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Houstonite takes top prize in genealogical contest

Who do they think they are?
Above is Franc Xaver Weinzierl

Who do they think they are?

Three Bulkley Valley residents will be finding out an in-depth answer to that question as it relates to their family, thanks to the B.V. Genealogical Society.

At a regular meeting earlier this year, they were discussing this year's Family-A-Fair and what they should do to highlight this year's event. A demonstration of what you can find with the BVGS was the perfect idea, Sharon Eastabrook said, who's the team leader for the contest.

"We were trying to find a focal point for the Family-A-Fair," Sharon Eastabrook said.

The idea was a spin-off from the T.V. shows that highlight the search for one's family history, Eastabrook said.

For a first-ever contest, she and BVGS secretary Joan Warmerdam were pleased to have 14 interested in the contest, five of whom submitted complete packages. A certain amount of information was required before to establish that the search would be possible, Warmerdam said, including full name, birth, death, and/or marriage certificates (where applicable), what year the first member arrived in Canada, on what boat, their place of origin, details like these that help the seven member BVGS team that will be researching winning entries.

Shirley Ann Martin of Houston is the grand winner of the contest. Her application had asked about the history of her grandfather, Franc Xaver Weinzierl. Born in Pforrkirchen, Niedeibeyen, Bavaria, Germany in 1887

Martin was pretty excited to learn about her grandfather. All she knew before was that they immigrated to Alberta from Germany and had nine children, so it should be fascinating to see what they come up with, she said. What she'd really like to find out is whether or not other family members, such as a sister or a brother, chose to stay in Germany, and if they had any descendants.

"It's like when they left, they left it all," Martin said. "So that will be interesting to see."

Rosalie Brandsma, the second place winner from Smithers, would like her family traced back to its Dutch heritage, Warmerdam said. The third place winner, Helen Utz from Telkwa, has chosen to trace her husbands family, who are rumoured to be from United Empire Loyalist stock.

"All three winners are from three totally different areas," Eastabrook said.

Over the next five months, Eastabrook will be leading the BVGS member team through these three histories, to reveal at the Family-A-Fair in October.

Things they'll be looking at are dates: so when they came to Canada, but also what was going on at the time. Why might they have travelled over to Canada?  Were they part of a convoy? Questions like these will be analyzed and researched extensively.

"There's always skeletons in the closet," Eastabrook commented. "It'll be interesting."

Considering she's spent the last 10 years doing her own family history, it's going to make for a busy summer, Eastabrook said. But a very rewarding one as well.

The last Family-A-Fair, in 2009, was very well attended. Run like a trade show, it featured the history of a variety of Smithers families, and people and businesses attending came from as far away as Topley.

They're holding the event at the Hudson Bay Lodge again, but this year they'll also be showing movies at the Roi Theatre, where they'll also being unveiling the three histories.

For more information on the Family-A-Fair or the BVGS, contact Sharon Eastabrook at 250-847-2412 or email