Kemptville Pirate’s Day

Pearce Heritage Research Associates will be attending Kemptville’s 2nd annual Pirate’s Day on Saturday, September 15, 2012! The featured pirate this year is Blackbeard. To commemorate this event, PHRA has produced a 56-page booklet about Blackbeard the Pirate, aka Captain Edward Teach. The booklet will be available at the event, and we will make it available on our website at www.pearceheritageresearch.ca in PDF format after September 15.

We invite all our friends and clients to attend this day of family fun, magic, music, and more. Meet Captain Jack Sparrow! Meet Blackbeard and sign up for his crew to receive your certificate as an official crew member!

Visit http://sohohesol.dyndns.org/KemptvillePirateDays/index.html the official website of Kemptville Pirate’s Day to learn more!

Miss Anne Powell Travels to Detroit, Pt. II

Pearce Heritage Research Associates

I hope that you have read the Captain Richard Duncan biography at the Biographi.ca website . By now you might be asking, “why do I have to do homework to read this blog?”. Well, you don’t really. I just wanted to give you two entirely different perspectives on the same historical person, Captain Richard Duncan, and if you read his “official” story, you’ll better understand those two perspectives.

Meet Mary Wright Duncan

On the way to Detroit, Miss Anne Powell stayed overnight at the home of Captain Richard Duncan. There, she met both the Captain and his wife. She doesn’t mention the wife by name, but we know that she was Mary Wright. She married Richard Duncan in October of 1784.

In her letters, Miss Anne writes about her 1789 meeting with Mary:

We pass’d one night at the house of a Capt’ Duncan, whose Wife I had often heard mention’d by my sister and whose story I commiserated before I saw her person. She is one of the loveliest young women I ever saw, both in person and manners, is now only nineteen and has been 5 years married.

Interestingly, we discover from Miss Anne’s writing that Mary is nineteen years old. She has also been “5 years married”. That means that Mary was wed at the very tender age of fourteen. This fact is not mentioned in the biograhpi.ca profile of Captain Duncan. As a family historian, if you were investigating this family’s story, you might have missed this fact if you had not dug a little deeper into the story. A marriage record might have revealed this, but perhaps not. In 1784, there were no official marriage civil registers. These were not begun until 1869 in Ontario, and considerably later in Quebec. Church records might be the only available source for this type of information. However, there was no standard format for recording such unions and the information contained in them varies. If I were researching the Duncan family, I would most certainly want to see any available marriage record after having read Miss Ann Powell’s letters.

I haven’t seen the marriage record for Mary Wright and Captain Duncan to know what information is contained in it, or indeed if it even exists. However, my point is not to prove Mary Wright’s age. My point is only that sometimes an unusual, “unofficial” source can yield some very interesting information.

I love the juicy-gossip quality of Miss Anne’s writing. My general perception of her is that she was a likeable, honest, and caring individual. If you read her letters, I’m sure you will agree. So when she writes about Captain Duncan himself, I’m inclined to believe what she writes about him.

Meet Richard Duncan

In the official biography, we learn that Duncan’s father, John, was an “Indian trader” operating out of Schenectady, New York. Further, “By the time of the American revolution the Duncans had acquired extensive landholdings but had also accumulated a joint debt of £3,000”. Generally, Duncan was a good soldier, rising from the rank of ensign, and having participated in the Battle of Saratoga. You can read about the infantry company he commanded during the war, some of his exploits, and the company’s modern re-enactors at http://royalyorkers.ca/duncans.php. After the Revolution, he was granted lands in Mariatown (near Morrisburg, Ontario), and continued to add to this allotment by purchasing more acreage around him.

Miss Anne confirms many of the facts presented in the official biography. But she adds an extra dimension. She tells us about the character of the man, Richard Duncan, rather than the military figure, something not in evidence in the more staid recounting of his life on biographi.ca. Please don’t get the impression that I’m picking on biographi.ca; it’s a great resource for this type of background information. Nor am I necessarily trying to intentionally impugn the reputation of an obviously very capable Loyalist soldier. My intent is only to show how resources like the letters of Miss Anne Powell can add that extra, human dimension to our research subjects.

Anne Powell doesn’t like Captain Duncan. She says as much, even as she expresses extreme sympathy for the position of her young hostess.

She describes Captain Duncan as: “a Man who is old, disagreeable and vicious, but he was suppos’d to be rich and her friends absolutely forced [Mary] to marry him.” She clearly despises his treatment of his young wife: “I never heard of such a series of cruelty being practiced on any poor creature in my life both before and after her marriage.” And she loathes Captain Duncan himself: “The disgust I felt towards him is now settled into a fixed aversion which can never change for it is founded on principle.

Earlier, I used the quote from biographi.ca to show that Captain Duncan was a man deeply indebted to his creditors (“a joint debt of £3,000”). Miss Anne confirms this as she tells us, “After the sacrifice was made [i.e., after Mary Wright wed Duncan], her friends had the mortification of finding themselves deceived in his circumstances ; so far from being rich he was deeply in debt, and had nothing to live upon but his half-pay and his new lands which were then in a state of Nature.” By the way, I used a calculator on the realworth.com website to calculate that the Duncans’ debt of £3,000 would be equivalent to £4,000,000 ($6 million CDN) today, so his indebtedness was not a small thing.

This dishonesty in his representation of himself to Mary, and perhaps to her family and friends, might be why Miss Anne so harshly decries Mary’s condition, living in the wilderness in such a poor state: “There, however he brought her, and there she lived in a hut without society, and almost without the necessaries of life, ’till he built a house, which he has done upon so large a scale that it will never be finished.” Her description of Mrs. Duncan’s married life is in stark contrast to the life of affluence with Captain Duncan that evidently Mary and everyone else concerned expected.

A Good Flow of Spirits

Miss Anne concludes her description of the experience by expressing her hopes for Mary Wright Duncan: “I felt myself very much interested for this sweet young woman and should have great pleasure in hearing her Tyrant was dead, the only means by which she can be released.” This might not be a charitable way to express herself, but I think it clearly underscores the depth of feeling Captain Duncan evoked in Miss Anne.

Reading her letters, I grew to quite like Miss Anne Powell. She was not one to suffer injustice lightly. Certainly, she expresses quite clearly that she would never allow herself to be put into circumstances similar to her friend, Mary. She is, we find, particularly strong-willed for a woman of her time. She would rather die than to live the way Mary was living:

I, at that moment thought with pleasure of a circumstance that has often mortified me, the slightness of my own constitution which will never leave me long to struggle under any great misfortune ; a good flow of spirits buoys me up above the common vexations of life; few people, I believe, bear them with more temper, but an evil too great for the strength of my mind would soon send me to the grave.

That’s it for this week’s installment. Stop by again for another new adventure in history. Next time, I’ll tell you how I found this amazing story and what other free resources are available at the same website. As always, please feel free to comment on anything you read here on this blog.

End of Pt. II

Miss Anne Powell Travels to Detroit

We Meet our Heroine

In 1789, just three years before her death at a relatively young age, Miss Anne Powell travelled from Montreal to Detroit. Her brother, William, had received an appointment to be the magistrate for the British territories to the west of what is now Long Point, Ontario, a town situated on the north shore of Lake Erie and just about due south of Kitchener-Waterloo. This commission had its seat in Detroit, now part of the United States, but at the time still in British hands (Britain ceded Detroit to the U.S. in 1796 under the provisions of Jay’s Treaty).

Miss Anne accompanied her brother, sister-in-law, and their family on the journey to Detroit. Before she left Montreal, she had decided she would pass some of the time in keeping a journal of the rough trip, partly overland but mostly by water. In his book, Old Province Tales: Upper Canada, published in 1920, William Renwick Riddell, describes the setting for us:

When William Dummer Powell was in 1789 appointed ‘first judge’ for the District of Hesse, i.e., all Canada west of Long Point, Lake Erie, there was no road cut through what is now the province of Ontario, and it was necessary to take the water route. He was at the time living in Montreal with his wife and family, four sons and two daughters; there also lived with him his eldest and favourite sister, Anne, a young, vivacious woman of handsome person and no little literary ability. In her letters still extant she writes in a lively and entertaining style, and her light chaff of her somewhat ponderous brother is very amusing.

Miss Anne and her travelling companions had a long journey ahead of them. If you travelled Highway 401 from Montreal to Windsor by car today, you would be travelling nearly 900 km, and this is a much shorter route than the one Miss Anne took in 1789. The map below (click on the map to enlarge it) of Upper Canada in 1800 shows the entire territory just a decade after Miss Anne’s journey. Notice that Dundas Street, intended to connect Montreal to Detroit, and bypassing Niagara Falls, is already in evidence on this map. Construction of the road began the year after Miss Anne’s death. In 1789, her party was forced to travel overland around the Falls: “There the River becomes impassable, and all the baggage is drawn up a steep Hill in a Cradle, a Machine I never saw before.” (By the way, if you would like to get a sense of what the Falls looked like in Miss Anne’s day you can find a number of pictures at Impressions of Niagara.)

Blogging was hard even in 1789

Miss Anne’s writings are a wonderful insight into her character and personality. She so easily brings to life for us what it was like to live in the early days of our country’s settlement after the close of hostilities, “the Peace” she calls it, with the new United States. We also get a real sense of who she was as a person. Although she had originally planned to keep a journal, she instead found that impractical.

She writes: “I was not aware of the difficulties attending the journey. I expected it would be tedious, and thought writing would be a very pleasant employment, and so it might have proved had it been practicable but the opportunities of writing were so few that I found it would be impossible to keep a journal with any degree of regularity, so left it wholly alone and trusted to my memory (which never deserved such a compliment) for recollecting whatever was worth communication.

Entertaining, but also historically useful

Not only are Miss Anne’s letters entertaining to read, but they provide us with a wealth of historical references. Anyone researching ancestors who once resided along the banks of the St. Lawrence River or the north shore of the lower Great Lakes during this period in history should read her stories. Like me, you’ll probably find something in her words that strikes a chord of familiarity.

I live near Kingston, Ontario, a city of about 120,000 people, attended university there, and, most recently, worked for Statistics Canada during Census 2011 out of the Kingston office. In short, I know the area well. I was delighted to encounter Miss Anne’s description of the Kingston she found along her 1789 journey:

“On the tenth day we reached Kingston. It is a small new Town and stands in a beautiful Bay at the foot of Lake Ontario. The moment we reached a wharf a number of people came down to welcome us. A Gentleman in his hurry to hand out the Ladies brushed one of the Children into the lake; he was instantly taken out, but that did not save his Mother from a severe fright. We went to the house of a Mr Forsyth, a bachelor, who very politely begg’d we would consider it our own. Here we staid 3 days and then sail’d with a fair wind for Niagara.”

Not only do we have Miss Anne’s amusing reference to her arrival and brief stay in Kingston, we actually know what it looked like in her day. Surveyor and artist, James Peachey, made this drawing of Kingston (or Cataraqui as it was then known) in 1783, just six years before Miss Anne passed through the town:

Trading history for herstory

The real value in reading Miss Anne’s reminiscences, for me at least, is in the personal insights that Miss Anne gives us about the people she encounters. There is the ring of truth in her recollections of the various personalities she writes about. One story she tells, about a “Captain Duncan” and his wife, is particularly compelling. Miss Anne is able to tell us things about this ex-military man and entrepreneur that no dry history book could ever tell us.

I’ll leave you with this link to Captain Richard Duncan’s biography on biographi.ca: http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2383. Consider it homework of sorts, a necessary background to next week’s installment of Miss Anne Powell Travels to Detroit. Next week, I’ll tell you what Miss Anne thought of Captain Duncan. (Hint: she didn’t like him very much.) We’ll also explore how to use this type of historical evidence in our genealogical work, as well as where to find it (for free!).

End of Part I

The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone, Part III

Last post I told you about my Eureka moment, when the real focus of my research suddenly became clear in the search for “Yukon” Cameron. I had suddenly realized that I wasn’t looking for “Yukon” Cameron, but “Cariboo” Cameron. Not only did the geographic focus of my research change, but also the temporal focus. That is, I had been looking for information in both the wrong place and the wrong time. As a result, I had to come up with an entirely new research plan.

My New Research Plan

Here is the basic outline of my new plan:

1. Google “Cariboo Cameron” and “John Cariboo Cameron”
2. Locate “John Cameron” in census records if possible.
3. Locate “Fairfield House”. Hopefully it was still standing and maybe I could find some photographs.

My first item returned wonderful results. I found a detailed story, citing both primary and historical sources, about “Cariboo” Cameron at a website called Barkerville.com. It yielded some fascinating details about “Cariboo” Cameron and his adventures. For example, his gold claim, known as the Cameron Claim, yielded the equivalent of $5 million (in today’s value), more than enough I would think to build yourself a wee mansion near Cornwall, Ontario. There was even a little town named Camerontown after the new millionaire.

Verifying the Broad Details

Good historical research means that you don’t always accept the claims of one single source. It’s very important to seek out other resources to confirm the first source. That means looking for completely different resources that don’t cite the first resource in their own research.

One resource I find very useful in confirming certain historical facts and biographical details in Canadian history is the website biographi.ca. And, indeed, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography also has an entry for John “Cariboo” Cameron. This is a website you can trust for a number of reasons. For example, it is an official creation of the Government of Canada. Most of the articles are written by professional historians. It’s also fairly easy to search the site. I suppose one drawback is that it can be a bit dry in places. However, each article cites actual historical primary and secondary sources that you can use in your own research to further your knowledge of your subject.

The Fine Details

Having confirmed the broad details of the “Cariboo” Cameron story from multiple sources, I looked at some of the finer details. I found out his middle name (Angus, after his father), and the names of several of his brothers (Allan, Alexander, Daniel, and Roderick). Two of the brother’s names came from some old photographs I found archived on the British Columbia archives website in its “Visual Records” collection. Bless our digital age! This type of name information can be very useful when trying to find someone in census returns.

The information on these websites also gave me some dates to work with. For example, Cameron arrived in Cariboo Country in 1862 and had returned to the Cornwall area by the end of 1863. He remarried in 1865 and returned to the Cariboo with his second wife in 1886, where he died in 1888 of a massive stroke. I have located him in some census returns for Glengarry County. However, in 1852, he moved to California and doesn’t show up in the Canada West census of that year, although two of his brothers do (or I’m fairly confident it’s the same family, anyway), with the Cameron family headed by Angus Cameron.

The House That Gold Built

If you’re wondering, I did manage to locate Fairfield House, the mansion built by our hero. It did become a boarding school in 1946. In the 1990s it was purchased by a Catholic order called the Legion of Christ. It still stands today at 19119 County Road 2, Summerstown, Ontario. I have pictures. And yes, it does show up in Google Earth Street View.

Final Thoughts

After I made my report to my client, he told me he couldn’t wait to pass it along to his sister. She would be thrilled, he said. And he would make sure that she connects with me to keep going with the family history research for them.

There is definitely more research to be done here. Are there any surviving records of Cariboo Cameron’s time in California? Where did Cameron’s second wife end up? What happened to Cameron’s brothers? Which of these brothers (if any) does my client descend from?

Researching the story of John “Cariboo” Cameron has been very exciting and interesting for me. I haven’t had many opportunities to research a family story like this. And it certainly doesn’t hurt when the subject of your search has such posthumous notoriety, even if we did start off with the wrong moniker. There’s even a novelized version of the story and a play based on the novel.

What an amazing life this man led. As I wrote in a previous post, we are all part of history by ourselves and through our family history. That’s why it’s so important to discover your own heritage. You can contribute another chapter in the great story of our collective history. For me, that’s the real take away from the saga of Yukon/Cariboo Cameron.

I also think it’s important to reiterate that in our research we need to take care with our assumptions. As genealogical researchers, we have to start somewhere, and a reasonable assumption is as good a place as any to start from. However, be prepared at any point in your research to abandon your assumptions and start making new ones when you have discovered new facts.

Finally, the search for Cariboo Cameron also illustrates how relatively easy it can be to conduct research online. I made use of Google to find almost every resource I consulted. I also used the Library and Archives Canada website for the census returns, and the official Dictionary of Canadian Biography website. Using these ready resources meant I didn’t have to do a whole lot of independent research, other than sifting through some census pages. Still, the story has a lot of holes in it, at least from my client’s perspective. His search for his family has only really just begun. I filled in the broad strokes of the family lore for him, but now he’ll need to make the direct connection to his family’s most well-known scion. That will probably require much more in-depth, hands-on research, with visits to local cemeteries, libraries, consulting local historical resources, and so on. But all of that is the really fun part in my view.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the Saga of “Yukon” Cameron. At last his family history’s broken telephone has been repaired for my client. By the way, the title for this post series actually partly comes from my client’s comment after I’d sent him the Cariboo Cameron story that he “knew” it was Cariboo not Yukon, and chalked it up to the “broken telephone concept”.

Take joy in learning your own family heritage!

The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone Part II

In Part I of The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, I told you about taking on the task of finding a client’s ancestor. This client remembered his ancestor’s name as “Yukon” Cameron. I also detailed the assumptions I made, based on the family lore my client outlined, that would guide my research plan. In this installment, I’ll tell you about the research outline I put together and how that turned out for me.

My Research Outline

I started with a very basic initial research plan outline :

1. Do a Google search for “Yukon Cameron”.

2. Do a Google search for the old television show, “Gold Trails and Ghost Towns”, and try to locate an episode guide. If found, look for the video to watch and learn more.

3. Search the web for any mention of a mansion in Cornwall, Ontario, for a mansion that became a boy’s school.

Although I did find an episode guide for the TV show, there was no mention in the listings of a “Yukon” Cameron, or anyone at all with the last name of Cameron. YouTube has a number of videos from the show, as well as other videos about the gold rush in BC, but I would have had to watch, literally, hours and hours of video in the vague hope that I would find the episode my client had watched; not a very productive avenue.

After Google largely failed me in the search for “Yukon” Cameron, my next step was to begin educating myself about the Klondike Gold Rush, a subject I knew almost nothing about other than that it took place in the Yukon, Dawson and Whitehorse were somehow involved, and the historical time period was the 1890s.

My memory was more or less true. The Klondike Gold Rush took place during the years 1897-1899. Dawson and Whitehorse were important centres in the day. There are tons of interesting websites, books, TV shows and movies about the Klondike Gold Rush. Nowhere did I find a mention of anyone named “Yukon” Cameron among the many resources listed in the search returns. I was starting to think that my client must have exaggerated his ancestor’s accomplishments. I was so wrong.

My Eureka Moment

One of my favourite parts of researching family history is that Eureka moment. You know that feeling. It’s when you’re struggling with some problem without much success, then suddenly the solution reveals itself. In a moment, everything becomes so obvious. That number 3 in my plan yielded the most amazing results came as a complete surprise to me. That was my Eureka moment.

As I mentioned earlier, part of my plan was to look for any references online that cited a mansion that became a boy’s school. Or a boy’s school that was once a private mansion. I had just googled search terms like “mansion”, “Cameron”, “school”, “Cornwall”, together after numerous fruitless attempts to locate information about “Yukon Cameron”. And then, something amazing happened. In one of the search returns, I spotted the text “John ‘Cariboo’ Cameron’. Not Yukon, but Cariboo. I clicked on the link and found a transcription of a historical plaque located, not in Cornwall, Ontario, but in Summerstown, Ontario, a few miles east of Cornwall.

The plaque transcription read:

“CARIBOO” CAMERON 1820 -1888
Born in this township, John Angus “Cariboo” Cameron married Margaret Sophia Groves in 1860. Accompanied by his wife and daughter, he went to British Columbia in 1862 to prospect in the Cariboo gold fields. That year at Williams Creek he struck a rich gold deposit. While there his wife died of typhoid fever and, in order to fulfill her dying wish to be buried at home, he transported her body in an alcohol-filled coffin some 8,600 miles by sea via the Isthmus of Panama to Cornwall. She is buried in the nearby Salem Church cemetery. Cameron built this house, “Fairfield”, in 1865, and in 1886 returned to the B.C. gold fields. He is buried near Barkerville, B.C.
Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

I almost jumped out of my chair with excitement. OMG! My client would be thrilled! Almost every other detail except the nickname fit my client’s remembered family lore. His relative wasn’t “Yukon” Cameron, but “Cariboo” Cameron. I had to resist the urge to contact my client to tell him I had found his ancestor, because I knew I had more work to do. I needed to know more about “Cariboo Cameron”. And I wanted to know as badly as my client did…

End of Part II

Coming up in the next installment of The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone: “My new research plan”.

The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone

As genealogists, we often are asked to locate information for someone who has a bit of family lore they’d like to confirm. They know a story they heard from a relative, who maybe heard it from another relative as it was passed down through the generations. And, like the proverbial “broken telephone” the story gets “mistold” every time it gets retold.

I’m sure everyone has played the game “broken telephone”, or at least heard of it at some point in their lives. It’s the game where you start with a group of people in a line or circle, whisper to the first person some message and they pass it along to the next person, and that person to the next person after that, and so on, until the message reaches the last person in line. Then, the last person repeats the message out loud to the group. Inevitably, the first person to hear the message repeats what they heard and everyone has a great laugh at the absurd differences between the two messages. Well, genealogical research is very often just like that.

“Yukon” Cameron

A recent client of mine had a wonderful piece of family lore that he wanted confirmed. His great-aunt, when he was a child (he’s now 50-ish), used to tell the tale of her great-uncle, a very successful adventurer and entrepreneur, whom my client remembered as “Yukon Cameron”. According to what my client remembered from the family story, “Yukon” Cameron traveled west during the Gold Rush, struck the mother lode, and returned to Eastern Ontario a very rich man.

Part of the story was that Cameron’s wife passed away while they were “out west” and before she died she begged her husband to return her body to Eastern Ontario for burial. According to my client, Cameron fulfilled his wife’s dying wish and eventually returned her body to Ontario, traveling down the west coast of North America, and crossing at Panama, then traveling north up the east coast and back to Canada. He traveled with the coffin, and the coffin contained not only the body but a good weight in gold as well.

Once he’d returned to Ontario, Cameron built a huge mansion. This mansion, exact location unknown to my client, was later lost to the Cameron family and was turned into a “boy’s school”. That is pretty much the whole story as my client knew it. Compellingly, my client also remembered watching on TV one Sunday afternoon in the 1990s a program called “Gold Trails and Ghost Towns” and, lo and behold, “Yukon” Cameron was one of the featured prospectors in the show. So my client set me my tasks: Could I discover any additional details about “Yukon” Cameron, confirm the story, and find out where he built his mansion? I promised to find out what I could.

Making Assumptions

Now, if you’re new to genealogy, there are some very important elements in the story my client related to me that I should point out to you. These elements would guide me in my research. To start with, I would have to make a number of assumptions. But here’s an important tip: Assumptions can be deadly to your research efforts. In research of any kind, you have to be constantly alert and be prepared to abandon your initial assumptions in a heartbeat.

Here are the assumptions that I made based on my client’s telling of the story, and the important story elements (remember, they’re not yet “facts”) that I would start with.

Assumption #1: Cameron’s nickname was “Yukon”; therefore the family must have known that, when he went west, he went to Canada’s Yukon Territory. Yukon Territory-Yukon Cameron; the connection made sense.

Assumption #2: Gold figures prominently in the story. The Gold Rush in question must be the Klondike Gold Rush, since the Klondike Gold Rush happened in the Yukon. It took place in the late 1800s as I remembered.

Assumption #3: If “Yukon” Cameron was my client’s great-aunt’s great-uncle, she might even have met him, so the story might arise from original, first-hand knowledge.

Assumption #4: My client said the mansion was built in Cornwall, Ontario. I assumed he was correct.

Assumption #5: The story of “Yukon” Cameron must have some grain of truth to it for it to be featured on a television show.

Given all these assumptions, it’s amazing that I learned anything about Yukon Cameron at all. But I did. In spite of myself.

End of Part I

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone!

Why study family history?

I’ve been following the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” for the past few episodes. The most recent episode features Kevin Bacon and his Quaker ancestors. Kevin Bacon is a Quaker?! Who knew! [Dare I say that gives a whole new meaning to “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon“. Just who doesn’t have some kind of relation to this guy?]

Anyway, aside from Kevin Bacon’s seeming ubiquity, he said something interesting on the show that started me thinking, something along the lines of: “I’ve always liked history. I never thought of history as my own family history.”

Think about that. What a powerful statement about the importance of knowing your own family history. We, all of us, don’t just exist in the present day, we also exist as a part of all of human history because of our families. Our own family heritage is history, too.

Studying your family history gives you the opportunity to contribute to the historical record. Our ancestors often embarked on wild and crazy adventures, like jumping onto leaky brigantines and sailing across the storm-tossed waves of the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Wouldn’t you like to learn what wild and crazy things your ancestors did?

And it doesn’t matter how “ordinary” your ancestors were. They are a part of a multi-chapter story of history that’s made up of much more than just well-known military conflicts like the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Civil War, WWI and so on. History is more than just “The” eras recognized by historians like “The Enlightenment” or “The Industrial Revolution” or “The Atomic Age” or “The Information Age”. You and your ancestors were actually there, through all of that, living those “ordinary”, extraordinary lives.

So if you’ve been kicking around the idea of getting started on your own family history research, there’s no better time than right now. There are so many resources available to you to help you get started: digitized census and other legal records, libraries, archives, museums, genealogical societies, and even companies offering DNA services. [I’ll have more about DNA in future posts.]

As a professional genealogist, of course, I strongly recommend that you start by consulting someone like me. If you don’t have time to do the research yourself, we genealogists are only too happy to help. If you want to get started but aren’t sure where to start, we can help you by directing you to some great resources and save you a lot of time; time you’d rather be spending researching, not looking for resources! Who knows, maybe you are related to Kevin Bacon. You won’t know until you start your research.

Welcome!

Welcome to the Pearce Heritage Research blog. As Chief Family Historian of Pearce Heritage Research, I hope you will find this a useful portal to genealogical and historical research. In coming posts, you will be able to read more about some of the resources available to you and read tips and tricks for making your research easier,  more productive, and, above all, enjoyable.  Whether you are a novice family historian or a seasoned researcher, I hope you will find these posts informative, entertaining, and useful. I look forward to many interesting and fruitful discussions.

–Brenna Pearce