Spring 1998

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Genealogy Essays


Catherine and Richard Pierce

A "Hand-In-Glove" Affair

Have you ever thought how much your personal genealogy and your personal chronology go together?

Don Rowland, former Wayne Town Historian and a fellow member of the Jo-Ho genealogy group, is a great chronologist. He has the World War II battles in the southwest Pacific where he fought, events of the War of 1812, the history of Wayne Town from its beginnings down to photographs of new houses built, and many other fields of his interest all assembled chronologically in looseleaf notebooks that fill maybe fifty feet of shelves. He has nailed down events in their time order.

I guess it was my association with him, and reading journals about the Civil War that got me thinking—we all have a personal chronology of the events in our lives.

If we jot down these events, it is soon apparent how many fit right into our personal genealogy. For example: date and place of our births and of our children and extended family, dates of marriages, family reunions, residence changes, all record the chronology of our lives. Of course someone will have to finish my chronology and note down my date of death just as I have tried to do for my ancestors.

We must not forget to record those events that may not seem outstanding to us, but will mean a lot to our descendants and future genealogists-those interesting little facts we all like to find: first memories, family excursions, birthday celebrations, school graduations, military service dates and experiences, first job away from home, career advancements, honors.

For me the little stories and events are what make digging roots interesting-even when I found a distant uncle who was a Tory!

So keep up your diary and it will form the history of your family for your succeeding generations as comfortably as your hand fills a glove.

© 1998, Richard Pierce

Genealogy Brings History Alive

Genealogy has certainly created an interest in history since our family started tracing our roots. One of my husband's ancestors was a Signer of the Mayflower Compact. So we began reading about the Plymouth Colony and the conditions that prompted the Pilgrims to come to a wild country.

One of my ancestors came to New England in the early 1630s-but left the colony for his personal religious beliefs. He was a friend and follower of John Wheelwright. To learn more about this group and their beliefs, we read what we could find about John Wheelwright.

Curiosity about forebearers, their times and events, aroused our interest in maps, local histories, stories, and cemetery stones. We, also, learned to question friends, authorities, and relatives who were knowledgeable or familiar with particular subjects. Visiting the places where some of our ancestors had lived brought us more information. We learned about migratory routes that followed footpaths, rivers, canals, or toll roads.

These travels introduced us to the history, customs, places and events of the areas where our great grandparents had lived.

Many of our ancestors were involved in this country's wars. To learn more about their lives we studied about regiments and battles. Incidentally, pension papers reveal such things as physical appearance, battles fought, and even members of the veteran's family.

We often discovered names of famous people who played a part in an antecedent's life: William Penn, Ethan Allen, Joseph Brant, Henry Dearborn, Oliver Cromwell, and John Adams.

I found myself more curious about local history, because my ancestors were early settlers in this region.

We don't wish to be serious history scholars; we just want background knowledge about "those who went before. " Our study of genealogy has brought history alive for us.

© 1998, Catherine M. Pierce
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