13 December 2011

I've got a hunch...

Do you trust your intuition when it comes to genealogy? I always act on it. Oh, indeed, there are times when I get unexpected results... lots of times actually. But often enough, the result is a happy one. Like this morning.

I spend the first hour of my day reading through the multitude of blogs that I follow. After I read through the bevy of blogs delivered to my iPad (and laughed, empathized, wondered and sometimes drooled), I sat for a moment and asked myself - what now? I don't know - maybe it was the quiet of the moment, or possibly just the lack of momentum, that made me pause over the google books app icon... and finally decide to tap it to see what I am currently reading. [Sadly, yes, it has been that long].

The History of Queens County, NS.

Oh, yes, I remember now... another tick in the PRO column for Google (who has been rapidly getting more ticks in the other column lately). I don't know if I am just fortunate that there is a lot of reading material available for the particular spot my family lived in for five generations, or what; however, there is an abundance of really good reading material! Obscure stuff  too! Belcher's Almanac? Can you believe that?

Back to Queens County, Nova Scotia.  It had been a while since I was last reading said book, so I went back to the preface and started again. Basically, how the New Englanders came to NS to fill in the void left by the Acadians, who were tossed out by the British.  [I know, but let's just leave politics out of this particular discussion].

In 1760, roughly 60 men and women from New England petitioned the government to set up a township on the southern shore of Nova Scotia that would eventually come to be called Liverpool. In 1764 there were 150 persons listed who were allotted land plots, and who became proprietors of the township. Was I surprised to find two direct relatives? You bet I was! William K. Cahoone and Lemuel Drew. The rest of the list was comprised of familiar names related to the Mayflower and early settlements in New England. And relatives of relatives!

When I started out looking into my family's past, I was a collector more than a researcher. These days I am more of a researcher than a collector.  I am working now on when a certain Samuel Mack (4x great grandfather) bought a certain sawmill in Port Metway, Queens County. I am collaborating with two fellows from Canada, that I met through my research project a couple of years ago. We each have our own perspective, but in working together we gain in knowledge of the times and events in our ancestors lives. I happen to enjoy spending hours in the NEHGS library in Boston looking for deeds (and finding them) and subsequently transcribing them. When I forwarded the documents to my collaborators, we were able to develop a clearer idea of how the mill passed from hand to hand, often back and forth, over the years. This is the depth and breadth of research that really makes me happy, and I really enjoy working with my distant relatives!

Of course, there is so much more to be discovered, or not be discovered. For instance, we may never really know for sure that Dr. Thomas Moseley -one of eight men who sold the mill to Samuel - actually knew Samuel back in East Haddam, CT before the mill transaction in Nova Scotia came about. But it is surely likely  that they did. I'm currently working on the deeds that I collected on a trip this past summer in East Haddam. I sure could use some old maps though! Maybe they were connected through Samuel's wife, Lydia Brainerd Mack who died around the time Samuel picked up and moved to NS, leaving his young daughters to be raised with Lydia's family. Maybe not. I sure would like to know. In fact,  I'd be happy to find out when Lydia died, and where she is buried!

One other benefit from reading old deeds - increased vocabulary! Enfeoffed and messuaged are the latest gems added to my repretoire. Thank goodness for the internet! Although, I did enjoy spending a lot of time with the HUGE Mirriam Webster dictionary that we had in our house when I was a kid, there is nothing like typing a word in Google search and getting many results, including passages in a book printed in the 1800's using the word you are trying to get a definition for.

Happiness is a tool that works!

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