Family history

This is a space for many things.  I have spent years studying the history of my family - about which I knew almost nothing growing up.  In the course of this I discovered a rich tableau that featured a wide variety of exceptionally interesting people.  But along the way I discovered how difficult it is to find information about people long dead whose stories are being lost. I felt the need for a place to memorialize the people who created the world I now inhabit.

We all can name our four grandparents.  But how many can name any of their 8 great grandparents, or 16 great, great-grandparents? By the time you get to your great, great, great, great grandparents (4th GGF) you are dealing with 64 people and you have gone back in time almost 200 years. My 8th GGM Rebecca Greensmith (nee Steele) was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1629 – making her the earliest known ancestor I have whose was actually born in North America. Rebecca was an accused witch and was judicially murdered in the Hartford witch trials of the 1660s. 

We each have 1,024 (one thousand and twenty four) 8th great grand parents – making our genetic links to these people remote at best. But they all have stories, and many of them are lost to the world. The goal of this section of my blog is to explore the lives of these people and create a permanent record for future generations.

I will start with Laurence Thuresson - my 4th Great Grandfather – one of 64 of them.  I actually know the names of a lot of these folks. On my father’s father’s side, I know 14 of the 16. The names of many are attached to no stories whatsoever, about others I know an extraordinary amount: Henry Henderson and his wife Mary; Archibald Chisholm and Henrietta MacDonell; William Reynolds and Elizabeth Mudge; Abel Gilbert and the delightfully named “Blandina” Ostrom; John Armstrong and Mary Rogers; William Dougall and Eleanor Weir; Laurence Thuresson and Ann Richardson. 

This was a very interesting generation – these are all people born roughly in the mid 18th century in America; and so, 200 years before me.  In most cases their families had been in North American since the early 1600s.  Almost all of the people in this list were born during the time of the Seven Years War (1754 -1763) and grew up to be loyalists who fought or participated in the American War of Independence (1775-1784) for the losing side. Some of them knew of almost nothing but constant warfare, with the Indians, the French, and finally with their own friends and neighbours.

Over time I hope to tease out the history of this remarkable generation, but we are going to start with a truly remarkable man: Captain Laurence Thuresson.

When my father died I inherited much of his library.  Personal libraries are becoming a thing of the past, which is a great loss.  As I sorted through his library, it gradually became apparent to me that I had not one, but four libraries: those of Larry Henderson, Joan Annand (my Mother), James Annand (my grandfather) and Edith Wills, (my grandmother). Libraries are the representations or manifestations of our minds.  I now have a room which is lined with shelves containing the libraries of these people.  I feel close to them sitting in it.  It is a little like sitting in a time machine. Periodically I will select a book at random and read it. Many of these books contain marginalia and notes - they have in effect been personalized - encountering such artifacts deepens and enriches the reading experience.  In this section, I will also write about the experience of reading these books.