But I’m recovering at long last, so the next Cavers blog should go live relatively soon. I expect to blog at least monthly under normal circumstances, but would hope to often manage things more frequently than that.

I’m currently finishing off a blog post about World War One Cavers soldiers, focusing on known soldiers from Britain, Canada and Australia. After that there will be a blog post about an early London Cavers family, and a number of spin-off blog posts related to that family.

Looking ahead I plan to continue with my mix of lineage / genealogical posts, and topical posts. For example I found a lot of Cavers entries in the British Newspaper Archive which I’d like to share, though it’s sort of easier to do that as I get to each family in turn in the longer lineage posts. And I plan to do an extended blog post about some of the outstanding Canadian Cavers puzzles, where we haven’t figured out their origins yet.

Much that I’m posting here has been partially written up by me before. But some is relatively new research, so it takes me a while to write it up, as with the London Cavers family. And there is still ongoing new research happening, which I will also blog about, as I find out new Cavers things.

New blog theme

I really liked the old theme I was using (MistyLook), but I was having some trouble with it working properly. The sidebar which should appear to the right side was not behaving reliably, and would often only show at the bottom of the home page. This was probably a result of the wide text in some of the blog posts, which should have wrapped properly and handled this, but seem not to have done.

Another drawback with MistyLook is that it’s a fixed theme and doesn’t resize according to different browsers and window sizes. Which may be related to the above problem.

So I have now changed to a different WordPress theme, TwentyEleven. It’s not as atmospheric, but it seems to be working much better, and will resize to different window sizes. It should work better long-term.