Hello all, sorry for my tardiness in maintaining active posts. You know, life gets in the way.

My focus over the last couple weeks has been Murphy/Gibeault and related families. These are all on my wife’s side. Primarily I’m just trying to fill in blanks using a book called “Gibeault/Beaudry Family History”.

My sister-in-law Fran(ces) was kind enough to share a number of photos she acquired after my Mother-in-laws passing and I scanned them all to maintain a record. If you know me you know I love photos, particularly old ones.

So in addition to the family history info incorporated in the book there were additional photos. All are photocopies, and not very good either if truth be known, but at least I have access to them. I would really like to share them and my dilemma is how best to do that. I am more than willing to purchase another domain, or happy to use one of mine, but how will I get the best bang for my buck when/if I do that? Facebook is always an option, and I may take advantage of that, but I feel some reservation there. Unfortunately it’s probably the media most likely to attract the most viewers.

I’ve also made contact with the Federspiel/Symons side, the Reeve (wife’s side) and the Reeves side, in addition to a connection to the Gale/Diebert. I hope I haven’t left anyone out. What this means is a rapid infusion of names and family tree member.

I will now have to update the Family tree associated with this site (Family Tree), as it is sadly much out of date. I would like to improve this situation however until I can determine the best way to secure the info of living members I will have to postpone attention. Then there is of course my ADD tendencies which complicate my life when it comes to completing projects started with good intentions, the Family tree being one.

I’m still happy to share the Ancestry tree (Ancestry – Sklapsky Family tree). Unfortunately I think the hoops created by Ancestry when viewers attempt to access the tree are onerous for most. I think joining Ancestry, even though it’s free, prevent casual viewers from taking advantage of the site. That’s the primary purpose of my creating the Family tree attached to this site. The downside is that it creates additional load on me from a maintenance point of view.

Whatever all this means to you is personal. My goal is to provide, yours to access if you choose.

Take care all…..

Lott Family Sites

Here’s a couple links to sites with info on the Lott family. While at the time of writing this I haven’t found the connection to Albena Novak I think this info may have some benefit in the future.

Yuma County, Colorado, Photographs

Friends of the Lott House

Memoirs of Hillsburgh – Clarence Federspiel (1909)

Here is another installment from the book “Memoirs of Hillsburgh”, in this case a piece written by Clarence Federspiel around 1909. 

Clarence is the brother of Elmer Federspiel, who married Lillian Mae Sklapsky in 1905. 


I, Clarence Federspiel, come to what was then Assiniboia N.W.T., in 1905 and homesteaded twenty-five miles east of Davidson. After proving up my homestead there, I decided in 1909 to purchase South African scrip which was available at that time and could be purchased at the local bank for $500.00 to $1100.00. This scrip was allotted by the government to veterans of the South African war, which allowed the holder of such scrip to file on a half section of government land or to sell it, and whoever purchased it had the same right. It was generally understood there was available government land south-west of Saskatoon, where the Canadian Northern Railroad was building a line from Saskatoon to Calgary. This was known as the Goose Lake line. After purchasing my scrip at the bank at Craik, I, with three other homesteaders decided to drive through with a team of horses and light wagon and see what the country looked like. We started about July 6th and drove west, crossing the Saskatchewan River on the ferry at Outlook. We kept on west until we came into what is now called the Brock district. At that time there was just one house in township 28, range 20 — Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hyde’s place on section 24. Rather, they had not built their house, but were living in part of the barn until they could build a house. We camped at their place for a few days while we looked over the surrounding country. I finally decided to file my scrip on the east half of 10-28-20-W. 3rd. The other three men did not take up any land, but returned to their homesteads by way of Rosetown which was the end of the steel at that time. I left them there and took the train for Saskatoon where I filed my scrip on the above mentioned land.

I then returned to my homestead at Davidson, and after harvesting the crop in 1909, I sent my wife and little daughter Vera back to Michigan which was their old home. After that I went back to build a home for them on our newly acquired land. At this time, about October 10th, the steel was laid to Netherhill, so we were able to take the work train from Rosetown, which was as far as the passenger train came then. The work train let us off at what was then called mile 106. l must mention that John Ward and Louie Keil arrived on that train and had with them a huge tent which become our first hardware store operated by Louie Keil, and our first general store by John Ward. I remember I bought my first carpenter tools from them and I used the tools to build our first house on 10-28-20-W. 3rd. This house was 22’x24’ and is now occupied by my daughter Maxie and her husband Andrew Melville who bought the place from me through the V.L.A. in 1945. Both my daughter and her her husband were veterans of World War Two.

Our house was built in the fail of 1909 with lumber and material which was shipped from Rosetown, and was part of the first shipment of building material which arrived at mile 106, later called Brock. The balance of this shipment of lumber consisting of two cars was for J. R. Ward’s store and W. L. Keil’s store. These were the first buildings in Brock in 1909. One cold day in December, Bert McBain and I walked to Rosetown a distance of 36 miles to catch the train to Saskatoon. We had missed the work train and we froze our faces. The only place we could find to sleep was on the floor of a new restaurant that was being built there. Needless to say we slept well as we were tired after our long hike.

The next morning I took the train for Michigan where my wife Blanche was waiting for me, and I saw for the first time our second daughter Clara, born October 29th, 1909. Then I returned to Brock with my wife and two daughters just as a big prairie fire swept past our house, which was just off the grass on the land that already had been burned off. There were many new settlers in 1910. Some of my new neighbors were Jack Maloney on the north half of section two, Charlie Parks and Jim Staples on section 14, George Shea on section 22, Ole Skrove on the south half of section 16, and George B. Mason on the N.E. of section four.

The two first reeves of the Municipality of Hillsburgh were John Craig and William Dale, two outstanding men who gave the best of Ieadership to the council through good times and bad. I cannot speak too highly of them both with their gift of leadership to the municipality during their terms of office.

In 1910 a little story went the rounds, and I don’t know if it were true
or not, but one day Bill and Jack were very busy when a man come into their store and bought an ox harness, and asked Bill to charge it to him. Bill being very busy didn’t make a note of it at the time, and in the evening when he remembered about it, he couldn’t think of the man’s name, so he asked Jack what to do about it. Jack said, “Every man who has a charge account we will charge with one ox harness, then when they pay their bills if they say they didn’t buy an ox harness, we will just strike it off the bill.” Well they never did find out who bought the ox harness, but when they closed their books in the fall, they found that 14 different men had paid for the ox harness.

Names, Names, and More Names

I think I mentioned earlier that I made contact with a fellow researching the Novak line, how he passed on to me a great deal of research on that side of the family.

Well, I ‘bumped’ into him again the other day, this time regarding a photo of Mary Shebester. The Shebester name is another one of the names that keeps popping up in the research. In this case more than one Shebester married Novaks.

So the plot thickens.

Unfortunately I’m still no closer to finding that link ‘over the pond’, and in fact am considering whether to pass that onto a professional, someone who has skills in that area. Certainly that’s not me, at least not at this point.

Other names that are becoming more prominent are the Taurs and Thomashack (and various spellings). I look forward to seeing where they take me.

Important Family History – ARVC

The type of family history I’d like to comment on here now is one that in many ways I’d care not to re-visit, however to not bring it up or make it more broadly known would be negligent and irresponsible. I’d also like it to be clear this is not a means of attention seeking, in fact comments of condolences (while truly appreciated) are not required here. This post is meant to be proactive, for information and foreknowledge only.

On Jan.18 2000 at the age of 17 our son Shawn passed away, while in school, during his Drama class. In some ways he may have seen some irony there, that was just the kind of humour he could relate to,  but the truth of it is there was nothing really funny or comical about it. The facts are that he collapsed, numerous heroic attempts at resuscitation failed, and many people’s lives changed significantly and forever.

Rumours began to circulate as to the cause of his death, as one might imagine. As a parent this was hard to hear, hard to believe that the negative and dark side of human nature could be seen so rapidly. Hard to believe that this was how people, strangers, choose to categorize this painful event.

The truth, as it came out later, was that the cause of death was Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a congenital heart defect. Where and why were some of the questions that we pondered, where did this gene come from and why did it affect us, why did it show up in our family. To quote an article from “Cardiac Risk in the Young” (

The pattern of inheritance is known as ‘autosomal dominant with variable penetrance’ meaning the child of an affected parent will have 50% chance of inheriting the abnormal gene, but will not then necessarily go on to have the condition.

Essentially the ‘bad’ gene was inherited somewhere along our genetic lines, from which side of our family we do not know. We contacted as many of our family as we could, to inform them and to be proactive. Many were tested however none were identified as having the gene and no further situations occurred.

In short I would again remind you this blog and short history is meant to be proactive. If you know someone in our extended family you think may benefit from this information please share. I’d be happy to chat with anyone who has questions.

More information can be found at either of the sites below, or just by Googling ARVC:


Genetics Home Reference

Dad is Moving On

Dad, his ‘wheels’ and new duds

We have just reached another stage in life here, my father (Dallas Sklapsky) has been moved into a residential care home in Castlegar.

For a few years now he has been living alone in an Assisted Living complex in Trail, a town near us, but it has become too much for him. His health declines and he seems to be more and more unable to care for himself acceptably.

I don’t think it inappropriate to say here that he suffers from Dementia (among other age related illnesses), and the disease progresses at it’s own rate, unaffected by those close. Dad still recognizes me but there are times when spouses and grandchildren are forgotten. It is sad to see but it is also life, and we have no choice to accept it.

The photo below was taken a couple years ago.

Love those close while you can.

Joseph Sklapsky Family Descendents

I’ve updated the descendents of Joseph Sklapsky family tree using comments and changes passed on by family. You can check it out by signing on and looking under the “Genealogy” menu item, or if you are a member of the “Sklapsky Reunion” Facebook page you can get the link there.



The Walter Reeves Family – by Eleanor (Reeves) Renshaw

On my recent trip to Grimshaw for my Aunt Muriel’s funeral I was introduced to a book, titled “Neville – The Golden Years, 1900-1980. My cousin Beverly had seen it on my Aunt Joyce’s shelf with some other family history books. In it was this piece written by my Great-Aunt Eleanor (my paternal Grandmother’s sister) around 1979 or so. It ties in with Walter Reeves memoir, also on this site.



by Eleanor (Reeves) Renshaw

In the fall of 1909 my father, Walter Reeves, decided to go to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, to file on a homestead, W 1/2-s7-t-12-R11 w of 3rd, about three miles north and four miles east of where Neville now stands. In 1910 my mother and three children emigrated from Minnesota to Canada along with the Bradley family.

Mr. Bradley, and father shipped their household effects, cattle, a team of horses, two wagons and father’s 4000 feet of lumber in a freight car. Because they were emigrating to Canada they were allowed settler’s rates, which amounted to $73.00.

When father arrived, he hired Mr. Bradley to haul our household effects, lumber, etc. to our homestead site 35 miles southeast of Swift Current. To pay Mr. Bradley for the trip father gave him one of our milk cows.

Because our house was not yet built, Joe Bonner allowed us to stay in a small shack near his place, that belonged to a young man by the name of Bert Robinson, who had recently homesteaded the quarter just south of Joe Bonner’s and hadn’t come to live there yet.

Because there had been little rain recently, and there was danger of prairie fires and because the ground was too hard and dry to plow a furrow, father and mother managed to carefully burn quite a wide fireguard around the house and barn.

In about June of 1911 I can remember how pretty the prairie was. There must have been plenty of rain as the grass was green and luxuriant, crocuses made a purple carpet everywhere, and the wild prairie roses scented the air with their fragrant perfume. As we ran over the hills north-east of our place we found a small patch of double roses and we never found any anywhere else.

This spring of 1911 bright new shacks dotted the prairie in every direction. Sometime in the spring of 1912, my brother Bert and I began attending Daybreak school, about four miles west of us. We all walked to and from school every day, unless the weather was bad, and never seemed to get too tired.

About the beginning of 1914 our school district of Mosquito Creek was formed, and the school house built.

The highlight of the school year was the Christmas Concert. We always had a good one. There were plenty of children to take part, and a number of them had a real talent in acting, singing or reciting. Our teachers had the ability to choose material suitable to the talents of her pupils. The school house was usually full of interested parents and many visitors from other districts. A dance usually ended the evening’s entertainment.

In 1915 Uncle Clarence Reeves bought Allen Graham’s farm, house, machinery and stock. His younger children Grace, Beth and George who had come from North Dakota, and who had stayed a short time with us, now moved into a home of their own.

1919 was a very dry year, not even potatoes grew. Mother tried to serve beans or rice and how tired we were of such a restricted diet. Fortunately we had milk, butter and cream of our own.

Because of the crop failure, father went to the Regina area to work during the threshing season and mother cooked for the threshers in a cook car.

On December 1924, I, Eleanor Reeves, married Pearly Renshaw and we lived in the Neville area for four years. We moved to Northern Alberta. We had three boys and two girls. Through all these intervening years our sons and daughters have brought us much joy.

Pearl died in 1971. My sister Berniece and I decided we would live together. My brother Bert, who is retired, and his wife, Grace, also live in White Rock.

Wilbur and his wife, Dolores, have five children, all grown.

Laurel and her husband, Lee Hacker, are both retired and live north of Pasco, Washington, U.S.A..

Aurla and her husband Milton Magee live in Kent, Washington, U.S.A..

I am sure that when any of us, who are children of the early settlers of Neville, turn our memories back to those homesteading days of the early 1900’s, we think with pride and reverence of our parents, their strength of character, and perseverance through hardships, and disappointments, and the universal sense of caring for the welfare of others in surrounding neighborhoods.

Been a While

It has been a while and sometimes it seems like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. In fact it’s been so long I’ve forgotten (almost) how to create a post and add pictures. Bear with me if things are not as pretty as they could be.

My saga here in Kamloops continues. It’s been 3 months now and the period of time the mill requested me for was 3 – 6 months. Half way there. I’ve been asked a number of times to stay on permanently but I don’t think that’s in the cards, at least not at present. Dad isn’t doing well and he couldn’t survive another move.

Maureen is still in Castlegar holding down the fort as it were, and doing a swell job of it too. My brother in law Jake is helping with yard work and his assistance is very much appreciated.

We have a new grandbaby as of May. Her name is Ivy Vivienne, the Viv part in memory of Maureen’s Mom Vivienne. Ayron was especially close to her as a kid.

To move things along I’ll post a few pics and if things go well I’ll see about getting more up soon.

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