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Article Published May 12, 2000



Sandra Devlin EAST COAST KIN (Canada)
By: Sandra Devlin, Biography & Archived Articles


Following tales of lore ... one researchers journey typical of many.


Too often we forget to attribute human foibles to our ancestors.

Besides being rugged and ready; they were also prone to pride, envy and vanity; characteristics which can foil an unsuspecting family researcher.

My own great-grandmother, for instance, lied about her age. Her own daughters thought her to be at least one or two years younger than she actually was. When did she decide to shave off a year or two? On her 39th birthday, perhaps?

Althea Douglas, New Brunswick native and respected genealogy writer and lecturer, warns that many 18th and 19th Century families claimed, without any basis in fact, to be United Empire Loyalists. They wanted to be included among the in-crowd of the day.

My Russell forebears on the Miramichi told the youngsters in the family they were related to Pocahontas, the Indian princess who Disney made famous. That tidbit of lore has surfaced over and over again in my research. Was it true, or did someone just make it up based on a distant matriarch whose maiden name was Mary Jane Rolfe.

Pocahontas (1595-1617) married John Rolfe nearly 400 years ago in colonial Virginia. But their only son Thomas, had only one daughter. Sort of destroys the Rolfe theory, pretty quickly.

Years ago, people were quick to claim relationships to somebody famous who shared the same surname, “ Elizabeth Rodier in Calgary writes.

Elizabeth would like to confirm or disprove once and for all whether her husband is distantly related through his Cumberland County, N.S. Peel ancestors to famed British prime minister Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) .

I don't know if the Peel family stories are accurate or made up to fit the known facts,” Elizabeth says.

According to lore, Joseph Peel -- known to be in Nova Scotia after 1818 -- was a first cousin of Sir Robert. At Joseph’s funeral the fact of his being a cousin of the Prime Minister was mentioned by the parson. The Peels lived from the early 1800s at what was first called Gray's Road, later Hansford, near Hudson's Corner about four miles east of Oxford, N.S.

A great deal more genealogy about the Peel family with connections to Goodwin, Gilmore, Holt, King, Lockhart, Moore, Oulton, Pridham, Ripley, Schurman, Siddall and other families is at web site: http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/r/o/d/Elizabeth-A-Rodier/index.html

Elizabeth’s research experiences are typical of many of us with stubborn mysteries. Her genealogical journey takes her all over North America. Again typical.

Her notes provide some valuable clues and insights for others who are following Nova Scotia ancestors.

I have been working on the Peel family over 30 years and still don't know how they arrived in Nova Scotia,” she says. Perhaps with a group of settlers who arrived 1818 or shortly before.

John and Joseph and families are in the township books (date unknown, afte child born 1840). John and his son John Jr. are in the 1861 Cumberland County census, but Joseph and his son William were not listed.

The Nova Scotia relatives were very casual about surname spellings with Gooden/Goodwin, Gilmore/Gilmour for the same household over time and even for the same individual. Some of the relatives didn't have proof of their own birth dates.

There are similar problems with step parents and half siblings. Someone might be called a "brother" and grow up in the same household (census record) but that doesn't tell a researcher if the siblings had the same birth mother. John Peel and his son John Jr. might have been married twice each, or perhaps there were other Peels in Cumberland who moved away.

There is a young girl called Effa Schurman in the 1895 photo of William Peel's family. Her mother died and father remarried. She grew up with in her aunt Almira's home with the Peel family but also has birth and half siblings.

Sometimes I refer to Effa as the first genealogist in the family. She was one of the first who attempted a list of all the Schurman relatives in Cumberland County.

Family history has come a long way fro Elizabeth since the day in December 1969 when Grandma Rodier produced the old pictures out of the trunk in the basement. One was marked Charles Tupper's sister. Archivist at Public Archives of N.S. sent the address of Ross Graves who was researching the Schurman family and I started writing to Elsie Schurman Mettlach who lived in California. Elsie was on the DAR executive and wrote out many pages of charts for our common ancestors. She went to New England and Nova Scotia nearly every year on research trips and kept in contact until shortly before her death.

Along the way Elizabeth had photocopies of old research notes about the Peels and the big rolled Cumberland maps. At first she didn't really appreciate the old letters in the trunk back to 1880s but copied them to my genealogy files in 1995. "Wish Elsie was still alive to see my illustrated version of the family notes. I have a "new" clue from Rev. Tupper's 1851 memorial for his wife about a possible birth location for the woman in the photo who was actually a half sister to Sir Charles Tupper."

"One of the oldest items from the Brown side is a wooden recipe box and we frequently make Nova Scotia potato dressing. Recipe modified over the years but it is our sixth generation version of instant mashed potatoes. Always a double batch with portions saved in baggies in the freezer for reheating.

"Family history started with Uncle Joe's 1967 booklet about my mother's father's family in England and Ontario. Joe told the stories and I collected the birthdays and details later. He was in the Boer War and India. Also have a lot of history for mother's mother in Ontario. There are eight complete generations of direct descendant pictures from the couple on the 1830 family farm near the Toronto airport. One page of typed notes about seven daughters turned into several two inch ring binders. "I keep about 60 ring binders like books-in-progress. Grandson is my chosen assistant and at 6 months willing to listen as I read aloud from kids books or family history. His father's ancestors in Pictou county are much harder to trace than Cumberland. Rodiers lived in England after 1685 and three brothers moved to Australia in 1840s. No shortage of history to be learned about Britain, New England and parts of Canada." Copied below are most of the individual notes for Joseph Peel. He was not found in the 1861 census and by 1871 census widow Mary Peel was living with a son. She may have died shortly after the 1881 census (no record found) and some of the family moved to the US.

"Statistical Return of the Settlement of River Philip, Nova Scotia September 30, 1827" National Archives Ottawa Ontario Reel # M-5219: County of Cumberland. Nova Scotia Census Report 1767 - 1838. John Peel and Joseph Peel are listed.
    1. John Peel: Household, No. of males 3, No. of females 4, Servants 0.
    Occupation : Farmer
    Religion: Church of England
    Births: 1, Marriages: 0, Deaths: 0
    Land Cultivated: No. of Acres 14
    Agriculture: Produces bushels of Wheat: 0, bushels of Grain: 35, Tons of Hay: 2, Potatoes 100.
    Stock belonging to the family: No. of Horses: 1, Horned Cattle: 1, Sheep: 8, Swine: 3

    2. Joseph Peel: Household No. of Males2, No. of Females 3, servants 0.
    Occupation: Farmer
    Religion: Church of England
    Births: 1, Marriages 0, Deaths 0
    Land Cultivated: No. of Acres 20
    Agriculture: Produces bushels of Wheat: 5, bushels of Grain : 35, Tons of Hay: 2, Potatoes 100
    Stock belonging to the family: No. of Horses: 0, Horned Cattle: 3, Sheep: 5, Swine: 5


(About 1957) Excerpt from a letter from William H. Noble to his cousin: "Thornton H. Lodge was an elderly man and I think a college professor of some type, with quite a flare for genealogical studies. He undertook a study for me and I am enclosing a copy of it. I was impressed by his painstaking and thorough-going manner, and am inclined to think that the information he dug up is about as accurate as anything we are likely to obtain. He investigated records, visited cemeteries, made notes from headstones, and interviewed local people.

From a book "Flight from the Republic" by North Callahan, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc. first edition 1967, pages 66-67 In the center of the city of Saint John (New Brunswick) on what was probably its most valuable piece of real estate, is the old burying ground of many of the original Loyalists....May of the lesser known Loyalists are memorialized in verse on the now-crumbling stones in the old cemetery. One of these is Ann Peel, wife of Humphrey Peel, 'who departed this life January 10, 1815, in the 39th year of her age' -- born about 1775. 'Up the river, Fredericton is the home ground for the United Empire Loyalists, whose ancestors were the American refugees'

Joseph Peel and Mary Moore had 10 children listed in the River Philip Township book page 349. Some died young. Mary Moore, wife of Joseph was born about 1800 and lived with a son at the time of 1881 census. Source: River Philip Township Book, Ernest Coates Transcription 1987.

Nancy, the eldest daughter married John William Holt in 1850 and went to California via Cape Horn in 1868.

William Peel, the eldest son married Almira Clorinda Schurman. William's obituary mentions that Joseph had two sons William and Benjamin and eight daughters. David was a nephew who married William's daughter Mary.

Joseph Peel on a list of members for May 1828 for the Shinimicas district but must have gone to Hansford after that. River Philip township book lists children of Joseph and Mary.

Sarah married Edwin Siddell, their daughter Susanna married D.R. Pridham the photographer Phebe 1828-1830

Benjamin married Sarah Maria Lockhart, moved to Mass.

Phoebe 1832 married Benjamin Ripley & Donald McKenzie

Elizabeth married Oliver King

Mary married her cousin David son of John Peel, moved to Mass.

Susanna married Thomas Chase and Harvey Oulton

Sophia married Charles Oulton, Howard Chapman

If anything here rings a bell, contact: Elizabeth Rodier, 9404 Fairmount Dr. SE, Calgary, T2J 0R4; e-mail: cerear@telusplanet.net Be sure to visit her web page: http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/r/o/d/Elizabeth-A-Rodier/index.html



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